Monthly Archives: February 2013

 

Feb

28

2013

Trevin Wax|3:23 am CT

“Faithmapping” Your Spiritual Journey: A Conversation with Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper

Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper, both pastors at Sojourn in Louisville, have written a new book together, Faithmapping: A Gospel Atlas for Your Spiritual Journey (Crossway, 2013). I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Their emphasis on “the whole gospel for the whole church for the whole world” is balanced, comprehensive, and pastoral. Put this on your reading list.

Today, Daniel and Mike join me for a discussion about their book.

Trevin Wax: You’ve written a book together called Faithmapping: A Gospel Atlas for Your Spiritual Journey. What is it about us evangelicals that prompted you guys to think we need a “map” of some kind? Was it so we would have a way of navigating the different emphases we hear from different leaders?

Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper: Two things sparked our sense that we needed a map.

One is actually exemplified right here on your blog – the vast variation of gospel definitions offered by saints, pastors, and theologians throughout history.

In one sense, there’s a remarkable sense of unanimity about the gospel. (Many of the definitions are echoes of one another.) But in another sense, we see that the definitions have some discord. There are different ways of nuancing and emphasizing one aspect of the gospel over and against emphases on others.

Among evangelicals, we see a kind of tribalism emerge as people rally around one emphasis or another. And – as tribes tend to do – they go to war against one another. So you get the gospel-as-cross (or gospel-as-atonement) guys lobbing verbal bombs at the gospel-as-kingdom guys or the gospel-as-grace guys.

“It’s all about the cross,” says one.

That’s vampire Christianity,” says the other. “You want Jesus for his blood and nothing else.”

And with that kind of conflict, we’re still only talking about gospel-centered folks. Others (those who view the gospel as some sort of entryway to Christian life, and not as the center) want to make mission the center of the church, or some aspect of the church’s identity – community service, worship, or discipleship.

Which brings us to the second reason…

As young pastors, we struggled in the midst of all these conflicting voices. For a while, we drifted from vision to vision, until by God’s grace, we saw the gospel as the key to the whole Christian life. From there, we had to wrestle with what the gospel actually was. Eventually we found John Frame, and of course Tim Keller, and their tri-perspectival understanding of the gospel brought a great deal of clarity.

So Faithmapping is something we’ve written for the folks in our church and beyond who want to trace out a holistic vision for the Christian life, seeing the connections between a whole gospel, the life of the church, and our mission in the world.

TW: What are some of those connections? Spell out how you’d make connections from the gospel to… let’s say “mission.” How does the tri-perspectival understanding of the gospel impact the church’s view of mission?

DM & MC: Well, thinking of “mission” here as the church’s holistic mission to the world – including missions and church planting, but larger than that – we would say this.

First, we need to remember the gospel of grace. Grace tells us that God has freely accepted us at Christ’s expense. It changes the way we’re present to the world because we aren’t bound-up, neurotic, and fearful. We’re welcome. We’re loved. We’re being transformed (hopefully) into more settled, less anxious, more confident children of God because of our confidence in his grace.

Second, we remember the gospel of the cross – the good news that Jesus life, death, and resurrection have paid for our sins and brought us into community with God. It’s a message that simultaneously reminds us of human sinfulness and divine provision – that the world (including us) is a dark and sinful place, but that Jesus’ sacrifice is a perfect atoning payment for that sin. It should empower and motivate our message. The world needs the mercy of God.

Third, we remember the gospel of the Kingdom – the good news that through Jesus, God is inviting us to live under His rule and reign once again, as it was always meant to be. It’s a kingdom that has already won the decisive battle, and will unquestionably move forward.

So to put it slightly differently, God’s grace frees us from fear, reminding us that we’re welcome and accepted by God. God’s cross reminds us that we carry a crucial, life-and-death message to the world, motivating our journey out into it, and God’s kingdom gives us confidence that our mission is, ultimately, going to be a successful one.

TW: You focus on some key words the Bible uses to describe Christians (worshippers, family, witnesses, disciples, servants). How does the gospel shape us into the kind of people who worship and witness?

