Friday, January 31, 2014

"What We Talk About When We Talk About God" by Rob Bell: A Review

The following is a review of Rob Bell's book What We Talk About When We Talk About God written in a way that resembles Bell's writing style.

I realize that when I mention the name Rob Bell in the title of this review many of you are thinking, "hey ain't that the pastor who wrote that book regarding hell and the afterlife where he clearly defends universalism ambiguously allowing himself to be both portrayed as a liberal hero while at the same time telling his critics they just don't understand?" You

The man who spoke with the eschatological of Harold Camping regarding what the Bible actually says about the afterlife is back with yet another book written in a similar style with less of a punch tackling
the subject of God.
Who is he? Why does he matter?
(some say the word "he" in the previous sentences should be capitalized, but I'm a rebel)

In What We Talk About When We Talk About God, Bell asks the all-important question we are all asking regarding the state of God - Can God keep up with the modern world? (8)

Some like to think such a question is human hubris at its best, but they clearly have never driven an Oldsmobile. My parents had one when I was a kid. They bought it from my great-grandparents and growing up in the 90s it was at times embarrassing to ride in. It is impossible for a young kid to act cool as he rides around in downtown of a rural city on his way to a hymn-singing, organ playing church while his dad is cruising in his great-grandparents old Oldsmobile.

I tell you about that Oldsmobile because not only did my parents actually drive one when I was growing up but because Bell uses it in his book (and the book trailer) to describe God. Is God going to be left behind
he asks
Like Oldsmobiles? (8)


I remember this joke I once heard about three tomatoes. There was
a daddy tomato,
a mommy tomato,
a baby tomato.
One day they were out walking and baby tomato kept falling behind. Each time the parents would go back and get the young tomato.
Until finally the daddy tomato had had enough,
walked back to the baby tomato, stomped his anthropomorphic foot and said

Did you get it?

God in the modern world is a lot like that baby tomato. Most in the modern world keep thinking that God is always falling behind in a world of electricity, quantum mechanics, and evolutionary theory. We all know that we came from stars (53), but simply asserting that we are just material
doesn't make sense.
After all, we can all study human lips, but its a totally different thing to be kissed? (149)

Bell has come like a white knight to save the day.
keep up with
modern world.


So here is the
basic argument:

God is
(whatever your meaning of is, is)
with us,
for us
ahead of us.

By with us, the author articulates, what the theologians call, process theology. Though the word is never used because the author is a non-theologian writing on theology,
the direction of Bell and others like him
(like Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, David Pagitt, and others in the now defunked Emergent Church)
is in this direction.

Process theology flirts with pantheism opting in favor of panentheism. In short, panentheism is divine immanence run amuk. Bell argues, in this vein, that God is not this keyboard I am now typing on or the chair your perhaps now sitting in, but is in a very real sense with us. The books epilogue
(a concluding chapter for those who don't understand)

One morning recently I was surfing just after sunrise, and there was only one other surfer out. In between sets he and I started talking. He told me about his work and his family, and then, after about an hour in the water together, he told me how he'd been an alcoholic and a drug addict and an atheist and then he'd gotten clean and sober and found God nt he process. As he sat there floating on his board next to me, a hundred or so yards from shore, with not a cloud in the sky and the surface of the water like glass, eh looked around and said, "And now I see God everywhere."

Now that's what I'm talking about. (211)

God is also ahead of us. In other words, God is no longer an Oldsmobile. He's an earth-friendly hybrid.
The author writes
(in a traditional paragraph form I might add)

. . . when I talk about God, I"m not talking about a divine being who is behind, trying to drag us back to a primitive, barbaric, regressive, prescientific age when we believed Earth was flat and the center of the universe. I believe that God isn't backward-focused - opposed ot reason, liberation, and progress - but instead is pulling us and calling us and drawing all of humanity forward - as God always has - into greater and greater peace, love, justice, connection, honesty, compassion, and joy. I want you to see how the God we see at work in the Bible is actually ahead of people, tribes, and cultures as God always has been. Far too many people in our world have come to see God as back there, primitive, not-that-intelligent, dragging everything backward to where it used to be. I don't understand God to be stuck back there and I want yo to experience this pull forward as a vital, active reality in your day-to-day life as you see just what God has been up to all along with every single one of us. (19)

That's good to know.

God is so far ahead of us that he, without thwarting with our free will of course (see Love Wins), is leading humanity in a progression towards a better world. So yes when we look at the Bible, that embarrassing ancient book full of myths and legends that occasionally inspires us so long as we interpret in a way that best
fits my preconceived notion of what is true,
we see an ancient people moving from clear barbarism to lesser barbarism. God is always moving us from A to B. Other cultures might be at L, but God, who always gets what he wants (see Love Wins), is leading them to M (165).

Now one might ask at this point that if God, when we talk about God limited in the discussion of this book, really is God why doesn't he just move us from a to z?
Why not move us directly to this promised peace, love, justice, and utopia?
It would be easy right?
Why didn't God just tell the savages that supposedly fled Egyptian slavery that holy wars were bad and gay marriage was good?
Why didn't God just tell Paul that "no women preachers allowed" is so 1st century and he should get with the program?
If these Oldsmobiles were stuck on A, wouldn't the last two thousand years have been better if God had gotten what he really wanted: Z?

This leads to a third truth about God we can be certain of. God is for us.

Caricatures are always an exaggeration unless your talking about those who oppose Rob Bell of course. Those fundamentalists who preach "the Bible," and believe that Jesus died on the cross to appease the righteous anger of God articulate a gospel that says

If your gay
tree hugger
transgender anarchist,
according to Oldsmobile Christians,
God is not for you.

But such thinking is wrong.

I remember a time my son was playing with his little toy barn. On the roof of this barn are holes reserved for three letter blocks - A, B, and C. And here's the strange part, he insisted on putting the A in the C. I kept telling my one year old son
not right."

