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Gospel Coalition Workshops: A Tasty Assortment

The workshops at this year’s Gospel Coalition National Conference have been good.  And a few have been outstanding.  Of the some 35 or so sessions, I’ve listened to about a third.  So maybe there’s a few more gems just waiting to be unearthed.  I’m hoping, anyway.  Regardless, here are a few stand outs.  None of them are “Must Listens,” but neither are they low to moderate.

Training the Next Generation of Pastors and Other Christian Leaders – Panel Discussion: R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Mark Driscoll, David Helm, Don Carson and Ligon Duncan

A fascinating round table discussion involving a few of evangelicalism’s bigger movers and shakers.  If you listen to nothing else, check out Dr. Mohler’s understanding of the relationship between the seminary and the church.  Start at 11:19.

John Piper Interviews Rick Warren on Doctrine

I am not a Rick Warren aficionado.  I don’t have the foggiest idea what he does on Thursday afternoon, nor do I listen to his sermons (I’ve heard one).  I’ve never read any of his books.  And I don’t follow his tweets.

This means that what I’m about to say concerning John Piper’s interview is strictly limited to what I heard in this interview.  I’m judging it solely on the basis of the content found therein.

So let’s start with the big question.  Is Rick Warren, based on what he said in this interview (3rd time’s a charm), a heretic?  No.  Not at all.  He’s a conservative, monergistic Evangelical.  And for that, I’m extremely thankful.

The Spirit-Filled Missional Ministry of Jesus – Mark Driscoll

Are you Reformed?  I mean like black coffee Presbyterian, John Calvin fan club member, “yes, I own Francis Turretin’s three volumes of Elenctic Theology” Reformed?  If so, do you want to feel uncomfortable?

Oh, I trust you do.  Don’t Presbyterians love a good challenge?

Well, I’ve been digging around in the goldmine of workshops from this year’s Gospel Coalition National Conference, and while I will be recommending other excellent presentations in the weeks to come, Mark Driscoll’s takes the prize (so far).  Powerful message!  Very powerful!  But also controversial… if you’re a cessationist.

Mistakes in Church Planting – Darrin Patrick

At this year’s Sovereign Grace church planting conference (Plant and Build), I expected to most enjoy Mark Dever’s or C. J. Mahaney’s talks.  In all honesty, that’s what initially drew me to the conference.  But while their messages were solid, I must say that I was especially appreciative of Darrin Patrick’s.

I’ve never heard Pastor Darrin speak before.  Actually, I hadn’t even heard of him.  But I’m happy to report that it was a great delight to listen to him.  It wasn’t his oratory skills that struck me, which, don’t me wrong, are perfectly fine, rather it was the content of his message that most impressed me.

Unbelievable (Or is it UnBellievable?) – Rob Bell Defends “Love Wins”

Forget Bell’s drift towards universalism for a moment. 

If there’s anything apparent in this debate/interview, it’s that Pastor Bell is intent on playing a game.  Over and over again he’ll sidestep direct questions about his view, joke around, and play cat and mouse with Justin and Adrian.  Don’t get me wrong, the guy is winsome, jovial, quick on his feet and likable.  But he’s also slick.  And it’s the slick part that really frustrated me during this discussion.  He’s very good at disarming and dodging. 

Several times during the interview, I wanted Justin Brierley to stop him, open his bible and read 2 Corinthians 4:2, which says,

Getting Out – Tim Keller

Ok, I have a confession.  Portal 2 came out this week.  If you don’t know, it’s a PC game.  But not just any old PC game.  It’s one of the coolest games ever, and I’ve been looking forward to it for some time now.  So yeah, needless to say, my boys and I have been hanging out in front of the computer these past few evenings, teleporting and what not.  

What does this mean?  It means that I’m going to keep this review short and simple.  Really short and simple… the game isn’t finished yet   

Justification by Faith – Mark Seifrid

About ten years ago, Roman Catholicism was without a doubt the number one issue troubling me.  The question of authority, as well as the nature of justification, and especially how it relates to the warnings to persevere in Scripture, left me feeling unhinged.  My world was spinning, as I tried to work through the labyrinth of issues involved in those two subjects. 

Along the way, I was helped by a variety of sources.  Eric Svendsen, James White, John Piper, Robert L. Reymond, Van Til- they all played a pivotal role in grounding me.  Let us not forget Edwards’ profound handling of the subject of justification either (link).

Wrestling With Matthew 10:23

A good friend of mine recently called to ask me about a perplexing passage in Matthew.  We discussed the issue at some length, and I gave what I thought was a fair interpretation.  After some healthy give and take, he was like, “Yeah, I guess that makes sense.”  And that was it. 

But that wasn’t it.  I had that uncomfortable gnawing feeling, as if I had just made the incorrect call as a referee in a ball game.  And it stayed with me.  So I soon found myself pondering the issue while walking the mail, chewing and thinking, mulling over the text over and over again.  “What does it mean?”  I kept asking myself.  Round and round went the thoughts. 

It happened over my lunch break, while eating some oatmeal cookies at McDonalds (3 for a dollar!  Hard to beat!), when the answer hit me.  And it felt right… and it continues to feel right.

A Gentle Correction

I always enjoy reading Anthony Bradley, a WORLD magazine columnist.  Dr. Bradley, an Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics at The King’s College in New York City as well as a Research Fellow at the Acton Institute, provides keen insights into the church and the impact of the culture upon it.  He is often called upon by the mainstream media to give his commentary on events of the day, particularly those involving racial matters.

Yesterday he had an intriguing article on how Christians producing hip-hop music often show more theological integrity and depth in their lyrics than most of the Contemporary Christian Music being produced.  Having listened to some examples, I agree.  I’ve heard some hip-hop songs with the Heidelberg Catechism and other doctrinal statements that are theologically rock-solid.

On the Other Side of Complexity: Christian Conviction in the Late Modern Age – Al Mohler

Dr. Al Mohler recently gave the fourth annual Gaffin Lecture at Westminster Theological Seminary, and I must say that it was absolutely brilliant.  Picking up a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes, “I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity,” Dr. Mohler provides a penetrating analysis of Western thought.    

While some may have a hard time following his message at points, as he does stroll through the halls post-modernity and neo-orthodoxy, as well as modernism, highlighting not only the key thinkers, but their ideas, I suspect that most will still be able to grasp the main points of his lecture.

Trust me when I say this.  The last ten minutes are worth the price of admission.  His critique of fundamentalism, as well as evangelicalism, is powerful.  And for many, the antidote he proscribes will prove very surprising.