The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 8)

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Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com. Read the series so far.

Chapter Five: The Public Service in the Synagogue and the Church (continued)

The Sermon in the Synagogue

After Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah, He delivered a message—a sermon, if you will—to those assembled in the synagogue (Luke 4:21-27). All the references to Jesus teaching or preaching in the synagogues of Galilee also bear testimony to the fact that the synagogue was pre-eminently a place of biblical instruction (see Mathew 4:23, 9:35, etc.) where the sermon was as regular a part of the service as the prayers and the Bible reading. Read more about The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 8)

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Myths of Faith #3 - It's Being Sure of What God Will Do

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When my dad was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer several years ago, I experienced a faith-collision. On the one hand was the strong likelihood that glioblastoma was going to take his life within two or three years. On the other was the fact that “with God, all things are possible.”

Of course more than one of us asked God to heal Dad. We asked God to use the medications, to lead us to some undiscovered cure, to make surgery more effective than it normally is for this disease.

What collided was my faith in what God could do and my uncertainty about what He would do.

Many teach a perspective on faith that would erase these collisions. They counsel that living by faith means absolute, unwavering trust that God will certainly do some specific thing. He will provide the funding for this project; He will open the door for that new job; He will give the church five new families in the new year; He will heal this disease. Read more about Myths of Faith #3 - It's Being Sure of What God Will Do

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The Testimony of the Scriptures to Themselves

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(About this series)

CHAPTER III THE TESTIMONY OF THE SCRIPTURES TO THEMSELVES

BY REV. GEORGE S. BISHOP, D. D., EAST ORANGE, NEW JERSEY

My subject is, The Testimony of the Scriptures to Themselves—their own self-evidence—the overpowering, unparticipated witness that they bring.

Permit me to expand this witness under the following heads:

  1. Immortality.
  2. Authority.
  3. Transcendent Doctrine.
  4. Direct Assertion.

1. IMMORTALITY— “I have written!” All other books die. Few old books survive, and fewer of those that survive have any influence. Most of the books we quote from have been written within the last three or even one hundred years,

But here is a Book whose antemundane voices had grown old, when voices spake in Eden. A Book which has survived not only with continued but increasing lustre, vitality, vivacity, popularity, rebound of influence. A Book which comes through all the shocks without a wrench, and all the furnaces of all the ages—like an iron safe—with every document in every pigeon-hole, without a warp upon it, or the smell of fire. Here is a Book of which it may be said, as of Immortal Christ Himself: “Thou hast the dew on Thy youth from the womb of the morning.” A Book dating from days as ancient as those of the Ancient of Days, and which when all that makes up what we see and call the universe shall be dissolved, will still speak on in thunder-tones of majesty, and

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From the Archives: Liar!

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(From Oct. of 2012)

Why are some people so eager to call others’ inaccurate statements “lies”?

Since we’re not far from another national election, the word “lie” is, as usual, getting an intense workout. But this phenomenon isn’t unique to election year politics. Over and over, and in a variety of settings, I’ve observed this: people encounter what they see as falsehood and immediately leap to the judgment that someone is lying—and say so.

I’ve always found this behavior puzzling, and sometimes head-against-wall maddening. Are these accusers unable to see that everyone (including themselves) is sincerely wrong about one thing or another nearly all the time? Have they managed to miss the memo that to err is human?

Maybe it’s a failure to adjust for bias. Do they believe that if they dislike someone, or strongly disapprove of his ideas or actions, they are entitled to judge his character by a completely different standard than they use against themselves? Do they not realize that if they want others to judge their character generously, they should judge the character of others generously?

Or do they just not know what a lie really is? Read more about From the Archives: Liar!

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Were the Novations Early Baptists?

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Were the Novatians Baptists? Many Baptists like to claim the Novatians as their own. Landmarkers believe the Novatians were Baptists through and through. For example, J.R. Graves (1880) declared “that all the churches of Christ, before the ‘apostasy,’ which took place in the third and fourth centuries…were what are now called Baptist churches” (Old Landmarkism: What is It? Kindle Locations 2235-2236).

