Links I like

Pop Atheism and the Power of the Gospel

Dan DeWitt:

With the relentless barrage of new atheist bravado over the last decade, believers are liable to grow weary in well-doing. Much of the contemporary anti-God campaign now serves as a mirror image of religious fundamentalism, with iconic leaders such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris standing guard as dogmatic defenders of a secular orthodoxy. Many students have imbibed their sacrilegious sound bites, adopting a brand of pop atheism that makes rational discussion seem virtually impossible.

If Mario were real…

HT: Mike Leake

I Can Do All Things

Nathan Busenitz:

Out of context, Philippians 4:13 is used as a blank-check promise for whatever is desired. But in context, it is a verse is about contentment. It’s not about your dreams coming true or your goals being met. Rather it’s about being joyful, satisfied, and steadfast even when life is hard and your circumstances seem impossible.

“Was Bonhoeffer Gay?” and Other Adventures in Missing the Point

Trevin Wax:

I believe the conversation about Bonhoeffer’s sexuality tells us more about life in the sexualized culture of the 21st century than it does about Bonhoeffer. In fact, if we pay attention, we will see how Bonhoeffer’s life and legacy directly challenges several commonly held assumptions today.

The Dangers and Duty of Confessing Sin to One Another

Nick Batzig:

“Open Confession is good for the soul,” or so the maxim goes. Perhaps it might also be said, “Open Confession is  good for your relationship with God and men.” While Scripture supports both of these statements, there is something of a haze that lays across the surface of the meaning of such statements in Scripture as, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). Is James speaking of going around and confessing any sin that you can point to in your life to just about anyone you are in fellowship with in the church so that they will pray for you? Or, does he have in mind the practice of “keeping short accounts” with the brethren? Does he mean going to an offended brother or sister and asking forgiveness for a particular sin that was committed against them? Or, as the context might indicate, is James instructing  individuals in the congregation to come to the elders and confess particular sins of a scandalous nature in order to be healed of a sickness with which they had been chastened by God? While we may not come to a completely settled agreement on the precise meaning of James 5:16, there are 2 dangers and 3 applications of our duty that we should be able to agree upon when reflecting on this subject.

Living in her Old Testament faith

candle-lr

Mary was not chosen because of any human merit, not even for being, as she undoubtedly was, deeply devout, nor even for her humility or any other virtue, but entirely and uniquely because it is God’s gracious will to love, to choose, to make great what is lowly, unremarkable, considered to be of little value. Mary the tough, devout, ordinary working man’s wife, living in her Old Testament faith and hoping in her Redeemer, becomes the mother of God.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (as published in Peace by Stephen J. Nichols, pp. 28-29)

When Christ Calls a Man, He Bids Him Come and Die

…It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man and his call. Jesus’ summons to the rich young man was calling him to die, because only the man who is dead to his won will can follow Christ. In fact every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die, and therefore Jesus Christ and his call are necessarily our death as well as our life. The call to discipleship, the baptism in the name of Jesus Christ means both death and life.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 44

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of the most intriguing figures of the 20th century. This Lutheran minister turned conspirator in the plot to assassinate Hitler is fascinating. His vision of discipleship is captivating, and while I wouldn’t necessarily agree with all of his views theologically, there’s much that can be learned from him and his call to “costly discipleship.”

“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die,” wrote Bonhoeffer. In these 11 words, he manages to encapsulate the New Testament’s teaching on what it means to follow Christ.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me,” said Jesus in Luke 9:23. It’s a call to the death of self, to the putting aside of our own desires and plans in order to follow Him.

I read Eric Metaxas’ book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy several months ago, and Metaxas’ portrait of Bonhoeffer is one I’m still chewing on. It’s one I want you to enjoy as well—by giving one of you a free copy. Details after the book trailer:

Here’s how you can enter using one of or more of the following options:

  1. Leave a comment and tell me why you want a copy of the book
  2. Follow via Twitter or join the Facebook page
  3. Subscribe via email or RSS

This contest is now closed. Thanks to all who participated!

