Theology Thursday: Covenant Theology


So today’s Theology Thursday is about Convant Theology.  And  Amy Mantravadi has given a series of posts about what Covenant Theology is that is part of an on going series.  Here’s the first few.

Old Covenant vs New Covenant: New Covenant Described

Old Covenant vs New Covenant: Membership

Old Covenant vs New Covenant: Types and Shadows

Old Covenant vs New Covenant: Mediation

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Catechism


What is the church?


    God chooses and preserves for himself a community elected for eternal life and united by faith,
    who love, follow, learn from, and worship God together. God sends out this community to proclaim the gospel and prefigure Christ’s kingdom by the quality of their life together and their love for one another.

    2 Thessalonians 2:13

    But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

    Catechism


    Does the Lord’s Supper add anything to Christ’s atoning work?

      No, Christ died once for all. The Lord’s Supper is a covenant meal celebrating Christ’s atoning work; as it is also a means of strengthening our faith as we look to him, and a foretaste of the future feast. But those who take part with unrepentant hearts eat and drink judgment on themselves.

      1 Peter 3:18

      For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God

      Theology Thursday: Dr. James White’s Four Keys to effective debating.


      Today’s Theology Thursday comes from The Cripplegate’s Clint Archer.  He had the chance to interview Dr. James White and ask him how to effectively debate an opponent.

      1Seek to be consistent. (Use equal scales)

      This is mandatory in a serious debate: you can’t use unequal scales. You need to apply the same level of respect and understanding of how they employ their source material as you would want them to apply to how you employ yours.

      Rookie debaters attack aspects of their opponent’s system that they would dismiss with an exasperated eye roll if the favor were returned. He offered a smattering of examples. Here’s some of his riff on this point, transcribed from a recording and cleaned up a bit…

      A lot of arguments used against Islam or Mormonism will involve picking on their writings…..eg the Book of Mormon says Jesus was born in Jerusalem and apologists will say “see, Joseph Smith did not know what he was talking about.” But when we defend the Old Testament we often point out that that there are places where the author has used a very specific geographic term referring to a wider region. We defend against these alleged errors using that methodology—so we must be consistent and allow the Mormon the same methodology; i.e. they would say that Bethlehem is very close to Jerusalem, in the same general area.
      There are a lot of arguments that I would not use when attacking the Qur’an because I realize that when defending the Old Testament I am going to have to utilize very similar responses from what I would expect from a Muslim. So we need to be very careful.
      A lot of people attack Joseph Smith’s false prophesies – and there are false prophecies – but Mormons allege that there are false prophecies in the Old Testament too. So your argument saying that Joseph Smith was giving a false prophecy might boomerang and they will say that Jonah was giving a false prophecy, or Ezekiel when prophesying against Tyre (referring to Ezekiel 26:1-14).
      Most Christian apologists are better at attacking the other side rather than defending the best arguments made against Christianity.

      2.   Strive for accuracy in representation of the other side (use original source material)



      How much attention would you pay to a debater who learned what they know about your faith from watching a YouTube video posted by an “ex-Christian” who “suddenly realized” the Bible was full of contradictions and that his church leaders didn’t have answers? Probably zero.

      You need to examine and familiarize yourself with your opponent’s original source material. When you explain their view on an issue, they should nod in agreement with everything you are saying before you explain why you disagree. If they don’t believe you understand their position or if they think you have misrepresented their beliefs, they will dismiss any argument you proffer against the faulty position you have presented.
      So, when you engage a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness or a Muslim, make sure you have read Joseph Smith, C. T. Russel, or the Qur’an.

      It is “Absolutely vitally important to use original sources, to know their version.”

      Some people disagree with this point because they say you are exposing yourself to false teaching. But you know what: Paul quoted from Aratus the Greek philosopher and when he wrote Colossians he uses the very language of the proto-gnostics and the Docetists. The writers knew that those people believed and actively refuted them. We have nothing to fear, true Christianity has nothing spiritually to fear from Islam.

      Jot down chapter and verse to show your counterpart that you have taken the time to actually read and understand what they actually believe. Interact with that. Do not erect straw men and throw fallacious darts at them. You will only make yourself feel superior while getting no closer to winning the argument or the soul for Christ.

      3.  Show love for your opponent. (Win souls not just arguments)

      Speaking of winning, you need to decide if your goal is merely to win an argument or to win a soul.
      Sometimes those two go together. By convincing them of what the Scriptures actually say, you win the person over to the truth by winning the argument. But sometimes your words might be true, while your attitude belies your lack of concern for the person you are debating and the people who hold their view.

