Children’s Church

A friend ran into this argument:

“Can you give biblical reasons for not having someone watch your ONE YEAR and 2-month-old child while you’re in church? Come on man. 14-months-old?? Can you tell me exactly what you think you are accomplishing by having a 14-month-old in church?”

childrenschurch

He responded simply with Bible references.

Have you not read?

“Call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants.” -Joel 2:15-16

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” -Matthew 21:16

“Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” -Luke 18:15-17

“There was not a word of all that Moses commanded that Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, and the women, and the little ones, and the sojourners who lived among them.” -Joshua 8:35

“Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are going over the Jordan to possess.” -Deuteronomy 31:12-13

“Meanwhile all Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.” -2 Chronicles 20:13

“While Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men, women, and children, gathered to him out of Israel, for the people wept bitterly.” -Ezra 10:1

“When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed and said farewell to one another.” -Acts 21:5-6

Ephesians 6 assumes that children would be present at the reading of the letter to the congregation.

Children were present at Jesus’ preaching (Matt 14:21).

Keep your kids in Church! The Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. The elements of a service are didactic even if they don’t have full comprehension. What they will quickly gain is the knowledge that “these are my people, this is where I belong, this is the Body of Christ where I worship God.” It may take years for them to put that into words, but they understand it as surely as they understand that they belong at your dinner table. Have you ever tried removing a one-year-old from a dinner table full of older siblings?  They know to whom they belong. They have an incredible ability to discern the Body.

Sanctification and Justification

Why, then, are we justified by faith? Because by faith we grasp Christ’s righteousness, by which alone we are reconciled to God. Yet you could not grasp this without at the same time grasping sanctification also. For he “is given unto us for righteousness, wisdom, sanctification, and redemption” [I Cor. 1:30]. Therefore Christ justifies no one whom he does not at the same time sanctify. These benefits are joined together by an everlasting and indissoluble bond, so that those whom he illumines by his wisdom, he redeems; those whom he redeems, he justifies; those whom he justifies, he sanctifies…Thus is is clear how true it is that we are justified not without works yet not through works, since in our sharing in Christ, which justifies us, sanctification is just as much included as righteousness.

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, bk III, ch. 16.1

From the commonplace book of Daniel Foucachon

A Sermon for the President

From Blog and Mablog:

 

Ascension Sunday 2009
This Lord’s Day is Ascension Sunday, the day we have set apart to commemorate the exaltation of Jesus Christ to the right hand of the Ancient of Days. This was the day upon which He was given universal and complete authority over all nations and kings, when He was given all rule and authority, dominion and power. Our Lord’s name is the name which is high above every name, and His is the name that, when spoken, will cause every knee to bow, and every tongue to confess, that He is indeed Lord of heaven and earth. And, as we cannot emphasize too much, or say too often, this is no invisible spiritual truth. It is simply, undividedly, true. This means it is true in a way that makes it true on the most practical levels. It is true when church is over.

"It came to pass also in the twelfth year, in the fifteenth day of the month, that the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, wail for the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down, even her, and the daughters of the famous nations, unto the nether parts of the earth, with them that go down into the pit. Whom dost thou pass in beauty? go down, and be thou laid with the uncircumcised. They shall fall in the midst of them that are slain by the sword: she is delivered to the sword: draw her and all her multitudes. The strong among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him: they are gone down, they lie uncircumcised, slain by the sword" (Eze 32:17-21).

One of the visions that the prophet Ezekiel was given was that of a parliament of dead kings, assembled in the nether regions of Sheol—the Greek word for this place is Hades. The prophet was speaking of nations which had had their time of great glory under the sun, but which, inevitably, had descended below to an empty governance of shades and shadows, the empty governance of nothing that mattered. This reality is inescapable—in Augustine’s trenchant phrase, among the nations of men, the dead are replaced by the dying, and however splendid an empire might be for the moment, there is no future for any nation outside of Christ. History occurs on the inexorable conveyor belt of moving time. There is nothing that will shut this conveyor belt off, and so there is no device to allow one nation’s day of glory to be forever fixed. Glory cannot be kept or retained in that way at all. There is no future glory for any king or president, for any nation or people, outside of Christ. So for those who reject Christ, below the earth in the nether regions, we find nothing but wisps of lost glory, and above ground at some future date talented archeologists might be able to find the remnants of an Ozymandian ruin.

