Archive for June, 2009

Consistency in Hymn Selection

I recently had a conversation with a pastor who suggested that we should get some guys together and go through the hymnal (Majesty Hymns), discarding songs that don’t reflect our theology as well as songs whose melodies should really be buried in a large hole and then covered vigorously with dirt, lots of it.

The first one on my list is The Church’s One Foundation. One of the last verses mentions the Church’s “mystic sweet communion.” I’m really not sure what this meant at the time of writing, but am pretty sure I don’t believe what it means now!

How about you, which songs would be on your list and why? Be sure to include the perspectives you’re writing from (Dispensational, Covenant, Arminian, Calvinistic, etc).

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Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor, an Interesting Read for Fundamentalists

I just finished Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor (free .pdf here) via the Amazon Kindle application for my ipod touch. I simply couldn’t put this book down. I was drawn to the book because I had never heard of Tom Carson and because being “ordinary” resonates with just about every heart. 

Most of the book highlighted Tom Carson’s (DA Carson’s father) struggles as a church-planter in francophone Canada. The man was a militant witness in a highly Catholic atmosphere, often spending significant time in personal correspondence as well as visitation, passionately pleading with men and women to abandon the false teaching of the Catholic church and embrace Jesus Christ alone for salvation. His family sacrificed significantly in the financial realm, but was never characterized by a spirit of complaint or worry. Even towards the end of his life when his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, Tom Carson remained faithful to Jesus Christ and never abandoned his calling as a minister of the gospel. 

Of special interest to me as a fundamentalist…

Being a part of Baptist Fundamentalism myself, I was intrigued to read about T.T. Shields of Toronto and the Baptist Union of that time. Having studied a little bit about the debates and controversy there, it was interesting to hear the episodes again from Tom Carson’s point of view, as well as how DA Carson interpreted the happenings through his more broadly evangelical perspective (he believes it unfortunate that Shields was so offensive and that he didn’t heed the warning of Martin Lloyd-Jones). Interestingly, Tom Carson disagreed with Shields on an issue (trying to force a pastor to take a church if I remember correctly) and ended up losing financial support for a mission-church in french-speaking Quebec. 

Also of note was Tom Carson’s apparent concern for DA in his pursuit of higher education. Shortly after returning from his PhD studies in England, DA Carson was asked to provide his viewpoint on the atonement in an edition of Christianity Today. Carson boldly defended the penal substitutionary view as being the paradigm through which we can understand all the other angles on the atonement. His father was pleased with the article and wrote a note, rejoicing that DA hadn’t shown any signs of liberalism from his training in England. 

Regarding Billy Graham and his campaigns, in one of his journal entries, he didn’t expound much, but indicated that he believed Graham was Jehoshaphat with Ahab.

Have you read this book? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts as well.

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NT Wright on Hell

Dan Phillips has an excellent post this morning on NT Wright and his view of hell and eternal judgment.

For several years now, many in the Emerging Church have been looking to Bishop Wright to draw up some trickery for their Emerging-play-book.

Some of Wrights comments about hell sound eerily similar to some of Rob Bell’s. See here and here. Is Coach Wright calling the plays in from the sidelines?

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Safety in Repetition

How many times have I rolled my eyes in my heart when I heard a familiar text announced from the pulpit? Have I grown tired of hearing the same doctrines explained over and over? Do I find myself skimming when an author cites a familiar verse?

I often forget that there is safety in hearing over and over again the warning of God’s Words. 

Philippians 3:1 

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble for me, but it is safe for you. 

Paul goes on in that text to warn the believers again (he had probably done this while present with them) about the Judaizers — the dogs, evil workers, the mutilators of flesh, the teachers of a false gospel (3:2). Warning against false teaching and warning about the dangers of sin should never get old, should never be viewed as obscurantist, outdated, unfashionable, or uninformed. 

The fact is, repetition of biblical truth is not boring but safe. Reiterated spiritual warning is not overbearing but caring.

