Browse Worthy: Elizabeth Elliot

With sadness yet gratitude we note that Elizabeth Elliot left this world earlier this week and, in the words she made famous, passed through the gates of splendor.  Her Christ-centered love story with missionary Jim Elliot, her incredible bravery and ministry as a young mother to the Aucan tribes that murdered him and four others missionaries, her ongoing God-glorifying teaching ministry, and especially her piercing and prolific writing have been greatly used by the Lord. I add my voice to the many who acknowledge that they  have been deeply shaped by her books.

Below are several moving tributes to Elizabeth followed by a video where, in her own words, she recounts her story. Read and watch, but do not stop there.  Summer is a great time to read her “trilogy” that uses in part the diaries of Jim Elliot to tell their story: Through Gates of Splendor, Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot, and The Savage My Kinsman.  What a story of Christ’s redeeming power God wrote through their lives!

Elisabeth Elliot, Tenacious Missionary to Ecuador, Dies at 88

Missionary Pioneer Elisabeth Elliot Passes Through Gates of Splendor

Elizabeth Elliot Website


Fight Night!

A church without conflicts. The ecclesiastical unicorn. Looks great in pictures but doesn’t actually exist. The right question isn’t so much, “How do we create a church without conflict?” but “What do we do when conflict comes?”

Here the Philippian church helps us greatly, particularly two Christian sisters, Euodia and Syntyche. These poor women have had their fight inscribed into God’s Word, and for the rest of this age we will be able to benefit from their disastrous disagreement.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Phil. 4:2-3)


Timely Remarks from an Old Voice

Cornelius Van Til, an influential Reformed thinker in the 20th century, penned this insightful words:

“Here then are the marks of the natural man in his attitude toward the interpretation of the facts (events) of the world:

(1) He thinks of himself as the ultimate judge of  what can or cannot be.  He will not allow any authority to stand above him revealing to him what may or may not have happened in the past or what may or may not happen in the future.

(2) This assertion or assumption of autonomy on the part of man makes a covert, if not an overt, assertion about the nature of God.  God (it is assumed if not asserted) cannot be of such a nature as to control any and all phenomena.

(3) These two assertions or assumptions imply a third: that man’s thought is, in the final analysis, absolutely original.  Whatever his ultimate environment may be, the area of interpretation that man makes for himself will be true for him because his thought is in effect legislative with respect to that environment.

(4) The facts of man’s environment are not created or controlled by the providence […]


Openness, Unhindered by Rosaria Butterfield

In these “trans-whatever” times, our world is so very confused about identity.  Following hot on the (high) heels of Bruce Jenner introducing himself as Caitlyn, we now have the spectacle of Rachel Dolezal.  She is the president of the local Spokane NAACP chapter who, turns out, is not the African-American-with-multiple-racial-hate-crimes-committed-against-her that she claimed to be.  As one writer asks in the title of his article, “If Rachel Dolezal Isn’t Black, How Is Caitlyn Jenner A Woman?“.   One can only imagine what further jumbling of identity the next news cycle will bring.

Oh, that a voice of clarity with charity might speak into this muddled mess!

One has.

Following the great interest created by her first book, The Secret Thought of an Unlikely Convert, the autobiographical story of her journey from being a leftist lesbian professor to a follower of Christ, Rosaria Butterfield has now written Openness, Unhindered.  In a work that could not be more timely, written in her engaging and compassionate prose, Rosaria offers a clear-minded treatise on what true identity is (including but not limited to sexual identity) and how it is to be discovered and nurtured.  With great depth of insight into the inner heart battles all men and women share; interaction with a […]


The RP & ARP Synods; A Family Reunion of Churches

This week, the highest courts of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church met concurrently in Flat Rock, North Carolina at the Bonclarken Conference Center. The RP and ARP courts are both called “synod” – distinct from the term “general assembly” used by most other Presbyterian denominations. A general assembly is historically seen as the highest court, with a synod being lesser. In seminary, I was taught that our denominations have chosen to keep synods, in part, as a reminder that the visible church is yet fractured due to sin. Until there is biblical union, a general assembly cannot truly be convened.

The essential difference between our two cousin denominations involves christology. We understand Christ’s office as king slightly differently which is evidenced more visibly in areas such as the content and manner of song and music in worship. Our differences are such that merger or formal union was not the purpose of this concurrent meeting, though we do pray with Jesus that we might be one ecclesiastically.

This meeting served as something of a family reunion of churches that have been separated as they are since 1782. We have rich theological similarities, a shared history […]


Where Faith Goes to Die

It’s an old joke among Christian leaders to “accidentally” refer to seminary as cemetery.  “Back when I was in cemetery…er, seminary…” Or to a young prospect for the pastorate:  “So, you’re heading to cemetery…er, seminary, eh?  Well, hang in there.  You’ll be involved in real ministry eventually.”  The joker’s purposeful subliminal slip assumes that theological education and vital, faith-filled ministry are in tension with one another, if they’re not outright enemies.  Well, if seminary is where an aspiring minister’s faith goes to die, then Presbytery meetings must be purgatory.

