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Archive | Answers

Theology in View: The “What If” Problem (Part One)

Are we currently living in something like The Matrix? Can we know? And if not, then doesn’t agnosticism eat away at certainty?

In this first video, the problem of all-consuming agnosticism is set up, leaving us wondering if knowledge is forever crushed under the weight of ignorance.

If you find these helpful and enjoyable, please share with your friends.  In order to reach everyone who likes Gentle Reformation, Facebook charges fees in order to boost posts.  But if you share it, that helps circumvent it 🙂

 

The Attraction of Reformed Theology

Sitting around a table I was enjoying some post-dinner conversation with three theologically eclectic and charming people when I was startled by an unexpected question: “Kyle, what is the attraction of Reformed theology?” It was a sincere question and I was grateful for the sudden opportunity to give an answer. As all eyes turned to me I hesitated for a moment and then said the first four words I could think of: the glory of God.

Simply defined, Reformed theology is that stream of thought summarized in the great confessions of the Reformed and Presbyterian churches such as the Westminster Confession of Faith together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. These confessions are not minimalist bullet-point statements, but neither are they so exhaustive as to exclude a place for charitable disagreement. However, when taken as they are, they present a coherent and consistent system of belief in doctrine, worship, and piety that I am convinced is faithful to the Bible.

I wasn’t always convinced of that. I grew up far from some of the commitments of Reformed theology, and when I was first introduced to it (nearly twenty years ago) I adamantly resisted it. In time, I grew to appreciate many of […]

Strangers in Saunas – Update

For those who of you who are wondering how things are going in my local health club in Belfast, or praying for the ‘strangers in saunas’ with whom I was conversing, I thought it might be helpful to give you a brief update:

I’m not sure how a clerical collar would look in the sauna, but I was tempted to consider, for future ventures, wearing a ‘onesy’ or ‘Lycra body suit’ or a bathrobe, following my next encounter with another stranger in the sauna. Perhaps you may have guessed, by my slightly prudish comments, it was an older lady who entered the sauna a couple of days later. Happily we were seated in opposite corners of the sauna, but it didn’t take too long before she introduced herself, WAIT FOR IT, by her christian name FAITH.

Well, after I had recovered from the surprise (o ye of little faith!), I couldn’t help but ask “Well, tell me FAITH ….do you have faith?” It turns out, actually, that she does – and she also attends a local church, whose former minister I know of (who is, I think, very mildly evangelical). Anyway, she goes to church regularly, and expressed her thanks for the pastoral care […]

Introducing “Theology in View.” A New Video Blog By Yours Truly

So here we go.

I’m beginning a new project, one that involves much scribbling and theology.  Yes.  That’s right.  A video blog designed to communicate theology in a short, fresh, generally tasty, and slightly humorous fashion.

I have many topics I would like to cover, but as you can imagine, the process of coordinating voice to drawings is, well, not terribly easy.  So I hope to kick these out a couple times a month.  But no promises.  Some will be more theologically advanced (like the one here).  And some will be more elementary.  I will probably call them “Theology for Noobs.”

Naturally, I would covet any help you might toss my way, such as sharing the video on Facebook (or subscribing on YouTube).  To the degree that people find these enjoyable and helpful, to that same degree I will feel compelled to draw little Reformed stick men!

 

 

Browse Worthy: Wisdom Wednesdays

Yes, I know it’s Thursday. And, yes, I know this is not the seminary I am “supposed” to be promoting!

But “Wisdom Wednesdays,” weekly videos produced by the Reformed Theological Seminary that are typically three-to-five minutes long, provide helpful, short meditations on an array of topics. For a few moments of sharpening, I appreciate receiving them each Wednesday.

For a good example, below you can listen to Dr. Scott Redd remind us of two vital Biblical principles in dealing with the immigration issue that, held in proper tension, provide the balance our nation so desperately needs. As you listen to most of the rhetoric out there, people typically uphold one to the exclusion of the other.

If you would like to subscribe to Wisdom Wednesdays, simply click this link to go to their YouTube channel.

Lent: Glitter or Gold?

Every Sunday night before evening worship I meet in my study with the middle schoolers in our church to discuss the morning sermon. That goal isn’t always achieved. As I’ve gotten to know them they have also gotten to know me. Sometimes they use that to their advantage to derail the normal topic of discussion. They have figured out that the quickest way to have a tangential conversation is to ask me a serious question. I’ve never told them—and maybe I don’t need to—but these are some of my favorite times as a pastor. In one manipulatively planned digression I was asked about the practice of Lent.

Over a century ago William Ingraham Kip wrote: “For some years past each return of Lent has been, we believe, regarded with additional interest.” That observation remains true today. As Ash Wednesday marks the start of another Lenten season many of us will encounter it. In the spirit of the Apostle Paul who said “test everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:21) we should think biblically about the Lenten season.

Lent is regarded by many to be on of the oldest and most important practices of the church calendar. Traces of its observance can be found in the […]

An Emoji Testimony

I want to give you a simple way to share your faith. Not trivialize it, as the title of this post could imply, but help solidify it in your heart and mind as a ready way to share the hope of Christ in you. Let me explain.

In Matthew 13, our Lord told a parable likening the kingdom of God to a sower sowing seeds indiscriminately. Regardless of the soil type – hard, rocky, weedy, or fertile – the sower just threw out the seed. Later, when Jesus explained the parable to his disciples, he told them the seed was God’s Word and the soils represented people’s hearts. Though other applications can be made from this parable, one thing we learn is that we are to be liberally and widely sharing God’s Word with others.

Often, we stop short of testifying to Christ with unbelievers around us, be it a neighbor, a co-worker, an acquaintance, or even a longtime friend because we simply do not know what to say. We are unprepared, and I know many Christians can also feel unqualified to speak.

Yet this parable should encourage us in at least two ways. First, it reminds us that we are not accountable for […]

Is the Write-In Vote that Ill-Conceived? A Brief Response to Pastor Robert Jeffress

I had one of those long, face scrunching moments while reading Dr. Robert Jeffress’ article “Why Christians must vote in this election (staying home is not an option).” It’s found here in the Fox News Opinion section.

My facial contortion began right out of the gate. Here’s how Pastor Jeffress begins,

“I hear the lament often from conservative Christians as I travel the country: ‘How can I vote for either of these candidates with a clear conscience?’

Increasingly, many Christians are choosing the stay-at-home option (or throw away their vote with a write-in candidate option) as a way to maintain their integrity.

Frankly, I understand the appeal of such a choice. Not voting allows Christians to avoid both having to make a difficult choice or defending an unpopular choice to disapproving friends or family members. And let’s face it, playing the “conscience card” allows someone to feel holier than other Christians who sully themselves by getting involved in the political process.”

Now in an election where rhetoric already registers a ten on the Richter scale, one might hope for more charity (expressed through fairness) in the Christian quadrant. But as one might have noticed, that isn’t always […]

So You Want to Dive Into Podcasts and Audiobooks?

I am asked fairly often what it is I like to listen to. That is usually followed up with a question as to how one might go about doing such a thing.

Well, here recently, someone asked that very question, and when I finished writing up a brief overview of the process, I thought it would be good to post my musings here. Perhaps you too would like to dive into the world of podcasts and audiobooks.

If so, here is a simple how to: