Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The President Laughs: Correspondents Dinner 2013

For more:
The President Laughs: Correspondents Dinner 2012
The President Laughs: Correspondents Dinner 2011 
Brought To You By the Letter "O" & the Number 16 Trillion: Both Candidates at the Alfred E. Smith Dinner

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 9

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 1 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 4  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 5

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 1
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 4
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 5
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 6
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 7
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 8  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 9
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 10

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 3 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 10
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 11
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 12
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 13
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 14
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 15
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 16
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 17
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 18
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 19
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 20

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 9
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 10
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 11
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 12
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 13
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 14
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 15
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 16

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 6

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 5
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 9

Over the course of several months, I have slowly been blogging through Millard Erickson's systematic theology textbook, Christian Theology. One of the things I have enjoyed about Erickson's book is the insight he offers, philosophically and theologically, into theology. In his final chapter on harmartiology (the doctrine of sin), Erickson discusses what few conservative, orthodox theologians do: the social aspect of sin. He begins this chapter with the following:

For the most part, the sin of which we have been speaking to this point is individual sin - ations, thoughts, and dispositions which characterie individual human beings. Individual sin has often been the major object of the attention of evangelical Christians. Sin and salvation are considered matters pertaining strictly to the individual human being.

Scripture however, also makes frequent reference to group or collective sin. A case in point is the context of Isaiah 1:19, a text commonly cited in evangelistic appeals: "'Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool'" It is instructive to note the courses of action the Lord prescribes in the two verses that immediately precede: "Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow." Clearly, God is speaking of oppressive conditions for which he holds society responsible. (658)

Erickson goes on to discuss societal sin and does so in a helpful way theologically. But I want to go a different direction. I believe that the communal and social aspect of theology is often missed by orthodox believers and has now been hijacked by herterodox Christians. The debate, for decades now, has been simple. Liberals say conservatives only care about personal salvation and going to heaven. Conservatives respond by saying that liberals don't care about personal salvation and have relegated the gospel to politics and humanitarian aide. Neither side is articulating a full gospel.

Scripture, and all worldviews, are broken down into four major questions: 1) Where did we come from? (Creation); 2) What is wrong? (Fall); 3) What is the solution; (Redemption); and 4) How will it all end (Consummation). All worldviews and religions have answers to these four fundamental questions. Scripture provides the be answer to each of these, but unfortunately we oversimplify them.

God creates three things: the individual (Adam and Eve), community (marriage, family, economics, etc.), and the cosmos (the world and everything in it). The Fall, then, affects all three of these. The individual becomes corrupt and consumed with pride and idolatry in a personal attempt to become his own god. Communities, relationships, and entire societies are also corrupt. Thus we have sexual sin, societal ills, injustice, divorce, gossip, lust, etc. Cosmically, we experience natural disasters and other environmental disasters.

Thus sin is social. Every sin is social. Americans, including American Christians, have bought into the lie that sin can be and is primarily personal. Take pornography, for example. Many might say that what they do in the privacy of their home is no one's business and affects no one. And yet we never once think about that individual, guilty of personal sin, sinning socially. By viewing pornography is he now subjugating the person on the screen and polluting his own relationships? Is the husband not saying to his wife, "you are not enough?" Or how many people lived in a home where they worried about what kind of mood mom or dad was going to be in that day? Sin, though personal, is communal. Churches split because of sin. Societies break down because of sin.

The good news, however, is that both Redemption and Consummation overcome the Fall. Christ dies for the individual (you must be saved!) establishes a community (the church) and builds a Kingdom. There is also a cosmic aspect to the gospel that will be fulfilled at the consummation (the earth continues to groan Paul says in Romans 8). At the return of Christ, this same pattern remains. The saints are given resurrected, glorified bodies. The marriage supper of the lamp is communal. And God creates a new heavens and a new earth. Again, we have all three aspects - Personal, Communal, and Cosmic.

So all of the debates and finger pointing going on between conservative and liberal Christians is missing the point. The gospel is much bigger than fundamentalism and liberal progressivism. Rather, the gospel changes the individual and changes the world. Therefore, if the gospel is not changing me, then the gospel has not been embraced. If the gospel does not change the church, then the gospel has not been embraced. And where we see a heavy influence of Christianity, we see a natural change in the culture. Lose the gospel, and the affects of the Fall take over.

For more:
Does the Calvinistic Doctrine of God's Providence Make God Responsible For Sin?: Grudem's Answer
When the Bad Do Bad: David Brooks & the Secular Question of Depravity
The Transcendence of Greed:  What Economics Can Teach Us About the Gospel
Where the Gospel and Politics Collide:  The Necessity of Government in a Fallen World
Lewis on the Why of Democracy
The Utopian Myth: Pandora and the Avatar Blues
"Fall: God Judges" by Mark Discoll
"Its a Human Problem": What the History of Slavery Can Teach About Ourselves
What's the Difference?  Drawing the Line Between Liberals and Conservatives:  Politics
What's the Difference?  Drawing the Line Between Liberals and Conservatives:  Morality
Some Things Never Change: Why Evolution Is Contrary to the Gospel

All Around the Web - April 30, 2013

Russell Moore - What Should We Do with Our Frozen Embryos? | I take on this issue in my new book on the culture of death. We need to start adopting embryos because, as Dr. Moore says, we don't believe in "almost persons." Someone is a person or not and if they are a person, then they are my neighbor.

In a Christian vision of reality there is no such thing as an “almost person,” which is what we think with the abstraction of “fertilized embryos.” Someone is either a human person, and therefore my neighbor, or not. You do not have “frozen embryos.” You have children, frozen in this cruelly clinical world of suspended animation.

It is one thing to decide you can’t afford to have children, before you conceive children, just as it is one thing to decide you can’t afford to marry, before you marry. You’re married though, and you’ve conceived children. You have an obligation to them. The one who does not care for his own household is, the Apostle Paul says, “worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8).

Wade O Radio - Shai Linne Responds To Paula White Ministries’ Open Letter | Reformed rapper Shai Linne has taken on the prosperity preachers by name in a recent song and it has gone viral. Paul White has responded to Shai Linne criticing him & now the rapper has responded back. I highlight here what Shai Linne had to say regarding White's view of the atonement.

