Apr

09

2014

Justin Taylor|9:12 pm CT

Where Did Christian Art Come From?

Screen shot 2014-04-07 at 10.53.55 PM

Robert Louis Wilken:

Before the early third century there is no evidence of Christian art. Some have argued that in the early years Christians were aniconic—opposed to religious pictures, hostile to artistic representation of biblical events and persons. But that view has been abandoned by scholars. Though there is no archaeological evidence of Christian art before the catacomb of Callixtus, from literary sources we know that by the end of the second century Christians had begun to find ways to give visible expression  to their beliefs. Clement, a Christian scholar in Alexandria, said that Christians purchased objects engraved with symbols.

Let our seals [for example, a precious stone with a designed engraved on it] be a dove or a fish or a ship running in fair wind or a musical lyre such as the one Polycrates [ruler of the Greek island of Samos in the sixth century B.C.] used or a ship’s anchor such as the one Seleucus [a Hellenistic king in Antioch in Syria who died in 281 B.C.] had engraved on his sealstone. And if someone is fishing he will call to mind the apostle [Peter]. . . . We who are forbidden to attach ourselves to idols must not engrave the face of idols [on our rings], or the sword or the bow, since we follow the path of peace, or drinking cups, since we are sober. Many licentious people carry images of their lovers and favorite prostitutes on their rings. [Paed. III.59.2-III.60.1]

Clement’s point is this: If a Christian wished to have a ring that expressed his faith he should go to a craftsman whose stones were engraved with figures that could be given a Christian meaning. What he says about rings would apply equally to other objects, such as an oil lamp, or a bowl, or a pitcher. As yet there were not Christian artists or craftsmen who designed objects with distinctive Christian images. So Clement recommends that Christians buy rings that were in common use and readily available in workshops in the markets of the city. Though they may me stamped with symbols that bear one meaning to the maker and to most buyers, some of the engravings could be given a Christian sense. A dove could be taken to symbolize the Christian virtues of gentleness and peacefulness; a fish could be a symbol of Christ because the letters of the Greek word for fish (ixthus) could be taken to spell the first letters of the words JESUS CHRIST SON OF GOD SAVIOR; a ship could signify the Church carrying the faithful over the turbulent waters of life; a young man with a lyre could depict David singing the psalms; an an anchor could be a symbol of hope (Hebrews 6:18-19).

—Robert Louis Wilken, The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity (New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 2012), 49.

 
 

Apr

08

2014

Justin Taylor|7:40 pm CT

10 Key Events: Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism in 20th Century America

In 19th century North America, evangelicalism basically referred to a loosely associated, intradenominational coalition of Protestants who held to the basic reformational doctrines of sola fide [faith alone] and sola scriptura [Scripture alone], mediated through the revival experiences of the Great Awakenings.

David Bebbington’s evangelical quadrilateral—namely, that the common denominator among evangelicals is the combined belief in biblical authority, cruciformity, conversionism, and evangelism—has value but lacks specificity when applied to the North American experience (instead of just evangelicalism in Great Britain). North American evangelicals not only believed in the Bible’s general authority but also its inerrancy and infallibility. They not only believed in conversion but also saw revivalism as a way in which God might work.

The following are ten key events that took place in the relationship between evangelicals, fundamentalists, modernists, and neo-evangelicals during the 20th century in North America.

1. The Fundamentals Published (1910-1915)

fundamentals

In the wake of late 19th century Darwinian evolutionary theory and with the concomitant rise of biblical higher criticism in the early 20th century, two wealthy businessmen (oil man Lyman Stewart [1840-1923] and his brother Milton] funded a 12-volume series on The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth (1910-1915). These 90 essays were written by 64 English and American pastors and theologians, most of them denominational evangelicals, setting forth what they agreed were the “fundamentals” of the faith. Between 2 to 3 million copies were distributed.

2. The Term “Fundamentalism” Is Coined (1920)

In 1919, the World Christian Fundamentals Association was founded, led by William Bell Riley (1861-1947), a Minneapolis pastor who also founded Northwestern Bible College and would later be known as ”The Grand Old Man of Fundamentalism.”

In 1920, Baptist journalist Curtis Lee Laws (1868-1946) wrote an editorial (“Convention Side Lights,” Watchman-Examiner 8 [July 1, 1920]: 834) offering new nomenclature to capture the current state of conservative dissent.

The label conservatives, he wrote, “is too closely allied with reactionary forces in all walks of life.” Premillennialist ”is too closely allied with a single doctrine and not sufficiently inclusive.” Landmarkers “has a historical disadvantage and connotes a particular group of radical conservatives.”

In its place he suggests “that those who [1] still cling to the great fundamentals and who [2] mean to do battle royal for the fundamentals shall be called ‘Fundamentalists.’” In other words, they were the type of people willing to continue the fight  for the sort of truths laid out in The Fundamentals pamphlets, the type of people who were joining the World Christian Fundamentals Association.

Refining the Definition

Following Laws’s original usage and utilizing the excellent analysis of Nathan Finn, fundamentalism, in its broadest and original sense (encompassing the disparate parties that would emerge), can be defined as conservative Protestant dissent against progressive (or revisionist, or Modernist, or Liberal) doctrine and mores. Those in the crossfires of fundamentalist so-called militancy were those who advocated:

  • progressivist beliefs that undermined the fundamentals doctrines (e.g., naturalistic evolution, biblical criticism, later neo-orthodoxy), and
  • progressivist values that undermined the fundamentalist understanding of the Christian life (e.g., dancing, drinking, gambling for some; others would focus more upon political movements like communism in the 1950s, or upon sexual mores, especially into the 1960s).

