Friday, June 30, 2006
The Other 13 Articles of Faith
I was just sent a funny list by a friend of mine: "The Other 13 Articles of Faith." Written several years ago, this list was written by a Mormon, and for Mormons. Nevertheless, as a former Latter-day Saint I also found it enjoyable. I'm not sure how much others will "get it," but it should give you an insider's look into Mormon culture. Additionally, you can see the official thirteen articles of faith here.
 
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Thursday, June 29, 2006
A Puritan Exposition of Romans 8:28
Today, the Resurgence web site has posted an exposition of Romans 8:28 from Joel Beeke: "Puritans Living in Relationship to Affliction, Desertion, and Sin." Here is the introduction:

The Puritans were renowned for preaching. Their prolific literature consists largely of sermons made ready for print. Their preaching was nicknamed “plain style” preaching for its biblical, doctrinal, experiential, and practical manner. They aimed, in the words of Robert Burns, “to bring Christianity home to men’s bosoms and business.” In what follows Dr. Joel Beeke aims to expound Romans 8:28 as the Puritans might have preached it in our day; hence the title of this article as well as the large number of Puritan quotations. We hope your appetite will be whetted to dig more deeply into Puritan writings. For this purpose consult Dr. Beeke’s annotated Puritan bibliography supplied later in this issue. In keeping with the Puritan tradition Dr. Beeke’s textual citations are from the King James Version.
 
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Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Two Views of Satan
William E. Turner Jr. has some good thoughts today on his blog: "The Forgotten Devil." Here is an excerpt:

Yet, I believe the other view of Satan is actually more disastrous. It is of the forgotten Devil. And Reformed believers (myself included) often fall into this category. In many ways it probably is reactionary. We see the radical "Devil in the details" and "Satan behind every shadow" view held by other brothers and sisters in Christ that we react against their view by minimizing and at worst forgetting the reality of Satan. And when the Devil is forgotten we open ourselves up to a full frontal attack which will spell nothing but disaster for our souls.

I find myself falling into this category as well. With this in mind, Turner's quotation of Thomas Brooks really hit home. Check it out!
 
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Taylor Agrees with Mohler over Piper
Well, there continues to be interesting developments for those suggesting that believer baptism not be a requirement for church membership or the Lord's Supper. Most people know of this debate when John Piper and the elders of Bethlehem Baptist Church concluded that their church change its constitution to reflect this view (see "Baptism and Church Membership: At Bethlehem Baptist Church" [in PDF format]).

Today, Dr. Mohler weighed in: "The Unavoidable Issue -- Ecclesiology." He concludes by saying:

With all respect for my Presbyterian brothers and sisters, I do not believe that the "baptism" of infants is any baptism at all. I can say that with great love and respect, knowing that Presbyterians who love the truth in their own confessional standards will respect a Baptist who does the same. As I often remark to evangelical Presbyterians, we may be the last people on earth who can have a real disagreement.

That said, baptism has been understood by all major branches of Christianity, throughout the centuries of Christian experience, to be a requirement for church membership and the fellowship of the Lord's table. Thus, for Baptists to receive into the membership of a Baptist church (or to invite to the Lord's Supper) any believer who lacks such baptism, is to receive non-baptized persons as if they were baptized.

Any compromise of Baptist conviction concerning the requirement of believer's baptism by immersion amounts to a redefinition of Baptist identity. More importantly, it raises the most basic questions of ecclesiology. We must give those questions intent attention in these days. Otherwise, will there be any Baptists in the next generation?

Justin Taylor has also entered the fray: "Baptist and Church Membership." Here are his last thoughts:

It seems to me that the dilemmas for the Bethlehem elders--as those who believe that Scripture only teaches believer baptism--are these: Do they believe that baptism is a requirement for church membership (as virtually all churches through history have believed)? If the answer is no, then they are advocating a historically novel approach that has no precedence in Scripture. If the answer is yes, then the question becomes whether or not paedobaptism is a valid form of baptism. If the answer regarding the validity of paedobaptism is no, then only believer-baptized persons can become members. If the answer concerning the validity of paedobaptism is yes, then the very nature of baptism has been redefined and this without Scriptural warrant.

For me the issue comes down to the fact that while many considerations can be offered in favor of the proposal--considerations that surely give one pause--there does not exist (to my knowledge) any convincing case thatapostoliclolic writers themselves would countenance such a proposal. If such were to be proposed to them, I believe they would point to the clarity, prominence, and normativity of their command to be baptized as believers and for the church to be comprised of baptized believers. Now of course we can't go and just ask them. But they gave us instructions for building the church, and they did not send mixed signals on this front.
 
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Freemasonry
Yesterday, Josh Buice addressed "The Road of Freemasonry --- Social, Religious, or Cultish?" Here is his concluding open letter:

Dear Southern Baptist Members,
6-25-06


I am writing to you as a brother in Christ and with a pure heart. I realize that we as an organization have many battles to fight, much work to accomplish, and many goals to achieve. With that in mind, it is my humble opinion that we should revisit the issue of Freemasonry and take a stand against this organization which slanders the name of Christ Jesus, denies the God of the Bible, and operates in a secretive way with an agenda against Christianity. It has been noted that the Masonic organizations raise thousands of dollars each year for burned children, operate hospitals across the country, and perform much good work in the community. With that in mind, it should be noted that all goodness is not godliness. If Freemasonry can be classified as a cultish movement, we as SBC members have no business being involved with their organization. Therefore, I am asking that you write letters to the SBC entities including our Seminaries and request that all of the scholarships and funding tied to Freemasonry be removed.

May we work together to spread the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ – and may we unite to stand against organizations such as Freemasonry which deny the foundational elements of the gospel!

Your Brother In Christ,

Rev. Josh Buice

Sunday's Denver Post also released a story on Freemasonry: "Mysteries of the Masons." It is an interesting introduction that covers some of the history of this fraternity.
 
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Christian Science Struggles
On Sunday, USA Today released a story from the Associated Press on the First Church of Christ, Scientist: "Christian Science church aims for growth amid struggles." Here is how the article begins:

The church was founded after a fall that left Mary Baker Eddy bedridden and turning to the Bible in her suffering. It is said that a revelation she received while reading about Christ's healings was so powerful, Eddy walked away from her bed, instantly healed.

The Christian Science church she left behind hasn't been as quick to cure its problems.

The church has recently faced major job cuts and a sell-off of historic properties. It's also struggled with low membership at a time when its core principle of healing through prayer is criticized as obsolete.