Paula White did a series called 8 Promises of the Atonement, that at the time of my writing this, is currently featured on your ministry website. In it, she states that physical healing and financial abundance in this life are provided for in the atonement of Christ. See the following video at the 25:00 mark where Paula White teaches “salvation includes healing.” She says it again at 28:30. But then she goes even further. If you keep listening, she talks about commanding her body not to be sick because of the blood of Christ. She ends this section by boldly declaring around 29:40:

“You are not going to die of sickness. When you go, it’s going to be because of your appointed time of old age and full of life

For Paula White to say this to a large crowd of people is both false and irresponsible. She has no idea how those people are going to die. The truth is that Christians do get sick. Many godly believers die at young ages from sickness and it is not due to their lack of faith or because they haven’t embraced what’s theirs through the atonement. It’s because God is sovereign.

Baptist 21 - Russell Moore: A Conversation About Ethics, SBC, and America (Part 4) | On marriage.

Zac Hicks - Thoughts on the Altar Call | Here are some his points.

Certainly, God has used the altar call to bring many to faith in Him.
The altar call is built on at least one good biblical assumption.
We mustn't caricature the altar call based on bad models of its practice.
However, I find little biblical support for the altar call in worship.
Nor do I find a lot of historical support for the altar call in worship.
The title "altar call" itself is problematic to me.
The altar call seems to fit a more Arminian theological structure, to which I don't subscribe.
I have sometimes found that those eager to employ the altar call in worship have a very narrow view of when and how God saves.
Other aspects of historic Christian worship fulfill the best parts of what an altar call does.
Ultimately, the altar call doesn't really seem necessary

Christianity Today - Why 100 Former Muslims Converted to Christianity |

According to scholar Scot McKnight, conversion experiences are deeply impacted by the different contexts in which the gospel operates. What does that mean for Muslim conversion experiences?

As an answer, McKnight points to a survey of 100 former Muslims by Georges Houssney, founder and president of Horizons International, that attempts to understand the factors that led to their conversion to Christianity.

The vast majority of respondents—who were mostly moderate Muslims (40%) or nominal Muslims (40%) before their conversions (20% were self-described "fanatics")—said they viewed their relationship with Allah as based on fear or duty. Equal percentages (55%) said they viewed Islam primarily as a cultural system vs. a religious system. Today, 9 in 10 respondents say they believe they now are worshiping a different God than Allah.

My favorite president Calvin Coolidge:

Monday, April 29, 2013

"The Return of the King" by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Review

I have finished a re-reading of the Lord of the Rings. I read them first college some years ago shortly after the movies had been released and now with the distance of time and the return of Middle-Earth to the big screen through the Hobbit, I thought I would read the beloved classic trilogy again. The challenge of reviewing this books ought to be obvious. What else is there to say regarding these classics? To make it worse, what is there for me to say regarding these classics? I am no literary critic nor an expert on literature or Tolkien. I am just a fan.

But in regards to The Return of the King there are a few things that I noticed. First, the title itself has been pointed out as rather inadequate. Is the story in this trilogy about the king of Gondor or about destroying the ring? My first exposure to this trilogy was the movies and when I saw the title of the third film I read it as, "The Return of Ring." That made more sense to me. Frodo and Sam are taking the ring to Mount Doom, where the ring was forged, to destroy it. It was later that I realized, and the picture of Aragorn on the poster made it obvious, that the title was about a king, not about a ring. This makes little sense to me. I know that Tolkien did not care for the title himself, but it still remains strange to me.

This leads to one thing that I do enjoy about the trilogy that is seen most clearly in this third book. There are many stories that make up this story. The main story is Frodo and the Ring. But beyond that we see a Ranger become King and how that came to be. Gandalf the Grey becoming Gandalf the White. Faramire uniting the two main realms of men - Gondor and Rohan. Theodine clearly wants to die as one of the great kings of men and does so in the end. Golum is destroyed by his lust. It seems that most of the main characters have two quests. The first, which unites them all, is the defense of Middle-Earth from Sauron and the destruction of the ring. The other is a unique quest of completion.

This might explain why the conclusion is so long. As I mentioned before, it takes a while for the story to really begin in The Fellowship of the Ring it likewise takes many pages for the story to end in the Return of the King. Each character's story within the greater story must come to a satisfying end. Aragorn has to be crowned. Faramire must get married. Theodin must be buried. The hobbits must fight for the Shire. Etc. I love stories that do this. When each character brings something unique to the story, it enhances the story and makes one love the characters more. Tolkien is a genius at this.

Regarding the battle at the Shire where Sauraman and Wormtongue are dealt with by the four hobbits, and the hobbits alone, is strange and everyone has highlighted that. I have little to say regarding it for or against. It is what it is.

One final thing should be highlight and that regards the division of the three books. Each book is broken into two parts. Each part follows the story of the dominate characters. This means that one is essentially reading the same story twice. One might follow Frodo and Sam up to a point and then return chronologically to the beginning of the book and then follow the rest of the fellowship. This is a big strange to the reader and if Tolkien had welcomed an editor, such an approach to telling the story may not have remained. But in the third book, this approach is really effective.

My favorite scene was cut from the theatrical version of the movie and only added in the extended version. There, at the Black Gate, Aragorn, Gandalf, and the others speak with the Mouth of Sauron. A strange character to say the least. But in this scene, the Mouth of Sauron tries to convince the Fellowship to surrender because their greater cause, the destruction of the ring, had been uncovered. To prove it, the Mouth of Sauron pulls out some of Frodo's belongings. Because of how the story is divided, the reader is as surprised as the Fellowship. We find out later that they had Frodo's belongings but not Frodo because of the bravery of Sam. Tolkien's division is effective here, but this great scene was cut from the theatrical version of the film because the audience already knew that the Mouth was lying. They did not have Frodo or the ring.

Here is that scene in the extended version of the film:

Overall, good book. Good conclusion to the series. But you already knew that.

"The Two Towers" by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Review

I am not a literary critic and thus to write a review of a trilogy on a blog with belief that you will contribute to the conversation is rather foolish. What can one write or say about the Lord of the Rings trilogy in general or the Two Towers particularly that hasn't already been said? As a result, what follows are just a few things that crossed my mind. Furthermore, it is now difficult to read and speak of these books without dealing with the movie.

First, of the three movies, the Two Towers film probably takes creative license the most. The climax of the Fellowship of the Ring movie is found in the beginning of the Two Towers book. The scene of Boromier betrayal and death open up the pages of the second book. Beyond that, Peter Jackson and company emphasizes the battle at Helm's Deep, making it the climax, while Tolkien takes much longer in getting there. Jackson has Eomer on the run, Tolkien is not. And on and on it goes. Someone more qualified than me could give a seemingly endless list of differences between the film and book.

Some of these changes might have been necessary, but it goes to illustrate why when it comes to watching movie versions of books I try to separate the two. No movie is better than the book for various reasons. Furthermore, no movie follows the book perfectly. Thus I have found it best to allow the book be the book and the movie to be the movie. Certainly changes where made by Jackson that are a bit disappointing, but the spirit of the book, for the most part, remains.

