Posted by: Moses | April 5, 2008

Philosophy for Eirene

We exist to glorify God by fostering the progress and joy of believers through genuine exposition, humble unity, and the loving application of the Word to one another’s lives.

By these means we hope to promote…
• a worship-filled response to authority.
• humble unity among our peers.
• sound interpretation and application of God’s Writings.
• loyalty to the local church, fostering unity between our assemblies.
• a dependent and God-centered philosophy of continuous, necessary prayer.

Philosophy of Biblical Leadership

Our purpose for Eirene’s existence derives predominantly from 2 Timothy 2All our leadership should be founded on the principles of humble unity and orthodoxy contained within this passage. Brash, avaricious, and unqualified leadership will be opposed by the men currently guarding Eirene. Leadership must be based upon genuine instruction from God’s Writings.

A teacher’s primary goal is one of reminder not novelty, to herald the gospel that the believers already know. Call these things to mind! Remind them! An emissary of a king has authority to carry out the king’s will, no more. When he strays from his edict he treads dangerously close to abusing his position and endangering his hearers. Thus one of our most noble labors is to “eagerly demonstrate” ourselves to be “genuine before God…worker[s] with no cause for embarrassment because [we] clearly facilitate…the message of Truth.” A leader must make the gospel clear, to even the simplest lamb. He must make the gospel applicable to even the most self-righteous ram.

Our salvation and sanctification depend on the clear words of God. In the words of the disciples, “To whom shall we go, for you have the words of eternal life?” (John 6). A leader must wield the word well.

Philosophy of Plural Prophecy

Inescapable bias and finite perspective constrains any single leader from perfectly wielding the word. Every leader makes mistakes. In order to protect His church, God has ordained a Biblical precedent of plurality. No single man will be entrusted with the flock of God, just as generally no flock of sheep is entrusted to one shepherd. The more eyes watching, the more likely the shepherds will be to spot danger or better pastures. Plural shepherds allow for unanimity and safety, in the words of Proverbs “in a multitude of counselors there is wisdom.”

Eirene’s plurality works itself out through an open invitation for prophecy, extended to the entire group. A prophet (or an oracle) is someone who mediates the Words of God to mankind. Prophecy is mystical and a bit scary to our scientific culture. The spiritual is often squashed into a scientifically quantifiable pattern. The Spirit will not be constrained by such an enlightened box; however, prophecy is also not whatever mystical thoughts happen to pop into our minds. In the Old Testament, the primary role of a prophet was merely declaring the revealed Word of God: reminding. This is the pattern that we should follow. We have been given so much in the Bible, thousands of pages of the very Words of God. In the same way Malachi took the Law of Moses and preached it to his generation, our prophecy should consist of a studied exhortation that lives and breathes the revealed Word of God. Our prophecy should take God’s already revealed Words and apply them to our lives. In the words of Peter, let “whoever speaks, [speak] as one who speaks oracles of God.” His Words should be grounded in the truth of God and declared with that authority, never going beyond the bounds of what is revealed*.

Because of our commitment to a clear teaching of the Word of God, at least one prophet will come prepared to thoroughly instruct the group on a particular passage of Scripture, exposing its particular truths and overarching themes. However, in humility we recognize that this teacher does not have a corner on the plenary truth of that passage. The hope of Eirene is that the Spirit of God will prompt others to fill in what Truth the primary teacher may have missed: different emphases, corollary passages, or specific applications that would build up the body. After the pattern of 1 Corinthians 14, we do not want to come expecting to be “fed,” but rather to plurally exhort one another. We should come expecting to give, edify, and love one another.

According to the regulative principles of the passage, we have also chosen to limit the prophecies to three on any particular night. This is a simple obedience issue, and our hope is that all of Eirene can rest in the sovereignty of God and rejoice at such regulation without having to explain it away. For the sake of simplicity, a prophecy will be treated as one person specifically exhorting the group out of a passage of Scripture. Questioning and discussion is encouraged but should be directed primarily toward those who spoke the Word that night. Also in keeping with the passage, any woman under the authority of a man present should address her questions through him. In the horrible event that a teacher would be heterodox in his presentation of a passage, it would be the responsibility of the other men in the group to stand up and oppose him, guarding the Word of God for the benefit of the flock.