I tell you that story about my son playing with his barn because many whom claim to be Christians are doing the same thing with what we call the gospel. The gospel is simply Jesus's announcement of good news and blessing for everybody who needs it (134). Many people think that God operates according to a point or merit system, and if you do the good or right or decent or religious thing, then you will get the points you need to get on God's good side.

That is not the gospel.

Gospel is the shocking, provocative, revolutionary, subversive, counterintuitive [sic] good news that in your moments of greatest 
[you get the point]
God meets you there -
right there-
right exactly there -
in that place, and announces,
I am on your side (135-156)

There is no bloody cross in this message. In fact the cross, reminiscent of what Walter Rauschenbusch, a guy that lived like a hundred years ago but didn't drive an Oldsmobile, taught, reminds us that God has absorbed and suffered right down to the last breath (144) the very worst the world has to offer. Jesus, we might presume, didn't suffer for mankind's "sins" but because of our misdeeds. God was there suffering at the hands of injustice, religious bigotry, and political corruption.

God is here as well.

This is what Jesus meant by repent. You know what repent means? It means to change your thinking, to see things in a new way, to have your mind renewed (137) Oldsmodbile preachers talk of sin, regeneration, transformation, and "repent and thou shalt be saved," but we all know


no one drives

In essence, Rob Bell is a herterodox pastor who for the umpteenth time is seeking to save Christianity from itself. Gone is Oldsmobile theology and replaced with "a new kind of Christianity" reminiscent of the old time apostasy.
is the Bible. Throughout the book Bell is almost embarrassed to reference it.
is the gospel as the above discussion illustrates. He suggests, even, that the man in Luke 18 doesn't leave the temple justified as Oldsmobile Bible's would have us believe, but free (191).
is the deity of Jesus. Instead, the fullness of God merely resided in him (149).

In its place is the center of this "new" progressive message of Jesus. Jesus calls us to become the kind of person who is for everybody. Especially people who aren't Christians. This is why Jesus talked so much about loving our enemies. To love God is to love those whom God loves, and God blesses and loves and gives and is generous with everybody. (150)
Bell presents theology without doctrine, exegesis without hermeneutics, and spirituality without the Spirit.

They're too busy trying to drag us back to letter A while God is moving us ahead to Z.

This is what we're talking about when we talk about God. Does it reflect the Bible?
It doesn't need too.
That's not the point.
We can't go back to driving Oldsmobiles.
We're hybrid people now.
Rather, we must embrace Rob Bell's feelings of who God should be. We should fashion him in his, and our post-enlightenment and postmodern, image.
Make him a little like us
so that
can become a little
like God.

Sound familiar (Genesis 3:5)?

For more:
Repost | Will the Two Become One?: Emergents Turn to Process Theology
Will This Sort of Love Win?:  Reflections on the Bell Controversy - Part 1
MSNBC Takes on Bell . . . Or At Least Tries Too
Driscoll:  Hell is the Wrath of God in Effect  
McLaren and McKnight:  Conversations on Being a Heretic 
Piper on Hellless Preaching
Repost | Why Punidts Should Stick to Punditry: Universalism, Inclusivism, and Freud's Wish Fulfillment
"Is Hell For Real Or Does Everyone go To Heaven?"
Repost | Love Wins?: Phil Johnson's Critic of Bell's Best-Seller
Love Debated: Bell & Warnock Debate 'Love Wins

Where Have All the Apologist Gone?

In his systematic theology, Christian Theology, Dr. Millard Erickson wonders where the theological giants of this generation are. Over the past one hundred years, there were a number of great theological thinkers, like Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, paul Tillich, Rudolf Bultmann, G. C. Berkouwer, Edward Carnell, and Carl F. H. Henry, who formulated extensive, carefully crafted systems of theology. These men, for the most part he suggests, have passed from the active theological scene, and no thinkers have risen to dominate the theological landscape quite as they did. (65)

On his personal blog, Dr. Roger Olson asks the same question. There was a time when the theological landscape of Christianity was stalked by “giants” he writes. These "giants" were theologians and biblical scholars of world wide reputation whose scholarship was read by nearly every serious student of theology. And not just theological students, but even the broader culture. Olson goes on to show how regular such theologians like Karl Barth and Paul Tillich would be featured on the cover of TIME Magazine. What made these theologians giants was more than the volume of books and articles they published or their ongoing footprint on theology, but in their influence and read throughout the Western world.

Neither theologian denies that there has been a vacuum of theological leaders and scholars. The issue both men raise is worth a serious debate and both seek to explain the apparent absence of theological giants prevalent today. However, now that America has entered into a post-Christian stage, perhaps we should ask a slightly different question: Where have all the Christian apologist gone?

Every first year Church history student learns that after the apostolic age concluded with the death of the Apostle John, the church quickly moved to a period of apologetics. Though there is plenty of theology to chew on from the first centuries of the young church, it is the rise of the apologists that gets the most ink. The most famous of these apologists include Justin Martyr (whose two apologies are just as good today as they were in the 2nd century), Irenaeus, Tertullian, and others. These men made their own contribution to Christian theology (Tertullian, for example, coined the Latin term trinitas meaning "Trinity"), but their theological work was usually done in the context of defending the faith against internal heresies (like Gnosticism, docetism, Marcionism, and countless other early heresies) and external criticisms.

Some of the rumors these early Christians faced are baffling today but were real nonetheless. Christians were accused of being incestuous (referring to each other, including spouses, as "brother," and "sister" and meeting weekly for what they called a "love feast") cannibalistic (eating the body and blood of a Nazarene), and atheist (refusing to worship the Roman gods). Such accusations were easily refuted, but they were not the only challenges the culture threw at the early Christians. As if fulfilling Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 1, the "sophisticated" throughout the Empire believed Christians were foolish followers of a deceased Jew. Did I mention he had been crucified?