Meanwhile, its own members accuse church leaders of betraying its founder with foolish expenditures or diluted teachings meant to accommodate modern times.

For more information, also see Watchman Fellowship's Profile: "First Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science)"
 
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Monday, June 26, 2006
Goodbye, Blog?
Books and Culture has posted an article on blogging from their magazine's latest print edition: "Goodbye, Blog." In it, Alan Jacobs provides an interesting look at the phenomenon and limitations of blogging. While I don't completely agree with his (and apparently C.S. Lewis') thoughts on the Reformation, I still find his article informative. Here are his concluding (and memorable) words:

It is no insult to the recent, but already cherished, institution of the blogosphere to say that blogs cannot do everything well. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, the blogosphere is the friend of information but the enemy of thought.
 
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Good Review of N.T. Wright's "The Last Word"
Denny Burk has written an insightful review of N.T. Wright's book The Last Word. Here is his conclusion:

I generally enjoy N. T. Wright’s work, and my reading of The Last Word was no exception. Yet I think he left a few too many things undone in this book. He does warn the reader at the outset that “the present book makes no pretense at completeness” (p. xii). But one wonders why he had more to say about counter-imperial readings of the New Testament than he does about the question of inerrancy and how it relates to the authority of scripture. If the authority of scripture has anything to do with the Scripture’s right to command belief and action, then surely Wright could have dwelt a little more on the status of scripture as God’s words. Unfortunately, it appears that Wright was a little too eager to get “beyond the Bible wars” to engage such questions. The reader, therefore, will likely be tempted to get beyond Wright’s book if he or she wants to find the answers.
 
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Saturday, June 24, 2006
Weekender -- C.H. Spurgeon, "The First Sermon in the Tabernacle" (Part 6)

I have found the blogosphere to be somewhat slow around the weekend, so I have decided to post some kind of edifying work from the past on Saturdays.

This post concludes a series from C.H. Spurgeon (1834-92, Baptist Preacher): "The First Sermon in the Tabernacle." In this message, Spurgeon gives a wonderfully insightful overview of his ministry. In what follows, Spurgeon gives us much to think about in our own day as well. Here is the series so far: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five.

IV. But more than this, I must add, and this will bring me to my last point, for my time flies—there is a power about this subject when it is preached with the demonstration of the Spirit, which is not found in any other. My brethren, what power there is in this subject to promote the union of the people of God! There is a man there, he is almost a Puseyite. "I do not like him," says one. Stop till I tell you something more about him, and you will. There is another man there, a Presbyterian—true blue; he cannot bear Independency, or anything but Presbytery—a covenant man. "Well," says one, "I like him a little better; but I do not suppose we shall get on very well." Stop! I will tell you some more about him. There is another man down there; he is a very strong Calvinist. "Humph," says one, "I shall not admire him." Stop, stop! Now, here are these three men; let us hear what they say of each other. If they know nothing of each other except what I have stated, the first time they meet there will be a magnificent quarrel. There is yonder clergyman—he will have little fraternity whatever with the ultra-Evangelical; while the Presbyterian will reject them both, for he abhors black prelacy. But, my dear brethren, all three of you, we of this congregation will approve of you all, and you will approve of one another when I have stated your true character. That man yonder, whom I called almost a Puseyite, was George Herbert. How he loved the doornails of the church! I think he would scarce have had a spider killed that had once crept across the church aisles. He was a thorough churchman, to the very centre of the marrow of his bones; but what a Christian! What a lover of his sweet Lord Jesus! You know that hymn of his which I have so often quoted, and mean to quote a hundred times more: "How sweetly doth my Master's sound," and so forth. I hear a knock at the door. "Who is that?" "Why, it is a very strong churchman." "Do not show him in; I am at prayer; I cannot pray with him." "Oh, but it is George Herbert!" "Oh, let him in, let him in! No man could I pray better with than Mr. Herbert. Walk in, Mr. Herbert; we are right glad to see you; you are our dear companion; your hymns have made us glad."

But who was that second man, the Presbyterian, who would not have liked George Herbert at all? Why, that was Samuel Rutherford. What a seraphic spirit! What splendid metaphors he uses about his sweet Lord Jesus! He has written all Solomon's Song over without knowing it. He felt and proved it to be divine. The Spirit in him re-dictated the song. Well now, I think, we will introduce Mr. Rutherford and Mr. Herbert together, and I am persuaded when they begin to speak about their Master they will find each other next of kin; and I feel sure that, by this time, Samuel Rutherford and George Herbert have found each other out in heaven, and are sitting side by side. Well, but then we mentioned another; who was that high Calvinist? He was the man who was called the Leviathan of Antinomians. That he was a leviathan I will grant, but that he was an Antinomian is false. It was Dr. Hawker. Now, I am sure, George Herbert would not have liked Dr. Hawker, and I am certain that Dr. Hawker would not have liked George Herbert, and I do not suppose that Samuel Rutherford would have had anything to do with either of them. "No, no," he would say, "your black prelacy I hate." But look at Hawker, there is a sweet spirit; he cannot take up his pen but he dips it in Christ, and begins to write about his Lord at once "Precious Immanuel—precious Jesus." Those words in his morning and evening portions are repeated again and again, and again. I recollect hearing of Mr. Rowland Hill, that he said to a young man who was at tea with him one night when he was about to go:—"Where are you going to?" "Oh!" said he, "I am going to hear Dr. Hawker, at St. George's in the Borough." "Oh, go and hear him," he said; "he is a right good man, worth hearing. But there is this difference between him and me; my preaching is something like a pudding, with here and there a plum; but Dr. Hawker's is all plum." And that was very near the mark, because Dr. Hawker was all Christ. He was constantly preaching of his Master; and even if he gave an invitation to a sinner, it was generally put in this way: "What sayest thou? Wilt thou go with this man, and be married and espoused unto him? It was the preaching of a personal Christ that made his ministry so full of marrow and fatness.

My dear friends, let a man stand up and exalt Christ, and we are all agreed. I see before me this afternoon members of all Christian denominations; but if Christ Jesus is not the topic that suits you, why then I think we may question your Christianity. The more Christ is preached, the more will the Church prove, and exhibit, and assert, and maintain her unity; but the less Christ is preached, and the more of Paul, and Apollos, and Cephas, the more of strife and division, and the less of true Christian fellowship.

We will only mention the power of the preaching of Christ upon the heart of sinners. There is a person, now a member of my church, whose conversion was owing to the reading of that hymn:

"Jesus, lover of my soul."

