Sunday, April 30, 2006

Together for the Gospel Highlights

Some personal highlights for me:
  • being on the Band of Bloggers panel with Al Mohler, Russ Moore, and Tim Challies; and having the opportunity to meet a number of fellow bloggers [thanks to all of you who took the time to introduce yourself];
  • having dinner with friends and fellow bloggers Tim Challies, Terry Stauffer, and Paul Martin (the only quirks with Tim is that he liveblogged our supper and kept introducing himself to perfect strangers as "Tim Challies--Challies.com");
  • sitting under the teaching ministry of some of my modern-day heroes in the faith: Mark Dever, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan, C.J. Mahaney, R.C. Sproul, John Piper, and John MacArthur. In our shallow celebrity-obsessed culture we have too many idols and not enough heroes. These are men of whom the world is not worthy;
  • watching an army of anonymous volunteers selflessly serve us with humility and graciousness;
  • reaping the fruit of the excellence conference planning by Matt Schmucker and Paul Medler--few know the amount of work and planning and foregone sleep it takes to pull off a conference of this size;
  • having lunch with Josh Harris, whose love for the gospel and humble spirit is evident to all;
  • having hot browns with the Sovereign Grace dream team of Mickey Connolly, John Butler, Grant Layman, and Bill Kittrell--who paid for my dinner only on the condition that they would be mentioned on this blog [on a more serious note: it was a wonderful time of fellowship and observing true gospel-centered friendship among these four brothers];
  • singing praise to Christ with 3,000 men under the leadership of Bob Kauflin;
  • meeting Reformed rapper Curtis Allen (aka Voice), whose debut album Progression I've been enjoying and is definitely worth listening to--though he has a long way to go if he wants to compete with the beat of these fellas;
  • touring Al Mohler's study, which really defies categorization and for a bibliophile is a bit like passing through the wardrobe into Narnia;
  • hearing Al Mohler read the T4G Statement--a series of affirmations and denials--the final version of which will be made available later this week [note: the versions already floating around on the blogosphere are not the final version]
While I appreciated each of the speakers' messages for different reasons, I was most convicted and challenged by R.C. Sproul's address on justification. I've been involved in the intra-evangelical debate on imputation for a number of years now, which has been at times personally painful. It is often tempting to walk away from the debate and to move on to other things. But his talk encouraged me afresh that this is a doctrine worth defending and worth cherishing. Justification by grace alone through faith alone based on Christ alone truly is articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesiae (the article by which the church stands or falls). It is humbling to know that each of these speakers has made sacrifices and endured ridicule due to their courageous stand for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jason Robertson's reflection post is worth quoting at length, as it accurately summarizes my take as well:
I have much to say about the Together for the Gospel Conference, but for now I just want to deal with my opinion of the conference as a whole. Just to give you the context of my own critical viewpoint, I have attended more than a hundred conferences in my twenty years of ministry. I directed a few conferences over the years as well. I know the burden of knowing and communicating a conference vision/theme, of organizing the speakers, and of serving the attendees.

With that said, Together for the Gospel ranks as one of the best conferences I have ever been attended. It literally lived up to its name. What do I mean by that? Well, you know how we usually refer to conferences based on personalities, e.g. Sproul's conference, MacArthur's conference, Piper's conference. But because of the structure of T4G there is no predominate personality to attach to this conference. The speakers were definitely some of the best Christianity has today. Each one "hit the nail on the head" in their sessions. But each only spoke once, and each spoke on the same topic generally -- the Gospel. Thus, the conference lived up to its name.

The Gospel was discussed by various speakers from various angles. The sessions were followed by panel discussions whereby we were able to hear the speakers speak about the substance of their sermons in a casual manner. The structure provided a powerful one-two punch. Our calling to proclaim the Gospel has never been more comprehensively dealt with than at this conference.

Furthermore, as I have said in a previous post the location, structure, and content of the conference created a feeling of a reunion of family. Rather than everyone being concerned about schedules and so forth, there seemed to be a spirit of fellowship. Do you remember being a freshman in college on registration day? You didn’t know anybody, but there was a sense that you had something in common with everyone. You knew this crowd had the same goals, the same challenges, and would be friends for a long time. That’s how T4G felt.

Jason is right. I left the conference not in awe of any speakers, but rather edified by them. I left with a fresh desire to be in the Word, to worship at my local church, and to preach the gospel to myself and others.

Over at the T4G blog, Mark Dever offers some reflections and addresses the "what's next?" question.

Why?

Mark Dever, from his Together for the Gospel talk:

  • Why is it in so many of our churches it is unusual to see someone giving their all to follow Christ, and growing in him?
  • Is it because we’ve allowed people who are in open unrepentant sin to continue on in our congregation, and so diluted the witness, the fellowship?
  • Why have we so neglected church discipline?
  • Is it because we’ve not followed biblical instructions on leadership in the congregation (which we need in order to successfully practice church discipline), and we’ve also neglected the Bible’s clear teaching on church discipline itself?
  • Why have we neglected discipline?
  • Is it because we don’t teach about what church membership entails?
  • And why would that be?
  • Because we haven’t made it clear what it really means to be a Christian in the first place?
  • And why would that be?
  • Because we’ve misunderstood the Gospel?
  • How could that be?
  • Because we have misunderstood the Bible?
  • And why would that be the case?
  • Because we’ve had pastors who have given themselves to everything in the world—sometimes with the best of motives—EXCEPT for giving themselves to the study and preaching of God’s Word!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Powlison, Counseling, and Seminary

In an article entitled Why I Chose Seminary for Training in Counseling, David Powlison asks:

Should you go to a theological seminary to train in counseling? Should young men and women with counseling promise pursue studies at a seminary or Bible college? Twenty-five years ago, this might have seemed like a nonsense question. Should you go to Virginia to study the geology of Vermont? Order a Big Mac at Burger King? People went to seminary to study Bible, church history, theology, and preaching. They went there to become preachers, missionaries, chaplains, and Bible professors. But counseling? Serious, intentional, one-on-one talking to people was the property of secular graduate schools. Seminary was about proclamation, not conversation.

But twenty-five years ago I did go to seminary to train in counseling. And—with appropriate cautions—I heartily recommend the same today. There was no counseling degree offered at the time, but the theology and Bible courses were strikingly relevant to a young man who came with counseling questions and aspirations. I was taught about human nature; about suffering and God’s providence; about the work of Christ’s grace to forgive and remake us; about the way fallen thought suppresses true knowledge of self, God, and circumstances; and so forth. Though most of the courses didn’t make “counseling applications” in any detail, they were unmistakably about the “stuff” counseling deals with. What I learned of theology and the Bible, even of church history, has been as significant as the formal counseling courses for my maturing as a counselor.

Read the whole thing, wherein Powlison also relays more of his own story and provides a helpful introduction to biblical counseling. (HT: Keith Plummer)

Powlison recently traveled to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. From what I can gather based on Powlison's introduction to the lecture, he sent an email asking the counseling students at the seminary to provide him with the most persistent and perplexing questions regarding biblical counseling in a seminary setting. Powlison answers the questions (like whether Scripture is a manual for counseling, the role of medicine in counseling treatment, the relationship between CCEF and Jay Adams/NANC (National Association of Nouthetic Counselors), the role of common grace and science, jobs and careers in counseling, and intra-departmental issues and questions. You can listen to the lectures here:

Polygamy

Most Christians recognize that polygamy is wrong, but I wonder how many can explain the biblical data concerning the biblical view. For a helpful primer, see this recent post on the issue by Andreas Kostenberger.

