Friday, January 30, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - January 30, 2009

  • Herman Amelink quotes religion historian Mirjam van Veen, who believes the Dutch are Calvinist by coincidence.

  • Molly Worthen's New York Times article on Mark Driscoll elicited some interesting letters to the editor.

  • Chris de Vidal explains the difference between "perseverance of the saints" and "eternal security."

  • Jeff Peterson reminds us that faith is a gift.

  • John Piper's new book, Finally Alive, is due for release next week. He explains why he wrote it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Don't Be Afraid to Offend

I have often said that if a preacher isn't offending someone, he probably isn't preaching the truth. Now, I realize that isn't a foolproof litmus test. We should always examine a message in light of scripture. But far too many men seem more concerned with making people feel comfortable than they are with preaching God's word.

Then, of course, there are men like...

(I don't really get the History Channel tie-in, but I thought it was a powerful video.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Christian Sportsmanship

Anyone who wants to read the longer version of my opinion on Covenant School's 100-0 victory over Dallas Academy can pop on over to our family blog. Here's an excerpt:
    I would have expected nothing less from the team that won. In fact, if I had been their coach, I probably would have wondered why they couldn't win by 200 points. ...

    ... The reason I'm having such a hard time sympathizing with Dallas Academy is that coach [Jeremy] Civello contradicted himself when he complained that the Covenant girls could have had just as much fun winning by 30. If the whole point is to have the girls playing "with all their hearts," who cares what the final score was, be it 100-0 or 200-0?

    The fact is that he was embarrassed. And who can blame him? This kind of a loss -- not to mention the fact that Dallas Academy hasn't won a game in four years -- is hard to live down.

    Still, we are left with the impression that Covenant coach Micah Grimes and his players are mean-spirited brutes because the team was still playing hard until the final buzzer. But isn't that exactly what we would expect of any team? Look at it from their perspective. Coach Grimes spends the entire season trying to get his players to give 100%. Do we expect him to go against everything he's been teaching them and suddenly try to get them not to play their best simply because the opposing team stinks?
Covenant, however, decided to apologize and forfeit their win, calling it "shameful and an embarrassment." They said it didn't "reflect a Christ-like and honorable approach to competition." Coach Grimes didn't agree with the school's formal apology, said as much, and was promptly fired.

Needless to say, the majority of opinions I have read online overwhelmingly condemn Covenant's coach and team. Why is that? What lesson in Christian sportsmanship could have been learned by encouraging those talented girls to not play their best?

I haven't read a single report that the Covenant players were sore winners, that they were taunting or insulting the losing team. They simply went out on the court and gave it their all, which is exactly what was expected of them.

The chief end of man -- and the chief end of all that we do -- is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Is that somehow not possible in a 100-0 basketball game? Where would you draw the line between Christ-like behavior and poor sportsmanship? 80-0? 50-0? 20-0? Is there not anything parents, spectators, coaches, and players on both teams can learn from such a lopsided victory?

If there was any Christ-like compassion to be exhibited, perhaps it should have come from the Dallas Academy coach who at halftime saw his team down 59-0. Or perhaps it should have come from the ones responsible for scheduling the game in the first place. Maybe it should have come from those who originally thought that it was a good idea to have a competing girls' basketball team in a high school with only 20 students.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Just Imagine...

This Week in Calvinism - January 23, 2009

Here's what's happening this week...
  • Alma College is holding a sermon contest in celebration of the 500th anniversary of John Calvin's birth.

  • The American View republishes an article by Dave Kopel entitled "Faith and Freedom: The Calvinist Connection," which explores the history behind Calvinism's influence on the American Revolution.

  • The Wanderer presents an outline of the life of John Calvin: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

  • Dr. James Galyon on Calvin and evangelism.

  • Reformation 21 is blogging Calvin's Institutes.

  • Phil Johnson has concluded his series, Clarifying Calvinism: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8.

  • Dan Phillips informs us that Phil Johnson's mother has passed away: "This morning, Donna Johnson won the battle: the cancer is dead and Donna Johnson is alive forever, in the presence of the Lord whom she loved, proclaimed and served. She enjoyed gazing on Christ from afar, and now she is doing so face to face. Victory!" We cry and rejoice along with Phil and his family.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Sound of a Young, Restless, Reformed Generation

Thabiti Anyabwile on holy hip-hop:
I've never really been into rap, but I think that had more to do with its bad reputation than the style itself. Now, I have to admit that with the recent surge of gospel-oriented, Christ-centered, Reform-minded artists, I'm becoming a fan of guys like LeCrae, Shai Linne, and Voice.

Voice, a.k.a. Curtis Allen, brought his unique form of ministry to John Piper's church, Bethlehem Baptist:
Needless to say he received a lot of criticism from fundamentalists and regulative principle types, yet he remained calm and responded in humility. (By the way, Voice's latest album, The Process of the Pardon, is definitely worth a listen.)

