Monthly Archives: November 2011

 

Nov

30

2011

Trevin Wax|3:26 am CT

What Is an Evangelical? 3: The Generic Evangelical View

This week, I am summarizing and commenting on the arguments presented in an important new book: Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism. Editors Andy Naselli and Collin Hansen have asked four Christian leaders for their views on the spectrum of evangelical identity.

First, we looked at Kevin Bauder’s view (Fundamentalist). Yesterday, we worked our way through Al Mohler’s essay (Confessional Evangelical). Today, we’re taking a look at John Stackhouse’s position (Generic Evangelical).

What Is an Evangelical? The Generic Evangelical View

Representing the generic evangelical view is John Stackhouse, professor of theology and culture at Regent College. Stackhouse begins with a broad definition that conceives of evangelicalism in terms of ethos:

…to be evangelical literally by definition means to be grateful for, and necessarily involved in, both the tradition of the church and its ongoing life as it mediates, again with the help of God’s Spirit, the good news of Jesus to us and to the rest of the world. (117)

He unpacks the definition of this evangelical ethos by focusing on how it expresses itself in belief and practice:

Religious groups of any sort can be defined helpfully according to three components: tenets, affections, and practices – that is, what they believe, what they care about, and what they do. Evangelicalism has always been an initiative of renewal and mission. (117)

Stackhouse devotes significant attention to the theme of renewal as he works through the history of the movement and then speaks to our present situation. A major impetus for evangelicalism is the desire to make up for whatever deficiencies are present in the church at any given time. He writes:

Evangelicalism has thus been literally radical: concerned to (re) connect with the roots of genuine Christianity, to cut away all that hinders its vitality and to develop anything that will help it flourish… As a renewal movement, that is, evangelicalism would naturally seek to remedy what was deficient by a corresponding emphasis. (118)

This emphasis on renewal leads Stackhouse to affirm Bebbington’s quadilateral: crucicentrism, biblicism, conversionism, and activism. But Stackhouse goes beyond Bebbington by adding more qualifiers. He traces our evangelical identity to the historical movement (based on the eighteenth-century revivals), and he adds “transdenominational” and “orthodoxy and orthopraxy” as appropriate criteria (124).

Additional qualifiers aside, Stackhouse recognizes the difficulty of excluding people as “unorthodox” from the evangelical fold. He admits:

…since it is part of the very ethos of evangelicalism to recognize differences of opinion precisely about what the Bible does and doesn’t say about a host of issues, many of them quite consequential, then when it comes to the present discussion, it now appears that none of us can properly say, “Well, anyone who holds to X can’t be an evangelical, because the Bible clearly forbids X. And that’s that.” Yet there is something troublingly odd about having to recognize a heretic as an evangelical. (126)

Indeed. So Stackhouse turns toward cooperation as the fundamental unifier of evangelicalism. He explains:

…evangelicals don’t just happen to cooperate: evangelicalism is marked by cooperation, by transdenominational partnerships to further the mission of God and the church in the world. (128)

But this emphasis on cooperation doesn’t mean that, doctrinally speaking, anything goes. That’s why Stackhouse can affirm ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) for what it signifies (if not for its doctrinal statements): “a willingness among evangelicals to undertake serious theological work with anyone who can help them do so, even as those evangelicals also hope to provide some benefit to their interlocutors” (129). And he can also maintain the traditional evangelical view of the atonement as essential to evangelical theology (136).

Still, the ultimate question comes back to how cooperation takes place. And that’s where Stackhouse advocates a fluid, utilitarian approach to evangelical fellowship:

For many evangelicals, the question of who is and who isn’t an evangelical isn’t particularly important. What matters is who can help us in a particular instance with a particular task we are undertaking in the work of the kingdom. (138)

It is within this framework of transdenominational partnership that Stackhouse advises a balance between preserving the past and pressing into the future:

…we evangelical Christians, like all Christians everywhere, ought in each situation to strike a good balance between conservation and discovery, between critique and creativity.  And evangelicalism will continue to be a vibrant and effective part of Christ’s church precisely as it is neither bellicosely conservative nor blithely innovative, but faithful in both senses:  to be loyal and to be effective. (142)

