#TGC11 Starts Today!

I’m in Chicago today for The Gospel Coalition’s 2011 National Conference and I’m super-excited. Here’s D.A. Carson and Tim Keller talking about the big idea of this year’s event:

Look for updates throughout the day!

Also, if you weren’t able to make it to the conference, Desiring God is live streaming all the plenary sessions at DesiringGod.org beginning at 2 p.m. CDT. I hope you’ll be able to tune in!

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...]

Around the Interweb

Would You Die For Doctrine?

Matthew Barrett offers some helpful insights from the testimonies of Tyndale, Rogers, Latimer, and Ridley:

If these men were willing to die for such truths how much more should I be willing to stand for them today? Many examples come to mind. If you are a pastor, ministering in a difficult church, do not waver in your commitment to the truth even when those in your congregation criticize the doctrines you are proclaiming. Or perhaps you are a teacher at a school where you are surrounded by more liberal colleagues. Be resolved and steadfast in affirming sound doctrine, even if it be at the expense of your own career. Maybe you are a student being criticized because you believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. Remain determined and immutable in your affirmation of God’s Word. You might be a Christian who is tempted to reject the biblical doctrine of eternal punishment or the exclusivity of the gospel. Be on guard, less you also fall prey to false doctrine and fail to heed Paul’s admonishment and warning to only agree with sound words (1 Tim 6:3-4; cf. 1 Tim 4:6; 2 Tim 4:2-3; Titus 1:9; 2:1).

Read the whole thing.

Also Worth Reading

TGC: Emily and I are at The Gospel Coalition’s 2011 National Conference this week. We’ll be part of the vast Canadian contingent. How will you recognize us? Just listen for the folks who say“Aboat.” Seriously, though, if you’re around and want to connect, shoot me a message via Twitter (@AaronStrongarm). Look for regular updates throughout each day.

Books: Check out the list for the 2011 BoB Book Giveaways. I’m going to this and am pretty excited! (I also have a few of these books, so expect a giveaway or two in the coming weeks!)

Women: Confessions of a Conflicted Complementarian

Funny: Are you a child of the 90s? If so, you’ll find this funny.

The Number One Reason To Buy The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence

 

In Case You Missed It

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

My Memory Moleskine: Panting and Provision

He Delights in the Asking

Book reviews:

Cruciform by Jimmy Davis

Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James

The Organized Heart by Staci Eastin

Is God’s Victory Over Sin Thwarted?

From Sam Storms’ booklet, The Restoration of All Things:

Our sin is deserving of infinite punishment because of the infinite glory of the one against whom it is perpetrated.

To suggest, as some do, that eternal suffering means that God does not achieve consummate victory over sin and evil fails to realize that only sin that goes unpunished would indicate a lapse in justice and a defeat of God’s purpose. The ongoing existence of hell and its occupants would more readily reflect on the glory of God’s holiness and his righteous opposition to evil than it would any supposed cosmological dualism.

Perhaps the idea of endless punishing is less offensive when the idea of endless sinning is considered. If those in hell never cease to sin, why should they ever cease to suffer? If one should argue that people pay fully for their sins in hell and at some point cease to sin, why can’t they then be brought into heaven (thereby turning hell into purgatory)? If their sins have not been fully paid for in hell, on what grounds does justice permit them to be annihilated?

Crossway has made this booklet available as a free download.

You can get your copy here.

This resource is extremely timely, especially in light of the questions surrounding Rob Bell’s new book. I hope you’ll download and find it’s content beneficial.

Working For Justice without Undermining Evangelism


It seems like everywhere you turn, people are asking the same question:

How do you work for justice without undermining evangelism?

Typically there are a couple of ways to answer the question. One camp suggests that we don’t need to evangelize until after the need has been met, if at all; that our focus should be eliminating extreme poverty or ending human trafficking. A cause is at the center instead of Christ.

The other tends to run to the opposite extreme, seeing any sort of social action as anathema to the Christian life.

Both extremes, obviously, are wrong. How, then, do you find a healthy, biblical middle-ground?