For Presbyterian denominations within Christ’s church, Presbytery is the deliberative assembly of elders from a particular geographical region that gathers to make decisions which will guide the local congregations within that region.  The Synod (or General Assembly) is the Presbytery meeting of all Presbyteries in the denomination.  All the stereotypes, the alleged faith-killing aspects of seminary – dry discussions of dust-accumulating documents written by dead theologians who were barely interesting in their own day – are made to live again in debates among seminary graduates and other church leaders.  Any vitality from fresh ideas in these debates is short-lived; soon those sparks of life are laid to rest in the coffins of […]


In Their Own Words: “No Middle Ground”

Normally I like to avoid false dichotomies. Simply defined, a false dichotomy is when two alternatives are presented as the only possible options, unnecessarily forcing someone into an either/or situation. Keep your ears open and you’ll hear how often people make this mistake! That’s why I was a bit hesitant the first time I read this: “The Catholic Church is either the masterpiece of Satan or the kingdom of the Son of God.” Or, again: “Either the Church of Rome is the house of God or the house of Satan; there is no middle ground between them.” And yet again: “If the power over the human mind and the infallible possession of Divine truth claimed by the Catholic hierarchy did not really come from God, the claim would be horrible blaspheme, and the hierarchy would be the work of the devil.”

Before I risk the accusation of being uncharitable, it may surprise you to learn that these weren’t written by protesting Protestants. Actually, they’re written by some of the Catholic Church’s popular and influential clergy and theologians—to be precise, Blessed John Henry Newman, Cardinal Henry Manning, and Matthias Scheeben. In their own words these thoroughly committed Roman Catholics are absolutely persuaded […]


An Accuser’s Mouth Shut

When a man criticizes and complains about a subject for a very long time, claiming to possess special insight into a matter and endeavors with great energy to prove his case, but is later shown to be woefully incorrect, he is made to look like a fool. His reputation is marred. He may sputter and back peddle with great emphasis, but sensible onlookers recognize the man’s error for what it is and pay little attention to his excuses. The amount of time and energy dedicated to such criticisms, as well as the degree of passion employed, will inevitably heighten the embarrassment. In other words, if a man dedicates the entirety of his life to a subject, and argues vociferously against a certain view, his error will more greatly impugn his reputation.

In the case of Satan, he has argued with unparalleled passion against God’s righteousness, urging that God unjustly overlooks sin. As far as time is concerned, his complaint has spanned the ages. Countless centuries have rolled by with him complaining in the background. So in terms of degree and duration, Satan’s accusations against God and His people have been unequaled.

Consider the following by way of reminder. When King David committed […]


What a Week!

Last week was full in more ways than one as I taught a four-day, intensive church planting course at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary to seventeen students.  Thankfully, two friends experienced in church planting helped me teach throughout the week as we emphasized together the evangelism, discipleship, and particularly the working of God’s Spirit necessary to see new works develop.  Their presence added to the joy of the time.  All of the students were special, and the possibilities and realities for their involvement in church plants are so exciting.

Yet it was made all the more special and exciting seeing those present who want to do cross cultural and across the ocean church planting!  We had present men and women from a large Asian nation who want to plant churches in North America to immigrant populations.  Also, two families participated who are planning to move to India next summer as a team to begin a work there.  These movements in our little denomination and seminary are unprecedented, and my heart is still pumping hard just remembering their hunger, intensity, and determination for what lies ahead.

At the end of class, the folks from India sang Psalm 67 in a beautiful Hindi arrangement one of them […]


Vanity Fair: Just Passing Through

Vanity Fair “broke the internet” with a story of shock and shame. As the church reflects on the way in which the world has responded with glee, we must be mindful that we live in Vanity Fair. As Christians, we ought not to be surprised; we need to realize that we live in the midst of a world that is hostile to God and his glory.

The pretentious and wonderful Oxford English Dictionary defines Vanity Fair as “a place or scene where all is frivolity and empty show; the world or a section of it as a scene of idle amusement and unsubstantial display.”

As the world screams “wonderful” and the church groans in disgust, we must remember where Vanity Fair got its name.

Then I saw in my dream, that when they were got out of the wilderness, they presently saw a town before them, and the name of that town is Vanity; and at the town there is a fair kept, called Vanity Fair. It is kept all the year long. It beareth the name of Vanity Fair, because the town where it is kept is lighter than vanity, and also because all that is there sold, or that cometh thither, is […]