Archive | July, 2011

Please don’t think of this as a lecture; think of it as … a lecture

July 30, 2011

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Many are revolted that no cool heads are prevailing as we veer close to the debt-ceiling precipice. But let us pause. Let us ask: Why has this come upon us? Look no further than the election of 2010, when “voter anger” chased out the last statesmen and ushered in thugs who view compromise as a weakness. We voters were angry, and we angry voters elected angry politicians who knew all about screaming and vilifying and nothing about human relationships. The result: Self-perpetuating, self-fulfilling, and self-metastasizing rage. We’ve got what we voted for.

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Enough …

July 30, 2011

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I could say much about the current Congressional debacle, but this video from No Labels speaks volumes.

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John Stott’s death

July 29, 2011

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John Stott, the gentlemanly and godly British Churchman who showed us how good evangelical Christianity can be, died on Wednesday at 90. I met him once. He’s one of few who sparked the thought, “I want to be like him.”

A paragraph from a Christianity Today write-up, with a link to the rest of the article:

“An evangelical is a plain, ordinary Christian,” John Stott told Christianity Today in an October 2006 interview. From his conversion at Rugby secondary school in 1938 to his death in 2011 at 90 years old, Stott exemplified how extraordinary plain, ordinary Christianity can be. He was not known as an original thinker, nor did he seek to be. He always turned to the Bible for understanding, and his unforgettable gift was to penetrate and explain the Scriptures. As editor Kenneth Kantzer wrote in CT’s pages in 1981, “When I hear him expound a text, invariably I exclaim to myself, ‘That’s exactly what it means! Why didn’t I see it before?'”

Go here for more …

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An Open Letter To My Progressive Evangelical Kin: Remember Who We Are

July 25, 2011

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We’ve been played.

My inner skeptic roared when HarperOne launched its pre-release publicity campaign this winter for Rob Bell’s Love Wins: “With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly hopeful – eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And, ultimately, Love Wins.” That’s raw bait, nurtured and bred for remonstrating bloggers, tweeters, and columnists and their free publicity. And they chomped. John Piper issued his now-famous tweet, “Farewell Rob Bell” with a link to a critical Justin Taylor review, and John MacArthur delivered one of his typical broadsides. All unwittingly read their lines from the marketers’ script. Some progressive evangelicals raced to Bell’s defense and, on cue, cried that many hadn’t read the book. Nor had many of them, but they still snarled at the critics while reciting their buzz words: “dialogue,” “understanding,” and “conversation.” Who can disagree? Except that the snub-like calls for civility reeked of incivility: there was constant second-guessing of motives. Few addressed the merits.

Surely the publicity stunt was a cynical ploy. Of course I liked Bell – especially his innovative NOOMA videos – and anyone needling finicky heresy watchers can’t be all bad. But I refused to buy the book. Don’t we see that script? Doesn’t everyone know how this play ends? We’ll discover harmless shibboleths cloaked in hip, “with-it” lingo. Eggs will drip from the faces of the heresy watchers while HarperOne laughs its way to the bank … Right?

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A shocking, real-life drama: calmness and tranquility may be round the next bend

July 18, 2011

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Run – do not walk, but run with blistering, heart-attack speed – to the mall’s Rock-em Sock-’em Religious Magazine Store and pick up the latest copy of Christianity Today. There’s hope. Gobs of it. Sanity is making a come-back even amid the shrill cry of the shrinking religious right (“I’m melting!”).

First is the cover story profiling the new Focus on the Family boss. Read the tag line: “Why Jim Daly doesn’t care whether you know who he is or whom he supports for president.” Say whuh? The organization is returning to its original purpose and calling: Nurturing godly families and helping children. No one says Focus employees will be wearing Che Guevara T-shirts (although the old formal dress code has dropped to “business casual”), but at least they won’t implicitly christen the GOP as “God’s Own Party.” Daly’s own compelling personal saga of alcoholic parents and foster-care abuse gives him empathy for the downtrodden.

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Hollering “Everything’s Fine!” in a crowded movie theater …

July 16, 2011

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Michael F. Bird has stolen the knife, waved a magic wand, transformed it into a feather, and twisted it. Bombshells have become cotton candy and grenades explode flower petals. I feel the love.

Some background: D.A. Carson and N.T. Wright have lobbed donnish salvos across the Great Pond. Carson, a New Testament professor at Illinois’ Trinity Evangelical Seminary and a lion of the ever-vigilant Neo-Reformed Movement, sniped at Wright when reviewing The Future of Justification by John Piper (Wheaton: Crossway, 2007), which questioned Wright’s interpretation of the Apostle Paul: “John Piper will not allow believers to put their trust in anyone or anything other than the crucified and resurrected Savior.” Wright, a British Anglican cleric and scholar, took umbrage in his weighty reply, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision (Downer’s Grove: IVP Academic, 2009): “The implicit charge that the Pauline theology I have articulated might lead people to put their trust in ‘anyone or anything other than the crucified and resurrected Savior’ … is seriously misleading.”

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Video of the month: July, 2011

July 13, 2011

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Old Testament Scholar and author Pete Enns engages NT Wright in a series of Youtube videos. Here, Wright briefly discusses how European evangelicals often lean to the political left and how we need to learn from everyone on the theological spectrum.

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Loving this scrappy land

July 3, 2011

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I admit it. I’ll be a sap on July 4th, sniveling for Old Glory with my hand over my heart while the fireworks boom. I love this lumbering giant called America, which I’m still convinced can be a force for good despite its colossal mistakes. So I’m patriotic. So arrest me.

“Patriotism” is a sizzling word. It sears and blisters and roars with flames and fuels temperamental fire in normally affable souls. They’ll quote from the cynical cavalcade. Samuel Johnson: patriotism is “the last refuge of the scoundrel;” George Bernard Shaw: “Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.” We imagine flag-draped demigods branding their opponents as “un-American,” with the rivals unwittingly playing into their hands when they snub patriotism’s validity and, despite their disclaimers, portray the United States as the most militaristic and narcissistic empire ever to chew up freedom-lovers. They itemize the Native American slaughter, slavery, racism, CIA-propped banana republics and the Vietnam “quagmire.” All so true and terrible, but who else triple-rescued Europe (World War 1, World War 2, the Marshal Plan) and contained the Soviet Union – which really was an “evil empire,” impolitic though the phrase may be?

You’re welcome.

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