31 July 2010

Immanuel Theology Group Deadline

ITG registration closes tomorrow, August 1. Sam Storms, Bruce Ware, Gregg Allison, Scott Thomas, Ray Ortlund, and others on fighting the good fight as a gospel-rooted man of God. Details here.

30 July 2010

The Dutch Reformed Confessions

The past few years I've been spending time in the Reformed creeds and confessions. Through seminary training at a Presbyterian school I was already familiar with the Westminster standards (Confession of Faith, Larger Catechism, Shorter Catechism). What I haven't known so well are the Reformed creeds and confessions linked to the Dutch tradition (Westminster is British).

Of special importance are the so called 'Three Forms of Unity'--the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dort. Heidelberg (pictured to the right) is a pastorally warm expression of the Reformed faith in the form of questions and answers. The Belgic Confession is a series of longer but fewer statements covering the main tenets of Reformed theology. The Canons of Dort, from which we get our five points of Calvinism (TULIP), are five statements produced in response to the Remonstrants' (Arminians') five statements, which were themselves a protest against the Calvinistic Belgic Confession.

Several things have struck me in getting acquainted with the Three Forms of Unity.

1. Wow. These guys loved God. They loved his Word, his Son, his grace, and his sole right to run the universe.

2. While, sure, all these documents are historically situated and bear the marks of their time, it is astonishing how much of what they have written transcends their historical situatedness. I observe: to the degree that you seek to submit yourself to the Bible and God's revealed truth, to that degree you lengthen the time your words will be around, maybe for centuries; to the degree that you try to be clever with Christian verbiage but self-produced ideas, to that degree you shorten your words' lifespan. Case in point: Is anyone talking about the Emergent/emerging church anymore, so seemingly significant 4-5 years ago? With Google you can find a few, but the flood of 'conversation' has slowed to a trickle.

3. Doctrinal formulations forged in the fires of affliction have an air of sober, gripping, clear-ringing truth that angry bloggers whose greatest trial has been a B+ in Systematic Theology at their reformed seminary can't touch.

4. These Netherlanders understood the need for the gospel in progressive sanctification. Dort on perseverance:
just as it has pleased God to begin this work of grace in us by the proclamation of the gospel, so he preserves, continues, and completes his work by the hearing and reading of the gospel, by meditation on it. . . . (5.14)
Belgic on sanctification:
far from making people cold toward living in a pious and holy way, this justifying faith, quite to the contrary, so works within them that apart from it they will never do a thing out of love for God but only out of love for themselves and fear of being condemned. (Art. 24; emphasis added)
5. These guys loved to express truth because they loved to make God look good. They didn't love to express truth because they loved to make themselves look good.

6. Minus the bits on baptism, with which I agree but find frustrating as a dividing line among those who gladly share the rest of this glorious theology, I would like to do what I can in my remaining 1-60 years to make these confessions a beloved staple in evangelical churches of all stripes.

7. These confessions, especially Heidelberg and Belgic, bring out and concretize and sharpen and lift up the gospel. These documents are not, as is sometimes assumed, in competition with the gospel--as if you can have either a Jesus-loving gospel-cherishing faith over here or a more sophisticated Calvinistic theology over there. You go deeper in these confessions, you go deeper in the gospel.

8. Light, heat. Both. Redwood theology with rose beauty. You have to have the right recipe if you're going to make the strawberry-rhubarb pie; but the pie exists not to be analyzed on a petry dish, but to be enjoyed.

29 July 2010

Doctrine of Grace, Culture of Grace

Perhaps the greatest fault of American Reformed communities since Puritan times is that they have cultivated an elitism.

Ironically, the doctrine of election has been unwittingly construed as meaning that Reformed people have been endowed with superior theological, spiritual, or moral merit by God himself. The great irony of this is that the genius of the Reformed faith has been its uncompromising emphasis on God's grace, with the corollary that our own feeble efforts are accepted, not because of any merit, but solely due to God's grace and Christ's work.

