Jul 30, 2006

Leon Morris: An Obituary

Leon Lamb Morris
1914-2006

New Testament scholar Leon Morris died on Monday afternoon in Melbourne after hip surgery, aged 92. His funeral will be at Holy Trinity Doncaster, Melbourne, on July 31 at 10.30 am.

"Leon Morris (1914—2006) was a New Testament scholar. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge in England on the subject which became his first major book, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross. He served as Warden of Tyndale House, Cambridge (1960-64); Principal of Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia (where they have named a library in his honour); and Visiting Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

"He has published several theological works and commentaries on the Bible, notable among which are The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross, The Atonement: Its Meaning and Significance, New Testament Theology, and The Gospel According to John (part of the New International Commentary on the New Testament series)." (Wikipedia) His Apostolic Preaching of the Cross became seminal for modern evangelical theology of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.

"He served on the boards of a number of Christian organizations including the Evangelical Alliance, Scripture Union, Church Missionary Society, Bible Society, and he chaired the 1968 Billy Graham Crusade Committee. As President of the Evangelical Alliance, he established TEAR Fund, a significant Christian aid and development agency in Australia. He was a translator for the New International Version of the New Testament. In 1974, on his sixtieth birthday, he was presented with a Festschrift from eminent biblical scholars from around the world." (Anglican Media Melbourne)

I can't help but mourn the passing of such a great scholar, Christian minister and saint who worked so tirelessly for the Gospel. We need more such Anglican evangelical leaders.

Thank you, God, for your faithful servant and for the way in which he has helped the church to understand your Word and to glory in the cross of Jesus Christ.

(Hat Tip: Between Two Worlds)

Jul 23, 2006

Readings for The Kingdom of God

My bibliography of works that influence my understanding of the Kingdom of God in the Bible.

Bibliography

Oscar Cullman. Christ and Time. London, 1952.
- Salvation and History. London, 1967.

William J. Dumbrell. The Search for Order. Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2001.

E. Earle Ellis. Prophecy and Hermeneutic in Early Christianity. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993.

R. T. France. Jesus and the Old Testament. Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 1992.

Graeme Goldsworthy. According to Plan. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1991.

Richard Hiers. The Kingodom of God in the Synoptic Tradition. Gainesville, Fla.: Univ. of Florida Press, 1970.

G. W. Kummel. Promise and Fulfillment: The Eschatological Message of Jesus. SCM, 1957.

George E. Ladd. A Theology of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993.
- "The Kingdom of God - Reign or Realm?" JBL 31 (1962), 230-38.

Hans K. LaRondelle. The Israel of God in Prophecy. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews Univ. Press, 1983.

Gosta Lundstrom. The Kingdom of God in the Teaching of Jesus. Oliver and Boyd, 1963.

R. Otto. The Kingdom of God and the Son of Man. Lutterworth Press, 1951.

David Peterson. Engaging with God. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1992.
- Posessed by God, NSBT. Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1995.

Archicald Robertson. Regnum Dei. Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2004.

Haddon. W. Robinson. Corporate Personality in Ancient Israel. Philadelpia, 1964.

Aldolph Schlatter. History of the Christ.

Charles H. H. Scobie. The Ways of Our God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003.

Geerhardus Vos. Teaching of Jesus concerning the Kingdom of God and the Church. Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1999.

N. T. Wright. The New Testament and The People of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992.
- Jesus and The Victory of God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.

Series on The Kingdom of God

I'm starting a series of posts covering the topic of the Kingdom of God from the Old and New Testaments. I want to discuss the language, theme and biblical development of the idea of the Kingdom of God. I also want to talk about the relationship of the Church to the Kingdom of God and how it should inform Christian living today. I'll start by posting a brief bibliography of resources on the subject.

Scott

Jul 18, 2006

The Way Forward for Evangelicals

Dear friends and all who may visit this Blog. May I invite you to seriously take to heart what Bishop Jensen has to say. His ideas are fresh, relevant, sound and, should they be heeded, may well reform the Anglican church in the West and guarantee a strong future around the world.

Communion in Crisis Part 1 & Part 2



THE PROBLEM

The present crisis in the Communion is only the presenting issue of a set of deeper and more significant problems revolving around authority and mission.

