Posts Tagged ‘evangelicalism’

5.5.  This post is dedicated to the Sermon Writer’s Block.

5.  I really liked Michael Bird’s (relatively) short post on how the Penal Substitutionary Atonement and Christus Victor models of atonement work together. 

4.  His biting sarcasm is largely what makes Carl Trueman so popular, but it also makes it easy to miss some of his better stuff.  In an article titled “The Price of Everything,” Trueman suggests that “cynicism, along with its close cousin pessimism, are among two of the greatest contributions that historians can make to the life of the church.” 

3.  Some of you have heard about Harold Camping and his predictions that the end of the world is coming in October of this year (and the rapture is only weeks away!).  W. Robert Godfrey of Westminster Seminary California has written an intriguing, if not sad, series on “Harold Camping and the End of the World”.  It’s worth reading through it, as it’s both insightful and instructive, from someone who has known Camping for a long time.  Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4.  Update: I somehow missed Part 5.  Sorry.

2.  Earlier this morning Justin Taylor posted a really helpful chart called “Differences between Jesus and the Levitical High Priests,” based on Hebrews 7 and 9.  Don’t think I won’t be stealing this for future use.

1.  The aforementioned Carl Trueman has created a bit of a stir, particularly with the “New Calvinist” crowd, recently with some posts regarding American mega-conferences and the celebrity culture of American evangelicalism.  As I said earlier, I think his sarcasm (not to mention his vast use of over-generalization, which granted is a feature of satire but can be counter-productive) can obscure his point.  Never fear, the ever reasonable Tim Challies steps in to help a bit (with links to Trueman’s posts, if you’re interested).  It’s a good read, and a great topic to consider more deeply.  I’d like to think we can learn a thing or two here.

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Christ on Campus Initiative

Every once in a while I add a new link to the sidebar, but rarely post anything about it.  But I thought today I’d recommend a good resource, particularly geared toward those involved in university ministries.  I have actually known about it for a while, but I was reminded of it yesterday. 

It’s called the Christ on Campus Initiative.  Here is what their “About” page states:

The Christ on Campus Initiative (CCI) is a ministry of the Henry Center created for the purpose of preparing and circulating literature for college and university students, addressing an array of important intellectual and practical issues from an evangelical Christian perspective. The editorial team, led by D.A. Carson, commissions top evangelical scholars to oversee the creation and distribution of a variety of resources for university students. The goal of these resources is that they be intellectually rigorous, culturally relevant, persuasive in argument and faithful to historic, evangelical Christianity.

As for individual articles currently posted (I assume they’ll add more over time), there are a handful that stand out to me.  This doesn’t mean the others aren’t as good (I haven’t read them all), but I’m not as interested in human sexuality as some might be.  Here are links to the HTML version of the articles, you can always download the pdf files.

Cornelius Plantinga Jr- Sin: Not the Way It’s Supposed To Be (I’ve read his book by this same name, it’s outstanding)

William Lane Craig- Five Arguments for God

Graham Cole- Do Christians Have a Worldview?

Harold Netland- One Lord and Savior Over All? Jesus Christ and Religious Diversity

Craig Blomberg- Jesus of Nazareth: How Historians Can Know Him and Why It Matters

Anyway, check it out when you get a chance and let me know what you think.  I’m grateful that more and more evangelical scholars are willing to make their work available for free for the use of the church.

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Superblogger Tim Challies linked this morning to the Personal Promises Bible.  Basically, you can insert your name into promises in the Bible.  I tried it out, to see how it goes:

Even when danny was dead in trespasses, God made danny alive together with Christ (by grace danny has been saved), and raised danny up with Him and made danny to sit with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.  (Eph. 2:5-6)

Not so bad, huh?  I suppose there is some good in this.  There are promises for those who are in Christ (“no condemnation”, for example) and it’s good to be reminded of this.

