Friday, January 30

Cedarville University Back In The News

Thanks to one of our five faithful readers, Greg Long, for pointing me to the latest news regarding Cedarville University.

As many of you are aware, a "conservative" Cedarville Bible Prof was terminated in July of 2007. In April of 2008, the University president and board of trustees refused to heed the counsel of an institutional appeal committee which sided with the terminated professor. The same president and board of trustees have been named in a lawsuit by the terminated professor.

Recently, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) released its report on the investigation of the University's actions. The report finds fault with the Cedarville president, board of trustees, and academic administration. For those who are interested, you will find the AAUP's report HERE.

Honestly, the report is very involved (as it must be), and those who are distanced from the situation will find the reading a bit tedious. The University's response on the other hand, is short and to the point.

Employing the literary tactic of excessive, exorbitant, extreme, unreasonable, and unconscionable adjective usage, the University categorically denies any wrongdoing, and labels the AAUP report as "an astounding volume of errors" because the AAUP employed "a fatally flawed process, designed to preserve pre-determined conclusions consistent with the AAUP's historical bias against religious schools."

Access Cedarville's response HERE.

The ongoing saga at Cedarville University provides us with an opportunity to examine our own lives and views of God-ordained authority structures. How do we view accountability? Do we embrace it, or do we run from it? Our Lord has ordained authority structures (Romans 13:1-5) for the ultimate good of His people, and for the fame of His name. Beware of shunning godly counsel (which can come from unbelievers!). Beware of sacrificing the cause of Christ on the altar of saving face. Remember, God has called His church to be "blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Phil. 2:15).

The entire Cedarville University situation is a sad thing. Whether in the church or academia or on the assembly line, bickering and in-fighting never serves kingdom purposes--especially when the world is forced to pass judgment on our own sins.

Habakkuk knows how painful it is to watch the ungodly pass judgment on God's people.

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The Therapuetic Understanding of Sin

What happens when we move away from the Bible as our sole authority for faith and practice? We turn to the mankind and its godless understanding of the world for direction. In yesterday's post I pointed you to the Washington Post article in which Ted Haggard declared that therapy was God's answer to his prayers for help. Really? And what did God "teach" him concerning his past struggles and behavior?

"And I call it my sin," he says. "That's my sin. I'm not saying everybody is a sinner that does it. I'm just saying with my standards and my values, it was a sin against me and God. For me."

Gayle gives it a moment, then shoots him a look and points to herself.

"And me," she says.
Basically what he did was wrong - sin - because it violated his own personal standards and values. In this redefinition of sin he does believe he sinned against God, but he guts that statement of all meaning by claiming that not "everybody is a sinner that does it." If his behavior is violation to God's standard than everybody who behaves the same way is in violation of God's standard and is therefore a sinner. But if his behavior is ONLY a violation of his own personal standards than not everybody who behaves this way is in sin. And that is his fundamental belief. That is what he learned in therapy. And if this therapy is Freudian in any way, than all Ted needs to do is change his standards and values and he won't be "sinning" any longer.

Also notice that he left his wife out of his "sinned against" list. [She obviously didn't agree.] It was probably just a Freudian slip, but it does point to an actual consistency in his belief system. If he only violated his own standard, than in what way did he "sin" against his wife?

When you move away from the Bible's standard for definition than not only is sin up for grabs but so is sexuality. Gayle, Ted's wife, said:
"So this whole idea of sexuality being complex: I can see that it is so wrong of us to compartmentalize us and to label people. I am hoping that through all of this we'll learn how to, instead of label people and put them in categories, that we'll learn to really listen to each other and really see each other and have compassion for each other. Because the last thing we need to do is burden people who are just trying to work out their lives."
That is a pretty nebulous statement, but it appears that she believes we should move from labeling people (sinners, homosexuals, etc.) and just have an open dialogue of understanding and compassion.

