Around the Interweb (12/12)

The “New” Calvinism: Stupid, Salvation, or Save-able?

The “new” Calvinism is all over the place, for better or for worse. Some think it’s completely stupid, others consider it the salvation of evangelicalism. Julian Freeman weighs in with his take:

Somewhere in the middle of those two positions, I think, lies two particularly helpful cautions. . . .  John Piper warns the New Calvinists about ‘dangling, unconnected wires’ in their lives which hang between doctrine and practice, between the sovereignty being preached and the sanctification of those preaching… Piper reminds the young Calvinists that while their ‘movement’ has the potential to do great things, if their practice doesn’t match their preaching, the whole movement will fall apart.

Just this morning I read a brilliant little article on a similar vein from Tony Reinke, called Young, Restless, Reformed, and Humbled. There we are reminded of the absolute necessity of humility (especially!) in those who claim to be Calvinists of any sort. To believe in the doctrines of grace, but not be humbled by them and your ability to live them is profoundly inconsistent. Reinke writes, ‘First, look at the depth of your theological convictions. Thank God for that–it’s a gift. Second, compare those convictions with the shallow daily decisions that are made totally uninfluenced by them.’

What I appreciate in what both Piper and Reinke are saying is this: The movement in and of itself is nothing; but it may be something, if we let the gospel do its full-orbed work of changing us from the inside out. If we are changed by what we preach and live like what we preach is really true, then maybe this movement is save-able. Maybe God really will use it to do great things for his great name in our day, in our part of this world.

That’s my hope, anyway.

In Other News

Video: I found this funny. Don’t judge me.

Theology Review: The new issue of Themelios is now available at The Gospel Coalition.

Translation: Kevin DeYoung offers his take on the new NIV’s interpretation of 1 Tim 2:12

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of Servanthood as Worship and an interview with its author, Nate Palmer

Reflecting on the classics you just can’t get into

John MacArthur on the true spirit of Christmas

Around the Interweb (12/05)

Why is X Used When it Replaces Christ in Christmas?

Christmas brings with it many things—time with family, shopping, entertainment… and, the occasional fuss over “Merry Xmas.” Here’s a reason why we maybe don’t need to get quite so irked about it:

People seem to express chagrin about seeing Christ’s name dropped and replaced by this symbol for an unknown quantity X. Every year you see the signs and the bumper stickers saying, “Put Christ back into Christmas” as a response to this substitution of the letter X for the name of Christ.

First of all, you have to understand that it is not the letter X that is put into Christmas. We see the English letter X there, but actually what it involves is the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ…

The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show any disrespect for Jesus. The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters for the Greek phrase “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put those letters together to spell the Greek word for fish. That’s how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom. There’s a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.

HT: Ligonier

Announcements

Last week, I kicked off the relaunch of Blogging Theologically with a pretty incredible giveaway sponsored by Crossway. I was completely blown away by the response! Out of more than 125 entrants, the winner is… Shannon Craig! Congratulations and Merry (early) Christmas!

There’s still time to win $50 worth of merchandise (of your choice), courtesy of the Ligonier Affiliates program—enter before 5 PM EST Today! And be on the lookout for another great giveaway this month!

In Other News

Decor: Just in time for Christmas, Mark Altrogge wants to help you spruce up your decorating with the Christian Leaders Inflatable Lawn Ornament collection.

Free Stuff: This month’s free audiobook at ChristanAudio.com is Handel’s Messiah by Calvin R. Stapert

Ethics: Jared Wilson (citing Randy Alcorn) on the ethics of ghostwriting

Networking: This week, Erik Kowalker, Matthew Blair and Nick Uva launched the Reformed Quotes Fellowship, “a gathering of such like minded people who wish to see the fame of Christ spread throughout the internet by the use of God glorifying, cross centered, gospel rich, and unashamedly reformed quotes from saints of the past and present.” There are some fantastic sites among the membership, like J.C. Ryle Quotes and The Daily Spurgeon among others. Go check them out.