The crisis in the Anglican communion is really a crisis of Christianity in the West, about faith and different ways of handling that... [and] Homosexuality is the presenting issue for this wider issue.

To sum up: the crisis in the Communion is about the relation between culture and revelation, liberalism and the Bible. It may show itself in the area of human sexuality, but it really goes back to the authority of Scripture and our willingness to be subservient to its teaching despite the unpopularity which this may bring in the world and in the church. In order to be obedient under pressure we are going to have to attend more that we have done up until now to the issue of depth in theological education in parishes and in the denomination. Especially we are going to have to care for each other, to encourage and strengthen each other and to support each other in unpopular stands, if these need to be taken. And remember, ‘Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears will want them to hear… But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.’ (2 Timothy 4:2-5).

THE PLAN


A New Reformation?

In effect the church in the west is being strained by significantly different theologies: the question is, will it be strained to breaking point? Will there be a new Reformation? Furthermore, although we can all see that this is an international problem, it plays itself out at the national and local arenas even more sharply. In due course, many of us are going to have to face quite painful questions arising from our fellowship with those with whom we differ profoundly.

There is a Limit to Diversity in Christian Fellowship

It is often said that one of the glories of Anglicism is its comprehensiveness and, inclusiveness and tolerance. There is some truth, in this although I fear that much of it is also romantic wishful thinking, or the dream-world of a majority which fails to see how they are treating the minority. Certainly, however, in the twentieth century in a number of places we learned to get on with each and to recognise the valid existence of other points of view within the church. It helped to have a poor historical memory. We learned to live with a fair degree of pluriformity. But comprehensiveness has never included every available option. The idea that a church has truth-commitments which it will ignore in the interests of inclusion is likewise a dream. To state the obvious such a ‘structure’ could not survive. I state the obvious, but I sometimes wonder how obvious this is....when is the limit of comprehensiveness reached? I think that you can see that I would be troubled by a development which...

  1. Forced me to do what I believe to be unscriptural,
  2. Involved a matter of salvation,
  3. So involved me in the actions of others so that it appears that I agree with the development because I do not protest or take withdraw.

Homosexuality

Here indeed is a salvation matter. This life-style is spiritually very perilous. Encouraging it or allowing it is endangering the lives of those involved and is inconsistent with the duties of being a minister of God’s word. It is a matter of a different nature to such issues as infant baptism or the ordination of women. It is no wonder that it created for St John’s (and the other parishes involved) an immense crisis of conscience. To remain silent and inactive would have been to say that they were complicit in an activity of such significance that the eternal salvation of souls was at stake in a direct way. The whole culture is heading the wrong way – of which this is a symptom. It is anti-human and de-humanising.

Networking


Nonetheless, if I still wish to be called ‘Anglican’ with some degree of authenticity, something must be done to make sure that scripture is honoured, conscience satisfied and it cannot be said that I am passively acquiescing in something that I regard as spiritually devastating behaviour at an official level of the church. I believe that, faced with such a challenge, we need to reform and renew our networks. These will help us to see who we are in fellowship with – and who not. The Anglican church world-wide has already entered into a period of fractured relationships across networks, although it is not true of the church in Australia, I am glad to say.

Let us create new structures of fellowship where necessary. We have been too slack, too individualistic, too touchy about the issues that divide, too parish-focused. Evangelical people everywhere need to unite around the issues which are at the heart of what we believe and make us what we are. At the same time, if and when necessary, and with a heavy heart, they must clearly and corporately dissociate from developments which are unscriptural and spiritually dangerous. An evangelical network can do the following:
    1. Speak for a large number, so that protests cannot be dismissed as isolated and unimportant.
    2. Agree to defend and support any individual or church being disadvantaged because of a principled stand on an issue of the magnitude of homosexuality.
    3. Enter coalitions with like-minded groups without creating compromise on other subjects.
    4. Speak for and with similar networks elsewhere in the communion.
    5. Agree on a strategy by which it will be clear that the network is dissenting from an official but blatantly unscriptural policy.
    6. Adopt polices for joint action where necessary.

Overarching all, however, must be a commitment to the gospel, and hence to mission worldwide and in the secular West. An example of the last in some parts of the world would be for a network to agree not to baptise persons living in a same-sex relationship and to support those who operate on that principle.

