November 30, 2006

Mortifying Sin in the Family

John Owen

I have been reading a good book, “Overcoming Sin and Temptation” which is a compilation of three works by John Owen edited by Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor.

Here is a section I read to my family yesterday.

"The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the indwelling power of sin. So the apostle, “mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth.” (Col. 3:5). To whom does he speak? Such as were “risen with Christ’ (v.1); such as were “dead” with him (v3); such as whose life Christ was and who should “appear with him in glory” (v4)

Do you mortify;
Do you make it your daily work;
Be always at it while you live;
Cease not a day from this work;
Be killing sin or it will be killing you." p50

November 28, 2006

The Exemplary Manhood of the Puritans

The business activity of the godly Puritan father was not conducted to the exclusion of his family, nor his family conducted to the exclusion of his business. He was well rounded and knew how to keep all of his priorities functioning and in order. The Puritans were not homebound hermits but world changers - starting with their wives and children. They were not morbid, but happy that God had everything in their control. They never asked, "who am I?", for they knew they were made in the image of God and had a sin nature, and they never asked, "why is this happening to me?", for they believed that God works "all things after the counsel of His will.

This reminds me of how the puritan, Colonel John Hutchinson, who lived in the time of Oliver Cromwell maintained a wide range of interests, yet without neglecting the most important ones. His wife, writing to her children about their father shows forth this same breadth of responsibility. She describes his physical characteristics and then his lifestyle and character,

“But withal he had a most amiable countenance which carried in it something of magnanimity and majesty, mixed with sweetness, that at all the same time bespoke love and awe in all that saw him.” “He was nimble and active and graceful in all his motions; he was apt for any bodily exercise; he could dance admirably well, but neither in youth or in riper years made any practice of it; he had skill in fencing, such as became a gentleman; he had a great love of music;… he had good judgment in paintings, graving, sculpture, and all liberal arts, and had many curiosities of many kinds; he took many pleasures in the improvement of grounds, in planting groves and walks, and fruit trees; he was wonderfully neat, cleanly genteel in his habit. “He hated persecution for religion, and was always a champion for all religious people against all oppressors.” “Neither in youth, nor riper age, could the most fair or enticing woman every draw him into unnecessary familiarity or vain converse or dalliance with them, yet he despised nothing of the female sex, but their follies and vanities; wise and virtuous women he loved, and delighted in all pure and holy and unblameable conversation with them.” “For conjugal affection to his wife, it was such as whosover would draw out a rule of honor, kindness and religion, need no more, but exactly draw out his example; never a man had a greater passion for a woman, nor a more honorable esteem for a wife. He governed by persuasion, which he never employed but to things honorable and profitable for herself. He loved her soul and her honor more than her outside, and yet he had for her person a constant indulgence.” “So constant was he in his love that when she ceased to be young and lovely, he began to show most fondness; he loved her at such a kind and generous rate as words cannot express.” “ He was as kind a father, as dear a brother, as good a master, and as faithful a friend as the world had.”

“He understood well, and as well performed when he undertook it, the military art in all parts of it; he naturally loved the employment as it suited with his active temper more than any, conceived a mutual delight in leading those men that loved his conduct, and when he commanded soldiers, never was man more loved and reverenced by all that were under him.” And “they loyed as much in his commands as he in their obedience.” He had a sweet and loving courtesy to the poorest, and would often employ many spare hours with the commonest soldiers and the poorest laborers.”

from, The Puritan in England and New England, by Ezra Hoyt Byington DD, P223-224, 1896

November 27, 2006

A Pastor's Plea for Love in the Church

The Pilgrims Pray before departure to New England

Here is an excerpt from Pastor John Robinson's Letter to the church before the pilgrims left from Southhampton for New England:

"Loving Christian Friends,

First, as we ought daily to renew our repentance with our God, especially for our sins known, and generally for our unknown trespasses, so doth the Lord call us in singular manner, upon such an occasion of difficulty and danger as lies before you both to more narrow search and careful reformation of our ways in His sight, lest He, calling to remembrance of our sins forgotten by us or unrepented of, take advantage of us, as a judgment whereas, on the contrary, sin being taken away by earnest repentance, and the pardon thereof from the Lord sealed up into a mans conscience by his spirit, great shall be his security and peace in all dangers, sweet his comfort in all distresses, with happy deliverance from all evil, whether in life or in death.

