Protestant Iconography

Growing up as I did in a mixture of contemporary Independent/Southern Baptist churches and attending a private Christian school run by a Fundamentalist Baptist church, I did not have much encounter with the more sophisticated arguments from our Eastern Orthodox and even Roman Catholic friends regarding the use of icons in worship.  I just knew from what I had been told that obviously they were at best confused, or at worst, intentionally worshipping graven images rather than the one True God, possibly also sacrificing cats to them in secret.

Coming back to the issue years later, I still have some serious (though much better informed) reservations regarding the issues of icons, especially related to veneration of saints, etc., though I am a little more charitable towards those who do such than my upbringing may have been.  But I look around at things happening in the contemporary church, and I wonder whether or not many Protestant churches have moved into a de facto system of iconography, even if they haven’t embraced a doctrinal one.

Some possible examples:

-The use of banners in worship, many of which contain images.

-Powerpoint during worship songs, especially those that contained pictorial or artistic representations of Jesus.

 

What do you think?  Is this a form of iconography?  Is it helpful?  Merely distracting?  I’d love some feedback on this!

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Thoughts (Brief) on Attending My First State Convention

I had the chance this week to attend (as a messenger, no less!) my first ever SBC state convention the past few days, specifically the Missouri Baptist Convention.  I know it has another half day to go, but I can’t make it Wednesday so here are a few brief reflections I had in my day and a half.

1.  Lots of Singing.  There were some good ones too.  But a lot!

2. Stuff happens fast.  There’s little delay for motion discussions, etc.  It’s pretty amazing how much discussion actually does get in during the business sessions, but you have to be on the ball or that thing you wanted to talk about is already voted on and long past.

3. I actually knew some people there!  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.

4. I tend to be more “litigious” than I think.  I sort of get a strange kick out of parliamentary procedure and motions, etc.

5. Like most large organization meetings, much of what goes on amounts to “rubber-stamping” the work of smaller groups and committees, unless the issue is one that is more controversial.

6. Enjoyed convention sermon by Pastor and blogger Micah Fries from St. Joseph.  It’s good to see that you’re not the only one who remembers things from studying Philippians for 2 semesters in Intermediate Greek at MBTS.

7. Newly re-elected MBC President Bruce McCoy does his part to combat the spread of diseases.  He put my comparatively shorter hand-washing time to shame in the men’s bathroom.  So good for him!

8. Apparently my uncle was there also, and our paths didn’t cross.

That’s all for now.

Top 5 for All Saints Day

In honor of “All Saints Day” being Saturday and because I am too busy this week to actually write anything, I am asking folks to submit their top 5 Christians who have impacted their lives in some way.  They can be living or dead.  Rules:

1-No Biblical People!  Maybe we’ll save that for a future one!

2-No slamming other people’s choices!

3- Only 5!!  No “ties” where you really include extra picks.  That’s cheating.

Alright.  Post ’em up.  I’ll add mine sometime later today if I get around to it!

Inerrancy Should Lead to Real Conversation with God…

I recently starting adding some Tim Keller into my podcast/sermon listening mix since he finally starting showing some real Christian love and putting sermons online for free!  Plus, I think he kind of sounds like Jeff Goldblum and I loved both the Jurassic Park movies and Independence Day growing up.

Last night in a sermon called “Bible: End or Means”, Keller gave a very interesting argument for the importance of scriptural inerrancy for those seeking genuine conversation with God.  You really should listen to it because Keller says it better than I will (it’s free!!!), but here’s a brief summary.

1. Many would say that holding to dogmatic inerrancy limits one to a book in their seeking of God.  One cannot have authentic conversation with God under such constraints.

2. Keller gives an analogy from the original Star Trek series involving a man who created a planet of female robots to serve him and pointed out the obvious relational/conversational shortcomings of such a situation.

3. Ironically, those who don’t hold to inerrancy, who pick and choose which parts of the Bible are acceptable to them (for whatever reasons), cannot have real conversation with God (despite their claims of just that).  Instead, they are creating a robot of “God” that can be switched off whenever he contradicts them.  Instead of having a genuine relationship with someone who might correct, argue, disagree, require things of them, etc., their desire to edit Scripture effectively forces the conversation into a one-sideness.