"Ah," said he "does Jesus love my soul? Then how vile I have been to neglect him." There are scores whose conversion is distinctly and directly traceable, not to doctrine—though that is often useful—nor experience, nor practice, though these are fruitful, but to the preaching of Christ. I think you will find the most fertile sermons have always been the most Christly sermons. This is a seed which seldom rots under the clod. One may fall upon the stony ground, but it oftener happens that the seed breaks the stone when it falls, and as Christ is a root out of a dry ground, so this finds root for itself even in dry, hard, stony hearts. We ought to preach the law, we ought to thunder out the threatenings of God, but they must never be the main topic. Christ, Christ, Christ, if we would have men converted. Do you want to convince yonder careless one? Tell him the story of the cross. Under God it will arrest his attention and awaken his thoughts. Would you subdue the carnal affections of yonder profligate? Preach the love of Christ, and that new love shall uproot the old. Would you bind up yonder broken heart? Bring forth Christ, for in him there is a cordial for every fear. Christ is preached and we do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice "for he is the power of God unto salvation unto every one that believeth." Judge not, my dear brethren, any man's ministry. The world has too often condemned the man whom God intended to honour. Say not of such an one "He can do no good, for his language is rough and rude." Say not of another that his style is too often marred with flippancy. Say not of a third that he is too erudite or soars too high. Every man in his own order. If that man preach Christ, whether he be Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, we wish him God speed; for God will bless the Christ he preaches, and forgive the error which mingled with his ministry. I must even frankly admit the truth of many a criticism that has been uttered on my ministry, but I know it has been successful, and under God it has been, because I have sought to preach Christ. I say that without boasting or egotism, because if I had not done so I had no right so be a minister of Christ at all, and as I claim to be God's minister, I will and must declare it, whatever I have not preached, I have preached Christ, and into whatever mistakes I have fallen, I have sought to point to his cross, and say, "Behold the way to God." And if ye see others preaching Christ, be not you their foe. Pray for them; bear them in your arms before God; their errors may yet be outgrown, if they preach Christ; but if not, I care not what their excellency may be, the excellency shall die and expire like sparks that go out in darkness. They have not the fuel of the flame, for they have not Christ Jesus as the substance of their ministry.

May I entreat, in closing, your earnest prayer, each one of you, that in this house as well as in all the places of worship round about, Christ may evermore be preached, and I may add my own sincere desire that this place may become a hissing and the abode of dragons, and this pulpit be burned with fire, or ever any other gospel be preached here than that which we have received of the holy apostles of God; and of which Jesus Christ himself is the chief corner stone. Let me have your incessant prayers. May God speed every minister of Christ. But where there is so large a field of labour may I claim your earnest and constant intercessions, that where Christ is lifted up, men may be drawn to hear, and afterwards drawn to believe, that they may find Christ the Saviour of our souls. "He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." "Repent and be converted, every one of you," said Peter. Yet again said Paul to the jailer, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." God give us grace to believe, and unto him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
 
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Friday, June 23, 2006
"I Will Comply"
According to "Weird Al" Yankovic's official web page:

W.A.S. DVD IN E.W.!
Al is featured in the new (June 30) issue of Entertainment Weekly as one of the "113 People And Things We Love Right Now"! The soon-to-be-released Weird Al Show DVD is on their "Must List" - and there's even some new parody song lyrics by Al (which he was "forced" to write). You can check it out on the newsstands, or see the piece here.

Since I posted on the release of this show on DVD before, and since Weird Al's new parody was so funny, I am posting the piece here as well!


UPDATE: Now you can sing "I Will Comply" to the high-tech MIDI version of Gloria Gaynor's original tune. Have fun!
 
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Mormon President Hinckley's Birthday
Today, Deseret Morning News printed a brief announcement on the current Latter-day Saint prophet and president, Gordon B. Hinckley: "President Hinckley notes 96th birthday." Here is most of the article:

LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley will celebrate his 96th birthday today at Brigham Young University.

President Hinckley is scheduled to attend an 11 a.m. groundbreaking ceremony for a new alumni house and visitors center that will be named in his honor.

Church spokesman Dale Bills said family, invited guests and university leaders will host President Hinckley at a private luncheon following the groundbreaking event.

The event will be at the site of the former alumni house.

General authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and members of the Hinckley family will be at the event.

The building — the Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center — is expected to be completed in fall 2007.
 
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Thursday, June 22, 2006
Funny Home Videos of Weird Al's "You're Pitiful"
I just ran across two versions of a homemade videos for Weird Al's new song, "You're Pitiful." They are very funny! Check them out here:

(HT: Yank Blog)
 
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Judy Robertson on Mormonism
Judy Robertson, author of Out of Mormonism and a part of the Concerned Christians ministry, discusses the beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on yesterday's Way of the Master Radio show. Listen to her in the second hour.
 
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006
The Gospel and Cultural Relevance
Today, Joe Thorn posted an insightful introduction to contextualization (essentially how to proclaim God and His gospel to a culture) in "Bringing Jesus Into Focus." Here is his conclusion:

The church that contextualizes the Gospel is a church faithful to the example and command of God. May God give us the grace to speak plainly to the people. I believe we are called to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God, while preaching it to the world following the example of God. Let’s not merely contextualize, but let’s contextualize well. Let’s not try to make the bible relevant, but to demonstrate that it is relevant to every tribe tongue and nation as it points us all to the one who died on the cross for our sins.
 
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Spurgeon and the Holy Spirit
Dr. Michael A.G. Haykin has posted a blog entry on C.H. Spurgeon titled: "Spurgeon on Keeping in Step with the Spirit." As with all things Spurgeon, these quotes make great reading! Here is how Haykin begins:

This week I am at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary—one of my most favourite places in the world—teaching a course on Baptist theologians. At the end of the week we shall be looking at Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), that remarkable preacher theologian. Here is a taster of the theological riches to be found in his preaching. These texts speak of the need of our churches to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. May God enable us to learn the theological lesson these texts proclaim.
 
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Dr. Mohler's New Blog
Dr. Albert Mohler, President of the seminary I attend, has just launched another blog focusing on issues related to the Southern Baptist Convention: Conventional Thinking. Here is his initial post:

Welcome to a new blog dedicated to commentary and documentation concerning the Southern Baptist Convention. Some argue that we are entering a post-denominational era. Intense interest in the SBC indicates otherwise. Thanks for reading, and feel free to write me with comments and suggestions at mail@albertmohler.com.

Let’s pray that God will guide and bless our convention and our churches.
 
