Gospel and its implications

十二月 13, 2007

Mark Dever wrote a rather provocative and intriguing post on his 9marks ministry blog – Church Matters. The central statement is as follow:

THESIS: It is very important to [mentally] divorce the gospel from its implications and entailments. [Do NOT divorce these in your life and practice–that is James 2 hypocrisy!]

Specifically, he mentions a God-Man-Christ-Response(abbv. GMCR) presentation of the gospel i.e. God is holy; Man is sinful; Christ died on the cross to pay the price of our sins; Man needs to repent and put their faith in Christ to be saved. However, there is another way to look at the gospel: Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration(abbv. CFRR) i.e. God created the world good; The world fell through sin; Christ redemptive work on the Cross to reconcile the world; God will restore the world by bringing in the new heavens and the new earth. It seems quite clearly from Mark Dever’s post that he is favouring and insisting on the primacy of the GMCR presentation(by calling it the Gospel).

My thoughts:

1. We usually end up using some combination of GMCR and CFRR in the end e.g. we are not able to explain the present state of the world without referring back to the Fall event. Furthermore, the CFRR approach is a healthy corrective to the perception that Christianity is only concerned with spiritual salvation. The coming of the new heavens and the new earth shows clearly that God’s redemptive purpose is wholesome and complete and not compartmentalized. Furthermore, the CFRR provides a great backgroud to understanding GMCR especially for biblically illiterate people. It should be noted that the GMCR approach already assumes a lot of Christian worldview to begin with.

2. However, it is very tempting (for myself included) to talk about CFRR all day long without ever getting near GMCR. (hence the discomfort Mark Dever spoke of). In the GMCR approach, we have to speak of God’s wrath, judgement etc. We have to speak of sin in a personal way. (There is a version of CFRR which speaks of sin and evil in a structural, societal, systematic way that never gets personal) God is angry at sin not only in a general way. His wrath is personal, it remains on those who rejects the Son (John 3:36)

3. Related to point 2, the advocates of CFRR are usually not good at majoring on penal substitutionary atonement. Christ’s death is portrayed as a paradoxical victory over the forces of evil and darkness(the Christus Victor model) but not as a propitiatory sacrifice to turn away the wrath of the God. But this is a false either/or. We are not compelled by scripture to choose one over the other, rather, we are to embrace both as being taught in scriptures. On the other hand, it is not merely a matter of balance, a mere matter of proportion e.g. giving both perspective equal time. To cut to the chase, the perspective on the Cross as victory over the forces of evil and darkness is based on penal substition. Paul puts them together in Col 2:14-15 “…by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” It is by cancelling the record of debt, it is by dealing with our personal sin on the cross, that Christ gave us victory over the forces of darkness. It would take me more words to be clearer on my thoughts on this. But these are some reflections as I have it now.


罗马书11章36节 Romans 11:36

十二月 10, 2007

My good friend for many years, Tan Huai Tze, has started a new blog. The name of the blog is Romans 11:36, and indeed we pray that all things would be to God’s glory. His initial post has drawn our attention to the emerging(a loaded word, heh heh) gospel-centred movement in America, initiated by Don Carson, Tim Keller, Mark Dever and the likes.

我多年的好友陈怀志,开始了一个新的博客(英文)。他的博客的命名是取自于罗马书11章36节。点击此处即可看见。他的第一张帖 “归回福音的中心”(Returning to the gospel centre)已经蕴藏看见。其中有一段尤为醒人,是引用D.A.Carson的话:

“Many see the Gospel as a narrow set of teachings about Jesus’ Death and Resurrection that if rightly believed, “tip” people into the Kingdom of God. After that the real training, life transformation, discipleship and maturity take place. In summary, the Gospel is treated as the door into the Kingdom of God.

However, the emphasis of the Bible, is that the Gospel is the all embracing category that holds much of the whole bible together. The Gospel takes Christians from lost-ness, condemnation, alienation from God all the way through conversion and discipleship to the consummation, resurrection bodies and the new heavens and the new earth.

“许多人视福音为一套极为狭窄的教导,是关于耶稣的死和复活,且正确相信此教导者则能越过神的国的门槛。在此之后,真正的训练,生命的改变,门徒的建造,灵明的成熟方才开始。总而言之,福音只不过是进入神国的门

然而,圣经所强调的,就是福音乃是一个贯穿支撑全本圣经的项目。福音全程带领着基督徒,从失丧、定罪、与神隔绝,经过信主、做主门徒直到万事的了结,身体复活,并且进入新天新地。”

这种思想,若是正确的,是符合圣经的话,是非常具有革命性的。 因为我们通常的惯性思维是以为福音是初级课程,而深奥的神学,艰难的属灵操练才是真正的基督徒的生命。然而,如果福音不只是带我们进门的师傅,而是一直伴随着我们的良师益友,那我们的生命应当是如何的呢?我想,这是我们每个人都有多家学习之处。

Such thinking, if true and biblical, is revolutionary indeed. Our habitual thinking usually assumes the gospel to be the introductory level material and deep theology and arduous spiritual disciplines the real substance of the Christian life. However, if the gospel is not merely ABCs but A-Z (to quote Tim Keller), how does that affect our lives and daily walk? This, I think, is a place where there’s lots of room for everyone to learn.