Regarding internal threats, the early apologists were always having to defend the faith against the rise of heresies of all stripes. Ebionism, similar to the Judaizers of the 1st century, challenged what the Reformers would later call sola fida and sola gracia. The Docetics, rooted in Greek philosophy, denied the humanity of Jesus and naturally encouraged antinomianism. Marcion published his own canon rejecting the Old Testament in its entirety and most of what we now call the New Testament extracting all Jewish influence from Holy Scripture. In response, the apologists turned to a "Rule of Faith" that clearly defined the boundaries of orthodoxy and continued to fight for the purity of the church.

These apologists lived in a pagan culture. Given the direction of history later in the 4th century, we could even say they lived in a pre-Christian culture. Prior to the conversion of Emperor Constantine, Christianity was mostly limited to house churches and the grassroots. Once the persecution officially ended, the church could focus more on developing more robust theology and theological giants like Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Athanasius would rise. We still read their words and see their footprint throughout theological studies today.

If apologetics was necessary in a pre-Christian culture, it will certainly need to be a focus in a post-Christian culture and recent trends have shown that. The study of apologetics, as opposed to just the study of ethics, theology, and philosophy, has grown noticeably in Christian colleges. Likewise, most Christian retail stores have featured an apologetic section for some time. The names of many apologists are becoming more recognizable; Josh McDowell (most notably his Evidence That Demands a Verdict) and his son Sean McDowell, Lee Strobel and his endless The Case of books and DVDs, William Lane Craig's frequent debates with atheists, Muslims, and anyone else, and even Dinesh D'Souza (who is more famous for his anti-Obama documentary but has written and debated against many atheist). The now late Charles Colson made it his life's work to articulate and to train Christians in a biblical worldview. He sought to apply such a worldview in prisons and local governments throughout the country. John Stonestreet and Eric Metaxas have sought to step in in light of Colson's absence.

One might not call these men giants, but I suspect that as secular American continues to dust all Christian influence off its proverbial feet and as Christianity becomes more marginalized, the need for apologetic giants will be required. The first Christians were accused of being atheists without a visible god, we are being accused of being heartless bigots who hate women, homosexuals, and other secular darlings. The early church had to fend off a docetic heresy which denied Christ's humanity, we have been fighting its opposite in the form of liberalism for two hundred years. The early church appealed for tolerance from government officials who were regularly persecuting the church. Today, a soft tyranny is rising and secular progressives continue to shout inaccurate pejoratives (bigots, closed minded, hatemongers, homophobes) which stir up more animosity and eventual government intervention. The tax code will likely become a powerful weapon in the days ahead as a result. The early church had to articulate orthodoxy regarding Christ, the nature of salvation, and the canon, we today must defend the doctrine of creation, an immutable God, and the importance and work of the church.

Where have all the apologists gone? I suspect soon - and very soon - we will find them. Let us pray they will be like the giants the church has produced in the past.

For more:
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 5
Wherefore Art Thou Theological Giants?
"Christianity's Dangerous Idea" by Alister McGrath
"Dug Down Deep" by Josh Harris

All Around the Web - January 31, 2014

Bad Lip Reading -"MORE NFL" — A Bad Lip Reading of The NFL | Just in time for the Super Bowl.

The Gospel Coalition - How to Handle Discouragement in Ministry 

Eric Metaxas - The Truth about Marriage and Poverty
But marriage’s benefits go beyond the personal—society itself benefits from strong marriages. Especially in the economic area.

We've heard a great deal lately about the growing economic divide and economic inequality. What we don’t hear enough about is the role that family formation—or more to the point, the lack of family formation—plays in this divide. The Brookings Institution, a moderate-to-liberal Washington think tank, has estimated that poverty rates would be 25 percent lower if marriage rates were the same today as they were in 1970!

Sadly, they’re not. In 1970, 84 percent of all U.S.-born 30-to-44-year olds were married. Today the percentage is below 60 percent. According to Bowling Green State University, “Since 1970, the marriage rate has declined by almost 60 percent.”

What’s even worse is that the decline of marriage has been most pronounced amongst the most vulnerable segments of the population: the less-affluent and least-well-educated. This vulnerability was the subject of a recent article at the Atlantic Monthly’s website. The title of the article says it all: “Wealthy Women Can Afford to Reject Marriage, But Poor Women Can’t.”

As the author, Emma Green, wrote, “For a poor woman, deciding whether to get married or not will be a big part of shaping her economic future.”

Denny Burk - Russell Moore discusses Christian Persecution on “Morning Joe”

Albert Mohler - Intellectual Discipleship? Faithful Thinking for Faithful Living
The biblical master narrative serves as a framework for the cognitive principles that allow the formation of an authentically Christian worldview. Many Christians rush to develop what they will call a “Christian worldview” by arranging isolated Christian truths, doctrines, and convictions in order to create formulas for Christian thinking. No doubt, this is a better approach than is found among so many believers who have very little concern for Christian thinking at all; but it is not enough.

A robust and rich model of Christian thinking—the quality of thinking that culminates in a God-centered worldview—requires that we see all truth as interconnected. Ultimately, the systematic wholeness of truth can be traced to the fact that God is himself the author of all truth. Christianity is not a set of doctrines in the sense that a mechanic operates with a set of tools. Instead, Christianity is a comprehensive worldview and way of life that grows out of Christian reflection on the Bible and the unfolding plan of God revealed in the unity of the Scriptures.

A God-centered worldview brings every issue, question, and cultural concern into submission to all that the Bible reveals, and it frames all understanding within the ultimate purpose of bringing greater glory to God. This task of bringing every thought captive to Christ requires more than episodic Christian thinking and is to be understood as the task of the church, and not merely the concern of individual believers. The recovery of the Christian mind and the development of a comprehensive Christian worldview will require the deepest theological reflection, the most consecrated application of scholarship, the most sensitive commitment to compassion, and the courage to face all questions without fear.

