Silence and Sovereign Sounds

Source: Silence and Sovereign Sounds

By: Brian G. Chilton | June 25, 2018

During a class on Paul, Dr. Leo Percer noted how people often bombard themselves with noise to keep from hearing the voice of God. As I began thinking about Percer’s statements, I found him to be absolutely right. Some will say, “But if God speaks, everyone will know it.” While that is true to a degree, one must realize that God does not always speak to a person with thunder, lightning, and booms from heaven. More times than not, God speaks to a person in a still, small voice. How ironic! The greatest power in heaven speaks with sweet simplicity. Note three ways how silence helped the prophet Elijah to hear God’s voice more clearly.

Silence Allows Us to Focus our Acknowledgement of the Sovereign’s Sounds (1 Kgs. 19:9-13). I wish I had the voice of Adrian Rodgers, booming from the depths of a rich, clear, bass voice, a voice that could be heard without a microphone. I am cursed with a soft-spoken voice, one that requires a microphone so that the harder-of-hearing are able to understand what is said. People often associate deep, rich voices with power and authority. While it is true that God sometimes speaks with a thundering voice that roars likened to the voluminous rushing of water down a mighty river (Rev. 1:15), at other times God’s voice is likened to a softly spoken whisper bringing peace and comfort to a troubled soul.

The latter was the case for one prophet named Elijah. Elijah was troubled, as we shall soon see. God directed him to the wilderness, away from the sounds of the city. Elijah was to climb a mountain and wait of God to speak to him. A mighty wind came through, perhaps something comparable to a tornado, but God was not in the wind. Then, an earthquake occurred that shook the feet of the prophet and everything around him, but God was not in the earthquake. A fire then broke out on the mountain, but God was not in the fire. At this point, I think I would second guess whether I should be on the mountain, but not Elijah. He waited for the Lord. Then, God came to Elijah in a soft whisper. Elijah acknowledged the soft-spoken nature of God’s voice.

The trouble with being hyper-busy is that we do not take the time to acknowledge God’s voice. Perhaps that is the reason why some people stay as busy as they do. As Percer said, “When we bombard our lives with noise, we keep ourselves from realizing that Someone else is there.”

Silence Allows Us to Focus our Attention on the Sovereign’s Sounds (1 Kgs. 19:3-4). Going back to verses 3-4 of the passage, one will note that Elijah was frightened and depressed. Elijah had just victoriously defeated the false prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. He was outnumbered 450 to 1. If Las Vegas had existed then, Elijah would have been called a strong underdog. Yet, Elijah was victorious! God has shown his power through the prophet! The false prophets were met with destruction. Elijah had been victorious, but his celebration was short lived. Ahab and Jezebel wanted his head. Elijah had overturned the political focus on Baal. History has taught us that standing opposed to a ruling political power can be hazardous to one’s health.

Elijah was afraid. This prophet who boldly stood in Yahweh’s name was frightened. He was depressed and suicidal. He wanted God to take his life (19:4). Yet, God told him that he needed to go to the mountain where he would meet the prophet. Elijah needed to get away from the sounds of the city and focus his attention not on his fears but on the Sovereign God.

How do we attempt to solve our depression and problems? Some will try to bombard themselves with entertainment, digging one’s nose deeper into the screen of a tablet, a phone, or the television connected to a gaming system. Others try to solve their problems with the bottle. Others still try to solve their issues with the needle or joint. More likely, people will drown themselves in noise and busyness. Yet, the real solution is to take time with God. Take time to be alone with God. You may find that if you take away all the distractions of life that you will hear God most clearly.

Silence Allows Us to Focus our Acceptance to the Sovereign’s Sounds (1 Kgs. 19:14-18). Elijah heard from God and he had a clear direction on how he must proceed. Elijah was about to anoint future kings and future prophets. Elijah’s fears subsided. He focused on God. He didn’t focus on his problems, on his presuppositions, or on his station in life. He focused on God and accepted what God had him to do.

Silence allows us to put things into proper perspective. We can hear from God and direct our attention to do what God would have us do. When we are immersed with God’s Holy Spirit and directed to a particular task, we may find that we will have clearer direction than we ever could imagine. A pastor friend of mine will take annual hikes on the Appalachian Trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He has told me numerous times that he has a greater sense of direction from God when he returns.

