This is the anniversary that almost wasn’t. Earlier this year, some of my loyal readers may recall, I posted a farewell post with the full intention of shutting A Peculiar Pilgrim down for good. That cast-iron resolve lasted all of three months. I missed writing, and blogging in particular. I so enjoy the dialogue I’m able to have with all kinds of people that I just can’t reproduce in the non-binary world. So, in an act of subtlety I simply deleted that final post and pretended it never existed. I resumed business as usual and my readers (according to the stats) haven’t missed a beat. So my blogging career rolls on for at least one more season, God willing.
As tradition dictates I’m offering up my favorite posts from 2010 for your reading pleasure:
The Necessity of Theology - This post sprang from the outline to my opening class on the doctrine of Redemption. And I endorse every word of it.
I’m Not Good Enough… – Another angle on the inner turmoil that lead to my personal reformation experience five years ago that once and for all freed me from the aberrant doctrines that had ensnared me for over a decade.
The Ugly Truth About Mirrors – A post about the not-so-popular duty of the faithful minister to his congregation.
The Cornerstone Commandment: Can we Keep it? – Can any single person on this earth muster up within his fallen nature an earnest love for the Lord God with all the heart, soul, mind and strength?
Surprised that I haven’t commented on this brouhaha yet? Actually, so am I. My longtime readers know what an outspoken critic I am of Rick Warren and his purpose-driven pragmatism. For those few who may not be in the know, pastor John Piper, a highly respected preacher/teacher both inside and outside of the reformed community has recently invited Rick Warren to his Desiring God conference this year. Outrage and dismay ensued upon this announcement. Piper made a video justifying his invitation to Warren, saying among other things that he believes at root that Warren is theologically and doctrinally sound. I’m biting my tongue as I write – so much I could say… Maybe that’s why I haven’t said anything.
Bloggers responded immediately, resoundingly condemning John Piper’s discernment in allowing this man a platform at his conference. Some bloggers went over the top and unfairly attacked Piper’s character and his ministry. In certain circles John Piper has been declared anathema. Honestly, If I had posted an article immediately following the announcement I may have crossed that line too as a knee-jerk reaction. I held back, seeking to see the whole picture first. I guess the Lord is maturing me after all. I was beginning to wonder about that.
Anyway, at this point I don’t feel the need to address the issue other than to commend to you an article from Phil Johnson over at the Pyromaniacs blog. After giving the controversy some thought, I can honestly admit that I agree with Phil’s balanced post in about every way possible. And since he can articulate himself much better than I ever could, I will simply point you over to his blog for a thoughtful take on Pipergate. Enjoy!
I just came across an informative article chronicling the recent resurgence of Calvinism. I agree with the writer’s assessment that this uprising is in response to the shallow, watered down Christianity-lite of modern Evangelicalism. Why? Well, because that’s basically how I came to embrace the doctrines of God’s sovereign grace. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was part of a world-wide movement. I felt like I walked entirely alone for the first couple of years. I battled alienation and discouragement during that period yet I latched on to the teachings of God’s absolute sovereignty with bulldog tenacity. No one, and I mean absolutely no one, agreed my new outlook on the scriptures. I sought refuge and companionship through my blog and found a growing, enthusiastic subculture on the internet where I could work out my theological wranglings among friends, who are also my brothers and sisters in the Lord. (more…)
Which Jesus do you worship?
John MacArthur states hard truth as boldly and earnestly as anybody out there. He pulls no punches in this article on his Grace to You blog. I agree with his assessment 100%. A great read.
Speaking of MacArthur and modern Evangelicalism, he has now published a third edition of his outstanding hard-hitting exposé on contemporary church-growth methods, Ashamed of the Gospel. Available at Monergism Books. Highly recommended.
I can hardly believe it myself but A Peculiar Pilgrim has reached the ripe old age of three. In blog years that probably makes it eligible for retirement. Many blogs flame out after a year or two and while it certainly hasn’t been stoked into the roaring fire I’ve intended for it the last couple years, at least my flickering light hasn’t been snuffed out completely. I only posted about 30 articles in 09. That’s barely more than 1 post every two weeks. I hope to improve on that in 2010.