Responses to John Stackhouse

Kevin Bauder reiterates the point of his previous essay, that more important than determining who belongs to the evangelical movement is determining (based on the veracity of a person’s profession of faith) who is really evangelical (that is, simply Christian). He writes:

Fundamentalists are evangelical. We believe, however, that the definition of evangelicalism is being debated only because the founders of “generic evangelicalism” made bad choices about the evangel itself. Denying the gospel its rightful position as the boundary of Christian recognition and fellowship is the very thing that has produced the increase of theological and ecclesiastical flabbiness. (149)

Albert Mohler believes the shortcomings of Stackhouse’s position are evident in the way evangelicals are thus forced to “accept major divergences from the central commitments.” In other words, if charity is used as an excuse for “nourishing theological error,” eventually evangelicalism will no longer be a definable theological movement. He goes on:

I do not think John’s proposal identifies evangelicals in a way that ensures that all who bear that designation can be counted on to bear a true witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (154)

Roger Olson’s response focuses on the distinction between the evangelical ethos (Bebbington’s quadrilateral) and the evangelical movement (Stackhouse’s criterion of transdenominationalism, for example). In the end, however, Olson sees little difference between his own view and Stackhouse’s:

In most ways they are very much alike. The only substantial difference I can see is one of degree, not kind. (159)

My Comments

I believe John Stackhouse’s description of “generic evangelicalism” comes closest to defining what evangelicalism currently is as a movement and ethos. This doesn’t mean that I necessarily believe “generic evangelicalism” is the ideal or that this view is without its flaws. It simply means that I think Stackhouse has given us the best description of what the movement looks like at the present time.

In terms of trajectory, the evangelical movement appears to be moving from the generic position toward a broader, more open position in line with Olson’s “postconservative” view. Perhaps this is why I resonate both with Stackhouse’s description of the movement and Mohler’s critique.

Stackhouse has put his finger on evangelicalism’s biggest strength and weakness: its emphasis on cooperation. Cooperation is a strength because it is rooted in Christ’s desire for unity. Cooperation is a weakness because doctrinal unity is often compromised for the sake of continuing cooperation. And eventually, cooperation not based in truth leads to the dilution of a movement’s identity – even an identity that prioritizes cooperation.

There are times when the desire for theological purity has led to the sacrifice of unity. And there are times when the desire for unity has led to the sacrifice of purity. In Thinking. Loving. Doing., David Mathis writes:

Part and parcel of the central Christian message is an impulse toward purity and an impulse toward unity. The purity instinct resists the compromise of the message, while the unity instinct is eager to link arms with others also celebrating the biblical gospel.

The reason purity and unity are, in this way, ‘built into’ the gospel is that the God of the gospel is himself both a purifier and a unifier. No one cares more for the purity of the gospel — that his central message to humanity not be altered or tainted — than God himself. And, mark this, no one cares more for the unity of his church around her Savior, his own Son, than God himself. God is the great purifier and unifier.

So likewise, his gospel — which not only saves and sanctifies but is the richest, deepest, and fullest revelation of who God is — has both a purity impulse and a unity impulse ‘pre-packaged’ into it, as it were. It’s quite simple on paper and gets terribly messy in real life.

Messy indeed. That’s why there are no easy answers to the question of evangelical identity. The neo-evangelical movement came about during a time when the early fundamentalists were becoming increasingly insulated and unity was being sacrificed on the altar of ideological purity. Today the situation is reversed. Doctrinal purity is often dismissed for the sake of continued cooperation.

If the generic evangelical movement is to continue forward, it will need to lean more toward the confessional view in order to maintain a definite theological and ecclesiastical character about it. Otherwise, evangelicalism may eventually become so broad as to no longer be definable by distinctive elements at all.

Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up this series by looking at Roger Olson’s “postconservative” position.

 
 

Nov

30

2011

Trevin Wax|2:24 am CT

Worth a Look 11.30.11

To celebrate the birthday of C. S. Lewis, Greg Brezeale shares some of his favorite quotes from a variety of Lewis’ books:

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.

