Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Bikini-Wearing Christian Spokeswoman?

Look, I'm sick of all the Miss California stuff too- and I even posted on it right away.

But Doug Wilson has been reflecting on the foolishness of a beauty pageant contestant, parading herself in a bikini as part of the contest, becoming a spokesperson for Christian values whom we're suddenly all supposed to look up to.

And in that process, Wilson has had a lot of good stuff to say about how we think about lust, body image, etc. The best of his posts so far is this one from today. Go read it. It's well worth your time.

Here is my favorite part:
After posting a picture of a woman in evangelical leadership in order to demonstrate some of the more obvious incongruities, many of the responses from the men showed that they were battling against lust (good), but appeared to have no awareness of where the templates of the current ideal were coming from (bad). A similar thing happens with Christian women. Christian women resent being held up to that as the ideal shape, but not for the right reason. They don't resent it because they think is a ludicrous ideal, they resent it (or feel insecure about it) because they don't believe they can measure up to it. They resent the failure, which is not the same thing as opposing the standard. Resenting the failure is actually a way of accepting the standard, in this case a standard crafted by homosexuals. But I don't think the ideal woman should be crafted by homosexual designers the same way that first graders play with Mr. Potato Head.

Christian men fail to oppose the standard also -- they hold that it is in fact the ideal shape but that they oughtn't ever look at it. And they might succeed in their battle against lust, never ever looking, while the entire time they freely allow the world to dictate to them the shape of the objectum prohibitum.

NB: Wilson has gotten some flack for illustrating these "incongruities" by posting a picture of evangelicalism's spokeswoman in a bikini. I think it made his point well, but some suggested that he was fueling lust. Anyway, that's what that first sentence in the quote is about.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Center of Your Ministry: Strategizing or the Cross?

From Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry, 26 (emphasis mine):
At the moment, books are pouring off the presses telling us how to plan for success, how 'vision' consists in clearly articulated 'ministry goals,' how the knowledge of detailed profiles of our communities constitutes the key to successful outreach. I am not for a moment suggesting that there is nothing to be learned from such studies. But after a while one may perhaps be excused for marveling how many churches were planted by Paul and Whitefield and Wesley and Stanway and Judson without enjoying these advantages. Of course all of us need to understand the people to whom we minister, and all of us can benefit from small doses of such literature. But massive doses sooner or later dilute the gospel. Ever so subtly, we start to think that success more critically depends on thoughtful sociological analysis than on the gospel; Barna becomes more important than the Bible. We depend on plans, programs, vision statements- but somewhere along the way we have succumbed to the temptation to displace the foolishness of the cross with the wisdom of strategic planning. Again, I insist, my position is not a thinly veiled plea for obscurantism, for seat-of-the-pants ministry that plans nothing. Rather, I fear that the cross, without ever being disowned, is constantly in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy, by relatively peripheral insights that take on far too much weight. Whenever the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed from idolatry.
Originally published in 1993 and certainly still poignant.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Finally, My Dad's Book Is Coming Out

My Dad, Bill Faris, wrote a book titled How Healed Do You Want to Be? After about a year and a half of knowing that it will be published, it finally comes out this weekend.

Contrary to what you are probably thinking about the title right now, it isn't a self-help book. It just recognizes the rather biblical idea that God doesn't typically zap us with insta-healing (especially emotional healing) but brings us through a process that we have a real part in.

Anyway, it is a very good book (at least the early version of that I read was, though apparently it has been edited considerably, and that for the better). And as I said, it is coming out this weekend, starting with a book release/signing party down here in Southern California (South O.C.) that all interested folks are invited too. That will be this coming Sunday, May 3, and I'll certainly be there, and hopefully my wife will be too.

Here's the cover:

Pretty sweet, right? I sure like it- though I'm probably pretty biased. For more info on the book and on the release party and on my Dad and so on, check out the book's website: Hope to see you at the party.

Bonhoeffer on Spiritual Love

Last night our small group discussed John 17. Our interaction prompted some questions about Christian love. What's so distinctive about the love between believers? Why does it clearly point people to the gospel (cf. Jn 17:20-23)? Bonhoeffer helps us answer these questions...

