Monthly Archives: January 2011

 

Jan

25

2011

Trevin Wax|2:43 am CT

Worth a Look 1.25.11

Anthony Bradley thinks the Missional Reformed movement is over. (I think not.)

So I’m beginning to wonder if it’s “a wrap” on this whole “missional” movement splash, especially in terms of church planting? I can definitely see the wind being taken out of the sails for some. I’ve been particularly curious about crickets I hear when bringing up a few issues among missional Christians.

Two noteworthy interviews with Michael Horton about his recently-released systematic theology. Check out the 9Marks interview as well as TGC’s.

Social television gaining in popularity:

“It’s the cyber-watercooler,” said Marie-José Montpetit, a research scientist at the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics. “This is where television is going.”

Michael Gerson on two good arguments for civility- and passion – in politics:

With Americans shocked into reflection on the desperate, divisive tone of their politics, it is worth asking: Why, other than upbringing, should we be civil in the first place?

 
 

Jan

24

2011

Trevin Wax|3:44 am CT

5 Trends to Watch for in Evangelicalism: 2011-2020

The temptation in predicting trends is that we imagine God in Deistic fashion, as if he were uninvolved or absent in human affairs. But history is not an inevitable progression. God may choose to start a revival in the United States within the next ten years. He may allow the U.S. to wither from a nuclear attack. Who knows what the Lord has planned? We should never speculate about the future in a way that makes God seem distant and removed.

There is, however, something to be said for understanding the times in which we live. If we can discern contemporary trends in evangelicalism, we should consider their implications and trajectory for the coming years. Here are five trends to watch for:

1. Chastened Expectations of Culture Change through Politics

Evangelicals will be less inclined to focus our efforts on changing culture through the political process. Books like Culture Making by Andy Crouch, To Change the World by James Davidson Hunter, and Christ and Culture Revisited by D.A. Carson are already influential among thoughtful evangelical leaders. Younger evangelicals (on both the political right and left) are increasingly put off by the politicization of evangelicalism.

Evangelicals will continue to be socially aware and active – perhaps even more than in the past – but in different ways (art, literature, movies, etc.). And even our expectations in these areas will be chastened by a theologically-driven humility regarding how much change we can effect.

2. Growth of Evangelical-Style Prosperity Teaching in South America and Africa

The new face of world Christianity is no longer the European man, but the African woman. The missionary movement has resulted in a dramatic demographic shift.

Unfortunately, the result has not always been a vibrant evangelical witness, or even a recognizable evangelicalism tainted by the prosperity gospel. In many places, the teaching is fundamentally “health and wealth” with just a few evangelical qualities. I expect the spread of evangelical-tinged prosperity teaching will persist.

3. For evangelicals in North America, homosexuality will become a wedge issue that reveals the major cracks in our theological disunity.

In the next ten years, we will see a number of prominent evangelical pastors come out in favor of committed same-sex relationships as compatible with a life of Christian repentance. The controversy in the mainlines will reach historically evangelical churches and denominations.

A number of historically-conservative churches will surprise us on this issue. The atheological foundation at the bottom of what used to be a cultural-conservativism will give way. The distinctions between traditional and novel views of Scripture and its role in the church will become evident, with homosexuality representing the edge of the cliff.

At the same time, a large number of pastors will maintain biblical convictions on the issue of homosexuality, and yet will preach and teach on the subject less and less – as they don’t want to offend newcomers in a way that would preclude a hearing for the gospel.

4. We will tighten the belt for ourselves and (hopefully) recommit to world missions.

The speed and quality of internet connectivity will fuel more mission work and collaboration with people in other countries. This exposure to other contexts will force us to re-think our historic emphasis on big buildings and maintenance. This trend is already evident, as church planting becomes more prominent, multi-site campuses become an option for many mega-churches, and guys like David Platt call us on the carpet for building “monuments” while people need the gospel (not to mention the basic necessities of life).

Many churches will rethink the purpose of big buildings because of cultural pressure (extravagant sanctuaries like the Crystal Cathedral are viewed negatively and thus become a hindrance rather than a help in reaching out), while other churches will do so because of their passion to give more to missions.

