Sunday, December 30, 2007

9Marks on Corporate Prayer

Justin Taylor has provided a link to the latest 9Marks Ministry Newsletter on corporate prayer. (9Marks Newsletter on Corporate Prayer). Please enjoy and benefit from these articles.

Adam and Eve Blinged Out in New Mega Church

Soft Thoughts Vs. Hard Truth

In his outstanding book, Sinners in the Hands of a Good God, David Clotfelter carefully distinguishes between the god of sentimental western moralism and the holy God who reveals Himself in Scripture. The author presents George MacDonald, the great 19th century writer as representative of the former while Jonathan Edwards as representative of the later. The book helpfully distinguishes between these two competing visions of God and effectively defends Edwards as being most faithful to the biblical witness.

The title of the book is in no way meant to belittle Jonathan Edward’s famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Rather it defends the truth that God’s wrath toward sinners in no way diminishes His goodness. MacDonald firmly dismissed the clear teachings of Scripture concerning God’s judgment of the wicked as being inconsistent with His being a loving Father. MacDonald wrote angrily against any notion that God would punish anyone in hell for eternity. MacDonald reasoned that in hell, “God is triumphantly defeated, I say, throughout the hell of His vengeance. Although against evil, it is but the vain and wasted cruelty of a tyrant.”

Commenting on the theology of George MacDonald which is incarnated in much of contemporary evangelicalism, David Clotfelter writes:
“I would like very much to think that God views all people as His children. I would like to believe that the only punishment any person will receive is that which is tailored to promote his or her repentance. I would like to believe that all finally will be saved. I find, however, that the Bible keeps getting in the way.

“The fundamental problem with MacDonald’s theology is his insistence that the analogy of fatherhood provides a sufficient basis for understanding God’s relationship with human beings: ‘Men cannot, or will not, or dare not see that nothing but His being our Father gives Him any right over us – that nothing but that could give Him a perfect right.’ Scripture does not back him up at this point. While God is acknowledged to be the creator of all (Isa. 45:12) and the judge of all (Gen. 18:25), the analogy of the parent-child relationship is almost always restricted in the Bible to God's relationship with with Jesus, His relationship with Israel, and His relationship with the individual Christian believer…To say that God treats all people as His children goes far beyond the actual assertions of the Bible and undermines Scripture’s teaching about the spiritual status and privileges of believers.”

As he goes on, Clotfelter helpfully comments on the difference between our sentimental notions of God and what the Bible actually declares. In the church today it is common for preachers and laity alike to speak copiously on their own feelings and opinions about God. What is lacking is faithful understanding of and submission to God’s Word.

“The truth, I believe, is that we can rightly understand God only if we forswear the temptation to draw our own extended conclusions from the analogies He gives us, and stick as close as possible to what He has actually said…We may not always find it easy to reconcile the various truths of the Bible. Nevertheless, we must humbly keep in check both our desire for logical consistency and our outrage at truths we do not like…We may be quite sure that all that God does is, in fact, logical and self-consistent. But we should not presume to reject that which we have not had the patience or humility to accept on God’s own terms.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Luther on Christmas

From heaven above to earth I come
To bear good news to every home;
Glad tidings of great joy I bring,
Whereof I now will say and sing:

To you this night is born a child
Of Mary, chosen virgin mild;
This little child, of lowly birth,
Shall be the joy of all the earth.

This is the Christ, our God and Lord,
Who in all need shall aid afford;
He will Himself your Savior be
From all your sins to set you free.

He will on you the gifts bestow
Prepared by God for all below,
That in His kingdom, bright and fair,
You may with us His glory share.

These are the tokens ye shall mark:
The swaddling-clothes and manger dark;
There ye shall find the Infant laid
By whom the heavens and earth were made.”

Now let us all with gladsome cheer
Go with the shepherds and draw near
To see the precious gift of God,
Who hath His own dear Son bestowed.

Give heed, my heart, lift up thine eyes!
What is it in yon manger lies?
Who is this child, so young and fair?
The blessed Christ-child lieth there.

Welcome to earth, Thou noble Guest,
Through whom the sinful world is blest!
Thou com’st to share my misery;
What thanks shall I return to Thee?

