R. C. Sproul is a gifted preacher and teacher of God’s word. His ability to teach profound truth in a simple and clear way has blessed many. This great theologian has blessed us further over recent years in his writing of children’s books. Sproul and story are a good mix. In this post I will review his book The Lightlings.
There is plenty (more than plenty) of good Christian publishing occurring in the fields of theology, apologetics, biblical studies etc. Evangelically-minded scholars from seminaries and theological colleges around the world really do pump out some good stuff. However, there is still, in my opinion, a lack of Christian scholarly writing and publishing in those fields not found in the classrooms of seminaries. I want to point to a couple exceptions, which I hope are the beginning of a growth-spurt in this area of Christian witness. Interestingly, both are Baptist.
There seems to be somewhat of a resurgence of distinctly Christian and Baptist higher education in the United States. Two schools leading the charge are Union University, in Jackson TN, and Houston Baptist University, in Texas. These universities both publish journals (which I subscribe to) which focus Christian thought. The first one is the journal Renewing Minds, from Union University.
The Work of the Pastor
By William Still (Christian Focus Publications, 2010)
The author of this book is William Still, the pastor of Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen, Scotland. His ministry at that church lasted between the years 1945 until 1997 (shortly before he died), an amazing 52-year ministry at one church!
This book consists of five chapters that were originally addresses he gave in the 1960’s. The primary aim in this book is to remind pastors that their chief duty is to feed God’s sheep. William Still was known for his faithful enduring ministry that was characterised by solid expository preaching. He was a man who was persuaded of his calling and with great seriousness and consistency ministered the whole word to God’s people. Sinclair Ferguson writes a very helpful forward, where he states that William Still is, “a pastor pastorum a pastor of other pastors” (pp. 7-8). In addition to that, Frank Lyall provides an insightful biographical introduction that helps the reader become acquainted with the author. Here is a brief overview of the book: Continue reading The Work of the Pastor (Book Review)
I have just finished Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book, The Black Swan. It was, ironically, given the name of the publishing company, published by Random House back in 2007. The Black Swan is about improbable, unexpected events which have a high impact. Even more importantly, Taleb wants the reader to be aware of our inability to predict these events. Indeed, we all stomp around behaving as though we just know that our home won’t catch on fire tomorrow. We also behave like we know that a plane won’t crash into the building we work in while we’re working in it. And yet we don’t know. We cannot know.
This is not a book review, but more of a Christian reflection on the ideas in the book. The kind of events Taleb has in mind are massive stock market crashes (e.g. 1929, 1987, and 2008), terrorist attacks on Australian soil, or the rise of Christianity. High impact, unpredictable, and improbable. That’s the trio of features. Continue reading The Black Swan: Can a Christian believe in randomness?
There is a phenomenon in church life and practice which I have been troubled by for some time, but couldn’t put my finger on what it was. Why is that some pastors feel the need to address God in prayer as thought he’s his best mate? (“Hey God! We love you.”) Why do we sing praise to our Lord accompanied by rock/pop style music? What drives the need to make church services “engaging” and “interesting” for people? Why are we told that we must assist people on their “spiritual journey” instead of instructing them in biblical doctrine? One word that encapsulates this is juvenalization.
Thomas E. Bergler is an associate professor of ministry and missions at Huntington University, and is the senior associate editor of The Journal of Youth Ministry. He is well qualified to write on the juvenlization of the church, and he has written an excellent work on it called The Juvenalization of American Christianity (Eerdemans, 2012, 229 pages). “Juvenalization,” writes Bergler, “is the process by which the religious beliefs, practices, and developmental characteristics of adolescents become accepted as appropriate for Christians of all ages.” (p.4)
In other words, we try and adapt our faith to the younger generations with the admirable goal of reaching them with the gospel, and yet we end up embracing an immature Christianity across the board.
