How sufficient is God's Word? Do the charismatic gifts have a place in the church today? Carl Trueman and Todd Pruitt are joined via satellite by the Pyromaniacs themselves - Dan Phillips and Frank Turk. The group discusses the cessationism of the charismatic gifts. God has given us all we need in his own, true, infallible word. Listen to the Mortification of Spin to hear their insights on this hotly debated topic.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Monday, November 25, 2013
Sunday, November 24, 2013
The Mefferd-Driscoll controversy points to another aspect of celebrity culture: celebrities are routinely allowed to behave in ways which would not be tolerated in ordinary mortals. For example, being drunk on the job and hurling abuse at an employer would make one unemployable in the real world. Not for Charlie Sheen. A conviction for rape would be enough to have you characterized as a monster in the real world who had forfeited the right to sympathetic media exposure. Not for Mike Tyson or Roman Polanski (just ask that champion of women's rights, Whoopi Goldberg). In short, normal rules do not apply to celebrities in the same way as they do to others.Read the entire post HERE.
The same is true in the celebritydrome of the evangelical subculture. Driscoll is a classic case in point. For example, he has claimed that God gives him explicit images of the sexual sins of other people. He has embraced prosperity teacher and denier of the Trinity, T. D. Jakes, as a brother. He has written an explicit book on sex. Most recently, he engaged in a cringe-inducing publicity stunt unworthy of a spoiled teenager. For most of us, any one of these things would have ended in church discipline and (in the Jakes' case) removal from office. Yet in all of this, the fan base and those with a vested interest in capitalizing on his success grant him free pass after free pass.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Last night I recorded a discussion with Adrian Warnock on cessationism. It will be available this coming Saturday — Premier Christian radio site will stream live on Saturday at 9:30am ET or 2:30pm UK.These are precisely my questions when I hear people claim, "God said to me," or "I felt God telling me..." Is Scripture not clear and sufficient? Has God promised to add to his authoritative and unerring word, a less authoritative, unclear, and possibly erring word?
As I hope the discussion will make clear, I know and understand that responsible continuationists affirm the doctrine of sola Scriptura. What I do not yet know, despite repeated questioning, is why they do.
My trouble is this. I have no category in my mind for prophecy lite, or Word of God kinda, or deutero-God-said.
If Henry Smith says, “God said x, y, and z to me,” that claim is either true or false. If it true, then what is the distinction in authoritative status between what God said to Henry Smith and what God said to Jeremiah? What possible basis could I have for taking one of them less seriously?
It is a serious question, and while I believe we had a robust and charitable discussion, I don’t believe it was addressed.
You may want to read my thoughts on Sarah Young's Jesus Calling.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Friday, November 15, 2013
end of 2008 to 2013 I was the lead teaching pastor of a large
non-denominational church in the northeast. During my time there I was told by
various elders to lead the church in a more “broadly evangelical” direction. By
others I was encouraged to lead the church to become more narrowly Reformed. I
was told that our theological “tent” was too big and that it was too small. In
those few years I understood the wisdom of the words of Dirty Harry, “A man has
to know his limitations.” There are a few things I can do. There are other
things I could probably learn to do. But one thing I will never know how to do
is lead a church in two opposing directions simultaneously.
The book even has its own website!
One of the most beautiful doctrines in Scripture is that of Christ's substitutionary and definite atonement (You cannot have one without the other!). When Christ died he did more than make salvation a potentiality. When Christ died, atonement was gloriously accomplished for all the elect. And yet even though the doctrine of Christ's definite atonement is quite clear in Scripture it is routinely rejected. This volume seeks to accurately explain and winsomely defend what the Bible teaches about the question: For whom did Christ die?
From the publisher:
Includes contributions from Michael A. G. Haykin, Paul Helm, Lee Gatiss, Carl R. Trueman, Paul R. Williamson, J. Alec Motyer, Thomas R. Schreiner, Donald Macleod, Robert Letham, Stephen J. Wellum, Henri A. G. Blocher, Sinclair B. Ferguson, John Piper, and more.“I cannot imagine that this book could have been published twenty-five years ago: there were not at that time enough well-informed theologians working in the Reformed heritage to produce a volume of such clarity and competence. Whatever side you hold in this debate, henceforth you dare not venture into the discussion without thoughtfully reading this book, which, mercifully, makes argument by stereotype and reductionism a great deal more difficult. Above all, this book will elicit adoration as its readers ponder afresh what Jesus achieved on the cross.”
There is a palpable sense of confusion—and sometimes even embarrassment—with regard to so-called limited atonement today, pointing to the need for thoughtful engagement with this controversial doctrine.
Incorporating contributions from a host of respected theologians, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her stands as the first comprehensive resource on definite atonement as it examines the issue from historical, biblical, theological, and pastoral perspectives.
Offering scholarly insights for those seeking a thorough and well-researched discussion, this book will encourage charitable conversations as it winsomely defends this foundational tenet of Reformed theology.
—D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
—Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology, Emeritus, Westminster Theological Seminary
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Monday, November 11, 2013
Gloria Furman is a pastor's wife living in Dubai. She is also the author of Glimpses of Grace. Watch for an upcoming episode of Mortification of Spin where my pals and I interview Gloria on life and church in Dubai.
Friday, November 8, 2013
The next scene of our story occurred last month at the University of Mississippi, where 125 persons, including freshman students in a theater appreciation course, sat through a production of The Laramie Project. About 20 of the students were freshman football players probably taking the course after being told they could pass it easily: You just have to go sit in a theater, what could be hard about that?Read the entire story HERE.
