What I Read Online – 10/12/2011 (a.m.)

12 Oct
    • Part 1 – The role of Scripture in Tom’s conversion, sanctification, and seminary experience
    • Part 2 – The original languages, preaching, and biblical theology
    • Part 3 – Fuller Seminary, inerrancy, and evangelical doctrine today
    • Future generations may wonder how Bethlehem Baptist Church of all places could lose its missionary zeal. They may look back on a theological downgrade at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. If the Lord tarries, they might mock a ministry called The Gospel Coalition that lost the gospel. If it happened to Edwards, Luther, and Wesley, it can happen to us.


      We should take every precaution to guard our confessions and plead with the Holy Spirit to give our descendants the new birth. Even these efforts, however, guarantee nothing. The history of redemption is littered with the rise and fall of evangelical empires. Only God remains the same, and only God deserves our worship.

    • The truth, whether we admit it or not, is that grace scares us to death. It scares us primarily because it wrestles control and manageability out of our hands–introducing chaos and freedom. And so we find creative ways to qualify it. We speak and live with a “yes grace, but” tone. We’re afraid to simply let it be as drastically unsafe, unconditional, uncontrollable, unpredictable, and undomesticated as it truly is.
    • The Eurasian diving bell spider does something different, however. As you can see in the video, it brings the air underwater and stores it in a large bubble, which is usually called its “diving bell.”
    • How does it accomplish this feat? It spins a silken web underwater that holds the air. That way, the spider doesn’t have to return to the surface to breathe. It just has to return to its diving bell. As you can see in the video, once the spider has caught prey, it expands the bell and crawls inside so it can eat its prey in the comfort of an oxygen-rich environment.
    • Researchers from Australia and Germany recently reported that the spider’s diving bell is more like a “physical gill” than a scuba tank.2 This is because the silk that holds the air inside is woven so that the oxygen dissolved in the water can seep into the diving bell. That way, as the spider uses up the oxygen inside the diving bell, it is replaced with new oxygen from the water that surrounds the bell.
    • Exegetical Theology
    • Biblical Theology
    • Systematic Theology
    • Historical Theology
    • Philosophical Theology
    • I spoke just now of fiddling while Rome burns. But to a Christian the true tragedy of Nero must be not that he fiddled while the city was on fire but that he fiddled on the brink of hell.


      You must forgive me for the crude monosyllable. I know that many wiser and better Christians than I in these days do not like to mention heaven and hell even in the pulpit. I know, too, that nearly all the references to this subject in the New Testament come from a single source. But then that source is Our Lord himself. People will tell you it is St. Paul, but that is untrue. These overwhelming doctrines are dominical. They are not really removable from the teaching of Christ or of His Church.


      If we do not believe them, our presence in this church is great tomfoolery.


      If we do, we must overcome our spiritual prudery and mention them.



      —C. S. Lewis, “Learning in War-Time” (1939)