Ah, Lord, who hast created all,
How weak art Thou, how poor and small,
That Thou dost choose Thine infant bed
Where humble cattle lately fed!

Were earth a thousand times as fair,
Beset with gold and jewels rare,
It yet were far too poor to be
A narrow cradle, Lord, for Thee.

For velvets soft and silken stuff
Thou hast but hay and straw so rough,
Whereon Thou, King, so rich and great,
As ’twere Thy heaven, art throned in state.

And thus, dear Lord, it pleaseth Thee
To make this truth quite plain to me,
That all the world’s wealth, honor, might,
Are naught and worthless in Thy sight.

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Make Thee a bed, soft, undefiled,
Within my heart, that it may be
A quiet chamber kept for Thee.

My heart for very joy doth leap,
My lips no more can silence keep;
I, too, must sing with joyful tongue
That sweetest ancient cradle-song:

Glory to God in highest heaven,
Who unto us His Son hath given!
While angels sing with pious mirth
A glad new year to all the earth.

- Martin Luther

Denny Burk on Joel Osteen

Denny Burk has posted a link to the Fox News Sunday interview with Joel Osteen (

Monday, December 24, 2007

Osteen's at it again

Joel Osteen appeard on Fox News Sunday this week with Chris Wallace. Consistent with Osteen's many other TV appearances, the results were sad. Here is part of the exchange:

WALLACE: And what about Mitt Romney? And I've got to ask you the question, because it is a question whether it should be or not in this campaign, is a Mormon a true Christian?

OSTEEN: Well, in my mind they are. Mitt Romney has said that he believes in Christ as his savior, and that's what I believe, so, you know, I'm not the one to judge the little details of it. So I believe they are. And so, you know, Mitt Romney seems like a man of character and integrity to me, and I don't think he would - anything would stop me from voting for him if that's what I felt like.

WALLACE: So, for instance, when people start talking about Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, and the golden tablets in upstate New York, and God assumes the shape of a man, do you not get hung up in those theological issues?

OSTEEN: I probably don't get hung up in them because I haven't really studied them or thought about them. And you know, I just try to let God be the judge of that. I mean, I don't know. I certainly can't say that I agree with everything that I've heard about it, but from what I've heard from Mitt, when he says that Christ is his savior, to me that's a common bond.

For Joel Osteen, issues like the Trinity and the incarnation are "little details." Some of the other "little details" in Osteen's book are:
1. Whether or not Jesus and Satan are brothers.
2. Whether or not Jesus came and visited ancient America.
3. Whether or not Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God.
4. Whether or not Yahweh is one of many gods.
5. Whether or not faithful Mormon men will become Gods and inherit their own planets to populate.

Granted, it is probably true that Joel Osteen is ignorant of these facts of Mormonism. But sadly he is also ignorant of much of the Bible. He stated in an interview on 60 Minutes that his calling was not to teach the Bible. So, the question is, why has this man not resigned his post as pastor?

"For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict." (Titus 1:7-9)

Tom Brady and the Meaning of Life

Tom Ascol at Founders has written a very thoughtful response to a 60 Minutes interview of New England Patriot's quarterback Tom Brady (Tom Brady, your questions have answers). It is a model of faithful evangelism.

Behold the Lamb of God

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Moral Bankruptcy of Planned Parenthood

Russel Moore of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has posted a very disturbing look into the heart of Planned Parenthood ( When a people become accustomed to killing the weakest among them then their collective conscience becomes hopelessly distorted.

It Came to Pass

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Writer's Strike Hits Pulpits Hardest

This was posted by Marc over at Purgatorio ( I love this!

Is Santa Claus a Good Idea?

Thabiti Anywabile has written a very thought-provoking post on whether or not Christians should include Santa Claus in their Christmas observance (Down with Santa Claus!).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gospel and Community

Over the past two years I have thought, read, prayed, and talked a lot about the nature of the Gospel – its content and implications for life and ministry. This was a central component to the work of the Strategic Ministry Planning Team. If you read “By His Grace and For His Glory,” the report from the SMPT, then you know how often the material interacts with the Gospel. It is also what drove the recent sermon series “The Gospel-Driven Church” (both resources can be found at our web page). The Seven Pillars of Metro East Baptist are all understood in light of the Gospel. Our statement of purpose finds its rationale in the Gospel:
By God's grace Metro East will make known in word and deed the Lordship and love of Jesus throughout Wichita and the world for the sake of God's glory and the salvation of sinners.

