Introducing “Theology in View.” A New Video Blog By Yours Truly

So here we go.

I’m beginning a new project, one that involves much scribbling and theology.  Yes.  That’s right.  A video blog designed to communicate theology in a short, fresh, generally tasty, and slightly humorous fashion.

I have many topics I would like to cover, but as you can imagine, the process of coordinating voice to drawings is, well, not terribly easy.  So I hope to kick these out a couple times a month.  But no promises.  Some will be more theologically advanced (like the one here).  And some will be more elementary.  I will probably call them “Theology for Noobs.”

Naturally, I would covet any help you might toss my way, such as sharing the video on Facebook (or subscribing on YouTube).  To the degree that people find these enjoyable and helpful, to that same degree I will feel compelled to draw little Reformed stick men!

 

 


3GT Episode 29: How Do I Pray When I Don’t Feel Like It?

Our parishonier gets things rolling with this question. The prof tries to kick the can down the street, then runs to others for help. The pastor pontificates a bit about the place of the psalms and putting prayers in print. Fear of public praying is admitted. The role of the Trinity in prayer is pondered. Promises are claimed. False forms of prayer and hindrances to prayer are warned against. The Three Guys Theologize in practical ways on this episode!

We thank Crown & Covenant for sponsoring the podcast! Be sure to listen for some great free give-aways!

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/3gt-episode-29.mp3


The Shoddiness of The Shack

With all the attention given to the movie The Shack, it would be good to take a careful look at the book it is based upon. The author, William P. Young, wrote The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity (Newbury Park, Calif.: Windblown Media) in 2007. Below is review of the book by Dr. Michael LeFebvre, pastor of Christ Church Reformed Presbyterian in Brownsburg, Indiana, and author of Singing the Songs of Jesus: Revisiting the Psalms and Exploring Ecclesiastes: Joy That Perseveres.

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The Shack is a modern day allegory of the Christian life. Like John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, William Young’s The Shack is a vivid tale designed to teach the reader about the way of salvation. But Young’s vision, while helpful in points, ultimately presents a different kind of salvation than that of Bunyan’s classic.

Bunyan’s pilgrim labors under the burden called “sin,” and he only finds freedom from its guilt by receiving forgiveness at the cross. Young’s protagonist is cast in a more postmodern image. The Shack’s central character is Mackenzie Phillips, whose struggle is not with sin and guilt; Mack’s burden is “the great sadness”—the accumulated emotional baggage from his abusive childhood and the death of his daughter. Rather than seeking his own forgiveness, Mack’s […]


The Beauty of Botany

I’ve just returned this morning from a flying visit to my daughter in Cambridge, England. Yesterday morning was spent drinking in the impressive architecture of the magnificent Ely Cathedral. After lunch we spent an hour walking around Cambridge Botanical Gardens.

Sadly, after the £5 ($6) dollar entrance ticket, as we probably should have realised, the gardens were a little disappointing: apart from a few cherry blossoms, and a ‘host of golden daffodils dancing in the breeze’, very little else had begun to bud or bloom, in these earliest days of Spring.

Yet, in spite of the lack of colour, in the extensive lawns and lakes, and beyond the occasional splash or flap of the local Mallard ducks, the trip was not in vain: our meander through the ‘glasshouse’, for the Indian Sub-Continent display of tropical plants, was worth the ticket price alone.

There were a few intimidating triffids that put out blossoms in your face; the cactus section was amazing (not quite sure how Arizona sneaked into to the sub-continental botanical area); but the piece de resistance was the exhibition of dozens of orchid subspecies that lit up the display with their delicate colours and resplendent, ornamental, forms.

Almost every shade […]


Browse Worthy: Wisdom Wednesdays

Yes, I know it’s Thursday. And, yes, I know this is not the seminary I am “supposed” to be promoting!

But “Wisdom Wednesdays,” weekly videos produced by the Reformed Theological Seminary that are typically three-to-five minutes long, provide helpful, short meditations on an array of topics. For a few moments of sharpening, I appreciate receiving them each Wednesday.

For a good example, below you can listen to Dr. Scott Redd remind us of two vital Biblical principles in dealing with the immigration issue that, held in proper tension, provide the balance our nation so desperately needs. As you listen to most of the rhetoric out there, people typically uphold one to the exclusion of the other.

If you would like to subscribe to Wisdom Wednesdays, simply click this link to go to their YouTube channel.


