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Burk Parsons and 7 Filters to Guide Our New Media Use

June 23, 2010

On Thursday June 17, the Ligonier Ministries National Conference began with their pre-conference on the use of new media.  Speakers included Ed Stetzer, Tim Challies, Burk Parsons, and Albert Mohler.  They had a live-feed of the event, so when I had the opportunity, I took a moment to listen to some of it.  Throughout there were golden nuggets of wisdom by all the speakers on the use of new media.  Yet, it was Burk Parsons’ talk that  provoked me to stop my work and give my full attention to his 20 minute message.  Parsons’ talk was entitled Taking Captive New Media for the Church. In it he gave 7 filters to guide our new media use:

1. We need to be disciplined, deliberate, and discerning in the use of our time.

2. We should strive to use new media to set our minds on heavenly things.

3. We should strive to use new media to edify the body of Christ.

4. We should strive to use new media to maintain unity and purity in the church.

5. We should strive to use new media as part of our subduing the earth.

6. We should strive to use new media for the glory of God.

7. We should strive to use new media for the kingdom of God and not our own personal kingdoms.

These are excellent points to print out and place above your computer.  I’d also encourage you to listen to the archived audio/video of, not only Parsons’ talk, but all the messages as they become available.  Thanks to Alex Chediak for the detailed blog summaries of each talk.

John Calvin and Augustine of Hippo

June 19, 2010

Anthony Lane’s chapter “Calvin’s Way of Doing Theology” in Calvin: Theologian and Reformer, edited by Joel Beeke and Garry Williams, begins with this paragraph:

John Calvin is best known for his Institutes of the Christian Religion. This work went through five major editions, and Calvin continually revised it for most of his literary and pastoral life. Like Augustine, he was one of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.

That may be true, that Calvin wrote as he learned, but there is an obvious difference between Augustine and Calvin in this.  For Calvin, the fundamental substance of his theology never changed. A look at all five editions of the Institutes will reveal a development (and sometimes substantial), but never a fundamental change.  Unlike Augustine, he never had to write a book of retractions.

The Acts29 Rap at the SBC 2010

June 18, 2010

For those that did not attend the SBC 2010 or their live feed cut-off at 5:00 pm, here is the Acts29 motion in the form of a rap:

Journalism and the “Religious Angle”

June 17, 2010

Get Religion comments on the AP news story on the man caught trying to track down Bin Laden. Molly’s point (at Get Religion) is on how the “religious angle” is handled by AP.  She writes:

The AP story is no gem itself, however. Here’s how the religion angle is handled:

Catching bin Laden was 50-year-old Faulkner’s passion, his brother Scott Faulkner said. A devout Christian with a prison record, Faulkner has been to Pakistan at least six times, learned some of the local language, and even grew a long beard to blend in, relatives and acquaintances said.

Now, I by no means think that a prison record is incompatible with being a devout Christian, but this is really poor phrasing. What, exactly, makes him devout? His flouting of American law? There’s clearly a religion angle here that needs to be explored, but this only raises more questions.

Telling us that this man is a generic “devout Christian” replaces that exploration with a fairly meaningless label. What are his specific religious beliefs? How does he demonstrate devotion to those beliefs? Why is the phrase “devout Christian” being used here? Show us his devotion to Christianity rather than tell us without any evidence.

You can read the whole thing here.

Its a good example of poor journalism, whether its on religion or any other matter.

Andy Crouch and The Power to Judge

May 13, 2010

Andy Crouch puts forward the question of whether or not humans beings have the power to judge. Below is Andy’s response, its a thoughtful one:

Is this a good answer?

Kevin DeYoung and Divine Impassibility

May 12, 2010

I have recently finished reading Kevin DeYoung‘s manuscript to his talk at T4G on divine impassibility. With recent scholarship finding Jurgen Moltmann’s divine passibility more appealing, like Richard Bauckham and others, this is an encouraging talk.  DeYoung gives five arguments for divine impassibility:

  1. The weight of church history overwhelmingly supports the notion that God does not suffer.
  2. The Bible teaches that God does not change.
  3. God’s emotional life is not identical to ours.
  4. What is said about Jesus Christ cannot automatically and without qualification be said about God.
  5. Without impassibility, the necessity of the incarnation does not make sense.