5. Polarization regarding Philosophy of Ministry

Evangelicals are already divided on the issue of ministry philosophy. I suspect these lines will become more defined in the next decade.

The attractional model will lead many churches to adopt incredibly entertaining children’s church programs, youth group experiences, etc. The attempt is to hold on to an evangelical culture that is increasingly bored with church. Mega-churches will continue to compete with one another for a decreasing number of “regular church-goers.”

Other churches will react to the attractional model by upholding family-centered churches and dismissing event-based evangelism. I suspect that few church leaders will read and listen to people on both sides of this discussion.

(My hope is that the missional Reformed movement, which holds a lot of promise, will work to stay rooted in biblical faithfulness, not pragmatism, so that it doesn’t digress into simply the next variation of the attractional model. Right now, I see strongly missional guys taking care to make good distinctions that help prevent a drift toward the left. I also see an openness from non-missional guys to learn from the missional warning of turning into an isolated enclave. I hope this conversation continues.)

On a related note, the “worship wars” will become a thing of the past. Our society’s musical taste are too fragmented for there to be a “contemporary” and “traditional” style. Young people are less and less likely to choose a church based on the style of music.

What do you think? Are these trends likely? Are there others I should mention?

 
 

Jan

24

2011

Trevin Wax|2:04 am CT

Worth a Look 1.24.11

Q&A with Billy Graham:

Even through he struggles with his hearing, sight, and other health issues in his ninth decade, Billy Graham continued to do what he’s done with every American President since Harry Truman. Last year, he met and prayed with President Obama and in December, he met again with former President George W. Bush. But if he could go back and do anything over again, he told Christianity Today, he would have steered clear of politics.

10 foods that can help you sleep

Eating the right foods in the hours before you hit the hay may help you fall asleep faster, say experts, and even improve the quality of your sleep.

Words in the King James Version that now mean something different:

The following are just a few of the more than 500 words that could trip up modern readers of the King James Version, because they now mean something different—often very different!—than they did in the early 1600s when the KJV was being translated.

  • accursed devoted, Josh 6:17, 18; 7:1, 11-13, 15; 22:20; 1 Chr 2:7. This one shocked me!
  • addicted devoted, 1 Cor 16:15. And this one, though more understandable, could also cause considerable confusion in the modern reader.
  • allow (1) approve, Luke 11:48; Rom 14:22; 1 Thess 2:4. (2) accept, Acts 24:15. (3) know, Rom 7:15. Just as with modern English, KJV terms can have two, three, or even more meanings. And all of them can be remote from our modern understandings.
 
 

Jan

23

2011

Trevin Wax|3:34 am CT

The Lord’s Prayer (Extended with Scriptures)

One of my favorite ways to pray the Lord’s Prayer is to fill each line with other related Scriptures. Pray with me:

Our Father in heaven

Everlasting Father of the fatherless,
Heaven is Your throne and the earth is Your footstool.

The heavens declare Your glory,
and the sky above proclaims Your handiwork.

O Father in Heaven…

Hallowed be Your Name

From the rising of the sun to its setting,
may Your Name be praised and be great among the nations!

Let Your glory be over all the earth!

Let heaven and earth praise You,
the seas and everything that moves in them.

Your Kingdom come

May all the ends of the earth remember and turn to You,
and all the families of the nations worship before You.

For kingship belongs to You;
You rule over the nations.

You are the strength of Your people -
the saving refuge of Your anointed!

Oh, save Your people and bless Your heritage!
Be our Shepherd and carry us forever!

You are our King, O God!
You are the King of all the earth!
Your throne is forever and ever.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven

Make us to know Your ways, O Lord.
Teach us Your paths.

Teach us to do Your will.
Let your good Spirit lead us on level ground.

Not our will, but Yours be done!

Give us this day our daily bread.

You, our God, will supply every need of ours
according to Your riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Give us neither poverty nor riches;
feed us with the food that is needful for us,
lest we be full and deny You and say, “Who is the Lord?”
or lest we be poor and steal and profane the name of our God.

Satisfy us with righteousness.

Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors.

We confess our iniquity; we are sorry for our sin.
Have mercy on us, O God.

Wash us thoroughly from our iniquity,
and cleanse us from our sin!

