Halloween is no more secular in origin than Christmas. Just over a month to get your costume.Posted on September 25th, 2013
“Do not habitually neglect any portion of Scripture. Some neglect the Old Testament thus losing all its rich unfolding of God’s character and the methods of his Providence, all its unnumbered illustrations of human life and duty, and its many types and predictions of the coming Saviour.”
–Broadus, On the Preparation and Delivery of SermonsPosted on September 25th, 2013
The kids are back to school and the bustle begins: schedule, curriculum, books, assignments, all the fantastic accoutrements of learning. As this process picks up speed and the details of life in a classroom come flying at students and parents, it’s important to remember what is actually happening in this thing we call education.
What did you learn in eleventh grade? What classes did you take? If you can remember half the classes you took that year, you would be better off than most. If you can remember and put into practice particular skills you may have acquired or facts you memorized–equations from physics or calculus–it’s almost certainly because you use them today in your vocation or you happen to have a photographic memory. Or you cheated and just looked them up on Wikipedia.
I think it was Dorothy Sayers who pointed out in her essay The Lost Tools of Learning that a student is expected to forget most of what he learned in school by the time he is an adult. I feel better already. Of course she wasn’t talking about the ability to read or do basic math, but rather the vast minutiae of information we acquired and dutifully divulged on tests. Three years of college French left alone for ten years will be as forgotten as a campaign promise, n’est ce pas? Okay, at least the French can be recovered with review. But the point is that more is going on in education than a transfer of data. More is being learned than information. Read the rest of this entry »Posted on September 24th, 2013
“The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellar full of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof Grace–bottle after bottle of pure distilate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel–after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps–suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started…Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, not the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.”
–Robert Farrar CaponPosted on September 16th, 2013
The Church will miss its First Chair Chef-Theologian Robert Farrar Capon who was gathered to his people last week. He had a conflicted and in ways confused ministry, which Rachel Stone describes a little of here. But he had a cannon of a pen. The Supper of the Lamb is his best known books and resides where it ought, reprinted in the Modern Library. I wouldn’t recommend it alone among marriage books, but Bed and Board is delightful and sadly out of print. It’s only of late that I’ve tapped into Capon’s works on the parables which are superb. Here’s what I mean, on the parable of the Growing Seed. Where other commentators wither, Capon bursts.
In the New Testament, that inseparability of heavenly concerns from earthly ones is, if anything, even more strenuously maintained. The kingdom Jesus proclaims is at hand, planted here, at work in this world. The Word sown is none other than God himself incarnate. By his death and resurrection at Jerusalem in A.D. 29, he reconciles everything, everywhere, to himself—whether they be things on earth or things in heaven. And at the end, when he makes all things new, he makes not just a new heaven but a new earth—a glorified re-creation of nothing less than his old stamping ground. The Bible’s last chapters proclaim a heaven and earth more inextricably intertwined than ever. Whatever else the “New Jerusalem” may signify, it says plainly that the final “heaven” will be as earthly as the eschatological earth will be heavenly—and that that’s the way it is going to be forever.
Indeed, it is worth noting that most uses of the words “heaven” or “heavenly” in the New Testament bear little relation to the meanings we have so unscripturally attached to them. For us, heaven is an unearthly, humanly irrelevant condition in which bed-sheeted, paper-winged spirits sit on clouds and play tinkly music until their pipe-cleaner halos drop off from boredom. As w envision it, it contains not one baby’s bottom, not one woman’s breast, not even one man’s bare chest — much less a risen basketball game between glorified “shirts” and “skins.” But in Scripture, it is a city with boys and girls playing in the streets; it is buildings put up by a Department of Public Works that uses amethysts for cinder blocks and pearls as big as the Ritz for gates; and indoors, it is a dinner party to end all dinner parties at the marriage supper of the Lamb. It is, in short, earth wedded, not earth jilted. It is the world as the irremovable apple of God’s eye. Read the rest of this entry »Posted on September 13th, 2013
As Duck Dynasty forges into it’s fourth season opening with nearly 12 million viewers, many are weighing in on the show and what is called its “cultural Christianity.” I think I started tuning in during season two and really enjoyed it. I like rednecks and redneck humor, and with family from the south, I find it easy to laugh with and at these people. But there is more going on here, and we ought to be encouraged.
