Friday, May 31, 2013

Greek and Things

I have seriously neglected the ol' blog for the past month or so; so here is my synopsis of what's been happening.

I'm still reading. I finished re-reading Marsden's book on the life of Edwards and have begun a book by Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel on New Covenant Theology, which is actually causing me to side much closer to Covenant Theology than I thought I had or would. In fact, I was hoping that this book would provide a good enough defense for NCT that I could definitively support it; unfortunately, I cannot. Apparently, I'm still with the Reformers on this one.

I just got finished with my first semester of Greek. 18 weeks of class shoved in to 4 weeks is certainly something I never want to do while taking more than one class (especially one of them being Greek) ever again. Fortunately, I know so much more Greek than I thought I ever even would and I really love it (even if it was an absurd amount of work).

My New Testament professor almost convinced me of Amillennialism in our New Testament Theology class. I won't name him because all of the Pentecostal Dispensationalists at the school would have a frenzy, but he has some very interesting Biblical and Theological opinions, and I appreciate him very much- even if I don't know if I agree with him. He's certainly one of my favorite professors because even though he's extremely forgetful and unorganized and we differ in our theologies very much in certain aspects, I enjoy his sincerity in his approach to the Scriptures as well as his genuine concern for his students. If nothing else, this makes a teacher or professor good, that he/she cares about their students and has a deep respect for the subject matter at hand.

Anyway, that's the update for now. I'll have a "real" blog post up soon now that I have a minute or two to spare!

Until then, thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Edwards and Anti-Revivalism

About the years 1739-1745, Jonathan Edwards began a series of revivals that would later, along with the help of George Whitefield, become what was known as the Great Awakening, or the First Great Awakening. Those who were raised in a Christian environment will often remember the name Jonathan Edwards for his ever famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. This sermon was hell-fire and brimstone preaching if one has ever heard it or read it. It contains some of the most vivid descriptions of our present, precarious condition and relationship to God and some of the most terrifying descriptions of our future condition if we continue on in our way. All that to say that Edwards was doing an immense work for the revival through his traveling, preaching, and message.

There were, however, difficulties and controversies over these revivals, as there so often are about so many other things today. There was an opposing group to the revival known as the Old Lights. These anti-revivalist Old Lights opposed the revival for many reasons, some theological and some sociological, but the overarching reason is that it upset the social order. The clergy were basically in charge of their respective towns in 17th Century New England. Normally, the buck stopped at a town's pastor, but what was happening in the Great Awakening was upsetting that.

Many traveling, circuit riding preachers began following the ways of Whitefield, who often was found challenging the current clergy to examine even themselves to see if they were in right standing with God. Even Whitefield was very controversial for doing this, but the proceeding circuit riders took it much, much farther. They called on the laymen to begin questioning the salvation of others, including clergy, based upon their own religious experience. Religious experience had become a hot topic too, in both defending and condemning the revivals. The Old Lights held that these religious experiences (such as trembling, shaking, shouting, convulsing, ecstasies, fainting, etc.) were unnecessary, illegitimate, disorderly, and chaotic. The radical New Lights were claiming that these particular experiences were legitimate and even necessary for a true conversion experience. (This really actually reminds me of the situation we have today between many Baptists [Old Lights] and Pentecostals [New Lights].) Jonathan Edwards, being the intellectual that he was, took to the pen to defend revivals against the Old Lights as well as condemn the faulty teaching and practices of the more radical New Lights. He wrote extensively defending the revival, while contending that good doctrine was still necessary, the religious experiences were not a way to judge whether conversion was true or false and neither were they necessary, and that this "outpouring of the Spirit" was definitely a work of God, regardless of what the Old Lights or New Lights were making of it.

Edwards faced controversy and adversity at almost every turn. Whether it was tragedy or opponents speaking ill of him or what have you, he faced every situation with God's glory and sovereignty in mind. He approached every argument first from the Word. He approached every controversy first in prayer. But the characteristic that sets Edwards apart is his unceasing passion and drive toward global evangelism, without compromising on essential matters such as doctrine or practice. Edwards was certainly one of the most inspiring characters in America's past and is definitely one of my heroes.

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