For Your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon our guilt for it is great.

Lead us not into temptation…but Deliver us from Evil

We do not ask that you take us out of the world,
but that you keep us from the evil one.

Restore us; let Your face shine, that we may be saved.

For the glory of Your name, deliver us and atone for our sins,
for Your name’s sake.

You are our steadfast love and our fortress,
our stronghold and our deliverer.

For Yours is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever and ever.

- from my prayer room

 
 

Jan

22

2011

 
 

Jan

21

2011

 
 

Jan

20

2011

Trevin Wax|3:04 am CT

Which Counterfeit Gospels are Most Prevalent Today?

The temptation when writing a book like Counterfeit Gospels is to focus on everything wrong with everyone else. I didn’t want to write that kind of book, as it didn’t strike me as particularly constructive.

Instead, I thought long and hard about the doubts and struggles of people in my congregation. I also looked within my own heart to see the kinds of counterfeits that appeal to me in one way or another.

Ultimately, I narrowed the list to six counterfeits. Then, I sought to hold them up to light of the biblical gospel in a way that exposed their flaws and made them less attractive to us.

Below is a list of counterfeits I considered. I’m interested to see which ones you think are most prominent. Take the poll below and let me know the six you would have chosen. Then, leave a comment telling me why you made the choices you did. I’m curious to see how your choices line up with the six I put in the book.

Therapeutic Gospel: Sin robs us of our sense of fullness. Christ’s death proves our worth as humans and gives us power to reach our potential. The church helps us find happiness.

Formalist Gospel: Sin is failing to keep church rules and regulations. Christ’s death gives me an agenda, so I can begin to follow the predescribed forms of Christianity.

Moralist Gospel: Our big problem is sins (plural) and not sin (nature). The purpose for Christ’s death is to give us a second chance and make us better people. Redemption comes through the exercise of willpower with God’s help.

Judgmentless Gospel: God’s forgiveness does not need to come through the sacrifice of His Son. Judgment is more about God’s goodness, not the need for human rebellion to be punished. Evangelism is not urgent.

Social-Club Gospel: Salvation is all about finding fellowship and friendship at church. The gospel is reduced to Christian relationships that help us enjoy life.

Activist Gospel: The kingdom is advanced through our efforts to build a just society. The gospel’s power is demonstrated through cultural transformation, and the church is united around political causes and social projects.

Churchless Gospel: The focus of salvation is primarily on the individual, in a way that makes the community of faith peripheral to God’s purposes. The church is viewed as an option to personal spirituality, or even an obstacle to Christlikeness.

Mystic Gospel: Salvation comes through an emotional experience with God. The church is there to help me feel close to God by helping me along in my pursuit of mystical union.

Quietist Gospel: Salvation is about spiritual things, not secular matters. Christianity is only about individual life change and is not concerned with society and politics.

 
 

Jan

20

2011

Trevin Wax|2:45 am CT

Worth a Look 1.20.11

In the past week or so, I’ve been on the road a lot. My “Worth a Looks” have been slim. Here are some links to make up for the absence.

Bonhoeffer Brouhaha

Lots of discussion on Eric Metaxas’ biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. First, Alan Wolfe writes a thoughtful review for The New Republic that focuses on the relationship between faith and courage.

Secondly, Tim Challies shares a couple of reviews that criticize Metaxas’ book for making Bonhoeffer appear more “evangelical” than was actually the case. Challies thinks the critics may be right.

Carl Trueman weighs in, encouraging us to ask, “What can I learn from Bonhoeffer’s life?” instead of “Did Bonhoeffer believe just like us?” This discussion is not new. Bonhoeffer scholars have long debated about how evangelical or non-evangelical he was. Metaxas takes one position. Others find evidence in the other direction.

In case you’d like to hear different perspectives on Bonhoeffer’s beliefs, I recommend Albert Mohler’s interesting radio program (from 2006) about this very issue.

Other Noteworthy Links

Andy Crouch: “A World Without (Steve) Jobs”

Steve Jobs’s gospel is, in the end, a set of beautifully polished empty promises. But I look on my secular neighbors, millions of them, like sheep without a shepherd, who no longer believe in anything they cannot see, and I cannot help feeling compassion for them, and something like fear. When, not if, Steve Jobs departs the stage, will there be anyone left who can convince them to hope?

