10/31/2008

Reformation Day

Today is Reformation Day. Wikipedia gives a helpful note:


On this day in 1517, Martin Luther posted a proposal at the doors of a church in Wittenberg, Germany to debate the doctrine and practice of indulgences. This proposal is popularly known as the 95 Theses, which he nailed to the Castle Church doors. …the event created a controversy between Luther and those allied with the Pope over a variety of doctrines and practices. When Luther and his supporters were excommunicated in 1520, the Lutheran tradition was born. This in turn would later ease the creation of the Reformed and Anabaptist traditions as well.
Monergism gives more details here, along with links to m3 sermons on topics related to the Reformation.

A great post over at Stand To Reason outlines the meaning of Martin Luther’s seal.

Here’s some audio and video from Ligonier Ministries that outline the Reformation’s theological issues.

This is a holiday that Southern Baptists should celebrate. We have wanted a Christian alternative to Halloween for years, and Reformation Day certainly serves the purpose.

10/25/2008

Has Richard Dawkins changed his mind?

A very interesting article, “Is Richard Dawkins still evolving?” by Melanie Phillips (The Spectator.co.uk; Thursday, October 23, 2008), notes an interesting statement in Richard Dawkins’ last debate. It seems Dawkins recently made the statement: “A serious case could be made for a deistic God.” The article is a very interesting read.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

...I asked Dawkins whether he had indeed changed his position...He vehemently denied this and expressed horror that he might have given this impression. But he also said other things which suggested to me that some of his own views simply don't meet the criteria of empirical evidence that he insists must govern all our thinking.

For example, I put to him that, since he is prepared to believe that the origin of all matter was an entirely spontaneous event, he therefore believes that something can be created out of nothing -- and that since such a belief runs counter to the very scientific principles of verifiable evidence which he tells us should govern all our thinking, this is itself precisely the kind of irrationality, or ‘magic’, which he scorns. In reply he said that, although he agreed this was a problematic position, he did indeed believe that the first particle arose spontaneously from nothing, because the alternative explanation – God -- was more incredible. Later, he amplified this by saying that physics was coming up with theories to show how matter could spontaneously be created from nothing. But as far as I can see – and as Anthony Flew elaborates – these theories cannot answer the crucial question of how the purpose-carrying codes which gave rise to self–reproduction in life-forms arose
out of matter from which any sense of purpose was totally absent. So such a
belief, whether adduced by physicists or anyone else, does not rest upon
rational foundations.

10/23/2008

The Law and The Gospel and My Experience with Reality

Thanks to Debbie Kaufman at Ministry of Reconciliation for a great post found here. Here’s the post:

‘Be a better mom, be a better wife. Be a better dad, be a better husband. Do more try harder, keep busy’ is what is being preached today, but where is Christ and what He did at the cross? That is the message from Michael Horton. We have lots of Christian T-shirts, bumper stickers, jewelry, WWJD bracelets. We have those who say if one is a true Christian they cannot vote for (fill in the blank). But where is Christ in all of this? Michael Horton gives his view and it’s one I agree with. But you knew that or I would not be highlighting this podcast would I? One thing Michael said that I think is profound :”Christianity is being used as an adjective today. ” ending the podcast with “Christ has won the victory on the battlefield.” This should be the message the church gives, not Christ is our helper.

Please listen and prayerfully consider if Michael Horton is right, and if he is right, which I believe he is, what can we as individual Christians do to change this?
Listen here.

I have heard over and over lately at my church how coming to Christ immediately delivers a person from all of their sinful habits and hangups. That has not been my experience. I have bad habits. Some are even listed in Galatians 5:19-20 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (namely idolatry/materialism, greed, anger/hatred, envy). I repent of these sins daily, but I repent over and over and over…

Is there hope for me? Does my faith in Christ count for something? My repentance desperately needs to be repented of, but does that repentance count? Sometimes I am ready to give up.

I contend that there is hope for me, and for others like me. I look to passages like Luke 18:9-14, Romans 3:21-4:12, Romans 7:7-25, and 1 Timothy 3:12-17.

Am I right?

