Throughout church history each generation of believers expected the Lord to return in their generation. All the signs of the times looked just like the time when the Lord promised to return and so they watched and labored just as God called them to (Matthew 25:1-13). We too must look for the appearing of our Savior from heaven with a shout and the voice of the archangel. Either in our generation (we should pray that Christ would come today) or in a future generation, the Lord will return.
Then he set his countenance in a stare until he was ashamed; and the man of God wept. And Hazael said, “Why is my lord weeping?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: Their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword; and you will dash their children, and rip open their women with child.”So Hazael said, “But what is your servant—a dog, that he should do this gross thing?” And Elisha answered, “The Lord has shown me that you will become king over Syria.”
II Kings 8:11-13 NKJV
Much happens over twenty years! A generation is generally considered about twenty years. Between the end of World War 1 and the beginning of World War 2 twenty years elapsed. I started my first regular job twenty years ago. Twenty years later, twenty years does not seem to be so long a time but how much happens in twenty years – terrorist attacks, wars, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, pandemics, regime changes, marriages, births, and deaths.
Twenty years prior to Elisha’s journey to Damascus, Elijah was on Mt. Sinai communing with the Lord about Israel’s sin. When the Lord spoke with Elijah he told him to anoint three people: Hazael king of Syria; Jehu King of Israel; and Elisha to be a prophet in Elijah’s place. During Elijah’s lifetime, only one of those tasks took place – Elijah left Mt. Sinai and anointed Elisha as a prophet. The instructions concerning Hazael and Jehu did not take place until well into Elisha’s ministry about twenty years later.
Elisha’s journey to Damascus was not the random wandering of an unwanted prophet but rather the carrying out of the mission and instruction the Lord had given to Elisha’s predecessor in the ministry many years prior.
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By Nathan Zekveld — 6 months ago
We contend against wokeness not just for the sake of the church but also for the sake of the world. True justice, true unity, true reconciliation, true authority, is found in the Word of God. It is the Word of God that renews the world. In its patterns for justice, unity, reconcialition, authority, you find the life that flows from the gospel: the good news that Jesus saves from sin and misery by grace.
I want to encourage my readers to read a book entitled “Christianity & Wokeness” by Owen Strachan. I just finished the book a couple weeks ago and it helped me to put together a lot of what I have seen in online discussions, in academia, and even in the Church over the course of the last 12 years since I began college and travel. I am told that Voddie Baucham’s book “Fault Lines” is also sound.
It is important for modern day Christians to be aware of wokeness and a Biblical response to it (which is why the above books were written). Wokeness is defined in our culture as being “awake” to the injustice that is going on around us. It is connected with social justice movements and debates over race and ethnicity. The teachings of Marxism play an important role in wokeness.
I will attempt a definition of “wokeness” here from what I have read and observed. Wokeness defines truth by feeling more than fact. Wokeness places a core sense of identity in external things like nationality and race. Wokeness defines justice, less by a set of rules and regulations external to oneself, but defines it more by the local culture and the feelings of the person who has observed an injustice. Wokeness rejects authority. Particularly God’s authority and the order that He has set in place for creation in Genesis.
Having grown up in a church where I went to worship shoulder to shoulder with Christians from Africa and Asia, I sometimes struggled to understand some of the racist or maybe sometimes ignorant comments I heard from other professing Christians. Christians should condemn racism, Christians should be compassionate, Christians should be generous in every way. And yet, the flip-side is almost as bad or worse, where some Christians start to feel guilty for having a “white” church even when the local geographical area is culturally European in background. Just because you are white and you attend a church that is 99% or more white, that doesn’t make you a racist.
By Christopher Smith — 2 months ago
The notion of the Son as eternally equal to the Father in divinity, authority, and glory makes the most sense out of our Christian lives: we worship Christ as equal to the Father, all persons of the Trinity are active in our lives, and Christ came to save his people voluntarily. Christian, please accept nothing less than this, because this is what God’s own Word teaches.
What Do We Do With All of This?