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Mormon Film Director Jared Hess and 'Nacho Libre'
A couple of months ago, I blogged on Jon Heder, the actor who played Napoleon Dynamite. But did you know that many involved with Napoleon Dynamite are Mormon? The director, Jared Hess, is a Latter-day Saint, and now his new movie has been released--Nacho Libre.

With the release of this movie, Connecticut Entertainment has posted an interesting article on Hess: "Jared Hess Embodies A Victory For The Nice Guy: Mormon Film Director Keeps It Sweet And Goofy, And Hollywood's Noticing." Here are a couple excerpts:

He is not profane, obscene or gross. He got discovered, anyway. He spun the $400,000 budget of "Napoleon Dynamite" into a Sundance hit and a $45 million flower at the box office.

That he is Mormon should come as no surprise, and it should not be dismissed either.

"What my personal religious beliefs are is a big part of who I am, as are the types of things that have established me," he says. "There is not a big separation of the two."

Hess cannot explain why there are so few Mormon filmmakers but says he has film-school peers who will emerge in the mainstream soon.

. . . .

The Preston, Idaho-born director forged his sensibility as the oldest of six brothers in a "juicy Mormon family."

When Hess was 8, his father died of cancer, and the family moved around a lot. One of the few constants was a trampoline on which Hess would direct his siblings in a series of kung fu videos."

My brothers and I were forced to adapt to new people, new schools," he says. "Those can be trying times. We were forced to develop a sense of humor."

He continued his nomadic life after high school, serving the church's assigned mission in Venezuela, returning home for a hernia operation. He finished his term in a Spanish speaking neighborhood of Chicago. His fluency came in handy on the Oaxaca set of "Nacho Libre."
 
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"Is the Bible Really Inerrant?"
The LifeWay Apologetics site is on a roll... This week they posted an excellent article by Dr. Stephen Wellum: "Is the Bible Really Inerrant?" In this article, he addresses the following questions:

 
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Monday, June 19, 2006
Kim Riddlebarger Gives Some Dos and Don'ts of Evangelism
Dr. Kim Riddlebarger gives twenty dos and don'ts in evangelism (these are taken from his lectures on evangelism, "Telling People the Truth in Love" [in PDF format]). How do you come out?
 
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Billy Graham on Cults
Billy Graham's latest newspaper column is on cults:

Q: My sister says the group I'm thinking of joining is a cult, and I ought to stop going to their meetings. They've been very kind to me and I like them, but I don't want to do something wrong. What exactly is a cult? — Mrs. F.Z.

A: Dear Mrs. F.Z.,
I'm thankful for your sister's concern for you—and for your concern, as well. And let me assure you that God doesn't want you to be led astray, either. He wants you to come to know Him and walk with Him every day.

How can you know if this group (which you don't name) is a cult? First, cults almost always claim that they, and they alone, have the truth. They turn their backs on almost 2,000 years of Christian history, and say that other churches are wrong and will deceive you. They point instead to their leader or founder as the final authority, and claim that God has given them a new revelation of Himself.

Second, cults always reject what the Bible teaches about itself. The Bible alone is God's Word—but cults add to it or substitute other books in its place. One cult even insists that its "translation" of the Bible is the only reliable one—in spite of the fact scholars universally reject it.

Most of all, cults reject Jesus Christ as God's way of salvation. They may reject His full divinity, or claim that faith in Him is not enough to save us. But Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Don't be deceived, but turn in faith to Christ for your salvation and ask Him to come into your life. Then ask Him to lead you to a church with Christ at its center.
 
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A Resource Question for All You Missional Types
A few days ago, I received the latest catalog from Vision Video. While looking over the different DVD curriculums they sold, a new resource caught my attention: "On Earth As It Is In Heaven." Here is their description:


Tired of routine and self-centered church life that makes little impact on the surrounding world? Here is a study series that presents a Biblical agenda for a mission-oriented church that maintains a clear Christian worldview, understands the call of the Gospel to participate in God's work in the world, and mobilizes believers to see their essential role in the advancement of the Kingdom of God. This series will either wake up a self-satisfied and sleepy church or will be so discomforting that you will want to send it back. We are willing to take the risk, if you are!

Here is what this study is accomplishing in user congregations and groups:
* Increasing knowledge of core concepts of a Biblical worldview and recognize how they impact and shape culture.
* Challenging the usual paradigms of the role of the church in our culture today and giving practical application to impact our community.
* Helping to connect the dots between our spiritual life and the cultural world around us.

I know that I do not normally use my blog as a forum, but I am interested in anybody (especially missional types) who has seen or knows more about this curriculum. Any thoughts?

Update: I have also found the web page for the ministry that is producing this series. You can read/download the complete workbook (in PDF format).
 
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Timothy Keller: "Now What? Confronting Our Power"
Over the weekend, I came across a recent Veritas Forum at Harvard University: "Now What? Confronting Our Power." It included Timothy Keller in an interesting panel discussion. Here is the web site's overview:

After considering the issues of violence and poverty, it becomes apparent that American attitudes about the world are in need of major reform. Yet how to conduct this reform is not immediately clear. Can lasting change occur through the reform of social practices and institutions, or only by the transformation of individuals? The panelists will discuss how to effectively deal with being either a powerful individual or a powerless one.

Somehow, I was even able to post this resource before Keller devotee Steve McCoy. He must be slacking off!
 
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Friday, June 16, 2006
Books, Books and Influential Books
On Monday, Brent Thomas asked the question: "In addition to the Bible, what five non-fiction books have most influenced you?" Somehow, I missed this little question until he posted a follow up: "Books, Books and Influential Books (cont.)." So, even though I'm late, I thought I would give my own answers to this question with a little reasoning on why I have chosen them.

But before I do, I wanted to make a brief comment. I have found that the books which have most influenced me meet two criteria. First, they are clear, insightful, and handle their subject well. However, what really makes them stick out in my mind is not this fact alone. In a matter of fact, I know of better books in many of these subjects. This is why I think the second criteria is so important: God providentially brought these books into my life at a critical point to increase my understanding of Him and to become more like Him. So, with these two qualifications in mind, here's my list.



There you have it--my top five (other than the Bible, of course). Read at your own risk!

Update: After thinking about it some more, I forgot to mention a tremendously influential book in my life. Lectures to My Students by C.H. Spurgeon has left a permanent impact in my mind and ministry. I guess forgetting such an obvious tome is what happens when you are trying to think on the fly and when you don't have your bookshelves around to jog your memory! Anyway, I still love Tripp's book; it has been influential in my thinking. At the same time, Spurgeon's work fits more appropriately in my top five.
 