3. Denominational Battles Fought in the North (1919-1937)

From 1919-1937 a series of denominational battles were fought in the northern states for control of the Northern Baptist and the Northern Presbyterian denominations. Fundamentalist-evangelicals were committed denominationalists who were ecumenically minded toward those who held to the fundamentals but fought for the purity and integrity of their ecclesiastical bodies. During this time, conservative Presbyterians on several occasions sought to produce statements identifying the minimal core of their evangelical convictions: namely,

  • the inerrancy of the Word of God in its original autographs
  • the virgin birth of Jesus Christ
  • his vicarious atonement for sin
  • his bodily resurrection from the dead
  • the reality of biblical miracles

Others would later want to add additional items to the list like belief in the premillennial return of Christ.

4. Fosdick Preaches, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” (1922)

Harry_Emerson_Fosdick On May 21, 1922, Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969) preached a provocative sermon to the First Presbyterian Church in New York City, entitled “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” Referring to himself as an evangelical, he sounded a warning against the anti-modernistic obscurantism and anti-intellectualism of the fundamentalists. They could believe what they wanted about the virgin birth, the inspiration of Scripture, and their understanding of the atonement, but their boundary-drawing was a danger to the church and must be firmly resisted. He called for increased tolerance of spirit—though it seemed he mainly wanted the tolerance to be a one-way street toward his brand of modernism. Fosdick understood modernism to be the spirit of the age, and he viewed Christianity as needing to accommodate its categories and to infuse it with a Christian ethic of love.

5. The Scopes Monkey Trial Becomes a Symbol (1925)

Bryan-vs-Darrow_1925

In 1925 the so-called Scopes Monkey Trial transfixed the nation as the ACLU orchestrated a trial of John Thomas Scopes (1900-1970), a young biology teacher willing to test the state laws on the teaching of evolution. The trial pitted famed defense attorney Clarence Darrow (1857-1938) against the charismatic prosecutor William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), a progressivist politician who was a confident fundamentalist in biblical doctrine.

Through the combination of acerbic reporting by H.L. Mencken (1880-1926), unforced errors by Bryan, and (later) a historically inaccurate play and Hollywood movie, the trial would eventually become symbolic in American culture for fundamentalism’s mean-spirited anti-intellectualism and even buffoonery.

(For more on the history of the trial, go here.)

6. Machen Defends the Faith against Modernism (1929-1937)

J.G.MachenIn 1929, J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937)—a brilliant Reformed New Testament professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, who had studied under Adolf Schlatter in Germany—left the school after it reorganized its curriculum, having opened the door (in Machen’s view) to modernist compromise. He would then found Westminster Theological Seminary (1929) and later The Orthodox Presbyterian Church (1936) after he was tried and found guilty for continuing his Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions (IBPFM), designed so that money contributed by orthodox Presbyterians would end up going to support likeminded orthodox Presbyterian missionaries rather than modernist Presbyterians like Pearl Buck (1892-1973).

Machen was a non-dispensational example of conservative dissent. He did not particularly care for or embrace the “fundamentalist” label, but he understood that their belief in premillennialism (while in error, in his judgment) was an error of a different kind than that propagated by the modernists.

In 1923 Eerdmans published Machen’s landmark book Christianity and Liberalism, arguing that modernistic liberalism was not a sub-species of Christian orthodoxy but rather a different religion that must be rejected once and for all. For example, he wrote, that the “Church of Rome may represent a perversion of the Christian religion; but naturalistic liberalism is not Christianity at all” (p. 52).

When Machen died in 1937 at the age of 55, after a bout with pneumonia, it marked the passing of an era in 20th century fundamentalist-evangelicalism.

(The best biography of Machen is D.G. Hart’s Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America; the best entry point is Stephen J. Nichols’s J. Gresham Machen: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought.)

7. Internal Criticisms Issued within Fundamentalism (Late 1930s-Early 1940s)

By the late 1930s and early 1940s, some quarters of fundamentalism began to experience discomfort with the trajectory of the movement. There was a concern that the militancy of fundamentalism was having unfortunate results. Speaking in broad terms, some critics perceived the default posture of fundamentalism to have

  • a focus on infighting over soul-winning
  • a diminished social conscious in order to protect the doctrine of the gospel, and
  • a downplaying of intellectual engagement with the academy in the desire to avoid influence by modernism.

8. Ockenga and Henry Lead Fuller Seminary and Christianity Today (1941-1947)

ockenga portraitIn 1941 Harold John Ockenga (1905-1985), pastor of Park Street Church in Boston and a former student of Machen’s, issued the call for “neo-evangelicalism,” and the National Association of Evangelicals was formed that year. (Carl McIntire [1906-2002] was originally to be part of this, but broke off to form his own fundamentalist association that would define itself in many ways as a corrective to and critic of neo-evangelicalism.) This group was broadly ecumenical, at first encompassing not only evangelical denominationalists but also holiness, Pentecostal groups, and independent ministries like the Salvation Army.

In 1947 Ockenga co-founded Fuller Theological Seminary with Charles E. Fuller (1887-1968), CFHHenryhost of the popular radio broadcast “The Old-Fashioned Revival Hour.” The initial faculty—including Carl F. H. Henry (1913-2003)—were evangelical intellectuals who wanted to write a new chapter in confessional Christian higher education.

That same year Eerdmans published Henry’s The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalismwhich argued against both fundamentalists and liberals who were obscuring the gospel by focusing upon secondary issues.

In 1956 Billy Graham (1918-) founded Christianity Today, designed to be a forward-looking, positive alternative to The Christian Century. Henry was tapped as the magazine’s first editor.

9. Billy Graham and Bob Jones Separate (1957)

1957

An epochal internal rift occurred in the summer of 1957, as Billy Graham engaged in his historic evangelistic crusades in Madison Square Garden with record crowds. From Graham’s perspective, he needed to partner with local pastors and churches in the area to ensure a warm reception of collegiality rather than to exacerbate competition and suspicion. This would also be a key part of the follow-up effort for those who had professed faith at the meetings. The strategy worked and Graham was not only welcomed by the local churches (many of them Modernistic) but also by the masses.

