The cross and criticism

“In light of God’s judgement and justification of the sinner in the cross of Christ, we can begin to discover how to deal with any and all criticism. By agreeing with God’s criticism of me in Christ’s cross, I can face any criticism man may lay against me. In other words, no one can criticize me more than the cross has. If you thus know yourself as having been crucified with Christ, then you can respond to any criticism, even mistaken or hostile criticism, without bitterness, defensiveness, or blame shifting. Such responses typically exacerbate and intensify conflict, and lead to the rupture of relationships. You can learn to hear criticism as constructive and not condemnatory because God has justified you.” — Alfred Poirier “The Cross and Criticism” The Journal of Biblical Counseling (Vol. 17, No. 3, Spring 1999) 17 (HT: Of First Importance)

The Difference between a Theologian of the Cross and a Theologian of [Power] Glory

Justin Taylor posts: Carl Trueman on “the most glorious contribution of Martin Luther to theological discourse,” first revealed in Heidelberg during a meeting in 1518: At the heart of this new theology was the notion that God reveals himself under his opposite; or, to express this another way, God achieves his intended purposes by doing the exact opposite of that which humans might expect.  The supreme example of this is the cross itself: God triumphs over sin and evil by allowing sin and evil to triumph (apparently) over him.  His real strength is demonstrated through apparent weakness.  This was the way a theologian of the cross thought about God. The opposite to this was the theologian of glory.  In simple terms, the theologian of glory assumed that there was basic continuity between the way the world is and the way God is: if strength is demonstrated through raw power on earth, then God’s strength must be the same, only extended to

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Ministry Wisdom from CJ Mahaney

(HT: Dane Ortlund) Recently C.J. Mahaney completed a series of blog posts entitled “The Pastor and Personal Criticism.” They are well worth the read. 1. The Pastor and Personal Criticism 2. The Pastor’s Temptations when Criticism Arrives 3. Learning Wisdom by Embracing Criticism 4. A Kind and Painful Bruising 5. The Pastor’s Wife and Her Role When Criticism Arrives 6. Adding a Few Smudges to My Moral Portrait 7. Deal Gently with Your Critics 8. Why Faithful Pastors Will Be Criticized 9. Too High an Estimation 10. Distinguishing Criticism 11. How to Criticize Your Pastor (And Honor God) (HT: Todd Pruitt)

The Humbling Power of Cross-Centered Thinking

From Tony Reinke: Near the conclusion of his Desiring God National Conference message, “The Life of the Mind and the Love of God”, John Piper had this to say about cross-centered thinking: Where should our mind focus in order to know God most fully and deeply? We could focus on nature because the heavens are telling the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). We could focus on the human soul for we are made in the image of God. We could focus on the history of Israel because God calls Israel “my glory” (Isaiah 46:13). We could focus on the life of Christ because he is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Or we could come to the event where more of God is revealed than any other event in history, the death of his Son. All the other revelations of God in Christ are like rays of sun breaking through the

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Let Him Deny Himself

Two brief summary observations from John Bloom’s post on Mark 8:34 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”: First, the Christian life is hard; sometimes agonizing. We shouldn’t be surprised (1 Peter 4:12). It’s hard because denying our fallen selves is hard. Any death is hard, some much more than others. But it’s designed to be that way. Our lives are our most precious earthly possession. Nothing displays the worth of Jesus more than our willingness to give away our lives (in small and large ways) for his sake. Second, the only things that Jesus asks us to deny ourselves of are what will rob us of eternal joy. Like Moses in Hebrews 11:25-26, we are called to deny ourselves the passing pleasures of sin and consider the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the world’s treasures. How? By looking to the reward!