Flight 93 in CT

Christianity Today reviews the Flight 93 movie.

Ponnuru's "The Party of Death"

If you want to read a free PDF chapter of Ramesh Ponnuru's book, The Party of Death, you can do so here. The thesis of this chapter is that "America’s journalistic elite is a functional ally of the party of death."

Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, recently posted this about the book:

"Let me join those who have praised Ramesh's new book. I read it about a month ago and was blown away by it. It will be a classic. I defy anyone to read it and not come away illuminated. This is polemical writing at its very best--brilliant, fair-minded, and ultimately absolutely devastating."

The Mantle of Preaching

"The mantle of preaching is soaked in the blood of Jesus and singed with the fires of Hell. Are you wearing that mantle?"--John Piper, at Together for the Gospel

Friday, April 28, 2006

Journaling Bible

This fall Crossway Books will be publishing a Journaling Bible . Thoughtful and innovative Bible reader J. Mark Bertrand is thrilled and explains why.

Together for the Gospel

If you want to read Tim Challies' blogs on the conference talks, here they are:

T4G Introduction
T4G Session One - Mark Dever
T4G Session Two - Ligon Duncan
T4G Session Three - Al Mohler
T4G Session Four - R.C. Sproul
T4G Session Five - John Piper
T4G Session Six - C.J. Mahaney
T4G Session Seven - John MacArthur

And here's a post by Lig Duncan on their vision for the conference and what they are trying (by God's grace) to achieve

We want to see a strong coalition of Bible-saturated, truth-driven, God-entranced, prayer-soaked, aggressively evangelistic, Christ-treasuring, Christ-exalting, Spirit-filled, sovereign grace-loving, missions-advancing, hell-robbing, strong-thinking, real-need-exposing, soul-winning, mind-engaging, vagueness-rejecting, wartime-life-style-pursuing, risk-taking, justice-advancing, Scripture-expounding, cross-cherishing, homosexuality-opposing, abortion-denouncing, racism-resisting, heaven-desiring, imputation-of-an-alien righteousness-proclaiming, justification-by-faith-alone-apart-from-doing preaching, error-exposing, complementarian, joyful, humble, courageous, happy pastors working together for the Gospel. (thanks to John Piper for much of this language)

And we want to see them leading a strong coalition of evangelical churches who, while they hold as faithfully and biblically as they know how to certain doctrinal distinctives not shared by all other biblical evangelical churches, band together for the Gospel on a robustly doctrinal, historic, orthodox, reformational, world-opposing-while-at-the-same-time-world-loving, Bible-preaching, Scriptural-theology-inculcating, real-conversion-prizing, deep biblical evangelism-practicing, New Testament church-membership-implementing, church-discipline-applying, healthy and growing Disciple-making, biblically led basis – for the display of God’s glory in the churches.


If you want to get the audio from this epic conference, go here.

Together for the Gospel

I'm back from the T4G conference, and will post more later on it. For now, you can check out some photos from Timmy Brister, who did a great job hosting the Band of Bloggers pre-conference get-together.

Tragedy at Taylor University

AP: "A week of celebrations turned to mourning on a university campus Thursday after a highway crash killed five students and staff as they headed home after setting up for a scholarship banquet." Pray for the students and the families of the victims.

See here for more information on the students. I was told yesterday (by someone with close connection to the students) that all of them had a deep, genuine love for Christ, for which we must be so thankful.

MercyMe in the NYT

The New York Times' music critic takes a look at the Christian band MercyMe.

Among (especially Reformed) evangelicals one often hears the criticism that a good share of contemporary Christian music can be characterized as "Jesus is my girlfriend" songs. What's interesting to me is that the NYT critic sees the same thing.

"So what difference would it make if those plaintive lyrics were about a Him instead of a her?"

"More often, MercyMe relies upon a familiar (though often effective) head-fake: the song seems to be about a romantic relationship, but it turns out to be a relationship with God. In the winsome single "So Long Self," there's a rousing guitar riff that could almost be pop-punk, topped with cheerful lyrics about breaking up: 'So long self/ Well it's been fun, but I have found somebody else.' Guess who that somebody is? And in 'One Trick Pony,' there's a bluesy groove (sounds like someone got hold of a G. Love & Special Sauce CD) and an eager admission: "I got a one-track mind." Guess where those tracks lead?"


Update: Dick Staub has an interesting post on the article, CCM, and pop culture. (HT: Cawley)

The Foolishness of the Cross

Al Mohler on the foolishness of the cross (parts 1, 2, and 3).

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Together for the Gospel

I'm at the Together for the Gospel Conference, so blogging will probably be fairly light over the next few days.

The Band of Bloggers get-together went well. Thanks to Timmy Brister for pulling it off, and for Al Mohler who led our panel discussion. Feel free to leave a link in the comments section if anyone has provided a roundup.

Tim Challies is liveblogging the conference, for those who are interested.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Reformation 21

Ligon Duncan highlights the new edition online of Reformation 21:

"D.A. Carson, Mike Kruger, Andreas Kostenberger, Bob Cara, Paul Helm, Scott Oliphint and more. All contribute to the May rendition of ref21. Don't miss Don Carson on Webster, Wright (yep, N.T.) and Enns. Or Kostenberger on the Da Vinci Code. Or Kruger on Ehrman. Or Scott Oliphint on the knowledge of God or even on Helm on Calvin!"

Church Government

Andreas Kostenberger has two helpful--and to my mind persuasive--blog entries on the debates issues of whether women can be deacons (yes) and whether its a requirement for an elder to have born-again children (no).

For a more detailed exegetical look at these issues--along with the question of what the phrase mias gynaikas andra in 1 Timothy 3:2 and 120--see Kostnberger's “The New Testament Pattern of Church Government,” Midwestern Journal of Theology (forthcoming in Spring 2006).

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Economic Decline of the NYT

Here's an interesting article on the economic decline of the New York Times. Readers of this blog won't be surprised to learn that I'm not shedding any tears over the news.

(HT: Powerline)

Friday, April 21, 2006

Leaking About Leaking, and Journalistic Ethics

"The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the firing." Sigh.

The fired leaker, Mary McCarthy, is now under investigation by the Justice Department. The receipient of the leaker--Washington Post reporter Dana Priest--just won a Pulitzer prize for her reporting.

Hugh Hewitt asks some good questions that are worth thinking about:

If the CIA employee fired today for leaking highly classified material to the press had instead taken a computer and given it to a reporter, the reporter would be guilty of receiving stolen goods, right?

And if an Apple employee leaked key design and development info to a competitor, the competitor would be in the wrong, right?

So, how can the journalists recipient of the pilfered info be a hero?

Becaue the reporters' colleagues are reporting the news about the leak?

Because government needs watchdogs?

But what if the leaked information compromised an anti-terrorist operation, allowing terrorists to escape and strike U.S. interests, or the homeland, later?

Flight 93

Here's an early review of the new movie.

Sproul TV

R.C. Sproul will soon be on DirecTV.