I'm not a fan of Creighton, but this is pretty amazing.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

It Only Takes Four Generations to Lose the Gospel

The following has been mentioned by many leading Christians before but it is worth revisiting here. In his book book Marks of the Messenger, Mack Stiles explains how the gospel can be lost in just four generations.
I think to understand the answers to these questions, we need to understand the process of losing the gospel. Paul wrote Timothy to tell him to guard the gospel. He did that because he was aware that the could could be lost. In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul points to four "generations" of people who are to pass on the gospel: Paul ti Timothy, Timothy to faithful people, and faithful people to other faithful people.

These "generations" of Christian leaders might be the next generations of elders in a church. It could apply to the next generations of leaders in a ministry. it might be student generations on a college campus. Regardless, Paul new if we did not guard the gospel for the next generation, we would lose the gospel.

. . .

Losing the gospel doesn't happen all at once; it's much more like a four generation process too:
The gospel is accepted —>
The gospel is assumed —>
The gospel is confused —>
The gospel is lost.
For any generation to lose the gospel is tragic. But, as Philip Jensen says, the generation that assumes the gospel is the generation that is most responsible for the loss of the gospel. As you can imagine, both an assumed gospel and a confused gospel present particular challenges to healthy evangelism . . . (39-40)

And yet this Jesus of Nazareth . . .

Philip Schaff, The Person of Christ:
And yet this Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mahomet, and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke words of life such as never were spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of any orator or poet; without writing a single line, He has set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art and sweet songs of praise, than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times. Born in a manger, and crucified as a malefactor, He now controls the destinies of the civilized world, and rules a spiritual empire which embraces one-third of the inhabitants of the globe. There never was in this world a life so unpretending, modest, and lowly in its outward form and condition, and yet producing such extraordinary effects upon all ages, nations, and classes of men. The annals of history produce no other example of such complete and astonishing success in spite of the absence of those material, social, literary, and artistic powers and influences which are indispensable to success for a mere man. Christ stands, in this respect also, solitary and alone among all the heroes of history, and presents to us an insolvable problem, unless we admit him to be more than man, even the eternal Son of God.

All Around the Web - January 30, 2014

Tullian Tchividjian - Now I See That Which Is Done | The following is the best part.
Preachers these days are expected to major in “moral renovation.” They are expected to provide a practical “to-do” list, rather than announce, “It is finished.” They are expected to do something other than–more than–lift up before their congregation Christ’s finished work, preaching a full absolution solely on the basis of the complete righteousness of Another. To be sure, preachers need to “load their guns with the best powder when aiming at unrepentance”, but far too often a preacher’s final word to Christians is law and not Gospel. To finish a sermon asking “What would Jesus do?” instead of announcing “This is what Jesus has done!” is to betray the final word God speaks over Christians.

“Life is a web of trials and temptations”, says Robert Capon, “but only one of them can ever be fatal-the temptation to think it is by further, better, and more aggressive living that we can have life.” Given this sobering statement, it would seem that many preachers unwittingly lead their congregations “into temptation” by implying that you can live your way to life. The fact is, however, that you can only “die your way there, lose your way there…For Jesus came to raise the dead. He did not come to reward the rewardable, improve the improvable, or correct the correctable; he came simply to be the resurrection and the life of those who will take their stand on a death he can use instead of on a life he cannot.” After our preaching of the law rightly pushes people under water, we all too often lead them to think that they must “save” themselves by giving them swimming lessons: “Paddle harder, kick faster.”

I want the last word I speak over Christians when I preach to be the last word God speaks over Christians-”Paid in full.” The Gospel always has the last word over a believer. Always. When it’s all said and done there are two types of sermons: Jesus + Nothing = Everything or Jesus + Something = Everything.

May God raise up a generation of bold preachers who storm the gates of works-righteousness in all its forms with nothing more and nothing less than, “In my place condemned he stood, and sealed my pardon with his blood. Hallelujah, what a Savior.”

Justin Taylor - A Conversation on Abortion and the Gospel: Francis Chan and John Piper Talk with John Ensor

Russell Moore - Questions & Ethics: Is medical marijuana ok for Christians?
In this episode of Questions & Ethics, Russell Moore discusses his thoughts on the legalization of marijuana. What should Christians think about the legal use of marijuana? What about medical marijuana?

Church Mag3 Questions to Ask When Building a Church Website
1. Who is the church website for?
2. How can communicate our heart with simplicity?
3. Does this really reflect the reality of our church?
Bonus Obvious Question: Is the church website mobile-friendly?

Justin Taylor - D.A. Carson: How Can We Reconcile the Old Testament God and the New Testament God?

Them pesky floaters explained.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The State of Our Union 2014

State of the Union - President Barack Obama

Republican Response - Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Tea Party Response - Rep. Mike Lee (R)

Senator Rand Paul (R) Response

For more:
The 2013 State of the Union Address & Responses

The State of Our Union 2012
The State Of Our Union 2011
The Contrast Are Clear: Obama and Jindal's Proposals

President Obama's Second Inaugural Address
The Duel Over Debt: Obama and Boehner Speak to the Nation
The Economics of Greed:  What Economics Can Teach Us About the Gospel    

Hump Day Humor: Early Reaction to SOTU

Hump Day Humor: Everything is Amazing But Nobody Is Happy

I can agree with this sentiment.  Here is Louis CK's right argument that we are so spoiled that even though Everything is Amazing, Nobody is Happy.  There is a lesson here for us.  Contentment, peace, joy, satisfaction, and love can't be found in ourselves or even in others, but only in Christ.  Everything else is just idolatry.

*Warning* - There is some language in the video clip but is censored.   There is also some scatological language as well.

From Lewis' Pen: Not the Sort of Thing You Would Make Up

From Mere Christianity:
"Besides being complicated, reality, in my experience, is usually odd. It is not neat, not obvious, not what you expect. For instance, when you have grasped that the earth and the other planets all go round the sun, you would naturally expect that all the planets were made to match—all at equal distances from each other, say, or distances that regularly increased, or all the same size, or else getting bigger or smaller as you go further from the sun. In fact, you find no rhyme or reason (that we can see) about either the sizes or the distances; and some of them have one moon, one has four, one has two, some have none, and one has a ring.

Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed. That is one of the reasons I believe Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have."

All Around the Web - January 29, 2014

The Gospel Coalition - Why I Am a Cessationist / Continuationist | Dr. Thom Schreiener pens the article on Cessionism and Dr. Sam Storms pens the article on continuationism.

Bible Gateway - New Videos: Did a Historical Adam Really Exist?
The question of whether Adam and Eve actually existed—as real people who lived in real history and who are the parents of all humanity—has become a touchy question within evangelical Christian theology.

Some scholars insist that a historical Adam is necessary; after all, the apostle Paul contrasts Adam and Jesus and seems to view Adam as equally historical, and many Christian doctrines have traditionally hinged on Adam. Other scholars doubt both the existence of a man named Adam and his necessity to our faith.

Underlying the disagreement about Adam are questions about evolution and the inerrancy of Scripture, the kind of issues by which institutions define themselves and over which professors can lose jobs.

To give you a taste of the different views and what’s at stake in this debate, we’ve collected new videos from contributors and editors of the new Zondervan book, Four Views on the Historical Adam.

Ligonier - 5 Ways to Pray for Your Church Family in 2014
1. Pray for a Hunger for the Bible.
2. Pray for Thankfulness.
3. Pray for Gospel Growth.
4. Pray for Holiness.
5. Pray for Unity.

Liberate - What is the Lord's Prayer?

New York Times - Hiroo Onoda, Soldier Who Hid in Jungle for Decades, Dies at 91
Hiroo Onoda, an Imperial Japanese Army officer who remained at his jungle post on an island in the Philippines for 29 years, refusing to believe that World War II was over, and returned to a hero’s welcome in the all but unrecognizable Japan of 1974, died on Thursday in Tokyo. He was 91.
His death, at a hospital there, was announced by the Japanese government.

Caught in a time warp, Mr. Onoda, a second lieutenant, was one of the war’s last holdouts: a soldier who believed that the emperor was a deity and the war a sacred mission; who survived on bananas and coconuts and sometimes killed villagers he assumed were enemies; who finally went home to the lotus land of paper and wood which turned out to be a futuristic world of skyscrapers, television, jet planes and pollution and atomic destruction.

Japanese history and literature are replete with heroes who have remained loyal to a cause, especially if it is lost or hopeless, and Lieutenant Onoda, a small, wiry man of dignified manner and military bearing, seemed to many like a samurai of old, ultimately offering his sword as a gesture of surrender to President Ferdinand E. Marcos of the Philippines, who returned it to him.

The truth about redheads.

HT: Michael Bird

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Watch the State of the Union Live Online

Republican Response

Tea Party Response

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Ecclesiology 2

In his first chapter on the doctrine of the church, Dr. Millard Erickson sets the word "church" (Greek, ekklesia) within its two historic contexts: Its Greek and Jewish context. He explains that the word in the Christian faith is influenced more by the Hebrew meaning, but its Greek background is important and worth highlighting here in brief.
The meaning of the New Testament concept must be seen against two backgrounds, that of classical Greek and that of the Old Testament. In classical Greek the word eklessia is found as early as Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Plato, and Euripides (fifth century BC on). It refers to an assembly of the citizens of a polis (city). Such assemblies convened at frequent intervals, as often as forty times a year in the case of Athens. While the authority of the ekklesia was limited to certain matters, all who were full citizens were allowed a vote in those matters. In the secular sense of the word, then, ekklesia refers simply to a gathering or assembly of persons, a meaning that is still to be found in Acts 19:32, 39, 41. In only three exceptional cases in classical Greek is it used of a religious fellowship or cultic guild. And in these instances it refers to their business meetings, not to the union itself. (1041)
What sticks out to me here is the Greek connection between ekklesia and the state. As Erickson writes, the ekklesia "refers to an assembly of the citizens of a polis." This concept is found in the New Testament. Frequently, Paul and others use the language of Christians as citizens to describe what it means to be followers of Jesus. We become the people of God (an image Erickson develops later) who enter the Kingdom of God (the relation between the church and Kingdom is discussed by Erickson later in the chapter) as one of its citizens. Therefore, we set our mind on things above (Colossians 3) because that is where our home is. We are aliens here, commissioned by God as His ambassadors.

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

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 - January 28, 2014

HT: The Blaze

Albert MohlerAbortion and the American Conscience
America has been at war over abortion for the last four decades and more. When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade, the court’s majority attempted to put an end to the abortion question. To the contrary, that decision both enlarged and revealed the great moral divide that runs through the center of our culture.

Most Americans seem completely unaware of the actual contours of the abortion debate as it emerged in the early 1970s. In 1973, the primary opposition to abortion on demand came from the Roman Catholic Church. Evangelicals — representative of the larger American culture — were largely out of the debate. At that time, a majority of evangelicals seemed to see abortion as a largely Catholic issue. It took the shock of Roe v. Wade and the reality of abortion on demand to awaken the Evangelical conscience.

Roe v. Wade was championed as one of the great victories achieved by the feminist movement. The leaders of that movement claimed — and continue to claim — that the availability of abortion on demand is necessary in order for women to be equal with men with respect to the absence of pregnancy as an obstacle to career advancement. Furthermore, the moral logic of Roe v. Wade was a thunderous affirmation of the ideal of personal autonomy that had already taken hold of the American mind. As the decision made all too clear, rights talk had displaced what had been seen as the higher concern of right versus wrong.

The Gospel Coalition - Justification and Sanctification: What's the Problem?

