Defenders of Faith and Family: People You Need to Know

It has been four days since the Supreme Court struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This landmark decision will have implications for decades to come, and consequently, there has been no end to the legal analysis, cultural commentary, and prophetic predictions since Wednesday’s decision. This dialogue is exhausting, but also necessary.

Christians (pastors and parishioners) need to be informed and equipped to handle this judicial decision and the implication it will have on state laws and America’s public perception of those defending traditional marriage. One of the most alarming aspects of the court’s decision was Justice Kennedy’s language that essentially described opponents of same sex marriage as “enemies of the human race” (language used by Justice Scalia in his dissenting remarks).

Due to the centrality of marriage for gospel witness, not to mention societal stability, this fight for marriage is going to continue for sometime. It should.

In this heated conversation, its worth asking, “Who is a helpful voice? A voice advocating biblical wisdom, not just partisan politics?”  Since, not every voice is equally helpful, it might be helpful to know the names of a few defenders of traditional marriage that you can continue to listen to.  Maybe you already have your luminaries, but if not, let me commend a few to you. Continue reading

Hold Them Back (A Sanctity of Life Message by Denny Burk)

If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it, and will he not repay man according to his work? (Prov 24:10-12)

Denny BurkLast Sunday night (January 20), our church (Calvary Baptist Church, Seymour, Indiana) heard a powerful message from Dr. Denny Burk, a professor at Boyce College, associate pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church, and a perceptive bloggerjournal editor, and author (see his forthcoming  What is the Meaning of Sex? )

Basing his message on Proverbs 24:10-12, Denny’s sermon is a clarion call for men and women to get involved in the greatest civil rights issue of our generation.  In it, Denny challenges all those who love the gospel of Jesus Christ to  (1) Forsake Cowardice, (2) Rescue the Perishing, and (3) Reject Excuses.

Then in a time of Q & A (starting at 59:45), Denny tackled the issues concerning Hobby Lobby, Obamacare, and other matters pertaining to religious liberty.

The sermon and the Q & A lasts about 90 minutes, and is  worth your time!  Pass it on to others, and stand up to “rescue those who are being taken away to death!”

Hold Them Back (Prov 24:10-12) MP3

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

An Audio-Visual Primer on the New Perspective on Paul

What is the New Perspective on Paul?

Over the last few months, this subject along with the biblical doctrine of justification has caught a lot of media attention.  From the release of John Piper’s book on the subject confronting N.T. Wright (2007), to Wright’s response (2009), to the series of panels and discussions found here at SBTS (2009), there is much that has been said. 

In case you haven’t had the chance to keep up with the discussion–one that is important and having an impact in the church already (think: Rob Bell and Brian McLaren)– here is your chance.   Here is a run-down of four online resources that can help fill in the gaps and get a handle on the New Perspective, which really isn’t new at all (read Galatians).

(1) Last Spring, Dean of Boyce College, Denny Burk led a panel discussion on the subject of N.T. Wright’s new book, Assessing the Piper-Wright Debate on JustificationBurk was joined by SBTS professors Tom Schreiner, Mark Seifrid, and Brian Vickers.

(2) As a follow up, on September 8, 2009, Albert Mohler led a panel discussion with SBTS Professors Tom Schreiner, Mark Seifrid, Denny Burk, Brian Vickers and N.T. Wright and the Doctrine of Justification. VideoAudio.

(3) Just before the panel on-campus, Albert Mohler, on his radio program, interviewed John Piper and Ligon Duncan to converse about justification by faith and the New Perpective on Paul.  The Challenge Of The New Perspective To Biblical Justification (August 27, 2009).

(4) Today, Tom Schreiner lectured on this subject as well.  Here are his 4 majors points:

  1. Proponents of the New Perspective are too optimistic in their re-constructions of Second Temple Judaism.  
  2. The New Perspective misreads the works of the laws, even if they contribute some helpful nuances in understanding the Judaism into which Christ and Christianity was born.
  3. The New Perspective wrongly argues that Paul was only called, not converted.  In truth, Paul saw a radical distinction between his life before and after his Damascus Road encounter with the risen Christ (cf. Acts 9, 22, 26).
  4. The New Perspective misunderstands justification as being only covenantal faithfulness.  The righteousness of God fulfills the covenant through judgment and salvation, but justification is not co-extensive with covenant faithfulness.