The doctrine of grace, then, ought to cultivate humility as a conspicuous trait of Reformed spirituality.
--George Marsden, 'Introduction: Reformed and American,' in Dutch Reformed Theology (ed. David Wells; Baker 1989), 11

All Things Are Yours (1 Cor 3:21)

The whole universe, bodies and spirits, earth and heaven, angels, men and devils, sun, moon and stars, land and sea, fish and fowls, all the silver and gold, kings and potentates as well as mean men--are as much the Christian's as the money in his pocket, the clothes he wears, the house he dwells in, or the victuals he eats; yea . . . properly his, advantageously his . . . by virtue of the union with Christ; because Christ, who certainly does possess all things, is entirely his: so that he possesses it all, more than a wife the share of the best and dearest husband, more than the hand possesses what the head does; it is all his. . . .

Every atom in the universe is managed by Christ so as to be most to the advantage of the Christian, every particle of air or every ray of the sun; so that he in the other world, when he comes to see it, shall sit and enjoy all this vast inheritance with surprising, amazing joy.
--Jonathan Edwards, miscellany ff, in The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Yale ed.), 13:183


The Puritans were men of the Spirit; lovers of the Lord, keepers of his law, and self-squanderers in his service, which are in every age the three main elements of the truly Spirit-filled life.
--J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness, The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Crossway 2010), 75; emphasis original

28 July 2010

Nine Years and Counting

And you're more fun than ever.

I love you Sweetheart.

27 July 2010

Holiness and Love

Apologist Francis Schaeffer used to say that in our relationships with others it is relatively easy to show either the holiness of God or the love of God. It is quite easy to be either coldly uncompromising against sin or warmly tolerant of it. But what is difficult--and in fact what is impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit--is to show both God's holiness and love at the same time.
--Dick Keyes, Chameleon Christianity: Moving Beyond Safety and Conformity (Baker 1999; Wipf & Stock 2003), 22

The Negation of Christianity

Parents, feeling that their children lack any spiritual axis to their lives, try to impose upon them what is left of the old external morality, so that they are torn between their desire for liberty and the formalism from which they are unable to escape. That is why there are so many neurotics in strict families, among the children of pastors, and where social conformity rates high. This must be clearly and frankly recognized. The majority of our 'cases of nerves' reveal the pathogenic role played by a formalistic upbringing. In liberating such people we are hard put to destroy the conventionalism with which they are still so strongly imbued despite all their rebellion against it.

But formalism is not Christianity. One might even say that it is essentially the negation of it. It was what crucified Christ.
--Paul Tournier, The Healing of Persons, 42

Theology in Life

Wonderful exchange on theology in everyday life from this old chappy.

Best line: 'given our wickedness, the very excellence of Reformed theology can make us weird.'

HT: Who else?

Real Forgiveness

Clive Staples on one way we can learn to forgive others and shed the inveterate self-justifications that flood our hearts when we ourselves fail and need forgiveness--
[One must] really and truly believe in the forgiveness of sins. A great deal of our anxiety to make excuses comes from not really believing in it, from thinking that God will not take us to Himself again unless He is satisfied that some sort of case can me made out in our favor. But that would not be forgiveness at all.

Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it. That, and only that, is forgiveness, and that we can always have from God if we ask for it.
--C. S. Lewis, 'Forgiveness,' in The Weight of Glory, 134-35

26 July 2010


. . . you, having been set free free from sin . . . --Romans 6:18
Telling a slave to be free is to add insult to injury. But telling a liberated slave to be free is an invitation to enjoy his new freedom and privileges.
--Tim Chester, You Can Change, 49; emphasis original

I interviewed Tim about his wonderful book a few months ago here.

Religion Sucketh

That blog name is just too good.

23 July 2010

The Problem with the World

Have you heard this? I've come across it a few times in various books etc and it's just too good. Tuck this one away.

In the early 1900s the London Times invited a small number of nationally respected authors, including G. K. Chesterton, to weigh in on the question, 'What's wrong with the world?' The result was a series of essays pontificating on who is to blame for the then-current state of the world. Chesterton's contribution was delightfully profound.
Dear Sirs:

I am.