My youngest brother, Weston, is a student at Union University. I always love to read his letters back to the college group from his home church. Always gospel-soaked (with some Pauline epistolary influences for sure!):

Daily decide to die to yourself and to live for Christ. If you are not humbling yourself to save face, or are trying to build your reputation to receive glory from others, or you keep from confessing sins because of your pride; you are under the illusion you are still alive. But Saints, You have died! It is not you that lives, but Christ in you.

Great new song from Keith and Kristyn Getty – “Kyrie Eleison – Lord Have Mercy”:

 
 

Jan

19

2011

Trevin Wax|3:32 am CT

Who’s Who on My Blog Roll

I am grateful to the bloggers who reserve a spot for Kingdom People on their blog roll. It’s encouraging to know that someone appreciates my efforts and wants to point people in my direction.

I skim through over a hundred blogs in my Google Reader, but I only keep 23 on my side-bar. I thought today might be a good day to explain who’s who on the blogroll, and why I recommend you frequent these blogs as well. Here they are, in alphabetical order:

Baptist21
A collaborative effort among several young Southern Baptists, this blog is about being distinctively Baptist in the 21st century. Always good insights and lots of truth to chew on.

Ben Witherington
Witherington is a seasoned scholar at Asbury Seminary who writes about a wide range of topics (including movies).

Between the Times
Put Danny Akin, Bruce Ashford, Nathan Finn, J.D. Greear, Ken Keathley, David Nelson and Alvin Reid in a room together, and this is the blog you get. Terrific insights from these Southeastern faculty, as well as pastoral application.

Darryl Dash
Darryl specializes in giving his readers brief posts that get you thinking. (Not to mention he was able to interview Tim Keller!)

Doug Wilson
He’s opinionated because he loves the church and is passionate for her good. He’s also one of the best writers in the blogosphere.

Ed Stetzer
Ed’s blog is a must-read for pastors and church leaders who want their churches to be on mission for the kingdom. Firm in his convictions, yet open to changing methodologies, Ed approaches his blog as if it were a magazine that you read daily instead of once a month. Terrific insights, interviews, and commentary.

Get Religion
This is one of my favorite blogs of late. Always fascinating insights into religious issues of our day.

The Gospel Coalition
A group effort that is always worth-reading. The topics are varied, the writers are numerous, but the focus on the gospel is prominent always.

Gospel-Driven Church
Jared Wilson excels at pointing his readers to the gospel. His posts are fueled by gospel-driven passion and skillful writing. Look for his new book soon.

Justin Taylor
If I was stranded on a deserted island and only had one blog, this would be the one. Not primarily because of Justin’s own writing (which is always worth reading), but because of the great content he points me to daily. Truly, one of the best of the best.

Kid’s Ministry Blog
Tony Kummer’s terrific resource for children’s ministers. Lots of good give-aways, and good commentary on Sunday School and VBS curriculum.

Mark D. Roberts
Mark is a blogger with a pastor’s heart, and he offers plenty of food for thought. Mark has a charitable spirit and shares the wisdom that comes from his many years of pastoral service.

Mere Orthodoxy
An under-the-radar blog that should be in every thoughtful evangelical’s feedreader. Matthew Lee Anderson has pulled together some young thinkers who are committed to evangelical beliefs and yet curious about how our principles interact with the wider culture.

Michael Bird
Always interesting (sometimes funny, sometimes provocative) commentary from this New Testament scholar from across the pond.

Michael Kelley
Michael Kelley works as an editor for LifeWay’s young adult curriculum, Threads. He is also a great small group leader and an insightful writer. Wise beyond his years and well worth reading.

Michael Patton
Michael is building up the church by providing theological education and thoughtful evangelical reflection through his website and blog.

Russ Moore
The “Fundamissional Dean” at Southern Seminary. Dr. Moore writes always writes with clarity and candor. What’s more, he has no rival when it comes to creative titles for blog posts, sermons, and lectures. I love the perspective he brings to a variety of topics (music, movies, politics, church issues, etc.).

