Monday, March 24, 2014

All Around the Web - March 24, 2014

Albert Mohler - Fred Phelps and the Anti-Gospel of Hate — A Necessary Word 
Fred Phelps is dead. The fire-and-brimstone preacher, who for many years was pastor of the institution known as Westboro Baptist Church, died late Wednesday in a hospice in Topeka, Kansas. The announcement was made on his church’s website. The wording was simple: “Fred W. Phelps Sr. has gone the way of all flesh.” Thus brings to an end one of most bitters lives in modern history — and one of the most harmful to the Gospel.

Fred Phelps became infamous due to one central fact — he was a world-class hater. He brought great discredit to the Gospel of Christ because his message was undiluted hatred packaged as the beliefs of a church. Even Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center referred to Westboro Baptist Church as “this so-called church.” The damage was due to the fact that his platform for hatred was called a church. That provided the watching and listening world with a ready target and case study for the accusation that Christian conviction on questions of sexual morality is nothing more than disguised hatred for homosexuals. And, like radioactivity, Fred Phelps’ hatred will survive in lasting half-lives of animus.

The media made Fred Phelps into a public image, but they could hardly ignore a prophet of antipathy who showed up with his followers in public demonstrations and took his case for public protest all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court. Phelps and the media needed each other and fed each other. The New York Times described Phelps as “a loathed figure at the fringe of the American religious scene,” but he was not a fringe figure in terms of media attention. I have done my best not to add to his publicity, but as calls from the media in recent days made clear, the time has come for a necessary word.

Special Report - ObamaCare Checkup: How did we get here?

Kevin DeYoung - 9 Thoughts on Celebrity Pastors, Controversy, the New Calvinism, Etc.
7. Associations are tricky. It does matter with whom you share a platform. Convictions and courage are often compromised by a casual approach to movement building. If you were big buddies with Arius in the fourth century and blurbed all his books, people would be right to ask a few questions. And yet, to throw a movement under the bus for a couple bad bus drivers is not right. The logic which says “John Piper is the father of the New Calvinism, and John Piper did conferences with Mark Driscoll several years ago, and Mark Driscoll is friends with Steven Furtick, therefore the New Calvinism and everyone and everything associated with it is complicit in the worst of evangelical megachurchdom” is reasoning equal parts fallacious and lazy.

8. There are many possible reasons for silence in the midst of controversy. Some of them are cowardly. Some are wise. It’s not always easy to know when to speak and when to shut your mouth, especially when the former can get you accused of acting too churchly and the latter can land you in hot water for enabling the problem. Along these lines, it may be worth pointing out that TGC blogs commented on the Elephant Room here, here, here, and here; on plagiarism, ghost writing, and buying your way on to the best sellers list here, here, here, and here. And this is simply what I found after searching for 15 minutes, and excluding articles linked to on twitter and commentary from other TGC council members (e.g., Piper’s strong denunciations of ghostwriting here and here).

9. Is the New Calvinism dead or dying? In a couple ways yes. In most ways no. “Yes” in so far as we are seeing that some of the networks in the movement probably don’t actually belong in the same movement and some of the popular voices in the movement may not really be singing from the same sheet of music. But a resounding “no” in so far as the commitment to and interest in these twelve features seems to me to be growing rather than receding. Where the New Calvinism is about propping up our puny empires and making pastors rich and famous let it die a thousand deaths and die quickly. Where the New Calvinism leads people to the Bible, points to good books, produces good resources, promotes a winsome evangelical Calvinism, strengthens the local church, exults in Christ, proclaims the gospel, and  magnifies the glory of God, let it grow ten thousand fold. And if it grows and in some quarters becomes potent and popular, let us not have a whiff of triumphalism for its success, nor a hint of rooting for its demise.

WORLD MagazineMark Driscoll Apologizes
Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, wrote in a letter to his congregation that his “angry-young-prophet days are over” and that he plans to take steps to become “a helpful, Bible-teaching spiritual father.”

Driscoll’s nearly 2,000-word letter, posted Friday on the megachurch’s private online community known as “The City” and published elsewhere since, apologized for recent missteps he and the church have made and outlined plans to keep them from recurring. Among the steps Driscoll planned to take included refraining from posting on social media until “at least the end of the year” and to doing few, if any, media interviews.

The letter also expressed regret for activities he engaged in to put his book Real Marriage on the New York Times best-seller list. Mars Hill spokesman Justin Dean had previously defended the use of the marketing firm ResultSource to buy books in quantity in order to get Real Marriage on prominent best-seller lists. But in his letter of apology, Driscoll wrote, “In retrospect, I no longer see it that way. Instead, I now see it as manipulating a book sales reporting system, which is wrong. I am sorry that I used this strategy, and will never use it again. I have also asked my publisher to not use the ‘#1 New York Times bestseller’ status in future publications, and am working to remove this from past publications as well.”      

Crossway - What Women Wish Men Knew About Beauty
3 Practical Ways to Encourage Your Wife

So what can you do?

First, start by asking your wife or daughter about the beauty pressures they face. Granted, some women may be more affected than others, but beauty issues touch us all.

Second, study Scripture. Labor to read good resources on this topic so that you can encourage, cherish, and lead your wife and daughter.

Third, encourage true beauty. Lavish your wife with affection and adoration. Be your daughter’s biggest fan.

Men who take the time to understand—or at least try to understand—the pressures women face will be able to help them resist the lies from our culture and pursue a biblical vision of beauty. Even if you don’t feel like you get it, I guarantee the effort will be greatly appreciated.

We know you may not want to be caught dead reading a book with a girly cover called True Beauty, and we respect you for that, but learning about true beauty in order to serve your woman is one of the most masculine things you can do.

The Gospel Coalition - Jared Wilson on Writing and Pastoral Ministry
Should a pastor write? Is writing a valid part of pastoral ministry, or does it distract us from the people we're called to care for?

jaredwilsonEvery pastor should write, even if he does not pursue publication, because besides the weekly exercise of composing a sermon, writing in a journal, writing letters, writing pieces for a church blog or newsletter or other internal resources helps a pastor develop his own voice for the sermon and other teaching. Writing is a great impetus for learning and research, as well as critical thinking and creativity. It would be helpful for pastors to exercise those muscles regularly, even if they don't think of themselves as "writers" per se.

A young pastor comes to you wanting to be a published writer like you are. What advice do you give him? How should a pastor evaluate and pursue a call to write?

I try not to be too cynical. But I think many younger pastors want to be published today not as a way of working out creative giftings or love of writing but mainly to achieve a platform or a certain level of notoriety. It appears to be the "next step" in the pastoral career trajectory. This kind of thinking, which pastors themselves are not entirely responsible for, has done great harm to the literary culture within the church.

But if a pastor is a gifted writer and interested in the craft and feels called to pursue wider readership, I would want to make sure this is something he's been doing for a while, that he's put real work over a period of years into it. There are very few overnight successes. So I would encourage endurance and perseverance. I would coach him on how to receive criticism. And of course I'd give him practical tips on pursuing publication.

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