    • I’m less concerned with how individual Christians personally choose to interact with the film and more with the troubling trends of American evangelicalism it illustrates. Is Courageous really something to be whole-heartedly embraced? Art being reduced as a vehicle for sermonizing is problematic enough, but even more so is the type of sermon being preached. The emphasis on personal morality and simplistic transformation turn this film into a superficial lecture rather than a robust exploration of life as a Christian father. Our personal piety, our self-improvement, and our “courage” forms the fabric of the story. Christ and his gospel, along with church life and God’s established means of grace, are marginalized.
    • Courageous rejects nuance and the cross-bearing pilgrimage of the Christian life for artificially neat resolutions to the prayers of its one-dimensional characters. Sherwood continues to make films with God functioning primarily as a tool for our lives—whether he’s helping us win football games, repair our struggling marriages, or helping us find a job within seconds of a cry to the heavens. Brief, passing references to the gospel are only seen useful to convert a skeptic, who in a few tearful seconds somehow embraces the faith. Despite all the sermonizing dialogue—the story’s form and emphatic message has all of its focus on us and our accomplishments, not Christ and his work for us. In what could be page out of a John Elridge book, the “manly” vocation of police officer is used as the icon of fatherhood. Violent shootouts and car chase stunts ensure being a godly dad also looks as glorious as possible. Even the poster image calls to mind the slow-motion hero shot popularized by Michael Bay. As for the women, they are given little to do than look on approvingly.
    • I’m not aware of any recent book that attempts to do what Andrew Steinmann (professor of theology and Hebrew at Concordia University, Chicago) has done with his new book: From Abraham to Paul: A Biblical Chronology (Concordia Publishing House, 2011). In fact, Eugene Merrill says that “this meticulous and magnificent [work is an] addition to (indeed, replacement of) such magisterial works on biblical chronology as those by Edwin Thiele and Jack Finegan.”
    • fter you all are done reinventing everything, and have settled into your different way of “doing church,” your wife will inform you that your eldest child is going to be starting kindergarten in a couple years. “What are we going to do?” she asks sweetly.
    • Do? Well, grow up, it appears. One of the ways God uses fathers is by having them tell those coming after them what to expect. Allow me to talk like a father for a minute. Part of being men is expecting maturity which, in case you all haven’t noticed it, is coming at you like a freight train.
    • You don’t want to be more gospel-centered than Jesus
      • Credo-baptists misuse it by building a theology of baptism that says our baptism reflects events past which happened at conversion, namely that we have died with Christ and also have been raised with him. I confess to using it that way myself. But it’s not precisely what the text says, is it? The text says that the dying and being raised happened with baptism, not that baptism is somehow a picture of what happened in the past. 
      •   Paedo-baptists do not get off the hook either. This text is also used to make a link between the Old Covenant circumcision and New Covenant baptism. But that is also not what the text says. In fact, it makes no reference to Old Covenant circumcision at all. Rather it is referring to the circumcision of the heart (granted that is an OT phrase, see Deut 10.16) which is not a covenant sign but a conversion entry point.
    • The New Testament connects our coming to Christ (being converted and initiated into the new covenant community) to faith, to repentance, to the gift of the Spirit, and to water baptism, in various combinations. Any of these, in a kind of metonymy, could be used to connote the whole experience—implying, of course, in each instance, the presence of all the others. Water baptism, then, as a critical New Testament rite intimately connected to our conversion experience, could be used as shorthand for the whole experience. (p203)
    • If you had told me 10 years ago when I was on the Board of Emu Music that in 2011 we’d be putting on a TWIST music conference for pastors and inviting the ‘Director of Worship Development’ from a major charismatic US church to be the keynote speaker… well I’d have been a little surprised, to say the least.
    • If I’m honest, I also didn’t expect to enjoy the day as much as I did, both the talks and the singing. The songs we sang at various points were really superb examples of what Emu had always hoped to produce and champion—thoughtful, encouraging, gospel-centred words, set to well-written singable tunes, led from the front in an unobtrusive but very skillful way, and accompanied with a simple but effective piano and guitar backing. Having become (I have to confess) a bit jaded by some of the songs that seem to be popular in our circles these days—think power ballads or Coldplay-style numbers that are hard to sing and backed by a big, loud ‘worship band’— this was refreshing.
    • This leads me to a second reaction to the TWIST day, and to another of its surprises. Having come from a charismatic background myself, and having read, thought and written about charismatic theology and practice at some depth, I know a distinctively ‘charismatic’ approach to singing and music when I hear it. And that’s not really what I heard from Bob Kauflin.
      • People value the power and effectiveness of the performance over the participation of the congregation.
      • People value musical skill (and good looks!) in musicians over character and biblical understanding.
      • People value musical experiences over word experiences (that is, experiences which are a response to the truth, not simply a response to the power of the music). Music doesn’t really change people; it’s the word of the Bible and the Spirit working through it that changes people.
      • People value singer-songwriters over pastors as the people who write our songs. Songs should be written by people who are theologically deep and driven.

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

1 Comment

Posted by on 12/10/2011 in Current Issues


One response to “What I Read Online – 10/12/2011 (a.m.)

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