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.

 

The Internet needs a cookie

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There’s blood in the water and the sharks are circling.

At least, that’s what it looks like based on the craziness in the Christian side of the Twitter- and blogospheres:

  • People are continuing to wrestle, with varying degrees of helpfulness (very little, for the most part) with the Nathan Morales trial and the question of who knew what when. People continue to (again with varying degrees of helpfulness) press for statements from TGC’s leadership.
  • Tullian Tchividjian officially left TGC, something he’d planned to do (but evidently several months earlier than he’d originally intended), leading some to get their rage on even more.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, Rachel Held Evans, in a ham-fisted effort to illustrate God being beyond gender (since He’s neither male nor female) wrote a post referring to God as “She,” and was declared a heretic for her trouble. She’s since been asking everyone on the Internet if they think she is one.

There’s a lot right and wrong with everything that’s happening at the moment. Those who are legitimately angry about a horrific crime not being reported to police are right to be angry. The crime itself should never happen, ever, nor should any concerned parent feel like silence is acceptable.

But is it right to start spiralling and getting all conspiracy theory-y? Honestly, I’m not sure.

Because I’m friendly with a lot of TGC folks, I’m inclined to think the best of them. That’s what we all do with people we like, though (which is sometimes what gets some of these things happening). But, of course, thinking the best of someone doesn’t mean they’re exempt from criticism, as we all also know…

Tchividjian, likewise, is a guy who has taken a lot of heat—and been called a lot of nasty names—because of his views on sanctification. Again, he’s a guy I’m on good terms with, and I tend to agree with a lot of where he’s coming from (even if I’d nuance some of it differently). But does that mean he’s the right horse to bet on in the sanctification debate? Probably no more than Mark Jones is (I’m one of the few who didn’t find his book Antinomianism terribly compelling or helpful).

And then there’s Evans. Is it fair to call her a heretic for her attempt to say God is beyond gender? I don’t know; at a minimum, I’d think it’s more accurate to say she’s a sloppy lay theologian who lets her desire to win the Internets get the better of her and cries foul whenever her bluff is called. (Full disclosure: this opinion is based on her public persona as I have no personal relationship or connection with her.)

When a perfect storm of crazy comes together like it did this week, it’s easy for people to get their rage on. But we should also remember something really important: We don’t do anger well. Paul (and the Psalmist) encourage us to “be angry and do not sin” (Eph. 4:26; Psalm 4:4). James warns that our tongues are “a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell” (James 3:6). 

We should take this seriously. If even our righteous anger yields unrighteous results, particularly because of our hasty, harsh, mean-spirited words, it means we’ve got a problem. We should all be very cautious about how we use our words—especially when we’re angry! We say things we’ll regret. We say things we mean in the wrong way. And worst, we don’t take our words and redirect them to the Lord.

We don’t pray. We don’t ask for God’s wisdom. We don’t ask for God to reveal to us the state of our hearts.

That’s the danger we’re all in in this latest hullabaloo—and it’s the thing we, individually, need to protect ourselves against the most.

And sometimes the best way to do that is to just chill out, have a cookie and ask God for wisdom. You might feel better if you do.


photo credit: Bob.Fornal via photopin cc

Around the Interweb

CrossReference

Dr. David Murray is releasing a new DVD teaching series looking at Christ in the Old Testament, not only the predictions and typologies, but also His appearances as the Angel of the Lord. Dr. Murray explains in this trailer for the series:

HT: Challies

The Winners of the Counterfeit Gospels Giveaway

Over 80 people entered to win a copy of Trevin Wax’s new book, Counterfeit Gospels—and the following three people will be receiving a copy courtesy of Moody Publishers:

  1. Liam Moran
  2. Anthony Forrest
  3. James Chandler

Thanks to all who entered. I wish I had had more copies to give away, but I’d highly encourage you all to order a copy today.

Also Worth Reading

Prayer Request from Tullian: Pastor Tullian Tchividjian is almost finished his next book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything (Crossway 2011) and he could use your prayers.

Free Audio: This month’s free download at ChristianAudio.com is The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

Bible: “If . . Then” in 1 John

Conference Messages: The 2011 Ligonier National Conference messages are now online.

The Elephant Room: Chris Vacher live blogged this past Thursday’s big event featuring Pastors Mark Driscoll, Matt Chandler, Perry Noble, James MacDonald, David Platt and Steven Furtick. James MacDonald also posted a number of his own reflections. Video from the event will be released over the next few weeks.

In Case You Missed It:

A review of Counterfeit Gospels and an interview with its author, Trevin Wax.

The Call Is Not To Be Taken Lightly

My Memory Moleskine: Think On These Things

A Legion of Andrews

Speaking Mysteriously of Mysteries

Book Review: Surprised by Grace by Tullian Tchividjian


Title: Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels
Author: Tullian Tchividjian
Publisher: Crossway (2010)

The book of Jonah is one of the most captivating in the Old Testament. The rebellious prophet has inspired more art than nearly any other Old Testament figure, and his story has been told and retold repeatedly in the centuries since the events first occurred.

