Thursday, July 31, 2014

20 free ebooks from R. C. Sproul

Last year, Ligonier Ministries made the ebook editions of R. C. Sproul's Crucial Questions series free. There are currently 20 titles available for download. Check them out here.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Mission accomplished: Ridding Iraq of Christianity

I was always baffled by the overwhelming support evangelical Christians gave to our government's invasion of Iraq in 2003. Just over a decade later, Christianity appears to be dying out in that country:
The vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq has warned the end for Christians in the country appears "very near" as he appealed for help after a deadline set by Islamic militants to convert or be killed expired.

Canon Andrew White, dubbed "the bishop of Baghdad" for his work at St George's church in the capital, spoke after the ultimatum handed to Christians in the northern city of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq Levant (Isis) to convert, pay a tax or be put to death passed last week.

For those Christians who did not comply with the decree by 19 July, Isis warned that "there is nothing to give them but the sword.” Many have since fled their homes and Rev. Andrew-White told BBC Radio 4 Today desperate Christians were trapped in the desert or on the streets with nowhere to go.

"Things are so desperate, our people are disappearing," he said. "We have had people massacred, their heads chopped off.

"Are we seeing the end of Christianity? We are committed come what may, we will keep going to the end, but it looks as though the end could be very near."

The "war on terror" has been a dismal failure. In the name of "fighting for our freedom," our nation's armed forces have seen to it that the Middle East is a safe haven for radical Islam. Given that history, why do Christians continue to sign up for military service?

Friday, July 25, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - July 25, 2014

  • In a series of blog posts, Jeremy Myers hopes "to show that while I am not a Calvinist, I stand fully within the Reformation emphases of grace, faith, Jesus Christ, Scripture, and the glory of God."

  • Is Arminianism the dominant theology in the Western church?

  • One Arminian's story of leaving Calvinism and pursuing truth.

  • Dominic Bnonn addresses the "unfairness" of election.

  • He then moves on to discuss double predestination.

  • This brief chart compares Calvinism (or many Southern Baptists' perception of Calvinism) with SBC traditionalism.

  • James White dissects the chart in the latest edition of his podcast.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

It's time for the hymnal to make a comeback

In my opinion, one of the worst things ever to happen in the church was the abandonment of hymnals. Jonathan Aigner gives some good reasons why we should still be using them:
  1. Hymnals actually teach music. We're making less music than ever before. Oh, to be sure, there's lots of music going on around us, but very few people are actually making it. We're just consuming it, or at the very most, singing along with music someone else made first. But even an untrained musician can look at the words and music in the hymnal and learn to follow melodic direction and rhythmic value.

  2. Hymnals set a performance standard. Contemporary worship music is based on recording instead of notation. This is endlessly confusing, and it opens each song up to individual interpretation. Without notation, it is exceedingly hard to sing well as a congregation. Hymnals fix that. Everybody has the same notation, so we all know how the song is supposed to go.

  3. Hymnals integrate the music and text. Words on a screen give no musical information. Hymnals fix that. Singers aren't dependent upon learning the song by rote.
He lists 12 more reasons, and I think he makes some good points.

Isn't it about time for the hymnal to make a comeback?

Friday, July 18, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - July 18, 2014

  • Are Calvinists determinists? Yes, but which type of determinists are we?

  • Ed Stetzer interviews pastor and author Daniel Montgomery about his new book, Proof: Finding Freedom through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace.

  • Daniel Montgomery will be joined by Proof co-author Timothy P. Jones in a debate on Calvinism with Austin Fischer and Brian Zahnd.

  • Jonathan Merritt on Calvinists:
    Let's be clear that Calvinism is not monolithic. You're likely referring to what has been called "neo-Calvinism" or "the young, restless and reformed movement." But there are a lot of other Calvinists — unaffiliated Kuyperian Calvinists, Dutch Reformed, others. — who have as many issues with neo-Calvinists as Arminians do. My personal opinion is that the movement is a mixed bag, like most Christian sects. They are rigorously theological in their thinking, and that is something I can appreciate. But they also are tribalistic, insular and, quite honestly, come off to many like arrogant jerks much of the time. These problems will need to be addressed if the movement wants to become sustainable over the long-term.

  • Former Calvinist Jeremy Myers writes, "With every passing year, I am more and more convinced that Calvinism reads Scripture incorrectly, distorts the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and has ultimately abandoned the roots of the Reformation."

