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 […]

3GT Episode 6: Whistles, Sleepy Cats and Frothy-Mouthed Calvinists

Don’t miss the latest installment of 3GT.  Here’s a brief overview of what to expect:

“With renewed vigor, the men of 3GT re-engage the topic of the extent of the atonement (with Austin defending the universal side of particular atonement, Kyle a limited view of particular atonement).  Barry plays the role of referee, calling fouls and low blows. In the second segment, we talk about Austin’s recent moving adventure to Pensacola.  Lastly, Barry raises the subject of variation in the body of Christ, drawing attention to Martin Bucer’s work Concerning the True Care of Souls.”  [But actually, that isn’t quite the end.  A brief moment of violence might just burst out at the end-end]

Glad to be Disappointed in Chapel

God has blessed the Geneva chapel program with some absolutely wonderful sermons and testimonies this fall, and I say that with no reference whatsoever to my own work.  From Dr. Dan Doriani of Covenant Seminary, to Dr. Bill Edgar, Geneva’s interim President, to Dr. Christopher Yuan from Moody Bible Institute, and co-author along with his mother of Out of a Far Country, A Gay Son’s Journey to God and a Broken Mother’s Search for Hope – these men have brought the chapel crowd wonderful biblical substance expressed in their own pastoral, engaging styles.  

Semester in Scotland

I know that Gentle Reformation is not an advertising forum, but here is something that may be of interest to you or someone you know.  It’s a Semester abroad program for College students in Scotland. The program offers 15 hours of credit, incorporating a variety of courses, designed to build the faith and life of any young Christian man or woman.

The Semester in Scotland program is offered in conjunction with Geneva College (, with students from other Colleges being able to transfer easily into Geneva and take the program through a co-operative agreement process.

It’s common place to hype and speak in glowing terms about what a program or College can offer, but I would rather let the success of this program speak for itself.  Even a cursory reading of the weekly student blog ( will give a good reflection of what those participating in the program think.

My personal enthusiasm for this program, during ten years of involvement, has been fueled by the impact I have seen it have on young lives. Comments such as, ‘he was changed by his time in Scotland’, and ‘she came back from Scotland a different young woman,’ are ones which I have heard when visiting the U.S.

So if you have a […]

The Case for Animal Suffering (Or Why I Want Fat Chickens)

I’ve been a little slow digesting the latest episodes of Point of Inquiry, so my interaction here is going to require us to consider something that was recorded in August. By internet standards, I might as well be returning to the dark ages. That was so yesterday. Nevertheless, the issue is a hot one, and so for that reason, I suppose I can be forgiven.

The issue is animal suffering. But not just any old animal suffering. It is the kind that occurs in factory farms.

Now if you give our dear secularists a listen, you’ll quickly come to see that they care a lot about chickens. Tears aren’t shed or anything like that. But they do express deep concern. And in the case of Paul Shapiro, he has put his money where his mouth is. He’s been a serious advocate of animal rights, seeking to establish more humane animal laws.

Fair enough.

But then again, really? I mean , we’re talking about chickens, right? And we’re talking about chickens in a godless world (their worldview (and by “their” I mean the predominant view of the podcast and its listeners)).

Let’s think about this for a moment.

I like big, fat, juicy chickens. The bigger the […]

The Value of a Mentor

In my role of teaching pastoral theology at a seminary, one lesson I continually harp on with young men preparing for the pastorate is their need for a mentor.

Many discipleship ministries such as The Navigators promote the II Timothy 2:2 Principle, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Yet we should be reminded that these words were first spoken by an older minister, Paul, to a younger minister, Timothy, in the context of the church (“in the presence of many witnesses”). This mentoring is exactly what Paul gave to Timothy in their travels together and in the epistles that bear his name.

No man can receive all that he will need for a lifetime of ministry at a seminary.  For success in ministry, it is essential that young ministers have an older, wiser man to provide ongoing guidance, teaching, and training. Too many young ministers wipe out with self-inflicted wounds that might have been avoided with more counseling and coaching. I am aware there are professional sites and ministries such as this one where a pastor can go and, in a sense, […]

What Do You Need to Know about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam?

What do you need to know about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam? Maybe more than you think. The swelling numbers of visiting students and immigrants from India, China, and the Middle East are compelling Westerners to learn more about these ancient religions. Understanding these worldviews enables Christians to more meaningfully engage and minister to people migrating amongst us in North America. If you have not interacted substantially with adherents to these religions, you probably soon will. If you are a Christian, Jesus calls you to be ready.

To get a reasonably brief overview of these three religions, listen to Dr. Timothy Tennent’s lectures – Essentials of Hinduism, Essentials of Buddhism, and Essentials of Islam – at Dr. Tennent is president of Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky and has served as a Methodist missionary in India for many decades.

Each series is comprised of four to seven lectures. They are summaries of full-length seminary classes. Eastern religions present learning challenges to Westerners who must become acclimated to a whole new vocabulary, history, and culture. While there is a sense in which it would be best to study under tutors from the East, I find it helpful to have an instructor who understands the […]

Browse Worthy: Adultery Preventatives

With so many moral failings throughout the land, here is some help for securing your heart and relationships.

How an Affair Really Begins – Let Tim Challies help you recognize the signs.

40 Consequences of Adultery – Pray over this list and see if you are still tempted.

Divorce for Pornography? – David Murray raised the question, and a bunch of folks raised some Cain before he closed the comment section. I appreciate his lucidity and candor.

On our latest 3GT, I asked the guys at the 44:20 mark, “Why does your wife trust you?” An interesting conversation followed that gives help in developing marital fidelity.

No King Like Him

I’ve never written a blurb for the back of a book. There’s good reason for this: I am not famous enough to help anyone sell their books and I am not really an expert on anything in particular. My understanding is that authors and publishers want those blurbs to come from people more well known than the author, people who will make readers stand up and pay attention. If we see someone we trust and respect encourage us to read a certain book, we’re much more likely to pay attention.

Which is why we ought to pay attention to the way God singles out and commends a few people in Scripture. When the Creator of the Universe calls you greater than all those born of women, like Jesus did of John (Lk. 7:28), we should take a much closer look. 

The Truth about Church Websites

I’m not going to lie. I’ve looked at a lot of church websites.

This is due to my having recently considered over a hundred cities in which to move and live. I know, right? A bit much. But it became something of a hobby, cracking open my laptop, firing up Google Maps, along with various church directories, intent on finding a new place to settle down.

Having since rumbled across the country in a moving truck, finally landing Pensacola, the dust has settled. No need for more feverish research. But through the process, I’ve emerged on the other side with a black belt in “What I want to see in a church website.”

By “What I want to see in a church website” I mean pretty much exactly that. When I go to a church website in order to investigate what they’re all about, what attracts me and what doesn’t?

Now the purpose in airing my thoughts isn’t to flaunt some kind of special insight of mine. Not at all. I have no special insight. This is merely a matter of opinion. But they’re opinions fresh out of the oven, and they’re rooted in real desires looking to be met.

So what’s what?

The truth is […]