Moving on.

One thing that sticks out to me regards Gollum. He is one of the most unique and important characters in literature. What he is remains mysterious. We know that he once was something like a hobbit, but apparently was not one. He is now a strange creature controlled by a thirst to get the ring back and it is that drive that brings him into the story. Gandalf had told Frodo that he suspected that Gollum would play an important role, and when Sam and Frodo break from the Fellowship, they rely heavily on the strange creature.

Regarding Gollum I noticed how he and Sam used the same title when speaking to Frodo but with two very different meanings. Both refer to Frodo as "Master." Sam uses it in the sense of employment. Sam works for Frodo by keeping his garden in the Shire. His use of "Master" is much more friendly. Sam is not a slave, but a friend. Gollum, on the other hand, is a slave. Since Frodo possesses the ring, the very thing Gollum is enslaved to, the creature is obeys every command of Frodo, that is, until his "loyalty" to Frodo is proven false. His true loyalty is to the ring, leading Frodo and Sam to Mordor is a means to an ends.

This distinction is important especially regarding Christian theology. Jesus is the Master and Lord of all believers and thus we serve Him, but at the same time, Jesus makes it clear that we are His friends. As adopted sons and daughters of the Father, we become joint-heirs with Christ. Thus we do not fear Christ without understanding grace. In this sense, we are more like Sam. Master is a term of endearment, a reminder of who we truly are and who Jesus really is.

Sinners are more like Gollum. Enslaved to false idols who promise joy - the sort of joy Gollum believes he will find in the ring - is the subtle nature of sin. Idols enslave us with the promise of freedom but never gives us that freedom. As a result, when we don't find joy or contentment we double down. Like Gollum, the unredeemed sinner really is a slave.

More could be said, but as I said, I won't add much to what has already been said. The "resurrection" of Gandalf is interesting in light of Tolkien's Christian faith. Wormtongue remains a strange character who serves as a puppet of Sauronman. I love Theoden as a king. Its a great story, but you already knew that. If you haven't read the book already, do it now!

For more:
"The Fellowship of the Ring" by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Review
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Dramatized Audio
An Encouraging Thought: Gandalf on Providence

All Around the Web - April 29, 2013

Dr. Denny Burk - Real Beauty Sketches | This really deserves its own separate post. Everyone, especially women, should watch this.

Trevin Wax - Find Your Worth in the Gospel |This is so good. You really need to read the whole thing.

The point of salvation is not that God loves us because we are valuable. The point of salvation is that God is the greatest, and in His mercy, he has chosen to give us worth by loving us when we had nothing in us deserving salvation.

The therapeutic gospel leaves us thinking, “Lord, thanks for recognizing my worth and loving me!” The biblical gospel leaves us on our knees in profound gratitude, crying, “Thank you, God, that even though my heart is more like a defaced rock than a precious jewel, you saw fit to love me.”

The therapeutic gospel says, “I am valuable, and that’s why God loves me.” The biblical gospel says, “I am valuable because God loves me!”

Once you grasp the truth that there is nothing intrinsically worthy in yourself that would cause God to act on your behalf, you are overwhelmed by grace flowing from a God who chose to reach down and deliver you anyway. And all you can repeat through tears is, Why me? Why me? Why me? Amazing grace… why would he save a wretch like me?

The therapeutic gospel makes grace expected. The biblical gospel makes grace amazing.

Mark Driscoll - 7 Things I've Learned From John Piper |

1. Study the Bible 
2. Stay in one place 
3. Teach the Bible 
4. Care about young leaders 
5. If you can write, write 
6. You never really retire 
7. Glorify God by enjoying him forever

Christianity Today - 'Post-Christian' beliefs gaining ground in US |

While most Americans refer to themselves as Christians, a study released Monday by Barna Group shows an upward trend in "post-Christian" beliefs and behaviours among the nation's adult population.

According to the study, which is an analysis of nearly 43,000 interviews conducted in recent years by the Ventura, Calif.-based organisation, more than 70 per cent of American adults describe themselves as Christians.
Only 63 per cent of people rank "low" on the Barna Group's post-Christian scale, however, while 28 percent are considered "moderately" post-Christian and nine percent are considered "highly" post-Christian.

The post-Christianity scale is based on 15 faith-related metrics researchers have tracked in recent years. Included in these metrics are measurements indicating the percentage of people who have not prayed to God in the last year (18 per cent), who haven't read the Bible in the last week (57 per cent), who don't consider faith an important part of their lives (13 per cent) and haven't been to a Christian church in the last year (33 per cent), among other things.

Mental Floss - Where Are They Now? 8 Things That Terrified Us in the '90s | Remember Y2K?

When the calendars rolled over from the last day of 1999 to the first of 2000, the world’s computers were supposed to be in trouble. Since many computers used six-digit dates (dd/mm/yy) to save digital space, the change from 99 to 00 would cause problems for date mathematics and systems that check valid dates (like credit card processing).

Companies, governments, and individuals spent an estimated $550 million to upgrade and fix their systems, and the world didn’t end on New Year’s Day. There were glitches here and there—including at a few power plants, the Pentagon, an ATF office, and an Amtrak control center—but nothing that wiped out the global economy or brought death raining down from the sky. “I’m pleased to report what you already know—that we don’t have anything to report,” FEMA director James Lee Witt told reporters at the time.

We might have to go through the Y2K headache all over again in a few decades, though. Another dating problem affects systems that use the standard time library, which stores and calculates time and date values using a counter zeroed at midnight on January 1, 1970, 12:00:00 a.m. The farthest these counters can get from that 0 before rolling over to a negative number is 2,147,483,647 seconds, which they’ll hit at 3:14:07 a.m. on January 19, 2038.

HT: 22 Words

Saturday, April 27, 2013

"A Habit Most Natural, Scriptural, Manly, and Beneficial": Spurgeon on Growing a Beard

Apparently men growing beards (or at least some facial hair) is coming back in style. A lot of this might be laid at the feet of feminism. Among my Reformed brethren this has particularly become popular. I have been to a number of events and conferences where beard-growing was actually promoted in some way usually with a quote from Charles Spurgeon. The quote reads: A [beard is] most natural, scriptural, manly, and beneficial. And being that it came from the pen of Spurgeon, it must be right. Right?!

