Monthly Archives: February 2010

 

Feb

28

2010

Trevin Wax|3:07 am CT

Litany of Penance

114304308304_tn.jpgMost holy and merciful Father:
I confess that I have sinned by my own fault
in thought, word, and deed;
by what I have done, and by what I have left undone.

I have not loved you with my whole heart, and mind, and strength. I have not loved my neighbors as myself. I have not forgiven others, as I have been forgiven.
Have mercy on me, Lord.

I have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us. I have not been true to the mind of Christ. I have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on me, Lord.

I confess to you, Lord, all my past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of my life.
I confess to you, Lord.

My self-indulgent appetites and ways, and my exploitation of other people,
I confess to you, Lord.

My anger at my own frustration, and my envy of those more fortunate than I,
I confess to you, Lord.

My intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and my dishonesty in daily life and work,
I confess to you, Lord.

My negligence in prayer and worship, and my failure to commend the faith that is in me,
I confess to you, Lord.

Accept my repentance, Lord, for the wrongs I have done: for my blindness to human need and suffering, and my indifference to indulgence and curelty,
Accept my repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward my neighbors, and for my prejudice and contempt towards those who differ from me,
Accept my repentance, Lord.

For my waste and pollution of your creation, and my lack of concern for those who come after us,
Accept my repentance Lord.
Restore me, good Lord, and let your anger depart from me,
Favorably hear me for your mercy is great.
Accomplish in me and all of your church the work of your salvation,
That I may show forth all your glory in the world.

By the cross of your Son, our Lord,
Bring me with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

- from The Book of Common Prayer

 
 

Feb

27

2010

Trevin Wax|3:51 am CT

Crown Him King and Lord of Time and Eternity

We have no ultimate answer to the question of Pontius Pilate, “What shall I do then with Jesus who is called Christ?” until we receive him for all that he said he was and for all that he promised to do.

Open the door of your Bible, and you will find that he fits perfectly the three hundred Old Testament promises concerning the coming of that Messiah.

Open the door of your home, and you will find that he will sanctify every day, he will enrich every life, he will bless every meal, he will guide and sustain every holy and worthy decision.

Open the door of your heart, bow down before him, call upon his name, and you will know what it is to have God himself come into your soul. “I bow one knee before thee, O king, my liege lord,” said an old hero; “I bow two knees before God, my Savior alone.”

Look up into his face; open the door of your heart; give him the love and trust and faith of your life; crown him King and Lord of time and eternity. He will be your all-sufficient, all-adequate Savior.

“What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” I shall receive him as Lord and Savior, as the King and Hope of my life in this world and in the world that is to come.

- W.A. Criswell, quoted in Theologians of the Baptist Tradition

 
 

Feb

26

2010

Trevin Wax|3:36 am CT

Trevin's Seven

My seven picks for your weekend reading:

1. The “Progress Report” from the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force of the Southern Baptist Convention

2. For the first time in U.S. history, the Church in the South is shrinking…

3. Chris Castaldo gives an interpretation of John 6 that explains through parallelism why the Catholic view of the Eucharist derived from this passage is flawed.

4. Christianity Today features a story on novelist Marilynne Robinson.

5. Kevin DeYoung begins a series on social justice, showing how the biblical picture says much about God’s heart for justice, though not much about contemporary ideas of social justice.

6. Tim Keller on how the church should address the big issues we are facing.

7. Ed Stetzer recounts his recent visit to Saddleback Church.

And one more… Here’s a way to win a copy of Holy Subversion

 
 

Feb

25

2010

Trevin Wax|3:17 am CT

Dallas Willard's Case for Trusting Spiritual Knowledge

Dallas Willard has carved out a place of authority in evangelicalism as a leader in spiritual formation. The title of his new book, Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge (HarperOne, 2009) sounds as if he is making a case for subjective experience as the most reliable way of understanding God and the Scriptures. Actually, this book begins with a robust defense of the objectivity of Christianity’s truth claims.