Philosophy of Corporate Sanctification

Paul presents a hope of cleansing for even the vilest offenders. Purity in the community is essential! Paul does not present a fluffy hope that all the dishes in 2 Timothy 2 should get along regardless of their filth, but that all the dishes would scrub themselves pure by the power of Christ’s work on the Cross! He is not exhorting them to pull themselves up by their own boot straps but to walk in the Spirit, and to join company with others who do.

We should not second guess ourselves, whether we are acting “in the Spirit” or “out of the Spirit.” Those of the reformed faith seem particularly prone to fall into this debilitating morass. If we successfully resist the temptation, guess what… we were walking in the Spirit! Humans apart from the Spirit are completely impotent. Only those born of God act righteously! Others may appear to, but a true desire for righteousness is only birthed by the Spirit of God.

Grace is God empowering us to do what it is impossible for us to do: everything. We were designed to be dependent creatures; everything we do is by at least the common grace of God. However, how often do we live in that realization? We should not let fear constrain us that perhaps we might not be acting with the right motivation. Give glory to God that you are acting at all by his grace, and repent of your clinging attitudinal sin. Why should an attitudinal sin be dealt with any differently than the cross of Christ, through confession and repentance? Do not let sovereignty become a pathetically week cover for apathy and laziness. God is not mocked by false piety.

Our sin will cling to us as long as we live in our mortal bodies; we will never reach a point where our attitudes are completely pure and completely dependent. Even our lack of dependence must be confessed and nailed to Christ’s ineffable work on the Cross. Christ’s work is sufficient!

We must be careful to flee only what is truly opposed to God. Flee perversions of His purposes, but never flee any part of creation intrinsically. We sin if we reject what God designed for us to receive. False prophets in Isaiah’s day were rebuked for calling what is “evil, good” and what is “good, evil” (Isaiah 5:20-21). It cuts both ways. Remember that God created the world as good, and it is not so fallen that Paul cannot exhort Timothy to praise God for everything, because everything is “to be received with thanksgiving and prayer” (1 Timothy 4).

So if we don’t flee away from things that we might use to sin, in what way do we flee? Paul exhorts us to run into the arms of are community of believers. Sanctification is designed to be a communal struggle. Turn from sin, and “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim 2:22). However, Paul knows that in community we have a common vice, the tendency to bicker.

Often I respond arrogantly and defensively when someone tries to love me by pointing out an area of sin in my life that I am blind to. We must respond humbly to our brothers. Paul also exhorts Timothy to avoid all sorts of foolish controversies about the Word. Even more amazingly, by the grace of God we must patiently endure evil, knowing that–but for grace–we are merely slaves to sin. We must correct our opponents with gentleness, following the pattern of our savior, never compromising the truth, but hoping that “perhaps God might grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.” Our passion for the truth and humble unity allows us to respond gently, hoping and praying that God might show them the same grace that he gave to us! He is the source of all such repentance!

The Gospel of humility allows us to realize that we don’t know the state of anyone’s soul. All we know is that God has called us to labor and by all means win some. Who, when, and where are up to God. Let the grace of God motivate us to continuously exhort one another, hoping for even mightier works of grace. May God’s grace empower us to fight together, side by side against sin, rebuking each other in love: “Holy Butt-Kicking” as we like to call it. May God’s grace forever protect us from turning the body of Christ against itself. To God be all glory.

*The Bible does not teach a specific closing of the power of the Holy Spirit to work miracles or even to declare new oracles from God. Many people find it convenient to draw conclusions about why miracles do not seem to occur like they did in the days of the Disciples. Such conclusion oversteps the bounds of Scripture. However, praise God that he has laid down specific criteria to identify true prophets of God! They are often accompanied by signs of power (particularly when dealing with new revelation), they agree perfectly with previous prophecy, and most importantly they follow Christ, declaring Him Lord and Son of God by their words and lives (Jude, 1-3 John, 1 Corinthians 14, 1 Peter 4). Reminding prophecy obviously fits all of these criteria, but I am also confident that any new prophecy that might arise, would really not be a new prophecy as much as a reiteration and application of the sufficiency of the Gospel. We have the fullness of the counsel of God. However, we will not put God in a box, declaring that signs have “dispensed” and that we know that there are certain things that God won’t do. Such language should frighten us to direct toward a Sovereign God. We must not overstep Scripture and declare revelatory prophecy to have perfunctorily ceased when Scripture clearly teaches us how to discern such prophecy. May God protect and preserve His sufficient Word, instructing His people as He sees fit, to the praise of His glorious grace.

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