I have always wondered where that quote came from. And after some research I discovered that it is found in Spurgeon's book Lecture to My Students. The context, honestly, sort of ruins the quote for beard growing promoters. There, Spurgeon is encouraging his students to guard their throats. Therefore, he suggests they never wrap their throats tightly. Even in the winter months when it is so cold, Spurgeon warns against men wearing scarfs. One reason is it prevents the body from adapting to the cold. But if one does want something to help with the winter weather, grow a beard - A habit most natural, scriptural, manly, and beneficial. Here is the full quote:

When you have done preaching take care of your throat by never wrapping it up tightly. From personal experience I venture with some diffidence to give this piece of advice. If any of you possess delightfully warm woollen comforters, with which there may be associated the most tender remembrances of mother or sister, treasure them — treasure them in the bottom of your trunk, but do not expose them to any vulgar use by wrapping them round your necks. If any brother wants to die of influenza let him wear a warm scarf round his neck, and then one of these nights he will forget it, and catch such a cold as will last him the rest of his natural life.

You seldom see a sailor wrap his neck up. No, he always keeps it bare and exposed, and has a turn-down collar, and if he has a tie at all, it is but a small one loosely tied, so that the wind can blow all round his neck. In this philosophy I am a firm believer, having never deviated from it for these fourteen years, and having before that time been frequently troubled with colds, but very seldom since.

If you feel that you want something else, why, then grow your beards! A habit most natural, scriptural, manly, and beneficial. One of our brethren, now present, has for years found this of great service. He was compelled to leave England on account of the loss of his voice, but he has become as strong as Samson now that his locks are unshorn.

If your throats become affected consult a good physician, or if you cannot do this, give what attention you please to the following hint. Never purchase “Marsh-mallow Rock,” “Cough-no-more Lozenges,” “Pulmonic Wafers,” Horehound, Ipecacuanha, or any of the ten thousand emollient compounds. They may serve your turn for a time by removing present uneasiness, but they ruin the throat by their laxative qualities. If you wish to improve your throat take a good share of pepper — good Cayenne pepper, and other astringent substances, as much as your stomach can bear
. (Lecture to My Students, lecture 8 "On the Voice")

For more:
Charles Spurgeon: A Biographical Documentary
A Pedstal For the Cross: Spurgeon on Preaching
Repost | Shai Linne: Spurgeon
A Minister's Melancholy:  Spurgeon on the Downcast Preacher - Part 1
A Minister's Melancholy:  Spurgeon on the Downcast Preacher - Part 2 
A Minister's Melancholy:  Spurgeon on the Downcast Preacher - Part 3
A Minister's Melancholy:  Spurgeon on the Downcast Preacher - Part 4 
A Minister's Melancholy:  Spurgeon on the Downcast Preacher - Part 5 
Theology Thursday | Spurgeon on Uniformity vs. Unity
Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism - Part 1
Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism - Part 2
Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism - Part 3
Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism - Part 4
Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism - Part 5
"Great Forgiveness For Great Sin": A Sermon Preached by CH Spurgeon - Part 1
"Great Forgiveness For Great Sin": A Sermon Preached by CH Spurgeon - Part 2
"Great Forgiveness For Great Sin": A Sermon Preached by CH Spurgeon - Part 3
"Does Revelation Teach Us Evolution?": The Prince of Preachers on the Question of Evolution

Charles Spurgeon: A Biographical Documentary

For more:
A Pedstal For the Cross: Spurgeon on Preaching
Repost | Shai Linne: Spurgeon
A Minister's Melancholy:  Spurgeon on the Downcast Preacher - Part 1
A Minister's Melancholy:  Spurgeon on the Downcast Preacher - Part 2 
A Minister's Melancholy:  Spurgeon on the Downcast Preacher - Part 3
A Minister's Melancholy:  Spurgeon on the Downcast Preacher - Part 4 
A Minister's Melancholy:  Spurgeon on the Downcast Preacher - Part 5 
Theology Thursday | Spurgeon on Uniformity vs. Unity
Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism - Part 1
Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism - Part 2
Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism - Part 3
Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism - Part 4
Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism - Part 5
"Great Forgiveness For Great Sin": A Sermon Preached by CH Spurgeon - Part 1
"Great Forgiveness For Great Sin": A Sermon Preached by CH Spurgeon - Part 2
"Great Forgiveness For Great Sin": A Sermon Preached by CH Spurgeon - Part 3
"Does Revelation Teach Us Evolution?": The Prince of Preachers on the Question of Evolution

All Around the Web - April 27, 2013

World Magazine - Country music legend George Jones dies |

George Jones, the hard-living heartbeat and herald of traditional country music, who recorded dozens of hits about both good times and regret, has died. He was 81. 

Jones passed away Friday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, according to publicist Kirt Webster. The country crooner, known for heartbreakers like “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” had been hospitalized with fever and irregular blood pressure, forcing him to postpone two shows.

Russell Moore - George Jones: Troubadour of the Christ-Haunted Bible Belt |

George Jones has died, and I am afraid a lot of people will think he was a hypocrite. George Jones was no hypocrite. He was the troubadour of the Christ-haunted self. The raw emotion, and even whispers of torture, in his voice can teach American Christianity much about the nature of sin and the longing for repentance.

Jones is easy to caricature as a hypocrite, to be sure. He was arguably the most gifted recording artist in country music history. I would fight anyone, metaphorically speaking, who denies that “He Stopped Loving Her Today” is the greatest country song of all time, but Jones was known for more than his recordings. His failed marriages, most notably from fellow country music star Tammy Wynette, and his life-long skirmish with substance abuse, were always in the headlines. Few people knew of George Jones who did not immediately think of the anecdote of his riding a lawn mower to the liquor store after the authorities, and his long suffering wife, took away his freedom to drive a car.

Jones did what any public relations-savvy entertainer would do. He owned his brand. After fans were upset by a series of canceled shows, due to Jones’ drunkenness, he played up the image as “No Show Jones.” He sang light songs about drunkenness and divorce, such as “White Lightning” in which he referred to whiskey (in some live concert versions) as “Baptist corn squeezing.”

Obeying Christ - Early Christians and the Sanctity of Human Life |

Plutarch was a first century historian who wrote that the Carthaginians “offered their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds; meanwhile the mother stood by without a tear or moan.” Cicero (106-43 B.C.) said that “deformed infants should be killed.” This was the worldview of the Greco-Roman world in which the early church lived. If this sounds like the extreme practices of an ancient barbaric society long forgotten, then you need to wake up.

