Around the Interweb (12/20)

The Many Ways of Destroying the Church

The ways of destroying the church are many and colorful.  Raw factionalism will do it.  Rank heresy will do it.  Taking your eyes off the cross and letting other, more peripheral matters dominate the agenda will do it–admittedly more slowly than frank heresy, but just as effectively over the long haul.  Building the church with superficial ‘conversions’ and wonderful programs that rarely bring people into a deepening knowledge of the living God will do it.  Entertaining people to death but never fostering the beauty of holiness or the centrality of self-crucifying love will build an assembling of religious people, but it will destroy the church of the living God.  Gossip, prayerlessness, bitterness, sustained biblical illiteracy, self-promotion, materialism–all of these things, and many more, can destroy a church.  And to do so is dangerous: ‘If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple (1 Cor. 3:17).  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

D.A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry: Leadership Lessons from 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 83-84.

HT: Timmy Brister


In other news

5 things the Church can learn from the fall of Myspace

Tim Keller on dealing with harsh criticism

Russell Moore—Avatar: Rambo in Reverse

An update on Pastor Matt Chandler’s condition


In case you missed it

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

A review of Alexander Strauch’s Leading with Love 

Vintage Jesus is Vintage Driscoll—a review of the Vintage Jesus DVD Curriculum

This is War (a Christmas Carol from Dustin Kensrue)

A biographical sketch of Charles Wesley

Be Intolerant of the Right Things

intolerant

The other day, I posted “The Intolerance of Tolerance,” wherein D.A. Carson discusses the development and ramifications of the postmodern understanding of tolerance. Listening to his thoughtful and careful exposition set my mind to work, and I found with a number of questions.

Do we, particularly those of us who have been raised with a postmodern mindset, have a right understanding of what it means to be tolerant? And how is our understanding of tolerance affecting us spiritually?

Take the bookstore for example. When I go to Chapters, it’s always interesting to look at the titles in the Religion/Christianity section. There’s a very diverse selection of titles  by a number of authors offering a variety of perspectives and positions. Naturally, some of these are very helpful and generally biblical, and others are anything but. (It’s fun to see Tim Keller and Bart Ehrman next to each on a bookshelf.) They run the full gamut. And, truthfully, I wouldn’t expect the mass market bookstore to have anything but this kind of mix, simply because they’re not catering to a specialty market.

Then there’s the specialty market—the Christian bookstores. What’s funny is I notice a lot of crossover between the mass market and the specialty. A lot of works that are really good and helpful, and others that are downright unbiblical. [Read more...]

D.A. Carson: The Intolerance of Tolerance

Thoughtful insights from D.A. Carson on the development and ramifications of the postmodern understanding of tolerance. After listening to this clip, I began thinking a great deal about the content, the fruit of which I’ll post later this week. For now, enjoy the audio and the transcript:

The intolerance of tolerance… And it’s important to understand that the notion of tolerance within this framework has a certain intellectual heritage that has been transmuted by postmodernism.

Under the modernist paradigm, tolerance looked something like this: I may disagree with you, but I insist on your right to articulate your opinion, however stupid and ignorant I think it is.

That’s tolerance.

In other words, this means there is tolerance for the individual to say things with which I disagree. The tolerance is directed toward individuals. But, there is robust debate at the level of content and substance.

So, I may disagree profoundly with Marxist historiography; but, if I’m a tolerant person under a modernist regime, I insist on the right of the Marxist historiographer to articulate their views. But, likewise, under the Western vision of tolerance and under a modernist camp, I insist on the right of Capitalists to articulate their views, or Theists to articulate their views, or whatever—however right or wrong I think they are. So that unless there is something deeply, deeply damaging to public well-being, as for someone coming along and vociferously advocating pedophilia… then the notion of tolerance allows you to defend almost anybody teaching almost anything. [Read more...]

D.A. Carson on The Kingdom of God

The following is an excellent clip from D.A. Carson answering a question on the Kingdom:

For those who prefer or require, a transcript follows:

…In both an over-realized and under-realized eschatology, you can have an inadequate anticipation of the glory that is still to come. If you work through all the of the Kingdom…and even some of the gospel of the Kingdom ones, a very high percentage of them have in mind a consummated Kingdom. And this is not a generation, by and large, that is really homesick for heaven. [Read more...]

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor by D.A. Carson

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor by D.A. Carson

“Ordinary” pastors don’t usually get press. They don’t speak at conferences. They don’t write books. Their ministries are on the whole fairly average. They work hard, they faithfully serve the flock God has entrusted to them, and generally go unnoticed.

Tom Carson was, by all accounts, an ordinary pastor. Yet, he was a most extraordinary man.

