C.Hansen’s Top 10 Theology Stories of 2014 – The Gospel Coalition

My Top 10 Theology Stories of 2014 | TGC | The Gospel Coalition.

Year in review-1I have learned to appreciate Collin Hansen’s (editorial director for the Gospel Coalition) annual list of a different nature – the top 10 theology stories of the year. Past years have shown a church world in turmoil for various reasons – doctrinal controversy, persecution, and sin within and without. 2014 revealed more of the same (Posted Dec.22, 2014).

Yet we believe that the church remains our Lord’s and that He is at work in the church, in the world, and in us to accomplish His master plan of ultimate redemption and renewal when He returns in glory, executes His righteous judgment, and makes all things new. May our remembrance of this year’s theological stories remind us of the goal of all things.

Here is Hansen’s introduction and one of the picks that was of particular interest to me. To see the rest of the stories that make his list, visit the “Gospel Coalition” link above.

I’m not satisfied with how we ascribe value to certain news stories over others. While social media direct us to stories that might have been overlooked in older newsrooms, these outlets and cable news lead us to obsess with certain stories and ignore others for no apparent reason. While news editors formerly acted as judge and jury for public knowledge, our mob mentality hardly produces better results. The trending hashtag does not necessarily reflect what’s most valuable in the kingdom of God. In fact, this fallen world threatens to distract us from from thinking about “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable” (Phil. 4:8).

As you’ll see in my list of top theology stories, I haven’t solved this problem. You may recognize these stories from your news feed, but you might arrange them in a different order or replace some altogether. I don’t claim unbiased perspective, and even if I did, past failings would betray me (see my lists from 20082009201020112012, and 2013).

…So consider my list an admittedly foolhardy attempt—written from the vantage point of an American who subscribes to The Gospel Coalition’s confessional statement—to discern the most important theology stories of 2014. Consider it an opportunity to reflect on whether your priorities align with God’s and a challenge to spread good news in a world that seeks peace but finds none apart from Jesus Christ.

8. Debate over justification and sanctification reaches breaking point.

Can someone be too focused on the gospel? Of course not. Unless “gospel” becomes shorthand for privileging certain biblical teachings and isolating them from others. Then again, Paul told the Corinthians that the matters of “first importance” are Jesus’s death for sins and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:3–4). Shouldn’t those priorities dictate how we read the rest of the Bible? This hermeneutical tension didn’t suddenly leap from the biblical text in 2014, but as co-founders Don Carson and Tim Keller noted with regard to recent changes at TGC, the debate over the relationship between justification and sanctification became “increasingly strident” this year with charges of legalism and antinomianism. They said, “Recently it became clear that the dispute was becoming increasingly sharp and divisive rather than moving toward greater unity.” How do Christians find that unity? Perhaps futher debate will resolve the outstanding issues. But we must all first humble ourselves before the God of the Bible and each other to live out the grace we so fervently preach.

“Tabletalk” Interview: Pursuing Holiness by Jerry Bridges

Pursuing Holiness by Jerry Bridges | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org.

JBridges-1For our Tabletalk feature today we could refer you to the next main article on the theme – “A Summary of Orthodox Christlogy” by Dr.Mark Jones (and you are certainly free to do that!), –  but instead we are going to look at the interview feature in this month’s issue.

Because that interview is with well-known author and teacher Dr.Jerry Bridges, who has written such classics as The Pursuit of HolinessTrusting God: Even When Life Hurts, and Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate.

There are many interesting parts to this “TT” interview – and I encourage you to read all of it at the link provided – but here are a couples of parts that interested me:

Trusting God -JBridgesTT: You point out in your book Trusting God that many Christians find it difficult to trust God in adverse circumstances. What are two ways that we can learn to trust God, even when times are tough?

JB: Trusting God in tough times involves believing first of all in the sovereignty of God; that He is in absolute control of all the events and circumstances of our lives. Second, we must believe that He is just as loving as He is sovereign, and that He allows nothing into our lives that is not for our ultimate good. It also involves believing that He will never leave us nor forsake us in the midst of these tough times. Though these are the main points, we must also realize that God’s ways are often mysterious and inscrutable, so we are called to trust Him even in circumstances that we do not understand.

TT: What are some of the most significant lessons that God has taught you over a lifetime of ministry?

JB: In the order that I learned them, the first would be that God’s Word, both His precepts and promises, is meant to be applied to specific situations in our lives.

The second is the importance of our union with Christ, both as our representative before God in His life and death, and then as the source of our spiritual life as Jesus taught us in the vine-and-branches metaphor of John 15.

The third is that the pursuit of holiness involves our most diligent efforts, but with a dependence on the Holy Spirit to bless those efforts.

The fourth is my understanding and acceptance of the doctrine of God’s sovereign election in our salvation. This is probably the most life-changing of all the lessons.

The fifth is that the gospel is not just for unbelievers and their coming to Christ; rather, all of us who are believers need the gospel every day because we are still practicing sinners.

The sixth is an increased understanding of the role of the indwelling Holy Spirit to apply the work of Christ to us and enable us to grow in the Christian life.