I’ve written about this a few times (here and here for example), but over at the Gospel Coalition last week, they examined the issue by posing the question to a number of wise pastors and theologians. Here’s a look at their insights:

Don Carson:

1. By doing evangelism. I know numerous groups that claim to be engaging in “holistic” ministry because they are helping the poor in Chicago or because they are digging wells in the Sahel, even though few if any of the workers have taken the time to explain to anyone who Jesus is and what he has done to reconcile us to God. Their ministry isn’t holistic; it’s halfistic, or quarteristic.

2. By being careful not to malign believers of an earlier generation. The popular buzz is that evangelicals before this generation focused all their energies on proclamation and little or nothing on deeds of mercy. Doubtless one can find sad examples of such reductionism, but the sweeping condescension toward our evangelical forbears is neither true nor kind…

3. By learning, with careful study of Scripture, just what the gospel is, becoming passionately excited about this gospel, and then distinguishing between the gospel and its entailments. The gospel is the good news of what God has done, especially in Christ Jesus, especially in his cross and resurrection; it is not what we do. Because it is news, it is to be proclaimed. But because it is powerful, it not only reconciles us to God, but transforms us, and that necessarily shapes our behavior, priorities, values, relationships with people, and much more. These are not optional extras for the extremely sanctified, but entailments of the gospel. To preach moral duty without the underlying power of the gospel is moralism that is both pathetic and powerless; to preach a watered-down gospel as that which tips us into the kingdom, to be followed by discipleship and deeds of mercy, is an anemic shadow of the robust gospel of the Bible; to preach the gospel and social justice as equivalent demands is to misunderstand how the Bible hangs together.

4. By truly loving people in Jesus’ name—our neighbors as ourselves, doing good to all people, especially those of the household of faith. That necessarily includes the alleviation of suffering, both temporal and eternal. Christians interested in alleviating only eternal suffering implicitly deny the place of love here and now; Christians who [fail] to proclaim the Christ of the gospel of the kingdom while they treat . . . suffering here and now show themselves not really to believe all that the Bible says about fleeing the wrath to come. In the end, it is a practical atheism and a failure in love.

Ray Ortlund: [Read more...]

Genuine Humility

When is humility genuine? How do you know the difference between pride and loving correction?

James MacDonald and C.J. Mahaney sit down and discuss how to offer guidance and correction to those we love in a way they can receive—and how we can do so with godly motives.

HT: Collin Hansen

Around the Interweb (09/12)

What’s Next For Church Planting?

Church planting is the hot thing to be a part of right now. The Acts 29 Network, PLNTD, Redeemer Presbyterian’s planting movement, Harvest Bible Fellowship… over the last decade more and more churches have been captivated by a growing understanding of the need to multiply. The folks at the Gospel Coalition ask, “What’s next for church planting?” Darrin Patrick shares some ideas in the following video:

Head over to the Gospel Coalition blog and see responses from Tim Brister and Ed Stetzer.

In Other News

Theology: Denny Burk writes Why Evangelicals Should Ignore Brian McLaren: How the New Testament Requires Evangelicals to Render a Judgment on the Moral Status of Homosexuality in the latest issue of Themelios.

Culture: Albert Mohler asks, “why aren’t “emerging adults” emerging as adults?”

On Evangelism Fails: Burning the Koran and Shooting Yourself in the Foot

In Case You Missed It

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

Book reviews! Anne Jackson’s Permission to Speak Freely, Andy Andrews’ The Boy Who Changed the World, and Max Lucado’s Outlive Your Life

Can a results only work environment strengthen your faith? A few thoughts on how it’s helping me.

Christian Faithfulness in the Last Days – Lessons from The Gospel Coalition 2010 Conference

On Saturday, April 24, 2010, I had the privilege of attending The Gospel Coalition’s first ever Canadian conference featuring D.A. Carson and Mike Bullmore as the keynote speakers.

Dr. Carson kicked off the conference with the message Christian Faithfulness in the Last Days – The Need for the Gospel Coalition.