DM & MC: Being witnesses and worshipers is more basic to human nature. Prior to being Christians, we were already worshipers and witnesses. The way we’re wired up, as Harold Best so perfectly describes it, is that we’re “continuous outpourers.” Our lives are oriented towards praising, celebrating, and honoring, and our action in the world is always functioning this way.

Think of the way that people’s lives get oriented around a certain brand of politics, a school or sports team. Parents get oriented around the lives and achievements of their children. Young lovers become oriented around one another. In every case, they both worship and witness, pouring out their lives to the person or thing loved, declaring their love and loyalty to the wider world.

One aspect of our sanctification is the re-orientation of our hearts, a right ordering of worship with God at the center and these other objects of our love and affection in their proper place – as gifts of a loving Creator.

This is true of all the identities. Like worship and witness, we gravitate naturally towards family (tribal or party loyalty), service (“We’re dying to give ourselves away to something,” as David Foster Wallace once said), and discipleship (think of how people adapt to new cultures, absorbing their habits, language, and traditions in relatively short periods of time). The identities are aspects of what it means to be human, and in Faithmapping, we’re trying to look at how those aspects are transformed – renewed, if you will – by a life lived in the good of the gospel.

TW: What’s the end result you hope will be true in the lives of those who pick up Faithmapping? How do you hope churches will be impacted by your work?

DM & MC: Three goals come to mind.

First, we hope that – in a way that’s clear and simple – we’ve helped to map out the connections between the gospel, church, and mission, leaving folks with a sense of the breadth and depth of the gospel, as well as a vision for how it sits at the center of the life and ministry of the church. You really can center your life, ministry, and church on the gospel.

Second, we hope that we can help to spare folks from some of the confusion that plagued us. A lot of lip-service gets paid to “gospel-centered” these days, and for us, understanding what that meant functionally and theologically took a lot of work.

Some theologians talk about the “perspicuity” of the gospel – the fact that it is clear and able to be understood (as opposed to being an opaque mystery). A five-dollar word like that can sound silly or pretentious, but ultimately, it’s an important idea.

In our day of fads, hype, internet trolls, and flame-throwing theological battles – some of which are important – understanding the roots and foundations of gospel, church, and world can be hard. Our goal was to find a way through the fog and help people see clearly what we believe the Bible is saying about these crucial ideas. Because that clarity was such a struggle for us (in the early days, when we were planting Sojourn), we think it’s probably a struggle for others as well.

Third, we hope that people get excited about the gospel. Yes, there’s a plethora of books, conferences, and tribes that are talking about the gospel, but frankly, it’s not enough. We haven’t said it enough. We haven’t preached it enough. We haven’t pounded the table enough.

Evangelicals are still battling with our tendencies towards assuming the gospel, sidelining it as a mere entryway, or dismissing it as an artifact of a previous generation’s faith. So even if a thousand “gospel” books were published next year, it probably wouldn’t be enough to overcome the barriers and assumptions that stand against gospel-centered efforts.

If our book helps a few folks to see the gospel more clearly, more centrally, then we’ve accomplished our mission.

 
 

Feb

28

2013

Trevin Wax|2:18 am CT

Worth a Look 2.28.13

Kindle Deal of the Day: Simply Jesus: A New Vision of Who He Was, What He Did, and Why He Matters by N. T. Wright. $1.99.

In the tradition of C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity and his own classic book Simply Christian, N. T. Wright invokes 200 years of Biblical scholarship to show us how we should best retell the story of Jesus today.

Bob Glenn – 6 Types of Selfishness:

Six types of selfishness in my own life came to the surface, which, if I wasn’t confident that Christ died to kill them, might leave me in despair. But since I know that Jesus, because of his great love for me, died so that I would no longer be shackled to my little life, I am free to admit my selfishness to him (and to you).

Michael Svigel – Overcoming 4 Church Myths:

The time has come to refute the myths and slay the monster, replacing it with a corporate body reflecting marks and works of authenticity and created according to God’s image for the church.

Little Change in Abortion Attitudes:

The Democrats’ emphasis on abortion and contraception this election cycle was successful in many respects. It likely succeeded in increasing turnout among pro-choice voters. It probably also made pro-choice voters more likely to cast their vote based on the abortion issue. But a serious analysis of survey data over time provides little evidence that this fall’s election cycle substantially shifted public opinion in favor of legal abortion.