Now next after this heavenly peace with God in our own conscience, we are carefully to provide for peace with all men so far as in us lieth especially with our associates; and for that we must be watchful with we ourselves neither give, nor easily take, offense. Woe be unto the world for offenses; for though it may be necessary (considering the malice of satan and man’s corruption) that offenses come, yet woe unto the woman or man either by whom the offense come, saith Christ (Matthew 18,7). And if offenses arising from unseasonable actions, innocent in themselves, are more to be feared than death itself, as the apostle teacheth (I Corinthians 9,15), how much more when arising from things simply evil, in which neither honor of God nor love of man is thought worthy to be regarded. Nor is it sufficient that we keep ourselves by the grace of God from giving offense, except we be armed also against taking offense when it is given by others. For how imperfect is the work of grace in him who lacks the charity that covers a multitude of offense, As the scripture says. Neither are you exhorted to this grace only on the common grounds of Christianity. Persons ready to take offense, either lack the charity which should cover offenses; or the wisdom duly to weigh human frailty; or lastly, are gross though close hypocrites, as Christ our lord teaches (Matthew 7,1-3). In my own experience I have found few who are quicker to give offense, than hose who easily take it. They who have nursed this touchy humour have never proved sound and profitable members in societies.

But there are, besides, many reasons why you, above others, should use special care in this direction. You are, many of you, strangers to each other to the infirmities of one another, and so stand in need of the more watchfulness, lest when unsuspected qualities appeare in men and women, you be inordinately affected by them. This requires at your hands much wisdom and charity. Further, the plans for your intended civil community will furnish continual occasions of offense and will be as fuel to the fire, Unless you diligently quench it with brotherly forbearance. And if taking offense causelessly or easily at men’s doings. Shall be so carefully avoided, how much more is it to be heeded lest we take offense at God Himself, - which we do as often as we murmur at his providence in our crosses, or bear impatiently such a afflictions as He pleases to visit upon us. Store up, therefore, patience against the evil day, which we take offense at the Lord Himself in His holy and Just works.

A fourth thing is carefully to be provided for, for wit, that with your employments, which will be common to all, you join affections truly bent upon the general good, avoiding, as a deadly plague of your comfort, all retiredness of mind for selfish advantage. Let every one repress within himself, as so many rebels against the common good, all private partialities, not consistent with the general convenience and as one is careful not to have a new house shaken with any violence before it is well settled and the parts firmly knit, so be you, I beseech you brethren, much more careful, that the house og God, which you are and are to be, be not shaken by unnecessary novelties or other oppositions at the first settling thereof."

Of Plymouth Plantation, by William Bradford, P54-55

November 23, 2006

A Week of Thanksgiving and Remembrance

This week is a very special week in the Brown family. We are celebrating Thanksgiving in America's Home Town, Plymoth Mass. We have some dear friends living here and are attending their daughter's high school graduation, and are joining Vision Forum's Faith and Freedom Tour. It is a week of thanksgiving.

"That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, And tell of all Your wondrous works" Psalms 26:7

Claudia and Friends in the parade in Plymouth leading a scale model of the Mayflower, built by our Hawaiian friend, Justin Thain.

We want it to be a week to remember the faith of our fathers and to give thanks, and to further envision our own pilgrimage as a family. The pilgrim fathers who came before us had such a clear and compelling understanding of their charge to bring glory to God, for the evangelization of the natives of New England and to provide for their families.

This is the first time we have seen Peter and Kelly since their wedding... Thanksgiving Day is Kelly's birthday.

The Faith and Freedom Tour, takes us to the historical sites and monuments that have been erected that tell the stories of our heritage. What I like most about Doug’s speeches at the monuments is that they are filled with citations from original documents.

