Tag Archives: Gospel-Centered

Are You Reformed?

“Are you reformed?”

I get that question quite a bit as a Baptist attending a Presbyterian seminary (Westminster). It’s a tough question to answer. My answer depends on the context: What does “reformed” mean to the person asking the question?

What “Reformed” Used to Mean

“Reformed” properly refers to:

  • The theological heritage of John Calvin, the Synod of Dort, and the Westminster Confession
  • A commitment to covenant theology, including pedobaptism
  • Belief in predestination and reprobation (i.e. TULIP, commonly called Calvinism)
  • A preoccupation with the glory of God
  • A preoccupation with the sovereignty of God
  • A commitment to redemptive-historical hermeneutics (The whole focus of this website.)

As a credobaptist I can’t say that I’m in that heritage. However… that doesn’t mean I’m not reformed. It depends on the situation.

What “Reformed” Means Today

Like the term “evangelical” the meaning of “reformed” is changing. In the west today “reformed” theology has lost the implications of covenant theology, pedobaptism, and its credal heritage.

Today “reformed” has typically dropped the first two criteria and simply means: Continue reading

Here’s a quick note that Iain Duguid’s ebook Is Jesus in the Old Testament? is available for free download on the Westminster Bookstore website to help promote a sale on three of his commentaries.

If you scroll down you’ll also see deals on other books he wrote about finding the gospel in the Beatitudes and the lives of the patriarchs.

Jonathan Edwards and the Typology of Nature

nature

Typology is a sticky subject. Which passages can we consider typological? Which can’t we?

Jonathan Edwards liked typology so much that he extended it beyond Scripture and into the natural world. He assumed that if the world was made by the God of the Bible we would see things in the world and its created order that pointed us to truths about God.

Some examples:

“Children’s coming into the world naked and filthy, and in their blood, and crying and impotent, is to signify the spiritual nakedness, pollution of nature and wretchedness of condition with which they are born.”

Is it true that childbirth is a messy, ugly business? Yes. Is it true that children are born sinners? Yes. Does the one point to the other? I’m not convinced.

“The serpent’s charming of birds and other animals into their mouths, and the spider’s taking of the fly in his snare, are lively representations of the devil’s catching our souls by his temptations.”

Do serpents and spiders lure and snare their prey? Absolutely. Does the enemy lure and snare his prey? Absolutely. Does the one point to the other? Where’s the proof?

“The sun’s so perpetually, for so many ages, sending forth his rays in such vast profusion, without any dimunition of his light and heat, is a bright image of the all-sufficiency and everlastingness of God’s bounty and goodness.”

Does the sun shine seemingly forever? Surely. Is God all-sufficient and good? Surely. Does the one point to the other? Possibly.

The real problem with nature typology is that it’s so imprecise. Where can we verify its findings? How can we tell that the sun points to Yahweh and not Allah? At most it is corroboration of the truths revealed in the Bible.

My recommendation is to stick to typology within the Bible. It’s much more clear and it’s much more precise.


All three citations are from page 54 of the Yale edition of The Works of Jonathan Edwards vol 11, Typological Writings.

Gospel-Centered Links February 2014

This month there are two monumentally important links. One helps us see the reason for gospel-centered hermeneutics and the other helps us avoid an enormous corruption of gospel-centered hermeneutics. If you are concerned about the gospel-centered movement you must read them.

You must read these two links:

What We’re Saying When We Don’t Mention the Gospel

Cameron Cole explains the reason we must read the entire Bible in light of the gospel:

When we do not preach the Gospel, this is what we say: Everything is fine. We say that our problem with sin is not that severe; we can fix our problems with a little effort. We say that death is not a real thing; we can kick that can down the road. We say that the world is generally fine; it’s not in need of radical rescue. We say that our need for God’s redeeming love and power is not that great.

If there’s no gospel there’s no rescue. If there’s no rescue we must rationalize our way out of life’s troubles. When we do that our souls perish. This is the reason we need to read the entire Bible through a gospel lens.

