Biblical Versus Systematic Theology?

Systematic Theology is often contrasted unfavourably with the newer discipline of Biblical Theology

“Systematic Theology, by contrast with Biblical Theology, approaches the Bible as a completed divine revelation, taking account of all that has been said and carefully noting what has been superseded and what is ‘truth unchanged, unchanging’. This means that Systematic Theology gratefully accepts and assimilates all that Biblical Theology has to offer. But it also... Continue Reading

Alone, But Never Alone

A person who is truly justified is never merely justified!

“This may sound like theological hair-splitting, but actually it is tied in with one of the most vexed issues of Christian experience that goes back to the earliest days of the New Testament church and further back still. Because that is so, we are reminded that every pastoral problem has theological dimensions and every theological... Continue Reading

What Does Repentance Look Like?

Jesus assures us that when we grieve over our sin, God by His Holy Spirit will comfort us

“The Bible tells us explicitly and shows us implicitly that God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. David knows this to be true. As broken as he is, he knows God and how God relates to penitent people. He understands that God never hates or despises a broken and contrite heart. This... Continue Reading

Peter Berger’s Many Altars

Sociologist of religion Peter Berger has a new book entitled "The Many Altars of Modernity"

“Sociology can tell us where we are, but it can only make best guesses as to where we are going. Sociological conclusions are true until they are not (think the previous theory of secularization). History is too full of remarkable and unanticipated turns of event for us not to enter into this discourse with a... Continue Reading

When Your Church Is Not Revitalizing

For every story of a declining church that turned around and began to reach its community, there are hundreds of stories of pastors working hard but seeing few visible results

“Pastors can be tempted to shift into neutral when the church doesn’t appear to be doing well. There are many ways a pastor can look like he is busy while accomplishing absolutely nothing. The fire is gone, and he just clocks time to get a paycheck. Pastor, fight this temptation with every fiber of your being... Continue Reading

The Law of the Temple

Sinners, saved by grace, were encouraged to keep the “Law of the Temple”

“No longer are we to offer sacrifices as required under the Old Covenant of Grace, but we are to keep the “Law of the Temple.” Regularly, we are to gather around Christ and recognize his free mercy and grace. In response, we are to regularly express our faith, repentance, godly sorrow, and trust in his atoning... Continue Reading

God Knows You

The God who knows you forgives you; the God who knows you knows you as righteous

“Because God loves his enemies, God sent his Son to rescue messed up people like me from the misery of our sin and the punishment that our sin deserves. I deserved to be taken out, but Jesus died for me — in my place. And God did it because he loves me (Rom. 5:6-8).”  ... Continue Reading

You Can’t Argue with a Dying Calvinist: Presbyterian Pastor, Perishing Parishioner

How well do we know people and their struggles? Do we know what to say and not say?

This post is a follow-up to “This Minister Lost His Faith” which you can read here. With both I am reflecting on the first chapter of John Updike’s In the Beauty of the Lilies which portrays a Princeton educated Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Clarence Arthur Wilmot. The historical setting is the early years of the 20th century. In the... Continue Reading

Why Christian Education

Training and nurturing covenant children while preparing them for ‘works of service’

The Bible clearly states that the unregenerate mind cannot please God because it places man at the center, assumes that human beings are basically good, actively suppresses the truth about God, and denies the supernatural realities of heaven and hell. The regenerate mind, from which Christian education flows, affirms the opposite: God is the creator... Continue Reading

What Jesus Didn’t Say

No one thinks more highly of the Bible than Jesus

In hindsight, this is probably not the best way to express myself. I’m sorry for anyone who was hurt by the whole “never enter the kingdom of heaven” bit. That’s just an figure of speech for “the best way to live!” And I apologize if the righteousness piece felt legalistic. When I talk about hungering... Continue Reading

The Homophobic Bogeyman

Can guys be close friends with guys without losing their "man card?"

