Monday, August 11, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

I've been tagged by Susan, so that means I am supposed to share seven random and weird facts about myself (The rules are at the bottom). Since I've been tagged, I've happily included the seven facts about me, but that is probably to the extent I will take it; meaning, I don't plan to tag anyone else. Enjoy!

1.) I grew up until I was 10 years old on a big piece of property in Oklahoma. The closest house was five miles away, so as an only child, the dogs and horses were often my playmates.

2.) I’ve probably read more books from the 16th and 17th centuries than those written in modern times. My heroes are Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield and William Carey (all great Reformed men). Of course there are many more of my heroes in the Bible which I could mention. The “Solas” of the Reformation are my anthem.

3.) Being by myself and reading theological books rejuvenates and reenergizes me. On the other hand, mixing it up at social events with crowds of people drains me. I’m a hardcore introvert with the most extrovert calling imaginable. Funny how that works.

4.) Before becoming a Christian at 20 years of age, there were at least seven times I should have died (from falling two stories and being literally less than an inch from being impaled through my chest, to the most deadly car and motorcycle crashes, to a drug overdose, etc. It is miraculous that I am not in prison for the atrocities with which I was involved as a teenage, and even more miraculous that I didn’t die. God rescued me physically and spiritually through Jesus Christ.

5.) I never let dill pickle juice go to waste. I love the taste. I use it as salad dressing and sometimes just sip it like a fine wine.

6.) I am a flaming Calvinist, and as such I am passionate about the Gospel of God’s grace and its proclamation. This is the one area where the Apostle Paul and I can be most compared: No one taught about predestination more than Paul, and no one did more to advance the Gospel than Paul. The two go hand-in-hand. I would quit in a heartbeat, doing what I do, if it depended on me. It is because God is sovereign over mankind, and that nothing depends on me but rather it depends solely on Him, that I carry on.

7.) I can’t imagine life without my wife. God has been extremely good and gracious to me in so many ways.

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird. **I DID THIS ONE.**
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
5. Present an image of martial discord (as in "war," not as in "marriage") from whatever period or situation you’d like. **LUTHER'S FACE IS A WAR IMAGE.**


Ted M. Gossard said...

Triston,Great list. Not weird facts at all, and I particularly like your reading. Those writings are gold. I'm not as well read on them as I should be, but I like Calvin's "Institutes"- not sure I read them completely, and it was some time ago- but alot of great stuff- actually his first edition as a young man is nicer because essence is all there, minus all the controversies of his time he addresses, much of that hard to be understood unless one is studied in those areas, I think. And what I've read from Luther can be astounding, but I've not yet read, "Bondage of the Will", though I have a copy of it!

Your words on predestination remind me of a book by J.I. Packer I read some years ago entitled something like, "Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God"- I still have it, I think. He makes the same point, and the reality that God always has a remnnant for himself is important to remember. Of course, me not being Calvinist at all, though I live in Calvinist country here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, makes me view it differently. Something good Christians will just have to disagree on over a good Table Talk with some beer- though Martin Luther in those table talks with men he was conversing with, had his beer hot!

I believe in the solas, as well, though I'm a little leary in thinking there as purely held as professed- ah, possibly the Anabaptist coming through a bit- I dont' know. And I also think there has to be some explanations with them. Even Luther said that there is no salvation outside of the church. Of course he was coming out of catholicism, but I'm sure you'd agree with him in context, as I do. I do think the Reformers were people of their times addressing concerns of their times and linking to Augustine's valid refutation of course, of Pelagius. And certainly what they say still is important for us today, even though they did not say all that needs to be said, I believe. Yak, yak, yak- I'd better shut up. This is supposed to be fun, but you brought it, you know! :)

You an introvert! ha. Makes me wonder about the mix of personalities in the Twelve whom the Lord chose. But I can be quite introvered and quiet as well, but other times too talkative, and too much of a nuisance, I'm afraid at times.

Your list makes mine, for the most part bland. Nice to get to know you better. And wow, did a young boy from Oklahoma ever dream he'd live in Nepal and with a wonderful family! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Litl-Luther said...

Hey Ted,
This may surprise you, but I am not a huge fan of the Institutes, though I’ve read them. Don’t get me wrong; I am thankful he wrote them and they are great, but just a little too disorganized for me—though they are the first real Systematic Theology—my favorite subject, and through them Calvin paved the way for the systematics we have today. But I much prefer Hodge and most recently Grudem for Systematic Theology. On the other hand, my favorite thing of Calvin’s are his commentaries. He is also the father of modern exegesis, which is quite evident, along with a tender pastor’s heart in Calvin’s commentaries (22 volumes). You should check them out. You might be surprised how un-bias Calvin is when dealing with the text of scripture. He does go off ranting against Romanism from time to time (a man of his time), but his commentaries are truly excellent—much better than the Institutes, I think.

And you haven’t read Luther’s “Bondage of the Will”?? Shame, shame! That is the best thing Luther ever wrote (besides perhaps his translation of the German Bible and his preface to Romans). I don’t have the quote off the top of my head but he said something to the effect “Burn everything else I have written but preserve Bondage of the Will.” Luther considered that book his masterpiece, and it truly is. THAT is what turned me into a Calvinist, along with Romans chapter 9. Luther turned me into a Calvinist—not Calvin.

My words on predestination were only to confound the false notion that belief in the reformed doctrine of predestination brings apathy (you know all the “frozen chosen” comments). People like Edwards, Whitefield, Carey, Spurgeon and if I dare say, me, prove this allegation totally wrong. That is not to say disbelief in biblical predestination brings apathy either. Pentecostals are the largest workforce in the unreached world, and for many of them, their motivation is to keep people out of Hell. I believe God’s passion for His on glory and His desire to see Jesus’ name and fame extend throughout the world is so great, He uses all sorts of motivations to accomplish His will.