Because Christ stands between me and others, I dare not desire direct fellowship with them. As only Christ can speak to me in such a way that I may be saved, so others, too, can be saved only by Christ himself. This means that I must release the other person from every attempt of mine to regulate, coerce, and dominate him with my love. The other person needs to retain his independence of me; to be loved for what he is, as one for whom Christ became man and died, and rose again, for whom Christ bought forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Because Christ has long since acted decisively for my brother, before I could begin to act, I must leave him his freedom to be Christ's; I must meet him only as the person he already is in Christ's eyes. This is the meaning of the proposition that we can meet with others only through the mediation of Christ. Human love constructs its own image of the other person, of what he is and what he should become. It takes the life of the other person into its own hands. Spiritual love recognizes the true image of the other person which he has received from Jesus Christ; the image that Jesus Christ himself embodied and would stamp upon all men.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 36.

In the community of Christ, we see others only in the light of the gospel, and thus are empowered to love in costly and cross-shaped ways.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The End of the New York Times?

Bill O'Reilly wrote a piece yesterday about the looming bankruptcy of the New York Times, despite just winning 5 Pulitzers. With all the talk of failing newspapers being due to the rise of the internet, one wonders if O'Reilly is on to something when he suggests that has more to do with being so blatently and aggressively liberal.

Here's the main point of the short article:
That unfair and unbalanced approach has alienated a large number of readers and advertisers. According to a recent Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll, 46 percent of Americans define themselves as conservative. Just 34 percent say they are liberal. In this very intense marketplace, insulting half the country on a daily basis may not be a great business plan.
Go read the whole thing. It's short and quite interesting.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Were the "Tea Parties" Full of Racists? Larry Elder Thinks Not

Larry Elder, for those who never heard him, was a long time conservative drive time radio show host on KABC in Los Angeles. IMO, he's one of the smartest, most articulate conservatives around today.

He also breaks the stereotype because he's black, and in fact is constantly frustrated when black people play the "race card."

Well, Janeane Garofalo recently said the following about the "tea parties" on Keith Olbermann's MSNBC show: "Let's be very honest about what this is about...It's not about bashing Democrats. It's not about taxes. They have no idea what the Boston Tea Party was about. They don't know their history at all. This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up. That is nothing but a bunch of tea-bagging rednecks."

Mr. Elder disagrees and wrote this excellent article in response.

And as an aside, how come Janeane Garofalo's opinion matters to anyone?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Justification Roundup

I thought the New Perspective on Paul was not so hip after 30+ years. Let's face it, calling anything over thirty "new" is a misnomer. I assumed that anti-imperial readings would soon be the topic de jour in Pauline studies. Well, I wasn't entirely correct. Two significant books dealing with the New Perspective have already come out this year, with one more on the way. Given this proliferation of new perspectives on the New Perspective, I thought it was high time for a justification roundup.

1. Douglas Campbell's, The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul (Eerdmans, 2009), won't be out until June 15. It's an absolute monster, tallying in at 1,376 pages. Michael Bird did a three-part interview with Campbell (here, here, and here) that provides a helpful summary of the tome's central tenets. I confess to wanting this book simply so I can place it in a conspicuous spot on my shelf and thereby astound my friends. However, the prospect of reading it gives me night terrors.

2. Michael Gorman's book, Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul's Narrative Soteriology (Eerdmans, 2009), will certainly win the award for coolest title of 2009. I imagine that Christian hipsters are already conjuring up ways to incorporate this title into the hipster vernacular. For example, "so and so's reading of the Christ-hymn was intriguing, though it did not impel me to inhabit God's Cruciformity." Gorman has summarized the book on his blog (see this, this and this).

3. Finally, we have the Good Bishop of Durham responding to his dissidents (viz. John Piper) in Justification: God's Plan and Paul's Vision (IVP, 2009). This one has received the most press on the web. The blogosphere is already inundated with information/reviews/reviews of reviews and so forth. The UK edition came out in February, but I'm waiting for the US edition (which comes out May 30th). In the meantime, I'm trying to avoid the growing compendium of info out on this book.

If all of this sounds like gobbledygook, I'd encourage you to read this or this.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Link Between John and Paul on Justification

In John 16:10, Jesus says the Spirit convicts the world of righteousness/justice because he (i.e. Christ) goes to the Father. Pryor unpacks the logic of Jesus' words in vv.8-11...

...the Paraclete will establish the guilt of the world and not that of Jesus: guilt for unbelief, guilt over their incorrect understanding of God's justice (for Jesus has been glorified), and guilt over who really was condemned (not Jesus but the ruler of this world).
(John Evangelist of the Covenant People, 67).

