Must Christianity Change Its Sexual Ethics? History May Hold The Key

The churches that have thrived over the centuries were those that offered their world something more than the echo of the times.

Churches that accept society’s dogma on marriage and sexuality may think of themselves as “affirming,” but the global church sees them as “apostate.” Meanwhile, it is the height of imperialistic narrowness for a rapidly shrinking subset of white churches in the West to lecture the rest of the world — including those places where Christianity is... Continue Reading

Hymns We Should Sing More Often: ‘Stricken, Smitten, And Afflicted’

Most of the hymns in this series are not unfamiliar, just underutilized

Thomas Kelly (1769-1855) wrote more than 750 hymns, including Stricken, Smitten, And Afflicted in 1804. Kelly planned to be a lawyer but after his conversion the Irishman decided to enter the ministry. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1792, but later became a “dissenting” minister.   This is part of an intermittent series... Continue Reading

Material Dimensions of Spiritual Friendship

Part historical survey, part Biblical analysis, and part personal reflection, Spiritual Friendship manages to be informative and insightful but also unnerving and challenging

The need for intimate friendship and the practices that foster it is all the more pressing in our day and age, as our culture has not only drained friendship of its public social benefit but placed a variety of economic, technological and political counterweights against it. The local church can be a place to nurture... Continue Reading

Great Expectations?

Do people view me as a man of integrity? Do people view my children as people of integrity?

My children will make some bad decisions now and then, but hopefully not as bad as some of mine. When they do, I hope that I will be there for them, showing them love and forgiveness, and helping them to learn from the consequences. Hopefully my children will look to me and see me as... Continue Reading

Islam, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the Jesus Movement

There are differences between Christianity and Islam; there is no moral equivalence.

“My observation is yes, Christianity is different from Islam…The worst thing that a Christian has ever said to me, the rudest thing that a Christian has ever said to me, the thing that made me most uncomfortable that a Christian said to me was ‘I’m going to pray for you. I hope you will be... Continue Reading

Inerrancy Is Not a New Idea, Just Ask Irenaeus

Irenaeus based the fidelity of the apostolic writings upon the absolute truthfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ and the conviction that truth and falsehood are polar opposites

Haykin argues that this framework was the foundation for Irenaeus’s dispute with Gnostics and others over the truthfulness and sufficiency of Scripture. As Haykin notes via Norbert Brox: “[In] Irenaeus this principle stands at the beginning [of his thought]: that the Bible is in every respect perfect and sufficient.”   Okay, okay. I do need... Continue Reading

When Bad Things Happen to God’s People

James says that we are to consider it all joy when we face trials. Whatever shape or size they take, we are to meet them with joy and expectation.

Life’s hardships should prompt us to do inventory, starting with a prayer for the Spirit to search our heart and expose what is holding us back (see Psalm 139:23-24). Pastors should be able to lead the sheep in such an inventory, to pull alongside them in time of adversity and help them take advantage of... Continue Reading

The Outward Show: Holiness from the Inside Out

When your outward show matches your inward reality before God and man you look like Jesus Christ.

The problem with the Pharisees was not their external piety. No, the characteristic of these men which was deplorable to Jesus was their lack of interest on an internal purity that matched their outward show. It was their duplicity and hypocrisy that offended Jesus, and not their dutiful holiness.   Man looks on the outward appearance, but God... Continue Reading

NJ Catholic School Teacher Reinstated After Anti-Gay Facebook Posts

Patricia Jannuzzi, the Catholic high school teacher from New Jersey suspended for her anti-gay Facebook posts, will be reinstated immediately, school principal Jean Kline said in a letter.

