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Pelagianism in the Formation and Reformation of the Christian Church

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Guest Post by Rev. C. R. Biggs

Part I

By the middle of the second century,the Church had developed the Apostle's Creed which contained the foundational doctrines, or essential beliefs of the Christian Church. In the 4th century, the doctrines of the Trinity and the two natures of Christ had been established at the Councils of Nicea in 325 AD, Ephesus in 431 AD, and Chalcedon in 451 AD. The doctrine of soteriology however, or the doctrine of salvation and grace had not been clearly and systematically established until Augustine and the Pelagian controversy in the 5th century in the West. These doctrines of Salvation and Grace would continue to be debated throughout church history, through the Medieval period, the Reformation, and up to the 20th century. In contrast to these Augustinian doctrines of sin and grace, the controversial doctrine of Pelagianism would reappear in many forms to challenge these doctrines.

Wed, 01/23/2019 - 20:10 -- john_hendryx

Shall We Break Fellowship with Churches that Promote Same-Sex Romance?

Question: Is promoting same sex romance in the church a primary issue or a secondary issue? In other words, shall we break fellowship with churches that promote this or shall we treat them as brothers?

Answer: This is a primary issue, because it is a gospel issue. Those who embrace these practices in the church are withholding the gospel from an entire group of men and women who are created in the image of God. While you and I appeal to Jesus to save us from our greed, our idolatry, our sexual immorality, and a multitude of other sins for which we are guilty and justly deserve the wrath of God, incredulously, this one sin is somehow being made exempt. Thus, in order to be popular with the spirit of the age, they sacrifice the precious lives an entire group.

Wed, 01/23/2019 - 18:34 -- john_hendryx

Bird Box, the Lion Outside, and the Shepherd Inside

By Jared Moore

[Bird Box has several things that may violate your conscience. Know your conscience. Be sure to look it up before you watch at Plugged In or Common Sense Media.]

*Additionally, if you want more detailed interaction with Bird Box, check out episode 36 of the Pop Culture Coram Deo Podcast:

Introduction

Netflix’s original movie, Bird Box, within its first 7 days of release, was viewed (70% of the movie) by over 45,000,000 accounts. Bird Box tells the story of an invisible presence that when viewed with one’s eyes takes on physical form to the viewer, and drives most people to suicide. Sandra Bullock stars, along with John Malkovich, and Trevante Rhodes. It presents a compelling story with something important to say, something Christian parents need to hear, as well as an idol and false gospel that Christian parents need to reject.

But what is the message of Bird Box?

The Good

[Spoiler Alert: Spoilers Follow!]

The primary message of Bird Box is similar to the principle we find in Proverbs 22:13. Solomon wrote, “The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion outside! I shall be killed in the streets! (ESV)’”

After Malorie (Sandra Bullock) experiences the loss of her sister, boyfriend, and friends (almost every person she gets close to), and after having barely escaped death herself on numerous occasions, she seeks to shelter herself and her children from these apocalyptic monsters in the name of survival.

Tue, 01/15/2019 - 12:08 -- john_hendryx

Passing Through the Wilderness of this World

by John Newton

Dear Sir,
I make no doubt but you have at times had pleasing reflections upon that promise made to the Israelites, "Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands." Deuteronomy 8:2

They were then in the wilderness, surrounded with difficulties, which were greatly aggravated by their own distrust and perverseness. They had experienced a variety of bitter dispensations, the design of which they could not as yet understand. They frequently lost sight of God's gracious purposes in their favor, and were much discouraged by reason of the difficulty of the way. To compose and animate their minds, Moses here suggests to them, that there was a future happy time drawing near, when their journey and warfare would be finished; that they would soon be put in possession of the promised land, and have rest from all their fears and troubles; and then it would give them pleasure to look back upon what they now found so uneasy to bear: "Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands."

Thu, 01/10/2019 - 15:53 -- john_hendryx

A Case for Christ

by Steve Hays

 What's the best evidence for Jesus? Many Christian apologists and Jesus scholars make a case for the historical Jesus. Having read so much material over the years, this is how I approach the issue. To a great extent I'm summarizing the best arguments, as I see them. But I also have some reservations about the stereotypical apologetic. Because apologist are influenced by other apologists, and scholars read other scholars, that has a conditioning effect, which produces a stereotypical apologetic. The standard apologetic has some good elements, but the conditioning effect fosters tunnel vision, so that other lines of evidence are neglected. In addition, there are bad elements in the standard apologetic.

