Two Brits on the Lord’s Prayer

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I have over the years enjoyed British pastor/theologians.  Among those who find a place in my library are John Stott,  Martyn Lloyd-Jones and J. I. Packer.  It can’t be the accent, because there are paper books.  It has to do with a commitment to scholarship for the church.  They avoid the error of scholarship for scholarship’s sake – the Bible was not sent to us for analysis only.  It avoids the error of simple mindedness – as one of these authors titled a book, “Your Mind Matters.”

Here are two quotes on the value of the Lord’s Prayer as a model for praying.

“So the Lord’s Prayer should be put to service to direct and spur on our praying constantly.  To pray in terms of it is the sure way to keep our prayers within God’s will; to pray through it, expanding the clauses as you go along, is the sure way to prime the pump when prayer dries up and you find yourself stuck. We never get beyond this prayer; not only is it the Lord’s first lesson in praying, it is all the other lessons too. Lord, teach us to pray.”

– J. I. Packer, “Praying the Lord’s Prayer”, Crossway, 2007, p. 17,18

“The Lord’s Prayer covers everything; and all we do is to take these principles and employ and expand them and base our every petition upon them. That is the way in which it is to be approached.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, “Studies in the Sermon on the Mount”, IVP 1959-1960, p. II. 49

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John Stott on Christian Mission

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This year the Theologian of the Year sermon is about John Stott, in particular his work in helping define Mission in our time.  Here are quotes from his book:

Christian Mission in the Modern World, IVP 1975

“All of us should be able to agree that mission arises primarily out of the nature not of the church but of God himself. The living God of the bible is the sending God. “   p. 21

“Today, I would express myself differently. It is not just that the commission includes a duty to teach converts everything Jesus had previously commanded (MT 28:20), and that social responsibility is among the things which Jesus commanded. I now see more clearly that not only the consequences of the commission but the actual commission itself must be understood to include social as well as evangelistic responsibility, unless we are guilty of distorting the words of Jesus.”  P. 23

“The crucial form in which he Great commission has been handed down to us (though it is the most neglected because it is the most costly) is the Johannine.  Jesus had anticipated it in his prayer in the upper room when he said to the Father: ‘As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world’ (Jn 17:18). Now, probably in the same upper room but after his death and resurrection, he turned his prayer-statement into a commission and said: ‘As the Father has sent me, even so I send you’ (Jn 10:21).  In both these sentences Jesus did more than draw a vague parallel between his mission and ours.  Deliberately and precisely he made his mission the model of ours, saying ‘as the Father sent me, so I send you’.  Therefore our understanding of the church’s mission must be deduced from our understanding of the Son’s.  Why and how did the Father send the Son?” p. 23

“Now he sends us, he says, as the Father had sent him. Therefore our mission, like his, is to be one of service.” P. 24

“It comes more natural to us to shout the gospel at people from a distance than to involve ourselves deeply in their lives, to think ourselves into their culture and their problems, and to feel with them in their pains.  Yet this implication of our Lord’s example is inescapable…” p. 25

“This brings me to the third way of stating the relation between evangelism and social action, which I believe to be the truly Christian one, namely that social action is a partner of evangelism.  As partners the two belong to each other and yet are independent of each other. Each stands on its own feet in its own right alongside the other.  Neither is a means to the other, or even a manifestation of the other. For each is an end in itself. Both are expressions of unfeigned love.”  P. 27

“If we truly love our neighbour we shall without doubt share with him the good news of Jesus. How can we possibly claim to love him if we know the gospel but keep it from him? Equally, however, if we truly love our neighbor we shall not stop with evangelism. Our neighbor is neither a bodyless soul that we should love only his soul, nor a soulless body that we should care for its welfare alone, nor even a body-soul isolated from society  God created man, who is my neighbor, a body-soul-in-community. Therefore if we love our neighbor as God mad him, we must inevitably be concerned for his total welfare, the good of his soul, his body and his community.”  p. 30

“Yet the reason for our acceptance of social responsibility is not primarily in order to give the gospel either a visibility or a credibility it would otherwise lack, but rather simple uncomplicated compassion. Love has no need to justify itself. It merely expresses itself in service wherever it sees need.”  P. 30

Accommodation – James McCosh

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I have written last time about the strategy of Opposition as shown in the example of Charles Hodge in his book, What is Darwinism?”

This post is about a position I call Accommodation.  This is the idea (to which Hodge also agreed to a lesser extent) that we have to accommodate our reading of scripture to incorporate what we learn from science. The basis of this is the idea that God is the Author both of Scripture and of Nature, and that in the end those two forms of revelation will not be in conflict.

