Thursday, August 17, 2017

Of Statues and Such

With the discussion of the removal of Confederate markers and such a hot topic in the news, I offer the following few links of online stories and opinions that are out there.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Two Books on the Atonement

I recently purchased two books on the Atonement – Atonement in the Apocalypse: an Exposé of the Defeat of Evil by Robert W. Canoy and The Extent of the Atonement: a Historical and Critical Review by David Lewis Allen. Though written on the same broad topic, they are very unalike.

Robert W. Canoy, the author of Atonement in the Apocalypse, is Dean and Professor of Christian Theology at the School of Divinity of Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina. 

David L. Allen, the author of The Extent of the Atonement, “serves as the Dean of the School of Theology, Professor of Preaching, Director of the Center for Expository Preaching, and holds the George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.”

The Extent of the Atonement

The Extent of the Atonement: a Historical and Critical Review by David Lewis Allen is a very large book of 848 pages that I will probably never sit down and read through, but rather use as a reference work. But it will be a good reference. Brian Abasciano says, “Allen’s tome is now the book to own on the extent of the atonement and the place to turn for support of unlimited atonement and refutation of limited atonement” and Nathan Finn adds that it “is the most extensive treatment of this topic that has been written—certainly by a Baptist.”

David L. Allen, the author of The Extent of the Atonement, “serves as the Dean of the School of Theology, Professor of Preaching, Director of the Center for Expository Preaching, and holds the George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.”

In this book David Allen makes a case for an atonement that is universal in its extent. He further asserts that universal atonement has been the majority view of Christians throughout all church history. Following the introduction, Allen’s book is divided in three parts: “The Extent of the Atonement in Church History,” from early church to the modern era; “The Extent of the Atonement in the Baptist Tradition,” from the English General and Particular Baptists to Baptists in America and Southern Baptists in particular;[i] “The Extent of the Atonement: a Critical Review,” which is about 150 pages of detailed review of the book From Heaven He Came and Sought Her. I really appreciate the chronological arrangement of historical sections. Since I don’t own From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, the last third provides the least interest to me. Allen concludes with “Why Belief in Unlimited Atonement Matters.”

I originally resisted the idea of purchasing the book, considering the topic and cost – but relented when I understood this would be a good historical reference work. Allen sets out with a focus and difficult task, realizing “space prohibits the citations of quotations in full context” he nevertheless “attempted to give enough context where possible to minimize mischaracterization and to maximize objectivity.” He focuses on primary source material which “must be consulted whenever possible...We must objectively listen to historical theology, and the only to do this is to read carefully the primary sources and those who have engaged the primary sources...I will be referencing numerous quotations as evidence of a particular author’s view on the extent of the atonement...I have attempted, where possible, to use quotations only from primary sources.” (pp. ) His focus on primary source material yields odd results at times. With Richard Furman he states that Furman changed his view from limited atonement to unlimited atonement with no quotations, merely footnoting a reference to Winds of Doctrines by Wiley W. Richards. On Jesse Mercer, rather than citing Mercer giving his own view of the atonement, he quotes Mercer talking about the views of others regarding the atonement. Nevertheless, over the whole range of the book, there are lots of quotes from primary sources.

While David Allen is scholarly and thorough, he is not without bias, stating, “My ultimate goal in this work is simple: to demonstrate historically, and then biblically and theologically, why universal atonement is a more excellent way...” At times this view may cause him to see some Christians as closer to his viewpoint, while researchers with opposite bias may see them as closer to their viewpoint. Such is life. This also explains his focus on the unlimited sufficiency of the atonement over the limited efficacy of the atonement (that is, some hold both these points in tension and Allen categorizes them on “his side”). In my opinion, this produces a strange conglomeration of a category that embraces everything from 4-point Calvinism to Universal Salvation and all points in between. This nevertheless fits within the overall purpose of Allen’s tome.