Sincerely yours,
G. K. Chesterton

Webster: 'An Alien Sanctity'

Wonderful statement to which Jonathan Parnell points us from John Webster's Holiness. Some of this book made me scratch my head, but this is a good statement by Webster and reflection by Jonathan. Thanks brother.

22 July 2010

Luther: Two Seats

For the Scriptures teach me that God established two seats for men, a judgment seat for those who are still secure and proud and will neither acknowledge nor confess their sin, and a mercy seat for those whose conscience is poor and needy, who feel and confess their sin, dread his judgment, and yearn for his grace.

And this mercy seat is Christ himself.
--Martin Luther, Luther's Works, 51:278

21 July 2010

Packer on Puritan Devotional Writing

The second sentence strikes home.
[T]his devotional literature, though popular in the sense of being expressed simply and not presupposing any technical knowledge, is not popular in the sense of being crude, or frothy, or theologically inept, or ill-informed, or ill-ingested, or incompetent in any other way.

The modern snobbery of learning whereby professional scholars refuse to popularise and popularisers are expected to apologise for not being professional scholars was not a seventeenth-century syndrome. Puritan authors were learned, strong-minded, well-read, scholarly men.
--J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Crossway 2010), 63

Lewis: Mere Collectivism vs True Membership

A convict has a number instead of a name. That is the collective idea carried to its extreme. But a man in his own house may also lose his name, because he is simply called 'Father.' That is membership in a body. The loss of the name in both cases reminds us that there are two opposite ways of departing from isolation.
--C. S. Lewis, 'Membership,' in The Weight of Glory, p. 124

Henri Nouwen and the Elder Brother

The more I reflect on the elder son in me, the more I realize how deeply rooted this form of lostness really is and how hard it is to return home from there. Returning home from a lustful escapade seems so much easier than returning home from a cold anger that has rooted itself in the deepest corners of my being. My resentment is not something that can be easily distinguished and dealt with rationally.

It is far more pernicious: something that has attached itself to the underside of my virtue. Isn't it good to be obedient, dutiful, law-abiding, hardworking, and self-sacrificing? And still it seems that my resentments and complaints are mysteriously tied to such praiseworthy attitudes. . . . Just when I do my utmost to accomplish a task well, I find myself questioning why others do not give themselves as I do. Just when I think I am capable of overcoming my temptations, I feel envy toward those who gave in to theirs. It seems that wherever my virtuous self is, there is the resentful complainer.

Here, I am faced with my own true poverty. I am totally unable to root out my resentments. They are so deeply anchored in the soil of my inner self that pulling them out seems like self-destruction. How to weed out these resentments without uprooting the virtues as well?

. . . I can only be healed from above.
--Henri Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming (Doubleday 1994), 75-76

20 July 2010

The Security of Self-Despair

Grace can never forsake him who despairs of himself.
--Martin Luther, preaching on John 9 in 1518, in Luther's Works, 51:43

Scougal: The Worth of a Soul

The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love.

The images of these [noble and well-placed loves] do frequently present themselves unto the mind, and by a secret force and energy insinuate into the very constitution of the soul, and mold and fashion it into their own likeness: hence we may see how easily lovers and friends do slide into the imitation of the persons whom they affect . . .
--Henry Scougal, The Life of God in the Soul of Man (Christian Focus, 1996; repr.), 68. Scougal was professor of divinity at Aberdeen till his death in 1678 at age 28 of tuberculosis. This little book was a letter he wrote to a depressed friend in 1677. A century later, John Wesley sent a copy of the letter to a friend of his named George Whitefield. Whitefield later said that this letter was instrumental in his conversion--'I never knew what true religion was till God sent me this excellent treatise.'

The first sentence in the above quote is worth the price of the book. What do you love? That's what you will eventually look like.