In the flesh and blood realm I will be teaching a class on Redemption starting the first week of January. I’ve been hard at work preparing the outlines for the course. I’m thankful to God for this opportunity and I pray it will bless those that God brings into my classroom. My plan is, if time avails, to post articles based on the outlines I’m preparing for the class. I’ll likely post the corresponding articles a week before I teach the lesson. This will also help in articulating and unifying what I’ve written in my outlines. I have about 17 lessons prepared (as of right now) so I would expect at least that many articles on the doctrine of redemption over the first quarter of the year.
As has been the tradition the last two anniversaries, I am posting links to my favorite articles of 2009. In no particular order, they are:
The Justice of God and Are we Saved by Belief or by Actions? – These two articles are responses from the comment section of my post, Will Atheists Go to Hell? by (shockingly!) a couple of atheists. The interaction was cordial and enlightening: A good read.
Grasping God – An article that explores the difficult to comprehend doctrine of God’s omnipresence and my personal struggle to grasp it.
AW Pink on Erroneous Evangelism – A quote from the esteemed theologian (with some personal thoughts added in) that pinpoints the deficiency of the modern church’s proclamation of the gospel.
Is Christianity a Crutch for the Weak? – An article based on a Sunday School discussion that posed this very question.
Four Views of Salvation Throughout Church History – A helpful chart that shows how Calvinism, Arminianism, Semi-Pelagianism and Pelagianism are contrasted in regard to the roles both God and man play in redemption.
Paul Proctor has an outstanding on-point article regarding the sandy foundation upon which the Church Growth Movement (CGM) is built.
Here is an excerpt:
Well, another Leadership Summit has come and gone at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois – a yearly conference led by its senior pastor and Willow Creek Association’s Chairman of the Board, Bill Hybels. They reportedly drew over 6000 attendees this year with some 60,000 watching a live broadcast of the event. They’ve been holding these annual gatherings for 13 years.
In a recent Christian Post article, Hybels once again revealed the humanist nature of the infamous seeker-sensitive church growth movement by posing the question:
“Do we still believe the local church is the hope of the world?”
You see, many Christians might look at that and not realize they’ve been subjected to a dialectic question designed to alter their spiritual priorities and get them onboard an alternative agenda. This is what trained facilitators do under the radar in many churches today.
But I would ask: Is that where your hope lies – in the local church?
Do you believe your church can save the world?
Did it save you?
Read the entire article by clicking on the link below:
Yep, I think Dan Phillips covers all we need to know about election in this wonderful post over at Pyromaniacs. Here’s an excerpt:
Today’s American election takes place (normally) every four years on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November.
The election I’m thinking of took place once only, before the foundation of a world (Ephesians 1:4).
Today’s election involves votes cast by millions of people of wildly varying circumstances, characters, levels of intelligence, and worldviews.
The eternal election only had three participants: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, each the quintessence of perfection in power, wisdom, holiness, and goodness (Ephesians 1:3-14).
Today’s election requires that I take into account the career, character, accomplishments, stated convictions, and proposals of the candidates. My vote must be earned, in my estimation.
The eternal election actually is not only irrespective of (Romans 9:11), but contrary to the deserts of its objects. It is an election “that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:4). If that is the objective (or outcome) of the choice, then what were we before that choice, if not altogether unholy, and blameworthy?
Read the post in its entirety HERE
Happy Reformation Day to one and all! This significant, yet overlooked holiday celebrates the historical relevance of the posting of a long list of grievances against the Roman Catholic Church by the Augustinian monk Martin Luther on October 31st, 1517 in the German town of Wittenberg. Luther’s consternation centered around the repugnant practice of selling indulgences to the poor and naive populace in order to fund the construction of the lavish St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Two great theological issues Luther brought to light were the lost biblical doctrines of justification by faith alone and the authority of Scripture. They are historically referred to as the doctrines of Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura. Luther, after much wrestling with the scriptures, discovered that man is justified by God’s grace through faith alone. No human work of any sort contributed to his status before God. Faith in the work of Christ already done on man’s behalf is the means by which he is declared not guilty before a just and holy God. This doctrine is based upon the belief that the scriptures are sufficient unto all life and godliness for the believer. No pope or councils of Bishops and religious leaders can add or subtract one jot or tittle from the God-breathed scriptures. Upon this foundation Martin Luther made his stand. Will we stand with him? God help us if we don’t!
