Posts Tagged ‘Parchment and Pen’

The Church & Israel — Figuring It Out

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

One of the major questions in end-times theology is, was the Church fully included in Israel?  In other words:

  • In what sense were Gentile believers grafted into the children of Abraham?
  • Did the Church replace Israel?
  • Does ethnic Israel have any distinct role in the future?
  • Do all of the covenants and promises of God to Israel now apply to the Church?

And there are some related questions.  (They’re distinct questions, but they tend to be asked at the same time.)

  • Were Old Testament believers saved in the same way that New Testament believers were saved?
  • What is “the kingdom of God”?
  • Will  there be a 1000-year period on Earth before the final end of the world, where Christ reigns from Jerusalem?
  • Will the Church experience the final Tribulation, or will we be taken to heaven beforehand? (i.e., Is there a pre-Tribulation Rapture?  Will there be two Second Comings–one to retrieve the Church, and then again at the end?) (more…)

Why He’s Not Charismatic

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Michael Patton over at Parchment and Pen has been doing a series called, “Why I Am Not Charismatic”. He seems to be roughly in the “open but cautious” area. His thoughts–along with the comment sections–have been well worth the reading time, for anyone trying to think through & understand the subject. (It’s still in-progress, BTW.)

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3 – Prophecy and Healings
Part 4 – Excursus

If you’ve really got a lot of time, I would also recommend the series that Frank Turk (of the Pyromaniacs) wrote this fall. It began with a discussion of John Piper’s response to the Lakeland Revival, and went on from there. Compared to the P&P series, you’ll find that the tone of the discussion there will be a harder line against charismatics. If you’re charismatic, then you’ll probably end up being annoyed or offended at some of the comments. But there’s definitely some thoughtful material there. (Note: He never finished the last post.)

As a taste, here’s some of what he said in his second post:

I want to start with something I said in the meta a while ago which, I think, people need to keep in mind as we approach the question of how the Holy Spirit works in the church.

My opinion is that a “cautious” continualist and a “cautious” cessationist have way more in common that they have in contention. They agree that prayer is efficacious; they agree that God is the giver of all good things; they agree that the Christian has a privilege to ask God for his needs; they agree that we should rejoice when God supplies those needs.

The problem is when someone claims more than that, or less than that. I would say that those who fall outside of those affirmations put themselves in spiritual danger — a topic about which I am sure I have more I should write down.

Prophecy and Signs and Wonders
Not more, nor less
Signs and Wonders
The Wily Continualist
It never ends

Note: In both of these series, you’ll find the occasional comment from a debonair, clever, insightful individual whom I admire greatly for his humility and grace. 😀

Criticism — Constructive, Destructive, Gentle, & Stinging

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Michael Patton is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary with a ministry called Reclaiming the Mind.  He’s got a lot of good resources–the Parchment & Pen blog, the Theology Program, Theology Unplugged Radio, and Converse with Scholars.  There’s a wealth of audio, video, & written material, all freely available.

He has a very irenic style.  I appreciate it.  I’ve learned.  But the danger for him is that he will be so irenic–so polite–so nice–so even-handed–that he will fail to rebuke well, or fail to press home the urgency of believing rightly, or fail to press home the danger of error.

He recently posted Criticism from a Reader, which contains a well-articulated, gracious criticism from a reader along those lines.  It–and the comments–are worth reading.

Some observations:

1.) Irenic, gracious speech is very important.

We’re supposed to speak the truth in love–our words should be gracious, seasoned with salt.  Our criticism of brothers should be helpful, loving, and hopeful.

2.) Charity police can be some of the least charitable people in the world.

If you read many blogs on the internet, you will find people who speak very uncharitably–they’re constantly unnecessarily harsh in tone and unreasonable in how they interpret others.  You will also find people who are obsessed with accusing others of being uncharitable.  You can call them charity police.  And those guys can be some of the least charitable people around–accusing others of uncharity at the drop of a hat or the slightest hint of language that isn’t excessively polite.  Majorly unreasonable & oversensitive.

We should be gracious with each other in addressing their mistakes–including mistakes of style.  And we shouldn’t be too quick to assume the worst.  But we must be discerning & watchful.  We must correct each other.  Just be careful in how you do it, and how you interpret people.

3.) There’s a place for hard words.

Hard words are sometimes necessary & right.  The Bible is full of examples.

I have found that very confusing.  I’ve had difficulty reconciling gentleness and harshness.  I haven’t known what to do with it.

4.) Doing both well is very difficult.

Myself, when I err, I usually err on the side of being too polite/nice.  Others usually err on the side of being too harsh.

Mark Driscoll recently spoke on the subject at the Desiring God national conference.  Give it a listen.  It’s worth thinking about.  (And, BTW, Driscoll himself doesn’t claim to do perfectly on this, in his practice.  But his teaching about it is sound.)

Part of the task is to know when to speak in what ways.  Driscoll says to feed the sheep.  Rebuke the swine.  Shoot the wolves.  Bark at the dogs.