But this methodology was increasingly seen as problematic and troublesome, especially for fundamentalists in the South. Bob Jones Jr. (1911-1997), with the support of his father Bob Jones Sr. (1883-1968), founder of the eponymous Bible college, made it clear to Graham and his supporters that partnership with the modernists was a bridge too far. They felt that by having modernists on the platform—a visible endorsement, replete with asking some of them to pray and entrusting the gospel follow-up to some of their churches— Graham was engaging in sinful compromise and offering an implicit endorsement of the enemies of the faith. For the Joneses, and those who followed in their lead, this meant that they must separate not only from Graham himself, but from all those who supported Graham.

Thus emerged a new phase in the history of fundamentalist-evangelicalism, as the so-called “secondary separationists” began to have increasing influence, especially in the South. Whereas “fundamentalism” had originally been a conservative dissent movement within the denominations (working for their reform), a new segment of it defined faithfulness as leaving compromising denominations that had become apostate in their view—and also rejecting any fellowship and partnership with those who refused to do the same.

Three Approaches to Separatism 

Emerging from this 1957 division, and continuing through the intra-denominational controversies of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and the Southern Baptist Convention into the 1980s, there was conservative agreement that personal holiness was a necessity and that separation from moral sin was required. But beneath this general principle, there were three overlapping approaches to separation within fundamentalism.

First, there were denominational reformers who believed they should stay within a denomination and fight for its doctrinal and moral purity.

Second, there were denominational separatists who believed that faithful Christians should extricate themselves from denominations and professing Christians influenced by modernism and therefore apostasy.

Third, there were ecclesiastical separatists who were also secondary separationists, refusing to have fellowship with fellow conservative dissenters who did not withdraw from apostate denominations.

What must be noted here, and is often overlooked in discussions of fundamentalism, is that the original fundamentalists were in categories 1, and sometimes 2. But category 3 was largely the result of post-1957 fundamentalism and represents a new phase of development.

10. Fuller Seminary Divides over Inerrancy on Black Saturday (1962)

DPFIn 1962 there occurred another event that, in my view, may be the second most important development after the 1957 split. On December 1, at the conclusion of a three-day planning retreat for the faculty and trustees of Fuller Theological Seminary, the issue of revising the school’s creedal statement on inerrancy was on the agenda. Ockenga, the school’s president in absentia who had helped to draft the original informal statement in a Reformational-Princetonian direction, wondered why the creed needed to be revised in the first place.

Daniel P. Fuller (1925) was the only child of the school’s founders, Charles and Grace Fuller. He had long abandoned his father’s dispensationalism, and had gone off to get a second doctorate in Basel with serious doubts about inerrancy—doubts that were solidified in his studies with Oscar Cullmann and after a conversation with a former fellow Fuller student who had gone on for a PhD at Harvard and expressed his opinion that Fuller would not survive if it retained its outmoded fundamentalist doctrine of inerrancy. Fuller informed Ockenga that the Bible did contain errors on non-revelational details (observable but not essential matters) and that an appeal to the original autographs would not solve the problem. Fuller’s nuanced view—which had much to do with the hermeneutics of authorial intent and divine accommodation—sought to retain the term “inerrancy” because he thought every word of Scripture was inspired by God and inerrant in its purposes, but it was clear he was breaking with the historic Warfieldian-Princetonian understanding.

The progressive-conservative divide was exacerbated and solidified and between the faculty—between those who were more comfortable with a traditional understanding of inspiration and those who wanted more progressivist changes. “Black Saturday” forever changed the direction of the school and stands for a significant change in the relationship between fundamentalism and neo-evangelicalism, as progressive evangelicalism proffered itself as a new third way.

(The story is told from a critical perspective in Harold Lindsell’s The Battle for the Bible, though it has a number of historical errors in recounting the story. The fullest version by a celebrated historian is George Marsden’s Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism.)

 
 

Apr

08

2014

Justin Taylor|4:48 pm CT

Livestream for T4G: April 8-10, 2014

You can register to watch the T4G livestream online for free.

All times below are Eastern. When each plenary speaker is speaking has not been publicly announced. At the end of the post you can find the list of panels, but again it has not been announced when each will be.

I am not sure if they are able to stream the music, so if it’s not live you may want to check back 20 minutes into the session.

Tuesday, April 8

1:00 – 2:50 | General Session 1
3:05 – 4:10 | General Session 2
4:30 – 5:15 | Panel 1
7:30 – 8:55 | General Session 3
9:10 – 9:55 | Panel 2

Wednesday, April 9

9:00 – 10:25 | General Session 4
10:40 – 11:45 | General Session 5
12:00 – 12:30 | Panel 3
3:00 – 4:00 | Breakout Sessions
7:30 – 8:50 | General Session 6
9:05 – 9:45 | Panel 4

Thursday, April 10

9:00 – 10:25 | General Session 7
10:40 – 11:45 | General Session 8
12:00 – 12:30 | Panel 5
2:00 – 3:15 | Panel 6
3:45 – 5:00 | General Session 9

Plenary Speakers:

Ligon Duncan, The Gospel by Numbers (Numbers 5)

Albert Mohler, The Open Door is the Only Door: The Singularity of the Gospel in a Pluralistic Age (Acts 4)

Mark Dever, The Certain Victory of Christ’s Church an Encouragement to Evangelism (Isaiah 36-37)

John MacArthur, Mass Defection: The Great Physician Confronts the Pathology of Counterfeit Faith (John 6)

David Platt, Relenting Wrath: The Role of Desperate Prayer in the Mystery of Divine Providence (Exodus 32)

John Piper, Persuading, Pleading and Predestination: Human Means in the Miracle of Conversion

Kevin DeYoung, Never Spoke a Man Like This Before: Inerrancy, Evangelism and Christ’s Unbreakable Bible (John 10:35)

Thabiti Anyabwile, The Happiness of Heaven in the Repentance of Sinners (Luke 15)

Matt Chandler, Christ is All (2 Tim. 1:8-14)

Panels:

“D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Pastor-Evangelist”
Chair: Mark Dever
Panelists: John MacArthur and Iain Murray (biographer of D. Martin Lloyd Jones)

“Homosexuality: Our Third Rail?”
Chair: Albert Mohler
Panelists: Russell Moore and  Sam Alberry (author of Is God Anti-gay?)

