Thursday, November 26, 2015

November 22, 2011 | Mark 15:16-39 - Thanksgiving Service

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving in 2011, I had the high honor of speaking at the community-wide Thanksgiving service at Hardinsburg Baptist Church.  My wife and I agree that it was one of the best services we had attended (and not just because I was the speaker).  The music was amazing.  The choice of songs was dead on.  Christ was exalted.  People worshiped.  Unity was clear.  And the gospel drove the service.

Thanks to the Breckenridge County Ministerial Association for inviting me to speak.  I hope the gospel was proclaimed and God was glorified.


All Around the Web - November 26, 2015

BreakPoint - The Syrian Refugee Crisis - A BreakPoint Symposium

Joe Carter - Why We Need to Know Facts About the Bible

Denny Burk - The Evangelical Theological Society after Obergefell

The Gospel Coalition - In Defense of Christmas Cheer

Justin Taylor - 4 Ways to Become a Better Writer

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Michael Bird on Christus Victor

In his book Evangelical Theology, Dr. Michael Bird offers the following on the subject of Christus Victor.
Let's get Paul right here. Jesus' death is not only a transaction of my sin being placed into Jesus' account; there's much more to it. Jesus lets the powers do their worst to him, he takes the full brunt of sin, he drinks the dregs of judgment, and he allows death to hold him in its clutches. Then in the midst of a powerless death emerges a divine saving power to forgive, redeem, and renew. The festering cancer of sin has at last heard news of its cure. In the apex of death, life rises with healing in its wing. Satan's force is spent and his worst was no match for the best of the Son of God. The fatal wound of Jesus deals a fatal blow to death. The powers of this present darkness shiver as the looming tsunami of the kingdom of God draws ever nearer. the despots of the world live in denial as much as they live on borrowed time. This is Paul's atonement theology; this is the victory of God. (394-395)
I applaud the above. It is eloquent and shows why theology produces doxology. But to be clear, Bird affirms (and I with him) that Christus Victor can only be properly understood as the result of penal substitution. A few pages later, Bird writes:
Thus, the Christus Victor view cannot stand alone. The victory of God in Jesus' death needs to be explained with some other mode of the atonement hat shows how Jesus' death cancels sin, overcomes death, and vanquishes Satan. More likely, the victory of Jesus' death is achieved because his death is an atonement for sin, it is a substitutionary death, and it renders the devil's work of accusation as impotent (see Zech. 3:4; Rev. 12:10). (397)

For more from Michael Bird:
The God of the Gospel: A Review of Michael Bird's Theology Proper
The Goal of Theology: To Be Gospelized
The Gospel is From, About, and of God
Is God Impassible?
Is Karl Barth a Good or Bad Guy
Michael Bird on Why Eschatolgoy Matters
"Evangelical Theology" by Michael Bird Out Today
Humanity in Humiliation No Less: Michael Bird on Kenotic Christology

All Around the Web - November 24, 2015

Thom Rainer - Three Reasons Why Big Events Are Ineffective in Most Churches

Jason K. Allen - The Essential Marks of a Preacher

The Gospel Coalition - 7 Ways Christian History Benefits You

RC Sproul - Your Testimony Is Not the Gospel

The NY Times - Greek New Testament Papyrus Is Discovered on eBay

Monday, November 23, 2015

"Baptism By Fire" by Mark Updegrove: A Review

In contemplating historical hypotheticals -
What if John Adams - a patriot to be sure but headstrong, irascible, and often polarizing - had been the first president?

Or Lincoln's presidential rival, Stephen Douglas unopposed to the extension of slavery in new states as America expanded west, had beat him in 1860?

Or Franklin Roosevelt's second vice president, Henry Wallace, the most liberal member of Roosevelt's cabinet and a Russian sympathizer had remained on the ticket to take over for the deceased Roosevelt as the cold war began?

Or what if Richard Nixon's original vice president, Spiro Agnew, who resigned in 1973 amid allegations that he had accepted kickbacks as governor of Maryland, had ascended to the presidency after Nixon's resignation in 1974?
-we can appreciate the importance of having in place the right man at the right time. In almost all cases, by examining the tests they faced and the leadership they offered, we can get a glimpse of their greatness, or at very least, their goodness. (4-5)

Virtually every young child has once confessed they wanted to be President when they grow up. But the presidency isn't for anybody. History has called upon many men to take the mantle of the presidency at very difficult and perilous times. That is the subject of Mark Updegrove's book Baptism By Fire: Eight Presidents Who took Office in Times of Crisis.

