Search Results for: service

 

Jun

03

2013

Justin Taylor|2:32 pm CT

Wolterstorff on Christian Scholarship and the Love of Understanding

Anyone encouraged in the life of the mind—especially those who are students, teachers, scholars, or aspire to scholarship—would do well to spend an hour listening to this lecture by Nicholas Wolterstorff: “Fides Quaerens Intellectum,” delivered at a conference for the Biola University Center for Christian Thought (May 18-19, 2012):

The first hour is Professor Wolterstorff’s lecture, followed by a half hour of interaction with the audience. This is rich material drawn from a lifetime of scholarship in the service of love. One doesn’t need to agree with all of it to profit from it.

Wolterstorff defines “the project of being a Christian scholar” as “the project of thinking with a Christian mind and speaking with an appropriate Christian voice within your chosen discipline and within the academy more generally.”

You can see written versions of portions of the remarks here and there.

Here is his advice to aspiring Christian scholars:

First, be patient. The Christian scholar may feel in his bones that some part of his discipline rubs against the grain of his Christian conviction, but for years, and even decades, he may not be able to identify precisely the point of conflict; or, if he has identified it, he may not know for years or decades how to work out an alternative. Once he does spy the outlines of an alternative, the Christian scholar has to look for the points on which, as it were, he can pry, those points where he can get his partners in the discipline to say, “Hmm, you have a point there; I’m going to have to go home and think about that.” He doesn’t just preach. He engages in a dialogue—or tries to do so. And that presupposes, once again, that he has found a voice.

Second, to arrive at this point, the Christian scholar will have to be immersed in the discipline and be really good at it. Grenades lobbed by those who don’t know what they are talking about will have no effect. Only those who are learned in the discipline can see the fundamental issues.

Third, to be able to think with a Christian mind about the issues in your discipline, you have to have a Christian mind.

As I see it, three things are necessary for the acquisition of such a mind.

First, you have to be well acquainted with Scripture—not little tidbits, not golden nuggets, but the pattern of biblical thought. Let me add here: beware of the currently popular fad of reducing acquaintance with scripture to worldview summaries.

Second, you need some knowledge of the Christian theological tradition.

And third, you have to become acquainted with the riches of the Christian intellectual tradition generally, especially those parts of it that pertain to your own field. Too often American Christians operate on the assumption that we in our day are beginning anew, or on the assumption that nothing important has preceded us. You and I are the inheritors of an enormously rich tradition of Christian reflection on politics, on economics, on psychology, an enormously rich tradition of art, of music, of poetry, of architecture—on and on it goes. We impoverish ourselves if we ignore this. Part of our responsibility as Christian scholars is to keep those traditions alive.

Fourth, Christian learning needs the nourishment of communal worship. Otherwise it becomes dry and brittle, easily susceptible to skepticism.

 
 

May

16

2013

Justin Taylor|4:50 pm CT

A New Defense of Amillennialism

Sam Storms’ new book is Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative (Christian Focus, 2013). It’s currently 50% off. You can read online for free his introduction and his first chapter, “The Hermeneutics of Eschatology: Five Foundational
Principles for the Interpretation of Prophecy.”

Here are a few commendations of this work:

“This is a remarkable book which will surely become the standard bearer for Amillennialism for years to come. Storms is particularly adept (and gracious) at critiquing premillennial positions, especially dispensationalism. His interaction with postmillennialism and preterism is equally intelligent and insightful. This is a book I will return to many times in my personal study and in pastoral ministry. Storms has given us a model for accessible, relevant, warm-hearted scholarship in service of the church.”
—Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan

“If Christians in the past were guilty of obsessing too much over the end times, evangelicals today may face the opposite problem of caring too little. The writings of Sam Storms are exactly what we need: faithful theology and careful exegesis served with a pastoral spirit and reverent worship. In these pages you will find Dr. Storms’ mature reflections on the end times, honed over decades in the classroom and in the church. There is something in here to challenge and to encourage all of us, no matter our persuasion. I pray this book will help others in the same way it has helped me.”
—Justin Taylor, author and blogger, “Between Two Worlds”

“Evangelicals continue to be divided over eschatology, and such divisions will likely continue until the eschaton. For some, premillennialism is virtually equivalent to orthodoxy. Sam Storms challenges such a premise with a vigorous defense of amillennialism. Storms marshals exegetical and theological arguments in defense of his view in this wide-ranging work. Even those who remain unconvinced will need to reckon with the powerful case made for an amillennial reading. The author calls us afresh to be Bereans who are summoned to search the scriptures to see if these things are so.”
—Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

 
 

May

16

2013

Justin Taylor|3:39 am CT

Meet Douglas Karpen: The New Kermit Gosnell

Douglas Karpen of Aaron's Women's Clinic Texas Ambulatory Surgical Center (Aaron's Women's Clinic)

Evidence is emerging of another abortion mill where illegal abortions are performed and where full-term babies are regularly born alive and brutally murdered. This one is run by Dr. Douglas Karpen, who appears to be a doctor in good standing with the state of Texas.

The Texas Department of State Health Services plan to investigate.

Three women have come forward to testify about what they witnessed there as workers.

Please be aware that the descriptions are very graphic and viewer discretion is highly advised:

 
 

May

06

2013

Justin Taylor|10:10 am CT

The Curious Incident of Modern Evangelicalism

Francis Chan and David Platt, in the foreword to a redesignd edition of John Piper’s A Hunger for God:

As we look out at the church today, there is so much that encourages us and fills us with gratitude. There is renewed zeal among God’s people for the spread of God’s glory across the earth. Like never before we hear brothers and sisters in different circles and different streams of contemporary Christianity talking about the gospel and mission, about transforming cities and reaching unreached people groups. These conversations are essential, and we hope they will continue with even greater intensity and intentionality in the days ahead.

But sometimes what we are not hearing can be as illuminating as what we do hear. It reminds us of an exchange in an old Sherlock Holmes mystery, where Holmes refers to “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time” during a robbery. A fellow detective, confused at Holmes’s comment, responds that “the dog did nothing in the nighttime” — to which Holmes responds: “That was the curious incident.” Despite the proliferation of Christian publishing and Christian conferences, J. I. Packer’s observation of our own curious incident still rings true:

When Christians meet, they talk to each other about their Christian work and Christian interests, their Christian acquaintances, the state of the churches, and the problems of theology — but rarely of their daily experience of God.

Modern Christian books and magazines contain much about Christian doctrine, Christian standards, problems of Christian conduct, techniques of Christian service — but little about the inner realities of fellowship with God.

Our sermons contain much sound doctrine — but little relating to the converse between the soul and the Saviour.

We do not spend much time, alone or together, in dwelling on the wonder of the fact that God and sinners have communion at all; no, we just take that for granted, and give our minds to other matters.

