PIETAS

Matthew’s Spiritual Journey

Posts Tagged ‘John Piper

Studying TULIP

leave a comment »

John CalvinThis week, I am working through John Piper’s recent nine-part seminar about the five points of Calvinism or TULIP. The introductory first part, as well as links to the rest of this series, is available here. I have watched first five parts so far and greatly appreciated extensive textural analysis Paster Piper offers. I plan to post my notes after completing the series.

In addition, I am reading What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism, the 1985 booklet by Bethlehem Baptist Church Staff. I am grateful that Paster Piper’s ministry has made these lectures and notes available to wider audience.

In my Google search about Calvin and TULIP, I came across this article, “The Triumph of Arminianism (and its dangers)” by Keith Drury, which assets that “Arminianism has triumphed in the pew, if not in the seminary”. Below is an excerpt from its introductory section.

Jakob Arminius

The evangelical church today is basically Arminian in its approach. For now, Arminianism has triumphed and Calvinism is in retreat. I don’t mean that the Calvinist denominations have officially changed their doctrine. Most Calvinistic theologians have stuck with their five-points (see TULIP Calvinism Compared to Wesleyan Perspectives). But most of the ordinary people have drifted from traditional Calvinism toward the Arminian position. The average Christian today might claim to be Calvinist, but they function as a “practical Arminian.” While many Calvinist pastors still ascribe to the Calvinist shibboleths, in their practical theology, they are functioning Arminians.

My initial reaction? I said to myself that I need to do more research to verify this assertion. However, towards the end of this article, Mr. Drury writes something that does not make sense to me.

Face it, Arminianism is simply more logical. It makes sense to the person on the street. And today’s church is scrambling to make sense to unbelievers. We want to sound sensible, logical, rational, enlightened, fair. Arminianism is so much more appealing to worldly people.

Huh? Is the main point of Christian faith and theology being more logical, making more sense and appealing to people? Which verses in the Bible support this idea?

Written by Matthew

May 6, 2008 at 11:08 pm

God’s Two Wills

with one comment

Last night, I finally had a chance to read John Piper‘s article entitled “Are There Two Wills in God?” which Susan pointed out to me almost a week ago. This work from 1995 focuses on the theological subject of election as its subtitle [Divine Election and God’s Desire for All to Be Saved] suggests.

In my shallow first reading, I found the idea of hierarchy or rank order of God’s wills (to fearlessly coin a phrase) to be most beneficial, although I am not sure whether such a reading is an accurate portrayal of Pastor Piper’s thoughts. At any rate, this insight allowed me to construct a preliminary framework to think more clearly about the nature of unconditional election which remains the most challenging doctrine (at least for me) among the five points of Calvinism.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Matthew

April 28, 2008 at 4:29 pm

My Starting Point

with one comment

Thank you for joining me here at the starting point, as I embark on a personal yet public journey.

What are my reasons to start this blog? And, why now? Those are fair questions. While I have toyed around with the idea of maintaining a personal blog for as long as this format has become popular, my recently heightened interest in Christianity—either a sign of my emotional maturity or of simple aging—provided the final impetus to create one so that I can begin to organize my thoughts and commit them to “paper.”

In particular, watching Pastor John Piper‘s extensive sermon series about the issue of regeneration and beginning to analyze Jesus’ answer to Nicodemus earlier this year motivated me to study the Bible more carefully and systematically, perhaps as any thoughtful academic scholar would treat his important primary sources. One positive result so far is that I am finding more depth and intellectual challenges in the biblical studies and theological discussions than I had expected. My initial expectations were admittedly flawed since they were based mostly on my readings of political history as well as various secondary sources about Christian philosophy and practice.

Once I began to inquire more deeply about Christian beliefs, doctrines and life, I felt a need for a central depository of my ever-accumulating notes, lessons and thoughts and for a record of my reasoning and inspiration. I thought that a blog could meet those immediate needs and, in the future, could even broaden its role to facilitate earnest dialogs or debates about particularly challenging or vexing questions which could enlighten us to the right path and illuminate our destination.

Or, so I hope. The ultimate destination of this journey is far from clear to me now, as I struggle, right from the start, with thorny concepts such as the nature of election, the issue of free will under God’s sovereign choice, and the combination of faith and works among regenerates. We shall see where all these would lead.

Let me close this entry with a prayer.

Grant me the key of knowledge to open my heart and feel your nature. Grant me the zealous passion to open my minds without becoming rigid and self-righteous. And, above all, grant me the steadfast courage to obey and submit to your righteous and merciful will.

• • •

References – All Bible texts are from the English Standard Version or ESV

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:1-3)

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (2 Peter 1:5-7)

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:1-4)

Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.” (Luke 11:52)

Written by Matthew

April 26, 2008 at 11:27 pm