Archive for the Clarus 09 Category
Videos of the panel discussions for Clarus ‘09 – “The Convergence of Doctrine and Delight” — are now on Youtube. Below are the links broken down by category and specific questions, 3-8 minutes each.
Questions on Worship
- How does the average Christian pursue worship in spirit and truth? Part 1
- How does the average Christian pursue worship in spirit and truth? Part 2
- How does the average Christian pursue worship in spirit and truth? Part 3
Questions on Miraculous Gifts
- If we believe in the continuation of all spiritual gifts, should we pursue them?
- Tell us about being a “charismatic Calvinist.”
- Further thoughts on pursuing miraculous gifts…
Questions on Election and Predestination
- If God has already chosen who will be saved, why witness and pray?
- How did you begin to understand election?
- Does “foreknowledge” mean God looked into the future to see what we would do?
- What does it mean that God wants all people to come to repentance? Part 1
- What does it mean that God wants all people to come to repentance? Part 2
Questions on Various Issues of Ministry and the Church
- What are some encouraging things you see God doing in the church?
- What are some not-so-encouraging trends you see in the church?
- What is Biblical Theology?
- How can a pastor capture the power of the Bible’s metaphors without being unnecessarily crude?
- How should we give assurance to our children?
Just a reminder, there will be two different panel discussions with Wayne Grudem and Randy Alcorn at this year’s Clarus conference weekend — Saturday, May 1, 1:30 PM and 8:15 PM. If you haven’t purchased tickets, do so soon!
In our recent Clarus weekend, on “The Convergence of Doctrine and Delight,” several references were made to the thought of Jonathan Edwards and especially his work, Religious Affections (which you can read online for free, or purchase in hardcopy, or you can start with Sam Storms’ excellent summary of it).
Though less famous, Edwards several works on The Great Awakening (nicely combined in Vol. 4 of the Yale edition of his Works) are perhaps equally important for this theme ‚ especially The Distinguishing Marks of Revival (1741) and Some Thoughts Concerning Revival (1742).
Here are a few exemplary paragraphs from the latter work on the relationship of “light” (truth) and “heat” (affections) for preaching:
One thing that has been complained of, is ministers addressing themselves rather to the affections of their hearers than to their understandings, and striving to raise their passions to the utmost height, rather by a very affectionate manner of speaking and a great appearance of earnestness in voice and gesture, than by clear reasoning and informing their judgment: by which means, it is objected, that the affections are moved without a proportionable enlightening of the understanding.
To which I would say, I am far from thinking that it is not very profitable, for ministers in their preaching, to endeavor clearly and distinctly to explain the doctrines of religion, and unravel the difficulties that attend them, and to confirm them with strength of reason and argumentation, and also to observe some easy and clear method and order in their discourses, for the help of the understanding and memory; and ’tis very probable that these things have been of late, too much neglected by many ministers; yet, I believe that the objection that is made, of affections raised without enlightening the understanding, is in a great measure built on a mistake, and confused notions that some have about the nature and cause of the affections, and the manner in which they depend on the understanding. All affections are raised either by light in the understanding, or by some error and delusion in the understanding; for all affections do certainly arise from some apprehension in the understanding; and that apprehension must either be agreeable to truth, or else be some mistake or delusion; if it be an apprehension or notion that is agreeable to truth, then it is light in the understanding. Therefore the thing to be inquired into is, whether the apprehensions or notions of divine and eternal things, that are raised in people’s minds by these affectionate preachers, whence their affections are excited, be apprehensions that are agreeable to truth, or whether they are mistakes. If the former, then the affections are raised the way they should be, viz. by informing the mind, or conveying light to the understanding. They go away with a wrong notion, that think that those preachers can’t affect their hearers by enlightening their understandings, that don’t do it by such a distinct, and learned handling of the doctrinal points of religion, as depends on human discipline, or the strength of natural reason, and tends to enlarge their hearers’ learning, and speculative knowledge in divinity. The manner of preaching without this, may be such as shall tend very much to set divine and eternal things in a right view, and to give the hearers such ideas and apprehensions of them as are agreeable to truth, and such impressions on their hearts, as are answerable to the real nature of things: and not only the words that are spoken, but the manner of speaking, is one thing that has a great tendency to this.