Leadership


Leadership
within the evangelical movement is not ever easy; we do not like papal figures with good reason. But for anyone to offer leadership today is triply difficult. The movement has been seriously divided for a generation over other issues. We have not produced well-thought out theologians who can also be statesmen and prophets. Furthermore, the level of vilification of leaders within the community, within the church and within the movement is horrendous. Few will want to be involved at any more than parish level. Unfortunately, without leadership which has widespread support and recognition it will be extremely difficult for evangelicalism to retain a significant place in any modern denomination which is not evangelical itself. Pray for courageous, biblical, recognisable leadership. When it comes, honour it and don’t undermine it.

We will need to be very flexible in how we are Christian and how we 'do' church. It may be that we are going to have to do church on different days of the week, without buildings, without regular clergy: there are all sorts of ways in which the church of the future is going to be experienced.

Let me now turn to one last major issue: theological education...[Liberal Christians in the West] understand the crucial role played by theological education in the health of the church...Western ideas of sexuality [have] come from an understanding of the Bible [regarded] as pre-modern. [Global South churches] are determined to make sure that the next generation of ordinands in the Global South churches are taught what they would regard as better ways of interpreting and applying Scripture. The irony of this is that the theological education of the West has, speaking very generally, enfeebled the churches, taken away the Bible and been the major source of the cultural captivity of the church.

AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE
NETWORKS
LEADERSHIP
MISSION
EDUCATION

Let's get to it!

Jul 6, 2006

An Evangelical Understanding of Holy Communion (with a little Biblical Theology to boot)

I've been wanting to write about Holy Communion for some time. I hope you enjoy and appreciate this post. The Anglican church has an evangelical understanding of Holy Communion that took time, thought and effort to produce for the benefit of Christians. It's a gem. And it's what I'm sticking with.

There are two main parts: 1) Holy Communion is communion with Christ and 2) Holy Communion is communion with the church.

The Anglican doctrine affirms that we participate in the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion:

BCP (1662):
Then shall the Priest, kneeling down at the Lord's Table, say in the name of all them that shall receive the Communion this Prayer following.
WE do not presume to come to this thy Table, 0 merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.
http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/communion/index.html

The Second Book of Homilies, "Of the Worthy Receiving and Reverent Esteeming of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ":
But thus much we must be sure to hold, that in the Supper of the Lord, there is no vain ceremony, no bare sign, no untrue figure of a thing absent (Matthew 26:26): But (as the Scripture says) the table of the Lord, the bread and cup of the Lord, the memory of Christ, the annunciation of his death, yes, the communion of the body and blood of the Lord, in a marvelous incorporation, which by the operation of the Holy Ghost (the very bond of our conjunction with Christ) is through faith wrought in the souls of the faithful, whereby not only their souls live to eternal life, but they surely trust to win their bodies a resurrection to immortality (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). The true understanding of this fruition and union, which is between the body and the head between the true believers and Christ, the ancient catholic fathers, both perceiving themselves, and commending to their people, were not afraid to call this supper, some of them, the salve of immortality and sovereign preservative against death. Others, a divine communion. Others, the sweet delicacies of our Savior, the pledge of eternal health, the defense of faith, the hope of the resurrection. Others, the food of immortality, the healthful grace, and the conservatory to everlasting life. All which sayings both of the Holy Scripture and godly men, truly attributed to this celestial banquet and feast, if we would often call to mind. Oh how would they inflame our hearts to desire the participation of these mysteries, and oftentimes to covet after this bread, continually to thirst for this food? ...

