Archive for the ‘Magazines’ Category

A recent theology exam included questions about the teolology and methodology of the Apostles’ use of the Old Testament in the New Testament.  The candidate agreed with their Christological  goal, but had some criticisms for their methodology.  This issue is part of the controversy over Peter Enns’ book Inspiration and Incarnation.  His srgument in the book created quite the stir, resulting in his leaving Westminster Theological Seminary.  Enns and Bruce Waltke state their respective cases on the matter in the lastest issue of WTJ.

Good for us, Dr. Roger Nicole’s 1958 article New Testament Use of the Old Testament is now available online.  He addresses the range, authority and accuracy of the New Testament usage of the Old Testament. Dr. Nicole helps us to understand that we should not hold the New Testament authors to the standards of a doctrinal thesis.

Personally, I’m uncomfortable with criticism of how the Apostles used the Old Testament.  That is because I affirm the dual authorship of Scripture.  It is divinely inspired (2 Timothy 3:16), and God used real people in a way that they wrote in accordance with their personality, culture and circumstances.    This means that one cannot criticize the human authors without also criticizing the Spirit of Christ who inspired them.  That same Spirit inspired the original OT Scriptures which had an original meaning and a greater fulfillment in Christ.  The OT, in addition to having an original meaning, often has a typological function.  This explains why some verses seem to be taken out of context.

But who cares what the Cavman thinks- read Dr. Nicole!

HT: Between Two Worlds

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Bible Study Magazine and Mars Hill are giving away 20 copies of Mark Driscoll’s new book, Vintage Church. Not only that, but they are also giving away five subscriptions to Bible Study Magazine and a copy of their Bible Study Library software! Enter to win on the Bible Study Magazine Mark Driscoll page, then take a look at all the cool tools they have to take your Bible study to the next level!

PS- the Cavman uses Logos Bible Study Software, but could use an upgrade.

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Jesus and His disciples hid from the Pharisees and Sadducees in Ephraim.  When the time for the Passover drew near, they began the long journey to Jerusalem.  It is fairly safe to assume that He spent much of his time with the disciples preparing them for ministry, teaching them truth and encouraging them.  These were the Thunderous Twelve, twelve men prepared to serve.

At long last they arrive in Bethany and the home of Lazarus and his two sisters.  A meal is prepared and Martha, as usual, is busy serving dinner.  It seems one detail had been overlooked.  The journey would obviously dirty the feet of the men.  They had just been walking the dusty roads of Palestine.  Their feet would likely be soure and the skin cracked.  Who would don the towel and cleanse the feet of the Master relieving His discomfort?  Peter perhaps?  Or at least one of the twelve, right?

Mary comes forth with some oil for His feet, very expensive oil at that, to ease the soreness of a long journey.  She offered up what was most likely a protion of her dowry in an act of loving service.  The benefit of this act extends beyond Jesus as the soothing fragrance of oil filled the house.

John in his gospel contrasts Mary with Judas, who only thought of himself though he pretended to care for the poor.  He longed for the opportunity to steal a portion of the expensive perfume’s sale price, to line his pocket with ill-gotten gain.  Though he had just spent time alone with Jesus, he completely missed the point.  He was not alone in this respect, for not on of the twelve seems to have attended to their Master’s needs.  Mary is known for her faith and love, while Judas is known for unbelief and betrayal.  Yet both were known, at this point, as followers of Jesus.

We, like the disciples, should train, prepare and study.  Too often though we fail to get our hands dirty by serving others.  We can easily deceive ourselves into thinking we are not yet ready to serve.  But note who was with Jesus during this time in the wilderness.  Judas, not Mary, was there.  All the training in the world does not make a servant.  Mary did not have the training, but had the heart of a servant.  Very little training is required to love other people, but still we can hold back.  Training is good and necessary, but let us not neglect the examples of Jesus and Mary.  Let us not think too highly of ourselves to serve others in the service of the Gospel.  Let us never forget the words of James who rightly reminds us, “so faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).

