Charles H. Spurgeon and Eschatology

He was the “Prince of Preachers” in his day.  Almost single-handedly, he raised the profile of Baptist teaching and theology from the sidelines to the central courts of Protestant thinking in the English speaking world.  He has been widely acclaimed as one of the greatest evangelistic pastors of all time, one of the ten most influential writers in the English language, the heir of Puritan theology, among other accolades. 

Yet, Baptists in the America, especially the fundamentalists who love to quote him, have largely rejected the eschatology that he taught.  And they have embraced an eschatology that he found deficient. 

In the article, Charles H. Spurgeon and Eschatology, Dennis Swanson lays out a brief biography of Spurgeon, an overview of the main views on “end times” both now and as they were understood in Spurgeon’s day, and then proceeds to give detailed evidence of Spurgeon’s clear views on the subject.  They are not those that most U.S. Baptists would recognize today.

Further, the article demonstrates how people could hold various views on end times and not only respect each other, but work together, and sometimes worship within the same denomination and even local congregation. 

I commend this to those who want some edifying reading on the subject, especially as we embark on what may be a unique attempt to understand Jesus’ teaching on end times in light of what his hearers and Mark’s readers would have understood.

Published in: on March 31, 2009 at 2:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Following Up on the Morning’s Message

In talking about the scribes’ greatest error in Mark 12:35-40, I suggested that they allowed cultural expectations concerning the “Son of David” to direct their study of messianic passages, allowing them to miss the meaning of Ps. 110:1 and other passages.  I made a point that the church has a history of conforming to cultural norms and then finding what that culture is looking for in the Scriptures–such as Christians in America finding biblical justifications for enslaving Africans in th 18th and 19th centuries, or segregation in the 20th.  As I’ve thought about it, I continue to wonder about the question I asked near the end.  If the Lord doesn’t come, what areas of teaching or practice that we justify from Scripture will future generations look back at and say, “How could they possibly believe the Bible teaches that?” 

Do you have any thoughts about that?  Can you think of areas where our culture has driven our exegesis (that means examining the text to discover their meaning) If you do, send them in, and if they are printable, I’ll include them as comments below.

Published in: on March 22, 2009 at 4:27 pm  Comments (4)  

Follow Up on “The Shack” Discussion

Thanks to all those who came. The post below has the link to the interview with William Paul Young.

This page contains the literary review by Julie Moore.

Tim Challies’ 17 page pdf file critiquing the book is here.

I hope you are reading, and doing so with discernment.

Published in: on March 17, 2009 at 1:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

An Interview with the author of “The Shack”

Steve Brown, speaker, former pastor, writer, radio host, and until last week a full time professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, is no theological liberal. Yet he loves “The Shack,” which many of my favorite theological types cannot stand. I’m going to be talking about this book, why it’s so popular, the controversy around it, and what if anything we can learn from it. In the meantime it might help for you to listen to Steve Brown’s interview with the author, William Paul Young.

In an earlier post, I spoke about my favorable impressions, but I want to flesh that out for people, especially those who have had differing reactions or heard some pretty awful things about the book. So, join us Sunday night at 6 and we’ll delve into “The Shack.”

Published in: on March 12, 2009 at 3:22 pm  Comments (2)  

Praying As Jesus Said To Pray

Last week, I spoke to the Sunday evening gathering about prayer, and specifically how we are to pray as instructed by Jesus in Luke 11.  There, in answer to his disciples’ request to teach them how to pray, he replied “Whenever you pray, say this…” and gave them a version of what is often called “the Lord’s Prayer.”  One point we considered was that the words of instruction are in a form that indicate that we would regularly use this model, and that it would often even be these very words.  As averse as we Baptists are to recitation, it has been the practice of the church for centuries to do so, and to do it together.  So, one aspect of our praying that may need to change is a more frequent use of both public recitation and use of this form itself.

Second, the five basic elements of the prayer provide us with a comprehensive approach to our praying.

Father… this tells us we are addressing ourselves to God in relationship with us.  It is an invitation into familial intimacy.

…hallowed be your name.  We are to offer praise, and seek that God’s name would be praised and lifted up in the eyes and hearts of all people everywhere, and especially among us as believers.

Your kingdom come.  We acknowledge that God is the sovereign of our lives and of this universe, and our greatest desire is that his control and rule and authority be both recognized and revealed.  That is something that will happen in its fullness at the end of the age, but it certainly is underway now, ever since the incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement of Jesus in Heaven now.  We are citizens of that kingdom, and whenever the Spirit’s power is at work in and through the Church, the kingdom is at work and advancing.

Give us each day our daily bread.  We are asking God for what we need daily.  Note that it is a plural command (in fact, the whole prayer is collective, indicating that we pray not just for ourselves and by ourselves, but for each other and with each other).  All of our intercession for others rests under our faith in and seeking of God’s daily provisions.

And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.  Ah, here is the heart that is so crucial to right living–the heart of forgiveness.  We continually acknowledge that we need God’s forgiveness, and we also confess that as we realize how much we need it, we are ready to release any bitterness or grudge or debt we have or hold against anyone else.

And lead us not into temptation.  This is our prayer for protective guidance.  We know how easily we can be swayed and led astray from the will of our good God, and we ask that he would protect us from that deception of the flesh and trickery of the world and Satan. 

It is such a short, succinct prayer/outline.  May I challenge you to join me in praying through it every day?

Published in: on March 3, 2009 at 1:48 pm  Leave a Comment