“Preaching Sanctification”
Chair: Matt Chandler
Panelists: Kevin DeYoung, John Piper, David Platt, and Derek Thomas (Senior Minister of First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC)

“Denominations: Your Grandfather’s Oldsmobile?”
Chair: Ligon Duncan
Panelists: Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, and John Yates (Rector of The Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, VA)

“Stump the Panel”
Chair: Mike McKinley
Panelists: Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Mark Dever, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Simon Gathercole

Future Theological Threats
Chair: Mark Dever
Panelists: Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Kevin DeYoung, Simon Gathercole, and Peter Williams

 
 

Apr

08

2014

Justin Taylor|3:55 pm CT

Livestream for T4G: April 8-10, 2014

You can register to watch the T4G livestream online for free.

All times below are Eastern. When each plenary speaker is speaking has not been publicly announced. At the end of the post you can find the list of panels, but again it has not been announced when each will be.

I am not sure if they are able to stream the music, so if it’s not live you may want to check back 20 minutes into the session.

Tuesday, April 8

1:00 – 2:50 | General Session 1
3:05 – 4:10 | General Session 2
4:30 – 5:15 | Panel 1
7:30 – 8:55 | General Session 3
9:10 – 9:55 | Panel 2

Wednesday, April 9

9:00 – 10:25 | General Session 4
10:40 – 11:45 | General Session 5
12:00 – 12:30 | Panel 3
3:00 – 4:00 | Breakout Sessions
7:30 – 8:50 | General Session 6
9:05 – 9:45 | Panel 4

Thursday, April 10

9:00 – 10:25 | General Session 7
10:40 – 11:45 | General Session 8
12:00 – 12:30 | Panel 5
2:00 – 3:15 | Panel 6
3:45 – 5:00 | General Session 9

Plenary Speakers:

Ligon Duncan, The Gospel by Numbers (Numbers 5)

Albert Mohler, The Open Door is the Only Door: The Singularity of the Gospel in a Pluralistic Age (Acts 4)

Mark Dever, The Certain Victory of Christ’s Church an Encouragement to Evangelism (Isaiah 36-37)

John MacArthur, Mass Defection: The Great Physician Confronts the Pathology of Counterfeit Faith (John 6)

David Platt, Relenting Wrath: The Role of Desperate Prayer in the Mystery of Divine Providence (Exodus 32)

John Piper, Persuading, Pleading and Predestination: Human Means in the Miracle of Conversion

Kevin DeYoung, Never Spoke a Man Like This Before: Inerrancy, Evangelism and Christ’s Unbreakable Bible (John 10:35)

Thabiti Anyabwile, The Happiness of Heaven in the Repentance of Sinners (Luke 15)

Matt Chandler, Christ is All (2 Tim. 1:8-14)

Panels:

“D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: Pastor-Evangelist”
Chair: Mark Dever
Panelists: John MacArthur and Iain Murray (biographer of D. Martin Lloyd Jones)

“Homosexuality: Our Third Rail?”
Chair: Albert Mohler
Panelists: Russell Moore and  Sam Alberry (author of Is God Anti-gay?)

“Preaching Sanctification”
Chair: Matt Chandler
Panelists: Kevin DeYoung, John Piper, David Platt, and Derek Thomas (Senior Minister of First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC)

“Denominations: Your Grandfather’s Oldsmobile?”
Chair: Ligon Duncan
Panelists: Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, and John Yates (Rector of The Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, VA)

“Stump the Panel”
Chair: Mike McKinley
Panelists: Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Mark Dever, Thabiti Anyabwile, and Simon Gathercole

Future Theological Threats
Chair: Mark Dever
Panelists: Ligon Duncan, Albert Mohler, Kevin DeYoung, Simon Gathercole, and Peter Williams

 
 

Apr

08

2014

Justin Taylor|6:52 am CT

Where Did Christian Art Come From?

Screen shot 2014-04-07 at 10.53.55 PM

Robert Louis Wilken:

Before the early third century there is no evidence of Christian art. Some have argued that in the early years Christians were aniconic—opposed to religious pictures, hostile to artistic representation of biblical events and persons. But that view has been abandoned by scholars. Though there is no archaeological evidence of Christian art before the catacomb of Callixtus, from literary sources we know that by the end of the second century Christians had begun to find ways to give visible expression  to their beliefs. Clement, a Christian scholar in Alexandria, said that Christians purchased objects engraved with symbols.

