Saturday, September 30, 2006

REVJAB: New Covenant Living: Three Flaws in the Presbyterian Reasoning For Infant Baptism

REVJAB: New Covenant Living: Three Flaws in the Presbyterian Reasoning For Infant Baptism

Eschatology and life


Eschatology is simply the study of the "last" or "end times." To many people, end times are insignificant. They think Christians spend way too much focusing on the future and too little focusing on the present. Today we have poverty and strife. Let's focus on that and worry about heaven another day. Others think eschatology is of supreme importance. They spend hours, days, weeks studying the end time passages and trying to understand God's intent for the final days.

I am probably in the middle. I find the end times to be very significant. How God chooses to interract with his creation and his people during the final days of this present age should be known and understood by Christians. If we as Christians, however, fail to serve the people in our lives today, we fail to serve Christ for He has called us to live this kind of life (Matthew 25:34-40). We need to live boldy since Christ has already come and been victorious over sin and death. This entails obedience to God, love and service to humanity, a commitment to making the saving message of the gospel known, and thus an overral orientation to living for the glory of God.

One specific academic who has tried to reconcile a biblical eschatology and a realized (or life focused on the end in mind) eschatology is George Eldon Ladd. I read a great article by him today on Historic Premillenialism that I recommend to those with a theological mind or are interested in hearing a different (dare I say more biblical) end times view than Tim LaHaye's Dispensationalism or the amillenialism of Covenant theology. Here's the link to the article: http://www.gospelpedlar.com/articles/Last%20Things/kog2ladd.html

Friday, September 29, 2006

early meandering thought on covenant/dispensational theology

As mentioned yesterday, I am reading Renald Showers' book "There Really is a Difference" discussing the fundamental differences between Covenant and Dispensational Theology. The author is a strong dispensationalist who sees many flaws with the Covenant Theology. I am hoping to better understand these 2 systems as I begin to write my ordination thesis in the upcoming weeks.

Wikipedia explains Covenant Theology this way:

Typically, Covenant Theology views the history of mankind's redemption from sin under the framework of three over-arching theological covenants:

  • the Covenant of Redemption
  • the Covenant of Works
  • the Covenant of Grace

These three covenants are called "theological covenants" because they are not explicitly presented as such in the Bible, although covenantalists see them as theologically implicit. I personally believe some Covenant Theology is attempting to explain the Bible and God's dealings with men in too simple of categories. Also, the inability for Covenant Theology to find a place for Israel and much of the unfulfiled Old Testament prophecy makes their system sit on a shaky foundation.

Dispensationalists explain the history of God's dealings with men quite differently. They claim to "rightly" divide Christianity into 7 succinct dispensations. "These periods are marked off in Scripture by some change in God's method of dealing with mankind, in respect to two questions: of sin, and of man's responsibility," explained C. I. Scofield. Unlike Covenant Theology, Dispensationalists can use specific examples in scripture when God speaks to people and declares a special relationship with humanity. There are 7 (though Dispensationlists have varying opinions) main dispensations when God has established covenants or new dealings with certain individuals or groups of people. They are:

  • the dispensation of innocence (Gen 1:1–3:7), prior to Adam's fall,
  • of conscience (Gen 3:8–8:22), Adam to Noah,
  • of government (Gen 9:1–11:32), Noah to Abraham,
  • of patriarchal rule (Gen 12:1–Exod 19:25), Abraham to Moses,
  • of the Mosaic Law (Exod 20:1–Acts 2:4), Moses to Christ,
  • of grace (Acts 2:4–Rev 20:3 -- except for Hyperdispensationalists), the current church age, and
  • of a literal, earthly 1,000-year Millennial Kingdom that has yet to come but soon will (Rev 20:4–20:6).

I personally believe, however, Dispensationalists work a little too hard to make the Bible fit their system rather than letting the Bible speak for itself.

I will give more of a book review later. But now I would like to give one brief example on how both Covenant and Dispensational theologies seem to want to explain things and lump some things together to make a coherent system, but in this attempt have to make or force the Bible to say things it really does not.

