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Thursday
May122011

Round the Sphere Again: Thinking About Death

The Last Words
of Mary Winslow (Theology for Girls).

On Martyrdom
from the church father Ignatius. For Ignatius, 

martyrdom was part of a defense of the faith. Abounding at this time were heretical gnostic teachings, and the specific teaching of Docetism stated that Christ did not suffer and die. By his example of martyrdom, Ignatius could provide a defense for the reality of his faith. 

(The Upward Call)

On Losing a Baby 
Lisa Blanco shares a few great truths that give comfort, starting with “the Lord does not delight in wickedness.”

It was not wicked for the Lord to take our son. The Lord does not delight in wickedness or evil, his Word tells us in Psalm 5:4. His Word in Psalm 89:14 tells us that his throne is actually built on a foundation of righteousness and justice. I think this is how we can grieve well, when we long to take care and hold our son, to remember God’s foundation of righteousness in all that he does as we grieve in a world of sin and death. Somehow, in the death of our son, God will show us a greater picture of his goodness. Somehow, for our good, this is going to make us look more like his Son, Jesus.

(The Gospel Coalition Blog)

Thursday
May122011

Thankful Thursday

This morning I was thinking about my moral responsibility to value things as God values them (Maybe I’ll explain this more some other time.), and that when I don’t, that’s sin for which I am culpable. The whole thought discussion made me very thankful that my sin was imputed to Christ and his righteousness was imputed to me because I’d be in deep trouble if I had to stand before God’s judgment on my own two feet.

I’m thankful for a little alone time for thinking. I’ve not had much of that lately, so when it comes, I notice and am thankful.

I’m thankful for my family, and that my children care about each other and help each other out when they can.

I’m thankful that it’s our heavenly Father, who is completely trustworthy, who gives and takes away. 

Throughout this year I’m planning to post a few thoughts of thanksgiving each Thursday along with Kim at the Upward Call and others.

Wednesday
May112011

Book Review: Saving Leonardo

Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and MeaningA Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning by Nancy Pearcey.

I truly enjoyed reading Saving Leonardo, even though it took me a long time to make my way through the text. What’s more, as I mentioned earlier, this is a beautiful book, well-bound with glossy pages, large type and colourful pictures. Once I’ve written that much, however, I hit a bit of a book review roadblock. 

Here’s the thing: I don’t know enough about the subject matter in the heart of this book to feel confident evaluating the contents. The arguments make sense and the information is well-documented, but still, I couldn’t shake the feeling the points might be a bit over-simplified. I know that in an introductory book the issues must be presented as simply as possible and perhaps that’s what Saving Leonardo is—an excellent introduction to a difficult subject. But I just don’t know enough to judge.

Now I’ve told you why I shouldn’t be reviewing this book, so if you stop reading right now, you won’t hurt my feelings. But if you’re still here, I’ll summarize the contents for you.

Nancy Pearcey is a fellow at the Discovery Institute and Editor-at-Large of The Pearcey Report. She has authored or contributed to several books. 

In Saving Leonardo, Nancy Pearcey evaluates secular worldviews on the basis of the fact/value dualism at their core, and shows that a Christian worldview successfully integrates the two. (If you’ve read Pearcey’s previous book, Total Truth, you have a head start by already knowing what the fact/value split is.) Her purpose is for the reader to “learn to recognize and resist secular ideas in science, philosophy, ethics, the arts and humanities.” She seeks to accomplish this by examining

the concepts and events, the thinkers and artists who led the way step by step in creating worldviews that undermine human dignity and liberty. And we will demonstrate that the only hope lies in a worldview that is rationally defensible, life affirming, and rooted in creation itself.

There are two parts to Saving Leonardo: Part 1, which describes how growing global secularization affects everyone everywhere, and Part 2 (the bulk and meat of the book), which following the advance of secularization in history, tracing the two threads of secularism—the Enlightenment thread, focusing on “the fact realm”; and the Romanticism thread, focusing on “the values realm”—especially as they influence the arts and culture.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
May102011

Theological Term of the Week

Sandemanianism
The system of beliefs of a sect founded by John Glas and his son-in-law Robert Sandeman in Scotland in the mid-18th century, which included the distinguishing tenet that justifying faith is no more than “bare belief of the bare truth,” or mere mental assent to the facts of the gospel; also used loosely of any system of beliefs that teaches that saving faith is no more than mental assent to certain propositions about Christ.

  • Scripture used by Sandemanians to support their view: 

    And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…. (Romans 4:5 ESV).

  • From Andrew Fuller in response to the Sandemanians in The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, Volume III:1

    [The term ungodly in Romans 4:5], I apprehend, is not designed, in the passage under consideration, to express the actual state of mind which the party at the time possesses, but the character under which God considers him in bestowing the blessing of justification upon him. Whatever be the present state of the sinner’s mind—whether he be a haughty Pharisee or a humble publican—if he possess nothing which can in any degree balance the curse which stands against him, or at all operate as a ground of acceptance with God, he must be justified, if at all, as unworthy, ungodly, and wholly out of regard to the righteousness of the mediator.

  • From Sandemanianism by Michael Haykin: 

    In a genuine desire to exalt the utter freeness of God’s salvation, Sandeman sought to remove any vestige of human reasoning, willing or desiring in the matter of saving faith. He was convinced that if the actions of the will or the affections are included in saving faith, then the Reformation assertion of ‘faith alone’ is compromised. Thus, in the Sandemanian system, saving faith is reduced to intellectual assent to the gospel proclamation about Christ. To be fair to Sandeman, it should be noted that he was quite prepared to admit that affections come into play once a person believes. But at the time of conversion, they play no role in saving faith. 
    It should occasion no surprise that many of those who embraced Sandeman’s intellectualist view of faith became stunted in their Christian lives. For instance, Christmas Evans (1766-1838), an influential Welsh Baptist leader, adopted Sandemanian views for a number of years in the late 1790s, but eventually found himself dwelling in ‘the cold and sterile regions of spiritual frost’, and in the grip of ‘a cold heart towards Christ, and his sacrifice, and the work of his Spirit’.

Learn more:

  1. Wikipedia: Glasites
  2. Michael Haykin: Sandemanianism: Andrew Fuller and the Sandemainians
  3. Tom Ascol: Old Error Rediscovered
  4. John Piper: Holy Faith, Worthy Gospel, World Vision: Andrew Fuller’s Broadsides Against Sandemanianism, Hyper-Calvinism, and Global Unbelief (mp3)

Related terms:

1I found this quote in Holy Faith, Worthy Gospel, World Vision: Andrew Fuller’s Broadsides Against Sandemanianism, Hyper-Calvinism, and Global Unbelief by John Piper

Do you have a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

Monday
May092011

Round the Sphere Again: Books

Benefits of a Library
“Early-1971, in an effort to attract as many youngsters to the premises as possible, Marguerite Hart — children’s librarian at the newly-opened public library in Troy, Michigan — wrote to a number of notable people with a request: to reply with a congratulatory letter, addressed to the children of Troy, in which the benefits of visiting such a library were explained in some form.” Ninety-seven people responded and wrote letters. Letters of Note posted the letters from Isaac Asimov, Hardie Gramatky, Theodore Geisel, and E. B. White and also links to a page with PDFs of all of the letters.

Books for the “Regular Christian”
Terry Stauffer recommends three.