19 July 2010

Dying: Living

Luther: 'He who does not perish really perishes.' (LW 51:25)

Kierkegaard: 'I should have perished, had I not perished.' (Journals of Soren Kierkegaard, 245)

C. S. Lewis: 'Die before you die. There is no chance after.' (Till We Have Faces, 279)

The Lord Jesus: 'Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies . . .' (John 12:24f)

Luther: The True Gain

I know none, neither men nor angels, who can help me except this child whom you, O Mary, hold in your arms. If a man could put out of his mind all that he is and has except this child, and if for him everything--money, goods, power, or honor--fades into darkness and he despises everything on earth compared with this child, so that heaven with its stars and earth with all its power and all its treasures becomes as nothing to him, that man would have the true gain.
--Martin Luther, preaching on Luke 2:1-14 on Christmas Day 1530, in Luther's Works, 51:214

17 July 2010

Calvin on the Gospel for All of Life

Not only does the Lord through forgiveness of sins receive and adopt us once for all into the church, but through the same means he preserves and protects us there. . . . Every godly man is his own witness that the Lord's mercy, if it were granted only once, would be void and illusory, since each is quite aware throughout his life of the many infirmities that need God's mercy.

And clearly not in vain does God promise this grace especially to those of his own household; not in vain does he order the same message of reconciliation daily to be brought to them. So, carrying, as we do, the traces of sin around with us throughout life, unless we are sustained by the Lord's constant grace in forgiving our sins, we shall scarcely abide one moment in the church. . . .

[His children] ought to ponder that their is pardon ever ready for their sins.
--Institutes, 4.1.21

16 July 2010

The Opportunity of a Setback

Grace is for the humble, not for the self-satisfied. So a setback, a serious check, the crumbling of a whole majestic world, may be the necessary road to a renaissance. For each of us, a setback can become the opportunity of a return to oneself and a personal meeting with God.
--Paul Tournier, Guilt and Grace: A Psychological Study, 116

An Excellent Reflection on Modesty

From Elyse Fitzpatrick here.

15 July 2010

Taking up the Cross

'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.' --Mark 8:34

Not: let him be denied and receive his cross and wander. But: let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow.

We tend to think of our 'crosses' as the difficulties that befall us. But Jesus calls us to actively take up our cross. He's talking about his disciples proactively determining to do something. The point isn't that the Bible is silent about the hardship of which we are simply passive recipients. But that's Job, not Mark 8. Mark 8 calls us to take up the cross. Take it up. Not receive it. Take it up. We're not talking masochism or asceticism here; the end goal is not pain. The end goal is--as the next sentence out of Jesus' lips make clear--saving our life.

Asking the Lord what this means for me in 2010. I invite you to join me.

Mark 8 - 'I see men, but they look like trees, walking'

In the middle of Mark 8, Jesus heals a blind man in two stages--the blind man recovers sight a little bit (and "sees men as trees, walking") and then on Jesus' second touch receives 20/20 vision.

Lloyd-Jones remarks that Jesus 'dealt with the blind man as he did in order to enable the disciples to see themselves as they were' (Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, 39).

All through the four Gospels Jesus does two things, he teaches and he heals. This is the only time he does both rolled together into one: he teaches by the way he heals. He's showing the disciples that they are the blind man, at partial healing. They understand that Jesus is the king, the Messiah--Mark 1-8 has convinced them of that ('You are the Christ!', 8:29). What they don't yet understand--as indicated in the very next conversation in which Peter rebukes Jesus at the thought of Jesus' death--is that this Messiah is a suffering king. Mark 9-16 will convince them of that. Then they will have 20/20 vision.

Charlemagne's Dying Discovery?

One hundred and eighty years after the death of Charlemagne, in about the year 1000, officials of the Emperor Otho opened the great king's tomb, where they found an amazing sight apart from the treasures. What they saw was . . . the skeletal remains of the king seated on a throne, the crown still upon his skull, a copy of the Gospels lying in his lap with his bony finger resting on this text: 'What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?'
--Kent Hughes, Mark, Vol. 1: Jesus, Servant and Savior (Crossway 1989), 204

The Joy of Battle

The joy which God gives us in the Christian adventure is the joy of knowing Him, of being with Him on the side that must eventually win, the joy of battle itself; it is not the joy of easy complacency and thinking everything is all right.
--Sam Shoemaker, Extraordinary Living for Ordinary People (Zondervan 1965), 29

14 July 2010

The Delightful Honesty of Children

[click to enlarge]

HT: Mike Bird

Every Leader Needs a Shepherd

Reasons why from Scott Thomas.