On this occasion, the Day of the Reformed, let all of us who fall under the label of ‘Protestant’ rejoice that we have been delivered from the iron bonds of Romish traditions and damnable heresies. Thank God that he used a frail and thoroughly flawed man like Martin Luther to unveil once again his amazing grace to sinners everywhere through his son, Jesus Christ.
Chris Rosebrough of Extreme Theology has hit a home run with his latest article. He recently attended the Evolve 08 Conference in Cumming, Georgia. Church planters, cutting edge pastors and ministry leaders from around the country gathered together to share ideas. Chris interviewed and conversed with many of the participants to try and understand the CPM’s modus operandi of establishing and growing churches in postmodern America. He has rightly divided the word of truth, splitting asunder their foundation with surgical precision, exposing the central tenant of this dangerous movement. The CPM, according to Chris, has part of its roots planted in the sandy soil of the candy-coated Purpose-Driven Ungospel of Rick Warren’s brand of Baptist theology. I’ll let Chris explain further: (more…)
Tim Challies has written a nice article on the ‘Beauty of a Good Bible Translation’. He articulated his reasons for preferring the English Standard Version (ESV) over several other modern translations. I have to say he has hit the nail on the head with his observations. I completely agree with his sentiments. The ESV is a wonderful literal translation of the scriptures that many believe captures the poetic flow of the original languages. Here is an excerpt:
Whenever I take the time to read the Bible slowly and meditatively, and this is particularly true of reading the Old Testament, I am struck by the beauty of the language as it is translated in the English Standard Version, my translation of choice. While I do not know how to read Hebrew, I often hear people speak of the poetic nature of the language which leads even the prose to have poetic qualities. It seems to me that the ESV does an admirable job of capturing that. The same cannot be said of all Bible translations. I have come to love the little literary devices, the metaphors and phrases used by the ancient writers and find that they add so much to the reading of the text. Without a translation that accurately rendered these sayings we would lose so much of the flow and meaning of the text.
There is so much beauty in the prose of the Old Testament and I am thankful to have access to a translation (and to several translations, really) that accurately renders the metaphors and phrases used by the original authors. Let me provide you with a few examples. I am going to use the ESV as my standard essentially-literal translation. I do this not necessary to indicate that it is superior to the others within the category, but simply because it is the translation I use for my devotional and study work.
Read the entire article HERE.
Fortunately for us, the inspired Apostle Paul did, and he passed the knowledge and wisdom he received from God down to us in his various epistles. In the book of Ephesians chapter 2, Paul reveals the depths of human depravity, then lifts the readers to the throne of God’s glory in explaining the gospel of grace. It is one of the finest chapters in all of God’s word.
My good friend and fellow blogger over at The Spice Mines of Kessel has labored hard over the past couple of months to produce a commentary on Ephesians Chapter 2. It is a fine piece of work and I am recommending it to you today for your reading pleasure and edification.
I have been privileged to sit under SMOK’s bible study centered on this commentary over the past several weeks. Every session has just gotten better and better and the class size is growing in accordance.
If you want to be wiser than C3PO and better understand the root of human behavior – and what God’s remedy is for it, please avail yourself to SMOK’s commentary and be blessed by the Christ-centric teachings therein.
“The gospel of Satan is not a system of revolutionary principles, nor yet a program of anarchy. It does not promote strife and war, but aims at peace and unity. It seeks not to set the mother against her daughter nor the father against his son, but fosters the fraternal spirit whereby the human race is regarded as one great ‘brotherhood.’ It does not seek to drag down the natural man, but to improve and uplift him. It advocates education and cultivation and appeals to ‘the best that is within us.’ It aims to make this world such a comfortable and congenial habitat that Christ’s absence from it will not be felt and God will not be needed.” –A.W. Pink
As I prepared to post this I was reminded of a similar quote from a recent article by Dr. Michael Horton entitled ‘Christless Christianity: Getting in Christ’s Way’ originally published in the May/June 07 issue of Modern Reformation magazine. (more…)
A Peculiar Pilgrim has survived heretics, critics, and even free-willies to make it to the big 0-ONE by God’s grace. A Peculiar Pilgrim was birthed into the blogosphere exactly one year ago today- and blogs everywhere trembled. My initial post Road to Reformation -Part 1 kicked off what has become for me a most wonderful and blessed experience (The jury is still out on just how blessed my readers have been). I love blogging, but I love comments from my readers even more (hint – hint!). Always feel welcome to leave your thoughts, even if they don’t agree with mine. It works to sharpen us all as we continue to come to a full knowledge of the truth.