Quotes: What’s the greatest fact in the universe? 引文:宇宙间最大的事实?

十二月 6, 2007

据说倪柝声去世之后,有人在他的枕头底下找到了张字条, 上面写着说

“基督是神的儿子,为人赎罪而死,三日复活,这是宇宙间最大的事实。我信基督而死。倪柝声。”

宇宙间最大的事实?是否言过其实,稍微夸张了点?两千年前的保罗写给哥林多教会时,也写了这句话:

“我從前領受了又傳交給你們那最要緊的,就是基督照著聖經所記的,

為我們的罪死了,又埋葬了,又照著聖經所記的,第三天復活了;”

无论你对倪柝声的神学有何看法,我觉得他和保罗的灵是一致的。 什么是最大的事实?什么是最紧要的?他们在此是相通的。

It was said that when Watchman Nee passed away, somebody found this written on a small slip of paper under his pillow:

“Christ is the Son of God who died for man to pay for sins and resurrected on the third day.

This is the greatest fact in the whole universe. I died because I believed in Christ. Watchman Nee”

Is it too much of an exagerration to say that the death and resurrectio of Jesus Christ is the greatest fact in the world? How about what Paul wrote to the Corinthians 2000 years ago:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received:

that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried,

that he was raised(I) on the third day(J) in accordance with the Scriptures…”

Whatever one might say about the theology of Watchman Nee. He was of one Spirit with Paul in this. What is the greatest fact in the whole of universe? What is of first importance?


His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass 黑暗物质:黄金罗盘

十二月 4, 2007

《金色罗盘》(The Golden Compass)于十二月五日要在新加坡各大电影院播放。这部电影的情节是基于菲利普·普尔曼(Philip Pullman)的奇幻儿童小说。这是普尔曼的黑暗物质(His Dark Materials)三部曲的第一部。他的奇幻儿童文学刻意模仿克利夫·史戴普·路易斯(C.S.Lewis)著作纳尼亚传奇(The Chronicle of Narnia)。两个传奇都有类比之处——在路易斯的故事里,纳尼亚传奇世界的主人翁之一露茜(Lucy)是因为躲进衣橱里面才发现纳尼亚的新天地;《金色罗盘》的主人翁女孩莉拉(Lyra )则是躲在衣橱里的时候无意间听见了她叔叔的谈话而因此展开了一个探险的旅程。路易斯的传奇里充斥着基督教的思想,另一方面,普尔曼的著作里面充斥着批判基督教,无神论的思想。普尔曼自己承认他的著作说的就是有关于“杀死神”的(“My books are about killing God”)。这个新的电影的播放使到网上许多的论坛博客议论纷纷,众说纷纭。许多人也收到了电邮,警告基督徒不可前去观看这部电影。我尚不知中文界的教会已经有什么人做出了反应。美国的天主教联盟已经发出了禁看令,展开了一个推广基督徒应该集体抵制这部电影的运动。

美国的著名神学家朱门(Carl Trueman)和牧师雷肯(Phil Ryken)针对此事就持有不同的意见。两者皆是热爱福音,信仰纯正的基督徒,但是面对同样的课题,却有着迥然不同的结论。朱门认为无需小题大做,而且抵制只会增加好奇,扩大市场效应。雷肯则稍微不同意,以为普尔曼的作品不能够和一般的奇幻故事比较,因为普尔曼已经清楚表示自己的著作的无神论,反基督教的观点。

雷肯(Phil Ryken)和朱门(Carl Trueman)因这个课题而在Reformation21博客上展开唇枪舌剑。

有关此课题朱门所发表的帖(英语):天主教联盟与普尔曼还有黑暗物质嗯。。

有关此课题雷肯所发表的帖(英语):归类错误?黑暗物质的黑暗捍卫对普尔曼的批判阅读非信徒的作品

由于Refomation21是个类似一个小圈子的朋友的谈话,所以若是想完全跟随其中交谈的流程并非易事,但是相信从以上的连接可以一瞰其内容大概。

据说,英国教会(Anglican Church)的主教威廉姆斯认为普尔曼的作品只是针对某种集权欺人的宗教组织,而并非真正的基督教。他甚至非常支持推广这些小说。

就在昨天, 美南浸信会神学院院长莫勒(Albert Mohler)也在他的电台广播里面发表了他的意见。他本人已经观赏过这部影片,对此影片和书籍,他的意见能够在(英语MP3)下载。

《今日基督教》 (ChristianityToday)也在纪录了许多不同的基督徒的反应。该网站里也有个《无需惧怕罗盘》的一个评论文章,也算是比较客观平衡的观点,尤其令人醒目的是提醒基督徒,与其定普尔曼的罪,不如为他祷告。

虽然在下尚不知这部电影将要对所有人的影响,但是华文教会应该不落人后,开始讨论理解这个课题。因为,肯定的是,在这个十二月的假期,有许多的小朋友将会观赏此片。

朋友,不知你意下如何?