Saturday, November 30, 2013

I Am Second: The Robertson's

All Around the Web - November 30, 2013

Wisconsin State Journal - Judge strikes down law that gives clergy members tax-free housing allowances

A federal judge has found unconstitutional a law that lets clergy members avoid paying income taxes on compensation that is designated part of a housing allowance.

The decision Friday by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb could have far-reaching financial ramifications for pastors, who currently can use the untaxed income to pay rental housing costs or the costs of home ownership, including mortgage payments and property taxes.

“It’s a really big deal,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which filed the lawsuit. “A church currently could pay a minister $50,000 but designate $20,000 of it a housing allowance so that only $30,000 would be taxed as salary.”

Crabb acknowledged in her decision that the exemption is a boon to ministers, referencing a 2002 statement by then-U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad of Minnesota that the tax exemption would save clergy members $2.3 billion in taxes from 2002-2007. But she said the magnitude of the benefit only underscores what’s wrong with the law.

The exemption “provides a benefit to religious persons and no one else, even though doing so is not necessary to alleviate a special burden on religious exercise,” Crabb wrote.

The defendants in the case are U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and acting IRS commissioner Daniel Werfel. Attempts to reach those agencies late Friday were unsuccessful.

Thabiti Anyabwile - 5 Things to Do Before Leaving Your Church: The Pastor Edition
1. Talk with Your Fellow Leaders When You Begin to Think Seriously about Leaving
2. Be Genuinely Open to Counsel and Correction
3. Resolve Any Conflicts Before Leaving the Church
4. Plan Your Transition and Succession with the Elders
5. Express Your Appreciation to the Church and Say “Goodbye” to Friends and Saints

Read Meat for the Soul - What to look for in a church
1. Clarity on the gospel of grace.
2. Christ-centered preaching.
3. Theologically informed public worship.
4. Hospitable people.
5. Church discipline.
6. Mercy for the poor.
7. Concern for the lost

True Woman - Ten Times It's Wise to Hold Your Tongue
1. When you have no idea what to say
2. When you're wrongly accused
3. When you're mad
4. When you're confused about life
5. When you wouldn't want someone else to find out you said it
6. When you don't really mean it
7. When you can't stop yearning for the good old days
8. When you have a lot to do and you don't like it
9. When the timing is wrong
10. When you don't have anything to say that gives grace

George Will - How a Presidency Unravels
For concision and precision in describing Barack Obama’s suddenly ambivalent relationship with his singular — actually, his single — achievement, the laurels go to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.).

After Obama’s semi-demi-apology for millions of canceled insurance policies — an intended and predictable consequence of his crusade to liberate Americans from their childish choices of “substandard” policies sold by “bad apple” insurers — Scalise said Obama is like someone who burns down your house. Then shows up with an empty water bucket. Then lectures you about how defective the house was.

What is now inexplicably called Obama’s “fix” for the chaos he has created is surreal. He gives you permission to reoccupy your house — if you can get someone to rebuild it — but for only another year.

At least he has banished boredom from millions of lives. Although probably not from his.
The place to begin understanding the unraveling of his presidency is page 274 of “The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama.” The author, David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, quotes Valerie Jarrett, perhaps Obama’s closest and longest-serving adviser, on her hero’s amazingness:

“He knows exactly how smart he is. . . . I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually. . . . He’s been bored to death his whole life. He’s just too talented to do what ordinary people do. He would never be satisfied with what ordinary people do.”

Beautiful Eulogy, "Release Me From This Snare"

Friday, November 29, 2013

"Christian Theology": Blogging Throughout Erickson - Soteriology 4

Last week I highlighted the two key doctrines of Calvinism. This week, again using Dr. Millard Erickson, I want to highlight the three key doctrines of Arminianism. Erickson begins by noting how broad Arminianism is encompassing conservative and liberal wings. Personally, I do not find many true liberals in the Arminian camp. Theological liberals are almost universally Pelagian. Nonetheless, here are the two doctrines central to Arminianism.

God Desires All Persons to be Saved
While statements of the view vary to some degree, there is a logical starting point: the concept that God desires all persons to be saved. Arminians point to some definite assertions of Scripture. [Ezekiel 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:3-4; Acts 17:30; Isa. 55:1; Matt. 11:29] . . .

These and like passages are so strong and clear that even as staunch a Calvinist as Boettner has to concede, "It is true that some verses taken in themselves do seem to imply the Arminian position." If, contrary to what these verses seem to imply, it is not God's intent that all persons be saved, he must be sincere in his offer. (932)
I will point out here, contrary to what many Calvinists argue, that the word all almost always means "all" and should be interpreted that way. Usually Calvinists redefine all when it comes to passages regarding the extent of the atonement, but the issue goes beyond that. Certainly there are clear examples where all is an exaggeration, but the verses referenced above do not fit that category.

Prevenient Grace

Prevenient grace becomes an Arminian staple after John Wesley and I use that language only to shorten the title. Erickson writes:
A second major tenet of Arminianism is that all persons are able to believe or to meet the conditions of salvation. If this were not the case, the universal invitations to salvation would make little sense. But is there room in this theology for the concept that all persons are able to believe? There is, if we modify or eliminate the idea of the total depravity of sinners. Or, like Wesley and others, we might adopt the concept of "prevenient grace." It is this latter position that will occupy our attention here.
As generally understood, prevenient grace is God's grace given to all humans indiscriminately. It is seen in God's sending the sunshine and the rain upon all. It is also the basis of all the goodness found in humans everywhere. Beyond hat, it is universally given to counteract the effect of sin. Henry Thiessen put it thus: "Since mankind is hopelessly dead in trespasses and sins and can do nothing to obtain salvation, God graciously restores to all men sufficient ability to make a choice in the matter of submission to Him. This is the salving-bringing grace of God that has appeared to all men." Since God has given this grace to all, everyone is capable of accepting the offer of salvation; consequently, there is no need for any special application of God's grace to particular individuals. (932-933)


