Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Augustine on Free Will and Irresistible Grace

"Who am I, and what am I? What evil has not been in my deeds, or if not in my deeds, my words, or if not in my words, my will? But You, Lord, are good and merciful, and Your right hand has respected the depth of my death and, from the bottom of my heart, has emptied that abyss of corruption. And Your whole gift to me was not to will what I willed, and to will what You willed. But where was my free will through all those years, and out of what low and deep recess was my free will called forth in a moment so I could submit my neck to Your easy yoke, and my shoulders to Your light burden, Christ Jesus, my Helper and my Redeemer? How sweet it suddenly became to me, to lack the "sweetness" of those follies, and what I was afraid to be separated from was now a joy to part with! You cast them forth from me, You who are the true and highest sweetness. You cast them forth and entered in their place Yourself, You who are sweeter than all pleasure, though not to flesh and blood, brighter than all light, but more hidden than all depths, higher than all honor, but not to the lofty in their own conceits. Now my soul was free from the biting cares of seeking and getting, weltering in filth, and scratching off the itch of lust. And my infant tongue spoke freely to You, my brightness and my riches and my health, Lord my God."
The Confessions of Saint Augustine, published by Whitaker House, 1996, pp. 213-214 (emphasis mine)

Here Augustine describes his conversion in terms that reveal his firm belief in total depravity. He views his own sinfulness as an evil nature resulting in a bondage of the will. He recognizes that his faith was initiated by God's effectual calling rather than his own free will, which was trapped in a "low and deep recess" prior to the divine call. He posits a paradoxical "free will" which is limited by the boundaries of the sinful nature and in need of awakening by God's grace. And because of these things, Augustine gives all the glory to God.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Guest Blogger: The Real Meaning of Christmas

I'm girl whom God loves. I'm here to tell you about the meaning of Christmas. It's about something that happened long ago... there was no room at the inn, so Jesus was born in a stable. Some shepherds in a nearby field were watching their sheep. An angel came to them, saying: "Glory to God in the highest." The angel told them, "the Son of David is lying in a manger." They were scared. The angel said: "Fear not!" Wise men came later. They brought gold, frankincense and myrrh. What would a baby do with gold? I don't know. The Bible doesn't tell us.In this Christmas season, remember the real reason! What is the real reason? Jesus! So, when you open your presents and set up your tree, remember the real meaning of  Christmas.  {The meaning of Christmas told in the story above} It's about  Jesus  coming to save us. "For God  so loved the world  that he gave his  only son, that  whoever  believes in him  shall not perish, but have  everlasting life" ~ John 3:16.                                                                                                                                                   "Bye - Bye"            

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Incarnation Mysteries: He Humbled Himself

. . . although He existed in the form of God,
He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied Himself,
taking the form of a bond-servant,
and being made in the likeness of men.
Being found in appearance as a man,
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:6-8 

Some have called the incarnation the most paradoxical of all Christian doctrines, and this could be true. The incarnation forms the necessary link between an incalculable and transcendent Trinity on the one hand, and an ultra-ironic and concretely historic Cross on the other. Who can fathom what took place as God the Son humbled Himself to become the fully-human-and-completely-divine Son of God? In His Person He draws together the realms of eternity and the world of men, and he affects both by His mediating work. He is perfect God and perfect Man - as perfect in the limitations of His humanity as He is perfect in the superlatives of His deity. He is God and He is man. He is the Mediator between God and man.

In a short essay, entitled The Excellency of Christ, Jonathan Edwards noted:

"There is a conjunction of such excellencies in Christ, as, in our manner of conceiving, are very diverse from one another. . . . There do meet in Jesus Christ infinite highness and infinite condescension. . . . He is so high, that he is infinitely above any need of us; above our reach, that we cannot be profitable to him. . . . Our understandings, if we stretch them ever so far, cannot reach up to his divine glory. . . . And yet he is one of infinite condescension. . . . Such a conjunction of infinite highness and low condescension, in the same person, is admirable."

The following list of incarnation mysteries is offered as a seed bed for thoughtful reflection on the incarnated Son, Who stands at the exact center of the Father's eternal plan . . . at the focal point of human history . . . and at the eternal epicenter of redemption.

Consider . . .

