Monthly Archives: August 2010

Not Like the Beasts

Guest Post by Robert Sagers

In a recent issue of First Things, Mary Eberstadt surveys America’s growing “sexual obesity.” The article, “The Weight of Smut,” is devoted in part to knocking down three common myths surrounding pornography use. It’s well worth reading in full.

One insight in particular, however, caught my attention. It seems that when one exposes pornography for what it is, it’s “practically guaranteed to elicit malice and venom unique in their potency from its defenders.” Eberstadt continues:

What does it tell us that, when faced with any attempt to make the case that this substance should be harder to get than it is, some reliable subset of defenders can be counted on to respond more like animals than like people? If such is not the very definition of addiction, what is?

It was the insight regarding the animal-response that has stuck with me since I first read this article. It’s not just, it seems to me, those enslaved to pornography who may lash out when their sin is exposed. No.

Instead, it seems to me that any of us is tempted to respond like that whenever the light encroaches on our dark places. And Satan is surely pleased that it can devolve us into beasts.

It may be an aspect of the mystery of lawlessness that causes us, at times, to respond not with gratitude but with (un)righteous indignation when our pet addictions, our personal idolatries, are exposed.

If we respond with disdain when our spending habits come under scrutiny, perhaps we’ve fallen …

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Worth a Look 8.31.10

Guest Post by Robert Sagers

—John Mark Reynolds posts some reflections after having read Harriet Jacobs’s, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. “The only possible moral justification for race based slavery collapsed the moment a slave was baptized,” he writes.

—Mollie Ziegler of GetReligion.org reflects on some media coverage following the “Restoring Honor” event from this past weekend, calling it “the biggest civil religion event I’d seen since the 2008 Obama campaign.”

Carl Trueman posted yesterday on pastors who know their congregants’ names—a post to which Justin Taylor responded, which elicited then a response from Trueman.

—Are you looking for that perfect compliment for your host at the backyard cookout? Kevin DeYoung points to one that can’t miss.

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HT: Justin Taylor

Guest Post by Robert Sagers

If you’ve spent any amount of time scouring the Christian blogosphere, you’ve likely encountered the near ubiquitous line at the bottom of many a post: “HT: JT.”

That’s because Justin Taylor is so good—perhaps the best—at pointing us all to so many resources on the Internet, in print, and elsewhere.

Justin was kind to answer some questions about how and why he got into blogging, his work at Crossway (and his past work for John Piper), his current projects, and speaking “with a gospel-accent.”

Robert Sagers: Justin, please tell the readers of Kingdom People a little about yourself—where you’re from, your family, and how you came to Christ?

Justin Taylor: I’m from Sioux City, Iowa. I grew up in a great family and first prayed the sinner’s prayer when I was 4. And then again when I was 4 1/2. And about a thousand times thereafter!

My wife Lea and I met in elementary school (though she was a year ahead of me) and we went to the same United Methodist Church. I fell in love with her in sixth grade. She reciprocated at the end of college!

I don’t know when exactly I became a true believer. As I mentioned, I was a church-going, sinners-prayer-praying kid, but became somewhat cold to the Lord, though was externally a goodie-two-shoes. At an FCA camp in Colorado, between my freshman and sophomore years, I began to understand the work of Christ and the sufficiency of his righteousness for the first time. …

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Worth a Look 8.30.10

Guest Post by Robert Sagers

—Theologian Donald Bloesch has gone to be with the Lord. Chad Brand, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on Bloesch’s theological method—and who often assigns a Bloesch volume in his classes—remembers him here, and Fred Sanders reflects on the man and his work here.

—Yesterday, August 29, was the five year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina‘s hitting the Gulf Coast. View some photographs of the destruction here (HT: Z). Here’s Russell Moore on “Of Christ and Katrina, Five Years Later.”

—Speaking of Russell Moore, Trevin wanted to make sure that I posted his take on the weekend’s festivities in Washington, D.C.: “God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck.”

Tony Jones responded last week to Brett McCracken’s widely circulated Wall Street Journal article on “wannabe cool” Christianity. (And remember, as you read: hipsters need Jesus, too!)

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Les Misérables: Quotes to Ponder (2)

Julie Rose’s new translation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables has been part of my summer reading. On Saturdays, I am sharing some quotes worth pondering (see first collection here):

“Pain everywhere is an occasion for goodness always.” (49)

“And yet, the details, which are wrongly described as little – there are no little facts in the human realm, any more than there are little leaves in the realm of vegetation – are useful. The face of the century is made up of the lines of the years.” (102)

“Puns are the droppings of the mind in flight.” (114)

“Indigestion was invented by God to force morality on stomachs.” (115)

“Whether a person sits or stands – fate hangs by threads like these.” (127)

“What a gravedigger does becomes cheery when done by a child.” (128)

“Certain natures can only love someone when they hate someone else.” (132)

“No one pries as effectively into other people’s business as those whose business it most definitely is not.” (150)

On the virtuous: “Their lives have a sequel.” (153)

“They say slavery has vanished from European civilization. That is wrong. It still exists, but now preys only on women, and it goes by the name of prostitution.” (158)

“Curiosity is a form of greed. To see is to devour.” (160)

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Trevin's Seven

Seven links for your weekend reading:

1. J.D. Greear on “small applauders”. Or “why we should seek to be large applauders and small critics”

2. Another way the internet is changing everything: “Scholars Test Web Alternative to Peer Review”

3. My friend and fellow blogger, Zach Nielsen, has recorded a jazz EP called Songs in a Minor Key. Five songs for $4.95. Check it out.