Thus we make it plain that communion with God is a small thing to us.

Think about it. Where are the passionate conversations today about communing with God through fasting and prayer? We seem to find it easier to talk much of plans and principles for proclaiming the gospel and planting churches, and to talk little of the power of God that is necessary for this gospel to be proclaimed and the church to be planted.

You can read the whole foreword here, and get the book here.

 
 

Apr

30

2013

Justin Taylor|9:39 am CT

The Life and Ministry of Charles Spurgeon

Watch above as John Piper lectures at Reformed Theological Seminary (April 10, 2013) on the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon. (You can find audio and the manuscript of an earlier edition of this talk here.)

Spurgeon’s life and thought seems strangely neglected by historians and theologians today. So I am very thankful that this September Christian Focus will be publishing Tom Nettles’ new biography, The Life and Ministry of Charles Spurgeon. Here are some early reviews:

“Charles Spurgeon is a mountain—a massive figure on the evangelical landscape. Tom Nettles now helps us to understand Charles Haddon Spurgeon as a man, a theologian, and one of the most influential pastors in church history. Nettles takes us into the heart of Charles Spurgeon’s conviction and his pastoral theology. This is a book that will encourage, educate, and bless its readers.”

—R. Albert Mohler, President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

“While numerous biographies of Spurgeon have been published over the decades, Spurgeon’s thought normally receives short shrift from his biographers. This is why this new biography is so important. By focusing on Spurgeon’s memoirs and published articles, Tom Nettles has filled an important gap in scholarship related to Spurgeon with this exhaustive intellectual biography of the Prince of Preachers. Many pastors and other casual readers will be encouraged by Spurgeon’s commitment to a high view of Scripture and historic Baptist orthodoxy from a Reformed perspective. Scholars will be forced to reckon with Spurgeon the theologian as they pursue their own studies of the famed Victorian pastor.”

—Nathan A. Finn, Associate Professor of Historical Theology and Baptist Studies, The Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, North Carolina

“What Nettles makes plain is that for Spurgeon, all theology is pastoral theology. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It should be widely distributed by all who love the gospel of God’s grace that Spurgeon preached. Every pastor, ministerial student and those who work to train men for the ministry should carefully learn from the life and labors of Charles Haddon Spurgeon as Tom Nettles elucidates them. Nearly everyone who knows of Spurgeon admires him for his great accomplishments. Nettles helps us understand the theological underpinnings of those accomplishments. In doing so, the author, like his subject, has served the church well.”

—Tom Ascol, Pastor, Grace Baptist Church, Cape Coral, Florida

“Fresh and unique, this book will be enjoyable to laymen, profitable to pastors, and indispensable for scholars. Nettles’ volume now takes an honored place among the most valuable of all resources pertaining to the Prince of Preachers.”

—Don Whitney, Associate Professor of Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

“With the publication of Living by Revealed Truth, Tom Nettles has provided his readers with the premier interpretive account of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Evidencing decades of serious engagement with this great Baptist leader of the nineteenth century, Nettles has given us an immense and monumental portrait of almost every aspect of the life of “the prince of preachers,” including not only his numerous writings and multi-faceted ministry, but also his leadership practices and personal challenges. Educational, edifying, and enjoyable to read, this massive work is a masterful contribution to Baptist history and Christian biography.”

—David S. Dockery, President, Union University, Jackson, Tennessee

“Charles Haddon Spurgeon was the greatest preacher of the nineteenth century in England and probably the whole world. The pungent and passionate sermons of the Baptist pastor brought home the gospel message to the hearts of his numerous hearers and more numerous readers. Tom Nettles has retold Spurgeon’s life as a warm admirer, but he is careful to rest his judgements on detailed evidence. In particular The Sword and the Trowel, the magazine Spurgeon edited as pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, is used as a quarry for an abundance of fresh material. Consequently this biography casts new light on Spurgeon’s life, ministry and theology.”

—David Bebbington, Professor of History, University of Stirling, Stirling

“Despite his ongoing popularity, Charles Spurgeon has only recently begun to attract the serious attention he deserves. Tom Nettles’ work now makes a major contribution to this growing appreciation of the man and his ministry. Mining neglected but important sources, he has given sharper definition to our picture of Spurgeon, and produced a highly stimulating and readable account.”

—Michael Reeves, Head of Theology, UCCF

“It has long been my conviction that, despite the goodly number of Spurgeon biographies that have been written since the Baptist preacher’s death in 1892, there really is lacking a definitive study that not only takes account of his remarkable ministry and the inspiring details of his life, but also adequately deals with the theology of the man. Finally, in this work by my dear colleague Tom Nettles, a sort of magnum opus upon which he has labored for many years, is justice done to not only Spurgeon the man and preacher, but also to Spurgeon the theologian. Here is an ‘all-round’ study of Spurgeon that provides us with a fully reliable, substantial examination of an extremely important figure in the life of Victorian Evangelicalism and the world of that era.”

—Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

“One of those rare gems of Christian biography: it places in your hands the life a great man, written by an outstanding historical theologian. The combination brings Charles Spurgeon’s life and thought to life. Tom Nettles’s portrait of Spurgeon is eminently personal, historically vivid and theologically rich. I recommend it to anyone interested in seeing how theology and ministry, gospel and life, can unite in a single narrative of a life lived for the glory of God.”

—Robert Caldwell, Assistant Professor of Church History, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Forth Worth, Texas

“Nettles gives the reader insights into Spurgeon’s views on theology, the ministry, and church life that will pay rich dividends to any who will take the time to read this compelling story. If a minister reads only one biography of the great preacher, let it be this one!”

—Jeff Straub, Professor of Historical Theology, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Plymouth, Minnesota

“Readers are inspired to holiness of life, faithfulness in Christ’s service, and perseverance in godliness by the moving account of this great Victorian evangelist who held and maintained through his preaching and pastoral ministry endeavors the great truths generally known as ‘the doctrines of grace.’”

—C. Berry Driver Jr., Dean of Libraries, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas

“Nettles presents the ministerial brilliance of the ‘Prince of Preachers,’ whose pastoral labors transcend generations down to this present hour. Revered by many as the greatest preacher since the apostle Paul, readers will be encouraged and edified by this engaging account of Spurgeon’s life and ministry.”

—Steven J. Lawson, Senior Pastor, Christ Fellowship Baptist Church, Mobile, Alabama

For those who are interested, here is an hour-long docu-drama on the life of C. H. Spurgeon: The People’s Preacher:

 
 

Apr

29

2013

Justin Taylor|4:29 pm CT

Two New Books on Christ and the City

In the video above three wise pastors—one on the West Coast (Justin Buzzard in San Jose), one in the Midwest (Jon Dennis in Chicago), one on the East Coast (Stephen Um in Boston)—talk about what God is doing in cities today and why it matters from a biblical, cultural, sociological, and theological perspective. The three of them have brand-new books on the subject.

