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4.26.2016

A note on meditating the Bible

[This is an email.]

On meditating the Bible this is basically what I'm doing...

I use the template of "people, places, things, events, ideas" to focus in on what I'm reading, and I basically pause to really visualize or ponder one or more of those things.

Like when Melchizedek gives bread and wine to Abraham, those are "things" and I pause and think about them. Not too crazily, but as symbols, maybe see connections with bread and wine in the New Testament, etc. Maybe just holding the imagery in my mind does a lot too. Higher visual language.

I can see that another aspect, perhaps bigger, of meditating the Bible is recalling to mind whole, contained passages and really trying to draw them to mind from memory and think about them.

But when I said it doesn't take a lot of meditating on the Bible to get something from it I mean this: I noticed quickly that a little pausing and pondering and visualizing really made me see what I was reading more clearly. Like for instance the travels of Abraham. I can trace it in my mind. If you just read over it quick things like that jumble together. But I have clear Haran to Canaan down to Egypt, back up, separation from Lot, etc. That's sort of "event" and also "places."

Really pausing to visualize people is a big thing too. Getting cues from the text to see their personality. Like when Cain says back to God, "Am I my brother's keeper?" I read in a commentary that that showed Cain's temper, and I'd never visualized it like that. It's like Cain snapped back at God when he said that. You can visualize it other ways too, but Cain is deep in lies at that point and being interrogated, so you know he's ticked off and perhaps ready to lose it if not losing it.

You can see how this will build if you do it all the way through the Bible. - C.

ps- You can get deep into it too. Like when I read of the 'mist' that rose from the Garden to water the ground (this was before rain) we tend to think morning due, but I was pondering it was natural technology that is no longer used by God but might be still there in some way, or might be an image for higher visual language that can be used in unknown ways...see? crazier thoughts, but those too as I meditate on the Bible...

A note: as I read through this post again it came to me that I've heard people, pastors, theologians, etc., characterize people in the Bible in ways that to my discernment were off-the-mark. Like what I wrote about Cain above. You can get shallow with it this way: by drawing down the entire phenomenon of "Cain" to your current level of understanding solely and cut off aspects of Cain, or just the deeper impressions of tragic evil that exist above, say, moralizing or common thoughts of such things. I.e. I want to meditate on the Bible where it exists, at the level it exists, not draw it down to solely my current level of understanding.

4.23.2016

Email exchange on Michael Horton

From: W
Subject: Michael Horton

There is something I find offensive about this post by Michael Horton. He has a very narrow view of the topic and arrogantly/subtly suggests others are idiots if they believe otherwise. I'm not saying he is wrong about some of the way God speaks to us but it's what he infers by what he leaves out that shows his arrogance.

W.

http://www.challies.com/sponsored/does-god-talk-to-us-a-post-by-michael-horton

* * * * * * *
Response from Me:

Horton's style is to present cartoonish strawman examples and then slay them. It wouldn't have been beyond him in this post to have started it this way: "Some Christians think if they hang a crystal from their neck that it can become God and audibly talk to them."

Another major aspect of his approach is to make his own preferences the definition of orthodox. He's a buttoned down academic first, a Christian who believes in the supernatural second. He's more concerned with how his fellow academics see him than how true believing Christians see him. He fears the world more than he fears God, is another way of saying that.

He also has pioneered the, what I call, "It's not about you!" approach to the faith. To him the Christian faith is 100% objective, having nothing to do with us. God does everything. He carries this so far, and is so insistent with it, that it has become a real school of theology, or new approach; so even though he's otherwise Reformed and orthodox in a basic way he's also 'off' in this 'you do nothing, it's not about you' approach.

This all makes him very big on ritual and clerics as being the only true experience of the faith. "Lay" people are to sit in the pew and be passive. In this theology sheep don't become lions. - C.

A short remark from nothing me:

If Horton read this post he'd say, "Sheep becoming lions? Theology of glory!! You become a lion by being MORE of a sheep, if at all!! It's not about you!! You don't do anything!! Eat a cracker!! Drink some grape juice!! Listen to an ordained pastor read the Bible to you!! Who do you think you are?!? You are nothing!! It's not about you!!"

Who engages in wachfulness? Who loves his enemies? Who fights the world, the flesh, and the Devil? Who actively gets parts-in-relation-to-the-whole understanding of the Bible and biblical doctrine? I guess the pastor does all this for the sheep. Hence the pastor is God on earth. Hence we're into Romanism. Hence Horton's willingness to endorse books by Popes, but not books by non-Reformed Protestants. It all comes together.

4.19.2016

Three mountains in the Bible

Mt. Sinai - the mountain of the curse of the law; king is old Adam, now residing in man's fallen nature; on it by physical birth; demographics: the majority of the world population, all works based religions and philosophical worldviews; destination of subjects: Lake of Fire

Mt. Zion - the mountain of free grace; King is Jesus Christ; on it by regeneration by the Word and the Spirit, faith and repentance; demographics: Bible-believing Christians who have faith in the saving work and death of Jesus Christ; destination of subjects: Heaven

Mt. Hermon - the mountain of idols and evil; king is Satan; on it by radicalization of fallen nature; demographics: in our day Marxists, Islamists, individual devil worshipers of all kinds; destination of subjects: Lake of Fire

4.16.2016

A hidden big problem in the whole church thing

Look at this line from a Minister: "So likewise the angels of the churches— the ministers of the gospel— that are of an higher order and office than other saints..." This Minister thinks the angels of the churches are the actual ministers of those churches and are of a higher class or order than the Christians sitting in the pews. (Quote is from Jonathan Edwards, but that's neither here nor there.)