Christianity Today - Persecution in China is Very Real:

One can certainly argue that the persecution we detail is not as gravely serious as that of 30 years ago, when religious believers were disappeared and jailed in huge numbers. However, one cannot discount our findings that the Chinese government is taking steps to “eradicate” the “house church” movement unless the documents and facts we discovered and reported are somehow proven to be fabrications.

To Be Gospel-Centered, You Need the Holy Spirit:

If you want to be gospel-centered, you need the Holy Spirit. He will magnify Christ through you because you can’t. He will magnify Christ through you because is very good at applying the gospel in your life so that you treasure and adore Jesus.

 
 

Feb

27

2013

Trevin Wax|3:43 am CT

Why Does Death Still Surprise Us?

It’s been a few weeks now since we buried my father-in-law.

Though we’ve always felt the geographical distance between our family and my in-laws, it doesn’t compare to the distance that death creates. For years he was far away. But now he’s no longer within reach. And that’s what hurts so bad.

Grief is a funny thing. The sadness comes in waves, sometimes gently lapping at your feet throughout the day… other times, hitting you like a tsunami – a wall of water that crashes into your heart and leaves its mark in a tear-stained face.

In reflecting on our time of loss, I suppose what surprises me most about the whole thing is that death still surprises.

Strange, isn’t it? Aside from the one Man death couldn’t hold onto, everyone who is born dies. It’s that simple. And yet, we’re still shocked, surprised, and baffled when the moment arrives.

In the hours before Corina’s dad died, we knew his time was short. We could see the signs of imminent death approaching – the stiffening of the legs, the cooling of his hands, and the rattling of his breath. Death is an ugly thing, especially when it comes after a disease like cancer has ravaged the body.

Though we knew the end was near, when death arrived and my father-in-law departed, it still came as something of a surprise. Is it true? Is he really gone? How can this be? Just moments ago, we were shifting him around in his bed, hoping to alleviate any pain. Now, we are preparing him for the coroner. In a flash… death is in the room and life has disappeared.

No matter how much you prepare yourself, death still surprises.

Forget the worn-out maxim that “death is just a natural part of life.” Why try to suppress the surprise? Especially when everything in you screams, This isn’t right! This can’t be!

You’d think after thousands of years of observation, we’d be accustomed to death by now. But no… the love in our hearts doesn’t want to give death the last word.

Thankfully, we don’t have to.

The only thing more surprising than death is resurrection. It’s the future surprise that helps our hearts survive the present shock. The gaping hole in the ground that swallows up a body will one day be swallowed up by resurrection life.

Death’s victory is short-lived. Resurrection’s reign is forever.

And so, we grieve, but not as those with no hope. Winter’s chill may surprise us, but spring is coming.

 
 

Feb

27

2013

Trevin Wax|2:35 am CT

Worth a Look 2.27.13

Kindle Deal of the Day: Just Courage: God’s Great Expedition for the Restless Christian by Gary Haugen. $2.99.

International Justice Mission president Gary Haugen has found that engaging in the fight for justice is the most deeply satisfying way of life. This book shows how we too can be a part of God’s great expedition.

Chuck Lawless – 7 Steps to Move Members into Ministry:

Sam attends his church faithfully every Sunday, but he is not involved in doing ministry through his church. Others view Sam as a committed member simply because he is there every Sunday morning, and no one would dare question his faithfulness.

Yet, Sam is really doing nothing in his church.  How do you move members like him into ministry?

Josh Reich on the power of habit:

Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits. And though each habit means relatively little on its own, over time, the meals we order, what we say to our kids each night, whether we save or spend, how often we exercise, and the way we organize our thoughts and work routines have enormous impacts on our health, productivity, financial security, and happiness.

A Puritan and a Biologist on the Appeal of Beauty:

In the Christian understanding, humanity was made for the contemplation and enjoyment of God, and since the beauty of creation is the shadow of the radiance of the divine beauty, it is no mystery that we are attracted to it as to the echo of a lover’s voice.  In the beauty of creation, our Creator is speaking to us, and that is why we love beautiful things.

John Murdock – Recalling Francis Schaeffer’s Christian Environmentalism:

While Evangelical leaders enthusiastically embraced Schaeffer’s push to engage on abortion and other cultural issues in the 1980s, his words and actions about the darkness of environmental degradation and the beauty of nature have largely been forgotten.