I agree that the Reformation Solas could use some defining, but what could capture Christian belief more accurately than “Scripture alone (sola scriptura); by grace alone (sola gratia); by faith alone (sola fide); by Christ alone (solus christus), and to God alone be the glory (soli deo gloria).”? So I happily pledge allegiance to the solas—my anthem. If I had my way, their confession would be mandatory for church membership. To deny that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone is to deny the Christian Gospel. And to God alone be all glory can be so easily traced throughout Scripture; no sane reader of the Bible could deny it. Read John Piper’s list of biblical references of God’s zeal for His glory (pp. 17-22 in Let the Nations be Glad). The only one that I would think needs a little explanation is “Scripture alone”.

But in fact, the solas have been explained very clearly and recently by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals,” The Cambridge Declaration, 20 April 1996. Read it here.

The solas are one of if not the greatest contribution of the Reformation. I can’t see why all genuine Christians would not accept them. They capture fundamental Christian belief in concise statements.

PS: I'm also talkative, at least when writing.

Soli deo gloria!

Ted M. Gossard said...

I agree that Calvin's work in his comentaries is perhaps the best legacy he has left. For the most part he exegetes and exposits it quite well, though there are times he, like the rest of it, reads more into Scripture than what is likely there. And yes, you make me realize I must read Luther. And unlike Lutherans, Luther was more in line with Calvinism.

As to the Cambridge Declaration, I'm not on board with them. And even a good Roman Catholic can say the solos and mean them. But even adherents to what is soemtimes called the neo-Reformed movement, really have more tradition than they realize. Look at confessions, as well, on water baptism and how it's tied to regeneration from the Reformed.

The Reformers were more solid in some ways than much of present day theology, but in other ways, not. For example I don't believe they see theology or Scripture in a relational enough sense, I don't believe they give the Trinity the same breadth and depth we've seen from theologians in the last century, and they do miss some important points that the New Perspective has come up with.

LeRon Shults, Kevin VanHoozer, Miroslav Volf and some others represent for me some important work which does not throw out the baby of the Reformation, but helps the baby towards more of the fullness found in God's revelation in Christ from Scripture. But on the shoulders of men like Luther, Augustine, etc.

By the way, Calvin was not the first good exegete of Scripture. Early church fathers did well in it, as well, Chrysostom is one good example, I think. And I also think that many of the Ante-Nicene fathers avoided some of the errors Augustine brought in which have become a staple in much of western Christianity from the Roman Catholic Church to the Reformers and to us.

Just my little take from my understanding or lack of understanding of things.

Now back to the real world. (just kidding!)

Thanks for your reply, as well. And I'll be interested in more.

Oh by the way, I've been enjoying Ben Witherington's commentary writing recently. You ought to give him a read if you can. I don't buy all he says, but he is one of the best present day exegetes, I think. (his little book on water baptism is amazing, I think- I have Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians- as well as a library copy of Revelation- of his.)

Ted M. Gossard said...

By the way, Triston. I greatly respect all you say, even if I don't see eye to eye on everything. I'm sure I'm wrong in some things, of course. And I much appreciate the irenic and generous spirit you have!

Litl-Luther said...

Hey Ted,
You said something that surprised me: "Look at confessions, as well, on water baptism and how it's tied to regeneration from the Reformed."

I know Lutherans teach this (this is the main reason I would never become a Lutheran!) But are you saying the "Reformed" such as Presbyterians believe this?? Please elaborate. Which confessions teach this? Certainly not the Westminster Confession of Faith. I utterly deny baptismal regeneration. It shocks me that people, such a Lutherans, who speak so much of “grace alone” and “faith alone” could possibly believe such a thing, but what other "Reformed" groups are you speaking of?

I don't deny that even in early church history good exegetes can be found. What I was getting at is that most of the "modern" techniques used in exegesis can be found in Calvin. Actually, it is amazing how much can be found in Calvin (democracy is traced back to him; he was the first to teach Jesus as Priest, Prophet and King, now everyone talks about these three; as I mentioned, modern techniques in exegesis; the founder of Systematic Theology; church government, etc. But all people talk about, and hate him for, his his (brilliant) writings on Predestination.

The book by Steven J. Lawson “The Expository Genius of John Calvin” documents 32 techniques of Calvin’s teaching and preaching, many of which are the modern techniques that exegetes use today.

Thanks Ted. You always have a kind word to say. You remind me of Don Sands in that way (You know him a little; he leaves comments at Susans site). If you knew him as closely as I do, you'd realize he always edifies the body. A great example, and you remind me of him.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Flaming introvert with an extroverted calling - I can so relate. How does one gifted in exhortation actually obey without getting to know people (so you have a clue how or what to encourage them about) and the opening one's mouth! I think it's God's great joke on me sometimes!

I removed a comment of yours from my blog - not because I had any problems with it but because I removed the one that you were responding to - and to the one that you got back to your comment - both of his were offensive so I decided to delete them.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Thanks for helping with the discussion while I'm away - and for being willing to show a discussion between two believers who can still agree on the essentials of the faith and do so respectfully!

Comments back to you on my blog!

Love to all the little ones there!

Andrew said...

I, too, save my dill pickle juice for tuna salad. Weird.

And I, too, am a "flaming Calvinist." Perhaps I wouldn't actually use "flaming," but I'm all for the doctrines of grace. Have you ever read Barth on election?

Litl-Luther said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Litl-Luther said...

Hey Andrew,

I used "flaming" because everyone labels us as "staunch" and charismatics as "flaming". I just enjoy going against the grain.

I honestly have not read a whole lot of Barth, though some. I can't recall reading him on election. Do you have a quote, chapter or anything from him you can share?