By Mark Oppenheimer (New York Times)
For those who are sad that the year-end news quizzes are past, here’s one to start 2014: If you have joined a church that preaches a Tulip theology, does that mean a) the pastor bakes flowers into the communion wafers, b) the pastor believes that flowers that rise again every spring symbolize the resurrection, or c) the pastor is a Calvinist?
As an increasing number of Christians know, the answer is “c.” The acronym summarizes John Calvin’s so-called doctrines of grace, with their emphasis on sinfulness and predestination. The T is for man’s Total Depravity. The U is for Unconditional Election, which means that God has already decided who will be saved, without regard to any condition in them, or anything they can do to earn their salvation. Continue reading
PMT 2017-009 by Frank A. James III (published by Christianity Today)
For many, predestination is a struggle to accept; for Paul, it’s a doctrine of love.
What is it that takes Paul’s breath away? It is the incomprehensible vastness of God’s love that encompasses eternity past, present, and future. Paul pulls back the veil of the Godhead and grants a glimpse into the triune mystery of the Father’s eternal plan (vv. 3-6), the Son’s implementation of the plan (vv. 7-12), and the Spirit’s guarantee that the plan will reach completion (vv. 13-14). The redemptive panorama is so stunning that it leaves Paul breathless.
At the center of this expansive vista is predestination. Paul writes about divine predestination with an enthusiasm that might strike some contemporary Christians as peculiar at the very least. Continue reading
PMT 2016-069 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
On Facebook I recently posted a cartoon exposing the error of Arminianism. Ever since posting that cartoon which contained a (cartoon) representation of Christ, I have been inundated with FB Comments and email challenges.
Some FB friends get frustrated because I don’t engage in FB debates. I don’t do so because they are unending and my day isn’t. I am quite busy. My time on FB looks more ample than it is: I see or think of something that I think is interesting, then quickly go on FB and toss it on my FB page, then leave. Though every now and then I will occasionally reply once or twice.
But for those interested in this particular issue, I will be providing a lengthy article combining my thoughts on defending pictorial representations of Christ. This will be useful in the future when I need to point someone to one source.
My interest in this matter is not because I like pictures of Christ. In fact, I don’t have any hanging in my house, I prefer hanging my wife’s cross-stitched, framed Bible verses in my house. Nor do I think some artist knows what he really looked like. No one does, but neither do they know what Abraham and Paul looked like, though folks accept pictures of them in educational contexts. Nor do I think pictures of Christ are helpful to one’s devotion to him. In fact, I believe quite the opposite: if someone is spiritually encouraged by a picture of Jesus, they are looking in the wrong direction for encouragement. It should come from reading God’s word, not looking at pictures men have painted. Continue reading
PMT 2016-052 by Keith Mathison (Ligonier)
I once heard someone define the millennium as a thousand-year period of time during which Christians fight over the proper interpretation of the book of Revelation. While amusing, that definition is obviously incorrect. Christians have been fighting over the proper interpretation of the book of Revelation for two thousand years. In all seriousness, however, all of the fighting has led some Christians to adopt despairingly a position they call panmillennialism (we don’t know which view of the millennium is correct, but we know it will all pan out in the end).
The word millennium refers to the “thousand years” mentioned in Revelation 20. Because this chapter is found in one of the most difficult books of the New Testament, its proper interpretation is disputed. As a result, there are four main views of the millennium held within the church today: historic premillennialism, dispensational premillennialism, amillennialism, and postmillennialism. Continue reading
PMT 2016-051 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
Doctrines revolving around the end of the world and the return of Christ are extremely popular today. And since his return is a foundational doctrine of the historic Christian faith, it well deserves our notice. Unfortunately though, the second advent is more deeply loved and firmly believed than biblically understood and accurately proclaimed. Evangelicals too often tend to have a “zeal without knowledge” when approaching this great biblical theme. This is especially tragic in that properly comprehending it is vitally important for framing in a Christian worldview. After all, it exalts the consummate glory of his redemptive victory, completes God’s sovereign plan for history, and balances a full-orbed theology of Scripture. In this regard I would note: Continue reading
PMT 2016-027 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
We have been considering the absolute sovereignty of God in this series on postmillennialism. If one holds to a strong (biblical!) view of God’s sovereignty, then postmillennialism cannot be dismissed out-of-hand by claims that it is to difficult. The only credible argument against postmillennialism can be a biblical argument. But many of the arguments are more emotional than biblical.
In this part of the series I have been considering moral objections to God’s absolute sovereignty. I have been showing that there are other doctrines that Christians hold that are equally objectionable on moral grounds, but which most Christians hold. In this installment I will focus on the doctrine of eternal hell. Continue reading
PMT 2016-026 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.
In this series I am arguing for the absolute sovereignty of God as a foundation stone for the postmillennial hope. If we believe God is absolutely sovereign we should not discount postmillennialism on the basis of it seeming so difficult.
In my last article I began considering the leading objections to the doctrine of God’s absolute sovereignty. Many evangelical Christians reject predestination and God’s absolute sovereignty because they are so intellectually difficult to grasp. But I pointed out that Christianity has other equally difficult doctrines, such as the Trinity and the hypostatic union of Christ. Yet, they will gladly affirm these doctrines. Continue reading