One connection that is particularly moving and challenging to me is that between the Gospel and community. My experience in church is that God-glorifying, soul-shaping community is very elusive. We simply do not see much of it. That is my experience at least. We know what it is to have friendly acquaintances. We know what it is to spend time with people we like. But does our experience within the body of Christ resemble that which is described in the church of Jerusalem in Acts two or that which seemed to exist in the church of Thessalonica? Are we connected to a community of Christ-followers who love God and His Word, pray and worship together regularly, eat together frequently, take care to watch over each other’s needs, and experience the fruit of conversion?

Titus 2:14 tells us that Jesus Christ gave himself for us "to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." Commenting on those words, Sinclair Ferguson writes that “Christ wants to create ‘a people’, not merely isolated individuals who believe in him.” The church is not a club or support group that Christians join. Rather, when God saves us by His grace He also adds us to the church, His people, the body of Christ.

I am reading a book called Total Church by two British pastors: Tim Chester and Steve Timmis. It seems that God put this book in front of me at just the right time. It is proving to be an excellent follow-up to the other work in which I have been involved over the past two years. Particularly challenging has been the book’s emphasis on the inseparable link between the Gospel and community.

Regarding the priority of community in the body of Christ the authors write:
“By becoming a Christian, I belong to God and I belong to my brothers and sisters. It is not that I belong to God and then make a decision to join a local church. My being in Christ means being in Christ with those others who are in Christ. This is my identity. This is our identity. To fail to live out our corporate identity in Christ is analogous to the act of adultery: we can be Christians and do it, but it’s not what Christians should do. The loyalties of the new community supersede even the loyalties of biology (Matt. 10:34-37; Mk 3:31-35; Lk 11:27-28). If the church is the body of Christ then we should not live as disembodied Christians!"

We talk a good game about community but our priorities often betray us. The fact is, community is costly. People hurt us. We get disillusioned when our brothers and sisters disappoint us. It is even worse when a pastor disappoints us. But being in community always involves sacrifice. It involves a kind of death whereby we lay down our rights for the good of others. It means we serve without demanding to be served. It means we lovingly absorb many of the hits we take along the way. Timmis and Chester write, “In our experience, people are often enthusiastic about community until it impinges on their decision-making. For all their rhetoric, they still expect to make decisions by themselves for themselves. We assume we are masters of our own lives.”

One of the points that Total Church makes well is that community is essential to effective proclamation of the Gospel. The authors write:
“God is a missionary God and God’s primary missionary method is His covenant people…God made us as persons-in-community to be the vehicle through which He would reveal His glory…Israel’s priests represented God to the people by expounding the Law, and represented the people to God through sacrifice and intercession, so the nation as a whole has a priestly role of making God known to the nations and bringing them to the means of atonement…

“The center is no longer geographic Jerusalem. Now it is the community itself among whom Christ promises to be present to be present (Matt 28:20). The community moves out across the globe, all the time drawing people to its Lord through its common life…

“The church, then is not something additional or optional. It is at the very heart of God’s purposes. Jesus came to create a people who would model what it means to live under His rule. It would be a glorious outpost of the kingdom of God: an embassy of heaven. This is where the world can see what it means to be truly human.

“Our identity as human beings is found in community. Our identity as Christians is found in Christ’s new community. And our mission takes place through communities of light.”

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007

One Pastor's Bold Break with Emergent

This is letter pastor Chris Elrod of Compass Point Community Church wrote to his congregation ( I applaud his courage in doing the right thing. I hope many more will follow his lead.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Alcohol and the MBC

Wade Bureleson weighs in on the Missouri Baptist Convention and the abstinence debate (The Danger of Casually Dismissing Scripture When Defining 'True' Christianity).

