Activism, Apathy, or Affliction?

Activism or apathy. Those are the two predominant political responses of Indiana Christians to the coming campaign for sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) anti-discrimination laws. If the typical pattern of the culture war holds true, we can predict an oversimplified version of the next legislative session: a bill will be put forward, a political gun will be pointed to the head of legislators, and the SOGI lobby will ask the question, “Are you a bigot, or not?” What are the options for Christians in Indiana or in other places facing similar circumstances?

Christian activists want to rally the crowd to the statehouse, pound the pitchforks, and take back our state for the Lord. Admittedly, that statement oversimplifies the strategy, but it captures the essence of it. Strategically, it will not work. Proponents of the law are amassing millions of dollars for the campaign. They will gather far more protesters than Christians will. They are rallying business leaders to support the cause, and threaten dire economic consequences for the state if the law does not pass.

Christian apathetics, on the other hand, shrug and presume that the law is probably inevitable in light of the cultural-change locomotive that is moving full speed. They […]

Browse Worthy: Cute, Laughing Monsters

The eleventh video of Planned Parenthood doctors discussing abortions and preserving body parts for maximum profit is below. The ladies in the video speak so casually of partially birthing the premature babies so they can keep the heads intact in order to retrieve the whole brain.

Though I know references to Hitler are too common in our day by those wishing to demonize others, still while watching this video I could not help but think of an article I had read last week called “Hitler at Home.” The pictures show the Fuehrer with his mistress Eva Braun as they appear in family-like scenes in tastefully decorated rooms or with their pet dogs. The pictures can both humanize them and numb us to the atrocities they were committing at the time.

Pretty faces, jokes, and smiles cannot cover over monstrous hearts and hands dripping with blood.

A Few Tasty Picks

How Biblical is Molinism? (Part 1)

For those of you who enjoy hurting your brain by following the middle knowledge debate, you’ll almost certainly want to give James Anderson’s new series a look.

Unbelievable? Is God the Best Explanation for Apparent Design in Nature?

Truth be told, the discussion was only so-so. However, near the very end, the issue of theodicy came up. By way of exercise, test yourself. Consider the problem raised by the atheist. How would you answer his questions? And wherein lies the (or at least one) fatal assumption?

Episode 179: Bathysphere

99% Invisible is a fantastic podcast. It’s full of fun facts! And those fun facts are told in an interesting way. For a look at one that thoroughly caught my fancy more recently, check out episode 179.


Seminary. Be Here!

One of the most exciting developments in seminary education is distance learning (DL). Taking courses online is becoming an increasingly popular means for students to pursue theological education. In seminaries accredited by ATS, more than a quarter of the students have taken at least one course online and this number is only expected to grow. At the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary where I serve, the number of credits for online classes nearly tripled from the fall of last year to this year.

DL can be a blessing to the church for many reasons. Students can remain longer in their local ministry context without uprooting their families from their homes and congregations.  DL allows for flexibility to family and work schedules that the traditional classroom does not. Seminaries can reach students in foreign lands who otherwise would not be able to attend due to such things as visa restrictions or moving costs. People who may not want to be pastors but desire to deepen their theological knowledge can take or audit classes more easily. DL encourages the further connection and cooperation between the seminary and the local church, as pastors can work with students enrolled in online courses and see what they are learning.

However, […]

Growth in the Rural Church

It was once quipped that trying to turn a rural church around is harder than reaching a group of practicing Muslims. Gloomy as it may sound, rural churches are facing some unique challenges, especially as it concerns membership. The allurement of the city and the agricultural mechanization of the last fifty years has left rural America in a steady decline. The church has felt the effects. I don’t think too highly of statistical research, but both Barna and Pew have suggested that the overwhelming majority of rural churches have, at best, no increased growth and, at worst, decline.

Despite such gloomy sentiments it seems the rural church can grow. A couple of years ago W. Scott Moore assessed growth patterns in rural churches that had experienced a significant increase in membership by those who were previously unchurched. And guess what? He lived to write a book about it!

So how does one “grow” a rural church? Of course, growth is ultimately dependent on the Spirit alone. Paul reminds us: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6). So perhaps it should be asked: what are unchurched people looking for in a rural church? Surprising as it may seem, […]

Even Though It’s Not A Game

Let’s try out a phrase: “spectator Christians.”

The trend toward spectatorship is a culture-wide phenomenon seeping into the church. Sports used to be something we did; now it’s something we watch. Music used to be a reason to get together with neighbors and have fun; now it’s something our headphones use to keep us separate from others. Christianity is, to my eyes, similarly and increasingly becoming a spectator event. 

Her Heart So Kind and So Weary

I worry for my loving mother
The dimming years,
The trials she has known

One of the heart wrenching decisions I had to make upon moving to Pennsylvania two years ago regarded my mother.  As I have shared before, she was living in a dementia ward near my home where I could visit her easily. Because she had nearly died the year prior to my move and was now stable and happy in “her home,” moving her was deemed by all those we consulted not in her best interest. The day I walked out from seeing her to head east was excruciating.

Yet God has been so faithful. Her care was excellent at the nursing home, and the staff loved her like their own mother.  Our church friends visited her to remind her of God’s presence and love. Her faculties were diminished to the point she could not process I had moved, so she was never upset when I visited. I scheduled regular visits out to see her (and my nearby college daughter who also was attentive to her), and Mom’s faith and joy were always on display.  Incredibly, after a number of years of calling me Jack for no reason […]

Making Good Use of your Baptism


Do you ever wish God would give you something like a keepsake? Something to take out and look at and be reminded of his love and his nearness? Something to help you live for him day by day? Something to reassure you that you’re never really without him?

Well here’s the thing – that’s exactly what he has given to his people! It’s your baptism. How much time do you spend on an average day thinking about your baptism? Listen to these stirring words of Thomas Houston (a Reformed Presbyterian pastor in Belfast) in 1876: ‘There is no condition or event or circumstance of human life, in which the baptized may not draw from the covenant of their infancy motives for godly living—for Christian activity, support, and consolation… The whole life of faith may be promoted by a due consideration of the baptismal engagement… all the duties of our holy religion will be more faithfully and vigorously performed when viewed in connection with the baptismal engagement, as all spiritual privileges will be thereby enhanced.’ (Christian Baptism, p.170)

That’s a pretty big claim! Listen to what the Westminster Larger Catechism says on the subject in Q.167: The needful but much neglected duty of […]

Browse Worthy: Boning Up on Our Doctrine

Two of my favorite bloggers have done helpful series recently on doctrine. You would do well to sharpen your minds by reading these carefully written posts.

First, Kevin DeYoung reminds us of the five questions Francis Turretin asked in Institutes of Elenctic Theology regarding sanctification and good works. In the clear, readable style he’s known for, Kevin interacts with Turretin and others in pinpointing the distinctions necessary to stay on the straight and narrow path of holiness.

Five Questions about Sanctification and Good Works: How Does Sanctification Differ from Justification?
Five Questions About Sanctification and Good Works: Can We Fulfill the Law Absolutely in this Life?
Five Questions about Sanctification and Good Works: Are Good Works Necessary to Salvation?
Five Questions about Sanctification and Good Works: Can Justified Believers Do that which is Truly Good?
Five Questions about Sanctification and Good Works: Do Good Works Merit Eternal Life?

Next, David Murray highlights important truths in understanding the system that is known as Calvinism in his series. With great clarity, David makes the careful distinctions necessary to prevent veering off into forms of Calvinism that are caricatures of it rather than its true representation.

There’s More to Calvinism than the Five Points of Calvinism
There’s more to the doctrines of grace than THE doctrines […]