Monday, August 31, 2009
My kids love this book, and I love that they love it. When I was read it I was struck by two things: (1) the profundity of the metaphor (about the boasting of the moon boasting in pride until he realizes that his glory is only that of reflecting the True Light of the Sun); and (2) the beauty of Tom's illustrations. (Tom has illustrated for Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, The Weekly Standard, Mad Magazine, Focus on the Family, etc.) Both the message and the illustrations are great gifts to the church.
Here's a blurb from C.J. Mahaney:
As a grandpa, I treasure books I can share with my grandchildren, books that are both theologically informed and beautifully illustrated. Unfortunately, these can be scarce. Fool Moon Rising is a rare find: a children's book that describes how understanding the greatness of God transforms proud hearts into humble ones--something that can happen only in the shadow of the cross. I'm looking forward to reading it with my grandkids.Check out the official website to learn more about the book, to see sketches and paintings from it, and more. It's good theology that teaches humility and presented beautifully. I couldn't be happier to have this book for my kids.
The book starts shipping today from Amazon.
But then again, consistency is not a postmodern virtue. And nowhere is this more aptly displayed than in the barrage of criticisms leveled against the church.HT: Mike Wittmer
The church-is-lame crowd hates Constantine and notions of Christendom, but they want the church to be a patron of the arts, and run after-school programs, and bring the world together in peace and love.
They bemoan the over-programmed church, but then think of a hundred complex, resource-hungry things the church should be doing.
They don’t like the church because it is too hierarchical, but then hate it when it has poor leadership.
They wish the church could be more diverse, but then leave to meet in a coffee shop with other well-educated thirtysomethings who are into film festivals, NPR, and carbon offsets.
They want more of a family spirit, but too much family and they’ll complain that the church is ‘inbred.’
They want the church to know that its reputation with outsiders is terrible, but then are critical when the church is too concerned with appearances.
They chide the church for not doing more to address social problems, but then complain when the church gets too political.
They want church unity and decry all our denominations, but fail to see the irony in the fact that they have left to do their own thing because they can’t find a single church that can satisfy them.
They are critical of the lack of community in the church, but then want services that allow for individualized worship experiences.
They want leaders with vision, but don’t want anyone to tell them what to do or how to think.
They want a church where the people really know each other and care for each other, but then they complain the church today is an isolated country club, only interested in catering to its own members.
They want to be connected to history, but are sick of the same prayers and same style every week.
They call for not judging "the spiritual path of other believers who are dedicated to pleasing God and blessing people," and then they blast the traditional church in the harshest, most unflattering terms.
The difficulty in life is to know on what we ought to concentrate. The whole art of life, I sometimes think, is the art of knowing what to leave out, what to ignore, what to put on one side. How prone we are to dissipate our energies and to waste our time by forgetting what is vital and giving ourselves to second and third rate issues. Now, says Paul, here you are in the Christian life, you are concerned about difficulties, about oppositions and about the contradictions of life. What you need is just this: the power to concentrate on that which is vital, to leave out everything else, and to keep steadily to the one thing that matters.The Life of Joy: Philippians, vol. 1, pp. 54-55.
HT: David Sunday
- a tabletop display advertising WORLD and their special program discount
- 50 free recent issues of WORLD Magazine to distribute
- reply cards entitling new subscribers to one year of WORLD Magazine at a great discount
- a return contribution of 15% of the proceeds for each new subscription
Under preaching he charges the pastor (a) to have the time and energy needed to prepare well; (b) to depend on the Spirit for understanding and effectually proclaiming the Word; and (c) to think much of the privilege.
Under pastoral care Murray charges the pastor (a) to shepherd the church of God; (b) always be read to given an audience to your people; and (c) to remember that you are the servant of Christ.
It's well worth reading the whole thing.
The "disposition decision" related to these frozen human embryos represents one of the most significant, if neglected, moral crises of our age. This crisis is entirely the result of our own technologies and we as a society bear responsibility for this moral crisis. As it now stands, we face the specter of untold thousands of frozen human embryos who will meet their demise largely out of sight and out of mind.You can read the whole thing here.
Here are the six questions Postman says we must ask about a particular technology:
- What is the problem to which this technology is a solution?
- Whose problem is it?
- What new problems might be created by solving the original problem?
- Which people and what institutions will be most seriously harmed by this new technology?
- What changes in language are being forced by these new technologies?
- What sort of people and institutions gain special economic and political power from this new technology?
Sunday, August 30, 2009
. . . it is not too much to claim that what George Marsden did for Jonathan Edwards, Gordon did for Calvin: produce a well-written biography, rich in primary and secondary source material, which actually penetrates to the man himself. This is a high achievement.Sean writes that"Gordon has produce "a critically sympathetic portrait that is more real to life than any other Calvin biography in print."