The Creator became a creature . . .
The Eternal One entered time . . .
The pure One encountered a world saturated with sin . . .
The One Who cannot sin appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh . . .
The One Who cannot be tempted by evil faced the fiercest temptations possible . . .
The Immortal God took on a mortally vulnerable body . . .
The Self-sufficient One became dependent . . .
The Righteous Judge placed Himself under the faulty dictates of human justice . . .
The Sovereign Lord submitted to imperfect human authorities . . .
The omnipresent One placed Himself within finite space . . .
The Almighty lived within natural human limitations . . .
The omniscient mind of God was hidden within a human being's ignorance
The All-knowing One experienced the process of learning . . .
The changeless, immutable One experienced the process of maturing . . .
The eternally joyful One became a man of sorrows . . .
The Great Intercessor became a man of prayer . . .
The Maker of Law was born under law . . .
The Owner of everything made Himself poor . . .
The Supreme Master became a suffering servant . . .
The Invisible One was seen and touched . . .
The One Who is Forever Blessed would become a curse for us . . .
The Living God would die for us . . .

Although He "emptied" and "humbled" Himself in this way, He never ceased in His perfections - human or divine. His divine attributes were not removed, but covered over and veiled by human characteristics. While in many ways His glorious power was hidden, His love and grace and wisdom and goodness and justice were only magnified by the incarnation - yet they were magnified in a way that is forever hidden from the hard-hearted and indelibly revealed to those who trust in Him.

The many paradoxes of Christ's Person are unbelievable to the unbelieving, yet they are the very means by which God effectually calls sinners to choose Him.

"Let the consideration of this wonderful meeting of diverse excellencies in Christ induce you to accept him, and close with him as your Savior. As all manner of excellencies meet in him, so there are occurring in him all manner of arguments and motives, to move you to choose him for your Savior, and every thing that tends to encourage poor sinners to come and put their trust in him. His fullness and all-sufficiency as a Savior gloriously appear in that variety of excellencies that has been spoken of." (Edwards, The Excellency of Christ)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The THEOparadox Team Has its First Fight

A snowball fight . . . JibJab style!


Those "Holidays" are called CHRIST-MAS and New Year's, by the way.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Milestone

One and a half years ago, I performed a Google search for the term, "Theoparadox." No results were returned, so I decided it would be the perfect name for a new blog.

Since then, I have periodically used Google to trace the spread of the term from its humble roots. Today, for the first time, Google's auto-complete suggested Theoparadox as a search term . . .

Perhaps someday we'll see "Theoparadox" as an entry in the dictionary?

Soli Deo Gloria.

Incarnation Mysteries: The Virgin Birth

The virgin birth is the ultimate impossibility. As a rule, conception never takes place apart from the physical union of two cells, which are provided by physically male and female humans. In the incarnation, God's Spirit conceived Christ in Mary's womb without the presence of a male cell.

Luke 1:34-37 Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.  . . . For nothing will be impossible with God."

Consider Mary's statement, "from this time on all generations will count me blessed." (Luke 1:48). These were the words of a young, unmarried pregnant woman, from a poor Galilean village, with no "proof" of her extravagant claim. Normally, such women might be called many things, none of which are remotely similar to "blessed." She would likely have been cast aside and forgotten by her contemporaries rather than remembered with joy and admiration by God-honoring people in every future generation.

Consider also that the angel called this baby a "holy child." Children conceived outside of wedlock have been given various unfortunate labels, but this One would be called the Son of God.

Leave it to God to bring His ultimate blessing and fulfillment of prophecy through such apparently ignominious circumstances! Leave it to God to draw such a history-breaking event out of common insignificance and obscurity! Leave it to God to unveil His purity to the world through the false appearance of immorality! Leave it to God to reveal His miraculous plan to humble, unnoticed servants rather than the religious elite in Jerusalem! Leave it to God to do such seemingly illogical things for His own glory!

He continues to use humble, obscure, overlooked, God-centered, love-motivated, grateful, trusting servants to fulfill His will in our day - as the way is prepared for the second advent of the Son of God.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tullian Tchividjian on Pelagius, Jonathan Edwards, Free Will and the Gospel

Tullian Tchividjian, the grandson of Dr. Billy Graham, is pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida church founded by Dr. D. James Kennedy). Back in 2001, Tchividjian wrote a 5-page article titled, Reflections on Jonathan Edwards' View of Free Will. In the article, he shows how the unwillingness to accept a paradox led Pelagius into heresy, while thoughtful examination of the same paradox led Edwards to a satisfactory explanation of it. Edwards achieved this by skillfully distinguishing between two different types of "ability" to choose, and thereby showing man's will is (paradoxically) both free and bound by sin. Here's an excerpt from Tchividjian's essay . . .