For instance, one of Covenant Theology's greatest modern theologians Louis Berkouf has said, "The covenant of grace, as it is revealed in the New Testament, is essentially the same as that which governed the relation of Old Testament believers to God." That stands in the face of Jeremiah 31:30-34 when it says God will establish a new covenant one day that is very different than the one established previously. Another danger zone I see is when Covenant Theology sees the Church existing in the Old Testament. Acts 11:15 (referring to Pentecost in Acts 2) makes it quite clear that the Church was not established or find its beginning until the giving of the Holy Spirit, which obviously marked a time when God would interract with His (new) people in a way He had never done before.

One minor statement against Dispensationalism would be against their constant desire for Scripture to speak in order to fit the system. One example is their description of the Dispensation of Conscience. Dispensationalists believe God established a special relationship with humanity from the Fall of Adam to the covenant with Noah. What marked this time was that humanity would be ruled by their conscience and restraint by the Holy Spirit. They were to obey, but obviously they failed. Another "key" distinction during this dispensation (according to Dispenationalists) was that God prohibited capital punishment. After Cain killed Abel, God and Cain had a coversation that went like this . . .

Genesis 4:13-16

13 Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me."

15 But the LORD said to him, "Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the LORD's presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden. NIV

According to a Dispensationalist, God stood against capital punishment until the new Dispensation of Human Government (recorded in Gen. 9:1ff) when He spoke specifically to Moses about murder. This is the type of Bible proof texting that drives me a bit crazy. From Gen. 4:14, it's clear that Cain and all of those living at the time recognized capital punishment as the appropriate (and I assume established) response to the taking of another person's life. It's clear that this particular act of God is one of mercy. He is not marking out the difference in dispensations, but He is showing unmerited favor to Cain who has taken the life blood from his brother.

Side note, Dispensationalists work very hard to make distinctions between Israel and the Church. I've always wondered what they do with OT and NT verses like these:

Deuteronomy 30:6
The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.
NIV
Romans 2:29
No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.
NIV

Hosea 2:23
I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one.'
I will say to those called 'Not my people,' 'You are my people';
and they will say, 'You are my God.'"
NIV
Ephesians 2:11-13
11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision " (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.
NIV
Philippians 3:3
For it is we who are the circumcision , we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—
NIV
Colossians 2:11-12
In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
NIV
Ephesians 3:6
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel , members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
NIV

It seems Covenant Theology may be oversimplifying the relationships/covenants/dispensations of God's work in history, but Dispensationalists may be over analyzing and chopping up the bible in "nice" and "neat" segments in history.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

theological apologies

Over the years I have gained a passion for theology and Christian thought.

I want to apologize that I failed to live up to this blog's name of "Matt's Meandering Thoughts." I have failed to do meandering and instead have turned this into a photo gallery of ministry events. Since many of my thoughts on life are in regards to this ministry, those pictures are valuable and do represent much of my meandering thoughts. BUT, they do not reveal all that goes on in my simple brain. I am constantly wrestling over doctrine, theology and Christian practice.

I will try in upcoming weeks to be more faithful to discussing that side of Matt's meanderings on a much more regular basis. To some you'll appreciate it. To others you'd prefer I just post pictures and shut up about my attempts to understand God, Christianity, etc. I appreciate your grace, comments, and continued friendship.

All to Him,
the meanderer, matt

p.s. At present I am reading Showers book "There Really is a Difference" discussing the fundamental differences between Covenant and Dispensational theology. It is facinating. I will provide commentary when I finish the book. FYI, I'm somewhere in between :)

See You at the Pole 2006

It was a beautiful day for God. We exist to bring Him glory, and when we live out what we were created to do . . . we experience God's joy and His pleasure.

About 40-50 students came to pray at the Boone High School. Students led the whole thing: singing, various prayers, and small groups. Back at the Middle School 10 or so students came to their pole to pray and seek the face of God. It's a beautiful thing to see students serve, honoer and seek God.

You can download this video for yourself at: http://boone_efc@www.efcboone.com/sanctuary/gallery/syatp 2006.wmv

Or you can enjoy watching it right now on this blog:

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Adoration Picture Show

special thanks to Gary Reedy who procurred many of these photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/32863092@N00/show/

West Side



So, a bunch of my students think showing off gangs signs is really cool, especially the "west side" symbol. As I was driving on Hwy 30 in western Iowa, I enjoyed coming across this little sign.

