Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Systematics still matter 

Here's a good demonstration of why systematic theology matters.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Attracted to or Repelled by God 

The faith of the believer is like two magnets that stick to each other. The magnet may be weak, but its natural state will be to be drawn to the other. Depending on the strength of the magnet, it may perhaps be pushed off the other with force, but it will always return to its natural attraction. A heavy object may be pushed off the ground, but it can only be maintained by force; if you remove the force, the object will return to its position of rest on the ground. So the mind of the believer will always be fixed on God. We may be pushed away from God for a time, pressed by trials and difficulties, weighed down with sorrows, distracted or tempted by luxuries and lusts. But true faith will always return to its natural state, which is to be fixed on God. The Holy Spirit is the bond that ties the believer to God, and no distance can overcome the strength of that bond.

On the other hand, magnets which are turned so that the same polarizations are facing each other (plus to plus, minus to minus) repel each other. As a child I enjoyed pushing magnets against each other when aligned this way, and then when I let them go watching them jump off each other. So too may the reprobate be drawn to God temporarily. He may by force of emotions or events be pushed to think of God, terrified of death, desirous of some earthly advantage, tempted by the attraction of eternal bliss. But this is not his natural state. When the external force is removed, the unbeliever is pushed by his natural revulsion toward God back to his normal state, in alienation and enmity toward God, ruled by the darkness of his mind.

In sum, the unbeliever is naturally repelled by God, though he may by an outside force for a time be pushed toward Him. The believer is naturally fixed on God, though he may by an outside force for a time be pushed away.


Monday, August 08, 2011

Rendering the Disease Incurable 

Discussing Pelagius' denial of original sin, John Calvin says, "Through this subtlety Satan attempted to cover up the disease and thus to render it incurable."

How true! It often feels more compassionate to downplay the seriousness of sin, to call it something other than what it is, a disease or a weakness or a disability. But Calvin here nails it. All such attempts are not compassionate, but the opposite. Sin is a wicked rebellion against our creator. Calling it anything else is not a kindness, but rather a cruelty, as it "renders it incurable". Calvin calls it a disease here, but only as an analogy, and not to say that sin is a medical condition which requires scientific treatments, as is so often proposed today. Calvin knew full well that there was only one cure for sin and for all that truly debilitates man, and he knew that the radical nature of the problem required an equally radical solution. Nothing but the blood of Jesus Christ will suffice.

Satan does not want you to be freed from sin. Satan wants you dead. One way he commonly achieves that result is to lull you to sleep, to calm your fears, to convince you that nothing is wrong with you, like a poisoner who tells you your stomach pain must just be indigestion which soon will pass. Therefore everyone ought to be thankful that God loves His creation enough to speak the harsh truth of our real condition, and to provide a remedy for it, in the blood of Christ and the power of the Spirit. Instead people say that orthodox Christianity is harsh and cruel, because that faith speaks the truth of man's real state without concern for our feelings. But is it love to refrain from telling a man that he is dying, in order to spare his feelings?

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