But this betrays a flaw, in my opinion, within evangelicalism today.  Though well-intentioned, we rarely are completely honest when it comes to playing this game.  That is, we insert our name into those promises that we’d like to claim for ourselves and leave out the ones that make us feel uncomfortable.  After all, if the Personal Promise Bible turned this up, I might not buy it:

If danny lets himself be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to danny at all. (Gal. 5:3)

Or how about this one:

But if danny does not wake up, I will come like a thief, and danny will not know at what time I will come to him. (Rev. 3:3)

This is what gets me every time I hear someone quote Jeremiah 29:11 (“For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”) without any qualification (like, this wasn’t given to every individual believer ever to live).  Why not quote Jeremiah 25:29: “You will not go unpunished, for I am calling down a sword on all who live on the earth”?  Is claiming the promises of God simply as arbitrarily picking which ones apply to me and which ones don’t.

That’s okay, I’ve decided to run in another direction with this one.  I’ve decided to claim promises for other people, specifically those who make me mad.  No evil sports franchise will escape my wrath (and of course, the wrath of God):

Strike the tops of the pillars so that the thresholds will shake.  Bring them down on the heads of all the Yankees; the Yankees that are left I will kill with the sword.  Not one Yankee will get away, no Yankee will escape. (Amos 9:1)

Cut me off in traffic?  You might receive the Personal Promise Bible, courtesy of Danny, in your stocking this year:

Shatter the loins of the Audi driver, and of the late merger, so that they will not drive again. (Deut 33:11)

You get the idea.  So maybe some of evangelicalism’s foibles aren’t so bad.  If I can arbitrarily claim promises for myself, why not arbitrarily claim curses for others?

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I’ve been ruminating some more on worship, inspired in part by Carson’s essay that I posted about earlier.  Specifically, I’ve been thinking some more about the popular use of the word “worship” to refer strictly to the act of singing praises to God, either corporately or in private.  While many, if not most, Christians will acknowledge that the word “worship” does not only mean singing, the truth is that in popular usage this is precisely what it means.  If I were to say “we had a great time of worship in small group this week,” it will be assumed I am referring to a time of singing.

If we are to be honest, I think the reason for such a restricted definition is convenience: 1) since it’s the popular meaning for the term it’s easier to continue doing it and 2) phrases like “worship through singing” or “worship through music” can become cumbersome.  Thus, it’s easier to speak of “worship” in terms of singing and music.  We throw out the token “but of course worship is more than singing” every now and then, but we probably don’t really mean it.  The simple fact is that when an evangelical says the word “worship” people think of singing, and not much more than that.

As I think about it some more, I think the danger of using “worship” in such narrow sense outweighs the convenience factor.  For one, you sacrifice biblical accuracy.  Truth be told, most Christians are not that concerned about this point, but why this is so would require more time.  Suffice to say, when we come across Romans 12:1, our definition of worship seems weak and small in scope:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God- this is true worship.  (TNIV)

In the Bible, worship takes into account one’s entire life lived for God.  The greatest commandment, according to Jesus, is to “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  God’s concern is for the life the Christian lives in its entirety, not the passion with which one sings on Sunday morning.

If one sings with gusto on Sunday morning but does not care for those in need or help build up the body of Christ or proclaim the gospel (and so on), this person is not worshipping.  In fact, this person is no better than those denounced by the prophets for offering their sacrifices while living in a manner that does not reflect God’s character (Hosea 6, Amos 4, Micah 6, and many other places).  The call to worship God is the call to worship Him with your whole life, including but not limited to the time of singing.  Yet we continue to mislead people into thinking they are worshippers because of their act of singing on Sunday mornings.  Singing with passion and fervor is good, and God is worthy of it, but it does not tell the whole story of worship.

Here is where the real danger of the restricted definition of “worship” lies: it is deceptive.  We determine the power and whole-heartedness of one’s worship by the manner in which they sing.  By narrowing the meaning of “worship” we have given people the power to deceive themselves and others into thinking they are truly worshipping God, when in reality they may be doing nothing more than singing with passion.  God is not deceived, nor is He impressed with powerful singing when it is not accompanied by a life lived in the attitude of true worship.

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