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!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Quick Scrawl on Assurance

Just a few thoughts attempting to encapsulate the Bible's overall teaching about assurance.

1. There are both true and false believers in the visible church
2. Some false believers have a false assurance
3. Some true believers lack assurance
4. True believers CAN have full assurance in Christ from “day 1″ of their conversion.
5. We can’t tell FOR CERTAIN whether a fellow professing Christian is a true or false believer
6. We must test ourselves to be sure we aren’t self-deceived.
7. We must encourage and provoke our brothers so that if they are self-deceived it will come to light and they can repent unto true belief and thus gain assurance.

I believe there is Scriptural support for each statement. But is anything missing or misguided in my list?


Monday, April 16, 2012

Pride, Humility, Truth, Mercy

In some ways, nothing is more humbling than reality itself. A proud man must in some measure be deluded about his own nature, the nature of God, the nature of sin, or the nature of truth itself. Nevertheless, merely knowing the facts about everything would most likely serve to ENHANCE a person's pride! This reveals the practical invincibility of this foundational vice: it is immune to the light that should rightly vanquish it. Knowledge puffs up the very soul that ought to be humbled by it.

So, what can possibly slay the self-regenerating root of pride? Only this: experiencing the mercy of God. The soul that experiences utter dependence on God's sheer kindness - and finds itself undeservedly shielded from His wrath - has a genuine hope of being freed from the straitjacket of pride. The person who daily and gratefully receives the gift of grace is being taught real humility. This person is the one who can benefit from a wider knowledge of the truth and the reality of things.

The very skies and fields and trees look different when once you have found yourself flat on your back, defeated and desperate, and then have felt the extended hand of healing mercy laying gentle on your shoulder. God gives grace to the humble, indeed, but it is all by grace He makes us humble.

"Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble."
- Daniel 4:37

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Anselm on Man's Inexcusable Inability

Anselm (1033-1109) has been dubbed "the second Augustine." The excerpt below is from his famous work, Cur Deus Homo (Latin for Why the God-Man?), which discusses the incarnation and atonement of Christ. You may read the entire work here. Throughout the book, Anselm converses with "Boso." I am not sure if "Boso" was a real person or just a literary device intended to give the book a more conversational tone.
CHAPTER XXIV.How, as long as man does not restore what he owes God, he cannot be happy, nor is he excused by want of power.
Anselm.. If a man is called unjust who does not pay his fellow-man a debt, much more is he unjust who does not restore what he owes God.
Boso. If he can pay and yet does not, he is certainly unjust. But if he be not able, wherein is he unjust?
Anselm.. Indeed, if the origin of his inability were not in himself, there might be some excuse for him. But if in this very impotence lies the fault, as it does not lessen the sin, neither does it excuse him from paying what is due. Suppose one should assign his slave a certain piece of work, and should command him not to throw himself into a ditch, which he points out to him and from which he could not extricate himself; and suppose that the slave, despising his master's command and warning, throws himself into the ditch before pointed out, so as to be utterly unable to accomplish the work assigned; think you that his inability will at all excuse him for not doing his appointed work?
Boso. By no means, but will rather increase his crime, since he brought his inability upon himself. For doubly has he sinned, in not doing what he was commanded to do and in doing what he was forewarned not to do.
Anselm.. Just so inexcusable is man, who has voluntarily brought upon himself a debt which he cannot pay, and by his own fault disabled himself, so that he can neither escape his previous obligation not to sin, nor pay the debt which be has incurred by sin. For his very inability is guilt, because he ought not to have it; nay, he ought to be free from it; for as it is a crime not to have what he ought, it is also a crime to have what he ought not. Therefore, as it is a crime in man not to have that power which he received to avoid sin, it is also a crime to have that inability by which he can neither do right and avoid sin, nor restore the debt which he owes on account of his sin. For it is by his own free action that he loses that power, and falls into this inability. For not to have the power which one ought to have, is the same thing as to have the inability which one ought not to have. Therefore man's inability to restore what he owes to God, an inability brought upon himself for that very purpose, does not excuse man from paying; for the result of sin cannot excuse the sin itself.
(Underlining has been added for emphasis) 

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Our Skewed Moral Self-Perception

We tend to minimize the significance of our evil deeds, as if they are somehow unreflective of our true character; and at the same time we maximize the significance of our slightest good intention, as if it was sufficient by itself to validate our character as genuinely virtuous.

In reality our hearts are corrupt. This corruption displays itself in our darkest intentions even as it taints our most virtuous deeds. So the real situation is exactly opposite to our perception if we are operating under the default assumption of our own basic goodness.

Christ remedies this situation by showing us an accurate picture of our evil character, leading us to repentance, filling us with His own goodness and displaying His great virtue through corrupted vessels like us.

Therefore let us give Him every ounce of glory rather than trying to take credit for the miracle of our sanctification.

Is this my living room . . . or is it M.C. Escher's?