Here's the conclusion:
Many of our people in Reformed and Presbyterian churches are woefully ignorant of Calvin's contribution; the few that know something about him are as likely to idolize him as to understand him. Bruce Gordon's Calvin is a marvelous corrective to both faults: informative, accessible, and realistic, it is the book to give to interested church members. And read with the eyes of faith, Gordon helps us move from seeing Calvin as a hero to seeing the True Hero, Jesus himself, whom Calvin loved and served.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
That may sound like a lot, but for that amount you get 60 DVDs and 6 workbooks! The package includes:
- Introduction to Theology
- Bibliology and Hermeneutics (How we got the Bible and how it is to be read)
- Trinitarianism (Doctrine of the Trinity)
- Humanity and Sin (understanding the purpose, nature, and fall of man)
- Soteriology (Doctrine of salvation)
- Ecclesiology and Eschatology (Doctrine of the Church and end times).
You can also take their online courses.
These guys will help you know what to believe and why to believe it.
Here are a few blurbs about the program:
“Although I differ with The Theology Program on some issues, on the whole I think it is an excellent program and I commend it to students of theology. These are very difficult issues, and you’ve treated them thoroughly, fairly, and with considerable balance. You’ve mapped a careful path through this minefield! The teaching method is superb: wonderfully varied and practical as well as richly biblical. What you have here is the best thing I’ve ever seen for laymen in this area. I hope it gets wide distribution.”
-John M. Frame
Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando
"The Theology Program offers so much more to lay folks than they could get in any other forum. TTP challenges their thinking, rather than confirming their prejudices. And it does it in a way that is fair to all parties and faithful to the text of Holy Writ. If this kind of program could be multiplied in churches throughout America and the world, there would be hope for the evangelical church. Solid biblical and theological thinking are desperately needed in our circles today; without it, the evangelical church doesn't have 50 years of life left. May our gracious and sovereign Lord raise up more folks who will become serious thinkers, people who will engage society and life from a thoroughly converted perspective."
-Daniel B. Wallace
Professor of New Testament Studies,
Dallas Theological Seminary; Senior New Testament Editor, The NET Bible
"I cannot overstate how thrilled I am with the training material in The Theology Program. For 25 years I have been laboring to call the church to love God with its mind, and wherever I go I am constantly asked for examples of local church curriculum that responds to this call with excellence. Well, look no further. The Theology Program is the best thing I have seen to date and recommend it with great excitement."
Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Talbot School of Theology Biola University
It chronicles T. K. and Deidrea Laux, an evangelical couple who decided to give birth to their son, Thomas, despite the fact that he had the DNA abnormality Trisomy 13.
You can read Deidrea's diary here.
DMN will be running two more stories on this family: tomorrow (Sunday) and Sept. 6.
Two thoughts as I watched the video through tears: (1) this would not have happened if sin had not entered the world; (2) they would not have responded this way if the grace of Christ had not entered their hearts.
HT: Denny Burk
Friday, August 28, 2009
Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. . . . An ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula. . . . To get a man's soul and give him nothing in return--that's what really gladdens Our Father's heart.
Heartbeat of Miami is a crisis pregnancy center that was strategically planted in Miami, Florida, the city in the USA with the highest abortion rate. John Ensor and others had a vision for planting these centers in strategic cities and this was their first one. Here are some staggering statistics.
- They are the only crisis pregnancy center in that part of the city and there are 37 abortion clinics.
- In 3 years that Heartbeat of Miami has been open, over 4000 ladies have been served and over 1000 babies have been saved.
- Their financial support is down 48% this year.
Please consider making a donation...even a $5 donation to help unborn babies have the gift of life. You can go here to donate. There is also a matching program through the end of August 2009, so if you give $5...it is actually like giving $10. If you give $50...it is like giving $100. Please pray and if you feel the Lord leading you, please give.Update: If you want to donate, go here and look in the lefthand column and click "Donate now." The earlier "here" link won't work from my blog.
If you're not familiar with the book, here are a couple of summary blurbs:
"Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart defines and describes biblical masculinity and femininity for single adults. I would also encourage those who are married to read it. John Ensor is a creative and theologically astute writer. I have thanked him for writing this book and you will too."
C. J. Mahaney
"John Ensor provides a radically biblical alternative to the supposed wisdom of our age. Though sometimes raw, frank, and frustrated, Ensor is always sanctified and often poetic. He celebrates differences, bringing into clear focus the oft-disputed fact that God created men and women to be equal and symmetrical but not identical. For all who are weary of our culture's assault on biblical manhood and womanhood, this book is a refreshing reminder of the Bible's simple wisdom governing love, relationships, marriage, and matters of the heart."
HT: Tim Challies
In them you'll find passionate gospel-centered application. Highly recommended!
Do Not Love the World
1 John 2:12–17
January 3, 2002
Sovereign Grace Small Group Leaders Conference
November 14, 2002
Only One Gospel
Covenant Life Church
December 8, 2002
Interrogating the Legalist Within
Covenant Life Church
February 9, 2003
Cravings and Conflict
Covenant Life Church
March 21, 2004
The Morning After
Covenant Life Church
October 31, 2004
Covenant Life Church
December 12, 2004
Different by Design, Session 2
1 Timothy 3:14–16
Different by Design Conference
January 31, 2005
The Cross: A Meditation on Jesus's Atoning Death
New Attitude Conference
May 29, 2006 The Assessment That Matters
1 Corinthians 3:18–4:5
Covenant Life Church
October 22, 2006
Deflating the Puffed Up Church
1 Corinthians 4:6–13
Covenant Life Church
November 5, 2006
Trinitarian Pastoral Ministry
2 Corinthians 13:14
Sovereign Grace Pastors Conference
April 13, 2007
The Idol Factory
New Attitude Conference
May 27, 2007
Discern How to Apply
New Attitude Conference
May 29, 2007
October 21, 2007
Who's Really at Work?
