Friday, April 29, 2011

Schleitheim Confession (Anabaptist, 1527)

Link to the Schleitheim Confession, an earlier Anabaptist confessional document.  I don't profess to agree with all of it, but I've got a strange interest in the anabaptists lately (maybe because I'm technically a twice-baptized person myself: once the wrong way (baby) and once the right way (believer)).

I Timothy and Plurality of Elders - Notes from Macarthur

Some quick notes I took from a sermon by John Macarthur on the issue of eldership.  In I Timothy we read the Apostle Paul writing to Timothy at the church in Ephesus and giving instructions about restoring Biblical eldership.  Macarthur describes how the Bibles speaks of elders as a plurality of men, and not a "lone wolf" pastor in charge.  Paul's letters teach of elders in a plural sense, and say nothing of a pyramid layout or pecking order to this - no ruling man or board of men in charge.  The idea of a "senior pastor" is not in Scripture.

Coming from a Presbyterian background, I've long had struggles with the concept of "lay eldership", or elders who are full-time lawyers or pediatricians during the week, giving their trades full-time focus, but then along comes Sunday and then they are somehow qualified to serve as officers of the church?  And what happens in a situation where someone in the congregation needs immediate crisis counciling?  "Sorry, I have a busy work day at the office and can't help you."  The office of elder should be a full-time, dedicated role held by men with a seminary education.  Its one of the things I love about Oak Ridge Reformed Baptist, in that there isn't a "senior pastor" but rather two men who take on the eldership responsibilities together.  I'm fairly certain this is consistent with how the Bible described it should be.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Musing about Seminary

Going to Seminary
I would love to go to seminary one day, but the logistics of doing it with family seem completely unrealistic. Plus I've never really felt a calling to the ministry, but rather just a love of the Word and of a deeper understanding of exegeting Scripture, the original languages, church history and the nuiances of systematic theology. Maybe someday - it might make for a nice retirement goal... :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

"People of the Church" by L. C. Rudolph

We just finished reading People of the church (Covenant life curriculum) by L. C. rudolph as part of our family worship time, and the text, albeit very brief, offers a decent and compact overview of some of the principle followers of Christ throughout Church history, including Calvin, Polycarp of Smyrna, Columba of Iona, etc.  Ideal for family worship and young listeners, the text offers a glipse into their lives and details some of their accomplishments, in addition to their trials and persecutions.  I wasn't able to find much about it online, but there's a link to Amazon above where it can presumably be found used.  Well worth it.

A Boatload of Bahnsen

There's a wealth of free Greg Bahnsen articles available here. Linking to it, simply so I'll remember to get around to it when I get more reading time...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Michael Phillips - History of the Anabaptists

Pastor Michael Phillips offers a nice overview in this MP3 of the Anabaptist movement, both the origin and early history of this group as well as an exploration of some of their key teachings. Speaking as an "anabaptist" (one twice baptized - once the wrong way as a little devil of a baby, once the right way as a professing believer) I really admire the convictions of the early believers who took a stand for their convictions, often with their lives sacrificed as a result.

Pastor Phillips talks about Conrad Grebel, a student of Zwingli in the 16th century. Zwingli was assailing the catholic mass at that time, as something not found in Scripture. Grebel took that a step further and applied that same reasoning logically to infant baptism as well. What is fascinating is that Zwingli privately agreed, yet hypocritically he publically supported paedobaptism. And sadly at that time it was the city council that stood in judgment over the matter, with Zwingli's backing, when truthfully Christ is the only head of the church. Grebel was arrested, imprisoned, but ultimately able to flee and continue to spread the word. The message also continues into details about Felix Manz and also Michael Sattler, the later who faced a brutal torture and execution simply because he taught and believed in the Scripturally-correct mode of baptism.

While the anabaptists were not without faults theologically, one of the interesting points made by Pastor Phillips is that, while there will be Judases in baptist churches, these are NOT ones that are deliberately brought in, whereas in the paedobaptising congregations, as he puts it in the message, the practice was that of "sprinkled water on the heads of little devils and brought into the church". Strong, true, but accurate.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Corrie Ten Boom: Keeper of the Angels Den

We recently read  together as part of our family worship time a biography of Corrie ten Boom, a brave Christian woman who helped hide Jews in Holland during WWII, and this particular biography, while ultimately a wonderful ending, illustrates the very dark turn of events that took place in the life of Corrie ten Boom during the Nazi occupation of Holland during this timeframe, and her eventual experience as a German captive as a result of helping to hide Jews in “the angels Den”, a hidden room within her home. The biography starts out with some of the more cheerful details of Corrie's earlier family life and then slowly unfolds into the details of the war spreading its way across the peaceful holland countryside and the gradual transformation of life for the Dutch, particularly the Jews of Holland who were more and more villified by the Nazis. Corrie, her father and siblings agree to work as part of the resistance and in addition to helping procure food rations for those starving they also find the means to build a hiding place in their home for persecuted Jews. Eventually the gestapo find out about this, and what follows are a series of dark chapters describing the inhuman prison conditions that would eventually take the life of Corrie's father and older sister. Corrie survives, is eventually released and returns to Holland, where she devotes the remainder of her life helping those devastated by the Nazi occupation. She also wrote her memoirs in the classic “the Hiding Place” and also traveled extensively, speaking and lecturing, while giving away most of her money to help those in need.

An excellent, albeit darker, entry in the Janey and Geoff Benge series of the heroes of the christian faith, and one that spurned a lot of discussion following the reading, particularly on the them of gratitude and really appreciating what you have. Don't like dinner tonight? Imagine eating black toast and a cup of watery coffee and that's all you get. Not enough pillows? Imaging a straw mat covered with lice, etc. One recurring statement from the book was from Betsie's older sister, during the hardship of imprisonment, when she said that “We must tell them there is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper.” From a concentration camp stronger words could not be spoken.

Another passage that stuck with me (that a previous reader of this book marked with a star) were the words of Casper ten boom, in reference to the demands of the Gestapo not to shelter Jews and the concern of his family, “Never forget”, he said, his blue eyes shining, “What a privileged family we are.” In light of so many forms of persecution that afflict the church of Christ today, these words ring with so much importance to all of us.