“Not In Our House!!”

Have you ever tried to resist the inevitable?  I do this whenever I sit down to eat.  No matter how much I try to avoid it, my superlative skills in unintentionally creating social awkwardness will kick in, and some of my food will end up on me rather than in me.  Sometimes I think I should purposely dump the contents of my plate on my lap as soon as I sit down, just to kill the anticipatory tension.  Either way, wearing my food is an unpleasant inevitability.  But have you ever tried to resist something that is inevitable, but also absolutely wonderful – in fact, the very best thing that could ever happen to you?  I have, and if you are a Christian, you have, too.     

Of RFRA and the Resurrection

Last week, I was on vacation with my family, away from our hometown of Indianapolis. From hundreds of miles away, I watched with consternation as the media ripped our state lawmakers to shreds over Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Not many bills in the Indiana statehouse warrant a Wikipedia page, but Senate Bill 101 did after all of the publicity. The attempt to protect ours as a culture of pluralism became more complex by the “fix” our lawmakers and governor added in response to the media frenzy and outcry from public figures and corporations. Little remains to be said that has not already been said, so I will simply add one thought.

No one I saw or heard in the public square connected Easter with the RFRA. Easter weekend followed the bulk of the RFRA controversy. Both were on the front of our society’s mind. Yet, virtually no one publicly connect the resurrection of Christ with the right and obligation to obey the living God.

In the book of Acts, the resurrection of Jesus was the defining feature of the apostles’ life and proclamation. The Council in Jerusalem sought to silence Jesus’ disciples for speaking of the resurrection, “But Peter and […]

The Quest for the Historical Adam – GenRef Podcast

It was our pleasure to sit down with Dr. William VanDoodewaard, author of the new work The Quest for the Historical Adam.

With the eye of a historian and the care of a theologian, Dr. VanDoodewaard has produced a book of considerable importance. He tackles the question of Adam and Eve head on, bringing to the discussion both scholarly insight and an even hand. The book cannot come more highly recommended.

Join us as we dip into the subject!

That Last Old Testament Verse

Often home schooling advocates and family ministry speakers quote the last verse of the Old Testament.  Malachi 4:6 brings the Old Testament to its conclusion with this promise about life in the age of Christ: “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” Clearly, calling people to claim a Scriptural promise that Christ’s ministry will restore healthy relationships between parents and children is a beautiful hope to offer them.

However, though that might be a possible application of this verse, it is not the proper interpretation of it.

In their classic commentary on the Old Testament, Keil & Delitsch state the following:

The meaning of this is not that he will settle disputes in families, or restore peace between parents and children; for the leading sin of the nation at the time of our prophet was not family quarrels, but estrangement from God. The fathers are rather the ancestors of the Israelite(ish) nation, the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), and generally the pious forefathers, such as David and the godly men of his time. The sons or children are the degenerate descendants of Malachi’s own time and the succeeding ages.”

They go on to explain that […]

J.G. Vos’s Temperate Views on Temperance

It is without doubt that JG Vos changed the RPCNA. Many will tell you of their experiences in his classroom at Geneva College and how they came to love the Word of God under his ministry. As the son of one of the most important theologians of the 20th century, he brought attention to the RPCNA at a time when it was often isolated from the greater reformed community. JG Vos popularized amillennialism in the RPCNA. He, along with Philip Martin, are credited by some for keeping the RPCNA from ordaining women elders. He renewed interest in the Scottish Covenanters through his writing. He renewed interest in confessionalism through the Blue Banner Faith and Life magazine. Many cite Vos’s preaching as the means of grace God used for their own conversions.

Today’s RPCNA would be quite different without JG Vos and his work. One area of change in the RPCNA that began with Vos is the RPCNA’s current view on abstinence from alcoholic beverages. Beginning in the late 1930s our Synod began a debate regarding the relationship between the Christian and alcohol, a debate that eventually led to a decision 60 years later to reverse its stand […]

J.G. Vos’ Work of Theological Renewal in the RPCNA

Recently Gentle Reformation writers did a series on J.G. Vos for the Reformed Presbyterian Witness magazine.  The following article was my contribution.  In the article I referred to a tract that Vos and another minister wrote, and have received inquiries to its availability.  To my knowledge the tract was only in printed form, so I have scanned it for easy reference.  Click “Are Women Elders Scriptural?” to read it.


In the flow of denominational history, periods occur where the church can be threatened and even overrun by liberalism.  Indeed, a look at the ecclesiastical landscape today would make one think there is never much of an ebb and flow but only irreversible tidal waves!

The RPCNA has been no exception to such concerns.  In an article he wrote regarding the history of the RPCNA, Tom Reid recounts the state of the denomination in the first half of the twentieth century.  “Over time, the RPCNA’s interest in bringing reform to society gradually was deformed into something approaching social gospel liberalism.” However, in our ongoing look at the influence of J.G. Vos on the RPCNA, we want to highlight how the Lord raised him up to stem the tide of modernism by bringing theological renewal.  His influence […]

God Cares About Unity More Than I Do

I’m preaching through Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Great news: everything I thought was there is still there. Interesting news: something is in the book that I’ve never really noticed before, not even when I memorized much of the letter back during my college years. One of the great themes of this loving and powerful letter is simply that God cares – deeply and seriously – about the unity of His church.

Putting Boots on Our Predestination

Recently in a class I took on leadership by Terry Walling, we were encouraged to look at our lives and heritage more carefully using a Post-It Note Timeline to consider all the events, circumstances, and people the Lord has used to shape us.  Dr. Walling had us identify how God as the Potter uses many influences to form us into the people we are. He led us through exercises that helped us recognize people whom God has used to mold us thus far.

As we prayerfully reflected on our lives with Dr. Walling’s guidance, each of us began to see that the Lord uses a myriad of people in lesser and greater ways to prepare and direct us in our service to Him.  Indeed, as we become more aware of God’s shaping hand through others, we begin to see lessons and patterns the Lord uses uniquely in our own lives to guide us further into His ways.

For example, in my own life I saw God has often used “spanks” through the hands of others to shape me. One of my very first memories is crying as a toddler after my father had truly spanked me (with many repeats through my childhood!) which helped put […]

Rejoicing in Lament

Earlier this week I gave a public lecture on the subject of living with cancer. One of the observations I made was that God has used my experience with leukemia to help me appreciate His word more fully. In God’s providence, I had just started working through the book of Psalms in my regular Bible reading when I was diagnosed with an incurable blood cancer about two years ago. The first book of the Psalter contains many psalms of lament in which the psalmist is crying out to God for help, often in a state of anguish. I had read those psalms many times before and, frankly, did not find them particularly meaningful.

What Your Pastor Sees In Worship

The following is an open letter to the saints I serve at Second Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis:

Dear Saints,

The way you worship matters. You do not see everything I see in worship as your pastor, and so today, I’m writing to tell you some of what I see.

It starts in the hour before worship. I gather with ESL (English as a Second Language) students who come for worship along with one elder’s wife who brings her large heart and multilingual abilities. You know these students through your work with them in the Wednesday evening ESL classes. In the hour before worship, they read the Scripture passage through which I will preach and we work through the text. Though most have advanced degrees, they have very little experience with English. They usually have even lesser knowledge of the Bible. For instance, few begin with the understanding that the Bible is a single story, rather than a collection of wisdom literature is the case with most religious texts.

So, through language barriers and against the pressure of the ticking clock, we labor for the hour to understand the gist of the text and the central point of the coming sermon. We read together, explain […]