I desire that as for me and my house, we will always be a thankful family. I know that this is only possible when one has a vision of God at work in all things and particularly in having a providential view of history. Giving thanks is a great gift because it puts us in the position of encouraging one another by rendering to one another an understanding of the goodness of God in all things. This is consistent with the Old Testament, word for thanksgiving, the Hebrew yadah, which means “to extend the open hand.”

Visiting the Thains at 1 Leyden Street

We started the week as guests of our friends the Justin Thain family at the Plymouth Thanksgiving parade. Though they live in Hawaii, they recently purchased a property in Plymouth for their love of the history of the spread of the gospel. During the 19th century, their native Hawaii was evangelized by missionaries sent out from this area. Their home on 1 Leyden Street was the first building of the Pilgrims and it was also, the first hospital, the location of the signing of the treaty with Massasoit, first church meeting place, the first trial... It was the common house for the pilgrims until they were able to build their own individual dwellings, originally owned by William Bradford, with his son selling it in 1690.

The parade was organized by the Plymouth Rock Society whose members include many Pilgrim descendents. They are dedicated to preserving the true story of the Pilgrims which has been disfigured by disconnection from the original writings, and sanitized to remove the religious roots.

This week is also the anniversary of the signing of the Mayflower Compact. The Compact begins with the words, “In the Name of God, Amen.” Anyone saying that the pilgrims did not come here primarily for religious motivations simply has not carefully considered the original documents.

Bill Potter, one of the lecturers pointed out that the politically correct spin on the Pilgrims brings up images of George Orwell’s book, “1984.” In this important book, “Big Brother” corrects “inconvenient” information from the past. The main character, Winston Smith has a job at the “Ministry of Truth”, in their records department, where he is charged with going through newspapers, cutting out the inconvenient information and putting it into the “memory hole”. History must comply with the “Party’s’ version of the past. Thus, the true stories are rewritten, and conveniently lost.

Plymoth Rock – a rock of remembrance of the past.

Rocks are used to communicate truth about God from the beginning to the end of the Bible. There are rocks of remembrance and the rock of our salvation (Gilgal, Christ… Ex 17:6, Deut 32:4, I Sam 2:2, Isa 8;14, Ex 28:9-11, Josh 4:20)

Plymouth Rock is a symbolic rock. Actually there were two important rocks here: Pulpit Rock which is on Clark Island where William Bradford held the first church service and then Plymouth Rock which is on the waterfront at Plymouth where the Pilgrims landed in 1620.

What motivated the pilgrims to come here? You can take the word of the spinmeisters of today or you can go to the original documents and believe William Bradford who lists the reasons, recorded in "Of Plymouth Plantation"

1. The employment situation was untenable to them. P19.
2. They believed heavier persecution was coming, p20.
3. The protection of their children from the liscentious peers influencing them, p21.
4. They desired to lay Christian foundations and the “propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but "stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work”, P21.

Church of the Pilgrimage, the First Church in New England. Many of the church members are direct descendants of the Pilgrims who worshiped here in 1620.

We listened to Dr Gary Marks who is the 30th pastor in succession from John Robinson. He spoke of Robinson as his mentor and quoted him often.

Here are some interesting facts about this historic church that might seem odd to us today. The main meetings of the church included all the children. Women could not teach or speak in church according to scripture, but could sing as loud as their husbands. They entered into covenant with one another as church members. Pastor Marks indicated that it was their covenant which held them together. He said, “This church was the new beginning of a Christian covenantal commonwealth – a holy city set on a hill.”

We paid a visit to Plymouth Plantation with their wonderful re enactors in vintage apparel who speak to you as if they know nothing beyond May 1627. Engaging them in conversation about the church, business, family life or theology is lots of fun and a rich educational experience.

Here John Cook, now 20 years old (in 1627), tells us of life in Plymouth Plantaion and at our request, sings Psalm 100 from his Psalter.