With Jeff Johnson I can agree that “regardless of whether we agree or disagree with Allen’s critical conclusions, I believe we will all agree that he has written a valuable book.”

[i] Allen is a Southern Baptist, which explains his focus on the atonement theology in the Southern Baptist Convention.

Atonement in the Apocalypse

Atonement in the Apocalypse: an Exposé of the Defeat of Evil by Robert W. Canoy is a reasonably short and focused work, which narrows the topic of the atonement to its relation to the book of Revelation. It does not deal with the atonement in ways that many typical books on the atonement will – e.g., limited atonement, general atonement, etc.. It only delves lightly into the eschatology of Revelation, in places in might be pertinent to the main topic.

Robert W. Canoy, the author of Atonement in the Apocalypse, is Dean and Professor of Christian Theology at the School of Divinity of Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina.

I was excited when I saw an advertisement for Atonement in the Apocalypse in my inbox. I am interested in this subject, and am not aware of another book that focuses so particularly on it. Canoy's and the book's connections to Smyth & Helwys and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship put a slight damper on the excitement. I knew it would come out of the moderate to liberal field. Because of its particular focus I nevertheless wanted to read it and purchased it. I wasn’t aware of another book like it.[i] This is a topic I wish to explore further and appreciate Canoy’s contribution.

In the beginning Canoy writes on the subject of the atonement and how that fits within the genre of Revelation (Apocalyptic, Prophesy, Epistle). In chapters 2 and 3 he deals with atonement language and metaphors used in Revelation (such as Temple, altar, Lamb, etc.). Chapter 5 might be called the heart of the book, the defeat of the Great Red Dragon as the exposé of evil. In the final chapter Canoy offers theological conclusions with implications for Christian living.
view of atonement?

Danny West says Atonement in the Apocalypse is “written with clarity for both scholars and laypersons in mind.” I believe that is a fair assessment. For example, Canoy’s placement of the Greek text in sentences following the English translation can be read by those who can do so, or simply ignored by those who cannot.[ii] Mitchell Reddish writes, “Canoy’s work in the result of informed exegesis, critical dialogue with other scholars, and theological reflection on the significance of John’s understanding of the redemptive work of God.” To my taste there was far too much interaction with/quoting of other scholars, which to me became tiresome after a point.

My overall assessment is “somewhat disappointing.” The uniqueness of the topic gets the book a recommendation I might not otherwise give. Canoy’s atonement view gets the reader a warning. Be aware. I guess I was naïve and not expecting the so-called “Christus Victor” view of the atonement to be promoted in the book.[iii] This aspect left me confused in the beginning until I realized what he was saying. Be careful. I actually have no problem with “Christus Victor” other than when it is used to deny and substitute for penal and substitutionary aspects of the atonement.

Finally, I was disappointed that this book coming out of the academic field included no index. This is a deficiency that should be corrected in future printings.

[i] There are many things of which I am not aware, so there may be other books, even many, of this genre. Searching around the World Wide Web yields evidence that Loren L. Johns’s chapter on “Atonement and Sacrifice in the Book of Revelation” in The Work of Jesus Christ in Anabaptist Perspective: Essays in Honor of J. Denny Weaver (edited by Alain Epp Weaver and Gerald J. Mast, Telford, PA: Cascadia Publishing House, 2008) and Weaver’s own The Nonviolent Atonement (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001) deal with this topic.
[ii] The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition, Michael W. Holmes, editor, Lexham Press, 2011-13

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Online shape note song books

Several years ago I posted links to Old song books online. Here are some more shape note song books I have found online since then.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Early church devotion; Translation/Paraphrase by Gerard Moultrie (1864)

1. Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

2. King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

3. Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

4. At His feet the six winged seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Philpot devotional: Light in the darkness

"Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness." Psalm 112:4

We often get into such dark paths, that we seem altogether out of the secret, and feel as if there were no more grace in our souls, than in one altogether dead in trespasses and sins. And whether we look back at the past, or view the present, or turn our eyes to the future, one dark cloud seems to rest upon the whole; nor can we, with all our searching, find to our satisfaction that we have one spark of true religion, or one atom of grace, or one grain of vital godliness, or any trace that the Spirit of God has touched our consciences with his finger.

