What I Read Online – 02/13/2013 (a.m.)

    • I also realised that actually, we should explain Bible terms and concepts to anyone we talk to about Jesus, instead of assuming terms. For example, explaining the term Son of God — with its adoptive and inheritance-filled meaning of sonship — would be crucial for Muslims who confuse it with a biological meaning. Similarly, explaining the term gospel is really important for those who confuse it with a musical genre, or have different connotations to it.
    • The Shorter Catechism In Modern English: A Baptist Version (.pdf)
    • Lecrae’s conversion story (PBS)
    • If your baptism occurred as an infant, I think the answer is clear: you should be baptized again. Your infant baptism was more a symbol of your parents’ faith (and thank God for their faith!) than yours.
    • But what if you were baptized after an initial conversion experience but now suspect that your actual “regeneration” occurred later? Should you get re-baptized? There’s no hard and fast answer, but here’s what I’d suggest: if you know clearly that you were not saved at the point when you were baptized (i.e., you were pressured into baptism by your parents or friends, had no real grasp on salvation, had some ulterior motive, etc.), then be baptized again.
    • Baptism is not like the number sequence on a combination lock that if you get out of order will not open. So don’t obsess about making sure it happened after your regeneration. If you were baptized after making a sincere, conscious confession of faith, accept that and move on, even if you sometimes suspect that your regeneration may have happened later. As Christians we continually have new experiences of grace that make us feel like everything we have experienced up to that point was only dimness.
    • If you are walking with Jesus now, see your initial confession of Jesus as Lord as the first evidence that God had planted the seed of life in you, even if what you understood then is hardly comparable to what you see now. The validity of our faith is revealed not by the intensity of our first reaction to it, but by our perseverance in it. So, if you are walking with Jesus today, the first sprouts of faith that led to your baptism were likely real ones. Let your first baptism stand.
    • I don’t know what church circles you travel in, but this cellular brouhaha mimicked the chatter I have heard for years concerning Keller. Many church leaders treat him as the bee’s knees, a Protestant with ex cathedra potentiality. Others grimace and wince. To be clear, the wincers wince as you would with a teammate and not someone playing for the other side. But it is our disagreements with the ones closest to us that most quickly boil the pot and rattle the lid.

       

    • At its best, then, missional thinking is about helping the saints share the good news and love their neighbors; at worst it is the insecure immigrant kid who wants to be mainstream. Keller, as I say, is its best. Yet in all its varieties, missional thinking treats the church’s greatest challenge as knowing how to establish an interface with the world in order to reach the world. The book does not say this, but I believe that this is the primary problem that Center Church’s paradigmatic church is trying to solve: how can we reach the world? That is the revivalist in Keller (a label he seems to own), and, as I will suggest in a moment, many of the answers he gives to this question are good.
    • Still, if I might presume to speak for a 9Marks perspective—if such a thing exists—I would say that we remain stubbornly convicted that “How can we reach the world?” is not the first question a church should ask. The greatest challenge for the people of God today is the greatest challenge that the people of God faced in the Garden, in the wilderness, in the land of Israel, in exile, in the early church, and in the last twenty centuries: how can we be faithful to our saving Lord and his Word?

       

    • Now, you will find nothing in Keller’s book that encourages pastors to compromise on faithfulness. But my concern is that his criteria for evaluating success tempt an individual in this way, even if Keller himself would not
    • First, you can emphasize contextualization too much, as indicated by treating it as the key to success
    • The key to a fruitful ministry is always the work of the Word and the Spirit.
    • So is contextualization biblical? Yes, and church leaders should no more overlook its importance than they should overlook the need to be polite when visiting someone’s home. But if you begin to tell me that being polite in someone else’s home is “the key” to friendship, and that it will have “life-changing power” in relationships, I will begin to wonder about your priorities and what you are missing.

       

    • Second, when you give biblical contextualization a weight that it was not meant to carry, you increase the risk of over-accommodating the culture—more than would be the case with less pragmatic foundations. And I believe that Keller may be at greater risk of this than he recognizes.

       

    • In other words, ministers can easily over-apply the lessons of Acts 17. It is one thing to start an evangelistic talk and linger in the “A” doctrines for just a few moments (Acts 17); it is another thing to treat Acts 17 as a first principle for all of ministry.

       

    • First, we should not be as enamored with the distances between cultures as the postmodern mindset demands. It has God-toppling purposes for exaggerating those distances. Don’t let the fancy French names of their favorite philosophers intimidate you. We all have one head and father in Adam, and all the jabber about cultural difference can subtly make us forget the deep unity we all share.
    • Second, the example of the incarnation is indeed used to encourage Christians to give to one another when in need (2 Cor. 8) and to put one another’s interests before their own (Phil. 2:1-11). But can anyone point me to a text that connects the incarnation and contextualization?
    • And the gospel does not divide so neatly between “A” and “B.” It is always both. It is always for the world and against the world. It is always a message of freedom and enslavement, salvation and judgment, no matter which biblical formulation of the gospel you chose
    • At the very least, I am tempted to think that growing spiritual blindness in a culture means that “contextualization,” insofar as it relies on affirming points of natural affinity, is less likely to “work” for ministry purposes than in times and places less given over to spiritual blindness.

       

    • If you are oblivious to your culture, you are probably a bad pastor, just as you are probably a bad husband if you don’t know what makes your own wife tick. We need a dash of Keller’s contextual seasoning in our ministerial stew
    • But I remain leery, probably more than Keller, about the temptation for many church leaders to confuse the seasoning for the stew. For every fundamentalistic church which Keller might say is too brazen with its “B”s, I feel like there are seven who have accommodated themselves too far toward the culture and become “safe places” where non-Christians are happy to go and therefore find little need to go.
    • Next door to astounding if not actually inside the house is Keller’s synthesis of the various schools of thought for relating the church and the world, from two kingdoms to neo-Anabaptist, to transformationalist, to relevant
    • Where it is especially helpful is in the practical guidance given for engaging with neighbors, for connecting people to the city (through mercy and justice), and for connecting people to the culture (through the integration of faith and work). I’m not sure I agree with everything he says in this third section, such as the need to “use highly skilled arts in worship”; and he lays more emphasis on planting new churches than on revitalizing old ones, which is a 9Marks passion. But the overall vision painted by Keller in this last section is a wonderful and well-rounded vision of a church in its community—what he calls a gospel ecosystem—that tries to “avoid the twin errors of trying to re-create a Christian society and withdrawing from society into the spiritual realm” (379).
    • I especially felt the sting of, “Driving so far across town for a church you like that your unchurched friends would never think of coming with you.” You will find the rest of Matt’s post equally discomforting, but necessary even for Reformation Christians who can be guilty of the same consumerist mindset that plagues our evangelical friends.

       

    • Kent Hughes:

       

       

      Gossip involves saying behind a person’s back what you would never say to his or her face.

       

      Flattery means saying to a person’s face what you would never say behind his or her back.

    • For those who knew the Olympic sprinter Eric Liddell personally, it was not his exceptional speed that was his most outstanding quality.   It was his exceptional Christian character
    • The first step is always a study committee

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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About Joe Fleener

Lover of Christ & His Gospel, Husband to Mandy, Father to three wonderful children, Servant to the Local Church, Bible College Lecturer
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