Links I like

Reality versus theory

Ray Ortlund:

When we look at a church, we want to see their doctrine, mission statement, website, and so forth. Of course. But we also want to see the human reality of that church. Their official position is important, but it is theory. What says more is the reality within.

3 Common Ways to Read Scripture

Matt Smethurst:

I’m always a little skeptical when I hear people talk about reading Scripture “devotionally” rather than, say, “academically” (or vice versa). Who says we have to choose? I wonder.

But while my false dichotomy radar isn’t always bad, I have to remember people are wired differently. Humanity is not a sea of sameness. We aren’t clones. In fact, as Christians we are “stewards,” Peter says, of God’s “varied grace” (1 Pet. 4:10).

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Is New York City on the Brink of a Great Awakening?

20 years ago, Eric Metaxas knew practically every born again believer in Manhattan.

“It was like a spiritual ghost town,” the cultural commentator, thought leader and author recalled.

Yet, over the recent decades—particularly this last one—New York has seen a surge in evangelicalism. Some cultural experts believe the Big Apple to be on the brink of another ‘Great Awakening.’

Gregory Thornbury, president of The King’s College—the only free-standing Christian institution of higher learning in New York City—compares this rise in Christianity to the the great Wall Street revival of 1857.

“I would say there is a very special moment of spiritual renaissance happening in New York City right now,” he said.

Evangelical retreat?

Russell Moore:

Evangelical Christianity, it seems, is moving back to a confessional centering on the Gospel. I find this to be good news. But that does not mean that the next generation of Gospel-centered Evangelicals should retreat from social and political engagement. As part of a reaction to their parents’ or grandparents’ errors, a Gospel-focused, missional Evangelicalism could become not only separatist and isolationist but just as politically idolatrous though from a different direction, all the while reassuring its members that they are avoiding culture wars or social gospel.

I am my people. No, really, I am.

Carl Trueman:

A while back I bumped into somebody who mentioned that he was ‘talking to my people’ to arrange for me to come and speak at his church. Somewhat puzzled, I asked him who ‘my people’ were. Equally puzzled, he responded that they were the people he contacted to arrange for me to etc. etc. I then explained that I had had a series of assistants when Vice President at Westminster (beginning with the inestimable Mrs. Peel, pictured left) who helped me be in the right place at the right time with regard to Seminary business and even remembered such things as my cell phone number for me. Having relinquished my administrative position, however, I had also relinquished that advantage in life. Finally, the penny dropped: the gentleman realized that the person responding to emails sent to the account which bears my name was none other than the person whose name was on said account: me, myself and I. Yes, if you email me and I respond, it is me. Then again, if you email me and I do not, please be assured that it is me who is ignoring you.

Book Review: Don’t Call It A Comeback by Kevin DeYoung

Today it seems as though anyone can be called an evangelical, from the pastor who takes a hard stand on the Bible’s inspiration to the author who doubts whether or not we can take Jesus at his word about, well, anything.

Perhaps Carl Trueman is right in saying that the real “scandal of the evangelical mind” is not that there is no evangelical mind, but that there is no evangelical.

But perhaps not. While the movement seems to have been diluted nearly to the point of meaninglessness, some are seeking to breathe life back into it.

That’s the point of Don’t Call It a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day. With contributions from Kevin DeYoung, Tim Challies, Russell Moore, Thabiti Anyabwile and a host of others, this book offers readers a glimpse into what it means to be an evangelical, historically, doctrinally and practically.

Don’t Call It a Comeback was a treat for me to read. Every contribution was extremely articulate and thoughtful; most importantly, they were genuinely helpful. While space prevents me from discussing every topic covered in this book, I’ll be hitting a few of the highlights from my perspective.

The book starts off on exactly the right foot with Kevin DeYoung’s “The Secret to Reaching the Next Generation.” Church growth is a big issue, and everyone seems to be asking, “What’s the secret? How do you get young people to come to church?” A whole industry has cropped up around this, with books, conferences, and experts all devoted to figuring out the secret. So what is it, according to DeYoung?