Now, when we are in this dark, benighted state, we want light; we want the blessed Sun of righteousness to arise; we want the south wind to blow a heavenly gale, and drive the mists away; we want the clouds to part, and the light of God's countenance to shine into our souls, so as to shew us where we are, and what we are, and make it clear, that base and vile as we are, yet that we are interested in the love of the Father, the blood of the Son, and the teachings of the Holy Ghost. And when his word begins to distil like the rain and to drop like the dew, when the Lord himself is pleased to speak home one sweet testimony, one little word, one kind intimation—what a change it makes! The clouds break away, the fog clears off, the mists dissolve, and the soul becomes sweetly persuaded of its interest in the blood and love of the Lamb.

J. C. Philpot (1802-1869)

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Throwing the ball back and forth

Below is a link to a post by Dave Miller and a response by Edward Dingess:

Racial Reconciliation Dodgeball – Responsibility and Solutions -- "I have watched with dismay as many in our midst have played what seems to me to be a form of dodgeball with issues related to racial reconciliation."

Thoughts on Dave Miller’s Racial Reconciliation Dodgeball in the SBC -- "Dave Miller lists three responses to the racial issue that he calls dodgeball responses."

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

The chains of ecclesiastical bondage, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify if possible.)

"The chains of ecclesiastical bondage are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken." -- Richard V. Clearwaters

"Like edged tools in the hands of children, feigned arguments are always likely to do more evil than good." -- Jesse Mercer

"The more I lied for the purpose of showing that I lied, the more convinced became they that I was a paragon of veracity." -- Léo Taxil

"There is no limit to human stupidity." -- Léo Taxil

"For Christians what it means to 'win' has been redefined by the cross." -- Eugene Boring

"God does not exist outside of time, He just cannot be measured by time. Time is a measurement of things that have a beginning and an ending point." -- Mark Fenison

"The cross is the cornerstone, capstone, touchstone, and loadstone of Christianity." -- David Lewis Allen

"The miracle of Christ's sacrificial death is that the priest and the victim have become one." -- Fleming Rutledge

"God chose not the clever strategies of the politically oriented, neither the sophisticated arguments of the philosophers, nor even the oratory skills of the talented rhetoricians to save the lost; rather, he chose the foolishness of preaching." -- Edward Dingess

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Why Christians Are Abandoning the Orphanage

Worth thinking about:

Why Christians Are Abandoning the Orphanage -- “A new focus on the family is changing how Christians care for abandoned and neglected children.”

“What was designed as a temporary solution to address a crisis became a permanent problem,” Ruslan Maliuta, international facilitator of World Without Orphans said. The temporary solution is the orphanage, while the goal should be to get the children out of orphanages and into families.
In the last century, Christian organizations proliferated orphanages as a quick solution to swelling numbers of abandoned children in poor countries where corrupt or inefficient governments weren’t providing adequate social services. That has left Christians today as the dominant provider of orphan care in much of the world.
Even in early 20th-century America, “the church had a leading role in building orphanages to take care of children,” said Jerry Haag, president of the 112-year-old Florida Baptist Children’s Homes (FBCH). “They didn’t have parents who could take care of them through the Depression era.”According to WWO, orphans were historically defined by the loss of both parents, usually through death. UNICEF eventually broadened the definition to include children who have lost only one parent—a definition that would seem to have support in the Bible, which uses the words “orphan” and “fatherless” interchangeably.
Good News began efforts to strengthen biological families, accepting children only as a last resort. It also worked to remove any parental rights over abandoned children, enabling them to be moved into foster care or adopted. With the church’s encouragement, families from churches in and around their city have adopted more than 100 children. (Dudnik and his wife, Tamara, adopted Sergey.)