In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.

I’ve wondered out loud about the decline of vocational evangelism and the future of the traveling evangelist. Here’s a post from evangelist Clayton King – “Big Event Evangelism: Irreplaceable or Irrelevant?”

There are reasons why big events have gotten smaller and I will mention them briefly and move on to more important things, like leveraging these events by making them “leaner and meaner” for the gospel.

Our Secret African Heritage:

Engaging in dialogue with the ancient churches can remind us of those parts of our heritage—like the New Testament—that we may take for granted. And that can spur us on to be faithful in our own generation, that we might leave an inheritance to our family’s next generation.

Talk about needing a new hobby… “Obsessed Fan Spends 12 Years Building Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang”

Gordon Grant’s labour of love is identical to the original car from the classic 1968 film that was driven by Dick van Dyke. Chitty fan Gordon first watched the musical aged two and became obsessed with having his own version of the iconic car. He began to plan the project when he was 16 and finally finished it three years ago aged 28 – and it is identical in every way to the original.

 
 

Nov

29

2011

Trevin Wax|3:33 am CT

What Is an Evangelical? 2: The Confessional Evangelical View

This week, I am summarizing and commenting on the arguments presented in an important new book: Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism. Editors Andy Naselli and Collin Hansen have asked four Christian leaders for their views on the spectrum of evangelical identity.

Yesterday, we looked at Kevin Bauder’s essay (Fundamentalist). Today, we’re taking a look at Al Mohler’s view (Confessional Evangelical).

What Is an Evangelical? The Confessional Evangelical View

Representing the confessional evangelical position is Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY. Mohler begins in a manner similar to Bauder, pointing to the gospel as the center of evangelical identity. He writes:

An evangelical is recognized by a passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ, by a deep commitment to biblical truth, by a sense of urgency to see lost persons hear the gospel, and by a commitment to personal holiness and the local church. (69)

Mohler recognizes the difficulty of coming to an established view of evangelical identity due to the ongoing nature of the conversation. He admits that “evangelical definition is dependent on a continual conversation and debate among evangelicals, association with evangelical institutions or churches, and identification with core evangelical beliefs” (74). And yet he also believes that “the integrity of evangelicalism requires a normative definition of evangelical identity.”

In developing a “normative definition,” Mohler points toward “Christian believers who seek a conscious convictional continuity with the theological formulas of the Protestant Reformation” (74-75), hence the introduction of the “confessional” aspect of his definition. He writes:

Evangelicalism is a movement of confessional believers who are determined by God’s grace to conserve this faith in the face of its reduction or corruption, even as they gladly take this gospel to the ends of the earth in order to see the nations exult in the name of Jesus Christ. (75)

How does this play out in practice? Mohler believes that evangelical identity is established by directing “constant attention to both the center and the boundary.” The way this takes place is through recognizing that doctrines can be distinguished and categorized in terms of their closeness to the gospel. Mohler’s “theological triage” divides issues into different levels:

  1. First-level theological issues are most central and essential to the Christian faith. (78)
  2. What distinguishes first-level and second-level doctrines is that evangelicals may disagree on the second-order issues, though this disagreement creates significant boundaries between believers. (79)
  3. Third-order issues are doctrines over which evangelicals may disagree and yet remain in close fellowship, even within local congregations. (80)

After recounting his spiritual pilgrimage in Southern Baptist life, Mohler directs his attention to several contested areas of evangelical identity. He begins with the “trustworthiness and truthfulness of Scripture” and then outlines recent challenges to the doctrine of inerrancy. It appears that Mohler goes beyond his mentor, Carl F. H. Henry, in regarding inerrancy to be a first-order issue:

In Henry’s formation, inerrancy should be considered a measure of evangelical consistency rather than evangelical authenticity. But the trajectory of the debate quickly revealed that abandoning inerrancy and a verbal model of the Bible’s inspiration required adoption of some other model that could not undergird evangelical authenticity. Affirming the total truthfulness, trustworthiness, and authority of the Bible is a first-order theological issue. (91)

