Around the Interweb (08/15)

Prop 8 Got Struck Down – Now What?

In light of the recent ruling in California over Proposition 8, Kevin DeYoung offers some helpful next steps to Evangelicals Here’s an excerpt:

We should not disengage. It’s tempting to say “We’re going to lose this one. So let’s just try to love people and not put up a fight” But laws do have consequences. Seeking the peace of the city means we defend marriage because we believe it is for the common good. We need thoughtful, winsome Christians engaging with this issue on television, in print, in the academy, in the arts, and in politics and law. . . .

We must not be afraid to talk about homosexuality.  Don’t be silenced by Christians calling for umpteen more years of dialogue or those who say you need at least one gay friend before you can open your mouth. The Bible speaks openly about sexuality and we must not be embarrassed to open God’s word. BUT when we do speak we must do so with broken hearts not bulging veins. A calm spirit and a broken heart are keys to not being tuned out immediately. . . .

We must accept that no matter how hard we try, some people will conclude we are bigots, homophobes, and neanderthals for thinking homosexuality is wrong. Our goal must not be to stop people from viewing us in this way. We can’t control perceptions. Our goal is that those ugly perceptions do not match reality.

Read the rest at Kevin’s blog.

In Other News

Correctives: Dustin Neeley continues his “Justification by X” series at the Resurgence with Justification by Theology

Culture: Al Mohler – Thank God for the new Atheists?

Free Audio: Did you know that Tim Keller’s Ministries of Mercy is available as Christian Audio’s free download of the month? Use download code AUG2010 if you’re so inclined.

Church Ministry: Jared Wilson offers some clarification on his recent post about the Awesomeness-Driven Church.

Housekeeping: I’m in the wilds of Northern Ontario this week enjoying a second week of vacation (last year, I got one all year, so this is progress). While I’m away, my friends Will Adair, Nate Bingham and a few others will be providing you with some terrific content.

In Case You Missed It

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

A review of Kevin DeYoung’s latest, The Good News We Almost Forgot

Gleaning some insights on the art of the illustration

Mark Driscoll reminds us that discernment is a good thing by looking at Twilight

Charles Spurgeon shares the joy that these words bring: “Ye are clean.”

Book Review: The Good News We Almost Forgot by Kevin DeYoung

When I was a kid, the only time I ever heard the word “catechism” was when a friend grumbled about how he couldn’t be wait to be done with it when he was thirteen. I had no idea what a catechism was, but sounded horrible—obviously it was some sort of hellish torture device. So imagine my surprise when I eventually learned that it was a simply a series of questions and answers about the Bible. (In all fairness, I’ve also come to realize that for someone who doesn’t believe the Bible or have a desire to know more about Jesus, it would seem rather hellish.)

Kevin DeYoung knows all about this. Growing up in the Christian Reformed Church, the Heidelberg Catechism was a part of his life. While he always appreciated it, it wasn’t seen as something terribly exciting. But it was in his seminary days, seeing the reaction of his fellow students, that he was reminded of just how meaningful the Heidelberg Catechism really is. “My classmates were seeing something many of my peers had missed. The Heidelberg Catechism is really, really good” (p. 16).

That, ultimately led DeYoung to write The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism. DeYoung structures the book as a devotional commentary, sharing his insights on each of Heidelberg’s 129 questions over 52 Lord’s Days. The catechism’s questions are run opposite each of DeYoung’s essays, allowing readers like me to appreciate the Heidelberg for itself.

That, honestly, is one of the things I appreciate most about The Good News We Almost Forgot. I love learning about historical Christian thought and seeing the catechism’s structure—covering the broad topics of guilt, grace, and gratitude while explaining the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer—is fascinating.
The authors understood well the necessity of our understanding our sinfulness before we can grasp the importance of God’s grace. That’s not to say that they spend an inordinate amount of time on it; as DeYoung notes, “The guilt section is by far the shortest with only three Lord’s Days and nine Questions and Answers. The authors of the Catechism wanted Heidelberg to be an instrument of comfort, not condemnation” (p. 25).

And a great comfort it is. Reading the Heidelberg itself was, in some ways, more enjoyable than reading DeYoung’s commentary. It’s a very pastoral document, challenging readers and encouraging them in their understanding of Christian doctrine. A favorite entry is Question 28:

How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?

We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from His love. All creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they can neither move nor be moved. (p . 58)

Simple, yet profound.

