Saturday, March 29, 2008

Piper on How to Teach and Preach Calvinism

Ten years ago John Piper made the following recommendations on How to Teach and Preach "Calvinism":

1. Be rigorously textual in all your expositions and explanations and defenses of Calvinistic teachings. Make it a textual issue every time, not a logic issue or an experience issue.

2. Don't be strident but gentle. Assume that working these great issues through to conviction may take years and that being in process is OK.

3. Speak of your own brokenness in regard to these things and how they are precious to you and why and how they minister to your soul and help you live your life.

4. Make Spurgeon and Whitefield your models rather than Owen or Calvin, because the former were evangelists and won many people to Christ in a way that is nearer to our own day.

5. Be an evangelist and a missions mobilizer so that the criticism that Calvinism dulls a passion for the lost is put to silence.

6. Work the five points out from the "I" in tulip not the "U". That is, show people that they don't really want to take final credit for their coming to Christ. They don't want to stand before God at the judgment day and respond to the question, "Why did you believe and others with your opportunities didn't?" with the answer, "Well, I guess I was smarter, or more spiritual." They want to say, "By grace I was brought to faith." Which is "irresistible grace." That is, grace that triumphs over all resistance in the end.

7. Out rejoice your critics. The one who knows and rests in the sovereign grace of God should be the happiest saint. Don't be a sour or glum or hostile false advertisement for the glory of God's grace. Praise it. Rejoice in it. And don't let that be a show. Do it in your closet until it is spilling over in the pulpit and the commons.

8. Don't ride hobbyhorses that aren't in the text. Preach exegetically, explaining and applying what is in the text. If it sounds Arminian, let it sound Arminian. Trust the text and the people will trust you to be faithful to the text.

9. Avoid theological jargon that is not in the text. The word "Calvinism" is probably not helpful. "Doctrines of grace" may not do it either. Just stick with what is there in the text, or come up with some new striking phrases that will cause the people to wonder and be excited.

10. Tell stories and experiences from biography and from the lives of living saints that illustrate their dependence on the sovereignty of God. Especially stories related to missions and evangelism and holiness of life.

I think there is a lot of good advice there. What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Why Does the Resurrection Make a Difference?

Lee Strobel discusses the evidence for and importance of the resurrection.

NKJ Romans 10:8-10 "8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation

I was recently informed about the Cornwall Alliance and thought I would share it with the blog's readers. I haven't yet had time to read all of the material there, but so far it looks like a very good place to find information about a Biblical view of our stewardship of Creation as well as about such issues as global warming and climate change. Among the documents available there are:

1) The Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship. This document was signed by such notable Christan leaders as R.C. Sproul and D. James Kennedy.

2) A Call to Truth, Prudence, and Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming. This document was written in response to the Evangelical Climate Initiative’s “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action.” In particular, it gives a detailed response to four assumptions made by the "Call to Action:"

Human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as we burn fuels for energy are the main cause of global warming.

Global warming is not only real (which we do not contest) but is almost certainly going to be catastrophic in its consequences for humanity–especially the poor.

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions would so curtail global warming as to significantly reduce its anticipated harmful effects.

Mandatory carbon dioxide emissions reductions would achieve that end with overall effects that would be more beneficial than harmful to humanity and the rest of the world’s inhabitants.

3) An Open Letter to the Signers of “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action”and Others Concerned About Global Warming. This letter includes the endorsements of such men as D.A. Carson, D. James Kennedy, Robert Reymond, and David Wells. You will notice that this document refers to the Cornwall Alliance by its earlier name, the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance.

4) An Examination of the Scientific, Ethical and Theological Implications of Climate Change Policy. This document actually includes three articles: "Global warming: How much of a threat?" by Roy W. Spencer; "Global Warming and the Poor" by Paul K. Driessen; and "Biblical Principles for Environmental Stewardship" by E. Calvin Beisner, PhD.

You can also check out the Cornwall Alliance blog. It is my hope that this resource will be an aid to all of us as we seek to formulate a thoroughly Biblical and knowledgeable response to the current issues that face us all.

As always, I am interested in your comments.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Jack Cashill's Review of 'Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed'

Jack Cashill, Executive Editor of Ingram's Magazine, has written a very positive review of Ben Stein's soon-to-be-released documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The review is entitled Ben Stein Smart Bombs Darwinian Bunker, and it will make you want to see this movie. Here is an excerpt:

A rousing SRO preview on Tuesday of the new Ben Stein documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, brought a Kansas City audience to its feet.

And with good cause. Stein’s often funny, always engaging frontal assault on the
oppressive neo-Darwinist establishment is arguably the smartest and most
sophisticated documentary ever produced on the right side of the cultural divide, on any subject, ever.
Read more....