The fifth point is easily the most compelling. DeYoung makes this point:

Listen to Hebrews 2:9: ―But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. This is a purpose statement. The Son of God had to be made for a little while lower than the angels so that he might taste death. Apart from the incarnation, the Son could not die, because God by definition is immortal.

DeYoung give us five reasons why divine impassibility is good news:

  1. We have an unchanging God who is not in the same mess we are in.
  2. This unchanging God – who is ontologically outside of our mess – is nevertheless intimately involved in our mess, which makes his presence all the more meaningful.
  3. God‘s love is freely given, thoroughly unmotivated by any need or deficiency in him.
  4. With divine impassibility, the incarnation is not a revelation of the eternal suffering of God, but rather the deepest expression of God‘s gracious character, whereby he chose, in love, to suffer as one of us.
  5. Finally, impassibility is good news because only an impassible God who suffered as a man can truly sympathize with us.

This is a robust defense of the traditional understanding of God’s impassibility. Yet, DeYoung still speaks deeply to our needs as sinful human beings who suffer under tremendous circumstances at times. I am happy for the appearance of this talk and I hope it has a wide  readership.

Marvin Olasky on Turning 60

May 8, 2010

Marvin Olasky (Word Mag) is turning 60. Below is a part of his reflection of the times we are in and how he wants to celebrate his 60th birthday:

Let me mention one thing that impresses me about God’s mercy. The other day a skeptical Christian in his 20’s said, in essence, “You conservatives are always alarmed. In 1968 the U.S. had terrible riots, in 1980 double-digit inflation and unemployment. Now there’s ObamaCare. Chill out!”

True, God has repeatedly shed His grace on an America that repeatedly walks close to the edge. But should we chill out so much that we take for granted His continued mercy?

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists would be an obscure publication but for its one graphically great idea. In 1947 it put a clock on its cover to symbolize the urgency of the new danger of nuclear disaster—and it set the clock at seven minutes to midnight. At best over all the years it’s been set at 17 minutes to midnight, at worst three. Right now we’re at six.

We could have a similar domestic clock. It would have been at three minutes to midnight in 1980, when inflation at one point hit 14.8 percent. We could have fallen into hyperinflation and destroyed our middle class, but the Reagan administration’s tight money policy reduced inflation to the manageable amount we’ve had for three decades now.

Should we now set our domestic policy clock at six minutes to midnight? Just as the easiest way to deal with additional guests is to put more water in the soup, so the politically easiest way (at first) to deal with massive deficits is to print money. Will hyperinflation that we barely escaped 30 years ago roar back?

Let’s pray that God will be kind to us once again. And in the meantime—in this mean time—let us celebrate the good things God has given us. So, as I hit 60 on June 12, I want to celebrate with my wife and with WORLD readers who are baseball fans. Next month from June 9 to June 15 we plan to drive and hit every day a different major league ballpark that I’ve never visited—mostly new ones in cities that had old stadiums the last time I saw a game there.

Reading Log: April 2010

May 5, 2010

By Grace Along: How the Grace of God Amazes Me, Sinclair Ferguson.  What a great little book.  Ferguson has a glorious way of explaining the gospel that aids the Christian to rejoice in it and prepare their hearts for heaven. I can’t say anything much more greater about it than that.

Church Planting Is for Wimps: How God Uses Messed-up People to Plant Ordinary Churches That Do Extraordinary Things, by Michael McKinley.  This a funny (laugh out-loud funny) and, still, very helpful for you pastor types like me.  McKinley is thoughtful and smart. I’m glad for this book and for the opportunity to read it.

You Can Change: God’s Transforming Power for Our Sinful Behavior and Negative Emotions, by Tim Chester. More pastoral and practical than the CCEF/Biblical Counseling material, though, obviously relies upon the thinking of Paul Tripp, David Powilson, and others as its foundation. Its less conceptual, but is most helpful for biblical change since it rests upon the hope of the gospel.  See my review at TGC Reviews.

