Timothy Larsen ~ Notes

Timothy Larsen is the Carolyn and Fred McManis Professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College. There is a certain area in which he has done research in that I find to be very interesting. The following consist of some links to stuff that I have found online related to his research.

1) Doubting Doubt: An Interview with Timothy Larsen (by David Moore) at the Jesus Creed Blog (Scot McKnight)

2) Project Muse:

2.1) The Bible and the Victorians: An Interview with Timothy Larsen by Donald A. Yerxa @ Project Muse

2.2) A People of One Book: The Bible and the Victorians by Timothy Larsen (review) by Peter W. Sinnema

3) Timothy Larsen | Anthropologists and the Christian Faith ~ Youtube Interview by Greg Wheatley

4) A Closer Look at Victorian Christianity: A Conversation with Historian Timothy Larsen ~ Audio interview by Al Mohler @ Thinking in Public

5) Victorian Skeptics on the Road to Damascus ~ by Timothy Larsen at Christian History

6) A Portrait of America’s First Atheists by Timothy Larsen @ Christianity Today

7) Theology for Life (Ep. 11): Crisis of Doubt/Perseverance in Faith ~ Can’t locate the audio at the moment. I only see a description. I will look again later.

Weakness – Making Some Distinctions

~ I have always puzzled over the theme of weakness as found in the Bible. An entire book of the Bible, 2 Corinthians, has that as one of its main themes. Here is a classic verse on the matter:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9 

And … Here are some distinctions that I am processing:

(W1) Weakness Transformed:  This is of the form where you work hard at a weakness to improve on it until it is a strength. E.g. John Piper struggled to preach in his early days.

(W2) Weakness Receded: This is where you work on a strength instead of a weakness. So for example C.S. Lewis sucked at math and failed his math entrance exams. As a result he did not go into Engineering. The rest was history.

(W3) Weakness Obviated: Here God basically steps in and does what you cannot do. Your weakness is not removed, but what you needed to get done by way of the weakness gets done anyway by God. Think of Joni Eareckson Tada  and her incredible ministry, Joni & Friends.  (Tada became paralyzed from the neck down on account of an diving accident.)

(W4) Weakness Supplanted: Here God basically steps in and removes the weakness and puts in place the relevant strength. For example, the blind receiving sight by Jesus.

(W5) Sinful Weakness: Like when you just can help but tell white lies habitually or help but go out on the Net and look up porn. This is not the weakness in view when God is talking about God’s strength being made perfect in weakness. See 2 Cor. 12:9 up above.

~ In W1 and W4 your weakness is removed.
~ In W2 and W3 you weakness is not removed.

~ And … With regards to W1-W4, submit your weaknesses to God in prayer and you an have full assurance that He will come through for you.

~ With regards to W5, you have a little more work to do starting with repentance…

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  ~ 2 Cor. 12:10

Joni Eareckson Tada
Joni Eareckson Tada

Courage, Fear, Weakness and Strength {Scratchwork}

Off the top of my head, I can think of at least two ways that courage plays out in our lives.

1. Co-existing:
~ I am afraid to do something (e.g. talk before a large crowd) but in spite of the fear I go ahead and do it.
Here fear co-exists side by side with courage. And what happens here in fact involves courage. I after all went ahead and gave a talk.

2. Replaced/Displaced:
~ I am afraid to do something but then pray, reason or talk to someone about the thing that I fear and courage arises and fear disappears.
In this case, the fear is either completely driven out or becomes displaced in good measure. For the most part what remains is courage.
It seems that something of a similar sort is at work with weakness and strength, although the way it plays out is different.

1. Co-existing:
~ C.S. Lewis was horrible at math. He flunked his entrance exams and such. He could appreciate math, but just could not do it. It was his weakness. Here is the thing though… what if Lewis was good at manage math and had gone on to become an engineer or something? Then the world would never have seen Narnia or Perelandra and so on. There would have been no Mere Christianity or The Abolition of Man. What a loss that would all have been!

And yet Mathematics remained his weakness throughout his life and co-existed side by side with his strength in writing to develop. In fact this weakness paved the way for him to develop his strength.

2. Replaced/Displaced:
~ The C.S. Lewis example falls under this also in the sense of being displaced – to the very margins. However I am also thinking that there are cases where the weakness is driven out by a strength. Like you work on that weakness such as being lousy at basketball or cricket or whatever.