As the subtitle suggests, the author looks specifically at 8 Presidents in our history who entered office in moments of crisis. These eight Presidents are:
  1. George Washington
  2. Thomas Jefferson
  3. John Tyler
  4. Abraham Lincoln
  5. Franklin Roosevelt
  6. Harry Truman
  7. John Kennedy
  8. Gerald Ford
Even a quick glance of the above list will reveal that the author has a broad understanding of "crisis." Washington's crisis was mainly one of precedent. The decisions he made would set the precedent for all future presidents. He also had to manage a clear break between the federalists and the whigs. Washington entered the White House after a major crisis - the Revolutionary War - now he had to keep the peace and set precedent.

Thomas Jefferson, too, didn't manage a crisis upon entering the Oval Office. Rather, he had to deal with the reality of two political parties with him being a federalists. Tyler's crisis was being the first vice-president to take the mantle. The debate regarded how to consider Tyler. Was he the next President or was he sitting in the place of the president until another one was elected?

In this list, we should really consider only a few as entering the White House in moments of crisis. In this list, I would include Abraham Lincoln (his election insured that war was inevitable), Franklin Roosevelt (the Great Depression), Harry Truman (World War 2 and the Cold War) and Gerald Ford (Watergate). Some of the other Presidents lead the country through serious crisis' (like John Kennedy at the height of the Cold War) but I only see these four as entering the President in moments of great crisis.

As the above question asks, what would have happened if Truman had lost reelection or if Nixon had won instead of Kennedy or if Washington had only served one term? That is the beauty of history. Yet before we think that the world would have fallen part (and it very well could have), let us not forget that many were petrified of Truman becoming President and many couldn't believe a Catholic would ever occupy the nation's highest office.

Overall, the book is a fascinating one but a bit broad. I was surprised to see some of the names (like Kennedy) and not others (like Lyndon Johnson). Nevertheless, Updegrove offers a book that history buffs alike will enjoy as he surveys each man's presidency unfolding for us the many unique challenges they faced.

The conclusion suggests that President Barack Obama might be a ninth candidate on this list. He points to both the economic crisis of 2008 and the ongoing Iraq War for reasons. Though the economic crisis was a serious challenge, I do not believe he inherited the mess of Roosevelt or Lincoln. Then there is the question of competency. Most of the names above rose to the occasion and stood above politics. President Obama, frankly, has not.

For more biographies on the Presidents:
President Barack Obama - "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama: A Review
President George W. Bush - "Decision Points" by George W. Bush
President Bill Clinton - "The Natural" by Joe Klein: A Review 
President George H. W. Bush - "41" by George W. Bush: A Review
President Ronald Reagan - "Ronald Reagan" by Dinesh D'Souza 
President Gerald Ford - "Gerald R. Ford" by Douglas Brinkley: A Review
President Richard Nixon - "The Greatest Comeback" by Pat Buchanan: A Review
President Lyndon B. Johnson - "Lyndon B. Johnson" by Charles Peters: A Review
President John F. Kennedy - "Killing Kennedy" by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard: A Review
President Dwight D. Eisenhower - "Ike: An American Hero" by Michael Korda: A Review
President Calvin Coolidge - "Coolidge" by Amity Shlaes" A Review
President Abraham Lincoln - "Abraham Lincoln: A Man of Faith and Courage"
"The Preacher and the Presidents" by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy: A Review
"The First Family Detail" by Ronald Kessler: A Review
"Double Down" by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann: A Review

American Experience Documentaries:
Woodrow Wilson: An American Experience
Dwight Eisenhower: An American Experience
Lyndon B. Johnson: American Experience

Richard Nixon: American Experience
Jimmy Carter: An American Experience
Ronald Reagan: An American Experience
George HW Bush: An American Experience  
Clinton: An American Experience

For more:
"Rawhide Down" by Del Quentin Wilber: A Review
Coolidge: Men Do Not Make Laws
"Watergate": A National Geographic Documentary
"Saving Ronald Reagan" Documentary