Tag Archives: theology
Friends: I’ve written four books over the last few years that I believe are worthy of an online course. Here are those four books:
If a total of ten to twelve sign up for this online course, we will study the first book, DocTALK, together for ten Sunday nights. We will meet every other Sunday night for one hour on Zoom beginning on September 5.
Although most of us appreciate what we’ve paid something for, there is no charge for this course. If you wish to make a donation, that money will be sent to Christian workers in Ethiopia or Myanmar.
You may purchase a copy of DocTALK directly from me for $10 or on Amazon. If you and a friend together sign up for this course, I will send each of you a copy of DocTALK free.
If this first course is “successful,” I would consider moving on to the next book (DocWALK) for the next online course.
Interested? I need ten to twelve signed up and committed to do this online course by August 15th. To sign up or to ask questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call me: 803-201-9745.
Friends: I’m looking forward to Emmaus Bible College’s “Iron Sharpens Iron” conference May 27-29. I have been assigned two workshops. One will be my plea for us to become friends of lost people like Jesus was.
The other workshop will be on the scintillating topic of John Nelson Darby’s doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Darby was a 19th-century leader of the Plymouth Brethren movement and wrote over 50 volumes of biblical studies and theology.
In full disclosure, these posts — and my presentation at ISI — are based on one of the greatest works of North American non-fiction, my doctoral dissertation of 1985 (“The Pneumatology of John Nelson Darby [1800-1882]”)! Only a few scholars have read it. And my mother-in-law. A saint. Really.
In this first part I want to orient you a bit to Darby and his importance to fundamental Christianity. Darby, a bachelor for life, was an Anglo-Irish Bible teacher, one of the influential figures among the original Plymouth Brethren and the founder of the Exclusive Brethren. He is considered to be the father of modern Dispensationalism.
Darby preached in three languages, delivered thousands of sermons, translated the Bible into several languages, and wrote theological essays enough to fill fifty-two 400-page volumes. Darby is generally considered the formative and normative theological spokesman of the Plymouth Brethren.
Even though he was a clergyman for a while, he left the pastorate in search of a “simple worship based on Scriptural principles.”
Reading Darby is no small task. Darby freely acknowledged the lack of clarity in his writings, once admitting in a letter to a friend, “I am using your mind as a piece of blank paper, on which I jot down my thoughts, and it is quite possible there are better ones [sic], but you see what a letter for a man who has no time.”
He wrote to his friend William Kelly, the editor of his Collected Writings: “You write to be understood, I only think on paper.” His apparent impulsiveness in writing is partially explained by his comment that “as sometimes anything resting on the mind corrodes there, I write at once as to what seems to me the truth.”
His Disdain for Theology . . . and Theologians
He challenges his readers to search the Word of God and insists that such a search will reveal that “theology and theologians are worth nothing at all.” His perspective is that men and women need “to cultivate a healthy spirit, which does not search after questions, but piety. . . . Thorns never nourish us.”
One scholar has well said, “In spite of the fact that Darby never failed to speak disparagingly of theology as a science and would doubtless have issued a vehement demurrer if any one had ever called him a theologian, he was, nevertheless, a theologian in the best sense of the term.”
We will be looking at a number of key issues in Darby’s doctrine of the Holy Spirit in subsequent posts. But I believe it is worthwhile, in our next post, to provide the full transcript of one of Darby’s most hard-hitting tracts, “The Notion of a Clergyman: Dispensationally the Sin Against the Holy Ghost.”
Friends: As most of you know, I love to write. And I have a lot of writing projects that I need to, I want to, pursue. Would you consider praying for me that God would lead me in my writing? I want to maximize my energies and produce what would be beneficial to God’s people and a blessing to Him! Here are several manuscript ideas “in the works.” Feel free to leave a comment on which one interests you the most. Thanks!
Friends Don’t Let Friends . . . Die! This is a multi-part study of the story of Lazarus, a good friend of Jesus, who dies. And Jesus could have prevented that from happening. This study deals with the important topics of friendship, suffering, and sovereignty.
