Monthly Archives: March 2011
“The God of the Bible in the very first chapter is not some abstract “unmoved mover,” some spirit impossible to define, some ground of all beings, some mystical experience. He has personality and dares to disclose himself in words that human beings understand. Right through the whole Bible, that picture of God constantly recurs. However great or transcendent he is, he is a talking God.”
- D.A. Carson, The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story
Seven links for your weekend reading:
A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to preach at a conference alongside some great speakers/thinkers, including uber-blogger Tim Challies. Tim and I have run into each other at various conferences, and we’ve often corresponded via email. But there is nothing like face-to-face, lengthy conversations. In a superficial sense, I knew Tim before the conference. But now, I think of him as a friend that goes beyond the blog world of cyberspace.
I give you the details of this account because it helpfully illustrates one of the main principles from Tim’s new book The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion. Tim points out the benefits and drawbacks from the onslaught of new technology in society. One of the truths you walk away with is that embodied presence cannot be replaced or replicated by online communication.
So today, I’m talking technology with Tim Challies in anticipation of the release of his new book, The Next Story. Zondervan has put together an interesting promotion for buying the e-Book version. For every 200 books pre-ordered, the price falls by a dollar. And no matter what price you order it at, you’ll get the lowest pre-order price possible. But right now, let’s get on with the conversation…
Trevin Wax: Honestly, Tim, I had no idea that your book would be as helpful as it is. My initial thought was, Another book on technology? At least, Tim will help us think theologically about it. But you do so much more …
A lengthy article worthy of reflection by Gerald McDermott: “Evangelicals Divided - The battle between Meliorists and Traditionists to define evangelicalism”
Evangelical theology has long been divided between those who emphasize human freedom to choose salvation (Arminians) and those who stress God’s sovereignty in the history of salvation (the Reformed). Now this old division has been overshadowed by a larger division between new opposing camps we may call the Meliorists and the Traditionists. The former think we must improve and sometimes change substantially the tradition of historic orthodoxy. The latter think that while we might sometimes need to adjust our approaches to the tradition, generally we ought to learn from it rather than change it.
Ed Stetzer begins a blog series on how to offer criticism. Point #1: Critique What One Actually Believes
First, it is important, even essential, that criticism is done in such a way that the person being criticized would actually recognize his or her beliefs in that criticism.
They’re seemingly everywhere, yet they all started somewhere. Here are the stories of the humble beginnings of 11 chain restaurants.
The slogan of this year’s “March for life” is “Say YES to life!”. The main message will be focused on making people aware of the need to protect the unborn life, in a country with a sad history on the matter. Romania has the highest abortion rate in the EU and the second highest in Europe.
Jonah is best known for being the prophet who ran from God and was swallowed by a huge fish. But the point of Jonah’s story isn’t a simple morality tale: “Watch out! If you run from God, He’ll get you back… and it won’t be pretty.”
Instead, we see in Jonah’s life the contrast between the self-preserving actions of a prophet and the self-sacrificing actions of our missionary God.
We first meet Jonah in 2 Kings 14. King Jeroboam restored Israel’s border “according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, had spoken through His servant, the prophet Jonah…” (v. 25). Jonah was a son of Israel given a word from God about the distinction between God’s people and the outside world. Jonah’s message was encouraging: “God loves Israel enough to fortify the borders that will defend us from those who would oppress us.”
Next, God told Jonah to go to Nineveh. This time, the message wasn’t an encouraging word for God’s people; it was a message of judgment to wicked Nineveh. The Ninevites had earned a reputation for brutality and terrorism. When it came to Nineveh, prophets weren’t lining up before God, saying, “Pick me! Pick me!”
But God cared enough for Nineveh to warn them about the coming judgment. Jonah was the messenger God chose.
Jonah’s earlier role had been on defense: he built up the borders between God’s people and the world. This time, Jonah was on offense: he was to enter enemy territory and command a very wicked …
I have seen evidence of three characteristics that seem to pass as virtues today. In some parts of the Christian world, these are now embraced as Christian virtue: doubt, opaqueness, and an emphasis on asking rather than answering questions.
Our theology, at its best, corrects us. When we really understand the gospel and our need of it, it will protect us from putting secondary things first, from idolizing people or ideas, or of devaluing others. We’ll allow Scripture to critique us, and we’ll be open to rebuke and correction - if we believe what we say we do.
Walden Media has confirmed that Narnia 4 will be The Magician’s Nephew instead of The Silver Chair:
Looking ahead, Walden Media believes “The Magician’s Nephew” has the potential to be a blockbuster hit like “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” because it is the second most popular book in the Narnia series.
Like the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the “Hobbit” movies will be shot back-to-back, and this time using 3-D technology. The films are set to be released in 2012 and 2013.
My introverted friend, Adam McHugh, wonders if he will always be branded “the introvert:”
In 20 years will people say “that book really changed things in evangelical culture and Adam has become a significant voice in the church” or will they say, in a sexy deep voice: “Adam McHugh: …
The best way to spot a counterfeit is to know the real thing.
