On Monday I attempted to anticipate some of the cost to the church if young Christian men continue to spend their youth embroiled in the pursuit of pornography. Solomon warns that pornography is sapping them of their strength. In their strongest and most energetic years, in the years when so many promises and possibilities lie open before them, they are giving it all away to pornography. It saps them of strength and it saps them of life.
If preaching is central to Christian worship, what kind of preaching are we talking about? The sheer weightlessness of much contemporary preaching is a severe indictment of our superficial Christianity. When the pulpit ministry lacks substance, the church is severed from the word of God, and its health and faithfulness are immediately diminished.
To say that I come from a mixed background is an understatement. I was raised in the Independent Christian Church movement, discipled in a rising megachurch run by one of the current promoters of Radical Christianity, and have enjoyed close brushes with Eastern Orthodoxy and most varieties of Anglicanism. I now embrace Reformed theology, but I got my first steps down that road through reading Thomas Aquinas. I spent several years self-identifying as a “generic evangelical”, and somehow I was almost completely unironic about it. I absorbed all of those influences between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five, and I have spent the time since sorting through it all.
Given that background, I could almost be a poster child for evangelical eclecticism. But a funny thing happened along the way.
Justin Taylor talks with Ligon Duncan, newly-elected chancellor of RTS. Here’s a taste:
After many years in pastoral ministry, at a church you dearly love (and dearly loves you!), how difficult of a decision was this for you?
It was incredibly difficult. It was overwhelming even to contemplate leaving a place and work that I so dearly love (and people who love me far, far beyond my deserving), and to take up so weighty a calling. I have served First Presbyterian Church for over 17 years, almost a tenth of her 176 years of history. My children were born, baptized, catechized, professed faith, and first communed here. They love this church. I entered into a season of serious reflection, sought wise counsel, and asked the Lord to show me the way forward. This has been the most difficult vocational decision that I have ever had to make.
Life-on-life ministry comes quite naturally to many of us women as we love to care, nurture, and share emotional intimacy. Yet as in every other relationship, there is danger that I find my identity in mentoring another young woman and so become enmeshed in an unhealthy relationship. My definition of “unhealthy relationship” is a relationship where one of my idols takes the central place that belongs to Jesus. In mentoring, this can happen when my idol of being needed replaces Jesus as what I am worshiping and serving in our relationship.