Archive for June, 2008

Blog Merge, Irruption is Born

June 23, 2008

My brother, Brandon, over at LargerNeedle suggested that I merge with him, and offer in one blog a combination of our diverse giftings and interests to better serve the church and culture. I saw this as an incredible opportunity to unite with him for the cause of Christ and his kingdom. The merger has already been launched under the name Irruption, and from this point forward, we will be posting only there. All of our previous content, links, etc. has already been added to that site as well.

SBC Resolution Seeks Regenerate Church Membership

June 19, 2008

I am very pleased to see the Lord’s gracious work in moving the Southern Baptist Convention to take such a positive step toward maintaining a regenerate church membership and seeking to exercise restorative church discipline in the process. Read the “Complete text of amended membership resolution” here. Pray the local bodies will follow in this wise biblical counsel.

Gleanings from Stephen’s Faithfulness to the Righteous One

June 18, 2008

The account of Stephen’s trial, speech, and subsequent martyrdom found in Acts 6:8-7:60 always sets before me afresh the gravity and seriousness of the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ, a life that consists of both dying and hating one’s life in this world to gain the everlasting joys of presence with the Redeemer (e.g. Mark 8:34-38; John 12:24-26). When I need to observe a genuine Christian, a devoted follower of Jesus and reader/doer of his word, Luke’s portrait of Stephen helps me. There are a few more things I gleaned from this text as I read it this time around and I pray they would be beneficial to your faith also.

First, throughout Stephen’s message he makes numerous references to angels of the Lord mediating God’s words (and/or presence) to Moses and to the people (Acts 7:35, 38, 53; [cf. also Gal 3:19]). The text also notes that Stephen’s face “was like the face of an angel” in 6:15, and throughout chapter 7 Luke seems to portray him no differently than those very angels mentioned in his speech, at least in the sense of a kind of mediating deliverer/interpreter of God’s word. Surely, this highlights that the message concerning the Righteous One (Acts 7:52), in accord with the whole of Scripture, was something they rejected not only in Stephen’s day, but throughout the time Moses and the Prophets announced him.

Second, it seems rather obvious from his speech that Stephen not only read his Bible (i.e. the “Old” Testament), but also (and crucially) did so from the standpoint of faith (Acts 6:5), filled with the Holy Spirit (6:5, 10), and in light of its focus and aim, namely, the Righteous One (7:52). Ought we not learn from this faith-filled, Spirit-wrought, Christ-focused reading the Old Testament Scripture? Furthermore, do take note that Stephen finds that Scripture interprets Scripture. He sees that the Prophets interpret the Law when he quotes Amos 5:25-27 to better understand the people’s rebellion in Exodus; and notice that he interprets the Former Prophets (Josh-Kings) by the testimony of the Latter (in this case Isaiah 66:1-2 [Acts 7:44-50]). Surely by reading the Old Testament with Stephen, we might behold the Righteous One as he did, as well as letting it expose our own rebellion and unbelief.

Third, Acts 6:5 highlights that Stephen is a man “full of faith and and of the Holy Spirit.” We do know the others are “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” from Acts 6:3, assuming the Twelve were faithful to this criteria (as this is clearly implied in verse 5). Surely then, Luke repeats this only concerning Stephen because it anticipates the two forthcoming scenarios he encounters. The first points out the foolish arguing of those belonging to the synagogue (who have not the Spirit), in contrast to “the wisdom and the Spirit with which [Stephen] was speaking” (6:8-11). The second exposes the rebellion of the same crowd in that they are “stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, always resisting the Holy Spirit” (6:51). The connection is straightforward: Stephen speaks filled with the Holy Spirit; the people reject Stephen’s message; the people resist the Holy Spirit. Surely this is highlighted again in 7:55-57. 

Fourth, Stephen’s vision at the end of Luke’s narrative serves to confirm Stephen’s testimony concerning the Righteous One and gives hope to suffering Christians. Stephen just finished bearing witness to the Righteous One whom the people murdered (7:52), and he exposes the fact that in this the people did not heed the Law, nor pay attention to the Prophets. At this crucial point the question becomes, “Who has a correct view and interpretation of the Scripture, Stephen or the synagogue officials?” And, for those readers joining Stephen in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of the Gospel, the question becomes, “What shall become of this faithfulness of mine?” The vision leaves Luke’s readers with no doubts: Stephen “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, that is, Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God'” (7:55-56).

