July 31, 2006 Down time ahead...

Listening Matter

Music is an important landscape for me. When asked this week what I listen to, I drew a blank. I listen to so many varied things. I wll post some here so I can consciously grapple with it...I still have a cassette in my car and a CD player I can play through it as well...recent things I filed back in their allotted places...

Bruce Cockburn-Speechless
Tingstad and Rumbel- Give and Take
Johnny Cash- My Mother's Hymn Book
El Siglo de Oro- Spanish Church Music
30 Bluegrass Hits -Various Artists
The Impressionists- Windham Hill Sampler
Ottmar Liebert- Solo Para Ti
The Poetry of William Blake
No Violence- Early Songs- James Ward
David Crowder Band- A Collision

Viewing Matter

No Direction Home- Bob Dylan
Sacred Planet
The Way Things Go

I am blogging sooner rather than later since vacation time is coming...

For the Benefit of my Online Friends, here is my take on tony Hoekema's Created in God's Image...

Restoration of the Imago Dei

My view of the renewal of the image of God involves a broad comprehensive vision of the Christian view of man; it involves the redirection of all of life. This vision is all-encompassing, and in my estimation, entirely Biblical.

Whereas much evangelical teaching sees the present state of the Christian as having two natures at war within one man (Jekyll-Hyde), I take the view of Hoekema which departs a bit from the traditional Reformed view and along with John Murray affirms an integrated new creation. He points to the Biblical view of old man, new man (not nature, as the NIV has it). A Christian is truly a new person, a new creation with a new nature, but has a lot to do to grow in accordance with God.

It is at this point of redirection that the leader is tasked to become an agent of redemption in guiding believers into a Biblical mind-renewal process. This is a pursuit that allows us to reckon and parse what is of the world, and what is of the Spirit. Christian education becomes a process of reckoning the true, rejecting the false, and rendering the new man as an instrument of righteousness unto God.
A truly Spirit led examined life will result in a person with the qualities God requires especially in leaders, namely, to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before the Lord our God.

Cultural Leadership

One of the things that flowed out of Reformed thought and the sovereignty of God over and in all things is the stewardship of the culture God has placed us in. We as Christians have so many places where our heritage has been repudiated, but our God majors in redeeming lost causes.

A battlefield mentality is required for the task ahead, but I think we as Christians also have the responsibility in strategically reclaiming areas of life to develop a sort of "Marshall Plan" for rebuilding and restoring the areas of life God will redeem and deliver to us along the way. I like the term "agent of redemption" that a former prof of mine, Jerram Barrs, uses regularly.

I think that this type of intentional redemptive activity is required in the micro-levels of daily intercourse with the world and at the macro level as well as the Kingdom is extended. Part of the task of leadership is this kind of strategizing.
John Piper has said '"Let the sovereignty of God make you hopeful that change is possible, not passive as if no change were necessary."

We are called to lead Christians who have created their own corner culture and are quite comfortable within it. So many only read Christian books, only listen to Christian radio, only go on Christian cruises (sure), and so forth. As you can tell I am disturbed by this on many levels, not the least of which being the fact that I discern I have been party to this myself...others?

Common Grace

I've been rereading Anthony Hoekema's Created in God's Image.A salient feature of the second half of Hoekema is the doctrine of Common Grace. Hoekema rightly alerts us to the common misunderstanding(s) of this doctrine by repeatedly qualifying his statements with "when rightly understood."

Hoekema navigates the potential sandbars by basing his ideas solidly on the scriptures. He builds a case for the contention that God restrains the sinful activity of those who are not believers and that cultures and societies benefit from this rain that falls on all people at God’s discretion. Hoekema does a good job of not compromising the role of believers into a watered down ecumenism nor an accommodation to the fallen zeitgeist.

This has particular ramifications for leaders who are operating in the places God has placed them in the world as well as for leaders within vocational church ministry. It follows that if all truth is God’s Truth, we are tasked with discerning what is gold and what is dross in the truth claims of non-Christian sources. He provides no guidance on how this is to be accomplished.