Trip to Salem to Consider the Lessons of the Salem Witch Trials

Dr. Paul Jehle, lectured on the tragic situation in 1692 where the backbiting and talebearing of eight young girls between the ages of 7 and 16 brought accusations of120 people of witchcraft of which 19 were hanged or drowned or pressed to death as well as two dogs hanged as the children said the dogs gave them the evil eye. Of those executed, ten were leading Christian women in Salem and the first one to be hanged was Rebecca Nurse, widely known as one of the town’s most dedicated prayer warriors. People today hold this incident up as an example of the foisting of Puritan values and biblical law on society. It was exactly the opposite. Rather it was an example of pseudo Christianity disguised in people who were upstanding citizens, went to church and quoted the Bible and yet were filled with bitterness.

Marker for Rebecca Nurse, the first one killed

Here are five forces that created the crisis:

1. Fathers allowing destructive influences into their homes. Pastor Samuel Parris allowed a Carribbean slave girl named Tituba to influence his daughter and other girls in the community with fortunetelling, séances and other activities. These girls were the accusers.

2. Fathers refusing to discipline their children for unloving hearts and behavior. When Giles Corrie stood up in the trial and said in effect, “I can solve this in a few minutes… these girls need to be spanked by their fathers.” The girls accused him of witchcraft, he was convicted and pressed to death. These fathers were not in control. They were not exercising good government in their houses by allowing dishonor toward people in the community.

3. Fathers who brought in and allowed gossip in their homes about members of the community. Earlier the town had divided into two factions based on a business disagreement. Interestingly enough, ALL of the people accused were from the other side. The result was people in the courtroom picking up other people’s offenses.

4. Church government out of control as evidenced by Reverend Samuel Parris who refused to use biblical Matthew 18 kind of processes to confront individuals involved with gossip in the church. It can also be said that he was personally unqualified for his position on the basis of scriptural requiremt to manage his household well. Further Mr. Parris, was involved in several disputes over his salary, his supply of firewood, and the ownership of his house, among other things. Many believe that bitternesses fostered through his salary as pastor and taking sides in a town dispute was one of the sources of the problem.

5. Judicial excess in violating legal processes of justice and the rejection of biblical laws regarding evidence - particularly the admission of spectral evidence in the court room (testifying that so and so’s ghost appeared and tormented someone). This was the sole evidence for many of the convictions.

It was a witches brew of church and home and government out of order.

Cotton Mather

In desperation, the town authorities called upon Puritan pastor, Increase Mather and his son Cotton, who spoke out strongly against the trials, calling for implementation of the Biblical principle of two or three witnesses and the process for receiving testimony to avoid "justic"' by gossip. The Mathers brought sanity to the situation and the trials ended and the accused were released from prison. The Reverend Samuel Parris was driven from the village.

Five years later, Jan 15, 1697, there was repentance in the legislature calling for a day of fasting and humiliation. when Judge Sewell repented of the judicial methods he allowed. The Judge acknowledged his “blame and shame.

Repentance for the false accusations and gossip finally came over twenty years later, when one of the girls who had made the false accusations came into the church and repented, and that repentance marked the beginning of the Great Awakening. It was not until there was repentance of the gossip in the homes and the public meetings, and lack of love that this movement of the Spirit of God was unleashed.

The Salem Witch trials are testimony for what happens when the three jurisdictions are out of order - and when they are out of order at the same time, there is big trouble. The family, the church and the civil government had strayed from their God ordained operation and function.

Pilgrim Serenade

We Celebrated Thanksgiving Day at Plymouth Plantation with an original thanksgiving dinner with the same kinds of food the Pilgrims ate... and giving thanks after the manner of Lev 7:12, Neh 12:8-46, Ps 26:7, 69:30, 107:22, 147:7, Eph 5:4, Col 2:6-7, Col 3:15, Col 3:17 and Col 4:2.

Here we are on Coles Hill, at the monument to those who died during the first winter. Only seven people were healthy enough to care for the sick during that first winter. They started with 29 women - 14 died.

