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Tradition Trafficking: Burk Parsons

Hopefully Sean(brigand) will post more of the debate notes soon (he took more thorough notes than I did), but in the meantime I will post my notes from Burk Parsons conference session. Also, please be in prayer for Dr. White, as he is feeling somewhat ill as a result of exhaustion/the swaying of the boat (ironically he normally likes the waves). You could pray pre-emptively for the rest of us as well :) I hope these notes will edify you on this Lord's Day afternoon.

(Scriptures taken from the NASB)

Col. 2:1-10
1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face,
2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself,
3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument.
5 For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.
6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,
10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;

Parsons began with a clever version of the first lines of Ham;et's famous soliloquy to the effect of "To preach or not to preach, that is the question." I was laughing so much that I didn't get the exact words written down, so I guess that's one more reason you will have to buy the audio of the conference...

too many preachers are consumed with themselves- he gave an example of an incident he heard from a brother who described their former pastor as "giving them his heart"-in contrast, he referenced the placards that appear upon some pulpits: "Preach Jesus"

people tell us Reformed people that we delve too deeply into the "mysteries of God"- but Paul tells us to delve into the things of God, albeit not any deeper than what God has revealed to us in His Word

1 Cor. 2:6-10
6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away;
7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;
9 but just as it is written,
"THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,
ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM."
10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.

Romans 16:25-27
25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past,
26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;
27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen.

Galatians 5:25, Romans 12- as Reformed people, we particularly need to walk circumspectly and make sure our "head knowledge" becomes "heart knowledge" and our "heart knowledge" becomes "life knowledge"

as Luther said before the Council of Worms, our conscience is held captive by the Word of God- and we need to not only proclaim sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) but toto Scriptura as well (the totality of Scripture)

we may proclaim sola Scriptura, but "we need to be careful that the fine line between text and commentary in our study Bibles doesn't get erased"- when the Reformation Study Bible was being compiled, someone wanted to put some of the Reformed Confessions in it, but Parsons did not think that would be a good idea- while confessions are a good thing, he said, they should be published seperately from our Bibles- they should only be remembered as far as the traditions in them are "traditions" in the Word of God- as A. A. Hodge wrote, confessions only bind the minds of men insofar as it holds to the Word of God

Parsons spoke on Christ's view of tradition, and he went to a passage that the majority of the readers of this blog should be quite familiar with, as it is one used in answering Catholics on the issue of tradition:

Mark 7:1-13
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem,
2 and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed.
3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders;
4 and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.)
5 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?"
6 And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
7 'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.'
8 "Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men."
9 He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.
10 "For Moses said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER'; and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH';
11 but you say, 'If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),'
12 you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother;
13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that."

here, Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees for binding their man-made traditions upon the hearts and lives of their followers, and he calls them hypocrites for doing so, as they add to their guilt by telling their followers to not do what the Scriptures command them to do

as for the true people of God, Parsons said, "you give to them what God really did say, for only then will they believe it"

John 10:1-5
1 "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.
2 "But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep.
3 "To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4 "When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
5 "A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers."

we also see this sovereign, captivating voice of Christ in Psalm 23- in verse two, David says "He makes me lie down in green pastures"- Parsons said "Jesus breaks our knees"- this gives us the ability and humility to follow Christ "in paths of righteousness for His name's sake"

Jesus leads His people, and he leads at the forefront- Hebrews 12:2- when it says Jesus is the "author and perfecter of faith," the Greek includes the words "Ago" (meaning "I lead") and "Arche" (which means chief)

(as a side note, next time I hear about Christ "proclaiming liberty to the captives" I will probably hear "FREEEEDOM!" as Parsons noted briefly from Braveheart, that favorite movie of certain theologians, that William Wallace led his army in front, but Edward led his men from the back