If what we saw in part 1 is what the ecumenical creeds and Reformed confessions teach, and if this is where the biblical data point, then what do we do with all of this? I suggest that there are two doctrinal arguments that make the best sense of the biblical data.
The Covenant of Redemption
One historical Reformed doctrine in particular that provides a reason to reject the doctrine of the eternal subordination of the Son is the Covenant of Redemption.36 Theologians in the history of the church can and have explained the interactions within the Trinity without using the concept of covenant, but the Covenant of Redemption gives a surer foundation and makes the most sense of what the Bible teaches.37 When it comes to an adequate definition of this covenant, we need look no further than Louis Berkhof: the Covenant of Redemption is “the agreement between the Father and the Son as Head and Redeemer of the elect, and the Son, voluntarily taking the place of those whom the Father had given him.”38 This is able to balance four strands of biblical teaching.
First, it shows that the Son is true God just as the Father is true God.39 Christ prays in John 17:5 that the Father would glorify the Son once again with the glory they both shared before the creation of the world. In the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18 we read that the Son has been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Sharing in glory and authority indicate sharing in essence. Indeed, only God is able to possess all glory and all authority.40
Second, Christ’s obedience to the Father is voluntary, not necessary for him as Son.41 In other words, he was not forced into coming to earth and taking on flesh in order to live, die, and rise again for his people. Instead, he did this of his own volition. God the Son redeemed his people as a volunteer, not a hostage who was bound to submit to God the Father from all eternity.
Third, the obedience that Christ offered to the Father had to do with his earthly mission.42 In the Gospel of John alone, Christ explicitly states that he was sent by the Father thirty-one times, and these occurrences are all for the purpose of his mediatorial mission.43 He was sent to redeem a people for God’s great name.
Fourth, it avoids the tendency to imply an authority/submission structure within the Trinity. This is because the mediatorial office and function of the Son is the result of the covenant between Father and Son. In other words, the Son was not eternally subordinate to the Father’s authority, but rather voluntarily covenanted to become subordinate as mediator in order to fulfill his task as the Second Adam (Rom 5:12–19; 1 Cor 15:21–22, 45–49).44 Therefore “when we read about Christ’s work and His interaction with the Father, it takes place within a covenantal context.”45 The divine will is the foundation of redemption, and the persons who share this one undivided will covenanted together to accomplish it.
Fifth, and finally, the Covenant of Redemption avoids the temptation to make the Doctrine of the Trinity nothing else than an extended discussion of Christology.46 The Son covenanted to obey, and this covenant was made between the equal persons of the eternally blessed Trinity. The cross is not a scandal if it was necessary according to the Son’s Sonship, and it is not a scandal if the Son had already obeyed for eternity.47 Instead, it would be par for the course. J. V. Fesko argues for a “better way forward”—understanding the Son’s obedience to the Father within the framework of Deuteronomy’s covenantal context.48
By Denny Burk — 7 months ago
“I don’t know that evangelicals have been sufficiently self-reflective to admit their basic and personal insecurities. It’s just no fun being an outsider to mainstream culture. We all just want to be loved, and if not loved, at least liked and respected. Elite evangelicals are not just savvy evangelists but also a people striving for acceptance.” ~Mark Galli
Former editor of Christianity Today, Mark Galli, wrote a jaw-dropping column last week. Galli’s essay discusses where the next generation of evangelical leadership is going to emerge from. Will it be from among “elite evangelicalism” (e.g., Fuller Seminary, CT, Intervarsity Press, World Vision, etc.), or will it be from among the constellation of “reactionary Reformed conservatives” (e.g., Doug Wilson)? Galli then goes on to talk about his tenure at Christianity Today and what it revealed to him about the priorities of “elite evangelicalism.” He writes,
Elite evangelicalism (represented by CT, IVPress, World Vision, Fuller Seminary, and a host of other establishment organizations) is too often “a form of cultural accommodation dressed as convictional religion.” These evangelicals want to appear respectable to the elite of American culture. This has been a temptation since the emergence of contemporary evangelicalism in the late 1940s, the founding of Christianity Today being one example…
I don’t know that evangelicals have been sufficiently self-reflective to admit their basic and personal insecurities. It’s just no fun being an outsider to mainstream culture. We all just want to be loved, and if not loved, at least liked and respected. Elite evangelicals are not just savvy evangelists but also a people striving for acceptance.