For the full explanation with a definition of those groups, check out the message.  (I’ve listened twice.  It’s good, convicting, humbling, funny, tender, and hard.)

How Sharp the Edge? Christ, Controversy, and Cutting Words by Mark Driscoll

5.) The wounds of a friend are faithful.

Prov. 27:6

Driscoll’s thoughts on “the wounds of a friend”:  A friend is someone who has love for you, and hope for you.  And who prays for you more than they criticize you.

When you criticize a brother, seek to do it as a brother.  As a friend.

6.) Aim for more pervasive & consistent humility, grace, and love.

The reason I mentioned “charity police” is that a couple of them showed up in the comments at Michael Patton’s blog.  Or… Well, that was the way I labeled it.  That was the way I categorized them.

To pile irony upon irony, I was in danger of uncharitably dismissing them, instead of correcting as a brother.

Isn’t that interesting?  It is so easy for us to fall into the mistakes that we’re criticizing.  We need to keep praying for God’s heart-transforming grace

On Our Hope in Suffering

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen has posted an email from one of his readers, who is struggling with the question of suffering, and whether God is there.  My comment ended up being too long to post, so I’m posting it here.



First, I would encourage anyone struggling with suffering  anyone who may struggle with suffering anyone to listen to D.A. Carson’s two sermons On Evil and Suffering (pt 1, pt 2). (I just found online notes on both the first and the second sermons.) I think his insights are very helpful for learning to think “Christianly” about suffering–in the way that sustains you in very hard times.  (Note: One point he makes is that it’s important to think about these things before we encounter suffering–it’s much harder to process these things when you’re in the midst of it.)

Second, you (the writer of the email) said:

I found it ironic that your biography page on the Parchment and Pen blog lists “A Mighty Fortress” as, apparently, a song that you like. I’ve reached the point where I just can’t sing that song, because it feels so false. I used to think that God would essentially protect his children from any major suffering, but I now realize that that is not true.

I agree; it is not true that God will protect his children from any major suffering. If you have been taught to expect that God would, that’s not good.  I don’t think that is what God has promised us.


A Discussion on “orthodoxy” (little o)

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

I spent some time commenting in another Parchment & Pen entry, “An Emerging Understanding of Orthodoxy“. Michael Patton showed some interesting diagrams to illustrate both progressive revelation, and progressive understanding. The latter has to do with development of doctrine–as time has progressed, the way that Christians articulate doctrine has also changed. How do we take that? Does it mean that truth is changing? Does it mean that the earlier Christians got it wrong and we have to correct them? Eastern Orthodox deny that doctrine can develop; does it mean that we’re wrong, because we disagree with Tradition? How do we balance the need for reform and discovery with respect for those who have gone before? How do we ensure that we provide a place for Christians to ask questions in a healthy, cautious manner?

The post is good, and there’s some good discussion in the combox. Patton discusses the issue in terms of doctrine going through a process of “maturing”. In the early church we may find immature doctrine, still going through the process of significant refinement in the way it was articulated. And as time progresses, and our doctrine has “matured”, it has also stabilized–it’s not going to change significantly, even as we continue to learn and refine and mature.

I’ll try to summarize some of my contributions in a numbered list. First, a little more introduction: (more…)

A New Series on Eastern Orthodoxy

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

I want to point you all to a new series on Eastern Orthodoxy over at Parchment and Pen. (I’ve posted some comments, asking questions about his statements on the canon of Scripture.)  Dr. Bradley Nassif, who contributed to the book Three Views on Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism, describes the content of the first three posts:

it is my conviction that there was and is a continuous and consistent tradition of apostolic faith passed down through the centuries, and that the Orthodox Church most faithfully embodies it – at least on a formal level. I’d like to share just two examples that illustrate how the Orthodox Church has maintained its unbroken succession with Christian antiquity, and reveal why it is particular attractive to an increasing number of Christians. Today I’ll speak of Scripture; next blog, I focus on the role of history. The third blog to come, however, will put the Orthodox Church under the microscope of an evangelical critique.

I’m looking forward to the third blog. I’ll be quite interested to see how he articulates the issues, and responds to them.

The posts so far are:
Upcoming Posts on Eastern Orthodoxy [note: this link is expired; the post disappeared] (by Michael Patton)
Why Eastern Orthodoxy? Part 1: Introduction (by Dr. Nassif)

The comment section of Dr. Nassif’s first post has the questions I asked him about the canon. (As before, I used the name Jugulum.) It’s an interesting subject–I think it’s one of the hardest for Christians to wrestle with, and it may be the most neglected subject in evangelical teaching in general. (Update: To clarify, I actually asked him some probing questions, rather than simply questions for information.  I asked him a bit about his view, how he handles the OT canon, and whether he’s be consistent in the claims he makes about the Orthodox Church and the NT canon.)

Update: Here are the rest of the posts from the series, now that it’s complete.

Why Eastern Orthodoxy? Part 2: History
Why Eastern Orthodoxy? Part 3: A Gospel Critique of Eastern Orthodoxy