The Deep Quiet Zone at Liberty University’s Library

Let me close with this. In a loud and busy world, it is difficult to settle in with silence. When I was at Liberty University, I took some time to read in the Jerry Falwell Library on campus. The library has three sections: the regular section where people can talk normally, the quiet section where people are allowed to only whisper, and the deep quiet section where no one is allowed to make any noise at all. I chose to read in the deep quiet section. To my surprise, it took me ten to fifteen minutes to be able to focus on the book I was reading because I was not used to that level of silence! Perhaps, we would be much better off if we lived quieter lives—lives not so much that desire to be seen, but to see; lives that desire not so much to speak, but to listen; and lives that no so much desire to be in the limelight, but rather in the background. It is far better to be in shadows of the Sovereign God than in the spotlight of self.

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as a pastor in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

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(Podcast 6.22.18) From Cambodia to the United States, Part 2 (w. Siv Ashley)

Source: (Podcast 6.22.18) From Cambodia to the United States, Part 2 (w. Siv Ashley)

(Podcast 6.15.18) Flashback Edition: “From Cambodia to the United States, Part 1” (w. Siv Ashley)

Source: (Podcast 6.15.18) Flashback Edition: “From Cambodia to the United States, Part 1” (w. Siv Ashley)

(Podcast 6.8.18) Message: “Bringing God Glorification through Saintly Unification, Part 2” (Acts 15:36-41)

Source: (Podcast 6.8.18) Message: “Bringing God Glorification through Saintly Unification, Part 2” (Acts 15:36-41)

The Need for a Reformation in the SBC

Source: The Need for a Reformation in the SBC

By: Brian G. Chilton | June 4, 2018

The prophet Micah reminded the people of Israel of what the Lord required of them: “to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8).[1] It seems that we need to hear these words once again. I have been quite troubled over the past few weeks and debated on whether I should even comment on the issue. The Southern Baptist Convention, the denomination in which I serve as a pastor, is facing a crisis. An identity crisis. A moral crisis.

You have probably heard about the scandal that has rocked the Southern Baptist Convention and two of its seminaries: Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Fort Worth, Texas and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, North Carolina. The scandals are based around Dr. Paige Patterson who allegedly failed to report charges of rape at both SWBTS and SEBTS to the proper authorities and furthermore was claimed to have told one victim that it was good that she had been raped.[2] While there have been claims that the whole ordeal has been blown out of proportion,[3] evidence continues to surface that seems to suggest that the claims are indeed true. It does not help that Patterson has admitted to counseling abused women that they should stay in the physically abusive home, with one case resulting in a woman being given two black eyes by her abusive husband.[4] In addition, Patterson used very questionable language in referencing a 16-year-old girl.[5] While the latter was said in jest, it is still quite questionable.

The actions of Patterson have led to his dismissal from the presidency of SWBTS, even to the point that his President Emeritus title has been removed.[6] Many of us in Southern Baptist life are quite hurt by the things that have transpired. We wonder what is going to happen to the denomination. Understand that the previous was not written to bash Patterson, but to simply convey what has already been published. I hope that everyone is praying for Patterson and the people he has hurt.

In full disclosure, I am writing this as a conservative, non-Calvinist, SBC pastor. I think that if the SBC is going to move past this tragedy, there must be a reformation within our denomination. This reformation must occur in five different ways.

 

The SBC must reform its view of women. The SBC needs to elevate its view of women. I am not referencing the complementarian/egalitarian debate. Rather, I am talking about the SBC’s view on women. Have we elevated the status of women to where Christ has? Milton Hollifield, Jr., the executive director of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, has said much of the same. Hollifield noted, “Women should know and believe that if God has raised them up, they will be given the opportunity to serve on committees and certain places of leadership.”[7]

As an apologist, I cannot tell you the times that women have expressed concern that they have no place in Christianity. Some have even taken an erroneous view of Paul’s beliefs about women which probably came from a pastor or denominational leader who himself espoused such a view. I think we must let women know that they matter and that they are of value.

 

The SBC must reform its view of morality. One of the most disturbing aspects of this entire debacle has come from fellow Christians who seemingly support the idea that abused individuals should stay in the home and expose themselves and their children to the abuser’s assault. How is this justified? All in the name of a hardcore stance against divorce! While the Scripture indicates that God’s intentions are for a man and woman to remain married, there are exceptions given.[8] How are we to truly seek justice, as Micah says, if we allow bullies of the home to continue to abuse their spouses and children? Where is the justice in that interpretation?

