Nathan A. Finn

Historian, Theologian, Teacher, Preacher

Theology Archive

Thursday

20

February 2014

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COMMENTS

Recommended Reading: Three New Posts

Written by , Posted in History, Spirituality, Theology

I have been blessed to have blog posts published at three different websites in the past couple of days. Yesterday, I posted my weekly contribution for Between the Times. The post, titled “Sanctification is a Community Project,” is a substantially revised version of a post I originally published on my personal blog. I discuss the role that the church has played in my own spiritual growth and touch upon the corporate nature of sanctification.

I periodically contribute to Historia Ecclesiastica, the blog of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. I serve as a fellow for the Fuller Center. For the past few months, I’ve been fairly negligent in my blog contributions. However, yesterday I published a post titled “Answering My Great Question about ‘The Great Question Answered.’” If you are interested in the nature of historical research–all sixteen of you–then you ought to check it out. I share my story of sleuthing the origins of a famous gospel tract written by Andrew Fuller in 1803.

Finally, I am delighted to announce that I am now contributing to Facts and Trends, a quarterly journal and companion website for Christian leaders that has been published by LifeWay Christian Resources for nearly sixty years. I will mostly be writing for their website on lessons that contemporary Christians can learn from church history. My first contribution was published today: “Prayer and Revival: Yesterday and Today.” In the post, I discuss the role that prayer played in the Teschen Revival of 1708 and the Businessman’s Revival of 1857.

Friday

14

February 2014

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COMMENTS

Coming to Christ is a Lifelong Pursuit

Written by , Posted in History, Spirituality, Theology

A Puritan TheologyFrom the chapter “The Puritans on Living in Christ,” in A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones:

Coming to Christ is not a once-in-a-lifetime decision. Nor is it a momentary act of the will that has no implications for the present and future. Rather, as Thomas Boston (1676-1732) reminded us, coming to Christ is our first and last step toward Christ. Boston wrote that by our union and communion with Christ, the believer “launches forth in an ocean of happiness, is led into a paradise of pleasures, and has a saving interest in the treasure hidden in the field of the Gospel, the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Therefore, the saints must strive constantly to draw “fresh supplies of grace from the fountain” of Christ by faith.  We must come to the Christ, not just once, for justification from the guilt of sin, but every day of our lives, for ongoing sanctification. Christ is not just the door; He is also the way to heaven; indeed, He is the glory of heaven itself.

Many people put trust in their initial coming to Christ, saying, “I came to Christ when I was a child. Why do I need to come again?” Jesus is not concerned whether your initial coming to Him was twenty years ago or last week. He is concerned whether you are still coming to Him now. We are to come to Him daily by faith to grow in Christlikeness, to cultivate holiness, and to live in and with Him. Every moment we are to seek Christ’s glory. Coming to Christ is a lifelong pursuit.

From Joel Beeke and Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Reformation Heritage, 2012), p. 525. The quotes from Thomas Boston in the first paragraph are taken from his work Human Nature in its Fourfold State (1720).

Thursday

13

February 2014

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COMMENTS

Noteworthy Links: Early Baptists and Anabaptists

Written by , Posted in Books, History, Theology

Anabaptists and Contemporary BaptistsMy friend Steve Weaver has written a helpful post titled “Are We Entering  Golden Age of 17th-Century Baptist Literature?” He mentions eight new or forthcoming works, including both scholarly monographs and popular reprints with semi-scholarly introductions. Publishers include Mercer University Press, Regents Park College Publications, Pickwick, Borderstone and Reformed Baptist Academic Press. Some of the works are related to Particular Baptists, while two are monographs on the General Baptist messenger/theologian Thomas Grantham. (Grantham is my all-time favorite Arminian-ish Baptist.) My own expertise is in Baptist Studies in the 18th and 20th centuries, so I’m very interested in learning from these new publications. Thanks to Steve for pointing them out.

Scot McKnight has an interesting post on Anabaptist identity as envisioned by the influential 20th-century scholar Harold Bender. McKnight interacts with Bender’s vision of Anabaptism while also referencing the thought of other scholars who demur from the Bender thesis. This is a good, short introduction to the interpretation of Anabaptism that has influenced many Baptist scholars (both conservative and moderate) who hold to an “Anabaptist-kinship” view of Baptist origins and/or an Anabaptist-friendly understanding of Baptist identity. If you are interested in reading a helpful volume written from this perspective, see the recent festschrift in honor of Paige Patterson, The Anabaptists and Contemporary Baptists (B&H Academic, 2013), edited by my friend Malcolm Yarnell.