(The audio is not up yet (9/16/2009), but will be soon.  Check SBTS Resources).

In sum, the New Perspective on Paul is a major issue in New Testament studies, systematic theology, and in the church at large today.  Through the popular works of N.T. Wright it is becoming more mainstream as it appeals to growing anti-Western notions in society and as it diminishes the God’s justice meted out on those whose sin offends his holiness.  That is news that every sinner wants to hear, its just not the biblical gospel (cf. Rom. 1:1-7).  In the end, it redefines and distorts grace.

The New Perspective, as a theological subject, is one that faithful teachers of God’s word should become conversant with, in order to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. 

Suggested Bibliography (in chronological order):

Thomas Schreiner, The Law and Its Fulfillment: A Pauline Theology of Law (1993)

D.A. Carson, P.T. O’Brien, and Mark Seifrid (eds.), Justification and Variegated Nominism: Volume I: Complexities of 2nd Temple Judaism. (2001)

D.A. Carson, P.T. O’Brien, and Mark Seifrid (eds.), Justification and Variegated Nominism: Volume II: Paradoxes in Paul. (2004)

Stephen Westerholm, Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The ‘Lutheran’ Paul and His Critics (2004)

Brian Vickers, Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Imputation (2006)

John Piper, The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright. (2007)

N.T. Wright, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision (2009)

By Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone, dss

Palin, Posts, and Prayer

I don’t write much about politics, and for good reason. I am a political novice and a legislative skeptic, but since my google reader has been overflowing with recent ‘Palin’ posts,  I feel compelled to offer the obligatory political post.  So instead of talking better than I know about politics, I will simply link to a handful of reflective Christians who have offered insightful and sometimes irascible comments.

The importance of this issue to gender complementarity, women’s roles, and the local church is where I am most concerned, and it is interesting that concurrent minds have diverged over this issue.  Voddie Baucham and Doug Wilson see this as a deadly plague for the family.  Albert Mohler sees this as a unique opportunity to differentiate the church from the government office.  Denny Burk follows the President’s lead. David Kotter, and the folks at CBMW, seem to want to use this opportunity to clarify the biblical nuances of gender complimentarity. And Tim Challies offers a cumulative survery of these and other considerations.

All of this discussion is healthy and good. Yet, I wonder in the richness of the conversation how much, if any, prayer has been lifted for this VP candidate and her family. Personally, I have been convicted about my lack of intercession. As I wrestle to understand the impact this governmental decision has on gender roles and the local church, in addition to its effect on Sarah Palin’s own family, I have not prayed for her as a godly, complementarian man ought. Ironically, as gender issues arise in the wake of these events, one thing is clear from the passage that has caused so much debate–i.e. 1 Timothy 2–that godly men are to raise holy hands to the Lord in prayer. They are not to quarrel in anger, but rather are to labor in prayer for the good of the their family, their church, the gospel, and their country. Discussion is good but prayer is better. May we as we read, write, question, and speak about these recent events, lift holy hands to heaven and pray for Sarah Palin and for our government, so that the gospel of Jesus Christ might have free reign in our families, our churches, and our country.

Here is a list of recent posts:

Reforming Marriage author, Doug Wilson has four thought-provoking posts: Kind of Spooky When You Think About It , Palin Comparison , An Epistemological Pileup, John Slays His Thousands.

Voddie Baucham separates Pro-Life and Pro-Family and makes some provocative, but polarizing, comments about Sarah Palin’s VP selection in his post, “Did McCain Make a Pro-Family Pick?”

Offering a more balanced commentary, Dr. Al Mohler blogs on his website, and on the Washington Post’s eclectic “On Faith” website

Denny Burk follows Dr. Mohler’s lead and presents a balanced response to the issues his post: Southern Baptist Hypocrisy?

Also navigating the challenging terrain of complementarity, CBMW Director, David Kotter offers a two-part series, “Does Sarah Palin Present a Dilemma for Complementarians?” Part 1. Part 2. From speaking with him the other day, it sounds like more reflections on the biblical and cultural issues are forthcoming. Stay tuned.

Finally Tim Challies summarizes a long list comments in the blogosphere with his lengthy rundown.  You can read it all here.

May we who love the wisdom of gender complementarity pray for Sarah Palin, for our country, and for our churches as we continue to think biblically on this matter!