Category Archives: Culture

The world wide web – Are we too entangled?

After the 5 year anniversary of Facebook this past week many conservative Christian blogs have come alive with chatter concerning the effects of our culture’s rapid spread of information and dismissal of personal privacy. To be more specific, how should the body of Christ approach and handle the popularity of social networking and personal blogs to the glory of God? A very thought provoking post by Carl Truman on Reformation 21 is worth your time to read. Although I don’t see eye to eye with him on every statement, he has some wonderful observations and conclusions concerning “textual intercourse” which are sure to at least elicit some critical thinking on the subject.

So what are some pitfalls to be avoided when traversing the social networking world? What are some advantages?

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Jesus came to save Grimace and Hamburglar too!

This is a funny post by Kevin DeYoung, co-author of Why We’re Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be. Check out his new blog as well:

My buddy Ted Kluck mentioned this video on his blog. It’s pretty funny.

I admit it’s funny because I like McDonald’s more than I like coffee shops. (I can get a filling meal at McDonalds for the same price as a thimble of hot chocolate at Starbucks). Some people don’t like the ad because they think it makes fun of jazz music, facial hair, and reading poetry. I like the ad, not because I think it makes fun of these things, but because it makes fun of the haughtiness that sometimes comes with these things. McDonalds has cheap greasy food, the atmosphere is utilitarian, and their coffee is pedestrian. But, hey, some people like burgers, fries, frugality, and bad coffee.
I mention all of this because so much that passes for spirituality these days is nothing more than middle class, 20something coffee culture. If you like jazz, soul patches, earth tone furniture, and lattes, that’s cool. But this culture is no holier than the McNugget, Hi-C, Value City, football culture that most people live in. Why does incarnational ministry usually mean hanging out at Starbucks instead of McDonalds.
Jesus came to save Grimace and Hamburglar too.

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Driscoll on “Nightline” last night

You can get the video here. It’s nice to get a bit of an insiders look into Mars Hill – the view, the people, the worship, as well as Mark’s home. You always wonder about these things, no?

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John MacArthur on TBN

Yes, that TBN. Imagine what the producers thought when he explained that Gospel is not one of prosperity and health, but of Christ and his righteousness.

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Fifteen Pro-Life Truths that Speak

John Piper recently posted this article on the Desiring God website to help clarify the issue of abortion and provide brief talking points with those you would like to persuade.

“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

1. Existing fetal homicide laws make a man guilty of manslaughter if he kills the baby in a mother’s womb (except in the case of abortion).

2. Fetal surgery is performed on babies in the womb to save them while another child the same age is being legally destroyed.

3. Babies can sometimes survive on their own at 23 or 24 weeks, but abortion is legal beyond this limit.

4. Living on its own is not the criterion of human personhood, as we know from the use of respirators and dialysis.

5. Size is irrelevant to human personhood, as we know from the difference between a one-week-old and a six-year-old.

6. Developed reasoning powers are not the criterion of personhood, as we know from the capacities of three-month-old babies.

7. Infants in the womb are human beings scientifically by virtue of their genetic make up.

8. Ultrasound has given a stunning window on the womb that shows the unborn at eight weeks sucking his thumb, recoiling from pricking, responding to sound. All the organs are present, the brain is functioning, the heart is pumping, the liver is making blood cells, the kidneys are cleaning fluids, and there is a fingerprint. Virtually all abortions happen later than this date.

9. Justice dictates that when two legitimate rights conflict, the limitation of rights that does the least harm is the most just. Bearing a child for adoption does less harm than killing him.

10. Justice dictates that when either of two people must be inconvenienced or hurt to alleviate their united predicament, the one who bore the greater responsibility for the predicament should bear more of the inconvenience or hurt to alleviate it.

11. Justice dictates that a person may not coerce harm on another person by threatening voluntary harm on themselves.

12. The outcast and the disadvantaged and exploited are to be cared for in a special way, especially those with no voice of their own.

13. What is happening in the womb is the unique person-nurturing work of God, who alone has the right to give and take life.

14. There are countless clinics that offer life and hope to both mother and child (and father and parents), with care of every kind lovingly provided by people who will meet every need they can.

15.Jesus Christ can forgive all sins, and will give all who trusts him the help they need to do everything that life requires.

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Vintage Church – Mark Driscoll

41j3n3-sdkl_ss500_Although I am always interested in most things Mark Driscoll writes or preaches I had no intention of purchasing Vintage Church. But after a recent course in Missiology I’ve been thinking much about church planting and missions, and have had many questions as to the “how’s” and “where’s” and “why’s” of the subject in general. To be specific, if I were ever to plant a church in a city in the U.S. or abroad, where would I begin? How would I (and some close friends Lord willing) start such a thing? Knowing that Driscoll has successfully planted a church (and continues to plant more), and after reading an endorsement for the book by Driscoll himself, I decided to give it a try with hopes of learning from Driscoll’s experience at Mars Hill. I picked up the book from Lifeway, quickly discarded the dust jacket (very annoying), and dove in.

Vintage Church is part of a series of works by Resurgence Literature (Re:Lit) and published by Crossway. The first book to appear in this series was Vintage Jesus, which I skimmed but have not yet read. As the titles suggest, “Jesus” and “Church” are timeless and timely; that is, although ancient they speak the same truths to our culture and generation. Yet whereas Vintage Jesus sought to provide timeless answers to timely questions, Vintage Church seeks to combine timeless truths with timely methods in order to provide a biblical, attractive and influential model of “doing church.” Like Vintage Jesus and Death by Love (see my review here), Driscoll co-writes with professor Gerry Breshears of Western Seminary. Driscoll writes the bulk of each chapter and Breshears provides answers to expected and common questions at the end of the chapters, which are listed below:

1. What is the Christian Life?
2. What is a Christian Church?
3. Who is Supposed to Lead a Church?
4. Why is Preaching Important?
5. What Are Baptism and Communion?
6. How Can a Church be Unified?
7. What is Church Discipline?
8. How is Love Expressed in a Church?
9. What is a Missional Church?
10. What is a Multi-campus Church?
11. How Can a Church Utilize Technology?
12. How Could the Church Help Transform the World?

