Sunday, July 30, 2006

"A Serious Neglect" - Part 2 - by Dr Ern Baxter.

The Scholars Neglect the Resurrection.

Now I am going to plunge into this and you do what you have to. I am going to blame a few scholars but I agree with it perfectly. Richard B Gaffin Jr (a professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia) published a book in 1987 entitled, “Resurrection and Redemption – A Study in Paul’s soteriology”. It was a book that got a lot of attention as it rightly should. His contention in the introduction is that reformed theology is inclined to feature the Cross to the neglect of Christ’s resurrection. And I quote from his introduction; “Reformed theology has always thought itself to be distinctively Pauline”.

Now when I am talking about Reformed theology I am talking about the theology of the magisterial reformers, Luther, Swingli, Calvin and also of the radical reformers. The theology that we consider Protestant, we consider reformed – that covers a lot. It is a theology that dates from the time when Luther broke with Rome. And the subsequent theology definitions that have developed. And so Gaffin writes; “More sensitive than other traditions to the deeper motives and trends of the apostle’s teaching and more consistent in it’s expression of them. In the course of it’s development however it has not found particular dogmatic significance in Paul’s statements regarding Jesus’ resurrection. Dogmatic reflection has tended to concentrate almost exclusively on the sufferings and death of Christ understood as an atonement for sin”.

Now stay with me because this is important. That’s the end of the quote. Now in a footnote he substantiates his position by showing the limited amount of space given to the Resurrection as compared to the Cross in the theological works of some well known reformed writers. Charles Hodge, the Princetonian theologian in his Systematic Theology, devotes four pages to the Resurrection in contrast to a lengthy treatment of the Atonement – 120 pages. 120 pages on the Cross! Four pages on the Resurrection! Now I need to warn you that I am going to quote some others and that is virtually the ratio. Now these are shocking. By the time I get through I hope that my material will show that we have by a faulty emphasis deprived ourselves of the dynamic of Christianity. W G T Shedd, another outstanding reformed theologian in his Dogmatic Theology – Volume 2, passes directly from a discussion of Vicarious Atonement to regeneration. He doesn’t even fuss with the Resurrection! He has no section on the Resurrection! B B Warfield, the great scholar in this area concentrates exclusively on the death of Christ understood as atonement. 112 pages. Lewis Berkof in his Systematic Theology is similar to Hodge. After a brief discussion of the Resurrection (4 pages) he moves on to a lengthy treatment of the Atonement (38 pages). The approaches of Abraham Kyper and Herman Bavinck, who are also outstanding theologians, provide no significant exception to this pattern. This virtual equation of the accomplishment of redemption with atonement which characterizes tradition Reformed dogmatics is nowhere made clearer, or presented more programmatically than in the opening sentences of John Murray. John Murray is a more contemporary and outstanding theologian whose excellent work on Romans is well known to scholars. But in his work entitled, “Redemption Accomplished and Applied” he says the accomplishment of redemption is concerned with what has been called the Atonement. Full stop. No Resurrection.
Now I’m not saying that these men didn’t believe it. I’m just saying that somehow they got hooked on the Cross and failed to realise that the total picture was not being presented until most of evangelicalism became Cross-orientated. In calling attention to this preoccupation with the atonement, my purpose is not at all to challenge the validity and necessity of this development, far less to call into question the conclusions reached, rather I wish only to point out that this dominating interest in the death of Christ has been associated with a relative neglect of the Resurrection. Here again it is not as if Reformed theology has had no insight into the matter – for example Berkhof writes, “What is still more important, the Resurrection enters as a constitutive element into the very essence of the work of redemption and therefore of the Gospel”. But this observation is not developed! Nor is the Resurrection effectively related to the structure of redemption.

Now these are Reformed, paedo-baptist writers. Let me turn to the Baptists. A A Strong’s Systematic Theology. He is a Baptist. You’d think he would know better. But he seems to reveal the same weakness. The Resurrection is directly treated in 4 pages while 60 pages are given to atonement. Now I didn’t want to leave the Methodists out – W B Pope, the Methodist theologian in his 3 volume work, gives 53 pages to the atonement and 10 pages to Resurrection but not the Resurrection of Christ but the eschatological general resurrection! He does nothing on the Resurrection of Christ! Is there something wrong here? I submit that there is something drastically wrong!