On one hand we have completely cheapened the relationship by numbering our friends like notches on our social media belt. And on the other, our culture has become so hyper-sexualized that we cannot handle the intimacy of true friendship without suspecting scandal. The guys have it the worst. They can’t have close male friendships without... Continue Reading

An Interrupted Life

It’s these interruptions and I how I work through them that God uses in his work to change me to be more like Christ

It’s these moments where the rubber meets the road, where my faith is stretched and I look down to see whether I am standing on rock or sand. Do I really believe that God is in control of all the details of my life? Do I really believe that his grace is sufficient to get me... Continue Reading

7 Kinds of Happiness

Although this world can be a sad place, in God’s mercy there are still many different kinds of happiness in the world.

Also, there is a joy that only the Christian can experience, a joy that at times contains more pleasure and delight than the other six put together, and that’s spiritual happiness. This joy often fills and even floods a believer’s heart as he/she reads the Bible, learns about God and His grace, and communes with the... Continue Reading

GAO Abortion Findings a Wake-Up Call for Lethargic Christians

The pro-life movement cannot save unborn lives by employing couch-potato Christianity when it comes to the government's public policies

Caught red handed, the Government Accountability Office (GAO)found that Americans’ tax dollars are subsidizing abortions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. ObamaCare. At least 1,036 plans cover abortions despite President Barack Obama’s promise that “under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain... Continue Reading

6 Reasons Women Should Study Theology

Ultimately it is impossible for any Christian to ignore theology (the study of God) and grow strong in the faith.

When theology is mentioned in a circle of women I have often found the response to be less than enthusiastic.  Mention books on homemaking, marriage or parenting, on the other hand, and everyone seems interested. Why is that? I have heard comments like, “I’m just not smart enough”, “I will leave the study of theology... Continue Reading

The Blessings and Curses of Being an Introverted Pastor

Insight and encouragement for pastors both introverts and extroverts

Listening is an underrated skill in pastoral ministry, and introverts are natural listeners. Whether in counseling sessions, staff meetings, or giving constructive criticism, we need to ask questions and listen before we can offer suggestions to work through an issue. Someone who is very successful in sales gave me a piece of advice several years... Continue Reading

Why the Two-Readings View of the Old Testament is Wrong

Ultimately it is incompatible with our doctrine of inspiration, and it is incompatible with our doctrine of God.

The deeper problem with the Two-Readings View (TRV) lies in the character of God. If God has written the Bible, then God has changed His message from the OT times to the NT times. That means that God changes His mind and is open to the future. The TRV cannot avoid an ultimately open theistic... Continue Reading

Matt Recker and The Gospel Coalition

Are Pastor Recker's criticisms of The Gospel Coalition well-founded?

All human organizations have faults and are liable to criticism. The Gospel Coalition is no exception. Those criticisms, however, must be thoughtful and fair, not based upon guilt-by-association or misunderstanding. Parts of Pastor Recker’s evaluation are spot on. For other evaluations, he relies upon a flawed appropriation of a 1956 article from Christian Life magazine.... Continue Reading

Some Thoughts on the Mosaic Covenant

Seeking to understand the relationship between the covenant of works, made with Adam in the Garden, and the Mosaic Covenant, made with Israel at Sinai

We must be clear that God’s solution to this predicament is not a graciously structured covenant. God’s solution to this problem is the incarnation, death, and exaltation of his Son, and the outpouring of the Spirit of the risen Christ. The covenant of grace–in any and every one of its administrations–is only a covenant of... Continue Reading

Bavinck on Calvinism

Bavinck’s ode to the Calvinist tradition

For this reason the Calvinist in all things recurs upon God, and does not rest satisfied before he has traced back everything to the sovereign good-pleasure of God as its ultimate and deepest cause.  He never loses himself in the appearance of things, but penetrates to their realities.     In 1894 Herman Bavinck wrote... Continue Reading

Does God Have a Plan for Israel?

Is there a divine purpose in the Jewish return to the land?

