Monday, August 26, 2013

80 tweets from Michael Reeves' Delighting in the Trinity

Here is another post that simply lists short quotes from a book I have recently read. Before the actual quotes, or tweetables as I like to cal them, I thought I might give a few reasons on why I would actually blog a post such as this.

There are two main reasons I think posts like these are worthwhile; one, they are helpful to me, and two, they are helpful to the reader.

I find this exercise of collecting short, significant quotes and organizing them in a list is beneficial for me in a couple of ways. First, it is a great way to review a book that I recently read. We all know how little we retain from what we read and how quickly we might even forget the main ideas and themes in a book. Compiling these quotes refreshes the memory and brings some of the key elements of the book back to the surface. Also, it is often helpful to have a resource which contains the memorable sentences from a book for future use. In the list below I can quickly find a quote I'm looking for without flipping the pages of the book. For me, those two reasons justify the work in creating this post even if nobody ever reads it. But, I also think these posts are helpful for the reader.

This type of post gives the reader a good sense and feel for what a book is like; a little taste-test as it were. This might be just the thing to encourage some one to get their hands on a book. The quotes are also usually encouraging and edifying in and of themselves. I marked these quotes as I was reading the book so they obviously had an impact on me and hopefully will do the same for someone visiting this post. Finally, this is a resource for others who might actually want to tweet some quotes from this book. The work of getting them digitalized is done; the reader can copy and paste away and share these with the Twitterverse if they like.