He began with by giving us a bit of background on how the Gospel Coalition came together as he and Tim Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian came together and realized they’d been reflecting on something similar: The centrality of the gospel was being lost in evangelicalism. “Today, people do what is right in their own eyes—with the gospel becom[ing] something assumed rather than central,” lamented Carson. The Gospel Coalition came together out of a desire “to be robust about Scripture [and] to hold up the centrality of the gospel.” And this is of the greatest import for those of us living in “the last days.”

While some have indulged in “a feeding frenzy of speculation over the end times,” Carson reminded us that, “The last days refer to the entire period between Christ’s ascension and second coming. Whether it’s three weeks or three thousand years is irrelevant. . . . All authority has been given to Jesus, and while it’s contested, the kingdom has still come. The old is passing away.”

This led to a study of 2 Timothy 3:1-4:8, first asking, “What does Paul see in the last days?” [Read more...]

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

Around the Interweb (04/18)

The Bible is its Own Evangelist

From Max McLean’s Unleashing the Word: Rediscovering the Public Reading of Scripture:

The Bible is its own evangelist. I came to faith because I was deeply affected by the words of the Bible. The famous British preacher Charles Spurgeon was once asked how he responded to criticisms of the Bible. “Very easy,” he responded. “I defend the Bible the same way I defend a lion. I simply let it out of its cage.” That quote captures our vision for this book and for the growth of ministries that are committed to the passionate, articulate, and powerful reading of Scripture. Isn’t it time to let the Bible out of the cage, or (to borrow from the title of this book) to unleash God’s Word?

When I tell a Bible story, I have a quiet confidence that God is going to do a mighty work by the very act of reading his Word. Therefore, my objective is to engage hearers and draw them into the Word of God. My role is to use my skills and abilities, as best I can, to draw them into an experience with the Word.

HT: Challies

In Other News

Tim Challies, Kevin Meath and Bob Bevington have teamed up to form Cruciform Press

The New ESV Online is ready for public beta-testing. Sign up to try it out at ESVOnline.org.

The first-ever Gospel Coalition Canadian Regional Conference is this Saturday, April 24. Who’s going?

Christianity’s Surge in Indonesia

Mars Hill Church has released a free five-song EP of music from their Good Friday services. Enjoy!

In Case you missed it

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

A review of Dave Roberts’ book, The Twilight Gospel

A review of Steve Chalke & Alan Mann’s new book, Different Eyes: The Art of Living Beautifully

Covetousness, blogging and… Gollum?

Spurgeon on the kind of faith that produces obedience

Two messages from this week’s Together for the Gospel conference: The first from John Piper, the second from Matt Chandler

Around the Interweb (04/11)

Michael Spencer 1956-2010

On Monday April 5, Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk, went home to stand before his Savior after a grueling four-month-long battle with cancer. He was 53.

I did not know Michael personally, but got to know a bit about him by reading his blog. I found him to be interesting, thought-provoking and sometimes frustrating. Not because of his demeanor—on the contrary, he struck me as one who modeled how Christians should behave online—but because much of the time I couldn’t get a good read on him. I couldn’t always tell where he stood.

But he always got me thinking. And for that, I’m grateful.

Michael’s book, Mere Churchianity, is coming out in September, courtesy of Waterbrook/Multnohmah. Consider preordering a copy.

Looking at the list of tributes to Michael, I wonder if he understood the impact he was having in the lives of so many?

In other news

RE:Sound released a new record by Red Letter. Go listen to samples and download.

Tim Challies on the writer’s life

Trevin weighs in as a voice of reason as a couple people continue to lose their minds over John Piper inviting Rick Warren to Desiring God’s National Conference.

The Gospel Coalition has just launched a new book review site.

ChristianAudio.com’s free audiobook of the month is Stuff Christians Like by Jonathan Acuff. Download this and enjoy a solid 4 hours of laughter. Use coupon code APR2010 when purchasing.