There are several reasons I chose to start a blog. First, I desired to chronicle my story of turning away from my semi-Pelagian beliefs to Calvinistic ones. Secondly, I wanted to help others who were struggling with the whole Church-Growth/Purpose-Driven movement dominating modern Christianity.
In the beginning I actually had two blogs. My other one was titled Post Tenebras Lux (After Darkness, Light). I used it primarily as a discernment watchblog. After a couple of months I realized I barely had enough time to maintain one blog, much less two. I eventually merged the content of Post Tenebras Lux with this one. In April I posted Coming Out from Among Them – Part 1 (the story of leaving my old church) and my blog emerged from oblivion. To this day, that post has more views than any other – by a comfortable margin.
Another reason I blog is to crystallize my thoughts on various biblical topics. My mind is cloudier than a thick London fog. Writing helps to organize my thoughts as well as develop them more fully. Sometimes my posts are fairly lucid. At other times a post may be little more than a stream of thought put to digital text. in the end, blogging has helped to sharpen my convictions and cement my beliefs in the glorious truths of scripture.This may sound strange, but I look forward to reading my posts several years from now and observing how far I’ve come in my knowledge and wisdom of God’s word. Like the saying goes, I am reformed, yet always reforming. (more…)
Sam Storms has an excellent article on the controversial subject of divine election over at Monergism. Here is an excerpt:
In the final analysis, Calvin believes we should study divine election primarily for its ability to tell us why one person who hears the gospel comes to saving faith in Jesus Christ and why another does not. To whom or what, ultimately, do we attribute the distinction? When all is said and done, how do you explain why one person believes unto eternal life and another does not? Who makes one person to differ from another: the person or God? That question can only be answered by looking more closely at the “how” and “why” of God’s sovereign choice. I’ll take that up in the next lesson.
Look with me at John 17:1b-2. Here Jesus prays to the Father and says, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him” (ESV).
There is so much in this passage that I run the risk of getting de-railed from my primary purpose. But I can’t leave it without making a couple of comments. We must take note that not everyone is given eternal life. Only those whom the Father has “given” to Jesus are granted eternal life. The idea of people being “given” by the Father to the Son is standard Johannine language for divine election (see especially John 6:37-65).
Note also that God has not utterly cast off the world of mankind, although it would have been entirely fitting and just had he done so. He has given ultimate authority over all flesh, over every man, woman, and child to Jesus Christ. Jesus has unassailed, unchallenged, comprehensive authority over all human beings: over red and yellow, black and white; over male and female, young and old; over the powerful and the weak; over the rich and poor; over the educated and the ignorant; over those down under in Australia and those up over at the North Pole; over those who live in caves and those who walk in marble corridors.
As Edwards himself pointed out in a sermon on 1 Peter 2:9, whether they are elected or not, they belong to God. He didn’t lose his rights to humanity because of the fall nor did he forfeit his power and authority to dispose of them as he sees fit. They are still in his hands. Neither did he lose his ultimate end or goal in having created them in the first place (see Prov. 16:4).
Out from among those over whom he has sovereign rights as Creator and Lord, the Father has given some to the Son in order that the Son might give to them eternal life.
Click HERE to view the entire article. It is a great read!
My friend and brother in the Lord over at the Spice Mines of Kessel has recently written a compilation of essays entitled Retrospect, Faith and Grace. They beautifully detail the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and how it has impacted him. The essays are both a teaching and a testimony. He has really poured out his heart into this body of work and I am pleased and honored to recommend it for your edification. The multiple essays have been combined to form one document, which is available in PDF format. Click on the image above to read his introduction. At the bottom of the post you will find the link to download the PDF. Read and be blessed!