Abortion in a Post-Roe World

What will a post-Roe v. Wade world look like politically? It's become fairly standard for pundits to suggest that the overturning of Roe will be paradoxically bad for Republicans. Rather than simply repeating cliches or generalities about the value of human life (as, for example, President Bush tends to do on this issue), Republicans would either have to support abortion bans (alienating the centrists) or reject abortion bans (alienating the conversative base).

Ramesh Ponnuru, writing in The New Republic (free registration required), disagrees. His thesis is basically summed up in his closing lines: "The theory that pro-lifers would be dealt a stunning setback by the realization of their fondest goal is interestingly counterintuitive, and it has become a shibboleth for sophisticated pundits. But it's probably wrong." He gives a thoughtful analysis of where the country is on this issue and what is likely to happen in a post-Roe world.

Also, in case you missed it, USA Today ran a cover story on Monday on the issue of what states would do if Roe were to be overturned
: "Ultimately, that would depend on factors ranging from who was governor to where public opinion stood. Even so, there are clues from what state legislatures have chosen to do already and what they're considering doing next." They provide a map that rates the likely actions of state legislatures, broken down into (1) states considered likely to enact significant additional restrictions on abortion; (2) states in the middle; and (3) states considered most likely to protect access to abortion.

I pray that God would speed the crucial day when the issue is returned to the states. That's not the end of the battle, of course--but it's a key step.

Don't Waste Your Life


Here's another great photo. For the story behind it, click here.

Mohler: The Pastor as Theologian

Al Mohler has a recent three-part series on The Pastor As Theologian. (See Part One, Part Two, Part Three.)

Here are a few helpful quotes:

"The pastor who is no theologian is no pastor."

"The transformation of theology into an academic discipline more associated with the university than the church has been one of the most lamentable developments of the last several centuries."

"In reality, there is no dimension of the pastor's calling that is not deeply, inherently, and inescapably theological. There is no problem the pastor will encounter in counseling that is not specifically theological in character. There is no major question in ministry that does not come with deep theological dimensions and the need for careful theological application. The task of leading, feeding, and guiding the congregation is as theological as any other vocation conceivable."

Luther's Use of Bar Tunes

Gene Veith, writing in World Magazine:

“For the record, Luther did not take 'bar tunes' and put biblical words to them. That legend comes from a comical misunderstanding. Someone apparently heard a music historian referring to Luther's use of the 'bar form,' which refers to a stanza structure, not to what drunks sing in a tavern. Luther did borrow and adapt tunes from earlier hymns, medieval chants, and contemporary composers, but a good number of his melodies were his own original compositions.”

If you're interested, check out the 4-CD set, Martin Luther: Hymns, Ballads, Chants, Truth, which Veith reviews in the article linked above.

(HT: Tall Paul)

9 Marks of a Healthy Church in Kenya

Jim Harmeling, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Morristown, TN, traveled to Kenya with a team from his congregation. Pastor Jim spoke at a number of conferences for pastors and church leaders in the western part of the nation and distributed copies of Mark Dever's book, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. In each conference, all the attendees enthusiastically applauded when informed that this book was to be given to them. Here's a great photo of the pastors who received a copy of Dever's excellent book:

If You Think Your Commute Is Bad...

...his is worse.

(HT: Challies)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

What More Can He Say Than to You He Has Said?

We recently finished the initial edits for the forthcoming book Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (due out this Fall). David Powlison's chapter--on how God's grace enters your suffering--has been ministering to my soul. (The original audio of the talk can be heard here.) One of the things that Powlison does in this message is work through the hymn "How Firm a Foundation" stanza by stanza. I was particularly struck by his exposition of the hymn's question: “What more can he say than to you he has said?"

“What more can he say than to you he has said?" Let that rattle around a minute. I don’t know how you read Scripture. But there is a way to read Scripture that leaves you wishing God had said a whole lot more. How did Satan become evil? Why does Chronicles add zeros to the numbers in Samuel and Kings? How did Jonah avoid asphyxiation? Who wrote the book of Hebrews? And those aren’t even the questions that most often divide and perplex the church. Wouldn’t it have been great if the Lord had slipped in one killer verse that pinned down the eschatological timetable? That resolved once and for all every question about baptism? That specifically told us how to organize church leadership and government? That told us exactly what sort of music to use in worship? That explained how God’s absolute sovereignty neatly dovetails with full human responsibility? Only one more verse! And think what he could have told us with an extra paragraph or chapter! If only the Lord had shortened the genealogies, omitted mention of a few villages in the land distribution, and condensed the spec sheet for the temple’s dimensions, dishware, d├ęcor, and duties. Our Bible would be exactly the same length—even shorter—but a hundred of our questions could have been anticipated and definitively answered. Somehow, God in his providence didn’t choose to do that.

It comes down to what you are looking for as you read and listen. When you get to what most matters, to life-and-death issues, what more can he say than to you he has said? Betrayal by someone you trusted? Aggressive, incurable cancer? Your most persistent sin? A disfiguring disability? The meaning and purpose of your life? Good and evil? Love and hate? Truth and lie? Hope in the face of death? Mercy in the face of sin? Justice in the face of unfairness? The character of God? The dynamics of the human heart? What more can he say than to you he has said? Listen well. There is nothing more that he needed to say.

Owen Audio

If you want to hear some of John Owen's writings read aloud, here's a source.

RBA + RTS

Reformed Blacks of America has announced an exciting new African-American recruitment initiative, partnering with Reformed Theological Seminary-Orlando.

I pray that God would use this initiative to help create and equip more Reformed Blacks in America!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ferguson on the Church

Here's a recent sermon series by Sinclair Ferguson on the church:

The Church's Builder

The Church's Birth Marks

The Church's Worship

The Church as Christ's Army

The Church as God's Family

The Church as the Light of the World

The Church Around the Table

The Church and the Preaching of the Word

The Church on Its Knees

The Church and Its Leadership

Is the Shorter Catechism Worthwhile?

Yes.

Presidential Approval

What makes a president's approval rating go up or down? This chart suggests a surprising correlation.

(HT: The Corner)

Second Thoughts on How to Respond to the Da Vinci Code Film

A few days ago I passed along an email from screenwriter Brian Godawa, where he included a suggested strategy of going to a different movie than the Da Vinci Code on its opening weekend. After receiving feedback, he's had second thoughts on that approach, and passes along the following note (with permission to post). I reprint it here for your consideration:


"I have had some very helpful responses to the email I forwarded about strategy dealing with the Da Vinci Code release on May 19. In fact, they were so good that they persuaded me to expand my thinking on what to do May 19. I have always affirmed the Acts 17 approach to engaging with pagan culture, and was neglectful in taking that into consideration when I forwarded that email. As I thought about it some more, based on some of your thoughtful challenges, I realized that this is a profound opportunity that we have not had in a long time (since, The Passion) to talk about Jesus so widely. Now, some Christians have different gifts and ministries than others, which mean there are several ways of dealing with this issue, and all of them are legitimate depending on what situation you are in:

1) Educate yourself and go to see another movie on May 19. This was the first suggestion. And it is great for those who would probably not go see the movie anyway, as well as those who feel they don't want to "support" the success of the film. Hollywood does listen to box office on the first couple weekends in terms of what movies they will continue to make. In a sense, our dollars are votes for what kind of movies are going to be made. Buy some books by Christians who have dissected the fallacies and fantasies of The Da Vinci Code so you can actually converse with people and express a measure of intelligence. It is important to note here that Christians have a reputation for not knowing what they are talking about because they "haven't seen the movie." BUT... Remember, you don't have to see the movie to be able to discuss it with those who have, but you DO have to know what the issues are. In fact, the most effective means of witnessing is to LISTEN FIRST. So ask what someone else learned from the movie to see just how it affected them, and then respond to those concerns with the truth.
Too often we start rattling off what we think is wrong with something before we understand what the unbeliever really needs or thinks.