Finally, Erickson highlights the Arminian emphasis on foreknowledge as opposed to foreordination. 
A third basic concept is the role of foreknowledge in the election of persons to salvation. For the most part, Arminians desire to retain the term election and the idea that individuals are foreordained to salvation. This means that God must prefer some people to others. In the Arminian view, he chooses some to receive salvation, whereas he merely passes the others by. Those who are predestined by God are those who in his infinite knowledge he is able to foresee will accept the offer of salvation made in Jesus Christ. This view is based on the close connection in Scripture between foreknowledge and foreordination or predestination. The primary passage appealed to is Romans 8:29 . . . A supporting text is 1 Peter 1:1-2 . . . Both references represent foreordination as based on and resulting from foreknowledge. (933)
Of the three above, this is the most problematic. Are we to believe that everyone that dies without Christ dies because God already knew in eternity past that they were not going to accept it, of their own free will of course, anyways? Are we to believe that entire nations remain lost are people who would not have accepted the gospel to begin with? Furthermore, I am not sure how this counteracts the accusation commonly made against Calvinist that unconditional election undermines evangelism. If God already knows who is going to accept him and who will reject him, then why bother evangelizing? Finally, this conviniant argument does not take seriously all the biblical evidence. God chose Israel apart from any conditions. He chose, as Paul argues in Romans 9, Jacob over Esau sovereignly. Arminian understanding of foreordination does not explain such biblical texts and truths.


Consider the following from Dr. Ben Witherington who explains why he is an Arminian, or really, why he is not a Calvinist.

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

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

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 5
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 7

"Christian Theology": Blogging Throughout Erickson - Pneumatology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Throughout Erickson - Pneumatology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Throughout Erickson - Pneumatology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Throughout Erickson - Pneumatology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Throughout Erickson - Pneumatology 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Throughout Erickson - Soteriology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Throughout Erickson - Soteriology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Throughout Erickson - Soteriology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Throughout Erickson - Soteriology 4 

For more:
The First Cause of Our Salvation: John Craig on God's Eternal Election
Does the Calvinistic Doctrine of God's Providence Make God Responsible For Sin?: Grudem's Answer
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

All Around the Web - November 23, 2013

This is the sun setting on mars. The heavens declare the glory of God.

HT: BuzzFeed

Albert Mohler - Their Abortions—What Do These Abortion Testimonies Really Reveal?
A signal event in America’s long trial over the tragedy of abortion occurred this week with the publication of a cover story in New York magazine that was simply titled, “My Abortion.” As the cover advertises, the article features “twenty-six personal dispatches from a culture war without end.”
The issue is riveting, offering testimonies from women who have aborted their children—some of them repeatedly. Meaghan Winter begins the article by setting the context in 2013, forty years after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision, believing that it has settled the issue.
As Winter explains, “Of all the battles in our half-century culture war, perhaps none seems further from being resolved, in our laws and in our consciences, than abortion.”

That statement, taken on its own terms, is incredibly revealing, even as it is self-evidently true. The advocates of legal abortion are particularly perplexed and frustrated by this fact. Their confidence had been that Roe had settled the issue and that abortion on demand would become a central part of the nation’s moral consensus. But Roe did not settle the issue. Indeed, the abortion issue has been a central and unavoidable moral conflict in this nation ever since.

Prior to Roe, the pro-life movement was not much of a movement at all. It can be argued that Roe actually sparked the rise of the pro-life movement as a powerful moral and political force in America. The nation’s conscience on the issue of abortion is far more conflicted now than in 1973. Pro-life arguments and the rise of prenatal imaging technologies have shifted the nation’s understanding of abortion to the extent that younger Americans are actually more pro-life than their parents. More Americans now identify themselves as pro-life rather than as pro-choice.

Koinonia - What is the Theological Sausage Maker 3000? Michael Bird Explains

Public Discourse - When Government Keeps Teens from Seeing the Therapist
When signing these bills, Governor Jerry Brown dismissed sexual orientation modification as “quackery,” and Governor Chris Christie said that “people are born gay.” Both these statements ignore empirical evidence that, for many teenagers, sexual orientation is unstable and malleable. The most comprehensive study of sexuality to date, the 1992 National Health and Social Life Survey, found that, without any intervention whatsoever, three out of four boys who think they are gay at sixteen don’t think they are gay by the age of twenty-five.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2007 report, Adolescent Health in the United States, surveyed 10,000 teenagers and found that the vast majority of sixteen-year olds who reported only same-sex sexual attractions reported only opposite-sex sexual attractions one year later. Because these surveys produced such unexpected results, similar studies were soon replicated all over the Western world. The outcomes were almost identical, with population-based samples now reaching into the hundreds of thousands.

Nicholas Cummings, a former president of the American Psychological Association, writes that “contending that all same-sex attraction is immutable is a distortion of reality.” As chief psychologist for Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, Cummings oversaw hundreds of patients who were successful in changing their sexual orientations. Cummings was selective in recommending therapeutic change only to those who were highly motivated to change and who were clinically assessed as having a high probability of success.

The vast majority of Cummings’s gay and lesbian patients didn’t want to change their sexual orientations, and Cummings offered them therapy to attain happier and more stable homosexual lifestyles. Dr. Cummings writes, “Attempting to characterize all sexual reorientation therapy as ‘unethical’ violates patient choice.” Instead, Cummings believes that lawmakers should respect a patient’s inalienable right to self-determination.

Wretched - Steve Lawson's impromptu Gospel presentation

Exposition Avenue - Why Are Preachers So Exhausted After Preaching?
Preaching on Sunday morning is, for me, the most exhilarating part of my calling!  I cannot wait to step into the pulpit at my church and deliver that which has been simmering in me for the past week (and, in essence, for my entire Christian experience!).  The prayer, the study, the compilation—ultimately coming to fruition in prayerful delivery, aiming to be clear and to put the groceries on the bottom shelf.

Sunday afternoons, however, are more exhausting than at any other time of the week.  I’m not in bad shape, mind you.  I exercise, eat well, and have plenty of energy for the task to which Christ called me.  So why do I feel exhausted?

Turns out I’m not alone!   Faithful pastors all over feel this way after preaching on Sunday.  Some outsiders may say that there is something unspiritual about the pastor who endures this.  However, this is not so by and large.

So why do most pastors and preachers feel so exhausted after preaching?