In Case You Missed It

With Christmas fast approaching, it was a children’s book oriented week with reviews of:

Halfway Herbert by Francis Chan

The Church History ABCs by Stephen J. Nichols and Ned Bustard

The Mighty Acts of God Bible Storybook by Starr Meade and Tim O’Connor

The Backlist: The Top Ten Posts on Blogging Theologically

With all the changes here, I thought it would be interesting to go back and take a look at the top ten posts from the last (nearly) two years. Go check them out:

  1. Everyday Theology: God won’t give you more than you can handle: (11,601 views)
  2. John Piper on Mark Driscoll & John MacArthur: (6,909 views)
  3. Everyday Theology: God helps those who help themselves (5,135 views)
  4. Everyday Theology: Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words (1,191 views)
  5. His Name was Smeagol (1,161 views)
  6. Don’t Study Theology (1,035 views)
  7. Book Review: Total Church (866 views)
  8. Lessons from Nehemiah 8: Anger (822 views)
  9. Twisted: Reviewing Andy Stanley’s Twisting the Truth (818 views)
  10. Prayer for Pastors (671 views)

And just for fun, here’s the next 10:

  1. Up the (Willow) Creek: Tim Keller (668 views)
  2. “What the Children Need Most is…” (592 views)
  3. New E-Book: Contending – A Study and Discussion Guide (588 views)
  4. Book Review: When a Nation Forgets God by Erwin W. Lutzer (559 views)
  5. Truth and Lies: Francis Chan – The Truth and the Lie in Social Justice (536 views)
  6. Prayer for Matt Chandler (534 views)
  7. Zac Smith: “If God Chooses Not to Heal Me, God is still God and God is Still Good” (524 views)
  8. Dug Down Deep: Impressions on the First Chapter (509 views)
  9. D.A. Carson: The Intolerance of Tolerance (465 views)
  10. Fun Dad moments (452 views)

Some of these completely surprised me (especially “Piper on Driscoll & MacArthur” and “Don’t Study Theology”), but I was glad to see a few of my favorites in the list.

If you’ve got a blog, what was your top post last month? Any idea why?

It’s Time to Say Goodbye…

…to the old blog that is!

Welcome to the new www.BloggingTheologically.com!

I’m thrilled to unveil the new site—and my friends at Crossway are helping to launch it with a MASSIVE giveaway!

Crossway has generously provided a prize pack showcasing some of their best releases from this year:

Doctrine by Driscoll Surprised by Grace Think by John Piper

  1. Doctrine by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears (reviewed here);
  2. Surprised by Grace by Tullian Tchividjian (reviewed here); and
  3. Think by John Piper (reviewed here)

And as an added bonus, they’re throwing in a Trutone or Leather ESV Study Bible of your choice (excluding calfskin)!

Here’s how you can enter:

  1. Subscribe to the blog via RSS or Email
  2. Follow on Twitter
  3. Join the Facebook Page
  4. Write a comment letting me which of these you’ve done

Each item counts as one entry, so if you do all four, you’re entered four times!

Bonus entry for WordPress.com subscribers!

Transfer your subscription and get a bonus entry to win this prize pack—subscribe here

The contest closes on Friday, December 3rd and the winner will be announced on Sunday, December 5th.

Thanks for all the support over the last (nearly) two years—I’m really excited about what’s coming next!

Around the Interweb (11/21)

What can six seconds do for you?

Jani Ortlund offers some great advice to women:

After years of a quick shout from somewhere near the back door, it started with “Goodbye, honey. See you tonight . . .” which left us both wanting more. It stopped when we decided that before we went out to face our day we would scout the other out, wrap each other up in a warm embrace, and begin our day with an intimate, very married, six-second kiss.

Try it. Tomorrow when you say goodbye, take your husband’s face in your hands. Look deeply into his eyes. Ask him to hold you for just six seconds. Tell him you love him. Admire him. Tell him you can’t wait until the day is done and you’ll have time together again, and then kiss him like you mean it.

Go ahead. Try it! Your young children will grow up feeling secure in the love between their parents. Your adolescents will blush, groan, and hope their friends don’t see you. Your teens will hope that someday they can build a marriage like their parents. And if there are no children around? Hmmmm, now there’s an interesting situation!

“Scarcely had I passed them when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him and would not let him go . . .” Song of Solomon 3:4

In Other News

Announcement: The winners of the Washed & Waiting giveaway are Eric Wan & Brooke Cooney! Congratulations!

Discernment: Dan Kimball offers an admonishment to online “discernment” ministries

Housekeeping: Let’s connect on Blogging Theologically’s new Facebook page

Discipleship: How to disciple a transsexual

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of John Piper’s latest, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God

What could unravel the gospel-centered movement?

Calvin: The human mind is a perpetual forge of idols

Sin clouds the mind and the will

Though Ryle Be Dead, Yet He Speaks! Erik Kowalker on J.C. Ryle and JCRyleQuotes.com

If you’re following anyone in the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” circles of evangelicalism, you’ve probably seen the odd link to a site called JCRyleQuotes.com. This website came out of nowhere a little over a year ago offering daily insights from the works of Anglican theologian John Charles Ryle.