Four Types of Christians.
This is just an interesting sideline that I wasn’t sure whether to put in. There are four Scriptures that indicate four kinds of Christians and see if this doesn’t echo something in you. Those Christians who consider only Christ’s death are death-orientated. They never get past the Cross. These dear people have been dying daily for 50 years and they look like it – you wish they’d get it over with. (*laughter*). Luke 24:17. Jesus is on the road to Emmaus and He is talking to the crest-fallen Christians – you remember? – and He says to them; “What manner of communication are these that ye have one with another as ye walk, and are sad?”. They thought the Cross was the end of everything and they were sad. Cross-orientated people are sad people. “He died” He died. You’d think He never rose! (*laughter*). “He died and I’m dying daily”. You may think that caricature is ill timed but I had to make the emphasis. The second group – those who go onto the Resurrection! Luke 24:41 tells us that “they were filled with joy and wonder”. Ah, now we’re getting there. Those who appreciate the Ascension – Luke 24:52; “And they worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy”. We saw Him die, but we Him raised and we saw Him go up! Glory! And we are going back to Jerusalem because He said He was going to send Something.

Did you ever think how ludicrous the disciples appeared in the Temple? The Bible said they were daily in the Temple praising and glorifying God. “Glory to God”. Now that wasn’t unusual because there were many kinds of groups in the Temple. There were Sadducees and Pharisees and Herodians and Zealots and every little guru had his thing going on – so this wasn’t unusual. There were about 120 people there and they were praising God someone came and said, “Who are you people?”. “Well” they said, “We’re followers of the Nazarene Jesus”. “Oh yes poor man. Had an untimely end”. “Oh no, He isn’t ended!”. “Excuse me?”. “He isn’t ended! He rose from the dead!”. “He did what?”. “He rose from the dead”. “Ah I see – okay have it your way! And where is He now?”. “He’s in heaven!”. “Excuse me? So what are you doing if He’s in heaven?”. “Well before He left He said if we wait He would send something back”. (*laughter*). “Ah I see. And what’s He going to send?”. “Well He said He would send us the promise of the Father”. “Well what’s that?”. “Well we don’t really know”. (*laughter*). “Well – lots of luck!”. You and I must be prepared to face up to the ludicroisity of our position and not try to constantly be rationalising it to the unregenerate, that’s why we play down the Resurrection, that’s why we play down the Holy Ghost – because we want to convert men intellectually. Men are not converted intellectually - not that intellect isn’t involved. But they are not converted intellectually! God the Holy Ghost dynamites His way into their lives! (*applause*). Hallelujah!

Acts 13:52 now is the fourth kind of a Christian. “And they were filled with joy and with the Holy Ghost”. You go from sadness to joy and wonder, to great joy to fullness of joy and then for us those who go on believing 1 Peter 1:8; “Not having seen Jesus Christ, you love Him and in whom ye do not see yet believe and rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory”. That’s where we are.

Embracing the Totality.
Now comparisons are odious but I have got to do this – because am talking about Christianity and I have to talk about all of it, and I have a right to talk about all of it. And I have earned my right to speak. Now I have been talking in tongues since 1932 and I have never been ashamed of it. I am a holy roller charismatic and that’s what I am. But you know very well that there that there is a whole large area of Christianity that is primarily intellectual and theological. And I am not against that! What I am against is partialism. A failure to embrace the totality. There is no reason why I have to be a Pentecostal numbskull. I ought to have an intellectual awareness because I’ve got a renewed mind and I need to expand my mind with the holy Word of God and I need to be a thinker – I need to fill my mind with the Word of God. “Let the mind of Christ become my mind”.

