Physics in Theology

Richard Gaffin says this:

Since these two aspects of the believer’s experience [i.e. resurrection in his own experience in the past and anticiplated future bodily resurrection] are integrally related to each other as well as to the past event of Jesus’ resurrection, the unity involved may be expressed by saying that the resurrection of Jesus is refracted in the experience of the believer in a twofold fashion. (Resurrection and Redemption, P&R 2nd ed., 1987, p.60)

‘Refracted’? I like how theologians use the language of physics to explain theological ideas. Gaffin seems particularly good at it.

Physics in Theology

Come on Men!

A couple of people have posted on the problem of the feminisation of the church recently. Jollyblogger has written a long article here and a follow up here, while Discoshaman, while reflecting on 5 years in the PCA, has written some interesting comments on feminisation in the charismatic churches.

These are written from an American perspective, but the UK is not insulated from the same problems. In summary of these two gentlemen there are three obvious symptoms, perhaps reflecting three stages of decay (?):

1) Liberal dying churches where the women are in the majority. They are doctinally ruined. This may mean >70% are women. Men are few and far between. I have had experience of this many times. I have found after such a service, some women coming up to me and telling me how wonderful it is to hear a man’s voice sing. Now, I don’t have a great singing voice or anything, but I can belt it out with the best of them! So I stand out. Most men have taken flight. Mothers bring the children. So the boys learn that church is for girls.

2) Loosely evangelical churches where there is a better balance of men and women. However the active people are the women. Men have simply stepped back from responsibility. As a result there are women place in inappropriate leadership roles. Women will even teach in church. The concept of pastoring is seen as a feminine thing, but is reduced to helping out with practical needs, listening to problems, but lacking the skill to apply biblical doctrine to real life. Women are only too willing to do this work. Men back out.

3) Evangelical churches with good strong teaching ministry, yet are concerned that men bond, share struggles etc. The strong emphasis on the relational however, is causing men difficulties. Some will like this, but frankly many are driven away by it. Here’s Jollyblogger:

And, when the Christian faith is expressed in such sentimental and emotional terms, it will be a turn off to men. Along those lines, think of how it plays to men, when we call the Christian life a “love relationship with Jesus.” That sure sounds something like a marriage relationship, but does this mean that I, as a man, am to have that kind of relationship with another man?

I have a lot of sympathy with this. And there is the problem: the Christian life is not a “love relationship with Jesus” but a covenant bond to God in Christ. If anyone asks, “What’s that?” then at least you’re asking the right question. It is the answer to this that needs to proclaimed from the pulpit week by week. What does it mean to be “in Christ”?

I once heard a preacher tell of how he had been to the Urbana conference in the US. He related how, when he was speaking, he had pressed the need for real “manly godliness”. When the transcripts were published, for PC reasons they had changed “manly godliness” to “vigorous godliness”.

But the preacher was right the first time.

Come on Men!


I’ve also noticed that some people’s conception of God’s sanctifying activity is rather like that of a servo motor in power assisted steering.


Gaffin at Oakhill

I went down to Oakhill with a couple of friends to hear Dick Gaffin speak on By Faith, Not By Sight. After a 2.5 hour journey I got back at around 6:45pm. Just enough time to get a bite to eat and out to homegroup. Didn’t get back till late.

I will try to summarise what Dick Gaffin said and my reactions to it after I have got through the worst of my assignment schedule. Suffice to say for now that there were periods of hard slog and periods of revelation that brought a smile and an inner, “Yes! Of course…”

Here were the titles of the four lectures:

The Center of Paul’s Theology

Eschatology and Ordo Salutis in Paul

Eschatology and Sanctification in Paul

Eschatology and Justification in Paul

Now for that last essay on the Atonement…

Gaffin at Oakhill

English? English? ENGLISH??

Just let me calm down a moment…

I have just read this phrase by that respected theologian Louis Berkhof:

…the views of Edward Irving, the great English preacher and contemporary of Thomas Chalmers.

(The History of Christian Doctrines, Banner of Truth, p. 198)

At first I thought, “He’s made an honest mistake. English? No, you meant Scottish, surely?” Because he was Scottish. It says here, look! And I’ve seen the ugly statue in Annan to prove it.

But then I realized,

a) “He’s too clever to make such a stupid mistake!”

b) “He’s American!”

Countless times I have found my cousins from the US making this simple yet, since I am a Scot, stupendously irritating kind of mistake. Therefore, as part of my one-man, futile crusade to educate the whole of the United States in one blog entry, let me make some simple statements.

Pay attention.

A Scotsman is British.

An Englishman is British.

But, it is not true, necessarily, that a Briton is English.

It therefore also does not follow that a Scotsman, because he is British, is therefore English. That would be stupid.

Let’s be clear. A Scotsman is not, never has been, nor ever will be an Englishman.

Good. Glad we sorted that out. I feel so much better.

Now, where did those chips on my shoulder come from…?

English? English? ENGLISH??

Forgiveness Fallacy

OK, I didn’t claim to be on a fast. I only suggested that my head might be down for a while. But here is a micro-breather from reading.

I came across this quote yesterday from Emil Brunner in The Mediator which I thought was pretty interesting. Discussing the question of God’s forgiveness and how He can deal with the difficulty of the great obstacle of sin which bars man from Him, he says

Modern superficiality…evades this difficulty by an appeal to the analogy of human life. Good people forgive one another, how much more then must the good God be ready to forgive! The fallacy is not perceived. Good people forgive because they remember their own sin, because they know they have no right to judge others.(London: Lutterworth, 1934) p. 447

No less true 70 years on, I suggest. The modern (even Christian) mind too readily forgets just how different God is from us.

Forgiveness Fallacy