But Jonah is not only a tale of a prophet on the run—it’s one of the clearest depictions of the gospel in the Old Testament. And in Surprised by Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels, Tullian Tchividjian takes readers on a journey through the biblical account to help us discover the gospel according to Jonah.

Rebels on the Run

Tchividjian is very thorough in his approach to the book. He takes his time giving us the background of the prophet Jonah, who is only mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament in 2 Kings 14:25:

He [King Jeroboam II] restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher.

Jonah was kind of a big deal (as far as prophets go). He was the prophet of God whose preaching instructed Jeroboam how to restore the borders of Israel. So when God instructs him to preach judgment in Nineveh, the leading city in Assyria, what would we expect him to do?

The assignment probably takes his breath away. Jonah may already be a homeland hero due to his prophetic success toward building Israel’s defenses, but if that means anything at all in proud, idolatrous Nineveh, it can only be a strike against him. (p. 29)

Instead of obeying, he ran to Tarshish, hoping to evade God’s command. Of this, Tchividjian writes, [Read more…]

Around the Interweb (05/30)

Does a Sermon Really Change Anybody?

Zach Eswine wrote a short post on the effectiveness and importance of preaching. I felt very ministered to reading it:

Sometimes we may feel there is no point in preaching because we do not see the kinds of changes in our hearers or ourselves that we had hoped for. . . .

All is not lost when the after-sermon desert offers no water.This moment may have been meant to prepare some for what they have yet to face. It may be meant to call out to others months from  now when they are more heedless or needy than they are today.

It may serve as one more evidence of the hardness of one’s heart. It may serve as one more piece in a puzzle God is putting together for another–the picture will not complete for some time, but completeness will not happen without the corner-piece offered by the sermon today. Those who are changed seemingly in a moment by your sermon today have had multiple moments of God’s working prior. Take heart. There is seed there though it lay beneath the ground. Step out into the barren field dear friend, and pray for His rain to fall.

Read the whole thing

HT: Justin Taylor

In Other News

Prayer Request: I’m preaching today at Poplar Hill Christian Church in Poplar Hill, Ontario. We’re studying Matthew 7:24-27. Please pray that God would bless this time. Thanks!

Interview: Justin Taylor interviews Tullian Tchvidjian on the Gospel and Law

Food: The Most Harmful Drinks in America

Conferences: Desiring God has released the trailer for the Desiring God 2010 National Conference. Here’s a look:

In Case You Missed It

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

A review of Ted Kluck’s latest, Hello, I Love You: Adventures in Adoptive Fatherhood

Selling Ointment and Stealing Moneybags (why, perhaps, we’re not actually called to end poverty)

A word about my anniversary

Who influences you?

John Calvin: Without the Gospel Everything is Useless and Vain

Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God. But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.

It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, he was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; he was made a curse for our blessing, sin offering for our righteousness; marred that we may be made fair; he died for our life; so that by him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal. In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune.

For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit. If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation [life] is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things. And we are comforted in tribulation, joyful in sorrow, glorying under vituperation [verbal abuse], abounding in poverty, warmed in our nakedness, patient amongst evils, living in death.

John Calvin, from his preface to Pierre Robert Olivétan’s French translation of the New Testament in 1534

HT: Tullian Tchividjian

Around the Interweb (03/21)

Christianity Changing China  

Read this very brief article in the China Daily (China’s official English language newspaper). It’s the testimony of a university student who converted to Christianity.  

Now if you’ve been following China for any length of time you might be picking your jaw up off the floor. Get this: 

  • The official and highly controlled newspaper of the Communist government is featuring a story of a religious conversion of an exceptionally bright university student who found meaninglessness in existence apart from God.
  • He was given a Bible by a colleague, and the reader is not led to believe this is a bad thing.
  • He converted to Christ after reading it and now is experiencing fulfillment.
  • And he’s now happily attending an unregistered church (i.e house church).

Whoa. 

We know the church is unregistered because yesterday the China Daily ran an article on house churches that are thriving in Beijing and featured that church. In fact, this particular unregistered church has actually been allowed to purchase property for a church building.  

This doesn’t discount the fact that persecution still occurs in China. But we need to let this news soak in. This little article is huge. God is doing something incredible in that great nation 

 Keep praying. 

HT: Desiring God (via Z)  


In Other News  

Tullian Tchividjian: Counterfeit Gospels  

The latest on Matt Chandler’s health & cancer treatment. Overall pretty encouraging. Keep praying.  

The latest on Michael Spencer’s health. The prognosis is grim. Pray hard.  


  

Want a free copy of Start Here by Alex & Brett Harris?   

Here’s how:   

  1. Subscribe via email or feedburner (comment and let me know)
  2. Send a message on Twitter
  3. Comment or email and say you want in

You can enter multiple times. All names will be entered into a spreadsheet and the winner will be chosen at random via Random.org. Contest closes Friday March 26, 2010. The winner will be announced after confirming their mailing address. Best of luck and thanks to all who enter!  

Read a review of the book.  


In Case You Missed It  

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

Jude: Contending to Keep Us From Stumbling  

A review of Brian Tome’s latest, Free Book  

P.T. Forsyth on the orator and the preacher  

Introducing our new daughter, Hannah Grace

B.B. Warfield: Christian, You Can't Move "Beyond" the Gospel

The great theologian B. B. Warfield on why the gospel is needed for believers:

There is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God.We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all.

This is not true of us only when we believe. It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be trust as long as we live.

Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in behavior may be.

It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest.

HT: Tullian Tchividjian

Sunday Shorts (11/01)

Don’t Waste Your Life: New Desktop Backgrounds

Desiring God has just released a slew of new desktop backgrounds over at Don’tWasteYourLife.com. Here’s a couple:

dwyl2-jesus-saves
Treasuring Christ Above All Things


Tim Challies: Sexual Detox

Last week, Tim Challies ran a thought-provoking and challenging series directed toward young men about sex and, in particular sexual detoxification. I’d highly recommend this series to any man (and woman for that matter) who struggles with, or has struggled with, issues of lust and pornography. It’s well worth your time.

Part 1: Pornifying the Marriage-Bed
Part 2: Breaking Free
Part 3: A Theology of Sex
Part 4: Detoxification
Part 5: Freedom
Recommended Resources


Tullian Tchividjian: How to Identify a Reliable Preacher

Tullian Tchvidjian shows us how we can identify a reliable preacher with five questions based on the five solas of the Reformation:

Question 5 (Sola Deo Gloria): Does the preacher exalt God above all? A reliable explainer will always lead you to marvel at God. A true carrier of God’s truth will always lead you to encounter the glory of God. A God-centered teacher is just that: God-centered. He will preach and teach in such a way that you find yourself hungering and thirsting for God. You will listen to sermon after sermon and walk away with grand impressions of Divine personality, not grand impressions of human personality.

HT: Trevin Wax

Ligonier Ministries’ Relaunching Ligonier.org

Ligonier Ministries has been hard at work revamping their online presence and the new site looks pretty snazzy. Very reminiscent of The Gospel Coalition and a few others.

Check it out for yourself.


In Case You Missed It

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

Where the Wild Things Are, working through my unsettled feelings toward the new movie

Called to Worship, reviewing Vernon Whaley’s book on developing a biblical foundation for worship

A Decisive Act: The 95 Theses, presenting the work that ultimately led to the Protestant Reformation

A Fallacious View of Providence, J.I. Packer on the root issue of two common objections to the Evangelical view of the inspiration of Scripture

Sunday Shorts (06/21)

Mostly Dead vs. All Dead

What’s Andy Naselli’s favorite illustration of the Arminian view of human depravity (and it’s integral relationship to the concept of prevenient grace)?

The Princess Bride, of course!

Andy cites this as the crucial part of the exchange:

“Well it just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead. There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. . . . Now mostly dead is slightly alive. All dead—well, with all dead, there’s only usually one thing that you can do.”

“What’s that?”

“Go through his clothes and look for loose change.”

If you’re not reading Andy’s blog, you really should.

Leadership Book Interview: Unfashionable

Ed Stetzer interviews Tullian Tchvidjian about his book, Unfashionable. Here’s the intro:

Tullian Tchividjian’s new book, Unfashionable boldly addresses the issue of what it means to be the church in the world, while refusing to be of it. This is a theologically driven book that calls the church to “contextualize without compromise.” Tullian’s is a voice of reasoned, biblical sanity when many who are having this discussion are talking past one another with unhelpful and exaggerated rhetoric. I spoke with Tullian recently and asked him to talk to us about this new book.

Read the whole interview at Ed Stetzer’s blog.

He Stinketh: Thoughts on Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis

Nick Carter posted a short, but enjoyable review of Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis:

…would I recommend this book to others? To be honest, probably not. So, is Nick just jumping on the bandwagon with all the other staunch traditionalists and defenders of orthodox doctrine? I hope not, but I have to ask… what’s so wrong with orthodoxy? If you’ve read with interest Velvet Elvis and came away with a sentiment of disgust for the “old” way of the reformers and for the guard dogs of doctrine in conservative academia today–then you’ve proven my point. That being the likely reaction of readers is precisely why I would not recommend this book.

Read the rest at TrueVictories.com

In case you missed it

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

The Persevering Prophet: Fruit What makes a ministry fruitful?

Book Review: Just Do Something Reviewing Kevin DeYoung’s latest book on discerning God’s will and decision-making

Made in the Image of God: Holiness How humanity images God in the pursuit of holiness

Music Review: Rain City Hymnal Reviewing Re:Sound’s first full-length release, Rain City Hymnal