Motivations to Be a Pupil of the Gospel

May 3, 2010

Titus 2:11-12 explains that the gospel trains us for godliness. Are you a pupil of the gospel? Are you being trained by the gospel for godliness? Here are some motivations to be a pupil of the gospel:

  1. Constant study and contemplation of the gospel increases our faith in it. Hebrews 11:1 says that our faith “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  Sin and worldliness darkens our minds and hearts to the not yet fully realized promises of God.  Contemplating on the truths of the gospel puts a more abiding sense of the “things not seen.”  In order to taste and see that the Lord is good, we must always be tasting and seeing.
  2. We will be in continual readiness for seasons of suffering. The gospel is the ultimate and only true help in seasons of suffering and need.  Yet, if our hearts and minds are strangers to the truths of the gospel or not regularly being nurtured by it, we will find ourselves longing for the sustenance of the power we are not acquainted with.  Striving for the “corruptible crown” (1 Cor. 9:25) and worldly pleasures equip us poorly for suffering.

Albert Pujols and His Chief End in Life

April 30, 2010

Its always refreshing to see athletes who are able to articulate their faith clearly and biblically. Albert Pujols seems to have a very clear understanding of the Gospel and the chief end of his life. Below is a statement from his family’s website:

My life’s goal is to bring glory to Jesus. My life is not mostly dedicated to the Lord, it is 100% committed to Jesus Christ and His will. God has given me the ability to succeed in the game of baseball. But baseball is not the end; baseball is the means by which my wife, Dee Dee, and I glorify God. Baseball is simply my platform to elevate Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I would also rather be known as a great husband and father than an All-Star baseball player. Perhaps one day I could be honored with an invitation into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. That would certainly be a boyhood dream of mine come true, but it is a far greater honor that one day I will be in heaven with God to enjoy Him forever.

He also has a very biblically, straightforward statement of faith:

Today, “faith” can mean many different things, or sometimes nothing at all. When we speak of our Faith in Christ this is what we believe:

1. The Bible, in its entirety, is God’s Word to us. It is divine revelation and we submit to the authority of Holy Scripture. (Psalm 119:11, Matthew 5:17-18, 2 Timothy 3:15-17)

2. There is only one God, revealed to us in three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and He is all-knowing and all-powerful. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5, John 1:1, 14, John 15:26, 16:7-14)

3. Human beings are made in the image of God and are, therefore, the pinnacle of all God’s creation. That includes all people, no matter what their race, occupation, status, economic level or disability. (Genesis 1:26-31)

4. Nevertheless, human beings are sinful creatures and as a result have all fallen into a state of moral corruption. This state of rebellion has estranged us from the Creator. (Isaiah 53:6, 64:6, Romans 1:25, 3:10, 3:23, 6:23)

5. God is absolutely holy; sin cannot abide in God’s presence. (Leviticus 19:2, Isaiah 6:1-5, 1 Peter 1:15-16, Revelation 4:8)

6. Without a mediator, human beings are forever separated from God by their sin. (Romans 3:23, 6:23; Ephesians 2:1-9)

7. Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, lived a perfect life of obedience to the Father and substituted Himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He became our mediator to bridge the gap between mankind and a Holy, Sinless God. (Rom. 5:8, 6:23, 8:3, 8:31-32, 2 Corinthians 5:21)

8. Trusting Jesus Christ’s death, burial and resurrection for the payment of your sin is the only way human beings can be in perfect relationship with God the Father. Jesus Christ is not just “a way to God” he is “The way to God”. (Luke 19:10, John 3:16, John 11:25, John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Romans 6:23, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Hebrews 12:2)

9. Everyone who receives Jesus Christ as Lord is now viewed as holy before God. Their sins are washed away and they become a ‘new creation’ in Christ. They are born again into the family of God and will live in His presence forever in Heaven. (John 3:16, John 20:31, Ephesians 2:8-9, Colossians 1:21-22, 1 John 5:13)

10. The church, made up of all believers, is the body of Christ and is commissioned to share the gospel of Christ until he returns again to consummate his Kingdom. (Matthew 28:19-20, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 5:22-32)

From every account that I have heard, its extremely difficult to remain faithful to Christ in the atmosphere of professional sports. It seems Pujols has mature leadership in his life. I  do not want to elevate him above any other sinner saved by grace, but it is an obvious opportunity to rejoice in God’s power at work in one of his children’s life in an arena of constant spiritual attack.