I saw this often when I was at CT. For the longest time, a thrill went through the office when Christianity Today or evangelicalism in general was mentioned in a positive vein by The New York Times or The Atlantic or other such leading, mainstream publications. The feeling in the air was, “We made it. We’re respected.” …
This tendency has only gotten worse, as now the mark of a successful evangelical writer is to get published regularly in the Times, Atlantic, and so forth. What’s interesting about such pieces is that (a) such writers make a point that affirms the view of the secular publication (on topics like environmental care, racial injustice, sexual abuse, etc.) and (b) they preach in such pieces that evangelicals should take the same point of view. However, their writing doesn’t reach the masses of evangelicals who take a contrary view and don’t give a damn what The New York Times says. If these writers are really interested in getting those evangelicals to change their minds, the last place they should be is in the mainstream press. Better to try to get such a column published in the most popular Pentecostal outlet, Charisma. Ah, but that would do nothing to enhance the prestige of evangelicals among the culture’s elite.
Evangelical columns in large part merely bolster the reputation of secular outlets, as these publications can now pat themselves on the back and say, “See, even religious people agree with us.” Rarely if ever will you see an evangelical by-line in such outlets that argues to protect life in womb or affirms traditional marriage.
We see an ancient dynamic here: When you seek to win the favor of the powerful, you will likely be used by them to enhance their own status. And along the way, many of your convictions will be sidelined. We’ve seen this happen on the religious right in the political nightmare of the last few years. But it happens on the left just as often.
Anyone paying attention to CT over the last decade or so is not surprised by any of this. What’s surprising is that Galli confirms it in so many words. He basically admits that “elite evangelicals” aim to win the respect and praise of Christianity’s cultured despisers and that such is the temptation in the CT newsroom itself.
What he describes is nothing other than the age-old temptation of theological liberalism, which in many ways was simply an attempt to make Christianity acceptable to cultural elites. As we all know now, that project led to the denial of core teachings of the Christian faith. For miracle-denying “Christians,” theological liberalism became the faith of the apostates not the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). It was a failed project in the last century, and it will be a failed project in this one to the degree that “evangelical elites” pursue it.
Pursuing the approval of elites is a fool’s errand. Those undertaking this project never seem to learn that “he’s elites are just not that into you.” They never have been and never will be (John 15:18-19). A part of faithfulness in our generation and in any generation is to have a holy indifference about the approval of those who despise Christ. That is why Paul warns, “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).
Galli writes that it’s no accident that CT more or less snubs complementarians and 6-day creationists. It’s a direct consequence of their not wishing to offend elite sensibilities.
I saw this accommodation dynamic as CT managing editor and then editor in chief. We said, for example, that the magazine did not take a stand in the complementarianism or egalitarianism debate. But we rarely if ever published an article that endorsed complementarianism; we did offer many that assumed egalitarianism in family and church life (not to mention the many women pastors who we published).
Then there was the six-day creation/evolution debate, in which again we said we took no stand. But try to find an article in the last three decades that argued for or assumed six-day creation. And yet we published several pieces that simply assumed a billion-year time span for the history of the earth.
It’s not a coincidence that complementarianism and six-day creation are anathema to secularists, features of a religion out of touch with reality.
I offer one personal anecdote that confirms this in my own experience. Four years ago, a number of evangelical leaders and scholars gathered in Nashville, Tennessee to complete and endorse what would come to be known as “The Nashville Statement” on biblical sexuality. Over the next four years, an impressive array of evangelical seminaries, colleges, churches, and ministries would adopt the statement as a confessional standard. Two years ago, the PCA adopted it as a faithful tool for discipling their members. The same year, the Southern Baptist Convention also adopted a resolution adopting language taken directly from The Nashville Statement.