Wednesday, July 25, 2012

All Around the Web: Links For Your Wednesday - July 25, 2012

BreakPoint - A Mainline Collapse | Eric Metaxas comments on an earlier column written by Ross Douthat regarding the collapse of progressive Christianity. Though he points out that conservative Christianity is itself showing signs of decline, the numbers do speak for themselves. The decline among progressive circles is at a rapid pace and his opening paragraphs show why. Its theology stupid.

In 2006, the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop, Katherine Jefferts Schori, told the New York Times that Episcopalians were not interested in “replenishing their ranks by having children.” Instead, the church “[encouraged] people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.”

“Stewardship of the earth” and having children are not incompatible, but if Schori’s goal was a principled extinction, she’s about to succeed. The Episcopal Church, you see, is in a statistical free-fall.

Since 2000, the Episcopal Church has lost 23 percent of its members. At this rate, there will be no Episcopalians in 26 years.

My friend and New York Times columnist Ross Douthat noted that the collapse occurred at the same time that the church was transforming itself “into one of the most self-consciously progressive Christian bodies in the United States.”

Ironically, this transformation was done to make the church “relevant and vital.” Instead, people stopped going because, as Douthat points out, there was nothing these churches offered that they “[couldn’t] already get from a purely secular liberalism

Practical Shepherding - Why should a pastor preach through whole books of the Bible?

1. You cannot avoid the hard passages.
2. You understand the author's intent better.
3. Our people learn how to read their own Bibles

Real Clear Politics - Obama: "Out Of This Darkness A Brighter Day Is Going To Come" |

Mark Driscoll -Resisting Our Idols |

In helping you recognize the idols in your life, here are a series of questions I developed when preaching on this topic:

• What do you long for most passionately?
• Where do you run for comfort?
• What are you most afraid of?
• What angers you most with others and God?
• What makes you happiest?
• How do you explain yourself to others?
• What do you brag about?
• What do you want to have more than anything else?
• What do you sacrifice the most for in your life?
• “If I could change one thing in my life, it would be ____________.”
• Whose approval are you seeking?
• What do you want to control or master?
• What do you treasure most?
• What do you complain about

Reformed Forum - Suggested Reading List | I've already added a few of these to my wish list. The list includes history/historical theology, apologetics/philosophy, hermeneutics, systematic theology, biblical theology, etc.

People often ask us to recommend books. While the occasional inquirer asks about a specific issue, most simply seek general guidance in beginning a Reformed program of learning. There are so many good books to read! But we have to begin somewhere. We have found that having a well organized and thorough reading plan promotes discipline and forces the reader to have a breadth of knowledge that will enrich the reader’s studies in all areas. That being said, our list is slightly skewed. For instance, our church history section is heavy on American history, since—for better or worse—our constituency is overwhelmingly American. Also, this list is in progress. We will add items, remove others, and move things around as new books are published and we receive feedback.

Several of these suggestions come from the Westminster Theological Seminary recommended reading list, which we encourage you to review. It is also important to familiarize yourself with the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. The Orthodox Presbyterian Church have made these available online in a variety of formats. But above all, and we cannot stress this highly enough, prayerfully read your Bible regularly in such a manner that you work through all of Scripture—preferably at least once each year. Theological study is worthless—even detrimental—apart from a life spent in prayer and reading God’s Word.

CBS Pittsburgh - JCPenney’s To Eliminate Check-Out Clerks | The biggest complaint mentioned in the article is that people want to be waited on by people. And though I think this will be an issue at first, Wal-mart, Kroger, and others who offer self-check out services have shown that we will get over it pretty quick.

National Review Online - Romney’s $23 Million Cash-on-Hand Advantage | Following the news that Obama spent more ($58 million) in June than he took in ($46 million), the following is quit timely and dead on:

The Obama campaign spends money like… the Obama administration:

President Obama’s sharp turn to the offensive against GOP challenger Mitt Romney last month came at a steep cost: nearly $58 million.

That’s how much the president’s reelection campaign burned through in June as it pounded Romney’s business record and personal finances; its relentless television campaign alone cost $38 million, according to campaign finance reports filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission.

The Hobbit Blog - Production Video 8, Last Days & Comic Con | Can't. Wait.

Biblemesh - How Should We Respond to Old Testament Polygamy |

In the middle of ongoing cultural convulsions over the definition of marriage, I have found one question increasingly on the minds of many people: “Didn’t God in the Old Testament allow for polygamy? If that is true, then how can you say that marriage is defined as being only between one man and one woman?”

The truth is that the story of polygamy in the Old Testament is, well, a problem. There is no purchase in hiding the truth. Although monogamy was clearly God’s intent from the beginning, the picture blurs pretty quickly after Adam and Eve’s first sin and expulsion from the Garden. Accommodations were made. . . . 

How does one respond to this situation? The answer begins by seeing that God always points his creation back to the primacy and perfection of the original design. Next, you have to read every book to the end, and especially if it is the biblical context. And if you read the stories about the characters referenced above, you’ll quickly find that polygamy was an unmitigated sociological disaster that created heartbreak and sowed familial discord. By the time of the writing of Malachi, God’s desire was clear: covenantal monogamy was to be the norm.

Further, through the ministry of Jesus, we see God “reset the clock” so to speak to the original goodness of monogamous marital union – pointing forward to a new society and a new way. He also enacted new provisions to protect women and raise their standing in society. Jesus showed a world that had distorted the meaning of marriage back to the beauty of “the man being joined to his wife, and two will become one flesh.”  The nouns Jesus used are singular here, folks.  He showed that there is a way to go back to our “origin story” in the Garden – where one husband is join to one wife – a relationship Saint Augustine once called, “the basic bond of society.”

Amazon yesterday

HT: Ed Stetzer
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