Sunday Shorts (08/23)

A Quiet Circumvention of Morality

Dr. Albert Mohler writes about women being involved in combat situations in the US Military:

From a Christian perspective, the concern about women in combat goes far beyond the pollsters’ questions. If we truly believe that God created men and women for different but complementary roles and shows his glory in the faithfulness of men as primary protectors and women as primary nurturers, the entry of women into combat roles is an open rejection of God’s purpose. As military historians document, every society throughout history has normalized the military service of men. Though women have known combat in isolated cases throughout history, the fact that such cases are rare is the exception that proves the rule. This wisdom is part of general revelation and thus the moral wisdom shared by virtually all cultures.

Read the rest at Dr. Mohler’s blog.

HT: Challies

Free Total Church Study Guide

total-church

An A29 church has created a free study guide to go along with the Re:Lit book Total Church, by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. The well-designed 32-page study guide is available for free PDF download here. We’ve talked with Steve Timmis, and he’s excited about this free resource.

The study guide was designed by Veritas Community Church in Columbus, Ohio.

Out of the Archives: Young, Restless, Reformed

Young-Restless-ReformedIn 2004, Collin Hansen came on staff as an editor of Christianity Today, and the emerging/emergent church, with its tweaking and questioning of theology in light of a postmodern outlook, was all the rage (as it continues to be in some circles today). Many on staff thought that Hansen should know more about it than anyone given his age. However, he found that, within his circles, there was a disposition towards traditional Reformed theology, and he began to ask the question: Is it just us, or is this the beginning of something bigger? This question led him on a two year journey across America, and the results form Young, Restless, Reformed, first published as an article in Christianity Today, and expanded into this book in 2008.

Travelling across the United States, Hansen visited several “hot spots” of emerging Reformed theology including: The Passion Conference, Atlanta, Georgia; Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky; Covenant Life Church, Gaithersburg, Maryland; New Attitude Conference, Louisville, Kentucky; and Mars Hill Church, Seattle, Washington. While certainly not covering all of places he could, Hansen does a great job of creating a solid cross-section of this movement.

Read the rest of this review.

In case you missed it

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

Book Review: Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl Reviewing N.D. Wilson’s delightfully and downright peculiar book on the wonder of God’s creation

A Bible with All the Words: How I Learned to Love the ESV Reflecting on my journey to my Bible translation of choice, the ESV

The Love of God: Audio from St. Paul’s United My sermon from St. Paul’s United in Aylmer, Ontario, August 15th, 2009

Brand-olatary Examining the connection between what we buy and what we worship

Book Review: Total Church

For a kid who didn’t grow up in the church, I’m certainly becoming extremely passionate about it. I love learning about what makes the church the church and how Christians can improve how we “do church” in order to better reflect the character of Jesus.

My daughter (via my lovely wife) gave me this book for Christmas and I was pleasantly surprised. I’d been reading a  similar work earlier in the year that made me want to slap myself in the face for reading such a stupid book (that’s the nicest critique I can give).

Total Church combines a deep love for Scripture and the Gospel, with a strong desire to see people come to know and love Jesus in intimate community. It’s truly a rare thing when you see people advocating for both strong, biblical teaching alongside building relationship, but Steve Timmis and Tim Chester do exactly that.

The premise is that a biblical church must be gospel-centered (meaning, both word-centered and mission-centered) and community-centered. “Christianity is word-centered because God rules through his gospel word,” say the authors. “Christianity is mission-centered because God extends his rule through his gospel word.” The gospel is good news — it is a message, as succinct as “Jesus is Lord,” but as comprehensive as the entirety of Scripture, which all centers around the atoning death and resurrection of Jesus. Because the gospel is good news—our sins can be forgiven thanks to the finished work of Jesus—it is a message that must be proclaimed. “You cannot be committed to the gospel without being committed to proclaiming the gospel” (pg 32, emphasis added).

This is exceedingly refreshing in a time when many (specifically well-known) churches rarely proclaim the gospel—if ever.

Further, because our identities are not formed in a void, but within community, we must also understand that our identity as Christians is found in Christ’s new community. This is, in essence, what it means to be a “total church.” You love the word of God, you proclaim it, and you discover your new identity in community with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

The second half of Total Church (chapters 3 on) deal with the practical implications of this philosophy. I won’t cover all of them, but just a few of the stand-out items:

Evangelism takes on a three-strand approach, wherein we build relationships, share the gospel, and introduce people into community simultaneously. In some ways, this is similar to the Alpha approach, but less programmatic. It allows evangelism to happen naturally through relationship. “It’s ordinary people, doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality…The ordinary needs to be saturated with a commitment to living and proclaiming the gospel,” say the authors. It’s about de-compartmentalizing our lives and being “authentic” (to use an oft-coined buzzword).

Social involvement is not simply social action. It is a cohesive blend of action and evangelism. If our social actions don’t point to the gospel, they “are like a signpost pointing nowhere” (p 78).

Church-planting is where mission and community intersect: A biblical church is one that replicates, planting new churches.

Total Church, as great a book as it is, is not without it’s problems. First, it wrongly argues that the apostolic church only met in homes, whereas Scripture says that the early church met both in homes and gathered together for corporate worship. Acts 2, for example, shows that the 128 believers gathered together to worship Jesus. The Spirit fell, Peter preached and three thousand were added to their number. Secondly, it supports the view that sermon as monologue rose after Constantine’s “conversion” and it was no longer possible to teach in a dialogue setting due to sheer numbers. This ignores the more likely origin of the sermon as monologue: the Jewish synagogue & religion. Thirdly, the authors’ view is that the disciplines of “contemplation, silence and solitude” are not biblical, whereas Jesus on numerous occasions went to be alone with the Father (Luke 6:12, 9:18, 22:41 are but three examples). Spirituality within community is extremely important, but we cannot overlook the importance of private spirituality as well.

Steve Timmis and Tim Chester have done an excellent job presenting a comprehensive and compelling vision of a biblical church in Total Church. If you’ve ever asked the question, “What if there were a different kind of church?” you will find this book an encouraging and challenging read.