 

The SBC must reform its view of justice. As a pastor, I realize there are certain issues beyond my level of expertise. If someone is suffering from a heart condition, I will refer them to a cardiologist. If someone is suffering from bipolar issues, I would refer them to a psychologist. How could we not refer a raped victim to the proper authorities? I understand that we should try to keep things in church as much as possible. But when a person’s life is threatened, it is time to allow the due process of law to take place. Doesn’t Paul tell us that our officials can serve as God’s arm of justice (Rom. 13:4)?

 

The SBC must reform its view of leadership. A good friend of mine used the phrase blind allegiance to describe those who accept what a leader says without question. However, as a community of faith, should we not hold our leaders accountable? I am not saying that we should find every nit-picky thing wrong with a leader. Nor am I saying that we should take apart every word that is said. However, when our leaders fail, we hold them up in prayer, but also hold them accountable for their actions. This does not mean that we do not forgive. Forgiveness is a core element of the Christian faith. Yet, when a person’s advice comes to the level of being dangerous, or even lethal, to the person receiving the advice, it may be time to have a serious discussion with that leader. The SBC needs to be able to hold its leaders accountable, no matter whom they are. These political power struggles need to be replaced. Perhaps, there needs to be some restructuring in the denomination. Whatever the case may be, SBC members need to have a voice from both small and large churches.

 

The SBC must reform its view of unity. As noted earlier, I am a non-Calvinist.[9] Even still, I am dismayed at the hostilities that exist in SBC life between Calvinists and non-Calvinists. Is it not possible that we can get along so long as both sides agree on the necessity of evangelism? When this came out, the non-Calvinist side claimed that the Patterson ordeal was nothing more than a political stunt by the Calvinist branch of the SBC. If we cannot find a way to work together, there will be a major schism in the denomination sooner rather than later.

 

Not all Southern Baptists will agree on everything. That is a given. But, if we as Southern Baptists cannot find a way to work together, there will not be a denomination left. Furthermore, God will not bless an institution that permits abuse. On that, I am quite sure. Jesus said it best, “If a house is divided against itself, it cannot stand” (Mk. 3:25). If we cannot find a way to fix these problems and unite under the banner of Christ, then the SBC will eventually be nothing more than a passing memory. Lord, help us learn to “to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with” you (Mic. 6:8).

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of BellatorChristi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and currently serves as a pastor in northwestern North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all quoted Scripture comes from the Christian Standard Bible (Nashville: Holman, 2017).

[2] Sarah Smith, “Southern Baptist leader told alleged rape victim it was ‘good’ she was raped lawyer says,” Star-Telegram (June 2, 2018), http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article212356699.html.

[3] Sharayah Colter, “Untold Truth,” NormanGeisler.com (May 2018), http://normangeisler.com/the-untold-truth-about-paige-patterson/.

[4] You can hear Patterson’s whole statement at https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Farchive.org%2Fdetails%2FPaigePattersonsbcAdviceToVictimsOfDomesticViolence&h=ATNM6NPPUNICW5RLKEsD_b_efsKDBUwrXm4uW5HnNYVIcdbuebvDTXIKv6Ivc0M3duQd8kjNEoD4pyzzdqHXNmXs6W8qqEzMC14S_A_Rsd7e6fH31NmUcL9yinNnIyYOdw&s=1.

[5] You can hear the controversial statement here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDRUVmcaQ3k.

[6] Jody Brown, “Patterson’s Role as Seminary’s President Emeritus Short-Lived,” OneNewsNow.com (May 31, 2018), https://onenewsnow.com/church/2018/05/31/pattersons-role-as-seminarys-president-emeritus-short-lived

[7] Milton Hollifield, Jr., in K. Allan Blume, ed, “Hollifield Calls Next SBC Leader to Advocate Dignity of Women,” Biblical Recorder (June 2, 2018): 13.

[8] Deut. 24:1-4; Matt. 19:8-9; 1 Cor. 7:15. A good friend of mine shared with me John Chrysostom and Martin Luther’s interpretation of 1 Cor. 7:15. They argue that abuse is a proper reason for separation and divorce according to 1 Cor. 7:15. I concur.