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Colson on "Three of Hearts"
Chuck Colson's latest commentary is on the Bravo-aired documentary Three of Hearts: A Postmodern Family. Titled "False foundations," it is an interesting analysis of this controversial film. Here is his his conclusion:

Ironically, the director and her subjects consider this a “political” film striking a blow against defenders of traditional marriage, and legislation like the federal marriage amendment. But if they’re really proposing a mess like this as an alternative to traditional families, they are shooting themselves in the foot. The film makes you root for traditional marriage. If these confused people had had more stable families, they might not have grown into the kind of adults who mess up their kids’ lives just to prove a point.

Although Bravo aired Three of Hearts earlier this week, it will probably air it again. If it does, this is once when I am going to suggest to you that you watch what is meant as propaganda for “alternative” marriage. Get your friends and family to watch it too, because what they are going to see is what a wreck we make of our lives when we ignore God’s plan for marriage and families. And those watching will gain a new understanding of why we must fight to protect and promote marriage.
 
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Thursday, June 15, 2006
The RLDS church ... I Mean the Community of Christ ... is Downsizing
Yesterday, the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a group which separated from the LDS church after the death of Joseph Smith) made an important announcement: "New Organizational Design." Here it is:

Community of Christ International Headquarters, located in Independence, MO, announced today a new organizational design that will foster greater alignment with the church's priorities and provides for greater responsiveness to the needs of a world-wide church within a sustainable budget. Transition into the new organizational design is underway with the new design being completely implemented in January 2007.

To accomplish the redesign within a sustainable budget, some staff reductions have been necessary. There is an approximate reduction of 80 positions from the Fiscal Year 2006 budget, including early retirements, voluntary separations, and involuntary separations. The final design will include over 400 employed ministers both at the international headquarters and in church jurisdictions around the world.

"We are sad that it has become necessary to reduce and redeploy staff due to changing economic circumstances. The church is extending every type of employment transition and pastoral support within its ability to those whose lives are being disrupted by these changes," said church president Steve Veazey. "The Community of Christ continues to remain faithful to God in responding to leadership challenges as we passionately pursue our mission to proclaim Jesus Christ and to promote communities of peace throughout the world. We are grateful for all of our employees and the vast number of volunteer ministers who do so much to support the world-wide ministries of the church."
 
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Israel and the Church
As a Sunday school teacher at my local church, I am currently teaching through the nine marks of a healthy church. This past Sunday, our class was discussing the second mark: "Biblical Theology." One of the biblical truths I brought out in my lesson was the progress of redemptive history with all of history pointing to Christ. I also dealt with some of the implications of this understanding, including the relationship between Israel and the church.

I only wish I had more time to dwell on this point in class. Nevertheless, I have been thinking some more on this issue since Sunday and came across an excellent article written about a year ago by Nathan Pitchford: "Land, Seed, and Blessing in the Abrahamic Covenant." What a wonderful example of biblical theology as it relates to the Abrahamic covenant. Now I only wish there was a simplified version of it to distribute to my class! Here is Pitchford's conclusion:

The interpretation of the Abrahamic covenant which sees the promises necessitating the possession of physical Palestine by ethnic Jews fails to do justice to the spiritual understanding of the promises that Abraham himself had. As Christ told the Jews of his day, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and He saw and was glad" (John 8:56). Abraham looked beyond the merely physical and placed his hope in the coming Messiah, and in God who would raise him from the dead. This assessment is borne out by a careful study of Abraham’s life. And that this understanding that Abraham had of the promise is essentially correct is made clear by New Testament teaching on the topic. Any interpretation of the Abrahamic covenant that misunderstands the scriptural teaching of what the promises signified, to whom they were made, and who could claim them as Abraham’s true children and heirs is not only wrong, but positively harmful. An interpretation that insists on claiming physical benefits for Israel on the basis of their ethnicity obscures the vast spiritual riches of the Abrahamic promises as fulfilled to Christ and to us who are in Christ; it minimizes the place of Christ as the one true Seed of Abraham and the one in whom are all promised blessings; and it conditions us to be looking for a crassly physical, not to mention false, eschatological hope in the coming of an ethnically Jewish millennial kingdom, instead of understanding and awaiting that blessed hope of all redemptive history, the great proclamation, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God" (Rev. 21:3). This is the hope of Abraham and all his true children, and the goal of all redemptive history.
 
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006
"The Story of the Puritans"
A few weeks ago, I pointed out that Mark Driscoll's Resurgence site posted "Why Read the Puritans Today?" (one of many great articles added to this site).

Now they have added another article on the Puritans by Erroll Hulse: "The Story of the Puritans." Here is how it begins:

We sometimes sing a hymn which includes the words, "Tell me the story simply as to a little child."

It would have helped if someone in my Christian experience had told me the story of the Puritans simply, as to a little child. I am a South African in background and upbringing. I learned history at school. Some of it was English history, but I would not have been able to give an outline of British kings and queens. Soon after coming to England in 1954, I was introduced to the Puritans and began to attend the annual two-day Puritan Conference at Westminster Chapel, near Buckingham Palace. Fascination with the Puritans, their lives and their theology, greatly increased my appreciation of the history of those times. I listened to the original papers on the Puritans by Dr. Jim Packer, which he has now brought together under the title, The Quest for Godliness—The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life.

It is possible that some American readers will not be familiar with English history. The story of the Puritans is so closely connected with the political pressures bearing down upon them that it is important to know the outline. For that reason I have included a chart of the monarchs: the dates form pegs upon which we can hang the various parts of the story. If the reader is serious about the Puritans and has not already learned the dates by heart that exercise is recommended.

By way of preliminaries we will begin with an historical perspective of the sixteenth century Reformation and then briefly trace out the meaning of the word Puritan.

The story of the Puritans is told in three parts:

Part 1. The antecedents. The soil out of which Puritanism grew. Here we focus in particular upon the martyrs William Tyndale and John Bradford as well as on the martyrologist John Fox.

Part 2. The spiritual brotherhood. The theme here is the rediscovery of the Christian basics. This is the story of the Puritans under Queen Elizabeth. We will look at some leaders and through them focus on the emerging character of Puritanism.

Part 3. The flowering of Puritanism. During the first part of the seventeenth century the Puritans multiplied. From this time in particular we receive the unexcelled legacy of Puritan literature. Space will fail to do justice to all the leaders so we will look at three only: John Owen, Richard Baxter and John Bunyan.

When we have lived, albeit sketchily, through those times, and have been introduced to some of the leaders we will consider why we need the Puritans today.
 
