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. Having read and taught concerning his previous work, I know that Bell’s claims about Christianity must be taken seriously and answered seriously. It is precisely that fact which causes me to cringe a bit regarding the reviews of his most recent work. So far, they seem to follow the typical pattern of analysis and refutation, which is well and good. But, similar to the last batch of critiques, they contain an element which subtly but substantially undermines the otherwise helpful work within them. Read more
Posts from the ‘Culture’ Category
- For an engaging and lively discussion on church polity (don’t worry, you won’t fall asleep… I think), check out the following 9 Marks panel discussion, Polity Is For Everyone.
- When I heard that James White and N.T. Wright were going to be discussing the subject of justification, I did a somersault (Or maybe I just quickly right-clicked my mouse on the download button). Either way, I was thrilled with the prospects of hearing these two engage the subject. And you should be too! It is the February 9th episode of Unbelievable.
- Reformed Forum recently interviewed Melissa Kruger, author of the book The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World. Covetousness is rarely discussed in our culture, but in this discussion, the subject is helpfully dissected. It is both insightful and convicting, so beware my fellow materialistic Americans.
- For a smart and interesting conversation about freedom, check out What Does Freedom Require? A Conversation With Os Guinness. This is hosted by Dr. Al Mohler.
- Lastly, it would be nearly a crime not to draw attention to Piper’s farewell sermon. After having served so faithfully, and after having had such a profound impact on so many lives (myself certainly included), I happily and heartily recommend his sermon. The message is entitled, “God Raised Your Great Shepherd From The Dead.”
As we prepare to see a son and then a daughter wed soon (he at the end of May, she the first week of June), my wife and I rejoice over the Lord’s goodness to our children. In so many ways we see how He has brought to them spouses who, designed by His gracious hand, complement them and will make their lives much more fruitful in many ways. As I have been praying for them and reflecting on the first recorded marriage in Genesis 2:18-25, here’s a question I have pondered. When the Lord God saw that it was not good for the original man, Adam, to be alone (Genesis 2:18), why did He bring the animals of the garden to him (Genesis 2:19)?
Clearly the Scriptures teach that it was to see what Adam would name them (Genesis 2:19). Yet given the context of God recognizing that Adam needed a helper, and the Lord forming one for him immediately after this animal-naming process was complete, more is going on here. Certainly Adam would have become more cognizant that he was created uniquely above all other earthly creatures, being made in God’s own image, and that would have led him to feel more acutely his loneliness. Surely that is the answer in part to this “new zoo review,” as many commentators teach. Yet how did this process not only reveal to him his loneliness but also point to a solution? Read more
As the cultural wars intensify, here are some links that will assist you:
Suicide – Following the suicide of well-known pastor Rick Warren’s son last week, there has been an explosion of articles on depression, mental illness, and suicide. David Murray offers two great columns on this, first with his own “7 Questions about Suicide and Christians” and then with a wisdom-balanced guest column by John Koopman on “Pastoral Thoughts on Depression.” For further links on many of the better posts on the internet, see Justin Taylor’s “Suicide, Mental Illness, Depression, and the Church.”
Gay Marriage - With all the attention this issue is getting, how important it will be for the church to speak with Scriptural authority. Rick Philips responded to a call against doing this in his post “Bill O’Reilly, Gay Marriage, and the Bible.” He then responded further with “Follow-up to Bill O’Reilly, Gay Marriage, and the Bible.” Read more
Does the following sentence make sense to you? “I found a BFF on FB with my Droid App; his blog made me LOL so hard I had to Tweet.” If so, you are plugged into the lingo of our digital era. The philosophical trends and technological advances in our day combine to make our words both abbreviated and multiplied. Acronyms abound as many millions of people broadcast terse bits of social or self-referential commentary; at the same time, online journals provide limitless space for linguistic catharsis. The ability to share information with so many people can be used in wonderful ways, but there are also significant dangers associated with ever-expanding mass media. 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 by Parliament, particularly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, increasingly these lands were “inclosed” (enclosed) or restricted to be used only by those with government approval or license. As a nation becomes more civilized and populous, the government has to take measures such as these to encourage governance that justly considers the interests of all its people.
However, it is easy to see how a practice such as this could be abused. The rich and powerful influenced enclosing lands that benefited their investments and businesses to the harm of the poor. Some families who dwelt for generations on property suddenly found themselves forcibly removed from it. Such was the concern of the church regarding this practice that the Westminster Assembly in its Larger Catechism included “unjust inclosures” in the list of sins forbidden in the eighth commandment against stealing. Read more
I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
Stories of conversion are a wonderful thing.
Through them God’s grace is set on display. Here we see the mysterious workings of the Spirit. God shines in a person’s heart the light of the knowledge of the glory of Himself in the face of Jesus Christ. As a result, the person is transformed, mightily and to the core. And while we do not behold this miracle directly, we certainly witness its effects.
What a wonder it is!
Recently Barry York and I had the distinct privilege of getting to hear firsthand one such story of God’s grace. It’s the account of Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. And it is nothing short of astonishing.
Rosaria could not have imagined she would ever wear the name “Christian.” And yet, through a simple and rather unexpected letter from Pastor Ken Smith, a tide of events was set in motion. Her world was soon turned upside down as she found herself meeting with Pastor Ken and his wife, Floy, grappling with the One whom she had so pointedly rejected, Jesus Christ.
In this podcast, we’re pleased to have both Rosaria and Ken on the phone. Listen as they recount this tale with warmth, honesty and insight. You will especially enjoy hearing how this pastor and his wife ministered to Rosaria before, during, and after her conversion.
For more information, the reader should consider visiting Rosaria’s website. There you will find an interesting Q & A section where she grapples with a number of tough issues. Also noteworthy is her testimony which can be found at Christianity Today. This has been the most-read article ever on their website with about 1 million views. Truly amazing!
