Why is it that two Holy-Spirit filled, Christ-loving, Bible-believing Christians can come to very different conclusions on the very same passage of Scripture? The same question applies to Christian denominations (and non-denominational churches) divided by...Read more
Last Friday evening our family spent a wonderful evening with the Sycamore congregation and some special friends as we remembered more than two decades of time together. With a lovely banquet dinner prepared by the...Read more
Christian conversation about pastoral ministry often includes the expression “a pastor’s heart,” but what does that expression actually mean? Though Scripture may not use the exact phrase in question, it absolutely answers questions about...Read more
Dear single ladies and single men, the church needs you. I know it can seem otherwise when we talk about the importance of covenant families (they are important) or ask you every week with a wink,...Read more
Dr. Dennis Prutow is the Professor of Homiletics and Pastoral Theology at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (RPTS) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A former Army chaplain, seasoned pastor, and author, Denny's life and ministry was celebrated...Read more
Rob Bell is back, and the critiques of his latest work are coming in. I’ve not yet had the opportunity to read What We Talk About When We Talk About God, but I’m starting to peruse the reviews. ...Read more
As the time approaches for my family to move from Indiana to Pennsylvania next month, life has almost been too busy for reflection. Selling and purchasing a home. Finishing teaching one seminary class and finishing...Read more
While studying for a recent sermon series on the Lord's Supper, I read an interesting passage in John Calvin's 1540 treatise on that sacrament. Toward the end of his treatise (in the extract quoted below),...Read more
Were you you when you were converted to Christianity? Or, asking about the same idea from a different angle: Are you you subsequent to your conversion? Every Christian should answer with a resolute “Yes!” and “No!” That’s the Bible’s answer. ...Read more
During my seminary days attending Covenant Fellowship Church in Pittsburgh, I was blessed to sit under the preaching of Pastor Ken Smith. We witnessed people being converted, growing disciples, and joyful singing filling the sanctuary. One...Read more
Formal introductions are made, the crowd applauds, and the Christian and non-Christian position themselves behind a lectern, notes in hand. It is a debate, a venue where two worldviews collide in an open forum.
James tells us in 1:22 that the person who hears God’s word without doing God’s word is engaged in self-deceit. Obviously, self-deceit is subtle. How are we to know when we are self-deceived in our...Read more
At one time large swaths of pasture lands, fields, and forests were open in England for local people to use for such things as pasturing animals, gathering wood, or hunting. Yet through "Inclosure Acts" passed...Read more
Too few churchgoers are aware of the significance of entering into the sanctuary with the people of God. If only they recognized God's presence is there, not because of the building but in the people...Read more
The following is a guest post from our friend Jon Sturm, who attended a popular and important debate at Purdue last weekend.
On Friday, February 1st the Elliott Hall of Music on the campus of...Read more
Understandably, we in the church are pretty wary when it comes to tolerance. As so many college freshmen, we've had the idea (really, the doctrine) of tolerance preached at us from most corners of our...Read more
Gentle Reformation is a cooperative effort by friends in the R&P faith (Reformed and Presbyterian) to speak the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in its many applications through the media of the internet. Our...Read more
The atheism of today is a strange brew. Many of the more vocal proponents have a kind of eat their cake and have it too approach. They want to be nice atheists, champions of morality and meaning, while yet maintaining that we are nothing more than biological accidents in an otherwise unimaginably unlikely incident of space and time.
The view is paradoxical, to say the least. And it baffles me.
But it also frustrates me.
I can understand unbelief. It’s a stance of the heart and mind, a set of convictions undergirding a worldview. While I firmly disagree with the tenets of atheism, I don’t think proponents of the view should be illogical. They can draw consistent and clear conclusions from their core presuppositions. What frustrates me, however, is the tendency to hijack atheism with warm and fuzzies- warm and fuzzies that sound good, but fail to comport in a meaningful way with their viewpoint.
I must have something specific in mind here. And I do.
I was recently directed to an article by Greta Christina, a well known proponent of free-thought. The blog post is entitled, “9 Questions Not To Ask Atheists – With Answers.” Here Christina succinctly details common questions that “make atheists feel second class- and make you look like a jerk.”