DeYoung’s commentary, meanwhile, is lively and fast-paced; if you’ve read any of his other books, this will be no surprise to you. He doesn’t try to come off as showy, but he is very sharp. I especially enjoyed his defense of the virgin birth on pages 75-78. Here, he writes:

Is the virgin birth really that essential to Christianity? The answer . . . is a resounding Yes!

First, the virgin birth is essential to Christianity because it has been essential to Christianity. That may sound like circular reasoning, but only if we care nothing about the history and catholicity of the church. . . . But if Christians, of all stripes in all places, have professed belief in the virgin birth for two millennia, maybe we should be slow to discount it as inconsequential. . . .

Second, the gospel writers clearly believed that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived. . . . If the virgin birth is false, the historical reliability of the Gospels is seriously undermined.

Third—and this intersects the Catechism—the virgin birth demonstrates that Jesus was truly human and truly divine. How can the virgin birth be an inconsequential spring for our jumping when it establishes the very identity of our Lord and Savior? . . .

Fourth, the virgin birth is essential because it means Jesus did not inherit the curse of depravity that clings to Adam’s race. . . . So if Joseph was the real father of Jesus, or Mary had been sleeping around . . . Jesus is not spotless, not innocent, and not perfectly holy. And as a result, we have no mediator, no imputation of Christ’s righteousness (because He has no righteousness to impute to us), and no salvation.

So yeah, the virgin birth is essential to our faith.

In my mind, DeYoung’s final exhortation is probably the most meaningful part of this book. After writing a book on theology and loving theology, he reminds readers that theology is worthwhile if it works its way down to our core. Anything else makes us unbalanced.

If it is worth anything, our theological heart will pulse throughout our spiritual bodes, making us into people who are more prayerful, more godly, and more passionate about the bible, the lost, and the world around us. We will be theologically solid to the core, without the unnecessary crust. Kind of like the Heidelberg Catechism. And kind of like Jesus too. (p. 244)

The Good News We Almost Forgot is a delightful, pastoral read that reminds readers to appreciate the wisdom of the saints who have come before us—because their insights can remind us of the beauty of the gospel, and the God who brings it.

Title: The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism
Author: Kevin DeYoung
Publisher: Moody Publishers (2010)

Around the Interweb (06/20)

Burning Down ‘The Shack”

Tim Challies posted a terrific review of a new book examining the issues around the controversial bestseller, The Shack:

James De Young writes from an interesting perspective—that of a former friend, or acquaintance at least, of Paul Young. He begins his book by providing some important but little-known background to The Shack. In April of 2004 De Young attended a Christian think tank and there Young presented a 103-page paper which presented a defense of universal reconciliation, a Christian form of universalism—the view that at some point every person will come to a right relationship with God. If they do not do this before they die, God will use the fires of hell to purge away (not punish, mind you) any unbelief. Eventually even Satan and his fallen angels will be purged of sin and all of creation will be fully and finally restored. This is to say that after death there is a second chance, and more than that, a complete inevitability, that all people will eventually repent and come to full relationship with God. De Young believes that Young’s belief in universal reconciliation is absolutely crucial to anyone who would truly wish to understand The Shack. It is the key that makes sense of the book and the theology it contains. Though far from the only theological problem with the book, it is the one that makes sense of the others.

Read the rest at Challies.com

In Other News

The Toronto Pastors’ 2010 Conference audio is now available. Download and enjoy.

Kevin DeYoung reviews Richard Stearns’ The Hole in Our Gospel

Mark Driscoll interviews Wayne & Margaret Grudem. Here’s the video:
[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.950908&w=425&h=350&fv=poster%3Dfiles%2Fgrudem-interview-hero.JPG%26videourl%3Dfiles%2Fvideo%2FGrudem_Interview%2FWayne_Grudem_Interview_big.flv%26title1%3DMark+Driscoll+Interviews+Wayne+and+Margaret+Grudem]

more about “Pastor Mark Interviews Wayne and Marg…“, posted with vodpod

In Case You Missed It

A review of Stephen Mansfield’s new book, ReChurch

Notes from the Exchange: Peter Jones – Speaking the Gospel in a One-ist World

Notes from the Exchange: Kevin DeYoung – The Truth and the Lie in the Contemporary Church

John Piper: Does God Get More Glory if Man Has Free Will?

Truth and Lies: Kevin DeYoung on the Contemporary Church

Kevin DeYoung, pastor of University Reformed Church and author of Just Do Something, and Why We’re Not Emergent & Why We Love the Church (with coauthor Ted Kluck), was the second speaker at The Exchange. His message addressed the Truth and the Lie in the Contemporary Church.