Introduction: 0:00 – 4:00
Rosaria’s conversion story: 4:00 – 24:40
Various Questions to both Rosaria and Ken: 24:40 – 1:02:00
Like coming upon a car accident with injuries, for some reason it always jars me when I read the following in the Old Testament. “You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk” (Deuteronomy 14:21; also Exodus 23:19; 34:26). Something about the very thought of this just makes me go “Yuck!”
It is not just that I do not like goat’s milk, which I do not. Recently the men had a discussion around the table at Fellowship Lunch about goat’s milk. Words like “brown” and “smelly” and even “mucous-like consistency” were used to describe it. I know some out there surely like goat’s milk, but there were no fans around that table. No, it is not the milk per se, but the way it is being used that is disgusting. What is it about this verse that makes the very idea revolting?
My friend Jon Sturm published a great guest article on the debate between an atheist, Alex Rosenberg, and a Christian, William Lane Craig, at Purdue University last week (video of the full debate here). They debated the question “Is Faith In God Reasonable?” I appreciated Jon’s post and hope only to add my perspective to several of his points and then make one recommendation for every Christian involved in evangelism and apologetics. Read more
Recently my daughter Emory, a freshman nursing student at Purdue University, traveled through the night with friends to attend an event in Washington D.C. Upon her return, after I listened to her describe her experience over the phone in the tears and raw emotion of uncalloused youth, I asked her to put her thoughts into writing. They follow below.
The agonizing cries, which can only proceed from the most tortured of human souls, pierced the silence of my imagination. I could almost smell the reek of unwashed, decaying, and burning human flesh. Haunted figures and hollowed eyes presented themselves before me wherever I turned. There was no escape from the overwhelming sense that I was experiencing no small taste of hell.
Such were the thoughts and emotions which flooded over me as I walked through the National Holocaust Museum in our nation’s capital. After being confronted with the acute depravity of mankind, museum visitors are quoted saying, “This can never be allowed to happen in any form again.” We leave appalled, but comforted with the fact that we would never participate in such horrific evil. We think that our nation is so much more advanced and we have come so far as a society. Read more
Summer 2012 burned hot and dry across most of these United States. In Indianapolis, we set all-time records for the longest dry spell, the driest June, the most consecutive days without the thermometer dipping below 70 degrees, the hottest month, and the list goes on. Our reservoirs dropped to low levels and the city imposed water usage restrictions.
Extended drought would be disastrous for our region that relies upon abundant rain. As a major metropolitan city without deep reservoirs and without a navigable waterway, Indianapolis is particularly vulnerable. Read more
I agreed with David Murray a few months ago when he asked for a moratorium on speaking and posting about homosexuality. I worked at actually practicing my own moratorium, seeking deliberately not to mention it automatically in writing or speaking as any easy target. I did refer to it once recently, but that was to highlight a book that deals with a person’s story regarding it. However, even then I sought to be more careful in how I spoke about this subject. No one probably noticed, since silence on a subject rarely is noticed and our culture’s cacophony regarding it continues.
Today I wanted to lift this moratorium because of three articles worthy of your attention regarding it. May they help us be both more loving and wise as this issue just doesn’t go away.
Albert Mohler – This post gives insight into the recent policy change of the Boy Scouts. In his typical lucid fashion, Dr. Mohler explains that the national Boy Scout Board’s ruling to allow each local troop to decide whether to accommodate openly gay participants will not work. ”This capitulation and the abandonment of the B.S.A.’s longstanding policy will, in the end, please no one. The new policy is a half-measure that amounts to cowardly moral evasion. No group can remain divided on a question of such moral importance and urgency.”
Denny Burk – Dan Cathy, owner of Chick-fil-a and professing Christian, has taken a great deal of heat in the homosexual community for his support of marriage as defined by the Bible. He recently reached out to befriend Shane Windmeyer, a gay activist who was spearheading protests on college campuses against his restaurants. This post tells of Windmeyer’s surprising response to meeting Cathy.
Tim Challies – Many fall into the sin of homosexuality because they mistake it for freedom rather than slavery. Here’s a good reminder of what true freedom is and how we should be offering it to all.
The Puritans are derided as legalistic killjoys whose meticulous writings tend to parse the life out of true piety. Even a quick overview of their work will reveal their ability to write exhaustively on a topic and to exhaust the reader in the process! However, the careful, charitable reader of Puritan works will spy in them a faith of studied simplicity, one from which we could benefit in the midst of current battles among believers. Read more
I recently watched a video about a man born blind trying to understand color. Naturally, he couldn’t grasp the concept. It’s completely foreign to him. At one point he humorously puzzled over how water, ice, and the sky could all be blue. “Same color!” He exclaimed. “But they mean completely different things! That’s weird to me,” he added with a chuckle.
I suppose it would be very weird.
After watching the video, I was struck with a thought. Try as the blind man might, he couldn’t even imagine color. Nothing. The world is colorless to him. Sight is unimaginable.
This got me to thinking about naturalistic evolution. I mean, really, isn’t that the obvious segue?
That’s a joke. Read more
Lance Armstrong seems to relish the role of the comeback kid. The cycling champion won his battle with cancer and returned to the top of his sport. Now, after being taken down by his own web of lies, Oprah Winfrey will air his confession that he used performance enhancing drugs. Reports indicate that he desires to compete again. Years of lying and covering up lies might make it hard to believe that Lance is genuine in his repentance and not just attempting another celebrity comeback. I pray that he will find true forgiveness in Christ. I pray that his life will be changed, and that he will have a heart like that of Zacchaeus, ready to repay fourfold anyone whom he has defrauded. Read more