So, with that explanation, here are 80 tweetable quotes from Delighting in the Trinity:
  • “…the truth is that God is love because God is a Trinity.” (9)
  • “… it is only when you grasp what it means for God to be a Trinity that you really sense…beauty…kindness…loveliness…of God.”
  • “… God is triune, and it is as triune that he is so good and desirable.”
  • “Christianity is not primarily about lifestyle change; it is about knowing God.” (10)
  • “Knowing the love of God is the very thing that makes us loving.”
  • “No exaggeration; the knowledge of this God turns lives around.”
  • “God is a mystery, but not in the alien abduction, things-that-go-bump-in-the-night sense.” (12)
  • “God is a mystery in that who he is and what he is like are secrets, things we would never have worked out by ourselves.”
  • “Which God we worship; that is the article of faith that stands before all others.” (15)
  • “… because the Christian God is triune, the Trinity is the governing center of all Christian belief, the truth that shapes and beautifies all others.”
  • “The Trinity is the cockpit of all Christian thinking.”
  • “So used are we to fashioning God according to our assumptions that our minds simply rebel at the thought of a God who is not as we would expect.” (17)
  • “Neither a problem nor a technicality, the triune being of God is the vital oxygen of Christian life and joy.” (18)
  • “That is who God has revealed himself to be: not first and foremost Creator or Ruler, but Father.” (21)
  • “The most fundamental thing in God is not some abstract quality, but the fact that he is Father.” (23)
  • “Since God is, before all things, a Father, and not primarily Creator or Ruler, all his ways are beautifully fatherly.”
  • He is Father. All the way down. Thus all that he does he does as Father. That is who he is.”
  • “For if, before all things, God was eternally a Father, then this God is an inherently outgoing, life-giving God.” (24)
  • “This God, [John] says, is love in such a profound and potent way that you simply cannot know him without yourself becoming loving.” (26)
  • “Before anything else, for all eternity, this God was loving, giving life to and delighting in his Son.”
  • “The Father…is the Father of the eternal Son, and he finds his very identity…in loving and giving out his life and being to the Son.” (27)
  • “…the Son is of the Father, and that the Father is never without the Son; for it is impossible that glory should be without radiance.” (Gregory of Nyssa)
  • “…the Son also loves the Father-and so much so that to do his Father’s pleasure is as food to him.” (28)
  • “…the shape of the Father-Son relationship begins a gracious cascade, like a waterfall of love…”
  • On losing 3 distinct persons: “The trouble is, once you puree the persons, it becomes impossible to taste their gospel.” (32)
  • “Single-person gods, having spent eternity alone, are inevitably self-centered beings, and so it becomes hard to see why they would ever cause anything to exist.” (41)
  • Single-person gods create “out of an essential neediness or desire to use what they create merely for their own self-gratification.”
  • “Loving others is not a strange or novel thing for this God at all; it is at the root of who he is.”
  • “…the Father has always enjoyed loving another, and so the act of creation by which he creates others to love seems utterly appropriate for him.” (42)
  • “The Father so delighted in his Son that his love for him overflowed, so that the Son might be the firstborn of many sons.” (43)
  • “The God who loves to have an outgoing Image of himself in his Son loves to have many images of his love…”
  • “That is why the Son goes out from the Father, in both creation and salvation: that the love of the Father for the Son might be shared.” (44)
  • “It was his overflowing love for the Son that motivated the Father to create, and creation is his gift to his Son.” (50)
  • “…because the Father’s love for the Son has burst out to be shared with us, the Son’s inheritance is also shared with us.”
  • “The very nature of the triune God is to be effusive, ebullient and bountiful…” (56)
  • “Creation is about the spreading, the diffusion, the outward explosion of that love [the Father for the Son].”
  • “The Father, Son and Spirit have always been in delicious harmony…” (59)
  • “There is the deepest and most alluring beauty to be found in the heavenly harmony of the Trinity.” (61)
  • “…but the fact that the God in whose image we are made is specifically the triune God of love has repercussions that echo all through Scripture.” (64-5)
  • “Lovers [people who must love] we remain, but twisted, our love misdirected and perverted.” (65)
  • “[Eve’s] act of sin was merely the manifestation of the turn in her heart: she now desired the fruit more than she desired God.”
  • “Astonishingly, it was this very rejection of God [in Eden] that then drew forth the extreme depths of his love.” (68)
  • “The God who is love definitively displays that love to the world by sending us his eternally beloved Son to atone for our sins.”
  • “…through the sending of the Son for our salvation we see more clearly than ever how generous and self-giving the love of the triune God is.”
  • “…the Father so delights in his eternal love for his Son that he desires to share it with all who will believe.” (69)
  • “[God’s] love for the world is the overflow of the almighty love for his Son.” (70)
  • “The Father so loves that he desires to catch us up in that loving fellowship he enjoys with the Son.” (71)
  • “In fact, I can know the Father as my Father.”
  • “Indeed, for when a person deliberately and confidently calls the Almighty “Father,” it shows they have grasped something beautiful…” (76)
  • “Knowing God as our Father not only wonderfully gladdens our view of him, it gives the deepest comfort and joy.”
  • “To be the child of some rich king would be nice; but to be the beloved of the emperor of the universe is beyond words.”
  • “In short, if God had no word to say to us, we simply would not know him or dream of his deep benevolence.” (80)
  • “…when the triune God gives us his Word, he gives us his very self…”
  • “…we all come into the world spiritually stillborn, dead in our transgressions and sins.” (85)
  • “Our problem is with our desires, that naturally we have no appetite for God, and we place all of our affections elsewhere.” (87)
  • “…the Spirit’s work in giving us new life, then, is nothing less than bringing us to share in their [the Father and Son’s] mutual delight.”
  • “… [the Spirit] enlightens us to know the love of God, and that light warms us, drawing us to love him and overflow with love to others.” (91)
  • “The very beholding of Christ is a transforming sight.” (92)
  • “My new life began when the Spirit first opened my eye (there’s the light) and won my heart (there’s the heat) to Christ.” (93)
  • “By cultivating in us a deepening taste for Christ… the Spirit polishes a new humanity who begins to shine with his likeness.”
  • “Our love for the Son, then, is an echo and an extension of the Father’s eternal love.” (94)
  • “The Father’s very identity consists in his love for the Son, and so when we love the Son we reflect what is most characteristic about the Father.”
  • “At the heart of our transformation into the likeness of the Son, then, is our sharing of his deep delight in the Father.” (95)
  • “…the Spirit is not about bringing us to a mere external performance for Christ, but bringing us actually to love him and find our joy in him.” (99)
  • “…the Spirit’s first work is to set our desires in order.” (100)
  • “I will, then, always love sin and the world until I truly sense that Christ is better.” (101)
  • “The Spirit shares the triune life of God by bringing God’s children into the mutual delight of the Father and Son…” (107)
  • “…if God were just one person, then love of the other would not be central to his being.” (112)
  • “[God’s] holiness is the lucidity and spotlessness of his overflowing love.”
  • “The wrath of the triune God is exactly the opposite of a character blip… It is the proof of the sincerity of his love…” (120)
  • “[God’s] love is not mild-mannered and limp; it is livid, potent and committed.”
  • Glorifying “God cannot be about inflating, improving or expanding him. That is quite impossible…” (121)
  • “…when we give God the glory, we simply ascribe to him what is already his, declaring him to be as he truly is.”
  • “…the glory of God is like radiant light, shining out, enlightening and giving life.” (123)
  • “…the very glory that is the fragrance of life to some is the smell of death to others.” (125)
  • “[God] is all light-but that is terrible for those who love the darkness.”
  • “Through Jesus, the Father shows us his innermost being-in the form of a servant, dying to give us life.” (126)
  • “On the cross we see the glorification of the glory of God-and it is all about laying down life to give life, to bear fruit.” (127)
  • “Who God is drives everything.” (129)
  • “…our churches…our marriages, our relationships, our mission: all are molded in the deepest way by what we think of God.”

