Archive | Theology/Bible

The Will of the Father and the Will of the Son in the Covenant of Redemption

A couple months ago, I wrote “A Clarification about a New Book on the Trinity” in which I addressed criticism of an article I wrote back in 2004. In my article, I had argued that the Son’s submission to the Father is a feature of the economy not of the immanent trinity. I based this conclusion on a certain reading of Philippians 2:6, which gives us a Pauline depiction of the preincarnate Christ.

Paul says that “although [Christ] existed in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God as a thing to be grasped for” (Phil. 2:6, my translation). The point was not that the Son’s essence or will had become separate from the Father’s. The Son’s submission was “functional,” which I understood to refer to the Son’s mission in the economy. I believed that the economy in some sense commenced in eternity with this agreement between the Father and the Son. Continue Reading →

A. T. Robertson on Women Preaching

A. T. Robertson is without question the greatest scholar of New Testament Greek that the Southern Baptist Convention has ever produced. Indeed, he is one of the greatest scholars of New Testament Greek that has ever lived. In 1906, Robertson wrote a sharp critique of the practice of women preaching in “mixed public assemblies.” His brief remarks appear in the introduction to W. P. Harvey’s booklet Shall Women Preach (Louisville, KY: Baptist Book Concern, 1906). I recently came across this short essay and thought it worth highlighting here. See below. Continue Reading →

Beware of a “Test the Fruit” Hermeneutic

When Matthew Vines’ book God and the Gay Christian came out in 2014, I could hardly have imagined how much of an impact it would have among evangelicals. Nevertheless, it has had an impact. Some of the high-profile evangelicals (e.g. Jen Hatmaker) who have come out affirming gay marriage have done so on the basis of arguments found in Vines’ book.

Among the ideas from Vines’ book that I still see gaining purchase among evangelicals is a particular hermeneutical oddity that Vines draws from Jesus’ teaching about “trees” and “fruit” in Matthew 7:15-20, where Jesus says,

Every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Whereas Jesus applies this to false teachers, Vines applies the principle in a way that goes against the way Jesus intended it. Vines writes, Continue Reading →

A Review of James Dolezal’s “All That Is in God”

I really wish I had not waited as long as I did to read James Dolezal’s 2017 book All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism (Reformation Heritage, 2017). As it is, I only picked it up a month or so ago, but I would have picked it up much sooner if I had realized what an important book this is. It’s only 137 pages, but it is without question one of the most significant books that I have ever read. I don’t agree with everything in this book. In fact, there are parts of it that I found quite frustrating. Nevertheless, the main thesis of this book is one that needs to seep down into every nook and cranny of evangelical theology. Continue Reading →

The PCA General Assembly Affirms the Nashville Statement

Last night I stayed up until after 1am watching the annual General Assembly (GA) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The debate went into the wee hours of the night because the assembly had several measures before it relating to sexuality and gender identity. The most controversial measure was Overture 4, which is titled “Declare the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood’s ‘Nashville Statement’on Biblical Sexuality as a Biblically Faithful Declaration.”

Overture 4 is remarkable not only because it affirms the Nashville Statement, but also because it calls on the PCA to use the Nashville Statement in discipleship materials produced by the denomination. Here are the relevant lines from the overture: Continue Reading →

Divine Discipline

Better to learn in the gentle classroom of God’s word than in the hard chambers of his discipline.

“So the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, ‘The Lord is righteous.’ When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, saying, ‘They have humbled themselves so I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some measure of deliverance, and My wrath shall not be poured out on Jerusalem by means of Shishak. But they will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between My service and the service of the kingdoms of the countries. They will become his slaves so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands.’”

2 Chronicles 12:6-8 [emphasis mine]

Complementarianism? What’s in a name?

Over the last several weeks, the evangelical interwebs have been astir with debates about women preaching and complementarianism. I have noticed in much of this discussion that there seems to be much confusion about what complementarianism is. As a result, some of us have been trying to address this confusion in hopes of shedding some light on the matter (see here, here, and here).

But that is not my purpose in this short post. Rather, what I would like to do is make a brief historical point about the origin and referent of the term complementarian. While it was common for older commentators to point out that Adam and Eve were a complement to one another1, the exact term complementarian did not appear in theological discourse until the late 1980’s. Some writers have therefore given the impression that the entrance of the term into the lexicon marked out a theological innovation—a peculiar expression of baby boomer theology that is soon to peter out when the baby boomers are no more. In this kind of analysis, the term reduces to a sociological descriptor rather than a theological one. Continue Reading →

A Clarification about a New Book on the Trinity

Mike Bird and Scott Harrower have recently edited a new volume of essays titled Trinity Without Hierarchy: Reclaiming Nicene Orthodoxy in Evangelical Theology (Kregel, 2019). One chapter in the book engages with an essay I wrote many years ago on Philippians 2:6. The chapter is titled “There Is a Method to the Madness: On Christological Commitments of Eternal Functional Subordination of the Son,” and it is written by Jules A. Martínez-Olivieri. I am not going to engage the whole essay, but I do want to offer a brief clarification regarding the following paragraph from Martínez-Olivieri’s chapter. Continue Reading →

Confronting Purity Culture or Christian Sexual Ethics?

Katelyn Beaty has penned an Op-Ed for The New York Times with a provocative title and subtitle:

HOW SHOULD CHRISTIANS HAVE SEX?
Purity culture was harmful and dangerous. But its collapse has left a void for those of us looking for guidance in our intimate lives.

I won’t rehearse the whole argument of Beaty’s piece. I simply encourage you to go read it for yourself before pressing on with my comments here. I read Beaty’s op-ed with great interest and was genuinely grateful to see her confront the consent-only ethic of the wider culture. Her personal story of disillusionment with this approach to things is actually gut-wrenching to read. It is a message that readers of The New York Times would do well to consider. Continue Reading →

The SBC’s Resolution “On Sexuality and Personal Identity”

I know that most of the news coming out the Southern Baptist Convention this week relates to official actions on abuse, debates about complementarianism, and the controversial Resolution 9. These are important items that I may write about in coming days, but right now I wish to highlight something that seems to have been overlooked in news coverage and social media. And that item is Resolution 5, “On Sexuality and Personal Identity.”

This resolution is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it is the 2019 SBC’s answer to the controversial Revoice conference that received so much attention nearly a year ago and which met again in St. Louis just last week. Before I can elaborate on the significance of this resolution, I need to explain a little bit about how the SBC operates. Continue Reading →

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