Friday, September 25, 2009

Quotation of the Day

Over at Blog and Mablog, an astute commenter named Alan had the following to say about Westminster Two Kingdoms (W2K) theology:

"At least the dispensationalists have the virtue of wishing Christ could be king right now-- while (conversely) the Hauerwas/Willimon types refuse the transformational impulse, but insist that though the gospel can't overcome the (evil) world, they're happy to die trying.

"The reformed dispensationalist approach-- c'est la vie-- seems oddly stuck between transforming and resisting the world. Their besetting temptation-- though doubtless not their goal-- is compromise with the world in the "already." Otherwise known as worldliness."

Discussing Norman Shepherd

For those interested in the on-going debate over justification," Darryl Hart's post "Easy Believism" provoked me to speak out in defense of Norman Shepherd in the comment section. Over the last few weeks, I have been carefully reading and listening to what Shepherd has to say. Consequently, I was able to present a fairly coherent picture of how Shepherd is able to remain true to Luther's insight of sola fide and the broad Reformed Tradition while expanding our understanding of faith and justification in light of biblical eschatology.

Look for a post in the upcoming days based on these comments.

While not following Shepherd in every respect, I believe he is as important as N.T. Wright as an insightful expositor of Scripture. I need to study more on the subject, but it presently appears that Shepherd has been even more successful in maintaining both realities of individual and corporate election/ justification.

In Shepherd's hands, the classical Protestant formulation of justification has been expanded in light of the fifth point of Calvinism, the Perseverance of the Saints, to read:

"Justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, in the way of righteousness alone."

This is a monumental achievement and every bit as significant as Martin Luther's achievement 450 years ago. Perhaps Norman Shepherd is the forerunner of a new Reformation on the horizon. May God grant it!

Tim Gallant Ponders the Land Promises to Israel

Back in July, Tim wrote a short post that asked some good questions:

1. We know that a whole host of Israelites have savingly believed God over the years, both before and after the advent of Christ.

2. We believe in the resurrection of the body, not an eternal state of disembodied “spirituality.”

3. Correspondingly, we believe in the renovation of the earth, just as we believe in the renovation of the body.

4. Surely a renovated earth would have geography, and since the renovation is a renovation of this earth, it seems at least plausible – nay, overwhelmingly likely – that the new earth will have the land of Canaan.

5. Since everyone has to live somewhere – why wouldn’t believing Israelites live in Palestine? Why should that be thought the least bit “strange”?

Check out Tim's article on the meaning of "all Israel" in Romans 11:26.

I would also add that national Israel is not reprobate. St. Paul makes clear that Israel "did not stumble so as to fall" (Rom. 11:11) and retains in an important sense "the adoption of sons, the covenants,...the promises, etc." (Rom. 9:4).

God's calling, election, and promises cannot fail.

Israel retains retains the title to all the promised blessings found in the OT. If they would pursue them by faith in their Messiah all the blessings would be granted.

As it is now, until Israel acknowledges her Lord Jesus she will never be secure in her own land.

I highly recommend historic premillennialist Barry Horner's fine book, Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged (B&H Academic, 2007), for a thorough treatment of the subject.