 
 

Feb

26

2013

Trevin Wax|3:43 am CT

3 Reasons I’ll Be Reading Rob Bell’s New Book

Rob Bell has a new book coming out.

Chances are, you haven’t heard as much about this one as you did his last one, Love Wins. From the infamous “Farewell, Rob Bell” tweet to the blog reviews that detailed the book’s biblical and theological inaccuracies, Love Wins benefited from Harper One’s ability to stir up a hornet’s nest of free publicity that catapulted Bell to the best-seller list in 2011.

The trailer for Rob’s new book gives a few ideas about his next step. Too little to know much for sure. The video seems to focus on our innate sense that “there’s something out there bigger than us” and our need to get in touch with “the divine.” I expect the book will continue Rob’s journey forward (or should we say back) to 19th and 20th century liberalism.

Many evangelical readers, bloggers and pastors will skip this one. After all, there’s only so much time in a day. Why read a book you figure will frustrate you?

All that considered, I will be reading Rob’s latest. Here’s why…

1. I want to improve my ability to communicate the truth.

Whatever you might think of his theology, the guy can teach. The reason his Nooma videos and book trailers have garnered so much attention (and a long line of parodies) is because they made an impact. They were well done, and their message resonated with people.

It’s true that the more I’ve read and watched Bell, the more I sense there’s more flash than substance in his message. (And where there is substance, I often disagree.)

That said, I want to improve my skills at communicating by watching how others get their message across. I want to see how they craft their stories, assemble their analogies, and wordsmith their prose.

Yes, I know “it is better to speak wisdom foolishly rather than to speak folly wisely” (Chesterton), but heaven help us if we have to choose between dull communication of unchanging truth or compelling communication of theological error.

Seeking to better communicate the beauty of truth helps me better comprehend the beauty of truth.

2. I want to better understand the culture I live in.

A lot of people will read this book. Perhaps not as many as Love Wins. (It would be hard to repeat the media blitz that came from Bell redefining hell.) Still, a good number of people will pick up this book… which tells us that something about it appeals to them.

We gain insights into our culture whenever we look at a popular book and ask, Why is this appealing? Ultimately, this question can lead to a more productive conversation than simply pointing out the reasons a book is harmful or wrong.

I’ve had some good conversations with folks who liked The Shack. Our discussions gave me insight into fatherlessness, the feeling of abandonment in times of suffering, the idea of a God who not only loves people, but is fond of them, etc.

At some point, if a book we see as “bad” resonates with people, we ought to consider the reasons why. Asking “why” gives us insight into our culture. It helps us get to know and love our neighbors. And it helps us anticipate the objections we will need to address in our presentation of the truth.

3. I want to be challenged to paint a better portrait.

There are a number of ways to counter theological error, not least of which is a long list of the errors set against their biblical refutation. But there’s another way to defend the truth – to create a portrait more compelling than the falsehood.

The Apostle Paul didn’t pick apart the Colossian heresy in detail. Yes, he addressed it here and there, but just enough to cause consternation on the part of biblical scholars trying to piece together just what he was battling. Instead, Paul’s strategy was to wow the Colossians with the enthralling beauty and all-encompassing authority of Jesus Christ.

The reason I gave so much space in Counterfeit Gospels to talking about the true gospel is because that is the best way to counter falsehood. Here’s why these counterfeits are attractive to you, but look at how much better the biblical gospel is. Put them together, and you’ll see why the true gospel wins at ultimately satisfying your heart’s longing. 

Rob Bell’s book may turn out to be a rehash of old school liberalism and its promise of “getting in touch with the divine.” So why read it? Because I want to be challenged to say, Why is the biblical portrait better? Why is the fiery, love-filled, glory-driven untamable God of the Bible so much more compelling, attractive, than the sentimental, sappy god so many in our culture find appealing?

It’s one thing to point at a book and say, That isn’t biblical. It’s another thing to say, Here’s why the biblical view is true and better. That’s the reason I’m working on a fiction book.

I expect Rob’s book will prod me toward better and more beautiful ways of presenting the truth. Maybe after I read it, I’ll blog about it too.

