Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Going Where Angels Fear To Tread ... !

He sees the supremacy and glory of God in everything ... even sex! I fully recommend this website for a visit:

John Piper's last national conference was called "Sex and the Supremacy of Christ". It certainly raised a few eyebrows among the circles in which I visit! However I got hold of the CD set and the book is soon to be delievered and the material on it is EXCELLENT. Piper has chosen his speakers carefully and there is a broad range of topics, yet the depth and insight is characteristic of him. The Panel Discussions are as usual a complete feast, the first discussion being particularly worthy of hearing - C J Mahaney was present and those familiar with him in the context of a discussion (particularly one in which he is not leading) will know that he causes havoc.

The website has links to the videos of the messages - so particularly helpful for those of us in the UK.

I only take issue with one issue. C J Mahaney message was based from his recent book; "Sex, Romance and the Glory of God" and much of the teaching is derived from the Song of Solomon. For some reason known only to himself Mahaney has decided to move away from the classical Reformed view that the Song of Solomon was written primarily as a beautiful picture of Christ and His Bride, and has tried to argue (quite unsuccessfully in my opinion) that it is more a textbook for a sexual relationship between a man and a woman. While I appreciate that some things in the Christian life are often spiritualised unncessarily I don't think this includes the Word of God. Consider the following quotes:

"This is spoken in the person of the Church, or of the faithful soul inflamed with the desire of Christ, whom she loves". (from the Geneva 1599 Bible Notes)

"It treats of Christ and his Church, in their most glorious, lively, and lovely actions, to wit, his care of, and his love unto his Church, and that in its most eminent degree; and also, of her love to him". - James Durham (1622 Puritan) who incidentally C H Spurgeon described as "that master of masters".

On Song of Solomon 2:1 - "If these are the words of the Well-beloved,—and I have no doubt that they are,—then it may be suggested by some that here we have the Savior praising himself; and it is true; but in no unworthy sense, for well may he praise himself since no one else can do it as it should be done". - C H Spurgeon.

I have no issue with the truth that husband and wife may be able to draw strong and useful lessons from this glorious book in the Old Testament. Most marriage ceremonies however draw the paralell between Christ and His Bride - the Church, and husbands and wives. Yet surely the primary picture - the marriage that will last for eternity is that of Christ and His Church. That is the focus! Let us not bring Scripture down to our level by suggesting that God wrote the canon of Scripture and included as some sort of extra, a textbook solely aimed at married couples. What use then would single people or children or widows have from it? No - this is a beautiful picture, indeed the most beautiful and intimate picture of Christ's love for His people. Any other truth must flow from that.

That issue aside, I still strongly recommend the overall conference. Dr Al Mohler addressed a most pertient issue: "Homosexual Marriage - A Tragic Oxymoron". His style was sympathetic and gracious yet he stuck rigidly to biblical truth. Also Mark Dever's address is worthy of note. His special skill in church history shone through as he spoke on the Puritans. But to me the highlight was John Piper's keynote addresses. They bound the conference together and gave it context. Well worth the time (if you can spare the blushes).

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