Author Archive

Tim Keller on Election (Not the Obama Kind)

The doctrine of election is this – I’ll just tell you what it is – it’s that all human beings, given a hundred chances, a thousand chances, an infinite number of chances, will always – because their desires are such – will always choose to be their own lord and saviour and they’ll never choose Jesus. And what God does, is he opens the eyes of some so they’ll see the truth, but he doesn’t open the eyes of everybody.

… Firstly, the fact is that Protestant churches have been split over [this] for a long time. And therefore, we would never say to somebody, ‘You can’t join Redeemer [Presbyterian Church] unless you believe it.’

Secondly, I try to major on the majors, and my understanding of election sometimes underlines and informs the things I say, but nobody’s going to be saying, ‘You have to believe this doctrine!’ That’s not the sort of thing  that you’re going to get in these services. You can be happily non-predestinarian at Redeemer, alright?

… The best way to understand this though… On the one hand, if you wrestle with the doctrine of election a little longer, it creates a problem, which was always there and you didn’t see it. And denying the doctrine of election or disagreeing with it doesn’t actually get it to go away. And I’ll show you what I mean.

If you believe, that years and years ago, in the beginning of time, God said, ‘I see that the human race is going to sin. So here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to go out and save a quarter of them.’

Ah, that sounds awful!

However, you say, ‘No! What I believe is years and years and years ago, God said, ‘The human race is going to sin. Therefore, I will send my Son and I will give everybody free will…’’

But since he’s God, he immediately knows who is going to believe, and who’s not. So in other words, either way, you have an action of God, that in the depths of time, automatically consigns some people to heaven and some people to hell. So you’re in the same boat. Because here’s the issue: God looks like he can save everybody (we think), he says he wants to save everybody, but he doesn’t save everybody. Why?

And here’s the funny thing. Nobody’s got the answer for that. Nobody. And everybody has got the same problem.

When you first hear of election, you say, ‘The unfairness of God! He could save everybody, but he doesn’t.’ But, see, how do you get out of that, even if you don’t believe in predestination?

‘Well, God doesn’t want robots who follow him round, he wants people to choose him freely!’ … But you know what? The doctrine of election only says God opens our eyes to be able to choose him freely.

But why doesn’t he do it for everybody? Well, we don’t know! You say, ‘Well he wouldn’t violate free will’. But he wouldn’t violate free will in election either. We all have the same problem!

This is what I’ve found, if you keep wrestling a bit further, you find that it’s not predestination [that is the problem]. This is one of the unanswered questions of the bible.

The reason I believe in election is, I have all the same problems you do. But there is one thing I need to conserve, because the bible is so strong on it. The bible tells me that I am saved by grace, not by anything better, or good, in me.

Predestination has all kinds of other problems. But the one thing it’s true to is my own experience, that my friends and relatives who aren’t Christians – and I am – I just know it has nothing to do with me being smarter or better at all.

So I’m living with the problems that come from believing in radical grace alone for my salvation. And the implications for thatare problematic. But you know what’s funny? If you, in order to get rid of those so-called problems, decide ‘I believe that everybody has an equal chance, and there’s free will, and I don’t believe in predestination,’ I think in the end you have more problems, because it really monkeys with your understanding of salvation by faith.

All I’m trying to say is, it’s too late, you’ve lost your innocence once you study the doctrine of election. It opens these issues up and you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. It makes you think about the implications of things, and I would say, hold on to grace and let the chips fall where they may everywhere else. It will be alright.” (HT: Tim Keller Wiki)

New Discoveries About C.S. Lewis’ Views On Evolution

So, you thought that C.S. Lewis was an evolutionist, eh? Not so fast. It turns out that the evidence is more ambiguous than previously thought. Scholars are now studying Lewis’ annotations in over three dozen scientific books and pamphlets from his library.

Lewis once wrote a letter to his father saying the ideas of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer were built “on a foundation of sand.” A 400-page book found in Lewis’ collection, which he read as a 19-year-old soldier in World War I, is heavily marked and helped convince Lewis that natural selection lacked the creative power needed to construct the world as we know it.

There were some principles of the evolutionary theory that Lewis rejected altogether – such as the idea that evolution occurs through undirected natural selection – though others he accepted. Although Lewis believed in a literal Adam and Eve and mankind’s fall from grace as told in the Old Testament book of Genesis, for example, he also believed the theory that says all living creatures have a common ancestor, though he became more skeptical of that theory later in his life, says West.

Click here to read the article in full.

Jack Deere’s Experience With The Presbyterian Church

Jack Deere is a former Professor of Dallas Seminary turned leader in the Charismatic church. I had heard that he had spent time pastoring in the American version of my denomination (the Presbyterian Church of Canada), but I didn’t know how it turned out. Now I do.

Believing in the Holy Spirit didn’t just make worship services better, but in my life, God stopped being a principle and started being a person again.  I started feeling the affection of God.  I know God loves me vs I  feel God loves me.  During my friendship with John Wimber, I re-met this God who is really personal and that was a great stage in my life and development. It lasted until I was 42. We moved to Whitefish MT in PCUSA. I led one of three churches in the presbytery that believed in Scripture.  I was on the ministry commission and we were planning the ordination for a guy that didn’t believe that Jesus died on the cross.  I asked if we should ordain him.  No one in the room had any doubts but me.  Then I asked for clarification in what we do believe.  I was told we believe in the Book of Order.  You can’t baptize twice or you’ll get kicked out of the ministy. That’s what they believed.

