Labels, Labels, Labels!
Many Christians decry the use of “labels” to identify one’s distinctive beliefs and/or practices. I find this attitude intellectually dishonest. Everyone’s belief and practice, or approach to determining his own autonomous belief and practice, is learned either consciously or unconciously from some prior group’s or individual’s belief and practice. Being able to identify these is not some attack on the unity we have in Christ, but when used with a good and accepting attitude, it’s a way to know your brother or sister in Christ. And if you know your friend, you can love him better.
My personal attitude about labels can be likened to the way all you sports fans out there view your teams. Sure, there’s a little competition between teams, and maybe an animated discussion about your team’s strengths and the other teams’ weaknesses, but it’s all in fun. That’s the attitude I like to retain about our various distinctives. Everyone should just relax, and have a good time in the Lord, for cryin’ out loud!
Anyway, I bring all of this up simply to introduce one of R. Scott Clark’s entries in his live blogging of the Calvin’s Legacy Conference from Westminster Seminary California. Dr. Clark answers a question about the difference between the labels “Calvinist” and “Reformed.” You can read his interesting answer here. ” But in the meantime, he shares some history that reveals the origin and significance of other labels like “Lutheran,” “Evangelical,” and “Protestant.” It’s a good, short read.
Now all you guys who admit to your own labels, remember to play fair! 🙂 If you like what you read, there’s plenty more where that came from. You can subscribe to the Calvin’s Legacy Conference RSS Feed and it’ll come to you, you won’t have to go get it!
Live Blogging 3
for more info on this conference see: http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/the-latest-post/2009/1/8/a-video-conference-on-eschatology-and-live-blogging-of-a-wes.html and follow the links.
Wow! New term from Voythress: protology–the study of first things, as opposed to eschatology, the study of last things. Stick that in your theological glossary.
Waldron’s now affirming that eschatology comes before soteriology in Scripture. Think Gen. 3.
Riddlebarger explained that a regenerate believer is not taken to the condition Adam was in before the fall, but that he is redeemed to the state Adam would have been in, had he been confirmed in righteousness, having succeeded in obeying the command to not eat the forbidden fruit.
Notes on Gaffin’s comments on “Get the Garden right, get Christ right.”1 Cor. 15 Resurrection hope of the church. Christ compares resurrected Christ with Adam before the fall. vs. 45, 47, Christ called the “Second Man.” The deepest perspective Paul provides on redemptive history. There’s no one between Adam, the first and Christ, the Second. Noah, Abraham, Moses, David are below the horizon of Paul’s concern in this chapter, Christ is literally the “eschatological one.” When you understand who Christ is as the esc. Adam, then everything else between Adam and Christ in redemptive history must fit into that.
Poythress: Both kinds of imagery are in Rev. 22. 22:1 shows a final garden, heightened from the original (Gen.3) and the language of the Bride of Christ. Here you have a connection of both “bridal and garden” in Gen 2.
Eph. 5:28ff . . . Was Eve typological of the Church in this passage? Riddlebarger says simply “clearly [she is]” but that he wouldn’t press it too far. Missed Waldron’s reply, but Poythress says there’s a comparison with Eve. Waldron asked if this connection somehow contributes to Mariology? I don’t get it. Anyone out there have a comment?
Moving on to questions about the competing attitudes about the world between dispensationalism and covenantal theology. Should we be optimistic about the success of the gospel, or pessimistic about any need to “polish the brass on a sinking ship?”
Gaffin speaks to the application of this question to suffering. We can be confident that Christ is now healing (I think he said healing) the earth with the gospel. References Mark 10:29-30. Promise of blessings with persecution to followers of Christ. References some passage in the “T books.” With many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. Opposition to the gospel results in suffering. There is a positive role of suffering in the church–“filling up the sufferings of Christ”
A short plug for Last Things First: Unlocking Genesis with the Christ of Eschatology.”
Poythress suspects that a hundred years ago, amillers didn’t have Vos’ and Gaffin’s “already/not yet” structure. This is optimistic in a way older amillers didn’t have the benefit of. Christ’s Body is the first fruits of the new heavens and earth. If we participate in that, it’s a spiritual optimism, looking forward to that which is yet to come.