Mohler also affirms the exclusivity of the gospel and the “integrity of theism” (against open theism) as first-order issues. In writing about justification, Mohler sides with the early Reformers:

Justification by faith alone is an evangelical essential… If evangelical means anything, it means a bold assertion that sinners are justified only on the basis of what the Reformers called an alien righteousness – the righteousness of Christ imputed to all who believe in him. (93)

After having paid attention to the center of evangelicalism and the boundaries, Mohler concludes:

The center of evangelical faith is devotion to Christ and joyful confidence in the gospel. These are and must be the animating energies and passions of evangelicals as individual believers and churches, as well as the evangelical movement as a whole. But evangelicalism is coherent as a movement only if it is also known for what it is not. Attention to the boundaries is as requisite as devotion to the center. (95)

Responses to Al Mohler

Kevin Bauder points out the many similarities between the fundamentalist and confessional evangelical perspectives. But he is concerned about the message communicated by evangelical leaders who maintain alliances with those who are indifferent to the importance of doctrine and theology:

Fundamentalists reject indifferentism and refuse to recognize indifferentists as insightful Christian leaders. While not indifferentists themselves, confessional evangelicals have certainly been slower to distance themselves from indifferentism or to warn against it publicly. (102)

John Stackhouse points out that Mohler’s view is more “conservative” than “confessional,” as it is not tied in its entirety to any one theological tradition. He worries about the emphasis on sharp definition at the edges of evangelical identity and how “theological triage” is decided:

Without a clear presentation of what is primary, secondary, and tertiary in the Christian faith and how we can arrive properly at such distinctions, believers are rather at the mercy of this or that evangelical “magisterium” to say what’s what. (107)

Roger Olson complains that historically speaking, “many of the things Mohler wants to pack into the essentials category have been considered nonessentials by evangelicals of the past” (111). He makes a distinction between affinity and uniformity:

Affinity is different from uniformity; it simply designates common interests and goals. Marsden and other historians of evangelicalism are right; it has always been very diverse, and people like Mohler simply need to become more comfortable with that diversity and the ambiguity resulting from it. (115)

My Comments

The confessional evangelical position resonates with me because of its emphasis on the church. Mohler sees evangelicalism as a cross-denominational movement built around common doctrines, practices, and themes. And yet Mohler recognizes that even as evangelicalism is important, the church is more so. At the end of the day, issues related to boundaries must be established and enforced primarily within local congregations, not para-church organizations or broad cross-denominational movements.

I also agree that we need to be specific when considering the doctrines that define “evangelicalism.” Mohler is right to point out that simply stating key Christian themes does not help us narrow down “evangelical” identity as opposed to Mormonism, Roman Catholicism, Protestant Liberalism, etc.

But I wonder if Mohler’s specificity runs into problems when viewed through the lens of evangelical history. For example, if we adopt Al Mohler’s confessional evangelical position strictly (which requires a belief in double imputation), John Wesley would not qualify. Historically speaking, it’s difficult to make sense of evangelicalism apart from Wesley and his influence. To adopt a level of specificity that excludes Wesley seems a little like climbing up into a tree and sawing off the branches we’ve used to get where we are.

This leads me back to Mohler’s expressed desire for a normative definition of evangelical identity. Unpacking what we mean by “normative” can be instructive here.

For example, can C. S. Lewis be considered an evangelical? Perhaps, but an unusual one. That is, Lewis was not an evangelical in the normative sense. He affirmed an inclusivist position regarding salvation and was fuzzy on the specifics of the atonement. And yet few would contest the vibrancy of his faith and the deep evangelical commitment to the gospel that underscored most of his writing.

In the case of Lewis, Carl Henry’s distinction between evangelical authenticity and consistency is more helpful than Mohler’s proposal. Henry’s distinction gives us the ability to express a “normative” definition of evangelical identity (which is something Mohler believes is necessary too) while maintaining that evangelicals who depart in various ways from that definition can still be considered “evangelical,” albeit in an unusual and inconsistent sense.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at “generic evangelicalism” as defined by John Stackhouse.