The more we learn about the horrors of the abortion culture, more accurately described as the culture of death, the more disturbing it becomes. In the past couple of weeks the issue of infanticide has become a major discussion in the world of social media. Remember, infanticide is the killing of an infant that is alive after birth. Recently a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood defended the horrific practice before the Florida House of Representatives. Even more disturbing than the Florida case is a murder case in Pennsylvania involving an abortionist who is charged with seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of third-degree murder. The seven counts of first-degree murder involve babies that had survived abortions and were subsequently put to death. What makes these cases even more shocking is the lack of media coverage that the cases have been given since the trial began last month. The media has been virtually silent.

One thing that is important for us to consider as Christians thinking through the issues involved here is that this is nothing new. Our forefathers in the Christian faith faced similar cultural horrors in their day. As I mentioned in the opening paragraph society has not changed as much as some would have us to believe. This is because we live in a Genesis 3 world. Ever since Genesis 3 sin has dominated the human heart. This is was true in Rome, Athens, Germany, and is still the case in Philadelphia and Florida. Nevertheless, Christians fought against the unjust practice based primarily on two principles from Scripture: “You shall not murder” (Ex. 20:13) and “Be not conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2). The early Christians without reservation put infanticide within the context of the command not to murder. They did not shy away from the controversy and condemned it in their writings. The author of the Didache (perhaps AD 90) has this to say: “You shall not murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not corrupt children; you shall not be sexually immoral; you shall not steal; you shall not practice magic; you shall not engage in sorcery; you shall not abort a child or commit infanticide (lit. you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill one that was born)” (2:2). The author mentions killing children again in 5:2 as something that is characteristic of the way of death. Similarly, The Epistle of Barnabas (2nd century) condemns abortion and infanticide in 19:5, “You shall not abort a child nor, again, commit infanticide (same wording except for the word). At first Christians did not have the kind of influence to impact policy on infanticide. This was true for a long time. They opposed it where they encountered it, they patiently endure persecution, and they continued to preach the gospel. As they did this Christianity spread throughout the Roman world and evetually was made a legal religion in AD 313. The problems that arose from Christianity being legalized notwithstanding, the Christian emperor Valentinian outlawed infanticide in AD 374.

John MacArthur - Why Confront the Charismatic Movement? |

New York Times - Justices Consider Whether Patents on Genes Are Valid |

The Supreme Court is poised to take up the highly charged question of whether human genes can be patented. But another question could trump it: Has the field of genetics moved so far so fast that whatever the court decides, it has come too late to the issue?

The case, which will come before the court on Monday, involves patents held by Myriad Genetics on two human genes, which, when mutated, give a woman a high risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer. The patents give Myriad a monopoly on testing for these mutations, a highly lucrative business. 

The hearing comes as rapid scientific advances are producing an explosion of new information about human genes, as well as those of animals, plants and microbes, yielding new approaches to detecting and combating diseases.

The new GOP:

Friday, April 26, 2013

George Jones (1931-2013)

Today country music legend, George Jones, passed away in Nashville. In light of the news, here are four of his biggest songs that I love. The first is obvious.

He Stopped Loving Her Today

Picture Of Me Without You

Radio Lover

Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes?

For more:
"A Satisfied Mind" by Johnny Cash
"Redemption" by Johnny Cash

Should We Be Shocked By Gosnell?: Robert P. George Asks An Important Question

Should we be so shocked that an abortion doctor would perform infanticide (now charged with seven accounts of it) in America's most under-regulated "businesses?" Natural theologian says no. He writes:

Honestly, is it so hard to understand Kermit Gosnell? If respectable and influential people—cultural and political leaders—spend decades trying to persuade the public that “it’s not really a baby, it just looks like a baby,” are we shocked—shocked—that some people come to believe it, and act on that belief? . . .

Still, one might say that it is easier to understand how one could fail to see that abortion is the taking of human life when the human life in question is in the earliest stages of development, and doesn’t yet “look like a baby.” But because the unborn human begins to “look like a baby” fairly early on, the pro-choice movement worked hard to persuade people not to trust the evidence of their senses—to disregard the little arms and legs that were severed in the process of dismembering the “fetus” (a perfectly valid word—meaning “young one”—that became convenient to deploy as a way of suggesting that the unborn baby is “something different,” not really a baby or a human being). ”It’s not a baby, it just looks like a baby.” Tragically, Gosnell believed them. So did lots of other people.

I think George is on to something. The granting of rights to a child only after leaving the mother's womb is arbitrary at best and, as George says here, after forty years of being told that the unborn child is just tissue and matter it is not a stretch to believe the same regarding infants. George Will, in his column on this issue, is right when he says that to the pro-choice crowd, if a woman enters a Planned Parenthood clinic, she is owed "a dead baby," and that was a "service" that Gosnell was more than willing to perform and it made him rich.

Finally, as Christians we should never be shocked at the deep depraved actions of fallen man. This does not mean that we ought to glibly shrug our shoulders when something abhorrent like this takes place. However, theologically we must understand that fallen man will continue to outdo itself in how it treats other people especially the most innocent among us. At the same time, such a foundation ought to compel us to act as defenders of the weak and innocent and as proclaimers of a better gospel.

Robert P. George - Is Gosnell Really So Shocking?

For more:
John Stonestreet on Gosnell Trial 
Anderson Cooper's Coverage of the Gosnell Trial
All Around the Web - Gosnell Trial Edition  

Is Infanticide Coming?

Typically, the slippery slope argument is primarily applied to sexual ethics. The logic is simple: open the door to rationalize, normalize, legalize, and protect a certain sexual act, then there is no closing of Pandora's proverbial box. If trends continue, same-sex marriage is inevitable. However, the slippery slope suggests that the debate over marriage will not end there, but will then apply to other sexual lifestyles including polygamy, polyamory, pedophilia, incest, etc.

The point is that arguments have consequences and this is certainly true when debating sexual ethics. If marriage and sex is open to consenting individuals, then there is no argument against other sexual lifestyles. But the slippery slope applies far beyond sexuality. Consider life.

Most state laws allow abortion up to the point that the unborn child fully exits his mother's womb. Before that point, the unborn child has no rights and is subject to the will of his mother. Of course this is all arbitrary. A drunk driver who wrecks and kills an unborn child is guilty of homicide, but if that mother had aborted that same child she is exercising her feminist right of liberation and "choice."

Any argument for abortion is arbitrary. Should the state allow an abortion only up to the point that the child could likely survive if born? As technology improves, this arbitrary stage extends earlier into pregnancy. What about when a heartbeat can be detected? Are we to conclude that the day before that stage the child has no right to life but the next day he does? This is all arbitrary.