[originally published in the July 1997 issue of Tabletalk Magazine (p. 37), published by Ligonier Ministries.]

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I’ve gotten some time to read my copy of The Briefing.  It is an evangelical magazine from Australia (Good Day, all).  It is refreshing to read something that is not wrapped up in the American evangelical scene. 

William Philip had a nice little article on The Dangers of Value Preaching.  It was not what I thought it would be, though that would have been a good article too.  I thought it would be on the movement, at least here, to preach moralism.  You know, how to have a better marriage, or be a better employee.  That kind of stuff.

He pondered “how could a zealous focus on expository preaching ministry lead us astray?”  He mentions three things which are all the result of our sinfulness.

“But the danger is that because we are still sinful people, we are constantly (albeit unconsciously) caught in a drift that seeks to re-orient our focus away from the divine and onto the human.”

He says this under his first area or threat.  I think this serves as the foundation for all three areas.  We are prone to drift due to our depravity.  We don’t realize we are drifting, and therefore it is all the more dangerous.  We need others to help us evaluate our preaching at times to see if we have drifted in one of these areas.

1. Drifting from Content to Form.  Here we begin to focus more on how we present truth than what the text is actually saying.  We are caught up in the art form of preaching, if that makes sense.  It does to me.  I’ve found myself doing that at times.  I was so focused on the method that I lost sight of the message.

“We can inadvertently find ourselves stepping back from the text- talking a lot about ministry, the gospel and the text before us, rather than actually spending our time in the text (and therefore on the gospel), opening it up, unwrapping it, expounding its meaning, and showing it in all its fullness and richness so that it can be taken in by the hearer, not as the words of man, but as it really is- the word of God.”

2. Drifting from the Vertical to the Horizontal.  We begin to focus more on us than on him.  We think that we are doing the ministry rather than God is ministering to us.  We forget he is present by the Spirit to cut us to the heart and bind up our wounds.  It is more than just God speaking, he is also revealing himself.  We drift to the place where we gather more information instead of encountering God (they are not mutually exclusive, but we tend to focus on the first).

3. Drifting from the Corporate to the Individual.  We lose the context of Scripture as written primarily to the people of God to think it is addressing me, not us.  Truth becomes personal.  Application becomes personal, not corporate.

“In essence, of course, this is just another expression of the general drift from a God-centered, Kingdom-oriented mentality to the man-centered, self-preoccupation that is the hallmark of our natural condition, and to wehich we constantly naturally regress if left unchecked by the correction of God’s word.  This same basic root of idolatry always puts man in the centre of the picture and pushes God to the circumference, and is behind the two shifts we have already discussed.  But in our post-enlightenment, highly individualized western culture today, it is particularly important that we realize just how easily we have become children of our age.”

One of the weaknesses of the English language is that “you” can be either singular or plural.  In Greek and Hebrew it is clear whether the singular or plural is meant.  Our sinful default is to think singular when the Bible (the Epistles in particular) thinking plural.  We need the word of God to restructure our thinking from individualism to a corporate view of Christianity.  We don’t neglect the individual need to repent from our own sins, and believe Jesus is our Salvation, but we need to spend time working out how truth is meant to be lived in community too.  Sin is relational at its core.  It is the failure to love God with all we are, and our neighbor as ourself.  So, obviously, right living is relational at its core: loving God with all we are, and our neighbor as ourself.

The weakness of the article is that it is mostly diagnosis, there is one paragraph under the heading Arresting the Drift.  I think we can arrest the drift as we deal with the content of Scripture together, and call one another back to the vertical dimension.  It is not an individual solution, but a corporate solution.  Together we respond to God’s word, encouraging one another to faithfulness in handling and applying the Scriptures.  Perhaps is this one of the reasons Jesus sent out the disciples in pairs.  Perhaps this is why Paul went out in ministry teams.  This is why Scripture teaches in the plurality of elders.  Left to ourselves we will drift.

