Living from the Covenant

Covenant theology is among my greatest discoveries.

The concept of covenant is a compelling and dominant feature of all of Scripture.  Covenant is that golden thread that runs seamlessly through Scripture–stretching from Genesis to Revelation: I will be your God, you will be my people, I will live among you  (Genesis 17:7; Exodus 6:7; Deuteronomy 29:12-13; Jeremiah 24:7; Zechariah 8:8; John 1:14; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Revelation 21:1-5).

Moreover, covenant is Trinitarian (Ephesians 1:3-14).  Perhaps we can savor the thought of what Reformed theologians call the covenant of redemption–a covenant forged in eternity between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Covenant is also the culmination.  According to the Apostle Paul, way back in eternity, it was the Father’s covenant will to unite all things in his Son (Ephesians 1:7-10).  It’s the movement of history.  It’s where we’re headed.

Therefore, I’m convinced that when we understand the depth and richness of covenant and live from this understanding, our churches, homes, and communities will be transformed, for the glory of God and the good of humanity.  This is the compelling force of living in covenant community (see Acts 2:41-47).

It’s the benediction the wonderful homily to the Hebrew Christians: “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21).

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Book Review: The Sin of Certainty by Peter Enns

 

  • 1Enns-780x1024Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (April 5, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006227208X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062272089
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches

 

Many thanks to HarperOne for a review copy of Peter Enns The Sin of Certainty: Why God Desires Our Trust More Than Our “Correct” Beliefs.

An Overview

Mr. Enns begins anecdotally, how while watching a Disney movie he had one of those God moments–a moment that would challenge his own thinking. In a way, The Sin of Certainty is autobiographical of Enns’ own faith journey–a journey of disillusionment with the pursuit of certainty at the expense of simply trusting God.  “The problem is trusting our beliefs rather than trusting God.”  Enns also explores how we got into this mess of “trusting our beliefs rather than God.”  Mr. Enns then demonstrates from Scripture how those we hail as heroes of the faith wrestle with doubt and uncertainty, leading them to simple trust in God.  And from his own life–loss of professorship over his writings and family challenges–Mr. Enns shares how they led to cultivating simple trust in God.

Critique

While I generally enjoy reading The Sin of Certainty, I wish Mr. Enns had done more with the “boundaries” of Christianity.  Mr. Enns mentions that there are “boundaries” in the Christian faith but does little in demonstrating that even where there are doubts and uncertainties, we need these boundary markers to remain Christian.  A high point of Enns The Sin of Certainty is the need for a kind of mysticism in the journey of faith.  According to Enns, the Jesus we encounter in the Gospels is more of a mystic.  I quite agree.  Mr. Enns is also correct that we need to explore and learn from other traditions in our own journey of faith.  But even here I think Mr. Enns got a bit carried away.

Conclusion

“Church is too often the most risky place to be spiritually honest.  What a shame.”  We’ve gotten into a mess, where we put more trust in “correct” beliefs rather than God.  I believe Peter Enns’ The Sin of Certainty is a step in the right direction, for it challenges the reader to rethink and revisit what the Christian faith and following Christ is all about.

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Doubt is good Theology

Let me clarify: doubt as good theology is not the kind of doubt that makes us cool or proud, in this skeptical age of ours.

Rather, doubt as good theology is what Peter Enns describes as a dying and rising, where as followers of Jesus we “live and experience God in the present” (The Sin of Certainty).

It’s divine tough love.

It’s where the Jesus of the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament “sounds more like a mystic than an intellectual lining up correct thinking” (Enns).

Finally, doubt as good theology “signals not God’s death but the need for our own–to die to the theology we hold to with clenched fists. [Where] our first creeping feelings of doubt are like the distant toll of a graveyard chapel, alerting us that the dying process is coming our way” (Enns).

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N.T. Wright’s New Book on Atonement

N.T. Wright’s forthcoming book is about the atonement and it is called The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’ Crucifixion (New York: HarperOne, October 2016).

NTWHere is the publisher’s blurb:

In The Day the Revolution Began, N. T. Wright once again challenges commonly held Christian beliefs as he did in his acclaimed Surprised by Hope. Demonstrating the rigorous intellect and breathtaking knowledge that have long defined his work, Wright argues that Jesus’ death on the cross was not only to absolve us of our sins; it was actually the beginning of a revolution commissioning the Christian faithful to a new vocation—a royal priesthood responsible for restoring and reconciling all of God’s creation. Wright argues that Jesus’ crucifixion must be understood within the much larger story of God’s purposes to bring heaven and earth together. The Day the Revolution Began offers a grand picture of Jesus’ sacrifice and its full significance for the Christian faith, inspiring believers with a renewed sense of mission, purpose, and hope, and reminding them of the crucial role the Christian faith must play in protecting and shaping the future of the world.

I can’t wait to read this one.  Rumor has it that N.T. Wright has changed his view on hilasterion (cf. Romans 3:25).

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My Installation as a Presbyterian Minister

Logo-620-e1466640354284After seven months of studying, written exams, oral exams, approval of a presbytery, I was installed last Sunday evening, July 24, as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).

It was a wonderful time for my family and I.  Something of a celebration after several grueling months of study and exams.

Moreover, it’s something of a theological resting–after much studying, pondering, and wrestling with biblical and theological issues.

My family and I are eternally grateful to God for our time in the Southern Baptist Convention.

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