Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding (Three Audio Debates)

Here are some theological debates that might be of interest. Each can be found under “Ministries/Trinity Debate” over at the Carl F.H. Henry Center website.

Do Relations of Authority and Submission Exist Eternally Among the Persons of the Godhead?  (Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem vs. Keith Yandell and Tom McCall) 

This is technical debate that will prove taxing at times. But for those with a taste for the subject, they will probably want to give it a go.

Is Social Justice an Essential Part of the Mission of the Church?  (Jim Wallis vs. Al Mohler)

Unfortunately, the bulk of the debate is fairly repetitive. Since there wasn’t a time of cross examination, both speakers weren’t provided an opportunity to really disagree with one another until the Q&A. There the real differences came out more forcefully, however.

How and When Will All Israel Be Saved? (Douglas Moo, John Feinberg, Mitch Glaser, Willem VanGemeren) 

If you would like to hear a variety of voices interact with Romans 11, with an eye towards answering the above question, this panel discussion will provide just that. It is a little dry, but informative nonetheless.

Part 1
Part 2



Westminster Conference 2014

Another post today to give you yet another conference series!  Listening to the messages in both of these posts could keep you busy for quite a while!

The Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary hosted its eleventh annual Westminster Confession Conference this past weekend.  The subject this year was “The Law of God and Its Uses.”  The packed chapel at RPTS revealed a great deal of interest in this subject.

Below are the links to the messages.  Each session had a short question & answer period, so that link is included as well.

1. Conference Introduction by Jerry O’Neill

2. Not Under Law – Really?  The Law and Its Uses by Jack Kineer.  Q&A session.

3. The Law Leads Us to Christ: The Law and Its First Use by Barry York.  Q&A session.

4. The Law Restrains Evil: The Law and Its Second Use by Richard Gamble.  Q&A session.

5. The Law Guides Us in Gratitude: The Law and Its Third Use by John Tweeddale.  Q&A session.

6. The Heart of the Matter: Avoiding Legalism by C.J. Williams.  Q&A session.

Rut Etheridge on “Refusing a Lesser Life”

Rut Etheridge, chaplain at Geneva College and fellow Gentle Reformation blogger, recently spoke on the subject of sanctification at the Christian Life Conference of the First Reformed Presbyterian Church of Beaver Falls, PA.  Entitled “Refusing a Lesser Life: The Savior’s Summons to a Full Hearted Faith,” these four messages are insightful, challenging, and a helpful addition (and, at times, corrective) to the ongoing discussion about this vital topic.

If you desire a greater experience of the Lord in your walk with him, Rut helps point the way.  Here are the links:

1. Serving: Freedom Instead of Autonomy

2. Knowing: Assurance Instead of Agnosticism

3. Childlike Instead of Childish

4. Kingdom Fire

The Sound of Faith

What is faith? Sometimes we answer that question with closely associated words. “Faith is trust,” someone may say. Or, “Faith is belief,” says another. The older theologians—whom we would do well to follow—speak of it as a “firm and sure knowledge” and a “confidence.” Generally speaking, it’s agreed that faith is made up of knowledge, assent, and trust because it engages the mind and the will. To say it a little more poetically in the words of Martin Luther, “Faith is a living, daring confidence on God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times.”

Now all of that is very good as far as it goes. But, what if we let faith speak for itself? Speak for itself! Does faith have a mouth? Does it have a voice with which to speak? It does! And this living, daring confidence finds expression in a hundred–probably a thousand–different ways, on the pages of Scripture. Open your Bible and see if you can hear the sound of faith. It’s everywhere:

Faith is heard in the trust for provision, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (Gen 22:8). It’s heard [...]

This is My Father’s Word

Do you ever avoid certain passages of Scripture because they remind you so vividly of past sin?  You’ve confessed your sin, and you trust that God is faithful and just to forgive you of that sin and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). But still, certain Scriptures or sermons based upon them seem to reopen old wounds and to remind you anew of an old and deep pain.

We see something similar happening to Peter as he talks with Jesus following Christ’s resurrection.  Just prior to Jesus’s crucifixion, Peter faced three questions about his relationship to Jesus and he denied three times that he was the Lord’s disciple.  Jesus predicted that three-fold betrayal (Luke 22:34), and upon Peter’s final denial of his relationship to Jesus, the Lord looked at him knowingly (verse 61).  Peter saw the Savior’s stare and broke down, going out and weeping bitterly.

In John 21, the risen Jesus asks Peter his own series of questions about Peter’s relationship to him.  Several times in slightly nuanced ways, Jesus asks: “…do you love me?”  Though interesting, the questions’ nuances are not as important as their number:  three.  Clearly, Jesus wants Peter to recall his three failures to [...]