Dennis is the author of Christ + City: Why the Greatest Need of the City Is the Greatest News of All, and Buzzard and Um are the co-authors of Why Cities Matter: To God, the Culture, and the Church.

Here are some endorsements for Dennis’ book:

“Thoroughly biblical in its scope and treatment, Jon Dennis has gifted the people of God with a manifesto that will inspire the reader to be a part of what God is doing in cities. Incredibly timely, astoundingly pertinent, and convincingly prophetic, this is a book you will want to come back to over and over again.”
Bryan Loritts, Lead Pastor, Fellowship Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee

“More and more people have zero connection to Christ and his church. And, the vast majority of people who would check ‘nothing’ under religion overwhelmingly live in urban areas. Christ + City gives us a map to empower local churches who develop disciples who engage their cities with the love of Christ.”
Darrin Patrick, Pastor, The Journey, St. Louis, Missouri; author, For the City and Church Planter: The Man, the Message, the Mission

“Jon Dennis is a pastor, mentor, and visionary leader who has embraced Christ’s call to the city. His dynamic ministry in Chicago and his outreach to other global cities across several continents give him a deep understanding of the opportunity that today’s urban generation has to reach the city for Christ. In this pervasively gospel-centered book, Dennis combines the faithful exposition of central biblical texts with wise pastoral guidance to help people who live, work, serve, and worship in urban communities to honor God’s redemptive purposes for the city.”
Philip Graham Ryken, President, Wheaton College

You can read the introduction and the first chapter online for free here. And for the Buzzard and Um volume:

“One can’t effectively plant or pastor a church in an urban context without first developing a theology of cities. This book will be an essential guide to discerning leaders who know that cities matter and want to engage those cities well.”
Ed Stetzer, President, LifeWay Research; author, Subversive Kingdom

“Recent years have witnessed a torrent of books on urbanization and on urban ministry. Many of these are specialist sociological studies; others are ‘how to’ manuals so comprehensive that the Spirit of God could walk out and we’d never miss him. What has been lacking is a short, reasonably comprehensive, impassioned, and simply written survey of the trends and issues, combined with unwavering commitment to the eternal gospel and a transparent love for the city. Whether or not you agree with all its details, this book supplies what has been lacking. Written by two younger pastors on opposite sides of the country who share their devotion to Christ and their years of fruitful ministry, this book is neither sociology nor manual (though it has some features of both), but a clarion call to Christians to look at cities with fresh eyes and cry, ‘Give me this mountain!’”
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“Stephen Um and Justin Buzzard have done the church a great service in providing a clear and compelling argument not only for the importance of cities in our times, but more especially why cities matter to the church. They do a terrific job in teasing out a rich biblical theology of cities that roots their cultural analysis in a thoughtful and faithful framework. After reading the book, I wanted to call a real estate agent and tell them to find me a place in the city. It is not only where the ‘cultural action’ is today, but also where there is such a desperate need for thoughtful, faithful, and vibrant ministry. Um and Buzzard show us that cities are not to be shunned but loved with the full breath of the Gospel. You will not be able to think about cities in the same old ways after reading this book.”
Richard Lints, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

You can read Tim Keller’s foreword and chapter 1 online for free here.

 
 

Apr

29

2013

Justin Taylor|9:49 am CT

The Decline of Western Civilization, 140 Characters at a Time

It’s worth reading this week’s Weekly Standard cover story by Matt LaBash, a biting but insightful lampooning of the culture behind Twitter and what goes on at conferences like SXSW. Here is an excerpt:

If you haven’t gathered by now, I’m not a Twitter fan. In fact, I outright despise the inescapable microblogging service, which nudges its users to leave no thought unexpressed, except for the fully formed ones (there’s a 140-characters-per-tweet limit). I hate it not just because the Twidiocracy constantly insists I should love it, though that certainly helps. Being in the media profession (if “profession” isn’t overstating things), where everyone flocked en masse to the technology out of curiosity or insecurity or both, I’ve hated it reflexively since its beginning. But with time’s passage and deliberation, I’ve come to hate it with deeper, more variegated richness. I hate the smugness of it, the way the techno-triumphalists make everyone who hasn’t joined the Borg feel like they’ve been banished to an unpopulated island, when in fact the numbers don’t support that notion. . . .

I hate the way Twitter transforms the written word into abbreviations and hieroglyphics, the staccato bursts of emptiness that occur when Twidiots who have no business writing for public consumption squeeze themselves into 140-character cement shoes. People used to write more intelligently than they speak. Now, a scary majority tend to speak more intelligently than they tweet. . . .

I hate the way Twitter turns people into brand managers, their brands being themselves. It’s nearly impossible now to watch television news without an anchor imploring you to “follow me on Twitter,” even as you’re already following him on television. You couldn’t do this much following in the physical world without being slapped with a restraining order.

Though I’ve just catalogued much to hate about Twitter, there’s plenty more to hate about Twitter. I hate that Twitter makes the personal public. That conversations between two intimates that formerly transpired in person or by email become conversations between two intimates for the benefit of their followers. I’ve actually been to lunch with people who have tweeted throughout, unbeknownst to me. (The fact that they only looked up from their iPhone twice in two hours might’ve been a tipoff. Though that’s pretty much par for the course, even with untweeted lunches these days.) . . . .

A technology that incentivizes its status-conscious, attention-starved users to yearn for ever more followers and retweets, Twitter causes Twidiots to ask one fundamental question at all times: “How am I doing?” That’s not a question most people can resist asking, even in their offline lives, but on Twitter, where tweeters are publicly judged by masses of acquaintances and strangers alike, the effect tends to be intensified. Even the most independent spirit becomes a needy member of the bleating herd. It’s the nerd incessantly repeating what the more popular kids say. It’s the pretty girl, compulsively seeking compliments.

As a friend of mine says, “It’s addictive and insidious. I see it even with smart people who ought to know better but can’t help themselves. They give wildly disproportionate weight to the opinions they read on Twitter, mostly because they’re always reading Twitter. Which fills them with anxiety, distorts their perceptions, and makes it almost impossible for them to take the long view on anything. Every crisis is huge, ominous, and growing. Every attack requires an immediate response.”

You can read the whole thing here. But permit me just one more quote, which has implications for how we as Christians think about ourselves and our technological culture:

Evan Fitzmaurice, an Austin-based lawyer and longtime friend who until recently was the Texas Film Commissioner, has attended many a SXSW. He tells me one night over dinner that while he’s wired to the hilt (“I’ve gotta connect to the Matrix”), he sees the downside of perpetual connectedness. “You’re truncating natural thought. Things don’t gestate anymore. It’s instantaneous, without the benefit of reflection. And everything’s said at volume 10. Nothing’s graduated anymore. It’s a clamor.” Though not religious himself, he says what I witness at SXSW would be recognized by any religious person. “They’re trying to supplant deliverance and redemption through religion with civil religion and technological redemption—the promise of a sublime life on a higher plane.”