Numbered among the 9 or so questions that irritate atheists is the issue of morality. The question succinctly stated goes like this:
“How can you be moral without believing in God?” Read more
From A Guide to Christian Living (pages pp.28-31),a devotional extracted from the third book of John Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion:
When Scripture commands us in our dealings with men to prefer them in honor to ourselves, and to strive loyally to advance their welfare (Rom. 12:; Phil 2:3), it lays down requirements which no human heart can possibly fulfill, unless first freed from its natural inclination. For we are so blinded and engrossed by self-love that we all believe we are entitled to rise higher than everyone else and to despise them in comparison. If we receive some valuable gift from God we immediately use it as an excuse to exult. Not only do we swell with pride, we almost burst with it! We make sure we hide from others the vices that beset us, and we pass them off as minor and trifling. Sometimes, indeed, we admire them as virtues! As for our own gifts, we hold them in such high regard that they are a source of wonder to us. If, however, the same, or even better, gifts are found in other people, so that they put us in the shade, we either ignore or else belittle them as much as we can. On the other hand, if our neighbors have a fault or two, we are not content merely to judge them severely, we odiously exaggerate them.
…There is no one who in his heart of hearts does not imagine he deserves to outrank everyone else. Thus each person, in his own way, fondly nurses an entire kingdom in his heart!
…This is bound to be the case until the mortal plague of self-love and self-promotion is plucked out from deep within the heart. Now that is precisely what Scripture does. If we heed its teaching, we are reminded that none of the favors which God bestows is our personal possession; all are his free and generous gift.Anyone who makes them an occasion for pride is thus patently ungrateful.
Why is it that two Holy-Spirit filled, Christ-loving, Bible-believing Christians can come to very different conclusions on the very same passage of Scripture? The same question applies to Christian denominations (and non-denominational churches) divided by differing teaching. Different doctrine results from differing interpretations of God’s Word. Such fractures among the faithful are frustrating; they run like ruptured veins through the body of church history and they continue to pain the church today. How can we come to collective clarity in our view of God’s Word? Read more
In these United States, we have just celebrated Memorial Day, D-Day is just around the corner, and summer is here. So, it’s time for a few musings on history, freedom, culture, and the need to remember:
Last Friday evening our family spent a wonderful evening with the Sycamore congregation and some special friends as we remembered more than two decades of time together. With a lovely banquet dinner prepared by the fabulous cooks at Sycamore, we enjoyed a night of viewing pictures, hearing such things as the church’s history recounted and testimonies, and listening to the children recite our theme verses. At the end we were presented with three special gifts: cards and letters testifying to the love we share in Christ; a beautiful stain glass piece designed by Susan Spiegel that came from some of the church’s old windows and had the Sycamore symbol in the center; and the amazing drawing of the church building by Natalie Thoman that accompanies this post. Quite a few tears were shed, as parting with those you love is such a sweet sorrow.
Yet many of the tears came from laughing so hard. Another part of the evening was spent roaring with laughter as Greg Fisher read a masterful story as the narrator “Libelous Slander.” He wove together facts with creative fiction to poke fun in a good-natured way at the quirks we share as a congregation. Having told a few of these stories myself over the years, I responded with the short story below, not a true one but awfully close, to express my thanks as well as my confidence in the future of the church.
And to be honest, having blubbered through reading to them a resignation letter a few days previously, I had to use some humor just to get through a response! Read more
Talk about bursting at the seams!This year’s Gospel Coalition National Conference will make a glutton out of your ears.The sheer range of topics is astonishing.Workshops alone tickle the fifty mark.Plenary messages land somewhere in the mid teens.I can’t imagine someone walking away from the vast range of choices muttering, “Meh.”
With our schedule, not much blogging time as of late. So I appreciate the recent offerings of the other “GenRef Gents” as I like to call them. But here are a few morsels of joys and lessons as of late.
On Saturday, I made it through performing the wedding of my son with my emotions almost under control and nary a hitch, except at one crucial point. As I began the vows, I momentarily got distracted by the mic we were using and asked my son to say, “I, Trevor, take you, Abby, to be my lawfully wedded husband.” Unaware of what I had said, I did not realize my mistake until Trevor, after dutifully saying all the words but the last one, paused for just a moment, smiled widely, then emphatically said, “Wife!” Not only the bride was blushing that day. Read more
Abby and Trevor, my sister-in-law and now-brother-in-law, were married last Saturday. I had the privilege of praying in the ceremony for the Lord’s blessing on their marriage. After a few words of thanks to God and making requests unique to the new husband and wife, I prayed that the Lord would bless their marriage by blessing the table in their home.