It’s Work!  It’s a labor of love, to be sure—but it’s still labor.  Studies have shown that the energy used for preaching a 30 minute sermon is the equivalent of an 8-hour work day.  Hours are spent the week prior in prayer, study, and more prayer and more study!   The main priority of a pastor’s ministry is preaching—so much of our energy is put into this endeavor that an adrenaline builds up!  The Spirit begins to work in the preacher as the preacher works out the Spirit’s message!   While the Spirit at times just brings the message, He also intends to give us the ‘want-to’ to mine out what God’s Word has to say from a specific passage. 

Tribalism is killing us

Thursday, November 28, 2013

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 in recent memory (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.


A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Originally published November 22, 2012.

All Around the Web - November 28, 2013

Tim Challies - 10 Steps to Preach from Your iPad
1. Prepare Yourself
2. Get a Case
3. Prepare Your Manuscript
4. Charge It
5. Reverse the Screen
6. Turn off Notifications
7. Turn off Auto-Lock
8. Lock the Orientation
9. Make Last-Minute Annotations
10. Read From Your Bible

Thabiti Anyabwile - This Is Your Brain on Porn | Heed Thabiti's words, "I don’t endorse some of Wilson’s humor, but don’t let that cause you to miss the point."

CNN - Polyamory: When three isn't a crowd
Revelers in the rainbow-washed crowd smiled and cheered this month as the little blond girl in the parade float pageant-waved to the B-52's "Love Shack."

Next to the float, the girl's father, Billy Holder, handed out fliers to the Atlanta Pride Parade crowd. His wife, Melissa, carried a banner along with Jeremy Mullins, the couple's partner.

"Polyamory: Having simultaneous close emotional relationships with two or more other individuals," read their purple-lettered banner, embellished with an infinity heart.

The "awws" and waves from the crowd gave way to some puzzled looks and snickers.
"What's poly?" a woman asked, looking toward a handwritten sign on the float that read "Atlanta Poly Paradise."

"Multiple partners?" the man next to her guessed.

Sort of. As the concept of open relationships rises in pop culture and political debates, some polyamorous families like the Holders and Mullins see an opportunity to go public and fight stereotypes that polyamory is just swinging, cheating or kinky sex.

ERLC - Russell Moore on family, leadership, relevance and the Grateful Dead

John Stonestreeet - See-Thru Morality
But in our time, many have come to religiously revere and trust science not for its ability to unlock the mystery of God’s creation, but because it’s allowed them to dismiss God altogether.

This worldview—which says that science alone can yield transcendent truth without religion—is called “scientism,” and it’s behind a lot of the most disturbing headlines we’ve seen recently. In just the last few months on BreakPoint, Eric Metaxas and I have shared with you stories about a surgeon who says he can perform “head transplants,” a scientist who can produce sperm from women and eggs from men, and a company right here in the U.S. that’s patented technology to manufacture “designer babies.”

All of these stories have one thing in common: They evoke applications of science that should make any good ethicist’s head spin (which now that doctors can reattach heads, is fixable). Each of these “breakthroughs,” of course, has already or will likely be billed as a way to alleviate suffering and make the world a better place.

But the problem, as C. S. Lewis would have pointed out, is that science alone can’t tell us what constitutes a “better world.” That’s a question of ought, and science only tells us what is.

Enter  the “The Abolition of Man,” a book whose title summarizes Lewis’s biggest critique of scientism. He writes that many in his day who expected science to conquer nature and engineer a better humanity were actually enslaving themselves to the worst aspects of human nature. In doing so, he argued, advocates of scientism discarded what really sets human beings apart from animals—the ability to know and do what’s right. They were, as he put it, abolishing man.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

From Lewis' Pen: Aim at Heaven

From Mere Christianity:
Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. . . . It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither. (134)

From Lewis' Pen Series
From Lewis' Pen: Aslan is on the Move
From Lewis' Pen: Lead us, Evolution, Lead us
From Lewis' Pen: Lead us, Evolution, Lead us
From Lewis' Pen: An Exaggerated Feminine Type
From Lewis' Pen: Theology as a Map
From Lewis' Pen: A Lot of Wrong Ideas
From Lewis' Pen: Children Know Better Than Grownups
From Lewis' Pen: The Historical Jesus

For more from CS Lewis:
"A Mixture of Fool and Knave": CS Lewis on Theological Liberalism
Theology As a Map: Lewis, Practical Theology, and the Trinity
"Screwtape Letters" by CS Lewis: A Review
The Most Unpopular of Christian Virtues: Lewis on Chasity - Part 1
The Most Unpopular of Christian Virtues: Lewis on Chasity - Part 2
The Most Unpopular of Christian Virtues: Lewis on Chasity - Part 3 
"Willing Slaves of the Welfare State": CS Lewis on Freedom, Science, and Society - Part 1
"Willing Slaves of the Welfare State": CS Lewis on Freedom, Science, and Society - Part 2
He is Not a Tame Lion: Aslan, Jesus, and the Limits of Postmodern Inclusivism  
To Be Undragoned: Aslan, Christ, and the Gift of Regeneration 
Lewis on Practical Theology  
Lewis on the Why of Democracy
From Uncle Screwtape:  Christianity and Politics      
Theologians I Have Been Influenced By - The Dead
"The Magician's Twin: C.S. Lewis and the Case Against Scientism" Full Documentary
Beyond Narnia:  A Great Documentary 
"Surprised by Joy" by Lewis
"Jack:  A Life of CS Lewis"  
"The Great Divorce" by Lewis
"Finding God in the Land of Narnia"  

Hump Day Humor: Batdad

Batdad on Today Show

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

All Around the Web - November 27, 2013

Religion Today - Is New York City on the Brink of a Great Awakening?
20 years ago, Eric Metaxas knew practically every born again believer in Manhattan.

“It was like a spiritual ghost town,” the cultural commentator, thought leader and author recalled.

Yet, over the recent decades—particularly this last one—New York has seen a surge in evangelicalism. Some cultural experts believe the Big Apple to be on the brink of another ‘Great Awakening.’

Gregory Thornbury, president of The King’s College—the only free-standing Christian institution of higher learning in New York City—compares this rise in Christianity to the the great Wall Street revival of 1857.

“I would say there is a very special moment of spiritual renaissance happening in New York City right now,” he said.