Friday, August 23, 2013

Book Review - Covenantal Apologetics

Since reading his exceptional book on God’s condescension, God With Us, I have been compelled to get my hands on and read all of Scott Oliphint’s material. I have finished several of his other books and have others in queue. And for this reason-a desire to become familiar with all of Oliphint’s writings-I have been eagerly anticipating his 2013 offering, Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith. I have now crossed this book off my “to read” list and gladly endorse it.

Oliphint sets out two main goals for this book: “to lay out the primary biblical and theological principles that must be part of any covenantal defense of Christianity and then to demonstrate how these principles might be applied against certain objections” (29-30). As the book’s subtitle suggests, this work is about the principles and practice of covenantal apologetics.

In the first chapter Oliphint lays out some key concepts and ideas as he introduces his self-named approach to apologetics. He indicates immediately that there is a conflict which all humans participate in and as Christians we are called to the task of “defending and commending the truth of Christianity” (32-3). We are to defend and commend the Christian truth which is the only true and real perspective available to humans. Oliphint introduces covenantal apologetics by looking at ideas around God’s aseity, His condescension, covenant, sin, and humanity’s innate knowledge of God and our suppression of that knowledge. Perhaps the most important content in this book comes in this chapter with Oliphint revealing the Ten Tenets of covenantal apologetics. Oliphint delivers these crucial tenets and effectively explains them. This first chapter does a thorough job of demonstrating the author’s apologetic approach.

The second chapter expounds on ideas integral to this defense of Christianity that were introduced in the first chapter. Oliphint discusses the transcendent otherness of God and God’s condescension in creating and relating to creation (He is excellent on these topics…as good as or better than anyone I have read).  Oliphint then moves from principles to practice and gives two examples where we can see this defense in action. He also considers two foundational tactics; undermining erroneous presuppositions (non-Christian) and reinforcing true presuppositions (Christian).

Chapter three attempts to clarify how the ten tenets of Oliphint’s apologetic relate to proofs for arguments by elaborating on the principles themselves and locating them in some historical debates. His analysis of Paul’s address to the Athenians in Acts 17 is enlightening and enjoyable. He presents what it means to prove things in general and to prove the existence of God in particular. And he demonstrates how this might work with actual recorded discussions between a humanist and a Christian. The discussion is evaluated and then reconfigured from the Christian’s perspective in a manner that is more aligned with Oliphint’s own approach. These examples are very helpful in bringing clarity.

Chapter four is an in-depth look at how we are to persuade others as we defend and commend our faith. This was a fascinating chapter that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and contemplating. Oliphint discusses the ethos of persuasion which is basically the persuader’s character, the pathos of persuasion which involves an understanding of those being addressed, and finally the logos of persuasion which is the content in defense which is, of course, God’s Word. This paradigm was new to me but I found it aptly explained and quite intriguing.

Chapters 5-7 are mostly concerned with the practice of this apologetic and in them we are given detailed examples of covenantal apologetics in action. Sometimes the imagined scenarios became quite complex, but I never felt lost or in the dark even though it was some intellectual work to get through. It is encouraging to see how this defense deals with some of the most difficult questions and attacks a Christian will face. Though the responses given in defense of Christianity might be largely beyond what the reader is presently capable of, they give a would-be apologist hope and direction.

This book was, as I said earlier, eagerly anticipated and it did not disappoint. It successfully delivers and defines the principles of covenantal apologetics and demonstrates how they could work in the real world. Oliphint brings clarity with his concise and accessible explanations and his examples are readable and relatable even if they are beyond what many of us are capable of. It is clear that Oliphint hopes that Covenantal Apologetics will be used by the Lord to help the reader generate “a holy, persuasive, gentle and respectful response to unbelief” (262). I believe his hope is not in vain. I definitely recommend this book.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Excerpts from introduction of Church Discipline