4. Tiny Seattle apartment (I am fascinated by unique uses of tight spaces.)

5. Jim Wallis apologizes to Marvin Olasky after the Sojourners funding controversy.

6. The Christian Index interviews Barry McCarty, well-known SBC parliamentarian. McCarty offers some fascinating reflections on the SBC presidents with whom he has served.

7. The International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board are asking for prayer on August 28 as both organizations search for presidents.

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Book Notes: Jesus the Fool / Collected Writings on Scripture

Brief notes on two books I have read recently:

Collected Writings on Scripture
D.A. Carson
Crossway (2010)
My Rating: **** 1/2

This collection includes D.A. Carson’s essays and book reviews which touch on a variety of Scripture-related subjects, from the use of redaction criticism to the pitfalls of postmodern hermeneutics. The book is intended for an academic audience, yet Carson’s intricate argumentation is punctuated by his brilliant wit:

    Reviewing a book by J.D.G. Dunn: “There is an important place for superficial books, but it is sad to see a superficial book claiming to present a profound argument.” (126)
    On the “spiritual benefits” of studying Bultmann: “I think it likely that few are spiritually uplifted in any distinctively Christian sense by being assured by Bultmann that angels, miracles, resurrection, and self-incarnating God are all impossible…” (217)
    On a recent book that downplays propositional truth: “This book abounds in assertions about how unimportant assertions are.” (313)

The best part of Carson’s work is his insistence that students of Scripture seek not to master the text, but be mastered by the Bible.

Jesus the Fool:
The Mission of the Unconventional Christ

Michael Frost
Zondervan (2010)
My Rating: ***

Michael Frost believes that followers of Jesus should seek to be the kind of fool Jesus was – intentionally conspicuous, selfless, and defying the world’s standards of success, prestige and influence. We need a good does of biblical “foolishness” that enhances our ministry.

Frost’s book builds on the work of New Testament scholar Kenneth Bailey and focuses primarily on Jesus’ teachings and parables. Though I don’t agree …

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Worth a Look 8.26.10

I may have written a strong critique for Michael Spencer’s book, Mere Churchianity, but I absolutely loved certain parts – like this one, which I selected for inclusion in Christianity Today.

Amid Furor on Islamic Center, Pleas for Orthodox Church Nearby:

It was the news media, and then a number of political candidates, who first brought attention to the purported disparity in the official treatment of the developers of the Islamic center and of the Orthodox church, the bishop said.

Hurdles to Financial Peace (Dave Ramsey):

Debt is so ingrained into our culture that most Americans can’t even imagine a car without a payment, a house without a mortgage, or a student without a loan. Debt is sold with such repetition that most people cannot comprehend a life without payments.

We’ve bought into the myth that we can get rich quick. But it will never happen. Living a financially healthy lifestyle is a slow-cooker concept that isn’t always popular in our microwave society.

A good article from Christianity Today exploring the issues and controversy surrounding Dinesh D’Souza’s recent appointment as president of King’s College:

The King’s College surprised many higher education observers by choosing Dinesh D’Souza, widely identified as a Roman Catholic, as president of the New York City school. As a best-selling author and Christian apologist, D’Souza brings prominence and a network of influential leaders to the position. But King’s decision to put a Catholic at the helm could create tension within a …

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Holiness, Love and the Church: A Conversation with Jonathan Leeman

A couple weeks ago, some of our church members were listing ways that we can be a more loving church. Many ideas were suggested:

    Welcoming guests
    Caring for each other in times of trial
    Celebrating with one another over successes, etc.

Eventually, the discussion arrived at the need for challenging one another to holiness. One comment in particular stood out. In some churches, when a couple gets divorced, others will gossip and say, “I’ve seen that coming for years.” The question came up: How is it loving to see a family self-destructing, but to not intervene, challenge, rebuke and restore?

That conversation brings me to a recent book by Jonathan Leeman: The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love: Reintroducing the Doctrines of Church Membership and Discipline (Crossway, 2010). This book was given away at the 2010 Together for the Gospel. I had the chance to work my way through it this summer and found it to be a very helpful resource for thinking through the nature of Christian love and church leadership. Today, Jonathan joins me for a conversation about his book.

Trevin Wax: What I like about your work, Jonathan, is that you are challenging us to adopt a more biblical view of love. Why is it that this view seems so “offensive?”

Jonathan Leeman: Great question, Trevin. The offensiveness of God’s love and Christian love is that it calls us to holiness. It grabs us wherever we are, but then it refuses to leave us wherever we are. It calls …

Posted in Interviews | 3 Comments

Worth a Look 8.25.10

The Kentucky Baptist Convention is leading the way in implementing the changes recommended by the Southern Baptist Great Commission Task Force. The Kentucky GC Task Force is recommending an even 50/50 split of Cooperative Program receipts. I pray that Kentucky Baptists will take on this leadership role in a way that encourages other states to move in this direction.

4 keys to the art of teaching Scripture (See Michael Kelley’s post for explanations of each of these):

    Look for the story.
    Find the thread.
    Elevate the audience.
    Point to Jesus.

Seth Godin is no longer going to publish books the traditional way. What remains to be seen is if this new direction is successful or if he will become the book industry’s equivalent of music’s Prince (or the Artist formerly known as). I expect that Godin will be successful.

The thing is–now I know who my readers are. Adding layers or faux scarcity doesn’t help me or you. As the medium changes, publishers are on the defensive….

Ben Witherington with some great pictures of roads:

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