Tom worked in the most difficult missions field in Canada (Quebec), striving to make in-roads for the Gospel with its Francophone population. Roman Catholicism has long been entrenched in Quebec, and is at the heart of many of the great divides between the French and English in our country (this subject is far too long to get into here, but there is an excellent primer on many of the cultural issues in Chapter 1 of the book; Canadian History books at your local library or bookstore will also be helpful in fleshing out the conflict). Protestant Christians in the 1930s through the 1950s faced a great deal of persecution, including the possibility of imprisonment for being a Protestant minister. Missionaries often gave up because they saw so little fruit and so much opposition. Yet these were the people to whom God chose Tom Carson to minister.

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, working in large part from the elder Carson’s journals, describes a man who sought to faithfully teach the Scriptures with honesty and integrity. Tom Carson was a man who loved Jesus and loved the Bible. He understood the importance of teaching sound doctrine. He was a man who understood the meaning of toil and sacrifice, working hard to fulfill his calling and be a good husband and father. It also shows a man plagued by deep insecurities about his abilities as a pastor, and who, because of those same insecurities, could not truly see the fruit of his ministry.

There are two things that stand out most vividly about the portrait of Tom Carson presented in this book. First, his humility: He never appears to have thought of himself more highly than he ought, nor did he become embittered by the success of future ministers. Even his role in the formation of the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada, he downplayed, with his son Don not even learning the details of his involvement until he was in seminary. He simply served faithfully and loved people well.

The second, his prayer life: Tom Carson understood what it meant to rely on the Lord, especially the salvation of those to whom he ministered. A poignant example appears on page 80:

I [D.A. Carson] went looking for Dad after the morning service to entice him to come and play the piano while the rest of us sang or played instruments. He was not where he usually was. I found him in his study, the door not quite closed. He was on his knees in front of his big chair, tears streaming down his face, as he interceded with God for the handful of people to whom he had just preached. I remember some of their names to this day.

I don’t pray like this. I don’t think I know anyone who does. I am inspired by Tom Carson’s example, and ashamed because of my failure.  Even now, looking back on those few sentences, I’m on the verge of tears.

I want to be a man like Tom Carson.

I wonder how Tom would feel about this book having been written: Would he have felt embarrassed? Honored? I don’t know. Regardless, I’m grateful that D.A. Carson has written this memoir and for showing us that there is much to be learned from so-called ordinary pastors like Tom Carson.


Out of the archives

Sunday Shorts (05/17)

Recommended Reading: Al Mohler’s Top Ten

Evangelical Village provides us with Al Mohler’s top ten books to read in 2009. I’m looking forward to reading Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures by Dennis E. Johnson sometime before the year’s end. Matt at Evangelical Village tells me that it’s the best book on preaching written in the last few decades outside of Lloyd-Jones’ work.

Any of the rest interest you?

No, Mr. President

HT: Justin Taylor

What’s Next for the Gospel Coalition?

Christianity Today interviewed D.A. Carson about the future of the Gospel Coalition:

Our aim is not to keep the coalition as an end in itself. It’s a coalition of people for the sake of promoting the gospel. And if the gospel is so implanted in enough things that are taking it forward in all kinds of useful and happy ways, then we should morph into something else or stop as an organization.

I’m neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet. I’m not sure where it will be in 20 years. I have some confidence where it will be, God helping us, in 5 years or maybe even 10 years.

Read the rest at ChristianityToday.com

D.A. Carson on the Gospel

DA Carson provides an intriguing editorial in the latest issue of Themelios on the question of how we define the gospel. Here’s an excerpt:

In blogs, journal essays, and books, there has been quite a lot written recently about what “the gospel” is… [O]ne must distinguish between, on the one hand, the gospel as what God has done and what is the message to be announced and, on the other, what is demanded by God or effected by the gospel in assorted human responses. If the gospel is the (good) news about what God has done in Christ Jesus, there is ample place for including under “the gospel” the ways in which the kingdom has dawned and is coming, for tying this kingdom to Jesus’ death and resurrection, for demonstrating that the purpose of what God has done is to reconcile sinners to himself and finally to bring under one head a renovated and transformed new heaven and new earth, for talking about God’s gift of the Holy Spirit, consequent upon Christ’s resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Majesty on high, and above all for focusing attention on what Paul (and others—though the language I’m using here reflects Paul) sees as the matter “of first importance”: Christ crucified. All of this is what God has done; it is what we proclaim; it is the news, the great news, the good news.