Let our seals [for example, a precious stone with a designed engraved on it] be a dove or a fish or a ship running in fair wind or a musical lyre such as the one Polycrates [ruler of the Greek island of Samos in the sixth century B.C.] used or a ship’s anchor such as the one Seleucus [a Hellenistic king in Antioch in Syria who died in 281 B.C.] had engraved on his sealstone. And if someone is fishing he will call to mind the apostle [Peter]. . . . We who are forbidden to attach ourselves to idols must not engrave the face of idols [on our rings], or the sword or the bow, since we follow the path of peace, or drinking cups, since we are sober. Many licentious people carry images of their lovers and favorite prostitutes on their rings. [Paed. III.59.2-III.60.1]

Clement’s point is this: If a Christian wished to have a ring that expressed his faith he should go to a craftsman whose stones were engraved with figures that could be given a Christian meaning. What he says about rings would apply equally to other objects, such as an oil lamp, or a bowl, or a pitcher. As yet there were not Christian artists or craftsmen who designed objects with distinctive Christian images. So Clement recommends that Christians buy rings that were in common use and readily available in workshops in the markets of the city. Though they may me stamped with symbols that bear one meaning to the maker and to most buyers, some of the engravings could be given a Christian sense. A dove could be taken to symbolize the Christian virtues of gentleness and peacefulness; a fish could be a symbol of Christ because the letters of the Greek word for fish (ixthus) could be taken to spell the first letters of the words JESUS CHRIST SON OF GOD SAVIOR; a ship could signify the Church carrying the faithful over the turbulent waters of life; a young man with a lyre could depict David singing the psalms; an an anchor could be a symbol of hope (Hebrews 6:18-19).

—Robert Louis Wilken, The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity (New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 2012), 49.

 
 

Apr

07

2014

Justin Taylor|6:00 am CT

At What Point in Pilgrim’s Progress Does Christian Get Saved?

I have to admit that I have always found this a confusing aspect of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Charles Spurgeon expressed his one disagreement with Bunyan in this way: “If he meant to show what usually happens, he was right; but if he meant to show what ought to have happened, he was wrong.”

I am thankful that Jim Orrick, professor of literature and culture at Boyce College (Louisville), was willing to let me post his answer to this question.


Painting by Mike Wimmer

When I ask this question to my students who have just finished reading the book, they nearly always respond with a variety of answers. After batting around several ideas, we narrow the possibilities down to two: Christian was saved either (1) when he entered through the Wicket Gate or he was saved (2) when his burden rolled off his back at the cross.

Most students come to the conclusion that Christian got saved at the cross.

But this is, in fact, the wrong answer. Christian got saved when he entered through the Wicket Gate.

Students get the wrong answer because they misunderstand three critical elements of Bunyan’s allegory: (1) The Wicket Gate, (2)  Christian’s Burden, and (3) the proper object of saving faith.

1. The Wicket Gate

First, a wicket gate is a small or narrow gate, and in the Bible, Jesus identifies himself as the narrow gate, so in Pilgrim’s Progress the Wicket Gate represents Christ. In Pilgrim’s Progress, when Christian asks Evangelist “Whither must I fly?” Evangelist directs Christian to the Wicket Gate, or to Christ, and not to the cross. The Wicket Gate represents Christ.

2. Christian’s Burden

A second error results because my students usually misunderstand what the burden on Christian’s back represents. When we meet him, Christian has an enormous burden on his back, and Christian’s burden represents not sin per se, but it represents the shame and doubt that he feels because of his sin. Christian’s sins get forgiven, and he was justified when he received Christ, which is represented by his entering the Wicket Gate. But Christian does not yet understand the basis of his forgiveness, so his conscience continues to bother or burden him. Put in more technical terms (always a welcome means of clarification) the burden represents psychological guilt not forensic guilt. Therefore, what Christian loses at the cross is his shame and doubt caused by sin, because his sins had already been forgiven when he entered the Wicket Gate. Also, at the cross Christian receives a scroll, which he later calls his assurance. When Christian entered the Wicket Gate, he received Christ. When Christian gazed at the cross, he understood substitutionary atonement and imputed righteousness, and this gave him assurance that his sins were forgiven.

This understanding of Christian’s salvation in Pilgrim’s Progress parallels Bunyan’s own experience as he describes it in his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. There he informs us that for many months after his conversion he was tormented by deeply unsettling questions about his salvation, but all these questions were put to rest when he came to understand imputed righteousness.

So Christian was saved the moment he entered the Wicket Gate and that was before he came to the cross.

3. The Proper Object of Saving Faith

This paves the way for us to think about the third error my students sometimes make, they are confused about the proper object of saving faith.

“Are you saying that someone can be saved without the cross?” a concerned student asks.

“No,” I answer, “No one can be saved apart from what Jesus accomplished on the cross, but the Bible proclaims that a person gets saved when he receives Christ, and the Bible does not say that a person gets saved through believing that Jesus died for him. Christ himself is the proper object of saving faith, not some part of his work.”

This is a reflective moment for most, because in these days, virtually everyone has been told that if he will believe that Jesus died for him, he will be saved, but I repeat: this is not found in the Bible. A person is saved not when he believes in right doctrine (substitutionary, penal atonement, in this case) but a person is saved when he believes in the right person, namely Christ. So the object of saving faith is not a doctrine but a person. Christ himself is the treasure chest of salvation. Receive him, and you receive all that is in him. The doctrine of substitutionary, penal atonement is an indispensable, essential component of the gospel, but it is not the whole gospel. How many Christians understood this crucial doctrine when they first received Christ? Nearly none! So how could they have been saved? Because, in spite of having underdeveloped or even mistaken ideas about the nature of the atonement, all who receive Christ the risen Lord as Lord and Savior are saved.


If you want some help reading the great classic, Leland Ryken has just published a short guide through Crossway.

 
 

Apr

04

2014

Justin Taylor|11:09 pm CT

PBS Looks at New Calvinism

PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly recently looked at “New Calvinism,” with a focus on the Southern Baptist Convention.

You can read the transcript or watch the video below:

proofAmong those featured in the short profile is Daniel Montgomery, founding pastor of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville and cofounder of the Sojourn Network.

He is the co-author (with Dr. Timothy Paul Jones) of the forthcoming book, PROOF: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace (Zondervan, due out in May 2014).