Fifth, Stephen’s salvation-historical overview with special attention to the people’s rebellion against God’s aim/purpose in the Law and temple, for the most part, contains a similar summary and highlights the same conclusions found in Nehemiah’s overview (cf. Acts 7:2 [Neh 9:7], 4-5 [Neh 9:8], 34-36 [Neh 9:9-10], 38 [Neh 9:13-14], 39-40 [Neh 9:16-17], 41 [Neh 9:18], 42-43 [Neh 9:26-27], 45-46 [Neh 9:24], and 51-53 [Neh 9:30]). Here (again), we find clear evidence of the unity of both Testaments, and thus all of Scripture.

He Established a Testimony

June 14, 2008

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God (Psalm 78:1-8).

Welcome Luke Allen Rogers!

June 12, 2008

We are rejoicing in our gracious God’s gift to us as a family, our first child, Luke Allen Rogers, who came at 8:45pm, Tuesday, June 10, 2008. He weighed 7 pounds 15 ounces and was 20 and one half inches long.

Quote of the Week – Thomas Schreiner on the Christian Presupposition of Canon in Biblical Theology

June 8, 2008

This past week, a dear brother of mine blessed me with Thomas R. Schreiner’s New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008 ) as a birthday present. Even though my German homework has piled to the ceiling, I could not resist giving the book a quick overview throughout the weekend. I am very appreciative of many aspects in and the main aim of the book already, and look forward at a more in depth look at a later time! 

From what I have read, I am thrilled to find a fellow Southern Baptist brother and scholar committed to careful exegesis, sound theology, a Trinitarian emphasis, the canonical witness, and (from the testimony of my brother who is one of his students) the obedience of faith. These commitments lead him to this thesis concerning the New Testament’s testimony: “The NT is about God magnifying himself in Christ through the Spirit” (13); or from his introduction, “…NT theology is God-focused, Christ-centered, and Spirit-saturated, but the work of the Father, Son, and Spirit must be understood along a salvation-historical timeline; that is, God’s promises are already fulfilled but not yet consummated in Christ Jesus” (23). (Without question, the third section of Schreiner’s book, “Experiencing the Promise: Believing and Obeying”, addresses how the Gospel demands the people it births live under this authoritative reality revealed from the text of the Bible.)

His conclusions stem from his own assiduous reading of the text as he himself testifies: “I wrote the first three drafts [of New Testament Theology] without consulting any secondary resources. Before I wrote, I carefully took notes on the entire NT, noting what NT authors discussed, so that my theology would be anchored by the text” (9). (Excluding bibliographies, the book is nearly 900 pages in length!)

The reason for this post, however, was to provide you with this quote from his work, which shows us the necessary Christian presupposition (no doubt birthed and generated by the work of the Holy Spirit himself) when assessing the testimony of the New Testament and putting together the theology it teaches for the sake of the church (and thus good of the world):

One must also presuppose that the canon is the limit for biblical theology because it is the word of God. This is not to say that one arbitrarily presupposes the truth of God’s word, for no other worldview makes sense of all reality as the biblical worldview does, and all other worldviews can survive only by borrowing from the biblical worldview at some point. Still, the divine character and authority of the Scriptures cannot be proved definitively; it is not as if we can demonstrate conclusively to others that the Scriptures are true. The starting point for grasping all of reality must be presupposed in any philosophical worldview, though it can be demonstrated that no other worldview makes sense of the world except the worldview generated by the canon of the entire Bible (885).

For conclusions in a similar vain of the previous quote, see my paragraph “What do we mean by ‘New Testament Theology’?“, Billy Marsh’s conclusions in his paper “A Christocentric Theological Method“, Ched Spellman’s post on K. Vanhoozer’s First Theology: God, Scripture, and Hermeneutics.