God’s Word will never be hidden in our hearts unless its truths are repeated over the course of years. Furthermore, many will continue in a child-like state, and will continue to be carried about by every wind of doctrine and by the deception of false teachers, until in wisdom the warnings that have been repeated over and over again are heeded.

There is wisdom in repetition — OT saints were “to bind them [God’s Words] upon their fingers and to write them upon the table of their hearts.” Parents were instructed to teach the Word to their children dilligently — when they arose, when it was bed-time, when they were out and about, and when they were sitting in their house (Deut. 6:7).

I need incessant reminders of biblical truth because sin is too appealing, because false teaching is too prevalent, and because I’m not glorified yet. 

Repetition may seem lame, but God says it’s safe. Next time the pastor announces a familiar text, don’t respond in pride — be wise, and rest in the safety that repitition brings.

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Intimidation, Accommodation, and Creation

A while back, I pointed out that I was disgusted with Rob Bell’s calling Genesis 1 a “creation poem.”

I took flack for that — for being on a witch-hunt against Rob Bell. I just want to clarify that this is wrong teaching, coming from either side of the aisle. If emerging folks teach this nonsense, it’s wrong. If fundamentalists do (really big “if” here), it’s wrong still. If this heresy comes from the Mecca of reformed-conservative-evangelicalism, it’s wrong.

So it makes sense that in like manner, I was disgusted by the study notes in the ESV Study Bible in that they sent the clear message that six-day creationism was just one choice among “faithful” interpretations. I am equally disappointed that in a recent Christianity Today article, Tim Keller is put on record as identifying Genesis 1 as a poem, indicating that “its six ‘days’ may be poetically long.”

I’ve yet to see it demonstrated cogently that these divergent views arise from faithful exegesis and not from a spirit of accommodation that arose out of modernism and so-called “science.” As I read Genesis 1, the only way I can arrive at a non-literal approach is by reading it through an “intimidated” heremeneutical lens, an unhealthy fear of man that wonders what the intellectual community will think of my interpreations.

In this regard, I was thrilled to hear that John MacArthur’s opening session at this year’s Shepherd’s Conference was entitled “Why Every Self-respecting Evangelical Should Affirm Literal Six-day Creationsim.”  

Like MacArthur, we should not back down on this issue. By definition, science is limited to that which is repeatable and observable. Since evolutionary theories are based upon neither, we should not be bullied by pseudo-scientific rhetoric that is foundationally ill-equipped to weigh-in on this issue. It’s time for evangelicals who supposedly believe that the Bible is inspired and inerrant to stand up on this issue, even if it’s not popular in our intellectual communities.

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Rob Bell: Dangerous with Hebrew

Christopher Cowan writes an excellent critique of Rob Bell’s Nooma video, entitled, “She.” 

Cowan concludes that Bell’s view is simply feminism repackaged with cool graphics and that Bell’s knowledge of Hebrew equips him with just enough to be dangerous.

HT: Justin Taylor

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Tip of the Day: Evangelism (10)

moleskinePeople are astonished when you remember their names, especially in the fast-paced suburban areas of our world. We live in a world where people rarely stop to meet each other, much less allow such a meeting to have a significant impact upon their lives. That’s why I keep one of these in the glove-box of my car.  It’s just a simple journal-like notebook, but it allows me to jot down the names of each person I meet throughout my week.

Here’s how it works:

  • Each establishment I frequent gets a page in the journal.
  • On each page, I write down the person’s name that I met, along with any pertinent information, such as — believer or unbeliever — the date when we met — any mutual friends — any particular matter we “connected” on.
  • I then review the names the next time I go to that restaurant, coffee shop, store, gas station, fishing spot, etc.
  • I pray through the list regularly, asking God to open their hearts to the gospel and to give me more opportunities to share it with them.

This method helps me to follow the example of Paul in Acts 17:16-17, daily meeting people in the marketplace and then enjoying ongoing relationships that lead to gospel-focused conversations.

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