But I must never make that purely intellectual – it must be the product of a supernatural walk with God in a charismatic dimension! If I don’t walk in the tension of the Spirit and the Word I have no right to the title Christian. I must walk in the tension of the Spirit and the Word. Right from the beginning God established that tension in the book of Genesis, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was without form or void and darkness covered the face of the deep and the Spirit of God brooded over the waters”. What was He brooding over? A mess. He still broods over a lot of messes today. He is brooding. You say, well He is the executive agent of the Trinity – why doesn’t He do something about that mess? He can’t. What do you mean He can’t? Well He can’t without His companion. Who’s His companion? Hang around and you will find out. I don’t know how long He brooded over that mess. Geological ages? Minutes? Doesn’t matter. What was He waited for? Suddenly the cosmos is ripped! With what? A word! “Let there be!”. That’s what He was waiting for! And when that word came suddenly the Holy Spirit leapt into activity. He put the whole mess together and ran His finger down and makes places for the streams. Moulds the mountains. Screws in the sun and the moon and hangs out the stars. (*applause*).

Now let me plunge right into this. I am wrestling with my material this morning. I wonder if that thing will work Bob. I would like to show you something here to make my point and the overhead wasn’t particularly good last night. I am going to put on here a transparency from last Easter season. It is a page out of one of the prominent religious publishers in America and these are the books that are featured for Easter. Here are the books that this publishing company is publishing for Easter. What does Easter celebrate? Pardon me? The Resurrection! Now listen to the books and this is the entire advertisement for Easter. “The Seven Words from the Cross … When God was at Calvary … The Seven Sayings of the Saviour at the Cross … Christ’s Words from the Cross”. That’s it. What is Easter about? The Resurrection! Doesn’t this then strike you as a bit odd? All this does is underline the fact that we have become so Cross-orientated that we have lost the dynamic of the Resurrection. You say, “What has this got to do with the Holy Spirit?”. Be patient – we will get there.

Let me plunge in and indulge your patience because I don’t want you thinking I’m riding a hobby horse. I am going to quote men that are great sound scholars and we have a deep debt to the devotion of men who give their lives to providing us with Strong’s Concordance and Young’s Concordance and Cruden’s Concordance and the Hebrew Dictionaries and that vast apparatus that you and I would be lost without. I pay them homage this morning. I don’t treat them with disdain. I Howard Marshall, who is an outstanding New Testament scholar, says “According to the theology expressed in the Acts of the Apostles the fundamental place in salvation history is to be assigned to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ”. H B Sweet, wrote 100 years ago (a great Irish theologian) wrote; “It is certainly not through any want of apostolic guidance, if the glorified life of our Lord fills the relationally small place in modern preaching and thought. The creeds of Christendom, it may be said, do not encourage thought in this direction. Of the life He now lives there in heaven or the work in which He is occupied, they have nothing to say". Did Jesus stop existing at the Cross? At the Resurrection? At the Ascension? Is He dead now? What’s He doing? His biography goes on! We never got past Chapter Cross!

Let me the repeat the quote of I Howard Marshall: "According to the theology expressed in the Acts of the Apostles the fundamental place in salvation history is to be assigned to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ”.

Tomorrow: "The Serious Neglect - Part 3".

21 comments:

dr annette marshall said...

"Cross orientated people are sad people". Yere - that makes real serious sense to me. Because everything about the Cross was negative! Every cry from the Cross aside from "It is finished" was negative! The Cross absolutely MUST be taken in tandem with the rest of the finished work of Christ - the Resurrection, the Ascension and the Enthronement!!

Otherwise we are building a negative Christianity that quite frankly - why should the world be attracted to it? A dead Saviour? A limp powerless Saviour who had "been killed by the Father"?

Well much as I respect those views, I would rather not have anything to do with that. I prefer the Son who laid down His own life and walked to the Cross, more than able to call down legions of angels to rescue Him but didn't for the JOY SET BEFORE HIM!!

This is a powerful mini-series going on here and I am so excited by it.

Baxter's Boy said...

Yes I would agree! A friend of mine, Jamie, was leading us in worship at church this morning and he referred to the "Empty Cross and Empty Tomb being the source of our power". He said the same thing at our cell last week and I felt a tingle go down my spine when he said that!!

