Thinking Out Loud

January 1, 2016

How to Disagree Theologically

Filed under: blogging, doctrine — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:49 am

As another year kicks in which is sure to bring more heated doctrinal discussions online, or even among your circle of church friends and acquaintances, I can think of no better way to begin the year with the quotation.

You know, brethren, that there is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer, I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it. But, my dear friends, far be it from me even to imagine that Zion contains none within her walls but Calvinistic Christians, or that there are none saved who do not hold our views. Most atrocious things have been spoken about the character and spiritual condition of John Wesley, the modern prince of Arminians. I can only say concerning him, that while I detest many of the doctrines which he preached, yet for the man himself, I have a reverence second to no Wesleyan; and if there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitfield and John Wesley. The character of John Wesley stands beyond all imputation for self-sacrifice, zeal, holiness, and communion with God; he lived far above the ordinary level of common Christians, and was one of whom the world was not worthy. I believe there are multitudes of men who cannot see these truths, or, at least, cannot see them in the way in which we put them, who nevertheless have received Christ into their hearts, and are as dear to the heart of the God of grace as the soundest Calvinist out of heaven.

– C. H. Spurgeon, The Man With the Measuring Line

Sourced at Soteriology 101

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October 27, 2014

Central Theme: The Cross

One of my strong beliefs is that instead of shutting down for the weekend, perhaps some blogs and websites should ramp it up a bit. For many people, the days off work are lonely and depressing. For several months awhile ago I actually ran extra posts on the weekend.

This week we ran what I thought was a fairly solid series of posts on Friday (parenting kids in the internet age), Saturday (a massive blogroll), and Sunday (one busy family’s activity log). But the rush to do all that left me crashing in terms of what to run on Monday morning. As I went through the archives, I found what you see below. When all the newsy stories, scandals, book releases, church statistics and leadership advice is done and dispensed with, this is what matters:

“I must die or get somebody to die for me. If the Bible doesn’t teach that it doesn’t teach anything.” ~ Dwight L. Moody
“The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on his shoulders. If he bids us carry a burden he carries it also.” ~ Charles Spurgeon
“Jesus now has many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His cross.” ~ Thomas a Kempis
“In many respects I find an unresurrected Jesus easier to accept. Easter makes him dangerous. Because of Easter, I have to listen to his extravagant claims and can no longer pick and choose from his sayings. Moreover, Easter means he must be loose out there somewhere.” ~ Philip Yancey
“God proved his love on the cross. When Christ hung, bled and died it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.'” ~ Billy Graham

January 25, 2014

Weekend Link List

The Weekend List Lynx

The Weekend List Lynx

Some classic stuff from my files; none of this is new — most is from the Summer of 2011 — but it might be new to you. Mostly these are links I saved that I felt worth keeping at the time…

  • For those of us who are too Evangelical for Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” here is a new set of lyrics for which the author obtained a mechanical rights release, the way you’re supposed to. You might want to bookmark this for Easter.
  • “Are religious enthusiasts just naturally obnoxious? Or do certain forms of Christianity attract people who have an insatiable need to impose their beliefs on others? Do some of us simply have nothing on the the mental dashboard that registers “too intense?”  Classic Michael Spencer at Internet Monk.
  • And some classic Michael Patton at Parchment and Pen: What if the Apostle Paul’s story of the Messiah were a book proposal or a movie pitch? Paul would almost certainly get a rejection letter for having something unmarketable.
  • From a 2011 Pew Forum study, when asked what is the main threat to Evangelical Christianity 47 percent of leaders said Islam is the main threat  but 71 percent put secularism in that category.
  • There are a lot of blogs and websites for pastors about leadership, but Mark Galli suggests that what is really needed is pastors trained for chaplaincy.
  • Ten quick facts about Mormonism.
  • The part of the church service that usually doesn’t come under the microscope is the announcements. The author of this piece once tweeted, “I wish the bible had direction on how to do announcements during a service. It has to be the least effective thing the church does universally.”
  • Since the beginning of time as we know it, Phil Johnson and the Kalvinist Klan at Pyromaniacs have been offering us a “Weekly Dose of Spurgeon.” if C. H. Spurgeon has never been on your radar, drop your scanning speed down a gear and soak up his explanation of what it means to say “Jesus emptied himself.”
  • “..There was a bacteria in this youth-ministry entrepreneurial movement that has now been passed on to pastors. Because the focus was on winning participation, there was a little need or desire to reflect, especially to reflect theologically about the practice of ministry.” Andrew Root at IVP’s Online Pulpit.
  • Predating The Phil Vischer Podcast: Skye Jethani interviews Phil Vischer in April, 2012.
  • I remember when atheist Hemant Mehta posted this like it was yesterday: A survey that found many atheists who were also scientists enroll their children in a church program.
  • Ravi Zacharias quotes one of his professors: “Prophecy is very difficult, especially when it’s about the future.” What’s the future of western culture?

