Scot McKnight’s Kingdom Conspiracy

Over at Euangelion, Mike Bird, who received a pre-pub copy of Scot McKnight’s new book Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church, gives a snapshot:9781587433603

In a nutshell, McKnight argues that there are two predominant views of “kingdom” operating in and around evangelicalism. First, the skinny jeans view, which equates kingdom with social justice. Second, the pleated pants view, where kingdom equates to God’s redemptive work. McKnight wants to affirm the good of social justice work and the necessity of proclaiming salvation to the lost, but he wants to bring kingdom in closer proximity to church. The problem is that Protestants are absolutely paranoid about drawing kingdom and church together, cause, you know, that’s what Catholics believe. So McKnight begins his case arguing that analytically the very idea of a “kingdom” is that of a people ruled by a king.

Seems like I’ve read this book before.  Perhaps he will ultimately be arguing for a balance approach to the matter.  At any rate, Scot McKnight is a breath of fresh air.  It should be a good read.

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Michael Servetus Last Words: What Do They Mean?

Though John Calvin and the other ministers appealed to Servetus to repent right up to the time of his execution, Servetus adamantly maintained his position and uttered the following as he went to the flames of execution,

Jesus, son of the eternal God, have mercy on me?”

According to W. Robert Godfrey, Servetus maintained his ant-trinitarian position to the very end.  “By those words Servetus maintained even in the flames that Jesus was not himself eternal God” (John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor).

Servetus saw Jesus as Savior but not as God.  But how could this Jesus save anyone, much less Michael Servetus?

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Book Review: John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor by W. Robert Godfrey

  • CalvinPaperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway; 1 edition (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433501325
  • WTSBooks
  • Crossway

Many thanks to Crossway for the opportunity to review John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor by W. Robert Godfrey.

John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor is written by a church historian and Calvin scholar.  It flows well. It’s not dry and dull.  And it’s supported by a number of primary sources.  The book is divided into two sections, as its title suggest, Calvin the Pilgrim and Pastor.  Calvin the Pilgrim is somewhat shorter than Calvin the Pastor.  Calvin the Pastor focuses more on the theology and pastoral care of John Calvin, especially as seen in his voluminous correspondence.

Godfrey begins with “The Importance of Calvin,” pointing out that once a person learns about Calvin, that person either admires or loathes Calvin.  There’s no neutrality–yet the impact of Calvin on Western thought and civilization cannot be denied.  For someone who has read a number of books on Calvin’s life and thought, though a short work (208 pages), it proved both insightful and informative, especially in its first section, “Calvin as Pilgrim.”  In the second section, Godfrely really does get to the heart of God’s theology and what drives Calvin.  It’s here also that the reader finds that Calvin is hardly the innovator of some of the doctrinal positions which have vexed so many of his critics.  I will be remiss if I didn’t mention that excerpts from Calvin’s voluminous correspondence to various individuals and churches is something of a treat.  It is here that we get to see the pastor care and personal touch of Calvin.  Regarding the execution of Michael Servetus by burning at the stake, Godfrey writes, “Through the centuries since this execution Calvin has been frequently portrayed as severe, judgmental, intolerant, and violent.  He has been represented as a great persecutor.  In fact, Calvin’s attitude toward punishing heretics was quite typical in the sixteenth century.  However barbaric such views may seem today, the vast majority of Europeans would have agreed with Calvin in his day.”  It must be noted that Calvin never sought fame and money.  In fact, commenting on the death and burial of Moses, Calvin writes, “It is good that famous men should be buried in unmarked graves.”  On Saturday, May 27, 1564, Calvin died peacefully and quietly at age fifty-four, all worn-out.  The next day, Sunday, he was buried in an unmarked grave at a secret location somewhere in Geneva.

As a great admirer of John Calvin, as pastor and theologian, I welcome this work by W. Robert Godfrey and cannot commend it too highly.  It’s worth the read.

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Poll: Women in Leadership

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Baptists and Alcohol

Bible and AlcoholLet’s be clear about one thing: Scripture does not forbid the use of alcohol.  Rather, it forbids the exessive use of alcohol to the point of drunkenness (Gal. 5:21; 1 Tim. 3:3).

So where did teetotalism come from amoung Baptists?

Well, readers would be surprised to learn that at one point Baptists use to consume alcohol, wine, and so on.

Total abstinence is as recent as the 1800s.  There’s nothing in church history to disprove this.

Baptists who insist on teetotalism cannot escape the fact that Jesus turned water into wine, and that Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:23 to stop drinking water alone, but to use wine to help his stomach ailments.

Neither am I trying to promote the use of alcohol consumption here.  But to force Scripture to say something that it doesn’t is wrong.

So when Baptist leaders says that “there’s no place for use of alcohol for followers of Christ,” it’s because they’re intoxicated (pun intended) with their own zeal and tradition, not Scripture.

Now while Scripture doesn’t call for teetotalism, the follower of Christ must employ wisdom and sound judgment, in this matter.

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