Losing the liturgical wars

If you want a good summary on why fighting the culture wars is a bad idea (and a corollary:  why theonomy failed to change anything), I recommend Leithart’s  The Kingdom and the Power.  (This is before he went full FV, and P&R published it, so it is safe).

We can even find a Covenanter angle to this if we want to:   Reforming worship.

This might even give content to the utterly meaningless statement by Calvinists today:  “Reformed and Always Reforming.”  I ask young turk Calvinists what that statement means and I usually get something along the lines of “Publishing a new tract on the 5 Points.”    “Always Reforming,” no matter how often it is abused, connotes “motion” and movement; not repeating the same stuff over and over.

Practical Reforming:

Start singing the psalms in worship.

Have a denomination sponsor a critical evaluation of the Red Trinity hymnal.

For those in the South, start looking for Baptistic elements in your service and ask why they are there.

For those in the North, stop imitating Redeemer Presbyterian models.

There you go: in one minute I have given four concrete reasons for “Reformed and Always Reforming.”   Publishing a new tract on TULIP won’t revitalize your church.   Reforming worship will.

5 Points Part Two

I am not going to go into much detail on the fifth point of Covenantalism.   I am interested to see how the 5 Points of Covenantalism match up with the horribly-named 5 Points of Calvinism.   This is important because too many people, both friend and critic, reduce all of Reformed theology to the TULIP.   Orthodox Bridge is terrible about this from a critical standpoint, and Together4Gospel is bad about it from a friendly standpoint.  I’ve already given ample reasons why Reformed thought should not be identified with TULIP (however much I may agree with the individual propositions in TULIP).   This post will explore how the Covenant Model maintains the essence of TULIP but does so in a more concrete and biblical-historical way.

Transcendence    OR   Total Depravity?

The two terms aren’t synonymous, which makes a 1:1 switch problematic.   God’s transcendence doesn’t change either before or after the Fall.    I think “Total Depravity” might be one of the worst terms of theology ever invented.  I challenged Orthodox Bridge guys on this point.   My comments still haven’t been approved.  I have no problem with Total Depravity, but this isn’t the best model to begin theology with.

Hierarchy or Unconditional Election?

This one is easier.    We are elected in Christ.   Christ is mediator.  There is no such thing as election in the abstract Godhead.   God establishes intermediaries, but because of the rich, earthy Hebraism these mediators aren’t seen in a chain of being continuum.

Ethical Law or Limited Atonement

Despite surface appearances, this is easy too.   Christ fulfilled the law and died the covenantal death.  You get the same thing as limited atonement but it is seen in a more concrete way.   You get the same thing if you add point two of the covenantal model.

Sanctions or Irresistible Grace?

Irresistible grace is about as bad as any on the term (for we all know people who’ve resisted the grace of God).   Effectual calling is superior.   But I think “Covenantal Sanctions” is even better.  Covenantal sanctions deal with blessings and cursings, which call to mind “oaths and witnesses.”   Someone is a Christian because God marks him out as one.  We don’t “make” ourselves Christian.  This means that any talk of calling must be done in the context of the covenant. Granted, we need to flesh this out more, but I think it has promise.  I think this is better than irresistible language.

Continuity or Perseverance?

This one is easy.  These two are almost synonymous.


More on TU”L”IP, falsely so-called

Steven Wedgeworth has done helpful work on the atonement in Dort’s theology.   It summarizes what I have been saying about TULIP: once you move outside the English language “TULIP” doesn’t even make sense.  Therefore, how can one seriously reduce all of Reformed theology to a controversy at one specific time, whose authors were merely responding to several loci of theology, furthermore the very wording of the appellation doesn’t even work outside the English language?!?

The Canons of Dort do not follow the order of TULIP. In fact, the acronym TULIP only even works in English!…

Dort does not use the language of Christ simply dying “for” one group, but not “for” another. Instead, it treats his death as being “the only and entirely complete sacrifice and satisfaction for sins; it is of infinite value and worth, more than sufficient to atone for the sins of the whole world.”…

This type of explanation is important because it does not limit Christ’s own value or worth. He being divine, his merit was necessarily infinite.