Owen Strachan - The World Needs Pastors
David Brooks just wrote an eloquent New York Times column entitled “The Art of Presence” on helping friends through suffering. Referencing a Christian family named the Woodiwisses who have experienced multiple tragedies, Brooks says the following is what such sufferers need in tough times:
I’d say that what these experiences call for is a sort of passive activism. We have a tendency, especially in an achievement-oriented culture, to want to solve problems and repair brokenness — to propose, plan, fix, interpret, explain and solve. But what seems to be needed here is the art of presence — to perform tasks without trying to control or alter the elemental situation. Allow nature to take its course. Grant the sufferers the dignity of their own process. Let them define meaning. Sit simply through moments of pain and uncomfortable darkness. Be practical, mundane, simple and direct.
Read the whole piece.
It strikes me when I read sentiments like these that the world needs pastors. It doesn’t need some fancy new form of caregiver. Pastors do not offer anything particularly new. The best pastors are not necessarily famous; the best pastors are there for their people. They are shepherds. This is a common descriptor but a meaningful one. Pastors lead their people through the waystations of life. Pastors celebrate with their members in spectacular seasons and stick close to their members in suffering. There need be nothing innovative or dazzling in this work; the major palliative a pastor gives is Christ-shaped care and love.

Thom Rainer - Ten Common Topics of Church Member Arguments
  1. Worship and music style. I do believe this long-standing battle is diminishing. But it’s still around, sometimes with intensity.
  2. Volume of music in the services. This issue is, of course, closely related to the first issue. It is, however, a battle unto itself in some churches.
  3. Reasons why churches die. There are many perspectives on this matter, and it often becomes a point of debate in declining churches. Members struggle to discern why their particular churches are declining.
  4. Proper attire for church services. I have never posted on this topic, but that has not stopped some pretty lively comments in posts that are tangentially related at best. I’m still debating whether or not I should give my ties to Goodwill.
  5. Pastors’ salaries. Though the discussion has been lively on posts of this topic, the majority of those commenting desire to see pastors have a better or more adequate income.
  6. Megachurches. I have not posted a qualitative article on megachurches yet. But I have posted lists of large churches. The mere mention of large churches or megachurches seems to draw strongly opinionated church members.
  7. The number of hours a pastor works each week. Sometimes I am surprised by the intensity of comments on some topics. This topic is one of those.
  8. Why people leave a church. Closely related to number three, some church members express strong opinions on why people leave a church. Most of them have strong opinions on how to close the back door as well.
  9. Role of a pastor’s wife. I am still seeing comments on a couple of posts I did on this topic. Hardly a day passes that someone else doesn’t join the discussion.
  10. Perspectives on pastors’ children. This topic drew many pastors’ kids and former pastors’ kids. The strong emotions were indicative of a lot of hurt and pain that was still present in these current and former PKs.

Breitbart - Gender differences found in memory; men have more problems remembering
There are gender differences in memory, Norwegian scientists say, and men have more problems than women do in remembering dates, faces or conversations.

Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, as part of a large national population health study, asked 48,000 people nine questions about how well they think they remember.

When asked how often they had problems remembering things, whether they had problems with remembering names and dates, if they could remember what they did one year ago and if they were able to remember details from conversations, men reported the most problems for eight out of nine questions, the researchers said.

"It was surprising to see that men forget more than women," researcher Jostein Holmen said. "This has not been documented before. It was also surprising to see that men are just as forgetful whether they are 30 or 60 years old. The results were unambiguous."

Backstreet Boys meets Bluegrass. Your welcome.

Monday, January 27, 2014

"Seven Events That Shaped the New Testament World" by Warren Carter: A Review

For many young believers and new readers of Scripture, it is tempting to approach Scripture apart from its cultural context. The view that the sixty-six books of the Bible descended from above intact is a wonderful thought but does a disservice to the text, to the gospel it reveals, and to the God who revealed it. This was a constant reminder to me while reading Warren Carter's book Seven Events That Shaped the New Testament World.

The book itself is straightforward. Outside of the book's introduction and conclusion, it consists of seven chapters each dedicated to one of the seven major events that shaped the world of the New Testament and the world of the first generations of Jesus followers. The seven events are as follows:
1. The death of Alexander the Great (323 BCE)
2. The process of translating Hebrew Scriptures into Greek (ca. 250 BCE)
3. The rededication of the Jerusalem Temple (164 BCE)
4. The Roman occupation of Judea (63 BCE)
5. The crucifixion of Jesus (ca. 30 CE)
6. The writing of the New Testament texts (ca. 50 - ca. 130 CE)
7. The process of "closing" the New Testament canon (397 CE)
Such books invite immediate criticism from those who, often in self-righteous arrogance, want to argue that the author has missed something. But as I first surveyed the book and now having read it, I am not sure I would exchange any of these seven events for another. This is, we could say, what most scholars and students of Scripture would affirm.

Each chapter helpfully introduces the event or person in language clearly meant for students, not scholars, of Scripture. In his chapter on Alexander the Great, for example, the author survey's his life, conquest, death, and its aftereffect. The reader concludes with the author that though the Bible never mentions his name, Alexander influence is all over the New Testament.

With Alexander the Great came the spread of Hellenism (event 1) which lead to the translation of the Septuagint (event 2). It also meant Greek occupation of Israel which culminated in the Maccabean revolt (event 3). After the Greeks came the Romans (event 4) who ruled during the time of Jesus. The Romans, of course, crucified Jesus (event 5) which launched Christianity. As Christianity spread, the apostles wrote books which eventually led to the formation of the New Testament canon (events 6 and 7). The Bible, then, is not just an isolated book separate from the world, but is shaped by it.