“Natural Inability” and “Moral Inability”
We remember that what plagued Pelagius was the paradox of human responsibility to follow God’s holy commands and human inability. According to Pelagius, the fact that God commands us to obey him implies that we are able to obey him. If inability reigns, then God would be unjust to command our obedience. This problem, as we have seen, eventually led Pelagius to deny the universality of sin. He was unable to deal with the paradox. Edwards’ contribution to this issue is perhaps his most profound. Edwards distinguished between what he referred to as “natural inability” and “moral inability”. “We are said to be naturally unable to do a thing, when we can’t do it if we will, because what is most commonly called nature doesn’t allow it… Moral inability consists in the opposition or want of inclination”.4 In other words, I am said to be naturally unable to do a thing, no matter how hard I desire it, if nature doesn’t allow it, such as flying or walking on water. In this sense, we are all naturally able to do what is right. After all, we have all of the natural capacities to understand the law of God. We have a mouth that is physically capable of uttering praises to God. We have a will that enables us to choose to do what we want to do. Original sin does not eradicate our humanity or ability to make choices. The natural ability remains intact. God has endowed us with the natural ability to do what he requires of us. What we lack, however, is the moral ability. What was lost in the fall is the want or inclination to do that which is righteous. We have no desire to obey God. We have, in fact, no desire for God at all. Fallen man has the natural ability to choose God but he lacks the moral ability to do so. For this reason, God can justly command our obedience (because we have the necessary faculties of choice), and at the same time hold us responsible for the choices we make. A.W. Pink says, “By nature [man] possesses natural ability but lacks moral and spiritual ability. The fact that he does not possess the latter does not destroy his responsibility, because his responsibility rests upon the fact that he does possess the former”.5 Without a righteous inclination to do good, no one can choose good. Our decisions follow our inclinations. Sin has rendered us hopeless, according to Edwards, but this is precisely what makes the gospel so great.

The Greatness of the Gospel
“For Edwards, the greatness of the gospel is visible only when viewed against the backdrop of the greatness of the ruin into which we have been plunged by the fall. The greatness of the disease requires the greatness of the remedy”.6 As someone once said, “The worst word about us as sinners is not the last word”. It was the gospel that Edwards was interested in, not some theoretical debate. He knew that what made good news good was that it was preceded by bad news. Our fallen nature due to sin is bad news. Our natural inclination to sin is bad news. Our inability to incline ourselves godward is bad news. Our self-destruction as a result of our sin is bad news. The grace of God in redeeming man from this desperate state and changing his nature so that he will be free to serve God is not just good news, its great news.

4 Edwards, Freedom of the Will, pg.159 as quoted in Sproul, Willing to Believe, pg.162
5 A.W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1984) pg. 154
6 R.C. Sproul, Willing to Believe: The Controversy Over Free Will (Grand Rapids, MI: 1997) pg. 148

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Great Article from James Anderson

Two weeks ago, James Anderson posted a great article on his site, Analogical Thoughts. He examines the claim, made by some non-Calvinist Christians, that Calvinism undermines assurance of salvation. Anderson compares the possibilities for assurance within the framework of Calvinism to those found in Arminianism. That part is quite good by itself, but then he makes an interesting and unexpected tie-in with the doctrine of inerrancy. It's well worth taking the time to read.


"I’m pretty sure that by now I’ve heard all the major objections to Calvinism. Some of them deserve to be taken seriously, although none are weighty enough to overturn the balance (or rather imbalance) of biblical evidence. Other objections, however, I find hard to credit at all. An example of the latter is the claim that the Calvinist doctrine of unconditional election undermines assurance of salvation."

"God’s secret will is nothing other than what God from eternity has infallibly ordained will take place in history. But then it follows that God’s secret will is, by definition, being progressively revealed moment by moment — and can therefore be known as easily as any historical fact."

"On the Calvinist view, only the elect come to saving faith in Christ (leaving aside exceptional cases, such as those dying in infancy). It therefore follows that if a person — let’s call him Sam — has a saving faith in Christ then he must be elect. So the question of whether or not Sam is elect translates immediately into the question of whether or not Sam has saving faith in Christ. Answer the latter and you’ve immediately answered the former."

"So the Reformed doctrine of perseverance has this crucial implication: if I have saving faith today then I will also have saving faith on my final day — and thus be eternally saved. So if I’m justified in believing (on the basis of the biblical tests) that I have saving faith today, then I’m also justified in believing that I will be finally saved. In other words, I have an assurance of salvation worth having!"

