The Lord’s Supper Part 1

(Volume 25, Issue 2, April 2019) During the formative days of the Reformation, when Martin Luther and Huldrych Zwingli were at the height of their influence, they came together to discuss some of the theological differences that had surfaced between the various leaders of the movement.  As they sat down to hammer out these matters they would check off doctrine after doctrine in which they were in basic accord. The two men were in agreement concerning salvation by God’s grace through faith alone, that the Scriptures were the only authoritative revelation from God, and the issues of eternal life.  As a matter of fact, they could join hands over virtually all the essential beliefs – what have been termed the non-negotiables of the faith.  The discussion came down to one final issue that of the Lord’s Table.   Zwingli went first, laying out a very detailed formation of his understanding...

Social Justice: Modern Roots and Promoters

(Volume 25, Issue 1, February 2019/March 2019) As we attempt to evaluate the social justice movement, especially in light of the debates within evangelicalism surrounding the publication of The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, it would be helpful to trace its roots.  The emphasis on social justice that is now all but omnipresent within Christianity did not appear out of thin air; there are predecessors and forerunners who have paved the way for comingling of the biblical gospel with a social agenda producing a hybrid gospel and mission for the church.  In two earlier TOTT papers, “The Social Gospel” Parts 1&2, the development of the 19th century Social Gospel movement which led to theological liberalism was detailed. In those articles, it was documented that German rationalism, higher criticism, Enlightenment and Romanticist thought were interlaced and embraced by first European and later American Protestantism. When the dust had...

Social Justice

(Volume 24, Issue 6, December 2018/January 2019) Of the hot-button issues circulating right now, in both society and the church, nothing has drawn more interest and debate than social justice. In society at large much unrest and controversy is evident particularly in regards to three areas.  First, there are the interrelation concerns, expressed most clearly in the #MeToo movement, which is an effort directed at the alleviation of sexual harassment and assault, primarily targeting women. Next are the debates involving human sexuality, especially LGBTQ items.  Finally, matters of race and ethnicity have surged afresh in recent years.  As these concerns filter down to the church, to a certain extent the response of God’s people is clear. The Scriptures powerfully condemn all forms of immorality, sexual misconduct, and abuse.  Sadly, the church has not been totally spared the accusations of sexual misconduct, with a number of high profile leaders recently...

Redemptive-Historical Hermeneutics – Part 2

(Volume 24, Issue 5, October/November 2018) As stated in Part One of this series, redemptive-historical (RH), or Christocentric hermeneutics, is becoming increasingly popular, especially within Reformed and Covenantal theological circles. In short, RH is the idea that all of Scripture speaks of Christ.  This does not mean that Christ is found under every rock but that all Scripture concerns Christ. The Bible should be read through the lens of Jesus and Christ should be preached from every text.  Christ and His redemption plan, therefore, become the rubric through which all Scripture is to be interpreted and preached. In the previous paper I challenged these assertions, pointing out that once we accept this hermeneutical system the exegete no longer uncovers the meaning of the original authors (both human and Divine), but now imposes upon the text a forced meaning that is often not there and not intended.  To be sure,...

Redemptive-Historical Hermeneutics Part 1

(Volume 24, Issue 4, August/September 2018) Redemptive-historical hermeneutics (RH), sometimes called Christocentric hermeneutics, has gained a lot of traction in recent years, almost exclusively within Reformed circles. It is the interpretive system used by those embracing Liberate Sanctification and is important to understand in light of recent TOTT papers on that subject.  RH is also accepted by a broader spectrum of theologians, many of whom reject Liberate Theology, but to my knowledge virtually all would be adherents of Covenantal Theology.  It seems to have emerged, in its modern form, from Reformed churches in the Netherlands in the 1940s in an attempt to understand how the narrative and historical sections of the Old Testament should be understood and preached. It appears to be a reaction to those who viewed the stories and individuals within Scripture as merely examples to imitate or shun.  Instead the RH founders saw these narratives, and...

Sanctification Debates Part 3

(Volume 24, Issue 3, June/July 2018) In this concluding article on sanctification debates centered around what is often termed Liberate Theology (LT), and at other times the “grace model” or “monergistic” sanctification, the goal is to evaluate the basic teachings behind this model through the lens of Scripture. That is, are the teachings of LT consistent with NT Scriptures or do they present a view of sanctification that is out of balance?  Have the key leaders of the movement overreacted to perceived views of Christian growth found within evangelicalism leading to legalism and pietism?  Are the common theological views held by most evangelicals throughout the church age, which understand that spiritual maturity is made possible through the energy and power of the Holy Spirit, as the believer cooperates through use of means given by the Lord, application of truth and obedience to the directives found in the Scriptures, in...

Sanctification Debates Part 2

(Volume 24, Issue 2, April/May 2018) Liberate Theology (LT), as we saw in Part 1 of this series, is a method of sanctification which focuses on what its teachers call the indicatives of Scripture, rather than the imperatives. Indicatives are statements of fact, in this case facts related to Christ and the gospel. The Christian is to rest in the facts of the gospel, the finished work of Christ. “Done” is the key word. The imperatives are the commands and instructions found in Scripture, in this case, those related to issues of Christian growth and maturity. These are the “shoulds,” the commandments given to the believer found within inspired Revelation. Those who believe that the Scriptures indicate there are certain imperatives given to the saints, imperatives that are to be followed if the child of God is to mature in their faith, are often labeled by the LT crowd...

Sanctification Debates Part 1

(Volume 24, Issue 1, January-March 2018) Throughout church history the issue of sanctification, how Christians change, grow and mature, has been hotly debated.  Those who cling to the Reformed position on salvation, that is, salvation is a gift of God based completely on His grace (sola gratia), received entirely by faith in Christ alone (sola Christos), totally apart from our merits (sola fide) have not always agreed on how the saved, regenerated individual “work out salvation” (Phil 2:12).  Until recently most have concurred that spiritual growth, or fruitfulness, is an inevitable result of our new nature and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.  Certainly, such maturity was uneven and depended on many factors, but regeneration was sure to produce some evidence of spiritual change.  But today this commonly held belief has been challenged on two fronts.  Before we delve into these, a short review of other positions...

My Favorite Books Part V

(Volume 23, Issue 6, November/December 2017) Since I began writing book reviews a number of years ago, it seemed to some that the majority of these reviews dealt with books that were either errant or at best mixed in their biblical accuracy.  So in August 2004 I began listing, by category, the better books that I have reviewed to encourage the reading of quality Christian literature.  Approximately two years ago the fourth volume of “My Favorite Books” was published to which I would like to add another 30 books or so. In addition, for clarity sake I thought it might be helpful to pull all the lists together and mention the titles of books previously identified.  Hopefully our readers will recall that just because a book is cited as a favorite does not mean that it is without some problems. Complete reviews of each volume can be found on...

The New Apostolic Reformation An Examination of the Five-Fold Ministries Part 2

( Volume 23, Issue 5, September/October 2017) Having surveyed the foundation of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and some of its theological distinctives in the first part of this article, we will now press on to investigate its infiltration into wider evangelical circles. We will then put the teachings of NAR to the test of Scripture. Infiltration The influence of NAR has become broader, and therefore more dangerous, as many of its ideas are being accepted by traditionally non-charismatic churches and organizations.  This acceptance is due to a number of factors. Bethel, Hillsong and IHOP music has found enthusiastic reception in churches, youth ministries and among young adults throughout the evangelical spectrum. Many have no understanding of the teachings of NAR and no concept of what it is. Influential NAR teachers and books are making in-roads into evangelical circles. Due to rampant biblical illiteracy and general apathy toward Scripture and...