That's exactly where I feel I am at with this amazing sermon of Ern's! The most beautiful hymn/song by Kate Simmonds says; "In Him I have believed, in THIS my hope now rests". In what? The fact that Jesus Christ hung on a Cross once? Now the THIS is that "Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!".

Noone is detracting from the necessity or the vital place of the Cross. But if a person, a church or a group of churches makes it the catchphrase for something they believe or indeed what they believe then I think there is the danger of a truncated Gospel.

Anonymous said...

How on earth did John Rushton get to sit behind Ern Baxter?!?!

Anonymous said...

I am developing a study of what kind of blog posts attract comments and what ones do not. I find it terribly interesting that your blog post rebutting C J Mahaney's appalling attempt to humanise the book of Song of Solomon attracted over 30 comments - some angry with you, some not so. Yet a subject as important as this and there doesn't seem to be much to be said.

I wonder if this is standard for all blogs? It is a new concept for me because the medium of the blog is a new one. When do we comment? Do we comment as a knee jerk reaction to what we have read? Or do some blogs - we simply move on without commenting?

I really am quite genuinely interested in this. I think you, Dan, said just recently that without tools such as blog counters you have no way of knowing without comments who even visits your site - and therefore you assume quite wrongly that it is very few people. Yet this doesn't seem to be so - but at my observation, you seem to be attracting about 100 people a day - most of which do not comment!

I do realise I am rambling, but I am concerned that silence = no opinion on this most important of subjects. Not just here but generally. Other blogs about the Spirit of God and the end times pass without comment! Why is this?

DR S A J Burgess

Baxter's Boy said...

I must confess I rarely leave comments on blogs unless I am sufficiently stirred enough (or angry enough) to make my feelings known, so I guess I am not the best person to ask.

The last commment I think I left one someones blog that was taking part in a debate was on the infamous "Who killed Jesus" conversation. I couldn't quite understand why such a row was developing over a piece of rhetoric by a preacher - when verses occured to me like where Jesus said, "Noone takes My life from Me - I lay it down of My own accord and take it up again".

So I do see your point Dr B, but I really don't quite know the answer. All I can say is that quite honestly I don't write for comments. If I get them it's a bonus and I read them carefully. And respond to them - unless they're from stupid anonymous people who are just plain rude. But I guess I am fortunate in that my blog isn't mainly my own thoughts - it's more the reproducing of another man's life ministry.

jul said...

This amazing stuff. It rings so true with me, having grown up always favoring Easter and being most enthralled with the idea of Christ's resurrection-He's alive! I laughed out loud at:

"Those Christians who consider only Christ’s death are death-orientated. They never get past the Cross. These dear people have been dying daily for 50 years and they look like it – you wish they’d get it over with."

I've been living with those people for awhile now. Of course, it's not really funny. I do want to say that I didn't have a right understanding of the cross until hanging out with these people and I'm very thankful that God has taught me to really understand what he's accomplished on the cross. It's not an understatement to say it's changed my life. But, the cross without the resurrection leaves us in dead works and legalism. It ever points to the penalty of our sin, though the penalty falls on Christ we still obsess about how terrible we are. In truth, the cross is about how terrible we WERE. The resurrection of Christ bears testimony to the fact that we have been raised up in NEW LIfE. We are changed and Jesus lives in us by his Holy Spirit. Can there be any more cause for overwhelming joy?

As for lack of commenting, I know I can be guilty of plain laziness when it comes to encouraging people either in this format or in life in general. I hope it isn't a sign that people aren't stirred by this truth. Sometimes things are so well written here that I feel there isn't anything left to say! But there is always a lot to think about and this blog has been a blessing from God in my life. It has dramatically changed the way I write songs, especially in this area. I'm always looking for a way to reference the resurrection now, especially if I've also referenced the cross. I never want people to forget that Jesus not only died to atone for our sin but is alive and reigning victorious forever-and we are with him.

Baxter's Boy said...