 
 

Nov

29

2011

Trevin Wax|2:43 am CT

Worth a Look 11.29.11

Why Academics Annoy People:

I think one of the more common mistakes is when we forget that what might be common knowledge to those with our particular research interests may not be (i.e. almost certainly isn’t) common knowledge to everyone else. So we make some off-handed comment about something that “everybody knows,” unintentionally making everyone around us feel stupid because they have no idea what we’re talking about.

5 Leadership Signs Your Movement is Dying:

One or two of these in isolated instances are likely handle-able. A pattern of any one or any combination of these signs in a pastor or the leadership culture of a church likely indicate a stalled or dying movement.

This post from Jon Acuff gave me a good laugh – “Dear Atheists, Chick-fil-A & Waiters”

Why do I completely act surprised every time I drive into your parking lot after church only to find you closed? I get so excited at first because the line looks really short, only to be crushed against the harsh rocks of chicken denial.

Excerpts and Essays: The Great Books Reader

Every essayist is also in full earnest about the power of these classics to inform and inspire, even in these drastically reduced doses. “You are reading a book that intends to introduce you to a better life,” says Reynolds, and each essayist sings the praises of their respective authors.

And here, to make the whole thing even more accessible, is a handful of quotable bits from the essayists.

 

 
 

Nov

28

2011

Trevin Wax|3:36 am CT

What Is an Evangelical? 1: The Fundamentalist View

What is an evangelical? It’s a simple question, but one that raises a number of various approaches. Depending on whom you ask, you may hear evangelicals described as…

  • A religious political force within the Republican party.
  • Christians who are really serious about their faith.
  • A movement centered around the gospel as recovered and proclaimed in the Reformation and subsequent revivals.
  • Christians with recognizable lingo (“personal relationship with Jesus”) who emphasize conversion and life transformation.

The debate over evangelical identity is nothing new. “Evangelicalism” has always been a contested concept, and it’s unlikely that the current debate will result in a consensus for future generations. Still, the question of evangelical identity is important and worthy of thoughtful discussion, for it brings us back to the gospel and its role in uniting Christians across denominational lines.

In light of this discussion’s importance, I will summarize the arguments presented in an important new book: Four Views on the Spectrum of Evangelicalism (Zondervan, 2011). Editors Andy Naselli and Collin Hansen have asked four Christian leaders for their views on the spectrum of evangelical identity.

  1. Kevin Bauder (Fundamentalist)
  2. Al Mohler (Confessional Evangelical)
  3. John Stackhouse (Generic Evangelical)
  4. Roger Olson (Postconservative Evangelical)

Reading the back-and-forth between these four men is a helpful exercise in discerning the importance of Christian truth and its relevance in decisions of cooperation and fellowship. In the next few days, I will briefly summarize the various points of view and offer a few reflections of my own.

What Is an Evangelical? The Fundamentalist View

Representing the fundamentalist position is Kevin Bauder, research professor at Central Baptist Theological Seminary. Bauder begins by showing how doctrine is what unites Christians (in varying degrees):

The question with which fundamentalism begins is, “What unites Christians? What do Christians hold in common?” Since Christian unity and fellowship may be greater or less, this question has both a minimal and a maximal answer. At the minimal level, some criterion must exist for differentiating Christians from other people. (21)

In responding to this question of Christian unity, Bauder points back to the gospel (22). Apart from the gospel, there is no unity.

The fundamental unity of the church is invisible and intangible. It is an inward unity that comes with belief in the gospel. This observation does not imply that outward, visible unity is unimportant. Outward unity, however, can be enjoyed only where inner unity already exists. In sum, unity is always a function of what unites. Fellowship always involves something that is held in common. (23)

Bauder’s view of unity and fellowship looks something like this: Gospel >> Inner unity >> Outward fellowship. Or going at it from the other direction, our fellowship is dependent upon the inner unity we have in believing the gospel. Though Bauder emphasizes doctrinal unity as the basis for fellowship, he takes care to articulate a position that focuses on one’s profession.