I think an exceeding affectionate way of preaching about the great things of religion, has in itself no tendency to beget false apprehensions of them; but on the contrary a much greater tendency to beget true apprehensions of them, than a moderate, dull, indifferent way of speaking of ’em. An appearance of affection and earnestness in the manner of delivery, if it be very great indeed, yet if it be agreeable to the nature of the subject, and ben’t beyond a proportion to its importance and worthiness of affection, and there be no appearance of its being feigned or forced, has so much the greater tendency to beget true ideas or apprehensions in the minds of the hearers, of the subject spoken of, and so to enlighten the understanding: and that for this reason, that such a way or manner of speaking of these things does in fact more truly represent them, than a more cold and indifferent way of speaking of them. If the subject be in its own nature worthy of very great affection, then a speaking of it with very great affection is most agreeable to the nature of that subject, or is the truest representation of it, and therefore has most of a tendency to beget true ideas of it in the minds of those to whom the representation is made. And I don’t think ministers are to be blamed for raising the affections of their hearers too high, if that which they are affected with be only that which is worthy of affection, and their affections are not raised beyond a proportion to their importance, or worthiness of affection. I should think myself in the way of my duty to raise the affections of my hearers as high as possibly I can, provided that they are affected with nothing but truth, and with affections that are not disagreeable to the nature of what they are affected with.
Though as I said before, clearness of distinction and illustration, and strength of reason, and a good method, in the doctrinal handling of the truths of religion, is many ways needful and profitable, and not to be neglected, yet an increase in speculative knowledge in divinity is not what is so much needed by our people, as something else. Men may abound in this sort of light and have no heat: how much has there been of this sort of knowledge, in the Christian world, in this age? Was there ever an age wherein strength and penetration of reason, extent of learning, exactness of distinction, correctness of style, and clearness of expression, did so abound? And yet was there ever an age wherein there has been so little sense of the evil of sin, so little love to God, heavenly-mindedness, and holiness of life, among the professors of the true religion? Our people don’t so much need to have their heads stored, as to have their hearts touched; and they stand in the greatest need of that sort of preaching that has the greatest tendency to do this.
– Some Thoughts Concerning Revival, Works of Jonathan Edwards Online, Volume 4, The Great Awakening (Jonathan Edwards Center, Yale University, 2008), pp. 385-388.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, feelings.” Yup, I mean that song (I prefer this version on YouTube, dubbed over a Japanese James Bond-like movie). The song has been in my head ever since I said “feelings” 56 times in my last sermon. Of course, the song doesn’t talk about feelings in the same way that Luke 8 does, but that’s just the oddity of a brain like mine — filled with Bible and pop-art.
So with the pop-art nostalgia out of the way and that song now freshly in your head, let me give you some book recommendations on the Bible and feelings.
I’ve been reading through a new book by Brian Borgman, which is more of an overview and analysis of all the different feelings in the Bible, Feelings and Faith: Cultivating Godly Emotions in the Christian Life. You can see the table of contents here, and from that page you can read each of the 21 chapters online for free (you got to love the people at Crossway, who actually seem to look at Christian publishing as more of a ministry than a money-maker).
During our recent Clarus conference on “The Convergence of Doctrine and Delight” we mentioned several great books on the importance of the affections and how to fight for joy, such as:
- Anything written by our speakers, Ray Ortlund and Sam Storms (see the Clarus Resource page).
- Anything written by John Piper, especially Desiring God and When I Don’t Desire God.
Of course, the references to emotions in Luke 8 are not just the kind of amazement and joy; there are many more references to fear, worry, and sadness. Here are a few books I’d strongly recommend on thinking through and wrestling with our “darker” emotions:
- Ed Welch, Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest
- Ed Welch, When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man
- Paul Tripp, A Shelter in the Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble (also which can be read on the Crossway website for free).
That’s the review of last Sunday. On to the preview of this Sunday.
This coming Sunday, Lord willing, we’ll entertain this question: in light of the miracles and emotions in Luke 8 how do we fight for joy and faith when the miracle doesn’t come? How do we move from angst to awe, from fear to faith, and from lament to laughter when the storm-tossed drown, when the sick stay sick, when the dying die? Do we need miracles to believe? Luke gives us some hints at the answer, but from there we’ll go hunting in the Psalms.
May 1-3, 2009 DSC hosted Ray Ortlund, Jr. and Sam Storms as they taught on “The Convergence of Doctrine and Delight.” The audio is now available:
- Ray Ortlund: “True Spirituality: Delighting in Truth” (Psa. 1)
- Sam Storms: “Jonathan Edwards on Religious Affections: The Soul Set on Fire for God”
- Ray Ortlund: “False Spirituality: Flirting Around” (2 Cor. 11:1-4)
- Sam Storms: “Enjoying Election: Finding Delight in God’s Decree”
- Panel Discussion 1
- Ray Ortlund: “Dangerous Moderation: The Nausea of Christ” (Rev. 3:14-22)
- Panel Discussion 2
- Ray Ortlund: “Break Through: No Other Desire” (Psa. 73)
- Sam Storms: “Delighting Ourselves in the Lord: Why Joy in God Matters” (Psa. 37:4)
The audio of our past years’ conference weekends is available here.
