Thursday, January 21, 2010

SIN (chapter 24 in Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology)

Much of Wayne Grudem's treatment of this topic of sin in chapter twenty-four is legal in nature. In his prayer at the end of Grudem's 2nd and 3rd audio lecture on sin, he confesses that the gravity or consequences was not impressed upon the class as it should those particular days as they should've been. Some space in the text is given to the evilness or perversion or illogicalness of sin. But because Systematic Theology itself is not like a devotional, one cannot expect spiritual exhortation from it. So it may be more understandable to expect legal depictions of sin rather than reasons for sin's emotional weight upon a man. The definition Grudem gives to sin is "Any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude, or nature." He says any definition that does not include God as the central reason for why sin is so evil does not fully explain sin--right on the money.

On page 495, the author appeals to the doctrine of Imputation to explain Paul's claim in Romans 5 that through or because of Adam's sin, all men were declared guilty. And Grudem is further right to say that if we do away with Adam's imputed sinful nature and say that it cannot be, we must be consistent and say that Christ's imputed righteousness and work on the cross is not ours either. Romans 5 argues both as acts of imputation.

One critique I would like to put forth though, (and I do this hesitantly because Pride is personally my greatest thorn) the cross is not central in this chapter. I don't think Wayne Grudem blows it, because I think he put a lot of time and thought and prayer into this chapter. And it would be sinful to think that somehow he rebelled against God by not putting a large enough emphasis on the weight of sin. Along comes a man like NT Wright and says things like, Martin Luther read his own guilt of sin into the New Testament Text and thats why we have an overblown need for the doctrine of justification. Alarms should be going off. We must be justified because sin is real and God does not take it lightly. The cross is proof of that.

It is in the cross that we are given the greatest legal measurement of sin. It is in the cross that we come face to face with who we are and we meet the Savior of what we have become. We can appraise the price of our sin by what the son of God had to do to propitiate the wrath of God the father. This was no little act. The whole biblical narrative climaxes on this one act. And our sins which we have done, the sin of Adam which we inherit, the sins which we will commit, are dealt with here at the cross. Without an impression of how great our sin is--without a fear of the wrath of a just God, we will be swayed by the words of a man like NT Wright.

Though Grudem does not appeal to the cross in his introduction, he does give a great commentary on the Fall in Garden of Eden, as well as a delicate analysis of the origin of evil. Both are helpful in our formulation of the nature and reason for the imputation of Adam's sin. Later in the chapter, the author discusses babies who die before being born, degrees of sin, Christians who sin and "unconverted Evangelicals", and God's righteousness shown in His punishment of sin.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Let the Nations Be Glad

John Piper spoke on cultivating missions-minded people in our local bodies. He explained Paul's refusal to build on another's foundation. Paul had a restless approach to ministry--always looking for places where he was not welcome. Then Piper said something very interesting. "If someone is inviting you, it's not a mission field." Wow.

Advance 09
Let the Nations be Glad, Part 1
John Piper

Sunday, November 8, 2009

We, the Image of God

Grudem, Wayne, "Chapter 21: The Creation of Man." Systematic Theology: An Introduction to
Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000. 439-53.

I had the pleasure reading this chapter during an overnight shift at my valet stand. Reading aspects of the imago Dei (image of God) is so much more interesting when it is interrupted by old men and their prostitutes needing their cars brought around. I was very close to just giving a gospel presentation to one lady once she was away from your older counterpart. I wasn't sure whether she was a prostitute or just a gold digger. It was a sad sight. His car was nice and she was pretty, but you can't help but see the meaninglessness of it all.

Brent Ward's post tonight at Parakaleo was right on track with being conformed into Christ-likeness. Grudem, perhaps isn't so violent with his application of this doctrine of image bearing. Grudem begins by explaining what "in the image of" means. He points to Genesis 5 when Seth was born to Adam and Eve "in his [Adam's] own likeness." Seth was not a carbon copy of Adam, but he, like many sons today, was like his father in great many ways--perhaps in looks and character. We know that Genesis 4-6 chronicles the lines of Seth, Cain and their eventual intermarriage. So we may speculate that Seth indeed was like Adam in his "godliness"--in his "Christ-likeness." So when Genesis says that Adam was made in the image and likeness of God a few chapters earlier, it says that we are not God, but we are like him in a few ways.

Now these ways in which we are like God are not perfect to the nth degree like they are in God. Try to think of how God is Righteous or how He figuratively embodies Justice. Men may be appointed as judges of other men, but their rulings are imperfect when compared to divine justice. God sees all. We were created with eyes to see the physical world God created, but we do not see to the extent, depth, or clarity that God sees. For more words on this, read Grudem's 12th and 13th chapter on God's Communicable Attributes.

Christ is different than us. Colossians 1:15 says, "He is the image of the invisible God..." 2:2 says, "...attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself..." To understand Christ or to conform to the image of Christ is see God's mystery. And one of my favorites, 2:9 says, "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form..." Jesus says, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father." Unlike us, Christ is more than just like God in a few ways. He actually is God.

Remember the Israelites and their neighbors and their fascination with images of local deities. There's got to be more there. Perhaps a realization and try at regaining that which man lost at the fall. I don't know.

So we, like Seth, are in the image of Adam, who in turn was made in the image of God. We are made in the image of God. Genesis 9:6 says "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man." This is where God after the flood gives man the command to carry out the death penalty. But here also we witness God's appraisal of all mankind. All of mankind is some way, unknown to us, made in the image of God. This confuses me. But the ethics of Christianity hinge on this. God still places worth on the life of an unredeemed man, so we must in turn. We must protect and fight for the life of God's enemies. We must deal justice on behalf of a wronged unredeemed man. I'm still not sure why, but God said so in Genesis 9:6 and that settles it for me.

Now on conforming to Christ-likeness... or as others have put it: regaining our image bearing status. The Resurrection, more than other doctrines, gets me excited and lifts my spirits. It is the point when we will be perfected. The image will be regained. We will be without sin. The Unhealthy will be healthy. Our senses which are like God's will be better. We will see and hear what God is doing and saying as we presently miss so often. We will experience the beauty of God's creation in a way we do not now. But we will then.

In the present, we conform that which God allows us to conform. We stop sinning. We repent and begin the journey towards that day when God will finish His work on us. It is okay to be excited for that day. The Bible wouldn't wet your appetite with, "And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.' And He who sits on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.'" [Revelation 21:3-5a]

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tim Keller interviewed

White Horse Inn interviewed Tim Keller two days ago. Tim Keller is pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan, NY. He discusses his book, "The Reason For God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism" which is back on the NY Times best seller lists since it went to paperback 6 weeks ago. Some find Keller too pragmatic in his evangelism. I do find him helpful in understanding law/grace. And Tim Keller holds a special place in my heart because growing up, my youth pastor shared the same first and last names. Its kind of creepy. This program is 35 minutes in length.