Thomas Armitage, the great Baptist historian, rightly said this was a rash characterization (1890, p. 482). If the Novatians cannot be claimed as direct descendants, can they be claimed as the distant spiritual kin of modern-day Baptists? Some Baptists would agree.

Much of what has been written of the Novatians by Baptists of any stripe is at best a gloss, and at worst completely incorrect. As an example of the latter, G.H. Orchard, a Landmarkist, wrote (1855):

One Novatian, a presbyter in the church of Rome, strongly opposed the readmission of apostates, but he was not successful…. Novatian, with every considerate person, was disgusted with the hasty admission of such apostates to communion, and with the conduct of many pastors, who were more concerned about numbers than purity of communion. (p. 53)

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The Incoherence of Evolutionary Origins (Part 5)

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Read the series so far.

The definition of science

In the course of writing about the idea of science in his Systematic Theology, Reformed writer Michael Horton notes that “Britain’s Royal Society was founded by Puritans” (The Christian Faith, 339 n.48).

The Puritans saw no clash, either ontological or methodological, in pursuing science as a response to God’s revelation. The fact that God created the world and created man in His image meant that to find out what God had done was both legitimate, as to fueling an expectation of discovery, and meaningful, because creation had been endowed with its own integrity apart from God while being supervened by God. In this they were in line with the Reformers like Calvin, who said:

Meanwhile being placed in this most beautiful theater, let us not decline to take a pious delight in the clear and manifest works of God. For as we have elsewhere observed, though not the chief, it is in point of order, the first evidence of faith to remember to which side, so ever we turn, that all which meets the eye is the work of God, and at the same time to meditate with pious care on the end which God had in view in creating it. (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, I. 14, 20)

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A Thoughtful Conversation on Issues of Baptist Fellowship

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For Baptist Fundamentalists, “dual affiliation” is a phrase that has been, historically, charged with tension. The term was significant in the events that led to the birth of the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC), as well as the beginnings of the Minnesota Baptist Association (MBA) and the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship International (FBFI). Over the years, these organizations have rarely intersected with one another in any formal manner, and for many a sense of suspicion has lingered.

Recently, the matter of dual-affiliation was raised in a new context when First Baptist Church in Marshall, Minnesota (where I serve as pastor) sought and obtained fellowship in GARBC associations while retaining its established fellowship in the MBA.

The resulting gathering

Prompted largely by the Marshall congregation’s actions, over 100 Baptists from Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin gathered September 19 at Fourth Baptist Church (Plymouth, MN) for a panel discussion. The event was billed as “The Future of Baptist Fundamentalism: A Thoughtful Conversation Between Baptist Brothers.” Read more about A Thoughtful Conversation on Issues of Baptist Fellowship

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The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 7)

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Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com. Read the series so far.

Chapter Five: The Public Service in the Synagogue and the Church (continued)

Bible Reading in the Church

While accepting the complete OT canon of the Jews, NT-era Christians also recognized additional written works as divinely-inspired and therefore authoritative. As the various Apostolic writings were composed and circulated, their authority was recognized and they began to be read in the churches in addition to the Old Testament Scriptures.

In 1 Timothy, Paul’s “textbook” on “church polity” (see 3:14-15), he instructs Timothy, proseche tei anagnosei, “devote yourself to the reading” (4:13). That this is the public reading of the Scriptures and not simply an exhortation to extensive private study is evident, first, from the presence in Greek of the definite article, “the reading,” that is, something well-known The article is similarly used in the references to the reading of the Scriptures in the synagogue, Acts 13:15; 2 Corinthians 3:14. Second, the two following activities, “the exhortation, the instruction,” are clearly public activities carried out in the assembly. Most commentators seem to understand the reading to be public and in the church, rather than private. Included in this number are Alford,1 Ellicott,2 Fairbairn,3 Van Oosterzee,4 Liddon,5 White,6 Lock,7 Robertson,8 Hendricksen,9 and Earle.10 On the other hand, there are those who understand the verse to mean private study, including Calvin,11 Gill,12 and Barnes13 (Clarke understands it of both public and private reading).14 Read more about The Synagogue and the Church: A Study of Their Common Backgrounds and Practices (Part 7)

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