"Consequently it seems clear to me that it isn’t Calvinism that undermines the doctrine of assurance; on the contrary, it’s Arminianism. Calvinism alone has the theological capital to fund the assurance that Christ has indeed prepared a place for us."

Bonus Video: Jadon Lavik singing "Blessed Assurance." Whether you're a Calvinist, Arminian or other, I pray you have it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Armed with the Balance of Truth

THEOparadox Advisor Tony Hayling has been doing a wonderful series on the book of Hebrews at his site, Agonizomai. Below, I've extracted a quote in which Tony points out the great paradox of chapter 4, where we are given a dual exhortation to "rest" and to "strive." 

"After having established that no one can enter God’s rest apart from being found obedient through faith, the writer immediately exhorts the Hebrews to strive to enter that rest! What can striving and resting have to do with each other? And this is the wonder of the gospel. To the fallen mind it is full of apparent contradiction. To the regenerate person it is full of truth and light. We may not be able, as saints, to reconcile in our minds all of God’s antinomies (a J.I. Packer term) - but we are willing to believe that they can be reconciled and that, on that Day, they shall be. So the person of faith does not know everything. On the contrary, he knows that he knows nothing - and it is this humility of mind that enables him to receive what he previously would not, and to strive to be found under the authority and guidance of God." 

Note: Recipients of our t-shirts usually don't get arms, but in this case I've added prosthetics so Tony can operate his sound equipment. He records almost all of his blog posts and makes them available using a handy media  player embedded on the site.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

PARADOX FILES, Vol. 11 - Louis Berkhof

Louis Berkhof posthumously wins one of our famous t-shirts for the THEOparadoxical thinking exhibited in his defense of the doctrine of common grace. Berkhof sees God's Being as infinite and supra-logical, and therefore capable of more deeply complex intentions than many would typically ascribe to Him.

Although some will argue that the Scriptures make no distinction between "common" and "special" grace, these designations are nothing more than a helpful way of describing God's mercy toward all mankind, in contrast with His sovereign election of some (both of which are clearly taught in the Scriptures). We can think of "common grace" as that kindness which God extends to all people everywhere - even those who never believe. All sinners who continue to live on earth receive air, water, food, sunshine and a host of other little enjoyments each day. If God's kindness and love were restricted to the elect alone, the reprobate could not be held guilty for failing to give thanks to God for His Providential bounty. But as it stands, all men are guilty of aggravated sin by exalting God's good gifts above God Himself, and loving the effects of divine love rather than the Cause Himself. Unregenerate men take these gifts as deserved quantities, while the righteous feel ever so unworthy to receive them, seeing their own natural sinfulness clearly. The saints wonder how it can be that God should so favor them as to provide even one more breath - let alone fellowship with Christ and eternal life in the joy of their Lord.

In Arminianism, common and special grace are both denied. Such distinctions are unnecessary if there is no sovereign election. Arminians posit a universal "prevenient grace," which essentially means that God gives every person an equal opportunity to make a free will choice for or against Christ. In this way, they preserve the foundation of salvation as grounded in divine grace and initiated by God, while denying that God is ultimately decisive in the matter. Prevenient grace simply makes it possible for man to choose what he wants, and it portrays God as "offering" salvation in the hope that some will respond without His special intervention. While this ascribes a certain attractive sense of humanistic "fairness" to God, it has the negative side effect of placing man's will above that of the Creator. It also gives me the right to boast against non-believers, since I wisely responded to the prevenient grace and they did not. Calvinists note that God is neither required nor obligated to save any sinner, that He would remain just if He never offered any opportunities for salvation, and therefore He has the right to sovereignly intervene where and as He chooses. Yet the Calvinist does not leave the non-elect beyond the glow of God's mercy, which is over all His works and abounds too much to be escaped entirely - even by those who are fleeing from Him.

Interestingly, the denial of common grace is a defining mark of hyper-Calvinism. Hyper-Calvinists emphasize God's hatred of the non-elect, and deny any sense of God's love or grace toward the reprobate. These matters must be sorted out with Scriptural reasoning, and with a healthy sense of paradox in view, for the same God who "hated" Esau also allowed him a place to live in safety, command over an army of 400 men, and resources he himself described as "plenty." (Gen. 33:9). Did Esau deserve these things? No? Then they were certainly given as gifts of grace - undeserved! How can these things be? Without further adieu, let's hear Mr. Berkhof's defense of the more moderate, Biblically balanced perspective which is set forth in classical Calvinism . . .

