My Concerns About a “Recreations Clause” Study Committee

Should the PCA General Assembly approve a committee to study recreation on the Sabbath as requested by 2 overtures?

North Texas Presbytery (Overture 2) and Tennessee Valley Presbytery (Overture 9) have overtured the Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly to establish a study committee to change the language in the Westminster Confession and Catechisms with regard to the idea of recreation on the Sabbath. A number of years ago, I was in a presbytery... Continue Reading

In Faith Communities Like the Duggars, Abuse Victims are Encouraged to be Filled with Grace

It’s not that simple.

Easy “forgivism” may gloss over the terrible situation in the short term, but it reinforces to everyone that the egregious, soul-siphoning sin committed against the victim was trivial, easy to get over. It forgets Jesus’ strong admonition that “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for... Continue Reading

7 Sure-Fire Ways to Recognize False Teachers

How exactly can you tell if someone is “wolf in sheep’s clothing”?

A false teacher isn’t going to tell you he’s teaching heresy. In fact, he’ll usually look and sound so sincere and passionate that you wouldn’t know he’s actually twisting God’s Word. The size of the crowds around him won’t tell you much either, since many people have been and continue to be led astray by... Continue Reading

Witsius on Law, Gospel, and Antinomianism

Witsius’ book is a good resource on the topics of law, gospel, justification, sanctification, and good works from a historic Reformed perspective,

“Therefore every prescription of virtues and duties, all exhortations and dissuasions, all reproofs and threatenings also all the promises of a reward in recompense of perfect obedience, belong to the law. But to the gospel appertains whatever can give a sinner the hope of salvation, namely, the doctrine concerning the person, offices, states, and benefits... Continue Reading

Workout for the Soul: A Review of Theological Fitness

Like a good coach, Byrd is not apologetic about the discipline required to exercise faith.

For fitness fanatics, fitness fakers, and everyone in between, the searching questions and robust exegesis of Theological Fitness contain a workout plan for the soul. Writing about 1 Pet. 3:15, Byrd explains: “There are two qualifications of fitness here: knowing God’s truth, and the patient endurance of suffering for the sake of it. This requires... Continue Reading

Republication of the Covenant of Works

Attempting to clear away some misapprehensions on both sides.

So here is where I currently am: I advocate a form of republication that is very similar to Colquhoun’s. The republication was given to Israel primarily for the purposes of the pedagogical use of the law (though not only for this purpose). Of course, it is helpful to bear in mind that in this pedagogical... Continue Reading

The Rural Church Dilemma

I love the rural church and hope you do. Some of you will serve all your life in them.

Be energized by the concept that your church could become the most loving church in the world. I find this compelling. There will be many things your church may not be. It may not be the most educated church or the most innovative church, or the most evangelistic church, etc., but it can be the... Continue Reading

Love Theologically

I’m always shocked to hear pastors warn against theology, because it amounts to an act of self-sabotage.

The Bible nowhere suggests that good theology can hinder love. Paul spends the first half of his letters expounding good theology. When he transitions to application in the second half, he never warns that some of that good stuff he mentioned up front might now become a hazard. And neither should we.   I learned... Continue Reading

An Open Letter to Christian Parents of Unbelieving Adult Children

Remember the past, pray in the present, and hope for the future.

Dear Christian parent, your trial is great, but your God is greater still. He is not blind to your anguish and He does not ignore the prayers of His children. May God hear your heart’s cry, answer, and work in your child’s life. May He take your child and make him or her His own.... Continue Reading

I Love Your Love But I Hate Your Tolerance

Often, we compromise in areas where we shouldn’t because we want to give the benefit of the doubt

“We want to be loving. We can be loving in so many other areas, and yet our tolerance could be the very thing that gives a green light for God’s people to sin. Protecting perpetrators of both spiritual and physical harlotry is not loving.”   One thing that really stands out to me while I... Continue Reading

The PCA And The Right Against Self-Incrimination: Against Overture 7

Overture 7 seeks to change BCO 35-1 such that "church officers under accusation shall be required to testify before the court."

