4 Ways to Become a Better Writer (Pt. 1)

So you want to be a better writer? Maybe its for a blog, maybe its for your creative fiction, or maybe its just for essays assigned to you at school. Either way, over the next few days I will be giving you 4 Tips that will help you become a better writer. Here’s Tip #1:

1. Read a Lot

Stephen King:

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut. . . .

It’s hard for me to believe that people who read very little (or not at all in some cases) should presume to write and expect people to like what they have written, but I know it’s true. If I had a nickel for every person who ever told me he/she wanted to become a writer but didn’t have time to read, I could buy myself a pretty good steak dinner. Can I be blunt on this subject? If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

via Justin Taylor

Finding Your Way Back to God Review

Finding Your Way Back to God DVD. Dave and Jon Ferguson. Multnomah Books, 2015.

Not too long ago I received a copy of Dave and Jon Ferguson’s DVD for their book Finding Your Way Back to God. Now I’ll be honest – I love the stuff the Fergusons put out, especially anything related to Exponential. In fact, Exponential is one of my favorite ministry books of all time, I recommend it to so many people! But on the other hand I’m not a huge fan of DVD small group material. Most of it seems cheesy or misses the mark or just doesn’t live up to the hype. Having said that let me give you a quick overview of the DVD.

The DVD is broken down into 5 really short videos – maybe like 5 or 6 minutes each. And each of videos follows along one of their “five awakenings.” These awakenings include:

1-Awakening to Longing This is the feeling that “there’s got to be more.” We all feel the longing for love, purpose and meaning.

2-Awakening to Regret  Regret finds us saying, I wish I could start over. Many people get stuck repeating these first two awakenings.

3-Awakening to Help After repeating what they call they “sorry cycle” of trying to fulfill these longings without God and ending up with regret over and over again, we acknowledge that something has to change.

4-Awakening to Love Jesus is the one who leads us back to God. As we come back to God, we’re ambushed by grace and discover God, loves me deeply after all.

5-Awakening to Life Through following Jesus, we discover “life and have it to the full.” When Jesus offers to His followers, “life and have it to the full,” He uses the word zoe.

Each video explains these longings and has a testimony that goes along with it as well. Here’s a sample of the type of video you will watch (though this is sort of a “trailer” for the videos, it gives you an idea of what each video is like).

So what did I think of the DVD? Its good. Will I end up using it for small groups? Honestly I probably won’t. That is not because the quality is bad or the content is weak, but rather because I’m not sure who this is really created for. Christians won’t find this content too helpful (unless it’s a model for the types of discussions they should have with non-Christians). Non-believers won’t find it too helpful because its overly Christian. The only people that it seems it would be targeting is people who are seekers and may have been going to church for a long time but are not yet Christians. This doesn’t seem like a very large audience – so I’m left a bit confused as who they are really creating this content for.

Nevertheless if this is who you are going to be watching these videos with – then go for it! But I do recommend having the book and the participant guide as well. Discussion will definitely be hard without those resources.

Note: I received this DVD courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an impartial review.

Eternal Functional Subordination – A Philosophical Argument

A large amount of work on Eternal Functional Subordination has been carried out in response to Tom McCall’s objection that

Apparently this guy is named Thomas McCall as well!

EFS implies a denial of homoousion. I personally think his argument is pretty solid – nevertheless I will leave you to decide whether you agree with it or not.

Here’s is McCall’s argument in a nutshell:

1)If Hard EFS is true, then the Son has the property being functionally subordinate in all time segments in all possible worlds.

2)If the Son has this property in every possible world, then the Son has this property necessarily. Furthermore, the Son has this property with de re rather than de dicto necessity.

3)If the Son has this property necessarily (de re), then the Son has it essentially.

4)If Hard EFS is true, then the Son has this property essentially while the Father does not.

5)If the Son has this property essentially and the Father does not, then the Son is of a different essence than the Father. Thus the son is heteroousios rather than homoousios.

This argument seems pretty solid to me. Nevertheless, I see at least one possible point of contention. This point of contention lies in premise (3). This is by no means an original thought – Andrew Naselli has pointed this out. The idea is that McCall might be conflating the word essentially with belonging to the essence. This may or may not be the case. What it ultimately boils down to is your answer to the questions – what makes something an essential property? And is an essential property the same thing as the essence of a thing? Whatever you make of those questions will determine whether or not you have problems with premise (3). My money’s on the notion that:

P is an essential property of an object o just in case it is necessary that o has P.

Or to put this in the language of possible worlds:

P is an essential property of an object o just in case o has P in all possible worlds, whereas P is an accidental property of an object o just in case o has P but there is a possible world in which o lacks P.

If we take this to be the definition of “essential” then it sure seems like there isn’t actually a problem with premise (3).