Listening first places you in a humble and disarming position. JUST ASK QUESTIONS AND LISTEN to the unbeliever's viewpoint first. Wow, what a concept!

2) Go see the movie on May 19. The fact is, some unbelievers will not listen to your viewpoint if you haven't seen it. For those of you who are in these circles, you may need to see it in order to interact with more effect. If your friends are going to see it, go with them, so you can give your opinions when they discuss it afterward. If you aren't there when they do, then you've missed a chance to share the Gospel. Go the first couple weeks because it is going to be a hot issue and a lot of people will be talking about it right away, so if we wait for a few weeks, we can miss the most important discussions. The point is that we rarely have an open opportunity to talk about Jesus and here we have the unbelievers bringing it up and willing to talking about it.

OBJECTIONS:

1) But doesn't this give money to godless movie companies for their godless films?
Well, Either Paul or Gamaliel, under whom Paul studied, paid money to buy the plays of Menander as well as the writings of pagan poets Aratus and Cleanthes and many others in order to interact with their ideas and apply the Gospel (1 Cor. 15:33; Acts 17:24-29). So there is biblical precedent for paying money for godless works in order to interact with them.

Look at it this way: You are paying 10 bucks to listen to a godless hate theory about Jesus, but this "buys" you the opportunity to share the true Jesus with those who would not listen to you otherwise.

Christians are always griping about how hard it is to get opportunities to talk about Jesus and this is a stark raving opportunity. Who cares if you have to pay for the opportunity? Do you want to share Jesus or not? $10 to be able to share Jesus. That's pretty cheap. Of course, if you are like many Christians and do not really have any unbelievers who are your friends, then you probably don't need to go because who do you have to share Jesus with anyway?


2) But doesn't the first weekend box office support the film's success?

Yes, it does on one level. However, the other side of that coin is that the more of a success it is, the more people talk about it, the more opportunity you have to share the real Jesus with them. If you wait until the second or third week, you will not be prepared to engage in the hottest discussions which are the first couple weeks. Also, realistically, whether you go to the first, second or tenth week, it's still gonna count toward the box office anyway, so why not have a voice for Jesus in the hottest discussions? Would Paul have opted out of speaking to the pagans on Mars Hill because they wouldn't respect him unless he read the Poets? No! He read the Poets and entered the fray!

Because he believed the truth of the Gospel will win out and "greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world!" (1 John 4:4)

Folks, this is an opportunity to talk about Jesus! So the options are: 1) go to a different movie that weekend to cast a vote against Da Vinci Code, 2) Don't go to the opening week of Da Vinci Code and don't have an opportunity to talk about Jesus to those who did and won't listen to you if you did not, or 3) Go the opening week and DO have an opportunity to talk about Jesus to those who did. Again, this has to do with the fact that there are plenty of unbelievers who will not listen to your viewpoint if you haven't seen it. Sure, that's unfair. Welcome to history."

Reading and Study

C.J. Mahaney has a great post today on how to plan and practice your reading and study. While it's primarily directed to pastors, it has application for everyone.

Waltke's OT Theology

Bruce Waltke's long-awaited theology of the Old Testament--entitled An Old Testament Theology: A Canonical and Thematic Approach--is due out this fall from Zondervan. Judging from the title and the book appearance, it is intended to complement Frank Thielman's Theology of the New Testament : A Canonical and Synthetic Approach.

Scientology

A reporter in the UK goes undercover to see what goes on in the Scientology cult, which is favored by a number of folks in Hollywood.

Google Calendar

Google has now launched an online calendar: calendar.google.com.
  • Seeing the big picture
    With Google Calendar, you can see your friends' and family's schedules right next to your own; quickly add events mentioned in Gmail conversations or saved in other calendar applications; and add other interesting events that you find online.

  • Sharing events and calendars
    You decide who can see your calendar and which details they can view. Planning an event? You can create invitations, send reminders and keep track of RSVPs right inside Google Calendar. Organizations can promote events, too.

  • Staying on schedule
    You can set up automatic event reminders, including SMS notifications, and instantly bring up anything on your calendar with the built-in search tool.

Learn more.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Party of Death

Jonah Goldberg of National Review Online offers this advance praise for Ramesh Ponnuru's The Party of Death, which I plan to read:

Ramesh's book isn't officially out yet, so we are enjoined from discussing it in detail. But as someone who read the manuscript and finds it to be a simply amazing piece of work, I can tell you that you will definitely hear a lot about it, partcularly around here. If you are remotely interested in "life" issues and want a clear, powerful, logical and calm presentention of the pro-life perspective on a host of issues, I cannot even think of another work which comes close. If you want to follow the debate(s) from the get-go, I suggest buying it now. Right now.

I expect to be hearing quite a bit about this book in the days to come.

Update: Ramesh writes to say that the concerns expressed in the comments to this post are all addressed in the book. Meanwhile, here are some of the endorsements. Note especially the high praise in the final blurb from William Buckley.

The power of this book is the force of its logic. Ramesh Ponnuru has given us the most significant statement on the need to protect human life in America since Ronald Reagan's Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation. Like Reagan, he is calling America to return to its best self. And there is reason to hope that the country is listening. -Peggy Noonan

With his keen, analytical, and powerful pen, Ramesh Ponnuru dissects the myths that have surrounded abortion. We can now begin to reverse course by taking Ponnuru's book the same way he takes every issue: seriously. -William J. Bennett

Ramesh Ponnuru has written a smart, compelling, and eloquent book about some of the most important issues of our time. No matter how much you think you know about American politics and culture, you will learn a great deal from The Party of Death. -Mark Levin

Ramesh Ponnuru was once, like Ronald Reagan, in favor of abortion. Then he watched its logic unfold, was slowly repulsed, and then went over into resistance. His book, The Party of Death, is an easily understandable account of the logic of death, from abortion to euthanasia and beyond. This book cries out for mass-market sales in the hundreds of thousands, as the tide turns. -Michael Novak

This carefully researched and rigorously argued work skillfully rebuts the seductive arguments of America's merchants of death. Beautifully crafted, it is both enjoyable and profitable reading. -Chuck Colson

The Party of Death is the most important book of the year, if not the decade. Ramesh Ponnuru, one of the nation's most penetrating and lucid young conservative thinkers, makes a thorough, reasoned case for respecting life. The good news is that the death cult of Planned Parenthood, Howard Dean, and the New York Times is on the way to ultimate defeat. -Michelle Malkin

Thorough, heart-breaking, infuriating—an indictment that is also a cry for action by the people who still believe that life is the ultimate value. -Ben Stein

Ramesh Ponnuru's book will be accepted almost immediately as the seminal statement on human life. The book is stunning as scholarship, ingenious in its construction, passionate—but never overbearing—in its convictions. It will be read for decades, and revered as the most complete and resourceful essay on great questions that divide America. -William F. Buckley, Jr.