Singing Jesus' Lineage

SBC, Emergents, & Acts 29

Dr. Mark Divine has written a very helpful article on the key differences between the Acts 29 church planting ministry and the emerging church movement ( Divine submitted his report to the Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Board but it was not enough to sway them from their decision to withhold funding from any MBC church plant affiliated with Acts 29.

The New Birth

This is an excellent collection of essays on Regeneration or The New Birth ('s/nbirfg.pdf).

Teach your children theology

Use music to teach your children theology (

Friday, December 14, 2007

Performance Enhanced Worship

Good stuff from "The World From Our Window" on the expectations that many of us carry with us to the corporate gatherings of God's people (Kent Hughes on Performance Enhanced Worship).

ESV Bibles 45% Off

Between Two Worlds has a link to a great sale on ESV Bibles (WTS Books: All ESVs 45% Off).

Behold the Lamb of God

Andrew Peterson's "Behold the Lamb of God" is a truly great Christmas album. It serves as a kind of primer on biblical history. The songs point to God's good hand of providence moving from the first inklings of Messiah in the Old Testament to the birth narratives to the ministry and atoning work of Christ. There is even a song on the geneology of Jesus which is an impressive display of lyrical dexterity.

From now and until Christmas I will be posting videos from a live performance of "Behold the Lamb of God."

Will we have "free will" in heaven?

I have often heard it said that God never violates man's free will. I'm not sure how that statement is squared with Scripture. These words from Jonathan Edwards help to shed light on that idea (

Jesus the Evangelist

Paul Martin has posted a review of Rick Phillips excellent book "Jesus the Evangelist" (Jesus the Evangelist by Rick Phillips). Phillips is one of my favorite preachers. This book, like all of his books, is a great example of sound theology and motivating application.

Great Messages

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has posted some outstanding messages. Follow this link ( and you will find the messages from the Building Bridges Conference which are worth the hearing. It includes Al Mohler's message which was thought to have been unavailable. Thankfully, a recording was found. The quality of that particular recording is not very good but the message is a MUST HEAR. You will also find an address on Lottie Moon by Danny Akin which is well worth the listen.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Great Devotional Book

I have a few rules for devotional books:

1. They must be biblical. A good devotional book will be guided by God's Word. It is not simply a thought for the day from someone who happens to be a Christian.

2. They must drive the reader further into the Scriptures. A good devotional book needs to be a partner of the Bible not a replacement for it.

3. They must increase the reader's knowledge of God through the Scriptures. A good devotional book will whet the spiritual appetite in the reader to know God more fully as He reveals Himself in the Bible.

4. They must not engage in flights of fancy. Mysticism and speculation are not helpful. Yet some of the best selling devotional and "Christian Living" books are largely the writer's own speculations. Good devotional books are grounded in the Bible. They convey clear biblical doctrine and spirituality.

"Making the Most of Your Devotional Life" by Derek Thomas fits this mold. It is a great devotional book. Dr. Thomas takes the reader through "the Psalms of Ascent" (120-134). He helps the reader understand and apply the Scriptures. In the process he helps the readers bring a kind of devotional structure to their daily lives. This book, like all of Derek Thomas' books, is worth the read.

Glorify God all day long

This is a helpful post from Pure Church (How to Spend a Day with God). Check it out.

Best Books of 2007?

Justin Taylor has posted links to a few "best books" lists (Best Books of 2007?).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Silliness from Missouri Baptists

Tom Ascol over at Founders links to an article (Missouri Baptists axe Acts 29) about a recent decision by the Missouri Baptist Convention to refuse support to any Southern Baptist church plants that are connected to the Acts 29 Network. Acts 29 is a church planting ministry originating from Mars Hill Church in Seattle under the leadership of Mark Driscoll.

This, I believe, is a digression into parochialism at a time when we should be partnering with other kingdom minded Christians who are committed to advancing the Gospel and sound doctrine.

God's Word and pastoral authority

“There is a kind of faith that comes from seeing miraculous signs, but true faith comes through the words of Scripture and the words of Jesus… ‘Now while He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs He was doing and believed in His name. But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all men’ (Jn. 2:23-24). Jesus does not trust the kind of faith that comes from seeing miraculous signs. It is not difficult to imagine why. Such faith is likely to be fair-weather faith. It will believe when signs are performed, prayers are answered, things are going well. But it is not the sort of faith that will survive the loss of a child, a period of illness or some other trauma. Persevering faith comes through the word of God.