Presbytery Exam Fun with J. Gresham Machen

For those in the Presbyterian tradition, oral exams for students of theology pursuing licensure to receive a call as a pastor can be terrifying. Students sit on a platform before dozens of elders and answer questions on Scripture, theology, history, ministry, and more. However, after many hours of exams in one day at a presbytery meeting, the exams can also become quite tiring for elders who must listen, ask follow-up questions, and vote to sustain or not to sustain the students.

As my fellow students of theology and I went through our exams more than a decade ago, we noticed these trends over the several years during which we sat before presbytery. We decided to try to spice things up just a bit as we sat before these men whom we deeply loved and respected. So, we occasionally worked rather obscure bits of history or theology into our answers for the fun of watching the faces of our examiners. And it was fun, even as we took our exams very seriously.

Later, one of my comrades read Ned B. Stonehouse’s biography of J. Gresham Machen, a father of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. There, we learned to our surprise and joy that we had […]


3GT Episode 28: Rewind on the Lord’s Table

The 3GTers go back in time to pick up on their discussion about the Lord’s Table from Episode 23. A listener asked, “Wait a minute. What about dementia and the mentally disabled? How can they discern Christ’s body and blood to come to the Lord’s Table?” Aaron pulls out his handy dandy parishioner card, but when the professor and pastor take it on, he jumps right in as well. Our merciful Lord has answers!

Also, do not miss the opportunity to win some free goodies from our new sponsors, Crown and Covenant Publications!

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/3gt-episode-28-edit-3617-9-59-pm.mp3


The Eternal Glory of the Daily Grind

The following is a guest post by J.K. Wall who is a writer in Indianapolis. His modernized abridgment of William Symington’s work, Messiah the Prince Revisited, was published in 2014 by Crown & Covenant Publications. You can e-mail him at jk.wall@gmail.com.

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Work can be hell.

We do the same tasks over and over. And after we struggle and stress, even our greatest accomplishments fade quickly away.

We’re like Sysiphus, who the ancient Greek gods condemned to roll a stone up a mountain each day, only to watch it roll back to the bottom again. The gods thought, according to the French philosopher Albert Camus, that “there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.”

Moms especially—who do laundry, cooking, cleaning and picking up, day after day—can relate to Sysiphus.

With work so futile and its achievements so fleeting, would anyone be so bold as to say that your 9-5 job is eternally valuable?

I would.

When done well, earthly work delights and glorifies God. And since God is eternal, then His delight and glory have eternal value.

Right from the very beginning, the Bible tells us that our work exists to delight God.

God created Adam and immediately gave him a job to do: to […]


Men’s Breakfast and the Affair of the Sausages

This morning the men of my congregation will join for breakfast as we often do. There will be bacon and sausage consumed. The choice of bacon and sausage is not a protest, but part of the regular menu.

Most won’t think about it at all but will joyfully consume the sausages.

In 1522, in Zurich, Switzerland, a young preacher named Ulrich preached a sermon called “Von Erkiesen und Freiheit der Speisen.” My wife would have to help me with the German, but its something to the effect of “On the choice and freedom of foods.”

The argument that young Ulrich Zwingli made was that Christians are free to eat meat or free to not eat meat and the church does not have the right to force God’s people to fast or to abstain from that which God does not command. It was a sermon against Lent.

This sermon went 16th-century-viral and a strangely titled piece of church history was born:

The Affair of the Sausages.

The affair of the sausages was an incident wherein a printer fed his workers, along with some local dignitaries, choice sausages during a March 1522 Lenten fast. This led to the arrest of the merchant-printer for violating the Zurich laws. His […]


Catastrophizing the Trivial

Someone made a wrong announcement, or at least handed a wrong envelope to a man making an announcement. Nobody died, nobody was injured, but cue more drama than the dramas themselves. When Warren Beatty realised there was something wrong with the name on the card for Best Motion Picture at the Oscars, and showed it to Faye Dunaway his co-presenter, he probably didn’t expect her to blurt it out, much less have a whole troop of the wrong people on stage, and the thing rehashed endlessly through the media the next day.

Mistakes happen—but did ever you see such a kerfuffle about such a non-event? Not by the actors/producers etc—they displayed great grace, but every time I turned on the radio on Monday someone was talking about it.

Now I read on the front page of the Irish Times website the headline: “Oscar blunder worse for PwC than any audit scandal.” Accountancy firm PwC (Price Waterhouse Coopers) has been handling the winning Academy Award envelopes for the past 83 years—and this was their first slip up. So what! Apparently it will prompt “high-profile companies and organisations to reconsider longstanding audit mandates” i.e. to move away from PwC. Really?

I couldn’t care one whit […]