Knowing Christ Today starts out strong:

“This book is about knowledge and about claims to knowledge in relationship to life and Christian faith. It is concerned, more precisely, with the trivialization of faith apart from knowledge and with the disastrous effect of a repositioning of faith in Jesus Christ, and of life as his students, outside the category of knowledge.” (1)

Willard claims that “a life of steadfast discipleship to Jesus Christ can be supported only upon assured knowledge of how things are, of the realities in terms of which that life is lived.” (7) Far from seeing knowledge in opposition to faith, Willard believes that “knowledge is a friend to faith, essential to faith and to our relationship with God in the spiritual life.” (10)

For Willard, belief is not powerful enough to govern our life unless it is connected to knowledge – specifically, the truth and evidence that knowledge is built upon. Our belief is strengthened when we understand that our knowledge of Christianity is just as vital and valuable as our knowledge in other spheres in life. The Christian faith is based, not merely in preferences or emotions, but in actual knowledge.

Willard makes some great points in the first third of this book. He emphasizes the need for those who profess faith in Christ to back up their commitment with knowledge. He sees knowledge as important for our Christian witness in the world. He calls Christians to stand firm on what we know to be true, even if society relegates our truth claims to the realm of belief.

Willard describes recent shifts in Western thinking about morality. He writes:

“This is what has now changed – not just which things are good or bad, right or wrong, but the very status of good and right themselves and of the difference it makes whether you are good or right or their opposites.” (68)

Willard’s analysis goes to the root issues that have led to our degenerating society:

“To say that moral knowledge has disappeared is just to say that what those people knew, and know now, is no longer made available to the public as knowledge by the institutions of knowledge in our social and political system, though it was so made available at times in the past.” (72)

Willard is right. The decline of moral values did not take place because some people in society simply woke up one morning and decided that certain taboos of the past were now acceptable. The true shift took place when morality was removed from the public sphere and treated as subjective.

Though Willard emphasizes knowledge in this book, he understands that knowledge is not enough. The human heart is irrational, leading us to choose not to believe what we know. We know we’re probably not going to win the lottery and yet we continue to play the lottery. Human life is full of self-delusion.

Willard also makes good points regarding the separation of church and state. He writes:

“The real significance of church and state is that religion is not teaching something that would be known in the knowledge of morality… If it were seriously imagined that the teachings of Christianity or other religious constituted a vital and irreplaceable knowledge of reality, there would be no more talk of the separation of church and state than there is of the separation of chemistry or economics and state.” (32)

Though Knowing Christ Today starts out well, the middle section focuses on rational reasons for the existence of God. These chapters are substantive, but there is nothing particularly new in Willard’s approach. It would have been better for him to footnote other apologetic resources and continue on with his initial thesis. Instead, the middle of the book feels like an academic excursus that goes on too long.

Later, the book takes a turn for the worse. Whenever Willard writes about Jesus, it is in the context of following Jesus as just a moral example. While Christ’s teaching is indeed a window into the love of God, I believe we learn much more about God’s love by examining his sacrificial death. But Willard never takes us to the cross – the very heart of our faith. His picture of Jesus in this book is so tilted to Jesus-as-example, that we miss out on the richer, more glorious picture in Scripture.

At the end of the book, Willard opens the door to inclusivism. He writes:

“Many people who are Christians by certain identifiable human standards – say, by baptism church membership, having ‘prayed to receive Christ,’ or regular partaking of the sacraments – still lack the inward ‘circumcision’ of which Paul here speaks. On the other hand, any who lack those recognizable marks, but have the inward heart God looks for is acceptable to God – no matter in what other ways they may or may not be identifiable.” (180)

It is interesting to watch as Willard himself pulls back from embracing the implications of his statements. He knows that inclusivism could affect our missionary passion. So he writes:

“…the Christian pluralism of which we here speak is not the Christian gospel. In fact, Christian pluralism is not really very ‘good news’ at all. It is more like a ‘loophole’ than a gospel. There is little or nothing in it that gives hope to the individual.” (188)

I appreciate Willard’s admission that inclusivism leads to bad missiological implications. But he has already flung wide the door for those implications by leaving the “loophole” in the first place.

Overall, Knowing Christ Today is a very uneven book. It starts out well and then takes a turn that, in the end, left me as baffled. Willard’s proposal is designed to help Christians consider the source and authority of morality, religion, and spiritual knowledge in our society today, but many of his affirmations lead to confusion rather than clarity.