But take the arguments for abortion to its logical conclusions. Pro-choice advocates defend their position by shouting choice, women's rights, compassion, socio-economics, sexual liberation, and contraception. For example, if a child is diagnosed with Down Syndrome in the womb and it is the compassionate thing to abort him, then what about those children misdiagnosed? Several families have already sued hospitals and doctors already for this very reason arguing about a "wrongful birth." What if a mother intended to abort but went into labor before she could abort? Must she keep the child? Should the child live?

Consider a recent article by Michael Bird where he argues that after euthanasia, the slippery slope of the culture of death will take us to infanticide. We are becoming barbarians if we are not there already. He writes:

Already we have seen a vast array of philosophical arguments put forward for it by Peter Singer. Last year there was a big hoopla when two Melbourne academics advocated that new born infants are not persons and infants are not therefore not entitled to the protection that personhood conveys. More recently, the spate of “post-birth abortions” performed in Philadelphia has provoked outrage, though much of the media has deliberately muted their response. Added to that, Planned Parenthood has recently defended infanticide: If you pay money, you are owed a dead baby! I think infanticide is a logically consistent corollary of abortion. If you are going to terminate a child in utero, then let’s be honest, going six inches down the birth canal can hardly change the infant’s legal rights or ontological status.

Add to this the recent Dr. Kermit Gosnell trial. Gosnell is on trial for the death of one of his patients and for seven cases of infanticide. The media has been mostly silent about this case which speaks volumes. Instead of tackling the subject of abortion, the secular left has tried to tell us that "there is nothing to see here." Is the pro-choice crowd so committed to abortion that they will not speak out against this doctor of death and his house of horrors? Furthermore, Senator Barbara Boxer, on the Senate floor years ago, suggested that abortion ought to be legal until the parents bring their child home. That is infanticide.

But surely this will never happen, right? Bird then writes:

Campaigners  for infanticide will make their case in a gradual way. First, they won’t call it “infanticide” (killing infants) but “post-birth abortion.” The reasons are obvious. The word “infanticide” strikes horror into our hearts. But “post-birth abortion” makes it sound like the termination is simply an extension of abortion, which we are culturally adjusted to. Yet the terminology is grossly inaccurate. You can “abort” something in process like a pregnancy, but killing an infant is not an abortion, its an execution. Second, campaigners will advocate the infants born with terminal illnesses should be euthanized so as to prevent the infant’s suffering. That is the compassionate thing to do! Third, then the campaign will shift to children with chronic disabilities and all kinds of generative diseases and then move onto to any minor defect like cleft palates. Planned Parenthood will parade teary-eyed parents wishing they could have terminated their sick child either in utero or soon after birth to prevent the child’s suffering and their own. Fourth, then radical feminists will tell us that women will never be truly liberated until they are given the right to terminate their own infants. Fifth, we will be told that the only reason for not believing in infanticide is that you are a religious whack job.

I think he is right. Make immoral acts appear compassionate and it won't be long before a simple-minded, fickle public will be wooed. Bird then adds why this is so important:

The introduction of [same-sex marriage] will be a confirmation that Christendom is truly over. The introduction of euthansia (sic) will mean that secular humanism is now the default philosophical setting. The advent of infanticide will mean that our culture has returned to paganism; returned to a time when ethics were simply a matter of power and aesthetics

I concur with what Bird has to say here. You can read the rest of the article here. A secular culture will continue down this spiral of death and sexual confusion. It is only the short-sighted who assume, "this could never happen here."

The rights and ethics often taken for granted in America are rooted in two cities: Athens and Jerusalem. Secularism, by definition, does not allow for Jerusalem to be represented in current debates over sex, marriage, life, death, rights, and policy. Therefore any moral argument made from faith, moral philosophy, etc. is not welcomed. That leaves us with Athens. Tough the ancient philosophers have played a significant role in the American experiment, those same pagan philosophers defended abortion, infanticide, and sexual immorality.

Athens, here we come.

Michael Bird - Infanticide: The Coming Battle

On Gosnell:
John Stonestreet on the Gosnell Trial
Anderson Cooper's Coverage of the Gosnell Trial
"3801 Lancaster": A Documentary
All Around the Web - Gosnell Trial Edition
The Question of Infanticide:  The "House of Horrors" & the Debate Over Life

On infanticide:
Mohler on the After-Birth Abortion Controversy
The Personhood of Animals:  The Argument is Made Again
"When You Bring Your Baby Home:"  Infanticide and Arbitrary Definitions of Life
What To Do With An Abortion Survivor:  Italy, Infanticide, and Secular Moral Confusion 
"Badly Botched" Abortion:  Another Way of Saying Infanticide and Murder
Are Ultrasounds Enough:  The Centeredness of the Sacredness of Life in the Abortion Debate 
On Why Darwin Still Matters
The Threat of Trig Palin:  The Return of Life Worthy of Life
Which Will We Choose?:  The Theology of Death or the Theology of Life - Peter Singer, Evolution, & the Ethics of Human 
From White Sheets to White Coats:  Abortion and the Ongoing Struggle for Civil Rights  
Eugenics in the Present Tense: Eugenics in America Today - Part 1
Eugenics in the Present Tense:  Eugenics in America Today - Part 2
Eugenics in the Present Tense:  Eugenics in America Today - Part 3
Logizomai Book Now Available 

I deal with the issues of the culture of death in my upcoming book The Death of Death and the Death of Christ: Engaging the Culture of Death with the Gospel of Christ. Coming soon

All Around the Web - April 26, 2013

Ed Stetzer - New Research: Spiritual Maturity Tied to Strong Doctrinal Beliefs |

Consumers in America are accustomed to having endless combinations of choices for every want in life. Biblical truth is radical because it teaches that eternal life is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ alone.

If churches stopped to assess their congregation on these biblical truths, many would be surprised to find out how many are struggling with basic doctrinal issues. Every church has a different mix of mature disciples and spiritual infants who still need a diet of the basic gospel message. A discipleship process must help every person take the next step in his or her spiritual journey. Too many churchgoers are stuck on square one.

A new LifeWay Research study on "Doctrinal Views" shows that among Protestant church attendees 81 percent say "When you die, you will go to heaven because you have confessed your sins and accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior," 26 percent agree "If a person is sincerely seeking God, he/she can obtain eternal life through religions other than Christianity." Fifty-seven percent disagree. These are people who actually attend church, not just those who claim to be Christians who attend Protestant churches.