“In the church the risen Christ rules through His word. This is why the only skill required of church leaders is that they can teach, rightly handling and applying the word of God. Their authority is a mediated authority. They have no authority in and of themselves. Instead they exercise Christ’s authority on His behalf as they teach and apply the word. This defines the amazing extent of their authority: when they apply the word they are exercising the authority of God himself. But it also defines the limit of their authority: they have authority only as they teach God’s word. They should not exercise an authority that comes because of the position they hold or the force of their personality. It is through their teaching that leaders exercise the authority of Christ, the Head of the church.”

- Tim Chester and Steve Timmis from “Total Church”

Monday, December 10, 2007

"More Liberal Than Ever Before"

Here is a link to a message from the Building Bridges conference delivered by Jeff Noblit ("More Liberal Than Ever Before"). When you get a chance I would encourage you to listen. It is powerful stuff.

PBS on the Emergent Church

New Links

I have added links to a few new sites. In the "blogs" section are links to Mark Moore and Tim Chester. Both are worth reading. In the "ministries" section is a link to "Crowded House" which is a church in the UK. They are a fascinating bunch. I am taken by their twin commitments to doctrinal precision and cultural engagement. This is a balance that many churches struggle to find. They seem to be doing it well. Crowded House is actually a network of house churches.

Check out these new sites.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Mohler on The Golden Compass

Al Mohler has written a very helpful article on "The Golden Compass" (

Friday, December 7, 2007


Any thoughts?

Certainty is Underrated

Phil Johnson has written a good post on the emergent church's strange affection for uncertainty (A Certain Uncertainty).

D.A. Carson on Missions

D.A. Carson is one of the most important evangelical scholars in the world. He is a prolific writer and a co-founder (with Tim Keller) of the Gospel Coalition. Carson writes widely from scholarly commentaries to social criticism to pastoral ministry and evangelism. Justin Taylor has posted a series of lectures on missions that Carson made at Reformed Theological Seminary (Missions as the Triumph of the Lamb). Enjoy.

Mormonism is NOT Christianity

With all the publicity that Mormonism is getting these days both in politics and as a result of certain evangelicals inexplicably wanting to build bridges with Mormons I thought this article posted at Baptist Press was quite helpful.

Christian, Mormon doctrinal differences
By Tal Davis
Dec 6, 2007
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following information is adapted from the North American Mission Board's apolgetics website.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)--The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon church) professes to be a Christian church. However, a careful comparison of basic doctrinal positions of that church to those of historical, biblical Christianity reveal many radical differences. This comparison utilizes Mormon doctrines as stated in LDS authoritative primary sources and those of historic Christianity as derived solely from the Bible.


-- Historic Christianity

The one God is a Spirit who is the personal, eternal, infinite Creator of all that exists. He is the only God and necessary for all other things to exist. He exists eternally as a Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (see Deut. 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6-8; Matt. 28:19; John 4:24; 17:3)

-- Mormonism

God (Heavenly Father) is an exalted man with a physical body of flesh and bone. LDS founder Joseph Smith said, "If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by his power, was to make himself visible -- I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345). The trinity is denied with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost seen as three separate entities. "The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us" (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22).


-- Historic Christianity

Jesus Christ was the virgin born God incarnate who existed in all time with the Father and Holy Spirit in the eternal Trinity. As a man He possessed two natures -- human and divine. He lived a sinless life and willingly died on the cross as a sacrifice for the sin of all humanity. (see John 1:1-18; 8:56-59; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 1:13-22; Heb.1:3; 13:8)

-- Mormonism

Jesus was the spiritual "first born" Son of God in the preexistence. "Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven. The first spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus Christ, so he is literally our elder brother" (Gospel Principles , p. 11)."And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn" (D&C 93:21). He is also the "only begotten" physical offspring of God by procreation on earth. "Jesus is the only person on earth to be born of a mortal mother and an immortal father. That is why he is called the Only Begotten Son" (GP, p. 64). His atonement (death and resurrection) provides immortality for all people regardless of their faith. "Christ thus overcame physical death. Because of his atonement, everyone born on this earth will be resurrected ... This condition is called immortality. All people who ever lived will be resurrected, 'both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous' (The Book of Mormon , Alma 11:44)" (GP, p. 74). (See GP, pp. 11, 17-19, 61-77.)


