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Iron Ink: Priest and King August 29, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Antithesis, Blog Spotting, Theology, Two Kingdoms.
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Here’s a link to a great post by Pastor Bret McAtee titled ‘Priest & King, Great Commission & Cultural Mandate.’ In it he examines the relationship of the cultural mandate with Christ’s office of king and the great commission with Christ’s office of priest.


Christian Ethics and Reformed Education August 28, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Antithesis, Christian Education, Christian Parenting.
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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on Christian Education as my son will be attending a Pre-K program at our public school next year. We visited our local Christian schools and there is one we like but they do not have a Pre-K program. These visits and our eventual decision to enroll in the public school got me think about; What should I expect from a Christian School? What is a Chrisitian education? and How do I know they’re not just slapping the Christian label on the sign like so many churches, books and music?

In searching the web I found the transcript of a speech by a Rev. C. Stam, of the Canadian Reformed Church. It is titled ‘Christian Ethics and Reformed Education’. In his speech Rev. Stam concentrates mostly on ethics but his analysis has implications on other areas of education as well. He divides his analysis into 6 sections:

1. Ethics and Dogmatics

He starts out by explaining that ethics is a refection on morals, which are the customs adopted by a certain group. He then explains the function of Christian ethics, ‘(In) Christian ethics we subject such morals to the only norm of the Word of God!’ In addition he ties ethics into dogmatics explaining that ethics are part of dogmatics and ‘life and doctrine are not to be separated’. In order to illustrate this he explains that we must understand mans nature as taught in the Bible before we can apply morals to children.

This is important as I do not believe that ethics/morals can be appropriately taught in a public school environment and many subjects touch on issues where ethical implications will be discussed. Parents are to be the ultimate teacher of ethics to their children, so is a school education that supports what is being taught at home important?

2. Empathic-Critical

He then moves to describe a ‘Empathic-critical’ approach that should be used by Christian teachers. A teacher (or parent) must be empathetic as we understand behavioral difficulties in children, as we to struggle with sin in our own lives. The teacher should also be critical of the behavior and able to provide correction this extended quote summarizes this section well.

“For empathy should not be taken to mean: overlooking or shrugging oft wrong behavior. We are to be critical of the youth, in the sense that we must discern what is right or wrong, and the youth must be made to understand this as well. We cannot condone wrong behavior, no matter how much we understand its reasons. Being empathic to the person, we must be critical of his behavior.”

Here we begin to see additional development of the antithesis between Christian and secular education. Although there may be Christians involved in secular education, at a Christian school we can be reasonably assured that the teachers can empathize with our children as they grow in the faith and that their criticisms or corrections will be based on God’s word.

3. Positive-Covenantal

As Reformed believers we see our children as part of God’s covenant and should treat them as God treats his covenant people- ‘with great patience and compassion’. Being a part of God’s covenant is therefore a positive thing. The positive factor is best explained in this quotation:

“we should unceasingly approach the children as being in grafted into the covenant of grace, as heirs of the kingdom of God! That is, so to speak, their status and privilege. The binding factor of this covenant should be a joyful reality, not a gray prison.”

He cautions not to conclude that covenant children are converted, for that is the work of the Holy Spirit.

“We must unceasingly use the means – the Word – and let the Spirit of God bring this to fruition. We expect it positively from the power of the Word of God, also in the classroom – above any technique which we might employ. Failure to see the decisive work of the Holy Spirit also results in failure to see the prime place of the Word in the classroom!”

Again I see this as a reinforcement of what is being taught at home. An important key though is the fact that our children are not converted, therefore we should desire that they encounter ‘the Word’ as much as possible as it is the way through which the Holy Spirit works.

4. Church-Oriented

There should obviously be a connection between the Christian school and the church. Rev. Stam describes the proper relationship with the school as the tutor the church as the mother. As we see in the next section the school needs to point back to the parent (5th commandment). So to must the school point to the church. Children need to be taught the importance of the church and the value of being Reformed. Further we see how the school and church fill different functions in the Christian life. In all of this though the church is primary while the school supportive.

The public school will never be church oriented, nor should we desire it to be. In fact it may be openly hostile to the church. On the other hand we need to be careful of not letting the Christian school over take the church in level of importance.

5. Norm-Conscious

“We must confront the students not with our own opinions (no matter how noteworthy these may be), but with God’s revealed norms, His Law of love.

Rev. Stam points specifically to the 5th commandment (Honor your father and mother) and how the teacher must not try to replace the parents but help to develop their honor. The parents must also be aware of their need to impart Biblical values to their children.

In order to do develop Christian norms the Bible must be open in the classroom. If these norms are properly developed he shows how the antithesis is developed in Christian thought.

“Christians are not better than others, but they are certainly called to be different. We have a different motivation, for we know Christ, our Saviour. We “think” differently, namely, “spiritually.” We have a different outlook on life, different expectations, and, therefore, a different life-style. Only from inward renewal comes outward obedience which is pleasing to God.”

By learning the Biblical norms children will be able to react to different issues in life. It is more than do’s and don’ts, it is teaching children to think ‘Gods thoughts after him’. This was a great section with a lot of good insight, the article is worth reading for this part alone.

6. Maturity-Directed

This sections builds well on the development of norms in Christian thinking. Showing the result of Christians who can discern right and wrong in a Biblical way.