By contrast, the first two greatest commands—to love God with heart and soul and mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves—do not constitute the gospel, or any part of it. We may well argue that when the gospel is faithfully declared and rightly received, it will result in human beings more closely aligned to these two commands. But they are not the gospel. Similarly, the gospel is not receiving Christ or believing in him, or being converted, or joining a church; it is not the practice of discipleship. Once again, the gospel faithfully declared and rightly received will result in people receiving Christ, believing in Christ, being converted, and joining a local church; but such steps are not the gospel.

Read the whole thing.

HT: Tim Challies, Justin Taylor

Sunday Shorts (04/19)

Should you Talk About the Gospel in Every Sermon?

Piper at Desiring God:

The Gospel Coalition—Entrusted with the Gospel: Living the Vision of 2 Timothy

The Gospel Coalition’s 2009 Conference runs from this week, April 21-23, in Chicago. Speakers include D.A. Carson, Tim Keller, John Piper, Mark Driscoll and more.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Gospel Coalition, here’s a brief introduction:

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.812512&w=425&h=350&fv=titlevar%3DIntroduction+to+The+Gospel+Coalition%26videosource%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fs3.amazonaws.com%2Ftgc-video%2Ftgc_about_us-high.flv%26poster%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.thegospelcoalition.org%2Fmedia%2Fa%2Fposters%2Ftgc-intro.jpg]

And Now for Something Completely Different…

So, Compassion decided it would be a good idea to team up with Rob Bell for a Nooma video called “Corner.” It’s okay as far as Nooma goes, but it’s nothing ground-breaking.

That, and I find Bell’s glasses distracting.

(I should note that while I work in Compassion’s Canadian office, my views should not be taken as always reflective of the organization.)

I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane…

I’m off to ad:tech San Francisco until Friday, much to my excitement. I’ve never been to the left coast before, so I’m a wee bit excited. Ad:tech has a great line-up of speakers and break out sessions, and I’m looking forward to learning a lot while I’m there.

more about “The Gospel Coalition“, posted with vodpod

Book Review: Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor

memoirs-carsonRecommended: An honest portrayal of an anything but ordinary pastor.

“Ordinary” pastors don’t usually get press. They don’t speak at conferences. They don’t write books. Their ministries are on the whole fairly average. They work hard, they faithfully serve the flock God has entrusted to them, and generally go unnoticed.

Tom Carson was, by all accounts, an ordinary pastor. Yet, he was a most extraordinary man.

Tom worked in the most difficult missions field in Canada (Quebec), striving to make in-roads for the Gospel with its Francophone population. Roman Catholicism has long been entrenched in Quebec, and is at the heart of many of the great divides between the French and English in our country (this subject is far too long to get into here, but there is an excellent primer on many of the cultural issues in Chapter 1 of the book; Canadian History books at your local library or bookstore will also be helpful in fleshing out the conflict). Protestant Christians in the 1930s through the 1950s faced a great deal of persecution, including the possibility of inprisonment for being a Protestant minister. Missionaries often gave up because they saw so little fruit and so much opposition. Yet these were the people to whom God chose Tom Carson to minister.

The book, working in large part from the elder Carson’s journals, describes a man who sought to faithfully teach the Scriptures with honesty and integrity. Tom Carson was a man who loved Jesus and loved the Bible. He understood the importance of teaching sound doctrine. He was a man who understood the meaning of toil and sacrifice, working hard to fulfill his calling and be a good husband and father. It also shows a man plagued by deep insecurities about his abilities as a pastor, and who, because of those same insecurities, could not truly see the fruit of his ministry.

There are two things that stand out most vividly about the portrait of Tom Carson presented in this book. First, his humility: He never appears to have thought of himself more highly than he ought, nor did he become embittered by the success of future ministers. Even his role in the formation of the Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada, he downplayed, with his son Don not even learning the details of his involvement until he was in seminary. He simply served faithfully and loved people well.

The second, his prayer life: Tom Carson understood what it meant to rely on the Lord, especially the salvation of those to whom he ministered. A poignant example appears on page 80:

I [D.A. Carson] went looking for Dad after the morning service to entice him to come and play the piano while the rest of us sang or played instruments. He was not where he usually was. I found him in his study, the door not quite closed. He was on his knees in front of his big chair, tears streaming down his face, as he interceded with God for the handful of people to whom he had just preached. I remember some of their names to this day.

I don’t pray like this. I don’t think I know anyone who does. I am inspired by Tom Carson’s example, and ashamed because of my failure.  Even now, looking back on those few sentences, I’m on the verge of tears.

I want to be a man like Tom Carson.

I wonder how Tom would feel about this book having been written: Would he have felt embarassed? Honoured? I don’t know.  Regardless, I’m grateful that D.A. Carson has written this memoir and for showing us that there is much to be learned from so-called ordinary pastors like Tom Carson.

Purchase your copy at Amazon, Monergism, or Chapters/Indigo.