Mike Riccardi: One of the most devastating attacks on the life and health of the church throughout all of church history has been what is known as the ecumenical movement—the downplaying of doctrine in order to foster partnership in ministry between (a) genuine Christians and (b) people who were willing to call themselves Christians but who rejected fundamental Christian doctrines. In the latter half of the 19th century, theological liberalism fundamentally redefined what it meant to be a Christian. It had nothing to do, they said, with believing in doctrine. It didn’t matter if you believed in an inerrant Bible; the scholarship of the day had debunked that! It didn’t matter if you believed in the virgin birth and the deity of Christ; modern science disproved that! It didn’t matter if you embraced penal substitutionary atonement; blood sacrifice and a wrathful God are just primitive and obscene, and besides, man is not fundamentally sinful but basically good! What mattered was
By Tim Challies: I get the books. I read the articles. I see the news. Christianity seems ready to move on. And I realize anew: I am an old-fashioned kind of Christian. I believe in the Bible. I believe that it is clear, complete, sufficient, true, and without error. It is God’s revelation to humanity and demands my full attention and full obedience. I do not expect God to speak to me apart from it. I read, He speaks, I obey. Or I try anyways. I believe in the God of the Bible. I believe in a God who is one, yet three. I believe in a God who is loving, holy, just, kind and good. I believe in a God who has foreordained everything that has come to pass or will come to pass. I believe that God, from nothing, made the world and everything in it in six days. Not six ages or six phases or six million years, mind you, but six
New Testament scholar Mike Bird offers an intriguing introduction to his new book, Evangelical Theology: A Biblical and Systematic Introduction (Zondervan, 2013): (HT: Justin Taylor)
A couple of important quotes (via Todd Pruitt) from Carl Truman’s forth coming book: The Real Scandal of the Evangelical Mind: A movement that cannot or will not draw boundaries, or that allows the modern cultural fear of exclusion to set its theological agenda, is doomed to lose its doctrinal identity. [When] conversation rather than content becomes what is truly important, something critical is lost. Thus, as theology becomes a “conversation,” traditional notions of truth face the danger of assuming less importance than mere aesthetics or modes of discourse. Indeed, doctrinal indifferentism can creep forward in a way that ends only with the sidelining or even repudiation of orthodoxy in any meaningful sense.
(HT: Dane Ortlund)
. In February 2009, Don Carson presented a 14-part seminar entitled “The God Who Is There” at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. This series will serve the church well because it simultaneously evangelizes non-Christians and edifies Christians by explaining the Bible’s storyline in a non-reductionistic way. The series is geared toward “seekers” and articulates Christianity in a way that causes hearers either to reject or embrace the gospel. It’s one thing to know the Bible’s storyline, but it’s another to know one’s role in God’s ongoing story of redemption. “The God Who Is There” engages people at the worldview-level. Full audio and video are now available for free for the entire 14 part series: . 1. The God Who Made Everything View Media 2. The God Who Does Not Wipe Out Rebels View Media 3. The God Who Writes His Own Agreements View Media 4. The God Who Legislates View Media 5. The God Who Reigns View Media 6. The God Who Is Unfathomably Wise View
“You must be born again.” John 3:7 You. This is personal. If I resent it as threatening, that could be evidence I have not been born again. If my heart welcomes the approach of this truth and waves the white flag of surrender, that could be evidence I have been born again. Must. This is authoritative. If I take evasive action, that could be evidence I have not been born again. If I breathe a sigh of relief that finally Someone is telling me the truth and taking me in hand, that could be evidence I have been born again. Be born again. This is passive. I need more than self-correction; I need a miracle deep within. I need God to call into existence within me a new aliveness to God, new tastes, new desires, new openness and humility and fears and hopes, such as I have never experienced before and cannot conjure up out of my admirable upbringing and
The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is not inadequate technique, insufficient organization, or antiquated music and those who want to squander the church’s resources bandaging these scratches will do nothing to staunch the flow of blood that is spilling from its wounds. The fundamental problem in the evangelical world today is that God rests too inconsequentially upon the church. His truth is too distant, his grace too ordinary, his judgment too benign, his gospel too easy, and his Christ is too common. David Wells from God in the Wasteland, p. 30 (HT: Todd Pruitt)
My good friend Ali McLachlan has produced this excellent video/DVD as part of Cumnock Baptist Church‘s evangelistic outreach. It is designed to particularly engage young people and adults; to provoke discussion; and encourage a follow-up Christianity Explored Course or church visit.
