Skip to main content


Showing posts from December, 2008

Unpacking the Regulative Principle

A lot of things happen in a typical church service. It starts (and perhaps ends) at a specific time, in a specific place. There are songs, prayers, announcements , sacraments, a sermon, tithes and offerings.  The songs might be in books or on a screen.  Maybe there are musical instruments, or maybe not.  People stand, sit and, in some churches, kneel.  The minister might wear a collar or Geneva gown, or he might not. The elders might sit at the front, or they might sit among the congregation with their families like everyone else. The preacher might ascend into an elevated pulpit to preach, or he might pace back and forth at the front of the room. Does the Regulative Principle have anything to do with these choices? How do we decide what to do? Many of these choices have a typical Apostolic solution, just as they probably have a typical Presbyterian or Anglican solution.  Yet, do we just opt for a given choice because it's the Apostolic way, or are there other reasons.  If Aposto

The Regulative Principle

The expression 'Regulative Principle' may not be a part of our typical theological vocabulary, yet, despite not using the specific expression, it was certainly part of the theology of the early leaders of the Apostolic Church. The Regulative Principle states that only those things which are commanded by God in Scripture are acceptable in our worship.  Thus we don't use candles and incense, as these are not Biblically mandated.  The Regulative Principle of Worship was championed by the Reformed Churches during the Reformation, and thereafter by the Puritans, confessional Presbyterians, Brethren and then Apostolics (& I suspect other British Pentecostals, although our American brethren never seem to have held to it).  The expression has not always been used, but the idea has always been there. In Brethren assemblies, for example, the concept is often referred to as 'New Testament Church Principles'.   The alternative to the Regulative Principle among Protestant

Seeing as it's Boxing Day...

Seeing as it's Boxing Day, perhaps something a wee bit Christmassy might be in order. Anna is someone who probably doesn't get too much press at the average Christmas. The main characters at this time of year tend to be Mary & Joseph, followed by angels, inn-keepers, shepherds, and then by donkeys, cows and sheep. Sometimes wisemen and camels even get thrown into the mix (although here on the continent Epiphany is still known as the Day of the Three Kings).  Anna, however, is a more important character than the assorted obligatory Christmas animals. Unlike the inn-keeper, she's actually mentioned in the Bible; unlike the shepherds, she's actually named.  If we do remember her, it's probably not at Christmas, and she tends to get overshadowed by Simeon (afterall, he did come up with the Nunc Dimitis [Lk 2:29-32] ...). Yet the account of Anna in Luke 2:36-38 bears an important lesson for us today. Anna 'served  God  with fastings and prayers night and day&#

Study Questions: The Resurrection

What is the difference between Christ's resurrection & other people (like Lazarus) who were restored to life in the Bible? Who raised Jesus from the dead? What do we know about Christ's resurrection body? What is the significance of Christ's resurrection?

The Best Books I've Read in 2008 (continued)

Ranking good books from 1-10 is too hard, so, apart from my top 2 picks from last night, the remaining 8 books are in no particular order. Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism (Wheaton:  Crossway, 2007)   I've already written about this one . Donald Macleod, The Person of Christ , Contours of Christian Theology (Downers Grove: IVP, 1998) Excellent contemporary work by a systematic theologian. This is no basic overview, but rather a more advanced text which interacts heavily with opponents of Chalcedonian orthodoxy. Not a starting point for your study of Christology, but brilliant for those who already have a grasp of the basics. Steve Jeffery, Mike Ovey and Andrew Sach, Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution (Nottingham: IVP, 2007) With all the current attacks on Penal Substitution, this book is necessary (& very worthwhile) reading. John M. Frame, The Doctrine of God (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2002) At nea

The Best Books I've Read (so far) in 2008

As the end of the year is fast approaching, it seems more than a few bloggers have been reflecting on the best books of 2008. I, however, am, as usual, a bit behind the times and haven't read enough books published this year; so I thought I'd be a wee bit more subjective and think about the best books I've read this year, irrespective of date of publication. 1. Michael Horton, A Better Way: Rediscovering the Drama of Christ-Centred Worship (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002) A brilliant and thought-provoking look at worship, founded in a robust Scriptural theology. Horton opposes much that has come to be labelled 'worship' in today's evangelicalism, yet he is not arguing that 'traditional' worship is better. Rather, Horton is seeking 'a better way' (just in case you've forgotten, that's the title of the book). Horton ably dismisses the notion that worship is something sentimental and subjective, or that corporate worship is when we make room f

Sorry for the interruption...

Okay, so I've rather neglected the blog lately, but I hope you'll forgive the break. In the next few days I hope to post a bit about books, a bit about worship and liturgy, and maybe even something about Christmas (although no promises on that one).

Study Questions: The Atonement

Define penal substitution and demonstrate that it is the clear teaching of the Scriptures. What is the significance of imputation for the atonement? How does the Passover relate to Penal Substitution? What is the meaning of propitiation & why is it necessary? Why could God not simply forgive us without Jesus having to die? What is the meaning of Redemption ? Why do we need to be redeemed?

Study Questions: More on the Incarnation

Where & how does the Bible teach the virgin birth? What was the result of the Holy Spirit's overshadowing of Mary? What does impeccability mean? Why is it important? What do we mean by Christ's active righteousness & what does it have to do with our salvation? Why did Christ become incarnate?

Evangelism & Sin

'Man is more lost than he understands and the older evangelicalism believed that the first objective in gospel preaching was to bring men to despair of themselves. To tell men the worst about themselves is not to hinder conversion. On the contrary, the real impediment to conversion is the absence of conviction of sin. The preacher's first duty is to address that fact by awakening the conscience to the meaning of sin, and to sin understood not simply as wrong action requiring forgiveness, but as an evil principle governing man's very heart.' (Iain Murray, Revival and Revivalism , 370)

Two Ways to Live

You may have noticed the large 2 in the circle at the left-hand side of my blog and be wondering what it's all about? Well, it's actually a link to an online presentation of Two Ways To Live , which is a memorable summary of the Gospel. This is a great resource which not only presents the gospel message, but also does so in a way which doesn't assume any proir knowledge of Christian concepts - everything the average non-Christian needs to know is explained (and clearly too). Two Ways To Live is available in a number of formats and several languages (and even a children's version in English). It's published by Matthias Media in Austrailia and distributed in the UK by The Good Book Company . Click on the 2 at the side to see the presentation and find out more. So, if you're looking for tracts, or something to give to non-Christian visitors to church, have a look at Two Ways to Live . It might be just what you're looking for.

Study Questions: Incarnation & Hypostatic Union

It's that time of the week again; time for some more doctrinal study questions! This week we're beginning to look at Christology (& Tenet No. 3). What is the Incarnation? Does the Bible teach that God the Son existed before the Incarnation? Explain. How do we know that Jesus was truly human? What is Docetism & why is it such a big problem? What is Apollinarianism & why does it cause problems for the doctrine of salvation? What is the Hypostatic Union? How do the heresies of Nestorianism & Eutychianism help us define the Hypostatic Union? Is Christ still incarnate? Why is this important?