The show is entertaining, and that is its primary function: to humorously entertain. How does it do so? By following the hilarious life of the Robertson family, their business and family antics. This is how it should be evaluated. It is good entertainment? When we evaluate our entertainment, and we must, we don’t use the same criteria we use for evaluating, say, a sermon. At least we shouldn’t, for that would make sermons into primarily forms of entertainment, which contra your wanna be stand-up comedian pastor, they aren’t.
God is the ultimate Comedian, telling jokes all the time. When we imitate Him well, the humor can be clever, delightful, slapstick, layered, ironic, satiric, involve plays on words, etc. It’s not cheap like a standup comic using vulgarities and obscenities for the shock value. The comedy of Duck Dynasty is consistently funny and happens in an environment where life is enjoyed as a gift and brothers can make fun of each other because they love one another. I would not put Duck Dynasty on the level of Wodehouse, but the two inhabit the same moral universe. Read the rest of this entry »Posted on September 3rd, 2013
“We are frequently told, indeed, that the great danger of the theological student lies precisely in his constant contact with divine things. They may come to seem common to him because they are customary. As the average man breathes the air and basks in the sunshine without ever thought that it is God in his goodness who makes his sun to rise on him, though he is evil, and sends rain to him though he is unjust; so you may come to handle even the furniture of the sanctuary with never a thought above the gross earthly materials of which it is made. . . . The very atmosphere of your life is these thing; you breathe them in at every pore: they surround you, encompass you, press in upon you from every side,. It is all in danger of becoming common to you! God forgiven you, you are in danger of becoming weary of God!”
-B.B. Warfield from “The Religious Life of Theological Students”Posted on August 28th, 2013
The Bible has a high view of sin, and an even higher view of grace. Paul says that “sin came into the world through one man, and death though sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Death reigns as a result of each person’s sin, whether they know or acknowledge such sin.
“But” he continues, “the free gift is not like the trespass. . . . For if because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. . . . Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace bounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:15, 17, 20).
You can see why Paul had to refute the idea that we should sin all the more since grace abounds when we do. God’s grace doesn’t enable us to sin; it enables us to resist it. But for those who have received the gift of the eternal life and have God’s indwelling Spirit, grace is winning and sin is losing. The presence of sin, which we all still experience, is but another opportunity for grace to reign in honest confession, humility, repentance, gratitude and joy to God for yet another deliverance.
For the believer, even sin is an occasion of triumphant grace.Posted on August 18th, 2013
Parenting, like all of life, is a matter of faith. This means that from time to time parents ought to be faced with situations that completely overwhelm them. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen, including your kid’s freedom from this or that situation, sin or difficulty.
It’s easy for parents who are conscientious in how they teach, discipline, and nurture to be surprised when they are stumped and brought up short in childrearing issues. But this is a wonderful reminder that we train up our children on the bedrock foundation of God’s promises, and not on the strength of our competence and applied techniques.
This faith doesn’t relax or go limp when sin is present or resign to unbiblical standards or self-justified laziness. It doesn’t scrap proven and promised biblical standards and methods (e.g. Prov. 22:6, 15). It looks for answers, confident they will come, in small and large deliverances.
This is the sort of faith that can say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” both as a statement of current affairs and as a prayer of confident hope in the God of generations.
Posted on August 14th, 2013
“Men who want to stay faithful must remember that lust is not a sensation; it’s a road with an established destination. That destination is always some form of sexual immorality. When lust is planted, the harvest is consistently some sort of sexual grief.” –Douglas Wilson, My Life For Yours p. 74
Posted on August 1st, 2013