Forde on Why Grace is Not a License to Sin

When the old Adam is put to death one is set free forever from bondage to spiritual ambition, legalism, and tyranny. And Luther for one meant this quite literally. One is absolutely free. It is a total state.

'But,' we immediately ask, 'is this not dangerous? Can we really say that man is absolutely free?'

Even to ask the question is to betray the presence of the old Adam in us. It is the fear of moral chaos, the threat to our spiritual pretensions that prompts us to ask. The implied answer, of course, is that we really can't allow that much freedom, and so we retreat--and remain bound.

But the point is not to retreat, but to push on, to allow the old Adam to die and to arise to newness of life. Look at it this way: if the old Adam has been put to death, if what is selfish, fraudulent, and deceitful has perished what is there to fear in freedom? Can a new man possibly do evil? Luther's theology is often criticized for two things: on the one hand for too much bondage--for saying that man's will is absolutely bound--and on the other hand for too much freedom--for saying that the Christian man is absolutely free. The criticism arises, of course, from old Adam theology. Mix together a little bit of bondage and a little bit of freedom and all will be safe and sound.
--Gerhard Forde, Where God Meets Man: Luther's Down-to-Earth Approach to the Gospel (Augsburg 1972), 60

The danger of being safe and sound!

13 July 2010

Forde on our Functional Semi-Pelagianism

Semi-Pelagianism is the notion that all humans require grace in order to be right with God, but because we have free will we have the natural ability to seek out, respond to, and appropriate this grace. Forde comments--
Officially this position . . . has been rejected by the church. Even the tiny bit [of self-resourced contribution] cannot be reconciled with grace alone. I say it has officially been rejected because I think one can nevertheless say that in actual practice this is the kind of system most people finally settle for. . . . [A] position which is officially rejected becomes nevertheless the basic operating theology of the church.
--Gerhard Forde, Where God Meets Man: Luther's Down-to-Earth Approach to the Gospel (Augsburg 1972), 50; emphasis original

'To the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly . . .' --Romans 4:5

12 July 2010

Spurgeon: 'There Is No Adjective'

I try to avoid long-ish posts at all costs, but this one is too meaningful to abbreviate.

Do you understand the gospel as Spurgeon articulates it here? This is biblical. And, in truth, the only lifeline to sanity.
The basis on which a man comes to Jesus is not as a sensible sinner, but as a sinner, and nothing but a sinner.

He will not come unless he is awakened. But when he comes, he does not say, 'Lord, I come to you because I am an awakened sinner. Save me.' Rather he says, 'Lord, I am a sinner. Save me.' Not his awakening, but his sinnership is the means and the way by which he dares to come.

You will, perhaps, perceive what I mean, for I cannot exactly explain myself just now. In reference to the preaching of a great many Calvinistic clergymen, they will say to a sinner, 'Now, if you feel your need of Christ, if you have repented so much, if you have been scoured by the law to such and such a degree, then you may come to Christ on the grounds that you are an awakened sinner.'

I say this is false.

No one may come to Christ on the basis of his being an awakened sinner. A person must come to him as a sinner.

When I come to Jesus, I know I cannot come unless I am awakened, but, nevertheless, I do not come as an awakened sinner. I do not stand at the foot of His cross to be washed because I have repented. I bring nothing when I come but sin. . . .

The gate of mercy is opened, and over the door it is written, 'This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners' (1 Tim 1:15). Between that word 'save' and the next word 'sinners' there is no adjective. It does not say, 'penitent sinners,' 'awakened sinners,' 'sensible sinners,' 'grieving sinners,' or 'alarmed sinners.' No, it only says 'sinners.'

I know this, that when I come, I come to Christ today, for I feel it is as much a necessity of my life to come to the cross of Christ today as it was to come ten years ago. When I come to him, I dare not come as a conscious sinner, or an awakened sinner, but I have to come still as a sinner with nothing in my hands.