      Apologetics – especially electronic apologetics – is a very dangerous skill because it allows you to say things to other people you would never say to their face. It allows you to sit there and think that you are glorifying God when the reality is that you are just trying to get your sword bloody – you don’t care what damage you do in the process.  If you don’t love the people you are dealing with, if you don’t really believe that you are going to be praying for them, if you wouldn’t reach out to them in a meaningful fashion, then don’t even do it. You’ll end up doing more damage than anything else.

      The easiest way to show love to a person is to actually love them. Jesus said to do this, so if you don’t you are being a poor debater and a bad Christian at the same time.

      4.  Stay in the context of a local church.

      Apologetics is not a balanced field. You spend your time immersed in error. If you are doing that divorced from a ministry in the local church you are missing the point of your gifts, you are stunting your own spiritual growth, and you are neglecting your responsibility to the local church in favor of the Universal Church.

      I found this to be the most surprising and encouraging of Dr. White’s insights. He is an elder at his church, teaches a Bible study (from the Bible, not the Book of Mormon), and ministers alongside Christians. His apologetics and debating is his career, not his only ministry.

      Apologetics must be done within the context of the church. The vast majority of apologists I know are not churchmen. They go from church to church each weekend and give their presentations but they themselves are not churchmen.
      Apologetics is not a balanced Christian ministry, you’re always in defense mode. I jokingly tell my audience – I listen to the heretics so you don’t have to – and there is an element of truth in that. And that is not good in the long run if that is all you do. So if you are a churchman you will be forced to have balance.

      This is just the main points of the article to read the entire article go here: The Cripplegate

      Catechism


      What is the Lord’s Supper?

        Christ commanded all Christians to eat bread and to drink from the cup in thankful remembrance of him and his death. The Lord’s Supper is a celebration of the presence of God in our midst; bringing us into communion with God and with one another; feeding and nourishing our souls. It also anticipates the day when we will eat and drink with Christ in his Father’s kingdom.

        1 Corinthians 11:23–26

        Theology Thursday:  Justification Reformed and Reformed Catholic Positions


        Today’s article comes from Monergism.com.

        Justification by Faith: Reformed and Roman Catholic Positions

        BY BILL MAYK

        Arguably there has been no time since the Counter Reformation with as great an impetus to examine the Protestant and Catholic doctrines of Justification by faith as there is today. Current dialogues between various Protestant groups and Roman Catholics have given rise to calls for unity as well as warnings against departure from the true faith.  While formulating the document, Evangelicals & Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium attempts were made to find a common language concerning justification upon which both groups could agree.  However, due to various distortions and misunderstandings factions on both sides have found difficulty with such an attempt.

        Nevertheless, it is the view of this writer that the difference between the Roman Catholic and Protestant teachings on justification is more than semantics or mere theological misunderstanding.  Furthermore, the Reformed position of  “justification by faith alone in Christ alone” is not only the proper Biblical teaching on the subject, but it cannot be fully reconciled with the Roman Catholic view of the same doctrine.  This paper will attempt to demonstrate how theology and Biblical interpretation have led to conflicting positions on justification, and that the conclusions of the Roman church and those of the Reformed churches are incompatible with one another.

        While approaching the historic debate on justification from the perspective of linguistic theory, Christian Barrigar proposed that semantic differences led to the discord between Catholics and Protestants during the Reformation.[1]  If this were the case, a reexamination of the significant church statements, in light of Scriptural evidence, should easily clear up confusion and promote mutual understanding between the major factions.  However, even the Vatican has stated that it cannot reach a consensus affirming that the differences concerning justification are simple matters of language or emphasis.[2]

        Nevertheless, the most important question within the focus of language is not how present day Catholics or Protestants define terms such as “faith” and “justification”, but what the various authors of the Bible meant by them.  Without a proper understanding of this issue, Gerhard Forde, a Lutheran Theologian, believes that attempts to find commonality in the doctrine will ultimately obscure the main elements of the teaching.[3]

        (Read the entire article here)

        Catechism


        Is baptism with water the washing away of sin itself?

          No, only the blood of Christ and the renewal of the Holy Spirit can cleanse us from sin.

          Luke 3:16

          John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire

          Catechism


          What is baptism?

            Baptism is the washing with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; it signifies and seals our adoption into Christ, our cleansing from sin, and our commitment to belong to the Lord and to his church.

            Matthew 28:19

            Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spiri