John Stonestreet - C. S. Lewis, Reepicheep, and Our Chests
Half a century after C. S. Lewis joined the Church Triumphant, the Oxford don’s works are still offering almost-prescient insights into our culture. In one of my favorite Lewis books, “The Abolition of Man,” he describes and predicts with eerie accuracy trends that have come to define the society we live in today.

In the first chapter, entitled “Men without Chests,” Lewis slams the schools and the textbooks of mid-twentieth century Britain for abandoning the teaching of virtue.

Using the analogy of the head to represent the intellect, the belly to represent the passions, and the chest to represent rightly-ordered affections, Lewis laments that modern education has allowed young chests to shrivel by teaching students to dismiss transcendent truth and morality as nothing more than personal preferences. Instead of freeing them to think, he argues, this regimen enslaves them to their bellies—their animal passions—and leaves them easy picking for propagandists.

As Chuck Colson documented in the “Doing the Right Thing” video series on ethics, the 2008 financial collapse and recession were largely the result of a society-wide failure to say no to our own desires. Yet we were shocked and angry when this dearth of virtuous decision-making brought the world economy to its knees.

Trevin Wax - Don’t Be So Practical You Miss the Powerful

Christianity Today - The Top Five Reasons Your Church Could Land in Court
5) Zoning (5.4% of cases)
4) Property disputes (6.8% of cases)
3) Insurance coverage disputes (7.3% of cases)
2) Nonsexual personal injuries (7.6% of cases)
1) Sexual abuse of minors (13.6% of cases)

The Gospel Coalition - Where Did All These Pentecostals and Charismatics Come From?
Where in the world did all these Pentecostals and charismatics come from? In the explosive growth and geographical extension of Pentecostal and charismatic groups, we are witnessing one of the most if not the most stunning episodes of Christian expansion ever. In the not-too-distant future Pentecostals will likely make up the majority of Christians worldwide.

Yet Pentecostals and charismatics remain mysterious even to other Protestants, despite the fact that the origins of the contemporary Pentecostal movement are well known. A cluster of events around the turn of the 20th century shaped Pentecostalism's distinctive character and launched it as one juggernaut of a Christian movement.

Breitbart - Obama Removes 'God' From Gettysburg Address

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Evidences of the Gospels were Based on Eyewitness Accounts: A Lecture by Peter Williams

Today I highlighted the third chapter of Dr. Richard Bauckham's book "Jesus and the Eyewitnesses" in which he looks at the names mentioned in the Gospels. Though it sounds insignificant, Bauckham makes the argument that the persons identified in the Gospels are eyewitnesses to the actual events. The chapter reminded me of the following lecture from Dr. Peter Williams who survey's the names of the New Testament and argues that the Gospels are historically accurate.

Fascinating stuff.

"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 1
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 2
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 3
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 4-5

For more:
"The Historical Jesus": A Lecture by Ben Witherington
"The Story of Jesus" Documentary
We've All Heard This Before: "Zealot" and the Same Search For the Missing Jesus  
12 Proofs of Jesus' Deity From the Synoptic Gospels
Ravi Zacharias' 12 Arguments For the Historicity of the Resurrection
"The Case For Christianity" Documentaries
"Raised With Christ" by Adrian Warnock: A Review
NT Wright: Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?
"The Jesus Inquest" by Charles Foster: A Review
"The Case for Easter"
"The Case For the Real Jesus" by Lee Strobel
"The Case For Christianity" Documentaries
The Quest For the Historical Satan: The Entire Series

"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 4-5

"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 1
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 2
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 3
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 4-5

If your like me, a name in the biblical text in general and the Gospels in particular are mostly simple details of the story. Is it really important to know that the man Jesus raised from the dead in John 11 was named Lazarus or that a "wee little man" in the sycamore tree was named Zaccheus? To scholars, the answer is an emphatic yes.

Of the eighteen chapters in his book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gsopels as Eyewitness Testimony, Dr. Richard Bauckham dedicates three (chapters 3-5) to the subject of names in the Four Gospels (click here for our discussion of chapter 3). That is one sixth of the book regarding the subject of names.

Admittedly, chapters 4-5 are difficult to get through. The subject matter is rather tedious, at least in how Bauckham presents it. This is an academic work and thus the author walks the reader slowly through his argument presenting all the evidence. He begins by making the observation that Names area valuable resource for ancient historians, but one of which New Testament scholars have made relatively little use (67). That is changing, however, especially with the release of the book Lexicon of Jewish names in late antiquity: Part 1: Palestine 330 BCE-200 CE by Tal Ilan which serves as a dictionary (or lexicon) of every Jewish name uncovered from literature, like the Bible, and archeological finds. Such a resource informs us as to what were the most common Jewish names in Judea during the time of the Gospels.

In case your interested, the top five male names, according to Buackham relying on Ilan, are Simon, Joseph, Eleazar, Judah, Yohanan, and Joshua. But why were these names popular? One might see a biblical connection to them; Joseph and Judah were patriarchs and Joshua led Israel to the Promise Land. Yet, Bauckham argues, that is not why they were likely the most popular. They are connected to the Maccabean revolt against the Greeks during the Intertestimental period. This is significant. He writes:
It is therefore rather clear that, no only the names of the Hasmoneans, but also several of the other most popular male names were popular because of their association with the nationalistic religious expectations of national deliverance and restoration by God. Of course, this does not mean that such associations were in the minds of every parent who chose a name for their child. Once names become popular for some reason, they are also popular just because they are popular. Moreover, there were also family traditions, especially in aristocratic families, of repeating the same names from one generation to another. But these are secondary factors that do not nullify the rather clear general reasons for the really rather extraordinary popularity of a rather small number of names. (77)
He then goes on to explain how people commonly separated persons of the same name. A phenomena we see both in non-canonical texts and in the Gospels This includes variant spellings (Zakkai for Zachariah, attaching one's father ("son of . . ." or "bar" as in Barabbas), attaching one's husband or son ("Mary of Clopas), using nicknames ("Simon the leper"), attaching one's origin or dwelling (Mary Magdalene), using two languages ("Joseph Barabbas"), attaching one's ocupation ("Simon the tanner" in Acts), etc. This leads to Bauckham's conclusion:
Onomastics (the study of names) is a significant resource for assessing the origins of Gospels traditions. The evidence in this chapter shows that the relative frequency of the various personal names in the Gospels corresponds well to the relative frequency in the full database of three thousand individual instances of names in the Palestinian Jewish sources of the period. This correspondence is very unlikely to have resulted from addition of names to the traditions, even within Palestinian Jewish Christianity, and could not possibly have resulted from the addition of names to the traditions outside Jewish Palestine, since the pattern of Jewish name usage in the Diaspora was very different. The usages of the Gospels also correspond closely to the variety of ways in which persons bearing the same very popular names could be distinguished in Palestinian Jewish usage. Again these features of the New Testament data would be difficult to explain as the result of random invention of names within Palestinian Jewish Christianity and impossible to explain as the result of such invention outside Jewish Palestine. All the evidence indicates the general authenticity of the personal names in the Gospels. (84)
This leads to his discussion of the Twelve. He begins by restating his thesis:
It is the contention of this book that, in the period up to the writing of the Gospels, gospel traditions were connected with named and known eyewitnesses, people who had heard the teaching of Jesus from his lips and committed it to memory, people who had witnessed the events of his ministry, death, and resurrection and themselves had formulated the stories about these events that they told. These eyewitnesses did not merely set going a process of oral transmission that soon went its own way without reference to them. They remained throughout their lifetimes the sources and, in some sense that may have varied for figures of central or more marginal significance, the authoritative guarantors of the stories they continued to tell. (93)
Being that the Twelve serve as the inner circle of Jesus' ministry, they are important to Christianity. Some, like Peter, Matthew, and John, would go on to contribute to the New Testament. In addition to this, however, Bauckham points out that they were eyewitnesses to the events recorded in the Gospels and the writers mention them by name.