Steele on "White Guilt"

A few weeks ago I mentioned that Shelby Steele would be on C-Span talking about his forthcoming book, White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era.

You can now watch the three-hour discussion for free on the Book TV site.

What Jesus Demands from the World

In John Piper's latest "Letter from Cambridge" he announces that he's working on a new book called What Jesus Demands from the World. You can read his reflections on Jesus' command to repent.

Interview with Peter Jones

Ligon Duncan and Derek Thomas recently interviewed Peter Jones on the rise of neo-paganism in our culture.

(Unfortunately, Internet Explorer is required to hear the audio.)

Wenham on "Praying the Psalms"

Gordon Wenham recently delivered a chapel address at Southern Seminary on "Praying the Psalms." You can stream it or download it from the SBTS site.

Band of Bloggers Panel

If you want to ask questions for the Band of Bloggers Panel, here's how.

Biblical Theology

I wanted to draw your attention to a new blog devoted to discussing biblical theology. It's called simply Biblical Theology (http://bibtheo.blogspot.com/), and it's run by my friend Matt Harmon. Matt just received his Ph.D. from Wheaton, studying under Doug Moo. His dissertation topic was on Paul's use of Isaiah in Galatians. So feel free to bookmark his blog and join the conversation.

Systematic Theology

Phil Ryken, responding to this helpful quote from J.I. Packer, writes:

The rise of biblical theology has been a salutary development in both theology and biblical studies. However, any attempt to displace systematic theology in the name of biblical theology threatens not only the doctrinal integrity of the church, but also a right understanding of the Scriptures themselves, in their fundamental integrity. Packer gets the balance just right, and his position needs to be rearticulated at a time when systematic theology seems to be languishing.


Amen and amen. The concept of systematic theology is frequently critiqued (and just as often misrepresented) by biblical theologians. I hope that more professors and students would follow the balance exhibited by Packer and Ryken.

"Hijacking Language"

Carl Trueman has some helpful thoughts on the hijacking of language in today's theological "conversation."

"This Guy Can't Buy a Good Headline"

Len Munsil writes:

It's been a rough year for Vice President Dick Cheney. Yesterday tax information was released, and it was revealed that Cheney and his wife had $8.82 million in income, of which they gave away $6.87 million to charity, including significant gifts to a hospital and to help low-income high school students in Washington D.C.

Imagine giving nearly $7 million to charity, nearly 80 percent of your income, and this is the headline on Drudge: "Cheney's tax refund of $1.9 million." Well, yes -- if you have $2.5 million withheld from your income, then give away almost $7 million, you'll end up getting a big refund.

If Cheney walked on water, the headline would be "Cheney can't swim."

(HT: Challies)

Monday, April 17, 2006

T4G: Band of Bloggers Panel

Timmy Brister announces that there will be a panel of bloggers at the pre-conference Together for the Gospel get-together. Hats off to Timmy for his great work in organizing all of this.

Dever Interview with Ryken

Here's an audio interview of Phil Ryken by Mark Dever: Pastoral Priorities: The Life and Ministry of Phil Ryken...so far

"I'm not sure I know of another church that better exemplifies what I would like to see in churches than Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia." With these words, Mark Dever concludes his largely biographical interview with Phil Ryken, Tenth's Senior Minister. From an average week in this busy pastor's life, to his passion for ministry in the city, there is much to glean from this exchange.

Evangelicalism in the NYT

The New York Times does an article this morning on the theological divisions within evangelicalism and the rise of the emerging church movement. There's nothing really new in the article, but it is interesting to see the conversation extended to the NYT.

The NYT Magazine also did a profile of the PR guy behind Rick Warren, Billy Graham, Promise Keepers, Etc.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Why Iran Wants a Bomb

If you want to get caught up to speed on the impending Iran crisis, this sobering article by Amir Taheri will help.

Update: The right-of-center Weekly Standard and the left-of-center New Republic both have cover stories this week on whether or not to bomb Iran.

The Gospel and Marriage

"Nothing is more important to your marriage than your theology (what you believe about God), and nothing is more important to your theology and hence your marriage) than the gospel."

"When we grasp the depth of God's love for us revealed in the gospel, when we rest in the joy of God's forgiveness toward us in the gospel, when we experience God's transforming power in us through the gospel, and when we begin to emulate the pattern of humility and obedience we see in the gospel, what a wonderful difference this will make in our lives and marriages! Nothing is more essential to a marriage, and nothing brings more hope, than applying the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Gary and Betsy Ricucci, Love That Lasts: When Marriage Meets Grace, pp. 21, 23

Can One Deny the Resurrection and Be a Christian?

Can one deny the resurrection and still be a Christian? N.T. Wright says yes; Al Mohler says no. Scripture sides pretty clearly with Mohler on this one:

Romans 10:9: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

1 Corinthians 15:14ff: "And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."

Friday, April 14, 2006

Worship Matters

Readers may recall that Tim Challies disagreed with my general agreement with Sam Storms' disagreement with Chuck Colson's dislike of the worship song "Draw Me Close to You." (Got all that?)

I didn't see it until now, but Bob Kauflin weighed in on the discussion, offering a discerning, mediating view.

'Twixt Jesus and the Chosen Race

An old hymn celebrating the glorious, liberating truth of Christ and his work:

1. 'Twixt Jesus and the Chosen Race
Subsists a bond of sov'reign grace,
That hell, with its infernal train,
Shall ne'er dissolve, or rend in twain.

2. This sacred bond shall never break,
Though earth should to her center shake;
Rest, doubting saint, assured of this,
For God has pledged His holiness.

3. He swore but once the deed was done;
'Twas settled by the great Three One;
Christ was appointed to redeem
All that the Father loved in Him.

4. Hail, sacred union, firm and strong
How great thy grace, how sweet the song,
That rebel worms should ever be
One with incarnate Deity!

5. One in the tomb, one when He rose,
One when he triumphed o'er His foes
One when in heav'n He took His seat,
While seraphs sung at hell's defeat.

6. Blessed by the wisdom and the grace,
Th' eternal love and faithfulness,
That's in the gospel scheme revealed,
And is by God the Spirit sealed.

Truth in Advertising

The conversative Wall Street Journal editors write:

“At the current pace, a Democratic majority in Congress would be preferable, if only for reasons of truth in advertising.”

The Republicans are setting themselves up for a rude awakening in the upcoming election. Read the whole thing.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Mark Dever: "Nothing But the Blood"

Mark Dever writes in Christianity Today on the Scriptural centrality of substitutionary atonement and the many-faceted ways it is being denied or downplayed today by so many.

Getting Things Done

Here's an interview with productivity guru David Allen, conducted by a church-planting magazine: The Art of Getting Things Done.

I like David Allen's system, having just taken a seminar from him earlier this week. The book is Getting Things Done.

Helm Review of "Inspiration and Incarnation"

Paul Helm reviews Peter Enns' Inspiration and Incarnation.

Prepare Your Heart for Easter

I received the following heads up from Sovereign Grace Ministries:

Today and tomorrow, the FamilyLife Today radio show is broadcasting two programs featuring C.J. Mahaney's message "The Main Thing." This message became the basis for C.J.'s first book, The Cross-Centered Life. Today's program is titled "Keep the Gospel in Your Daily Grip." Good Friday's program is "No Condemnation." To listen online, read transcripts, or find stations in your area that carry the broadcast, visit FamilyLife Today's website.