In his message, DeYoung asserts that there are four lies we’re told about the gospel, the Church, divine revelation and discipleship.

The Gospel

The lie: The gospel is not about doctrine, it is simply an invitation into a way of life.

The truth: The gospel is a message of historical fact plus theological interpretation.

DeYoung cites one popular author who says, “The gospel is an event to be proclaimed, not a doctrine.” Another says that orthodoxy is about how you live; that it’s a vision for a new way of living.

“You may have heard this quote from St. Francis of Assisi, ‘Preach the gospel, use words if necessary,’” says DeYoung. “This has a number of problems—first, there’s no record that he said it, second, there’s no indication that he lived by it, and third it’s a confusion of categories.”

“We want to adorn the gospel with good deed, but without the proclamation we have not shared the gospel.”

In other words, lifestyle evangelism should not be code for “I don’t evangelize.”

“I really don’t think my neighbors are going to come to me and say, ‘Kevin, you don’t swear, can you tell me about Jesus?’ or ‘You have a fair trade coffee; tell me how to go to heaven?’”

People want to emphasize the gospel as a way of life because of a veneer of cultural Christianity. It’s more than getting a doctrinal formulation correct, but it’s no excuse for turning the good news into “good advice.”

“Without doctrine, ‘It’s about Jesus,’ becomes a meaningless mantra,” says DeYoung. As Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 15:1-11: [Read more…]

Around the Interweb (01/10)

John Piper: A Sweet and Bitter Providence

John Piper’s got a new book, A Sweet and Bitter Providence. About the book:

The timeless themes of sex, racial tension, and God’s perplexing and perfect plans are as much a part of our human experience today as they were for Ruth and Boaz over three thousand years ago.

In A Sweet and Bitter Providence, the book of Ruth comes alive as a story of how God uses the most dangerous and tenuous circumstances to accomplish his wise and gracious purposes.

Here’s the trailer:

Read the book as a PDF or order a copy online


In other news

Christianity Today interviews Brit Hume, the former news anchor who appealed to Tiger Woods to turn to Christianity.

Kevin DeYoung on writing: part one | part two | part three

Bob Kauflin offers some reflections on turning 55


In case you missed it

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

A review of Marva J. Dawn’s In the Beginning, God

“Perhaps I’ll be like Peter in his bravado…” Steve Timmis on giving up our lives for the gospel

The Perfect Worshipper, a few thoughts on Psalm 15

D.A. Carson on what the Church in America needs

An inspiring excerpt from C.H. Spurgeon’s All of Grace

Looking Ahead: Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2010

Looking at the books I enjoyed most over 2009 made me think about the ones I’m really looking forward to in 2010. Here are a few:

Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe
by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears

This book, a 464 page systematic theology based on Driscoll’s preaching series in 2008 is bound to leave an impression. About the book:

Doctrine is the word Christians use to define the truth-claims revealed in Holy Scripture. Of course there is a multitude of churches, church networks, and denominations, each with their own doctrinal statement with many points of disagreement. But while Christians disagree on a number of doctrines, there are key elements that cannot be denied by anyone claiming to be a follower of Jesus. In Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, Driscoll and Breshears teach thirteen of these key elements. This meaty yet readable overview of basic doctrine will help Christians clarify and articulate their beliefs in accordance with the Bible.

3D.DugDownDeep%20copy.jpgDug Down Deep
by Joshua Harris

Joshua Harris’ latest book focuses on the practical importance of theology in the life of every believer as it shares Harris’ journey to having an informed knowledge of God as the foundation of his spiritual life. From the book:

The irony of my story—and I suppose it often works this way—is that the very things I needed, even longed for in my relationship with God, were wrapped up in the very things I was so sure could do me no good. I didn’t understand that such seemingly worn-out words as theology, doctrine, and orthodoxy were the pathway to the mysterious, awe-filled experience of truly knowing the living Jesus Christ.

They told the story of the Person I longed to know.

Dug Down Deep will be released on January 19th (and my ARC arrived on Tuesday!)

Read a review of the first chapterRead a review of the rest of the bookOrder [Read more…]

Looking Back: My Favorite Books of 2009, part one

I love books, and this year I’ve probably read more of them than I ever have in years past. Out of 60+ books, some have been good, others not-so-good. Others still have been excellent—and I want to share ten of these that I’ve found to be the most helpful, meaningful and enjoyable.