It is for this very reason that the Synoptics include similar lists of the twelve. Though some of the disciples play little to no role in the narrative, Bauckham argues, they did play a major role in the formation of the Gospels as the main eyewitnesses. Bauckham writes:
However, it could well be that the Twelve are listed as the official body of eyewitnesses who formulated and authorized the core collection of traditions in all three Synoptic Gospels. They are named, not as the authorities for this or that specific tradition, but as responsible for the overall shape of the story of Jesus and much of its content. (97)
Though there are a few minor differences between the three lists, Bauckham argues we can be certain of their accuracy. The evidence he points to is how the Twelve are identified. As the above list shows, many of the ways the Jews wrote peoples names are reserved for us in these lists of the Twelve.

Why does all of this matter? For reasons that will be examined more in later chapters, Bauckham shows that because these lists reflect a historic group of twelve followers of Jesus and the writers of the Gospels present them as key eyewitnesses of their books, we can be confident that the Gospels are not oral legends, traditions, or myth. Instead, the Gospels present strong eyewitness evidence for the events they record including the miracles, the teachings, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. Furthermore, how the Twelve are identified follow the same pattern common in 1st century Israel adding strength to Bauckham's thesis that the Gospels are eyewitness accounts of historic events written by and collaborated with those who were there.

For more:
"The Historical Jesus": A Lecture by Ben Witherington
"The Story of Jesus" Documentary
We've All Heard This Before: "Zealot" and the Same Search For the Missing Jesus  
12 Proofs of Jesus' Deity From the Synoptic Gospels
Ravi Zacharias' 12 Arguments For the Historicity of the Resurrection
"The Case For Christianity" Documentaries
"Raised With Christ" by Adrian Warnock: A Review
NT Wright: Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?
"The Jesus Inquest" by Charles Foster: A Review
"The Case for Easter"
"The Case For the Real Jesus" by Lee Strobel
"The Case For Christianity" Documentaries
The Quest For the Historical Satan: The Entire Series

All Around the Web - November 26, 2013

Russell MooreWhy It's So Hard to Forgive
The most difficult math problem in the universe, it turns out, is 70 x 7. Perhaps the hardest thing to do in the Christian life is to forgive someone who has hurt you, often badly. But Jesus says the alternative to forgiving one’s enemies is hell.

One of the reasons this is hard for us is because we too often assume forgiving a trespasser means allowing an injustice to stand. This attitude betrays a defective eschatology. At our Lord’s arrest (Matt. 26:47-54), Jesus told Peter to put his sword back into his sheath not because Jesus didn’t believe in punishing evildoers (think Armageddon). Jesus told Peter he could have an armada of angelic warriors at his side (and one day he will). But judgment was not yet, and Peter wasn’t judge.
That’s the point.

When we forgive, we are confessing that vengeance is God’s (Rom. 12:19). We don’t need to exact justice from a fellow believer because justice has already fallen at the cross. We don’t need to exact vengeance from an unbeliever because we know the sin against us will be judged in hell or, more hopefully, when the offender unites himself to the One who is “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 Jn. 2:2).

A prisoner of war who forgives his captor or a terminated pastor who forgives a predatory congregation, these people are not overlooking sin. Nor are they saying that what happened is “okay” or that the relationships involved are back to “normal” (whatever that is). Instead they are confessing that judgment is coming and they can trust the One who will be seated on that throne.

Weekly Standard - America’s One-Child Policy
During the last 50 years, fertility rates have fallen all over the world. From Africa to Asia, South America to Eastern Europe, from Third World jungles to the wealthy desert petro-kingdoms, every country in every region is experiencing declines in fertility. In 1979, the world’s fertility rate was 6.0; today it’s 2.6. Industrialized nations have been the hardest hit. America’s 2.06 is one of the highest fertility rates in the First World. Only Israel (2.75) and New Zealand (2.10) are more fertile.

China and America have yet to witness the effects of falling fertility because of demographic momentum. Populations increase even as fertility rates collapse, until the last above-replacement generation dies, after which the population begins contracting. The rate of contraction speeds up as each generation passes. No society has ever experienced prosperity in the wake of contracting population.
Like China today, 30 years ago Japan was supposedly on the verge of eclipsing America economically. But like China, Japan was also in dire demographic straits. In 1950, the average Japanese woman had 2.75 children during her lifetime. That number dropped to 2.08 by 1960. By 1995, it had fallen to 1.49. In 2010, the Japanese fertility rate is 1.2.

