Beware of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

From my experience this is true of Christian youth culture in Europe, but not in Africa and Asia.  My thanks to Jason Robertson for this: Dr. Albert Mohler reports that when Christian Smith and his fellow researchers with the National Study of Youth and Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took a close look at the religious beliefs held by American teenagers, they found that the faith held and described by most adolescents came down to something the researchers identified as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.” Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these: “A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.” “God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.” “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.” “God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is

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That’s Why

“Over half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’ Since then I have spent well-nigh fifty years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, 1983 (HT: Ray Ortlund)

3 questions with Tim Keller

By Garrett E. Wishall Tim Keller serves as senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, N.Y. Question: What do pastors need to be doing to lead their flock out of idolatry and into Christlikeness? Tim Keller: The subject of idolatry is a lot more nuanced and complex than I could possibly get across in my talk at the Gospel Coalition conference. I made an allusion to the fact that idolatry sometimes is talked about in the Bible under the heading of spiritual adultery. It is also sometimes talked about under the heading of spiritual mastery and slavery. When Paul talks about those who are slaves to sin: all of those categories are actually talking about idolatry. Most preachers feel like “If I’m going to preach about idols, I have to tell people what an idol is.” What they don’t have in mind is: idolatry is at the root of all of our psychological problems, moral problems, cultural issues, our

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Collision Movie Trailer

A preacher and an atheist walk into a bar… Preview of the first 13 minutes of the forthcoming documentary “Collision”. The film follows renowned author and anti-theist Christopher Hitchens and Pastor Douglas Wilson as they debate the topic: “Is Christianity Good For The World?”. A Darren Doane film. level4.tv collisionmovie.com

The Lordship of Christ & the Kingdoms of this World

“Jesus Christ is Lord. That is the first and final assertion Christians make about all of reality, including politics. Believers now assert by faith what one day will be manifest to the sight of all: every earthly sovereignty is subordinate to the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. The Church is the bearer of that claim. Because the Church is pledged to the Kingdom proclaimed by Jesus, it must maintain a critical distance from all the kingdoms of the world, whether actual or proposed. Christians betray their Lord if, in theory or practice, they equate the Kingdom of God with any political, social or economic order of this passing time. At best, such orders permit the proclamation of the gospel of the Kingdom and approximate, in small part, the freedom, peace, and justice for which we hope.” ~ Richard John Neuhaus, quoted by D. A. Carson in Christ & Culture Revisited (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 203. (HT: The Big Picture)

Carson on the Relationship Between the Gospel and Social Issues

From an essay by D.A. Carson on “The Biblical Gospel” (in For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future, ed. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon [London: Evangelical Alliance, 1986], p. 83): Pundits have often noted that many in the Western world have become single-issue people. The church is not immune from such influences. The result is that many Christians assume the gospel (often, regrettably, some form of the ‘simple gospel’) but are passionate about something on the relative periphery: abortion, poverty, forms of worship, cultural decay, ecology, overpopulation, pornography, family breakdown, and much more. By labelling these complex subjects ‘relatively peripheral’ I open myself to attack from as many quarters as there are subjects on the list. For example, some of those whose every thought is shaded green will not be convinced that the ecological problems we face are peripheral to human survival. But I remain quite unrepentant. From a biblical-theological perspective, these challenges, as

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Non-Conversational Preaching

David Wells, in his barn-burning book The Courage to be Protestant: “Preaching is not a conversation about some interesting ideas. It is not the moment in which postmoderns hear their own private message in the biblical words, one unique to each one who hears, and then go their own way. No! This is God speaking! He speaks through the stammering lips of the preacher where that preacher’s mind is on the text of Scripture and his heart is in the presence of God. God, as Luther puts it, lives in the preacher’s mouth. This is the kind of preaching that issues a summons, which nourishes the soul, which draws the congregation into the very presence of God so that no matter what aspect of his character, his truth, his working in this world is in focus, we leave with awe, gratitude, encouragement, and sometimes a rebuke. We have been in the very presence of God! This is what great preaching

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Santa Christ?

