Archives For Jesse Johnson

I’ve been asked by several people to explain the current Trinity debate in a way that someone without seminary training can understand. In other words, no Latin allowed.  I want to do that today because I sense a frustration in many people that read blogs but feel left behind. So here is my attempt to simplify the issues (in 200 words!) so that you read the Scriptures with these categories in your mind.

As I understand things, there are basically three views in dispute (with thanks to Dr. Michael Svigel for this chart explaining them):

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In 1991 John Piper and Wayne Grudem edited what is one of the most influential and significant books of that decade: Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood. The book’s goal was to show that egalitarianism—the idea that men and women should not have any role differences in marriage or in church—is unbiblical. Instead, Christians should embrace complementarianism–the idea that God designed the sexes to complement each other through different roles in both marriage and church life.

Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood dismantled egalitarianism for a generation of evangelicals. Grudem and Piper used a barrage of arguments, hunted down obscure Greek words, and built an air-tight case that men and women are of equal worth/value/dignity/honor, but have different roles. Continue Reading…

At the end of his biography of Athanasius (in Contending for Our All), John Piper extracts lessons from the manner in which Athanasius approached the importance of precise trinitarian language. If you remember, Athanasius spent his life defending and articulating the trinity. He was one of the more influential people at the Council of Nicea, and that was before he had even become a pastor. Once he assumed leadership of his church, Athanasius was exiled five times for his stance on the trinity. Piper points out that his third exile was particularly brutal, and that it was accompanied by persecution of those in his church.

All of this must have made Athanasius wonder: “Is precision in trinitarian language worth the division and bloodshed that contending for it obviously elicits?” Piper answers that rhetorical question by drawing these lessons from his life and ministry:

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I started this month with an experiment: listen to 12 sermons from Revelation 6, from 12 well-known pastors; half amillennialists, and half premillennialists.  I ended this month with a new (to me) argument for premillennialism. Let me explain:  Continue Reading…

Much of “biblical theology” has a glaring weakness: it misses one of the major themes of the Bible.

Biblical theology is the study of how to read the Bible as a whole, or how to trace a theme as it progresses from Genesis to Revelation. While systematic theology systematizes the teaching of the Bible (what the Bible says about God’s attributes, the person of Christ, salvation, etc.), biblical theology traces the major themes of the Bible chronologically (how the Passover lamb was instituted, celebrated, neglected, and finally fulfilled).

The study of biblical theology often focuses on themes, types, figures, symbols and motifs that develop canonically in an attempt to show the unity of scripture and the power of progressive revelation.   Continue Reading…

I recently sat down with Jamie Jackson at The Master’s Seminary to give a perspective on voting in a Trump vs. Clinton election. To borrow an expression, I’m not a fan of voting for a team’s uniform; I prefer to have a player with integrity behind the number. Here are my thoughts:

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While there are several verses that are strong arguments for the pre-tribulational rapture, Revelation 3:10 is one of the most persuasive. In it, every single phrase (and word!) points to God’s plan to remove his church from the earth before the seven-year tribulation.

I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth (Revelation 3:10).

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Today I want to give a summary of the foster care case happening out in California involving a family from Grace Church and the ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act). I—along with many other pastors—have encouraged people to sign a petition about this case, so I think it requires some more explanation, and then I will close with seven recommended posts to read on the ICWA and Lexi.

The gist of the story: Lexi, a six-year-old girl in Los Angeles who had been in foster care since she was seventeen-months old, was placed with a family from Grace Church (where John MacArthur pastors) for the last four years. The family, the Pages, began the process of adopting Lexi after her biological parents both ceased reunification efforts.

In a typial foster-adopt situation, here is what happens: the court would appoint the child an attorney/advocate, who would meet with her, meet with the foster-adopt parents, and meet with any other extended family who want to pursue adoption. The child’s advocate then makes a recommendation to the court based on what would be in the child’s best interest and the court gives its verdict.

But because Lexi is Native American (she is 1/64 Choctaw), the LA County Department of Family and Children’s Services did not follow this approach. Because of the ICWA—a federal law which mandates that in the adoption proceedings of a Native American child that the Indian Tribe get the final say in their placement—the LA County DFCS moved to block the adoption in court, and remove Lexi to extended family in Utah.

Three different times trial courts cited the ICWA and sided with DFCS in wanting Lexi moved to Utah, but the first two times the court was reversed on appeal. The third decision is being appealed now, but while the appeal was pending, DFCS transferred Lexi to Utah.

Now if this were just about one girl, one family, and one church, I probably wouldn’t be blogging on it. But there are several elements of this case that intersect a biblical world view, so I want to address them here. Continue Reading…

March 17, 2016

A menu of rewards

by Jesse Johnson

When one of my daughters loses a tooth, I reward her with chocolate. A dentist might find this ironic—“Do you want her to lose the rest of them?”—but I feel that the reward is an essential element of this rite-of-passage.

A wiggly tooth is frightening to a child. The idea of the tooth falling out…well, that can be downright terrifying. And my normal go-to parental response of: “suck it up girl, this happens to everyone!” doesn’t quite assuage the fears.

But chocolate does. In fact, my girls so love chocolate that they actually look forward to loosing their teeth. The existence of the reward took something that induced fear, and it transformed the trepidation into expectation.

Yet the existence of a reward does not make the inevitable conditional. It is not as if a child could say, “Since I don’t like chocolate, I guess I’ll just keep all of my teeth.” No, the teeth are coming out regardless of weather or not the girl actually wants the reward.

With this analogy in mind, consider why Jesus ends each of Revelation’s seven letters with the promise of a reward. In this section of scripture (Revelation 2-3) Jesus writes to a few bad churches, a few excellent churches, and a few decent churches. He tells some of them that wrath is coming, some of them that rescue is coming, but to all of them he describes a Christians’ future rewards.

In fact, if you look at the end of all seven letters, Jesus describes fifteen different rewards:   Continue Reading…

February 18, 2016

Black and Reformed

by Jesse Johnson

A common push-back against the doctrine of God’s sovereignty (Calvinism/reformed soteriology) is: “What about a good person who doesn’t believe in Jesus? Did God want that person to go to hell?”

That is perhaps the most frequent objection that I’ve run into when talking about these doctrines with other Christians. But for many African-Americans that is not the most common question. The most common objection might be more along the lines of: “How can God be sovereign over a nation that practiced slavery, especially when many of the slave owners and traders claimed the name of Christ?”

In other words, if you think you have a hard time answering an objection about God’s sovereignty over the death of someone’s great-grandmother, try answering that objection when it touches someone’s entire culture.

This is why there is a need for a book written particularly about the doctrines of God’s sovereignty and how African-Americans should understand them. I’m grateful to Anthony Carter for writing Black and Reformed, because it is that book.   Continue Reading…