Interview with Scott Smith

Roger Overton of the A-Team Blog has a three-part interview with Scott Smith, author of Truth and the New Kind of Christian. See part 1, part 2, and part 3.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Storms Interview

Blog-interviewer extraordinairre Adrian Warnock interviews Sam Storms.

(HT: Cawley)

Climate of Fear

The Wall Street Journal carried a very interesting article the other day, entitled Climate of Fear: Global-warming alarmists intimidate dissenting scientists into silence. It's written by Richard Lindzen, Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT. If I read Prof. Lindzen correctly, the equation is something like this: money + fear = climate alarmism.

I won't attempt to justify these claims in a blog post, but one of my laments about the contemporary state of the church is a general lack of logical rigor and knowledge of economics, even among many of its leaders.

For example, Prof. Lindzen cites three claims with widespread scientific support: (1) "Global temperature has risen about a degree since the late 19th century"; (2) "levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased by about 30% over the same period"; (3) and "CO2 should contribute to future warming." But then many--inside and outside the church--jump to the conclusions that (4) there is cause for alarm, and (5) man is responsible for the small amoung of warming of the earth. Premises 4 and 5 don't follow from 1-3. And according to Prof. Lindzen, premises 4 and 5 simply aren't true.

Blogossary

I've had people ask on occassion the meaning of the abbreviation "HT"--frequently included on my posts. Here's the answer, as listed on a blogossary I found.

You Are What You Read

Sean Michael Lucas posts on You Are What You Read with a top-10 list of theological classics.

(HT: Historia ecclesiastica)

Mapping Religion in the US

Here are some interesting maps of religious affilitation in the United States.

(HT: Cranach)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dever's "The Message of the Old Testament"

Mark Dever's new (960-page!) book, The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made, is now available from Crossway Books. Dever has a chapter--originally a sermon--on each book of the OT. It comes with study questions as well.

You can read online the contents, the foreword by Graeme Goldsworthy, the introduction, and the first chapter:.

And here are the endorsements:

“For many Christians the Old Testament is daunting and confusing. The books are long and speak about a culture dramatically different from ours. Mark Dever’s sermons do not substitute for reading the Old Testament, but they do provide a wonderful help in understanding it. Dever unpacks the major themes of each book with remarkable clarity, and the book also shines in conveying the message of the Old Testament for today. Here is a survey to the Old Testament that is accessible and spiritually edifying.”
Thomas R. Schreiner
Professor of New Testament, Associate Dean of Scripture and Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“To hear the Bible tell its own story in its own way—this is the obvious but all-too-rare strategy for reading the Book of books. I thank Dr. Mark Dever for showing us how. We are immeasurably enriched.”
Ray Ortlund, Jr.
Senior Pastor, Christ Presbyterian Church, Nashville

“This is a bold project, some might say foolhardy, but Mark Dever has brilliantly succeeded. This is no mere textbook; it is powerful preaching. We are not only introduced to the sweep and message of each book of the Bible but, above all, confronted by our great God and called to obey his living word.”
Vaughn Roberts
Rector, St. Ebbe’s Church, Oxford, England, Author of God’s Big Picture

“In these distinctive overview sermons, Mark Dever manages to bring together around the core issues of each biblical book three concerns that ought to occupy every faithful preacher of God’s Word: theological content, exegetical wisdom, and pastoral application. Here is a walk through the Bible that is well worth taking!”
Timothy George
Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Executive Editor, Christianity Today

“Mark Dever has done the Christian community a great service in publishing these sermons. The material is academically informed but presented in a very accessible way with relevant application. With its Christological focus and careful Christian application of the Old Testament, this book enables readers to get into the theological heart of the message of each biblical book.”
David Peterson
Principal, Oak Hill College

“Mark Dever has written a needed book and written it well. With a pastor’s heart, a scholar’s mind, and the intimacy of a friend, Dever introduces the reader clearly and creatively to a book that has changed the world but to which contemporary culture remains largely unexposed. This book is warm, engaging, straightforward, and profound. It will be a valuable resource for individuals, study groups, churches, unbelievers and believers alike. Dever takes the reader on an unforgettable journey into the most remarkable and moving book ever written.”
John Shouse
Professor of Christian Theology, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary

“This is a good book, written by a pastor/scholar for people in the pew. Clear, concise, thoroughly readable. Buy two and give one to a friend.”
Alistair Begg
Senior Pastor, Parkside Church, Chagrin Falls, Ohio

“I have long desired a book that would unlock the richness of the Old Testament—assisting both the pastor in the pulpit and Christians in their devotions. This is that book.”
C. J. Mahaney
Sovereign Grace Ministries

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Gospel of Brutus

While the MSM gets all worked up about the Gospel of Judas fragment, very few people are talking about an even more sensational discovery: The Gospel of Brutus.

(HT: Keith Plummer)

The 10 Commandments

David Neff of CT reviews the Ten Commandments movie that airs tonight and tomorrow on ABC.

Piper: A Taste for Christ

Here's a good overview of John Piper's theology, printed in Billy Graham's Decision Magazine.

Bloggers @ T4G

If you're a blogger and you're going to the Together for the Gospel Conference, check out this announcement from Timmy Brister. More details will be forthcoming.

Girl Talk Blog

I'm grateful to the Girl Talk Bloggers, who spent last week posting excerpts from the forthcoming book, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, edited by John Piper and me.

They provide an overview of the book, then highlight contributions by Joni Eareckson Tada, Mark Talbot, and David Powlison.

Also, the GTBers are doing a series this week called Fashion and Following the Savior. While geared specifically toward women, it's a message the church at large needs to hear.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Schreiner Lecturing at Wheaton on Egalitarianism

For those in the Wheaton Area: Tom Schreiner, NT Professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will be in town on Monday night (April 10), addressing the issue of why egalitarianism is wrong. The lecture is at 7:00 pm in Blanchard Hall, Room 339.

The lecture is sponsored by Wheaton's College Complementarians, a group swimming against the tide.

How to Respond to the Da Vinci Code Movie

Brian Godawa--screenwriter for To End All Wars and author of Hollywood Worldviews--passed along this email from an unnamed Hollywood screenwriter. I think it's an intriguing way to respond to the release of The Da Vinci Code.


WHAT ARE YOU DOING MAY 19TH?

May 19th is the date the Da Vinci Code movie opens. A movie based on a book that wears its heresy and blasphemy as a badge of honor.

What can we as Christians do in response to the release of this movie? I'm going to offer you the usual choices -- and a new one.

Here are the usual suspects:


A) We can ignore the movie.


The problem with this option: The box office is a ballot box. The only people whose votes are counted are those who buy tickets. And the ballot box closes on the Sunday of opening weekend. If you stay home, you have lost your chance to make your vote heard.
You have thrown your vote away, and from Hollywood's point of view, you don't count. By staying home, you do nothing to shape the decision-making process regarding what movies will make it to the big screen.


B) We can protest.


The problem with this option: It doesn't work. Any publicity is good publicity. Protests not only fuel the box office, they make all Christians look like idiots. And again, protests and boycotts do nothing to help shape the decisions being made right now about what movies Hollywood will make in the next few years. (Or they convince Hollywood to make *more* movies that will provoke Christians to protest, which will drive the box office up.)