 
 

Apr

04

2014

Justin Taylor|1:58 pm CT

Reformation 101

Below is the opening talk from Steve Nichols’s series of Reformation Profiles, where he looks at the solas of the Reformation through the various Reformers:

  • Sola Scriptura: Martin Luther and the Rediscovery of the Authority of Scripture
  • Sola Gratia: Ulrich Zwingli and the Rediscovery of Grace
  • Sola Fide: Lady Jane Grey and the Rediscovery of Justification by Faith
  • Sola Christus: John Calvin and the Blessing of Christ Alone
  • Soli Deo Gloria: Glorifying God in Everything
  • Q&A

And here are some other helpful entry points into understanding the reformation that changed the church, and the world.


Stephen J. Nichols, The Reformation: How a Monk and a Mallet Changed the World.

Read for free the table of contents, the introduction and chapter 1, as well as chapter 6.

“Professor Stephen Nichols is already well-known for his remarkable ability to make history live and sing. This new work is no exception and will simply enhance his well-deserved reputation. It is a scintillating helicopter tour of the amazing men—and wonderful women—of the Reformation. Here conviction joins with courage, holiness with humor, in a wonderful medley of Christian heroes and heroines.”
Sinclair B. Ferguson


lutherStephen J. Nichols, Martin Luther: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought

Read for free the table of contents, preface, and introduction.

J. I. Packer: “For half a century, Bainton’s Here I Stand has been the best introduction to Luther. Stephen Nichols’s engaging volume is in many ways better than Bainton’s for this purpose. It deserves to be widely read.”

 


Michael Reeves, The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation.

Read for free the table of contents, Mark Dever’s foreword, and chapter 1.

“With the skill of a scholar and the art of a storyteller, Michael Reeves has written what is, quite simply, the best brief introduction to the Reformation I have read. If you’ve been looking for a book to help you understand the Reformation, or just to begin to study church history, this little book brings history to life.”
Mark Dever


Kirsten Birkett, The Essence of the Reformation.

In addition to Dr. Birkett’s overview of the Reformation, this book includes excerpts from classic works by Luther, Calvin, and Crammer.

Read for free the preface, the table of contents, all of part 1, and portions from the classics.

“I do not know any book that more succinctly gets across, in readable prose, what the Reformation was about. This new edition combines Birkett’s superb text with some judiciously selected primary documents. This is a book to distribute widely among lay leaders and other Christians who want to be informed of the heritage of the gospel that has come down to us.”
D. A. Carson


Carl R. Trueman, Reformation: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

“This fine book should be required reading for all Christians—and especially for those who doubt whether the Protestant Reformation has anything left to say to us in our day. Stating that “the Reformation represents a move to place God as he has revealed himself in Christ at the centre of the church’s life and thought,” Trueman then retrieves Luther’s theology of the cross, argues that because the Reformation “was above all a movement of the Word—incarnate in Christ and written down in the Scriptures,” and because the Spirit works through the Word, “the Word written and the Word preached are both central to Christianity and are not simply cultural forms which can be shed when culture moves on,” and then closes with a chapter on Christian assurance that recognizes our assurance as the foundation for our Christian activity. Along the way, he scatters nugget after nugget of insight into what is core to the Reformation legacy, motivating his readers to embrace this core again.”
Mark R. Talbot

 

 
 

Apr

04

2014

Justin Taylor|5:00 am CT

Kevin DeYoung’s New Book: “Taking God at His Word”

TGAHWKevin DeYoung’s outstanding new book, Taking God at His Word: Why the Bible Is Knowable, Necessary, and Enough, and What That Means for You and Me (Crossway, 2014), is now available.

WTS has the book on sale for 44% off (for a total of $10 for the hardcover book). If you purchase 5 or more copies, they are 56% off ($8.00 each). And they even have a bulk discount for 61% off.

Here’s the free study guide for the book. And here are some endorsements:

“My trust in God’s Word is greater, my submission to God’s Word is deeper, and my love for God’s Word is sweeter as a result of reading this book. For these reasons, I cannot recommend it highly enough.”
—David Platt, Senior Pastor, The Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, AL; author, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream

“This little book is a highly readable introduction to Scripture’s teaching about Scripture that preserves the contours of a responsible and informed doctrine of Scripture, without getting bogged down in arcane details. Buy this book by the case and distribute copies to elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers, and anyone in the church who wants to understand a little better what the Bible is. Bad doctrine springs in part from ignorance. Blessed are those teachers and preachers in the church who, like the author of this book, combat ignorance by getting across mature theology in a lucid style that avoids generating theological indigestion.”
—D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“One of my prayers for the next twenty years of ministry, if the Lord sees fit to grant me that, is that we might see the level of biblical literacy exponentially grow. For that to happen we must learn what the Scriptures are and how heavily we can lean on them. Kevin DeYoung serves this end well in Taking God At His Word. May the God of the Word be known and cherished all the more because of this little book.”
—Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Dallas, TX; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network

“This is a brilliant, succinct, yet thorough study of the authority and sufficiency of Scripture, based on what Scripture says about itself. Clarity and passion are the distinguishing marks of Kevin DeYoung’s writing, and this may be his finest, most important work yet.”
—John MacArthur, Pastor, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, CA

“If you’re looking for a clearly and simply stated doctrine of Scripture, here it is. Kevin DeYoung has accomplished his aim of communicating what the Bible says about the Bible. He’s done it with the qualities we have come to anticipate from him: efficiency, pastoral care, wit, and rigor. Most of all, he has let the Word speak for itself.”
—Kathleen B. Nielson, Director of Women’s Initiatives, The Gospel Coalition

“This is the book that I will be handing out to those searching for true spirituality, those who want to hear a special word from God, and to those who want an improved knowledge of God. Kevin DeYoung convincingly teaches that God has adequately spoken to his people. Taking God At His Word is an accessible defense of the doctrine of Scripture, from Scripture, aiming to renew our trust and delight in God’s word.”
—Aimee Byrd, author, The Housewife Theologian

 
 

Apr

03

2014

Justin Taylor|8:18 pm CT

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full

An introduction to Gloria Furman’s new book, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms (Crossway 2014):

Here’s a free study guide.

