Posts from April 2011
This week someone wrote me an email asking if I was able to give a defense of Calvin. This person had recently heard things about Calvin that he found “disturbing,” and wanted to know if they were true: harsh views on God and hell, abuse of intelligence and power in Geneva, sentencing people to death over theological disagreements, etc. Here is my response.
I am now in my second year as a faculty member at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology. Prior to this, I’ve spent the last 16 years of my life doing primarily two things: 1) attending three different universities, and; 2) working for local churches in a variety of capacities. You would think that after that amount of time invested in both theological higher education and church service, I would have learned quite a bit about the local church. Yet, this is anything but the case and not because the curriculum of my seminary lacked adequate focus on ecclesiology. Rather, teaching at a Christian university has opened up an amazing new curriculum for me and afforded me a unique and fresh vista from which to view the Church and learn from one of her most precious treasures – young people – and in this case, undergraduate students.
I would like to share some of the greatest lessons this new curriculum has taught me as I seek to teach undergraduates.
Two months ago I raised a concern about a problem some churches struggle with in seeing limited impact of their teaching ministries in the lives of those who participate. I talked about some ways this problem has tended to be addressed, and my own conviction that there is a need for a better model or approach to our teaching if we hope to see real growth occur. Last month I introduced the basic ideas of “right-handed” teaching and discussed the first half of the model. This month I want to continue and complete my discussion of the model and then begin looking at how it works together.
Because of the propitiation of Christ, God’s wrath is satisfied, and we who were once enemies of God have now received “at-one-ment” or reconciliation.
John Calvin states that doubt is a part of the Christian faith: “Surely, while we teach that faith ought to be certain and assured, we cannot imagine any certainty that is not tinged with doubt, or any assurance that is not assailed by some anxiety.”
I agree with Calvin that Christians can experience bouts of theological doubt. In my last post I introduced different kinds of doubt. In my next post, I hope to offer tips for battling doubt. Here, my goal is to show that believers sometimes doubt.
Denis Diderot (1713-84), editor and primary author of the massive—18,000 pages!—and massively influential Encyclopédie, has been called “the pivotal figure of the entire 18th century.” One of the pivotal moments in Diderot’s own career came in his conversion from deism to atheism. And central to this conversion were the implications he drew from Newton’s formulation of the principle of inertia.
As we approach the Passion Week, it might help to think about Jesus’ crucifixion in a threefold way:
1. Cross-Bearing: The physical pain of Jesus’ death
2. Sin-Bearing: The spiritual anguish of Jesus’ death
3. Shame-Bearing: The public humiliation of Jesus’ death