Now it followeth to have with this knowledge a sure and constant faith, not only that the death of Christ is available for the redemption of all the world, for the remission of sins, and reconciliation with God the Father: but also that he hath made upon his Cross a full and sufficient sacrifice for thee, a perfect cleansing of thy sins, so that thou acknowledgest no other Saviour, Redeemer, Mediator, Advocate, Intercessor, but Christ only, and that thou mayest say with the Apostle, "that he loved thee, and gave himselfe for thee"  (Gal 2:20).  For this is to stick fast to Christ's promise made in his Institution, to make Christ thine own, and to apply his merits unto thy self. Herein thou needest no other man's help, no other Sacrifice, or oblation, no sacrificing Priest, no Mass, no means established by man's invention. That Faith is a necessary instrument in all these holy Ceremonies, we may thus assure ourselves, for that as Saint Paul saith, "without Faith it is unpossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6).  "When a great number of the Israelites were overthrowne in the wilderness, Moses, Aaron and Phineas did eat manna, and pleased God, for that they understood" (saith Saint Augustine) the visible meat spiritually (Augustine, In Johan. Hom. 6).  Spiritually they hungred it, spiritually they tasted it, that they might be spiritually satisfied. And truely as the bodily meat cannot feed the outward man, unless it be let into a stomach to be digested, which is healthsome and sound: No more can the inward man be fed, except his meat be received into his soul and heart, sound and whole in Faith. Therefore (saith Cyprian), "when we doe these things, we need not to whet our teeth: but with sincere faith we break and divide that whole bread" (Cyprian, De cana Domini). It is well known that the meat we seek for in this Supper, is Spirituall food, the nourishment of our soul, a heavenly refection, and not earthly, an invisible meat, and not bodily, a ghostly substance [i.e. sustenance], and not carnal, so that to think that without Faith we may enioy the eating and drinking thereof, or that that is the fruition of it, is but to dream a gross carnal feeding, basely objecting and binding our selves to the elements and creatures. Whereas by the advice of the Councel of Nicea, we ought to lift up our minds by faith, and leaving these inferior and earthly things, there seek it, where the Sun of Righteousness ever shineth (Council of Nicea, Concilium). Take then this lesson (O thou that art desirous of this Table) of Emissenus a godly Father, that when thou goest up to the reverend Communion, to be satisfied with spiritual meat, thou looke up with faith upon the holy body and blood of thy God, thou marvel with reverence, thou touch it with the mind, thou receive it with the hand of thy heart, and thou take it fully with thy inward man (Eusebius Emissenus, Serm. de Euchar.).
http://www.footstoolpublications.com/Homilies/Bk2_SacramentRec15.pdf
http://www.anglicanlibrary.org/homilies/bk2hom15.htm


Articles:
XXVIII. Of the Lord's Supper.
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves, one to another, but rather it is a sacrament of our redemption by Christ's death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith receive the same, the bread which we break is a partaking of the body of Christ, and likewise the cup of blessing is a partaking of the blood of Christ.

Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of bread and wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ, but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.

The body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith.

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.
http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/articles/articles.html#28

My emphases in italics and bold font indicate that the classic reformed Anglican doctrine of Holy Communion emphasizes the union between Christ and the Body of Christ, the Church, of which he is the Head, through partaking of his Body and Blood, truly signified by the sacramental bread and wine, of Holy Communion. The emphasis is the gospel truth that God and man have been intimately reconciled to loving, everlasting communion, on the grounds of Christ's death on the cross, by the means of faith, through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the beautiful mystery of the gospel.  And it is in this union that Christ confers the benefits of the Gospel to the faithful; namely, Himself!

But that's not all. There is emphasis on the unity of the church too.

As Article XXVIII affirms, Holy Communion is a sign of the love that Christians have with one another.  Recall the apostle's words in 1 Corithians 10. He speaks at pretty great length regarding the divided Corinthian's practices around the Lord's Supper. Paul argues strongly against any idea that suggests that the Lord's Supper is a pagan feast and argues strongly against any idea that one can participate in the Lord's Supper and other pagan feasts and claim exclusive identity among the Body of Christ. Moreover, he urges the Corinthians to exercise caution when eating foods that may cause other Christians consternation. At the heart of his argument lies these statements,

1 Corinthians 10:16-24

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? "All things are lawful," but not all things are helpful. "All things are lawful," but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

Paul then picks up on the truth of unity again in Ch.11,

1 Corinthians 11:20-29
When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you:

that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.

Here Paul criticizes the Corinthian "supper," which sounds more like an "eat-and-run" kind of free for all, with beer on tap, by saying, "You're not eating the Lord's Supper." Notice the problems: disunity (21a), inequitable distribution (22b), drunkenness (21b). These all demonstrate a lack of discernment of the body (29).