From Adrian Warnock:
“The quality of our lives is not necessary to make the Word of God true or endue it with spiritual power–the Word is inherently true and powerful–but by our lives we can either add static or provide clear channels to the Bible’s instruction. We should not let present, legitimate demands for authenticity and transparency convince us that Christ’s call to godliness is old-fashioned or ineffective. . . . Piety is not passe. While no one wants sanctimonious religiosity, God’s people need to know the gospel is real and frees us from our sin.” Bryan Chapell – ‘A Pastoral Theology of the Glory of God,’ p. 200 (HT: Dane Ortlund)
From Reformation Theology: In one of the Q&A sessions this week at the Ligonier National Conference, R.C. Sproul asked questions submitted by attendees. On the panel were Michael Horton, Alistair Begg, Albert Mohler and Steven Lawson. An effort was made to capture in brief form the questions and answers but you may wish to track down the audio or video to hear lengthier responses. Here is one such question: Why don’t Christians care, or care enough, that they are sinning? Begg: Because we don’t truly understand the nature of the atonement and what has happened in Christ bearing our sins. A low view of the atonement goes in line with an easy-going view of sin in the same way that when people take sin seriously they have a solid and clear grasp of what has happened in Christ dying for us. This was not a moot question for Paul in writing Romans where the same question applied to the people
From J. Gresham Machen’s The Importance of Christian Scholarship. Posted by Andy Naselli. Certainly a Christianity that avoids argument is not the Christianity of the New Testament. The New Testament is full of argument in defense of the faith. The Epistles of Paul are full of argument—no one can doubt that. But even the words of Jesus are full of argument in defense of the truth of what Jesus was saying. “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?” Is not that a well-known form of reasoning, which the logicians would put in its proper category? Many of the parables of Jesus are argumentative in character. Even our Lord, who spake in the plenitude of divine authority, did condescend to reason with men. Everywhere the New Testament meets objections fairly, and presents the gospel as a
From Justin Taylor: The kingdom is an incredibly important theme in the Bible, and it’s good that evangelicals are thinking hard about it. But it seems to me that far too often when evangelicals start talking about the kingdom, there’s an almost reactionary tendency not to say much about the cross. It’s almost like it’s a different story, and we can’t figure out very well how the cross fits into this story of the kingdom. So we manage to create in our thought and conversation a rift between the cross and the kingdom, with cross over here and kingdom over there and everyone crouching on one side or the other of the chasm, sneering suspiciously at each other. I don’t think the Bible leaves us with such a division, though. Here’s why: The only way into the Kingdom is through the Cross. Yes, Jesus came to inaugurate a kingdom which will one day be established with perfect justice and righteousness.
“Jesus was not revolutionary because he said we should love God and each other. Moses said that first. So did Buddha, Confucius, and countless other religious leaders we’ve never heard of. Madonna, Oprah, Dr. Phil, the Dali Lama, and probably a lot of Christian leaders will tell us that the point of religion is to get us to love each other. “God loves you” doesn’t stir the world’s opposition. However, start talking about God’s absolute authority, holiness, … Christ’s substitutionary atonement, justification apart from works, the necessity of new birth, repentance, baptism, Communion, and the future judgment, and the mood in the room changes considerably.” — Michael S. Horton
A trailer for Tullian’s new book, Surprised by Grace: Surprised by Grace trailer from Crossway on Vimeo. (HT: Justin Taylor)
From Tullian Tchividjian’s new book, Surprised Grace: God’s Relentless Pursuit of Rebels I once assumed the gospel was simply what non-Christians must believe in order to be saved, but after they believe it, they advance to deeper theological waters. Jonah helped me realize that the gospel isn’t the first step in a stairway of truths but more like the hub in a wheel of truth. As Tim Keller explains it, the gospel isn’t simply the ABCs of Christianity, but the A-through-Z. The gospel doesn’t just ignite the Christian life; it’s the fuel that keeps Christians going every day. Once God rescues sinners, his plan isn’t to steer them beyond the gospel but to move them more deeply into it. After all, the only antidote to sin is the gospel—and since Christians remain sinners even after they’re converted, the gospel must be the medicine a Christian takes every day. Since we never leave off sinning, we can never leave the gospel. This
Justin Taylor interviews Tullian Tchvidjian on gospel and law. Read the whole thing here, but it’s so good I’ve copied most here. Some great quotes, and some excellent theology applied to an essential (and misunderstood) area of Christian living. Is the gospel a middle ground between legalism and lawlessness? This seems to be a common misunderstanding in the church today. I hear people say that there are two equal dangers Christians must avoid: legalism and lawlessness. Legalism, they say, happens when you focus too much on law, or rules. Lawlessness, they say, happens when you focus too much on grace. Therefore, in order to maintain spiritual equilibrium, you have to balance law and grace. Legalism and lawlessness are typically presented as two ditches on either side of the Gospel that we must avoid. If you start getting too much law, you need to balance it with grace. Too much grace, you need to balance it with law. But I’ve come to believe
Here’s a simple chart contrasting religion and gospel. This is from Justin Buzzard as taken from Tim Keller’s Gospel in Life curriculum. Buzzard has made a pdf available here. (HT: Rick Ianniello)
“The great hope for Christians, the thing for which we long and to which we look for strength and encouragement, is the day when our King will part the skies and return to establish his glorious kingdom, finally and forever. That glorious moment is when everything in this world will be set right, when justice will finally be done, evil overthrown forever, and righteousness established once and for all.” – Greg Gilbert, What is the Gospel? (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2010), 91. (HT Of First Importance)