God’s promises in Psalm 128 motivated the prayer, along with the ways I’ve seen him fulfill those promises in Christ at the tables of my in-laws, my parents, my grandparents, and now in our home for the last fifteen years. Some who attended the wedding requested the words of the prayer. I don’t have an exact record, but what follows is the essence of it reconstructed from memory and notes jotted the night before as I prayed in advance for the new couple. Please pray from the heart for this new couple and for all of our homes as you read: Read more
Have you ever had a conversation with a Christian about an ethical question where they said something to the effect of, “That’s a violation of the _insert number one through ten_ commandment.” And you responded with a “huh?!”
For the sake of example, here are some ethics-statements that Christians have said regarding ethics and their relationship to the Ten Commandments. You may have heard similar statements or have questions of your own :
Labor unions are violations of the Fifth Commandment (honor father and mother).
Angry outbursts are violations of the Sixth Commandment (against murder).
Going out for dinner on Sunday is a violation of the Fourth Commandment (Sabbath).
Playing state lotteries is a violation of the Eighth Commandment (against stealing).
Dressing immodestly is a violation of the Seventh Commandment (against adultery).
Singing uninspired worship songs violates the Second Commandment (no idols).
Birth control is a violation of the Sixth Commandment (against murder).
Again, the purpose of this article is not to attempt to answer the above questions or any ethics question that you may have. The purpose of this article is give you some principles to help you apply the Ten Commandments to some of the ethical situations that you face from day to day in the Christian life.
So how can you better understand the Ten Commandments? Below are seven principles to help as you think about living a careful life in gratitude for the grace of Jesus Christ. Read more
This week I followed a discussion that started off something like this: “New Presbyterian here. Anything I should know in your humble opinion?” There were many answers given, some humorous, some ridiculous, some wonderful. Here’s a sampling of some of the answers. Remember, the question is, “I am a new Presbyterian; what should I know?
The PCA and the PCUSA are not the same thing.
Babies are for baptizing.
The Federal Vision is bad.
The Westminster Standards and Three Forms of Unity complement each other very well.
We enjoy cigars- get smoking! Scotch helps too!
Psalms are for singing.
Grow a beard and say “covenant” a lot.
Buy a copy of the Westminster Standards NOW! (Free Presbyterian Edition) Carry it wherever you go.
Don’t neglect growth in holiness and love and compassion for others.
I enjoyed reading the answers that people gave. Many were obviously tongue-in-cheek and most of them were broad generalizations (except “Bavinck”) although attempting to be helpful. As I read through them I was reminded of two times in my life when questions were asked related to the question “What should I do first?”
Christian conversation about pastoral ministry often includes the expression “a pastor’s heart,” but what does that expression actually mean? Though Scripture may not use the exact phrase in question, it absolutely answers questions about the nature and the practical proof of pastoral affection. Read more
From a recent class on worship, we hammered out a brief, Biblical, working definition of what a local congregation should be pursuing as it worships the Lord as His holy temple here on the earth. I simply offer it below with no comment save one. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that when people worship the Triune God, their behavior toward others will become more Christlike. Otherwise, they are not truly worshiping.
Corporate Worship is the Church’s
Reverent & Obedient Service to God,
as Regulated by His Word,
in the Love of the Father,
through the Mediation of the Son,
by the Indwelling Power of the Spirit,
on the Lord’s Day and Other Duly Appointed Times,
Where We are Strengthened by God
to Love the Brethren,
Evangelize the Nations,
and Engage the Needy
in Preparation for the Consummation of the Kingdom.
Dear single ladies and single men, the church needs you. I know it can seem otherwise when we talk about the importance of covenant families (they are important) or ask you every week with a wink, “Is there someone special in your life?”, but the fact remains: the church needs you now, not just when you get married and have kids. Read more
Dr. Dennis Prutow is the Professor of Homiletics and Pastoral Theology at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (RPTS) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A former Army chaplain, seasoned pastor, and author, Denny’s life and ministry was celebrated recently at an RPTS dinner in his honor, as he is set to retire at the end of this academic year. As I witnessed this wonderful evening of stories from former students and remembrances by family members, and have also recently read with great profit his new book entitled Public Worship 101, I thought it would be fun for Austin and I to interview him. Indeed, we enjoyed the following conversation with Denny, and trust you will as well.