Links I like (weekend edition)

Reflections On My “Break-Up” With The Gospel Coalition

Tullian Tchividjian:

It’s been a much quieter week for me. Last week was loud and exhausting. And (other than Miami Heat games, Dallas Cowboy games, Ultra Music Festival, and the music in my car) I’m not a fan of either loud or exhausting. Not many are. So, I’m grateful that God has granted me a quieter week.

Still, the very public “break-up” between The Gospel Coalition and me weighs heavy on my heart. And I want to say just a few things about it now that I’ve had some time to reflect.

‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ and the Subversion of Human Nature

E. Stephen Burnett:

Marvel, when given a chance to take its unprecedented shared-universe superhero films to the small screen, chose to write stories that subvert naïve optimism about basically-decent government agencies and even human beings themselves.

What does this say about humans?

Clearly we do not believe our own press.

Concerns about the “Efficacy” of Works

Richard Phillips, interacting with a recent article by Mark Jones:

I am less eager to support the teaching of good works as efficacious in salvation, however, regardless of the Puritan gravitas attached to the idea. Now, if what we mean by the efficacy of works in attaining eternal life is James’ teaching that faith without works is dead, so that the evidence of work is needed to justify our faith, then I will of course agree. Moreover, if we mean that works are efficacious, as Owen says, “as the way wherein we ought to walk, for the coming to and obtaining of the inheritance so fully purchased and freely given,” then I will earnestly bow once again to Owen’s lucid biblical accuracy. But when we suggest that works enter into the instrumentality of salvation, so that in the consummation of our salvation eternal life is granted on the basis of good works, then I find myself expressing both objections and concerns.

Jesus Is Not a Cagefighter

Joe Carter:

Although well-intended, these ministries that focus on “ultimate fighters” are giving young men a deformed view of Biblical masculinity. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus praised the meek, a word that in the Greek is used in reference to a “tame” wild animal. The lion is able to lay down with the lamb precisely because he is not given over to his hyper-aggressive nature.

 

Links I like (weekend edition)

7 Traits of Leaders Who Hire Well

Eric Geiger:

The only time the Bible records Jesus praying all night long was before He chose His disciples (Luke 6:12-13). He had no plan B. He chose to ensure the gospel would spread through the disciples, and He prayerfully selected those who He would hand the mission to.

In my role, I interact daily with leaders and managers who hire people, who invite others to join the teams they lead. I have observed these seven common traits in leaders who hire well, leaders who seem to excel at attracting the right players to their teams.

What Tom Nettles Taught Me

Russell Moore:

Tom Nettles retired last week as professor of historical theology at Southern Seminary, capping off a long and distinguished career. As I thought about his retirement, I reflected on what I’ve learned from this iconic Baptist historian, and it was hard to find a place to start.

Will Ferrell and Chad Smith drum off

HT: Barnabas

Four Words I’d Like to Strike From Christian Conversation

Joey Cochran:

There are four words that I’d like to strike from our Christian conversations. There’s probably more, but these four keep coming to my mind. They’re kind of buzz words these days. They are the following businessy terms: connect, tribe, sexy and brand. Here’s how they get used.

Was Christ’s Death Divine Child Abuse?

Jason Helopoulos:

He in our place. “He has borne our griefs” (Is. 53:4). “He was wounded for our transgressions” (Is. 53: 5). “He was crushed for our iniquities” (Is. 53:4). “Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace and with his stripes we are healed” (Is. 53:5). He was our substitute. It has been argued that this is unjust; it isn’t right. Some enemies of the gospel have gone so far as to say that Christ being our substitute was some sort of divine child-abuse. However, that is far from the case. As Jesus said in Luke 22, quoting Isaiah 53:12, “He had to be numbered with the transgressors.” He had to be. It was the only way to save sinful men. “For our sake, He made Him to be sin, who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). He became sin for us. And because He took what was ours we are absolved from the necessity of enduring that same punishment. Justice has been upheld. He received wrath and death that we might receive grace and life. Our debt has been paid by another—in full. And this is anything but divine child abuse. Let me give you four reasons why.