Justin Taylor posts this topical piece from Sinclair Ferguson: we may denigrate our Lord with a Santa Claus Christology. How sadly common it is for the church to manufacture a Jesus who is a mirror refection of Santa Claus. He becomes Santa Christ.Santa Christ is sometimes a Pelagian Jesus. Like Santa, he simply asks us whether we have been good. More exactly, since the assumption is that we are all naturally good, Santa Christ asks us whether we have been “good enough.” So just as Christmas dinner is simply the better dinner we really deserve, Jesus becomes a kind of added bonus who makes a good life even better. He is not seen as the Savior of helpless sinners. Or Santa Christ may be a Semi-Pelagian Jesus — a slightly more sophisticated Jesus who, Santa-like, gives gifts to those who have already done the best they could! Thus, Jesus’ hand, like Santa’s sack, opens only when we can give an

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Five Trends in the Church Today – D A Carson

From Acts 29, via Justin Taylor: If you ever want to feel like you have the intelligence of a NASCAR fan that just finished off a six-pack (I think it’s a Red Neck law), then listen to D.A. Carson talk about, well, anything. Don is fluent in something like 7 languages and has written over 45 books. He is the esteemed Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School near Chicago. For instance, Carson said in his talk to us, “To be a non-perspectivalist is to be omniscient.” Nobody in the room was smart enough to argue with him over that. Don spoke at a luncheon at Bethlehem Baptist Church (John Piper) on Friday September 26, 2008 just before the Desiring God Conference. I attended this lunch with about 40 other church leaders. Don spoke for an hour about five trends in the American church that are troubling to him. Five Trends in the Church Today By D A

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DG Conference: The Power of Words and the Wonder of God

If, like me, you can’t make it to the Desiring God National Conference this year, the next best thing (apart from listening to all the messages after the event!) is to feast on these video clips of this years speakers. There is plenty here to stimulate and edify. And make you wish you could be there! My thanks to Justin Taylor for posting these links. John Piper John Piper’s Topic John Piper on Why He Invited Sinclair Ferguson John Piper on Why He Invited Dan Taylor John Piper on Why He Invited Mark Driscoll John Piper on Why He Invited Paul Tripp John Piper on Why He Invited Bob Kauflin John Piper on the Importance of Conferences John Piper on Why He Chose This Topic Bob Kauflin Bob Kauflin: Should Christians Sing the Good News? Bob Kauflin on Singing and Preaching Bob Kauflin on Style of Music Bob Kauflin on Why Christians Sing Bob Kauflin: Does God Sing? Bob Kauflin

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The Worldly Church

“Evangelical Christianity is now tragically below the New Testament standard. Worldliness is an accepted part of our way of life. Our religious mood is social instead of spiritual. We have lost the art of worship. We are not producing saints. Our models are successful business men, celebrated athletes and theatrical personalities. We carry on our religious activities after the methods of the modern advertiser. Our literature is shallow and our hymnody borders on sacrilege. And scarcely anyone appears to care.” -A.W. Tozer (HT: Reformed Voices)

Quietness vs. entertainment

“People today are afraid to be alone. This fear is a dominant mark of our society. Many now ceaselessly sit in the cinema or read novels about other people’s lives or watch dramas. Why? Simply to avoid having to face their own existence. . . . No one seems to want (and no one can find) a place of quiet — because, when you are quiet, you have to face reality. But many in the present generation dare not do this because on their own basis reality leads them to meaninglessness; so they fill their lives with entertainment, even if it is only noise. . . . The Christian is supposed to be very opposite: There is a place for proper entertainment, but we are not to be caught up in ceaseless motion which prevents us from ever being quiet. Rather we are to put everything second so we can be alive to the voice of God and allow it

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Test Revival with Doctrine

John Piper posts on Lee Grady’s excellent article in Charisma Magazine. I recommend you read the whole piece linked below. Piper: Lee Grady, the editor of Charisma, one of the main charismatic magazines, has written a lament and critique of the Lakeland “revival” which is now in a tailspin over the leader’s announced separation from his wife. Grady’s summons to pray for the church and our nation is right, and among his commendable questions and observations are these: “Many of us would rather watch a noisy demonstration of miracles, signs and wonders than have a quiet Bible study. Yet we are faced today with the sad reality that our untempered zeal is a sign of immaturity. Our adolescent craving for the wild and crazy makes us do stupid things. It’s way past time for us to grow up.” “True revival will be accompanied by brokenness, humility, reverence and repentance—not the arrogance, showmanship and empty hype that often was on display

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LORD TEBBIT: If the head of our church can’t uphold the standards that shaped us, what hope is there?

Some good sense here from Lord Tebbit in The Daily Mail: Who am I to criticise the Archbishop of Canterbury on the matters of theology, doctrine or what the scriptures mean? After all, I am not a fully paid-up member of the Church of England. I am, however, a ‘fellow traveller’ and it is fellow travellers, whether of political parties or churches, whose opinions should be listened to most carefully by the powers that be. If the politicians or bishops offer confident, reasonable leadership, we follow them. If they look lost, confused and out of touch, we leave in droves. Dr Rowan Williams is a decent, likeable and intelligent man. But over homosexuality, he seems to be in a terrible muddle, saying different things to different people. Just days after the Anglican Church agreed to call a halt to ordaining gay bishops, a debate in which he sided with the conservative majority, earlier private letters have emerged in which he

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