 
 

Feb

25

2010

Trevin Wax|2:32 am CT

Worth a Look 2.25.10

Will Turner reminds us that Jesus sings:

I don’t know why I have never thought about this before: Jesus sang.  For some unknown reason, I have always missed this.  Sometimes I wonder if my view of Jesus is so warped that I fail to realize and process simple things.  I am thankful that Scripture stands as a helpful corrective.

Leadership and the importance of knowing how to delegate:

“President Woodrow Wilson did not have a well-organized secretarial staff. He did far too much of the work himself, studying until late at night papers and documents that he should have largely delegated to some discreet aides. He was, by all odds, the hardest worked man at the Conference; but the failure to delegate more of his work was not due to any inherent distrust he had of men—and certainly not any desire to “run the whole show” himself—but simply to his lack of facility in knowing how to delegate work on a large scale. In execution, we all have a blind spot in some part of our eye. President Wilson’s was in his inability to use men.”

Is homeschooling harmful?

This conclusion rests on the faulty assumption—widely shared amongst liberal theorists of education—that the state is in some way a privileged player in the question of children’s education. According to this view, the state should educate children, and others who claim a right to do so should be subject to special scrutiny or meet a special burden of proof.

Nathan Finn on recognizing that the problems of the SBC are spiritual and structural:

It is simply not true that our problems are either spiritual or structural. Make no mistake about it—both are issues. And it is foolish to think that we should only address one of these problems to the neglect of the other.

 
 

Feb

24

2010

Trevin Wax|3:23 am CT

No Frills Airline

Here is some humor to brighten your mid-week. With all the recent talk about airlines cutting back on expenses, this bit of classic TV becomes relevant again.

 
 

Feb

24

2010

Trevin Wax|2:51 am CT

Worth a Look 2.24.10

21 questions to ask of your church:

1.  If our church would cease to exist in our city, would it be noticed and missed?

2.  If all the pastors were tragically killed in a car accident, would the church’s ministry cease or fall apart?

3.  If the only possible means of connecting with unbelievers were through the missionary living of our church members, how much would we grow? (I ask this because the early church did not have signs, websites, ads, marketing, etc.)

A Q&A with Philip Ryken, the next president of Wheaton College:

You chose to leave a very prominent pulpit. What is the role of Christian colleges, Wheaton in particular, in shaping evangelicalism?

I see Wheaton College as a definitional institution that in so many ways helps to clarify evangelical commitment for the wider church. Because Wheaton prepares so many young people for kingdom service worldwide, it tends to have a church-shaping influence generation by generation.

God watches you google:

In 2006, AOL made an epic misjudgment. As part of a research project headed by Dr. Abdur Chowdhury, AOL made available to the public a massive amount of search data, releasing the search history of 650,000 users over a 3-month period. That totaled some twenty one million searches…

Mike Wittmer on grace and truth:

Here is my initial thought on how to balance the two (and I welcome your respectful dialogue):  grace supplies the why and truth provides the how of what we believe. The grace of Christ is the reason why we defend the truth and the truth of Christ is how his grace saves us.  Without grace there is no point to truth and without truth there is no power in grace.

 
 

Feb

23

2010

Trevin Wax|3:32 am CT

Approaching Scholarship with Gospel-Formed Assumptions

Not too long ago, I was reading through a summary of the Gospel of John, looking at the evidence for and against John the Apostle as the author. Scholars have long wondered who the “beloved disciple” might be, and whether or not this disciple is indeed the author of the Gospel. External and internal evidence points to John, but there are other possible candidates.

During my reading, I was struck by one of the arguments made against John as the author: he was nicknamed a “son of thunder” and once, during Jesus’ ministry, wanted to call down fire from heaven on a town that had not received Jesus’ message. So, the logic goes, a hot-tempered young man who gets nicknamed “thunder” cannot possibly be the Apostle of love, author of the Gospel and of 1 John.

Do you notice the underlying presupposition of this argument? People can’t change. If you’re a fiery, judgmental young man, you can’t grow up to be Christlike and filled with love. In this line of argumentation, the possibility of gospel-transformation is excised from the picture.