 

I think we’ll limit this rewind edition to a dozen; sometimes there are so many and people don’t know where to begin. I tend to be a “hoarder” with bookmarks in my computer; I hate to delete things, even if they appeared in previous link lists, because I keep thinking they are going to be needful and relevant to someone.

There is definitely a wealth of “backlist” items in the blogosphere that one hopes will keep being discovered.

November 2, 2011

Wednesday Link List

The link you won’t see here today concerns the announcement that Christian publishing giant Thomas Nelson is in the process of being acquired by HarperCollins, which already owns Zondervan.  The story bears on so many other issues in Christian publishing, that I decided an additional day’s worth of reflection would bring something substantial to say about the news.  So you’ll have to tune back in tomorrow!

  • The Genesis Code, a faith-based, creation science focused movie opens Friday in theaters in Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.  More at Christian News Wire.
  • More on the Mars Hill trademark issue from David Fitch, who feels that branding is “the ultimate anti-missional act.”
  • Francis Chan tells young pastors, “You’re teaching way better than we did…;” but then gives some advice.
  • Pete Wilson wants to know what your greatest concern is about a world with a population now exceeding seven billion.
  • Video discovery of the week: Check out this contemporary version of the very old hymn, My Anchor Holds by Katie and Jacob who call themselves… wait for it… My Anchor Holds. More at their webpage.
  • Our above Venn diagram is from This Is Indexed by Jessica Hagy.
  • The picture at right is from a set taken at Occupy Wellington (New Zealand) by Penelope Lattey who went to the protest with a whiteboard, a marker and an idea.
  • If you thought Monday was merely Halloween, and don’t know why it was also Reformation Day, this short music video might teach ya a little church history.
  • What does it mean to bring a Christian vision or perspective into a public setting; into a pluralistic world? Miraslav Volf previews his new book, A Public Faith in this video preview.
  • Eric Douglas has a great set of four questions that you can use when meeting up with people of other faiths or no faith.  He calls it Talking to an Atheistic Huffalump.
  • How do you feel about the therapeutic (aka healing) power of house pets and animals?  Author Neil Abramson uses this as the topic for his recent book, Unsaid.  For Neil, the story becomes intensely personal. While not a Christian book, a handful of Christian booksellers carry this title.
  • We close with this item from Mike Gilbart-Smith: “Spurgeon came across someone who claimed to have reached sinless perfection. When Spurgeon trod heavily on his foot his perfection dissolved!”  Mike then adds this:
There once was a man from Tangiers
Who said he’d not sinned in ten years.
So I poked his right eye
And his foul mouthed reply
Shows he’s worse than he sometimes appears