10/16/2008

Christ Out of Christianity?

I am looking forward to getting a copy of Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church by Michael S. Horton. I listen to White Horse Inn broadcasts avidly, and I agree wholeheartedly with much in their current series on “Christless Christianity.”

Here’s the established website for book information.

My Take on the Election

What a nation needs more than anything else is not a Christian ruler in the palace but a Christian prophet within earshot. - Kenneth Kaunda

Elections are important. Platforms should be carefully reviewed, and candidates should be selected with care. But politics must be kept in perspective.

A “good Christian” leader will not move this country toward holiness. Revival, brought about by the Spirit of God in the hearts of people, is the only hope we have.

That’s about as political as I will get on this blog.

10/11/2008

Religious, the movie

Craig Hazen does a good job of reviewing the movie Religious here. Here’s a sample:

Maher is pitching this film as mavericky—telling the truth about religion that everyone else is afraid to address. But Religulous is nothing more than filthy, nudie, druggie, and obtusey. There is little to laugh at and nothing to learn…

John Newton on Gospel Ministry

A quote from John Newton given by The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies is here. Here’s the quote:

The message I would bear is Jesus Christ and him crucified and from the consideration of the great things he has done, to recommend and enforce Gospel holiness and Gospel love, and to take as little notice of our fierce contests, controversies and divisions as possible. My desire is to lift up the banner of the Lord, and to draw the sword of the Spirit not against names, parties and opinions, but against the world, the flesh and the devil; and to invite poor perishing sinners not to espouse a system of my own or any man’s, but to fly to the Lord Jesus, the sure and only city of refuge and the ready, compassionate and all sufficient Saviour of those that trust in him.
[Cited Marylynn Rouse, “An important turn to my future life”, The John Newton Project Prayer Letter (October/November 2008), p.1].

Books on Church Planting

Nine Marks Ministries Gives a strong list of books for church planters to read here.

10/07/2008

Warren’s Missions Vision

A recent Christianity Today interview, “After the Aloha Shirts” (Interview by Timothy C. Morgan posted 10/01/2008 07:28AM.)

Here’s an interesting section:

Is the career missionary obsolete?

We need far more missionaries than we have right now. What we need is in addition to that. We need an amateur movement out of love. We have to remember that in the first 300 years of the church, it was pretty much all amateurs. Paul and Barnabas were sent out by a church. It was local churches sending out their people to go around the world. My prayer is that we will work hand in hand. The expertise of missionaries can be used and multiplied.

I put Rick Warren’s PEACE plan on my prayer list a few months back. The movement could do much good. It intends to mobilize local churches in partnership with oversees groups and churches to advance the gospel. It can conceivably create a mob of short-term missions volunteers.

There are some drawbacks to short-term missionaries. Most notably the tendencies of short-term trips to draw funding from full time missionaries, paint a view of missions that is overly optimistic, and sometimes even hinder the work of full-time missionaries. (See here, here, here, and here.)

There is another section of Warren’s Christianity Today interview that worries me more:
There are more than 1 billion Roman Catholics and Orthodox believers. Where do
they fit in?

We need to mobilize a billion Catholics and Orthodox [believers]. I'm not really that interested in interfaith dialogue. I am interested in interfaith projects. Let's do something together. You are probably not going to change your doctrinal distinctives, and I'm probably not going to change my doctrinal distinctives. We have different beliefs. But the fact is, we do serve the same Lord. Let's work on the things we can agree on.

I wait with baited breath to see how this partnership with Catholics and Orthodox believers works. I will not partner with Roman Catholics to share the gospel, as I believe that the gospel they preach is not the true gospel at all. I am a Protestant that has not forgotten what I am protesting.

Let’s join in prayer for this new program by an exceedingly influential pastor. May God grant that the PEACE plan will avoid the many dangers it may be prone to.

10/02/2008

It’s gonna cost how much?

A t-shirt available at Despair.com captures my take on the government’s buy-out plan.
For the best summary I have found.
For opinions I respect, see The Point and Al Mohler.
For a view of the crisis from the outside, see The Point (note that this is American Triumphalist).

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