~ Finish this later.

Charles Hodge on the Atonement…

What more does any AntiAugustinian scheme provide?

The advocates of such schemes say, that the design of the work of Christ was to render the salvation of all men possible. All they can mean by this is, that if any man (elect or non-elect) believes, he shall, on the ground of what Christ has done, be certainly saved.

But Augustinians say the same thing.

Their doctrine provides for this universal offer of salvation, as well as any other scheme. It teaches that God in effecting the salvation of his own people, did whatever was necessary for the salvation of all men, and therefore to all the offer may be, and in fact is made in the gospel.

If a ship containing the wife and children of a man standing on the shore is wrecked, he may seize a boat and hasten to their rescue. His motive is love to his family; his purpose is to save them. But the boat which he has provided may be large enough to receive the whole of the ship’s company. Would there be any inconsistency in his offering them the opportunity to escape? Or, would this offer prove that he had no special love to his own family and no special design to secure their safety.

And if any or all of those to whom the offer was made, should refuse to accept it, some from one reason, some from another; some because they did not duly appreciate their danger; some because they thought they could save themselves; and some from enmity to the man from whom the offer came, their guilt and folly would be just as great as though the man had no special regard to his own family, and no special purpose to effect their deliverance.

Or, if a man’s family were with others held in captivity, and from love to them and with the purpose of their redemption, a ransom should be offered sufficient for the delivery of the whole body of captives, it is plain that the offer of deliverance might be extended to all on the ground of that ransom, although specially intended only for a part of their number.

Or, a man may make a feast for his own friends, and the provision be so abundant that he may throw open his doors to all who are willing to come. This is precisely what God, according to the Augustinian doctrine, has actually done. Out of special love to his people, and with the design of securing their salvation, He has sent his Son to do what justices the offer of salvation to all who choose to accept of it.

Christ, therefore, did not die equally for all men. He laid down his life for his sheep; He gave Himself for his Church. But in perfect consistency with all this, He did all that was necessary, so far as a satisfaction to justice is concerned, all that is required for the salvation of all men. So that all Augustinians can join with the Synod of Dort in saying, ‘No man perishes for want of an atonement.’

When the Dead Give Life …

When Elisha became sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash the king of Israel came down to him and wept over him and said, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” 15 Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and arrows.” So he took a bow and arrows …

ElishaAndJoash

20 Elisha died, and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites would invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 As they were burying a man, behold, they saw a marauding band; and they cast the man into the grave of Elisha. And when the man touched the bones of Elisha he revived and stood up on his feet. ~ 2 Kings 13:14, 15, 20+

~ I have an aunt who is a psychiatrist. She once walked into the room of a new patient and the patient said to her, “Oh. You can’t help me. You don’t know what I have been through!”

Up above we have a story of how Elisha, a man who during his life healed quite a few people and yet now was sick and headed towards death. Then we move forward in his story a short bit to his death and find out something else interesting. Even while dead, he gave life to someone.

Could my aunt have given life to her patient? Or did she need to go out and get felled by the thing that felled this person and then come back and be on with counseling saying “I know just how you feel?”

~ But thats not really what I wanted to talk about… per this story… Here is what . . .

– Some people cannot draw a line. However they are great art critics. In fact their critiques can be so constructive that an artist with an open ear can actually improve in their artwork.

– Some people cannot preach a sentence. However they can give such good feedback on a sermon heard that the preacher becomes much better. Though they themselves are dead in the pulpit, they however can give life to others in the pulpit.

– An English Lit. prof may at best write dead prose and just even on a good day may not be able to write a line of poetry or fiction. However she may be a fantastic writing coach to her students.

– The list of examples goes on… however there was one that I thought flashed my mind, but I have lost it. Cannot remember…

~ ~ I think I now remember… sometimes when you are preparing a message, you may find that you are not getting impacted by it as you should. So you think to yourself, how can I preach this. If I am not feeling anything, how can others? Should you just not bother?

Not necessarily. The fact of the matter is that no matter your condition, the Holy Spirit can still use your work to impact others. Just because you are perhaps in a hopefully temporarily lapsed state does not mean that the message will not effect anyone.