Music Worship

You Don’t Need Words to Tell a Story—Music Will Do

Idiom, syntax, and semantics work in music as well as words. (Part 2 in a series on the didactic power of music.) Far from being a universal language, music in its disparate forms is rather a polyglot that makes communication even between those in the same house sometimes difficult. Parents do not understand or do not like the music their children are listening to, and this has created some of the conflict which Ron Powers…

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Music Worship

The Didactic Power of Music

It’s the music itself that’s teaching us. Music is very much a part of the worship life of any gathering of Christians. It is an important component in our offering of adoration to God. The Bible repeatedly invokes music in praise of God, and among the many references we could cite, one of the better known is the command given in Ephesians. “Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and…

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Theology

On the Eternal Punishment Scripture Speaks Of

There have always been some in church history who affirmed universalism, the view that all of humanity will ultimately be saved. Origen believed even the devil would finally be reconciled. More recently, David Bentley Hart has offered an apology for universalism in his recent book That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation. Hart’s book is polemical, for which I fault him not in the least. The topic is such that it is…

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Old Testament

The Levitical Diet: What is the meaning for Christians today?

One of the challenges for Christians today in reading the Hebrew Bible is to discern what is applicable to us, and what is not. Indeed, when I posted the question of the meaning of chapter Leviticus 11 on social media, (the chapter which details the clean and unclean animals) I received a variety of responses. These ranged from “We need to observe these distinctions and not eat what God says not to eat.” Others suggested…

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Old Testament

A Moral Chronology of the Book of Judges

The book of Judges is a book that some common Sunday school material is taken from. Samson and his feats of strength are popular. Or, Gideon and his defeat of the Midianites, after God graciously gave him confidence through the incident with the fleece. And, perhaps every 8-year-old boy’s favorite “Now Eglon was a very fat man.”(3:17) But there are many parts of the book that get sanitized or left out. But the book, strange…

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Theology

Does Dispensationalism lead to “Christian Nationalism”?

In the wake of recent events in the United States, several have suggested that dispensational theology is at the root of an embrace of Christian nationalism. Few offer any substantive evidence beyond the charge, however. I want to offer three reasons I think this claim is inaccurate. 1) A misunderstanding of the distinctives of dispensationalism. 2) A failure to see that in church history, there has been far more symbiosis between covenant theology and seeing…

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Theology

How to Practice Theological Criticism Responsibly

Suggestions for combatants At the remove of many centuries after the apostolic era, we have not just competing voices stating what is true and false, we have whole choruses, antiphonally arrayed. The Reformation is, by some accounts, one of the most significant historical events for the Western world. It is not difficult to see how that is the case. Out of the Reformation came a surge of theologizing; believers who sifted and weighed the evidence…

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The Atonement

A Wrathless Atonement Signifies a Meaningless Death

Theories of atonement are several. Sometimes they overlap, i.e., there is certainly victory in the penal substitutionary death of Christ. But various atonement theories are opposed to one another and irreconcilable. Whether they are irreconcilable with one another is of less concern than whether Scripture supports them. One also has to be careful to note that quite often, people hold to elements from more than one theory, to parts of a theory but not the…

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The Decalogue The Law of Moses

Why Christians Don’t Observe the Torah

Questions about how Christians relate to the Law are a theological expanse that seems only to keep growing. In interacting with other Christians, there are some shared assumptions, but when speaking with Jews, these assumptions don’t necessarily work. When answering questions from Jewish interlocutors, I can only speak about the New Testament perspective on the law. I admit that part of this is due to my own ignorance about the fullness of the Jewish tradition…

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The Extent of the Atonement

John Owen’s Arguments Are Not Irrefutable

The Oxford divine relies too much on a “logic of inevitability.” The extent of the atonement has a been a topic of study for me for years. On and off I have read various defenses of the definite atonement position, as well as those for unlimited atonement. While the 2013 publication of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her may challenge this, for a very long time many people pointed to John Owen’s Death of…

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