So, you know seminary graduates are taught this or some species or degree of it, yet they can't really talk about it because their conscience tells them it's asinine to think of themselves that way, yet they believe it still and have it in their self-image still.

Here is the problem: all Christians are to be prophets, priests, and kings. The bar is set high to be a Christian. You have to read the Bible and get parts-in-relation-to-the-whole understanding of it; then you have to learn on-the-mark biblical doctrine. Then you have to learn how to practice the faith. Be a Christian. These things become what we are as they are fused into our memory and will and understanding. It's a tall order, yet the Holy Spirit enables us to meet and exceed the high bar. For some it comes easier, quicker, for others it's a lifelong process, and progress is by degree and in stages, yet a simple, real faith is what saves, not complete knowledge. OK. Still, progress will be made by real Christians.

Now what does this say about our priesthood of seminary educated elitists? They become the enemy to the rank and file Christian. Why? Because to maintain a self-image of being special, and of a higher order (and appointed so by God Himself) you have to protect the knowledge. You have to keep it from the hands of the unwashed. The low brows who think they can understand what can only uniquely be understood by members of the guild. "Oh, look, that rube in row five is reading the Bible/Geerhardus Vos/systematic theology, how quaint. Actually, it's dangerous. Have one of the elders speak to him. Give him one of our David vs. Goliath video games."

Guilds, to exist, have to protect the knowledge of the guild, and who can have access to that knowledge and teach that knowledge. In this sense all clericalism, Protestant as much as the other branches, gravitates toward dumb Magisteriumism. Which itself becomes darkness.

Christians are prophets, priests, and kings. In a real sense when we're first reading the Bible and learning doctrine from on-the-mark, time-vetted sources (hopefully), we are sheep. In a real sense. Yet the metaphor is abused by guild interest. In Christianity sheep become lions. Kings. Prophets, priests, and kings.

This is seen as an assault to the guild-minded. So be it.

An aside: think of the thought process of the cleric as guild member with the guild interests. At one time he hadn't read the Bible (I assume seminary graduates eventually read the Bible complete?), and he certainly knew nothing of on-the-mark biblical doctrine, if he ever does. So what does he think about that? "Well, nobody could possibly learn what I've come to learn. It's just too difficult. Yes, I learned it, but I am special. I am of a higher order." Only the typically dumbest people in the room think like that.

4.15.2016

From an email, angels and Greek gods

I've been searching for and downloading the best formatted epubs and pdfs of Bullinger's Decades. It's a major historical work of doctrine from the 16th century.

In the Fourth Decade, Sermon Nine, on angels and evil spirits I found the first reference I think I've seen in a major Calvinist, Reformed source, connecting biblical angels with the gods of pagan poets, obviously Homer is what he is referencing here. Heathenish poets and philosophers -- that is ancient Greece:

"Let us therefore believe that there are angels. For the authority of the Son of God, and the irrevocable truth of the holy scriptures, ought worthily to win more credit with us than the toys of all Sadducees and wicked men. What, have not the heathenish poets and philosophers confessed that there are angels, whom they call gods? For they, feigning that gods in the likeness of men were lodged and entertained of righteous men, seemed to all learned men to have meant nothing else than that which the holy scriptures make mention of, how Abraham and Lot received angels into their houses resembling strangers. But howsoever the case standeth, most certain it is, both by the holy scripture and by manifold experience, that there are blessed spirits of God, that is to say, good angels."

This is why I like reading the older works. A modern Reformed theologian wouldn't have read or appreciated the Homeric epics, and would consider such a notion, that angels and the depictions of gods and goddesses of the ancients, had any connection. Whacky, they'd say. - C.

4.14.2016

Heard a big giveaway on a Reformed podcast

Listening to an old Reformed Forum podcast I heard a big giveaway. They were talking about the writings of the Church fathers and how one talked of demon activity, etc. A Reformed seminary graduate (Jeff Waddington) then gave away how they don't believe in the supernatural while still maintaining that the Bible presents supernatural phenomena. He said, in so many words, speaking in the first person plural, "Well, we of course are skeptical that such things as demon activity is real other than within the stories of the Bible."

Fact: establishment Christianity - churchianity - doesn't believe in the supernatural period. They don't believe in supernatural evil; they don't believe in supernatural preservation of the word of God; they don't believe in supernatural regeneration by the word and the Spirit; they ultimately don't believe in the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit Himself.

They're all about man and ritual, and their shallowness, dead churches, and their fear of man and the world above any fear of God give them away.

A side note: in the same podcast the author they were interviewing, Michael Haykin (his book Rediscovering the Church Fathers was the subject of the podcast) stated that he doesn't read Reformation era or post-Reformation era doctrinal works, citing specifically systematic theological works. He said, "I mean, I own Grudem, but I don't read it." This is a so-called evangelical scholar. They could probably be OK with his preferring the Church fathers over icky stuff about sin and wrath of God and stuff, but his sole citing of Grudem had to embarrass the others in the discussion.

True believers, recognize the apostasy exists, and is all around you, especially where it's most supposed not to be; and it can manifest as shallowness as much as anything else.