One widely accepted example is that of Astronomy.  Though the Bible, like everyday language, reads as if the sun rises and sets, we know from science, that the earth is in motion around the sun, and the sun is also in motion in our galaxy, which itself is in motion.  We have accommodated our views to further evidence.

I have collected some interesting quotes by McCosh here. McCosh Quotes

From Christianity and Positivism, 1871, p. 6,7

“On the one hand, our scientific men are not, as scientific men, qualified to find out and to estimate the theological bearings of the laws which they have discovered.  For if there be a religious, there may also be an irreligious bias…The laws of the physical world are to be determined by scientific men, proceeding in the way of a careful induction of fasts; and, so far as they follow their method, I have the most implicit faith in them, and I have the most perfect confidence that the truth which they discover will not run counter to any other truth.  But then they pass beyond their own magic circle, they become weak as other men. I do not commit to them – I reserve for myself – the right of interpreting the religious bearings of those laws which they disclose to our wondering eyes.”

The message from the series is here: Accommodation

Genealogy and Mission in Matthew

logo.1This pertains to the four Gentile women [Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, “wife of Uriah”] found in Jesus’ genealogy found in Matthew.

“When Matthew cites these four women, he is probably reminding his readers that three ancestors of King David and the mother of King Solomon were Gentiles.  The Bible that accepted David’s mixed race also implied it for the messianic King; Matthew thus declares that the Gentiles were never an afterthought in God’s plan, but had been part of his work in history from the beginning.  One who traces Matthew’s treatment of Gentiles through the Gospel, from the Magi who sought Jesus in Chapter 2 through the concluding commission to disciple the nations in 28:19, will understand Matthew’s point in emphasizing this.  Matthew exhorts his readers that as much as Jesus is connected with the heritage of Israel, he is for all people as well, and his disciples have a responsibility to tell everyone know about him.”

Craig Keener, A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1999, p. 80

Athanasius – “Theologian of the Year”

673655I preach a “Theologian of the Year” message every Reformation Sunday, the Sunday closest to
All Saints Eve (Halloween) in honor of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses.

This year, fitting with a series called Profiles in Courage, I chose Athanasius for his courageous stance on defending the orthodox view of the divine/human nature of Jesus Christ.  Below is my sermon and a document with quotes from his work “On the Incarnation.”  Reading this ancient author has produces a few responses in me, one is under “Reactions” below.

The second reason for the Incarnation according to Athanasius is found in this quote:

Once the mind of human beings descended to perceptible things, the Word himself submitted to appear through a body, so that as a human he might bring humans to himself and return their sense perception to himself, and then, by their seeing him as a human being, he might persuade them through the works he effected that he is not a man only but God and the Word and Wisdom of the true God.  (On the Incarnation # 16)

My reaction:   Jesus entered the material world.  All of humanity turned from the knowledge of God to the enjoyment and even worship of material things.  So Jesus was born in this material world to gain out attention.  Once we noticed his works, we could listen to his words and be restored to the knowledge of God.

John’s gospel called the Miracles of Jesus Signs – they did not exist as an end in themselves.  He did not turn water into wine just for the wedding. He did not feed the 5,000 just because they were hungry.  These miracles were signs.  Once they had their fill of wine and bread, would they turn to consider who it was that was among them?

Athanasius

Athanasius excerpts

Reactions to Athanasius

Tally Man – John Stott on Romans 12:21

I encountered this quote from John Stott while studying Romans 12:17-21

John Stott, Romans, 1994, IVP, p. 337

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

“In all our thinking and living it is important to keep the negative and positive counterparts together.  Both are good. It is good never to retaliate, because if we repay evil for evil, we double it, adding a second evil to the first, and so increasing the tally of evil in the world.  It is even better to be positive, to bless, to do good, to seek peace, and to serve and convert out enemy, because if we thus repay good for evil, we reduce the tally of evil in the world, while at the same time increasing the tally for good. To repay evil for evil is to be overcome by it; to repay good for evil is to overcome evil with good.  This is the way of the cross…”

Omnipresence – A. W. Tozer

Where shall I go from your Spirit?

Or where shall I flee from your Presence? Psalm 139:7

            “What now does the divine immanence mean in direct Christian experience? It means simply that God is here. Wherever we are, God is here. There is no place, there can be no place, where He is not. Ten million intelligences standing at as many points in space and separated by incomprehensible distances can each one say with equal truth, God is here. No point is nearer to God than any other point. It is exactly as near to God from any place as it is from any other place. No one is in mere distance any further from or any nearer to God than any other person is.”

The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer, Tyndale, p. 62