C) We can discuss the movie
.

We can be rational and be ready with study guides and workshops and point-by-point refutations of the lies promulgated by the movie.

The problem with this option: No one's listening. They think they know what we're going to say already.

We'll lose most of these discussions anyway, no matter how prepared we are, because the power of story always trumps the power of facts (why do you think Jesus taught in parables?!). And once again: rational discussion of history does nothing to affect Hollywood's choices regarding what movies to make.

But there's a fourth choice.

On May 19th, you should go to the movies. Just go to another movie.

Save the date now. May 19th, or May 20th. No later than Sunday, May 21st -- that's the day the ballot box closes. You'll get a vote, the only vote Hollywood recognizes: The power of cold hard cash laid down on a box office window on opening weekend.

Use your vote. Don't throw it away. Vote for a movie other than DVC. If enough people do it, the powers that be will notice. They won't have a choice.

The major studio movie scheduled for release against DVC is the DreamWorks animated feature Over the Hedge. The trailers look fun, and you can take your kids. And your friends. And their friends. In fact, let's all go see it.

Let's rock the box office in a way no one expects -- without protests, without boycotts, without arguments, without rancor. Let's show up at the box office ballot box and cast our votes. And buy some popcorn, too.

May 19th. Mark your calendars now: Over the Hedge's opening weekend. Buy a ticket.

And spread the word. Forward this e-mail to all the Christians in your address book. Post it on your blogs. Talk about it to your churches. And let's all go to the movies.

Friday, April 07, 2006

"The Ten Commandments" on ABC

This Monday and Tuesday night ABC will air a mini-series on Moses and The Ten Commandments. (April 10-11, 9/8c).

You can watch an online preview and read a Q&A with the director, who says that it is the most historically accurate telling of the story to date.

Mahaney on the Gospel

CJ Mahaney answers the questions: What is the gospel? What is the greatest threat to the gospel?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Religious Left

Steven Waldman, editor in chief of Beliefnet, offers a survey of The Religious Left at Slate.com. He identifies and describes five groups: (1) "Bible-thumping liberals," (2) "pious peaceniks," (3) "ethnic churchgoers," (4) "conflicted Catholics," and (5) "religious feminists."

(HT: Al Mohler)

The Heretic's Guide to Eternity

Amy Hall looks at Spencer Burke and Barry Taylor's forthcoming Heretic's Guide to Eternity--and takes the road less traveled.

Free Willy?

Doug Wilson asks, "Does God control the free actions of human beings, and does God control sinful actions?" Read his post for the biblical answers to these questions.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Family Worship

Jim Hamilton shares some of what he and his family do for family worship.

"Mr. Colson, I Respectfully Disagree"

In the latest issue of Christianity Today Chuck Colson penned an article entitled Soothing Ourselves to Death. I agree with his lament regarding the trajectory of Christian radio. (Yesterday, for example, I learned from my chipper Christian radio host that God has my picture on his refrigerator!)

But Colson's intro to this meditation is a time when he cracked upon singing "a meaningless ditty" with "zero theological content" called "Draw Me Close to You."

I agree with Sam Storms, who respectfully disagrees with Colson on this one. Sam examines the song in question, saying that while "it isn't lyrically complex or theologically deep," "There isn't a sentiment or syllable in the song that isn't found somewhere in the Psalms as an expression of legitimate, biblical, heartfelt worship."

Read the whole thing.

The Pain of Learning and Exhausting Ourselves for Jesus

A quote from Mortimer Adler's essay, “Invitation to the Pain of Learning":

One of the reasons why the education given by our schools is so frothy and vapid is that the American people generally—the parent even more than the teacher—wish childhood to be unspoiled by pain. Childhood must be a period of delight, of gay indulgence in impulses. It must be given every avenue for unimpeded expression, which of course is pleasant; and it must not be made to suffer the impositions of discipline or the exactions of duty, which of course are painful. Childhood must be filled with as much play and as little work as possible. What cannot be accomplished educationally through elaborate schemes devised to make learning an exciting game must, of necessity, be forgone. Heaven forbid that learning should ever take on the character of a serious occupation—just as serious as earning money, and perhaps, much more laborious and painful . . .

Not only must we honestly announce that pain and work are the irremovable and irreducible accompaniments of genuine learning, not only must we leave entertainment to the entertainers and make education a task and not a game, but we must have no fears about what is “over the public’s head.” Whoever passes by what is over his head condemns his head to its present low altitude; for nothing can elevate a mind except what is over its head; and that elevation is not accomplished by capillary attraction, but only by the hard work of climbing up ropes, with sore hands and aching muscles. The school system which caters to the median child, or worse, to the lower half of the class; the lecturer before adults—and they are legion—who talks down to his audience; the radio or television program which tries to hit the lowest common denominator of popular receptivity—all these defeat the prime purpose of education by taking people as they are and leaving them just there.


And here's a quote by Charles Spurgeon on the necessity to exhaust our lives for Jesus:

All mental work tends to weary and to depress, for much study is a weariness of the flesh; but ours is more than mental work -- it is heart work, the labour of our inmost soul. . . . It is our duty and our privilege to exhaust our lives for Jesus.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Stopping Genocide

Christianity Today interviews U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton regarding the genocide in Sudan.

Inventing the News

NBC Dateline apparently wants to catch rednecks making fun of Muslims. This is an interesting behind-the-scenes look at how these sort of stories come to be on the air.

The really interesting documentary not be about how Muslims get mistreated at NASCAR events, but rather how the "news" is invented. If someone were to have access to the entire unedited footage, I'm sure that we would watch a very interesting story unfold on how well the networks are able to weave their predetermined tale.

The Loveliness of Christ

A meditation by John Owen on the loveliness of Christ from his Communion with God:

Lovely in his person—in the glorious all-sufficiency of his Deity, gracious purity and holiness of his humanity, authority and majesty, love and power.

Lovely in his birth and incarnation; when he was rich, for our sakes becoming poor—taking part of flesh and blood, because we partook of the same; being made of a woman, that for us he might be made under the law, even for our sakes.

Lovely in the whole course of his life, and the more than angelical holiness and obedience which, in the depth of poverty and persecution, he exercised therein—doing good, receiving evil; blessing, and being cursed, reviled, reproached, all his days.

Lovely in his death; yea, therein most lovely to sinners—never more glorious and desirable than when he came broken, dead, from the cross. Then had he carried all our sins into a land of forgetfulness; then had he made peace and reconciliation for us; then had he procured life and immortality for us.

Lovely in his whole employment, in his great undertaking—in his life, death, resurrection, ascension; being a mediator between God and us, to recover the glory of God’s justice, and to save our souls—to bring us to an enjoyment of God, who were set at such an infinite distance from him by sin.

Lovely in the glory and majesty wherewith he is crowned. Now he is set down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; where, though he be terrible to his enemies, yet he is full of mercy, love, and compassion, towards his beloved ones.

Lovely in all those supplies of grace and consolations, in all the dispensations of his Holy Spirit, whereof his saints are made partakers.

Lovely in all the tender care, power, and wisdom, which he exercises in the protection, safe-guarding, and delivery of his church and people, in the midst of all the oppositions and persecutions whereunto they are exposed.

Lovely in all his ordinances, and the whole of that spiritually glorious worship which he has appointed to his people, whereby they draw nigh and have communion with him and his Father.