So in what way was therapy an "answer to prayer"? It taught Ted and Gayle how to move away from God's absolute, eternal standard found in the Bible to a personalized standard which allowed them to redefine anything and everything. The god of this world is certainly in the business of answering prayers.

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Thursday, January 29

Jay Adams Reaffirms the Importance of Limited Atonement (TULIPBURGER)

This from the new blog at the Institute for Nouthetic Studies. Once again, Adams lays out the biblical logic that the death of Christ in its intent and effect gloriously accomplished the atonement for ALL who would ever believe:

"Jesus didn’t come to make salvation possible—He came to “seek and to save that which was lost.” God was satisfied with His death for everyone for whom He died. He didn’t die needlessly for millions who would reject Him. He knew all that the Father had given Him, and said that not one of them would be lost. They would all be saved. After all, if Jesus’ death for sin really did satisfy God’s justice for any, it would also do so for all. So, if He died for all—all would be saved. Of course, we know that isn’t true. Yet, if universal atonement were true, then God could hardly punish men and women for eternity for whom Christ had already suffered the punishment. There is no double jeopardy. And therefore, there is no burger unless it is a TULIPBURGER!"


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Question of the Day

Yesterday while reading my friend Timmy Brister's blog over at "Provocations and Pantings" I came across an astoundingly thoughtful question on the Lordship of Christ. I'm interested in getting your thoughts on this question which I think will tell much about where we stand on Christ's Lordship:

"Is it possible to have life in Christ without love for Christ?"

HT: Timmy Brister

Please discuss in the comments section.

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Wednesday, January 28

Non-Dispy Caricatures of "Two Ways" of Salvation

Really, I have no ax to grind in this argument and I stated clearly yesterday that there are numerous nondispensationalists that I love, respect, admire and appreciate. That is what I want to make clear before I attempt to document something here that Kenneth requested on my post from yesterday. Kenneth has asked....and Kenneth will receive:

"The presupposition of the difference between law and grace, between Israel and the Church, between the different relations of God to men in the different dispensations, when carried to its logical conclusion, will inevitably result in a multiple form of salvation - that men are not saved the same way in all ages."
Clarence B. Bass, Backgrounds to Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960), 34.

"If any man is saved in any dispensation other than those of Promise and Grace, he is saved by works and not by faith! [The dispensationalist] is clearly left with two methods of salvation on his hands - works for the majority of dispensations, faith for the rest - and we have to deal with a fickle God who deals with man in various ways at various times."
John Wick Bowman, "The Bible and Modern Religions: II, Dispensationalism," Interpretation 10 (April 1956): 178.

"Statements of this sort invariably appear in the writings of Scofield and Chafer in the context of their explications of the church/Israel dichotomy. All of these statements make it clear that Scofield and Chafer followed their church/Israel dichotomy even when considering soteriology."
Michael Williams, "This World is Not My Home" (Mentor Imprint, 2003) 207
(It is interesting that this author writes this when the evidence is quite the contrary from Chafer both in his Systematic Theology and other writings!)

Here is another outrageous excerpt from the same book where the author makes the egregious claim that the dispensational hermeneutic is gnostic!
"The drama of redemption within the dispensational view is gnostic, for it envisions redemption as the escape of the soul from the world to God."
ibid., 220

Where is the charity and grace extended with a statement like that? Connecting dispensationalism with the premiere heresy of the early church is anything but productive!

In fact, this past weekend while talking with a friend of mine at our children's basketball games who is struggling to pin down his own hermeneutical persuasion opened up the conversation by immediately proclaiming - "Dispensationalism teaches two-ways of salvation!" It is nice to know now where this "straw man" comes from! However, it is also nice to diffuse this argument with the facts!

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Therapy! Just What the Doctor LORD Ordered

With an upcoming HBO documentary Ted Haggard will be all over the news once again and from what I've seen so far, not much good will come out of it - for him, his former local church and the Church of Jesus Christ. But it does give us a chance to see contemporary "Christianity" miss the point once again. Near the beginning of this Washington Post story, Haggard says:

"My spiritual life was wonderfully empowering for me in the midst of the struggle. But it wasn't the solution," he says.