“Lead the students to a responsible discerning of what is right and wrong. You cannot live their lives; you must give them the tools to live their own lives.”

This is what every Christian parent should want of their children, that they are discerning on the basis of the Bible- in short that they are able to take their thoughts captive to Jesus Christ.

Psalm 86 August 15, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Psalms, Scripture.
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David playing the harp

Psalm 86 (English Standard Version)

Great Is Your Steadfast Love

A Prayer of David.

1 Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Preserve my life, for I am godly;
save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
3 Be gracious to me, O Lord,
for to you do I cry all the day.
4 Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
5 For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
6 Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer;
listen to my plea for grace.
7 In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
for you answer me.

8 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
nor are there any works like yours.
9 All the nations you have made shall come
and worship before you, O Lord,
and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wondrous things;
you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your steadfast love toward me;
you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me;
a band of ruthless men seeks my life,
and they do not set you before them.
15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me;
give your strength to your servant,
and save the son of your maidservant.
17 Show me a sign of your favor,
that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

In the first section of this Psalm we see the importance of relying on God. God will save those who trust in him. How well this relates to Sola Fide or faith alone. God truly is ‘abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you’ providing salvation through his son Jesus.

The next section praises God for his uniqueness and power. David then asks the Lord to ‘Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth’. What other response should we give to one so loving and wise but to desire to know his ways and walk in them?

Finally David prays that God would allow his life to be a witness to ‘insolent men’. For God can grant strength so ‘those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me’. Again David knows that for this he must rely on the Lord’s help. Just as today we can be a witness only through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.

Rick Phillips on Discipling Christian Children August 14, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Antithesis, Blog Spotting, Christian Parenting, Richard Phillips.
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It seems like I’m doing an awful lot of ‘blog spotting’ but then again I openly admit that I’m still learning and there’s so much good stuff being written by others.

Rick Phillips posts an article at the Reformation 21 blog on ‘Discipling Christian Children’. He starts with an excellent quote show casing how the Biblical world view is antithetical to the secular (this blog is titled Reformed Antithesis after all)

We live in a society that assumes that when children grow up they will jettison the family’s beliefs and values. But the Bible sees things differently. The book of Proverbs says that the childhood years have a formative influence that lasts throughout life: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).

As a parent of two young children I appreciate any help I can get from a Biblical perspective. He lays out four actions for parents.

  1. Read God’s Word with your children
  2. Pray for and with your children
  3. Work with your children
  4. Play with your children

Common Grace without Antithesis August 13, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Antithesis, Blog Spotting.
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Larry Temple posts an insightful article ‘The Antithesis and “Common Cooperation” Theology at his blog.

In it he details how many in the church today look at Kuyper’s teaching on common grace, but forget his teaching on antithesis. Here is a quote from the post showing the problems that arise:

Without Kuyper’s theology of “the antithesis” his “common grace” theology has metastasized into a doctrine of “common cooperation”. This metastasized doctrine preaches cooperation with the unbelieving world for the “common good” of mankind… and this being done in the name of advancing the kingdom of God.

I can see this happening often in the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). I used to be a member of this denomination, and my parents still are, plus living in West Michigan its hard not to be aware of the things that are happening in that denomination. For an example read ‘Beyond Election Madness’ in the August 2008 Banner. Lots of talk about ‘hope’ and ‘good news’ but no talk about Christ and the good news of our salvation. There is no antithesis here, the Christian’s good news is the good news of the world and the government not the church is the bringer of the good news.

Now that’s not to say that alleviating poverty and helping the sick are bad things, but by doing only those are we advancing the kingdom of God?

Psalm 119:1-8 August 8, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Law/Gospel, Psalms, Scripture.

David playing the harp

Psalm 119 (English Standard Version)

Your Word Is a Lamp to My Feet


1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD!
2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,
3 who also do no wrong,
but walk in his ways!
4 You have commanded your precepts
to be kept diligently.
5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules.
8 I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me!

What a great comfort to know that we are counted blameless through our Saviour, Jesus Christ. How thankful we should also be that we can learn God’s righteous rules as he has given them to us in his word.

Our blessing is through Christ and part of our praise to him is through our attempted keeping of his statutes.

Obedience is its Own Reward August 7, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Blog Spotting, Christian Parenting, Law/Gospel, Sermons.
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Tony Reinke at Miscellanies (formerly known as The Shepherd’s Scrapbook) points readers to a sermon by Greg Harris.

Here’s a portion of a quote from the sermon pulled by Tony:

Wisdom itself is that ability to see how one thing relates to another in God’s purposes. That this relates to that because of who He is (and He is good and wise). And when we understand this the commandments of the Lord and the wisdom literature of the Bible become a delight to us, not a burden.

The actual title of the sermon is ‘Don’t Waste Your Kids’ so it has biblical insight into parenting as well as how we relate to God’s commandments. I had not heard of Gregg Harris before listening to this, but was definitely edified. You can download the sermon through a link on the Miscellanies site.

à Brakel on the Two Kingdoms August 6, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Antithesis, Blog Spotting, Two Kingdoms.
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In part of the quotation a’ Brakel challenges us with:

You are neither neutral nor a subject of both kingdoms simultaneously. Therefore, to which kingdom do you presently belong?