The upcoming Ligonier National Conference, entitled, “Light & Heat: A Passion for the Holiness of God,” sounds like it may be a decent conference. I am not Reformed, but might find such a conference stimulating, especially in light of the “spirit” of today’s Christendom. It’s encouraging to hear other voices with a concern for what God says.
On that note, just a few comments concerning information about the conference…
The third paragraph of the above site states:
“Several essential doctrines of the Christian faith are under attack in our day, even from within the church, and it is important that we be well grounded in these truths so that we may have a deep affection for our triune God. John Piper will join me and Ligonier teaching fellows Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Steven Lawson, and R.C. Sproul Jr. as we look at several important tenets of the faith, such as divine sovereignty, biblical worship, evangelism and missions, apologetics, and justification.”
While I wholeheartedly agree that the Christian faith is under attack in our day, even from within the church, I question the following, 1) that it is only “important” that we be well grounded in these essential doctrines 2) so that we may have deep affection for our triune God, and 3) that divine sovereignty, biblical worship, evangelism and missions, apologetics, and justification are only “important tenets of the faith.”
St. Paul writes to Timothy these words, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16). Certainly, Paul the apostle is not only talking about a few teachings of the Christian faith here. Notice that he writes, “the doctrine,” singular with the definite article, not doctrines, plural. “The doctrine” is that which Paul taught to Timothy, that which is of God. It was not only important to be grounded in this one doctrine (not many), but necessary to be grounded so. “Take heed” (or “pay close attention to”) and “continuing,” tied with salvation, cannot mean only important, but a necessity—if Timothy was to save himself and those who heard him.
Interestingly, I couldn’t find the phrase “affection for God” anywhere in the New Testament. I am genuinely ignorant of this phrase with reference to God. I just don’t know what it means. I have some guesses, but that’s all they are. I’m more familiar with God’s compassion towards those in need (i.e. the sick, demon-possessed, etc.) and His people (i.e. those who cry out to Him, God’s love in Christ), as well as how we are to be with one another, than with having “deep affection for the triune God.” This is a different way of talking. If faith is meant, fine. But then just say “faith.” So what is meant? I’m cautious about the use of unfamiliar words. They may indicate a different theology going on.
Important tenets of faith…Absolutely necessary or negotiable? That’s the way I read such wording (the latter, not the former), though I assume that such is not the intention of the writer. Or is it? I don’t know. One might honestly ask the question if such examples as “divine sovereignty, biblical worship, evangelism and missions, apologetics, and justification” are only “important tenets.” To claim as such seems to somehow minimize them in some way. It also implies that only some doctrines are of importance. But what happens when one is taken away? Does Christianity still stand? Is all doctrine equal (on the same level)? And finally, what is it that makes doctrine Christian doctrine, in contrast to nonChristian doctrine?
These are just a few thoughts on an “advertisement” for an upcoming conference. Will it be worthwhile? It may be, but discernment is certainly in order.
Filed under: Apologetics, Bible-Holy Scripture, Christian Denominations & Fellowship, Law & Gospel-Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth, Theology & Doctrine | Tagged: Apologetics, Conference, Doctrine, Holiness of God, Light and Heat, Ligonier, Reformed, Sproul |