I. Preliminaries

1. The historical Jesus

The "historical Jesus" is often a downsized Jesus or even a naturalized Jesus. What's left over after the NT is filtered through the sieve of standard criteria. A historical reconstruction of the real Jesus, once we peel back the layers. However, the scope of my post isn't the "historical Jesus" in that residual sense, not about a reconstructed Jesus, hidden behind the NT record, but about the NT Jesus in toto.

Of course, there is a Jesus who stands behind the NT record, independent of the NT record. A Jesus who is, in a sense, bigger than the NT. But for me, the real Jesus corresponds to the NT Jesus. While Jesus is ontologically prior to the record, yet our knowledge of Jesus is epistemologically dependent on the NT record.

2. "Bias"

A stock objection to using the Gospels is the allegation that the Gospels are partisan sources since their writers are Christian. But that's a confused objection:

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 19:40 -- john_hendryx

A Sketch of the Christian's Temperament

By John Newton

Without any preamble, I purpose now to give you a few thoughts on the meaning of that name which first obtained at Antioch—in other words, what it is to be a Christian? What are the effects, which (making allowance for the unavoidable infirmities attending upon the present state of mortality) may be expected from a real experimental knowledge of the Gospel? I would not insinuate that none are Christians, who do not come up to the character I would describe; for then I fear I should unchristian myself. I only will consider what the Scripture encourages us to aim at—as the prize of our high calling in this life. It is generally allowed and lamented, that we are too apt to live below our privileges, and to stop short of what the Spirit and the promises of the Gospel point out to us as attainable.

Mon, 12/24/2018 - 10:00 -- john_hendryx

5 Core Principles for Knowing God

In his book Knowing God J.I. Packer shares five basic truths that serve as core principles for knowing God:

1. God has spoken to man, and the Bible is His Word, given to us to make us wise unto salvation.

2. God is Lord and King over His world; He rules all things for His own glory, displaying His perfections in all that He does, in order that men and angels may worship and adore Him.

3. God is Savior, active in sovereign love through the Lord Jesus Christ to rescue believers from the guilt and power of sin, to adopt them as His sons, and to bless them accordingly.

4. God is Triune; there are within the Godhead three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; and the work of salvation is one in which all three act together, the Father purposing redemption, the Son securing it, and the Spirit applying it.

5. Godliness means responding to God’s revelation in trust and obedience, faith and worship, prayer and praise, submission and service. Life must be seen and lived in the light of God’s Word. This and nothing else is true religion.

-----

From J.I. Packer in Knowing God, pages 15-16

Tue, 12/18/2018 - 12:55 -- john_hendryx

Augustine on the New Life in Christ

by Dr. N.R. Needham

Chapter 5 of  The Triumph of Grace: Augustine's Writings on Salvation - posted with permission

THE NEW LIFE IN CHRIST

‘Can we possibly, without utter absurdity, maintain that there first existed in anyone the good virtue of a good will, to entitle him to the removal of his heart of stone? How can we say this, when all the time this heart of stone itself signifies precisely a will of the hardest kind, a will that is absolutely inflexible against God? For if a good will comes first, there is obviously no longer a heart of stone.’

Augustine, On Grace and Free Will, 29

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 13:35 -- john_hendryx

Justification

by John Murray

The basic religious question is that of our relation to God. How can man be just with God? How can he be right with the Holy One? In our situation, however, the question is much more aggravated. It is not simply, how can man be just with God, but how can sinful man be just with God? In the last analysis sin is always against God, and the essence of sin is to be against God. The person who is against God cannot be right with God. For if we are against God then God is against us. It could not be otherwise. God cannot be indifferent to or complacent towards that which is the contradiction of himself. His very perfection requires the recoil of righteous indignation. And that is God's wrath. "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men" (Rom. 1:18). This is our situation and it is our relation to God; how can we be right with him? The answer, of course, is that we cannot be right with him; we are all wrong with him. And we all are all wrong with him because we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Far too frequently we fail to entertain the gravity of this fact. Hence the reality of our sin and the reality of the wrath of God upon us for our sin do not come into our reckoning. This is the reason why the grand article of justification does not ring the bells in the innermost depths of our spirit. And this is the reason why the gospel of justification is to such an extent a meaningless sound in the world and in the church of the twentieth century. We are not imbued with the profound sense of the reality of God, of his majesty and holiness. And sin, if reckoned with at all, is little more than a misfortune or maladjustment.

Sat, 12/15/2018 - 13:59 -- john_hendryx

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