Dan Phillips of Pyromaniacs has posted an excellent article on how every good scripture-driven sermon produces what he has coined as the ‘responsibility-index’. Here is an excerpt:
Perhaps I’ll develop this further another time, but the faithful sermon we hear changes our status before God. Of course, I’m not talking about justification, but about accountability. The pan-Biblical principle is: greater privilege = greater responsibility. In this particular connection, we certainly see it in Jesus’ words: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22).
So let’s say you are in a church that teaches the Word of God — which you should be. As you listen to the Word faithfully preached, something is happening to you. This is true whether you feel it or not, whether your behavior changes or not. Something is happening. What is happening?
What is happening is this: your responsibility-index is rising.
Extreme Theology has posted an exceptional article on hypocrisy in the church by Rev. Bryan Wolfmueller.
Here is an insightful excerpt:
There are two things at work behind the accusation of hypocrisy, one true, the other false. The first is the sad reality that the church is often marred with shameful sin. More on this later. But, the second thing behind the accusation of hypocrisy is a wrong assumption about what Christianity is. Those that accuse the church of hypocrisy often assume that the whole point of the Church is to make people good, moral. “You’re a Christian: you’re supposed to be good and holy and all that stuff.” The world sees the church as a place where people go to learn about God’s rules, and to talk about how they are keeping them and the world is not.
Here we must be clear that the main point of Christianity is not our morality and goodness. This is, to be sure, the thing driving every other world religion from Judaism to Hinduism, Islam to Mormonism and even Atheism! All of these “ism’s” are pointing mankind to achieve more and be better, to climb the ladder of moral success and be a good person. But Christianity is different, it begins not with man’s goodness or potential goodness but rather with man’s wickedness. From the first chapters of Genesis until the Revelation given to St John the Bible is a record of mankind’s failure; it is a testimony of his sin.
The article is Part 6 of a series called Contentiously Contending. I recommend reading them all. This one really spoke to me. These are wise words that I think we all must take to heart.
Phil Johnson of Pyromaniacs has some great insights into John 9:6-7 that I think everyone should read.
Check it out HERE.
I think I’m going to rename my blog Old Truth: 2nd Edition. Jim keeps posting some gems and today’s article is no different. The highlight is the YouTube video of a church service extolling the virtue of man’s free will to choose his own way. Honestly, I would not have believed it if I had not witnessed it with my own eyes and ears. I thought it was satire; hilarious, gut-busting satire. But no- it’s man singing his own praises to God.
Beware: If you are of the Reformed persuasion you may go into shock viewing this video. It is pure unadulterated Pelagianism. You’ve been warned.
World from Our Window has an excellent article quoting a passage from Joel Burke’s book Meet the Puritans on the benefits of reading books from the Puritan movement in the 16th and 17th centuries.
I must admit, I haven’t read a lot of Puritan works aside from John Bunyan (highly recommended), John Owen (highly recommended with a caveat; he is difficult to read) and selected texts from others of that period. I’ve been reading Jonathon Edwards, yet he wasn’t really considered a Puritan. He came along after their time, yet his works do reflect the Puritan mindset, theological leanings and pure devotion to God and His glory. Edwards is widely considered to be the greatest theologian ever born on American soil. I cannot dispute that claim.
Great teachers still teach long after their deaths. The Puritans were outstanding teachers and preachers of God’s word and we can still benefit from their collective wisdom today in this Postmodern world.
I thank God for books. They allow us to build upon the wisdom of generations gone by. I thank God that every new generation that rises up in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t need to re-invent the wheel, theologically and doctrinally. The bible is a huge volume of knowledge and wisdom. Its contents are not easily digested. It would take many lifetimes of intense study to master it. Yet, we don’t need to start with a blank page. The dead speak to us from the grave. Many men in church history have devoted their lives to mine the great truths of this holy volume. Take heed and learn!
Note: If you are interested in purchasing Puritan books check out this section from Monergism Books. Personally, I plan on getting the Puritan Paperback Bundle (bottom of page) at some point in the future.
Huh? You say.
Note: I originally found this video on the home page of Old Truth. I linked to the YouTube site because the video image is bigger. Thanks again to Jim Bublitz for providing us with such excellent material.
Jim over at Old Truth has an excellent article on this subject. You must check out the YouTube video included in the post. It gives an excellent illustration of what’s wrong with many small group bible studies today. I think if we were all honest, we would admit some degree of guilt to this form of biblical interpretation.