More importantly it is God working by His Spirit among us that arrests the drift.  We cannot do it alone.  We need grace, and that grace comes as we study Scripture (and pray) in dependence on the illumination of the Spirit.  He must work in us to keep us on track.  And he does, for God is the Good Shepherd and keeps his sheep from straying.

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Leadership Journal has a new article by Tim Keller called The Gospel in All Its Forms.  In it he is addressing the tension between generations and theological movments about the content of the gospel.

BTW: in a previous post about The Reason for God I mentioned him using a Van Tillian approach.  He does not mention Van Til in The Reason for God.  He does that in his message at the Desiring God Conference in 2006, The Supremacy of Christ and the Gospel in a Post-modern World.  Keller uses an eclectic approach- some Van Til, some Lewis etc.  This fits with his notion that you must read widely to become wise.  I think there is some wisdom in that- for no one man-made apologetic style captures all the depth and substance of how the Bible does apologetics.  The Bible uses both general revelation and special revelation.  This is sure to annoy purists from any particular stream of thought.  Oh, well.

Keller has been thinking of a way to pull together both the individual and corporate, human and rest of creation aspects of the gospel.  Each generation will tend to focus on one or 2 aspects at the risk of moving into heretical territory by denying the others.  He pulls together a good quick definition of the gospel, to my thinking anyway.

If I had to put this outline in a single statement, I might do it like this: Through the person and work of Jesus Christ, God fully accomplishes salvation for us, rescuing us from judgment for sin into fellowship with him, and then restores the creation in which we can enjoy our new life together with him forever.

Tim Keller than moves ahead to argue that the one gospel is given in different audience appropriate forms.  This is found in Galatians.  There is one gospel, and yet the gospel to the circumcised and the gospel to the uncircumcised.  How you present the gospel will/should matter depending on the person to whom you are offering Christ as He is presented in the gospel.

Since he serves a very diverse group (both religious and non-religious) he finds he has to preach it in various ways so people will overhear him preaching it to others as well as hear him preaching it to them.  In this way, the people to whom he preaches gain a fuller understanding of the gospel as they listen in.  He does not pit these groups against one another, but unites them in a biblical gospel big enough to address both individuals and all of creation, both the kingdom of God and eternal life.

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I just signed up for a free subscription to The Briefing Magazine.  It is available to the first 500 requests by pastors in the U.S. and Canada.  I’ve never heard of it, but C. J. Mahaney brags on it so it is probably good.  A free, no-risk look.  Can’t beat that!  It will be interesting to get a more international viewpoint.

The Briefing has been Australia’s leading evangelical publication for over 20 years, and we’d love you to be a part of it. In subscribing to The Briefing you’re also supporting the ministry of Matthias Media in publishing Christian resources.

What’s in The Briefing?

  • An occasional longer article with space for reflection on the Scriptures and its bearing upon our lives (Briefing Essays).
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    Keith and Kristyn Getty (along with Stuart Townend) are among some of the best worship song writers today.  They write music that bridges the gap between traditional hymns and modern worship with what has been called “modern hymns”.

    Keith: “I don’t think of music as only teaching, but I do think that what we sing profoundly affects how we think. It profoundly affects how we feel. It affects, therefore, our emotional and our didactic relationship with God. But what we sing is for people of all ages.”

    This is what I like to hear from a musician- he senses a great need to be responsible for properly shaping the life of churches.  Music does affect us emotionally, and so should worship.  It is best to have our emotions stirred by deep truth (Edwards would call this religious affections).  The best church music stirs hearts AND minds.

    Keith: “The radical thing about a church service is that people of every age and every wealth bracket and every background come together and sing together. So we write these quasi-folk melodies that everyone can sing, and we hope there’s an enduring quality to them.”