4. Those who do believe what Scripture says about itself (inerrancy), however, are able to interact with the conversation.  While some certainly might claim a belief in inerrancy and yet run roughshod over the text (Keller addresses that later), those who hold to the belief that the Bible is true are able to encounter God in it in authentic conversation.  Rather than merely reinforcing their held beliefs, they submit themselves to the Word and encounter a real Person, who does not cave in easily and who argues (fiercely at times) for a proper understanding of Himself.  That is real conversation.

G.R.A.C.E Acronyms

I saw an hilarious post this morning over at the “Evangel” blog expanding the common G.R.A.C.E. (God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense) to cover various “tribes” of the Christian world.  Excellent.

http://firstthings.com/blogs/evangel/2009/10/g-r-a-c-e/

Christus Victor and Penal Substitution

I’ve been working on the 4th lesson of our Wednesday night study of the atonement in youth group.  The series is called “The day God died…”  So far, we’ve looked at propitiation, reconciliation, peace (corporate), and this week we are looking at victory.

I find it so hard to believe that many who push the “Christus Victor” model of the atonement flat out deny the validity of penal substitution.   My main text I’ve been looking at has been Colossians 2:13-16.  Here, Paul’s argument is not just that Christ disarmed the powers by “letting evil get its best shot in” on the cross and exposing it as fraudulent.  His argument is that our legal debt from our trespasses was wiped out on the cross.  Only then, are the rulers and authorities disarmed and disgraced.  The lesson to be taken away is not that Christ’s subversive act of submission to death merely puts a stink-eye on improper uses of power.  Rather, Christ freed us from the death sentence we were due by taking it upon himself in our place.  Now, as Paul says in Romans 8, there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.  The accuser of the brethren is thrown down because he no longer has grounds for accusations.  “The just indictment (my translation of “righteous requirement” based on its use in Romans 1:32) of the law is met in us who walk not according to the flesh but to the Spirit.”  Who can bring any charge against God’s chosen ones?”

The victory of Christ over the forces of evil, including Satan and demons, is found not apart from propitiation and the satisfaction of legal demands, but precisely in those things.

Reading Spurgeon’s “Lectures to My Students” Part 16

Chapter 16 is titled “The Need of Decision for the Truth.”  (As always, my thoughts, though increasingly rare, will be in italics.)

Spurgeon spends a portion of the chapter covering what for him constitute the “Fundamentals” or essentials of Christian truth.  I have provided them in list format:

1. God (monotheism).

2. Inspiration of Scripture

3. Trinity

4. Atonement (very high on the list, yet always one of the first things jettisoned by “progressive thinking”)

5. Holy Spirit

6. Regeneration

7. Sin and Judgment

8. “by Grace…”

9.  “…through Faith…”

On defending the truth kindly…

“Don’t go about the world with your fist doubled up for fighting, carrying a theological revolver in the leg of your trousers.  There is no sense in being a sort of doctrinal game-cock, to be carried about to show your spirit, or a terrier of orthodoxy, ready to tackle heterodox rats by the score.”

“There are theologians of such warm, generous blood, that they are never at peace till they are fully engaged in war.”

On confidence in the truth…

“Luther was the man for decision.  Nobody doubted that he believed what he spoke.  He spoke with thunder, for there was lightning in his faith.  The man preached all over, for his entire nature believed.’

On backing up speech with deeds…

“A man’s life is always more forcible than his speech; when men take stock of him they reckon his deeds as pounds and his words as pence.”

On not loving money in ministry…

“How strange it would be to hear a man say, “I am a servant of the Most High God, and I will go wherever I can get the most salary.  I am called to labour for the glory of Jesus only, and I will go nowhere unless the church is of most respectable standing.  For me to live is Christ, but I cannot do it under fiver hundred pounds per annum.”

On election…

“I believe the doctrine of election, because I am quite sure that if God had not chosen me I should never had chosen him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterwards; and He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love.”

On suffering as preparation for ministry…

“If you have ever been dragged through the mire and clay of soul-despair, if you have been turned upside down, and wiped out like a dish as to all your own strength and pride, and have then been filled with the joy and peace of God, through Jesus Christ, I will trust you among fifty thousand infidels.”

On “modern” skepticism…

The doubters now are usually doubters because they do not care about truth at all . They are indifferent altogether.  Modern skepticism is playing and toying with truth; and it takes to “modern thought” as an amusement, as ladies take to croquet or archery.”