Here are the first five in no particular order (probably):

Just Do Something
by Kevin DeYoung

The question of discovering God’s will for our lives is one that plagues the majority of us. But, pastor and author Kevin DeYoung argues, that’s in large part because we make following God’s will far harder than it needs to be, because we’re looking for the wrong thing. Instead of looking at God’s revealed will of decree (meaning that what He ordains will come to pass) and His will of desire (what He desires from His creatures), we seek to divine His will of direction.

Read the review | Order a copy

Buy•ology
by Martin Lindstrom

Martin Lindstrom spent 3 years and 7 million dollars in an experiment known as neuromarketing–trying to understand how the brain responds to the stimuli provided by advertisements, what works and what doesn’t. What he found absolutely destroys much of what we’ve believed about what attracts and repels us to products and brands.

Buy•ology a game-changer for marketers and one of the most worthwhile marketing books I’ve ever read.

Read “Brand-olatry” | Order a copy

Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl
by N.D. Wilson

Perhaps the most delightfully peculiar book I’ve ever read. Author N.D. Wilson invites readers to join him as he attempts to describe the indescribable: God speaking Creation into being, ex nihilo (out of nothing). With a quick wit and sharp tongue, Wilson engages and entertains readers while reminding us that we live in a world filled with wonder and beauty—and none of it is by accident.

Read the review | Order a copy

Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion
by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck

Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck follow up their first book, Why We’re Not Emergent, with Why We Love the Church, a passionate, biblically centered, God-honoring look at the Church—and why, for all her warts, we need to love her as much as Christ does.

Famed evangelical scholar J.I. Packer’s endorsement brought a smile to my face: “Bible-centered, God Centered, and demonstrably mature… As I read, I wanted to stand and cheer.”

Read the review | Order a copy

Fake Work: Why People Are Working Harder than Ever but Accomplishing Less, and How to Fix the Problem
by Brent D. Peterson & Gaylan W. Nielson

Fake Work is what you think it is…and so much more. With this book, authors Brent D. Peterson and Gaylan W. Nielson are drawing a line in the sand. The working world is broken and needs to be fixed. What we don’t need to do is create cool, hip workplaces, to make going to the job more comfortable.

What we need to do is focus on transforming how we work and the work we do. Because real work is about results.

Read the review | Order a copy


Join me for the second half of the list tomorrow.

Around the Interweb (12/13)

Tim Challies: The Next Story (His Next Book)

Tim Challies, the world’s most famous Christian blogger and author of The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment announced his next book this week.

The working title: The Next Story. The publisher: Zondervan.

True story. Here’s what Tim had to say:

Since I wrote The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment I’ve often been asked the obvious question: what next? That’s a good question, of course. I have deliberately been biding my time. I’ve been in no real hurry to jump into my next project. A few ideas have come and gone, but none have been intriguing or original enough that I’ve wanted to dedicate a year of my life to them. The commitment to a certain topic is really a commitment to spend at least six months reading and writing about it and then a further six months (at minimum) doing interviews about it, speaking about it, preaching about it, and so on. The last thing I wanted to do was find a topic that would bore me and leave me dreading it.

[…] The book’s working title is The Next Story. I’m really pleased with the title, but it does have a downside in that it is remarkably difficult to pronounce (try saying it out loud). It is a book about technology in general and digital technology in particular. Even the least technical among us are being pressed from all sides by technology. Like it or not, we rely upon it in unprecedented ways. Many people feel that they are analog creatures in a digital world. Christians are beginning to awaken to this reality and are trying to think critically and biblically about many new realities brought about by technological developments. Yet, there are few helpful and sympathetic voices for those who wish to do so but have no idea how. I’m hoping to fill this gap, creating a book that will help Christians think well about technology. I do not intend to discuss Facebook and Twitter and whatever will be big and popular next month. I want to discuss technology in the bigger picture so that the book will be applicable today, tomorrow and ten years from now.

If all goes well, the book will be published in hardcover in the spring of 2011. And it will be published by Zondervan. I’m guessing that this will be a surprise to a few people. Frankly, it is a bit of a surprise to me. But in the end it was clear that Zondervan had the best all-around offer, from the financial, to the marketing, to the audience. Zondervan will take the book to a whole new audience, I’m convinced, and will work hard to help me find interesting speaking opportunities. They put together a fantastic proposal and I had no hesitations in signing on with them.

This is very exciting news and I’m thrilled for both Tim and Zondervan (and a very wise move on Zondervan’s part).  I’ve no doubt that he’ll bring the same thoughtfulness to this book as he did his first.

Look for The Next Story in 2011.


In Other News

Molly Piper cordially invites you to break your heart

Kevin DeYoung on The Christian Century and the New Calvinism

Michael Hyatt believes the SI Tablet might be the end of book publishing as we know it (and he’s excited!)