“You Can Change” by Tim Chester

April 29, 2010

I reviewed Tim Chester‘s You Can Change (Crossway, 2010) over at TGC Reviews. I loved this book. The last paragraph of my review sums up my opinion of it:

You Can Change is hope-filled. It does not give hope based upon the myth of the unfailing determination of the human spirit, but upon the real unfailing promises of the gospel. Pastors, leaders, and laymen will be nurtured by Chester’s book and will, in turn, nurture others in the power of the gospel.

New John Owen Biography for Children

April 28, 2010

Adding to the list of already great Christian Biographies for children from Reformation Heritage, John Owen by Simonetta Carr, is available for pre-order. Expected ship date is October 2010.

From Reformation Heritage Books:

John Owen was a great Puritan preacher who lived in England. In this book, Simonetta Carr informs readers about Owen’s life, revealing some of the things that interested him while in school, the care he showed to people when he became a pastor, and the influential books that he wrote. Readers will also come to understand the difficult times in which Owen lived, and how he handled the terrors of war and religious persecution. Full of illustrations and fascinating information, this is an ideal way for young readers to learn history.

Table of Contents:


Chapter 1: Growing and Studying in Difficult Times

Chapter 2: A Pastor and Writer

Chapter 3: From Battlefield to the University Halls

Chapter 4: Winds of Persecution

Chapter 5: England’s Dark Hour

Chapter 6: Owen’s Last Years

Time Line

Did You Know?

A Modern Version of John Owen’s Lesser Catechism

Simonetta Car was born in Italy and has lived and worked in different cultures. A former elementary school teacher, she has home-schooled her eight children for many years. She has written for newspapers and magazines around the world and has translated the works of several Christian authors into Italian. Presently, she lives in San Diego with her husband Thomas and family. She is a member and Sunday School teacher at Christ United Reformed Church.

Matt Abraxas has traveled from California to France, studying different approaches to art. He enjoys creating and teaching art, and currently exhibits his work at the SmithKlein Gallery in Boulder Colorado. Matt lives with his wife Rebecca and two sons, Zorba and Rainer, in Lafayette, Colorado.

The Worldly Pastor

April 27, 2010

William Tyndale has some strong words on the dangers of being a worldly pastor that should provoke anyone to think deeply of where his affections, intentions, and ambitions lie:

The worldly [preacher] is one of the first that seeth the light, and cometh and preacheth Christ awhile, and seeketh his own glory in Christ’s gospel.  But when he sees that there will be no glory unto that preaching, then getteth him to the contrary part, and professeth himself an open enemy, if he cannot disguise himself, and hide the angle of his poisoned heresy under a bait of true doctrine.

from Works of William Tyndale

Reading Log: March 2010

April 24, 2010

This is certainly a late arrival, but below is the book log and some notes from March 2010:

Brian Regan and Christian Social Media

April 23, 2010

Sadly, I think a great blind spot for Christians in social media is self-promotion. It is very appealing to hunger and thirst for a wide readership or work diligently for links, mentions, “retweets”, or new followers.  This inordinate desire impacts our behavior online.  We become self-promoters, constantly talking about ourselves and pointing to what others are saying about us.  We become, as Brian Regan calls it, Me-Monsters. It is an enemy to meekness and, fundamentally, it is unchristian behavior. The video below is funny, but its makes an observation about behavior Christians should be quick to die to.

Carl Trueman on the Medieval Church

April 22, 2010

Westminster Theological Seminary has recently put up some great (and free!) audio lectures through iTunes U.  I just finished listening to Carl Trueman’s lectures on the Medieval Church.  In his own way, Trueman clears up common misconceptions of the Medieval period, helps bridge a wide cap of ignorance between the Patristic period and the Reformation, and still finds a way to regularly  comment on the superiority of Britain over Wales.