 
 

Apr

26

2013

Justin Taylor|7:00 am CT

Is There a Distinctively “Christian” Way to Be a Bus Driver?

In addressing this question, I decided to give the ubiquitous “Christian plumber” a break. He always shows up in this discussion for some reason. So we’ll let the Christian bus driver sit behind the wheel today.

I wonder if the framing of this question in this way can at times reinforce ambiguity. My sense is that often a singular question is being asked but multiple questions are being answered. The result is more confusion than clarity.

Below is an attempt to unpack the issue a bit. I don’t pretend to have all the answers, so I welcome your own contribution and push-back in the comments section below.

Does the Bible teach how to be a bus driver?

No. For the most part, the Bible does not provide anything like a manual for the specific skills of a vocation. The Bible teaches on the nature of work, the purpose of work, and the manner of work, but it does not get into many specifics tasks with respect to many vocations.

Does the Bible teach how to be a Christian bus driver?

Of course. The Bible teaches that as Christians we should function within our God-ordained vocations (i.e., legitimate callings) (1) from biblical foundations, (2) with biblical motives, (3) according to biblical standards, and (4) aiming at biblical goals. These are the necessary and sufficient conditions for Christian virtue.

Faith working through love—before God and for our neighbor—is essential for virtuous action in our various vocations (1 Corinthians 13; Luke 10:27; Gal. 5:6, etc.). All things are to be done for God’s glory in accordance with his revealed will (1 Cor. 10:31). We are to work heartily unto God, not man, knowing that ultimately we are serving Christ before we serve our boss or our customer (Col. 3:23-24). We work in imitation of our creative, working God, and we work from a position of divine acceptance and not for a position of justification before him.

Is being a non-Christian bus driver inherently sinful?

It depends on what we mean here.

The vocation itself is a legitimate calling, sanctioned by God.

But one’s spiritual condition is not irrelevant in God’s evaluation of the proper way to fulfill a vocation. The Bible teaches that “without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Heb. 11:6) and that “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23); therefore, any vocational pursuit devoid of genuine Christian faith is ultimately marked by sin and is finally displeasing to God. (The Westminster Confession of Faith 16.7 is helpful on this.) Their work is used by God but not fully pleasing to God.

Can a non-Christian be a good bus driver?

Yes, by common grace one can fulfill the earthly (i.e., non-eternal) standards of a vocation (e.g., safe driving, punctuality, cheerfulness, lack of external vice, etc). But the non-Christian will ultimately lack godly foundations, motives, goals, and standards—so even what looks “good” will not be Godward.

External virtue requires borrowing capital from the Christian worldview, and the two will often look similar from a superficial perspective. To make matters worse, sometimes this non-Christian borrowing can look more compelling than a Christian’s inconsistent or misguided efforts (e.g., beautiful art by a non-Christian vs. schlock art by a Christian).

Is a Christian necessarily a better bus drive than a non-Christian?

No. Christians are justified (uncondemned because of being clothed in the righteousness of Christ) but indwelling, entangling sin still remains. That means that before glorification Christians will never have pure goals, motives, or standards. A non-Christian may achieve a higher degree of competency in his or her vocation than a Christian—though this should not be the case. Sometimes this is a result of the non-Christian’s idolatry (achieving skills and competency at the expense of God and family and friendship and service); at other times a non-Christian will simply have more natural gifting from God for a particular vocation (e.g., a bus driver with better eyesight, superior reflexes, driving skills, experience, etc.)

Is there a distinctively Christian way to think about the particulars of each vocation?

Yes, I believe that there is. My sense is that the more intellectual and aesthetically oriented the vocation, the more work has already been done on a distinctively Christian approach. This is, in my part, because the contrast will be more wide-ranging and apparent and because the Bible seems to have more to say directly about these areas. I’m thinking, for example, of areas like philosophy, education, and politics. (For some examples, see Alvin Plantinga’s “Advice to Christian Philosophers,” or the books in the Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition series.) The same would be true for aesthetics, as in music, fine arts, and design. It can be more difficult to see in areas oriented toward manual labor. But there is still much work that can be done in these areas. One of the problems is that intellectuals and philosophers are more inclined to know and study areas they are more interested in, and therefore other vocations become neglected in terms of analysis.

Those interested in exploring this further may want to check out Vern Poythress’s ongoing labors at reforming academic disciplines from a relentless pursuit of Trinitarian implications. Thus far he has worked through the subject matters of science, language, sociology, and logic (with works on philosophy, mathematics, chance and probability, and hermeneutics forthcoming).

Also of interest should be James Bratt’s new biography of Abraham Kuyper, being hailed as the definitive work on his transformative thought. As Mark Noll notes, “Attentive readers of this landmark biography . . . should . . . be in a much better position to reflect on vital questions of Christianity and education, church and state, Christian universalism and Christian particularism, and many more that remain of first-order importance still today, nearly a century after Kuyper passed away.”

(For the record, I don’t think one needs to be “Neo-Kuyperian” to benefit from and appropriate many of Kuyper’s insights, or do learn from his shortcomings. As Mike Horton notes, there is nothing in a “two-kingdom” approach to Christ and culture that should prevent one from affirming a distinctively Christian way of fulfilling vocations.)

So there you have it. One big general question, and my attempt to unpack what may lie behind it. But oh how much more could be said!

 
 

Apr

12

2013

Justin Taylor|9:26 am CT

What Does the President of the United States Believe about Infants Born Alive after a Botched Abortion?

As momentum builds for ending the media’s refusal to cover the facts about the horrific Kermit Gosnell abortion-mill case, I think it’s worth remembering that President Obama dealt for several years with the question of whether or not infants should be protected when born alive after a failed abortion. Here is one quote:

[I]f we’re placing a burden on the doctor that says you have to keep alive a previable child as long as possible and give them as much medical attention as—as is necessary to try to keep that child alive, then we’re probably crossing the line in terms of unconstitutionality.

—Senator Barack Obama, March 30, 2001, arguing against the the Born Alive Act before the Illinois General Assembly

Even though as a candidate for president Mr. Obama offered multiple explanations for his consistent votes against the Born Alive Act—explanations which don’t stand up to the historical reality—his record speaks for itself:

IL Senate 2001 (Senate Bill 1095, Born Alive Infant Protection Act)

  • Senator Obama voted “no” in the Senate Judiciary Committee (March 28, 2001)
  • Senator Obama argued against the bill on the IL Senate floor (March 30, 2001) (see pp. 84-90 of this PDF)
  • Senator Obama voted “present” for the bill (March 30, 2001)

IL Senate 2002 (Senate Bill 1662, Born Alive Infant Protection Act)

  • Senator Obama voted “no” vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee (March 6, 2002)
  • Senator Obama argued against the bill on the IL Senate floor (April 4, 2002) (see pp. 28-35 of this PDF)
  • Senator Obama voted “no” for the bill (April 4, 2002)

IL Senate 2003 (Senate Bill 1082, Born Alive Infant Protection Act)

  • Senator Obama, who chaired the Health and Human Services Committee, held the bill from receiving a committee vote and stopped the senate’s sponsor from adding the federal act’s clarification paragraph, which made the bills absolutely identical.

All of this is consistent with recent testimony from Planned Parenthood:

Update: You can hear then Senator Obama here:

 
 

Apr

01

2013

Justin Taylor|4:00 am CT

An Interview with Russell Moore: The New President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has announced that Dr. Russell D. Moore has been elected as their eighth president, succeeding Dr. Richard Land, who completes 25 years of service in that role.

Dr. Moore received his doctorate from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2001 and joined their faculty the same year, teaching theology and ethics. In 2004 he was elected dean of the school of theology and senior vice president for academic administration.

He is the author of The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective, Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches, and Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ.

Dr. Moore was kind enough to answer a few questions.

Tell us a little bit about your own background and experience with ERLC.

I sense a calling to this, and I hesitate to say that because it sounds like such a cliche, what one is supposed to say when called to a new ministry position. But, in this case, there’s nothing else to say. This seems so right for me, and I am excited getting out of bed every morning to get to do this.

I struggled with a calling to Christian ministry as a very young man, maybe twelve or so, but then drifted away from that toward a political career. A very risk-taking congressman, Gene Taylor of Mississippi (who was and is my hero), invested a lot of time and effort in me, giving me opportunities that I can’t imagine now why he would give to someone that green. My wife Maria and I dated with her on the campaign trail with me, at little county fairs and fundraisers all over south Mississippi. After I sensed the call to ministry, I wondered why God had allowed those years to go in that direction, and I suppose I assumed they were “Jonah to Tarshish” years, even though I thoroughly loved them. I now see something of how many of the threads of God’s providence fit together.

Years ago, in late 1990 or early 1991, when I was working for Congressman  Taylor, I was assembling various data points on the debates over the then-imminent Persian Gulf War. I was wrestling with the issue, thinking through how my convictions as a Christian ought to inform a sense of just war and the prudence of this action. I placed a call to the Washington office of the ERLC (then called the Christian Life Commission) to see if someone could help me think this through. I wound up speaking with Jim Smith, the organization’s first Washington staffer, who has since become a close friend. The conversation was theologically driven and immensely helpful. I remember thinking at that point (I was 19 years old), “I would love to be able to do what they do.”

It is humbling to see how all the little cul-de-sacs in my life story weren’t cul-de-sacs at all but the providence of God. I know that’s always the case, but often we don’t get to see it in this life.

Outside the Beltway and outside the Bible Belt many readers might be unfamiliar with the ERLC. What is its mission and why should we care about its work?

The ERLC has existed, under various names (Baptists, for some reason, love to change names), since the 1910s. Started to combat the liquor industry, the organization very early on adapted to a broader purpose of speaking to Southern Baptists about the social ethical aspects of the kingdom of God, avoiding both the Social Gospel and individualistic isolationism. The organization has been prophetic often in Baptist history. Foy Valentine, longtime president, led the effort for civil rights among Southern Baptists. He courageously called for integration, voting rights, and reconciliation in local churches, all the while representing a denomination rooted in the Jim Crow-occupied Deep South.

Valentine, while heroic on civil rights for African-Americans, was, quite unfortunately, opposed to civil rights for unborn Americans. He led the denomination to support liberalized abortion laws, even aligning what’s now the ERLC with the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, and celebrating Roe v. Wade. Some of this was rooted, I think, in a deep-seated anti-Catholicism within Baptist life at the time. Valentine was able to convince Southern Baptists that abortion was a “Catholic issue,” not ours. What a tragedy. I worked several years ago to write a resolution repudiating the early 1970s SBC resolutions in favor of abortion rights, and acknowledging our complicity in the abortion culture.

Richard Land, the retiring president of the ERLC, came into office in 1988 and was one of the first biblical inerrantists to head a Baptist entity after the conservative resurgence within the SBC. He quickly established himself as a leader in defining pro-life conviction and in calling for racial reconciliation. More than any other figure in Baptist life, Land deserves credit for leading Southern Baptists to a solidly pro-life ethic and in calling on conservatives to repent for the racism of our denominational past.

The broader world of evangelicals ought to care about the ERLC because the organization speaks to and for the largest Protestant denomination in North America, working with like-minded people on questions of ethical importance ranging from human trafficking to substance abuse to international religious freedom to pornography and beyond. The ERLC equips churches to think through ethical matters, and also seeks to advocate in the public arena for principles of justice.

My predecessor Foy Valentine hated the term “evangelical,” especially when the media started using the word in reference to Jimmy Carter in 1976. “Evangelical is a Yankee word,” he said.

Obviously, I disagree. Southern Baptists and other evangelicals need each other, not least of which because we’re not in self-contained worlds. The broader evangelical movement everywhere feeds into Baptist life, and Southern Baptists, along with some other groups, in many ways have anchored evangelicalism doctrinally and missiologically.

What are some things you’d like to see ERLC accomplish in the near future?

Three words: “Kingdom. Culture. Mission.”

I would like to see the ERLC serve as a catalyst for a kingdom vision that transforms congregational cultures to carry out the mission of Christ in the world. This means speaking to the larger culture and to the political arena, but not as an interest group wielding power to get our way. The time has come to replace moral majoritarianism with moral communitarianism.

The locus of the kingdom of God in this age is within the church, where Jesus rules as king. As we live out lives together, we see the transforming power of the gospel and the inbreaking of the future kingdom. The first step of cultural and political engagement is congregations full of people who demonstrate the gospel. Your congregation’s decision to accept a list of new members is more significant in the long-term than a presidential election. The United States, after all, is but a vapor in the vast sweep of cosmic time. Our churches, however, point to the future kings and queens of the universe, where there are no term limits. If we are to be credible, we must recover meaningful membership, church discipline, and congregations that tear down carnal distinctions as we point to kingdom communities that are at peace with God and with one another, and at war with the devil.

That doesn’t lead to isolationism. The kingdom of God shows us, as Carl Henry put it, “the criteria by which God will judge men and nations.”