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Friday, March 07, 2008

Zane Anderson's Review of Pagan Christianity

Zane Anderson of the House Church Network recently published a helpful review of Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices, by Frank Viola and George Barna. The review is entitled Pagan Christianity: Real Hope or Shrill Hype.

Although Anderson is himself an advocate of the House-Church Movement, and I certainly would not agree with him on a number of things, it is refreshing to find a voice among them that avoids some of the more extreme conclusions reached by men such as Viola.

As the regular readers of this blog know, I have been responding critically to some of the common views of the movement as set forth by men such as Steve Atkerson and Beresford Job, and I hope that these men too would distance themselves from some of the extreme and outrageous arguments of men like Viola and Barna. At any rate, I think it behooves me in all fairness to inform my readers of such a dissenting voice as Anderson's from within the movement itself, especially since -at least with regard to Pagan Christianity - I am in pretty close agreement with him.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Response to the House-Church Movement: Update

For the many readers who have been following the Response to the House-Church Movement (HCM) series, I thought I would offer you an update. I originally intended on writing just four articles in this series (see the Introductory post), dealing with the requirement to meet in houses for worship (Part One), the argument for fully participatory worship in which no one leads but each contributes in a spontaneous manner (Part Two), the argument that the Lord's Supper may only be rightly observed if the the context of a "full meal" (Part Three, after which I was interviewed on the subject), and the matter of elder leadership and authority (Part Four).

After writing the initial article responding to the tendency of the HCM to either weaken or altogether dispense with elder authority, I thought it proper to address another, related issue, which is the incorrect understanding of the term ekklēsía among some in the movement (Part Five).

Now I would like to let you know where I plan to go from here. I intend to write at least three more articles in this series. Part Six will deal with the HCM handling of Hebrews 13:17, which they interpret in a particular way over against other New Testament evidence concerning elder authority. Part Seven will address whether or not elders should receive pay or make a living in pastoral ministry, which is flatly denied by many in the movement. Then, last, I plan to write a conclusion in which I will summarize what I think are some of the more disturbing or dangerous tendencies among HCM advocates. This final article will be written especially due to the suggestion of one of the blog's readers, Gabriel (See the Comments on Part One).

I also intend to write a brief review of the recently released and updated version of Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices, by Frank Viola and George Barna. The first version of this book (written solely by Viola) has been highly influential among HCM advocates, and this revised version will no doubt be even more influential due to the addition of Barna to the project. It has already sold a great many copies and garnered far too many positive reviews from those sympathetic to the HCM. Those who check out the book will see that the series I have been writing has already addressed most of the central issues taken up by the book, so I refer you back to the series for now.

As I encountered the House-Church Movement here in central Illinois, I was surprised that I could not find any real response to it from a Scriptural perspective as I searched the internet. It seems to me that this movement - although around for many years now - has been flying under the radar for far too long. This led to the current series of articles, and I am happy to report that they have been helpful to a number who have been struggling with HCM influences in their own cities and churches. I pray that God will give me grace and wisdom as I attempt to further answer the movement's claims and arguments. And I pray that my effort will continue to be of help to the brethren. Perhaps if I can continue to bring attention to this growing movement someone more capable than myself will take up the issue in the future. (James White would be the perfect guy!)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Great Place for Reformed Baptists to Buy Books

Solid Ground Christian Books is fast becoming my favorite place to purchase Puritan and Reformed literature. In fact, I just ordered a great commentary they have recently made available, John Trapp's A Commentary on the New Testament. And I am told that, if this one sells well, they will be offering the Old Testament volume in the future as well. Here is Charles Spurgeon's recommendation of Trapp's commentaries:
Would it be possible to eulogise too much the incomparably sententious and suggestive folios of JOHN TRAPP? Trapp will be most valuable to men of discernment, to thoughtful men, to men who only want a start in a line of thought, and are then able to run alone. Trapp excels in witty stories on the one hand, and learned allusions on the other. You will not thoroughly enjoy him unless you can turn to the original, and yet a mere dunce at classics will prize him. His writings remind me of himself: he was a pastor, hence his holy practical remarks; he was the head of a public school, and everywhere we see his profound scholarship; he was for some time amid the guns and drums of a parliamentary garrison, and he gossips and tells queer anecdotes like a man used to a soldier's life; yet withal, he comments as if he had been nothing else but a commentator all his days. Trapp is my especial companion and treasure; I can read him when I am too weary for anything else. Trapp is salt, pepper, mustard, vinegar, and all the other condiments. Put him on the table when you study, and when you have your dish ready, use him by way of spicing the whole thing. Yes, gentlemen, read Trapp certainly, and if you catch the infection of his
consecrated humour, so much the better for your hearers.
This is just one example of the excellent resources offered by SGCB, and it was, I think, my fourth order form SGCB so far. The service has been terrific. I highly recommend this little company.