Drops of Nectar

At summer’s end, at perfect time,

   Hosta shoots reach up high;

As the purple cups, hanging down,

   Beckon those flying by.


With whirring wings and slender beak,

   Colors catching the sun,

Humming birds feast as they hover,

   Always amazing one.


Yet on this day, the lumbering

   Of those inside the cup,

Fumbling, tumbling, the bumblebees

  Rouse this watching one up.


For while drinking drops of nectar

   Prepared in flower’d jar,

The bees, unknowingly, bear gold,

   Life that’s spread near and far.


 So too we receive His blessings

     Not seeing as we taste, 

Others touched as we’re becoming

    The vessels of His grace.


Integrity Matters

Last week, musician John Mellencamp welcomed Dr. Robert Heimburger, 97 (pictured, right), at the Indianapolis Riley Hospital for Children to record an interview together for a fundraiser next year. Mellencamp describes this neurosurgeon as “the man who gave me life.” He is responsible for the life-altering surgery performed on the month-old Mellencamp in the fall of 1951. Dr. Heimburger’s two sons brought him from his retirement home in Alabama for this special day.

Dr. Heimburger’s presence in Indianapolis last week excited me, too. He pioneered many surgical procedures in the field of neuroscience throughout his career in Indianapolis and was known internationally. In 1963, he operated on my then 63 year-old great-grandfather Evan Sanderson who suffered from Parkinson’s disease. His daughter Lois Long (my grandmother) had read about a similar surgery performed on the East Coast and suggested it to her father. Sixty-five miles from home, Dr. Heimburger evaluated him in Indianapolis and agreed to attempt a similar procedure. The experimental surgery apparently sought to freeze one part of the brain. After opening Evan’s skull, Dr. Heimburger injected him with a dye as part of the operation. As the dye was injected, Evan began to convulse on the table. He survived, but [...]

A Lesson From Natural Evil

It’s reported that while attending a divine service on a wintery day, Sir Isaac Newton left in his study a favorite little dog named Diamond. Apparently a candle had been left lit upon his desk, which was situated near a pile of papers containing many years of scientific labor. When Sir Isaac returned home, he found his research reduced to ashes, the candle having been inadvertently knocked over by his little dog.

In one fateful moment, his work was irredeemably lost. When the reality of the situation hit him, Sir Isaac turned to his beloved dog and exclaimed, “Oh, Diamond, Diamond, little do you know the mischief you have caused me!”

For Diamond, it was impossible for him to grasp the magnitude of the loss. In many ways, we are like that dog. Sin is infinitely offensive, and because of our smallness, and our callused hearts, we fail to grasp its seriousness. But on the other hand, our Master has not left us without some very definite knowledge of sin’s potency. Instead of saying, “Oh, Adam, Adam, little do you know the mischief you have caused me,” God declared, “Cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of [...]

Mercy Ministry: Theology and Practice

When the bubonic plague broke out in 1519, Ulrich Zwingli won the hearts of Zurich, Switzerland’s citizens as he remained in the city to care for victims and nearly died himself while other religious and civic leaders fled. His preaching combined with active faith ushered in the reformation. Theology and mercy are always connected. To no one’s surprise, God’s word remains true, and poverty and plagues persist in our day. For those reasons, the Reformation Society of Indiana’s 2014 fall conference Growing a Heart for Ministry will highlight the theology and practice of mercy ministry. The conference will be held on Friday and Saturday, October 31-November 1 at Second Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Our speakers, Dr. Philip Ryken and Dr. David Apple worked together for nearly two decades at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Together, they proclaimed the truths of the Bible and practiced mercy in the heart of Philadelphia. Today, Dr. Ryken serves as the president of Wheaton College and Dr. Apple remains as the director of mercy ministries at Tenth Presbyterian.

The Pilgrim’s Psalter

Within the Book of Psalms, certain collections or groupings of thematic psalms can be found.  One of the most easily identifiable is the fifteen psalms known as the Song of Ascents, Psalms 120-134.  As you can see in your Bible, each of these psalms has translated the title “A Song of Ascent” above it, as this title is actually the first verse of each psalm in the Hebrew manuscript.  They were given this name because they were sung as the Jewish people journeyed up to Jerusalem during their three annual feasts.  One could title this collection The Pilgrim’s Psalter.

That these psalms chronicle and encourage the Christian’s journey in this world was first brought to my attention by Pastor Paul Faris.  Paul was a long-term minister in the RPCNA, grandfather of Gentle Reformation author James Faris, and one who served with me and mentored me in my early years of church planting.  This faithful pilgrim finished his course in this world and is now enjoying the fullness of the lessons he taught me and others below.

Paul saw the Song of Ascents as capturing three stages of our spiritual journey.  We first begin our walk with God by leaving evil behind (Beginning), make progress in [...]