I hope to prompt Christians to think through what following Jesus means in an often turbulent new age of ethical questions. Should we baptize human clones? What does repentance look like for the post-op transsexual? What should we do if the government forbids chaplains to pray in Jesus’ name? What should we do with a church that sinfully refuses to welcome those of another ethnicity?

I also hope to advocate in the public square for the dignity of human persons, made in the image of God, regardless of whether those persons are labeled “embryos” or “fetuses” or “illegal immigrants” or whatever word is used to dehumanize and depersonalize.

And I hope to rekindle the Baptist witness for religious liberty. My forebears went to jail for preaching without a license. That day may well, God forbid, come again. Like Paul appealing to his Roman citizenship, I want to persuade our governing authorities that the First Amendment guarantees of religious liberty aren’t grants from Caesar but natural rights bestowed by God on all people. That’s freedom for all people, not just conservative evangelicals. If the government can zone a mosque out of existence in your local community, it can do the same for a gospel church. And, more than that, religious liberty is a gospel matter. No one is converted through the power of the state. We wield the power of the Spirit, through the persuasion of the gospel witness, not the power of state coercion.

If we can’t keep the next generation from going to jail, though, I hope we can prepare the next generation to go to jail for the right reasons. I hope we can equip churches to form consciences that can tell the difference between “Jesus is Lord” and “Caesar is Lord.”

What encourages you and what discourages you most these days about the way Christians are thinking about and interacting with politics?

Evangelicals tend to ping back and forth between dangerous extremes. Some evangelicals have idolized politics in a way that led to demonizing opponents and baptizing allies, living and dead. American Christianity has too often been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it. A younger generation rightly rejected the triumphalism and hucksterism of some aspects of the old Religious Right. But, in reclaiming the centrality of the gospel, some are tempted to fall back into the old dispensationalism of divorcing the kingdom from the gospel, Paul from the prophets and from Jesus. “And who then is my neighbor?” isn’t simply a bad social ethic, it’s a matter of denying the gospel mission Jesus embodied and has handed to us.

Despite that, I am encouraged about the future of Christians embracing these issues. I think we are ready to live in the tension of prophetic distance and prophetic engagement. Prophetic distance in that we don’t become mascots for any political faction, adding Bible verses to somebody’s agenda when called upon to do so. Prophetic engagement in that we understand that the gospel speaks to the whole of reality, including the decisions we make together in civil society and statecraft.

A gloomy “slouching toward Gomorrah” view of culture leads, I think, to meanness. If we think we are on the losing end of the arc of history, we slide into outrage. If we see ourselves, though, as part of a kingdom that is triumphant in Christ, we ought to display a kind of provocative tranquility. We see those who disagree with us not as threatening to us or to our gospel, but those who, like all of us were, are held captive to an accusing power. We speak with convictional kindness because we love our neighbors, and because we are confident in our gospel. If the gates of hell won’t prevail against Jesus’ onward march, then why are we terrified by Hollywood or Capitol Hill?

 
 

Mar

30

2013

Justin Taylor|12:35 am CT

John Piper’s Farewell Sermon

Shortly after 4:30 this afternoon, the residents of Phillips neighborhood in south Minneapolis—the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in the United States—may spot a familiar sight: a trim man in his upper sixties, bespectacled with thinning gray curly hair, leaving his two-story house to walk to church.

John Piper will make his way north across the bridge suspended above “Spaghetti Junction,” with its dull roar of freeway traffic, past the East Village Market grocery store, past Augustana Health Care Center for the elderly, past Andrew Residence for the mentally broken, and past the Elliott Twins apartments for low-income residents. And then he’ll arrive at a place he dearly loves, Bethlehem Baptist Church, where he has been preaching the glory of God in the gospel week in and week out for 33 years.

The walk takes seven minutes—six if he is running late, eight if he is especially enjoying the weather. He once counted his steps: exactly 600 paces from his front door to Bethlehem’s old main door. He has made this walk at least 10,000 times in the last 33 years—the equivalent of walking from the east coast to the west coast in the United States and back again. Six million steps.

It’s not the last time he will make this walk. But it is the last time he will do so as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Tucked into the coat pocket of his charcoal suit jacket will be his compact ESV Bible, and in his worn leather briefcase will be a cheap folder, and in the folder will be a 11-page double-spaced typewritten sermon manuscript, with an array of handwritten circles and connecting lines and underlines and exclamation points and notes.

Within a couple of hours the singing will cease, and he will rise from the front-row pew, place his sermon manuscript on the wooden pulpit, offer an introduction, and then read from Hebrews 13:20-21, the text for his Easter sermon that will double as his farewell sermon. After he reads the benedictory text that begins, “Now may the God of peace who brought again our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep,” Piper will undoubtedly remind his beloved flock that the transition from one undershepherd to another is undergirded by a dying and rising Great Shepherd who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Half a lifetime ago, at the age of 34, Piper preached his installation sermon, “The Wisdom of Men and the Power of God,” from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. The date was July 13, 1980, and the location was in the old sanctuary of the adjacent building (now converted into office space and classrooms). The young shepherd—who had preached a total of about 15 sermons in his entire life—looked out at a sea of gray hair and spoke with candor:

I come to you as your pastor today with weaknesses (which you will learn soon enough) and in much fear and trembling.

Not that I distrust the power and promise of God but that I distrust myself.

Not so much that I will fail—as the world counts failure—but that I might succeed in my own strength and wisdom and so fail as God counts failure.

But Piper has succeeded, in the biblical sense, as God has been glorified in his desperate and dependent servant.

Piper did not begin this pastoral ministry unaware of the challenges and the pain and the heartache and the struggles that lay ahead. His father, a lifelong evangelist, had written him a candid letter the year before, reeling off a litany of inevitable pressures and discouragements that come with being a pastor. He noted: “At times you will feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. Many pastors have broken under the strain.” But then he reminded his son that “there will be a thousand compensations.”

You’ll see that people trust Christ as Savior and Lord.

You’ll see these grow in the knowledge of Christ and his Word.

You’ll witness saints enabled by your preaching to face all manner of tests.

You’ll see God at work in human lives, and there is no joy comparable to this.

Just ask yourself, son, if you are prepared not only to preach and teach, but also to weep over men’s souls, to care for the sick and dying, and to bear the burdens carried today by the saints of God.

His father’s words proved to be prophetic. God has been greatly glorified as a people have sat week in and week out, year after year, not only under John Piper’s preaching but also his pastoral care.

When all is said and done, John Piper will be remembered for many things. But apart from his own relationship to God and his relationship to family, his most important vocation will remain serving as a faithful, worshipful, prayerful shepherd to a local body of believers.

We are witnessing the end of a remarkable pastoral ministry—but not the end of his Christian service and ministry. My prayer, and eager expectation, is that the Lord will continue to use John Piper and to keep him faithful in this next season of life as he finishes strong for the glory of God in Christ Jesus.