Bergler tells a story. The meta-narrative is about immaturity; the American church gradually embraced immaturity as mark of faithful Christianity, in spite of the multiple calls for maturity in the Scriptures. There are smaller narratives which make up Bergler’s study, which focus on four different churches and the cultural shift that occured during the 1950s and 1960s: liberal protestants, Roman Catholics, African-American churches, and evangelicalism.
In my preparation for a sermon series in the book of Colossians, in addition to some great commentaries, I have been reading one of Banner’s Puritan Paperbacks titled “The Glory of Christ” by John Owen. This has been an amazing read! In this post, I would like to share with you one of the many treasures in this volume. In (The Glory of Christ in His Person) Owen makes the point that because of who Christ is, fixing our minds on Him is “the best, the most noble and beneficial truth that we can think about or set our hearts on.” That is an important statement, however, does that reflect what our minds are consumed with? Owen goes on to insightfully say:
“The Scripture takes to task the foolishness of men who ‘spend their money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which does not do us any real good’. They spend their time and money chasing after perishing things, when something solid and everlasting is set before them. What do men think about most of the time? Some spend their time planning how to make provision for their flesh and how to satisfy its lusts (). They spend their thoughts on sinful pleasures, refusing to behold the glory of Christ. Some continually worry about the things of this world, seeking promotion and rewards for all they do. So they are transformed in the image of the world, becoming earthly, unspiritual and stupid. The blindness, the darkness, the foolishness of poor sinners! Do they not realize who it is they despise? Do they not realize who it is they are rejecting and for what?”
It is of utmost importance that we know that nothing is more noble or beneficial than consuming our minds with the glory of Christ. May we make it our practice and duty to think about our Lord. How do we do this? Owen goes on to suggest that we “diligently study the Bible and the revelations of the glory of Christ revealed there.” It is our duty to go to that place where He is revealed and fix our minds on Him!
3:1 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.
6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— 7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. 8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
Commentary on Matthew: The Gospel of the Kingdom (Banner of Truth).
The name Charles Haddon Spurgeon is familiar to many. Whether one has benefited from his Morning and Evening readings, his written sermons, his Treasury of David or perhaps simply heard some memorable quote, most would agree that he certainly has and continues to be positively influential. Spurgeon was born in 1834, converted at the age of 16 and commenced his pastoral ministry in 1851. Nicknamed the prince of preachers, Spurgeon was a faithful herald of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A warrior for the truth and a fisherman for souls, he was a man who was used for the glory of God. After many struggles against those who propagated error and with personal issues of health, Spurgeon died and went to be with the Lord on 31 January 1892.
This is a newly typeset edition of Spurgeon’s commentary on the Gospel according to Matthew. This volume is a precious jewel among the Continue reading Book Review: “Commentary on Matthew” By C. H. Spurgeon
Bring it on!
It’s all happening on the Christian Apologetics-front. Paul Whitfield has preached at Hills Bible Church on responding to the New Atheists. The Global Atheist Convention is on in Melbourne, and the Reason for Faith Festival is up and about in response to it. Bring it all on, I say! Let me surprise you all, then, by offering a novel – yes, a novel – as an apologetic tool.
Marilynne Robinson is described by Christianity Today as a “narrative-Calvinist.” Being a Calvinist is an excellent start, but who ever heard of a “narrative” Continue reading ‘Gilead’ and Christian Apologetics
William Tyndale was a pioneering Bible translator, whose work on the English Bible indirectly became 84 percent of the King James Version. Tyndale was converted to Lutheranism after studying at Cambridge – in fact he arrived at Cambridge one year before Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenberg castle church door. His conversion to what was commonly known as the “evangelical” faith led him to leave England in order to translate the Word of God into English, from the original languages.
Once he left England, his work became infamous, and Tyndale himself became a wanted fugitive. The story of his life is one of hiding, working under cover of disguise and intrigue, and releasing his work into England from the Continent. His writings included direct attacks on the papacy, the clergy, commentaries, and treatises on King Henry VIII’s marriage issues. His greatest work was his Continue reading Book Review: “William Tyndale” by Brian Moynahan