"Another objection to the doctrine of common grace is that it presupposes a certain favorable disposition in God even to reprobate sinners, while we have no right to assume such a disposition in God. This stricture takes its starting point in the eternal counsel of God, in His election and reprobation. Along the line of His election God reveals His love, grace, mercy, and long-suffering, leading to salvation; and in the historical realization of his reprobation He gives expression only to His aversion, disfavor, hatred, and wrath, leading to destruction. But this looks like a rationalistic over-simplification of the inner life of God, which does not take sufficient account of His self-revelation. In speaking on this subject we ought to be very careful and allow ourselves to be guided by the explicit statements of Scripture rather than by our bold inferences from the secret counsel of God. There is far more in God than we can reduce to our logical categories. Are the elect in this life the objects of God’s’ love only, and never in any sense the objects of His wrath? Is Moses thinking of the reprobate when he says: “For we are consumed in thine anger, and in thy wrath are we troubled”? Ps. 90:7. Does not the statement of Jesus that the wrath of God abides on them that obey not the Son imply that it is removed from the others when, and not until, they submit to the beneficent rule of Christ? John 3:36. And does not Paul say to the Ephesians that they “were by nature children of wrath even as the rest”? Eph. 2:3 . Evidently the elect can not be regarded as always and exclusively the objects of God’s love. And if they who are the objects of God’s redeeming love can also in some sense of the word be regarded as the objects of His wrath, why should it be impossible that they who are the objects of His wrath should also in some sense share His divine favor? A father who is also a judge may loathe the son that is brought before him as a criminal, and feel constrained to visit his judicial wrath upon him, but may yet pity him and show him acts of kindness while he is under condemnation. Why should this be impossible in God? General Washington hated the traitor that was brought before him and condemned him to death, but at the same time showed him compassion by serving him with the dainties from his own table. Cannot God have compassion even on the condemned sinner, and bestow favors upon him? The answer need not be uncertain, since the Bible clearly teaches that He showers untold blessings upon all men and also clearly indicates that these are the expression of a favorable disposition in God, which falls short, however, of the positive volition to pardon their sin, to lift their sentence, and to grant them salvation. The following passages clearly point to such a favorable disposition: Prov. 1:24; Isa. 1:18; Ezek. 18:23,32; 33:11 ; Matt. 5:43-45; 23:37; Mark 10:21 ; Luke 6:35: Rom. 2:4; I Tim. 2:4. If such passages do not testify to a favorable disposition in God, it would seem that language has lost its meaning, and that God’s’ revelation is not dependable on this subject."

Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1960), 445-446.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Recovering Orthodox Epistemology - An Open Letter to Conservative Evangelicals

Following the well-worn path taken by so many heretics of the past, the Emergent church has over-emphasized certain truths at the expense of others, even to the point of foolishly imagining that Truth itself is relatively irrelevant. Many conservative, Bible-believing Christians have rightly taken a stand against this absurdity. We have pointed out the errors of men like Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt and Rob Bell, to name a few. But are we ourselves in danger of over-emphasizing certain truths to the neglect of their balancing counterparts?

I recently asked Phil Johnson a few pointed questions about the mysteries and paradoxes of the Bible:

"Don't we have to admit . . . that there are some things revealed in the Bible which man's creaturely and fallen mind can't quite comprehend? That is to say, in at least some cases, the logic which reconciles two apparently contradictory truths is with God alone? Who's to say God has given us ALL of His logical tools? . . . can't there be aspects of logic that remain incomprehensible to us?"

Phil responded:

"Yes, of course. But in light of what neo-orthodoxy and postmodernism have done with statements like those, it behooves us to be clearer than ever about what we affirm and what we deny regarding the inscrutability of God." (the rest of Phil's answer is here)

While I can appreciate this kind of caution, I want to be sure I don't surrender one drop of God's actual incomprehensibility, one finely braided strand of real paradox, or one iota of genuine mystery, by way of over reaction.

There is a real danger that our response to postmodern heresy might result in the loss of precious theology and a repeat of the tragic mistakes made by the rigid fundamentalism which stood as a reaction to the rampant liberalism of the early 20th century. If we really believe Truth is absolute, shouldn't we be striving for the pure balance of that Truth, rather than reacting against heterodox fallacies? Shouldn't theology be based more on the Word of God than on our zeal to quash the errors of heretics? The Word of God by itself, taken in balance and taught with conviction, will effectively destroy heresy.

