Thoughts on Genesis 23

Finally Abraham gets it right! After his wife dies at the age of 127 Abraham deals with a foriegn nation with integrity. 

In Genesis 13 and 20 Abraham spends some time in foreign lands. He is dishonest and walking in the fear of man. 

But in Genesis 23 he finally gets it right. He honors the people and pays a full price for a piece of land. 

I’m praying it doesn’t take me 100 years to get it right. 

Thoughts on Calvinism... From Two Years Ago

A couple of years ago I ended up making some dumb comments on Facebook about Calvinism. I wrote the following to clearify my position. 

I had no idea that my comment regarding Calvinism would be lightning rod for discussion. And the way I phrased my initial status update was insensitive to my reformed friends like Kari and the Van Zees. And Kari rightfully questioned what exactly I was talking about. 

I would like to clarify a couple of things and explain what exactly I mean when I use the phrase “errors of Calvinism”. But first, let me say, those of you who have responded to this comment are coming from very diverse contexts. Some of you are older and a part of church ministry. Others of you are younger, single and training for ministry. Some of you have already made up your mind on these things. Others of you are wrestling with them still. And there is another group of people that don’t want to see the conversation take place at all. 

If we had this discussion live, face to face, I would not be able to say much in a group. I would have different emphasis with each of you. 

With my older friends, who are reformed and doing ministry, I would refuse to debate Calvinism or any other nonessential doctrine. I would want to encourage you in ministry, pray for you, and see if there is any way I can help. The last thing I want to do is distract you from the people God has called you to minister to. 

To my younger friends that are still wrestling with salvation doctrine I would say become expert Bible interpreters and then spend the next 15-30 years doing Bible interpretation. Be slow in developing a dogmatic position on nonessentials but be immediate in your simple obedience to the daily application of God’s Word. 

And to my younger friends (Bible college students) that have already made up their minds and are dogmatic on the nonessentials I would say; “You are dumb.” You may end up being right on your points of theology, but being right will not matter if you have no relationship with Jesus. The Bible was intended to be more than just legal document establishing minor points of doctrine. The Bible was written to be your daily spiritual nourishment, a light to guide your path, a sward to defeat the lies of Satan, and a comfort through life’s trials. If you are 20 years old and have already made up your mind on TULIP or any other nonessential doctrine I pity you. You have missed out on the joy of personal Bible study and have instead swallowed some other persons system. 

Let me explain what I shared in class yesterday regarding the “errors of Calvinism”. 

Because of the respect I have for reformed teachers like Piper, Packer, Spurgeon, and Augustin I have spent time reading their interpretations of texts that are problematic for the TULIP system. Some of those text would include: 2 Peter 2:1, John 3:16-18 , Matthew 22:14, I John 2:2; 4:9-10. When I read their interpretation I do not personally feel content with the way the scriptures are handled. When I read their interpretation it feels like the simple plain reading of the text is explained away, and words are given new meanings. I would rather take the Bible at face value and indiscriminately apply the rules of interpretation. If I have to make a choice between loyalty to my system or the plain interpretation of the text I am going to throw the system out. 

The TULIP system reflects some aspects of scripture, but is insufficient to explain all the points of scripture. So there is no way that I can commit to the TULIP system. Pastor Chuck in his book on Calvinism and Arminianism highlights this well. My priority is Bible interpretation and not systems explaining nonessential doctrines. This comes across in my teaching as well. I am begging the Bible college students to be expert Bible interpreters and not so much systematic theologians. 

It is also important for me to point out that TULIP is not the only issue I address when teaching Romans. But I believe the book of Romans is a death nail to reformed theology and so as it comes up I point it out. 

One final word… God is is working by his Spirit in the reformed church. I believe we are on the verge of another Great Awakening and when God works he will hopefully work in all churches including reformed churches like Mars Hill, Grace Community, the Gospel Coalition, the Acts 29 network. This is why those who are not reformed need to temper their criticism. It is like a Cornelius moment when the rest of the church stands around in amazement saying “they too can receive the Holy Spirit?” I love watching God work in this way. 

Hopefully this clarifies my comments a bit more.

Why the Bible? Ravi Zacharias

Ravi Zacharias speaks on why the Bible as truth transcends every other book and scripture of religion and spirituality.Mormonism rather than being Christocentric is church-egocentric. It is twistology of theology, sedition of addition, and infusion of confusion, very radically unlike the purity, simplicity and power of devotion to Christ so gloriously lived and ministered by the church of the first century. Many Mormons remain in the LDS church due to their unwillingness to conjure the courage to research their church's history outside sanitized, revisionist sources that are the work of deliberate deception. Paul Richards, who left BYU in 1992 as BYU spokesman... 'I worked in public affairs for the church for 13 years, and I had to lie all the time...'(The Arizona Republic Oct. 10, 1993, quoted in Issue 85 (Nov. 1993) of the Salt Lake Messenger) Ken Clark, a former LDS CES Institute Director for 27 years, illustrates how the Mormon Church utilizes deceptions and outright lies to maintain control over members and potential converts to Mormonism. Watch the 10 part series "Lying for the Lord" at Grant Palmer interviews with John Dehlin: Video: Grant H. Palmer (MA, American history, Brigham Young University) is a three-time director of LDS Institutes of Religion in California and Utah, a former instructor at the Church College of New Zealand, and an LDS seminary teacher at two Utah locations. He has been active in the Mormon ...