The Early Church can be bumpers on the bowling alley of theology

When ever we approach a passage in Scripture or a particular doctrinal claim we want to understand what the correct meaning is or whether that claim is correct. There are a variety of factors that are involved in working through that process.

640px-BowlingballImagine that the process is like tossing a bowling ball down the narrow alley.

We want to get a strike (the correct interpretation or assessment of a doctrine). If we can’t do that we would like to get as close as possible.

For us bad bowlers, we are happy to knock down some pins and often end up throwing gutter balls. In a game that might be fine, but from a theological perspective that would mean we are pretty far off the mark.

In a post last year, I proposed an Agile Manifesto for theology and doctrine. The goal was to offer up some principles to help us approach our theology and doctrine in the best way possible.

One of the proposed principles was: favor tradition and the historic Rule of Faith over novel theological views.  BillAndTed_NapoleanBowling Continue reading

Faith to Faith

Martin Luther

Martin Luther

Since Romans 1:17 was such a crucial passage in Luther’s understanding the gospel and coming to Jesus I wanted to re-post an article I wrote examining how several scholars translated that passage.

There is an interesting series of blog posts at the Bible Gateway called “Perspectives in Translation” (which is no longer available). Here is the assignment on translating Romans 1:17 and the summary of the responses.

If any Bible passage could be credited for igniting the Protestant Reformation, it’s Romans 1:17. Yet as Luther understood so well, this one verse could inspire a thousand scholarly monographs.

Michael Bird addresses four areas that need to be addressed in rendering a translation for this verse. Continue reading

The $64,000 question and presuppositions

R.C Sproul, the popular Reformed pastor, author, and founder of Ligonier Ministries, asked the following question in his book: Chosen By God.

The $64,000 question is, “Does the Bible teach such a doctrine of prevenient grace? If so, where?”

And Tom Schreiner in his critique on prevenient grace (chapter 9 in Still Sovereign)  summed it up like this:

Prevenient grace is attractive because it solves so many problems, but it should be rejected because it cannot be exegetically vindicated

sproul_podium_actionBefore continuing I want to make three important observations:

1. Reformed and Arminian views both hold to the concepts and doctrine of original sin/total depravity. In summary that means that people, because of our fallen nature, cannot initiate a relationship with God or come to faith without God’s help.

2. Reformed and Arminian views both hold to the need for prevenient grace – a grace that precedes faith. This grace is given by God to restore our fallen nature and enable a person to come to faith.

3. The primary difference between Reformed and Arminian theologies is whether prevenient grace is resistible or not. Continue reading