Before I elaborate on my “Roman Truths,” please allow me to defend myself with the following quote of Martin Luther on the Book of Romans cited by Dr. Tom Browning on page 3 in the introduction to his series of lessons on “The Pinnacle of Christian Doctrine.”
Browning writes that Luther writes:
This epistle is really the chief part of the New Testament, and is truly the purest gospel. It is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but also that he should occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. We can never read it or ponder over it too much; for the more we deal with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes (Martin Luther, Lutherʹs works, vol. 35: Word and Sacrament I edited by J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann (Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1960; reprinted 1999), 365).
So, in my own defense, last night I was pondering the precious and delicious letter of Paul to the Romans. In my much pondering of this book, I often attempt to come up with an original outline of the book which will the reader or Bible student remember the broad themes of this revolutionary, reforming and reviving book of Romans. I can’t help it if it came out like this!
1. The Bad News (Romans 1:1–3:20)
2. The Good News (Romans 3:21-8)
3. Good News and the Jews (Romans 9-11)
4. The Good News Wearing Shoes (Romans 12-16)
Somebody help me! I’m losing control of my homiletics!!!
Several years ago, back when I worked at “The Reformation Station,” Dr. Tom Browning taught a series on “The History of the Doctrine of Justification” (which I hear will be available in the future from his website!) at Arlington Presbyterian Church, Arlington, Texas. One of the lessons was on the debate between Augustine and Pelagius over the necessity of God’s grace in overcoming original sin. Dr. Browning had requested that my then boss, Randy Buster (founder of “The Reformation Station”), arrange a tune to a song he’d dug up in his studies about Pelagianism. It’s a hilarious song called “The Pelagian Drinking Song.”
I recently thought to email these dear brothers of mine to request the recording of Randy Buster’s arrangement of Hillaire Belloc’s “The Pelagian Drinking Song” and permission to blog about it. You can listen to this recording in the black Box.net widget toward the bottom of my sidebar.
And now, without further ado, I give you, “The Pelagian Drinking Song,” by Hilaire Belloc, through the teaching ministry of Dr. Tom Browning and the musical arrangement and perfomance of Randy Buster:
The Pelagian Drinking Song, by Hillaire Belloc (1870 – 1953)
Pelagius lived at Kardanoel
And taught a doctrine there
How, whether you went to heaven or to hell
It was your own affair.
It had nothing to do with the Church, my boy,
But was your own affair.
No, he didn’t believe
In Adam and Eve
He put no faith therein!
His doubts began
With the Fall of Man
And he laughed at Original Sin.
With my row-ti-tow
He laughed at original sin.
Then came the bishop of old Auxerre
Germanus was his name
He tore great handfuls out of his hair
And he called Pelagius shame.
And with his stout Episcopal staff
So thoroughly whacked and banged
The heretics all, both short and tall –
They rather had been hanged.
Oh he whacked them hard, and he banged them long
Upon each and all occasions
Till they bellowed in chorus, loud and strong
Their orthodox persuasions.
With my row-ti-tow
Their orthodox persuasions.
Now the faith is old and the Devil bold
Exceedingly bold indeed.
And the masses of doubt that are floating about
Would smother a mortal creed.
But we that sit in a sturdy youth
And still can drink strong ale
Let us put it away to infallible truth
That always shall prevail.
And thank the Lord
For the temporal sword
And howling heretics too.
And all good things
Our Christendom brings
But especially barley brew!
With my row-ti-tow
Especially barley brew!
Here’s my transcription of a listener’s telephone comment on the Sunday, August 12 edition of The White Horse Inn, “Grace & Election in the Book of Ephesians.” On the one hand, the following conversation includes an anecdote which well portrays a “fightin’ fundamentalist” standing his ground against election in a way he may assume is as bold as Paul declaring that if resurrection didn’t really happen, then Christ died in vain and we’re dead in our sins. But on the other hand, it can really make you nervous about the danger to which professing believers expose themselves when they stubbornly deny the Word of God on the doctrines of grace. No, I don’t think dedicated Christians who love and serve Jesus and otherwise believe the Bible and sound conservative theology are apostate if they disagree with election–I mean those who go to the extreme and deny the faith because they refuse to accept the clear teaching of Scripture because of election. The kind to which I’m referring are the kind who understand exactly what the Bible says about election and reject the faith because of it.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Horton: Greg in Littleton, Colorado, good evening.
