Rationalism and Mysticism

In The Nick of Time
Christian theology moves between two poles. On the one hand, it is impelled by the desire to understand God. Understanding implies explanation, and explanation is essentially a matter of giving reasons. This impulse leads us to ask why God is or does thus or so. If we cannot find clear reasons, then we at least seek for careful definitions. We may not be able to say why God is Triune, but we at least attempt to formulate as precisely as we can what the Trinity means. This theological pole could be called the rational impulse in theology.

At the other pole, theologians constantly bump up against the recognition that God is wholly other. They quickly learn that the predicates that we apply to God cannot be used univocally. Even so basic an assertion as “God exists” has to mean something different than the assertion that “we exist,” for God’s being is underived. He alone is self-existent—His being is different than our being.

Faced with the limitations of human understanding and human language, theologians sometimes despair of any rational knowledge of God. For them, theology becomes purely a matter of negation. They cannot meaningfully say what God is. They can only say what He is not. Rational knowledge of God is impossible.

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Knowledge, Humility, Zeal, and Leadership

Note: This article was originally published at SI on October 2, 2006.
I really love Peter. It is so easy for us, in retrospect, to snipe at him for his antics, but I have been thinking a lot about him lately. Peter strikes me as a man who had given himself over entirely to follow Jesus. He rightly vested in Christ all of his hopes and dreams. So much so pryde_direction.jpgthat when asked if he were going to leave Jesus, he responded, “Where else can we go? You have the words of life.” Peter was exactly right; Jesus is the only way to life. All other paths are leading directly to sin and death.

Yet much of Peter’s ideas of discipleship were colored by his own misguided expectations and misunderstandings. Jesus had a habit of turning those expectations upside down, and we frequently find Peter struggling to reconcile what Jesus was doing and teaching with his own preconceived notions of the way things were supposed to be.

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Book Review: Future Israel

Horner, Barry E. Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-Judaism Must Be Challenged. NAC Studies in Bible & Theology. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2007. Jacketed Hardcover, xxii + 394 pages. $19.99.

(Review copies courtesy of B&H Academic.)
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ISBNs: 0805446273 / 9780805446272


Features: Footnotes; 5 Appendices including an Annotated Bibliography of Jewish-Christian Relations in Church History; Author, Subject, and Scripture Indexes

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How Did Jesus Perform Miracles?

Note: This article is reprinted with permission from As I See It, a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at
That Jesus did perform a multitude of bona fide, undeniable, nature-superceding miracles is the clear and consistent testimony of the New Testament, most commonly noted in the Gospels and Acts. (For a convenient but not quite complete list of Gospel references to Jesus’ miracles, see A. T. Robertson, A Harmony of the Gospels, p. 294.) One question requiring attention is, “How did Jesus perform these miracles? In His own divine power, or by some other means?”

One crucial theological aspect of Christ’s incarnation was His “self-emptying” as described by Paul in Philippians 2:6-7.

Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. (NASB)

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Book Review: Sealed with an Oath

Williamson, Paul R. Sealed with an Oath: Covenant in God’s Unfolding Purpose. New Studies in Biblical Theology, Volume 23. Downers Grove, ILL: IVP Academic, 2007. Paperback, 224 pages. $23.00

(Review copy courtesy of InterVarsity Press.)

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Series: New Studies in Biblical Theology, Volume: 23

Series Editor: D. A. Carson

Special Features: Bibliography; Index of Modern Authors; Index of Scripture References

ISBNs: 0830826246 / 9780830826247

LCCN: BS680.C67 W55 DCN: 231.7/6

Subjects: Biblical Theology, Covenants

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It's the Theology!

In The Nick of Timeby Kevin T. Bauder

When I accepted my first senior pastorate, I thought that I had no illusions about ministry. I had grown up in a pastor’s home, been through four years of Bible college (which took me six years to finish), completed four years of seminary (M.Div. and Th.M.), served in an interim pastorate, worked as a pastor of youth and music for two years, and taught Greek and theology in a Bible college for two years. I thought that I knew what I was getting into.

I was wrong.

Within a month, I felt completely overwhelmed. I had no idea that pastoral ministry involves constantly juggling a dozen time bombs, any one of which has the potential to destroy the church. I had no clue about the depth to which depravity has affected the lives of Baptist church members or about the horrendous moral and spiritual problems that I would be forced to confront. I had no way of guessing how petty and vituperative God’s dear children could be.

I was not ready.

Of course, most of ministry was not the “bad stuff.” Most of it was very, very good and tremendously fulfilling. The church to which I was called was not a bad church—it was just an ordinary one, with all the usual quirks and foibles.

But I didn’t know that.

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Book Review—Always Reforming

Reviewed by Douglas Brown

Always Reforming: Explorations in Systematic Theology. Edited by A. T. B. McGowan. Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2007. Paperback, 368 pages. $26.00

(review copy courtesy of InterVarsity Press)
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Contributors: Gerald bray, Stephen Williams, Robert L. Reymond, Kevin J. Vanhoozer, A. T. B. McGowan, Richard C. Gamble, Henri Blocher, Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Cornelis P. Venema, and Derek W. H. Thomas.

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