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10 September 2004

Are we Marcionites?

"I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel...I trampled down the peoples in my anger; I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on earth." (Isaiah 63:3,6)

Marion was a heretic of the mid-second century, who could not reconcile what he saw as a God of wrath in the Old Testament and a God of love in the New Testament. So, he simply rejected the Old Testament all together. He actually only affirmed the Pauline Epistles and the Gospel of Luke, which he heavily edited to expel any mention of Israel, Jews, the law, and reference to the Old Testament. Marcion believed that the Old Testament was a book only for the Jews, referring to an exclusively Jewish God. Marcionism saw nothing Christian about the Old Testament, so it was aborted. To us, this seems crazy; however, it is exactly what most Christians do today.

Two points:

First, how many of us really think that 2 Chronicles is as pertinent to spiritual growth as the Gospel of John? Do we read the Old Testament Christianly, or do we assume that it has no bearing on our spirituality. I think in modern day, much could find fault in Dispensationalism for this trend; however, I'm not going to harp on this. Christ and the Apostles taught Christianity from the Old Testament. For the early church, the Old Testament were THE Scriptures. As Dr. Jeffrey Bingham states, the New Testament is nothing more than the interpretation of the Old Testament in light of the coming of Christ.

That being said (it was worth mentioning, I think), now I get to my real point. How do we reconcile the God of Isaiah 63:3 with the God of John 3:16? When have you ever seen people with signs of Isaiah 63:3? When has your pastor ever preached on the God of Isaiah 63:3? The God of Isaiah 63:3 is the same as the God of John 3:16. God does not change, nor do His attributes. In the Bible, God orders Israel to destroy cities, killing all the animals, men, women, children...Including even pregnant women. That's right, God orders the killing of unborn babies. How does this effect your theology? How does this alter your pro-life pedagogy? Marcion simply disposed of this God; however, there is only One God. He was a heretic, yet we do the same, either consciously or subliminally. Do you love the God of Isaiah 63:3 as much as the God of John 3:16?

I have friends who reject the sovereignty of God because they say that a loving God would not choose for people to go to hell. They argue this from a philosophical stance, saying that this is not within His character. This is simply not the case. First of all, Scripture is already clear on the matter that God is sovereign over all, choosing His elect totally free from any work they do. Because Scripture teaches God's sovereign choice of the elect, it's opponents try to use this philosophical argument to thwart His sovereignty. Obviously this does not work either, for it is within His character.

...another aside: Some say that God looks into the future and sees who would pick him...then He predistines those who chose Him. This is fundamentally flawed on two points: First, it necessities that God changes, which He does not. He is not only unchanging but omniscient - He already knows all. To say that God looks in the future to see who would pick Him necessitates that God is learning something He does not know. God knows all - including us, even before he created the foundations of the earth. Secondly, it still binds God to the works of man. Whether choosing now or in the divinely foreseen future, man would still obligate God to choose him based on his own work of choice. God is not obligated by His creation, for He is immutable and transcendent. To assert this theory is simply an attempt to avoid the Scriptural truth on God's sovereignty...

Okay, back to what I was saying. It is important to base your theology on Scripture - the whole of Scripture. Too often, we build our theology based on our insufficient perception of God, as if we can really understand Him in this life. I propose that a better source would be His Word, the actual Divine Revelation from God Himself, given to His people that they might know Him. That's my thought anyway...take it for what it's worth. If we are truly Christian, then we should seek the true God - not a fanciful and insufficient personal substitute. Which God do you base your theology? Which God do you worship? Is He the God of Isaiah 63:3 and John 3:16? If not, you do not worship the God of the Bible, which is His own revelation. These are strong words, yet they are almost totally absent from today's pulpits. Consider the God Who is Holy and Soveriegn - the God of love and wrath. He is One and must be worshiped as so.

09 September 2004

from Michael Horton

If I could recommend one book to people on basic reformed theology, it would be Michael Horton's Putting Amazing Back into Grace (Baker Books). I kid you not, I would get everyone to read it if I could. It is the best book for an introduction into reformed theology. Actually, it's great no matter how long you've been studying theology. I read this book years ago, well after already dissecting the Canons of Dort. Anyway, It lays everything out so clearly and speaks the gospel that most have now aborted from their churches. You should read it and recommend it to anyone interested.

That aside, I thought I'd share a great quote that I can across this morning. Don't worry, Horton doesn't harp on eschatology (thank God), waiting until the last chapter to discuss it. I thought this was great, and for those who know where I'm at (and some are there too), you'll hopefully appreciate it. Actually, I hope you find it truthful.

'Lewis Sperry Chafer, founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, argued "It is obvious that, apart from the knowledge of dispensation truth, the believer will not be intelligently adjusted to the present purpose and will of God in the world." That, of course, was a curious and bold remark considering that "dispensation truth" was never held anywhere in the Christian church until the late nineteenth century. The churches of my youth required adherence to dispensational premillennialism as though it were the test of one's faith. There were even instances in which the statement of faith did not include definitions of God, Christ, or justification, but explained the dispensational, pretribulation-rapture point of view with missionary zeal. Dominating Bible and prophecy conferences, and even a good number of weekly sermons, dispensationalism has overshadowed, and in some cases replaced, the gospel itself in the minds of many of us who come from this tradition.
Christians are not to divide over such peripheral matters as the grace of God and human activity, we are told, and yet, to deny the rapture (which is mentioned nowhere in Scripture) marks a heretical departure.' (241)

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