Japan’s demographic momentum kept its population slowly increasing during the late 1990s and early 2000s; in 2004, it peaked at 127.84 million. And then the contraction began. In 2008, Japan lost 145,000 people and by 2025, it will have lost 6 million. By 2050, it will have shed an additional 17 million people, leaving its total population around 100 million and falling. And a declining population is necessarily an aging population, meaning that you’re faced with both a decline in demand for goods and services (because the population is getting smaller) and at the same time a labor shortage (because so many of the remaining people are too old to work). In 2050, the largest five-year cohort in Japan is expected to be people aged 75-79. While health care will likely be a growth sector, this is not a recipe for a robust economy.

Culturally speaking, Japan’s fertility problem is a marriage problem: As Japanese women began attending college at greater rates in the 1970s, they began to delay marriage. By 2000, the average age of first marriage for college graduates was over 30. At first, these women simply postponed childbearing; then they abandoned it. Today, college-educated Japanese women have, on average, barely one child during their lifetimes.

Resurgence - Tolerance versus repentance

WORLD MagazineThe Imperial Obama Presidency
What if someone declared a war of check and balances, and only one side showed up? Apparently we would call it the Obama presidency. President Barack Obama’s attempt to “fix” the health insurance cancellation crisis by telling insurers he would not prosecute them for breaking the part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that precipitated it is just the latest unopposed annexation of power by this most imperial of presidents.

In February, under instructions from the president, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the government would no longer defend in court or enforce the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Holder’s letter to House Speaker John Boehner reads like a court decision. Obama essentially struck down the law, declaring it a violation of the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause. In effect, he asserted a veto power the Constitution does not give him. He also exercised powers that belong to the judicial branch, namely the power to rule on the constitutionality of a law and declare it null and void. But constitutionally, the executive branch is simply to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed” (Article 2, Section 3).

He showed the same constitutional disregard in how he addressed the employer mandate delay. The ACA requires employers over a certain size to provide their employees with affordable health insurance. When it became clear that the statutory deadline was hopeless to enforce, instead of going to Congress for a legislative fix, Obama simply chose not to enforce that part of the law. He exercised a power the Constitution does not grant him, though presidents have long asked for it: a line item veto. Asked if this was legal for him to do, the president responded, “Where Congress is unwilling to act, I will take whatever administrative steps that I can in order to do right by the American people.” In other words, no.

The Gospel Coalition - Preach to the Affections, Don't Manipulate Them

Politico - Poll: Mitt Romney beats President Obama today | This is the most useless story ever published that means absolutely nothing. Apparently there is nothing else going on in the world.
As more bad poll numbers continue to pour in for President Barack Obama, a new survey finds that if the 2012 election matchup were held this month, Mitt Romney would hold the edge with the voters.

Romney topped Obama 49 percent to 45 percent among registered voters in the Washington Post-ABC News poll released Tuesday. Among all Americans, the 2012 rivals would be tied, at 47 percent.

I love these lyrics from the new Beautiful Eulogy album. The song is called "Acquired in Heaven."

Monday, November 25, 2013

"Life After Death" by Dinesh D'Souza: A Review

Life After Death: The EvidenceOne of my favorite authors and Christian thinkers is Dinesh D'Souza whose books What's So Great about Christianity, Letters to a Young Conservative, and Ronald Reagan: How an Ordinary Man Became an Extraordinary Leader have had a huge impact on my life and how I think.  Though I disagree with his embrace of evolution, his ability to use secular arguments against secularists and atheists is unique.  His book Life After Death: The Evidence is no different.

It is no secret that the new atheism and their materialist apologists deny the existence of life after death. Using evidence from philosophy, science, psychology, and morality D'Souza seeks to prove them wrong.  Like his other books, D'Souza seeks to make a purely secular argument free of any Scriptural references. I have found this to be a powerful, though limited, approach for making a case for Christian theology. Though such an approach is helpful, Christianity is an inherently revealed faith. We dare not speak on anything of important at the exclusion of revelation found in both Scripture and the person and work of Christ.

This was one of the problems I had with D'Souza's book.  By limiting his argument to purely secular grounds, he gives secularists, atheists, and materialists the credibility they do not deserve. Adherents of scientism cannot tackle a question like life after death for it goes beyond the bounds of science. D'Souza puts more faith in the secular sciences like psychology and in moral relativism than they deserve.

Likewise, this approach forces D'Souza to discuss certain non-Christian worldviews unnecessarily.  Perhaps at the top of that list is his discussion of reincarnation.  The context is centered on near death experiences and the firm belief of many (and the supposed evidence of) reincarnation.  D'Souza basically argues that if there is credible evidence of "souls" being reincarnated then the case for life after death is proven. The problem with this is that D'Souza is forced to discuss a theological argument that Christianity stands against.  Paul is clear that we die and are judged.  There is no soul sleep and there is no reincarnation.  We all live just one life. So by giving credence to such a belief, he is undermining his own Christianity.
Nonetheless D'Souza does make an argument for life after death.  He uses evolution, astronomy, psychology, neurology, philosophy, science, and morality as a basis for his argument.  Although D'Souza fails in proving life after death, he makes a serious case for it.  Some of his discussions leads the reader down a path he/she has never entered and finds themselves unprepared to fully understand all that he is saying.  D'Souza has an ability to make very deep subjects understandable, but even he is forced to discuss things the average reader will find difficult.  I appreciate D'Souza and have followed many of his arguments but found myself steps behind not quit understanding the depth at which D'Souza is forced to go. So for the average reader, this perhaps isn't the best place to begin. However, if your are interested in a good argument for life after death outside of Scripture, D'Souza offers an excellent case.

At the end of the day, we should realize that once again D'Souza creates a number of problems for the atheists, secular, and moral relativistic worldview.  When faced with its many implications and arguments such theologies and worldviews cannot stand up to scrutiny.  So though this is perhaps not D'Souza's best work, it is nonetheless an important one.

Stossel: Science vs. God
Atheism at a Funeral 
Justice and the Implications of Atheism: Doug Wilson Hits the Nail on Its Head
Atheism and Moral Relativistic Parenting: Touchstone Takes on Harris
Harris on the Science of Morality:  Nice Try But No Cigar  
Natural Morality:  The Disconnect Between Darwinism and Morality  
Collision:  An Important Documentary About Faith and Atheism  
D'Souza: Are Atheists Cultural Christians
Survival of the Moral: Can Man Be Moral Without God?
Re: Survival of the Moral: Can Man Be Moral Without God?
What's So Great About Christianity? by Dinesh D'Souza

All Around the Web - November 25, 2013

Trevin Wax - How Should Christians Respond to Noah the Movie?
That brings us back to Noah. It looks like 2014 will be interesting for having an epic film based on a Bible story.