The site’s founder, Erik Kowalker, kindly agreed take answer a few questions about how the site started and why he thinks Ryle connects with so many believers today.


John Charles Ryle (1816-1900)

Image via Wikipedia

1. How did you discover J.C. Ryle? What was it about his work that caught your attention? How did his work impact you personally?

I first discovered the writings of John Charles Ryle [1816-1900] on April 10, 2003. That is the date which is written on the inside cover of Ryle’s book Practical Religion, which a person bought for me while in a local Christian bookstore here in Portland, Oregon. Up to that time, I had never heard of J.C. Ryle.

I actually didn’t even begin reading Practical Religion until just over a year later, on April 12, 2004, for that is the date written on the last page of the chapter entitled Prayer. That chapter impacted my Christian life like no other book on the subject of prayer has ever done. I remember closing the book that night in my college dorm room and feeling like Ryle was speaking directly to me. It was convicting and encouraging, all at the same time, which sort of summarizes the style of Ryle’s books. So, from then [2004] till now [2010] I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the various Christ-centered, God-glorifying writings of Ryle.

2. When you decided to start JCRyleQuotes.com, how did your family react?

I launched the J.C. Ryle Quotes site on August 1, 2009. After several months of reading Ryle’s writings and underlining/highlighting almost every other paragraph, I remember thinking, “Wow! This guy is so incredibly quotable!”

As far as my families reaction to me launching the site, my kids are currently 6, 5 and 2 so they are more into Toy Story 3 and Dora the Explorer. :-) My wife simply said, ‘you do whatever you like Erik.’ :-)

3. Did you expect it taking off the way it has?

If you would have told me that 15 months after launching the Ryle Quotes site that I would have over 170,000 views, I would have laughed you right out of the room. I’m very grateful for “big wig bloggers” like Tim ChalliesJustin TaylorJosh HarrisStephen and Mark AltroggeTrevin WaxNick UvaZach Nielsen, etc. for being so kind as to refer their subscribers towards the site over the past year.

4. How has the site’s success affected you (if at all)?

The site’s success really hasn’t affected me in the least. I still am just Dad to my kids, Erik to my wife and a FedEx courier to my fellow co-workers. I’ve had a few opportunities to be interviewed with radio stations regarding the Ryle Quotes site, but honestly, I’ve turned them down due to being way too nervous. So, this question and answer format is much more up my alley. :-)

5. Why do you think Ryle’s work is connecting with so many people?

I truly believe Ryle’s writings connect with so many people for this one reason: clarity. Ryle has the uncanny ability/gift to make the difficult things in Christianity/theology so incredibly simple to understand. I think Charles Nolan Publishers (who have reprinted many of Ryle’s books) sum up why Ryle connects with so many today:

From his conversion [in 1837] to his burial, J.C. Ryle was entirely one-dimensional. He was a one-book man; he was steeped in Scripture; he bled Bible. As only Ryle could say, “It is still the first book which fits the child’s mind when he begins to learn religion, and the last to which the old man clings as he leaves the world.”

This is why his works have lasted—and will last—they bear the stamp of eternity. They contrast fruit which “remains” (John 15:16) against wood, hay, and stubble. Today, more than a hundred years after his passing, these works stand at the crossroads between the historic faith and modern evangelicalism. Like signposts, they direct us to the “old paths.” And, like signposts, they are meant to be read.

6. Besides Ryle, what other theologians do you have a particular affinity for?

I enjoy reading J.I. Packer and John Stott (both Anglicans) from the present, and have just started reading the Puritan John Flavel from the past.

7. Any final thoughts?

I want to thank everyone who has visited the Ryle Quotes site. When I launched the site I made sure that sole purpose for doing it was for the glory of God and the benefit of His Church, and I still stick to that. I thoroughly enjoy typing out the quotes for others to view Monday-Friday. It truly is a labor of love for my favorite author J.C. Ryle. I trust all who are introduced to Ryle for the first time will realize just how relevant his writings are over a hundred years after his death.

Though Ryle be dead, he yet speaks!

Around the Interweb (11/07)

Don’t Use Email for Correction

C.J. Mahaney and James MacDonald discuss why email isn’t the best way to offer correction to a brother or sister:

HT: The Gospel Coalition Blog

In Other News

Prayer request: I’m preaching tonight as part of Harvest Bible Chapel London’s first service night at the Men’s Mission in town. Please pray for gospel fruit.

