Is the Office of Priest Found in the New Testament?

From time to time I have posted comments about the nature of ministry in the New Testament. Some have difficulty accepting the idea of a non-hierarchical ministry, but when we look at the Scriptures, this is what we find. I summarize this by saying that the New Testament never refers to Christian ministers as priests; this is a title reserved for all the people of God (or for the Lord Jesus alone.) The truth of…

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Atoning for Unbelief?

Does the “Double Payment” Argument have merit? In a prior post, I looked at the idea of faith purchased on behalf of believers. This argument is often central to a defense of definite atonement. Seeing such a purchase seems to require a commitment to the covenant of redemption—at least, in the thinking of John Owen it does. Faith and the transfer of it to the elect is included in the death of Christ, and this…

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Is Christian Platonism the Fix for Failed Hermeneutics?

Craig A. Carter’s 2018 book Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition: Recovering the Genius of Premodern Exegesis was recently recommended to me. I suppose one could call this a review, but I think of it more as a “book dialogue.” I wonder if I, as an evangelical on the conservative end, am the target audience for the book, because at many points as I read, I found myself saying “of course, who would think otherwise?”…

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What is Sacramentalism?

In a recent interview about a book I wrote, the interviewer asked me for a definition of sacramentalism. This is because in the book I use this term to describe a system, usually found in the hierarchical churches, that treats grace in a particular way. That way is to affirm that grace flows to the believer through the rites and rituals defined by the Church. In the case of the Roman Catholic Church, it goes…

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Davenant’s Defense of God’s Sovereignty in the Atonement

The Bishop of Salisbury insists God is sovereign to save anyone at any time. John Davenant is part of a rich heritage of “English Hypothetical Universalism.” That is, men who believed and taught that salvation was possible to any and every sinner while they yet lived. This was in contradistinction to definite atonement, that Christ died only for a collection of sinners whom God designated for salvation by his pretemporal decree. Davenant was also a…

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Is Biblicism the Problem in the Church Today?

The diffuse nature of evangelicalism means it is both difficult to define what it now is, but also that it is popular, that is, of the people. These facts have without question led to doctrinal aberration and heterodoxy. The solution some put forth is we need to overcome biblicism and return to classical theism. But the counsel is not self-evident, in that it rests on definitions that may not be commonly held. One writer offers…

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Is There a Difference between Church Membership and Commitment?

In a much of church culture, there is an emphasis on membership, as a way to get believers to commit to the local church. Yet membership and commitment are not synonymous, and looking at the distinction can help us understand the importance behind these ideas.   Almost all local churches have a membership process, often entailing a class one takes, and then signing a covenant about member responsibilities. Usually (one hopes!) there is an interview…

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Two Truths and a Lie

The game “two truths and a lie” is a popular ice-breaker for youth ministry gatherings, at least it was when I was working with high school youth groups. A person states three “facts” and the hearers must guess which of the the three is a lie. The game plays on expectations and what people know—or think they know—about the person. Laughter usually ensues at the admission of what is actually true. “I did not expect…

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You May Be More of a Dispensationalist Than You Think

Dispensationalism, as a way of viewing God’s dealings with mankind, is for some, a theological “crazy uncle.” The stereotype of excited explanations of end-times events has become an eye-roll inducing meme. Things like the “Left Behind” series have not helped, but they do serve as an example of misconceptions surrounding dispensational views. I want to discuss a few of these and suggest that elements of what constitute dispensationalism are present in more theological systems than…

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Challenges with the Covenant of Redemption

Within Covenant Theology, there is some diversity of views on whether there are two or three covenants. Most recognize a covenant of works, made with Adam, and a covenant of grace, which God establishes just after the Fall. However, many see a third, the covenant of redemption, that differs from these. The topic is large enough that I will only be able to capture highlights, but I hope to focus on those questions I believe…

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