Doug Phillips lecturing at the Pilgrim Mother Monument... The 7 women who survived the first winter in Plymouth, have given birth to 30 million documented descendants.

Arnold Pent and Family

Don and Victor Hart

Listening to Lecture at the Pilgrim Mother Monument, with a future mother, God willing.

The Turleys

My Sweet Blair

November 21, 2006

Chapter 4 Charity Disposes Us Meekly to Bear the Injuries Received From Others

Chapter 4, Charity Disposes Us Meekly to Bear the Injuries Received From Others

1 Corinthians 13:4 "Love suffers long and is kind"

Edwards first lists the kinds on injuries we might suffer. Here is a summary: “unfairness, dishonesty, taking advantage, unfaithfulness, not fulfilling promises, asking unreasonable prices, neglecting to pay debts, unnecessarily putting neighbors in trouble. He says the worst and most common are “Some injure others in their good name, by reproaching or speaking evil behind their backs.. spreading false reports, misrepresent things, exaggerating faults, dislike or even hatred.” P61-62

He says that we should EXPECT these, for how else can longsuffering and kind live be expressed if there were not a reason to express them.

Then he says that these should be born with meekness and love. I found this most helpful and something that we should help our children understand with perfect clarity: “when the injuries we suffer are allowed to disturb our calmness of mind, and put us into an excitement and tumult, then we cease to bear them in the true spirit of long-suffering. If the injury is permitted to discompose and disquiet us, and to break up our inward rest, we cannot enjoy ourselves and are not in a state to engage properly in our various duties”. P67

“Love for God disposes men to see His hand in everything, to own Him as the governor of the world and the Director of providence, and to acknowledge His disposal in everything that takes place.” P73

Chapter 3 The Greatest Performances or Sufferings in Vain Without Charity

Chapter 3
“The Greatest Performances or Sufferings in Vain Without Charity”

"Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

Edwards proposes that acts of “love” without sincerity is nothing more than serving an idol.

The title tells all: “all that men can do and all that they can suffer cannot make up for the lack of sincere Christian love in the heart.” P47 He reminds that many of the Pharisees did great things, great pilgrimages and privations and so have many ungodly have had great fame and had their names exalted by their outward expressions but without sincere love in their hearts. This is worthless. He says that if we work without love, we are a clanging cymbal… a mechanical machine just making noise. One should not think that “we can make up for one debt by paying another”, and “withholding what is required” – a heart of love in the service.

He says that loveless service is service to an idol. “Whatever may be done or suffered, if there is no sincerity in the heart, it is all but an offering to some idol.” He notes that some people do acts of service for recognition or some benefit and these may be simply idols that have stolen sincere love. ‘… how absurd to suppose we can make up for withholding form God what is His due by offering something to our idol! It is as absurd as it is to suppose that the wife can make up for want of love to her husband by giving that affection which is due to him to another man who is a stranger; or that she can make up for her want of faithfulness to him by the guilt of adultery.”

“Natural unrenewed men would be glad to have something to make up for the want of sincere love and real grace in their hearts. Many do things to make up for the want of it, while others are willing tot suffer great things.” P57

This is an appeal for love from the heart, not simply mechanical obedience for reasons of self gratification.

November 20, 2006

Chapter 2 - Love Greater Than All Other Gifts

Chapter Two
Charity More Excellent than the Extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit

In this chapter, Edwards says that love is greater than all gifts or accomplishments. I Cor 13 is the proof. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophesy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” 1 Cor 13:1-2
Edwards draws from these words that charity is more excellent than the extorardinay gifts of the Spirit. This means that love is pre eminent over all other accomplishments. Love is the greatest of all accomplishments

He exalts love over all gifts as I Cor 13 does. He observes that the Apostle Paul compares love with other gifts such as tongues, gifts of prophesy, understanding of all mysteries, and knowledge and faith that can remove mountains.