Around the Interweb (05/16)

The Poison of Quaint Moralism

Tyler Jones/Acts 29 (via The Resurgence):

The South has been poisoned, and the poison is “quaint moralism.” This poison has systematically infected tens of millions in the South and we are now in the midst of a moralistic pandemic. Who has dispensed this quaint moralistic poison? The blame lies with Christianity! We have blared from pulpits, on radio waves, even in movie theaters that “it’s good to be good.” We have taught that when you do what the Bible says, your wife will obey, your dog will obey, and your kids will obey. For decades now we have filled churches by declaring that those among us who are ethical churchgoers will be accepted by God and those of us who don’t go to church will burn, burn, burn.

Read the rest.

In Other News

Joel Osteen or Fortune Cookie?

Tim Challies compares the Kindle and the iPad (video)

The problem with “give in order to get”

Seth Godin: Consumer Debt is not Your Friend

In Case You Missed It

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

A review of Eric Metaxas’ excellent new book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

How can you encourage young parents to join small groups? Look to your youth group

Statler and Waldorf go to Church

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones describes the peculiar task of the Church

Book Review: Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas


Title: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
Author: Eric Metaxas
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

World War II is unquestionably one of the most devastating events in human history.  Like perhaps no other, it is a testimony to the evil of which man is capable.

Hitler’s extraordinary rise to power and his reign led to Germany’s rising out of the shame of their defeat in the First World War, followed quickly by the nation’s devastation as its desperate people bought into the promises of their false messiah. Along the way, tens of millions of men, women and children were brutally murdered.

And, seemingly, no one could stop them.

But not all of Germany’s people were deceived. Some stood against the Nazis.

Among them was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor and author whose works, including The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together, are still widely read today.

Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy is the first major biography on this important figure in forty years. Relying on past biographies, interviews and letters from Bonhoeffer written over the course of his life, Metaxas paints a captivating picture of this twentieth century martyr. [Read more…]

You Can Ignore a Great Ethicist


I’ve been reading Eric Metaxas’ excellent new biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and was struck by the following:

One admires Christ according to aesthetic categories as an aesthetic genius, calls him the greatest ethicist; one admires his going to his death as a heroic sacrifice for his ideas.

Only one thing one doesn’t do:

One doesn’t take him seriously.

That is, one doesn’t bring the center of his or her own life into contact with the claim of Christ to speak the revelation of God and to be that revelation.

One maintains a distance between himself or herself and the word of Christ, and allows no serious encounter to take place.

I can doubtless live with or without Jesus as a religious genius, as an ethicist, as a gentleman—just as, after all, I can also live without Plato or Kant. . . .

Should, however, there be something in Christ that claims my life entirely with the full seriousness that here God himself speaks and if the word of God once became present only in Christ, then Christ has not only relative but absolute, urgent significance for me. . . .

Understanding Christ means taking Christ seriously. Understanding this claim means taking seriously his absolute claim on our commitment.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, p. 82-83, quoting Bonhoeffer’s 1928 lecture “Jesus Christ and the Essence of Christianity”

Powerful stuff, isn’t it?

Whenever I read the stories of men and women who have come before us, like Bonhoeffer, I’m amazed at the reality that our issues never really change.

Today it’s fashionable to look to Rabbi Jesus, fix our eyes His ethical teaching and and have faith in ourselves that we can live the way Jesus lived, but deny what He taught about Himself.

Despite our posturing of wanting to “live Christ,” I wonder if the root issue is that we don’t actually want to take Jesus at His word.

We don’t want to take Him seriously.

Because if we did—if He really meant it when He said He was God—then it changes everything.

It changes how we live, to be sure, but it changes who we are. Our thought processes, motivations, desires… all of it.

A great ethical teacher can’t do that. Even the greatest ethical teacher can be ignored.

But you can’t ignore God.