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Showing posts from October, 2009

Michael Horton on N.T. Wright on Justification

Reformation Day is coming up at the end of the week, so what better topic to think about for all the theological students out there than justification. Michael Horton has been responding in a series of blog posts over the past few weeks to N.T. Wright's latest book, Justification. If you're not familiar with Michael Horton, he's an impressive theologian in his own right (not simply a blogger having a go at an academic bishop) and has addressed similar issues in his book Covenant and Salvation. Horton's 10 posts can all be found on the White Horse Inn blog.

Songs for Communion

Having been posting a bit lately on the Lord's Supper, my thoughts have been wandering to the dearth of worship songs for the Breaking of Bread. There are plenty of hymns for the sacrament (Ian Macpherson, probably the most celebrated preacher in the history of the Apostolic Church, even compiled an entire hymn book just for the Breaking of Bread, Hymns at the Holy Table), but not so many contemporary songs. But I have managed to find a few. So here is my (very short) list of contemporary(ish) worship songs for Communion.
We do not presume (Andy Piercy) - Cranmer's Prayer of Humble Access from the Communion liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer, slightly adapted and set to music. The Prayer of Humble Access is one of the jewels of Cranmer's liturgy with great emphases on Reformation theology.
Come to the table (Claire Cloninger & Martin J. Nystrom) - song for the invitation to the Table. Simple but good.
Remember Me (Gerrit Gustafson & Martin J. Nystrom) - a form of th…

1 Year of Apostolic Theology

Today a verse by D.P. Williams (translated by Thomas Davies) on some of the key features of Apostolic theology: Christ, His Ascension, His outpouring of the Holy Spirit, His Gifts to His Church, and the riches of His Grace. There's even a hint of the Eternal Purpose in there too.Our Lord from His loved ones (O glorious Ascension!)For our intercession, mounts up to His Throne,But pours out the Spirit in richest oblationThat both worlds may witness His Gifts to His Own;Abundance of GRACE to drown all vexations;He cheers the hearts of His Saints with His song,Their comfort unfailing in all tribulations,The weak by the wines of His love are made strong.
This post marks the 1st birthday of the Apostolic Theology blog! What better way to mark the event than with some authentic Apostolic theology from D.P. Williams himself.

Martin Luther: Here I Stand

To celebrate Reformation Day this week, the audio of Martin Luther's speech to the Diet of Worms, Here I Stand, read by Max McLean, can be downloaded for free until 1st November.

Apostolic Eucharist - Part 4

(For the previous posts in the series see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
So, what happens at the Breaking of Bread? Well, the Holy Spirit works there by faith. According to D.P. Williams (this is, after all, a series on the Apostolic theology of the eucharist), through faith the Holy Spirit makes the sacrament a means of grace and so Christ's 'invisible grace is imparted mediately [i.e. through the sacrament] and directly from His Person to His worshipping Saints' (D.P. Williams, 'The Lord's Table', Riches of Grace, May 1928).
That might sound a bit strange at first. We don't often think of God's grace as being given 'mediately' (i.e. through something). But bear with me a moment; what about the Gospel? Salvation comes to us through the Gospel. The Gospel comes to us through the medium of preaching. As Paul writes in Romans, 'faith comes by hearing' (Romans 10:17). So God's grace comes to us through the means of the preaching of the Gospel. T…

Roman Anglicans?

Okay, so the week wouldn't be complete without something on this week's big theological news story, the Vatican's announcement on facilitating conversion for Anglicans who wish to hold on to their Anglican liturgical heritage. The BBC has an interesting analysis piece with some nice charts. The Archbishop of Kenya has already announced his intention not to take up the Pope's offer, noting that he's a Protestant.
Not being an Anglican, I have no comments to make myself, but I did greatly appreciate this piece from Mockingbird (where they are Anglicans), pointing out that the crux of the matter is justification by faith alone. As an American Anglican bishop has pointed out, 'There was a Reformation, you remember.'
In other ecclesiastical news this week, the Church of Sweden has approved same-sex marriages, which will be carried out in Swedish churches from next month. So far no offers from the Vatican to facilitate the conversion of 'traditionalist' Swe…

Avoiding Gospel Confusion: A Literary Help

Anyway, I read this excerpt from Bo Giertz's Hammer of God this evening, and thought that it helpfully explained a point I was trying to make in my chapel sermon this week. (For those who weren't there, I was preaching on Getting the Gospel Right, and mentioned how sometimes stock expressions that have been used to tell people how to respond to the Gospel have taken on lives of their own, so much so that they eclipse the Gospel itself).
"But sir, if you do not give your heart to Jesus, you cannot be saved."- The young pastor

