Scripture, Tradition, and the Question of Authority

We affirm that the Scriptures are the supreme written norm by which God binds the conscience, and that the authority of the Church is subordinate to that of Scripture.

 We deny that church creeds, councils, or declarations have authority greater than or equal to the authority of the Bible.

The second article of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (CSBI) deals specifically with the issue of Scripture’s authority. Article II affirms that the Scriptures are the “supreme written norm” to which human conscience is bound, while other written documents, although important, do not possess authority equal or superior to that of the Scriptures. Continue reading “Scripture, Tradition, and the Question of Authority”

Why Should Christians Seek Assurance of their Salvation?

I remember a conversation during college in which a friend confessed to me that he did not think it was necessary, or even possible, for a believer to gain assurance of their salvation. I was surprised by his comments, especially because we were attending a Christian college that emphasized all the biblical truths related to assurance of salvation: election, grace, faith, repentance, substitutionary atonement, the fully deity and humanity of Christ, and eternal security.

As it turns out, this was not an isolated incident. Over the past several years as I’ve wrestled personally with the issue of assurance and had opportunity to speak to others about it, I’ve found that many Christians do not rightly understand the biblical basis or importance of this doctrine. Assurance is essential to genuine Christianity and central to the New Testament’s theological framework, yet plenty of Christians are content to walk through life without the sure knowledge that they belong to Christ. There are, of course, those who claim assurance who have no right to; but it seems that there are an equal number of professing Christians who have either resigned to the fact they will never have assurance or that they don’t really need it. Continue reading “Why Should Christians Seek Assurance of their Salvation?”

With Christ in the Cambodian Killing Fields

In the spring of 1975, the Communist Party of Kampuchea–more popularly known as the Khmer Rouge–took official control of Cambodia. Pol Pot, a Marxist driven by intended-for-evilvisions of a pure socialist state and his desire to rebuild his country, led a revolutionary army into unlikely power and immediately began to implement his plans for a better Cambodia. For the next four years, Pol Pot would pursue his socialist utopia by establishing a strictly agrarian economy and removing any possible signs of capitalist influence from the country.

That’s putting it lightly.

Pol Pot’s aim to create a “New Socialist Man” who was “dedicated only to the collective,” required that he eliminate any trace of the old society. Les Sillars explains,

Pol Pot’s goal was to create a new society that was purely socialist and purely Khmer. First, the regime had to crush the old society and everything connected to it: religion, free markets, private property, schools, political and economic institutions, as well as traditional ideas of morality, sexuality, and family (67). Continue reading “With Christ in the Cambodian Killing Fields”

Let Us Have Peace with God? Reflections on Romans 5:1 and Dealing with Bible Difficulties

Encountering difficulties in the Bible can be troubling for the young believer and the seasoned saint alike. Yet, when we are confronted with hard passages or apparent discrepancies in the biblical text, we don’t want to ignore the difficulty or pretend it doesn’t exist. Out of an unwillingness to do a little hard work, lack of acquaintance with the available resources, or the mistaken assumption that faith shouldn’t require any mental effort, we may indulge the temptation to shuffle quickly past difficult passages in order to avoid intellectual and emotional discomfort. Continue reading “Let Us Have Peace with God? Reflections on Romans 5:1 and Dealing with Bible Difficulties”

All Things Richly: God and the Good Things of Life

When it comes to the matters related to physical life and how Christians should think about earthly enjoyment, the Church has rarely found herself securely balanced between the extremes of severe asceticism and unrestrained indulgence. Even the New Testament gives the indication that there has always been pressure to move toward one of these two poles. In Ephesus, there were lovers of pleasure; in Colossae, there were rigorous ascetics. In the early church there were those, like Augustine, who (personal reasons notwithstanding) rejected marriage and sought the pseudo-spiritual environment of a monastery. There were the hedonists and the Epicureans. Today we have the legalists and the health, wealth, and prosperity teachers. What we need a theology of enjoyment. Continue reading “All Things Richly: God and the Good Things of Life”

‘The Religious Tradesman’ by Richard Steele

The Religious TradesmanRichard Steele was a Puritan minister in the mid-seventeenth century, but his work The Religious Tradesman is what you might consider a “lost classic.” Even in 1747, eighty years after its initial publication, Isaac Watts, writing in the introduction, lamented that the piece was “now very little known;” it’s popularity foundering under the disadvantages of an “ancient name” and “ancient dress.”

Nearly 300 years later, we can join in Watts’s lament. Despite excellent content, Steele’s book has received very little attention among contemporary Christian readers. Hopefully this brief review can encourage a few Christians to pick up Steele’s volume and find encouragement to attend to their daily work with renewed joy and purpose. Continue reading “‘The Religious Tradesman’ by Richard Steele”

Is the Church Full of Hypocrites? Part 2: What About the Log in our Eye?

You can read part 1 here

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Two texts that a person could point to–really the only two in the New Testament–to argue that Christians can be classified as hypocrites, are Matthew 7:1-5 and Luke 7:37-42. In both texts, Jesus, speaking to his disciples, appears at first glance to imply that a disciple who does not deal with his own sin before helping another disciple with their sin is not merely guilty of hypocrisy, but is, in fact, a hypocrite (Matt 7:4; Luke 7:42).

These passages are often used as proof texts for how Christians should conduct their ministry of confrontation and restoration. The pattern should be this: before you deal with the little sins in other brothers and sisters, first deal with the big sins in your life. Well and good. As a principle, this approach is certainly valid. But a closer look at these texts shows us that Jesus’ use of the word hypocrite in Matthew 7:1-5 and Luke 7:37-42 is consistent with how he uses it elsewhere. In other words, Jesus isn’t assuming the person with a log in their eye is a genuine believer who simply needs instruction on how to humbly interact with other believers.  Continue reading “Is the Church Full of Hypocrites? Part 2: What About the Log in our Eye?”