Links I like

No Man Left Behind

Tim Challies:

On my flight to Australia they were showing Lone Survivor . I didn’t watch it all, but I have read the book and got the point of the film: one man had been left behind and U.S. military might was deployed to rescue him. (Spoiler warning!) The movie culminates in an American soldier busting into this man’s hiding place and assuring him that he is now safe, that he will not be left behind. The soldier, and the audience, then breathes a sigh of relief, knowing that he, too, is accounted for.

And as the credits rolled I found myself thinking about the church, another place where I hope no man is left behind (or no woman, or no child, for that). We should expect no less from ourselves.

If Frozen were a horror film

HT: Z

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Four titles from Crossway’s Preaching the Word commentary series:

Four by R.C. Sproul:

And finally:

Is It God’s Will for All Christians to Be Wealthy?

Ajith Fernando:

More and more Christians, all over the world, believe that material prosperity is the right of all Christians. They believe that God expects them to ask for it and to anticipate it as a sure fulfilment of his promise. There is no doubt that both the Old and New Testaments teach that the faithful will be blessed by God.

But does that blessing necessarily always include material prosperity? Can all Christians expect to become wealthy? Turning to the Bible dispels such an expectation.

Chasing Echoes

Nick Horton:

We walk through life constantly observing beauty. Many times we only observe and do not appreciate. We take in the grandeur around us and file it away as business as usual as though creation is mundane and to be expected. We drive in cars crammed in traffic jams seething with impatience, annoyance, and anger, all the while ignoring the beauty that exists around us.

Around the Interweb (04/25)

Salvation from a life of “goodness”

From the Mars Hill blog:

I asked Jesus into my heart before I can even remember. In the years since, however, I have lived a life motivated by nothing more than an aching desire to be perfect, beautiful, and righteous. I armed myself with knowledge and convictions and lived a very moral, introspective, and ultimately fear driven life. I read the Bible daily, but did not hear that Jesus’ goodness replaced the need for mine; what I read and heard was conviction, the need for it, and the power of it to safeguard and cultivate a life that pleased God. I paid lip service to things like Love and Faith, but actually lacked any relationship to real trust and heart.

Read the rest here.

In other news

TGCReviews Editor John Starke interviews Mark Driscoll about his latest book, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe

Dr. Moore is asked, “Should I tell my child he was conceived in rape?”

The new issue of Themelios is now available

Jared Wilson: “The Message of the Gospel is NOT “Behave!”

James at Hills Bible Church asks a great question: What should a Christian’s response be to pop culture?

In Case You Missed It

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

“I know what the Bible says, but it’s just cultural…”

You can ignore a great ethicist, but you can’t ignore God

A review of Thabiti Anyabwile’s latest, The Gospel for Muslims

Trajectories Toward an Adjusted Gospel – Al Mohler at Together for the Gospel 2010

Oh My God

Oh My God is a documentary that asks the question, “Who is God?”

The filmmaker, Peter Rodger, travelled to 23 different countries around the world just asking this question. In his travels, he didn’t just ask “experts” to explain their concept or understanding of God. He asked normal folks.

And Hugh Jackman.

Check out the trailer:

Jackman’s quote is pretty interesting:

If you put Buddha, Jesus Christ, Socrates, Shakespeare, Arjuna, Krishna together at a dinner table, I couldn’t see them having any argument.

It’s a really nice sentiment, the belief that all religions are fundamentally the same (although I’m not exactly sure how Shakespeare fits into the “religious figure” camp), and therefore, they do not stand in conflict.

It’s a nice idea that we hear a lot. Heck, it’s an argument I threw out a lot back in the day. But as nice as it is, it’s not true. Jesus doesn’t allow for it. What we see in the New Testament is that Jesus debates a lot. He challenges the assumptions of the religious leaders of the day, and even those of His own followers, asking them, “Who do you say I am?”

But that’s what makes the movie intriguing to me; it’s asking, perhaps, the most important question we can ever ask:

Who is God?

It’s a question I’m glad Rodger is asking.

I’m curious if he discovered an answer.