October 3, 2010

The Cross of Christ: Our Central Theme

“I must die or get somebody to die for me. If the Bible doesn’t teach that it doesn’t teach anything.” ~ Dwight L. Moody
“The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on his shoulders. If he bids us carry a burden he carries it also.” ~ Charles Spurgeon
“Jesus now has many lovers of His heavenly kingdom, but few bearers of His cross.” ~ Thomas a Kempis
“In many respects I find an unresurrected Jesus easier to accept. Easter makes him dangerous. Because of Easter, I have to listen to his extravagant claims and can no longer pick and choose from his sayings. Moreover, Easter means he must be loose out there somewhere.” ~ Philip Yancey
“God proved his love on the cross. When Christ hung, bled and died it was God saying to the world, ‘I love you.'” ~ Billy Graham

January 31, 2010

The Christian Vs. The Athiest: A Debate

Last night our town’s largest Baptist church, in association with the local Humanist Association presented a debate in which Joe Boot, a pastor and Christian apologist and former staff member with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries debated Dr. Clare Rowson, a lecturer, psychiatrist and medical columnist.      The event was well attended, the moderator kept things orderly and the mixed crowd — I’d guess something like 65% Christian and 35% atheist — was polite toward both guests.

I’m not sure if an event like this can be discussed in terms of winners and losers.    People arrive with their feet firmly planted in one camp or the other, and while I’m not saying it’s impossible, I doubt there are many people converting to the opposite opinion before nights like this are over.    There are two remarkably different perspectives, and not a lot of common ground, although quotations from writers with the opposing view flew back and forth over the evening, just to make things more interesting.

I think the winners are the audience members who get some exposure to people and viewpoints they may be somewhat isolated from.    I know many Christians who simply don’t get into philosophical or religious discussions with anyone other than members of their own tribe.   I think it’s a good thing for them to hear from an intelligent, articulate and logical atheist, and then to see a representative of their own team respond appropriately.

I am also sure that some atheists might find themselves similarly isolated, although given the topic — Does God Exist? — they didn’t exactly hear what Christians would call “The Gospel,” but rather a sort of pre-evangelistic discussion that only a handful of times mentioned the name of Jesus.   (In a Church service the next day, Joe Boot addressed this as he lectured on the topic, “Is Jesus the Only Way?”)

Boot indicated at one point that he was using a “reverse apologetic,” in other words, trying to show the futility of atheism.    Rowson indicated early on that since you can’t prove a negative hypothesis — “God Does Not Exist” — this placed the burden of proof on the Christian side.   As stated,  Boot, for whatever tactical reason, was not setting out to do this, so I am sure there were people in both camps who walked away disappointed.

The event also suffered from the use of the standard debate format.   The initial presentation from each debater was 20 minutes, followed by a four minute rebuttal and two minute rebuttal response.   The rebuttals seemed very short by comparison.

The second half was two-minute responses to questions that had been preselected from e-mails received during the week.   That was also unfortunate, since there were things said in the first half that begged clarification, and also, it meant that the two hour evening had no interactive component.    It would have been ideal to find a somewhat neutral journalist who could engage audience questions in a less formal “talk show” kind of situation.   (Yes, I’m available in future, but I’m not exactly neutral.)

Should your town or city consider an event like this?   I’m not sure.  The church that helped promote this event is very “program and event driven,” so it fit their church culture well.    But there was also a lot of energy that went into this for very little initial evidence of what the Christian side would call fruit.

It did however bring the word “apologetics” into discussion.   As Boot said this morning,  “Some people think you need an IQ of 120 or more to do apologetics and everybody with an IQ under 120 should do evangelism.  That’s not true.  Everybody should be ready and able to give a defense of their faith.”

For more information about Joe Boot’s new Church plant in Toronto, Canada, Westminster Chapel, click here.   For information on another of his projects, the Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity, click here.    You can also check the sidebar of this blog periodically for links beginning with the keyword, Apologetics.

Today’s Quotation:  Does This Mean Spurgeon Wasn’t Arminian?
“It always seems inexplicable to me that those who claim free will so very boldly for man should not also allow some free will to God. Why should not Jesus Christ have the right to choose his own bride?”–Spurgeon

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