Health: Justin Taylor interviews Matt Chandler about how life has changed in the year since he learned he has cancer.

New Websites: The new Crossway.org and ESV.org have launched; go check them out.

Audio: This month’s free audio book at ChristianAudio.com is Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper.

Free Book: Grace to You is offering John MacArthur’s next book, Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ, free in exchange for a bit of info. Here’s the book trailer:

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of John Sowers’ Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story.

The fear of man vs. the fear of God (vide0)

On Christians using the f-word (fundamentalist, that is).

Think Biblically: J. Gresham Machen on pragmatism and the (post) modern preacher

Around the Interweb (10/24)

Missional Mothering

Great article by Jani Ortland over on The Resurgence:

Young mother, it seems like everyone wants something from you. And you’re probably already giving way more than you ever thought you could give. But even with all your giving, you might struggle with guilt—lingering, joy-drenching, energy-sapping guilt—that you should be doing more, giving more, accomplishing more.

Don’t waste that guilt. Pay attention to it. Use it. Take it out of the shadows and examine it in light of Scripture. Is this a godly grief that leads to repentance or a worldly grief that produces death (2 Cor. 7:10)? Is it life-giving or life-depleting? Ask yourself, does this bring fresh joy and peace to those nearest me, or does it add unnecessary stress and strain to my home?

Read the rest

In Other News

Ministry: Kevin DeYoung asks, “Does your theology make you crusty?

Humor: True and false apologies:

(via Challies)

Video: Mohler on reading:

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Reviewing Darrin Patrick’s Church Planter:

Mark Driscoll on a father’s need to model repentance

Who we are before God seeps out of us constantly

John Flavel on the parable of the wheat and the tares

Around the Interweb (10/17)

A God Story

From Together for Adoption:

Mark and Kristen Howerton tell their family’s stories of adoption. While in the process of adopting from Haiti, Kristen was in Haiti visiting their son when the earthquake hit. Their story is a God story. Let it be an encouragement to you that although we most often do not see God at work in our stories, He most certainly is.

HT: Challies

In Other News

Language: The origins of common English expressions

Spiritual Growth: Dealing with Unanswered Prayers

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of Shannon O’Dell’s new book, Transforming Church in Rural America

Sermon audio from last week’s message, Bold Intercession

On parachutes and pineapples

Spurgeon on the wheat and the tares

Around the Interweb (10/10)

Can People Be Saved Apart from Hearing About Jesus?

Last week, JD Greear preached a message from Romans 10:14-17; as he anticipated, he’s been getting some pushback, specifically about whether or not people can come to faith apart from hearing about Jesus. Here’s an excerpt:

I have read just about all of the major dissenting views to the one I shared on Sunday. I just found them unconvincing, and their ideas more based on human reasoning (i.e. “this is what I think God should be like…” “this idea about God offends me,” etc) than deductive conclusions from Scriptural affirmations. I wanted(oh, how I wanted!) to believe in the escape-hatches and plan-B’s, but just could not find allowance for it in Scripture. What I preached this morning was my conscience, and the most faithful interpretation, in my judgment, of Paul’s thought in Romans. I think he builds up to a very weighty conclusion… namely, that they simply cannot believe unless they hear, and they cannot hear without a preacher, and there can be no preachers if we are not sent. Ultimately, this is what the whole argument is about. Can they believe apart from our being sent? I think Paul’s answer is unequivocally “no.”

Read the rest of JD’s response here

In Other News

Church: Tony Payne on how to think about about multi-site churches

Controversy: Albert Mohler—Yahoo, Yoga and Yours Truly

Spiritual Growth: Jared Wilson on discipleship on Christ’s terms

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of John MacArthur’s The Jesus You Can’t Ignore

John Newton’s hymn based on the parable of the wheat and the tares

Sermon audio from the message I preached at Gladstone Baptist Church on October 3, 2010.

Lessons I’m learning from listening to other preachers

Think Hard, Stay Humble—Francis Chan’s message from the 2010 Desiring God National Conference

Around the Interweb (10/03)

Should Christians Trade Services for Serving?

Kevin DeYoung offers some extremely helpful insights into the question. Here’s an excerpt:

Consider what it may communicate when you replace services with serving. It sounds like a good idea: let’s do something for the community instead of going to church for ourselves. But ultimately we worship because God summons us to worship. It is for ourselves (see below), but it is also for God. He commands it. So why cancel it instead of something else? But why not do the soup kitchen on Saturday or pump people’s gas on Friday night? I suppose it’s possible you can have some meaningful conversations explaining why you are a Christian and not in church. But it also seems quite likely that churches replace Sunday services with Sunday serving because that’s the time they are already meeting. It’s the best time to get most of your people doing something and it doesn’t require any more time out of their week. Except for doctors, police officers and the like serving in their professions, are there really service projects the church has to do on Sunday morning?