-- Historic Christianity

The Bible (Old and New Testaments) is the unique, revealed, and inspired Word of God. It is the sole authority for faith and practice for Christians. (see 2 Tim. 3:15-17; 2 Pet. 1:19-21)

-- Mormonism

Recognizes the LDS Four Standard Works as authoritative. These include the Bible "as far as it is translated correctly" (Articles of Faith 1:8). It also includes The Book of Mormon (BOM) which Joseph Smith declared is "the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 194).

The church also regards The Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) as Scripture. It "is a collection of modern revelations ... regarding The Church of Jesus Christ as it has been restored in these last days" (GP, p. 54).

The Pearl of the Great Price (PGP) is the fourth book believed to be inspired.

"It clarifies doctrines and teachings that were lost from the Bible and gives added information concerning the creation of the earth" (GP, p. 54).

The church's president is regarded as "a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet" (D&C 107:91-92).


-- Historic Christianity

Human beings are created in God's image, meaning they have personal qualities similar to God's. Every person is a unique, precious being of dignity and worth. (see Gen. 1:26-27)

-- Mormonism

People are the preexisted spiritual offspring of the Heavenly Father and Mother. "All men and women are ... literally the sons and daughters of Deity ... Man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal (physical) body" (Joseph F. Smith, "The Origin of Man," Improvement Era, Nov. 1909, pp. 78,80, as quoted in GP, p. 11).They are born basically good and are "gods in embryo." A commonly quoted Mormon aphorism (attributed to fifth LDS president Lorenzo Snow) says "As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become."


-- Historic Christianity

Human beings have chosen to sin against God, rejecting His nature and pursing life opposed to His essential character and revealed law. (see Rom. 3:23; 7:14-25; 1 John 1:8-10)

-- Mormonism

People sin by disobedience to God's laws. Adam's fall, a part of Heavenly Father's plan, caused a loss of immortality, which was necessary for mankind to advance, (see GP, pp. 31-34). As Eve declared according to LDS scripture, "Were it not for our transgression we never should have ... known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient"(PGP, Moses 5:11; see also BOM, 2 Nephi 2:22-25). Each person is responsible for his or her own sin.


-- Historic Christianity

Salvation is release from the guilt and power of sin through God's gift of grace. It is provided through Christ's atonement and received by personal faith in Christ as Savior and Lord. (see Rom. 3:20; 10:9- 10; Eph. 2:8-10)

-- Mormonism

Jesus' atonement provided immortality for all people. Exaltation (godhood) is available only to Mormons through obedience to LDS teachings: faith, baptism, endowments, celestial marriage, and tithing. "Wherefore, as it is written, they are gods, even the sons of God -- Wherefore, all things are theirs" (D&C, 76:58-59).

These are some of the blessings given to exalted people:

1. They will live eternally in the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see D&C, 76).

2. They will become gods.

3. They will have their righteous family members with them and will be able to have spirit children also. These spirit children will have the same relationship to them as we do to our Heavenly Father. They will be an eternal family.

4. They will receive a fullness of joy.

5. They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have -- all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge (See GP, p. 302).

Baptism for the dead provides post-mortem salvation for non-Mormons, and is "by immersion performed by a living person for one who is dead. This ordinance is performed in temples" (GP, p. 375). (See also GP, chapters 18-23.)


-- Historic Christianity

Eternal life in heaven with God for those who have trusted in Jesus Christ. Eternal separation from God's presence in hell for the unsaved. (see Matt. 5:12-30; 25:41; Rev. 20-22)

-- Mormonism

One of three levels of glory:

1. Exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom for faithful Mormons where people may become gods or angels; "Then shall they be gods" (D&C 132:20).

2. Terrestrial Kingdom for righteous non-Mormons; "These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men. These are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fullness" (D&C 76:75-76).