“The ordinary influence of the Spirit of God working the grace of charity in the heart is a more excellent blessing than any of the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit.” P25

“Salvation is promised to those who have the graces of the Spirit, but not to those who have merely the extraordinary gifts. Many have these last and yet go to hell.” p35

November 18, 2006

Chaper 1 - Love, the Sum of All Virtue

Notes from Jonathan Edwards, book, "Charity and It’s Fruits: Christian Love as Manifested in the Heart and Life”

Chapter 1, Charity, the Sum of All Virtue

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophesy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” 1 Cor 13:1-3

The main point of chapter one is that “all virtue that is saving, and that distinguishes true Christians from others, is summed up in Christian love. p3

He defines love as “disposition or affection whereby one is dear to another” p2

“The Spirit of God is a Spirit of love, and when the former enters the soul, love also enters with it.” p5

“There are not two works of the Spirit of God- one to infuse a spirit of love for God and the other to infuse a spirit of love for man-but in producing one, the Spirit produces the other also.” p5

“It will dispose men to meekness and gentleness in their carriage toward their neighbors, and not to treat them with passion, violence, or heat of spirit, but rather with moderation, calmness, and kindness. It will check and restrain everything like a bitter spirit; for love has not bitterness in it, but is a gentle and sweet disposition and affection of the soul. It will prevent broils and quarrels, and will dispose men to peaceableness and to forgive injurious treatment received from others. As it is said in Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirreth up strifes, but love covereth all sins.” p8

“The scriptures teach us that love is the sum of all that is contained in the Law of God, and of all the duties required in His Word.” P10

More Love in the Brown Home

Jonathan and Sarah Edwards Promoted Love in their Home

Jonathan Edwards is for me a kind of summarizing personality for the important issues of his day and ours as well. He grappled with the growing secularization of the colonies, the greatness of God in an environment that was increasingly man centered, the tensions from the growth of medical technology advances in the church, the educational “improvements” that were taking hold and the theological forces at work that led to the Revolutionary War.

As a result of a desire to promote more love and affection and kindness and mercy, tender affinity and encouraging speech in our home, I wanted to find some good writing to help us grow in this area. I selected a book by Jonathan Edwards to help us center our thoughts on what the Bible says about love, since there are so many things in our hearts and in the world around us to dampen love.

So, this week our family is looking for ways to promote love between us as family members and hopefully that we would be more vigorous in spreading love out beyond it. So I am now reading a book by Jonathan Edwards which is a commentary on 1 Corinthians 13 called, "Charity and It’s Fruits: Christian Love as Manifested in the Heart and Life”.

I am reading a chapter a day personally and then giving the whole family the sense of it during the day. The book is Jonathan Edwards book on I Cor 13, published by Soli Deo Gloria, entitled,

In the forward to the book, publisher R.C. Sproul says, “1 Corinthians 13 is one of the most demanding and humbling pieces of divine revelation we may ever encounter.”

November 10, 2006

231 Year Anniversary US Marines Today

Today is the 231 year anniversary of the United States Marines. I want to expresss my gratitude.

The poet said it well,

"Storm’d at with shot and shell
Bravely they rode and well
Into the Jaws of Death
Into the Mouth of Hell

The Defining battlefield of the Marine Corps inthe twentieth century was the Battle for Iwo Jima during WWII. This fact, coupled with the importance of honoring our fathers led Vision Forum to make the following movie, League of Grateful Sons:

I have thought about Iwo Jima all my life. Sixty years after the battle in 2005, we returned to Iwo. When I stood atop Mt Suribachi with my father and two of my children, it was the most beautiful place in the world to me. It is the land of my childhood dreams because it is the battlefield of my father’s youth. This is where my father flew fighter planes, defended our country and bought me a future.

Three generations of Browns stood on the ground where the the US Marines raised the American flag on Mt. Suribachi. It was thrilling for me to be there with my father and my children and look over the battlefield, and see with my own eyes the places my father told me about all my life. We were there with Marine, Bill Henderson and his grandsons and the Geoff Botkin film crew and Doug Phillip's, Vision Forum, maker of the movie, League of Grateful Sons. While we were standing there my dad opened his pocket wartime Bible and read out loud, of God's promises and His grace.

