Monthly Archives: September 2019

Job and the prosperity gospel

It’s been quite an education reading Kate Bowler’s Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel alongside studying the Book of Job.  One church member offered the observation that the counsel of Job’s friends sounds much like the prosperity gospel.  The prosperity gospel is also known as the “health and wealth gospel” and the “Word of faith” movement.  A more crass description of this teaching is “name it and claim it.”  Here are two errors that are prominent in both the prosperity gospel and much of the counsel of Job’s friends.
An Unbiblical Anthropology.  Both Job’s friends and the Word of Faith teachers bring God down to the level of humanity.  Both the Creator/creature distinction and the holiness of God are slighted.  Both create a world in which God can be placed in man’s debt.  The reason why I point this out is that apart from the Creator/creature distinction and the holiness and justice of God, there is no room for the gospel.  In this paradigm man, on his own, can achieve the righteousness of God apart from being born again, apart from a changed heart, and apart from the gracious enabling of the Holy Spirit.  Having minimized “death in Adam,” they preclude “life in Christ.”
An Over-Realized Eschatology.  Eschatology is the study of the “end times,” the “last things.”  Both Job’s friends and the prosperity gospel bring all the blessings and judgments of the world to come into this world.  There is only immediate blessing and immediate retribution.  Our Lord Jesus first suffered, and then entered into glory.  As those who are in Christ, this is what God has called us to as well.  Suffering precedes glory.  This was Peter’s stumbling block in Mark 8:32-33.  He saw the glory of our  Lord, but could not imagine the necessity of the suffering of our Lord.    This paradigm makes the process of sanctification, which is a vital element in the Christian life, superfluous.  “Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.
In future posts, I’ll add more thoughts to this.

Health Update

Some of you know that I suffered a recent knee injury at home.  I’d like to say that I was pushed, but the truth is that I fell down the stairs carrying laundry and ruptured my patellar tendon.
The first emotion that I felt over this was overwhelming gratitude.  Though I will be laid up for a while, it c460b05d6af33bbd54b02055cdc61e5daould have been much worse.  I could have easily sustained a brain or spinal cord injury that would have been irreparable.  Though it will take some time, my knee should get back to full mobility.  I can’t say that I’ve maintained this frame of mind the entire time I’ve been set aside, but thankfulness is the dominant emotion.
Two weeks out from the surgery, my pain is mostly manageable.  My knee will be in an immobilizer for another month.  Then, I will graduate to a hinged brace.  So, most likely, it will be another month before I can drive.
While I’m laid up, I’m seeking to do all the good that I can.  While it is difficult for me to go to people, they can come to me. I’ve also been able to take the time to do some extended prayer, meditation on the Scriptures, and focused study.
My injury is not in vain.  Along with the Psalmist, I can say, “it was good for me to be afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (Psalm 119:71).  For his own purposes, the Lord has chosen to slow me down.  My times are in his hands.  I am completely at peace with getting back to public ministry in his timing.

Do all the good that you can

Several years ago, I taught an American History class.  One of our primary sources was a series of excepts from Cotton Mather’s “Essays To Do Good.”  During my period of convalescence, Mather’s essays have come back to haunt me.  I’ve recognized that while I will be physically limited for a while, there are still many opportunities to do good.  So, I’ve resolved to do all the good that I can.  I hope that this resolution will carry over to when I am able-bodied.
Mather’s proposal in these essays is: “That we resolve and study to do as much good in the world as we can.”  He goes on to speak of the necessity of good works, that good works follow justification, and to exhort his readers not to miss opportunities to do whatever good they can, whether temporal or spiritual.
Here are some gems from these essays:
“Every one of us might do more good than he does.”
“Let  us try to do good, with as much application of mind, as men who do evil.”
“A power and opportunity fo doing good not only gives a right to the doing of a thing, but makes the doing of it a duty.”
“Those who devote themselves to good devices (works), and who duly observe their opportunities to do good, usually find a wonderful increase
of their opportunities.  The gracious providence of God affords this recompense to his diligent servants, that he will multiply their opportunities of being serviceable.”
“The firstborn of all devices to do good is to be born again.”
“Our opportunities to do good are our talents”

Resurrecting Half-Baked

I’ve decided to try to resurrect Half-Baked.  It’s been some time since I’ve posted, and I never quite got into a regular posting rhythm.  My desire is to encourage our church family, and perhaps a broader audience, with a potpourri of content that will never make it into sermons, classes, or small group discussions, but that still may be worth sharing.  As I’ve shared in the “about” section, none of the views expressed are necessarily those of Covenant Presbyterian Church or her session.

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