God alone knows who genuinely possesses faith. What Christians can know, however, and what they must evaluate, is who professes faith. (24)

In Bauder’s view, we are unable to determine who possesses genuine faith, but we are required to evaluate a person’s profession of faith. This evaluation is primarily doctrinal. “To trust Christ as Savior is to trust a doctrinal Christ,” he writes. “To reject the doctrines is tantamount to rejecting Christ himself” (29).

How does Bauder’s view play out in terms of Christian fellowship? Not surprisingly, the fundamentalist position emphasizes fundamental doctrines for understanding the proper boundaries of fellowship. “Since the gospel functions as the boundary of Christian fellowship, fundamental doctrines are part of that boundary,” he writes (29). And here’s the application:

Those who profess the true gospel are to be accorded fellowship as Christians. Those who deny the gospel are to be excluded from Christian fellowship. (31)

Next, Bauder lays out some ways that Christians can fellowship together despite the frequent “frustration” of this fellowship by doctrinal disagreements. Because we are not in total agreement on all points of doctrine, some level of frustration is inevitable. There will always be some degree of separation until Christ returns.

The question is not whether we should sometimes separate from each other. In fact, we cannot possibly cooperate with every other believer for every kind of Christian endeavor. The real question is how we can make God-honoring decisions about fellowship and separation. (37)

This brings us back to the issue of fundamentalist cooperation with evangelicals. According to Bauder, it is possible to have fellowship with evangelicals who are right on the gospel. But he is concerned about the message communicated by evangelicals who fellowship with people who deny the gospel. “Though they personally believe and preach the gospel, evangelicals who fellowship with apostates undermine the gospel’s function and demean its importance,” he writes (40).

Responses to Kevin Bauder

Al Mohler responds to Kevin Bauder with a pertinent question:

Should our goal be maximal fellowship through agreement concerning “the whole counsel of God”?  That allows for no disagreement on any theological issue, as if all are of equal importance. (53)

John Stackhouse calls into question Bauder’s exclusive focus on doctrine:

Why focus so much – in fact, almost exclusively – on Christian doctrine? Where are the traditional Christian – indeed, the traditional evangelical – emphases on mission and piety? Why is there no equal emphasis on orthopraxy (correct practice) and what I’m calling orthopathy (right affections)? (57)

Roger Olson responds by affirming Bauder’s view that one should not fellowship with apostates or heretics. But Olson puts his finger on the bigger issue behind Bauder’s essay, “Who decides?”

Even I do not have Christian fellowship with those I believe to be apostate or heretical. The difference seems to me to lie in who is considered apostate and heretical and how one should treat them. (63)

My Comments

Kevin Bauder’s emphasis on the gospel as the center of Christian unity is spot-on. In fact, it’s hard to imagine anyone disagreeing with his affirmation of the gospel as the necessary boundary for Christian fellowship. Would any evangelical say that we should openly endorse heresy and apostasy? I doubt it.

But here’s where things get tricky. Who decides what is the gospel? Who decides what doctrines are so fundamentally tied to the gospel that to deny the doctrine is to deny the gospel? Who determines what is “heresy” and “apostasy”?

As Reformation Christians, we return to the Scriptures as the supreme authority for answers to these questions. We also keep in mind the testimony and witness of the church through the years. Yet even among sola scriptura Christians, we find significant differences of interpretation as to how the Scriptures answer these questions.

The problem with Bauder’s fundamentalist position is that it lends itself toward the creation of a magisterium. Dynamic, charismatic leaders end up making these doctrinal decisions, and the people in the pews are expected to fall in line. Though fundamentalist doctrine and practice are worlds away from Roman Catholicism, you wind up with some of the same dynamics at work.

Mark Galli’s recent article in Christianity Today about evangelicals attracted to Roman Catholicism is instructive in the discussion about fundamentalism:

Of course the center will hold, because at the center is not a doctrine, nor some human authority figure, nor a complete and inerrant statement of faith. There is only the Center, Jesus Christ. We don’t need a magisterium. We already have a Lord, who told us that not even the gates of Hades (whose landlord loves to sow confusion in the church!) will prevail against the church.