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"Why Must Our Hermeneutics Be Trinitarian?"
Vern Sheridan Poythress' answer to the question "Why Must Our Hermeneutics Be Trinitarian?" is now posted online.

It was originally published in the Spring 2006 issue of the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, which was dedicated to the topic "Perspectives on the Trinity."

Check it out!
 
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Weird Al and 'Silly Record Company Politics'
Earlier this week, I posted "Weird Al takes on James Blunt's 'You're Beautiful'." Now, I find out more of the backstory to this MP3 release. According to NPR:

In a career spanning more than 25 years, pop-music parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic hasn't exactly ranked among the music business' fiercest iconoclasts: He doesn't release his song parodies without the consent of the artists being parodied, and he's rarely used the Internet as more than a tool to promote his projects and connect with his fans. But a music label's efforts to block a (relatively tame) parody of James Blunt's ubiquitous hit "You're Beautiful" has Yankovic fighting back publicly, and using his Web site as a tool to do so.

According to Yankovic, Blunt himself gave his blessing to a song called "You're Pitiful" (audio), which was to appear on Yankovic's now-finished but as-yet-unreleased new album. But after Yankovic finished recording the parody, Atlantic Records, Blunt's label, told Yankovic that he couldn't release "You're Pitiful." Though Yankovic has encountered resistance from artists before -- after a miscommunication involving permissions, Coolio publicly objected to a released parody of "Gangsta's Paradise," while Prince has always turned down Yankovic's requests to parody his hits -- he says this is the first time a label has stepped in to squash the release of one of his parodies. (Quoth an Atlantic representative: "We have no comment on this matter.")

Sad, sad, sad. At least we can enjoy the song for free!

(HT: Yank Blog)
 
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Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Albert Mohler and Paige Patterson on Calvinism and the Southern Baptist Convention
Today, the Southern Baptist Convention posted an official article on the Albert Mohler and Paige Patterson discussion on Calvinism: "Patterson, Mohler: Calvinism shouldn’t divide Southern Baptists." Here is how the report begins:

Saying they hope to serve as a model for the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention, seminary presidents R. Albert Mohler Jr. and Paige Patterson June 12 discussed their differences over the doctrine of election, stressing that believers can disagree on the topic while remaining friends and unified in the goal of evangelism and missions.

"I do hope … we will provide at least an example on that point, if on no other," Patterson said.

Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and Patterson, president of Southwestern Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, discussed Calvinism during two one-hour-long breakout sessions of the SBC Pastors' Conference at a convention hotel ballroom. Mohler affirms Calvinism, while Patterson does not. The sessions, titled, "Reaching Today’s World Through Differing Views of Election," drew standing room only crowds.
 
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Spurgeon on Preaching
Many of you know how indebted I am to Charles Haddon Spurgeon, often referred to as the "prince of Preachers." Not only do I love reading his works, but I also listen to an individual re-preaching his sermons regularly.

Now I see that Christian Focus Publications is publishing a book on Spurgeon's preaching: Kindled Fire: How the Methods of C.H. Spurgeon can Help Your Preaching by Zack Eswine. Let's just say that this book is already on my reading list! Here is the book's description:

What would it have been like to sit in Spurgeon's classes? I hope this book gives a sense of what a student would hear Spurgeon say about preaching if Spurgeon were to speak with them in the hall, from the pulpit, or on a walk down the streets of London. Thus, the purpose of this book is to enable preachers to "apprentice" with Spurgeon for a season in order to learn from him about preaching. It is hoped that such an internship will prove valuable for contributing to preachers as they mine resources for gospel relevance and power in the twenty-first century. But how could Spurgeon help?

The twenty-first century preacher in the West will recognize some profound similarities with Spurgeon and his times. It is true that postmodernism and Enlightenment Rationalism are very different philosophies. But their results are similar in that they promote wide spread scepticism and doubt regarding the authority of the Bible. The debates about the use of art and sermon length at the turn of the twenty-first century are no different in substance than those found in England at the turn of the twentieth. The effect of attention span and the need for story to accompany logic are not new topics of discussion for preachers. In addition, pressures that reduce time for sermon preparation and engender the temptation for shallow or borrowed sermons are nothing essentially new.
 
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Monday, June 12, 2006
Awesome Ministry Opportunity
Below is a slightly modified version of a letter I sent out today.

-------------------------

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Greetings in the name of Christ!

As you know, my heart's desire is for people to draw close to our Lord and to know Him better. I also pray for increasing discernment and the ability for followers of Christ to separate God's truth from error.

Unfortunately, for many Christians around the world, this is not easy. Cults come in and move people away from our Lord by their deception. Syncretism flourishes where biblical beliefs are intermingled with false teaching. Church leaders are poorly equipped to refute the errors in their midst. Resources (books, tapes, etc.) are unaffordable or simply unavailable in their own languages, making the situation dire indeed.

Nevertheless I believe that, by God's grace, these obstacles can be overcome. This summer I have the opportunity to address these issues personally on a mission trip to Belize through the Centers for Apologetics Research (CFAR). Lord willing, I’ll be in Central America from August 1st to 9th.

It promises to be a very busy time! I’ve been asked to teach and give my testimony at churches and schools in Belmopan, Belize City, and Punta Gorda, along with at least one television interview. While there I’ll research the potential for developing a new regional outreach to serve Central America and the Caribbean. Finally, I’m to meet with national pastors and missionaries to assess how to overcome barriers in effective countercult and discernment ministry in a Third-World setting.

In light of all this, I’d appreciate your help — and first and foremost, my family needs your intercession. Not only will we be separated during this time, but I have no doubt that we’ll be facing spiritual warfare. Even so, I know that God will hear our prayers and advance His kingdom. What a wonderful opportunity to make Him known! Additionally, I could use your financial support. God has already provided the plane ticket, so all that remains is $500 for expenses.

If you’d like to be involved with this important work, please let me know. However God may lead you, I’m trusting that He will provide. May God be glorified as we serve Him!

Because of His grace,
John Divito


P.S. Let me know if you’d like to receive periodic prayer updates on this trip via e-mail.

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Controversy
Wow! St. Anne's Public House have not only released their latest CD, "Controversy," they now have a completely redesigned web site. Great job guys!

Thankfully, they are still posting their entire CD as MP3s online. Here is the description of their latest offering:

Controversy-Reformed Christians are famously bad at getting along. If unity and truth are not mutually exclusive in the church, how can we guard the trust without fracturing the Body? To explore this topic we speak with Dr. George Marsden on Presbyterian schism in the last century; Dr. Chad VanDixhoorn, an expert on the notes and papers of the Westminster Assembly on how they managed the controversy of the assembly; Mr. David Bahnsen on an insiders' perspective on the Theonomy controversy; and Dr. Vern Poythress on the value of multiple perspectives in theology.
 