Augustine and his Interpreters (Some Stuff on EFS)

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post I am working on an essay on Eternal Functional Subordination – one article that has been super helpful in understanding the historical dimension of this position has been John Starke’s “Augustine and his Interpreters,” which can be found in One God in Three Persons. For those of you who are interested in what he has to say but don’t have the book – here is an outline of the paper:



  1. Eternal Generation and inseparable operation undergird and support an order of authority of submission.
  • Augustine and other figures in church history, from the early church to the modern era, affirms an order of authority and submission in the persons of the Trinity. (157)
  • Bruce Ware says “Augustine affirmed… inherent authority of the Father and inherent submission of the Son.” (157)
    • Followed by a quote from Ware

Keith E. Johnson

Keith E. Johnson offers an argument why eternal generation and inseparable operation does not allow for an order of authority and submission

  • “Augustine maintains, according to Johnson, that “being sent does not imply inferiority on the part of the Son. It simply reveals that the Son is eternally from by the Father.” (159)
  • Johnson claims Complementarians misinterpret Augustine as affirming an order of authority and submission in the “sent” language of Scripture.” (159)
  • “Complementarians read too much into Augustine’s doctrine of eternal generation in saying that Augustine is also affirming an order of authority and submission.” (160)
  • Augustine’s inseparable operation does not allow for an order of authority and submission. (160)

This essay responds to those last two claims

Eternal Generation

Calvin and Owen both argue that the Father is the beginning of deity and beginning of activity. The Father makes the authoritative designation. (164)

Even Johnson implies that if “being sent” means an order of submission and authority, then it necessitates an inferior Son. (165)

Inseparable Operations

  • Johnson – Complementarians sever his comments about the Father sending the Son from Augustine’s unequivocal affirmation that the divine person act inseparably. (167)
  • Johnson – to hold to an order of authority and submission would break the one will of the Father and Son into two
  • Johnson’s Argument (168)
    • An order of authority and submission is compatible with Augustine’s inseparable operations, since the work of “sending” the Son was inseparable work fo the Father and the Son
    • An order of authority and submission not only is incompatible with inseparable operation, but would divine the one will of the Father and the Son.
    • Incompatibility with Augustine’s inseparable operation and division of the one will of the Father and Son would lead to a position incompatible with homoousian.
  • Starke’s Replies
    • The unity of operations is harmony not unison
    • The will of the Son is not apart from the Father, it is a will that he shares from the Father
    • Johnson is correct to assume if complementarians reject inseparable operations they reject homoousioan. However they don’t reject inseparable operations

John Starke, Augustine, and Eternal Functional Subordination

So I just started working on the issue of Eternal Functional Subordination (EFS). I’m pretty convinced that it is an unorthodox position and I haven’t found too many compelling arguments in favor of it. For instance – Wayne Grudem’s chapter “Doctrinal

John Starke is pastor of preaching at Apostles Church in New York City and co-editor of One God in Three Persons (Crossway, 2015). You can follow him on Twitter.

Deviations in Evangelical-Feminist Arguments about the Trinity” in One God in Three Persons – is pure rubbish. However, that isn’t to say that the position is not defensible. I just finished reading John Starke’s argument in favor of EFS from Augustine’s De Trinitate.

In his chapter Augustine and His Interpreters he takes aim mostly at the work of Keith Johnson who argues that

  1. Complementarians read too much into Augustine’s doctrine of eternal generation in saying that Augustine is also affirming an order of authority and submission
  2. Augustine’s inseparable operation does not allow for an order of authority and submission

The majority of Starke’s chapter seeks to address these two theses.

At the end of the day it seems best to me to read Augustine’s language of “being sent” as simply saying that the son is “sent” and nothing more. It also seems best to me to read inseparable operations not just as “harmony” but rather a sort of perichoretic operation (see Torrance’s The Christian Doctrine of God). Nevertheless I highly recommend Starke’s essay because it makes very clear some of most important the issues that need to be addressed in the EFS debate.

3 Views of Divine Providence

Right now I’m engaged in a project taking a look at the metaphysics of prayer. Here is a quick summary of some of the issues involving Divine providence that I’m trying to parse out (courtesy of the very helpful SEP):

According to conservationism, while God conserves substances with their powers in existence, when creatures are causally active in bringing about their natural effects, God’s contribution is remote or indirect. In other words, God’s causal contribution consists in merely conserving the being or esse of the creature in question along with its power, and the causal activity of the creature is in some straightforward sense the creature’s own and not God’s (Freddoso 1991, 554). At the other end is occasionalism, where divine causal activity is maximal and creaturely causal activity is non-existent, since divine causal activity is the only type of genuine causality. Creatures provide at most an occasion for God’s activity, which is direct and immediate in bringing about all effects in nature. Concurrentism (or “divine concurrentism”) can then be seen as occupying the middle ground. Concurrentists hold that when a natural effect is produced, it is immediately caused by both God and the creature. God and the creature are both directly involved and “concur” in bringing about the natural effects typically attributed to the creature. (SEP)


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