Quakertown Regional Conference on Reformed Theology: Our Glorious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

Event The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is excited to offer live webcasting of the Quakertown Regional Conference on Reformed Theology. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to hear excellent, biblical teaching from well-known pastor-theologians.

November 12-13, 2010
Speakers
Joel Beeke
D.A. Carson
Iain Duguid
Steven Nichols
The webcast will start Friday, November 12, 2010, at 7:00 p.m. and will run through Saturday afternoon, November 13, 2010. Visit AllianceLive.org to register and watch the free webcast.

“…and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father….” John 1:14

Who is Jesus? The pages of Scripture shout out the answer. Son of Man and Son of God. The Way, the Truth and the Life. Prophet, Priest and King. The Bread of Life. The Good Shepherd. King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Redeemer. Savior.

And yet we live in a world that prefers to see Jesus as a gifted teacher, or as a revolutionary, and nothing more. Jesus has been marginalized, stereotyped, and often ignored, to the eternal peril of millions upon millions.

Again, who is Jesus? What has He done for His people? Is He just, as H.G. Wells once said, “the most dominant figure in all history”? Or is he, as the Reformers taught, the Jesus of solus Christus, the one-and-only means by which sinners are saved, the One who claimed, “no one comes unto the Father except through me”?

The 2010 Quakertown Regional Conference on Reformed Theology is devoted to the subject of Our Glorious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our desire is to present Christ as the Scriptures present Him. This year’s conference will focus on the glory of Christ, His wondrous incarnation, His life and ministry, His cross and His resurrection.

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Reformation Heritage Conference with Dr. Joel Beeke

For the past six years, Grace PCA in Douglasville, GA has hosted a Reformation Heritage Conference.  The past conference messages have been archived in mp3 files and can be found at the following links:

2004 RHC:  Calvin, Geneva, & Reformed Worship with Dr. Derek Thomas
2005 RHC:  American Reformation Heritage with Dr. Darryl G. Hart
2006 RHC:  The Scottish Reformation with Rev. Iain Murray
2007 RHC:  The German Reformation with Dr. Carl Trueman
2008 RHC: The Reformation & the Means of Grace with Dr. Michael Horton
2009 RHC: Music, Singing, & the Reformation with Dr. Paul Jone

Grace is once again hosting the conference and have announced on their website: Continue reading

>Semper Reformanda: A Misunderstood and Misused Motto

>In the previous post, I included a couple of paragraphs from a recent article by John Muether, “Calvin, American Calvinism, and the OPC.” In the post, I quote two paragraphs that are concerned with the recent and popular notion that to maintain the Reformed motto semper reformanda (always reforming), that the church must constantly be open to change. But is this what the phrase means?

In this month’s edition of Tabletalk, Michael Horton examines the orgin and true meaning of this misunderstood and misused motto. Here’s a snippet:

This perspective keeps us from making tradition infallible but equally from imbibing the radical Protestant obsession with starting from scratch in every generation. When God’s Word is the source of our life, our ultimate loyalty is not to the past as such or to the present and the future, but to “that Word above all earthly pow’rs,” to borrow from Luther’s famous hymn. Neither behind us nor ahead of us, but above us, reigns our sovereign Lord over His body in all times and places. When we invoke the whole phrase — “the church Reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God” — we confess that we belong to the church and not simply to ourselves and that this church is always created and renewed by the Word of God rather than by the spirit of the age.

The article is quite helpful so check it out here.

>Can We Maintain John Calvin’s True Legacy?

>There is a really good article in this month’s New Horizons (denominational magazine for the OPC) about John Calvin. John Muether writes on “Calvin, American Calvinism, and the OPC.” Muether talks about the recent popularity of Calvinism and the apparent resurgence of Calvinism among the “young, restless, and Reformed” crowd (see this previous post for more background). He asserts that even as B.B. Warfield, John Murray, and Cornelius Van Til taught in times past that Calvin would not have recognized many who have claimed to be his descendents, that once again, this would be the case for this new version of Calvinism as well.

So popular has New Calvinism become, especially among young adults, that its appeal threatens to dwarf the more publicized “emerging church” movement. As preferred as that outcome might be, zeal and enthusiasm do not a full-orbed Calvinist make. . . .’It’s a new day in Calvinism . . . when Baptists and charismatics have become chief spokesmen.’

Muether proposes that “it seems that something less than [sic] a genuine rediscovery of the Reformed faith is happening in this quincentenary year.” One cannot simply reduce or change a system of theology and maintain the integrity of the theology presumably being confessed. Muether writes:

Modifications of Calvinism are often promoted in the interest of semper reformanda (always reforming). To be sure, Calvin taught that the church must always be reformed according to the Word of God. But semper reformanda is no license for change for its own sake, much less a slogan for incessant innovation. Calvin himself on his deathbed warned his successor, Theodore Beza: “Beware of making changes and innovations, which were always dangerous and sometimes harmful.”