That's why Paul, after writing one of the New Testament's most soteriologically comprehensive and Gospel-saturated passages, penned these words:
Titus 3:8-9 This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.
It's essential that we reiterate and properly define not only the central truths of the Gospel, but also the more delicate theological concepts that have been co-opted by the Emergents - the garnishes, if you will - and refuse to allow them to rob us of anything God has revealed about Himself. Rather than running from the concepts they over-emphasize, we should demolish their false ideas by recovering orthodox, Biblical perspectives on those very issues, and serve them up with the steam still rising from the plate.
Many of us are rightly affirming the absolute nature of Truth, the validity of logic, the meaningful use of language and the certainty we can have. That's good. But the balances to these important realities must also be affirmed, or we may find that we have rolled up one side of the hill and then down the other side. Consider the following Biblical concepts which have been accepted by orthodox theologians throughout the centuries . . .

1. Divine Incomprehensibility - God is knowable only as far as He as revealed Himself, and He is immensely infinite beyond our imagination. The unrevealed aspects are consistent with the revealed, because God is eternally consistent with Himself. So, we can KNOW GOD and KNOW ABOUT Him, but not comprehensively.

2. Mystery - The unrevealed aspects of God's ways are unknowable apart from revelation and leave us with unanswered (and unanswerable) questions. These questions do not NEED to be answered, or God would have answered them. We do still believe in the virgin birth, correct?

3. Paradox (or what some insist on calling "antinomy" - thank you, Dr. Packer) - At whatever point the Bible appears undeniably to teach two or more opposing propositions, we must accept all of them entirely, even in cases where no mortal has ever succeeded in reconciling them. Especially in those cases. Scripture teaches us that Christ is fully human, and it also teaches us that Christ is fully divine. Is this not an apparent contradiction which we must nonetheless embrace? We must view even the most apparently irreconcilable contradictions as resolvable using information contained within the realm of genuine mystery. Hence, nothing can be paradoxical to God, Who is omniscient. If we had sufficient information, we would have no paradoxes.

4. The Necessity and Limitation of Logic - Logic is the God-ordained ground of communication between God and human beings, and the format by which He conveys propositions. In God, logic is perfect and infinite. In man, it is marred and error prone. Truth is coherent, but we're not coherent enough to fully receive it. Rather than making logic invalid, these facts call us to ground more certainty in revelation than in our logic, and more faith in God's Word than in our own thoughts, and to stake our very lives on His Word.

The Emergents confuse incomprehensibility with agnosticism, while they make mystery into an excuse for doubting divinely revealed propositions, and they pervert paradox by denying the very ground on which it is created: an a priori commitment to absolute, logically consistent Truth. Their doubting is not any kind of "epistemological humility"- it's intellectual (and spiritual) suicide. Finally, Emergents repudiate logic while simultaneously angling the conclusions of their own humanistic reason against the Scriptures. It's an epistemological potluck on the village green, complete with half-baked chicken, stale heresy-crackers and the moldy rolls of relativism. I've also heard the salad isn't too fresh.

Theological problems are only one side of the threat posed by the Emerging Church. The other is a matter of lifestyle. Emergents are more winsome than we are, less rigid, less prone to legalism, better at speaking the language of people in today's Western culture, less likely to be mired in man-made religious traditions, and they're probably more active in works of mercy and acts of kindness than most traditional Evangelicals. Heresy with a sense of charity is always more attractive than a frosty-frozen orthodoxy which portrays itself as eminently righteous - and righteously indifferent. If we're not living the Christian life, we're partly responsible for the success of liberalism.
Titus 3:14 Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful.
Ultimately, however, the emergence and success of postmodern philosophy is part of a horrific judgment which God has unleashed, as He gives a sinful world over to its own cravings and allows it to suppress the priceless Truth in unrighteousness. As this progresses, let us not be outdone when it comes to practicing the New Testament ethics of compassion, grace, generosity and good works. And let us not be outmaneuvered in the battle for a Biblically faithful, balanced epistemology that is glorious enough to include difficult paradoxes, unanswered questions, and a God big enough to be mysterious - and infinitely greater in wisdom than His most ingenious creatures. In short, let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Friends, I plead with you not to surrender one tiny inch of ground to the Emerging church, theologically or morally. Let's love God and neighbor, glory in His mysterious mercy, and prove by our example that the Gospel is true!
Titus 3:3-7 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.