Scot McKnight
Scot is a prominent New Testament scholar who is unafraid to pose hard questions, tackle controversial topics, and engage those who may disagree. Scot’s thoughtful blogging community has made JesusCreed one of the most popular Christian sites on the web.

Scriptorium Daily
A mix of politics, culture and religion. Always great commentary and interesting perspective.

Tim Challies
In many ways, Tim was the trailblazer who set the standard for the evangelical blogosphere. He excels in reviewing books, writing online essays (that people actually read!) and linking to other interesting sites on the web.

Tony Reinke
An avid reader like myself, Tony is a humble blogger who wishes to share the truths he is discovering as he reads and writes and seeks to serve the Lord.

Tullian Tchividjian
Tullian pastors Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and is the author of numerous books. His blog often contains excerpts from his books and sermons. He also provides good illustrations of gospel truth. I love the passion he has for the gospel and the local church.

Weston Wax
My brother has begun to blog, and I’m encouraging him to be more consistent. He has great passion for God and love for God’s church. I look forward to seeing what he writes in days ahead.

Zach Nielsen
Zach was the first person to give me the nickname “T-Wax.” No wonder. The name of his blog is one of the most creative on the web: Take Your Vitamin Z. In your “daily dose of z blogorrhea,” Zach passes along interesting quotes and links, together with good commentary.

So there they are… the blogs on my sidebar. Take some time to check out the content. If you have some favorite blogs you believe I should add to this list, leave a comment to let me know. I’m open to suggestions!

 
 

Jan

18

2011

Trevin Wax|3:11 am CT

It's a Big Thing to Know You're Small

During the Emerging Church conversation a few years ago, there was a lot of talk about mystery. What can we know? How can we know it? Should mystery be embraced?

When it comes to God, the Bible seems to simultaneously encourage and dispel mystery. The Bible is God’s revelation to humanity, and in it, he discloses himself. And yet, the Bible often reminds us of what we can’t know about God.

  • The Apostle Paul tells us that God dwells in unapproachable light (1 Timothy 6:16).
  • Many passages in Scripture portray God as distant, removed, altogether holy and distinct from us.
  • The Psalmists praise his glory and greatness, saying that no one can fathom just how awesome he is (Ps. 145:3).
  • His knowledge is too wonderful for us.
  • His thoughts are so high and lofty that we cannot think them after him (Psalm 139:6).
  • His ways are beyond finding out (Romans 11:33).

Verses like these clue us in on the fact that God is not like us. We were made in his image, yet we seek constantly to make him into ours. Coming to grips with the magnificence of God reminds us that we cannot fully comprehend him. If we could completely wrap our minds around God, then we might as well trade places with him. We would become God, and he would become a creation of our own imagination.

Seeking to understand God always leads us to a place of mystery.

Mysteries intrigue us. Many novels, short stories, television shows, and movies utilize the compelling genre of mystery, in which more and more truth is revealed as the story progresses. In the Scriptures, the truth of God’s nature is also revealed progressively, culminating in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

But even world-class theologians who have become experts on studying the nature of God will admit that the more they learn about God, the more they realize how much is left to learn. The more we know about the infinite God, the more we see the finiteness of humanity.

Finite Before the Infinite

But this is a good place to be. It’s a big thing to know you’re small. Being aware of our smallness both frightens and comforts us. Our fear of the infinite, holy God drives us to our knees – just as it did Isaiah. Yet in this posture of worship, we sense comfort. Deep down in our bones, we know we were made to worship. We were created to stand as finite creatures before an infinite God. Once our sin is exposed, we are driven to our knees in repentance before a mighty God whose perfect attributes have no end.

Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote:

“The whole law of human existence lies in this: that man be able to bow down before the infinitely great.”

C.S. Lewis said our talk about God is like staring at the sun. We cannot fully take in the sun’s brilliance, but its radiance enables us to see everything else.

God’s essence remains, in part, a mystery. If we are to embrace God, we must embrace this mystery. We must bow before the infinite with the firm realization that his ways are past finding out. We must put our hand over our mouth and recognize the unchanging holiness of the Holiest One. And to think that the Infinite God put on humanity and dwelt among us…

Well, now my small heart pounds with gratitude for the great love of a big God.