“Jelly-fish” Christianity

J.C. Ryle, the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool, and author of the Christian classic Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots wrote the following on the dislike of doctrine that he noticed in the Church,

is an epidemic which is just now doing great harm, and especially among young people. . . . It produces what I must venture to call . . . a “jelly-fish” Christianity . . . a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power. . . . Alas! It is a type of much of the religion of this day, of which the leading principle is, “no dogma, no distinct tenets, no positive doctrine.”

We have hundreds of “jellyfish” clergyman, who seem not to have a single bone in their body of divinity. They have no definite opinions . . . they are so afraid of “extreme views” that they have no views of all.

We have thousands of “jellyfish” sermons preached every year, sermons without an edge, or a point, or corner, smooth as billiard balls, awakening no sinner, and edifying no saint. . . .

And worst of all, we have myriads of “jellyfish” worshipers—respectable Church-gone people, who have no distinct and definite views about any point in theology. They cannot discern things that differ, any more than colorblind people can distinguish colors. . . . They are “tossed to and fro, like children, by every wind of doctrine”; . . . ever ready for new things, because they have no firm grasp on the old.

Mark what I say. If you want to do good in these times, you must throw aside indecision, and take up a distinct, sharply-cut, doctrinal religion. . . .

The victories of Christianity, wherever they have been won, have been won by distinct doctrinal theology; by telling men roundly of Christ’s vicarious death and sacrifice; by showing them Christ’s substitution on the cross, and His precious blood; by teaching them justification by faith, and bidding them believe on a crucified Saviour; by preaching ruin by sin, redemption by Christ, regeneration by the Spirit; by lifting up the brazen serpent; by telling men to look and live—to believe, repent, and be converted. . . .

Show us at this day any English village, or parish, or city, or town, or district, which has been evangelized without “dogma.” . . . Christianity without distinct doctrine is a powerless thing. . . . No dogma, no fruits!


Celebrating Christmas like a Puritan

In the following clips Doug Wilson explains how to celebrate Christmas like a Puritan. It’s probably not what you think.

“Relief and buoyancy are the characteristic notes . . . It follows that nearly every association which now clings to the word puritan has to be eliminated when we are thinking of the early Protestants. Whatever they were, they were not sour, gloomy, or severe; nor did their enemies bring any such charge against them . . . Fore More, a Protestant was one ‘dronke of the new must of lewd lightnes of minde and vayne gladness of harte’ . . . Protestantism was not too grim, but too glad, to be true . . . Protestants are not ascetics but sensualists.”

- C.S. Lewis, English Literature in the 16th Century


Strong foundations

It is a great thing to begin the Christian life by believing good solid doctrine. Some people have received twenty different “gospels” in as many years; how many more they will accept before they get to their journey’s end, it would be difficult to predict. I thank God that He early taught me the gospel, and I have been so perfectly satisfied with it, that I do not want to know any other. Constant change of creed is sure loss. If a tree has to be taken up two or three times a year, you will not need to build a very large loft in which to store the apples. When people are always shifting their doctrinal principles, they are not likely to bring forth much fruit to the glory of God. It is good for young believers to begin with a firm hold upon those great fundamental doctrines which the Lord has taught in His Word. Why, if I believed what some preach about the temporary, trumpery salvation which only lasts for a time, I would scarcely be at all grateful for it; but when I know that those whom God saves He saves with an everlasting salvation, when I know that He gives to them an everlasting righteousness, when I know that He settles them on an everlasting foundation of everlasting love, and that He will bring them to His everlasting kingdom, oh, then I do wonder, and I am astonished that such a blessing as this should ever have been given to me!

“Pause, my soul! adore, and wonder!
Ask, ‘Oh, why such love to me?’
Grace hath put me in the number
Of the Saviour’s family:
Hallelujah!
Thanks, eternal thanks, to Thee!”

~ C.H. Spurgeon, “A Defense of Calvinism”


Born Again

 

“In the mid-1970s, Charles Colson, an adviser to President Nixon who became embroiled in the Watergate scandal, was converted to Christ and wrote a book titled Born Again, which sold millions of copies. A few years later, President Carter revealed that he was a “born-again Christian.” Suddenly, the words “born again” became part of the nomenclature of American culture. Many people began to call themselves “born-again Christians”. That term, however, is a kind of stuttering, because “born-again Christian” is really a redundancy. It’s like speaking about “an unmarried bachelor” or “three-sided triangle.” All bachelors are unmarried and all triangles have three sides. The simple reality is this:  everyone who is truly a Christian is born again. There’s no such thing as a non-born-again Christian or an unregenerate Christian. Yes, there are plenty of unregenerate church members and plenty of unregenerate people who profess to be Christians, but a person cannot be in Christ unless he or she is regenerate. By the same token, if you are regenerate, you are a Christian.

…there is an absolute requirement that must be met if a person is to enter God’s kingdom. A person must be changed by God; the disposition of his heart, which by nature does not want to do God’s bidding, must be altered by God the Holy Spirit. Man’s natural tendency is to flee from the presence of God and to have no affection for the biblical Christ. Therefore, if you have in your heart today any affection for Christ at all, it is because God the Holy Spirit in His sweetness, in His power, in His mercy, and in His grace has been to the cemetery of your soul and has raised you from the dead. So you are now alive to the things of Christ and you rejoice in the kingdom into which He has brought you.”

~ R.C. Sproul,  John (St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” ~ John 3:3-8


3 Ways to Make the Reformers Proud

Here is an and helpful and clever article from The Cripplegate blog.

“Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Melanchthon, Bucer, Farel, and countless others lived and died to leave a legacy of passion and proclamation. They showed that when you love Jesus and his word, you would rather die than keep quiet. If they inspire you, here are 3 ways to make the Reformers proud today…”

 


What can we learn from the Puritans?

“The suggestion that we need the Puritans… with all our sophistication and mastery of technique in both secular and sacred fields – may prompt some lifting of eyebrows… What could these zealots give us that we need, it is asked. The answer, in one word, is maturity. Maturity is a compound of wisdom, goodwill, resilience, and creativity. The Puritans exemplified maturity; we don’t… They were great believers, great hopers, great doers, and great sufferers. But their sufferings, both sides of the ocean (in old England from the authorities and in New England from the elements), seasoned and ripened them till they gained a stature that was nothing short of heroic. Ease and luxury, such as our affluence brings us today, do not make for maturity; hardship and struggle however do, and the Puritans’ battle against the spiritual and climatic wilderness in which God set them produced a virility of character, undaunted and unsinkable, rising above discouragement and fears, for which the true precedents and models are men like Moses, and Nehemiah, and Peter after Pentecost, and the apostle Paul.”

~ J.I. Packer,  A Quest For Godliness


“Theology is for Everyone” – Dr. J.I. Packer

Here is a lecture that J. I. Packer gave on why “Theology Is for Everyone” (MP3) at St. Peter’s Anglican Church (Tallahassee, Florida) on February 1, 2010:

“Knowing about God (theology) is crucially important for the living of our lives.  As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesman to fly him to London, put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it.  The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God.  Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you.  This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”

J.I. Packer, Knowing God


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