Riddlebarger: the charge that amillers are pessimistic was made by Bahnsen. That amil is escapist like premil, says Bahnsen. Post mil Bahnsen would define optimism/pessimism differently. No economic, cultural, religious transformation before the Return. Optimistic about what God does through Ministry of the Word and administration of the sacraments. Not pessimistic about the gospel, but about human institutions.
Poythress believes it all will be thoroghly transformed in the new heavens and new earth. Amils aren’t giving up on transformation of the world, but don’t expect it until after the consummation. No guarantee to be successful in worldly terms, but should try to think and act Christianly in our worldly context. A Christianized society is not the atmosphere of the New Testament.
Waldron argues for optimism about the spread of the gospel. Optimistic about what? Matt. 16, Lk 13 parable of mustard seed teaches growth of gospel. Mt. 16 shows the church thoroughly on the attack, not under attack by Satan. (?) The gates of hell won’t prevail against the spread of the gospel. Parable of weeds show that good and evil grow together until the end. Not good to emphasize that as good grows, evil shrinks, or vice versa, but that they grow concurrently until the Return of Christ.
Ezk. 40-48 When does a biblical theology of the millennial Temple begin, and what does it look like?
Waldron: Doesn’t teach reinstitution of Old Testament ceremonial, sacrifical system in the Millennial Age.
Riddlebarger: see Beale’s book on the Temple. Hard to unlearn the wooden literal, dispensational interpretation. But it undercuts the beauty of what God is describing.
Poythress: The Temple theme is present by implication in the Garden of Eden. God communes with Adam and Eve as he does with Israel in the Temple. Jacob at Bethel–no physical structure, but a mediation of the presence of God is the point. Ezk. Temple is symbolic of God’s communion with his people. It shouldn’t be astonishing that John 2 indicates that Jesus spoke of his own body in speaking of the Temple. A vision is not a photograph. The Temple is the medium for speaking these concepts of mediated communion with God. You can’t dictate the details of final realities by looking at the type. The reality always exceeds the type.
Barcellos: Angels ascending, descending on the Son of Man?
Poythress: Seen carefully, the Son of Man is the ladder, a mediator between heaven and earth.
Gaffin: Related to the larger question of the biblical theology of the Temple, as you look at Ez 40-48 in its visionary and prophetic character, that whole chunk focuses on what Christ said about whatever promises held out in Old Testament Scriptures, they have their Amen (fulfillment) in Christ. 1 Cor. 3:9–We’re God’s fellow-workers, you’re God’s field/building. Is this an arbitrary connection? It’s a reference to the Garden (field) and the building (New Jerusalem). The New Jerusalem is a consummated Garden of Eden.
Waldron: The idea that amil says the church replaces Israel as the people of God. It’s a pejorative label.
Poythress: Not replacement, but fulfillment. Christ is the true Israel (Matt. 2). Israel the Son in a subordinate sense. Jesus the heir of the promises made to both Abraham and David. Gal. 3:16 argues that Gentiles and Jews alike participate in these promises. If Christ’s, Abraham’s offspring–heirs according to promise. Jews don’t cease to participate in the promise, but the Gentiles are included. Jewish disbelief is what gets them cut off the tree (Rom 11).
Riddlebarger: Is OT “Judeocentric”? I’m unashamedly a Christian and not a Jew. But I’m reading the OT looking for Christ. Isa 53 and related passages are clear if looking for Christ in the OT.
Gaffin: What is OT Israel typological of? Israel’s God’s chosen Son. Christ is the true Israel. Every promise given to Israel has its focus in Christ and his work. Acts 1:6 asks a Jewish oriented question about the Kingdom of God. Jesus corrects the terms of the question. It’s not is Kingdom being restored to Israel, but will Israel be restored to the Kingdom? In Rom 9-11, Paul sets terms at beginning. 9:6 who is Israel? Not all Israel are Israel, but those who believe, whether Jew or Gentile. Gaffin accepts term supersession in sense of fulfillment not replacement.
Waldron: If Christianity is not the fulfillment of the Old Testament, then what is Christianity?
Poythress: Gal. 4 Jerusalem above is free. She’s our mother. Isa 54 about the expansion of the people of God. Christ is the heir and if you’re in Christ, then you’re the heir. Gal. 3 means you can’t divide Christ into eschatological and political.
Gotta bug out early, but here’s plenty to chew on. Hope some of my notes make sense.