Thank you, God, for this gift.

Update: You can listen to, watch, or read the sermon here.

 
 

Mar

19

2013

Justin Taylor|10:13 am CT

How the Church’s Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel

Mike Cosper’s new book, Rhythms of Grace: How the Church’s Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel, is now available. You can read online for free Bob Kauflin’s foreword, the table of contents, and the first two chapters.

“I know of no one more insightful on questions of worship than Mike Cosper, and I know of no one more gifted to articulate a Christ-focused, Kingdom-directed, Spirit-driven sense of what it means to worship in the presence of the triune God. Read this book and see if it does not drive you to re-pattern your worship to fit the full rejoicing, lamenting, raging force of the biblical adoration of the triune God.”
Russell D. Moore, Dean, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Tempted and Tried

“I can’t overstate my excitement about Mike Cosper’s new book, Rhythms of Grace. This practical volume represents the many years my good friend has spent in serious theological reflection, doxological engagement, and faithful service in the Body of Christ—at Sojourn Church and well beyond. Mike’s passion for God’s glory and God’s worship are evidenced on every page. In particular, I’m thankful for how Mike helps us plan our services of worship in light of the history of redemption and the riches of God’s grace. Liturgy isn’t a four-letter word; it’s the storyboard, which helps us connect with God’s commitment to redeem people, places and things, through the person and work of Jesus. I will use Mike’s tremendous book in the seminary classes I teach on worship; but I will also place it in the hands of seasoned worship leaders and young congregants alike. Thanks dear brother, for your art and heart!”
Scotty Smith, Founding Pastor, Christ Community Church, Franklin, Tennessee; author, The Reign of Grace, Restoring Broken Things, and Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith

“I have read and heard preached a ton on the reality that ‘all of life is worship.’ It is, and I wouldn’t want to argue that point, but what about when the covenant people of God gather together? Are there not some ways God desires us to worship corporately that can differ from how we worship in ‘all of life’? Mike has served the church well with Rhythms of Grace. I was both convicted and compelled as I read it.”
Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network; author, The Explicit Gospel

“Mike Cosper is uniquely gifted as both a musician and a pastor to speak into the culture where art and church meet and mesh. This is an important book for folks thinking about what it is to be a musician, a worship leader, and everything in between. The historic question of how we worship on Sunday and with our lives is an important one to keep asking because the songs we sing have the power to shape who we are and who we will become as individuals and as a community.”
Sandra McCracken, singer-songwriter

“Mike’s Rhythms of Grace was like sitting across the table from someone you need to be listening to. In this season of the Church, there is some confusion on why and what a worship leader is and does. This book brings great clarity to that confusion. As someone who aims to see song leaders become worship leaders and worship leaders become worship pastors, I found this to be a key read. This will be an important piece in training new leaders, and a great reminder to more seasoned leaders, to sing the gospel and above all, highlight Jesus.”
Charlie Hall, Worship and arts director, Frontline Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

“When Mike Cosper writes, I read. And even though I’m not a pastor and don’t play the guitar, I learned a lot from him about how the gospel of grace shapes our rhythms of congregational worship. Pick up this book and benefit from his biblical wisdom and pastoral experience.”
Collin Hansen, editorial director, The Gospel Coalition; co-author, A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir

“This book challenges worship leaders not merely to announce a gospel of grace in Jesus Christ, but to begin to discover how that gospel reshapes every dimension and element of worship. It invites readers into a world where theology and practice, belief and action are intimately intertwined—where every practice reflects and then reinforces a theological vision, and every doctrine both grounds and sharpens practices. Who better to offer this challenge and invitation than a reflective practitioner who considers it a joy to discern the implications of this gospel of grace for a host of practical concerns, week by week, year by year?”
John D. Witvliet, Director, Professor, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary

“We don’t need another book telling us how to do worship to grow our church or connect with our culture. We need historical rootedness, not contemporary fads. We need to be taught so that we can teach the church to worship along with the storyline of the gospel.”

Darrin Patrick, Lead Pastor, The Journey, St. Louis, Missouri; author, For the City and Church Planter: The Man, The Message, The Mission

“The greatest composers are gifted synthesizers. They have the ability to weave what they’ve heard and learned and experienced in the past into their own musical story. If Rhythms of Grace were a symphony, the critics would hail it as a masterful work of synthesis—a fusion of biblical, historical, cultural and philosophical elements into an engaging, challenging and thoughtful treatment of worship. At the end of this work, you’ll also be able to sing the primary thematic motive—the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Joseph Crider,
 Senior Associate Dean, School of Church Ministries, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“For the glory and enjoyment of God, the health of the church, and the spread of the gospel—this is why you should read Rhythms of Grace, by Mike Cosper. Inside this book Mike proves to be a good pastor giving us a practical theology of worship that cautions against and corrects error, while shepherding us toward a more biblically faithful understanding and experience of worship in the church gathered and scattered.”
Joe Thorn, author, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself; Lead Pastor, Redeemer Fellowship, St. Charles, Illinois

“An important contribution to the discussion among many younger evangelicals about worship and liturgy. Mike writes with grace, and a wisdom beyond his years. Frankly, I am amazed by the amount of ground he manages to cover! Mike introduces many to ideas and thinkers that all in the evangelical world should know. Mike has set a lofty goal, painting a picture of liturgy as a beautiful way, and I believe he succeeds. For anyone nervous about exploring the world of liturgy, Mike is a gentle and wise companion.”
Kevin Twit, Campus Minister, RUF; Founder, Indelible Grace Music

“Mike Cosper has written a book that is both easily accessible and also deeply challenging for anyone who wants to see worship flourish in their congregation. Rhythms of Grace is a must-read—especially for church musicians and pastors who desire to deepen in their understanding of how worship shapes and forms individuals and communities.”
Isaac Wardell, Founder, Bifrost Arts

“For many churches, having a well thought out approach to how to lead music is woefully lacking. This needs to change, and this book will surely help. Rhythms of Grace will be a book that I will rely on in the future to develop music leaders for our church and the churches we plant. Clear, beautifully written, theologically grounded yet very practically helpful, and completely gospel-centered—this is a book for pastors and music leaders alike. In fact, I would get two copies so that pastors and musicians can read it together!”
Zach Nielson, Pastor, The Vine Church

“Years ago, A. W. Tozer remarked that worship was the missing jewel of the evangelical church. Since that time, evangelicals have been engaged in an urgent and sometimes feverish struggle to determine the nature of true biblical worship. In Rhythms of Grace, Mike Cosper takes us back to first principles and roots his understanding of worship deeply within the context of the Christian gospel. This is a book that will offer much to Christians and church leaders seeking to understand worship. It is both biblical and deeply practical, and it is written by an author who has deep experience in the worship life of a thriving and faithful congregation.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

 
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Mar

12

2013

Justin Taylor|12:00 pm CT

I Would Like about Three Dollars Worth of the Gospel, Please

D. A. Carson, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Baker, 1996):

I would like to buy about three dollars worth of gospel, please.