In short, we don’t need premature closure as much as we need persevering confidence that the Spirit will lead us into all the truth we need, when we need it.

One other problem with the fundamentalist position is the difficulty of deciding what issues are essential to the gospel (and therefore to Christian fellowship) and what issues are important and yet secondary. Many of us who come from fundamentalist backgrounds understand how quickly this confusion takes place. When the pre-tribulational rapture is put on par with the Trinity in terms of “fundamentals” (the position of some early fundamentalists), we are well on our way to a “maximal” Christian fellowship that makes everything “of first importance.” Oddly enough, this development winds up diluting the importance of the essentials.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at Al Mohler’s “confessional evangelical” answer to the question of evangelical identity.

 
 

Nov

28

2011

Trevin Wax|2:14 am CT

Worth a Look 11.28.11

Some Cyber Monday $5 deals to be aware of:

The Joy Eternal is offering their debut EP “A Sweet and Bitter Providence” (based on John Piper’s book by the same title) for free on Noise Trade. This album is meant to weep with those who weep and to help sufferers to see and experience our sovereign God in a way that will increase their joy and His glory in the midst of their suffering. Check it out here.

How A Charlie Brown Christmas Almost Didn’t Happen:

When CBS executives saw the final product, they were horrified. They believed the special would be a complete flop. CBS programmers were equally pessimistic, informing the production team, “We will, of course, air it next week, but I’m afraid we won’t be ordering any more.”

Those Hyper-Politicized Evangelicals!?

So as stories multiply of evangelical churches engaging the election process for 2012, let’s remember this: evangelical churches are, among the larger religious groups, the least likely to reference political and social issues from the pulpit.  Many who condemn them for “hyper-politicization” are less concerned with the fact of political engagement than with the fact that evangelicals tend to support the causes they oppose.

 
 

Nov

27

2011

Trevin Wax|3:26 am CT

May You Glory in the Scandalous Cross

May you glory in nothing but the scandalous cross and in no one but the mighty and merciful Christ.

May you rejoice in your deliverance from a cruel death, a deluded slavery; from a bleak and desperate wandering.

May you be at peace in your Father’s house.

And may you who’ve been chosen by Sovereign Love, choose to lay your lives down that others may live.

May you take up the weapons of deliverance, the prayerful instruments of justice and mercy.

May you live out and proclaim the reign of the King.

May you humbly submit to the rule of your faithful Father and follow the Lamb wherever He goes.

May His grace so fill you that you overflow with the confident hope and joy His terrible and glorious death won for you.

And welcome all who hunger and thirst; who, willing to lose, will gain, who, willing to die, will truly live.

- Timothy Stoner,  The God Who Smokes: Scandalous Meditations on Faith

 
 

Nov

26

2011

Trevin Wax|3:48 am CT

Mental Growth Means Growing Into More Definite Convictions

Some thought-provoking quotes from Chesterton on dogma:

The vice of the modern notion of mental progress is that it is always something concerned with the breaking of bonds, the effacing of boundaries, the casting away of dogmas. But if there be such a thing as mental growth, it must mean the growth into more and more definite convictions, into more and more dogmas.

Trees have no dogmas. Turnips are singularly broad-minded.

No man ought to write at all, or even to speak at all, unless he thinks that he is in truth and the other man in error.

It is ludicrous to suppose that the more sceptical we are the more we see good in everything. It is clear that the more we are certain what good is, the more we shall see good in everything.

Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are least dangerous is the man of ideas. He is acquainted with ideas, and moves among them like a lion-tamer. Ideas are dangerous, but the man to whom they are most dangerous is the man of no ideas.

The modern world is filled with men who hold dogmas so strongly that they do not even know that they are dogmas. It may be said even that the modern world, as a corporate body, holds certain dogmas so strongly that it does not know that they are dogmas.

- G. K. Chesterton, Heretics

 

 
 

Nov

25

2011

Trevin Wax|3:59 am CT

Friday Funny: Calvin and Hobbes – School Picture Day

One of my favorite story arcs from Calvin and Hobbes:

 

 

 

 

 
 

Nov

25

2011