How did the right against self-incrimination become part of the BCO? As we will see, it was not because the PCA was influenced by civil protections, such as the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Instead, it was the contributions of our Reformed forefathers that helped shape the American religious and civil protections against self-incrimination we... Continue Reading

Do Churches Fail the Poor?

It’s a more basic failure to reach out, integrate, and keep them in the pews

“This is the striking story of the last 30 years: Despite the stereotype of religion as something that people “cling to” (to quote a different moment of condescension from this president) in desperate circumstances, actual religious practice has collapsed more quickly among Americans with weaker economic prospects than it has among the college-educated upper class.”... Continue Reading

The Tapestry of Sovereign Grace

In the air conditioned sanctuary on a Sunday morning, theology is precise in theory

“It is not just that all of creation and providence contribute together in totality to the glory of God. It is that these two strands are inseparably tied together. This theological knot, so evident in Scripture, is nevertheless at times hidden from view in our lives—like a tapestry’s beauty on top is so contingent on... Continue Reading

Can Someone Who Believes in Limited Atonement Plead With Sinners?

If you believe that Christ did not die for the entire world what then of proclaiming the gospel?

“A belief in limited atonement does not make you unable to proclaim the gospel directly to every sinner. In fact if taken whole such a doctrine may actually give you more confidence in proclaiming—knowing that His sheep will indeed answer the gospel call.”   When we think about what Christ accomplished on the cross we... Continue Reading

In Praise of the Dying Art of Civil Disagreement

Why is civil disagreement so hard? It cannot simply be a matter of dogmatic certainty

“I think the lack of civil disagreement in the classroom is best understood as a function of larger social and political trends. As I have noted on this site before, oppression is now a psychological category. This subverts the crucial moral difference between an actual crime, a speech crime, and (increasingly) a thought crime.”  ... Continue Reading

Keeping Faith: The Changing Face of Religion in Canada

Many immigrants come to Canada and bring their religion with them

“An online survey on religion released in March by the Angus Reid Institute suggests that the percentage of God-denying Canadians has doubled from six per cent of the population in the 1970s to 13 per cent now — with about one in four Canadians saying they’re inclined to reject religion.”   When the sad time came to say good-bye to her late husband, Marie Diane... Continue Reading

Theology Feud Pits Half of Town’s Protestant Churches Against Another

A feud over theology has led an unusual ecumenical project in a small Arizona town

“Eight churches — including Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and non-denominational congregations—in Fountain Hills have teamed up for a campaign of public banners and sermons aimed at the theology of a nearby Methodist church.”   A feud over theology has led an unusual ecumenical project in a small Arizona town. Eight churches—including Baptist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and non-denominational... Continue Reading

Identity, Ethnicity, Culture, and the Gospel

Personal reflections about identity and ethnicity as a mixed race Christian

“Before my identity was ruined for/in Christ (more on this later), I found a big part of my identity in my ethnicity. I am the only child of a white father and a Puerto Rican mother. When we visited family when I was growing up, I always felt different. I “felt” Puerto Rican around my... Continue Reading

Alabama Senate Passes Bill to Effectively Nullify All Sides on Marriage

The Alabama state Senate passed a bill that would end the practice of licensing marriages in the state, effectively nullifying the contentious national debate over government-sanctioned marriage.

The bill would replace all references to marriages “licenses” in state law with “contracts.” The legislation would not invalidate any marriage licenses issued prior to the bill being passed. The contract shall be filed in the office of the judge of probate in each county and shall constitute a legal record of the marriage. A... Continue Reading

Heads LGBTs Win, Tails Christians Lose

You must not only bake the cake, or arrange the flowers, or make the ring, you must hold the correct opinion when you do it.