Not too much—just enough to make me happy, but not so much that I get addicted.

I don’t want so much gospel that I learn to really hate covetousness and lust.

I certainly don’t want so much that I start to love my enemies, cherish self-denial, and contemplate missionary service in some alien culture.

I want ecstasy, not repentance; I want transcendence, not transformation.

I would like to be cherished by some nice, forgiving, broad-minded people, but I myself don’t want to love those from different races—especially if they smell.

I would like enough gospel to make my family secure and my children well behaved, but not so much that I find my ambitions redirected or my giving too greatly enlarged.

I would like about three dollars worth of the gospel, please. (pp. 12-13)

 
 

Mar

11

2013

Justin Taylor|9:39 am CT

5 Theses on Anti-Intellectualism

1. Anti-Intellectualism is less about aptitude than  attitude.

“Anti-intellectualism is a disposition to discount the importance of truth and the life of the mind.”
—Os Guinness

2. Anti-Intellectualism is a problem in the Western world.

“We live in what may be the most anti-intellectual period in the history of Western civilization.”
—R. C. Sproul

“. . . Americans are the best entertained and quite likely the least well-informed people in the Western world.”
—Neil Postman

3. Anti-Intellectualism is a problem within evangelicalism.

“I must be frank with you: the greatest danger confronting American evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind in its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough.”
—Charles Malik

“The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.”
—Mark Noll

“. . . the Christian Mind has succumbed to the secular drift with a degree of weakness unmatched in Christian History.”
—Harry Blamires

“The contemporary Christian mind is starved, and as a result we have small, impoverished souls.”
—J. P. Moreland

“Our churches are filled with Christians who are idling in intellectual neutral. As Christians, their minds are going to waste. One result of this is an immature, superficial faith. People who simply ride the roller coaster of emotional experience are cheating themselves out of a deeper and richer Christian faith by neglecting the intellectual side of that faith.”
—William Lane Craig

4. Anti-Intellectualism is not virtuous.

“God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers.”
—C. S. Lewis

“Intellectual slothfulness is but a quack remedy for unbelief. . . .”
—J. Gresham Machen

“At root, evangelical anti-intellectualism is both a scandal and a sin. It is a scandal in the sense of being an offense and a stumbling block that needlessly hinders serious people from considering the Christian faith and coming to Christ. It is a sin because it is a refusal, contrary to Jesus’ two great commandments, to love the Lord our God with our minds. Anti-intellectualism is quite simply a sin. Evangelicals must address it as such, beyond all excuses, evasions, or rationalizations of false piety.”
—Os Guinness

5. Anti-Intellectualism should be resisted with Godward passion and intellectual consecration to the Lord.

“We must have passion—indeed hearts on fire for the things of God. But that passion must resist with intensity the anti-intellectual spirit of the world.”
—R. C. Sproul

“The Christian religion flourishes not in the darkness but in the light. . . .  [T]he true remedy [of unbelief] is consecration of intellectual power to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
—J. Gresham Machen

“What is today a matter of academic speculation begins tomorrow to move armies and pull down empires. In that second stage, it has gone too far to be combated; the time to stop it was when it was still a matter of impassioned debate. So as Christians we should try to mold the thought of the world in such a way as to make the acceptance of Christianity something more than a logical absurdity. . . . What more pressing duty than for those who have received the mighty experience of regeneration, who, therefore, do not, like the world, neglect that whole series of vitally relevant facts which is embraced in Christian experience — what more pressing duty than for these men to make themselves masters of the thought of the world in order to make it an instrument of truth instead of error?”
—J. Gresham Machen

Some books to consider reading:

 
 

Feb

25

2013

Justin Taylor|4:51 pm CT

C. Everett Koop (1916-2013)

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop went to be with the Lord earlier today, February 25, 2013.

Born in Brooklyn, he earned the A.B. degree from Dartmouth (1937) and his medical degree from Cornell (1941). Just a year after receiving the Doctor of Science (Medicine) from the University of Pennsylvania (1947), he became Surgeon-in-Chief of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

It was there that he met Francis and Edith Schaeffer (1948). In his new book Schaeffer on the Christian Life: Countercultural Spirituality, William Edgar tells the story:

[The Schaeffers' daughter] Priscilla contracted a strange illness, causing her to vomit violently. At the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital the doctors were baffled. A thirty-two-year-old physician named C. Everett Koop walked into the room, examined Priscilla, and diagnosed her with “mesenteric adenitis,” a disease he had just been studying. He had learned that most often the condition could be cured by the removal of the appendix, for reasons not clear to medical science. Edith mentioned to Dr. Koop that they were moving to Switzerland to become missionaries. Koop had just become a believer through the ministry of Tenth Presbyterian Church on Seventeenth and Spruce Streets. He performed the operation himself. Just before he wheeled Priscilla into the operating room, a telegram came in from Fran, who was traveling in Nashville, saying, “Dear Priscilla, Remember underneath are the everlasting arms. Love, Daddy.” Dr. Koop was deeply moved by the marvel of this kind of faith. Later, Fran [i.e., Francis Schaeffer] and he would meet and forge a friendship that led, among other things, to casting the film Whatever Happened to the Human Race?

Years later Dr. Koop explained during a Wheaton interview the way in which he would bring his Christian worldview to bear upon his own view of surgery and care for the family. He would always tell the families:

Let me assure you that if I thought that I was walking into that operating room in my own steam, my own power, my own knowledge and was going to operate upon your child—and its survival depended upon me—I wouldn’t open the door. I believe that I am a servant of the Lord and that I am going to that operating room with gifts that he has given me. But your child is in his hands, and he will guide me, and I will let you know everything I can about the future of your child.

Koop himself lost a child, David, who was a junior at Dartmouth when he died during a mountain climbing accident.

Dr. Koop became Professor of Pediatric Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine in 1959 and Professor of Pediatrics in 1971.

In March of 1981 President Ronald Reagan appointed him Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), and later that year as Surgeon General.

His tenure as Surgeon General is widely remembered for his work related to abortion, tobacco, HIV/AIDS, and the rights of babies born with birth defects and handicaps. He served as Surgeon General until 1989.

Update: Christianity Today is posting a number of pieces from their archives. The most extensive is Phillip Yancey’s profile from 1989. See also Carl Henry’s interview with Koop from 1973, Koop’s 1987 piece on death and dying, and a report on a 1990 talk he gave on abortion, contraception, healthcare, AIDS, and homosexuality.