Wednesday, February 19, 2014

On the Historicity of the Doctrines of Grace

Augustine & Pelagius  [Image Credit]
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One of the most common arguments that Calvinists encounter on a frequent basis is that of the "newness" of the doctrines contained within, namely the Doctrines of Grace.  Opponents of the Doctrines of Grace will commonly assert that the doctrines are no older than the time of John Calvin, as he is erroneously charged with creating and developing said doctrines.  Even further, they argue that since Calvin developed the idea of God's sovereignty and man's depravity, he is, in essence, the chief creator of such radical doctrine.  After all, the idea of a sovereign God is considered to be "radical" to many professing Christians today.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Zacharias Ursinus on Infant Baptism

Zacharias Ursinus (1534 - 1583)
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One of the most fascinating doctrines of study for me is that of Sacramentology--Baptism and the Lord's Supper.  I have been studying the former in great detail as of late, namely how it was viewed in the early church, leading to the Reformation, and up until today.  After reading various opinions on baptism, it is clear to me that the most widely debated aspect of baptism is that of its efficacy.  To date, one of the best explanations on the efficacy of holy baptism as it relates to infants is given by Zacharias Ursinus (1534 - 1583), who alongside Caspar Olevianus (1536 - 1587), co-authored the Heidelberg Catechism.  Read, enjoy, and be edified.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Circumcision, Baptism, and First-Generation Believers

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Perhaps the most common argument against infant baptism is that Scripture clearly demonstrates that the early Acts church was called to "repent and be baptized," with the major kicker being the repentance part (Acts 2:38).  Opponents of infant baptism commonly assert that in order for one to possess the ability to repent, the same individual must also possess the ability to have and articulate their faith.  Once professing faith, the individual is baptized into the visible church.  Opponents of infant baptism, more often than not, use the mass conversions in Acts as the basis of their arguing points against this rich, historical doctrine.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Our Blessed Assurance

"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!  O what a foretaste of glory divine!  Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his Spirit, washed in his blood."
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Let's face it: every Christian has doubted their salvation at one point or another.  For some, this doubt has been momentary, while for others, this doubt has persisted for a prolonged period of time.  In either case, doubt has nevertheless hindered the lot of us at one time or another.

In our current evangelical realm, Christians, more often than not, seek assurance of their salvation by way of feelings.  When things are not going so well and there is a perceived disconnect from Christ, doubt ensues.  Similarly, when the pangs of life become unbearable and one is overcome by feelings of despair, hopelessness, and abandonment, doubt again ensues.  In fact, it seems that there is an overemphasis on feelings within contemporary Christianity in general--from conversion experiences to doctrinal positions, and ultimately, to salvation.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Modern Concoction of "Children's Church"

"Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” -Deuteronomy 31:12-13

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In our age of luxury, it is simply inconvenient for us to have our children sit among the congregation during worship service. Children generally fidget, squirm, grow tiresome, cry, scream, and throw fits, and in an environment of reverent worship, this may seem totally unacceptable. In fact, we, as parents, may be downright embarrassed by our children's conduct at times. We may notice glaring eyes and irritable gestures, or perhaps, we may even receive suggestions to remove our children from corporate worship and place them in one of several supposed children's "ministries." While these examples may not relate to you specifically, they are nevertheless common occurrences. As a result, churches counter this potential problem by instituting a glorified day care that conveniently takes on the title of "children's church."

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Will of God is Sure

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When we think of the apostle Peter, a few things instantly come to mind.  We probably remember his denying of Jesus, not once or twice, but thrice.  We may remember his bold and zealous personality type; he was the type that would act before thinking.  Or perhaps, we may even be reminded of his sermon at Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit added three thousand to the Church through Peter's proclamation of the Gospel.  In any case, one thing that we are not instantly reminded of, when thinking about Peter, is his story and its relation to God's sovereignty and decretive will.  In fact, the Gospels depict a blatant instance of God's decretive will in action in the life of Peter.