  • Was Luther a Calvinist?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

No sexual revolution for young evangelicals

According to a recent study by a University of Texas sociologist, evangelical Christians between the ages of 18 and 39 are defying the secular culture in favor of Biblical teaching. Russell Moore and Andrew Walker, writing for National Review Online, report:
The research, to be fully released in September, was introduced in Mark Regnerus's presentation "Sex in America: Sociological Trends in American Sexuality," unveiled at a recent gathering of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's leadership summit. According to Regnerus, when compared with the general population and with their non-observant peers, churchgoing Evangelical Christians are retaining orthodox views on Biblical sexuality, despite the shifts in broader American culture.
Given how inundated we are with the media's liberal view of sexuality, that may seem surprising. But is it really?
As American culture secularizes, the most basic Christian tenets seem ever more detached from mainstream American culture. Those who identify with Christianity, and who gather with the people of God, have already decided to walk out of step with the culture. Beliefs aren't assumed but are articulated over and against a culture that finds them implausible. Evangelical views on sexuality seem strange, but young Evangelicals in post-Christianizing America have already embraced strangeness by spending Sunday morning at church rather than at brunch.
As mainstream culture continues to deteriorate, look for these young evangelical rebels to stand out even more.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Five years ago today, we met our daughter for the first time

(This was originally posted on July 30, 2009.)

To say that Monday, July 13, was a whirlwind day would be the understatement of a lifetime. Dawn and I woke up in Beijing at 4:00am, finished packing, and ambled down to the lobby at 5:15. This was the day we had been waiting for.

After a two-hour flight we landed in Chongqing. Hot. Muggy. Barely a breeze. But a really cool city!

We arrived at our hotel with plenty of time to spare.

To pass the time we began to unpack, get all the baby's clothes and toys ready, and anything else to keep our minds off the wait. Sure, we waited three years, but that doesn't mean the last three hours are any easier.

Before long, we were off to the Civil Affairs office. The best way to describe what we were feeling is...not being exactly sure what it was we were feeling.

That non-feeling feeling grew into nervous anticipation as we sat in the waiting room with the other parents.

Then, before we knew it, our name was called.

It's amazing how far along Olivia has come since that day. We praise and thank God for his tremendous blessing, and look forward to the day when all of our kids are under one roof.

Friday, July 11, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - July 11, 2014

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

The Modern Seminarian

Whether you have attended seminary or not, you will enjoy Lyndon Unger's hilarious version of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic song "Modern Major General."

Monday, July 07, 2014

Same-sex "marriage" opens the door to acceptance of pedophilia

I have always believed that the "equality" claim regarding the issue of gay "marriage" is misleading. If equality really is the goal, then the push would be to give everyone the same rights, regardless of the nature of their respective relationships, and that would have to include "intergenerational intimacy." Homosexual activists who wish to be consistent cannot consider pedophilia wrong because every single argument they have used in support of same-sex "marriage" can also be used to support every other possible arrangement one can imagine.

That is exactly why we are now seeing a push to normalize pedophilia. The Telegraph reports:
"Paedophilic interest is natural and normal for human males," said the presentation. "At least a sizeable minority of normal males would like to have sex with children … Normal males are aroused by children."

Some yellowing tract from the Seventies or early Eighties, era of abusive celebrities and the infamous PIE, the Paedophile Information Exchange? No. Anonymous commenters on some underground website? No again.

The statement that paedophilia is "natural and normal" was made not three decades ago but last July. It was made not in private but as one of the central claims of an academic presentation delivered, at the invitation of the organisers, to many of the key experts in the field at a conference held by the University of Cambridge.
Homosexuals performed their "marriage equality" routine on the world stage to uproarious applause. It's almost time for the next act, and the pedophiles are already waiting in the wings.

Friday, July 04, 2014

This Week in Calvinism - July 4, 2014

  • Laura McAlister barely escaped becoming a full-blown Calvinist: "On the cusp of embracing it all, however, I realised that I'd turned God into something far worse than a weakling. I'd turned Him into a tyrant. When I saw the inevitable outcome of such logic, I was horrified. I was confused and angry." She's a Catholic now.

  • Tom Chantry on New Calvinism and orthodoxy.

  • Do you pervert the grace of God? David Mathis lists seven grace checks from the book of Jude.

  • On this Independence Day, Shane Kastler asks, "Are we simply celebrating a different slave driver?"

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Insider Movement explains away the gospel

The Insider Movement Paradigm teaches that one can follow Jesus Christ within the confines of one's native culture. An extreme form of IMP has become popular in Muslim countries, where some Christians, fearing persecution, adhere to Islam in public.

David B. Garner discusses the problems with the insider movement and how they affects missions:
The IMP does not present the gospel faithfully and is therefore not faithful missions. We must not pretend, for any reason, that it is. We must not become complicit—theologically, missionally, or financially—in any agreement of the temple of God with idols.

To love Christ is to long to see his redemption purely proclaimed and to see sinners truly claimed. Under the faithful direction of the Head of the Church, the faithful Church will love missions and do missions...faithfully. It will never explain the gospel away, but for the sake of Jesus Christ and his Church, will tirelessly explain the gospel.
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