“You just have to be like Jesus. That’s it. So the easy part is you don’t have to be with it. The hard part is you have to be with him. If you walk with God and walk with people, you’ll reach the next generation.” (p. 22)

In other words, if you’re going to reach people for Christ, you have to be faithful. It doesn’t matter if your shirt is tucked in or if you’ve got tattoos on your neck, if you’re not faithful, it doesn’t matter. You have to amaze people with God, and the best way to do that is not with cleverness, but with faithfulness in life and practice. “Reaching the next generation for God by showing them more of God. That’s just crazy enough to work.” (p. 31) [Read more...]

Book Review: The Deep Things of God by Fred Sanders

For many Christians today, the Trinity is a doctrine to which we give almost no thought. While we certainly affirm it as being true, we don’t really know how it makes a difference in our lives.

So it gets easier for us to start thinking that maybe it doesn’t matter. The seeming paradox of God being one, yet three is a huge stumbling block to many people looking at the Christian faith… and maybe it wouldn’t change anything if we just let it go.

Fred Sanders, associate professor of theology at Biola University’s Torrey Honors Institute, disagrees.

“Deep down it is evangelical Christians who most clearly witness to the fact that the personal salvation we experience is reconciliation with God the Father, carried out through God the Son, in the power of God the Holy Spirit,” he writes (p. 9).

But we’ve lost something as a movement; we’ve settled for a theological and spiritual shallowness, especially in regards to the Trinity. “Our beliefs and practices all presuppose the Trinity, but that presupposition has for too long been left unexpressed . . . and taken for granted rather than celebrated and taught” (p. 11).

That’s why he wrote The Deep Things of God: How the Trinity Changes Everything. In this book, Sanders hopes to reawaken an understanding of, and desire to celebrate, the deeply Trinitarian nature of Christianity.

Because the Trinity is so overwhelming in it’s otherness, it’s tempting for us to avoid even attempting to speak to it. But as Sanders writes, “We . . . should not let ourselves be trapped into thinking that everything depends on our ability to articulate the mystery of the triune God” (p. 36).

The reality is we are tacitly (implicitly) Trinitarian in innumerable ways. The Trinity serves as the encompassing framework for our thinking and confession. “It is the deep grammar of all the central Christian affirmations” (p. 48).

This implicit knowledge leads to explicit expression in salvation, spirituality, church life, prayer and Bible study. These are the realms to which Sanders focuses the majority of the book. [Read more...]

Meet the Evangelical Pagan

At the Exchange Conference, Mark Driscoll spoke on Oneism vs. Twoism; how we by nature are idolators because we worship and serve created things rather than our Creator (you can read my notes from the sessions here). In this excerpt from his first lecture, Driscoll describes the Evangelical pagan.

D.A. Carson – The Drifting of Evangelicalism

Dr. D.A. Carson on the drifting of evangelicalism:

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.925498&w=425&h=350&fv=titlevar%3DThe+Drifting+of+Evangelicalism%26videosource%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fs3.amazonaws.com%2Ftgc-video%2Fabout%2Fcarson_drifting_evangelicalism.flv%26poster%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.thegospelcoalition.org%2Fmedia%2Fa%2Fposters%2Fda-drifting.jpg]
more about “The Drifting of Evangelicalism“, posted with vodpod

If you can’t see the video, click through to The Drifting of Evangelicalism.

J.I. Packer: The Evangelical View of Scripture

packer-evangelical-scripture

The crucial issue which underlies the “Fundamentalism” controversy thus concerns the attitude in which Christians should approach Scripture, and the use which they should make of it. Evangelicals seek to approach and use it as it demands that men should; that is, they seek to think and live in accordance with its authoritative teaching. Accordingly, they hold that view of the nature and interpretation of Scripture which they believe to be the Bible’s own; and they reject views which they believe to be contrary to it. They reject… the supposition that Scripture errs; for Scripture claims not to err. They reject all methods of biblical criticism which assume about Scripture something other than Scripture assumes about itself. They reject all approaches to Scripture which would not permit it to function in the Church as a final authority. They will not become subjectivists to order. They regard as mistaken those who believe themselves to acknowledge the authority of the Bible while adopting principles of biblical criticism which Scripture repudiates. They reject as misguided all attempts to wield different theological traditions together without seeking to reform them by the Bible. And they do not believe that agreement is possible in this present controversy till both sides have shown the reality of their acceptance of the Lordship of Christ by adopting the biblical interpretation of the principle of biblical authority, and the method of theological procedure which the Bible itself requires.

J.I. Packer, “Fundamentalism” and the Word of God, p 74