3. Telestial Kingdom for wicked and ungodly (not hell); "These are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers ... who suffer the wrath of God on earth"(D&C 76:103-104). (See also D&C 76:57-119; 131:1-4.)


-- Historic Christianity

Christians congregate together in local bodies and along denominational lines sharing distinctive doctrinal and ecclesiastical concepts. There is no organization or denomination that can claim exclusive designation as the "one true church." The universal church consists of all the redeemed in Jesus Christ in all of the ages. (see Matt. 16:15-19; 1 Cor. 1:12-14; Eph. 2:19; 3:11-12)

-- Mormonism

Asserts that the LDS is the one true church on the face of the earth. Joseph Smith claimed Jesus Christ told him to join none of the existing denominations because "they were all wrong ... that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt" (PGP: Joseph Smith-History 1:19-20). Mormons claim only the LDS possesses the divine authority of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood as restored by God to Joseph Smith in 1829. (D&C 13; 27:8- 13; 107:1-20; PGP: Joseph Smith-History 1:68-73)

Tal Davis is the strategic mentoring manager of the North American Mission Board's evangelization group.


Gospel Principles. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1992.

McConkie, Bruce. A New Witness for the Articles of Faith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1986.

Smith, Joseph, Jr. The Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982.

Smith, Joseph, Jr. The Doctrine and Covenants. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982.

Smith, Joseph, Jr. History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 7 vols. 2nd ed. rev. Edited by B.H. Roberts. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1932-1951.

Smith, Joseph, Jr. The Pearl of Great Price. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1982.

Smith, Joseph Fielding. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1977.

Copyright (c) 2007 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press
901 Commerce Street
Nashville, TN 37203
Tel: 615.244.2355
Fax: 615.782.8736

Decline of State Baptist Papers

Tom Ascol at Founders has posted an interesting article on the diminishing readership of state Baptist papers (Decline of State Baptist Papers). Okay, so it is not a subject that is interesting to a wide range of people. However, if you have ever read the paper for the Kansas Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists then you will know what Dr. Ascol is talking about. There simply is not much of a reason to read it.

There are a few exceptions out there. For instance, I do enjoy reading certain portions of the Missouri Baptist paper: "The Pathway". Perhaps the main reason it is a good paper is that the editor, Don Hinkle, is actually interested in theological issues. This is reflected in the paper. To be sure, there is a lot of controversy in the Missouri Baptist Convention between conservatives and liberals. But shouldn't denominational papers for the largerst Protestant denomination in the world be steeped in theology and biblical reflection?

This calls to mind one of the problems in the SBC: a lack of interest in doctrinal precision among the laity, pastors, and key denominational leaders. I was at Ridgecrest a week ago and had a chance to visit the Lifeway bookstore. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the SBC, Ridgecrest is one of our conference centers and Lifeway is the publishing arm of the SBC. Anyway, I was shocked at many of the books that the Lifeway store carries. I saw books by John Hagee who is a hyper-dispensational (Jews don't need Jesus to be saved) and prosperity gospel preacher. There were books by John Eldredge whose views of God run to the somewhat exotic. There were many other troubling authors and titles. Why should this be in the book stores of the Southern Baptist Convention? I know heresy sells well but should Southern Baptists participate?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

What is needed today

What Is needed to-day is a Scriptural setting forth of the character of God-His absolute sovereignty, His ineffable holiness, His Inflexible justice, His unchanging veracity. What Is needed to-day Is a Scriptural setting forth of the condition of the natural man-his total depravity, his spiritual insensibility, his inveterate hostility to God, the fact that he is "condemned already" and that the wrath of a sin-hating God is even now abiding upon him. What is needed to-day is a Scriptural setting forth of the alarming danger in which sinners are-the Indescribably awful doom which awaits them, the fact that if they follow only a little further their present course they shall most certainly suffer the due reward of their iniquities. What is needed to-day is a Scriptural setting forth of the nature of that punishment which awaits the lost-the awfulness of it, the hopelessness of it, the unendurableness of it, the endlessness of it. It is because of these convictions that by pen as well as by voice we are seeking to raise the alarm."