Jesus' return to the Father (i.e. his resurrection) establishes that God has justified his Son. God has the final word on who is in the right, and his word is manifest in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The world's approximation of Jesus is therefore wrong, as the Spirit continually bears witness. Notice how closely Jesus' words in John parallel those of Paul in 1 Tim 3:16...

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated [i.e. justified] by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.

According to Paul, the resurrection is Jesus' justification by the Spirit. Moreover, our justification as believers is located in the resurrection of Jesus (cf. Rom 4:25).

It appears that both Paul and John envisage resurrection as an enacted verdict of God.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Miss California, Gay Marriage, and the Problem with Being Honest

Get this: there is political controversy surrounding, of all things, this year's Miss America pageant. While I'm not one to tune into the pageant, I came across a report on a comment made by Miss California, who finished as the first runner-up (sadly edged out by Miss North Carolina).

Here's the report from FOXnews:
When asked by judge Perez Hilton, an openly gay gossip blogger, whether she believed in gay marriage, Miss California, Carrie Prejean, said 'We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised.'
And of course, backlash immediately followed.

Which is ridiculous on a number of levels. Consider first that she was asked a question by a gay person. The natural response to a question is an answer, hopefully an honest one, which Miss California gave. She even couched it in "In America you can do what you want, whether I like it or not" type language. And yet, for giving an honest answer to a question she was asked directly (which, apparently unbeknownst to her, only had one right answer), she gets skewered.

There was even an argument in the lobby after the pageant. Is it sinful that I think a fight in the Miss America lobby is one of the funniest things possible?

But check out the comment from Keith Lewis, the man who runs the Miss California pageant: "Keith Lewis, who runs the Miss California competition, tells that he was 'saddened' by [Miss California's] statement. 'As co-director of the Miss California USA, I am personally saddened and hurt that Miss California believes marriage rights belong only to a man and a woman...'"

Here's why this actually matters: we have come to a point on this issue where in the court of public opinion, there is only one answer if you don't want to be convicted as a bigot. Even Miss California's honest and tempered response is considered ignorant and saddening. As usual, there is no attempt to actually discuss why one does or does not believe that gay marriage should be allowed. No: it is multiple choice, not an essay. Pick your answer and don't tell anyone why you think it. Just make sure you pick the right one.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gazing on the cross will make sin distasteful

“Suppose a man should come to his dinner table, and there should be a knife laid down, and it should be told him, ‘This is the very knife that cut the throat of your child!’ If the man would use this knife as a common knife, would not everyone say, ‘Surely this man had but very little love to his child, who can use this bloody knife as a common knife!’

Look upon the cross on which Christ was crucified, and the pains He suffered thereon—and the seeming sweetness which is in sin, will quickly vanish. When you are solicited to sin, cast your eye upon Christ’s cross; remember His astonishing sufferings for your sin, and sin will soon grow distasteful to your soul. How can sin not be hateful to us—if we seriously consider how hurtful it was to Jesus Christ?”

—Thomas Brooks, “The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures”

(HT: Of First Importance)

Disagreeing Christianly

JT passed on some excellent counsel from Piper on how to disagree with each other in a godly way. Here are Piper's six guidelines:
  1. Let’s avoid gossiping.
  2. Let’s identify evidences of grace in each other and speak them to each other and about each other.
  3. Let’s speak criticism directly to each other if we feel the need to speak to others about it.
  4. Let’s look for, and assume, the best motive in the other’s viewpoint, especially when we disagree.
  5. Think often of the magnificent things we hold in common.
  6. Let’s be more amazed that we are forgiven than that we are right. And in that way, let’s shape our relationships by the gospel.
Most times it isn't even worth linking something JT posted because I'm sure that most of our readers already read JT. They should anyway.

But I would add the insight of Dr. Donna Thoennes, professor in the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola and the wife of one of my foremost mentors, Dr. Erik Thoennes (himself a systematic theology professor at Biola).

In short, Erik tells me that whenever a student comes to Donna and says, "Such and such a person has been doing such and such a thing recently and it is really troubling me...", Donna's first response is, "Oh gosh that's rough- what did she do when you told her that?"

Poignant, isn't it?

One of the most frustrating things for me when I counsel people about problems they are having with other Christians is how they are willing to confront the apparent offender personally. Excuses abound, but the bottom line is that as long as it is done in a godly, grace-providing way, this almost always is the necessary first step.