My church did well and I was invited in 1996 to be the primary speaker at the General Assembly. They asked the one guy that believes in the Holy Spirit to be the main speaker.  This was after worship of Sofia was banned by PCUSA.  Walking through exhibition hall, I walked past 20 people chanting to Sophia. No one in the leadership/hierarchy cared. I realized it was a church that no longer had a theology, just a government.

What did my church have for certain?  We had a form of government and a property deed.   Declining membership fits with the message that man is good because no one believes it.  They don’t realize that it takes the power of Jesus Christ and his blood to change a human heart.   Did 2 yrs in PCUSA in Montana and then was booted out.

Yeesh. This doesn’t bode well for the Presbyterian Church in Canada if this is the trajectory of our American counterpart.

Jack Deere goes on to share something else that I didn’t know about him. In a horrific tragedy, his middle son committed suicide in 2001. And yet, in the midst of despair, God ministered to the Deere’s in a tangible way.

But, doubt encroaches. For years,  I began every day praying that God would shelter and protect us.    Father, protect us?  Now? Maybe all prayer is obsolete.  All of our friends were useless.  If you haven’t lost a child the way we lost a child, you can’t understand.  We tried counseling.  The day we buried Scott, a person said that we had received severe mercy.  What is the mercy?

Two weeks after we buried Scott, my mercy arrived. I was trying to save my life from this abyss of insanity. His death was all I could think of.  Then the bill for the funeral arrived.  It was $10,064.69 and they wanted payment immediately.   That same day, a sack full of mail arrived. Sympathy cards. 38 cards and those 38 cards had 22 checks in them. One check for each year of Scott’s life.  I opened the cards and added up the checks.  They totaled $10,064.

The Voice said, “ I paid for his death.  I paid for his life and I will pay for everything you need the rest of your life.”

That’s what my father’s love feels like.  Most of my life, I tried to be significant.  Now, I was feeling significant apart from my performance. Maybe all Jesus ever wanted was a friend.

Wish I could say that the sun started shining in my life again. God did not remove my pain. The death of my son was the darkest, hardest 10 years of my life.  We retreated from the world. We lived in a cave. My son’s death was the door to that cave. We crept in further and further trying to escape the pain, the insanity of it all.

The death of my son was also the door to a deeper walk with God. Two years ago, I found Jesus in the cave with me.  He was just sitting there, but I knew that I was not alone in my pain.  Joy came back into my life.  John lived in a cave on Patmos at the end of his life.  Even if we retreat to a cave, Jesus will come and find us, get us and take us out of that cave to a party that will never end.


Advice For Reformed Hipsters

From none other than Carl Trueman:

Two things came to mind: the beautiful young things of the reformed renaissance have a hard choice to make in the next decade.  You really do kid only yourselves if you think you can be an orthodox Christian and be at the same time cool enough and hip enough to cut it in the wider world. Frankly, in a couple of years it will not matter how much urban ink you sport, how much fair trade coffee you drink, how many craft brews you can name, how much urban gibberish you spout, how many art house movies you can find that redeemer figure in, and how much money you divert from gospel preaching to social justice: maintaining biblical sexual ethics will be the equivalent in our culture of being a white supremacist.

The whole thing is worth a read.

An Argument For the Existence Of The Soul

In an episode of “Closer to Truth”, Prof. Alvin Plantinga of Notre Dame gives a quick analytic argument for the existence of the soul that is sound and persuasive. Plantinga points out that even though it’s all the rage to be a materialist when it comes to human persons, he’s not convinced. Consider the following:

If Alvin was merely a material object then he would have to be his body or brain (for example, he couldn’t be a material object 100 miles away). Now the thing is that it’s perfectly conceivable that he could exist when his body doesn’t. For simplicity’s sake ‘my body’ will now be referred to as B. It seems that I could exist when B doesn’t for I can conceive of existing apart from B. And if it’s possible that I can exist when B doesn’t, then I’m not identical with B. If this is the case, then there’s something true of me that is not true of B. Therefore, I am not identical with my body.

The reason for this has to do with Leibniz’s law. Leibniz’s law states that what is true of A has to be true of B in order for A and B to be identical. All of A’s properties have to be shared with B in order for them to be the same thing. So, if it’s even possibly true that I could exist when B doesn’t, there’s something true of me that is not true of B. There are possibilities that are true for me that are not true for my body. But, in order for me to be the same thing as my body, every possibility for me must be shared with my body. Plantinga has shown this to be false.

Boom goes the dynamite.

Jim Caviezel Sings As Christopher Walken

I’m finishing up a paper on Molinism for a philosophy course and a sermon tonight, so apologies for this post not being really substantive. Regardless, here’s some Friday frivolity: Jim Caviezel singing a Chicago song as Christopher Walken. (HT: Denny Burk).


Buzz Aldrin And Communion On The Moon

It turns out that Buzz Aldrin was a Presbyterian elder. He celebrated communion on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission.


Some tasty links for a hot August day:

Stephen Altrogge answers the question, “What would I do if my daughter told me she was gay?” It’s an excellent and necessary read.

Exorbitant cottage prices in the Muskokas push Canucks to buy in Western New York, of all places.

Five facts to annoy your Keynesian economics professor.

Steve Hays of Triablogue gives his thoughts on interpreting Romans 7.

James KA Smith with some tips on how to annotate texts.

While conservatives may church shop, it turns out that progressives mission shop.


Why You Should Sleep On The Job

He Knows Me – Light From JI Packer

J. I. Packer:

What matters supremely is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it — the fact that he knows me. I am graven on the palms of his hands. I am never out of his mind.

All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is not a moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters.

This is momentous knowledge. There is unspeakable comfort — the sort of comfort that energizes, be it said, not enervates — in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me.

Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 41–42, emphasis added. (HT: Desiring God)