Friends in Low Places

This is a tidbit from Newspring Church in Anderson, South Carolina. Newspring is part of the new breed of mega-church which entices people to come with all the trappings of entertainment. Perry Noble, the pastor of Newspring was in a series called "American Idol" when this song was performed. How innovative.

I get criticized when I call attention to such foolishness but what are we to do? Are we to be silent? Are we supposed to lay back and surrender to pragmatism and the idolatry of the crowd?

Friends, what we win people with is what we win them to. If we "win" people with a show then it is a show that they will expect. If we "win" them with positive thinking, self-help, use the Bible sparingly types of messages then that is what they will expect. We may produce attenders with such approaches but there will be precious few converts.

Perhaps Jason can kick things off at Metro East this week with "Whiskey River" by Willie Nelson.


Justin Taylor has linked to a special offer from Ligonier Ministries (Tabletalk Trial Subscription). I have subscribed to Tabletalk for a few years. It is an outstanding magazine. Each issue is dedicated to a particular biblical or theological theme. In addition to the excellent articles, Tabletalk provides a month's worth of daily devotional readings based upon specific Scriptures. I highly recommend Tabletalk as a means for bolstering your devotional life.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Greg Welty on Election & Calling

Triablogue has a link to the excellent paper on election and calling presented at the Building Bridges Conference by Dr. Greg Welty (Election & Calling).

The Pastor as Sinner

I have been thinking lately about how difficult it must be to serve actively in a church as a layperson. It isn’t the demand on one’s time that is the hardest thing but the more challenging demand on one’s heart. To serve a local body of believers is to inevitably be exposed to both the best and the worst in others. The layperson actively involved in ministry to the Body of Christ will see extraordinary acts of kindness and even self-sacrifice. But often, perhaps more often, what is observed is pettiness, gossip, and appalling acts of selfishness. Adding insult to injury the layperson soon realizes that their pastors are sinners as well.

Of course everyone knows that pastors are sinners. What is difficult, however, is to actually see the sins of your own pastor on full display. Perhaps he is jealous or insecure. Maybe he struggles with anger, pride, depression, or a critical spirit. Seeing these things in one’s pastor can be a heavy burden to bear. As a pastor I know what it is to disappoint people that I care about. I know what it is to go home feeling miserable because some of the ugliness in my heart escaped in the site of people I am called to shepherd. In those times I say with Paul, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Tim. 1:15).

This is not false humility on the part of the apostle. Neither are we to surmise that Paul committed more heinous sins than anyone who ever walked the face of the earth. I am pretty sure that the point Paul is making is that he is the worst sinner he knows. This displays the default position that all Christians should embrace: “Knowing the condition of my heart in a way that I cannot know yours, I can only safely conclude that I am in worse shape than you.” This doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to our brother’s sin. Indeed, we are to hold each other accountable in a loving, but if necessary, firm way. However, the wickedness in my own heart ought to always be a greater source of concern to me than the wickedness present in anyone else.

So, I am a sinful pastor. I sometimes wear my sins and flaws on my sleeve for all to see. Very often, perhaps more often than not, I fail to live up to my confession. As far as I know, my heart is in worse condition than that of any of my brothers and sisters. So I will endeavor to take my own sin more seriously than yours. I will try to be more offended by my own sin than by yours. I will, by God’s grace, always be ready to receive the loving correction of my fellows in Christ. This, I believe will guard me from the pessimism and cynicism that so easily accompany service to the church. I hope you will join me in this.

Spinach and Carrots

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Are Christians Commanded to Tithe?

Ben Wright links to an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal ("Pragmatism, Tradition and Ignorance, Quite Frankly").

The Golden Compass

Justin Taylor has posted this helpful article on The Golden Compass (Mohler on the Golden Compass).


This kid is awesome.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Building Bridges 6

Tom Ascol over at Founders has some concluding thoughts about the Building Bridges Conference (Building Bridges Conference--final thoughts). Dr. Ascol was a co-sponsor with Dr. Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Seminary. You may also link to the conference audio from the Founders blog.

Unfortunately, Dr. Mohler's message from Monday night was not recorded. That's a shame because it was a truly important and timely message.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Abortion Question

LTI posts this great question to ask all the "pro-choice" presidential candidates(Next Democrat Debate [SK]).