One last thing: when I confront others myself, I almost always discover that I have sinfully contributed to the problem in a way I had not even realized and am accordingly led to repentance. It is just one more way we absolutely need each other for sanctification.

Keller on the Prodigal Sons

I just started reading The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith (Dutton, 2008) by Tim Keller. Here's a great thought on Jesus' intention in telling the parable,

...the original listeners were not melted into tears by this story but rather they were thunderstruck, offended, and infuriated. Jesus' purpose is not to warm our hearts but to shatter our categories. Through this parable Jesus challenges what nearly everyone has ever thought about God, sin, and salvation. His story reveals the destructive self-centeredness of the younger brother, but it also condemns the elder brother's moralistic life in the strongest terms. Jesus is saying that both the irreligious and the religious are spiritually lost, both life-paths are dead ends, and that every thought the human race has had about how to connect to God has been wrong. (pp. 10-11)'s a good sermon on the parable that expands on Keller's point (though admittedly I'm a tad biased).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What Happens When We Get the Gospel Right?

I'm studying to preach a sermon this week on the "Now What?" that should follow Easter. I came across this quote by F. B. Craddock, cited by Ben Witherington, Conflict & Community in Corinth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995) 312:
It is naive to think one can function with the simple formula: People have problems and the gospel resolves them. The fact is, the gospel generates in individual lives and in society a new set of problems. One has only to love impartially and hatred is threatened and stirred to violence. One has only to speak the truth and falsehood takes the stand with pleasing lies. Invite persons of different social and economic backgrounds around the same tables and the fellowship is strained, often breaking apart....Plant the cross in a room and the upwardly mobile convert it into a ladder. Evil, by whatever name it is called, will not sit idly by and allow the gospel to transform a community....Let the preacher, therefore, be encouraged...when having to deal with those problems which clearly have their origins in the fact that the gospel has been released in the community. A difference is being made, and that is seldom without pain.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Abraham: Prophet, Priest, and King?

Sometimes Peter Leithart posts something like this and you remember that he's one of the most thought-provoking bloggers out there.

If You're Going to Buy Just One Really Expensive Book This Year...

I'd suggest Reconstructing Honor in Roman Philippi: Carmen Christi as Cursus Pudorum (SNTSMS 132: New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005) by Joe Hellerman. The paperback is now available at a much more reasonable price, so you won't have to shell out $100 unless you're into paying a ton for books. I took Joe's class on Philippians at Talbot, and found his interpretation of the Christ hymn compelling. Here's the gist of it...

The Romans were obsessed with the acquisition of honor. In aristocratic life, people longed to ascend the cursus honorum, the course of honors. One would ascend this course of honors by acquiring more and more prestigious titles. Hence, if you were a Military Tribune, your goal was to become a Quaestor. If you were a Quaestor, you longed to be a Praetor, and so on. At the top of the honor food chain was the "kyrios," Caesar himself. At the bottom of society were slaves. This stratification based on honor was pervasive even outside of Rome. Social scientists have noticed a phenomenon in Roman colonies known as value replication. Local municipalities replicated the values operative in Rome, and conjured up their own systems of honor acquisition. Thus, if you went to a city like Philippi, you’d find a local course of honors for that particular municipality. Even slaves came up with their own hierarchies of honor. Needless to say, humility wasn't considered a virtue in this milieu. Paul seems acutely aware that this mentality has influenced behavior in the church at Philippi, and commends a life that is utterly counter-cultural. He believes that the cross turns the entire system of honor acquisition on its head.

In Philippians 2:6-11, Jesus begins at the top of the honor food chain, reining in regal resplendence. However, instead of using his lofty status as a means of exploitation (just like a despot or Caesar), he humbles himself. He does not ascend the cursus honorum but descends the cursus pudorum, the course of ignominies. He descends to the most shameful position imaginable in Roman society, that of the crucified slave (2:8). What Paul says next would have been most shocking to the Philippians. Because Christ takes the course of ignominies, the path of shame, God exalts him (2:9)! God honors the crucified slave who willingly brings shame upon himself! Even Caesar must now bow before this crucified-resurrected Lord (2:10-11). Christ decisively demonstrates that the path of humiliation is the path of honor, and thereby invalidates the Roman worldview.