Jannuzzi, a 33-year theology teacher at Immaculata High School in Sommerville, N.J., was forced to deactivate her Facebook page last month after several alumni started circulating screen shots of her sharply worded posts against gay marriage and gay rights. Two days later, the school placed her on administrative leave.   (RNS) Patricia Jannuzzi, the veteran Catholic... Continue Reading

Why Higher Education Needs Religious Liberty

Religious freedom is an integral part of our nation’s moral, civic, and intellectual life, and those of us in higher education would do well to remember that

“Religious freedom doesn’t just consist in being able to pray when you want or study Scripture on your own time, but also to join together with coreligionists for worship and fellowship. While it’s unlikely that many colleges simply prohibit such religious association, a number do place obstacles in its way, using their antidiscrimination rules to... Continue Reading

Peter’s Powerful Preaching On The Day Of Pentecost

As I have been preaching through this portion of the Bible, I have come to appreciate Peter's message as an excellent prototype for all true biblical preaching

“This is no general homily to faceless folks in pews. No, Peter is very direct and tells them what they must do with the gospel truth they are hearing. He pulls no punches. Surely, there is much eye contact, and the listeners know he is speaking with love right to them.”   The sermons found... Continue Reading

I Woke Up Today and Discovered I Live in a Gulag

The refrain that Christians in the US are experiencing persecution simply because some people object to Indiana’s RFRA law is getting old and sounding hysterical

“Most Americans experience remarkable liberty when it comes to faith, church life, Bible reading and study, and worship. I still may worship as my communion deems fit, I have incredible access to a variety of religious goods, and I suffer no overt hardships because of my faith.”   Sorry folks but the recurring refrain that... Continue Reading

Iran And The Resurrection

Days before Easter, Western diplomats concluded a preliminary nuclear deal with Iran

“Every Christian approach to world affairs should begin with the gospel. Although we work hard to promote justice in the time between the first and second advents, we know that the ultimate hope for mankind lies in the message of Jesus Christ. Looking out at the world, we seek ways to ensure that his message can reach as many... Continue Reading

The Re-Creative Work of God in Preaching

Perhaps one of the most amazing things about preaching is that it is a New Creation activity

“Preacher, when you go into the pulpit to speak the Word of the Gospel, do you realize that by the power of the Holy Spirit, it is as if God is saying, “Let there be…”?  Indeed, there is both an awesome responsibility and a wonderful comfort when we understand this.  The awesome responsibility is to... Continue Reading

Worship Implies A Theology

What if you are wrong about God? Would you even be aware of it?

“Over the last decade or so, we’ve seen a few lasting effects from the now-moribund emergent church movement. But even before that, we had seen the evangelical church (broadly reckoned), taking cues from the wildly successful charismatics, who had long since begun to take cues from the world around them. Not every church and not every... Continue Reading

What Does It Mean to Observe the Sabbath?

What is the Sabbath? Do we keep the Sabbath just by going to church?

“Just as God rested after his six-day “workweek” of creating the world, so his people must rest after their workweeks. At its core, this command was designed to remind the Israelites on a weekly basis that they were not God. Resting on the seventh day was a way of publicly recognizing God’s all-sufficient power.”  ... Continue Reading

What Do You Do with Your Pastor’s Preaching?

How should you listen to a sermon?

“A helpful way to so submit to the Word read and preached is to heed something my Hebrew professor imparted.  Ask yourself two questions.  First, “What does the text teach that I am to believe about God?”  Second, “What does the text teach that God requires of me to do?”    How should you listen... Continue Reading

Delighting in Death?

Why is it that the people most vocally committed to causes connected to death (abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia) are often the same who are committed to progressive sexual causes?

Of course, this is all highly speculative. But it seems to me that the passion and enthusiasm involved in being pro-choice on life issues cannot simply be explained by talking about unwanted pregnancies or the prevention of unnecessary end-of-life suffering. And why does modern liberalism on matters of abortion and suicide so often go along... Continue Reading

Marriage as a Blood Covenant?

Marriage is a creation ordinance instituted by God before the fall. Why would there be a need for the shedding of blood before sin and death had entered the world?

The third reason I think this teaching is unbiblical is that we now live under the covenant of grace after the last, best, and only true sacrifice has already taken place. Christ has paid the penalty for our sins, and there are no more sacrifices. Ever. Why would any Christian who has been bought by... Continue Reading

Hear Him!

We are to hear Christ through the preaching and teaching of God’s word.