It's not a gang sign, just a sign for the little town of Westside, Iowa.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Vault and Adoration


Vault (also VAULT) is a carbonated beverage that was released by The Coca-Cola Company in June 2005. Coca-Cola is marketing Vault as a hybrid with the slogan "Drinks like a Soda, Kicks like an Energy Drink," as well as "The Taste. The Quench. The Kick." and "Get to It!" It is a citrus flavored beverage that contains many of the same ingredients as the Coca-Cola beverage Surge, which was discontinued in 2002. Due to Vault's similarity to Surge, representatives of Coca-Cola have given some credit for the release of Vault to SaveSurge.org, a website community dedicated to bringing Surge back to store shelves.

Coca-Cola representatives and the American Beverage Association state that Vault contains 47 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. serving, thus, 70.5 mg per 12 oz. can, and 117.5 mg per 20 oz. PET bottle. This amount is substantially higher than Surge's 52.5 mg per 12 oz. or Mountain Dew's 55 mg per 12 oz. (wikipedia.org)

This tiny can of sugary soda produced all kinds of craziness at our high school fall retreat. We had 3 girls (Tasha, Sarah and Erin) decide to stay up all night. Others acted in ways not “normal” to normal human civilization. Needless to say, we had a fabulous weekend filled with tons of fun.

This retreat was called “Adoration,” and the entire weekend was spent looking at biblical worship. On Friday night Tim Olson (our guest speaker and worship leader from the Grace E-Free Church in Eagle Grove) looked at Romans 12:1. Students were challenged to be “living sacrifices” to God, in response to the Lord’s abundant mercy. Saturday morning, Carrie Proctor led the students through the Bible’s explanation of idolatry and the proper response Christians should have to the idolatry in our lives. On Saturday evening Pastor Tim Olson closed with a message on Romans 12:2, pleading with our students to let God’s Word renew them and transform them into more obedient Christ-centered worshippers.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Brave New World

I salute those brave men and women who risk it all to plant a new church. Today, Carrie and I drove to Denison, Iowa, to preach to a young church plant whose new pastor was out of town. This young body of 30 worshipped with great enthusiasm, welcomed us and one another with love, and seemed excited to be lights in their community.

I ate dinner with 3 members after the service. All 3 expressed a desire to be a church that pursues God and serves their neighbors. One gentleman stopped and gave a ride to a lady caring loads of groceries right after the service, being a few minutes late to our meal. A simple gesture, but the type of grace that the Christian Church has been called to offer.

Pray for this church and the many others that are trying to worship God and be a blessing to their communities. If you are interested in church planting ideas check out Church Planting Village

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This week's adventures



In 2 days our high school students take off for a 24 hour retreat at Camp Hantesa just outside of Boone, Iowa. This retreat, called "Adoration 2006," will focus on what true worship is. A life style of Christ-centered adoration, selflessness, and a healthy preoccupation with God's glory, not our own. Pray for the adults who will be serving the students: Scott, Gary, Carol, Carrie, Dave, and Matt. Also pray for our worship leader and speaker Tim Olson.

Then on Sunday, Carrie and I travel to Denison, Iowa, where I will be preaching on Genesis 1:26ff in a church plant a friend has been serving as pastor for a few months.

Also, this morning at 6:30AM a good friend left here after staying for 1.5 days. It was good to have Dan around. He's a man who desires to serve Christ's kingdom, and I am always encouraged to hear about his life and heart.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

BLITZ - check it out


Junior high students must go to Blitz this year - check out the info here

Feel free to download a permission form from this website - http://www.efcboone.com/sanctuary/Registration%20form.pdf

This is an 8PM-8AM all-night affair for 7-8th grade students from Boone and the Des Moines area. You do not want to miss this event. Sign up today!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS CLICK HERE

Our high school fall retreat is 3 weeks away. You can sign up today. Click this link HTtp://www.efcboone.com/sanctuary/Adoration%202006.pdf to download the pdf file and fill out the form and send it to the church A.S.A.P.

Adoration 2006 will put into action some of the themes we have been teaching on Wednesday nights. It will also serve as an introduction to our small group curriculum we will be beginning in October.

Our guest speaker and worship leader will be Tim Olson, a good friend of our ministry and youth pastor from Eagle Grove, Iowa.

Every student will glean something special from the weekend. Call Matt or email him with any questions you might have - proctorm@efcboone.com

The registration covers 4 meals, the sessions and all activities. You will not need any extra money, but you are encouraged to bring additional snacks in your carryon luggage. Feel free to bring cards and other games for you cabin and free time.

For more info click here