And you can preview the book below:

 
 

Apr

03

2014

Justin Taylor|2:33 pm CT

Inerrancy, Adam, and the Gospel

Richard B. Gaffin Jr., emeritus professor of biblical and systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, recently delivered a Boice Lecture at the Tenth Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia on “Inerrancy, Adam, and the Gospel: The Bible on Human Origins: Some Observations.”

Dr. Gaffin starts talking around the 4:30 mark. At the 1:04:30 mark he begins taking questions:

Here’s an outline of what he covers:

1. The Issue

2. Objections: Scientific and Exegetical

3. Scripture and Science

Hebrews 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,  2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, …

4. Adam and Christ

Romans 5:12-19  12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned,  14 … Adam, who was the type of the one who was to come.  15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many.  16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification.  17 If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.  18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.  19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

1 Corinthians 15:21-22  For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

1 Corinthians 15:44-49  It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.  45 Thus it is written, “The firstman Adam became a living being”; the lastAdam became the life-giving Spirit.  46 But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual.  47 The firstman was of the earth, earthly; the secondman is from heaven.  48 As was the one who is earthly, so also are those who are earthly, and as is the one who is heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly.  49 And just as we have borne the image of the one who is earthly, we shall also bear the image of the one who is heavenly.

Acts 17:26  And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, …  30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, …

5. Inadequate Interpretations

6. Implications and Conclusion

adamFor those wanting to read more on this topic, this forthcoming book edited by Hans Madueme and Michael Reeves looks excellent: Adam, the Fall, and Original Sin: Theological, Biblical, and Scientific Perspectives (Baker, coming in August 2014).

Here is the publisher’s description:

The Christian doctrines of original sin and the historical fall of Adam have been in retreat since the rise of modernity. Here leading scholars present a theological, biblical, and scientific case for the necessity of belief in original sin and the historicity of Adam and Eve in response to contemporary challenges. Representing various Christian traditions, the contributors shed light on recent debates as they present the traditional doctrine of original sin as orthodox, evangelical, and the most theologically mature and cogent synthesis of the biblical witness. This fresh look at a heated topic in evangelical circles will appeal to professors, students, and readers interested in the creation-evolution debate.

Contents

Introduction Hans Madueme and Michael Reeves

Part 1: Adam in the Bible and Science
1. Adam and Eve in the Old Testament C. John Collins
2. Adam in the New Testament Robert Yarbrough
3. Adam and Modern Science William Stone

Part 2: Original Sin in History
4. Original Sin in Patristic Theology Peter Sanlon
5. The Lutheran Doctrine of Original Sin Robert Kolb
6. Original Sin in Reformed Theology Donald Macleod
7. “But a Heathen Still”: The Doctrine of Original Sin in Wesleyan Theology Tom McCall
8. Original Sin in Modern Theology Carl Trueman

Part 3: Original Sin in Theology
9. Original Sin in Biblical Theology James M. Hamilton
10. Threads in a Seamless Garment: Original Sin in Systematic Theology Michael Reeves and Hans Madueme
11. “The Most Vulnerable Part of the Whole Christian Account”: Original Sin and Modern Science Hans Madueme
12. Original Sin in Pastoral Theology Dan Doriani

Part 4: Adam and the Fall in Dispute
13. Original Sin and Original Death: Romans 5:12-19 Tom Schreiner
14. The Fall and Genesis 3 Noel Weeks
15. Adam, History, and Theodicy William Edgar
Postscript Michael Reeves and Hans Madueme

“This is a long-overdue book on a crucial flash point in evangelical faith and theology: the sin that dare not speak its name (‘original’). The structure is clearly laid out, making it an appealing choice in various kinds of Bible college and seminary classes. Indeed, I suspect it will become a popular textbook in a number of evangelical institutions.”

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

Gaffin, Beale, Frame, Reeves, and others have also commended the book, Adam in the New Testament: Mere Teaching Model or First Historical Man? 2nd ed (P&R 2012), written by J.P. Versteeg with a foreword from Gaffin.

“This is the basic thread of [Versteeg's] argumentation: if it is not true that all human beings descend from Adam as the first human being, then the entire history of redemption documented in Scripture unravels. The result is no redemptive history in any credible or coherent sense and so the loss of redemptive history in any meaningful sense. Versteeg’s work is as timely today as when it was first written. The publisher is to be commended for making its translation available again.”
—Richard B. Gaffin Jr., Emeritus Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary

“This book is the best that I know of in demonstrating exegetically that the parallels drawn by Paul between Adam and Christ (as the Last Adam) necessitate viewing not only Christ as a historical figure but also the first Adam as an actual historical figure. The argument is made persuasively and convincingly that, if one concludes that the first Adam was not historical, then one should be driven to the conclusion that Jesus as the Last Adam was not historical—the latter conclusion even very few unbelieving scholars would be willing to hold. Other references to Adam outside of Paul in the New Testament are also discussed, and the same conclusion is convincingly reached about the historicity of the first Adam. One might not agree with everything said about other issues outside of the Adam-Christ topic, but the conclusions reached about Adam and Christ are sane, sober, and reliable.”
—Gregory K. Beale, Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, Westminster Theiological Seminary