Yes you've got a point. I too am grateful for the prophetic restoration of the value of the Cross and a right understanding of it. That we share! But wouldn't you agree that it is so easy when a truth is restored to the Church, that the tendancy and danger is to fly to the extreme and ONLY emphasise that restored true to the neglect of everything else?

That can't ever be God's intention. As Paul said, "I did not hesitate to declare unto you the WHOLE COUNSEL of God".

I so agree with what you said - the Cross without the resurrection leaves us in dead works and legalism.

I was really saddened to read a comment on Carolyn McCulley's website recently. She came over to visit the UK SGM churches and posted a few photos - one of my parent's church during the sermon. Someone left a comment saying that she was shocked to see some of the women were wearing vests. McCulley hastened to reply and say that it was an outreach Sunday so probably those people were visitors!

I have to say - isn't that Modesty gone mad? I agree in theory with some of the principles of modesty - but it just makes me wonder what happened to the biblical teaching on how it doesn't actually matter what we adorn ourselves with as God looks at the HEART. The most modest person in church could have the most proud, arrogant heart yet still be praised because of their attire. Maybe I'm wrong - but that comment worried me. That people are passing judgement on a photo.

Thanks so much for your nice comments - you are such an encouragement to me, and I really value your advice, and your comments. There's a short list of people who comment here who mean a lot to me and I take what you say very seriously!

James B said...

I can't believe that! Someone criticised a PHOTO because women were wearing vest tops?!?! Surely the powers that wrote the Modesty checklist wouldn't want that degree of legalism?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comment Jul, I would agree with Dan that your comments are incredibly useful and encouraging - I was interested in your comment: "I hope it isn't a sign that people aren't stirred by this truth".

I would hope that too - but we really just don't know do we. I think Dan would know that in the medical/legal professions if something isn't written down then it didn't happen! Just so in the Bible, out of the mouth flows the state of the heart. So people may be thinking lovely thoughts about truth revealed in this blog and other blogs but really there's no way of being able to measure that!

As for the vest top comment, that's incredibly disturbing. I'd be interested in a URL for that?

Dr S A J Burgess

Baxter's Boy said...

Here's the link:

http://solofemininity.blogs.com/posts/2006/07/the_gospel_and_.html

You can admire the lovely decor of my parents church at the same time ;)

jul said...

I also tracked down the picture and comment after you mentioned it. I was a little disappointed with the answer to the comment , and even that it was posted considering the comments are moderated. A better answer would have been "man looks on the outward appearances but God looks on the heart" or something of that nature.

And I thought you might find this funny...since putting up my site meter I noticed that someone came on my blog having googled 'manhaney modesty list'. My husband got a good laugh from that! If I must say it for the record however, I'm certainly not against modesty, just legalism in all of its forms.

Baxter's Boy said...

Yes I was a little startled at that too. More certainly could have been said I think.

I love some of the referrals that Site Meter brings up! I am afraid I can boast very little google searches on "Mahaney". No surprises! Mine are far more bizarre. I've had a couple linked with "Draw Me close to you". Quite a few on "Restorationism and Terry Virgo".

I do agree with you. Modesty again was something that needed to be prophetically restored to the agenda of the church. It's a way that we can certainly be in the world and not of it, and I think the Mahaneys did that with humour and managed it quite successfully. But as soon as their disciples start making it an object of legalism, I think it's gone too far. Just like the Cross maybe ...

Anonymous said...

Can you ever make the Cross an object of legalism?? It's quite a shocking concept isn't it. Yet we must remember that the Cross isn't Christ. The Cross centred life? Shouldn't it rather be the Christ centred life? The Cross was simply the object of torture on which Christ had to die. It achieved nothing in and of itself. God the Just did not look on the Cross and become satisfied but on the sinless Son. As we know thousands upon thousands hung upon Crosses yet they never achieved redemption for a whole host of people!

I fear that the Cross may too easily become an icon and then we are simply Roman Catholic in our interpretation and our ecclesiology.

Yet the Resurrection can't be made an object of legalism surely - because there is no object to legalise! What symbolises the fact that Christ is raised? The empty tomb? Yet He didn't stop there! He went to Jerusalem and appeared to many! He then was gloriously ascended! All the negative symbols are empty!