Iwo Jima was the Battlefield of My Father’s Youth. His manhood was forged there. Funny how hard things are sometimes the best things.

Standing on that mountain, I closed my eyes and pictured the stories of the wreckage and the craters and the floating dead bodies and the smoke and the fire and the stench. In my minds eye I could see Bill Henderson storming the beach and my father in his P-51 Mustang coming in from a raid, banking in around Suribachi "coming in on a wing and a prayer". It all came to life for me.

He was just a boy back then. They were all boys. It is shocking to think that it was nineteen and twenty year old boys who fired Howitzers and flamethrowers and dove on grenades. They flew B 29’s and P51 Mustangs and saved the world from Hirohito and Hitler. Let's not forget that. Lets make a big personal, walk along talk along discipleship investment in the youth around us today.

November 07, 2006

How to Understand the Old Testament

See Albert Mohler's Blog for a great piece on Eugene Merrill's book, Everlasting Dominion: A Theology of the Old Testament.

Here is the text:

Eugene Merrill's Everlasting Dominion -- A Major Contribution to Old Testament Theology
Posted: Tuesday, November 07, 2006 at 2:29 am ET

Dr. Eugene Merrill, has recently published his theology of the Old Testament. Everlasting Dominion: A Theology of the Old Testament was released by B&H Publishing Group and it belongs on every pastor's bookshelf.

At the end of his volume, Dr. Merrill restates his theological premises. Consider this statement:

"At the onset we have, without apology and equivocation, undertaken our work with the settled conviction that the Old Testament is the written word of God, revealed by him to the prophets of old, preserved from error in matters of fact and doctrine, and authoritative for both Israel and the church. We have made no effort to argue the point or provide evidence for it except to remind the reader that this is the Bible's own understanding of itself and the studied opinion of virtually all pre-Enlightenment Jewish and Christian scholars and laity alike. How one views the question of bibliology has obvious consequences for his theology so we have not on purely a priori grounds adopted one stance as opposed to another. Indeed, the position advocated here is the fruit of many years of careful and prayerful consideration of all the issues involved and reflects more than just a casual acquaintance with the difficulties inherent in any evaluation of Scripture."


"In the final analysis, the whole corpus--the Word of God and the words of men--is revelatory, the product of a process of divine redactionism that guarantees that every part is precisely as it ought to be, contributing to the redemptive message for which it is intended. This lends to it a cohesion, a united and self-consistent presentation from beginning to end that cannot be explained by any number of documentary or redactionary theories of human creativity but only by the self-evident fact of the originating and controlling work of the Spirit of God. This leads to a further premise, one that logically follows--the expectation that a single Author has a single overarching message that can be readily detected. Moreover, that message itself, if it is to be understood in any meaningful way, must be informed by a central theme of themes, a story line that leaves no question as to the Author's intentions and desired effects."

Several pages later, he writes this important paragraph:

"Fundamentally, the issue of the relationship of the testaments--whether theologically or hermeneutically--boils down to the nature of the whole. If one is of the conviction that the Old and New Testament alike are the Word of God, revealed and inspired by him, the difficulties largely dissolve, for the authorship and, hence, the intertextual connections of its various parts (both testaments) not only find theological justification but hermeneutical warrant as well. Authors of texts have dominical rights to those texts and from their privileged position can employ whatever devices or methods they choose to communicate and interpret their own writings. Who, then, can question the Holy Spirit of God on the matter and charge him with hermeneutical impropriety should he "violate" modern rules of hermeneutical theory?"

What a magnificent and timely paragraph! Professor Merrill's words are well-stated and important. Of course, in this day these words are also controversial, for a restatement and reaffirmation of biblical authority -- especially in dealing with the Old Testament, is out of step with the modern mind.

Eugene Merrill is one of the most respected scholars of the Scriptures in our times, and readers of Everlasting Dominion willl reap the fruit of Dr. Merrill's life-long commitment to the study of Old Testament theology.