Regarding the above, the author and I are in complete agreement. I read this book hoping to gain more insight into the New Testament world and how it was shaped. In that regard, the author succeeded. His thesis is clear and he delivers on it. However, regarding a number of specifics regarding Scripture the author and I are in stark disagreement. Consider the following:
  • The author repeatedly asserts that Paul wrote only 7 of the 13 letters attributed to him. (13)
  • On Acts: Acts is not giving us an eyewitness account but is offering an important interpretation of Paul. (13, see also 105, 110, 117) [1] He later adds, Paul gets a makeover in Acts. (121)
  • A weak definition of Justification. He writes, At heart, the word is about relationship and being faithful to one's relational commitments. (40)
  • Identity Markers. He writes, Various groups have taken offense at these statements. Numerous Christian groups would dispute these markers, defining Christian identity quite differently. Plenty of GLBT folks identify themselves as Christian. Paul declares that because of God's faithful purposes, "all Israel will be saved," and it is not at all obvious that in context he limits this to those who believe in Christ (Rom. 11:26). Nor is it clear that God is as committed to assigning people to hell . . . Paul describes God's work in this way: ' God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that [God] may be merciful to all" (Rom. 11:32). If "all" actually means "all," declaring who is going to hell may not be on track. (44)
  • Idols. He writes, Is 1 Peter requiring believers to participate in such activity involving idols? That sounds strange, but it may be 1 Peter's strategy. Certainly such an expectation would be consistent with the rest of 1 Peter's insistence that Christians earn a good name with socially cooperative behavior. And 1 Peter exhorts its readers to honor Christ "in your hearts" (3:15), allowing for socially compliant, public actions while maintaining inner integrity. And while 1 Peter condemns excessive behavior involving idols (4:3), it does not condemn idols themselves. (80) [2]
  • Bart Ehrman is commonly referenced in footnotes.
  • The meaning of the cross. He writes, When Jesus was crucified, he did not leave his followers a manual explaining his execution's significance. (100) 
  • Denies Petrine authorship of both 1 Peter (122) and 2 Peter (108, 122) suggesting they were both written after his death.
  • On the Gospels. He writes, [The Gospels] are not eye witness accounts of Jesus's ministry, written by Jesus's disciples at the end of a hard day's ministry. They do not pretend to offer disinterested and balanced reporting of "just the facts." (126) Richard Bauckman has disproved this thesis.
  • Dating the New Testament books. 
    • The author gives a range of 50-130. I disagree with this late date.
    • We do not know precisely when most of these documents that end up forming the New Testament were written. (107)
    • Acts given a date of 90-120s (117, 120).
This is a real weakness of the book. Not because I disagree with the above, but because often it seemed as if the author was chasing rabbits or at least these assertions did not serve the thesis of the book. His broader argument that the New Testament reflects the multicultured world it was written in is not better served by repeatedly denying Pauline authorship of 1 Timothy or asserting that the Paul of the epistles is strangely different from the Paul of Acts. Likewise, raising the issue of homosexuality is unnecessary and distracts the authors main point.

In the end, the book's main goal and thesis is strong and well done. Barring the above weaknesses on issues I strongly, yet respectfully, disagree with the author, he succeeds in making his case. I am not one to not recommend the book because I disagree with some of its content. Its main argument is strong and on that basis I would recommend it. Pastors and students of Scripture would benefit from gaining the insight available in these pages in the events that shaped the world we read in the New Testament.

[1] Fuller quote: Moreover, there are significant differences between the two sources in the presentation of Paul. In Acts, Paul does not write letters. Nor does he take a collection from the gentile churches for the church in Jerusalem, a very important matter for Paul. His gospel anticipating the return of Jesus to complete God's work fades. His concern with the manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit - a charismatic church structure - is replaced by a ore institutional structure. In Acts, Paul struggles over the law and conflicts with churches recede. There are conflicts between the Acts 15 account of the Jerusalem meeting and that of Galatians 2:1-10. It looks like the theological and pastoral agenda of the author of Acts shapes the presentation of Paul as the (almost) solehero of the second part of Acts.

There surely are significant similarities. yet we need to recognize that Acts is not giving us an eyewitness account but is offering an important interpretation of Paul. (13)

[2] Full quote: Honoring the emperor can involve a number of behaviors such as paying taxes, praying for the emperor, and making offering to an image of the emperor. Often offerings or sacrifices were offered by the public on significant civic occasions, as well as by various groups such as trade associations.

Is 1 Peter requiring believers to participate in such activity involving idols? That sounds strange, but it may be 1 Peter's strategy. Certainly such an expectation would be consistent with the rest of 1 Peter's insistence that Christians earn a good name with socially cooperative behavior. And 1 Peter exhorts its readers to honor Christ "in your hearts" (3:15), allowing for socially compliant, public actions while maintaining inner integrity. And while 1 Peter condemns excessive behavior involving idols (4:3), it does not condemn idols themselves. (80)

For more:
Dealing with the Discrepancies of Jesus' Genealogies
Rethinking the Identity of the Beloved Disciple
"How the Bible was Build" by Charles M. Smith & James W. Bennett: A Review
"God's Word in Human Words":  A Detailed Critique - Part 1
"God's Word in Human Words":  A Detailed Critique - Part 2
"God's Word in Human Words":  A Detailed Critique - Part 3
"God's Word in Human Words":  A Detailed Critique - Part 4     