In general terms, we are to zealously pursue the redemption of lost territories as the Kingdom advances. We must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. While this echoes Niebuhr’s Christ as Transformer of Culture view of the relationship of Christ and Culture, it’s application in Hoekema’s schema is far more Biblically based.

Romans 1 and common grace

I submit that on the basis of letting his argument flow from Romans 1:18-25, Hoekema starts at the correct Biblical nexus for speaking of common grace . Men are without excuse because God made Himself plain in what was made, which includes their very being, in that remnant of the imago Dei. The NAS has it "within them".

I know many would limit this revelation to general revelation in nature, but the context contains extensive "image" language. The glory of God was exchanged for images made in the image of corruptable man.

I would respectfully submit that Hoekema is not ignoring the imago Dei in chapter 10, he is building on the argument he made earlier on page 84 from the same passage of scripture.

Dead in Sin

Time and space limitations will not allow for a thorough discussion of this issue here- whether we are born spiritually dead. I would disagree with the notion that we spiritually die when we sin our first time and point to a treatment of the issue and the scriptural texts involved, (especially Eph 2:5 and 1 John) on my blog at http://anthonyfoster.com/blog/03_13_06.html.

I do not presume that we will all be of one accord on this issue- this was part of an ongoing semester long discussion we had in Systematic Theology 3 the semester I took it. However, I would say it impinges upon leadership in a big way, since one's view of this would seem to determine whether and/or to what degree and manner the lost are "teachable".

I am not sure that in a moral universe there are any real "indifferent things" in the light of Romans 14:23. And I submit that God also restrains sin in the world in the wages of sin- which I think of as an aspect of common grace as well- even God's judgment works in accordance with His Grace; the limitation of death gives the unregenerate a limited time in which to practice sin.

Spiritual death (in lieu of immediate physical death) allowed for the mitigation of the curse in Genesis 3 and Adam could now trust in the seed of the woman, the second Adam for an alien righteousness he could never have achieved even if he had an ongoing innocency.

Mysterious sin

When all is said and done, sin remains a mystery. But isn't it great that we can explore mysteries? I am so grateful that God has not left us alone in figuring out so much, but gave us His more sure Word.

Argument one: I base my understanding of this issue not on Reformed theology per se, but on Paul's argument in Romans 1-8, especially Romans 5, wherein he says in verse 15, for if by the transgression of one the many died...v. 16... the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation..17... by the transgression of the one death reigned through the one...18... so then as one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men..19... through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners.

Over and against this, the only solution is to be placed in Christ.

Argument 2: If "all have sinned" that would seem to include "all ": even newborns. Typically David's hope expressed in Psalm 51 gives us insight into what happens to babies who die. there is simply not enough there to form a dogmatic doctrine from.

Argument 3: Acts 14:23, if everything not done in faith is sin, and faith only comes by the word of God, it would seem that logically this also implies we are born sinners, and we sin because we are sinners, and not just that we are sinners because we sin. I see this practically acted out in Cain as well, where sin seems to have come from internally where Adam and Eve had external temptation.

Argument 4: Since the wages of sin is death, is it not in accordance with this truth that those who die are in fact bearing the penalty of sin? So when newborns tragically die or babies die in the womb before they have a chance to actively sin, how do we account for such a death? It would seem they must either be bearing a penalty they do not deserve and God is unjust, or, as the scriptures suggest, death comes to sinners.

Sin as alienation

I would suggest that the doctrine of original sin by itself is inadequate. I'll keep this short and move on. Ultimately sin is alienation from God, and I think this informs how we read the text of Romans 5. Alienation from God is a matter of human solidarity. Spiritual death is ultimately separation from God. It is also a matter of individual responsibility and indeed we are responsible for our volitional sin.

At the point of balance, most analogies break down if you push them too far. Jesus himself did not attest to balance- he said there are the many and the few. Judgment is for all and the free gift is for those who receive it. It is sufficient for all and efficient for those who believe and receive.

As for the wages being ONLY spiritual death, then Christ would not have had to have to shed real blood from a real body and physically die and experience a bodily resurrection from the dead? Obviously not.

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From the personal weblog of Anthony Foster @http://anthonyfoster.com/blog/