November 10, 2007
Q&A on Biblical Masculinity
November 10, 2007
A Warning Label
1 Corinthians 2:6–16
Sovereign Grace Church
February 3, 2008
Pastoral Character and Loving People
1 Corinthians 1:1–9
Resurgence: Text & Context Conference
February 25, 2008
Death Swallowed Up in Victory
1 Corinthians 15:17
Covenant Life Church
March 23, 2008
Sustaining a Pastor's Soul
Together for the Gospel
April 17, 2008
The Troubled Soul
New Attitude Conference
May 25, 2008
Knowing God as Father
June 17, 2008
The Scream of the Damned
June 16, 2008
Hidden in Plain Sight
1 Corinthians 1:1–9
Straight Up Conference
October 7, 2008
Q&A with James MacDonald
Straight Up Conference
October 7, 2008
20/20 Collegiate Conference
February 6, 2009
May 25, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Update: I do disagree with Dr. Wallace at one point. I think he's right that "pastor" and "elder" are not strictly identical, but I would put it this way: not all elders are pastors, but all pastors should be elders.
Here's his conclusion after looking at the evidence from Wright's own writings:
- sin is an impersonal evil force, not personal rebellion against God;
- sin has bad consequences, but does not elicit God's punitive wrath against the sinner; and
- the cross is to be understood as some version of the Christus Victor theory in which Christ defeats evil by letting it do its worst to him, not as a penal satisfaction of divine justice.
Update: Andrew Cowan, who has been reading Wright carefully for years, writes: "I think that these claims are hard to justify in light of Wright's comments on Romans 1:18-32 and 3:21-26 in his NIB commentary where he seems to affirm what Irons claims he denies." See Andrew's full comment. Andrew concludes:
I think that Irons' concern about Wright's statements in popular books is a good instinct. Wright is not always as clear in every context about penal sustitutionary atonement as I would like for him to be. Nevertheless, I don't think that the claim that he is using traditional terms with untraditional definitions is accurate. His work in the Romans commentary (and other places that I don't have time to track down) seems to indicate otherwise, and these statements need to be taken into account.
Teachability is often confused with subservience. A person is wrongly thought to be teachable if he is passive and pliable. On the contrary, teachability is an extremely active virtue. No one is really teachable who does not freely exercise his power of independent judgment. He can be trained, perhaps, but not taught. The most teachable reader is, therefore, the most critical. He is the reader who finally responds to a book by the greatest effort to make up his own mind on the matters the author has discussed.HT: Mark Talbot
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Here's the upshot, according to Poythress:
Walton has read Genesis with a false contrast between material and functional, and with equivocal meanings for the two terms. As a result, he artificially detaches Genesis 1 from questions of physical appearance and produces an unsustainable interpretation.You can read the whole thing here.
- MP3 (1 hour and 45 minutes including Q&A)
- Handout (7-page PDF)
- Condensed Essay (4-page PDF, which Reformation 21 reprinted today)
- What is “free will”?
- What have noteworthy theologians thought about “free will”?
- What are biblical and theological reasons for compatibilism and against incompatibilism?
- How does “free will” relate to the origin of both sin and conversion?
- Concluding Applications on the Free-Will Debate
I recall when I was in seminary (Westminster Seminary California, 1992-96) that many of the young men used to sit around and debate the fine points of Van Tillian presuppositional apologetics for hours. They would be incredibly critical of any other form of apologetics, even other Reformed apologists like Francis Schaeffer or R. C. Sproul. The interesting thing was that it was a debate about the theory of apologetics. But the time and effort spent on getting the theory right was not matched by an equal zeal to actually use the theory in evangelizing unbelievers. Why? Because they were more interested (and I am guilty of this myself) of being right than in seeing sinners come to Christ. In other words, theological perfectionism had become an idol, whether it was the baser idol of wanting to look smart in the eyes of other seminary students, or the more refined idol of craving philosophical certainty about Christianity rather than having child-like trust in Christ. (Again, I'm not accusing others without pleading guilty myself -- I've been guilty of both the base and the refined idols!)Read the whole thing. He goes on to give some examples, as well as four specific dangers that he sees.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
- spend $30,958 per household
- tax $17,576 per household
- borrow $13,392 per household
- be increased by 22%
- account for 26% of the gross domestic product (GDP)
And none of these estimates include the cost of health-care reform!
James Grant has a helpful interview with Dan Wallace about the article, Judas, and the document associated with the betrayer.
I appreciate primers like this, which can help us remember key truths, such as three features of gnosticism (matter as evil, rejection of the OT, and salvation through secret knowledge) and four tests of canonicity (orthodoxy, antiquity, apostolicity, and catholicity).
It is loaded with risk, of course, to say what Kevin is saying, because some will interpret it as a license to coast. But it shouldn't prevent us from offering this nuanced message, for some in the church truly need to hear it.