[9] To be exact, I am a Baptist Molinist. See Brian G. Chilton, “What is Molinism?,” BellatorChristi.com (May 15, 2018), https://bellatorchristi.com/2018/05/15/what-is-molinism/.

Review of “Contours of Pauline Theology” by Tom Holland

Source: Review of “Contours of Pauline Theology” by Tom Holland

By: Brian G. Chilton | May 22, 2018

Holland, Tom. Contours of Pauline Theology: A Radical New Survey of the Influences on Paul’s Biblical Writings. Scotland, UK: Mentor, 2004. $19.99. 392 pages.

Dr. Tom Holland (Professor of NT and Hermeneutics at Wales Evangelical School of Theology, now Union School of Theology) has revolutionized the way I read the NT in his book “Contours of Pauline Theology: A Radical New Survey on the Influences on Paul’s Biblical Writings.” Holland argues that Paul and the NT writers did not alter the message of Jesus in order to “hellenize” it for a Gentile world. Rather, they remained true to the message of Christ which was based upon the New Exodus Motifs (that is, showing a salvation story of redemption taken from the themes of the Exodus account).

In the first section, chapters one through four evaluate the heritage of the OT promises, Passover, and methodological presuppositions of many scholars. Here, Holland argues that the NT is completely based upon the ancient teachings of Jesus, which was itself based on themes found in the Exodus.

The second section shows connections between the Paschal Community and Paul’s emphases on the body of sin, eschatological marriage, and baptism. The third section does the same as the second although it is focused more on Paul’s soteriology in the realm of the Passover. The fourth section is devoted to the discussion of Christology as seen in the Passover motif. Holland’s assessment of the hymn in Colossians is superb!

This book may not be for everyone. It is highly academic and can be dry in some areas. However, if one forges through the dry spots, one will find a depth of resources that will radically defend both the historicity and authenticity of the NT, and will deepen one’s theology in ways one could not imagine. I give this book five glowing stars!!!

(Podcast 5.17.18) Flashback Edition: Election from the Perspective of Second Temple Judaism (w. Dr. Chad Thornhill)

Source: (Podcast 5.17.18) Flashback Edition: Election from the Perspective of Second Temple Judaism (w. Dr. Chad Thornhill)

What is Molinism?

Source: What is Molinism?

By: Brian G. Chilton | May 15, 2018

 

When it comes to theology, many issues are not discussed among most ordinary Christians. For instance, few people will speak of the aseity of God on most Sunday mornings. However, when it comes to the issue of divine sovereignty and human freedom, the first theological question I get asked as a minister is; Are you a Calvinist or an Arminian? My answer muddies the waters for most because I respond by saying, “I am neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian.” “What?,” they reply, “You have to be one or the other.” I say, “No necessarily. I am a Molinist.” The blank stares I receive says it all. “You are a what?!? A mole in mist?” “No,” I would say, “a Molinist.”

So, what is Molinism? This article will provide three answers. First, we will discuss the founder of Molinism. Second, we will discuss the acronym associated with Molinism. Finally, we will discuss the three areas of divine omniscience including middle knowledge.

 

  1. The origins of Molinism: Luis de Molina.

Molinism is derived from the theological works of 16th century Jesuit priest, Luis de Molina. While the Protestant Reformation was in full swing, Molina was sympathetic to the movement yet did not depart from the Catholic church. It appears that Molina may have known of Luther’s writings as well as Calvin’s. But, the primary theologian that Molina engaged was one Thomas Aquinas. Molina desired to come to a solution as to how one can formulate God’s sovereignty in a world where free creatures exist. While Calvin emphasized God’s sovereignty and Arminius emphasized human freedom, Molina sought to find a balanced approach. Thomas Aquinas was held to both divine sovereignty and human freedom, but it was not certain how the two could blend. Molina would add a concept that would offer a solution.

 

  1. The acronym of Molinism: ROSES.

Calvinists have the famed (or infamous depending on whom you ask) TULIP. Arminians have the DAISY. Molinists have a flowery acronym, too. Molinists are true romantics at heart as their acronym is ROSES.

R = Radical depravity. Radical depravity takes the place of the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity. Radical depravity holds that humans are depraved to the point that they cannot save themselves. However, this depravity does not remove one’s divine image given to them by the Creator. Thus, the human being is unable to save oneself, however this does not mean that he or she could not respond to God’s grace when given.