Holy hip-hop may not be your cup of tea, but there is no denying the sincerity of these artists or the genuineness of their message. May God continue to bless their ministries.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

And Now, the Prayer Everyone Has Been Talking About...

Two points jumped out at me when I first heard Rick Warren's prayer. First, he was certain that Martin Luther King Jr. was shouting for joy in Heaven. I'm no expert on Dr. King, but based on what I've read about the man, that seems like a somewhat tenuous assumption.

Secondly, Warren closed his prayer "in the name of the one who changed my life." Isn't Jesus King of kings and Lord of all regardless of our own personal experiences?

What did you think of Rick Warren's inauguration prayer?

Change? What Change?

The divorced, homosexual "Reverend" V. Gene Robinson, in his invocation at the "We Are One" concert, which kicked off the presidential inauguration ceremonies Sunday, reminds us that nothing has changed. We are still a nation that worships an unjust, unholy god of our own creation.

Friday, January 16, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - January 16, 2009

It's been quite a week!
  • The New York Times has a less-than flattering article on Mark Driscoll, essentially painting him as an egomaniac: "Driscoll is still the one who gazes down upon Mars Hill's seven congregations most Sundays, his sermons broadcast from the main campus to jumbo-size projection screens around the city. At one suburban campus that I visited, a huge yellow cross dominated center stage -- until the projection screen unfurled and Driscoll’s face blocked the cross from view. Driscoll's New Calvinism underscores a curious fact: the doctrine of total human depravity has always had a funny way of emboldening, rather than humbling, its adherents."

  • Daniel Ross was surprised the article didn't focus more on the fact that women aren't treated the same as men at Mars Hill Church.

  • Stephen Suh, on the other hand, did focus on that. I would be surprised if Suh had even heard of Mark Driscoll before he read the Times article, but he thinks he knows enough to accuse Driscoll and Calvinists in general of being misogynists. And be sure to scroll down and read the comments comparing Driscoll to Charles Manson and Jim Jones. (What, no Hitler reference?) Pathetic.

  • You can read more commentary, both positive and negative, on the article in question here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

  • Anthony Sacramone used the Times article as a jumping-off point to rant about how bad Calvinist theology is, especially in regard to limited atonement. Stopping short of accusing us of spreading a false gospel, he admits he ended his "sojourn among the Calvinists because their view of justification is not so much 'by faith alone' as it is 'by luck alone.'"

  • Phil Johnson clarifies Calvinism. His "advice to young Calvinists is to learn theology from the historic mainstream Calvinist authors, not from blogs and discussion forums on the Internet." Read also Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

  • A question for William Birch: What is so amazing about a grace that can be resisted?

  • John Calvin persevered despite many physical ailments.

  • Lex Loizides lists some differences between John Calvin and Martin Luther.

  • Matt Perkins confesses, "I'm still an Arminian. But I'm realizing that I may have overlooked some problems in the Arminian system and I may have oversimplified the Calvinist point of view to make it look worse than it really is." I think we can all agree that people on both sides have been guilty of that.

  • Volgens "Het is dit jaar 500 jaar geleden dat de naamgever van het calvinisme, Johannes Calvijn, werd geboren. Ter gelegenheid hiervan verschijnt morgen het glossy personality-magazine Calvijn!."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Benny Hinn, Lord of the Sith

Sometimes you just have to laugh in order to keep from crying about crap like this:

Friday, January 09, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - January 9, 2009

  • Monergism and Romans 3:23-28.

  • Every anti-Calvinist knows about Michael Servetus, but not many know about the Libertines who tried to have John Calvin killed. Here's a little history lesson, courtesy of Dr. James Galyon.

  • Martin Downes explains why he is both a Calvinist and an evangelist.

  • Divine grace and libertarian free will don't mix.

  • Tim Challies on the greatest hindrance to the gospel.

  • Long before the Constitution was drafted to protect civil rights, keep church and state separate, and guarantee personal freedom, there was John Calvin. That is the message of John Witte Jr., professor at Emory Law School.

  • Princeton Theological Seminary is celebrating John Calvin's 500th birthday by spending "A Year with the Institutes." You can join in...

  • ...which is exactly what David Porter is doing.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Friday, January 02, 2009

This Week in Calvinism - January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!
  • Jeff Peterson introduces us to Arturo Azurdia, Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology and Director of Pastoral Mentoring at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. Presented here is his series on the five points of Calvinism (TULIP).

  • Jono Smith on the lesson we can learn from Calvinist Charles Simeon.

  • "Arminianism in diapers," an interesting post by Paul Manata on the eternal state of infants.

  • The Earth Times lists some notable anniversaries coming up in 2009. Among them, of course, is the 500th anniversary of John Calvin's birth.

  • To mark the occasion, Steven Carr will be blogging about Calvin's life and theology throughout the year.

  • And if you'd like to join in the celebration, how about making your own John Calvin mask?
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