Here's the conclusion:
No doubt some Christians need to be shaken out of their lethargy. I try to do that every Sunday morning and evening. But there are also a whole bunch of Christians who need to be set free from their performance-minded, law-keeping, world-changing, participate-with-God-in-recreating-the-cosmos shackles. I promise you, some of the best people in your churches are getting tired. They don’t need another rah-rah pep talk. They don’t need to hear more statistics and more stories Sunday after Sunday about how bad everything is in the world. They need to hear about Christ’s death and resurrection. They need to hear how we are justified by faith apart from works of the law. They need to hear the old, old story once more. Because the secret of the gospel is that we actually do more when we hear less about all we need to do for God and hear more about all that God has already done for us.
Monday, August 24, 2009
I'll have more to say in the future about this book, but here are a few resources that you can look at:
You can read online:
interview on Moody's Prime Time America. (Link fixed.)
And here are a few of the blurbs:
"Hunter Baker's volume is a much-welcomed addition to the debate on the role of religion and faith in the public square. To the confusion regarding matters of religion and politics, Baker brings illuminating clarity. To the ambiguity regarding the meaning and place of pluralism, he provides thoughtful analysis. To the directionless arguments for secularization, he offers an insightful and discerning response. This much-needed volume provides a readable, historically-informed, and carefully-reasoned case for the place of faith in our public deliberations. It is with great enthusiasm that I recommend it."
David S. Dockery, President, Union University
"Hunter Baker is a gifted writer who knows how to communicate the issue of secularism to an audience that desperately needs to hear a critical though winsome voice on this matter. In many ways, the book is a twenty-first-century sequel to the late Richard John Neuhaus's classic, The Naked Public Square. Baker understands the issues that percolate beneath the culture wars. They are not merely political but theological and philosophical, and they are rarely unpacked in an articulate way so that the ordinary citizen can gain clarity. Baker offers his readers that clarity."
Francis J. Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies, Baylor University; author, Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice
"Hunter Baker is one of the sharpest thinkers in contemporary American Christianity. This work will provoke the same kind of conversation ignited by Richard John Neuhaus's The Naked Public Square. Read this book slowly with a highlighter and a pen in hand as you think about questions ranging from whether the Ten Commandments ought to hang in your local courthouse to whether there's a future for public Christianity."
Russell D. Moore, Dean, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Online Bibles Sites
- Bible Study Software
- Christian History
- Theological Sites
- Built in MP3 with the entire Theology Program fed into it.
- Easy to access RSS feed for some of the theological blogs
- Google search engine
- and more…
In recent years it has become popular to sketch the Bible‘s storyline something like this: Ever since the fall, God has been active to reverse the effects of sin. He takes action to limit sin's damage; he calls out a new nation, the Israelites, to mediate his teaching and his grace to others; he promises that one day he will send the promised Davidic king to overthrow sin and death and all their wretched effects. This is what Jesus does: he conquers death, inaugurates the kingdom of righteousness, and calls his followers to live out that righteousness now in prospect of the consummation still to come.Carson has applied this criticism to N.T. Wright. For example, in this review of Evil and the Justice of God:
Much of this description of the Bible's storyline, of course, is true. Yet it is so painfully reductionistic that it introduces a major distortion. It collapses human rebellion, God's wrath, and assorted disasters into one construct, namely, the degradation of human life, while depersonalizing the wrath of God. It thus fails to wrestle with the fact that from the beginning, sin is an offense against God.
At the end of the day, the central notion of sin in Wright’s thought is that it is somehow anarchic rebellion against shalom, and the triumph at the end is the restoration of shalom. What is lost is the intensely personal dimension of sin: it is rebellion against God, and he is regularly portrayed as the most offended party (cf. Ps 51!). One does not want to ignore the corporate, not to say cosmic, dimensions of sin; certainly one must not downplay the controlling importance of the goal of a new heaven and a new earth. But to lose the profound sense in which sin is personally against God is to lose something important in the storyline itself. Ironically, it is to trivialize sin (although this is certainly not Wright’s intent); ultimately, it is to misunderstand the cross. To put the matter another way: When the biblical writers say that Christ’s death saves us, from what does it save us? We could say it saves us from death, from the consequences of our sin, from our lostness, but centrally it saves us from the wrath to come. Death, the consequences of our sin, and lostness are nothing other than preliminary manifestations of the wrath of God. It is of course true that the Bible depicts God as working to rescue his people from sin. Yet it is no less true that the most central consequence of sin from which they must be rescued is the wrath of God: it is impossible to read the Old Testament narrative without tripping over this theme in countless chapters. This dynamic tension lies at the heart of what the New Testament writers insist that the cross achieves, and Wright misses it almost entirely.Greg Gilbert has another post looking at this theme among younger evangelicals. Greg keeps on banging this drum--but I think it's a crucial message we need to hear.
Below are some sample materials, followed by some of the blurbs:
"Jim Belcher shows that we don't have to choose between orthodox evangelical doctrine on the one hand, and cultural engagement, creativity and commitment to social justice on the other. This is an important book."
"Deep Church is a narrative of one man's journey of spiritual discovery involving at core a search for a place to stand. Whether you can fully agree with Jim's findings or not, you will find this book to be an accessible, well-articulated, deeply personal and (thankfully) theologically irenic apologetic for the emerging church."