HT: Z

Apparently John Piper is Emo, too!

Discussing fashion in Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture, the authors describe the emo college professor look:

“Often sported by indie-emo types who have actually read John Fante novels, this particular emo fashion aesthetic [involves] wearing corduroy blazers with suede elbow patches and clunky glasses…”

john

If you’ve ever wondered how it is that Piper is able to connect so deeply with so many young people, perhaps it’s because he understands them far better than anyone could imagine.

Or, y’know, it could be his infectious passion for Jesus Christ.

I leave it to you to decide.

Oh no—We were Emo!

We made a stunning revelation Wednesday night: In college, Emily and I were so emo—and we didn’t even know it!

Now, I may not have worn eyeliner… or painted my nails… or worn girl pants… but when it came to home decor, we were so emo.

We learned this with the help of Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture. In this book, authors Leslie Simon and Trevor Kelley include an important chapter about growing up—the most dreaded concept to everyone from teens to 40-somethings. In this chapter, they write:

Generally, interior design is a concept that most emo types fail to embrace until they reach their mid-twenties, which is why their first home away from home (often obtained around the age of nineteen) will include the following:

“Band posters… DIY bookshelves [made of milk crates, naturally!]…The ‘Dude, what’s up with your futon?’ Futon.

Honestly, this is not too far off from our first apartments (and college dorms). Comic book art and band posters, the hand-me-down puffy pleather sofa (which, in terms of decor, may be on par with the futon), a DIY entertainment unit. It was pretty rough.

But here’s what caught our attention:

Your average adult emo home will be heavily outfitted by Ikea, West Elm, or Pottery Barn and will probably look identical to all your friends’ homes. Generally, these homes will include the following:

A real couch… A slightly better bookshelf [with real books in it that cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $150, but still has the stability of a stack of milk crates]… Photographs and art, but not too much [usually consisting of either cartoon-looking concert posters or nauseating photos of the married couple].

Our house is an Ikea catalog. We can’t help it, they make affordable and awesome furniture. Our shaky bookshelves are bowing under the weight of a couple hundred real books. And yes, we have pictures of ourselves around the house, and a painting of toast in our kitchen.

Now while Emily tells me that our home decor is called something like “modern country,” I think there’s a lesson to be learned: There’s a little emo in all of us.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch a Cameron Crowe movie and then listen to Weezer.

Irrelevant (or, What happens when Christians try too hard to be cool)

Yesterday, for the first time since my subscription ran out in 2007(?) I took a look at an issue of Relevant Magazine, the magazine about God, Life and Progressive Culture. I remembered enjoying it a great deal back in the day, particularly as a brand-new Christian. A few really enjoyable (and often very helpful) articles in every issue, interesting layout, and the odd bits of silliness.

So I look at the latest issue (via the digital copy on their website), and man, oh man, that’s a lousy magazine. Seriously, for a magazine in which God is to figure so prominently, outside of an article about how the guy who produces Aqua Teen Hunger Force being a Christian, I don’t recall seeing Jesus anywhere in it. Zooey Deschanel got more coverage (and I suspect it’s mostly because she’s the indie-film darling that the kids adore).

I don’t want to come off as being overly critical or unnecessarily judgemental, but sometimes I have some serious concerns about the quest of many Christians to be “progressive.”

When I look around and see Christians trying so hard to be cool—magazines that are indistinguishable from any other one on the shelf, guys with floppy hair and skinny jeans, Sunday services with smoke machines and laser beams… you get the idea—I find myself troubled. When we get so caught up in trying to be cool, when we get consumed by the pursuit of cool, we become nothing more than an echo of culture. We begin to look like everything else.

And that makes us completely irrelevant. [Read more...]

Excuses for Amusement?

For our entire adult lives, Emily and I have not had cable. It’s expensive, and there’s rarely anything worth watching. But every once in a while, we find out about a show that we really like and have a good time watching.