A Five-Minute Theology: Daily Devotionals in the Basics of Belief This may sound a bit strange, but a lot can be accomplished in 5 minutes a day. My concept is 300 five-minute devotionals on the ten areas of theology (thirty each on Christology, Hamartiology, Ecclesiology, etc.). So in less than a year one can get a pretty good grasp on the fundamentals of the Christian faith. I’ll also produce 5-minute videos along the same line.
Insight from a Blind Man (A Study of John 9) This miracle — the most detailed account of a healing in all of Scripture — provides many practical lessons for the believer.
With Friends Like These . . . Job’s Friends and Religious Foolishness I’ve studied the book of Job — and preached on it — for years. I’m fascinated, not so much by Job’s suffering, as by the friends’ spiritually mugging him for thirty chapters! There are many lessons in this study about friendship and how poor theology can bring more hurt than healing.
Finding Deep Joy in a Sad, Shallow World (A Study of the Epistle to the Philippians) We know that the prominent word in this letter is joy. But what is joy? And how does it differ from happiness? A study of the dozen or so uses of that term will greatly help us in being a people of joy.
The Forgotten Third: Developing a Biblical Relationship with God the Holy Spirit This project will probably be the first under contract. Christians either overemphasize or overlook the Third Member of the Trinity. If He is truly personal, He can be spoken to. If He is fully divine, He can and should be worshiped. Learning of His various ministries to believer and unbeliever is key to developing a relationship with Him, for we are to enjoy the “fellowship of the Spirit” (2 Cor. 13:14).
Would you consider praying for God’s leading in my life and in my writing? Thank you!
Introduction to the Series:
These posts are in preparation for my writing a series of 30-page booklets which will be designed to teach and apply fundamental truths of the Christian faith. While they do not pretend to address all the issues in a particular area of Christian belief, they will cover some of the basics which every Jesus-follower should affirm and put into practice.
We’ve discussed the issue of FAITH, not referring to our confidence in God but to the content of truth which God has revealed. Heresies are alive and well in our world and we desperately need to know the doctrines, the truths, which God’s Word spells out for us.
We continue our study with . . . FIVE TRUTHS YOU NEED TO BELIEVE ABOUT . . . GOD! What do we need to believe about God?
Five truths about GOD:
1. The EXISTENCE of GOD: The book of Hebrews clearly states, 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Heb. 11).
C.S. Lewis famously said, “God has more to do than simply exist!” The evidences for God (cosmological, ontological, teleological, moral, Christological, etc.) are strong, the greatest being that God has actually walked the face of His planet in Jesus!
2. The WORKS of God: God’s work of creation (Genesis 1, Acts 17) as well as His providential care of His world (Psalm 19, Acts 17) display His glory. The work of salvation (planned by the Father, accomplished by the Son, applied by the Spirit) shows the love of God for His world.
3. The PERSON of God: The doctrine, the concept of the Trinity is clear in Scripture, although the term “trinity” isn’t used in the Bible. And the Bible is filled with references to God’s character or attributes (His mercy, holiness, love, justice, wrath, etc.).
4. The GLORY of God: We were created to bring God glory. Here’s a great quote for the late J.I. Packer on why we should bring God glory:
5. The KNOWABILITY of God: Packer’s best known for his classic book Knowing God. The bottom line is we can know God! I love John Piper’s book God Is the Gospel. He says when you believed the gospel, you got God! One definition of knowing God, Jeremiah says, is to defend the cause of the poor and needy (Jer. 22:16). We are to choose to know Christ (Phil. 3:10), to advance in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:10). We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pe. 3:18). And we can know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands (I Jn. 2:3). We should be marked by a quest to “know Him who is true” (I Jn. 5:20). Peter tells us that “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Pe. 1:3). We are to be confident in Christ, especially when we are suffering “because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.”