Trevin Wax reminds us that contextualization goes both ways


In Case You Missed It

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

A review of Andy Deane’s very helpful book, Learn to Study the Bible

Building Christmas traditions with my family

Ed Stetzer points us to a study on the effects of pornography

Around the Interweb (12/06)

Elliot Grudem: Learning to Advent Together

Elliot Grudem completed a three-part series on why it’s actually helpful to celebrate Advent. Grudem readily admits that Scripture doesn’t require us to do anything different around Advent and celebrating it doesn’t make us more spiritual, but it does have some benefits:

Celebrating Advent helps us cut through all the distractions of the Christmas season and focus our attention on Jesus Christ’s birth and ministry as well as his promised return. Since we can’t anticipate the day or the hour of Christ’s return, we are filled with both a sense of joyful expectation and humble reverence, with our spiritual focus being on lives of prayer and preparation.

Throughout the season we are constantly reminded that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah and Savior of the World.

The series is available at The Resurgence.


In Other News…

Kevin DeYoung asks the question, “Why did they kill Jesus?” and examines “The Gospel Old and New.”

Russell Moore says, “Jesus has AIDS.”

World Magazine interviews Evangelical scholar J.I. Packer who says he’s considering writing a systematic theology.


In Case You Missed It…

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

A review of Millard Erickson’s Making Sense of the Trinity: Three Crucial Questions

The final part of George Whitefield’s The Seed of the Woman and the Seed of the Serpent

A couple of ideas for something to do instead of boycotting a business for Christmas

Sunday Shorts (11/08)

Free Audiobook at ChristianAudio.com: Desiring God

This month, Christian Audio is offering John Piper’s classic work, Desiring God, as it’s free-audio book of the month. Use the coupon code NOV2009 when purchasing.

From the publisher’s description:

Scripture reveals that the great business of life is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever. In this paradigm-shattering classic, newly revised and expanded, John Piper reveals that the debate between duty and delight doesn’t truly exist: Delight is our duty. Join him as he unveils stunning, life impacting truths you saw in the Bible but never dared to believe.

Prayerlessness is Unbelief

A post well worth reading from Kevin DeYoung:

Prayer is essential for the Christian, as much for what it says about us as for what it can do through God. The simple act of getting on our knees (or faces or feet or whatever) for 5 or 50 minutes every day is the surest sign of our humility and dependence on our Father in heaven. There may be many reasons for our prayerlessness—time management, busyness, lack of concentration—but most fundamentally, we ask not because we think we need not. or we think God can give not. Deep down we feel secure when we have money in the bank, a healthy report from the doctor, and powerful people on our side.  We do not trust in God alone. Prayerlessness is an expression of our meager confidence in God’s ability to provide and of our strong confidence in our ability to take care of ourselves without God’s help.

Introducing 10 Million Words

Christian blogger extraordinaire Tim Challies has started another blog over at The Gospel Coalition. But here’s the twist—Tim will be reading and reviewing every non-fiction hardcover on the New York Times bestseller’s list in 2010. Here’s what Tim had to say:

My wife thinks I’m a little bit crazy, I’m sure of it. During eleven years of marriage I’ve done a lot of things that have led her to roll her eyes and sigh. I guess she is getting used to it, though, because even she is interested in what I am planning to do in 2010. I plan to read all of the New York Times bestselling books over the course of the whole year. Do the math and you’ll see that this will come in at somewhere around 10 million words.

And Introducing…

This week, my wife and I learned some exciting news: We’ll be welcoming another little girl to our family in March/April (depending on when Emily goes into labor). We’ve been keeping the pregnancy somewhat under wraps until now, but I want to introduce you to my soon-to-be-born daughter:

BabyGirl

See you soon, Rutabaga Applesauce. (Please pray that we would find the right name for this child.)

In case you missed it

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

Book Review: “Fundamentalism” and the Word of God, reviewing J.I. Packer’s classic defense of the Evangelical view of Scripture

The Seed of the Woman and the Seed of the Serpent: Temptation, kicking off a new Saturday series representing George Whitefield’s sermon on Genesis 3:15 (the first gospel)

By Grace Alone, telling my story of how I became a Christian

The Gospel-less “Gospel,” looking at Christianity Today’s short documentary on the prosperity “gospel” and it’s impact in Ghana.

Sunday Shorts (10/11)

Mark Driscoll on ABC Nightline: Do Not Worship Idols

This week, Mark Driscoll once again made the news—this time for preaching against idols. Here’s ABC Nightline’s story:

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.3620524&w=425&h=350&fv=]

more about “Ten Commandments: Pastor Preaches Not…“, posted with vodpod

You can also find a transcript of the piece by following the link. It’s a surprisingly positive spot, I have to say.

Write to Understand

Justin Taylor offers up the wisdom of John Calvin, John Piper and Arthur Krystal on the relationship between writing and learning:

Calvin, citing Augustine: “I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.”

John Piper: “Writing became the lever of my thinking and the outlet of my feelings. If I didn’t pull the lever, the wheel of thinking did not turn. It jerked and squeaked and halted. But once a pen was in hand, or a keyboard, the fog began to clear and the wheel of thought began to spin with clarity and insight.

Arthur Krystal: “Like most writers, I seem to be smarter in print than in person. In fact, I am smarter when I’m writing. I don’t claim this merely because there is usually no one around to observe the false starts and groan-inducing sentences that make a mockery of my presumed intelligence, but because when the work is going well, I’m expressing opinions that I’ve never uttered in conversation and that otherwise might never occur to me. Nor am I the first to have this thought, which, naturally, occurred to me while composing. According to Edgar Allan Poe, writing in Graham’s Magazine, ‘Some Frenchman—possibly Montaigne—says: ‘People talk about thinking, but for my part I never think except when I sit down to write.’ I can’t find these words in my copy of Montaigne, but I agree with the thought, whoever might have formed it. And it’s not because writing helps me to organize my ideas or reveals how I feel about something, but because it actually creates thought or, at least supplies a Petri dish for its genesis.”

HT JT

Kevin DeYoung: Thinking about the Kingdom

Kevin DeYoung offers some helpful thoughts on what the Kingdom is, and a few cautions for all of us with regard to it. One point in particular that stood out to me:

Don’t think we build the kingdom. The kingdom is something brought by the King, not something we build. The verbs related to the kingdom in the New Testament aren’t verbs like “build” or “expand,” but verbs like “receive,” “inherit,” and “enter.” The kingdom is a gift that God gives to us, not a project that God expects us to accomplish.

Sound advice worth remembering. Kevin’s entire article is well worth your time, so go read it.

In Case You Missed It

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

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, discovering a hero in the faith, Pastor Tom Carson

Ripe for Co-opting, because sometimes we need to laugh at ourselves

Books as Compensation, a few thoughts regarding the recent hubbub with the FTC

Sunday Shorts (09/20)

The Gospel-Driven Life 45% off at WTS Books

gospelDLWTS Books is offering Michael Horton’s The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World at 45% off for the next week and a half. The Gospel-Driven Life is a sequel to Horton’s previous book, Christless Christianity.

From the Publisher’s Description:

In his well-received Christless Christianity Michael Horton offered a prophetic wake-up call for a self-centered American church. With The Gospel-Driven Life he turns from the crisis to the solutions, offering his recommendations for a new reformation in the faith, practice, and witness of contemporary Christianity. This insightful book will guide readers in reorienting their faith and the church’s purpose toward the good news of the gospel. The first six chapters explore that breaking news from heaven, while the rest of the book focuses on the kind of community that the gospel generates and the surprising ways in which God is at work in the world. Here is fresh news for Christians who are burned out on hype and are looking for hope.

You can also read sample pages here.

HT: JT

Darryl Dash Reviews Bruce Wilkinson’s Latest

Darryl Dash, pastor of Richview Baptist Church, posted a review of Bruce Wilkinson’s (The Prayer of Jabez guy) latest book, You Were Born for This: 7 Keys to a Life of Predictable Miracles. From Darryl’s review:

It trivializes miracles. One definition of a miracle – from someone who believes that miracles take place today – is this: “A miracle is a less common kind of God’s activity in which he arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to himself.” Even in Scripture, miracles are not everyday occurrences, and they are more than what Wilkinson describes in this book.

Read the rest at Darryl’s blog.

HT: Z

How Not to Argue for God’s Existence

Kevin DeYoung offers some commentary on a recent Wall Street Journal article titled Man vs. God, wherein Richard Dawkins argues against the existence of God and Karen Armstrong argues for it.

