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What I Read Online – 03/13/2012 (a.m.)

13 Mar
    • it is John Stott who looms largest for the current generation. His life shaped so much of modern world evangelicalism: the Lausanne movement; the current interest in social justice; and the understanding of the church’s mission as involving both word and action as non-negotiable partners.  For good or for ill, he is a key figure.
    • Chapman is surely right to place class at the heart of the story. Stott was born and remained a man of privilege. He was taught almost from birth that leadership was both a class right and a paternalist responsibility. In this, he contrasts with Packer and Lloyd-Jones. Packer found his way into Oxbridge via the state school system. He enjoyed no innate class privilege. To such as Packer, the Establishment is something we can share a corridor with at university but to which we can never really belong. Lloyd-Jones was a Welshman with all of the general dislike of the English (as a people, not necessarily as individuals) which that implies and an especial suspicion of the Anglican Church (a sentiment with which English non-conformists can also sympathize).
    • On Chapman’s reading, this desire/need/duty to lead was a (perhaps, humanly speaking, the) major dynamic in Stott’s ministry.  We might say that the great dilemma of his life was how a patrician could lead in an increasingly democratized and secularized environment.
    • Three things in particular intrigued me with respect to Chapman’s Stott. First, I cannot help but wonder about the move of Packer to Regent College in 1979. Coming at the end of a decade of doctrinal disaster for Anglicanism, the move seems more than just the result of a good offer of employment. Packer had fallen out with the non-conformist wing of British evangelicalism through his disagreement with Lloyd-Jones on evangelical union and then his ecumenical alliance with Anglo-Catholics such as E L Mascall. Yet Stott’s Anglicanism was scarcely more conducive to Packer: Stott’s suspicion of systematic theology, his increasing interest in social activism, his closer links to the Anglican Establishment and his personal ambition all suggest that he would not have been particularly enamoured of Packer’s vision for the church. I once heard a leading Anglican evangelical theologian say that Packer went to Canada because there was nowhere in Britain where he could turn. Reading between the lines of Chapman’s book, I find such a view quite plausible.
    • Second, Stott’s parachurch career is emblematic of the potential pitfalls such organizations often bring with them (though they are not exclusive to the parachurch).  Parachurch organizations frequently need powerful personalities to start them up and to lead them, to give that all-important vision; but as such powerful personalities make their organizations attractive, so other individuals come to join the club.
    • There are lessons here for our current parachurch religious culture in the USA which is arguably more enamoured today with the idea of the big celebrity leader than at any point in the recent past.  Aspiring critics of the new establishment take note and count the cost before putting hand to plough, or finger to keyboard.
    • This brings me to my final point: Chapman tries to put this as delicately as he can but it is clear from his narrative that Stott was very ambitious. One might even say he was ruthlessly ambitious at times. Chapman indicates that Stott saw a tension here: godly ambition is of course good ambition; but sinful human nature means that such is also at the same time ungodly.
    • This is no small command, and it requires a lifetime of day to day concentration, meditation, and application. All of the various experiences, tragedies, joys, routines, and challenges that come our way are to be filtered, sooner rather than later, through the golden grid of Christ’s Lordship
    • Once we have in place the practice of setting Christ apart in our hearts as Lord, we are then in a position where we might do apologetics
    • This means that Christianity has a rationale, it has a reason. It means that there are explanations that we can and should provide as to why we believe what we do. If that is true, then Christianity is, by definition, not a blind faith. It is not something that is opposed to, or without, reason and knowledge, or something that can only be communicated by way of “experience.” It requires faith to understand it, but that in no way means that the faith required is in any way a blind faith.
    • It is also worth considering that any other position, any attempt to live in God’s world, as God’s image, while rejecting the true God will inevitably lead one to seek and supply a false rationale, an illegitimate reason, an irrational “logic,” for one’s life.
    • So it is with us. Even without amnesia, it is impossible to “connect the dots” of our life experiences without access to something that transcends them. If all we have are the experiences themselves, no amount of telescopic or microscopic analysis will give us anything more than “more of the same.”
    • Selfishness
    • Busyness
    • Inattention
    • Self-righteousness
    • You and I are probably more motivated by fear than we think.
    • Laziness
    • What happens to infants who die? This is an issue almost every Christian faces at some point during his pilgrimage and it is one for which there is no easy answer. What’s more, surveying the writings of the great Christians of the past or present produces no clear consensus. Here are the predominant views found amongst believers
    • Princeton Theological Seminary has partnered with the Internet Archive to provide an online database called the Theological Commons digital library. It provides free, online access to over 50,000 theology and religion books from the PTS Library.
    • Just How Big Is God and How Small Are We?

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

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Posted by on 13/03/2012 in Current Issues

 

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