What about you?

Will you be reading Bell’s new book? Will you pass on it? Recommend it? Warn people about it?

 
 

Feb

26

2013

Trevin Wax|2:13 am CT

Worth a Look 2.26.13

Kindle Deal of the Day: Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. $1.99.

This twentieth century masterpiece provides an unequaled opportunity for believers and nonbelievers alike to hear a powerful, rational case for the Christian faith.

For your groups – How to Create Aha Moments with Good Questions:

We often think the quickest way to learn is to read a book or sit through a lecture, but Socrates would ask his pupils questions. The questions forced them to think critically and come up with their own insights.

 6 Ways to Preach with Passion (Hint… Yelling Isn’t One of Them):

Many preachers are like a light switch when it comes to passion, it’s either flipped on or off, either talking or yelling. To more effectively use passion in your preaching, think of it as a dimmer switch with various levels of passion and smooth transitions from one to the other.

Michael Kelley – What the Gospel Says to the Kid Who is Left Out:

The gospel tells us that we aren’t going to be left out. The fear of “missing something” is abated with the knowledge that God has given us everything. And now, knowing that we are once and for all on the inside – inside the family; inside the promises; inside the dearly loved prized possession of God Himself – frees us from that nagging sensations that we might be left out.

10 Lost Cities, Mythical Civilizations of the Ancient World:

Whole capitals have vanished without a trace, leaving only rumours and contradictory accounts in books. Some of these places may have existed, others definitely did, and others still are legends we somehow dragged out the sand and into fact.

 
 

Feb

25

2013

Trevin Wax|3:41 am CT

Missional John Stott: A Review of “Christian Mission in the Modern World”

The publishing house that gave us John Stott’s Christian Mission in the Modern World (IVP) in 1975 now considers this slim volume to be a “classic;” reading through the book, it is not hard to see why. Stott’s take on the mission of the church is memorable because of his brevity and clarity.

A helpful guide to issues related to Christian engagement of contemporary society, Stott’s work focuses on biblically defining five important words: mission, evangelism, dialogue, salvation, and conversion. Let’s take a brief look at Stott’s work and then examine some of the strengths and weaknesses of his proposal.

Summary

Christian Mission in the Modern World begins with questions every generation must wrestle with:

“What should be the church’s relation to the world? What is a Christian’s responsibility toward his non-Christian relatives, friends, and neighbors, and indeed to the whole non-Christian community?” (19).

In tackling these questions, John Stott turns to a number of important words and seeks to define them biblically.

Mission

Stott begins with “mission.” He contrasts the older view of mission (exclusively evangelistic with mercy ministry or social work relegated to “platform” status for the evangelistic outreach) with the newer, ecumenical view (focused on the creation and development of peace on earth, a model in which the world sets the agenda for the church).

Stott believes both these approaches are deficient, and so he offers a third way. Downplaying the Great Commission text in Matthew 28, Stott lifts up the scene in John 20 where Jesus sends out the disciples in a way that makes Christ’s mission the model of ours:

“He came to serve. He gave himself in selfless service for others, and his service took a wide variety of forms according to men’s needs… He served in deed as well as in word, and it would be impossible in the ministry of Jesus to separate his works from his words… Our mission, like his, is to be one of service” (39).

Stott believes social action is a “partner of evangelism” in that “both are expressions of unfeigned love” (43). The Great Commission to go and make disciples is a more narrow command of Jesus than the Great Commandment to love one’s neighbor.

Therefore, “mission” does not describe everything that God is doing in the world, but rather describes “everything the church is sent into the world to do,” and this necessarily includes mercy ministry, not just gospel proclamation (48).

Evangelism

In defining evangelism, Stott points out wrong turns evangelicals sometimes take in our evangelistic efforts (such as, defining evangelism in terms of the recipients of the gospel, or in terms of results and methods). Instead, evangelism must be defined in terms of proclaiming the message of the gospel.

What is the gospel? At the most fundamental level, “God’s good news is Jesus” (68), but the apostolic presentation of Jesus included five elements: the gospel events, the gospel witnesses, the gospel affirmations, the gospel promises, and the gospel demands.

