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Posted 4/20/16 at 11:04 PM | Diane Castro
One hundred twenty years of history were packed into Monday’s running of the most famous marathon in the world. More than 30,000 athletes ran and wheeled their way into history, with half a million enthusiastic spectators cheering them on at every step along the 26.2-mile route. With fluctuating temperatures ranging from the 40’s in the early morning up to around 70 in Hopkinton at the start of the race, and back down to around 50 at the finish line by the official close, runners had to deal with a variety of conditions, but the sun was bright and spirits were high.
For some it is a fun run—like the guys in tutus or the Elvis impersonator. But for many, it is a very sacred event. They run to overcome personal challenges, to honor a loved one, or to raise money for a cause that is dear to their heart. My friend Kristen Havey was running with the Race4Chase team, to support the CMAK Sandy Hook Memorial Foundation, in honor of Chase Michael Anthony Kowalski. As Kristen explained, “The CMAK foundation is named after a talented runner and passionate little boy named Chase. Chase was my daughter Livvie’s age when his life was tragically taken as an active shooter entered his school on December 14, 2012. As both a teacher and a parent, the events on this day were heartbreaking for me, but the resilience of those affected was inspiring.” Kristen raised over $8,500 to help CMAK in its mission of serving children and families. FULL POST
Posted 4/11/16 at 5:56 PM | Diane Castro
Think of someone who is hostile to the gospel—maybe a cynical scoffer or a hardcore atheist or a militant Muslim. What is your attitude toward these enemies of the cross of Christ?
Now suppose that God laid one of these people on your heart and gave you assurance that the person would eventually come to the cross and become a brother or sister in Christ. Would your attitude be different? How would you treat the person? What would you say to him or her? How would you respond to the person’s hostility? How would you pray?
Could you look into that enemy of the cross and see the lost sheep inside? And do you have the faith to look beyond the lost sheep to see a future fellow believer and citizen of heaven? Can you see past the person’s present condition—dead in trespasses and sins—and envision his future as a redeemed child of the heavenly Father, alive in Christ and taking his place in the family of God?
Now imagine for a moment that everyone who comes across your path—whether close family member, slight acquaintance, or anonymous stranger—is destined to be raised up with Christ and to become a son or daughter of God and fellow servant with you. Would it have a positive or negative effect on your relationships with them? On your love for them? On your witnessing to them? FULL POST
Posted 2/26/16 at 1:14 AM | Diane Castro
Some friends have just returned home after a fabulous trip to his birthplace—Hawaii—to celebrate his seventieth birthday—his threescore and ten. All seventeen members of their family were able to go—Mom, Dad, five kids, three spouses, and seven grandkids
As I have looked at their pictures and heard about their adventures, I have to admit that I feel some twinges of envy—not just for the spectacular place where they gathered, but even more so for the fact that their whole family was together. Everyone was there, down to their newest little granddaughter, who was only six weeks old. And even better than the fact that they were all together—they all got along! As the mom reported, “Family members still on speaking terms after all this togetherness!” FULL POST
Posted 1/19/16 at 8:46 AM | Diane Castro
Our conversation about the extent of the atonement is now winding down. In an effort to make sure we understand each other, I asked Joe to write a paragraph or two explaining his understanding of my view of the extent of the atonement. I have done the same with his view. Then we will critique our own statements, correct any misunderstandings in each other’s perceptions, and make some final comments on each other’s statements.
Joe’s Understanding of Diane’s View of Unlimited Atonement
My understanding of Diane’s view of atonement is for the entirety of creation to be reconciled to God. I understand that Diane believes in a Universal redemption of all men, and that Jesus died for and cancelled the sin debt for everyone, so that eventually everyone would come to faith and repentance. Diane believes if a person doesn’t come to faith in this world, they will be punished, but it isn’t an eternal punishment, but an age long punishment. That Jesus didn’t only die for the sins of His elect, but everyone who ever lived. She believes that eventually all men will come to faith and repentance. FULL POST
Posted 1/9/16 at 11:53 PM | Diane Castro
Recently I have been reading a book my son gave me for Christmas, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by British neurologist Oliver Sacks.1 Dr. Sacks tells the stories of people with strange neurological disorders that alter their mind, body, perception, and personality. One man lost all memory of events past the end of World War II and for the next few decades imagined that he was still a young seaman. One woman, “The Disembodied Lady,” lost her sense of the relative positions of her own body parts and had to use her eyes and concentrate intensely to “find” and move her limbs. The man in the title was an accomplished musician who was robbed of the ability to recognize faces:
Not only did Dr. P. increasingly fail to see faces, but he saw faces when there were no faces to see: genially, Magoo-like, when in the street he might pat the heads of water hydrants and parking meters, taking these to be the heads of children. FULL POST
Posted 12/15/15 at 1:24 PM | Diane Castro
In 2012, I posted a four-part series called “Joy Is a Choice.” Parts 1 and 2 presented biblical principles for joy from the book of Philippians. In Part 3 I spoke of the source of my greatest joy. Part 4 gave some practical principles learned by observing joyful people—Love, Move, Learn, Laugh, Dare, Share.