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More than Salvation

This whole notion is rooted in the realization that Christianity is not just involved with “salvation” but with the total man in the total world. The Christian message begins with the existence of God forever and then with creation. It does not begin with salvation. We must be thankful for salvation, but the Christian message is more than that.

Francis Schaeffer, Art and the Bible, 89.

Lowly, not servile

"Manly persons are disgusted, and suspect hypocrisy when they hear a preacher talking molasses. Let us be bold and outspoken, and never address our hearers as if we were asking a favour of them, or as if they would oblige the Redeemer by allowing Him to save them. We are bound to be lowly, but our office as ambassadors should prevent our being servile" (Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, p. 344).   

HT: Blog & Mablog

The Glorification of Saint Thomas Aquinas

      "This picture establishes the direct relationship between vision and knowledge for which the Dominican aquinasAquinas had argued in his Summa Theologica. Just as we still  use the phrase "I see" to mean "I understand," For Aquinas the word visio meant more than just vision. "This term," he writes, "in view of the special nature and certitude of sight, is extended in common usage to the knowledge of all the senses and it is even made to include intellectual knowledge, as in Matthew 5:8: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’" The Pisa altarpiece, like most Gothic images, was not considered primarily as a work of art by its contemporaries, but as something far more powerful and instrumental, because of its capacity not just to reflect the world, but to reshape it in God’s image."

-Michael Camille, Gothic Art – Glorious Visions, 25.

Illuminated Manuscripts

This brings us to the true function of decoration in a twelfth-century book. It was clearly not just because it was pretty. The twelfth century was an age which delighted in classification and ordering of knowledge. Its most admired writers, men like Peter Lombard and Gratian, arranged and shuffled information into order that was accessible and easy to use. Twelfth-century readers loved encyclopedias…Les us then consider book illumination in these terms. It suddenly becomes easy to understand. Initials mark the beginning of books or chapters (PL.85). They make a manuscript easy to use. It helps classify the priorities of the text…A newspaper does this today with headlines of different sizes…any reader of a modern newspaper will fiercely defend his choice of paper by praising the text, not the layout or illustrations. It is not surprising that the twelfth-century chroniclers from St. Albans, Lincoln, and Canterbury complimented the accuracy of manuscripts when what they meant was that they liked using them.

Christopher De Hamel, A History of Illuminated Manuscripts 99.

The Unnameable Names of God

How then can we speak of the divine names? How can we do this if the Transcendent surpasses all discourse and all knowledge, if it abides beyond the reach of mind and of being, if it encompasses and circumscribes, embraces and anticipates all thins while itself eluding their grasp and escaping from any perception, imagination, opinion, name, discourse, apprehension, or understanding? How can we enter upon this undertaking if the Godhead is superior to being and is unspeakable and unnameable?

-Pseudo-Dionysius, The Divine Names, 5.

Realizing all this, the theologians praise it by every name–and as the Nameless One…This surely is the wonderful “name which is above every name: and is therefore without a name…And yet on the other hand they give it many names, such as “I am being,” “life,” “light,” “God,” the “truth.” These same wise writers…use names drawn from all the things caused: goo, beautiful, wise, beloved, God of gods, Lord of Lords, Holy of Holies, eternal, existent, Cause of the ages. They call him source of life, wisdom, mind, word, knower, possessor beforehand of all the treasures of knowledge, power, powerful, and King of Kings, ancient of days, the unaging and unchanging, salvation, righteousness and sanctification, redemption, greatest of all and yet the one in the still breeze. They say he is in our minds, in our souls, and in our bodies, in heaven and on earth, that while remaining ever within himself he is is also in and around and above the world, that he is above heaven and above all being, that he is sun, star, and fire, water, wind, and dew, cloud, archetype stone, and rock that he is all, that he is no thing.

-Pseudo-Dionysius, The Divine Names, 6.

Bible Schools

Bible colleges divorced the study of the Bible, a religious enterprise, from the study of nature, human nature, and society, the so-called secular disciplines. Whether intended or not, such a divorce ironically reinforced the very process of secularization that evangelicals opposed.