No matter what Hollywood does with Noah, we should recognize the backhanded compliment in having biblical source material as the basis for a film. The reason Bible stories are appealing is their built-in familiarity, plus their emotional resonance.

So, the jury is out on this film.

How will Noah be portrayed? As a righteous man or a pragmatic dealmaker?

How will God be portrayed? As a righteous judge purging the world of wickedness or a bloodthirsty tyrant who can’t wait to destroy the earth?

What kind of conversations will come from this film? Will we have the opportunity to talk with people about the nature and character of God? About the nature and character of righteous faith?

I recommend Christians watch this movie the way we watch any movie – with discernment and wisdom. We shouldn’t overhype the movie’s flaws and miss the bigger opportunity. Neither should we see the movie as the most promising method of evangelism to appear in recent days, as if the Word of God needs visual representation in order to maximize its power.

What about you? How will you respond to Noah the movie?

Time - The 25 Best Inventions of the Year 2013

Thabiti Anyabwile - 5 Things to Do Before Leaving Your Church
1. Share Your Thinking/Reasons with the Leaders
2. Resolve Any Outstanding Conflicts
3. Express Your Appreciation for the Church’s Ministry in Your Life
4. Say “Goodbye” to Friends and Family
5. Be Honest with Yourself about Your Own Efforts, Motives and Failings

Koinonia - My Advice to Students — Bill Mounce Says, "Don't Let Yourself Be Swallowed Up By the Academy"

io9 - How many people born in the 1800s are still alive?
There's just five left, people. Five. As of today, November 15, 2013, here are the people born in the 1800s who are still alive:
  1. Japan: Misao Okawa, born March 1898; age 115 years, 255 days
  2. United States: Jeralean Talley, born May 23, 1899; age 113 years, 172 days
  3. United States: Susannah Mushatt Jones, born July 6, 1899; age 114 years, 132 days
  4. United States: Bernice Madigan, born 24 July, 1899; age 114 years, 114 days
  5. Italy: Emma Morana-Martinuzzi, born November 29, 1899; age 113 years, 351 days
And that's it. Wow.

The coach that never punts.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

President George W. Bush's Interview on the Tonight Show

This is a great interview.

All Around the Web - November 23, 2013

Albert Mohler - The Briefing 11-22-13 | Mohler dedicated his entire podcast yesterday to the life and death of the three men who died on November 22, 2013: JFK, CS Lewis, and Aldous Huxley.
1)  50 years after JFK assassination, American memory remains vivid, tragic, and intense
The JFK we had and the memory that lives, Washington Post (George F. Will)
2) A man of conviction and ideas – Has C.S. Lewis had greater and more long-standing influence than JFK?
The Chronicles of C. S. Lewis Lead to Poets’ Corner, New York Times (Steven Erlanger)
3) Aldous Huxley anticipated the “totalitarianism of pleasure”
‘Brave New World’ was a timely warning, The Telegraph (Allan Massie)

Joe Carter - 9 Things You Should Know About C.S. Lewis
3. Lewis had a fondness for nicknames. He and his brother, Warnie, called each other "Smallpigiebotham" (SPB) and "Archpigiebotham" (APB), inspired by their childhood nurse's threat to smack their "piggybottoms." Even after Lewis's death, Warnie still referred to him as "my beloved SPB."

4. In 1917, Lewis left his studies to volunteer for the British Army. During the First World War, he was commissioned into the Third Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry. Lewis arrived at the front line in the Somme Valley in France on his nineteenth birthday and experienced trench warfare. On 15 April 1918, he was wounded and two of his colleagues were killed by a British shell falling short of its target. Lewis suffered from depression and homesickness during his convalescence.

5. Lewis was raised in a church-going family in the Church of Ireland. He became an atheist at 15, though he later described his young self as being paradoxically "very angry with God for not existing."

6. Lewis's return to the Christian faith was influenced by the works of George MacDonald, arguments with his Oxford colleague and friend J. R. R. Tolkien, and G. K. Chesterton's The Everlasting Man.

Michael Gerson - C.S. Lewis, our guide to the good life
So far, this involves the rescue of moral standards, which most of us find a mixed blessing. But Lewis goes further, or, as he liked to say, “further up and further in.” His second twist is more ambitious: What if all of the ancient, recurring myths of the human race, all the yearnings of prophets and sages for the touch of God, for a visit from God, were not just the lies of poets but the hints and rumors of another world? In this account, our deepest, unsatisfied desires for joy, meaning and homecoming are not cruel jokes of nature. They are meant for fulfillment. What we desire most, said Lewis, are “the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”

To his own considerable surprise, Lewis came to believe that Christianity fulfilled and completed the ancient stories. “The old myth of the Dying God,” he said, “without ceasing to be myth, comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. . . . By becoming fact it does not cease to be myth: that is the miracle.”

Having found truth in myths, Lewis decided to produce his own — not as pleasing distractions but as reminders that we actually inhabit a world of fantastical, eternal creatures, with noble quests to perform and stories that do not end. And when we discover our true citizenship, he says, it comes with a “happiness . . . so great that it even weakens me like a wound.”

“I have come home at last!” a stunned unicorn says at the end of “The Chronicles of Narnia.” “This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now.”

This is the achievement of Lewis: to restore the dignity of our desires, which leave us homeless in this world and lead us home.

National Review Online - That Hideous State
As the media wax eloquent over Camelot and the Kennedy legacy, we do well to remember that John F. Kennedy was not the only influential public figure with the nickname “Jack” to leave these Shadowlands 50 years ago. On November 22, 1963, Clive Staples Lewis — professor at Oxford and Cambridge, literary critic, Christian apologist, and author of science fiction and children’s literature — shuffled off this mortal coil and joined President Kennedy (and Aldous Huxley) before the throne of the One who gives life and takes it away.