Evangelism, properly understood, is the Christian’s proclamation of the gospel message, though this proclamation certainly takes into account the Christian’s presence in the world (87).

Dialogue

Next, Stott turns to the question of dialogue, and he addresses concerns that dialogue is a gateway to compromise. Stott recommends dialoguing with those of different faiths or those of no faith because dialogue is the mark of authenticity, humility, integrity, and sensitivity.

Salvation and Conversion

The rest of the book focuses on two important words – salvation and conversion.

In speaking of salvation, Stott concludes that even if the gospel has ramifications for all of society, the kind of salvation described in the Bible “concerns persons rather than structures. It is deliverance from another kind of yoke than political and economic oppression” (142). Stott does not downplay the importance of seeking justice and liberation for the oppressed, and yet he does not consider deliverance from unjust social structures to be “the salvation which Christ died and rose to secure for men” (148).

Regarding conversion, Stott defines the term as “the response which the good news demands and without which salvation cannot be received” (162). The reality of conversion cuts against the kind of syncretism and universalism currently popular among those in Western cultures.

Some Thoughts

John Stott’s stature in evangelical thought and life is well deserved, as his work is almost always biblically sound, mindful of historic and contemporary debates, and positioned in a way that avoids unhelpful extremes.Stott’s legacy could be summed up in the words “biblical” and “balanced,” since his proposals are self-consciously rooted in the text and his recommendations avoid reductionisms that harm the church.

Keeping the many strengths of Stott’s approach in mind, there are places where his proposal on mission could be improved.

Downplaying the Moment?

One area of weakness is in Stott’s treatment of conversion and regeneration. Stott is right to point out the inseparable nature of these two events, regeneration being God’s act and conversion being the human’s response. Though I differ with Stott on the ordo salutis, I agree that salvation begins with God’s initiative and that the events of conversion and regeneration are simultaneous in a temporal sense.

The bigger issue is that Stott denies the human’s subjective experience during the moment of regeneration.

“Regeneration is unconscious, whereas conversion is normally conscious… The actual passage from death to life is not a felt experience… Its consequences, however, are plain” (170-1).

He then adds:

“The reason we may know we are born again is not because we were consciously aware at the time of what was happening, but because we know that our present Christian self-consciousness, or rather God-consciousness, being a mark of spiritual life, must have originated in a spiritual birth” (171).

It is difficult to understand the reason why Stott feels it necessary to separate the experiential aspects of regeneration and conversion if these events are indeed simultaneous. I fear this position downplays the moment of conversion, as is proven by Stott’s next point, in which he describes conversion as “more a process than an event” (171).

It is true that one cannot reduce every Christian conversion to a one-size-fits-all, dramatic event of embracing salvation. Conversion experiences come in all shapes and sizes.

But Stott’s overemphasis on gradual conversion undercuts his earlier insistence that evangelism is primary in the mission of the church. How? By diluting the evangelist’s reasons for issuing the gospel demands to repent and believe at a particular point in time. Downplaying the moment of conversion could lead to an expectation of gradual enlightenment that keeps Christians from urging people to “cross the line” from darkness to light.

Maintaining Evangelistic Priority

A second weakness in Stott’s proposal is the expansion of mission to “everything the church is sent into the world to do” without offering suggestions as to how to keep evangelism at the forefront of our activity.

At a fundamental level, Stott is right in his definition of mission and the primacy he gives evangelism. But when it comes to church practice and the choices of church leaders, there is little here to help us discern the way forward in embracing social ministry as a partner to evangelism while still maintaining evangelistic priority.

Is Stott referring to the mission of the church gathered or the church scattered?

Is he referring to Christians in their individual vocations seeking to be salt and light in the world or is he referring to the church as a corporate witness?

Not only does Stott not answer these questions, but he also muddies the issue considerably by rejecting ulterior (evangelistic) motives in social ministry. He writes:

“To sum up, we are sent into the world, like Jesus, to serve. For this is the natural expression of our love for our neighbors. We love. We go. We serve. And in this we have (or should have) no ulterior motive. True, the gospel lacks visibility if we merely preach it, and lacks credibility if we who preach it are interested only in souls and have no concern about the welfare of people’s bodies, situations and communities. Yet the reason for our acceptance of social responsibility is not primarily in order to give the gospel either a visibility or credibility it would otherwise lack, but rather simple uncomplicated compassion. Love has no need to justify itself. It merely expresses itself in service wherever it sees need” (47-8).