Apparently, given the particular play, it was hard. Students became restless. Two New York Times investigative reporters learned about “giggling, inappropriate coughing and burping,” and the possible use of a derogatory term for homosexuals. One 20-year-old, Ashley Kozich, wisely said, “It was a bunch of teenage boys being stupid.”
But no one could leave it at that. Officials came to the theater and told the athletes to apologize, but Ole Miss theater department head Rene Pulliam said they did not seem to “understand what they were apologizing for.” Then the university’s “Bias Incident Response Team” swung into action and said students who attended the play should attend an “educational session.”
With Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones warning that disciplinary action could range from a public apology to expulsion, the students showed up and learned to keep their thoughts to themselves or—better yet—not have any negative thoughts about homosexuality in the first place. Val Ross, assistant dean of students for multicultural affairs, announced that “students will have multiple opportunities to acknowledge and celebrate LGBTQ groups on campus.” It looks like EDHE 105, a freshman-level class that introduces Old Miss freshmen to college life, will also include more propaganda.
The Apostolic Foundation for an Effective Pastoral Ministry from Westminster Theological Seminary on Vimeo.
Why is Good Preaching so Rare? from Westminster Theological Seminary on Vimeo.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Monday, November 4, 2013
I am often confounded by those voters who are interested in "justice" but enthusiastically cast votes in favor of those who advance the greatest injustice of our time - the taking of life in the womb. The unborn are the weakest and most vulnerable among us. How can we tolerate legislation that allows them to be killed and cast aside like so much waste? Abortion is a breathtaking evil and any man or woman who desires to protect it as a right is unworthy of my vote.
Over at the Gospel Coalition, Joe Carter has written a helpful post on this very theme.
One Way Love? But it’s not just a problem of perception. It’s also a problem of theology and emphasis. I like reading the early Church Fathers, the Reformers, the Puritans and 19th Century Scottish theologians. Maybe I am not reading them right, but I don’t see any of them writing in the general and sweeping terms that the grace-lit books do. Maybe I need the second blessing before I get really grasp what they are saying! But some of the statements just don’t make biblical sense to me. For example:
“Grace is love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. It has everything and only to do with the lover.” Try as I might I just don’t get that. Of course Gods love for me has something to do with me! Of course Gods love for me is not only to do with him. The Son of God loved me and gave himself for me! I know I don’t deserve it, but there is no need to mangle the English language and render it meaningless. Whilst such sound bites might sound as though they magnify grace, I think they are superficial, trite and ultimately undermine the whole teaching about grace.
Grace -Complaints? “Grace doesn’t make demands. It just gives. And from our vantage point it always gives to the wrong person.” Again this does not really make sense to me. Is not take up your cross and follow me a demand? Go sell all that you have and give to the poor, is that not a demand? If you love me you will keep my commands? And is it always the case that grace gives to the wrong person? I honestly don’t think that God giving grace to so many of the people in St Peters is giving to the wrong person; except insofar as I am an old fashioned Scottish Calvinist who believes in total depravity and that no-one is the ‘right’ person for grace. That’s kind of the point. There is none righteous, no not one. If I believe that, why would I ever look and say “Lord, you are giving grace to the wrong person”?!I encourage you to read the entire review. There is much worth considering.
Friday, November 1, 2013
However, in recent years, the reformation of Southern Seminary, the influence of 9 Marks Ministries, and the desire for a more biblically grounded faith, the Doctrines of Grace have not just escaped the executioner's sword but have been revived in the SBC. Unsurprisingly, not everyone is happy about this. In an open letter, one SBC pastor in Alabama expresses the sentiments of many within the denomination about the rising influence of Calvinism.
The writer decries the Calvinist criticism of such practices as the altar call and sinner's prayer without ever asking if those practices are biblical. For him, such practices are a matter of Baptist tradition. What he does not appreciate is that this is precisely what the rising generation of Calvinists are concerned with. To them, Charles Finney's man-centered pragmatic religion had come to characterize SBC churches and they want nothing to do with it. Am I painting with a broad brush? Perhaps, but not too broad. Having grown up in Southern Baptist churches I can testify that Finney-esque semi-Pelagianism had displaced the convictions of the founders of the denomination.
I wonder if the pastor who wrote the open letter realizes that the very first Southern Baptist statement of faith is the Abstract of Principles which is a derivative of the Westminster Standards. It affirms the Doctrines of Grace. The Abstract Of Principles is the statement of faith of the very first Southern Baptist institution: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (the largest SBC seminary). So Calvinists within the SBC do not represent an insurgent mob of barbarians at the gate. Indeed, they represent the original Southern Baptists.
One interesting point in the above mentioned letter is that he criticizes the SBC's endorsement of James MacDonald (MacDonald's church has elders). Apparently MacDonald's books can be purchased through Lifeway stores. This has far more to do with lack of discernment within the SBC than any supposed problems with Calvinists or Presbyterians. MacDonald's Harvest Bible Chapel does not practice Presbyterian church government. Without getting into details concerning recent problems at Harvest Bible Chapel, I will simply suggest that truly Presbyterian church government could have saved them much grief.
The growing number of SBC churches that are now governed by a plurality of elders does not indicate a desire of those pastors to become Presbyterian. Rather it speaks to their desire to be biblical. That very same desire is what has fueled the revival of the Doctrines of Grace in SBC churches.