"You are right, my boy. And it is just as true that, if you think you are saved because you give Jesus your heart, you will not be saved. You see, my boy," he continued reassuringly, as he continued to look at the young pastor's face, in which uncertainty and resentment were shown in a struggle for the upper hand, "it is one thing to choose Jesus as one's Lord and Savior, to give him one's heart and commit oneself to him,…

The Danger of Distraction

Distractions are all around us every day. Sometimes they can be fun or interesting. Often times they can be somewhat annoying, but we generally don't think of them much more negatively than that.
Yet distractions can also be dangerous. A momentary distraction on the road can lead to a serious accident. Being distracted in class can lead to disastrous exams. Distractions can be serious.
And nowhere is this more true than in the Christian life. Distraction can be disastrous for the Christian. Yet all too often we let ourselves be distracted.
Not just distraction in general of course, but distraction from what is most important. And no, I don't mean distraction from responsibilities, ministry or service. The distraction I have in mind is far more fundamental: distraction from the Gospel itself!
The big problem is our temptation to think of the Gospel as something for the beginning of the Christian life. So often we associate the Gospel with evangelism; we think of it as something fo…

The Secret to Success

Kevin DeYoung has written a great piece today on reaching the next generation - whether within or without the church. He includes some thoughts on success and church growth. This little gem speaks loudly:
But in my saner moments I’ve come to see two things: One, it’s more my sin that wants success than my sanctification. And two, the secret is that there is no secret.
Check out the whole thing over at Kevin's blog.


Well, circulars have been read and announcements made, so the news is out: I'll be leaving Belgium in early 2010 to return to the UK, having been called as pastor of the Leeds assembly of the Apostolic Church.

Some apt words on the interpretation of Genesis 1

Richard Phillips has a few appropriate words to say about interpreting the Creation account, prompted in part by the novel views of the Dutch Old Testament scholar Ellen van Wolde, reported in yesterday's Daily Telegraph. (Interesting how van Wolde is convinced that no one ever understood Gen 1 until she came along!) Needless to say, Phillips' comments make much more sense than those of van Wolde. While most evangelicals will point out the liberties that van Wolde is taking with Scripture, Phillips points out that evangelicals often want to take their own liberties with these very same verses. He writes: Is declaring a new meaning for a basic Hebrew word like bara much different from declaring that Genesis 1 is poetry (despite the fact that it bears all the marks of historical narrative and virtually none of poetry), and therefore that the theology may be divorced from the "messy" historical facts presented in Scripture? Is it much different from our frameworks and a…

All you really need to know in just one song

Ten verses is quite long for a hymn now-a-days, but back at the time of the Reformation they seem to have liked very long hymns. And, at ten verses, this one is long; but I post it in its entirety as it is not only long, but good. You see, back at the time of the Reformation they realized that music was a very effective method of getting a message across, and so they wrote hymns to teach. And this hymn teaches indeed. It teaches about our sinfulness (utter depravity, in fact), about our need for God's grace, the role of God's law in revealing our sin to us, Christ's active and passive obedience (His obeying God's law in our place and dying for our sin), the Gospel, faith, justification, and the works which spring from faith. All that in one song!
Its writer, Paul Speratus (1484-1551) worked with Martin Luther to compile the very first Protestant hymn book, and from this hymn of his one can learn all that is truly necessary to know.
Salvation unto us has come
By God’s fr…

Apostolic Eucharist - Part 3

Okay, Eucharist is not a word very much in vogue among Pentecostals, but I'm going to use it anyway. After all eucharist simply means 'thanksgiving', so there is nothing wrong with the word, and it's a simple one word way of referring to my topic. So from now on this series of posts on an Apostolic theology of the Breaking of Bread (8 words), will be referred to as Apostolic Eucharist (2 words, and much more catchy for the title of a blog post).
Now that that little bit of administration is out of the way, let's get back on topic.
In the last post I said I would talk a bit about Zwinglian Memorialism, Calvinistic Spiritual Presence and the Apostolics. Now, if you've read the first post in the series as well, you might be able to guess the direction in which I'm about to go.
The quotations from D.P. Williams I posted show that the founder of the Apostolic Church certainly did not share Zwingli's view of the Lord's Supper. For D.P. Williams the Breaking …