This Christian jeweler agreed to custom-make engagement rings for a lesbian couple, knowing that they were a couple, and treated them politely. But when they found out what he really believed about same-sex marriage, even though the man gave them polite service, and agreed to sell them what they asked for, the lesbian couple balked,... Continue Reading

7 Reasons Christians Should STAY On Facebook

Encouragement for ways in which Facebook can be used for Kingdom purposes

We are often grieved when social media becomes the setting for angry or obscene exchanges, but for Christians there are wonderful opportunities to share articles, scripture, anecdotes, stories, and videos that are intended to teach, strengthen, and build up the people who read, watch, or listen to them. When wisely used, Facebook can massively extend... Continue Reading

Overtures 2 and 9: The “Recreations” Clauses: North Texas and Tennessee Valley Presbyteries

“Establish Study Committee to Recommend Changes to the Westminster Standards regarding the Sabbath”

Insofar as a study committee is concerned, I have no objection to the idea. In fact, if the study committee does its job properly it would at least clarify the issue at the heart of this discussion. That issue is, “What do the Standards mean by ‘recreations’”? Most people probably think that the Standards mean... Continue Reading

Clickbait Headlines Are Killing My Soul

Why are they killing us? Because if everything is amazing, then nothing is amazing.

The more clickbait headlines I read, the more I become suspicious of any claims of glory. My heart becomes calloused to beauty and wonder and mystery. The more time I spend wading through the shallows of Facebook, the more I forget about the deeps of the gospel. The Internet has a way of dulling beauty... Continue Reading

Top Men: A Response to Paul Helm

Paul Helm has an interesting piece critiquing the critics of megapastordom.

Third, Paul’s comments are prefaced by his observation that the debate is not taking place because the critics are not engaging the other side.  On the contrary, the problem is that the Top Men and their followers have adamantly refused to engage the critics.  We have been dismissed, blacklisted and bullied.   Paul Helm has... Continue Reading

What Should the Duggar Scandal Teach the Church?

The controversy here is, sadly, yet another reminder to the church of our responsibility to be a witness for justice and righteousness on the issue of sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse is immoral, but it is far more than just sexual. Sexual abuse is an act of violence, in which one leverages power to sexually violate the helpless. The resulting aftermath is not just a guilty conscience awaiting judgment on the part of the perpetrator, but a victim who has been assaulted. Sexual abuse... Continue Reading

What Does Jude 7 Mean By “Other Flesh”?

Reasons to accept the traditional interpretation that Jude 7 is a reference to the sin of homosexual behavior

In short, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole region was not just a one-time attempted gang rape of angelic beings, but, according to Jude a lifestyle of sensuality and sexual immorality, at least one aspect of which was exemplified in men pursuing the flesh of other men instead of the flesh of... Continue Reading

Mark Driscoll returns: Ex-Mars Hill Pastor Gets Standing Ovation at Mill Creek Church

The fallen pastor has picked himself up, with none of the mea culpas or public soul searching seen from his former top aides.

Driscoll built the Mars Hill Church, which he co-founded, into a mega church which eventually had 15 “campuses” in five states, and an estimated regular attendance of 13,000. It came crashing down last year, amidst plagiarism accusations, questions about where “church planting” donations designated for Ethiopia and India were really spent, and multiple accusations of... Continue Reading

Lecrae Makes Music Concerned With The Soul

Lecrae is a devout Christian and his lyrics deal with issues of faith, family and social justice.

On embracing his faith within hip-hop: It’s interesting, because it’s such a phenomenon for a hip-hop artist to fully embrace his Christian roots and his faith. That becomes something that people almost need you to justify. What we’re communicating in our music is love and justice and service and community. But it’s rare that we’ll... Continue Reading

First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC, Buys SCE&G Building For College Ministry

The onetime customer service center for SCE&G at Marion and Lady Streets has been sold to the church for $4.1 million.

Derek Thomas said plans for the three-story, 32,000-square-foot building, formerly a SCE&G customer service center, have not been finalized. A church committee is putting together a formal plan. However, the building probably will include a student library, meeting spaces and a coffee shop.   First Presbyterian Church is the latest downtown Columbia congregation to reach... Continue Reading

8 Features of the Best Kind of Calvinism

Calvinism at its best is experiential

The experiential Calvinist cultivates communion with God. … Experiential Calvinism cherishes communion with God and understands that this communion requires two things: that we “receive” His love and that we “make suitable returns unto him.” The Father’s love is received “by faith” through Christ. “The soul being thus, by faith through Christ, and by him... Continue Reading