Will we see Jesus in glory when He finally takes us home? Only if we hearHim on this side of glory. Let’s not waste our time with silly books and movies about people going to heaving and coming back again. They are just worthless fables.   A friend on FB was blasted when she decried... Continue Reading

Faithfully Delivering the Gospel

The gospel is the exclusive means by which the universal problem of sin is remedied.

If we really believe that the gospel is the power of God for salvation we probably would not mess with it. It is not wise to edit perfection; we have not been given proofreading writes by God to add or delete elements from his masterpiece of Christ exalting truth.   Recently I’ve been thinking about... Continue Reading

Wormology: the Abuse of a Doctrine

Wormology is the over-emphasizing of the doctrine of depravity to the detriment of our understanding of regeneration and sanctification.

Wormology stunts the growth of believers and leads to apathy in the pursuit of holiness. And, it is biblically untenable. Instead of embracing – or even focusing on his sin and failures – the Apostle Paul acknowledges his own weakness, but is not satisfied to wallow in the mire of his sinful condition: “Brethren, I... Continue Reading

The Religious Compartment

Compartmentalizing our faith (the Christian religion) is an unbiblical error that often leads to complete denial of the faith.

Wilberforce is saying that nominal Christians give a portion, or compartment, of their life to the Christian religion.  That compartment has a place in life along with other things, and sometimes the religious compartment claims some of their time or thoughts or money, and they think that’s good enough.  The other compartments of life are... Continue Reading

Dear Westboro “Baptist”

And then it dawned on me. You don’t really care about convincing people.

I’m posting this letter here for two reasons—one is simply because you didn’t respond to my email and you refused to talk to me in person. The second is to spare others the time. I want other churches to know if you go there, your goal is not anybody’s repentance. Your goal is simply to... Continue Reading

Why Can’t a Father Marry His Adult Son? A Mother Her Adult Daughter?

If the Court rules that the law cannot privilege procreative unions over non-procreative ones, where does that end?

If the court officially severs the ancient connection between marriage and procreation, then it really has no grounds for denying marriage to these other ensembles. If there is a limit to the principle, then Kennedy et al. are obligated to declare what it is in advance. So far, Kennedy hasn’t done that. And it is... Continue Reading

Spurgeon Almost Quit

At the age of twenty-two, Charles Spurgeon almost quit the ministry.

Spurgeon’s joy was based not only on his own ability to recover, but on God’s ability to replenish. It was a joy that would balm Spurgeon in future controversies when he felt beleaguered and bewildered. The joy Spurgeon had after 1856 was a radical joy — a joy deeply rooted in the soil of the... Continue Reading

Sex After Christianity

Gay marriage is not just a social revolution but a cosmological one.

Conservative Christians have lost the fight over gay marriage and, as we have seen, did so decades before anyone even thought same-sex marriage was a possibility. Gay-marriage proponents succeeded so quickly because they showed the public that what they were fighting for was consonant with what most post-1960s Americans already believed about the meaning of... Continue Reading

So You Can’t Wait to Retire?

It’s good to have a retirement plan just in case you have to leave the pastorate as an older man. We are not all like Moses.

Ultimately, the whole retirement debate is about the faithfulness of God.  Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all your basic needs will be supplied by him (Mt. 6:33).  We must be wise in our planning, but also we must never lose sight of this promise.   Whenever I broach the topic... Continue Reading

This Church’s Legal Battle Against New York City Shows What Real Discrimination Looks Like

Will those now criticizing the Indiana legislation as “discriminatory” also respond with equal outrage to the actual discrimination that could hurt real people in New York City?

What’s happening in New York City shows why we need religious-liberty legislation, like Indiana’s. Bronx Household of Faith, a small, intrepid church ministering to people in a poor area north of Yankee Stadium, challenged New York City’s anti-worship-service policy back in 1995… If New York had a state religious-freedom-restoration act like Indiana and 19 other... Continue Reading

A Note From Creator Cakes

A fictionalized note from a Christian baker:

Though we’ve never been asked to service a same-sex wedding, and though it looks increasingly that we someday will, we want to notify our customers of a policy that Creator Cakes will pursue. We’ve decided that if asked, we will provide a cake at a same-sex wedding ceremony. But we will take every dollar from... Continue Reading