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    The DtK Book Club: Multi-subject Edition!

    April 1, 2014 by Brandy Vencel

    {Click the image for more book club posts!}

    Hello, my name is Brandy, and I am a book club slacker. It all started on Sunday, March 23rd, when our second doe delivered yet another set of triplets. She’s already got her figure back, but I? I have yet to recover. After a number of low-sleep nights {culminating in a 2:30 am goat roundup which I do not wish to discuss}, I caught the Plague and now I cough all night long so that, as I told a friend, my husband can feel as bad as I do.

    But enough about me.

    Let’s talk about Desiring the Kingdom. I have been keeping up on the book reading, though not so much the blog posts.

    The Use of the Law

    So let’s start with the use of the Law in the liturgy. I was fascinated by his description of the two uses of the Law:

    This moment of worship can also appear at different points in the service, depending on different traditions. In traditions that emphasize the announcement of the law as that which convicts us of our own sinfulness and need for confession, the reading of the law precedes and induces confession and assurance. In other traditions, the law is seen as God’s invitation to live a life of obedience out of gratitude; that is, God’s law is not a stern restriction of our will but an invitation to find peace and rest in what Augustine would call the “right ordering” of our will. In this respect, the giving of commandments is an expression of love; the commandments are given as guardrails that encourage us to act in ways that are consistent with the “grain of the universe,” so to speak. {p. 174-5}

    Scripturally, I think we can make a case for both views of the Law. It both convicts of sin and is an expression of love. My church tends to use the Law in the former way — I mean in the liturgy; no one would deny the latter, of course. Do any of you come from the other tradition? The one where it follows assurance?

    Worship as Microcosm

    One thing I want to think about more is the idea that Christian worship is micro-cosmic — that it actually teaches us how we ought to live and flourish right here, right now. What is it that makes it so, do you think? Is it simply the symbolic aspect, like the way singing in harmony tells us something about the Body of Christ? Or is there more to it than that?


    I love talking and thinking about baptism, because that is basically how we ended up becoming Reformed in our theology. For thirty years, I sat in one Dispensational church or another and was told that baptism wasn’t this, that, or the other thing. It was only a “public statement of faith” and we were cautioned against seeing it any other way.
    The only problem is that the Bible says a lot about baptism, and “public statement of faith” isn’t one of them.
    Asking the question, “What is baptism?” changed our lives.
    Smith tries to say that he’s not going to offer a theology of baptism, but I don’t think he realizes what the Dispensational churches tend to teach, and therefore how very theologically different even his basic assumptions about baptism really are.
    For example:

    Baptism is not just a picture; it also does something. As a sacrament, it makes what it promises: a new person and a new people. As such, it is a profoundly social reality. {p. 183}


    [B]aptism is a moment when Christian worship articulates an antithesis with respect to the world. In constituting a people, God constitutes a peculiar people — a called-out people who are marked as strange… {p. 187}

    Lots to think about this week. For those of you reading along, what particularly stuck out to you?

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