Here at Gentle Reformation we have made the conscience decision not to engage in endless internet controversies and cyberspace name-calling. Self-admittedly we are reluctant to put up our dukes, and we sigh deeply when in church courts (a more proper boxing arena than the internet) we are called upon to handle conflicts. To that end we have declared in our guiding principles we will not cry “Wolf!” very often. Yet I feel the need to do so today.
I love a full MP3 player. And last week, my MP3 player was pretty darn full. Ah, yes, the simple pleasures in life!
So, yeah, I’ve listened to quite a few messages lately. It’s been a strange mixture. A little bit of everything. Nothing life changing, exactly, but no downright duds either. It’s for this reason I’m going to go with the shotgun approach today. Not a slug, but buckshot. So here we go. Time to ramble.
What I’m about to say isn’t hyperbolic:
I appreciated every single sentence uttered by Pastor Mark Garcia in this Christ the Center interview.
As someone who has been following the Federal Vision and New Perspective(s) on Paul controversies for some time now, I’ve listened to my fair share discussions. Like that old Clint Eastwood flick, most could be labeled as either being good, bad or ugly. And unfortunately, there’s been a lot of ugly.
But let me tell ya, Pastor Garcia ain’t ugly.
Pastor John Piper said that Francis Chan’s message at the 2010 National Conference was probably one of the most listened to talks in Desiring God Conference history.
That’s remarkable. In some ways this surprises me. But in other ways, it doesn’t at all.
There will no doubt be some who feel this is a bad thing, as Francis Chan doesn’t adequately measure up to their standards of Reformed purity. The popularity, they will suppose, stems from the ever increasing downgrading of Evangelicalism.
But I, for one, very much like him.
Let’s be honest, texts like 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9 pose a challenge to the doctrine of unconditional election. And Arminians love to remind Calvinists of this fact.
Over the years, I’ve discussed theology with my fair share of free will theists. While exploring the doctrines of sovereign grace, it usually takes, oh, about 3.2 minutes before one of the above passages is unsheathed. I’ll point to the first chapter of Ephesians, and they’ll smile and point at 1 Timothy 2:4. I’ll ask them to consider Romans 9, and they’ll promptly turn to 2 Peter. Know what I’m talking about?
Here a number of us Calvinists will try to explain what has come to be known as “The two wills of God.” But if you’ve ever gone that route before, that is, address the difficulty head on, you know it’s a tough sell. The Arminian scrunches his face and rolls his eyes and usually dismisses the notion. “Sir,” he replies, “you’re grasping for straws.”
While situated in a black leather chair in the comfort of his living room, Pastor Tim Keller answers a host of questions about his life and latest book. It’s an interesting hour and a half. Everything from his conversion to his early ministry to the beginnings of Redeemer is discussed. His mild manner and approachability are certainly evident throughout, which makes for a good listen.
In the second segment, which is approximately 45 minutes long, his newest book, “Generous Justice,” is taken up. Issues including the nature of justice, social justice, and mercy ministry are unpacked with pastoral insight. As a deacon, I’m very much interested in getting my hands on a copy. I suspect many of you would likewise enjoy it as well.
I think it’s safe to say that nearly everyone has weighed in on N.T. Wright. There are those who adore the man. And there are, of course, those who always carry on their person a long coil of rope, so that in the event of a random encounter with the man, they would be prepared to conduct a lynching.
D.A. Carson’s opinion of Wright’s theology falls somewhere between the extremes.
The Lord knows that my faith weakens often in offering a particular ongoing prayer request. So recently He sent me help to get on my knees and beg anew. Perhaps it may help you.
It came from reading Sean Michael Lucas’ biography on Robert Dabney. From a sermon Dabney preached in February 1849 on prevalent prayer,
I’m usually not a big fan of Q and A sessions. No wait, I take that back. I enjoy listening to Q and A sessions. They’re often entertaining in the sense that they’re not scripted. And that offers real insight into the character of the panel. But rarely do I walk away from such events feeling especially edified.
This session was very different.
Reading a book called Breath, which tells the incredible tale of Martha Mason. Martha, a fellow Tarheel, spent over sixty years in an iron lung. She had an incredible spirit, seen in such things as her graduating from Wake Forest or managing her own mother’s health when senility struck Martha’s lifelong caregiver. She went through all this without losing her sense of humor.