Archive for July, 2008

D.A. Carson on the foolishness of the cross in church ministry

I’m working through Carson’s The Cross and Christian Ministry. My wife handed me this in the bookstore the other day and said, “You should get this.” I hadn’t even shared with her that my mind had been drawn to 1 Corinthians 1-2 for last several weeks as I meditated before preaching, desiring that the my efforts would be in demonstration of the Spirit and power, that the faith of the hearers would not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 

Today I stumbled upon this quote in regards to the foolishness of the cross in church ministry: 

Western evangelicalism tends to run through cycles of fads. At the moment, books are pouring off the presses telling us how to plan for success, how “vision” consists in clearly articulated “ministry goals,” how the knowledge of detailed profiles of our communities constitutes the key to successful outreach. I am not for a moment suggesting that there is nothing to be learned from such studies. But after a while one may perhaps be excused for marveling how many churches were planted by Paul and Whitefield and Wesley and Stanway and Judson without enjoying these advantages. Of course all of us need to understand the people to whom we minister, and all of us can benefit from small doses of such literature. But massive doses sooner or later dilute the gospel. Ever so subtly, we start to think that success more critically depends on thoughtful sociological analysis than on the gospel; Barna becomes more important than the Bible. We depend on plans, programs, vision statements – but somewhere along the way we have succumbed to the temptation to displace the foolishness of the cross with the wisdom of strategic planning. Again, I insist, my position is not a thinly veiled plea for obscurantism, for seat-of-the-pants ministry that plans nothing. Rather, I fear that the cross, without ever being disowned, is constantly in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy, by relatively peripheral insights that take on far too much weight. Whenever the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed from idolatry. 

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Currently Reading – Recently Read

1. How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth (Fee and Strauss)

Having read How To Read the Bible For All Its Worth, I bought this book with hopes that I could recommend it to several friends, some of which I hope will become members of a church I pastor in the future. Overall I thought it was a great read (written on the lay-person level), providing some clarity both to issues surrounding the Hebrew/Aramaic and Greek texts upon which modern translations are based and to those of translation (i.e. how to handle the Greek genitive and Hebrew construct chain). However, Fee and Strauss espouse dynamic/functional equivalence (thought for thought) of translations like the NIV/TNIV, as opposed to the formal equivalence of translations such as the KJV, NASB, ESV, etc. As such, this short work will be a good reference for my bookshelf (as it includes a good summary of the history of English Bible translation), but I probably won’t ever hand it out to future church members. I believe that fidelity to the original text is more important than fidelity to one’s own language. I am willing to sacrifice a certain measure of readability in the English language for more certain accuracy/faithfulness to the original.   

2. Epistle to the Romans (Moo, NICNT)

Only 100 pages in and loving every page, savoring every footnote (well, almost every).  

3. Tale of Two Sons (MacArthur)

Began this volume, grew a little bored and laid it aside for awhile. The introduction on parables seemed redundant to me (maybe because the content was review, but more probably because it wasn’t as concise as it could have been). After you get passed the first 40 or so pages it starts to get much more interesting. Perhaps I will have more to say when I finish it. 

4. A Reader’s Hebrew Bible (Brown and Smith)

My Hebrew skills are elementary at this point. That being said, I am just trying to work through about 10 verses a week. The footnotes/glosses are very helpful for me.  

5. Themelios 

This free theological journal is produced by the Gospel Coalition, edited by D.A. Carson. I found the article “Mission: a Problem of Definition” by Keith Ferdinando to be quite helpful. He argues strongly that in order to be truly missional, our priority must be making disciples; any other approach to being missional, although not necessarily intrinsically wrong or unhelpful, is a hi-jacking of the word.

HT: Andy Nasseli

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Rob Bell and Fortune Cookies

Yesterday afternoon I sat down for some Chinese. Mhm. At the end of the meal, the nice Chinese man brought us fortune cookies. Mine was: 

The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination. 

I didn’t realize that Rob Bell was now writing fortunes for cookies? Or perhaps the authors were attendees at the Seeds of Compassion event?

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Grace in Weakness…

When our knees start to buckle and our hands begin to feel heavy, the difficulty of the race begins to tax us. Our bodies remind us of brittle clay pots, cracking, threatening to break open as we bear the marks of difficult running. When it seems that our strength is gone, our resources diminished, our faith in jeopardy, it is then that we must remember that our sovereign God displays his grace in moments of human frailty; these are the exact times, times when we feel of little worth, that God is preparing to showcase his exceeding power in the midst of our weakness.  

 

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