The Regulative Principle of “Liturgical Sameness?”

So long as the elements prescribed in Scripture are present and nothing is added by way of elements, a church does not sin merely because it chooses to organize its worship differently than some other PCA church

The fact that one church might choose to organize its worship differently than another is not, in itself, evidence that the RPW has been broken or neglected. The RPW does not promote the idea that unless a principle institutes uniformity then it has failed as a principle. There are those who argue that unless there is,... Continue Reading

Christ’s Love For God’s Folk

If you’re through with local saints does it not wave a red flag and set alarm bells off?

Among this ‘band of brothers, ’ I’m sure there were many irritating personalities and not a few frustrating friends. Yet in this time of stress petty annoyances disappeared. Their delightful excellent traits of a gracious godly disposition came out in their true colours as they fought for their lives and leader and the advancement of... Continue Reading

The Church Of The Holy Elaboration

In principle, the Reformation was rejection of well-intended but unauthorized elaborations.

When we say sola Scriptura we are saying, in part, that Scripture is enough and that, unless God has commanded it, the church has no authority to impose a doctrine or practice, however beneficial it may seem at the time. The unique magisterial authority of Scripture means that we are free from ostensible additions to Christ’s finished... Continue Reading

The Pastorate: More Than The Pulpit (Bridges)

When the pulpit and the pastoral work are both flourishing, it will help keep a congregation united.

The pulpit is only part of a pastor’s ministry. Of course, it is a major and central part of the ministry, but the pulpit is not the only part. A pastor also has pastoral work to do; this too is an essential part of his ministry. I appreciate how Charles Bridges explained this. It’s also... Continue Reading

When Anger Rears Its Ugly Head

My hope is found in embracing what the Spirit is doing in me as I fight against evil and my flesh.

My hope for our marriage is found in surrendering to the work he is doing in our hearts as we fight for good.  I find hope for my kids in believing they will see more of Jesus as they watch their parents struggle with anger and fight to believe the gospel in front of them,... Continue Reading

Is the Enemy of My Enemy My Friend?

Mormons, Roman Catholics, Orthodox Jews, and a host of others share many of our enemies in this respect. But, to what extent is there a unity among us?

At a second level, we certainly see all those who defend human life and human dignity, marriage and gender, and the integrity of the family as key allies in the current cultural struggle. We listen to each other, draw arguments from each other, and are thankful for each other’s support of our common concerns. We... Continue Reading

Questioning a False Dichotomy

I am all for the pursuit of biblical and robust orthodoxy. Then why not an equally robust orthopraxy?

Is there a contradiction between affirming male elders and being concerned that harmful ideas about gender may contribute to harmful responses to domestic abuse? Absolutely not. Can I love the doctrine of God and speak up about racial attitudes and divisions? Yes, and amen. Why should I have to choose between orthodoxy and orthopraxy? There... Continue Reading

The Hottest Thing at Church Is Not Your Pastor or Worship Leader

According to Gallup, it’s the sermon.

Even so-called seeker sensitive churches have discovered that theological depth appeals to lapsed Christians and non-believers. Last year, Ed Stetzer cited several examples of congregations (such as Oklahoma megachurch Life.Church) that shifted toward more rigorous teaching once they noticed interest from the unchurched: “In other words, those for whom sermons were being dumbed down aren’t dumb. They... Continue Reading

Douthat’s Wager: Go to Church, Even If You Don’t Believe

The argument Douthat makes is similar to one made by another conservative Catholic, the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal, more than 350 years ago

“Douthat adapts Pascal’s case to a more secular age by bracketing belief. For the sake of his argument, it doesn’t matter if there’s such a thing as heaven or hell. The benefits of religion are all right here on earth. Just go to church, meet people, celebrate the holidays, learn about morality, bury the dead,... Continue Reading

Year 29 For This Column – Yes, Lots of Journalists Still Need to Get Religion

If journalists want to cover real stories in the real lives of real people in the real world, then they need to be real serious when handling religion

“If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?”  ... Continue Reading

The Uniqueness of Christian Service

Christian service is unique for three reasons

“Christian service is about how our redemption in Christ comes into flower in this world. It is what puts hands and feet and lips to God’s holy-love. Once we had as our life’s goal only ourselves. Our self-interest defined our worldview. Now this has changed.”   Serving is not, of course, uniquely Christian. Indeed, the... Continue Reading

First Presbyterian Church Seeks Healing, Redemption For Sins Committed During Civil Rights Era

People referred to it as “that church that wouldn’t let black people in”

“What we did was we explained to them, ‘Well, you’re right. You’re not asking forgiveness for something you didn’t do. You’re asking God to take away any discipline for something your forefathers did. You’re basically asking God to remove the spiritual inheritance of the former church and instead restore to us the spiritual inheritance that... Continue Reading

Where Evangelicals Came From

There is no mystery involved. They were always here. We were just not looking at them.