"A marvelously reliable guide--indeed I know of none better--for our much-needed efforts to go deeper as churches by mining the depths of the gospel for creative and faithful ministry in the strange and exciting new world of the twenty-first century."
"Deep Church is the book we need--it's a genuine third way. Jim Belcher is poised like no other to evaluate the emerging movement: he knows theology, he loves the church, he cares about twentysomethings, he knows the entire emerging movement, and he remains faithful to theological orthodoxy. Most of all, Deep Church avoids the clamor for extremes. There are only two or three really good books about the emerging movement, and this is the best analysis I've seen."
"Deep Church is a thoughtful, helpful and practical addition to the growing field of missional church thinking."
"Rising above the usual shallow, facile critiques of the emergent church movement, Jim Belcher has written for us a book that, indeed, goes deep. Jim took the time to listen to emergent voices, and as a result, he appreciates the movement for what it is. And, further, his admonitions ring true. While Jim and I have theological differences, I can heartily recommend Deep Church as an invigorating study of and healthy corrective to both the emergent and traditional church."
"As Christians enter the third millennium, they are in the midst of a great reconsideration. They are asking if the forms of church they have inherited are the right forms for the mission in the future. For some, they believe the forms must be rejected and deconstructed. Others seek to defend and restore them. Jim Belcher points a way that ties orthodox theological moorings with creative thinking and missional engagement, providing a helpful guide to thinking about church."
"Working out his ideas in the crucible of pastoral ministry, Jim Belcher proposes fascinating new ways to arbitrate today's disputes by appealing to the Great Tradition. Read it and learn how your church can go deeper."
"Deep Church takes us beyond just the surface with what is emerging, emergent or traditional and gives us some wonderful insights toward an alternative future."
"Many have written critiques of the emerging church, and some have attempted 'third way' books that attempt to describe a possible best-of-both path between traditional and emerging mindsets and practices. But I think Jim Belcher's book is the first to be truly gracious to both of these oft-contentious perspectives, suggesting a fair and honest critique of both. Belcher has clearly done his homework, and lives--as a lead pastor of a church plant--with one foot in the Reformed, traditional camp, and one foot in the emerging church. This is a great read for any who are tired of straw man arguments and polarization."
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Castaldo is the author of a new book, Holy Ground: Walking with Jesus as a Former Catholic, being published by Zondervan next month.
Here are George's and Beckwith's endorsements for Castalodo's book:
"What an encouraging book from a fine young Christian leader! Chris Castaldo speaks from his own spiritual pilgrimage about the unity between believing Catholics and faithful Evangelicals, the important differences that still remain between us, and what all of this means to our witness in the world today. Great stuff!"Here are a few more of the blurbs:
Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University; Senior Editor, Christianity Today
"In a culture in which theological disagreements are treated as no different than matters of taste, Christ Castaldo's Holy Ground is a refreshing change. He is a former Catholic turned Evangelical Protestant who shows respect for the tradition from which he departed while at the same time not shying away from the doctrinal issues over which Catholics and Protestants are in serious disagreement. He has a knack for clearly and charitably explaining to Evangelicals the diverse factions within Catholicism and how each thinks about its commitment to Scripture, Church, and walking with Christ. Although one may find oneself disagreeing with how Pastor Castaldo conveys or presents a particular doctrine or historical event, as I did on more than one occasion while reading this book, one cannot help but be impressed by his sincere effort to sincerely and graciously assess the issues that continue to divide, as well as unite, Protestants and Catholics."
Francis J. Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies, Baylor University; author of Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic (Brazos, 2009)
"Because the accounts of a number of high-profile Evangelicals converting to Roman Catholicism have hit the press, we sometimes overlook the fact that statisticians tell us that in America, Catholics are becoming Evangelicals faster than the reverse by a ratio of about three to one. What do these converts find? How do they cope? How do they—how should they—relate to their Catholic families and friends? This is the best book I have read that chronicles such pilgrimages. And it is full of godly commonsense."
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
"I teach a seminary course on Roman Catholic theology and have been looking for a simple, practical, popular-level book for my students to read so they can understand two issues: what is it like for Catholics to become Evangelical followers of Jesus Christ, and how can these former Catholics live and share the good news with their Catholic relatives and friends? Chris Castaldo's Holy Ground is the book for which I have been searching!"
Gregg R. Allison, PhD, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
"Holy Ground is the best tool available for helping former Roman Catholics witness to friends and family members without causing needless offense or compromising the gospel. Chris Castaldo's love for other people and firm grasp of biblical principles for discipleship and evangelism come through on nearly every page. His honest, charitable approach to Protestant-Catholic relationships will help many people honor God and demonstrate the love of Jesus in the very way they share their faith."
Dr. Philip Ryken, Senior Minister, Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia
"Principled and gracious, theological and practical, full of careful reasoning and warm illustrations—this is a book I will recommend to others. Even if you think Castaldo is too hard or too soft on Catholics here or there, you will surely benefit from his personal research and sensitive analysis. This book does a great service to the Evangelical church. And it just might help a few Catholics too."
Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan"If you've had enough of Evangelical writers who make a straw man of the Roman Catholic Church and then proceed to knock it down, Holy Ground is for you. As a Catholic-turned-Evangelical, Chris Castaldo is perfectly positioned to offer honest critique of his former church home and to help Evangelicals see their own shortcomings as well. Written from an insider's perspective, this book dismantles stereotypes on both sides of the Tiber. Anyone trying to bridge the worlds of Evangelicalism and Catholicism will benefit from the wisdom Castaldo brings to the conversation."
Bryan M. Litfin, Associate Professor of Theology, Moody Bible Institute; Author of Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction"I'm going to take this book and give it to my Catholic friends and ask them to underline what they most like and what they find most difficult. It will produce a wonderful discussion. Chris Castaldo has written with humility, reality and above all personal experience and here we see such issues as Luther and Loyola and why they matter; Scripture and why it's authoritative; grace and how it is experienced; church authority and why it's central. I thoroughly recommend this book as a great tool for those seeking to dialogue with Catholic friends, family and colleagues."
Rico Tice, Co-Author of Christianity Explored
"Admirably fair-minded, carefully documented, and pleasantly lucid and irenic—Holy Ground will grace the lives and relationships of those Evangelicals with Catholic heritages. An important read for Evangelicals and Catholics alike. Highly recommended."
R. Kent Hughes, Senior Pastor Emeritus, College Church in Wheaton
- We must learn from church history.
- We must allow biblical and theological convictions to shape our engagement in social action.
- We must not collapse the already/not-yet tension.
- We must recognize that evangelical engagement with these issues will take different forms within different political, cultural and social contexts.
- We must prioritize proclamation of the gospel without neglecting social action
- We must realize that our actions are not self-interpreting.
- We must recognize the trend towards increasing social action and decreasing evangelism within the church.
- We must think through and articulate the connection between specific social action and the gospel.
- We must not allow people's physical needs to blind us or them to their even greater spiritual needs.
- We must recognize the challenges that come with working with others of different beliefs.
Friday, August 21, 2009
David Prince recently preached on James 1:27, entitled The Manliness of Adoption: Testosterone and Pure Religion. Zach Nielsen says it's "one of the most powerful sermon on adoption" he has ever heard.
Crossway has put together a helpful program for churches, called Share the Good News of Christmas.
The basic idea is that your neighbor can receive a door-hanger bag that contains a New Testament, a customized invitation to the Christmas service at your church, a Christmas tract by Max Lucao, and access to the Online ESVSB for 30 days. There's also a customizable bulletin insert for use in your church.
For $50 per kit, you get the following:
- 50 door-hanger bags
- 50 ESV Outreach New Testament Christmas Editions
- 50 customizable invitations to attend a Christmas service at your church
- 50 copies of "The Good News of Christmas" tract by Max Lucado
- 50 cards announcing a free opportunity to explore the ESV Online Study Bible free for 30 days
- 1 instruction card
- 1 reproducible church bulletin insert (you can edit the PDF to customize it for your church)
They've also set up a Facebook group so you can share ideas, stories, and pictures.
There are some endorsements written for the kit, but I thought Chris Brauns's word was timely:
It's far too easy to wake up on January 2 having done nothing more for our neighbors at Christmas time than give them a plate of "sentimental cookies." Now, Crossway is giving us a tangible way to proclaim the Word to our community and invite them our local churches. At the time of the year when we remember that "the Word became flesh," could anything be more appropriate than giving our community the Word? Crossway’s Share the Good News of Christmas is a tremendous value and I look forward to encouraging our church to participate.
I once was lost in darkest nightOne of the consistent raps against contemporary Christian music is its repetitiveness. But for me and my house, I see few downsides to having this refrain as the default setting in my mind throughout the day:
Yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave.
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still.
But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross.
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace.
Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life
Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me.
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose.
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You.
© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI), by Jordan Kauflin
Hallelujah! All I have is ChristHere's a video that Dave MacKenzie at Sovereign Grace put together from the Next conference, where you can hear a live version of the song:
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Very few men could carry the mantle “elder statesman of the Southern Baptist Convention,” but I heard one today. Dr. Albert Mohler held a forum on the campus of Southern Seminary on the future of the Southern Baptist Convention. He delivered an address that he recently gave at the first meeting of the Great Commission Task Force (audio, video). This is the most lucid analysis that I have heard of the current state of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Mohler tackles the big questions that every single Southern Baptist should be wrestling with. You need to hear this one.
Kevin posts a brief response today, mostly agreeing with what they say (though offering a bit of pushback on areas like abortion and adoption ministry). Kevin also recently posted some areas where he sees common ground among the 2Kers and the Neo-Kuyperians.
For those wanted to explore Luther's understanding of these issues, William J. Wright's book, Martin Luther's Understanding of God's Two Kingdoms, is being published by Baker Academic in January 2010. Going back historically is often a fruitful way of moving forward in contemporary discussions.