It's noteworthy that Paul's main point in Philippians 2:6-11 is ecclesiological (cf. Phil 2:1-5). He wants the Philippians to exhibit the disposition of Christ in their interactions with one another. Hellerman's construal gives us much food for thought. But hey, don't take my word for it. Go buy his book.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Shameless Plug: My Wife's New Blog

I'm back from my wedding and honeymoon (it was all great- and thanks for the words, Jeff). Before I write anything substantive though, allow me to promote my wife's new blog: Penny for your Watts.

Britt is a first year high school teacher at Locke High School in Watts, CA. For those not familiar with Watts, it is in South Central Los Angeles and is most famous for the "Watts Riots" in 1965. It's one of the major L. A. ghettos.

She teaches Spanish, which always surprises everyone who sees the cute, blond woman whose descent is fully Scandinavian. As far as I know she plans on writing mostly about her unique teaching situation.

One last thing: Britt is a great writer. We met at Biola, but our relationship got going through some email exchanges, and that's where I learned how good she really is. She's brilliant and witty. As evidenced by the name of the blog.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

When It Comes To Easter Hymns . . .

. . . you can't get much better than lyrics by Martin Luther and music by Johann Sebastian Bach. Enjoy "Christ Jesus Lay In Death's Strong Bands."

Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands,
For our offenses given;
But now at God’s right hand He stands,
And brings us life from Heaven.
Wherefore let us joyful be,
And sing to God right thankfully
Loud songs of Alleluia! Alleluia!

No son of man could conquer Death,
Such mischief sin had wrought us,
For innocence dwelt not on earth,
And therefore Death had brought us
Into thralldom from of old
And ever grew more strong and bold
And kept us in his bondage. Alleluia!

But Jesus Christ, God’s only Son,
To our low state descended,
The cause of Death He has undone,
His power forever ended,
Ruined all his right and claim
And left him nothing but the name,
His sting is lost forever. Alleluia!

It was a strange and dreadful strife
When life and death contended;
The victory remained with life;
The reign of death was ended.
Stripped of power, no more it reigns,
An empty form alone remains
Death’s sting is lost forever! Alleluia!

Here the true Paschal Lamb we see,
Whom God so freely gave us;
He died on the accursed tree—
So strong His love!—to save us.
See, His blood doth mark our door;
Faith points to it, Death passes over,
And Satan cannot harm us. Alleluia!

So let us keep the festival
Where to the Lord invites us;
Christ is Himself the joy of all,
The Sun that warms and lights us.
By His grace He doth impart
Eternal sunshine to the heart;
The night of sin is ended! Alleluia!

Then let us feast this Easter day
On the true Bread of Heaven;
The Word of grace hath purged away
The old and wicked leaven.
Christ alone our souls will feed;
He is our Meat and Drink indeed;
Faith lives upon no other! Alleluia!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Overcoming Interperative Biases

"Whenever we try to understand the thought of a text (or of another person, for that matter), if we are to understand it critically - that is, not in some arbitrary fashion, but with sound reasons, and as the author meant it in the first place - we must first of all grasp the nature and degree of the differences that separate our understanding from the understanding of the text. Only then can we profitably fuse our horizon of understanding of the text - that is, only then can we begin to shape our thoughts by the thoughts of the text so that we truly understand them. Failure to go through the distanciation before the fusion usually means there has been no real fusion: the interpreter thinks he knows what the text means, but all to often he or she has simply imposed his own thoughts onto the text."

From Exegetical Fallacies by D. A. Carson, 2nd ed. p.24.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tying the Knot

It's official...Andrew and Britt are married! I was honored to be a part of their big day. Everything in the ceremony - the vows, the exchange of rings, the music - centered on the person and work of Christ. Erik Thoennes officiated, and offered a sterling exposition of Philippians 2:1-11 and its implications for marriage. Weddings are good for the soul. They remind those married what they've entered into, and what God demands of them. Dr. Thoennes admonished Andrew with the following words, and they hit me like a Buick in the chest.

Do you want your wife to be obedient to you, as the Church is to Christ? Then be responsible for the same providential care of her, as Christ is for the Church. And even if it becomes necessary for you to give your life for her, yes, and even to endure and undergo suffering of any kind, do not refuse. Even though you undergo all of this, you will never have done anything equal to what Christ has done. You are sacrificing yourself for someone to whom you are already joined, but He offered Himself up for one who turned her back on Him and hated Him. In the same way, then, as He honored her by putting at His feet one who turned her back on Him, who hated, rejected, and disdained Him, as He accomplished this not with threats, or violence, or terror, or anything else like that, but through His untiring love; so also you should behave towards your wife.