On the one hand, this appeal to compassionate motivation is indeed correct. Christians ought to never see their work in the world as merely a tool for evangelism, as if a lost person is their project.

On the other hand, the implication of this point of view is that the ulterior motive of evangelism necessarily dilutes “simple uncomplicated compassion” and leads to the “smell of hypocrisy” around our philanthropic activities (41).

To this we must ask: What could be more simple and compassionate than serving a person physically with the hopes of also serving them spiritually? Christian compassion must not and cannot be reduced to physical assistance; otherwise, we fail to provide what Stott himself considers to be the “new and urgent Christian dimension” to neighbor-service and neighbor-love (46).

Conclusion

Overall, Christian Mission in the Modern World is a thoughtful, balanced approach to issues related to mission, evangelism, and social work. Though there are places where Stott’s desire for balance could prove problematic in practice, this book is an invaluable introduction to contemporary engagement of our world with the gospel.

 
 

Feb

25

2013

Trevin Wax|2:34 am CT

Worth a Look 2.25.13

Kindle Deal of the Day (Must-Read!): Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church by Matt Chandler, Eric Geiger & Josh Patterson. $3.99.

The gospel impacts all the church is and does. Creature of the Word lays out this concept in full, first examining the rich, scripture-based beauty of a Jesus-centered church, then clearly providing practical steps toward forming a Jesus-centered church.

Washington Post – Yes, We Fear and Loathe Religious Traditionalists:

Reporters: open your mind to the actual (not imagined) arguments of your opponents. Learn to report their views as accurately as you would want someone to report your own beliefs.

Tim Challies: Admonition – An Unpopular Love Language

The Bible teaches us that admonishing or warning one another of the sin (or danger of sin) we see in each others’ lives can be a sign of deep love.

Is the Defense of Traditional Marriage Like the Defense of Slavery?

Framing this as a civil rights issue on a par with racial equality not only turns every traditional marriage defender into another Bull Connor but it also will make it much harder to preserve religious freedoms for those who disagree.

Josh Cousineau – Why Aren’t We Missional?

Here are a few of the reasons I have observed in my own life, my church’s life for why we not living a lives compelled by the mission of God.

 
 

Feb

24

2013

Trevin Wax|3:30 am CT

Clinging to Him as a Branch to the Tree


O Heavenly Father,
Teach me to see that if Christ has satisfied divine justice
He can also deliver me from my sins;
that Christ does not desire me, now justified,
to live in self-confidence in my own strength,
but gives me the law of the Spirit of life
to enable me to obey You;
that the Spirit and His power are mine by resting on Christ’s death…

You have taught me
that faith is nothing else than receiving Your kindness;
that it is an adherence to Christ,
a resting on Him,
love clinging to Him as a branch to the tree,
to seek life and vigor from Him.

-Puritan prayer (adapted)

 
 

Feb

23

2013

Trevin Wax|3:51 am CT

One Greater Than Jonah

For Jonah was a servant,
but I am the Master,
and he came forth from the great fish,
but I rose from death.

He proclaimed destruction,
but I have come preaching the good tidings of the kingdom.

The Ninevites indeed believed without a sign,
but I have exhibited many signs.

They heard nothing more than those words,
but I have made it impossible to deny the truth.

The Ninevites came to be ministered to,
but I, the very Master and Lord of all,
have come not threatening, not demanding an account,
but bringing pardon.

They were barbarians,
but these – the faithful -
have conversed with unnumbered prophets.

And of Jonah nothing had been prophesied in advance,
but of Me everything was foretold,
and all the facts have agreed with their words.

And Jonah indeed, when he was to go forth,
instead ran away that he might not be ridiculed.
But I, knowing that I am both to be crucified and mocked,
have come nonetheless.

While Jonah did not endure so much as to be reproached for those who were saved,
I underwent even death, and that the most shameful death,
and after this I sent others again.

And Jonah was a strange sort of person
and an alien to the Ninevites, and unknown;
but I a kinsman after the flesh and of the same forefathers.

- from a sermon by John Chrysostom