All Around the Web - January 27, 2014

HT: The Blaze

Pastor's Today - Brothers, Let Us Read Fantasy: 5 Reasons Pastors Should Read Fiction 
Here are five reasons those who preach the Word should read fantasy.
  1. To Connect With Your Hearers. A quick glance at any best-seller list will reveal that people read story and imaginative literature. People read fantasy; children, teenagers, adults. That being the case, it’s important that preachers be somewhat versed in what people are reading. Some may interpret this as an attempt to be cool or trendy. I’d rather say it’s an attempt to be a missionary! Remember Acts 17? Paul quotes from the pagan philosophers of the day in order to engage his listeners. We may find that a reference to The Hunger Games rouses a slumbering teen, or a quote from The Iliad captures the attention of an agnostic college professor. We must admit that in the eyes of many non-Christians, preachers of the Gospel have a burden of proof to bear. Reading fiction may help us on our way to becoming all things to all people.
  2. To Read More. All of us want to read more. We feel guilty as we continue to buy new books, but fail to read them. Reading fiction may help remedy this. Once a story captures us, we want to read more, which spills over into our other reading. I read the Harry Potter series in a few months this year, but noticed that I finished several non-fiction books during the same time. Reading fantasy fuels our desire to read, and it balances our literary diet.
  3. To Compliment Logic In Preaching. The reason many of us love writers and thinkers like C. S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G. K. Chesterton, or preachers like Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield is that they combined laser sharp logic with incredible imagination. Most of us preachers likely have a hard time with creativity and imagination. We feel much more at home with logic, theology, and propositional truths—which our people need. But we must acquaint ourselves with story, poetry, song, and experience, and nothing does that like curling up with a good fantasy work.
  4. To Get In Touch With Reality. While some may think reading fantasy is an attempt to escape reality, I contend that it brings us closer to reality. The sheer range of emotions involved in reading works like The Lord of the Rings or Pilgrims Progress are enough to prove this. We become more empathetic, compassionate, virtuous—more human. C. S. Lewis said reading fantasy is like a child eating his meat and imagining it was a buffalo he killed with his own bow and arrow. He said, “The real meat comes back to him more savory for having been dipped in a story; you might say that only then is it the real meat” (On Stories, 90). Imagine how this might impact our preaching. A mind dipped in great stories galvanizes our preaching with wisdom and insight as we expound the glories of the Bible. N. D. Wilson says “Stories create affection and fear and joy, love and hate and relief. Stories can create loyalties and destabilize loyalties. Stories are catechisms for the imagination. Catechisms for emotions, for aspirations. Stories mold instincts and carve grooves of habit in a reader’s judgments” (Catechisms For The Imagination). I couldn’t agree more.
  5. To See The Grand Story. Jerram Barrs says the ultimate test for a story is wether it contains echoes of eden, which he defines as, “The story of the good creation, the fallen world, and the longing for redemption” (Echoes of Eden, 67). Good fiction does this; it shows us the human condition and makes us long for renewal and freedom. This in turn points us to the Grand Story of the Bible, the True Story! There really is a Coming King, a Rescuer, One who will set all things right and set us free. There really is a Hero who fought the dragon and won. Good story can remind us of this, and send our hearts soaring into worship.

The Gospel Coalition - The Gospel for a Gay Friend
To share the gospel with Josh, or with anyone who may have questions like his, here are a few ideas to keep in mind.
1. Hope in Jesus' power to help you.
2. Hold Jesus as supreme.
3. Have Jesus-like compassion and conviction.
4. Keep Jesus' church central.
5. Help answer their questions.
6. Have patience.
7. Hope in Jesus' power to save.

Ligonier Ministries - Worship According to the Word
In The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor offers this insight into fallen human nature: “So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone to worship.” Though the Grand Inquisitor falls far short as a reliable guide to theology, at this point he is surely correct. Human beings are profoundly religious—even when we do not know ourselves to be—and humans incessantly seek an object of worship.

Yet, human beings are also sinners, and thus our worship is, more often than not, grounded in our own paganism of personal preference. As John Calvin profoundly explained, the fallen human heart is an “idol-making factory,” always producing new idols for worship and veneration. That corrupted factory, left to its own devices, will never produce true worship, but will instead worship its own invention.

The church is not comprised of those who found the true and living God by experimentation in worship, but of those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, incorporated into the Body of Christ, and are then called to true worship as regulated and authorized by Scripture. Worship is the purpose for which we were made—and only the redeemed can worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

Real Clear Politics - "Special Report" on Income Politics: The Truth About Income Inequality Under Obama

The Blaze - NFL Considering Major Rule Change to Eliminate a Play That’s Always Been Part of the Game
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said on Monday that the league is considering a proposal to do away with extra points. Though the extra point is almost automatic and relatively unexciting, the rule change would alter a play that’s always been part of the game.

“The extra point is almost automatic. I believe we had five missed extra points this year out of 1,200 some odd,” Goodell told “So it’s a very small fraction of the play, and you want to add excitement with every play.”

So what instead would happen after a touchdown is scored?

What happens when a British announcer calls an American football game.

HT: Deadspin

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Collision: An Important Documentary about Faith & Atheism

COLLISION: Christopher Hitchens vs. Douglas Wilson
The rise of the New Atheist in recent years remains an important missiological, apologetic, and gospel issue.  The likes of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Samuel Harris, and Christopher Hitchens have published major, best-selling books that promote atheism (or anti-theism as they like to call it).  A number of Christians have published books in response.*  The following movie documentary, called COLLISION: Christopher Hitchens vs. Douglas Wilson, presents the relationship and debate between new atheism Christopher Hitchens and Christian Douglas Wilson.  The movie is a good watch and presents the argument of both sides.  I have seen the majority of it but have not seen the conclusion yet, but I wanted to pass it along to everyone.

*  I would recommend books like Dinesh D'Souza What's So Great about Christianity, David Aikman The Delusion of Disbelief: Why the New Atheism is a Threat to Your Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness, Ravi Zacharias The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists, Albert Mohler Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists, among others.

For more:
"Why God Won't Go Away" by Alister McGrath
Why Won't God Go Away?: McGrath on the Demise of the New Atheism 
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
"Atheism Remix" by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
"The Delusion of Disbelief" by David Aikman
"The End of Reason" by Ravi Zacharias
What's So Great About Christianity? by Dinesh D'Souza
On Why Darwin Still Matters
Collision:  An Important Documentary About Faith and Atheism  
Causation and the Existence of God:  How Scientists Continue to Prove Aquinas's Point  
Creation or Manipulation:  The Limits of Man and the Evidence for God
Natural Morality:  The Disconnect Between Darwinism and Morality  
Survival of the Moral: Can Man Be Moral Without God?
Re: Survival of the Moral: Can Man Be Moral Without God?
Freud's Wish Fulfillment: Why Atheism Can't Explain Atheism