On Faith by Peter Enns

“Being ‘in’ with God is about much more than the thoughts we keep in our heads, the belief systems we hold on to, the doctrines we recite, or the statements of faith we adhere to, no matter how fervently and genuinely we do so, and how important they may be.  Being obsessed with making sure we have all our thoughts about God properly arranged and defended isn’t faith.  How trusting we are of God day to day and how Godlike we live among those around us day to day is.” –from The Sin of Certainty

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My Conversation with a Southern Baptist

A few days ago, I was asked about my denomination persuasion.  I told my colleague that I was transitioning from Southern Baptist to Presbyterian (PCA).

The follow up question was WHY.

My response was because of my understanding of covenant theology and also the need for covenant baptism (infant baptism, if you like).

His reply was magical, “Of all things, you left Southern Baptist over infant baptism?!”

“Yes.”

He proceeded to give reasons why he holds to believer’s baptism and rejects infant baptism.  I saw the obvious holes in his defense of a believer only baptism, but I shied away from any further discussion on the matter.

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Systematic Theology by Anthony C. Thiselton

  • 9780802872722Hardcover: 467 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans (October 21, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802872727
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802872722
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9.1 inches

 

A Description

In this concise, one-volume systematic theology, celebrated scholar Anthony Thiselton comprehensively covers the spectrum of Christian doctrine with an eye to practical application for Christian discipleship.
 
Written with students and busy ministers in mind, this book is readable and accessible, comprising fifteen chapters of relatively equal length, with each chapter containing five evenly balanced subsections for teaching and learning convenience.
 
Rather than setting out an abstract system, Thiselton explores theology as a living, organic whole. The book thus includes biblical foundations, historical thought, contemporary writers, and practical implications. Expertly incorporating biblical exegesis, philosophy, conceptual grammar, and hermeneutics, this work is the most succinct multidisciplinary systematic theology available.

I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read so far from Thiselton.  His commentary on 1 Corinthians is majestic.  It’s among the better ones out there!

This systematic theology should be good as well.

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“Correct Thinking” versus “Trust in God”

Peter Enns’ The Sin of Certainty is not for the lighthearted.  I’m reading it right now.  It has raised some worthy questions–questions I never thought of (perhaps the sign of a good book?).

For the last two decades or so, Mr. Enns has been on a faith-journey.  He has published the results of such a journey.  In fact, one such publication, Inspiration and Incarnationgot him suspended.

For Mr. Enns this journey has been about the difference between “correct thinking” and “Trust in God.”  For him, they are not one and the same thing.

Working out what we believe is worthy of serious time and effort in our lives of faith.  But our pursuit of having the right beliefs and locking them up in a vault are not the center of faith.  Trust in God is.  When holding to correct thinking becomes the center, we have shrunk faith in God to an intellectual exercise, a human enterprise, where differences need to be settled through debate first before faith can get off the ground.

I’m guilty as charged.

I’ve found myself over the years to have “shrunk faith in God to an intellectual exercise, a human enterprise, concluding that a set of correct beliefs in God is what I truly need rather than simple trust in God.

You know, like fitting God in a box of my own intellectual exercises and clever arguments.

Mr. Enns says this is what biblical faith is.  In his book he demonstrates this thesis over and over.  But I do have some questions for Mr. Enns.  More to follow…

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The Church as Mother

As Mother’s Day approaches, and as we think about what gifts to get our mothers and wives, who are mothers, let’s pause to reflect on the Church as Mother, with the help of John Calvin:

The heavenly Jerusalem, which derives its origin from heaven and dwells above by faith, is the mother of believers. For she has the incorruptible seed of life deposited in her by which she forms us, cherishes us in her womb and brings us to light. She has the milk and the food by which she continually nourishes her offspring. This is why the Church is called the mother of believers. And certainly, he who refuses to be a son of the Church desires in vain to have God as his Father. For it is only through the ministry of the Church that God begets sons for Himself and brings them up until they pass through adolescence and reach manhood. This is a title of wonderful and the highest honor.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians (Eerdmans, 1974), 87-8).

Now let’s parse all this: (1) it is within the womb of the church God’s people are conceived through the Spirit and the Word.  (2) it is within the church context that God’s people are birthed to new life through the Holy Spirit.  (3) it is within the church that God’s people receive spiritual nourishment.  And (4), it is within the church God’s people receive care and guidance.

Church as mother is a fitting metaphor indeed.  Perhaps it will go a long way to helping us develop a more healthy and robust ecclesiology.  So no need to go on rejecting Cyprian of Carthage, “You cannot have God for your Father if you do not have the Church for your mother.”

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