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Friday Miscellania

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God, Max & Me – I’ve felt a little bit brain-dead this week. Grieved by the shallowness of my devotional life and my difficulty in making sufficient time for it, I recently decided to try a whole new approach. I now wake up an hour earlier than I used to but leave my Bible on the shelf. I get up a good long time before the sun comes up and head outdoors with just my iPod which I have loaded with hymns, classical music and Max McLean’s recording of the ESV. I walk the darkened streets of Oakville for a time I affectionately call “God, Max & Me.” To this point I have really enjoyed this time and I’m grateful for the technology that allows this. It is awfully difficult to drag my tired carcass out of bed at such a ridiculous hour, but it has proven well worth it. I am surprised at how much I am enjoying listening to the Bible instead of reading it. I can easily walk for an hour, listening to Scripture, listening to hymns and praying and return home wishing I could spend another hour doing the same. I assume my body will eventually adjust to waking up earlier as since I began doing this I’ve had trouble thinking, writing, working and generally staying awake! But even so, it has been worth it.

Sermon CloudSermoncloud – Here’s an interesting idea. Sermoncloud is a site that provides “advanced sermon syndication.” “Sermon Cloud is a website for a community to interact with sermons. What are the powerful sermons people are listening to? Who are the up-and-coming preachers of the day? Where are the messages about themes that you need to hear? How can you find a great preacher in your home town? Sermon Cloud was designed to help you with all of these questions. Sermon Cloud users help let each other know which sermons they amen. An ‘amen’ is a recommendation of the sermon. Users can post comments about their interaction with these sermons (even the comments can be designated as helpful or unhelpful).” As sermons are recommended, they become apparent to a wider audience, thus suggesting that better sermons will be heard by more people. Obviously the usefulness of the site depends, in large part, to the quality of the sermons. To this point it appears that many of the pastors are engaged in biblical preaching. But certainly having more preachers who deliberately and humbly exposit the Scriptures would increase the value of the site.

Clarity and Mystery – Just this morning I was discussing Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy with some friends. We had read his chapter on “God Incomprehensible” and we noted that a book about knowing God began with a chapter affirming that God is incomprehensible. Yet Tozer is careful to state that while we can never know all there is to know about God, He has still revealed much about Himself and we can know these things with confidence. “‘What is God like?’ If by that question we mean ‘What is God like in Himself there is no answer. If we mean ‘What has God disclosed about Himself that the reverent reason can comprehend?’ there is, I believe, an answer both full and satisfying. For while the name of God is secret and His essential nature incomprehensible, He in condescending love has by revelation declared certain things to be true of Himself.”

We spoke of the Emerging Church Movement and of the way they celebrate doubt over certainty. This is something I was struck by (read it here) several months ago after hearing Brian McLaren speak. A faith which measures maturity by doubt rather than confidence is, frankly, ridiculous and unscriptural.

Interestingly, when I returned home I opened up my RSS reader and found the following on Phil Johnson’s blog:

This morning, I taped a one-hour interview with John MacArthur on the Emerging Church Movement. He spoke with his usual candor about various trends in the post-evangelical wasteland. He said one of the worst tendencies of the “emerging” spirit is the way it exaggerates and venerates mystery at the expense of the Bible’s clarity. Denying the perspicuity of Scripture has the same practical outcome as denying the truthfulness of Scripture. The essential message of Scripture is not unclear or uncertain, and Jesus Himself bore testimony to that fact repeatedly.

It is also worth quoting John Frame who writes the following about doubt:

[T]he Bible presents doubt largely in negative terms. It is a spiritual impediment, an obstacle to doing God’s work (Matt. 14:31; 21:21; 28:17; Acts 10:20; 11:12; Rom. 14:23; 1 Tim. 2:8; James 1:6). In Matthew 14:31 and Romans 14:23 it is the opposite of faith and therefore a sin. Of course, this sin, like other sins, may remain with us through our earthly life. But we should not be complacent about it. Just as the ideal for the Christian life is a perfect holiness, the ideal for the Christian mind is absolute certainty about God’s revelation.

We should not conclude, however, that doubt is always sinful. Matthew 14:31 and Romans 14:23 (and indeed the other texts I have listed) speak of doubt in the fact of clear special revelation. To doubt what God has clearly spoken to us is wrong. But in other situations, it is not wrong to doubt. In many cases, in fact, it is wrong for us to claim knowledge, much less certainty. Indeed, often the best course is to admit our ignorance (Deut. 29:29, Rom. 11:33-36). Paul is not wrong to express uncertainty about the number of people he baptized (1 Cor. 1:16). Indeed, James tells us, we are not always ignorant of the future to some extent and we should not pretend to know more about it than we do (James 4:13-16). Job’s friends were wrong to think that they knew the reasons for his torment, and Job himself had to be humbled, as God reminded him of his ignorance (Job 38-42).

But as to our salvation, God wants us to know that we know him (1 John 5:13)…

The Bible celebrates confidence, not doubt. The Emerging Church celebrates doubt, not confidence. You do the math.

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