“The whole world is like a drunken peasant.
They fall off one side of the horse or the other.” – Martin Luther
An Apology to Joel McDurmon – In Both Senses of the Word
“As Christians, an exhortation to ‘remember your baptism’ is a good one, but this begins with a baptism you can actually remember.”
Joel McDurmon of American Vision just wrote a post tracing back to their Arminian doctrine the deceit and manipulative tactics use by, and even marketed by, the Elevation Church to increase their baptism quota. He writes:
If “saving souls” is the main end-game of your Christian faith, and if the free will is the last hurdle of salvation, then why would you not what the help of an army of marketers, managers, assembly lines, pre-packaged directions, techniques, tools, processes, and networks of support farms and professionals who can claim “billions served”?
It’s only from the standpoint of the doctrines of grace that it makes sense to criticize these manipulative tactics. It is encouraging that some Christians seem naturally uneasy when a church like Elevation admits what it does. But Elevation is just a mote. Free will theology is the plank.
Well, my nickname is Bully and I saw red. A discussion ensued on facebook which did not end on very good terms. Of course, this is something that rarely ever happens (not). I believe what I wrote was entirely objective, and at least as gracious as Mr McDurmon’s opinion piece, however re-reading it, it was badly worded and Joel, a writer whose work and ministry I admire, took it personally. I wrote:
“As always, the beauty of the arrangement is breathtaking. It is historical narrative, poetry, legal Covenant and high symbolism all at once… It consists of three Cycles which recapitulate the triune ‘Garden, Land, World’ architecture of the Creation and the Tabernacle.”
Matthew 28: SUCCESSION
The fifth major cycle takes us to the end of the Covenant pattern, from the Covenant Sanctions to Covenant Succession. In the Old Testament, this concerned handing Covenant authority to the faithful of the next generation. It was the blessings of Jacob upon his sons (Garden), and Moses passing the baton of headship of Israel to Joshua (Land). This time, the inheritance was not the Garden Sanctuary of Moses  nor the Land of Canaan, but the entire World. Thus, it is no accident that in both cases, in that of Joshua and that of the disciples, He said, “I am with you.” A battle lay ahead.
Looking God in the Eye
The history of mankind is one of good gifts turned into idols. Blessings abused become curses in the hands of those who won’t look God in the eye.
For those of us who know the Bible, the idolatries become more subtle. This was the case for the Pharisees. The exile had purified Israel of old-school idolatry, so she invented a new school: an elitism bound by an Abrahamic heritage and energized by the abuse of Moses and the Law as a means of salvation: heritage instead of faith; obligation instead of salvation. The good things given as gifts once again became the gods.
or Baptism into Baal
Then you shall say to Pharaoh,
‘Thus says the Lord,
Israel is my firstborn son,
and I say to you,
“Let my son go that he may serve me.”
If you refuse to let him go,
I will kill your firstborn son.’”
My Federal Vision friends believe baptism is an important subject, from both theological and pastoral points of view. I agree, but for me it is also an issue of aesthetics. The Bible has a wonderfully consistent internal logic, and paedobaptism crunches the gears at every turn.
Peter Leithart just posted something concerning baptism, and it’s worth answering, not only “because somebody on the internet is wrong,” but also because it is an issue I’ve just finished dealing with in The Shape of Galatians. It should be noted that Trinity House is hosting some lectures on sacraments by a baptist, so Dr Leithart and his colleagues have a spirit that should be imitated by theologians everywhere. My own posts here are always bait in the hope of a bite, a friendly disputatio, so don’t take them the wrong way. If a friend has soup on his tie, or wax in his ear, or a fertility rite in his sacrament, what sort of friend isn’t going to point it out!?
God loves His architecture. The first chapter of the Bible is architecture. The books of Moses and the book of Revelation are filled with architecture, and the same floorplan underlies every book in between. Most Christians don’t understand the Bible’s architecture and modern Christians not only do not understand it, they do not care for it. But God loves His architecture. To love the Bible one must love its architecture. To understand the Bible, one must let the architecture inform one’s understanding.
Part III – The Feast of Clouds
“But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you.”’ (Acts 3:6)
Israel consistently failed to keep the final feast, the Feast of Sukkot, because she took her calling to be elitist rather than priestly. She thought her calling, gifts and purification were for herself, rather than for the healing of the nations.
“The Lord’s Table is for dangerous people.”
If you are going to baptize infants, it makes sense that you would also allow them to take Communion. Baptism brings one into the priesthood (through the Laver) to the court of God, and Communion is fellowship in the priestly kingdom. To unite the two is consistent—as consistent as the two pillars flanking the threshold of Solomon’s Temple.
“And as he prayed, the appearance of his countenance was altered, and his clothing was white and glistening.” (Luke 9:29, King James 2000 Bible)
The Tabernacle was covered in three layers: linen, red-dyed ramskin, and a third layer of tachash. What’s tachash? The word is a mystery, and there have been many suggestions concerning its meaning, from unicorn to dolphin. But perhaps that mystery has now been solved. And the glistening solution is nothing like you’d imagine in a million years.
Born from Above
I’m currently working hard on Bible Matrix III: The House of God. This third volume is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. It really is. Being so engrossed in the shape and processes of the Bible (yes, even more than usual), it has struck me how foreign the various theological schools’ thinking and speech is to the actual text.
The debates about “Pauline Theology” are the perfect example, especially the focus on narrow (yet important) topics such as justification. An academic divides and redivides the text in the way an expert in any science overspecializes. He ends up knowing everything about nothing. After spending a few hours each day wandering and describing the halls of biblical architecture, I am more convinced than ever that the only way to fully understand Scripture is architecturally. This is because, for our glorious God, architecture is ethics, and ethics is architecture. Divorced from the biblical mud map, the Edenic grid, modern theologians are discussing less than a dim distorted reflection of the book God has given us. They are feeling their way around the house with their eyes shut. Continue reading
That day Moses charged the people, saying, “When you have crossed over the Jordan, these shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. And these shall stand on Mount Ebal for the curse: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. (Deuteronomy 27:11-13)
Paul now moves into the Deuteronomy section of his epistle to the Galatians, and it becomes clear that, structurally-speaking, Galatians gets no further than Moses. The epistle is fivefold in nature, a recapitulation of the Torah, and thus it ends on the wilderness side of the Jordan. Like Moses, Paul will not live to see the new order, except from afar.