If you are wondering about my own views about the possible relationship between some of the Anabaptists and the earliest English Baptists, I would point you to three  blog posts I’ve written for Between the Times:  ”Toward a Convergent View of Baptist Origins” (part one and part two) and “Why I Don’t Freak Out about the Anabaptists.” I would also recommend the first chapter of James Leo Garrett’s Baptist Theology: A Four Century Study (Mercer University Press, 2009) and the introduction to Baptist Roots: A Reader in the Theology of a Christian People (Judson Press, 1999), edited by Curtis Freeman, James Wm. McClendon and C. Rosalee Velloso Da Silva.

 

 

Friday

7

February 2014

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COMMENTS

Daniel Renstrom on Multi-Generational Worship

Written by , Posted in Ministry, Music, Theology

JWMHDaniel Renstrom is a good friend of mine and one my fellow elders at First Baptist Church of Durham. Daniel’s primary responsibility at FBCD is serving as our worship pastor. He is an experienced worship leader and Bible teacher who has ministered in a variety of contexts, including local churches, collegiate ministries and conferences. Daniel has also released a number of worship albums, most recently “Jesus Wants My Heart,” which is intended for family worship and teaching the gospel to children through music (pictured on the left). You can check out all of his albums on iTunes.

Today, Daniel has written a short essay for theTGC Worship blog at The Gospel Coalition. His post, titled “Multi-Generational Worship,” is a helpful discussion of what ought to unite congregations when they gather together for corporate worship. (Hint: it’s not music preferences.) I especially like the following illustration:

I don’t think anyone has ever gone into a country club and said in amazement, “How did all these people find each other…this is amazing!”  No one ever wonders what brings country-clubbers together.  It is obviously their wealth, their love for refined leisure and their desire to play golf or tennis.  So it’s actually not that amazing at all that they’re together.  I’m afraid you could walk into many of our churches and make similar observations. This is the old people church with the organ and hymnbook. This is the young people church where people wear skinny jeans and the music is loud. It’s just easier to divide that way.

It is indeed “just easier to divide that way,” and many churches have done just that. And I agree with Daniel that this sort of division is a scandal in the body of Christ that does not reflect the gospel we all profess to treasure. I hope you will read his entire post.

Monday

3

February 2014

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COMMENTS

How Scripture Functions When We Meditate on its Words

Written by , Posted in Books, Spirituality, Theology

Meditation and CommunionI am currently reading John Jefferson Davis’s recent book Meditation and Communion with God: Contemplating Scripture in an Age of Distraction. It is a creative combination of systematic theology, epistemology, psychology and spirituality.  In a chapter on how to read the Bible for meditation, Davis speaks to how Scripture functions when we meditate on its words.

We can recognize at least four functions or purposes of Scripture in the community of faith: the informative, the transformative, the imaginative and the unitive. The first two are widely recognized and not problematic; the latter two are not self-evident and require a bit of justification….

I would argue that believing meditation on the Scriptures, when illuminated by the Holy Spirit, can function in all four dimensions: informative, transformative, imaginative and unitive. By imaginative I mean the function of Scripture in opening up our minds to the reality of the unseen, heavenly age to come that is already arriving—a countercultural biblical consciousness (Rom 12:1–2) that gives us the cognitive resources to push back against the accommodating forces of worldliness. By unitive I mean the function of Scripture, by virtue of our union with Christ and the illuminating action of the Holy Spirit, to bring us into an awareness and actual experience of the enjoyable presence of Christ (cf. “I say these things … so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them [Jn 17:13]).

Especially for those of us who may be seminarians, pastors or other religious professionals, it is good to be reminded of the fact that Scripture was given not only for the purpose of providing information and instruction for ourselves and others—sermon outline and Bible studies—but also, and more finally, for bringing us into the enjoyment of communion with the Lord who loves us, and who is really present to us through the Scriptures.

From John Jefferson Davis, Meditation and Communion with God: Contemplating Scripture in an Age of Distraction (IVP Academic, 2013), pp. 105–106.