The Government Health Care Plan Would Make It Non-Optional for You to Give Money to Cover Elective Abortions
Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), responds:
Emboldened by the recently demonstrated superficiality of some organs of the news media, President Obama today brazenly misrepresented the abortion-related component of the health care legislation that his congressional allies and staff have crafted. As amended by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 30 (the Capps-Waxman Amendment), the bill backed by the White House (H.R. 3200) explicitly authorizes the government plan to cover all elective abortions. Obama apparently seeks to hide behind a technical distinction between tax funds and government-collected premiums. But these are merely two types of public funds, collected and spent by government agencies. The Obama-backed legislation makes it explicitly clear that no citizen would be allowed to enroll in the government plan unless he or she is willing to give the federal agency an extra amount calculated to cover the cost of all elective abortions — this would not be optional. The abortionists would bill the federal government and would be paid by the federal government. These are public funds, and this is government funding of abortion.
In 2007 Obama explicitly pledged to Planned Parenthood that the public plan will cover abortions (see the video clip here). Some journalists have reported that Obama "backed off" of this commitment in an interview with Katie Couric of CBS News, broadcast July 21, but Obama actually carefully avoided stating his intentions — instead, he simply made an artful observation that "we also have a tradition of, in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government funded health care."
It is true that there is such a tradition — which Obama has always opposed, and which the Obama-backed bill would shatter.
On August 13, NRLC released a detailed memo explaining the provisions of the pending bills that would affect abortion policy, with citations to primary sources. Many of the "factcheck" articles that have appeared in the news media in recent weeks reflect, at best, unsophisticated understandings of the provisions they purport to be explaining, and also give evidence of a weak understanding of Obama's history on the policy issues involved.
"We trust the weather is not a commentary on our work," said the Rev. Steven Loy, chairman of an ad hoc committee on a controversial statement on human sexuality that was on the floor that afternoon. The statement, which seems to open the door to greater acceptance of homosexual practice, passed by an exact two-thirds vote a few hours later. One or two votes less would have killed it. There was quite a gasp when we saw the results.This morning John Piper looks at what the Word might have to say about interpreting such things.
Later some of us were discussing in the pressroom whether the Almighty had sent a tornado to send the Lutherans a message. After all, one of the reporters said, the ELCA endured an electrical storm during one of their previous conventions -- where human sexuality was also on the table - in Orlando.
And if God was speaking, was anyone listening?
The world is divided into those who are sobered by such possibilities, and those who giggle and roll their eyes. If you're tempted to do the latter, I'd encourage you to read Piper's post carefully and prayerfully.
Update: CT's Ted Olsen looks at what the position paper says, doesn't say, and should have said.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
An A29 church has created a free study guide to go along with the Re:Lit book Total Church, by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. The well-designed 32-page study guide is available for free PDF download here. We’ve talked with Steve Timmis, and he’s excited about this free resource.For more related resources:
This week we invite you into Dr. David Powlison's Dynamics of Biblical Change class to hear a complete lecture on "Prayer Requests." We wanted to share this lecture with you because we believe it to be an excellent example of CCEF's commitment to bring "Christ to Counseling and Counseling to the Church." Dr. Powlison teaches us that the way we as pastors, counselors, or group leaders model sharing prayer requests can actually become a teachable moment for others in our churches, helping them to better apprehend the grace and mercy of Christ.Click here for the audio and for sample workbook pages from the class.
C.J. Mahaney also has a new audio excerpt today from his ongoing interview with Powlison (4:42), where he asks him to elaborate on this quote:
Don’t ever degenerate into giving advice unconnected to the good news of Jesus crucified, alive, present, at work, and returning.
—Seeing with New Eyes (P&R, 2003), p. 43.
Here's an example:
Next to praying there is nothing so important in practical religion as Bible reading. By reading that book we may learn what to believe, what to be, and what to do; how to live with comfort, and how to die in peace.”
Happy is that man who possesses a Bible! Happier still is he who reads it! Happiest of all is he who not only reads it, but obeys it, and makes it the rule of his faith and practice!”
~ J.C. Ryle
Practical Religion, p. 97
Can you tell us a bit about the origins of this book? Why, and for whom, did you write it? I had taught a course on the Gospels for almost fifteen years, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels and could not find a single textbook that did something of substance with all five topics that form the five main parts of the volume--historical background, critical methods, introductions to each Gospel individually, a harmony of the life of Christ with selected interpretive commentary, and summaries of the historicity of the Gospels and the theology of Jesus. So I regularly assigned multiple textbooks, even while making my class lecture notes in outline form ever fuller. Eventually I created a spiral-bound notebook in prose as I began to ponder continuing to expand it into a "one-stop shopping" textbook. It is written for beginning seminarians or upper-division classes for undergraduate Bible majors, but with thoughtful laypersons and busy pastors in view as well. Even the seasoned scholar might stumble across a footnote or bibliography item pointing him or her to a source they were not previously familiar with. How do you see the Lord using this book to serve the Church? Inasmuch as many of the people in the categories I just mentioned teach and preach in local churches, or are preparing to, the book can form the core of what they will re-package, supplement, contextualize, and pass on to those among whom they minister. I have had to be selective in my exegetical comments, but I have tried to focus on all the major controversies or questions of which I am aware that tend to emerge in church circles rather than just what academics most like to debate. What has changed in this revised and expanded edition? The volume is about 15% longer. Occasionally, I have omitted a short section that I deemed was no longer as significant as everything else, but primarily I have supplemented the original text. Information on sociology and social-scientific criticism, literary criticism, the Gospel of John, the apocryphal and Gnostic Gospels, and issues related to the historicity of the Gospels are the main areas that have been most expanded. I have also substantially updated the footnotes and bibliography wherever I became aware of more recent sources that accomplished the same things that older ones did. A number of the charts have been revised, with a few new ones added. And I reread every sentence from the first volume to make sure that I still approved of its contents and its clarity and (on the comparatively rare occasions when I didn't) tweaked them as necessary.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
He also doesn't like Ben Stein!