Now, it may be that hot-tempered young men rarely turn out to be filled with the love and patience of Christ… at least apart from the gospel. Yes, apart from the gospel, that argument against John’s authorship makes a lot of sense.

But it’s the “apart from the gospel” assumption in many circles of scholarship that bugs me. The tendency is to put forth scholarly arguments centered in a naturalist understanding of human behavior, instead of letting our scholarly assumptions be gospel-formed.

Regardless of who you think wrote the Gospel of John, don’t say that John couldn’t have been the author because a son of thunder can’t become the Apostle of Love. That line of argumentation denies the power of the gospel to change a life.

Some might say that the Apostle Peter could never have preached on the day of Pentecost. Why not? Because just weeks earlier, he was denying Jesus and fleeing from persecution. But again, this kind of interpretation makes sense only if we do not believe in the gospel’s power.

It is vitally important that we approach matters of scholarship in a way that affirms our belief in gospel transformation. We are a gospel-formed people. Our assumptions and our approach to scholarship should be gospel-formed as well.

 
 

Feb

23

2010

Trevin Wax|2:32 am CT

Worth a Look 2.23.10

One of the perks of living not too far from Nashville: getting to attend the Progress Report from the Great Commission Task Force for the Southern Baptist Convention, which Chairman Ronnie Floyd delivered last night. The talk is now available for viewing online or for download. Anyone interested in the future of the SBC needs to be familiar with this vision.

The most influential cook in America – The McDonald’s Chef:

It turns out there’s a chef at the beginning of that pipeline — a cook who trained at the Culinary Institute of America and who once ran the gracious kitchens at the Four Seasons Resort and Club outside Dallas. The Southwest Salad, the Angus burgers, the Snack Wrap — they all emerged from the food laboratory of Daniel Coudreaut, 44, whose business card reads “Director of Culinary Innovation, Menu Management” but who likes to go by Chef Dan.

Why the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes endures:

Calvin and Hobbes may have whisked its readers away to faraway planets, the Mesozoic era and a cubist world, but Watterson was always most concerned with having his richly detailed characters parse real issues. That element of genuineness continues to draw in, engage and hearten readers. We still love Calvin and Hobbes because it manages to make imagination real – and that is a rare thing indeed.

Collin Hansen reviews the latest book from sociologist Christian Smith and points out five myths about adults in their 20′s:

What if we’re wrong? What if our particular fears about “emerging adulthood,” the period between the ages of 18 and 29, are unfounded? And what if the situation is actually worse than we imagine? The National Study of Youth and Religion provides us with a treasure trove of valuable information based on interviews with thousands of emerging American adults.

Does The Blind Side promote an easy Christianity? This blogger thinks so:

Ultimately, “The Blind Side” presents a misleading portrait of Christianity as a religion free of trials and tribulations. According to the picture, being a Christian means having a lot of money, wearing a cross around your neck and plucking an impoverished kid from the projects on your way home from lunch with your society friends. But is living a faithful life this sunny, this simplistic?

 
 

Feb

22

2010

Trevin Wax|3:11 am CT

Insight Podcast with Doug Baker

I have been doing a number of radio interviews in recent weeks for Holy Subversion, but have chosen not to link to them. Many of the shows are similar to each other, and I don’t want to bore you with promotion and publicity for the book.

So far, my favorite interview has been with Doug Baker, editor of the Baptist Messenger and the host of the popular Southern Baptist podcast, Insight. Doug gets to the heart of issues and isn’t afraid to hit the points of the book that might be controversial. Within a span of 35 minutes, we discuss these issues:

  • How can “subversion” be holy?
  • What is idolatry?
  • Potential problems with “Four Spiritual Laws” type evangelism
  • Is Testimony-based evangelism effective or lacking Biblical substance?
  • Are Christians to change the world?
  • Tim Challies versus Tullian Tchividjian on Transformational Christianity?
  • The Romans Road? How about the Ephesians Road!
  • The Doctrine of Election
  • Can Christians ever resist the government?
  • Evangelical Conference culture and Celebrity Pastors
  • Is it possible to be a shepherd if your church is large?
  • Evangelicalism – The Next Five Years

I hope you enjoy the interview and that you’ll follow up with comments below.