I have recently finished reading Jonathan Leeman's excellent book on church discipline aptly titled Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus. I have gleaned some important ideas and quotes from the book and here I share those that come from the Introduction:
  • "Church discipline, both formative and corrective, is an implication of the gospel." (17)
  • there is no a formula for formal church discipline, but a theological-framework is suggested
  • in regards to details concerning discipline, we must not demand certainty and specifics where none is offered
  • God's Word provides BROAD guidelines
  • Church discipline is loving, showing love for:
    • the individual - giving a warning, encouraging repentance
    • the church - weak sheep are protected
    • the world - can better see Christ's transforming power
    • Christ - upholding his name, being obedient to his commands
  • "By abstaining from discipline...we claim we love better than God loves." (23)
  • Churches should practice discipline because it:
    • is biblical
    • is an implication of a well-rounded, robust gospel
    • is concerned with promoting the health of the church and its members
    • clarifies and shines church's witness to the world
    • warns sinners of greater judgment
    • protects the name and reputation of Jesus
  • "Church discipline, fundamentally, is about making sure that Jesus' representatives on earth represent Jesus and not someone else." (24)

Monday, August 19, 2013

25 Tweets from the first chapter of Covenantal Apologetics

I am really enjoying Covenantal Apologetics by Scott Oliphint. I thought I would share some shorter quotes and excerpts from the first chapter of the book.

  1. Christian apologetics is the application of biblical truth to unbelief (29).
  2. The entrance of sin in the world was also the initiation of a cosmic war (30).
  3. [Sin] marks the beginning of a radical and all-encompassing war (32).
  4. ...every person on the face of the earth is defined, in part, by his relationship to a covenant head (32).
  5. Suffering is clear evidence that Christ is Lord; it is not a testimony against that truth (34).
  6. It is the clear and steadfast conviction that Christ, and Christ alone, is Lord that has to motivate our Christian defense (34).
  7. We are to think about and live in the world according to what it really is, not according to how it might at times appear to us (35).
  8. The lordship of Christ is the conclusion to, the end result of, his own suffering and humiliation (35).
  9. So wherever you go, to whomever you speak, Christ is Lord there, and he is Lord over that person (35).
  10. The power of sin in us makes us adept anosognosiacs (people unaware of, or denying, our own disease) (36).
  11. Anyone who wants to argue that truth is relative betrays, by that argument, that it cannot be (36).
  12. The Bible is authoritative not because we accept it as such, but because it is the word of the risen Lord (37).
  13. ...we must base our defense of Christianity on reality, and reality is what God says it is (37).
  14. We view our apologetic, and proceed in it, as in the rest of life, through the corrective lenses of Holy Scripture (37).
  15. Since God is Totally Other from creation, our understanding of him and our communication and communion with him can take place only be his initiative (41).
  16. ...part of what it means to be created in God's image is that man inescapably knows God (42).
  17. The problem is not with the evidence, but with the "receptacle," (the sinful person) to which the evidence constantly comes (44).
  18. Trying to make ourselves out to be gods, we distort both who we are and who God is (45).
  19. Always and everywhere, in covenant relationship with God our Creator, we seek the utterly impossible and unobtainable; we seek autonomy (45).
  20. Man's denial of God is not something done in ignorance (45).
  21. is incumbent on the apologist to ask the unbeliever to justify his own position (45).
  22. Generic theism is no part of the Christian faith (48).
  23. ...any defense that does not include the triune God is a defense of a false theism (48).
  24. ...we cannot begin our discussion with the assumption that the intellectual, moral, or conversational ground on which we and the unbeliever are standing is the same (49).
  25. ...all people, just because they are image of God, are responsible to God for everything they are, do, and think (49).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

God himself is the supreme good

Yesterday I shared a Jonathan Edwards quote that explained the great good of the Gospel is God. He is the ultimate gift won for us by Christ when He gave his own life for us. I thought I would continue on that theme and share some quotes from Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck pertaining to the goodness of God. They come from his systematic theology Reformed Dogmatics.

  • God's goodness is perfection, the sum of all goodness. "No one is good but God alone" (Mark 10:18); Luke 18:19) ... His goodness, accordingly, is one with his absolute perfection. In him, "idea" and "reality" are one. (204)

  • God is the blessed One because he is at rest in the plentitude of his perfections. When God loves others, he loves himself in them ... (204, emphasis mine)

  • God himself is the supreme good of all creatures, the object of every creature's desires. (204)
  • Above all, God's goodness is manifested in his grace, his demonstration of voluntary, unmerited favor shown to undeserving sinners. (205)

  • When God's goodness conveys not only benefits but God himself, it appears as love. (205)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