From St. John Chrysostom, “On Marriage and Family Life” Homily 20

I thank God for Andrew and Britt. They are Christ-like people, and thus I'm confident that their marriage will magnify Christ. May those of us who are married strive for no less.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Livin' On A Prayer

When I was a kid one of my most treasured possessions was my dad's worn old copy of "The Four Spiritual Laws" left over from his years on staff with Campus Crusade. I kept it in the top drawer of my desk so it was easily accessible if a playmate suddenly wanted to receive Christ as her Savior and Lord.

One thing I liked about this little marigold tract was the prayer to receive Christ toward the back of the booklet. I wasn't quite sure what I should tell my friends to pray and I certainly didn't want them to pray the wrong prayer and jeopardize their eternal destinies, so I took great comfort in that prayer example.

By the time I reached high school I was confident enough in my grasp of the gospel to give my own example of what one should pray if they wanted to become a Christian. I think it was something along the lines of, "Dear Jesus, please forgive my sins and come into my heart. Amen."

When I was in college and became ever so much more learned, I concluded that the phrase "come into my heart" was too confusing. Thus I switched to "please come into my life" (I'm not sure why I thought this was any less confusing) and tagged on "and make me the person you want me to be" for good measure.

This lasted me into my first few years of children's ministry until I started viewing everything through the lens of Christ as King. Then I modified my example prayer to, "Dear Jesus, please forgive my sins and be my King."

Judging by this timeline, I should be updating my prayer example within the next year. But I've recently wondered if I should give kids examples of prayers at all. The Bible explains what one must do to become a Christian, but offers no uniform prayer for doing so. It feels a bit like adding to God's law when I tell kids to pray a specific prayer. Also, giving kids the same prayer example every time I present the gospel may give them false assurance of salvation. They might think, "Hey, I prayed this prayer so I must be saved" without ever actually repenting and turning to Jesus.

I'm pondering if I should simply present the gospel, tell them what a Christians is and then leave the actual praying up to the kids. God knows their hearts and desires - do I really need to tell them what to say?

What do you think? Was hearing a specific prayer example helpful in your conversion experience? Was it harmful? And do you use a particular prayer when you're sharing the gospel with kids? Your thoughts are always appreciated.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Theological FAQ's...and CPRF

John Hendryx at Monergism has a new endeavor called Christians Publication Resource Foundation. They are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Portland, OR, which exists to aid in the growth and maturation of the worldwide Church by making available a wide array of resources that support the historic, Reformed Christian faith, combat doctrinal error, and stir the flame of devotion which a right knowledge of the Savior must produce.

One of the nice features of the site is a list of over 60+ answers to theological FAQ's. Questions as basic as "What is theology" to the more loaded questions "What is the New Perspective on Paul?"

I'm sure you'll find the site as encouraging as monergism.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spurgeon and the preaching of Hell

In light of the prevalence of "fluffy" one-sided preaching which dominated a-many-a pulpit nowadays, Charles Spurgeon had a little something to say to the men of his day. (cf. 2 Tim 4:3)

"Our dear Redeemer, whose lips are as lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh, in great tenderness of heart warned men of the sure result of their sins; and none used stronger or more alarming language than he did concerning the future of ungodly men. He knew nothing of that pretended sympathy which will rather let men perish than warn them against perishing. Such tenderness is merely selfishness excusing itself from a distasteful duty."

The Wedding Draweth Nigh

Today I'm headed down to So-Cal for Andrew and Britt's wedding, and therefore don't have much time to post. Andrew is probably my best non-wife, non-divine, non-consanguine friend in the world, so it's truly a joy to be a part of this special day. Congrats Britt and Andrew. Marriage is wonderful. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

Since I've been reading lots of Tim Chester of late, I'll leave you with some of his very solid insights on communities of grace versus communities of performance.

Communities of Performance

- The leaders appear to have it all figured out
- The community appears respectable
- Meetings must be a polished performance
- Failure is devastating, because identity is found in ministry
- Actions are driven by duty
- Conflict is suppressed or ignored
- The focus is on orthodox behavior (letting people think they have it all figured out)

Communities of Grace

- The leaders are vulnerable
- The community is messy
- Meetings are just one part of community life
- Failure is disappointing but not devastating, because identity is found in
- Actions are driven by joy
- Conflict is addressed in the open
- The focus is on the affections of the heart (with a strong view of sin and grace)

HT: Resurgence