~D.G. Hart, That Old-time Religion in Modern America – Evangelical Protestantism in the Twentieth Century, 50.

Speaking in Tongues

There is, however, another dimension to this unusual phenomenon of speaking in tongues, if the tongues in view here and in the church at Corinth were in the nature of foreign languages. In discussing the question of tongues-speaking in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul cites Isaiah 28:11-12 (‘Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me’) and indicates that tongues are ‘a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers’ (1 Cor. 14:21-22)

Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit – Contours of Christian Theology, 61.

Lordship of Jesus Christ

This world belongs to our Saviour, and we have been given custodial charge of it. We are responsible to him for how we use it. The problem of sin includes not only questions of personal morality but also the careless use of Christ’s environment. A host of matters, in the personal, political and social arenas, are transformed when we see Christ’s mediatorial kingship in this way.

-Robert Letham,
The Work of Christ – Contours of Christian Theology, 208.

Sainte-Cêne

The Bible bids us come and eat. “Take, eat, this is my body”. Jesus gave the bread, not only to his disciples, but also to Judas. They were all one in Christ, and Christ bid them all come. But eleven were blessed, and one was cursed. In his letter to Corinth, Paul is giving directions for how the Supper is to be taken, and he tells the church of Corinth not to take the Body of the Lord in an unworthy manner lest they bring judgment upon themselves. What is Paul saying? First of all, the Supper is to be taken when the saints, the Body of Christ gather. Secondly they are to exemplify the unity represented by the Supper in their conduct, for if not their conduct lies about the nature of the body of Christ which is unified. God is One, and the Body of Christ must be One with each other and with the Father. If a man is not in communion with his brother, then he ought to be reunited, lest he lie about the meaning of the Supper he is about to partake. What a more fitting opportunity to repent of faction than before the Table which represents the unity of the church? What is the last thing for a saint to do before the table of the Lord? Abstain.
To abstain is to cut oneself off from the people of God, which in affect fulfills Paul’s warning. He reproached them for coming together with lack of unity, how much less unified is the Body of Christ when certain members are watching, and “partaking in heart”? The point of the Supper is the remembrance of the death of Christ. That death, because of the breaking of Christ’s body on the cross, now unites together believers who have been washed through baptism in the blood of Christ. Christ’s body was broken so that many might be un-broken and unified with Him. The command to all that are in the body is to come, eat, and drink. As a father invites his children to the Sabbath Meal, so Christ invites us to his table. May no child say, “No thanks dad, I’ll just watch you all eat.” Let us first of all obey the clear command to come, and secondly, let us do so in a worthy manner.

January 8, 2007
Lyon, France

Written early Monday morning after reflecting upon a Baptist worship service from the day before.

Unbearable burden of Evangelicalism

Anti-sacramental, anti-ritual evangelicalism emphasizes a personal relationship with God, but tends to encourage what Anthony Giddens calls “pure relationship,” a relationship that is not tacked down with external anchors and supports. A live-in relationship, without benefit of the rites and legalities of marriage, is a pure relationship. Evangelicalism tends to encourage a live-in relationship with Jesus.
This is wrong, a departure from Christian tradition, and unbiblical. It also places unbearable burdens on the soul. Tempted by the devil, Luther slapped his forehead to remind himself of his baptism. His standing before God was anchored in Christ, to whom he had been joined by baptism.
For evangelicals, assurance cannot be grounded in anything so external and objective. Spontaneous enthusiasm is the test of sincerity, and the source of assurance. But eternal, self-scrutinizing vigilance is necessary to ensure that the enthusiasm is really spontaneous.
Enthusiasm was supposed to liberate the soul from all the dead forms, but it comes with its own set of chains.

-Dr. Peter Leithard

Against Schism – A Letter of Dionysius

Dionysius to brother Novatian, greeting. If you were led on unwillingly, as you claim, then you can prove it by retreating willingly. One should endure anything rather than split the church of God, and martyrdom to avert schism I think more glorious than that to avoid idolatry. For in the case of the latter one is martyred for the sake of his own single soul, but in the former for the sake of the whole church.

– Dionysius, Eusibius, Book 7.