O = Overcoming grace. Overcoming grace replaces irresistible grace. Rather than holding that a person cannot respond to God’s grace, Molinists hold that God’s grace is able to overcome the depraved human condition leading to a place where the person can respond positively or negatively to God’s free offer of grace.

S = Sovereign election. Sovereign election replaces the unconditional election portion of TULIP. Molinists hold that God knows each person so completely that he knows how each person will respond in certain circumstances (e.g., Pharaoh’s hardened heart in Exodus). Thus, God elects to save those whom he knows will respond to his grace, but this knowledge does not come from the person, but rather within the mind of God. God knows everything about everyone before anything was created. See point three for a further description of the Molinist’s view of divine sovereignty.

E = Eternal assurance. Rather than emphasizing the perseverance of the saints, which can be construed to mean that not everyone who makes a profession of faith will persevere, the Molinist (at least many Evangelical Molinists) holds that a person’s salvation is assured because of the working of God in the person’s salvation. God’s promises are always true.

S = Singular redemption. The last S of Molinism’s ROSES replaces limited atonement in TULIP. This doctrine holds that Christ’s death was powerful enough to cover the sins of the world, but only applies to those who respond to God’s grace by faith. Thus, Christ’s atoning work was sufficient to save the world, but efficient to save only the elect.

 

  1. The lynchpin of Molinism: Middle Knowledge.

Molinism deepens our understanding of God’s omniscience (that is, God’s knowledge). Thomas Aquinas posited that God had natural knowledge—knowledge of the potentials of the world (the way things operate)—and free knowledge—knowledge of what will come (otherwise known as simple foreknowledge. Molina asked, “How does God know what will come given the libertarian free will (that is, a person’s ability to choose x versus y) of free creatures?” Thus, he postulated that God has middle knowledge. Middle knowledge is the understanding of what free creatures would choose given certain circumstances. Molina emphasized that this understanding did not come from the world, but rather from within the mind of God. Molina states,

“It is not simply because things exist outside their causes in eternity that God knows future contingents with certainty; rather, before (in our way of conceiving it, but with a basis of reality) He creates anything at all, He comprehends in Himself—because of the depth of His knowledge—all the things which, as a result of all the secondary causes possible by virtue of His omnipotence, would contingently or simply freely come to be on the hypothesis that He should will to establish these or those orders of things with these or those circumstances; and by the very fact that through His free will He established in being that order of things and causes which He in fact established, He comprehended in His very self and in that decree of His all the things that were in fact freely or contingently going to be or not going to be as a result of secondary causes—and He comprehended this not only prior to anything’s existence in time, but even prior (in or way of conceiving it, with the basis of reality) to any created thing’s existence in the duration of eternity.”[1]

 

So, the three modes of divine knowledge in Molinism are:

  1. Natural knowledge. The way things could be.
  2. Middle knowledge. The way things would be given free decisions made in certain circumstances.
  3. Free knowledge. The way things will be in the future.

 

Molinism deepens our understanding of God’s omniscient knowledge. Given that God knows the length of days and the number of hairs of a person (Lk. 12:7), it is not difficult to think that God would completely know what a person would choose to do. There are Scriptural reasons to back up God’s middle knowledge (a great example is found in God’s knowledge of Pharaoh’s reaction to his grace in Exodus). A future article will address some of the examples of God’s middle knowledge found in Scripture.

 

Brian G. Chilton is the founder of Bellator Christi.com and is the host of The Bellator Christi Podcast. He received his Master of Divinity in Theology from Liberty University (with high distinction); his Bachelor of Science in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Gardner-Webb University (with honors); and received certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Brian is currently in the Ph.D. program in Theology and Apologetics at Liberty University. Brian has been in the ministry for over 15 years and serves as the pastor of Huntsville Baptist Church in Yadkinville, North Carolina.

 

© 2018. BellatorChristi.com.

[1] Luis de Molina, “On Divine Foreknowledge,” Concordia  IV.49.8, in On Divine Foreknowledge: Part IV of the Concordia, Alfred J. Freddoso, trans. (Ithaca, NY; London, UK: Cornell University, 1988), 115-116.

(Podcast 5.10.18) Message: “Bringing God Glorification through Saintly Unification (Part 1)” (Acts 15:1-35)

Source: (Podcast 5.10.18) Message: “Bringing God Glorification through Saintly Unification (Part 1)” (Acts 15:1-35)