That's not the only responses we got. Here are some of the others:

-- When you die, you will go to heaven because you have tried your best to be a good person and live a good life (selected by 7 percent of churchgoers).
-- You have no way of knowing what will happen when you die (5 percent of churchgoers).
-- When you die, you will go to heaven because God loves everyone and we will all be in heaven with Him (4 percent).
-- When you die, you will go to heaven because you have read the Bible, been involved in church, and tried to live as God wants you to live (2 percent).
-- There is no life after death (1 percent)

BibleMesh - Is the Old Testament Reliable and Accurate? |

Religion Today - Nearly Half of Young Women Live With Boyfriend Prior to Marriage |

Nearly half of women ages 15 to 44 say their "first union" was cohabitation rather than marriage, according to a new survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA Today reports. As a first union, 48 percent of women moved in with their male partner, up markedly from 43 percent in 2002 and 34 percent in 1995. Just 23 percent of first unions were marriages, down from 30 percent in 2002 and 39 percent in 1995.

Religion Today - Poll: 55 Percent of Blacks Say Gay Rights Not the Same as Civil Rights |

A new poll commissioned by Black Entertainment Television (BET) founder Bob Johnson and conducted by Zogby shows that 55 percent of African-American adults do not agree with the LGBT community's claim that gay rights are the same as civil rights, CNSNews.com reports. In contrast, 28 percent said no when asked if equal rights for gays were the same as equal rights for African-Americans.

Dr. Thom Rainer - Eight Diagnostic Questions for a Church’s Health |
  1. Is the church’s teaching based on the Bible?  Ultimately, a local church is a group of believers who proclaim, teach, and live out the gospel of Jesus Christ. Where that gospel is not taught, something less than the New Testament church exists. An inherent danger in church consulting is that the consultant will give ideas and suggestions that will, in fact, lead to “church growth”—but the final product will focus more on growing than on being church. We must guard against that possibility by reminding churches of the importance of a biblical foundation, even while we also emphasize evangelism.
  2. Is the church a praying church?  Legitimate church growth is a gift of God, who empowers His followers and draws others unto Himself. Another danger in church consulting is that we will offer solutions that are based on our ingenuity rather than God’s power. For that reason, I want to know that the church is focusing on prayer before, during, and after a consultation. In fact, I expect the church to enlist a prayer team that prays together during the length on the consult. Is your church a praying church?
  3. Is the church driven by a Great Commission focus?  Five times in the New Testament, Jesus expressed some form of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:45-47, John 20:21, Acts 1:8). Apparently, preaching the gospel and making disciples mattered to Jesus—and so these tasks must concern churches today. Many churches have become so inwardly focused that church is more about protecting the status quo than about reaching out beyond themselves.
  4. Is the church reaching non-believers? Here, the possibility of overemphasizing numbers is apparent, but the question must be asked: are non-believers coming to know the Lord through the church’s ministry? If the church is growing, is the growth conversion growth (nonbelievers meeting Christ) or transfer growth (“swapping sheep”)? Transfer growth is sometimes necessary, but it seldom results in Great Commission growth.
  5. Is the church keeping and discipling new believers who join? Suppose a church reached twenty non-believers for Christ in the last year. Did the church see a corresponding increase in attendance? If not, why not? Is the congregation an aging one, and several died within the year? Are longer term members leaving the church as the church changes? Does the church have a poor strategy for discipling new members? Or, more positively, did the church send out a team to begin a church plant? Whatever the cause for the discrepancy between additions and attendance, the church must respond appropriately.
  6. Is the church both locally and globally minded? At the risk of understatement, the world is always bigger than any local church. As many as 1.7 billion people in the world have little access to the gospel. The people groups of the world are now coming to the United States. The Hispanic population in the U.S. continues to grow. Burgeoning populations in the cities cry out for the gospel. Who will reach the unreached if the local church is focused only on itself?
  7. Does the church have a strategic plan for future growth? One reason the Enemy so readily succeeds in attacking churches is because he is often a better planner (Eph. 6:11) than most church leaders are. He methodically and strategically attacks the church while most churches operate from Sunday to Sunday. We are not prepared for his attacks. In the same way, most churches would not be prepared for significant growth if God were to grant it. What would the church do if God sent a genuine awakening? Does the church have a vision around which their plans—including facility, staffing, and programming—are developed?
  8. Are the leaders committed to the ministry of the church? By far, the most common problem we see in unhealthy churches is poor or unfocused leadership. Leaders who are not committed to a long tenure at a church seldom lead a church to lasting growth.

Its official. The Louisville Cardinals are big time.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dedicating W's Library

Here are some of the highlights from today's opening of the President George W. Bush library.

President George W. Bush

President Barack Obama

President Bill Clinton

For more:
Hump Day Humor: Top Ten George W. Bush Moments
W: The 9/11 Interview
Decision Points: Matt Lauer & George W. Bush - The Full Interview
George W. Bush: When Country Trumps Politics

Theologians I Have Been Influenced By - The Living

Tuesday, I discussed the three theologians of the past that have been the most influential in my life. That list included Martin Luther, CS Lewis, and John Knox. Today I want to highlight three current theologians who have been influential on me as a pastor and a theologian.

3. Alistair McGrath - Choosing the third spot here was difficult as there were countless candidates. I chose McGrath for a number of reasons. First, I will never exhaust his theological output. McGrath has written on systematic, biblical, and historic theology plus he has written several works on science, theology, philosophy, and the new atheism. Although I do not agree with everything with McGrath, he is one of the smartest men living and is a voice that is taken seriously in the West. His critique of the New Atheism is excellent. He rightly argues that the claims of the new atheism - religion should die and all will be well - are totalitarian and will lead to the sort of violence they accuse religion to be. Instead, the real problem isn't with religion or non-religion but with the heart.

McGrath has written several books that I keep coming back too. These include Why God Won't Go Away, Christianity's Dangerous Ideas, plus his works in historic theology. I don't agree with every McGrath has argued, but he is one of the best theologians living today. Here are a few of the links on McGrath highlighted from on this site.

Why Won't God Go Away?: McGrath on the Demise of the New Atheism
Is Darwinism Hard-Wired For Truth or Survival?
"Why God Won't Go Away" by Alister McGrath
The Atheist Debates 
Expelled: A Film About Freedom, Evolution, and Intelligent Design
Expelled:  A Movie We Must Take Seriously
"Christianity's Dangerous Idea" by Alister McGrath
"Heresy" by Alister McGrath: A Review

2. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. - I went to Boyce College in Louisville, KY because it was not far from my home town. The mother seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention happened to be conveniently located less than two hours from home. However, I stayed on campus for eight years and got three degrees because of Dr. Mohler and his leadership there. I knew very little about theology or academics prior to arriving on campus. All I knew was that I wanted to preach and pastor, but while at Boyce and Southern, I learned more than I could have ever imagined.