    It is more than the “personal worship experience”, but corporate worship- adoring Christ together as the One who has brought us together in union with Himself by faith.

    Kristyn talks about how they work with pastors and theologians so they don’t go astray theologically.  What a great idea!  It also shows great humility on their part.  They are the type of songwriters we need (and there are others out there) producing music for the church to use in its times of public worship. 

    You might want to check out the rest of interview.

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    Actually, we’ll be considering the CT Article on Mark Driscoll.  I read my copy a few weeks ago, and have meant to get to this.  But… I’ve been busy.  The author, Collin Hansen, tries to paint a picture of Driscoll that is honest, balancing his strengths and the criticisms laid against him.  I found the balance a bit off.  It seemed more negative than positive- typified by the reference to Driscoll’s appearance at the 2006 Desiring God Conference, placed under the heading Throwing Rocks: “John Piper says no other speaker at his Desiring God conference has caused such a stir.”  This, in my opinion, sets Mark in an unnecessarily negative light.  His message there was powerful and truthful.  I suspect Piper will have him back again- because John Piper loves the truth and Mark Driscoll does too.  Piper often speaks at Acts 29 and Resurgence conferences.  But this statement can be read to imply that Piper regrets inviting Driscoll.

    All of us have blind spots.  Unfortunately for Mark, the whole evangelical world seems to know some of his need for growth.  Mark recognizes many of these sins and weaknesses in his character.  A pastor receives few commendations greater than this: “He asks forgiveness more than any pastor I have ever seen,” she said. “He publicly confesses sin. He’s such a great example to young, idealistic, confident, inexperienced, immature pastors that you have to say you’re wrong when you’re wrong. And he does it to women. I know. He has apologized in times when he has gotten things wrong, and I’m thankful he doesn’t apologize for the things he hasn’t said wrong.”


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    In his address at the 2006 Desiring God National Conference, Tim Keller mentioned presuppositional apologetics and identifying defeater beliefs.  In this way, you discover the self-defeating argument of the other person’s world view and gently expose it for what it is.

    In 2004 he pubished an article on this that I spotted on Monergism.  I thought I would link to it for those new to Tim Keller’s work.  This idea of defeater beliefs is essential as we seek to reach people in a postmodern (secular) context.

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    I was making my way through my magazines the other day and came across one person’s assessment of the Ted Haggard situation.

    “This situation just shows the depth of depravity we’re all capable of, and the power of sin.  By most standards of present-day Christianity, Ted was a very successful pastor. … But apparently he had been struggling with sexual temptation all of his adult life.”

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but don’t most adults struggle with sexual temptation?  Not all adults will struggle with homosexual longings, but I suspect the vast majority of adults struggle with sexual temptation.  Certainly my experience of sexual temptation has changed over the course of my life, but it certainly hasn’t disappeared.  Oh, how I wish it would.

    I suspect this is part of the problem.  We all act like WE don’t struggle with sexual temptation.  We live in some sort of denial and pretend we have it together, keeping people at a distance.  Many people think they are the only ones who experience sexual temptation, that they are somehow worse than the other sinners they know.  So they live in a cycle of despair, depression and self-loathing rather than living in the freedom that only the cross of Jesus can bring. 

    Unfortunately, this quote reveals the hidden assumption that apparently most people don’t struggle with such temptation.  This is a mistake.

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    Tim Stafford wisely avoids the issue of justification in this interview.  This makes for a less controversial, and more accessible interview.  The impetus seems to be his new book, Simply Christian.  This book is something of a Mere Christianity for our time.  Where Lewis wrote to communicate with Moderns, Wright writes to communicate with Postmoderns.

    This leads to an interesting discussion of the appeal of Gnosticism, and the way in which we have tried to tame Jesus and the implications of the Gospel (something I can agree with NT on).  We turned a faith that turned the ancient world upside-down into a status quo, boring faith.  Gone is the faith that inspired martyrs to face certain death from Roman authorities (and in some place in the world still does inspire martyrs).

