- Step one: Glory belongs to God and not to the nation (v. 1). (See: No Glory to Us and Glory to God’s Name.)
- Step two: Why should the nations say ‘Where is there God?’ (v.2).
- Step three: What Israel’s God is Like (v. 3). (See: The God Who Can’t Be Manipulated.)
- Step four: What the nations’ gods are like (vv. 4-8).
- Step five: A call for Israel to renew its trust in Yahweh (vv. 9-11).
So, now the Psalm turns from reflections on whatever misfortune has come upon them, to an affirmation of renewed hope in their God. (more…)
I appeal to every impartial mind…whether the mercy of God would not be far less gloriously displayed, in saving a few by his irresistible power, and leaving all the rest without help, without hope, to perish everlastingly, than in offering salvation to every creature, actually saving all that consent thereto, and doing for the rest all that infinite wisdom, almighty power, and boundless love can do, without forcing them to be saved.
— John Wesley, “Predestination Calmly Considered.”
STUPIDITY VS. EVIL
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgement simply need not be believed — in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical — and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters & Papers from Prison, 43. Quoted by Nijay K. Gupta here: Bonhoeffer on Stupidity.
RACISM AS A SPIRITUAL CRISIS
From a joint statement prompted by the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, by pastors Gabriel Salguero, J. Mark DeYmaz, Le Que Vu-Heidkamp, Jeanette Salguero, Bryan Loritts, David Anderson, and Eugene Cho: “At its core the scourge of racism presents a spiritual crisis with real life and death repercussions. And while government and educational programs, together with the efforts of countless individuals, groups and agencies, have long-sought to eliminate prejudice and the disparaging consequences of systemic racism still deeply embedded within our society, it is long-past time to recognize that systemic racism cannot be overcome apart from the establishment of local churches which intentionally and joyfully reflect the love of God for all people beyond the distinctions of this world that so often and otherwise divide. For not only does God require of governments and institutions the work of justice, we, too, the local church, the bride of Christ, have been ordained by God to this task. With this in mind, the American Church can and must do better in providing spiritual leadership toward a healing response. Indeed, we call immediately for it to do so.” Here: Multi-Ethnic Churches Lament America’s Racial Injustice. (more…)
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—” (Ephesians 2:8 NRSV)
Many Calvinists fear that any retreat from the conviction that God causes faith will make salvation a human accomplishment. If faith is something we do, then salvation rests on our deeds and no longer on God’s grace. If faith is viewed as our part in the process of salvation, then salvation must he viewed as a cooperative affair, and we should then describe ourselves as self-saviors in part.
But the flaw in this Calvinist fear lies in its improper understanding of the nature of faith itself. The Bible itself does not describe faith as a work that accomplishes a task, or as a deed that establishes merit, or as a lever that forces God to act. Instead, we find that genuine faith is something quite different. As Paul’s treatment of Abraham shows, the patriarch’s faith had no power over God, earned no merit before God and stood as the polar opposite to honorific deeds. Abraham believed God, and righteousness was ‘credited’ to him, not paid to him. God alone justified Abraham freely on the basis of Abraham’s faith (Rom 4:1-6). Since by its very nature faith confesses the complete lack of human merit and human power, it subtracts nothing from the Savior’s grace or glory. By its very nature, faith points away from all human status and looks to God alone for rescue and restoration.
— Jerry L. Walls & Joseph R. Dongell, Why I Am Not a Calvinist (2004) pp. 77, 78.
An email and my response:
Hello Mr. Adams, I read with interest your comments on Calvin's comments on John 3:16 on your web site. I was wondering what your thoughts are on Jesus' words as recorded in John 6:44: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (NKJV) (It is unfortunate that English editions tend to translate the Greek as "draws" rather than the more accurate "compels" — especially since it is also translated more accurately as "dragged" elsewhere.) Have you considered that perhaps Calvin's "on the other hand" was intended to recognize what the whole of scripture says about this issue? He just may have been appealing to theology that is rooted in scripture itself.
The message of the Wesleys and of the subsequent “Methodist” movement was a message of radical faithfulness to God. It affirmed an optimism of grace which believed that people’s lives could be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit and that society could be changed — through the impact of prayer and through the impact of people who were filled with love for God and love for others. It was a movement that saw a progressive and liberating movement in Scripture that made it clear to them that the institution of slavery — the buying and selling of human beings — was wrong. It allowed them to see that God was calling both men and women into the service of Christ. It was a radical message of inward and outward holiness.
It can be hard to sustain a radical message. (more…)
Guest blog by Dr. James E. Pedlar. Dr. Pedlar is Assistant Professor of Wesley Studies and Theology at Tyndale University and Seminary in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The areas of his specialization are: Wesleyan theology, ecclesiology, unity and diversity in the church, renewal and reform movements.
it says on his faculty bio: “James is a Wesleyan theologian whose work focuses on ecclesiology – especially questions involving the place of renewal and reform movements in the church. His doctoral dissertation explores the use of the Pauline concept of “charisms” as a way of thinking about the unique gifts that different movements bring to the life of the church as a whole.”