Friday, April 1, 2011

Online Confession

So in light of a new Catholic Confessional app. that can be found on the market for Apple products, I thought I'd confess a sin of mine through this medium! But first some context.

My fellow bloggers and I (Jude, Rich, and Nate) try to go through a book together a few times a year. I've been blessed with the various titles we've covered and from the dialogue between one another from the readings. This past week we have started reading Richard Baxter's The Reformed Pastor. We've only just read the introductory notes (well I should only speak for myself because I'm pretty sure Jude doesn't actually have a job and that he stays home all day reading....he's probably already finished!) but the Holy Spirit has already convicted me.

In J.I. Packer's intro to the book he lists some less than flattering details about Baxter's life and theology:

Baxter was a big man, big enough to have big faults and make big errors.
In theology, for instance, he devised an eclectic middle route between the Reformed, Arminian and Roman doctrines of grace: interpreting the kingdom of God in terms of contemporary political ideas, he explained Christ's death as an act of universal redemption (penal and vicarious, not not substitutionary)...
Again, Baxter was a poor performer in public [...] his combative, judgemental, pedagogic way of proceeding with his peers made failure a foregone conclusion every time.
[...] his lifelong inability to see that amoung equals a triumphalist manner is counter productive was a strange blind spot.
As a pastor, however, Baxter was incomparable, and it is in this capacity that he concerns us now.

Richard Baxter had a lot of short comings; so do I. The conviction came when I began to think of how many pastors, teachers, and authors there are in the world, who's works I won't touch with a ten foot pole because of the few things I disagree with them on. It would seem like throwing the baby out with the bath water is somewhat of a specialty of mine!

I'm reading Baxter because this book was chosen by someone who I highly trust and because the guy is a Puritan...lets be honest! But I wouldn't give the same thought to some other authors, like say N.T. Wright. I've heard his work on the resurrection is a juggernaut but because I don't agree with his standing on justification I haven't touched it (plus I heard it's approximately a billion pages.... again Jude's probably already finished it.). The point is that I need to change my mindset.

This confession doesn't mean that I'm throwing discernment out the window and I'm going to read everything and anything; there's a lot of garbage out there. It just means that I'm going to try to check my biases at the door and approach some of these works honestly; letting them tell me what they're saying instead of me telling them what I think they're going to say. If I can give Baxter the benefit of the doubt, maybe some of these others guys deserve it too.

1 comment:

  1. Good post. I know I've thought the same thing about Wright's work on the Resurrection.

    To an extent it comes down to time. What authors would you rather invest the time in when there is so much GREAT stuff out there to read that you don't necessarily have to be AS guarded while reading... but I'm thoroughly enjoying Baxter myself, so your point is well taken.