Though I haven’t listened to it, yet, K. Scott Oliphint, also, has a series of lectures on the Doctrine of God.  Oliphint has always proven to be helpful.

Themelios Highlights

April 21, 2010

The new issue of Themelios 35-1 has just been published.  I know there is lots of chatter on the blogs about it, but let me make the observation that in this issue, the book reviews is where its at. They are excellent and, even, scathing at times!  Ok, maybe I’m over-doing it a bit, but the book review section has some real zingers this time.  Below are a few highlights:

Alistair McGrath, Heresy: A History of Defending the Truth Reviewed by Kevin DeYoung

Dewi Hughes, Power and Poverty: Divine and Human Rule in a World of Need Reviewed by Steve Timmis

John Stott, The Radical Disciple Reviewed by Vaughan Roberts

Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, ReJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church Reviewed by Tim Chester

Philip B. Payne, Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul’s Letters Reviewed by Thomas R. Schreiner (Don’t miss this one)

John G. Turner Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America Reviewed by Owen Strachan

Francesca Aran Murphy and Philip G. Ziegler, eds. The Providence of God: Deus Habet Concilium Reviewed by Paul Helm (Worth the work to read all the way through)

D. A. Carson and Carl Trueman’s editorial, as always, are excellent and worth the read.  I haven’t read Martin Salter’s Does Baptism Replace Circumcision?, yet, but from what I can tell, it looks great.  Many thanks to the work of Andy Naselli – the muscle behind much of Themelios.

Missions and Issues in Church Membership

April 20, 2010

In a Q/A I did with Jonathan Leeman at TGCReviews on his new book The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love I asked him the following question to which I thought he gave an insightful response:

Some might say this debate is for those who have the luxury of having it in American evangelicalism. How is this a relevant issue for missions and church-planting overseas?

The issue of membership and disipline is relevant for every place Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6–”Come out and be separate!”–are relevant. I spend half of chapter 6 looking at what biblical teaching on membership and discipline might mean for specific congregations (i) in Muslim Central Asia, (ii) Dubai, UAE, (iii) Brazil, (iv) and Delhi, India. I conclude that there are some contextual differences between such locations, but that in every location the church needs to be a marked-off, clearly distinct, holy, and loving body of people who are a witness to Christ’s saving power through their very corporate existence.


Where Does A Young Pastor’s Authority Lie?

April 11, 2010

I’ve been reading through Michael McKinley’s Church Planting is for Wimps.  Its an encouraging little book for young pastors to trust in the Lord in the work of pastoring, church planting, or (in the case of McKinley) church revitalizing.  Many young pastors feel intimidated when they are 25-30 years old and they are expected to teach, exhort, and preach to men and women who have been Christians longer than they’ve been alive, have children older then they are, and have been married longer than their parents.  McKinley has some insightful words for these young pastor types (like me):

Without God’s Word, a church has no hope as it prepares to meet this God who is to judge the living and the dead. It has no way to know the gospel in a saving way (Rom. 10:14–17; 1 Cor. 1:21). It has no way to grow in Christ. Without the Word of God, a preacher, especially a young preacher with little history, has no true authority. He might be able to woo them with the devices of the flesh just like any comedian or rock star. But without the Word he will have no true spiritual trust from his people. Why would a church entrust its spiritual good to a know-nothing twenty-nine-year-old? Why would an older man who has been a Christian for twenty years, raised a family, and had a career care what this twenty-nine-year-old says about marriage or children or money or taking up your cross and following Jesus?

But if that twenty-nine-year-old can simply open the pages of the Bible and explain what God himself says, then the church has something with which to work. Then the authority rests not in the preacher or his personal wisdom and experience but in the authority of God himself who has breathed his Word.

Interviews at TGCReviews (The Gospel Coalition)

April 7, 2010

At TGCReviews, I had a good time doing two interviews with authors of two great books.  Below are the links: