Fantastic Four

The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife?  Albert Mohler weighs in on the recent news release about a fragment of papyrus mentioning Jesus’ wife.  Mohler argues here that scholarship has been traded for sensationalism.

Preaching for the “Home Run.”  Michael McKinley answers a popular question with what may be some unpopular answers.

There may be legitimate reasons why you aren’t feeling encouraged about the course of your preaching. It could be the result of insufficient work in the text, sloppiness in crafting a message, or failure to prepare yourself spiritually. I’m not saying that is definitely the case, but it is possible. Try to get input from godly people in your church about your preaching in order to make sure that you’re not missing something.

Can Mega Be Missional? Ed Stetzer encourages us all to consider that mega churches can continue to have a place in the future of the church and that they can be missional communities making an impact in their culture.

Ten Myths about Premarital Sex.  Sean McDowell is a good guy to follow for apologetics and worldview.  In this case, however, Sean has distilled 10 myths about premarital sex from a new book.  Of the book, Sean writes “I recently picked up a copy of Premarital Sex in America by Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker and was pleasantly surprised at some of the insights.

Fantastic Four

Faded Bit of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife.  Trust me, TLC is going to have a field day with this; I can already envision the two hour special. “The notion that Jesus had a wife was the central conceit of the best seller and movie “The Da Vinci Code.” But Dr. King said she wants nothing to do with the code or its author: “At least, don’t say this proves Dan Brown was right.”

A Coach, His Quarterback, and Painkillers.  This article examines some of the dirty underside of college football; a culture that celebrates toughness and winning at all costs.  It also highlights the levelheadedness of Missouri QB James Franklin and his family.

“Guys are medicating themselves and running into 300-pound people, and now your body is numb to it, and then after your career is over it comes back at you and you can’t even spend time with your families because your body’s breaking down,” said Willie Franklin. “So one of the things we want to do in our family is look after ourselves, stay healthy. It’s self-preservation. There is life after sports. One day you want to have a family and enjoy your kids so you look after yourself. You take care of yourself. So any decision he makes, I support him 100 percent.”

The Christian Celebrity Phenomenon. Tim Challies has some interesting critique here.

Christian celebrity comes when we assume that the songwriter must be a noteworthy teacher, that the YouTube phenom is worthy of our pulpit, and that the guy who sells so many books must be able to craft a sermon on any topic or any text. Merit in one isolated field convinces us that this person has earned the right to every other platform. When we do this we have elevated not … Continue reading

Yes, God Cares How You Vote

As a general rule, I try to stay out of politics.  As a pastor, I have never felt that I should use my position to advocate for one politician or party over another.  However, I do have a responsibility to advocate for Christian ethics and morality.  I have a responsibility to stand for the victimized and the weak.  I have a responsibility to speak God’s word and to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.

When politics cross the line into ethics, morality, and religion, I am not only allowed to speak to these issues, I am compelled to speak to these issues.  Edmund Burke is credited as saying, “when good men do nothing, evil prevails.”  As such, the evil attacks against the morality and ethics of our country are prevailing because far too many good men and women have remained silent, sidelined by the attacks of liberals and fearful that their biblical positions on abortion and marriage will be vilified.

In his most recent blog, Albert Mohler writes that the 2012 election is America’s Great Worldview Test.  More than politics are at stake when the Democratic Party Platform stands for the legalization and normalization of same-sex marriage and for unrestricted abortion.   Mohler speaks of the abortion issue this way,

On the issue of abortion, the Republican platform states, “we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.” The Democratic platform states: “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that … Continue reading

Monday Musings

In, Miracles, C.S. Lewis rejects the notion that scientific progress and discovery has nullified the belief in miracles.

The idea that progress of science has somehow altered this question is closely bound up with the idea that people ‘in olden times’ believe in them [miracles] ‘because they didn’t know they laws of nature.’  Thus, you will hear people say, ‘The early Christians believed that Christ was the son of a virgin, but we know that this is scientifically impossible.’

All records of miracles teach the same thing.  In such stories the miracles excite fear and wonder (that is what the very word miracle implies) among the spectators, and are taken as evidence of supernatural power.  If they were not known to be contrary to the laws of nature how could they suggest the presence of the supernatural?  how could they be surprising unless they were seen to be exceptions to the rules?  And how can anything be seen to be an exception till the rules are known?  If there ever were men who did not know the laws of nature at all, they would have no idea of a miracle and feel no particular interest in on if it were performed before them.  Nothing can seem extraordinary until you have discovered what is ordinary.  Belief in miracles, far from depending on an ignorance of the laws of nature, is only possible in so far as those laws are known.

Book Review: Turning to God

The nature and question of true conversion is a hot topic in the church today. At the Southern Baptist Convention this year, David Platt found himself in a bit of hot water by questioning the validity of the “sinner’s prayer.”  The debate there hinges on the exact usefulness of a canned prayer to bring about salvation.  No one questions whether or not prayer is important in conversion, but whether or not it is sufficient.  Does a prayer offered by a 16 year old who attends church for 6 months and never returns really constitute salvation?  If so, then what do we do with the Biblical teaching on repentance?  If not, then why do we continue to lift up the sinner’s prayer as the end-all-be-all of evangelism?  Much of this is reminiscent of the Lordship Controversy of the late eighties and nineties which brought evangelical leaders out on both sides.

In Turning to God, David Wells seems content to stay above the fray and out of the argument.  Though this book was originally published in 1989, most of the primary voices in the Lordship debate are left out of Wells’ bibliography.  Rather than engage the arguments, Wells seems content to engage the text of Scripture.  His purpose in writing this book is to place the emphases for conversion in the places where the NT writers place the emphasis,

The New Testament writers view conversion dynamically–as something one does–and they interpret it theologically with words such as faith, repentance, grace, forgiveness, and regeneration.

Far from arguing that conversion is solely an act of the will, however, Wells presents conversion as an act of God upon sinners  that brings about a response.  Nevertheless, his emphasis in this book … Continue reading

Fantastic Four

An Open Letter to Young, “Post-Partisan” Evangelicals.  David French argues that “post-partisan” is a pipe dream for evangelicals.

One political party is completely dedicated to legal protection of abortion on demand.  The other political party is completely dedicated to repealing Roe v. Wade.  If you talk too much about abortion, others will define you, and if you’re defined how can you be independent?

Tim Challies on Competitive Mothering (Also, see Christine Hoover on The End of Mommy Wars, both articles are must-reads for moms.)

One of the greatest, most common, and most bloodthirsty contemporary competitions is motherhood. Yes, motherhood. It may be that motherhood has always been competitive, but the Internet in general, and social media in particular, have widened the field. You are no longer competing against only neighbors and sisters-in-law and fellow church members, but the professional moms, the ones who are reinventing motherhood.

Al Mohler on why Christians are so concerned with homosexuality.  The answer? Because it is one of our culture’s most pressing issues today.

Why are Christians so concerned with homosexuality? In the first place, that question is answered by the simple fact that it is the most pressing moral question of our times. Christians must be concerned about adultery, pornography, injustice, dishonesty and everything the Bible names as sin. But when my phone rings with a call from a reporter these days, the question I am asked is never adultery or pornography. It is about homosexuality.

Stand To Reason asks atheists to consider the problem of the good.

The atheist must also solve the problem of good.  How can anything ultimately be evil or good in a universe bereft of any standard to make sense of the terms?



Believing: The Path To All Knowledge

In a recent article for First Things, Christian Smith writes about the natural, but not necessary tendency toward religion for mankind.  The article is well worth your time and in it, Smith argues that religion is natural to humanity, not because religious practices are universal, but because religious practice exists in every arena where the tendency toward religion is fostered.  In other words, all cultures have the ability to be religious, but some simply do not cultivate that tendency.

Though Smith’s premise is well argued, I was particularly struck by his assertion that belief is a universal human condition,

The first of these natural human tendencies toward religion springs from our universal human condition in relation to what we affirm as true. As I have argued in my book Moral, Believing Animals, all human beings are believers, not knowers who know with certitude. Everything we know is grounded on presupposed beliefs that cannot be verified with more fundamental proof or certainty that provides us assurance that they are true. That is just as true for atheists as for religious adherents. The quest for foundationalist certainty, with which we are all familiar, is a distinctly modern project, one launched as a response to the instabilities and uncertainties of early-modern Europe. But that modern project has failed. There is no universal, rational foundation upon which indubitably certain knowledge can be built. All human knowing is built on believing. That is the human condition.

That means that religious commitment is not fundamentally different from any human belief commitment. It involves the same innate human need to believe more than one can “prove.” Otherwise we would live in a cognitive desert, unable to furnish our minds with enough perceptions and ideas to begin thinking. Religious believing thus shares the larger epistemic situation … Continue reading

Monday Musings

The Christ who will not worship Satan to gain the world’s kingdoms is followed by Christians who will worship only Christ in unity with the Lord whom he serves.  And this is intolerable to all defenders of society whoa re content that many gods should be worshipped if only Democracy or America, or German, or the Empire receives its due, religious homage.  The antagonism of modern, tolerant culture to Christ is of course often disguised because it does not call its religious practices religious, reserving that term for certain specified rites connected with officially recognized sacred institutions; and also because it regards what it calls religion as one of many interests which can be placed alongside economics, art, science, politics, and techniques.  Hence the objection it voices to Christian monotheism appears in such injunctions only as that religion should be kept out of politics and business, or that christian faith must learn to get along with other religions.  What is often meant is that not only the claims of religious groups but all consideration of the claims of Christ and God should be banished from the spheres where other gods, called values, reign.  The implied charge against Christian faith is like the ancient one: it imperils society by its attack on its religious life; it deprives social institution of their cultic, sacred character; by its refusal to condone the pious superstitions of tolerant polytheism it threatens social unity.

–H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture

Loving Within The Church

Would Jesus visit with our churches and discover that our definition of healthy fits his definition of healthy?  We love, but do we love as God loves?  Jonathan Leeman says, “We assume not that God is love but that love is God.”  The church of Christ is a community where her members love each other sacrificially, extending warm hugs and smiles, ministering to one anther in times of need, and when necessary, correcting and rebuking one another if and when we stray.  The church should be characterized by God’s love, not love as the world defines it.  Love according to many would never correct or rebuke, yet the Bible says that even a father disciplines the child he loves.  Does God see us loving each other that much?  Do we love enough to say the hard things?  Proverbs 27:5-6 says, “Better is open rebuke and hidden love.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”

Godly love demands sacrifice, sacrifices of comfort and shallow relationships.  Godly love goes well beyond eating dinner together on occasion, godly love may very well mean getting your hands dirty sometimes to help a brother in a difficult time or correct an errant sister.  Godly love holds no record of wrong (1 Corinthians 13), but it does correct wrong when it can.  Of course, godly love also demands that we accept rebuke when it is delivered in a godly and edifying way.  There is much more to be learned about the Church of Christ, but I believe that the loving one another is a great place to start.  After all, it was the command of Jesus in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that … Continue reading

Fantastic 4

Ed Stetzer has written a great article on The Baptist Boogeyman

I’ve always been fascinated by the Baptist bogeyman.  Bogeymen are not real dangers, but ones we use to scare one another, often distracting us from real danger. There are real challenges in our churches and the convention—theological and otherwise—but bogeymen distract us from the real issues.

A first-century manuscript and it’s value for apologetics and the church.

How do these manuscripts change what we believe the original New Testament to say? We will have to wait until they are published next year, but for now we can most likely say this: As with all the previously published New Testament papyri (127 of them, published in the last 116 years), not a single new reading has commended itself as authentic. Instead, the papyri function to confirm what New Testament scholars have already thought was the original wording or, in some cases, to confirm an alternate reading

I would commend to you Tim Challies’ series on Visual Theology.  Here is his graphic on the attributes of God.

A couple of weeks ago I released the first infographic in a series I am titling “Visual Theology.” What I appreciate about infographics is their ability to display information visually. Just as there are many words that can be used to describe any one fact, there are also many ways to display facts.

Matt Papa is writing some entries in his blog (Part 1 and Part 2: The Golden Calf of Christian Radio) about contemporary Christian music and mainstream Christian radio stations.  Some of this would be funny if it weren’t so heart-breakingly (I think I just created that word) true.

Becky isn’t one person of course…she is the prototype target audience created by the christian music industry for christian … Continue reading