While the media celebrate the life and legacy of the 35th president, we conservatives would do well to consider how a British professor of medieval and Renaissance literature can aid us as we seek to recover from our recent losses in the never-ending culture war. Surprisingly enough, the best place to look for guidance is Lewis’s acclaimed children’s books, The Chronicles of Narnia. It is in these stories that Lewis seeks to train children of all ages to resist the allurement of modern myths, particularly the Myth of Progress. Before exploring how the Narnian Chronicles can inoculate us against this modern fable, however, we ought to consider Lewis’s own understanding of the Myth of Progress as he sets it forth in his nonfiction prose.

John Stonestreet - Narnia's Got It All
What is it about Narnia that’s so special, so magical, so wonderful, so memorable?
As Chuck pointed out years ago, it’s the Gospel, from creation to redemption to consummation, smuggled (that’s Lewis’s word) into our imaginations, into our children’s imaginations, through beautiful storytelling.

In Narnia, as Chuck said, “we find talking beasts, dwarfs and giants, and even talking trees and river gods. Narnia is ruled by a majestic lion called Aslan, an allegorical representation of Christ. An evil White Witch representing Satan holds Narnia prisoner by keeping the land in perpetual winter—at least, until Aslan offers himself to be sacrificed, thereby lifting the long curse over Narnia.”

In Narnia, as Joe Rigney, author of “Live Like a Narnian,” told me on “BreakPoint This Week,” Lewis has created a complete and total world that helps us live better in this world. You can visit Narnia, and when you come back, Rigney told me, “You’re different. You’re not the same person, because you swam Narnian seas, and you walked across a Narnian countryside, and you’ve had Narnian adventures. And because of that, you are more like a Narnian  . . . meaning you live more like Jesus.”

So folks, if your kids haven’t read The Chronicles of Narnia yet, find a way to make it happen.

Sinclair Ferguson - Who Was C. S. Lewis?
Lewis was an academic. An Oxford education was, and remains, one of the most rigorous and privileged in the world. While lectures are offered, the student is supervised by a tutor who is a scholar of distinction in his own right. Thus Lewis for many years listened to his students as they came weekly or fortnightly to “read” their papers to him. Many loved it — although not all: John Betjeman (1906–1984), later British Poet Laureate, was none-too-keen on Lewis. (He also failed to graduate.) Lewis, however, found it a trial. Being appointed to a professorship (an appointment of high distinction in the Oxford system) would have multiplied his salary and eased his tutorial work load. But the likelihood of this was probably in inverse proportion to the growth of his reputation as a popular Christian writer (the adjective “popular” being as damningas “Christian”).

Yet by any measure Lewis was an outstanding scholar. His best known academic works include a study of the literature of the Middle Ages, The Allegory of Love (1936), and his scintillating monograph on John Milton’s epic poem A Preface to Paradise Lost (1942). The eminence of his scholarship led to an invitation to write the volume on English Literature in the Sixteenth Century (1954) in the prestigious Oxford History of English Literature series. By the time of its publication, Oxford’s academic rival had claimed him, and in 1954 he became professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge, resigning only shortly before his death.

SBTS - Seven questions about C.S. Lewis with Alister McGrath
Fifty years ago, Nov. 22, 1963, 20th century author and English scholar C.S. Lewis died. Five decades later, his influence continues to grow. Towers editor Aaron Cline Hanbury asks Alister McGrath, theologian, intellectual historian and apologist at King’s College London, about the legacy of Lewis and his new books, C.S. Lewis A Life and The Intellectual World of C.S. Lewis.

1. Why, 50 years after his death, are we still talking about C.S. Lewis?

AM: Because he says some very good things, and says them very well. Lewis offers his reader an intelligent and winsome Christian orthodoxy, which has helped some to come to faith, and others to come to a deeper faith. He’s helped me a lot, especially in my apologetic ministry.

2. Evangelicals seems to be Lewis’ most enthusiastic readers, yet he himself was not an evangelical. How should evangelicals approach Lewis critically while learning from him?

AM: Lewis wasn’t an evangelical, and has quite a weak view of the authority and place of Scripture. But what he offers evangelicals is a richer vision of Christianity, which adds to their biblical foundations. Lewis deepens a biblical faith, without diluting it. There are many points at which evangelicals will rightly want to raise issues with Lewis — for example, on the authority of Scripture. We can be critical of Lewis, and still be helped by him. When giving a lecture in London recently, I quipped that what evangelicals really need is a mixture of John Stott and C. S. Lewis — Stott’s deep rooting in the Bible and determination to engage secular culture, and Lewis’ rich vision of the Christian faith as something that enriches both the mind and the imagination.

. . .

6. How would you summarize the Lewis canon?

AM: I think there are three main sections in this canon. First, the works of scholarship in English literature, which established Lewis’ reputation as a leading scholar of his age. We don’t read these much today, although they have stood the test of time remarkably well. Then there is Lewis the Christian apologist, who presented the faith in a winsome, engaging and satisfying way. Mere Christianity is still very well regarded, and rightly so. One of the reasons that Lewis was so effective was that he used to be an atheist himself, and knew both what atheists believed, and how to counter their ideas. And then there is Lewis the writer of fiction — supremely Narnia, but also other works, such as The Great Divorce and Till We Have Faces. These remain widely read, and some have
become classics.

The Telegraph - CS Lewis joins Poets' Corner
Horace Walpole spoke of its tombs in “crouds and clusters” and, indeed, dates and names have been cut on to most inches of Westminster Abbey. But the epitaphs are nowhere more crowded than in the Abbey’s South Transept – a place long since renamed Poets’ Corner. Here are buried, or commemorated, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden and Dickens – and quite a few others who have stood time’s test less well. CS Lewis, on the 50th anniversary of his death, will become the latest to join this literary “croud” this month. His little plaque, wedged between Betjeman and Blake, is to be unveiled on November 22.
Although it is a high honour for a writer to be commemorated at Poets’ Corner, there is an endearingly undignified genius to the place. The pavement is such a dense patchwork of tombstones that you can imagine, a little below, the great writers’ skeletons tucked up together in a small dormitory.
The truth is sometimes less stately even than that: the spendthrift playwright Ben Jonson couldn’t afford a full grave, and so was buried standing up (to save space) in a less desirable bit of the nave. His thigh bones twice came to light by accident in the 19th century: so much for eternal repose.

Tim Keller and John Piper talk CS Lewis