PCUSA: Evangelicals Suddenly On The Wrong Side In Gay Marriage Debate

In the Presbyterian Church (USA), the tables seem to have turned

“Increasingly, the conservative, evangelical members of the 1.8-million-member mainline Protestant denomination are finding themselves at odds with socially progressive congregations and leadership that seem to have moved in line with the secular world.”   Across Christian denominations, the debate over gay marriage has fundamentally pitted the views of socially progressive – if not radical –... Continue Reading

How Do I Encourage My Pastor?

Your pastor needs to know that what he does week in and week out means something to his flock

“The most meaningful things I hear isn’t, “I prayed for you” but, “I prayed that your sermon would be powerfully preached and eagerly received, or I prayed God would protect you and your family from the enemy through this important week.”    Based on the emails, notes, and phone calls I continue to get, trust me…your... Continue Reading

Muddying The Distinction Between Justification And Salvation (Part 2)

Trusting in one’s self, even in one’s cooperation with grace is presumption

“To make Jesus a mere facilitator, rather than a complete Savior, is, we confess, “too gross a blasphemy.” It makes him “half a Savior.” Then, immediately, the confession turns to justification through faith alone. Note this.”   In part 1 we looked at how the Westminster Shorter Catechism speaks about the relations between justification, salvation,... Continue Reading

One Professor’s Journey from Scientology to Christ

Twenty-five years ago I converted to Christianity. Here is my story of how I “wandered into the faith.”

“Without conviction, I embraced all kinds of crazy New Age philosophies, rebelled against my family, and got involved in unhealthy relationships. I take full responsibility. God bless my parents and friends for trying to snap me out of it. And bless those poor, deluded psychologists and counselors who tried to talk me (or drug me) out... Continue Reading

Bannerman Take One: Culture Wars and Ecclesiology

The Banner of Truth’s retyped and reissued edition of James Bannerman’s The Church of Christ is, like so many of their books, beautifully produced. It is also most timely.

“Evangelicalism as a movement is ill-equipped to handle the questions which current sexual identity movements are posing, and that for several reasons to which Bannerman provides biblical answers.  And these questions, even more than, say, abortion, are going to be pressing issues for church members in every place of work they find themselves.”   The... Continue Reading

Same-Sex Marriage Is Disrespectful of the Human Body, Christian Philosopher Nancy Pearcey Says

Same-sex marriage supporters ignore biology and disrespect the human body

“In an earlier age, nature was recognized as God’s creation, expressing God’s purposes. Because our bodies are part of nature, the human body has a purpose too. The biological correspondence between male and female in reproduction is part of the original creation that God pronounced “very good” — morally good — which means it provides... Continue Reading

How Can Churches Support Homosexuality?

How can "Christian" denominations ordain homosexuals and perform homosexual marriages?"

“The simple answer to this question is that such denominations have stopped granting ultimate authority to the clear teaching of the Word of God.  In almost every case, they no longer regard the Scriptures as inerrant and therefore they find it easy to disregard teachings they consider offensive and antiquated.”   I have been traveling... Continue Reading

Biblical Theology: Definitions and Distinctions

With the Protestant Reformation came more of a distinction between biblical and systematic theology

“Before we can organize Christian theology into a coherent body of doctrine, we need to look at it according to its biblical parts, as well as the biblical books that make up those parts.  For example, if we want to seek to gain a proper understanding of the kingdom of God, using both the Old... Continue Reading

The Trap of Assuming Everyone is “Good”

Let’s be wise as serpents in discerning evil, and innocent as doves in regard to its practice.

Not everyone in the visible church is good. Let me say that again. There are wicked, evil, counterfeit “Christians” in most every local church. They are not rare. Some if not many of them are church leaders. They are like a household fungus which, if not combated continually, will always crop up amongst us.  ... Continue Reading

40 Questions About Creation and Evolution

A review of a new book by Kenneth Keathley and Mark Rooker

This book will prove to be helpful for those who want to survey the state of this debate in Evangelicalism today. The authors don’t sugarcoat the controversy and are at times painfully honest. They bring a wealth of research together, surveying the historical background to the controversy and marshal an impressive array of scientific arguments... Continue Reading

The Difference Between a Reward and a Bribe

Rewards and bribes may appear similar in practice, but in reality they teach completely opposite lessons to our children.

Two children may both each receive a lollipop at the grocery store. However the method in which they won their treat has the power to teach two vastly different lessons. It simply will not go well for our children to think that they will be happy by acting miserably. When we reward them for acts... Continue Reading

Don’t Just Think of Him as Your Husband

My husband is my brother in Christ, and he belongs to God

It really helps to put things into perspective. It is so easy to be selfish, even in my prayers for my husband. Sure, I can think that I am being helpful in my communication or in praying for his best, but when I limit his identity and vocation in being my husband, I can become... Continue Reading

Being an Iceberg Pastor

Whatever public ministry he engages in needs to be built upon a lifetime of preparation, growth, character, learning, and reliance on God

The tragedy is that often the models and priorities of church life today do not favour the pastor-iceberg. As a result, most pastors will be tempted to fill up their week with a lot of work that doesn’t allow them to grow deep in God. This is a constant war ground for the pastor’s heart.... Continue Reading

Is Discrimination a Bad Word?

There is a kind of discrimination that is unavoidable and fine, but there is also a kind of discrimination that can be bigoted and unjust.

The rightness or wrongness of the discrimination, I would urge, turns on a very simple point. It all comes down to truth. What is the true state of affairs? Are some of the above examples perverted? If so, what are they perverting from? What is the standard or norm from which they are deviating?  ... Continue Reading

RFRA & My Wedding Ring

Had we been noisy enough, I might have gotten the thing I wanted at the time. But at what price to the commonweal?

The way to protect religious liberty is not to bleat for it but to expose the distortions, conjectural ploys, and rabble-rousing used against it. It requires tooth. By contrast, the bishops’ bridge-over-troubled-waters approach signaled to RFRA antagonists that self-serving outbursts really do work. It cooperated with bootlicking politicians in ceding ground that was never in... Continue Reading

Biblical Love: Seeking My Joy in Your Joy

True, biblical love consists in the sharing of mutual joy—of seeking one another’s joy as one’s own.

My prayer is that the Spirit of God would so work true, biblical love in the hearts of His people, that I would pursue your good as my good, that you would seek your joy in my joy—that God’s people would seek our happiness in one another’s happiness. Do you know what would happen then?... Continue Reading

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