Now here is where I want us to pause and think for a minute. What "body" is Paul talking about? I strongly believe that the context must make us understand "body" here to mean the Body of Christ, the church. Some have read this to mean the sacramental bread, such that one should discern something special about it. Given that Paul's corrective instructions for the Corinthians have focussed on their disunity throughout this letter, and especially in these passages, Paul's teaches that the church ought to conform to the reality of it's unity, grounded in the death of Jesus Christ. And what's more, Christians must examine themselves, together as a body and individually to determine what sins may cause disunity in the community of the saints.

Here's how the classic Anglican Book of Common Prayer assists the Church to this end:

BCP (1662):
DEARLY beloved in the Lord, ye that mind to come to the holy Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ, must consider how Saint Paul exhorteth all persons diligently to try and examine themselves, before they presume to eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. For as the benefit is great, if with a true penitent heart and lively faith we receive that holy Sacrament; (for then we spiritually eat the flesh of Christ, and drink his blood; then we dwell in Christ, and Christ in us; we are one with Christ, and Christ with us;) so is the danger great, if we receive the same unworthily. For then we are guilty of the Body and Blood of Christ our Saviour
http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/communion/index.html

BCP (1662):
I purpose, through God's assistance, to administer to all such as shall be religiously and devoutly disposed the most comfortable Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; to be by them received in remembrance of his meritorious Cross and Passion; whereby alone we obtain remission of our sins, and are make partakers of the Kingdom of heaven. Wherefore it is our duty to render most humble and hearty thanks to Almighty God our heavenly Father, for that he hath given his Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, not only to die for us, but also to be our spiritual food and sustenance in that holy Sacrament.
http://www.eskimo.com/~lhowell/bcp1662/communion/index.html


Biblical Theology footnote

God delights in eating and drinking with his covenant people. Consider the Mosaic Covenant at Sinai. After Israel receives the covenant from Moses,
Exodus 24:8-11 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words." 9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.

Deut 16:5-8
You may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, but at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the Passover sacrifice, in the evening at sunset, at the time you came out of Egypt. And you shall cook it and eat it at the place that the Lord your God will choose. And in the morning you shall turn and go to your tents. For six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord your God. You shall do no work on it.

Consider, of course, the last supper that Jesus spends with his disciples,
Luke 22:15-16 15 And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God."

Consider all the times that Jesus ate and drank with people in their homes (so much so he was accused of being a drunk!),
Luke 14:7-15 7 Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, 8 "When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, 9 and he who invited you both will come and say to you, 'Give your place to this person,' and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, 'Friend, move up higher.' Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." 12 He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just." 15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, "Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!"

And finally consider the promise of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb,

Revelation 19:7-9 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure" - for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. 9 And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God."

I suggest that since we find instances throughout the Bible of banqueting with God, whether in this world or in the world to come, in some sense, Holy Communion should be understood to be part of that great tradition of feasts with God. Moreover, as Passover, which remembered God's deliverance of Israel from the house of salvery, is now endued with new meaning in the Lord's Supper (the deliverance of God's people from slavery to sin and death through the cross), it points us toward the consummation of God's plans for his people in the Kingdom of God in the world to come. Thus, Holy Communion leads us to look in three "directions": (1) we look back to the cross of Christ remembering his death; (2) we look with faith to Christ in the Supper to recieve him now; and (3) we look forward to the consummation of the Kingdom of God and the great marriage supper of the Lamb in which the members of Christ's Body get to participate. We get the whole sense of the Gospel; namely, Christ's work on our behalf in the past, present and future. Christ's work, to which the Lord's Supper points, links the people of God, who now enjoy the eschatological in-breaking of God's Kingdom into this age in the person of Jesus Christ (our communion with Christ), with the promise of the ultimate feast, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, in the world to come.

Could there be any greater meal for God's people? Could there be any greater enactment of the Gospel that Christians could participate in? Could any evangelical doctrine of Holy Communion be more thorough or biblical? How we need to teach this to Anglicans in the US today.

Jul 3, 2006

Recommended Resource: Books on Biblical Authority

Since the crisis in the Church in the West is rooted in a disdain for or replacement of the authority of the Bible, what resources can Christians turn to for discussions about the authority of Scripture? The following is an annotated bibliography of sources.