One such show is How I Met Your Mother. We like the show a lot; it’s actually really funny (a rare thing for a sitcom). The premise is pretty simple: 25 years in the future, Ted is telling his teenage children the (often inappropriate) story of how he met their mother, and journeys down every rabbit trail that comes up as he shares his life in his late 20’s & early 30’s with his roommates Marshall & Lilly, and womanizing “bro,” Barney (played by Neil Patrick Harris, better known as Doogie Howser, M.D.). 

It’s very much a show of it’s generation—the search for love and meaning in a world of relativity and subjective morality. For example:

Now, while this is funny, sometimes I have to wonder: Do I watch simply to be amused? [Read more...]

Book Review: GUILTY

Guilty by Ann Coulter

Title: Guilty: Liberal “Victims” and Their Assault on America
Author: Ann Coulter
Publisher: Crown Focus (2009)

Not Recommended: A smug, self-righteous take on the problem of the “liberal media” that lacks any mercy or understanding of grace.

Before I’d read Guilty, I had sort of a vague, nebulous idea of who Ann Coulter, pop-politic icon, was. I knew she was blonde, skinny, angry, and right wing, often used as a reference point for a contentious personality; “so-n-so makes Ann Coulter look like a peacenick-hippy”, for example. So I took Guilty out of the library to see if she was actually as nasty as is generally accepted.

The short answer is yes, she is.

But this wouldn’t be much of a book review if I ended there, would it?

The book is organized in the basic essay format, which is known as an idea sandwich:

  • assert thesis
  • assert some proofs that will be unpacked in text
  • proof #1
  • proof #2
  • proof #3
  • repeat thesis, citing proofs again, and close.

Her main points are as follows: liberals are noisy and use people to further the liberal agenda, single mothers are the worst people in the world, the “Republican Attack Machine” is a Democrat myth, Obama hangs out with terrorists, Democrats have a double standard concerning ethics, and liberals control most of the media. So as you can see, she’s got a lot of ground to cover. And cover it she does, citing example after example after example after example. In fact, there are so many citations that almost the last 1/4 of the book is bibliography and index. Peppered throughout the book are minor insults, witty remarks, and sarcastic rhetorical questions, which make the book more fun to read than it would have been otherwise.

I was impressed by how Ann was able to maintain such frothy anger page after page. I think if I was that angry for that long, I’d have a heart attack. But for all that rage and fact-touting conviction, I didn’t find her book, well, convincing.

For one, Ann seems to be a person completely without mercy or an understanding of grace. Given her position in political pundit-land, perhaps she has to be. I thought devoting an entire chapter to how single mothers are destroying America was over the top. Yes, studies do show that children fare better in a 2 parent household; as a parent in a 2-parent household, I see this is true. But I also understand that junk happens. People aren’t perfect, and they wouldn’t be perfect if everyone lived in a 2-parent home either.

There are subjects in the book that go on, and on, and on. I skimmed through a few portions because I’d gotten the point already; “OBAMA IS HORRIBLE! I WILL NOW CITE 38 DOCUMENTS TO PROVE IT!” or “BILL CLINTON IS A PERVERT! I WILL NOW CITE 67 DOCUMENTS TO PROVE IT!” or even “SARAH PALIN WAS MALIGNED IN THE MEDIA! I WILL NOW…” well, you get the idea.

Another thing that I’m still trying to figure out is whether Ann Coulter is actually FOR REAL. She just goes so far beyond what’s normal in vitriol that I can’t tell whether she’s playing a character, kind of like when William Shatner plays himself in the Priceline.com commercials. I almost want that to be true, because it’s nice to imagine her coming home after a long day of calling people idiots on TV, greeting a golden retriever at the door and then walking in her english garden while drinking a chamomile tea. This is more appealing than imagining her greeting a pet scorpion and eating broken glass while shooting targets in the backyard, which is kind of what her public persona would suggest.

Finally, Guilty did not win me over. I didn’t finish the book and decide my liberal friends are monsters, and although I do consider myself a conservative on many issues, I would hope that I never express my opinions with the kind of loveless, smug, self-righteous tone that Ann Coulter does.

I Have No Words

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If for some reason the video above isn’t working, here’s an edited clip from youtube: