Posts Tagged ‘Doctrine’

To Refill the Core

I get what he’s saying but I still disagree with Carl Trueman on this one. To summarize, Trueman is confused as to why The Gospel Coalition is complementarian (men and women are equal but have different, complementary roles in the church) but all fuzzy on baptism since there are baptists and Presbyterians in the Coalition. More to his point, The Gospel Coalition is supposed to be focused on the gospel and isn’t the role of women in the church a secondary issue but baptism a primary one?

The reason complementarianism is important is because of the hermeneutical issues that surround it. Trueman makes a very good point that there are shades of egalitarianism that run from “the Bible is wrong on this” to those who says “you’re reading those texts wrong.” So, Trueman reasons, why exclude those who still hold to inerrancy but don’t agree with how complementarians are interpreting certain passages? I don’t know what Trueman has been reading on this but the egalitarians I’ve read employ a hermeneutic principle that can be used to justify a whole bunch more than ordaining women. The premise I’ve read is that the situation in Paul’s day was that women were uneducated and therefore not fit to lead in the church. But today women are educated and therefore good candidates for leadership in the church if they meet the other criteria.

The problems with that approach are numerous and therefore it can be used to justify anything. Instead of uneducated women, put in thieves. Sure Paul said that if a man does not work he cannot eat but back in Paul’s day if you stole from someone it meant that you were taking food off their table. Today if you steal a little from work, no one is hurt since the company makes so much money… Do you see? There are no bounds on this thing. I agree with The Gospel Coalition on this because of the hermeneutical land mines of allowing egalitarianism equal footing.

So yes, there are hermeneutical differences between the baptists and paedobaptists but we’re well aware of those differences and whichever side you’re on, the ‘errors’ of the other side don’t leak like the egalitarian error does. Denying the inference that baptism replaces circumcision isn’t likely to lead to denying the physical return of Jesus. However, a hermeneutic that says that the situation Paul was addressing in his day is different that what we see today and therefore the explicit requirements and prescriptions in the Bible don’t apply to us could lead in any number of dangerous directions.

The Gospel Coalition is about more than just setting “aside issues which divide at a church level but which do not seem to impact directly upon the gospel”, as Trueman says, they are about the health of the church. And qualifications for church leaders has a lot to do with the health of the church. I was at the very first Gospel Coalition conference which was held at Trinity University’s chapel and I got to hear what Carson and Keller wanted to do in putting the Coalition together. They were concerned about the doctrinal hollowing out of the evangelical church in America. Carson gave a good talk on how evangelicalism used to be doctrinal but we’ve tended to put that aside and focus on techniques. The Gospel Coalition is supposed to help the American evangelical church regain her doctrinal core. And while we may differ on the doctrine of baptism, no one in the Coalition is going to say that baptism is optional or a practice for a different age. Complementarianism is important because within evangelicalism, egalitarianism is new and rests on a hermeneutical loophole.

The Smallest Denomination in the World

In the first place, there is consolation in the doctrines of the Bible. I like a doctrinal religion. I do not believe in the statement of some people that they have no creed. A man says, for instance, “I am not a Calvinist and I am not an Arminian. I am not a Baptist, I am not a Presbyterian, I am not an Independent.” He says he is liberal. But this is only the license he claims for his own habit of disagreeing with everybody. He is one of that sort of people whom we generally find to be the most bigoted and least tolerant of others.

He follows himself And so belongs to the smallest denomination in the world! I do not believe that charity consists in giving up our denominational distinctions. I think there is a “more excellent way.” Even those who despise not faith, though they almost sacrifice it to their benevolence, will sometimes say, “Well, I don’t belong to any of your sects and parties.” There was a body of men once who came out from all branches of the Christian Church with the hope that everybody else of true heart would follow them. The result, however, has been that they have only made another denomination, distinct alike in doctrine and discipline.

I believe in creeds if they are based on Scripture. They may not secure unity of sentiment, but on the whole they promote it, for they serve as landmarks and show us the points at which many turn aside. Every man must have a creed if he believes anything. The greater certainty he feels that it is true, the greater his own satisfaction. In doubts, darkness and distrust, there can be no consolation. The vague fancies of the skeptic, as he muses over images and apprehensions too shapeless and airy to be incorporated into any creed may please for awhile, but it is the pleasure of a dream.

I believe that there is consolation for Israel in the substance of faith and the evidence of things not seen. Ideas are too ethereal to lay hold of. The anchor we have is sure and steadfast. I thank God that the faith I have received can be molded into a creed and can be explained with words so simple that the common people can understand it and be comforted by it. Then look at the doctrines themselves–the doctrines of the Bible. What well-springs of consolation they are! How consolatory the doctrine of election to the Israel of God! To some men it is repulsive. But show me the gracious soul that has come to put his trust under the wings of the Lord God of Israel–“Chosen in Christ,” will be a sweet stanza in his song of praise!

To think that before the hills were formed, or the channels of the sea were scooped out, God loved me! That from everlasting to everlasting His mercy is upon His people! Is not that a consolation? You who do not believe in election, go and fish in other waters–but in this great sea there are mighty fishes. If you could come here, you would find rich consolation. Or come again to the sweet doctrine of redemption. What consolation is there, Beloved, to know that you are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ! Not the mock redemption taught by some people, which pretends that the ransom is paid, but the souls that are ransomed may, notwithstanding, be lost. No, no! A positive redemption which is effectual for all those for whom it is made. – C. H. Spurgeon, “Simeon”, 1861