We would do especially well to challenge popular claims, made in the supposed interest of semper reformanda, that submission to our primary standard (the Scriptures) must make us suspicious of our secondary standards (the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms). “Reformed” is defined by the historic Reformed confessions and cannot be redefined by every generation. We must respect the historic exegesis of the church, adopting a robust and fruitful “hermeneutics of submission,” not the trendy “hermeneutics of suspicion.”

Muether concludes with sage advice, “Calvin bequeathed to the church a gracious legacy that equips us to live faithfully in our own age. Orthodox Presbyterians who love the Reformed faith should accept no substitutes.”

I would add that even though the context for Muether’s article is the OPC, that the point is quite well made for a larger audience as well. Reformed theology is not a denominationally exclusive interpretation of scripture. Anyone belonging to any of the Reformed denominations in America (NAPARC–North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council) or across the world (ICRC–International Conference of Reformed Churches) should not accept any substitutes, no matter how seemingly popular and trendy. Let’s not prove Mark Twain right when he sarcastically quipped, “Everybody’s private motto: It’s better to be popular than right.”

Let’s get Calvinism right since the ongoing spiritual health of the church is at stake. The historic tendency towards modification as well as the newest alteration calls the heirs of Calvin to be steadfast to “distinguish genuine Calvinism from its counterfeit forms,” and to maintain Calvin’s true legacy. It’s not about trendiness, it’s about faithfulness.

Getting the Questions Right

>To anyone who knows anything about the OPC, not only is the denomination small, but a majority of her congregations are small as well. This lack of size does create certain challenges. However, it also can lead to certain questions, all of which are not necessarily helpful or the right questions to be asking. In this new book on the church, Kevin DeYoung has some helpful thoughts and questions regarding the issue of church size (pp. 31-36).

DeYoung notes that often, when faced with the problem of a church that is not growing and maybe even shrinking, people will respond by asking “What are we doing wrong?,” or “What is the Church not doing right?” Although he is directing his comments towards the “disgruntled-with-church-as-we-know-it” crowd or “Disgruntled Johnny,” his insights are also applicable for all who fall into the trap of assuming that the lack of church growth is the tell all sign that there is something wrong with the church.

This is not to suggest that these questions are not the right ones to ask, but they certainly shouldn’t be the first. There is no teaching in the Bible that promises, suggests or even hints at the idea that the size and growth of a church is the measure of success. As DeYoung states, “the church does not succeed or fail based on the flow of its membership roles.” So, rather than jumping right to the assumption that something is wrong with the church and asking “What is the church doing wrong?,” there are better questions that could be asked.

  • Are we getting in the way of the gospel?
  • Are we believing the gospel?
  • Are we relying on the power of the gospel?
  • Are we getting the gospel out?
  • Are we getting the gospel right?
  • Are we adorning the gospel with good works?
  • Are we praying for the work of the gospel?
  • Are we training up our children in the gospel?
  • Are we trusting in God’s sovereignty in the gospel?

These questions can be very helpful and useful in assessing a church’s ministry–however, I would also add to the end of each question “well.” It is certainly a good thing to be doing these things, but it is also important to be doing them well. DeYoung hints at this in a brief discussion of the first question, “Are we getting in the way of the gospel?” He notes that despite the misuse and abuse of 1 Corinthians 9.22, we would do well to take Paul’s words and example serious in seeking to be all things to all people. Because some churches are aware of the danger of measuring church success by numbers and becoming gospel “sell-outs,” they go to the other extreme and see small size and rejection from people as a badge of honor. They complement themselves for being concerned with truth and not being controlled by the need for results.

But a conern for truth and the right desire not to be ruled by pragmatism does not provide an excuse for communicating poorly. The gospel is already a stumbling block, we do not need to add to that by making it unnecessarily hard for people to be welcomed into the church. We don’t need to sound like we’re channeling some sixteenth century theologian. We don’t need to try to recreate the worship and ethos of eighteenth century New England Puritanism. But we also don’t have to borrow from twenty-first century American culture either.

The bottom line is that God asks us to be good and faithful, not big and influential. We need to constantly be assessing ourselves by the scriptures, or as Reformed theology has emphasized, we need to be reformed according to the scriptures. We do not need to let small numbers cause us to question the church–in fact, we don’t need to let numbers large or small do this. Regardless of the size of one’s church, one needs to ask, “Are we being good and faithful?” I think DeYoung’s questions above are quite helpful to that end. We need to get the questions right, before we can get the right answers.