As you can see, any seminary student can answer the first 8 or 9 questions, or at least I hope they can. In this sense there is nothing new to learn in Vintage Church. Driscoll is clearly influenced by reformed theology and most matters of church polity and practice follow suit. Throughout the book he quotes from Grudem, Piper, Erickson and Calvin, which is to be expected. There are, of course, the open-handed differences that distinguish one denomination from another, such as credobaptism over paedobaptism, complementarian over egalitarian (maybe not so open-handed), male and female deacons (Driscoll holds to both), and the expressions of the Spirit in tongues and prophecy (also held by Driscoll). But for the most part his ecclesiology is thoroughly evangelical and God-honoring. The only unique material comes from Driscoll’s anecdotes and personal stories, which are always enjoyable, and from the final 3 or 4 chapters. To that end I don’t necessarily recommend the book, mostly because I don’t see the necessity of another book on ecclesiology. Certainly the church must change and adapt to the culture around them, that is agreed. But why waste 300 pages regurgitating what has already been written? Moreover, don’t we already have enough books floating around about missional, multi-campus, technologically advanced churches? Perhaps I’m being overly simplistic. I’ll leave that up for you to decide. Maybe I’m not “vintage” enough.

In the end, I had more fun reading the many “driscollisms” splattered throughout Vintage Church than the rest of the book. The man has an uncanny ability at turning a phrase. Here are some highlights:

“The people who showed up [in my early church plant] were generally non-Christians, new Christians, legalistic Christians, anti-Christians, and bitter, burned-out, de-churched maybe-Christians who all wanted to be in authority over themselves and do whatever they wanted in the name of community, which was code for mini-riot anarchy.”

“I once visited a church that gave me a free copy of the pastor’s sermon – on tape – even though I have not seen a tape player since the days when Michael Jackson was male. Looking around the room at the obvious lack of anyone younger than Methuselah, it seemed obvious that their traditionalism had run off emerging generations, thereby dividing their church into the two groups of BT (before tapes) and AT (after tapes).”

“The fact is that when our church was small, I, like many jealous, petty, and ill-informed young buck who know everything but have done nothing, liked to take my shots at well-known pastors of large churches. Now that I am one, I must confess that I was much like the out-of-shape guy with a bowl of chips sitting at home on the couch watching television and criticizing trained professional athletes, which is far easier than actually playing the sport.”

“Admittedly, churches do some incredibly goofy things when they pursue relevance for the sake of being uber hip and ultra cool. one pastor I know go so many piercings that he looked like a rack of lures at the Bass Pro Shop and started skateboarding, despite the fact he was a grandfather.”

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The Hypocrisy of Gay Marriage Activists

street-signs2I am weary of talking about this issue.  I am weary of the tired rhetoric of homosexual activists.  I am weary of Keith Olberman’s polarizing caricatures of conservatives.  Most of all, I am weary of the liberal intolerance (interesting article here).  There will be a powder keg issue on the ballots for the next 12 years.  No, sadly, we cannot vote on propositions to halt the murders of unborn children.  The issue will be homosexual marriage.  There is a militant drive to adopt such legislation across the United States seen just recently in the Pan-American protests in lieu of the majority’s acceptance of Proposition 8 in California.

 

When gay marriage is accepted in America, we will lose something which Americans have treasured since we founded this nation – separation of church and state.  Incidentally, Separation of Church and State began as a Baptist doctrine.  Read on the life of early Baptist pastor James Leyland if you don’t believe me.  Separation of church and state is something the liberals don’t even understand, and the evangelicals hate the “wall of separation,” not realizing that they should be grateful for it and support it!  This is because both are working from the same understanding of the idea.  Incidentally, godlessness and atheism is as much a “church” as Christianity and Islam, and the state must be separated from such control. 

 

I slap my forehead when I hear the protestors chanting “Separate Church and State!”  Oy vey!  When gay marriage had been legalized in California they immediately began to pressure the Methodist church telling them to “live up” to their slogan (“Open hearts, open minds”) by performing gay marriages.  School children had to sign pledges to accept gay marriage.  Similarly, a pastor in Canada (where gay marriage is accepted) was arrested in the last year for preaching that homosexuality was a sin.  So the state has begun to make hermeneutical interpretations for the Church up in Canada.  Also of note, a Christian adoption agency was shut down in Great Britain because it was their personal conviction not to allow homosexuals to adopt.  There were plenty of other orphanages and adoption agencies through which homosexuals could achieve this, but they specifically targeted the Christians.  Shutting down orphanages to achieve one’s own agenda… classy.  Article here.

 

We will eventually see homosexual marriage adopted in America on the Federal level.  This will be a grave time for the Church.  Preachers of the Gospel will be indicted for hate crimes, but hopefully this will not go too far before our leaders see their hypocrisy.  I expect then that, like in the case of abortion, free speech will be allowed to everyone except to Christians in the vicinity of a metropolitan church performing a gay marriage.  In view of such dark times, Christians should take hope in and be reminded that we are citizens of a Kingdom far greater than America.  Build that Kingdom:  Preach the Gospel, though the pagans demand your blood, and Herod rages against the children! 

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