Greg: Hello. This is providential that you’re discussing this tonight, because my uncle who’s an Independent Baptist, to his disappointment, discovered that Spurgeon actually taught this.
Riddlebarger: (while other hosts laugh) Oh boy, did he ever!
Greg: . . . and he really is quite hostile to this teaching, and I really think, for one thing, I said to him, “If I could show you in Scripture where election is clearly taught, wouldn’t you have to give in and believe it?” And I was disappointed at his response–he said, “well, I would have to question the authenticity of the Scriptures.”
Rosenblatt: Holy smokes!
Riddlebarger: Oh, boy!
Horton: Wow. You know, this does bring up an important point. I’ve been in situations where I’ve been talking about this and people have said–even older folks, people who’ve been lifelong Christians, committed to the authority of Scripture, and Bible-believing Christians, and you go through this, and, uh, I remember throwing my Bible across the room when I read Romans 9.
Riddlebarger: Oh, I remember listening to a Donald Grey Barnhouse tape on election, up all night with my Bible going through all the passages he mentioned, just sick in the pit of my stomach. But, you know, that’s just like John chapter 6, when Jesus utters the hard words, “Unless the Father draws you, you can’t come,” and the crowd starts grumbling, so he says it again, and they all walk away.
Horton: Tough words. Even his own disciples: “This is a hard teaching and who can hear it?”
This one is definitely an “easy-to-read” Bible! Not only that, there are pictures on every page! What can be learned from this “study Bible” is not what the Greek word for so-and-so means, there are no charts of the Kings of Israel or anything like that, this study Bible teaches the reader that among the other popular and overused and often abused interpretations of Scripture, the main reason the stories of the Bible are written is to teach us about the One God promised to send to crush the Serpent’s head. And that’s all it teaches.
That’s also what preachers are supposed to base all their practical application and character studies on, too. How easy it is to forget. I can testify just in trying to write Sunday School and AWANA lessons for elementary age children. How much more is it necessary to keep in mind when the moms and dads are being preached to by the “teaching elder” (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 5:17).
Modern Christians have plenty of the other kinds of “headknowledge” about dates, locations, and name meanings, but most forget (in word and action, which are the ways that count), no, neglect, that which is “of first importance” according to Paul (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Bob Hayton of Fundamentally Reformed, in his post, “The Storybook for Preachers,” quotes Dr. Tim Keller as saying, ““I’d urge ministers to buy it and read it for themselves. It will improve their preaching.” That’s what hooked me, and that’s why I bought it. Sure, I’ll probably tackle one or two of my younger children (who are well into chapter books by now) and force them to listen to one or more of these stories on occasion, and any grandchildren the Lord may send my way someday will certainly benefit from it, but in the meantime this children’s book is mine! I’m also going to buy a copy and donate it to my church library, and I suggest you do the same. But some of you more daring (yet gentle and respectful–see 1 Peter 3:15) sorts may like to sweetly give a copy to your pastor with a copy of Keller’s quote tucked in as a bookmark.
One of my new favorite old radio shows is Haven Today, featuring the warm, fuzzy and comforting tone of Reformed radio man, Charles Morris (think Steve Brown, but not as funny), features a few recordings of Jesus Storybook Bible author, Sally Lloyd-Jones (I wonder if there’s any relation to D. Martyn? I suppose if there were, it would have come up), reading her Christ-centered children’s Bible stories. There are a lot of other interesting videos and links related to Sally and her book on the “Going Deeper” section of Haven Today’s homepage (on the right sidebar toward the bottom). Check out The Jesus Storybook Bible Sampler, and buy a few copies. We need to encourage Christ-centeredness in Christian publishing!