Read the whole article on Kevin’s blog.

HT: Trevin Wax

In Other News:

Leadership: Four Ways to Kill Your Church

Marriage: Elyse Fitzpatrick explains why submission is harder than you think

Evangelism: Trevin Wax interviews J.D. Greear about his new book, Breaking the Islam Code: Understanding the Soul Questions of Every Muslim

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of Peter Jones’ One or Two: Seeing a World of Difference

James MacDonald & C.J. Mahaney discuss genuine humility

Don’t be who you aren’t

Martin Luther’s sermon on the Wheat and the Tares

How can I know God’s will for my life?

Around the Interweb (09/19)

I’ve got the Power…?

I love it when Tim Challies reviews a book that’s made of crazy; this week—The Power by Rhonda Byrne (the sequel to The Secret). His conclusion is worth the price of admission alone:

Needless to say, The Power is a bad book. A really bad book. It’s so utterly stupid, so unbelievably vapid, that it boggles my mind that anyone could read it and believe it. If you could package foolishness, if you could slap stupidity between two covers, you’d end up with The Power. Read it if you must, but as you do it, you’d better generate some good feelings toward brain cells; you’ll need to attract a few to yourself if you’re replace all the ones that are sure to die as you give hours of your life to all of this drivel.

Read the whole thing.

In Other News

Ministry: Kevin DeYoung offers 20 things he wished he knew before entering the ministry (and 25 more because there are so many things that can go wrong…)

Technology/Drama: Stephen Altrogge shares how Apple products make you a better Christian… (and some of in the comments aren’t in on the joke :))

Ministry/Technology: The Resurgence released a pretty slick new website the other night.

Bibles: Bill Mounce asks the question, “What constitutes an accurate translation?” (HT: Challies)

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of Radical by David Platt

Thinking about what it means to be salt & light in social justice

If we’re not worth saving, why does God save anyone?

You need to be HIP, seriously.

Spurgeon on the bold & indignant Christ

Around the Interweb (09/12)

What’s Next For Church Planting?

Church planting is the hot thing to be a part of right now. The Acts 29 Network, PLNTD, Redeemer Presbyterian’s planting movement, Harvest Bible Fellowship… over the last decade more and more churches have been captivated by a growing understanding of the need to multiply. The folks at the Gospel Coalition ask, “What’s next for church planting?” Darrin Patrick shares some ideas in the following video:

Head over to the Gospel Coalition blog and see responses from Tim Brister and Ed Stetzer.

In Other News

Theology: Denny Burk writes Why Evangelicals Should Ignore Brian McLaren: How the New Testament Requires Evangelicals to Render a Judgment on the Moral Status of Homosexuality in the latest issue of Themelios.

Culture: Albert Mohler asks, “why aren’t “emerging adults” emerging as adults?”

On Evangelism Fails: Burning the Koran and Shooting Yourself in the Foot

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

Book reviews! Anne Jackson’s Permission to Speak Freely, Andy Andrews’ The Boy Who Changed the World, and Max Lucado’s Outlive Your Life

Can a results only work environment strengthen your faith? A few thoughts on how it’s helping me.

Around the Interweb (08/29)

Martin Lloyd-Jones on Family Worship

If you love your children; if you would bring down the blessing of heaven upon your families; if you would have your children make their houses the receptacles of religion when they set up in life for themselves; if you would have religion survive in this place, and be conveyed from age to age; if you would deliver your own souls—I beseech, I entreat, I charge you to begin and continue the worship of God in your families from this day to the close of your lives… Consider family religion not merely as a duty imposed by authority, but as your greatest privilege granted by divine grace.

From Donald Whitney’s book Family Worship

HT: The Resurgence

In Other News

Parenting: My wife was interviewed on the How to Be Awesome podcast. The subject? How to be an awesome mom.

Writing: Tim Challies shares about latest writing projects, including The Next Story (coming in 2011 from Zondervan)

Pastors: Piper’s desire for his church during his sabbatical:

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of Anne Bradstreet by D. B. Kellogg

A Precise God

Sermon audio: Be Heavenly-minded

The Bible’s Not About You

Spurgeon encourages us to see Jesus as our greatest object of astonishment