Dr S A J burgess

Anonymous said...

Can you ever make the Cross an object of legalism?? It's quite a shocking concept isn't it. Yet we must remember that the Cross isn't Christ. The Cross centred life? Shouldn't it rather be the Christ centred life? The Cross was simply the object of torture on which Christ had to die. It achieved nothing in and of itself. God the Just did not look on the Cross and become satisfied but on the sinless Son. As we know thousands upon thousands hung upon Crosses yet they never achieved redemption for a whole host of people!

I fear that the Cross may too easily become an icon and then we are simply Roman Catholic in our interpretation and our ecclesiology.

Yet the Resurrection can't be made an object of legalism surely - because there is no object to legalise! What symbolises the fact that Christ is raised? The empty tomb? Yet He didn't stop there! He went to Jerusalem and appeared to many! He then was gloriously ascended! All the negative symbols are empty!

Dr S A J burgess

James B said...

Well as I understood it, Mahaney's people say that they use the word "Cross" to envelop the whole of the Gospel. I don't think its the wisest word to use as the Cross is quite clearly part of the Gospel - as seen in Ern Baxter's teaching here. Christ's finished work was done when He rose - yet of course His work goes on.

So an element of confusion I think. Is it rhetoric quite like his "The Father killed Jesus" statement? I'm not sure. Whatever the case, I don't think confusion in such primal doctrines is wise at all.

But yes I would agree with Dr Burgess - I think while shocking, it is true - the Cross can be made an object of legalism.

Baxter's Boy said...

I think this discussion has demonstrated to me the absolute vicious ease in which legalism comes into the midst of the Church. I've just finished reading Mahaney's "Humility" that I brought at Brighton. I might post a review later.

But I was reading his tips on how to promote humility and the thought occured to me how absolutely easy it would be to become "legalistic" about becoming humble! And it was actually Mahaney himself at Stoneleigh 2000 who defined legalism as the "height of self-arrogance".

Isn't that incredible!? That striving to become humble could actually backfire and you end up becoming arrogant about being humble!

Now I am not saying that we don't need these lists of tips and ideas on how to promote humility or a more righteous life. But I can't get away from the verse in Galatians that says; "Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh".

That seems to suggest to me that if you walk in the Spirit, if you nuture a walk with Him, if you (as Mahaesh Chavda said) don't grieve my dearest friend - then the Bible says you will NOT fulfill the lusts of the flesh. Which includes pride.

So what I would like to see, I think, is less of lists of tips and ideas and more of HOW to walk in the Spirit. How to have a daily encounter with Him.

Anonymous said...

Another "Mahaney" hit!!! However, if you re-read part 1 of the book i think you will be protected from any potential legalism.

James B said...

Another hit? In what way? A hit as in an internet mention or a hit as in a proverbial slap across the face? I don't understand what that means.

I felt we were having a very beneficial discussion - it was very helpful to me anyway in trying to identify legalism in contemporary church life and I didn't think Mahaney was getting slated at all.

Gosh people are very sensative and rather defensive of him aren't they. I wonder why? I read on Kevin Cawley's blog that "Everyone loves C J Mahaney - I have yet to meet someone who doesn't". So why so defensive?! ;)

But thank you for the tip to re-visit section 1 of the book Mr Anonymous Man. I think I will decline that and wait for the book review.

Jason said...

We await the book review with baited breath!

Baxter's Boy said...

I really wouldn't hold your breath. I only said "maybe". But then again maybe I should ... getting shouted at is always good for the topic of the book! ;)

Anonymous said...

I would encourage you to consider posting a review. Sometimes the books that we don't agree with or don't particularly like can be the books that make us consider our position, our theology and our hermaneutics. In considering why you don't like aspects of what Mahaney has written, you may find you become stronger in your developing ideas, theology etc!

It would be interesting to read what you feel as I too am not feeling the call to go read this book yet. I would like to know either why I shouldn't read it or why I should!

Dr S A J Burgess