"I needed a therapist."

Decades in the ministry failed to prepare him for this.

"I thought, 'I don't need to go to a therapist!' I mean I didn't even understand therapy. 'Jesus is the solution to everything!' " he says. "And I personally believe now that this process has occurred so that I would get the therapy I needed. I believe my therapy is the answer to 30 years of prayer about this subject. And so I am very grateful for the decision of the overseers and the restorers and I'm so thrilled about the way my life is now. I'm the man now that -- no, no, no, that's not true. I am becoming the man now that everybody thought I was then."
Here is the first error of much contemporary evangelical thinking. God's Word is not sufficient for the particular cultural and personal struggles that we face today. Therefore, we need therapy. To be fair, he doesn't really define "therapy" so we can't be sure exactly what approach his therapist took, but it is obvious that the main point was missed. The Word of God understood and applied appropriately in the power of God is exactly what Ted Haggard needed. Therapy is not the solution, Christ and His Word is!

He goes on to say:
"There were a few times when I talked to other people about it, but they were always within the religious leadership community, and they always gave me bad advice," Haggard says, with what only sounds like a laugh. "I talked to one old man of God, told him about it, and he said, 'You just need to be busier in the church."

"And talked to another about it, and he said, 'Have you memorized Romans 6?' "
Here is the second error of much contemporary evangelical thinking. That life's problems can be solved with a little Scripture, a little prayer, a little redirection and a whole lot of talk about Jesus. That kind of approach might work for our self-confidence problem when playing High School basketball, but it will fail miserably when applied to homosexual desires. Ted Haggard found that out through personal experience. When will he come to realize that the "therapeutic" approach will ultimately fail as well?

When faced with these two faulty options it doesn't really matter which one is used. Both end in failure.

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Tuesday, January 27

The New 'World From Our Window'

Back in December, I promised a new format to The World From Our Window readers (all three of you).

Beginning today, we are rolling out the change.

We here at The World From Our Window understand your time is valuable. We understand that we are but theological peons in the blogosphere. We realize that the three of you who read what we write do so out of courtesy and love, not out of necessity because you can't live without us.

Therefore, The World From Our Window authors will keep our posts short and sweet and to the point. They will be no longer than what you can comfortably read within 60 seconds. That means 250 words or less. That means no beating around the proverbial (not literal!!) bush. That means raw, uncut, and real--no fluff. That means more time for you ... and for us!

We hope you find this new format agreeable, and that all three of you will continue to read faithfully.

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Dispensationalism and Two Ways of Salvation

Since the popular mantra today is to attack a dispensational approach to hermeneutics I thought that I would address one of the most popular ones - That dispensationalism teaches TWO ways of salvation - one of the Old Testament and one for the New Testament. This attack became popular due to a note in the Scofield Reference Bible that non-dispy's have used to "prove" this point:

"As a dispensation, grace begins with the death and resurrection of Christ. The point of testing is no longer legal obedience as the condition of salvation, but acceptance or rejection of Christ, with good works as a fruit of salvation."
- Scofield Reference Bible (New York: Oxford, 1909), 1115n.2.

Even the most ardent dispensationalists would tell you that this is not the best wording that could have been used by Mr. Scofield. Nevertheless, the question must be asked, Does C.I. Scofield really represent the hermeneutic of dispensationalism as a whole? No, not hardly. Scofield is not the spokesman for a dispensational view of hermeneutics any more than Hank Hanegraaff is for the preterist position. This by far, is one of the most far fetched and FALSE accusations made by non(anti) dispensationalists.

Are dispensational theologians the only ones who have worded things in an unhelpful way? Here is a quote from a well known covenant theologian who seemingly takes a "two way" approach to salvation -

"From the Mosaic period and onward, non presumptious sins (Lev. 5:3) were specifically forgiven via the ritual law (v. 10; cf. Ps. 19:13); and other intentional violations were included as well (cf. Lev. 5:1, 4)."
Payne, The Theology of the Older Testament, 414

Looking at that from the surface and failing to look at the whole scope of what this man has written would lead me to believe that he holds to a "two ways of salvation" view. To be fair, that is hardly the case. Just as any covenant theologian would tell you that salvation has always been of grace a dispensationalist would say the exact same thing.