One of the people featured in Part 4 was Ruth Colvin, the founder of Literacy Volunteers of America, now called ProLiteracy Worldwide. Ruth has been a model for me not only of joy, but of diligence, perseverance, and selfless service. Here is an update on her life, showing how she continues to exemplify these qualities. FULL POST
Posted 11/29/15 at 2:01 AM | Diane Castro
People sometimes ask me, “How can you believe that all people will eventually be saved if the Bible says there is at least one sin that will never be forgiven?”1
“[T]he blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven…. [W]hoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Mt. 12:32b, ESV).
“[W]hoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mk. 3:29, ESV)
“[T]he one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (Lk. 12:10, ESV).
Some see an open-and-shut case here that those who have committed the sin called “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” can never be forgiven, and that therefore not all people are saved. But there is no consensus about what exactly this sin is, what the results of it are, and what “the age to come” is. In fact, you can find a variety of interpretations, both within a framework of eternal damnation and within a framework of ultimate restoration. Let me suggest one possible interpretation. FULL POST
Posted 11/21/15 at 3:33 PM | Diane Castro
Now it is Joe’s turn to respond to my thoughts about the treatment of limited atonement by W.G.T. Shedd (Part 5) and Wayne Grudem (Part 6). He proceeds by quoting something I said (in italics) and then commenting on it. We are winding down our discussion now, so rather than write a separate section, I will just insert some comments of my own in brackets.
I spent some time picking a few certain things from Diane’s article that were worth addressing before we write our conclusions. I can’t hit every topic, so I chose some that I thought were worth mentioning. We are obviously still getting caught up on the same issues so I will try to further clear those up in my conclusion. To start, it seems to me that there are a lot of random ideas thrown around by both Shedd and Grudem, but I would like to reroute to scripture again. I have a hard time following people’s thoughts because they are just their conclusions. Reading through their thoughts usually just leaves me lost. I want to always come back to scripture for clarification, and let God do the persuading through scripture. FULL POST
Posted 11/5/15 at 9:38 AM | Diane Castro
Part 5 of our ongoing dialog about the atonement was a response to W.G.T. Shedd’s discussion of the extent of the atonement in his Dogmatic Theology (first published in 1894). Here in Part 6 we look at Wayne Grudem’s treatment of the same subject in his Systematic Theology, published 100 years after Shedd’s book. Some of the same observations apply to both, but Grudem takes a little different approach. FULL POST
Posted 11/1/15 at 11:23 PM | Diane Castro
Knowing that I was engaged in a discussion about the atonement (see the first four parts, starting here), a friend gave me copies of writings on the subject by two Reformed thinkers. William G. T. Shedd was a nineteenth-century Presbyterian theologian, and Wayne A. Grudem is a contemporary evangelical theologian. Grudem was the general editor for the ESV Study Bible, which is the Bible that I use for much of my study. Here I add to our conversation some reflections on the writing of Shedd, and Part 6 will be about Grudem.
Shedd opens his argument for limited atonement (pp. 739 ff) with an approach that I also noted in Joe’s writing (see Part 2)—using semantics to dance around the real problems. Shedd’s 11-page section entitled “The Extent of the Atonement” begins with nearly two pages analyzing the word extent. He notes the two senses of the word in English usage: the “passive meaning” that is equivalent to “value,” and the “active signification” that denotes “the act of extending.” With these definitions, he can say that the atonement is unlimited in value but limited in application: FULL POST