This question came up, directly or indirectly, multiple times in our Clarus conference weekend:
How do we glorify God with our desires in those times when we can’t seem to feel the joyous affection for God and his Word that we should?
A section from Piper’s Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (pp. 85-86 — well-worn pages in my copy of the the book) is one of the first things that comes to my mind in answering this question:
[The preceding comments in this chapter] might give the impression that we cannot come to God in real worship unless we are overflowing with the affections of delight and joy and hope and gratitude and wonder and awe and reverence. I do not believe this is necessarily implied in what I have said.
I see three stages of movement toward the ideal experience of worship. We may experience all three in one hour, and God is pleased with all three — if indeed they are stages on the way to full joy in him. I will mention them in reverse order.
1. There is the final stage in which we feel an unencumbered joy in the manifold perfections of God-the joy of gratitude, wonder, hope, admiration. “My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat and my mouth praises thee with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:5). In this stage we are satisfied with the excellency of God, and we overflow with the joy of his fellowship. This is the feast of Christian Hedonism.
2. In a prior stage that we often taste, we do not feel fullness, but rather longing and desire. Having tasted the feast before, we recall the goodness of the Lord-but it seems far off. We preach to our souls not to be downcast, because we are sure we shall again praise the Lord (Psalm 42:5). Yet for now our hearts are not very fervent.
Even though this falls short of the ideal of vigorous, heartfelt adoration and hope, yet it is a great honor to God. We honor the water from a mountain spring not only by the satisfied “ahhh” after drinking our fill, but also by the unquenched longing to be satisfied while still climbing to it.
3. The lowest stage of worship-where all genuine worship starts, and where it often returns for a dark season-is the barrenness of soul that scarcely feels any longing, and yet is still granted the grace of repentant sorrow for having so little love. “When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was stupid and ignorant, I was like a beast toward thee” (Psalm 73 :22).
Worship is a way of gladly reflecting back to God the radiance of his worth. This is the ideal. For God surely is more glorified when we delight in his magnificence than when we are so unmoved by it we scarcely feel anything, and only wish we could. Yet he is also glorified by the spark of anticipated gladness that gives rise to the sorrow we feel when our hearts are lukewarm. Even in the miserable guilt we feel over our beast-like insensitivity, the glory of God shines. If God were not gloriously desirable, why would we feel sorrowful for not feasting fully on his beauty?
The book is available online for free. So, no excuses — if you’ve never read Desiring God immediately stop what you’re doing and read it. Give up all recreation, food, sleep, even hygiene, until you’re done.
We have just finished our annual Clarus conference weekend, and as a staff are both catching our breath for a few days as well as assessing the conference. So many people both said and wrote encouraging words. As an example of one comment card, “Thanks for another great conference. I like the format and appreciate the speakers and music ministry emphasis. The teaching/preaching is very challenging.”
This year’s topic was “The Convergence of Doctrine and Delight.” The various talks addressed the relation between truth and passion. As an example, Dr. Ray Ortlund spoke on the topic of “True Spirituality: Delighting in Truth,” looking at the convergence of truth and delight in Psalm 1. He encouraged us, as does the Psalm, to meditate on God’s truth, and not just do a quick read for information.
And as another example, Dr. Sam Storms spoke on, “Delighting Ourselves in the Lord: Why Joy in God Matters,” from Psalm 37:4. Dr. Storms noted four ways that we can delight ourselves in God. One is through intellectual fascination and another is through aesthetic adoration.
We will soon have all the talks up on the website for listening or downloading, so if you missed any, please check the website in a week. Also, as Pastor Ryan mentioned at the conference, our staff is always glad to answer any questions that came up during the conference, or later, as you listen to the talks or read through any of our speakers’ books.
I hope you’re planning on being with us tonight and tomorrow for some great singing, fellowship, and teaching/preaching in our Clarus weekend.
A few things to say before we begin tonight:
1. If you haven’t yet bought a ticket (or tickets), you can do so online here or in the church office, or you can buy them at the door when you come.
2. Please do come early. Doors will open at 5:45 PM. The singing begins at 6:15 PM (great songs, full band!). The first session with Dr. Ortlund begins at 6:30 PM.
3. I’m especially excited about the topics/titles for tonight’s two plenary sessions. They seem like such a fitting way to begin our weekend of exploring “The Convergence of Doctrine and Delight.”
- First, Dr. Ortlund will give an exposition of Psalm 1 – “True Spirituality: Delighting in Truth”
- Then, Dr. Storms will give us some insight into the historical example of “Jonathan Edwards and the¬†Religious Affections: The Soul Set on Fire for God.”