From the Crossway blog:
Using the ESV API, Michael Scott has developed a handy tool to help you with scripture memorization. His website takes a list of references and automatically fetches the texts, formatting them into business card sized cards for easy printing.Spread the word!
Heads up. Look for some changes coming to this blog September 1. I'm excited about the change, which will hopefully make Between Two Worlds more helpful for you.
Request. At some point, it looks like I had someone set up a Feedburner account for Between Two Worlds. (Full disclosure: I'm technologically inept, for the most part.) But I also can't remember who did this for me!
If you created this feed for me, could you jot me a note at betweentwoworlds [at] gmail [dot] com?
Read the whole thing.
One of the reasons these two are such giants of influence is the depths of their own biblically informed self-knowledge. Layer after layer until they despaired of knowing themselves humble. Humility, it turns out isn’t the kind of thing that can be spotted in oneself and prized.
Humility senses that humility is a gift beyond our reach. If humility is the product of reaching, then we will instinctively feel proud about our successful reach. Humility is the gift that receives all things as gift. It is the fruit not of our achievement but of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). It is the fruit of the gospel—knowing and feeling that we are desperate sinners and that Christ is a great and undeserved Savior.
Humility is the one grace in all our graces that, if we gaze on it, becomes something else. It flourishes when the gaze is elsewhere—on the greatness of the grace of God in Christ.
Below are some outline notes for the message.
I. The Thermometer of Christian Affection
Your prayer life on behalf of God's people is a revealing indicator of the level of your love.
Paul's prayer on behalf of the Philippians is:
- Thankful: "I thank my God"
- Frequent: "in all my remembrance of you"
- Consistent: "always in every prayer of mine"
- All‐inclusive: "for you all"
- Joyous: "making my prayer with joy"
What are some of the ways I can cultivate a warmer affection for God's people?
- Serving together: "because of your partnership in the gospel."
- Seeing God's grace in one another: "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ . . . you are all partakers with me of grace."
- Sticking with one another: "from the first day until now . . . both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel."
We can see evidence of its reality, and we can cultivate the conditions in which such affection
can flourish, but we are not the source of Christian affection--the warmth does not arise
from our own hearts. So where does this warm affection come from?
Paul writes: "For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus."
Lightfoot on σπλάγχνοις: "A powerful metaphor describing perfect union. The believer has no yearnings apart from his Lord; his heart beats with the pulse of Christ; his heart throbs with the heart of Christ."
Monday, August 17, 2009
"If I wanted to watch Congressman shed their dignity and sense of decorum on television I’d watch C-Span."
(I don't do emoticons on blogs, but you can mentally insert one here if you wish.)
Season I of Office Hours introduces you to the faculty of WSC through personal,They are also giving away some free gifts:
30-minute interviews, discussing biblical and exegetical questions, historical and theological questions, pastoral matters, and Christian living.
Office Hours invites you to join the faculty in their offices for a discussion of issues that are important to you and the church. Don’t miss any of these programs! Subscribe today!
The first two episodes of Office Hours will be available on August 31 on our website or on iTunes.
- 10 copies of Mike Horton's Christless Christianity
- 10 copies of Ned B. Stonehouse's J. Gresham Machen: A Biographical Memoir
- 10 copies of W. Robert Godfrey's John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor
- 2 free admissions to the WSC Conference: Christ, Kingdom, and Culture on January 15-16, 2010 at the campus of WSC
- 10 free MP3 downloads from last year's conference Calvin's Legacy: Reforming the Church Today
For more on these gifts, listen to the Office Hours preview program released on August 17.
John Piper wrote several years ago:
For his first two years in India William Carey got no mail. During his first seven years he got no converts. The British Indian press said “papists” had arrived instead of “Baptists.” After nineteen years of labor a fire destroyed his precious manuscripts of a polyglot dictionary, a Sikh and Telugu grammar and ten versions of the Bible. He had an accident and was lame to the end. He lost two wives in death. And he never went home—for 41 years.
What kept him going? Incredible faith in the sovereign goodness of God.
When I left England, my hope of India's conversion was very strong; but amongst so many obstacles, it would die, unless upheld by God. Well, I have God, and His Word is true. Though the superstitions of the heathen were a thousand times stronger than they are, the example of the Europeans a thousand times worse; though I were deserted by all and persecuted by all, yet my faith, fixed on that sure Word, would rise about all obstacles and overcome every trial. God's cause will triumph.
When he saw the smoldering fire that destroyed his work, tears filled his eyes and he said,
In one short evening the labours of years are consumed. How unsearchable are the ways of God! . . . The Lord has laid me low that I may look more simply to him.