When it comes to the gospel, the best way to spot a counterfeit gospel is to know the biblical gospel – not only to master it in a cerebral, objective sense, but to be captured by the beauty of what God has done for us in Christ.
Earlier this year, I listed nine “counterfeit gospels” that I considered writing about in Counterfeit Gospels. Then, I asked readers of Kingdom People to participate in a poll, choosing the six most prevalent among evangelicals today.
Later, I described the biblical gospel by using the analogy of a three-legged stool.
There’s the Gospel Story – the grand narrative of Scripture (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration).
Within that overarching framework, we make the Gospel Announcement about Jesus Christ (His perfect life, substitutionary death, resurrection, exaltation).
The gospel announcement then births the Gospel Community: God’s church – the embodiment of the gospel, the manifestation of God’s kingdom.
In the book, I describe a counterfeit gospel as a colony of termites, eating away at one of the legs of the stool until it topples the whole thing. Below is a handy chart included in the book that lays out the six counterfeits we deal with in the book and how each counterfeit affects the gospel Story, gospel Announcement, and gospel Community.
Take a look at the chart below and let me know what you think.
Does your heart drift toward any of these counterfeits? Why or why not?
Which counterfeits …
John Piper disagrees with the idea of a Judeo-Christian ethic:
The New Testament is written to say that those who do not honor the Son do not honor the Father. So the concept of a Judeo-Christian ethic as the goal to which people ought to aim is profoundly mistaken, because ethics has to grow out of a true view of God. And to reject Jesus Christ is to have an absolutely flawed view of God. Therefore the ethic of morality that flows from this kind of flawed view of God is going to be flawed, even if some of the behavior is the same.
I understand what he is saying, and I agree with his point about ethics requiring a proper view of God. But I think he is mistaken in saying that the term “Judeo-Christian ethic” is flawed. The way you define a Judeo-Christian ethic makes all the difference in the world.
Sexual sin is the canary in the coal mine, the first sign that something has gone haywire in our walk with Christ. Don’t laugh at lust. Repent before you do something really dumb.
David Dunham reflects on his first month without pop culture distraction:
I have discovered that these things which I so love, yet which can be a distraction are not what is keeping me from growing spiritually and pursuing Jesus. Sadly, even after taking them all away I found myself not reading …
The gospel is the good news of what God has accomplished in the person of his Son, in his life, death, and resurrection, to secure the forgiveness of sins of all who will repent and believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
In other words, the gospel is something that God has accomplished. It’s not something that we do. Our faith is not the gospel. Our repentance is not the gospel. But they are the effects of it. So we could say that the gospel is an indicative, not an imperative. In other words, it’s an accomplishment by God; it’s not a command to us. The gospel is what God has achieved, not something that we are to attempt.
The content of the gospel, the essence of hte gospel, is God’s saving activity in Jesus as Lord – in his sinless life, his atoning death on behalf of sinners, his resurrection. This is the gospel.
The gospel does have consequences. For example, we have a responsibility to pursue justice, according to the biblical terms in which it is set forth. We have a responsibility toward the environment, toward creation. We have a responsibility toward racial reconciliation. We have a responsibility to pursue the welfare of the unborn. But these things are not the gospel. They are the consequences of the gospel. They are responsibilities that fall upon us as Christians because of what God has done.
When we talk about proclaiming the gospel, we’re talking about declaring the …
New C.S. Lewis work found – his translation of Virgil’s Aenaid:
Although it was nearly lost, a copy of C.S. Lewis’s translation of the Aeneid by Virgil has been found and will be published later this year. Unfortunately, the manuscript appears to be incomplete, but what remains is of great interest to Lewis fans around the world.
The top 10 sodas in the U.S., in order of popularity, are: Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi-Cola, Mountain Dew, Dr Pepper, Sprite, Diet Pepsi, Diet Mountain Dew, Diet Dr Pepper and Fanta.
The universalist Jesus cannot be found in the Gospels; the Jesus we find there is too busy putting himself at the center of everything. The universalist Jesus is safe and safely ignored. It is the compelling Jesus of the Scriptures who refuses to be disregarded.
Maybe you’ve agonized over the question yourself. Surely you’ve heard it from someone probing for vulnerabilities in Christianity, In a world with constant awareness of our global neighbors, the question, “What about those those who haven’t heard the gospel of Jesus Christ?” demands an answer from Christians.
A Romanian pastor’s take on Rob Bell’s Love Wins:
Dragostea nu este nicidecum mesajul esenţial al lui Isus Cristos şi nici scopul fundamental pentru care S-a Întrupat, mai ales dacă scoatem fraza “Dumnezeu este dragoste”din contexul literar, dar şi din contextul vieţii şi lucrării Mîntuitorului. Această expresie atît de întîlnită …