Interest in the Holy Land was high because interest in the end times rose among evangelicals in the European nations.  Also during the 19th century archaeology was emerging as an academic discipline that defended the historicity of the Scriptures.  The 19th century saw the rise of examining the Bible as any other literary or historical... Continue Reading

The Top 5 Things You Should Never Do At Work

Avoiding these blunders at work will help you survive in the workplace

And I made a great number of huge mistakes. I did some important things right too, but my missteps were legendary (at least in my own mind). When I look back on my 30 years of working, and the careers of the hundreds of folks I train, coach and teach, five blunders stand out from... Continue Reading

Let’s Rethink The Reaction to Ted Cruz’s Persecute Christian Speech

Divergent views on Ted Cruz’s speech at the ‘In Defense of Christians’ summit

And while many of us engaged in some regrettable fights with friends and others in the last week, one hopes that we also learned from each other and that we can work together to understand the plight of threatened Christians and other minorities in the Middle East, the problem of entanglements with bad actors, ways... Continue Reading

What Happens When Boomer Pastors Retire?

On January 1, 2011, the first Boomer turned 65, on that day, 10,000 of them turned 65; the implications for churches are staggering

There will be an abundance of qualified pastors for interim and bi-vocational positions. These Boomer pastors will not be idle. They will be seeking other ministry opportunities, particularly positions with part-time pay to supplement their incomes. Some Boomer pastors will stay at their current positions into their late 60s and 70s.    In an earlier article... Continue Reading

Book on Pastoral Succession: ‘All Pastors Are Interim Pastors’

When pastor Max Lucado greeted his successor at his San Antonio church, the two stood onstage and tried to put on each other’s shoes. They couldn’t

“Pastoral successions, especially after a long-term founding or well-established pastor, are one of the most crucial times in a congregation’s life cycle,” Granberg-Michaelson said. “When done well, the congregation’s ministry and life is re-energized and revived for the future. When done poorly, decades of successful and thriving ministry can deteriorate, heading the congregation into a... Continue Reading

In McAllen, Texas, Faith Groups Responded, While Washington Dithered

With an imploding immigration system, it was religious leaders who rallied to form a humanitarian response to the surge of unaccompanied children crossing the border

By September, 66,127 unaccompanied children and 66,142 Salvadoran, Guatemalan and Honduran families had crossed into the Southwest, mostly into the Rio Grande Valley. The flood contributed to a backlog in U.S.  immigration courts of nearly 400,000 cases. Nowhere was the religious leadership more apparent than in McAllen, Texas, where churches and local government forged an effective and... Continue Reading

Designing History: The Identity of the 21st Century

History tends to classify eras by defining events rather than by the actual numbers

There are many risks in our lives and communities, some risks that we never imagined in the previous century. Nevertheless, though we cannot control the events of history and the decisions of terrorists, neither are we entirely powerless. There is strength at the grassroots level; there is strength in numbers, as long as we are... Continue Reading

Wanted: Men Who Are Above Reproach

To the end, Daniel was a man whose testimony was stellar; he was a man above reproach

“If we spent less time on our feet and more time on our knees; and if we spent less time talking with men and more time talking with God; and if we spent less time caring about our neighbors thoughts and more time meditating in prayer on God’s Word, we would be more holy, consistent, and... Continue Reading

Quality Over Quantity

What is finally and eternally important is that with our whole heart we love God and seek to please Him

“To the average listener at the time of Jesus, the Pharisee was an example of the best, the most religious of men. Is Jesus here demanding that we must rate higher than them to go to kingdom of heaven? No, it is not as if Jesus is saying that on a test out of 100,... Continue Reading

Christianity Is Not Going Away

Christians sometimes think that political setbacks on marriage, and hostility from cultural elites in the media and academia, mean that Christendom is gone

“So America often feels more secular even if Americans are not. But all of us, however unknowingly, still swim in the cultural and moral waters warmed by Christendom. Even arch-secularists, in their constant demands for ever greater rights and self autonomy, speak in the language Christendom created.”   A recent Barna study confirms other data... Continue Reading