This link is a purpose statement for the gospel-centered movement. If you want a how-to book, look at Christ-Centered Bible Study.

The Jesus Lens, or the Jesus Tea-Strainer?

If you’re going to read the Bible through a “Jesus lens” make sure it’s the right Jesus. Andrew Wilson shows us how one group is misinterpreting Jesus and when they apply that fake Jesus to the rest of Scripture they are missing the point.

I don’t think Steve Chalke, Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Rob Bell and co are reading the Bible through a Jesus lens, as much as they are reading Jesus through a selective, progressive postmodern lens, and then reading the rest of the Bible through that. The end result, ironically, is that while the Jesus we find in the Gospels fits well with the rest of the scriptures – as you might expect, given that he inspired them – neither the Jesus of the Gospels, nor the Bible, fit particularly well with the pastiche of Jesus that the Red Letter guys want to promote. When all is said and done, the biblical Jesus cannot be squeezed thorough the fine mesh of the progressive Jesus tea-strainer.

Bear in mind that there are lots of ways to misinterpret Jesus. The example here is a postmodern misinterpretation of Jesus. There are conservative misinterpretations of Jesus. There are liberal misinterpretations of Jesus. There are all kinds of misinterpretations of Jesus.

If you’re going to read the Bible in light of Jesus make sure it’s the right Jesus.

The remaining links are good but optional. Continue reading

Did Moses Know the Passover was Prophetic?

The Passover and subsequent exodus was the most significant redemptive event in the history of Israel. It’s primary symbol was the lamb that was sacrificed to prevent the same destruction that hit the houses of Egypt from striking the houses of Israel. It’s no wonder that the New Testament writers made reference to the Passover lamb when writing about Christ and the greater redemption he accomplished for us:

Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
1 Cor 5:7

It’s great to draw analogies between OT redemptive acts of God and NT redemptive acts of God. But is it legitimate to say that the OT redemptive act was prophetic (i.e. predicted) the greater NT action? Take for instance:

So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.”
John 19:32–36.

John is referring to this description of the Passover lamb:

It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones.
Ex 12:46

But the original context of Exodus 12 has no reference to a future event. It’s all about Israel’s situation in Egypt. So did John just pretend that it was a prophecy? Did he invent a new meaning for this text?

Why This Matters

This is a big deal because it could mean that John wasn’t being faithful to Scripture as he was writing Scripture. That would make us doubt at least John’s writings and then cast suspicion on the rest of the Bible as well.

It would also raise questions like: Continue reading

Gospel-Centered Links January 2014

Without further ado…

Reading the Bible Like Jesus: Matt 22:31

Thabiti Anyabwile looks at Matt 22:20-31 and asks what we can learn about how Jesus read the Bible. We would be wise to follow suit.

John Owen: Sanctification and the Gospel

An excellent quote from John Owen about the relationship between our growth in Christ and his accomplished work:

This whole matter of sanctification and holiness is peculiarly joined with and limited unto the doctrine, truth, and grace of the gospel; for holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing, and realizing of the gospel in our souls.

The Two Johns on Old Testament Faith

David Murray examines the teaching of John Newton and John Owen (again!) to answer the question: How were Old Testament saints saved?

The answer: Faith in the Messiah.

Magi Honor the Greater King Solomon

Mitch Chase looks at Jesus’ birth narrative and sees how the Father set events into play that demonstrate the fulfillment of Israel’s history. This isn’t anything new, but it’s well written and concise.

What does Matthew want readers to affirm when they read about foreigners traveling to Israel with gifts of gold and spices to offer God’s king? Jesus is the New Solomon! Wise men came to worship the Wisest of all. Like Solomon, Jesus was the Son of David (cf. Matt 1:1). The wise men even came from the same area as did the queen of Sheba. Like Solomon, Jesus received gifts of gold and spices.

But Jesus is not merely like Solomon. In his own words: “behold, something greater than Solomon is here” (Matt 12:42).