Lovely and glorious in the vengeance he takes, and will finally execute, upon the stubborn enemies of himself and his people.

Lovely in the pardon he has purchased and does dispense—in the reconciliation he has established—in the grace he communicates—in the consolations he does administer—in the peace and joy he gives his saints—in his assured preservation of them unto glory.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Words and Phrases That First Appear in English Translations of the Bible

"According to Coined By God: Words and Phrases That First Appear in English Translations of the Bible..., puberty, appetite, and excellent are among more than 100 English words, phrases, rhythms, and idioms coined in Bible translations."

A couple of years ago CT interviewed the author here.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Interview with Driscoll

Adrian Warnock interviews Mark Driscoll.

(HT: Cawley)

United 93

On this page you can watch the trailer for the upcoming United 93 movie, the true story of the airline passengers who prevented the third attack on 9/11. Amazingly, each of the victims' families granted permission for the film to be done. Newsweek has more on a dark day revisited and the controversy the trailer is generating.

Evangelicals in the Public Square

J. Budziszewski, professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, is one of my favorite writers. Therefore I was delighted today to learn of his forthcoming book (due out in June from Baker Academic), entitled Evangelicals in the Public Square: Four Formative Voices on Political Thought and Action.

Publisher Description:

While history shows that evangelical political engagement in America has been consistent, its impact has been checkered. This new work offers a brief history of evangelical political thought over the past fifty years and assesses recent evangelical forays into politics.

J. Budziszewski examines the theological, political, and ethical reflections of four key figures--Carl F. H. Henry, Abraham Kuyper, Francis Schaeffer, and John Howard Yoder--to whom today's evangelical political perspectives can be traced. While appreciative of the contributions of each of these thinkers, Budziszewski feels each failed to develop a systematic political theory as compelling as those offered by the secularist establishment. He then offers his recommendations for the evangelical political movement, arguing that, in addition to Scripture, the evangelical political movement should be informed by the tradition of natural law.

Summary chapters from four expert respondents follow: David L. Weeks (Azusa Pacific University) responds on Henry, John Bolt (Calvin Seminary) comments on Kuyper, William Edgar (Westminster Seminary) responds to the Schaeffer section, and Ashley Woodiwiss (Wheaton College) offers remarks on the Yoder portion. The book includes an introduction by Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center and an afterword by Jean Bethke Elshtain, who summarizes the dialogue and offers her own keen observations.


Endorsements:

"Evangelical Christians have long been faced with a paradox. The dynamism of their faith moves them irrepressibly in the direction of its public expression, as is evident in evangelicalism's long history of reform activism. But their faith has generally been formulated in ways that fail to supply a clear and consistent framework for the sustained engagement of public issues. Hence the energetic but also piecemeal and ad hoc quality of much evangelical political activity. This valuable book, a critical but constructive look at four of the theorists upon whom American evangelicals have relied in the past, begins to sketch out paths that might lead evangelicals past the paradox. As such, it will be required reading."--Wilfred M. McClay, SunTrust Chair of Excellence in Humanities, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

"A clearly argued, provocative, and important contribution to a growing, increasingly sophisticated, evangelical reflection on political philosophy."--Ronald J. Sider, professor of theology, holistic ministry, and public policy, Palmer Seminary

"Contrary to public opinion, evangelical political thought is not a monolithic reality. Evangelicals in the Public Square provides clear evidence of this fact, as it guides us through the strengths and challenges of some of the movement's most influential thinkers. Though some readers will not buy Budziszewski's natural law perspective, they will be enriched by the lucid and insightful dialogue of this important work."--Dennis Hollinger, president and professor of Christian ethics, Evangelical School of Theology

How a Christian Can Read Any Old Testament Passage

A commenter on this blog pointed me to this excellent set of notes by Rev. Robert A. Lotzer (pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church) summarizing Greg Beale's essay on the use of the OT in the NT, as well as Sidney Greidanus's Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method.

Raising Teens in the Media Culture

Here's a three-part series of sermons by Al Mohler on "Raising Teens in the Media Culture": (part 1, part 2, part 3--all in MP3).

Audio Greek and Latin NT

This seems like a valuable site, especially for those learning NT Greek: "This web site offers free MP3 audio-files of high-quality recorded readings of the New Testament in fluid koine Greek and vulgate Latin."

Saturday, April 01, 2006

John Owen

Those who would like to explore John Owen's wonderful writings on the glories of Christ can do no better than to pick up The Glory of Christ: A Puritan's View of the Beauty of the Saviour, published by Christian Focus, with a foreword by Sinclair Ferguson.

The typography is excellent. Headings have been added to guide the reader through Owen's sometimes convoluted arrangement. They have also translated the Latin quotes and provided definitions and summaries. It's very nicely done, and I hope it will gain a wider readership.

I have recently partnered with Kelly Kapic--associate professor at Covenant College, co-editor of The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics, and author of a forthcoming academic book on Owen's Communion with God--to edit a new unabridged edition of Owen's three classic writings on sin: The Mortification of Sin, Temptation of Believers, and Indwelling Sin. It is due out from Crossway in the fall of 2006.

Here are some of the things we have done to produce this new edition:

  • written an introduction to Owen's life and theology
  • provided overviews of the thesis and arguments for all three books
  • footnoted difficult vocabulary words or phrases and collected them into a glossary
  • Americanized the British spelling (e.g., behaviour to behavior)
  • updated archaic pronouns (e.g., thou to you)
  • updated archaic verbs (e.g., hath to have)
  • updated archaic verb endings (e.g., requireth to requires)
  • updated some archaic word forms (e.g., concernments to concerns, surprisals to surprises)
  • modernized some of the punctuation
  • placed Scripture references in parentheses
  • added Scripture references in brackets when Owen quotes or alludes to a passage but does not provide a reference
  • transliterated all Hebrew and Greek words, moving the original font to a footnote and providing a translation if Owen didn’t provide one
  • translated all Latin phrases that Owen leaves untranslated
  • provided sources for quotations and allusions where possible
  • removed Owen’s intricate numbering system which functioned as an extensive outline
  • added headings, italics, and extensive outlines to aid the reader in following the flow of Owen’s thought
The volume will be called Overcoming Sin and Temptation. I'll link to it when it becomes available on the Crossway site.

For more on Owen, see JohnOwen.org.

Ed Welch on FamilyLIfe Radio

In my opijnion, there are few writers today more insightful on depression than Ed Welch (author of Depression: A Stubborn Darkness). This week he'll be featured on FamilyLife radio.
  • What is Depression? (April 3, 2006)
  • Suffering Well (April 4, 2006)
  • Help for the Depressed (April 5, 2006)
  • Strategies for Dealing with Depression April 6, 2006

To find this broadcast on a FamilyLife radio station near you, click here.


Preaching, Counseling, and Living the Gospel

Some new articles and reviews at the 9 Marks website:

Gospel Implications
by Mike Bullmore

Strategic Discipling/Counseling
by David Powlison

God is the Gospel
by John Piper
A Review by Nicholas Piotrowski

The Apparent Piety of Numerical Goals

A great post here by Mark Dever in answer to the question: "What is the most serious threat to the gospel in the evangelical church today?"

Churches in Afghanistan

A German newspaper offers an inside look at an Afghan believer and his underground church.

(HT: Gene Veith)