Faith is getting out of yourself and getting into Christ. I know that many hundreds of poor souls have been troubled because the minister has said, 'If you feel your need, you may come to Christ.' 'But,' they say,' I do not feel my need, at least not enough. I am sure I do not.' . . .

Oh, away with this wicked antichrist spirit! It is not your soft heart that entitles you to believe. You are to believe in Christ to renew your hard heart, and come to Him with nothing about you but sin. . . .

My dear reader, do let me put this truth home to you: If you will come to Christ as nothing but a sinner, He will not cast you out. . . . If you are the biggest sinner from hell, you are as fit to come to Christ as if you were the most moral and excellent of men. There is a bath: who is fit to be washed? A man's blackness is no reason why he should not be washed, but the clearer reason why he should be. . . . Your poverty is your preparation. . . .

If you have anything of your own, you must leave it all before you come. If there is anything good in you, you cannot trust Christ.
--Charles Spurgeon, Faith (Whitaker House 1995), excerpts from pages 27-35

Forde: Begin Anew Each Day

As I continue to understand where Gerhard Forde is coming from, I'm discovering that he had a regrettably one-sided view of atonement that brings a helpful emphasis on the death and resurrection dimension to atonement while unhelpfully dismissing the payment of debt/satisfaction dimension. I also wonder if he misunderstood Luther himself at a few points; but that's a judgment I'm not yet competent to make.

Anyway, back to the point of this post: this guy has lots of wonderful things to say. Just got in the mail his Where God Meets Man: Luther's Down-to-Earth Approach to the Gospel and this week I'll be putting up two or three rejoicing-prompting statements the book. Here's one.
In this life the Old Adam is still with us and is all too much alive. That is why the faith Luther spoke of had to be renewed every day. . . .

[T]he voice is sure to sound anew in countless subtle ways. . . . A theologian of the cross knows that the only way to deal with such problems is, as Luther said, to go every day to the cross, and begin again. . . . Faith in the gospel has to be renewed each day. Yesterday's faith tends to slip into mere theory. The voice of the law sounds again. Each day we must hear anew that Christ is the end of the law and the gift of new life. (p. 40)

09 July 2010

Jonathan Edwards' Preaching

J. I. Packer on Edwards in the pulpit--
Humanly speaking, he had a unique gift for making ideas live by the luminous precision with which he expounded them. He uncoils a length of reasoning with a slow, smooth exactness that is almost hypnotic in its power to rivet attention on the successive folds of truth sliding out into view. Had Edwards been no more than a pagan don teaching economics, he would without doubt have been a performer of 'Ancient Mariner' quality in the lecture-room.

To this compelling expository power was added in the pulpit a terrible solemnity, expressive of the awe of God that was constantly on his spirit; and the result was preaching that congregations could neither resist nor forget. Edwards could make two hours seem like twenty minutes as he bore down on his listeners' consciences with the plain old truths of sin and salvation, and the calm majesty of his inexorable analysis was no less used of God to make men feel the force of truth than was the rhapsodic vehemence of George Whitefield.
--J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Crossway 1990), 314

Crossway is about to release this classic again with a new cover. Details here.

A Growing Book

Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the Book widens and deepens with our years.
--Charles Spurgeon, quoted in Modern Reformation, Jan/Feb 2010, p. 17

So true. I know the Bible better today than five years ago. But it is also much deeper to me now. And I'll say the same thing in another five years.

Articulacy Fosters Reality

Christian Smith and Melinda Denton in Soul Searching (the book that diagnosed the 'moralistic therapeutic deism' of today's youth--and adults) make a fascinating observation:
Philosophers like Charles Taylor argue that inarticulacy undermines the possibilities of reality. So, for instance, religious faith, practice, and commitment can be no more than vaguely real when people cannot talk much about them. Articulacy fosters reality.
--Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 268

HT: David Nienhuis

08 July 2010

No Church Without It

There never was, and there never can be, any true Christian church without the doctrine of justification.
--Alister McGrath, Iustitia Dei (Cambridge University Press, 1986), 1

Hans Bayer and Rutherford House

Hans Bayer recently delivered lectures at Rutherford House in Edinburgh, Scotland, on discipleship in Mark and mission in Acts, both of which have been lifelong interests of his. Details here. Dr. Bayer is a model of godly, joyful, reverent scholarship. He recently published this commentary on Mark.