John Wenham, Christ and the Bible (Tyndale Press, 1972 [UK]; IVP, 1973 [US]).

Wenham’s book makes the simple point that our trust in Scripture is to be a part of our following Christ, because that is the way that He treated Scripture—as true, and therefore authoritative. Wenham had first put these ideas in print with a little Tyndale pamphlet in 1953 called "Our Lord’s View of the Old Testament." In Christ and the Bible, Wenham, who taught Greek for many years at Oxford, an Anglican evangelical, has done us all a great service in providing us with a book which understands that we do not come by our adherence to Scripture fundamentally from through inductive reasoning, but from the teaching of the Lord Jesus. Only because of the Living Word may we finally know to trust the Written Word.





D.A. Carson,
Scripture and Truth (Baker, 1992).


This book is a collection of essays on the authority of the OT and the NT for Christians. It deals with all the major questions and controversies that arise when talking about the authority of the Bible. Truly outstanding.











J.I. Packer, Truth and Power: The Place of Scripture in the Christian Life
(IVP, 1999).

The freedom found in the Gospel is only found through submitting to the Authority of Jesus through is Word.












Peter Jensen, The Revelation of God (IVP, 2000).

Peter Jensen argues that it is better to follow the biblical categories of the knowledge of God and the gospel than to start from "revelation" as an abstract concept.First, Jensen focuses on revelation, whether special or general, from the viewpoint of the knowledge of God through the gospel. Next, he examines the nature and authority of Scripture and our approach to reading it. Finally, he turns to the revelatory work of the Holy Spirit through illumination. The result is a creative and compelling exposition of the evangelical understanding of revelation for the contemporary scene.

Jul 2, 2006

The Future is Now

Observations

In just the past few weeks...
  • Pittsburgh - South Carolina - San Joaquin - Ft. Worth - Springfield - Central Florida appeal for new bishop
  • Christ Church Plano exists the Episcopal Church USA
  • Trinity Church expresses their wish to exit the Episcopal Church USA
  • Martyn Minns of Truro Church (VA) is consecrated a bishop by African leaders
Churches are seeking new episcopal leadership, an evangelical priest is consecrated a bishop, two evangelical churches are out. All of this comes on the heels of the consecration of a new liberal Presiding Bishop in the Episcopal Church and a General Convention that failed (unsurprisingly) to heed the call for repentance and regret from the larger Anglican Communion over the consecration and ordination of gays.

Many years ago when I reconsidered reaffirming my membership in the Episcopal Church, following my evangelical conversion, I came across an article on the web about Bishop Stanton's (Dallas) Presentment against clergy and bishops who had ordained a gay priest. A Presentment is a formal charge among the House of Bishops for an action that is deemed wrong on canonical and scriptural grounds. The article went on to say that nothing came of it, which means that the liberal bishops in the majority didn't care. That was 1998.

In the ensuing months and years the impasse between the conservatives and liberals has grown insurmountable based upon fundamentally different hermeneutical presuppositions and worldviews regarding Scripture, the gospel and the purpose of the Church. Things went from being bad to worse. Most on the conservative side have said, "Enough is enough!"

In the meantime, groups like Anglican Mainstream in the UK, the Anglican Communion Network in the US (and UK?), the American Anglican Council and other groups, clergy, and lay people have networked, convened, written letters, debated, prayed and grieved about what the future must hold. For many of us the future now looks foreseeable. It appears that the structures are in place for us to merge into a new community of faithful Anglican Christians. It appears that the de facto opinion of Canterbury and other global bishops would authorize US conservatives going their own way. The one thing holding us back, it appears, has been caution and careful proceeding so that we would give the "other side" every conceivable opportunity of playing fair, changing their minds and acknowledging their sinful actions. It appears very clearly to us now that they will not. Enough is really enough.

I think it's time for all faithful Episcopalians to exit ECUSA, link up with our like-minded brothers and sisters in the AMIA, the REC, and other Anglican churches that want to join. I think we should hold a national convocation as soon as possible to express our intentions to more forward for the Gospel together. Obviously, much more would need to happen in the following months and years to focus our vision, define our theology, establish our ecclesiastic ties with the rest of Anglicanism, iron out various trouble spots, etc. But it must unquestionably be time to act.

The future is now.