Where we would differ though is on the issue of progressive revelation. The FACT of the matter is that in the Old Testament before the coming of Christ OT saints did NOT have the same knowledge of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we do who live today. That is a fact, and not an attempt to play mental gymnastics with our hermeneutic.

Has anyone ever heard a covenant theologian, progressive dispensationalist, or a new covenant theologian quote this from Lewis Sperry Chafer? -

"Are there two ways by which one may be saved? In reply to this question it may be stated that salvation of whatever specific character is always the work of God in behalf of man and never a work of man in behalf of God. This is to asset that God never saved any one person or group of persons on any other ground than that righteous freedom to do so which the Cross of Christ secured. There is therefore, but one way to be saved and that is by the power of God made possible through the sacrifice of Christ."
"Inventing Heretics Through Misunderstanding," Bibliotheca Sacra 102 (January 1945): 1.

Now it may just be me but I personally do not know of one covenant theologian who would disagree with that soteriological statement. Do you? Salvation has ALWAYS been through Christ alone. However, the knowledge of Christ is NOT the same as the knowledge that NT saints have.

Personally, I do not have a problem with someone who is persuaded to believe the CT, PD or NCT position. I struggle with their hermeneutics but by no means do I question their orthodoxy. I just ask that the disagreements and accusations be fair and accurate. It has become the "cool" thing today to abandon a dispensational approach to Scriptural interpretation. But what is important here brethren is an honest, humble and accurate discussion that abandons our presupposed strawmen and appreciates the contributions of both sides to the cause of Christendom.

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Monday, January 26

Will Somebody Please Answer This Question ...

Saturday evening, while reading during our family devotion time, the Kids 4 Truth devotional highlighted Deuteronomy 7:9 which reads:

"Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations ..."
Because a friend and I have been engaged in an ongoing eschatalogical discussion, I immediately recognized the similarity between Deuteronomy 7:9 and Revelation 20. Many--nearly all--dispensational pretribulationalists point to the precise wording of Revelation 20 as ample proof of an earthly, literal 1,000 year millennial period. They are quick to describe their position as the 'literal hermeneutic.'

Here is the question my friend will not (and cannot!) answer: Do dispensationalists employ the same interpretive principles to Deuteronomy 7:9? Does God mean that He will keep His covenant to a literal thousand generations?

Although I may be mistaken, I would imagine that dispensationalists will acknowledge that "a thousand generations" is not to be interpreted literally, but figuratively. Yet "a thousand years" in Revelation is to be taken very literally. That's a puzzling interpretation--especially in light of the genre of Deuteronomy (law & historical narrative) and Revelation ("apocalyptic and symbolic" according to dispensationalists Walvoord and Zuck).

Regarding the dispensational understanding of Deuteronomy 7:9, I quote from page 227 of The OT Bible Knowledge Commentary (Walvoord & Zuck):
"The thousand generations is a proverbial expression meaning 'endlessly' or 'forever.'"
Here is a quote regarding the dispensational interpretation of Revelation 20 from page 980 of The NT Bible Knowledge Commentary (Walvoord & Zuck):
"It should be noted that the term 'a thousand years' occurs six times in chapter 20 [of Revelation] ... While amillenarians and others have tended to view this as nonliteral, there is no evidence to support this conclusion ... Since other time designations in Revelation are literal it is natural to take 'a thousand years' literally also. If the term 'a thousand years' designates a nonspecific but long period of time, the present Age between Christ's two advents, as amillenarians hold, then one would expect John to say simply that Christ would reign 'a long time' ..."
Why the difference in dispensational interpretations of these two texts, especially in light of their respective genres?

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