    But in the West, Christianity has been seduced into becoming a more nominal, uninspiring sort of thing. On the Right, he points to the idols of War & Money.  I’m not so sure I agree on the first one.  I don’t think Conservative Christians are war mongers.  But we have been seduced by money and power.  To maintain them, we lose the focus on sacrifice and personal holiness for the sake of mission the New Testament clearly teaches.  One the left is, according to Wright, love/sex.  I think this idol crosses all lines, and is not the sole or primary problem of Liberals or Liberal Christianity.  Just as many Liberal Christians are also consumed by money and power.

    “Because the great emphasis in the New Testament is that gospel is not how to escape the world; the gospel is that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Lord of the world.  And that his death and Resurrection transform the world, and that transformation can happen to you.  You, in turn, can be part of the transforming work.”

    Yes, we evangelicals focus so much on ‘heaven’ we neglect the reality of the kingdom that is present and seeks to transform cultures through the gospel (not law or politics).  We neglect the fact that God is up to something awesome as He continues to apply the work of Jesus to people in this world, and uses believers to do it.  We have so privatized and individualized faith that our faith is not a danger to anyone, including ourselves.

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    In reality the editors chose 50.  Some of the books not in the top 10 include Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy (49), Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place (48),  The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll (45), Ladd’s The Gospel of the Kingdom (44), Purpose-Driven Life (42), Darwin on Trial (40), This Present Darkness (34), Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth (33), Dare to Discipline (29), Boundaries (25), The Cost of Discipleship (19), What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Yancey (17), Stott’s Basic Christianity (16), Power Evangelism (12).  This is an interesting mix of titles, some very good and some (for me) head scratchers.  More head scratchers come in the top 10.

    10. Evangelism Explosion by D. James Kennedy.  Not a scratcher… I just wish he’d stick to the gospel these days.

    9. Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot.  A very good book.

    8. Managing Your Time by Ted Engstrom.  Ah… I’m not getting this one.  I guess it means evangelicals are very time conscious and pragmatic.

    7. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ron Sider.  And we wrestle with guilt over things we can’t control.

    6. The Living Bible.  Does this mean that evangelicals don’t have a very high reading level?

    5.  Knowing God by J.I. Packer  Finally some solid theology in the top 10.  One of the most influential books in my life.

    4. The God Who is There by Francis Shaeffer.  I gave up on this book- it was too philosophical and dull for me.  True Spirituality was a much better read!

    3. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.  A great book.

    2. Understanding Church Growth by Donald McGavran.  Evangelicals seem to be all about the church growth.

    1. Learning Conversational Prayer by Rosalind Rinker.  Never heard of it.  Nor had anyone on our worship team.  This is supposed to be the most influential book in evangelicalism.  Ah, …. okay.  I guess we are buddy, buddy with the King Immortal & Invisible.

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    Yes, the Shirt is Available

    If you are like me, you may want one of these shirts.  It is not just some photoshop special, anymore.  Justin Taylor reports that this shirt is for sale.

    The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University, which houses the Edwards collection, will make them available shortly.  The secured the right to reproduce it from the designers.  So theology Geeks like me, and possibly you, can get yourself a copy soon.

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    The current issue of CT also has 2 articles on Dallas Willard.  The first, “A Divine Conspirator” shed some light on why I have such a hard time getting what he’s saying sometimes.  There are a few reasons.

    1. He build his reputation on his work on Husserlian realism.  “Like Husserl, Willard believes that we can have direct experiences with the world that transcend cultural and linguistic barriers.”  This sounds to me like you can’t really communicate all you experience. 

    2. He aspired to emulate John Wesley and Charles Finney.  Now we are getting somewhere.  While I disagree with Wesley on some theological matters, he was a Christian and did much for the kingdom.  Finney, was essentially a Pelagian and denied the substitutionary view of the atonement.  Why you would want to emulate a heretic is beyond me.  So, Willard’s discussion of discipleship is from a decidedly Pelagian view- and this is why I don’t get some of it.