God himself is the great good

In God Is The Gospel, one of my favourite John Piper books, the author shares a wonderful excerpt from a Jonathan Edwards sermon (God Glorified in Man's Dependence). The book by Piper contends that the gospel is about getting God. The gospel is about reconciling us to God; God is the good of the gospel. The Edwards quote below is a encouraging reminder that ultimately the gospel is not a moral improvement plan or a eternal punishment avoidance prerogative or anything else that falls short of returning us to a favourable relationship with God. Enjoy.
The redeemed have all their objective good in God. God himself is the great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling-place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honour and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to at the end of the world. The Lord God is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem; and is the “river of the water of life” that runs, and “the tree of life that grows, in the midst of the paradise of God.” The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will forever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast. The redeemed will indeed enjoy other things; they will enjoy the angels, and will enjoy one another; but that which they shall enjoy in the angels, or each other, or in any thing else whatsoever that will yield them delight and happiness, will be what shall be seen of God in them.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The good fight

Holiness by Bishop J. C. Ryle is a tried and true Christian classic. It is a masterful work on the topic of sanctification. One of the aspects of the book that I appreciate and that resonates with me is the author's perspective of fighting or battling for holiness in our Christian walk. The third chapter of Holiness is titled The Fight. And it is my favourite chapter in the book. For Bishop Ryle, Christianity is a fight:

True Christianity! Let us mind that word “true.” There is a vast quantity of religion current in the world which is not true, genuine Christianity. It passes muster; it satisfies sleepy consciences; but it is not good money. It is not the real thing which was called Christianity eighteen hundred years ago. There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday, and call themselves Christians. Their names are in the baptismal register. They are reckoned Christians while they live. They are married with a Christian marriage service. They mean to be buried as Christians when they die. But you never see any “fight” about their religion! Of spiritual strife, and exertion, and conflict, and self-denial, and watching, and warring, they know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity may satisfy man, and those who say anything against it may be thought very hard and uncharitable; but it certainly is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded, and His Apostles preached. It is not the religion which produces real holiness. True Christianity is “a fight.” 
The true Christian is called to be a soldier, and must behave as such from the day of his conversion to the day of his death. He is not meant to live a life of religious ease, indolence, and security. He must never imagine for a moment that he can sleep and doze along the way to heaven, like one travelling in an easy carriage. If he takes his standard of Christianity from the children of this world, he may be content with such notions; but he will find no countenance for them in the Word of God. If the Bible is the rule of his faith and practice, he will find his course laid down very plainly in this matter. He must “fight.”

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Theological discussions

Bruce Ware on theological discussions:
So often we consider theological discussions a waste of time or, worse, divisive and hurtful. But, oh, how our understanding of theological discussions needs to change. We should see such discussions of weighty biblical truths as opportunities for growth in our understanding of God and his Word, along with subsequent growth in our application of that Word to our lives and ministries. As with every other good thing in life, theological discussions can deteriorate into something harmful. But it need not and should not. Rather it can be the very thing that God would call us to do for the sake of being refined in our understanding and encouraged in our faith. (Ware, Bruce A. The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013. Print. 56)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ten Tenets of Covenantal Apologetics

I just finished reading the first chapter of Scott Oliphint's recent book Covenantal Apologetics. It is fascinating so far and I can hardly wait to get further into the book. That being said, a few days ago Justin Taylor posted the Ten Tenets of covenantal apologetics as they appear in chapter one of Oliphint's book. Enjoy:

From Scott Oliphint’s Covenantal Apologetics: Principles and Practice in Defense of Our Faith (pp. 47-56):

  1. The faith that we are defending must begin with, and necessarily include, the triune God-Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—who, as God, condescends to create and to redeem.
  2. God’s covenantal revelation is authoritative by virtue of what is, and any covenantal, Christian apologetic will necessarily stand on and utilize that authority in order to defend Christianity.
  3. It is the truth of God’s revelation, together with the work of the Holy Spirit, that brings about a covenantal change from one who is in Adam to one who is in Christ.
  4. Man (male and female) as image of God is in covenant with the triune God for eternity.
  5. All people know the true God, and that knowledge entails covenantal obligations.
  6. Those who are and remain in Adam suppress the truth that they know. Those who are in Christ see truth for what it is.
  7. There is an absolute, covenantal antithesis between Christian theism and any other, opposing position. Thus, Christianity is true and anything opposing it is false.
  8. Suppression of the truth, like the depravity of sin, is total but not absolute. Thus every unbelieving position will necessarily have within it ideas, concepts, notions, and the like that it has taken and wrenched from their true, Christian context.
  9. The true, covenantal knowledge of God in man, together with God’s universal mercy, allows for persuasion in apologetics.
  10. Every fact and experience is what it is by virtue of the covenantal, all-controlling plan and purpose of God.