Mohler will likely be remembered more as a cultural commentator than theologian and biblical scholar, but he is certainly a theologian at heart. I have had the joy of having Dr. Mohler in class, I've read almost all of his books, I follow his blogs (all of them!), listened to his radio show when it was on the air, listen to his podcast, and take in everything that Dr. Mohler says and writes. Mohler is a genius and the Southern Baptist Convention is lucky to have him.

Mohler influenced me to do this website and to keep up with it. He has shaped me, both directly and indirectly, as a pastor, preacher, and theologian. Here are a few of the links on Mohler highlighted on this site.

Sermons from Mohler:
"God in the Dock: Is God a Moral Monster": A SBTS Panel
" Feed My Lambs: The Tender Courage of the Christian Ministry": A Sermon Preached by Dr. R. Albert Mohler
"The Intensity of Christian Preaching": A Sermon Preached by R. Albert Mohler
"King of Kings and Lord of Lords: The Regal Reign of the Warrior Lamb" - A Sermon Preached by Albert Mohler
"Revisiting Inerrancy" at SBTS: A Panel Discussion
Must Christianity Change or Die?: The Mohler-Spong Debate
Forum With Dr. Frank Page at SBTS
"Luke 16:1-13" by Dr. R. Albert Mohler
"Little Children, Keep Yourself from Idols" by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Appointed to Gospel Service: Mohler's Charge to Graduates
Is Social Justice an Essential Part of the Mission of the Church?: The Wallis-Mohler Debate
Books by Mohler
"Culture Shift" by R. Albert Mohler
"The Disappearance of God"  
Repost | Proclaiming a Christ-Centered Theology

From/On Mohler:
Mohler on the After-Birth Abortion Controversy
"The Reformer": Christianity Today Does Exposé on Albert Mohler
Adam & Eve on Comedy Central: Colbert Takes on Mohler & Traditional Christian Theology
The Answer is the Gospel: Mohler on Homosexuality at the SBC
Gospel-Centered Ecology: A Reality That Christians Must Face Without Abandoning the Gospel
My Turn: Books that Have Influenced Me
The Next Step: Is Polyamory the Next Sexual Movement?
Mohler: Is Cap and Trade for Babies Next?
Mohler: Another Chilling Precedent -- A Court Undermines a Parent
Mohler: Plant Rights, Screaming Vegetation, and a "Biocentric" Worldview
Mohler: "A Rather Unexpected Aspect of IVF" -- Over a Million Human Embryos Destroyed in Britain
Mohler: My Daddy's Name is Donor?
Mohler: Never in the Closet...The New Face of Homosexuality
Mohler: From the Bible to "Intimacy Kits" -- Goodbye to the Gideons?
Mohler: Is the University Hostile to Christian Professors?
Mohler: The Postmodern Eclipse of Evil -- Be Advised . . . and Be Afraid
Mohler: Is Creationism a Threat to Human Rights?
Mohler: When Ecology Replaces Theology
Mohler: Heresy Precedes Homosexuality
Mohler: Heresy in the Cathedral

1. John MacArthur - I grew up listening to John MacArthur sermons and reading John MacArthur books. No living pastor and theologian has had a bigger influence on my entire life. One of the first major Christian books I read was his Murder of Jesus and as a teenager, I fell in love with his preaching. I always wanted to be like him and still do. Every week in preparation for my sermons, I almost always listen to him and usually first.

MacArthur is a pastor first and foremost, but he has shown that one cannot separate pastoral ministry from scholarship or from theology. MacArthur preaches theology, and though he is not a professional academic, he preaches like one.

MacArthur has always defended the gospel wherever it is under attack. He defended the gospel against the Lordship controversy, the Emergent Church, the charismatics, and others. His study Bible, originally in the NKJV, shaped my theology and interpretation of Scripture. Here are a few of the links on MacArthur highlighted on this site.

Sermons From MacArthur:
"The True Shepherd (Zechariah 11)": A Sermon Preached by John MacArthur
"How Long, O Lord?" (Isaiah 5-6): A Sermon Preached by John MacArthur
The First Sacrifice (Genesis 3:20-24): A Sermon Preachd by John MacArthur 
"Hope Through the Curse" (Genesis 3:14-15): A Sermon Preached By John MacArthur
"Declaring and Defending the Deity of Christ": A Sermon Preached by John MacArthur
"Abortion and the Campaign for Immorality": A Sermon Preached by John MacArthur
"Simultaneously Righteous and a Sinner" by John MacArthur
The Consequences of Non-expositional Preaching," by John MacArthur
"Slaves of Christ" by John MacArthur
Theology Thursday | MacArthur: A Tale of Two Sons
"The Greatness of Being a Slave" by John MacArthur
Honoring God through Edifying Preaching by John MacArthur
"The Theology of Christmas" (Philippians 2:5-11) by John MacArthur
MacArthur & The Attacks on the Bible
"It Pleased God": MacArthur on the Darkness and Drama at the Cross
"Your Best Life: Now or Later?" by John MacArthur
An Introduction & Explanation of the Sovereign Gospel by John MacArthur
On MacArthur:
Reformed in Grace But Arminian Everywhere Else: MacArthur on the Future of the YRR Movement
"John MacArthur" by Ian Murray: A Review
He Turned the Water Into Wine: MacArthur, Alcohol, & Christian Liberty 
John MacArthur on Why Every Calvinist Should be a Premillennialist
If God is Sovereign, Why Pray: A Few Voices Fromt the Past & Present - Part 1
If God is Sovereign, Why Pray: A Few Voices From the Past & Present - Part 2
A Retrospective on 40 Years: John MacArthur and Rick Holland
Questions and Answers with John MacArthur
Christ Is The Head of the Church: MacArthur, Huss, & History's Sea of Blood
Repost | MacArthur's Favorite Theologians
Theology Thursday | MacArthur and the Gospel
Theology Thursday | Theology and Ministry: An Interview With John MacArthur
MacArthur: How to Confront the Culture
Books From MacArthur:
"The Truth About the Lordship of Christ": A Review
"The Truth About Forgiveness" by John MacArthur
"The Truth About Grace" by John MacArthur
"Twelve Unlikely Heroes" by John MacArthur: A Review
"The God Who Loves" by John MacArthur: A Review
Repost | Proclaiming a Christ-Centered Theology
Weekly Recommendation - "The Gospel According to Jesus" by John MacArthur
Weekly Recommendation - "Slave" by John MacArthur
Honorable mentions (in no particular order):
J. I. Packer
Russell Moore
Bruce Ware
Millard Erickson
John Piper
Wayne Grudem
Chad Owen Brand
Michael Horton
Mark Driscoll
RC Sproul