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    CT has a new interview with Jars of Clay singer Dan Haseltine about the new album called Good Monsters, and his own new honesty.

    Some people may be shocked by some of Dan’s confessions.  I guess I’m not.  I know the temptations of isolation.  I’ve heard of some Christian musicians who had similar problems on the road (remember, the roadies aren’t stupid).  And I know Dan is a sinner.

    Personally I’m excited for Dan.  He is beginning the process of letting people in, and tearing down the walls he has erected.  This will result in a more authentic Christian life, and greater music.  He attributes it, in part, to growing up and also to the impact of hymns- singing of God’s greatness, and our depravity.

    So, some people might be dismayed, discouraged or even outraged that Dan ‘fesses up to some big sins.  But he is discovering a big God who bore a big cross.  As Steve Brown told us repeatedly, “Demons die in the light.”

    Or as they sing, “God will lift up your head” (live from Boston).

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    17 The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him. Proverbs 18 (NIV)

    By Faith Magazine has an excellent article by Mark Bergin on the division in the evangelical community on the issue of global warming.  Mark is a sports reporter in Seattle, and a member of Mars Hill Church.  But Global Warming & Christian Stewardship shows he’s no jock.

    The issues between the 2 groups aren’t on the question of climate change itself, but rather what are the causes(s), what are the expected consequences, and therefore the best possible solutions.  The ECI document assumes that the primary cause is human activity, the results will be catastrophic and that the political solutions put forth in the Kyoto Protocol or Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth are appropriate.  They were the first to speak for evangelicals.  And many influential Christians signed the document.  As a result, many Christians think this is the way to go.

    As I’ve written in other places on this blog, well-respected climatologists like Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer, and John Christy disagree.  It would seem like some of the leaders who signed it aren’t completely on board.  Some signed because they view this as an issue Christians need to speak to (and no other Christian group was), some didn’t realize that it would advocate the policy changes it does.


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    Reformation 21 has a new article up on Calvin and Missions.  Its purpose is to show, historically, that Reformed Theology and Calvin in particular is not opposed to missions but actually engaged in missions.  Our belief in a sovereign God does not mean we are not responsible creatures.  Rather, God has made us responsible.  God has ordained the means as well as the ends, and we are to be busy bringing the great news to every tribe, tongue, nation and language- including the guy across the street!

    The Resurgence has put up RTS Orlando Professor Frank James’ paper, Calvin the Evangelist.  It is a very good read to prove that his theology did not stifle evangelism, but enabled it.

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    I just finished the cover story for the September ’06 Christianity Today, “Young, Restless, Reformed”.  It was a good article that focused primarily on the ‘revival’ of Calvinism in American Christianity, and the ‘problems’ this is causing.  I could identify with much of this.

    This ‘revival’ began about 20 years ago when I became a follower of Jesus.  I have finally spent half of my life following him.  Like many, I was initially an Arminian but that didn’t last long.  Early one I discovered Packer’s Knowing God.  I didn’t realize it until a few years later when I re-read it, but the seeds were being sown.  Soon I was reading R.C. Sproul, and his book Chosen by God drew together the many threads I was seeing in Scripture.  Thru those men, and John Piper, I developed an interest in Jonathan Edwards and the Puritans.  My story is just like that of so many who have begun to embrace the Doctrines of Grace, and be humbled by them.

    In Reformed Theology I found a deep commitment to think biblically.  I mean THINK.  In many ways, this new movement is a reaction (no less providential) to the dumbing down the church in previous decades.  It is fascinating that much of the growth in this movement comes from charismatic circles, such as Sovereign Grace Ministries.  They have found a theology that can sustain their experience.  Reformed Theology is not just for stodgy old men, but can produce a vibrant love for God.


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