TODAY’S HOMEWORK: Imagine that you have five hours to study the Person of God. Where would you start? What passages would you pour over? And why? What do you hope to gain by such a study?
Five Truths about . . . FAITH:
Everyone, to some extent, lives by faith. I read somewhere that a question was sent in to a newspaper answer-man: “How does an elevator work?” The answer-man responded, “An elevator is essentially a small room dangling over a very deep shaft, held up by thin cables that are maintained by building employees who have tremendous trouble just keeping all the toilets working.”
We blithely eat the sandwich prepared for us at Subway without asking about the artisan’s background or hygiene. We (usually not men) ask total strangers for directions when we’re lost. We trust our political leaders — sometimes. Everyone “walks by faith” in some sense.
Faith can refer to one’s belief and confidence in how one looks at life. Or faith can refer to the content of truth which God has revealed to us. It is this latter definition that we want to closely examine.
“The FAITH” is used in the Bible to refer to the truths that God has disclosed to us about Himself, His world, and our need of a Savior. And we are to defend that faith vigorously (Jude 3).
Five Issues about FAITH:
1. The SOURCE of our FAITH: Where do we get our beliefs? Some cite their own reason or their experience for what they believe. Others will say they believe what some church authority tells them to believe. But the CHRISTIAN FAITH is derived from God’s supernatural revelation to us in the 66 books of the Bible.
2. The STUDY of our FAITH: We are to study the truths — the doctrines — of the Christian faith as revealed in the 66 books of the Bible. If we want to study, for example, the glory of God and we begin at Genesis and work our way all the way through the book of Revelation, that is an approach called “biblical theology.” If we collect all the Scriptures about the glory of God and put them into logical categories, that is an approach called “systematic theology.” Both study methods are useful and focus upon the data of God’s Word.
3. The CHALLENGES to our FAITH: We must ask, “whatever happened to heresy?” The term “heresy” literally means “a choice.” Jehovah’s Witnesses are heretics because they choose to deny the deity of Christ (as well as other doctrines). We must be aware of false teaching in our time and culture in order to refute it and present God’s truth. [I’ve touched on the issue of reading “boiling books” here].
4. The IMPLICATIONS of our FAITH: The Christian “faith” (the content of truth that God has revealed to us) has been given to mature us, to make us more like Christ. Knowing the truths of God is not enough. They must transform us. Our priorities, worldview, daily choices, affections must be challenged and formed by the biblical beliefs we affirm.
5. The SHARING of our FAITH: We are not to keep our FAITH to ourselves. We are under the great commission mandate to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt. 28).
TODAY’S HOMEWORK: Ask someone who is a friend what they understand by the word “faith.” When asked, explain to them the idea that one’s “faith” is one’s worldview, how one looks at reality. Feel free to write out a comment below!
The study found that most theological ideas held by American Christians are just cutesy sayings they saw on a bumper sticker one time. Researchers believe rather than reading books, listening to good sermons, and seeing what the Bible has to say, most believers now just read bumper stickers, nod, and say, “Yeah, that sounds pretty good.”
“Whatever simplistic platitudes they happen to see on bumper stickers, Christian coffee mugs, and inspirational posters make up pretty much the entire American Christian theological diet,” study lead Jim Gardner said further stating that many Christians felt “good or very good” about their theology diet after reading a bumper sticker or two every day. “Yeah, Christians don’t study theology anymore. They read a bumper sticker and immediately believe it as gospel truth.”
Favorite doctrines of American Christians included the following:
Cleanliness is next to godliness
If it ain’t King James, it ain’t Bible
Jesus saves – everyone else rolls for damage
Love the casserole, hate the calories
God helps those who help themselves
God won’t give you more than you can handle
When God locks you in the trunk, he at least gives you a snorkel
Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship
God answers knee-mail
Hipster Jesus loved you before you were cool
Son-screen prevents sin-burn
At publishing time, LifeWay study representatives had confirmed that “Don’t drive faster than your guardian angel can fly” was voted the favorite Bible verse of American Christians.