“Denying the historicity of Adam or his significance for our own original sin is not just an issue of science versus the Old Testament. For the New Testament, as in Romans 5, deals with Adam as well, in an important theological context. For the apostle Paul, our sin begins in Adam, as our redemption begins in Christ. Theologians cannot escape this teaching merely by saying that Adam is a myth or legend; they must also account for his role in Paul’s doctrine of salvation. So a number of theologians, such as H. M. Kuitert, have postulated that Adam is a ‘teaching model’ in the New Testament. Versteeg’s remarkably cogent and concise book tells us why this view is impossible. It was a great help to us when it was first published in 1979. But it is even more helpful now. Recently, some have claimed that analysis of the human genome forbids us to believe that the human race began with a single couple. In the face of such arguments, it is important to remind ourselves why the church has maintained that Adam is the first man and the source of human sin. I do hope this book gets a wide readership.”
—John M. Frame, Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando

“What an important book this is for today! Sane, clear and thorough, it offers a stout answer for those questioning the historicity of Adam, and lucidly shows why it remains non-negotiable. All thinking Christians need to read this.”
—Michael Reeves, Head of Theology, University and Colleges Christian Fellowsh

 
 

Apr

03

2014

Justin Taylor|8:42 am CT

1,981 Years Ago Today: Why We Believe We Can Know the Exact Date Jesus Died

The First Things blog is running a new piece I co-authored with Andreas Köstenberger arguing that Jesus was crucified on Nisan 14 (that is, Friday, April 3) of A.D. 33. We argue that it is almost impossible that this took place in A.D. 30.

Here is an excerpt:

In our new book, The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived, we assume but do not argue for a precise date of Jesus’s crucifixion. Virtually all scholars believe, for various reasons, that Jesus was crucified in the spring of either A.D. 30 or A.D. 33, with the majority opting for the former. (The evidence from astronomy narrows the possibilities to A.D. 27, 30, 33, or 34). However, we want to set forth our case for the date of Friday, April 3, A.D. 33 as the exact day that Christ died for our sins.

To be clear, the Bible does not explicitly specify the precise date of Jesus’s crucifixion and it is not an essential salvation truth. But that does not make it unknowable or unimportant. Because Christianity is a historical religion and the events of Christ’s life did take place in human history alongside other known events, it is helpful to locate Jesus’s death—as precisely as the available evidence allows—within the larger context of human history.

Among the Gospel writers, no one makes this point more strongly than Luke, the Gentile physician turned historian and inspired chronicler of early Christianity.

Luke implies that John the Baptist began his public ministry shortly before Jesus did, and he gives us a historical reference point for when the Baptist’s ministry began: “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar . . .” (Luke 3:1).

Continue reading…

 
 

Apr

02

2014

Justin Taylor|11:06 pm CT

Learning the Psalms with Dale Ralph Davis

Richard Pratt has written, “There is no more gifted expositor of the Old Testament in our day than Ralph Davis.”

Derek Thomas says, “Dale Ralph Davis is among the finest expositors of the Old Testament alive today. His style is unique and his content infectious. A pastor at heart, his insights are always governed by an absolute loyalty to the text, a belief that the Bible was written for today as much as yesterday, and a desire to encourage his readers to fall in love with Scripture and to trust it.”

He has a new book out: Slogging Along in the Paths of Righteousness: Psalms 13-24 (Christian Focus, 2014), picking up where he left off in The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life: Psalms 1-12 (Christian Focus, 2010).

You can watch him preach on Psalm 13 Bethany Baptist Church in Bangor, Northern Ireland. He begins around the 2:09 mark.

Here are his commentaries, including a book on how to preach from OT narrative texts:

 
 

Apr

02

2014

Justin Taylor|1:51 pm CT

One Year Later: Help Continue to Tell the Kermit Gosnell Story

If you care about justice and life, and if you believe in the power of documentary films to make a difference, this is a project worth supporting:

Philly.com:

A followup to his 3801 Lancaster: Part I short film from January of last year, [David] Altrogge’s latest continuance in the series will see a web release on May 13—the one-year anniversary of the Gosnell conviction. Where the initial short film looked at the case’s more shocking elements, Part II reportedly will examine the why’s and how’s of Gosnell’s operation itself.

“Our goal has been since day one to not make a political [documentary],” Altrogge said in a recent interview with The Blaze. “To tell the story of what happened to Gosnell’s clinic…and kind of let people here these facts.”

Funded primarily by private donors, Part II is reportedly $35,000 short on what they’d need to complete the film, which has prompted Altrogge to start up a donation page. But even if the funding isn’t supplied, the director says his documentary will be out May 13 “no matter what.”

You can watch 3801 Lancaster: Part I below:

And again, you can donate here.

 
 

Apr

02

2014

Justin Taylor|12:28 pm CT

Early Church Growth

Robert Louis Wilken, emeritus professor of history at the University of Virginia:

At the end of the first century there were fewer than ten thousand Christians in the Roman Empire. The population at the time numbered some sixty million, which meant that Christians made up one hundredth of one percent or 0.0017 percent according to the figures of a contemporary sociologist.

By the year 200, the number may have increased to a little more than two hundred thousand, still a tiny minority, under one percent (0.36).

By the year 250, however, the number had risen to more than a million, almost two percent of the population.

The most striking figure, however, comes two generations later. By the year 300 Christians made up 10 percent of the population, approximately 6 million.

All of these figures are estimates. Because there are no hard demographic data, they can be used only with other evidence. The show that in absolute numbers, Christianity grew slowly at first, but the pace picked up in the third century, and if one were to draw a graph for the fourth century the line would mount in a steep upward curve. Christians could be found in all the major cities of the empire and in many smaller cities, and it was becoming apparent that Christian was not a passing phenomenon. What is more, the Church attracted people from all walks of life and from all social classes, and its leaders were well educated, culture, resourceful, and articulate.

—Robert Louis Wilken, The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity (New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 2012), 65-66.