If you're not familiar with Rutherford House, it would be good to have it on your radar. It was conceived through conversations between William Still and Sinclair Ferguson in the early 80's and exists to encourage solidly evangelical biblical study in support of the church, especially the church in Scotland.

RH hosts conferences (resulting in books such as this one) and publishes twice annually the Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology (SBET).

07 July 2010

Reminders from Robin Hood

1. Men need leaders. Not appreciate. Need.

2. Leaders are contagious one way or the other. Take a neutral man and give him a strong, courageous leader: he'll be strong and courageous. Take that same man and give him a weak, cowardly leader: he'll be weak and cowardly. Men are in some sense in their leaders. They feed off them. Courage is contagious. So is cowardice.

3. Effeminate men and masculine women are repulsive. Especially the former.

4. You don't have to live in a so-called 'honor/shame' culture in the far East to know intuitively what honor is. That's an image of God thing, not an Eastern thing. We build our entire life groping for honor, and feeding that soul-need by getting it vicariously through Russell Crowe movies. Though they won't put it in these words, Hollywood knows that all people long for the glory, the reverent dignity, of being human--truly human, human before Genesis 3 and after Revelation 21.

In Christ we can have it.

In Some Nearby Neighborhood the Tree out of Which Your Casket Will Be Made Is Growing

The New World is coming. Are you getting your taste buds ready?

As C. S. Lewis inimitably said, you can't communicate the pleasures of sex to a five-year-old whose highest pleasure is chocolate.

And you can't comunicate the joys of the new earth to a 21st-century American whose highest pleasure is sex.

Eden Restored is hurtling toward us. Aslan is on the move. One day soon the casket-builders will be out of work.

'And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new."' --Revelation 21:5

Worldwide Classroom

Covenant Seminary has added four new courses to its Worldwide Classroom, which is a collection of (now) 27 free, high quality, download-able M.A. level seminary courses.

A wonderful resource, provided out of deep love for the gospel and the church.

06 July 2010

The Adventure Continues

Today, having finished a Bible degree this May at Wheaton, is my first day at Crossway Books, where I'll be helping with a handful of Bible-related projects. It is a remarkable providence and kindness from the Lord, on several levels. And the brothers with whom I'll be working most closely are tremendous men of God, with a heart for what matters most in life. What a privilege.

The past eight months have been a strange road in some ways, but nothing has hindered God's unwavering fatherly attention through it all. The feltness of his attention wavers, due to my weak faith; the attention itself never wavers.

God's lovingkindness seeks out every corner of my life. All bought at the cross.

Immanuel Theology Group (ITG)

Young gospel men and ministry leaders within striking distance of Nashville will want to be aware of the ITG, a ministry arm of Immanuel Church on the south side of Nashville. Our friend and mentor Ray Ortlund (someone I've known--let's see here--around 31 years) leads Immanuel and is heading up the ITG.

Come join Dad, Bruce Ware, Sam Storms, Scott Thomas, Gregg Allison and me as we learn together what it means to lead others as a gospel-rooted man of God.

Details here.

Ryken Is at the Helm

As president of Wheaton, as of this week. He briefly reports and asks for our prayers.

Back in the Saddle

Back from a great week in Nashville, spending time with my wife and boys, catching remarkably dim-witted carp (I caught the same one twice within an hour), teaching our four-year-old how to swim, spending time with my great dad and mom, watching World Cup, and worshiping at my favorite church, Immanuel Church Nashville.

I notice that some of my fellow bloggers enjoy announcing the volumes upon volumes they read while on vacation, so--I am happy to report that this past week I read a total of eight pages of Meredith Kline's Images of the Spirit.

But it was a fantastic eight pages!