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I'm on LifeWay Again!
A few weeks ago, LifeWay picked up an article I wrote, "What is 'Official' Mormon Doctrine?" Now they have done it again! My article "Should We Critique Mormonism?" was just added. Like my previous article, I originally wrote it for the A-Team blog (Part 1, Part 2). Then, when I started this blog, I added it here as well (Part 1, Part 2).

I am once again honored to have something considered by LifeWay. I am overjoyed and grateful to them for including something I have written on their site.
 
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William Lane Craig and Bart D. Ehrman Debate the Resurrection of Jesus
Earlier this year, William Lane Craig and Bart D. Ehrman opposed each other in a debate, "Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?"

The complete transcript is now available online (in PDF format).
 
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Weird Al takes on James Blunt's "You're Beautiful"
OK, you diehard "Weird Al" fans have already downloaded and memorized this song, but "Weird Al" Yankovic released an MP3 of a new song that will not be on his next album. Titled "You're Pitiful," it is a parody of James Blunt's song "You're Beautiful."

According to the official "Weird Al" site:

HEY!
How would you like to download a brand new Weird Al song... for free? Yeah, we thought you might. Right-click (ctrl-click for Mac) on one of the links below, and select "save target as" (or "download linked file" for Mac). Don't say we never gave you anything!

You can download it here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, or here.

Or here or here, not to mention here.

Oh, did we mention here?

You may be asking: "John, what's the big deal?" OK, so my wife is asking me this question. But my answer is simple. This is the first new "Weird Al" song in three years! So, in honor of "Al-oholic" fans everwhere, here are the lyrics:

My life is brilliant...

What, was I too early? Oh, sorry. Should I... Do you wanna start over? Or, keep going?
Okay, now? Now?

My life is brilliant
Your life's a joke
You're just pathetic
You're always broke

Your homemade Star Trek uniform
Really ain't impressin' me
You're sufferin' from delusions of
Adequacy

You're Pitiful
You're Pitiful
You're Pitiful
It's true

Never had a date
That ya couldn't inflate
And ya smell repulsive too
What a bummer bein' you

Well ya just can't dance
And forget romance
Everybody you know still calls ya
Farty Pants

But you always have a job well I mean
As long as you still can work that slurpie machine

You're Pitiful
You're Pitiful
You're Pitiful
It's true

You're half undressed
Eatin' chips of your chest
While you're playin' Halo 2
No one's classier than you

Lalala la
Lalala la
Lalala la
Loser

You're Pitiful
You're Pitiful
You're Pitiful
It's true

Your dog would much rather
Play fetch by itself

You still live with your Mom and you're 42

Guess you'll never grow a clue
Well, it just sucks to be you
 
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Saturday, June 10, 2006
Weekender -- C.H. Spurgeon, "The First Sermon in the Tabernacle" (Part 5)

I have found the blogosphere to be somewhat slow around the weekend, so I have decided to post some kind of edifying work from the past on Saturdays.

This post continues a series from C.H. Spurgeon (1834-92, Baptist Preacher): "The First Sermon in the Tabernacle." In this message, Spurgeon gives a wonderfully insightful overview of his ministry. In what follows, Spurgeon gives us much to think about in our own day as well. Here is the series so far: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four.

III. I shall now pass onto notice some of the surpassing excellencies of the subject

First, he will always have a blessed variety in his preaching. In Australia I have heard that the only change for the backwoodsmen is to have one day damper [unleavened cake baked in wood ashes), tea, and bread; the next day, bread, damper, and tea; and the next day, tea, bread, and damper. The only variety some ministers give, is one Sunday to have depravity, election, and perseverance, and the next Sunday, election, perseverance, and depravity. There are many strings to the harp of the gospel. There are some brethren who are so rightly charmed with five of the strings, which certainly have very rich music in them, that they never meddle with any of the other strings; the cobwebs hang on the rest, while these five are pretty well worn out. It is always pretty much the same thing from the first of January to the last of December. Their organ has very few keys, and upon these they may make a very blessed variety, but I think not a very extensive one. Any man who preaches Christ will ensure variety in his preaching. He is all manner of precious perfume, myrrh, and aloes, and cassia. He is all sorts of music, he is everything that is sweet to the ear; he is all manner of fruits; there is not one dainty in him but many. This tree of life bears twelve manner of fruits. He is all manner of raiment; he is golden raiment for beauty, he is the warm raiment for comfort, he is the stout raiment for harness in the day of battle. There are all things in Christ, and he that hath Christ will have as great a variety as there is to be found in the scenery of the world where are no two rocks alike, and no two rivers wind in precisely the same manner, and no two trees grow in precisely the same form. Any other subject you may preach upon till your hearers feel satiety; but with Christ for a subject, you may go on, and on, and on, till the sermon swells into the eternal song, and you begin to sing, "Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood."

There is yet another excellence about this subject, namely, that it suits all sorts of people. Are there rebels present? Preach Christ; it will suit them. Are there pardoned sinners present? What is better, to melt their hearts than the blood of the Lord Jesus. Are there doubting Christians? What can cheer them better than the name of Christ. Are there strong believers? What is stronger meat than Jesus crucified? Are there learned, polite, intellectual hearers? If they are not satisfied with Christ, they ought to be. Are there poor, ignorant, unlettered men? Jesus Christ is just the thing to preach to them—a naked Christ to their simple ears. Jesus Christ is a topic that will keep in all climates. Land in New Zealand in the midst of uncivilised men, move off to another post and stand in the midst of poetical Persia or fickle France, the cross is adapted to all. We need not inquire into the doctrinal opinion of our hearers. If they are high, I am sure Christ will suit them. If they are low, if they be true believers, I am sure Christ Jesus will suit them. No Christians will reject such meat as this; only prepare it, and with a hot heart serve it up on the table, and they will be satisfied and feed to the full. So that there is adaptation as well as variety in this subject.
 
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Monday, June 05, 2006
I'm Out
This week, I will be in class all day (8-5, Monday through Friday) taking "Major Living World Religions." My instructor is Dr. Chancellor. Here is the course description:

A phenomenological and evaluatory study of African Traditional Religions, Native American Religions, the Religions of Southeast Asia, the Orient, and the Middle East, with attention to contemporary religious pluralism within the processes of modernization and secularization.

Therefore, I am taking the week off from blogging. I'll be back next week!
 