In case you missed it

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

Proud Devoted and Dead

A review of Tim Keller’s Counterfeit Gods

The Stupidity of the Intelligent

Spurgeon on Faith & Obedience

Around the Interweb (03/14)

How I found God and peace with my atheist brother

Peter Hitchens with his brother Christopher, on the left, during their 2008 debate in Grand Rapids

Meet Peter Hitchens, the brother of atheist Christopher Hitchens:

I set fire to my Bible on the playing fields of my Cambridge boarding school one bright, windy spring afternoon in 1967. I was 15 years old. The book did not, as I had hoped, blaze fiercely and swiftly. . . . [T]his was my Year Zero. I was engaged in a full, perfect and complete rebellion against everything I had been brought up to believe. [. . .] No doubt I should be ashamed to confess that fear played a part in my return to religion, specifically a painting: Rogier van der Weyden’s 15th Century Last Judgement, which I saw in Burgundy while on holiday.

I had scoffed at its mention in the guidebook, but now I gaped, my mouth actually hanging open, at the naked figures fleeing towards the pit of Hell.

These people did not appear remote or from the ancient past; they were my own generation. Because they were naked, they were not imprisoned in their own age by time-bound fashions.

On the contrary, their hair and the set of their faces were entirely in the style of my own time. They were me, and people I knew.

Read more.

HT: Jim Skaggs & Trevin Wax

In other news

Kevin DeYoung: “If you are retooling your church to fit the Starbucks model, try reading Ephesians instead.”

Mark Clement: If you want to influence culture, stop imitating it.

The Gospel Coalition 2010 Canada Conference: Join D.A. Carson & Mike Bullmore for the Gospel Coalition Ontario Chapter’s first ever conference. The theme of this event is the centrality of the gospel in authentic Christian ministry. This conference will be held at West Highland Baptist Church, 1605 Garth Street, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Click here for more details or to register.

In case you missed it

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

A review of Adrian Warnock’s excellent book Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything

Jude: Contending Against False Teachers

BB. Warfield: The Exultant Joy of Being a Miserable Sinner

D.A. Carson on the Drifting of Evangelicalism

Around the Interweb (03/07)

Blaspheme Your Idols

Jared Wilson shares an excerpt from his next book, currently in progress:

A bride joined to her groom forsakes all others. She writes the spiritual equivalent of Dear John letters to her idols. When God’s love captivates you, you go around spurning all your other lovers. I call this “blaspheming” your idols.

Blaspheme them. Tell them they have no appeal to you any more. Tell them you don’t need their damage, their pain, their anti-glories. Tell them you have no desires to use and abuse them any more. Tell them your heart, mind, soul, and strength belong wholly to God now. And then don’t speak as a lover to them ever again. Sinful relationships must end.

Read the whole thing. It’s well worth it.

In other news

TWO free audiobooks this month at ChristianAudio.comThe Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (code: MAR2010) and Fifty Reasons why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper (code: MAR2010B). Enjoy!

The New Possibilities in Book Publishing and the Implications of New Media

Would you “Friend” the Apostle Paul?

2010 Band of Bloggers: Internet Idolatry & Gospel Fidelity

Timmy Brister has announced the details of the 4th Band of Bloggers fellowship that will take place in conjunction with the 2010 Together for the Gospel Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

The theme for this year’s meeting is “Internet Idolatry and Gospel Fidelity.” With the advent of new media and the increasing influence of technology on our lives, it is important to address the relationship of the gospel to technology, especially the areas where we are tempted with idolatrous desire (power, identity, influence, acceptance, control, etc.).  While the internet, with all of its platforms (such as blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) can be a powerful tool to leverage our lives for the gospel impact, we want to examine our hearts to bring to light the various ways in which the idol factory of our hearts challenges and subverts the very gospel which we long to embrace.

Go to the Band of Bloggers website for more info and to register.

In Case You Missed It

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

A review of Tass Saada’s Once an Arafat Man

Jude: Contending for our Common Salvation

How to Build a God

Spurgeon on the fruit of humility

B.B. Warfield reminds us that we can’t move beyond the gospel

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.