Anyway, the real disappointment is Armstrong’s “defense” of the existence of God. As an orthodox Christian (or orthodox believer of almost any faith) you know you are in trouble when Armstrong’s first line is this: “Richard Dawkins has been right all along, of course—at least in one important respect. Evolution has indeed dealt a blow to the idea of a benign creator, literally conceived.” It only gets worse from there. Armstrong argues that we should really go back to an earlier pre-enlightenment time when “Jewish, Christian, and Muslim thinkers understood that what we call ‘God’ is merely a symbol that points beyond itself to an indescribable transcendence, whose existence cannot be proved but is only intuited by means of spiritual exercises and a compassionate lifestyle that enable us to cultivate new capacities of mind and heart.” Armstrong’s “God” bears no resemblance to the Christian God. He (She? It?) is merely a symbol, an analogy like Tao, Brahman, or Nirvana, to describe the ultimate reality that lay beyond the reach of words.

Armstrong’s religion is not new. She is an advocate of an ahistorical, therapeutic religion that disavows a personal, knowable, objectively real Creator God to whom we must give account. In decrying the baleful effects of scientific rationality on religion, she ends up repeating the same tropes that have been standard fare among liberals since the Enlightenment: the Bible can’t be taken literally; religion is about myth not fact; there is no revelation from God, just man’s attempts to make sense of life’s imponderables.

It’s a great piece. Read the rest at Kevin’s blog.


In Case You Missed It

Religion-SavesThis week I published a series reviewing Religion Saves & Nine Other Misconceptions by Mark Driscoll:

Religion Saves: Introduction

Religion Saves: Birth Control, Sexual Sin & Dating

Religion Saves: Predestination, Grace, and Faith & Works

Religion Saves: Humor, The Emerging Church and The Regulative Principle

Religion Saves: For Your Consideration

There’s a lot of great material in this book, and I did my best to be objective and thorough in my review. I hope you find it profitable and maybe pick up the book yourself.

Book Review: Why We Love The Church

Why We Love the Church by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck

The last few years have seen a glut of books about the church… and honestly, most have been ripping on her pretty hard. Truthfully, there are too many to name, and too many to possibly answer. But the big idea from guys like George Barna, Leonard Sweet, Brian McLaren, and a host of others, boils down to this:

The church has lost it’s way, and everything needs to change. So let’s blow it up and do something different.

For many, it’s experimenting with disorganized religion, where there’s no authority, everyone speaks and no one really learns anything. For others, it’s abandoning corporate gatherings altogether in favor of possibly having a spiritual conversation on the golf course or at Starbucks.

What Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck offer in Why We Love the Church is a passionate, biblically centered, God-honoring look at the Church—and why, for all her warts, we need to love her as much as Christ does.

In his chapters, DeYoung addresses the topic from four areas: The missiological, the personal, the historical and the theological. In  this, DeYoung is helping readers to develop a solid doctrine of the church. This is an understanding we sorely need, because I think very few of us really understand what the Church truly is and what is to be her role.

I particularly found the historical view of the Church interesting, as DeYoung deftly defangs many of today’s common criticisms of the Church. Be it Columbus’ journey to America, the Crusades, Slavery or the alleged pagan origins of preaching (according to Frank Viola, who really needs to read his Bible  more), he provides answers and a wealth of information that many of us would be surprised to learn. One quick example: Did you know that as early as the seventh century, several Christian leaders, including the Venerable Bede, taught that the earth was, in fact, round? In fact, according to Jeffrey Burton Russel (from whose quote the following is adapted), there was near unanimous scholarly agreement that the world was spherical during the first fifteen centuries of the Christian era, and all doubt of this had disappeared by the fifteenth century (see pp. 128-129).

DeYoung concludes the book calling us back to an increasingly forgotten doctrine, the loss of which is, perhaps, the reason why we’ve lost our love for the Church: The doctrine of original sin. The root issue for all of our issues with the Church is sin, because the church is made up of redeemed sinners, all seeking to put their sin to death. But just as Paul reminds us that “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7), if we truly love the church, we need to bear with the Church “in her failings, endure her struggles, believe her to be the beloved bride of Christ and hope for her glorification. I still believe the Church is the hope of the world,” writes DeYoung, “not because she gets it all right, but because she is a body with Christ for her Head” (p. 226).

Co-author Ted Kluck’s chapters were a very different sort of read. Kluck’s style is very much the everyman-journeyman sort of tale, wherein he lays out why he loves the church—even when it’s hard. He shares his family’s struggle with infertility, which is difficult enough, but only made more apparent when one is a member of a Reformed church where the average family is 6.5 children and most every woman is pregnant at the same time. He shares his interaction with John Marks, a man who was raised in the church and became an atheist. Marks, along with Christian filmmaker friend Detweiler, made the film Purple State of Mind. He shares insights from Chuck Colson, whose words for those who would meddle unnecessarily with doctrine are sharp, and from Art Monk and his son, whose faith has impacted his son in a way that I think most of us who are dads all desire. Perhaps the most impactful for me was his epilogue, a letter to his 5-year-old boy, Tristan. An excerpt from this:

Church isn’t a magic pill you take, that punches your ticket for heaven. Nor is it a glorified social/country club you attend to be around people who talk/think/look/act like you do. It’s a place to go each week to hear the Word of God spoken, taught, and affirmed. It’s a place to sing praises to our God, even if those songs do sometimes feel a bit awkward. It’s a place to serve others. It’s a place to be challenged. Sometimes you’ll feel uncomfortable with those challenges, because sometimes your life will need ot change. This has been the case with me. (p. 203)

The Church is difficult. The Church is challenging. But the Church is where we all come together to learn, praise and serve our great God and Savior.

I love the Church. Do you?


Title: Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religion
Authors: Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck
Publisher: Moody Publishers

Sunday Shorts (08/16)

Read the Gospels: JC is not PC

John MacArthur provided a brilliant editorial in the Washington Post this week abuot Jesus. Here’s the opening:

Let’s be brutally honest: most of Jesus’ teaching is completely out of sync with the mores that dominate our culture.

I’m talking, of course, about the Jesus we encounter in Scripture, not the always-gentle, never-stern, über-lenient coloring-book character who exists only in the popular imagination. The real Jesus was no domesticated clergyman with a starched collar and genteel manners; he was a bold, uncompromising Prophet who regularly challenged the canons of political correctness.

Read the whole thing here. Seriously, it’s fantastic!

Two-Kingdom Theology and Neo-Kuyperians

No, it’s not the plot of a new alien invasion film, it’s a post from Kevin DeYoung’s blog about the merits and dangers of two-kingdom theology and neo-Kuyperianism (of course!). Here’s an explanatory note from Kevin’s article:

In broad strokes, the two kingdom folks believe in a kingdom of this world and a kingdom of Christ. We have a dual citizenship as Christians. Further, the realm of nature should not be expected to function and look like the realm of grace. Living in the tension of two kingdoms we should stop trying to transform the culture of this world into the kingdom of our Lord and instead focus on the church being the church, led by it duly ordained officers and ministering through the ordinary means of grace.

On the other hand, neo-Kupyerianism (intellectual descendants of the Dutch theologian and politician Abraham Kuyper) argue that every square inch of this world belongs to Christ. Therefore, his Lordship should be felt and manifested in politics, in the arts, in education, in short, everywhere. Because the work of Christ was not just to save sinners but also to renew the whole cosmos, we should be at work to change the world and transform the culture.

There’s some extremely interesting points made in the article, so do read the whole thing, but I found this point particularly helpful:

Perhaps there is a–I can’t believe I’m going to say it–a middle ground. I say, let’s not lose the heart of the gospel, divine self-satisfaction through self-substitution. And let’s not apologize for challenging Christians to show this same kind of dying love to others. Let’s not be embarrassed by the doctrine of hell and the necessity of repentance and regeneration. And let’s not be afraid to do good to all people, especially to the household of faith. Let’s work against the injustices and suffering in our day, and let’s be realistic that the poor, as Jesus said, will always be among us. Bottom line: let’s work for change where God calls us and gifts us, but let’s not forget that the Great Commission is go into the world and make disciples, not go into the world and build the kingdom.

Alright, go read the article at Kevin’s blog. And when you’re done, you can read a response article from the fine folks at White Horse Inn.

Out of the Archives: Keeping the 10 Commandments

Keeping the 10 CommandmentsJ.I. Packer is one of modern Christianity’s greatest minds—the author of countless books, including Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, Growing in Christ, and arguably his best-known work, Knowing God. There are few men who are more influential theologically on Evangelical Christianity than Packer. So when I saw Keeping the 10 Commandments at the bookstore, I had a hunch it would be a worthwhile read.

Sufficed to say, I was not disappointed.

By many, the 10 Commandments are seen as irrelevant; as “rules” that prevent us from having any fun. In this short work, an excerpt from Growing in Christ, Packer shows us that these commandments are not rules to be followed; they are commands to be lived to bring us joy…

Read the rest of this review.

In case you missed it

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

Book Review: What’s He Really Thinking? A book that does the unthinkable: Encourages women to embrace men for being men.

Up the (Willow) Creek: Tim Keller Reflecting on Tim Keller’s session at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, Leading People to the Prodigal God

Up the (Willow) Creek: Harvey Carey Harvey Carey wants the church to do more than sit on the sidelines. He wants it to get into the game.