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Saturday, June 03, 2006
Weekender -- C.H. Spurgeon, "The First Sermon in the Tabernacle" (Part 4)

I have found the blogosphere to be somewhat slow around the weekend, so I have decided to post some kind of edifying work from the past on Saturdays.

This post continues a series from C.H. Spurgeon (1834-92, Baptist Preacher): "The First Sermon in the Tabernacle." In this message, Spurgeon gives a wonderfully insightful overview of his ministry. In what follows, Spurgeon gives us much to think about in our own day as well. Here is the series so far: Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

II. But, secondly, I am now to speak, for a short time, upon the COMPREHENSIVENESS OF THE SUBJECT which the text announces.

It is an old and trite saying that the ministers of the gospel may be divided into three kinds—the doctrinal, the experimental, and the practical. The saying is so often repeated that very few would contradict it. But it betrays at once, if it be true, the absence and lack of a something essentially necessary for the church's success. Where is the preacher of Christ out of these? I propound this, that if a man be found a preacher of Christ, he is doctrinal, experimental, and practical. The doctrinal preacher generally has a limited range. He is useful, exceedingly useful; God constitutes him a barrier against the innovations of the times: he preaches upon his subjects so frequently that he is well versed in them, and becomes one of the armed men about the bed of Solomon. But suppose the doctrinal preacher should have it all his own way, and there should be none others at all, what would be the effect? See it in our Baptist churches about one hundred and fifty years ago. They were all sound and sound asleep. Those doctrines had preached them into a lethargy, and had is not been for some few who started up and proposed the missions for the heathen, and who found but little sympathy at first, the church would have been utterly inactive. Now, I would not be hard with any, but there are some brethren still whose preaching might justly be summed up as being doctrinal, nothing more than doctrinal, and what is the effect of their ministry? Bitterness. They learn to contend not only earnestly for the faith, but savagely for it. Certainly we admire their earnestness, and we thank God for their soundness, but we wish there were mingled with their doctrine a somewhat else which might tone down their severity and make them seek rather the unity and fellowship of the saints than the division and discord which they labour to create.

Again, I will refer you to the next class of preachers, the experimental. How delightful it is to sit under an experimental preacher! Perhaps of all ministries this one is the most useful, he who preaches the doubts, the fears, the joys, the ecstasies of the people of God. How often do the saints see the footsteps of the flock, and then they find the shepherd under an experimental minister! But do you know the effect of an experimental minister, purely so, I mean, when all else is put aside to make room for experience? There is one school of divines always preaching the corruption of the human heart. This is their style; "Except thou be flayed alive by the law; except thou art daily feeling the utter rottenness of thine heart; except than art a stranger to full assurance, and dost always doubt and fear; except thou abidest on the dunghill and dost scrape thyself with a potsherd, thou art no child of God." Who told you that? This has been the preaching of some experimental preachers, and the effect has been just this. Men have come to think the deformities of God's people to be their beauty. They are like certain courtiers of the reign of Richard III, who is said by history to have had a hump upon his back and his admirers stuffed their backs that they might have a graceful hump too. And there be many who, because a minister preaches of doubts and fears, feel they must doubt and fear too; and then that which is both uncomfortable to themselves and dishonouring to God comes to be the very mark of God's people. This is the tendency of experimental preaching, however judiciously managed, when ministers harp on that string and on that alone; the tendency is either to preach the people into a soft and savoury state, in which there is not a bit of manliness or might, or else into that dead and rotten state in which corruption outswells communion, and the savour is not the perfume of the king's ointments, but the stench of a corrupt and filthy heart.

Take also the practical preacher; who would say a word against this good man? He stirs the people up, excites the children of God to holy duties, promotes every excellent object, and is in his way an admirable supplement to the two other kinds of ministers. But sit under she practical preacher; sit under him all the year round and listen to his people as they come out. There is one who says, "the same thing over again—Do, do, do, nothing but do." There is a poor sinner yonder just gone down the front steps. Follow him, "Oh," says he, "I came here to find out what Christ could do for me, and I have only been told what I must do for myself" Now this it a great evil, and persons who sit under such a ministry become lean, starvelling things. I would that practical preachers would listen to our farmers, who always say it is better to put the whip in the manger than upon the horse's back. Let them feed the people with food convenient for them, and they will be practical enough; but all practice and no promise, all exhortation and no sound doctrine, will never make the man of God perfect and zealous for good works.

But what am I driving at in bringing up these three sorts of ministers? Why just this: to show you that there is one minister who can preach all this, without the dangers of any one of the others, but with the excellencies of the whole. And who is he? Why, any man in the world who preaches Christ. If he preaches Christ's person he must preach doctrine. If I preach Christ I must preach him as the covenant head of his people, and how far am I then from the doctrine of election? If I preach Christ I must preach the efficacy of his blood, and how far am I removed then from the great doctrine of an effectual atonement? If I preach Christ I must preach the love of his heart, and how can I deny the final perseverance of the saints? If I preach the Lord Jesus as the great Head and King, how far am I removed from divine Sovereignty? Must I not, if I preach Christ personally, preach his doctrines? I believe they are nothing but the natural outgrowth of that great root thought, or root substance rather, the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He who will preach Christ fully will never be lax in doctrine. And what better experience can you preach than in preaching Christ? Would you preach the sufferings of the saints, preach his agony and bloody sweat, his cross and passion; for the true sufferings of the saints are in fellowship with him. If you would preach their joys, preach his resurrection, his ascension, and his advent; you are never far from the joys of the saints when you are near to the joys of Christ; for did not he say, "My joy shall be in them that their joy may be full"? And what better practice can be preached than preaching Christ? Of every virtue he is the pattern; of the perfection of human character he is the very mirror; of everything that is holy and of good report, he is the abiding incarnation. He cannot fail, then, to be a good doctrinal, experimental, practical preacher, who preaches Christ. Did you ever know a congregation grow less spiritual by a minister preaching Christ? Did you ever know them get full of doubts and fears by preaching Christ? Did you ever hear of their getting lax in sentiment by his preaching Christ? Did you ever hear a whisper that men became unholy in their lives because they heard too much about Christ? I think that all the excellencies of all ministers may be gathered up into the teaching of the man who can preach Christ every day in the week, while there will not be any of the evils connected with the other forms of preaching.
 
posted at 9:30 AM  



About Me

Name:
John

I am a former Mormon who has been saved by Jesus Christ. Now I am a missionary involved with the Africa Center for Apologetics Research (ACFAR). I seek to live in light of Paul's words: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21 ESV)

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