Tuesday, August 14, 2007

re-Formed Reformed view on 1st Commandment

The latest word out of a Covenant Seminary (PCA) Associate Professor, Michael Williams, leaves a strong Anabaptistic flavor in my mouth, and I probably just need some educatin'. I fail to see the breath of a Reformed (Calvinistic) view in this writing. The article is entitled No Other Gods: The First Commandment. By staying brief, I may do his work some injustice, but this is the flavor of it (all emphases mine):

"The Law is an Expression of God’s Grace."

- God's Grace comes as a reaction to our repentance. You cannot be penitent until you break the law. Grace flows from transgression, so only indirectly from the law - this statement therefore seems misleading.

"I would like to suggest that the emphasis in the first commandment does not only protect the singularity and sovereignty of God, but also tells the people of God—each and every one of them—their true worth."

- I don't see that God's jealousy for our affection, his hatred of idolatry, is an expression of our true worth. If it is, it's because he has to fight for our affection - to woo us (more to come).

"A paraphrase of Exodus 20:2,3, the prologue and the first commandment, makes this point. “I, Yahweh, am your God. I saved you, I made you my own, my children. Do not waste your precious time on misplaced worship. I value you too much to see you court and run after the futile, the empty, the foolish, the detestable.”"

- I dislike paraphrases of Scripture, and dislike seeing a Professor at a major evangelical seminary using such in his exegetical writing. I suppose this is just a matter of my personal taste... But this type of love language from God the Father, who delivered the Ten Commandments to His people, is a re-write of history. It places the efficaciously gracious role of the Mediator-Messiah onto the Father. It makes the God of now look different from the God of the Old Testament (and I've heard non-believers use this opinion as proof against the truth of Scripture).

"To be sure, God calls us to be God-centered. But that does not mean that He is as well. If God were God-centered, wouldn’t that make Him self-centered, even narcissistic? I have heard Reformed Christians speak as if God is precisely that. He does all things to glorify Himself..."

- Williams here seems oddly out of step with the Westminster Confession of Faith, and this is where I must need some educatin'. The sole purpose of man is to glorify God (Q #1 of the Westminster Longer Confession). God's purpose is not to woo us. If He does woo us, it is solely for His glory. That is self-centered. God, in my lowly opinion, is perfectly entitled to be self-centered. He is entitled to have hated Esau. How can you reconcile a Predestinarian view with a notion that God is not self-centered?

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