“Evangelicals” is an elastic term, and FitzGerald intermittently shrinks or stretches it. But she does direct us to the right starting point, to the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Great Awakenings, major religious events in our early history when the word “evangelicalism” came into wide American use. Evangelical religion is revival religion, that of emotional contagion.  ... Continue Reading

6 Reasons Catechisms Make Truth Stick

A catechism is a collection of theological questions and answers

“The catechisms are excellent tools to focus like a scope of a rifle. They give us clearer insight into who we are, who God is, how we respond, and how to live life with others. Because of the many faithful pastors who have gone before us, we have at our disposal a collection of confessional,... Continue Reading

Are Women Human in Christian Academia?

I am so grateful that my male colleagues have not marginalized me

“It isn’t surprising that Karen Swallow Prior’s article, not to mention the criticism that followed it, caught my attention. It made me think about the implications of the Billy Graham rule for women in Christian academia. It also made me think about the words of another famous Christian who died just a few years after... Continue Reading

The Need for Cultural Humility

I personally have been confronted in numerous areas as I have encountered new cultures

In each culture I have found truth and aspects to be admired. But as good as our cultures can be, “culture” is created by humans, and like humans, it is fallen. And every culture I have ever encountered has been riddled with sinful attitudes and behaviors.   I had an interesting conversation with a couple... Continue Reading

The Achilles Heel of the New Perspective on Paul

If it can be shown that some first-century Jews did believe in salvation by works, then the foundation of the NPP would begin to crack.

If so, then these passages prove, argues Cara, that at least some first-century Jews did, in fact, believe in works righteousness.  Even if Paul didn’t write these books (though Cara thinks he did), they still show that a works-righteousness mentality was a problem in the first century.  It was a big enough problem that the author... Continue Reading

What Advantage Has The Jew? Much In Every Way.

Most American evangelicals seem unaware of the ways the Abrahamic covenant unifies redemptive history

Paul’s question, “what advantage has the Jew?” comes immediately on the heels of his distinction between those who are Jews inwardly and those who are Jews outwardly. He knew that the moment he made that distinction that he faced the same sort of problem he would address in Romans 9: if it is all down... Continue Reading

Ethnic Inclusion, Gender Roles and the Diaconate

One way of honoring the disenfranchised women in our churches is by praying and acting towards a revival of the role of Diaconate.

In moving forward, practical and intentional actions should be considered. The PCA Book of Church Order encourages the elders of our churches to “select and appoint godly men and women” to assist the Deacons in “caring for the sick, the widows, the orphans, the prisoners, and others who may be in any distress or need” (BCO... Continue Reading

No, Eternal Subordination of the Son is not a Baptist Cabal

The Reformers left a void, having written so little to reaffirm Patristic and Medieval doctrines of God.

To be sure, Grudem, Ware, and others have taken the error of Eternal Subordination of the Son to new heights (or lows). And Southern Baptist seminaries have failed in many ways to train their seminarians in “classical categories of theology developed in Patristic, Medieval, and Reformed orthodox thought.” But much more troubling to me is... Continue Reading

How to Interpret Your Life Events to Experience Peace and Joy

It is not the facts of our lives that bring us trouble or blessing, but our interpretation of them.

We can interpret a painful trial in various ways. Interpretation #1: God is not good. He doesn’t care about me. This interpretation will not bless you, but bring you trouble. Same trial, Interpretation #2: Though this is extremely painful, God is sovereign, loving and good. He has ordained this trial ultimately to display his glory and conform... Continue Reading

What Your Biology Teacher Didn’t Tell You About Charles Darwin

Whatever your views on origins and evolution, we can hopefully all agree that, at present, we give far too much honor to the British thinker who justified genocide

I’ve used British examples because I’m British, and it seems more polite to point out the errors in my own national worldview than in that of other nations. I could’ve pointed out how Darwin’s thinking was used by late 19th-century Americans to justify acts of genocide against Native Americans. I could’ve pointed out how Hitler... Continue Reading

Scoot Over, That’s My Seat

My spot in church is more than just a thoughtless habit.

This is the spot where, week after week, my enthusiastic soprano notes join the booming bass of the church elder two rows ahead to create a joyful noise. This is the place where my heart adds its “Amen” to the united prayers of the whole congregation. This is the seat where the Word of God... Continue Reading

When Suffering Doesn’t Make Sense

God providentially controls our suffering. But why He sends suffering is not always obvious to us. How do we handle such situations?

There can be an apparent disconnect, at least in the short term, between a person’s spiritual life and their outward circumstances. Sometimes evil people prosper while godly people may face enormous suffering (Psalm 73). Turning to the Lord is not a quick fix for all our difficulties. It may bring on greater difficulties. Ultimately, the Lord... Continue Reading

It’s Not the Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone that Saves—It’s Christ Who Saves

The doctrine of justification by faith alone does not save—only Jesus saves.

  If there’s anything that would refute the idea that you can be saved by believing in the doctrine of justification by faith alone would be the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Because the doctrine of justification by faith alone precludes the idea that you could be saved by believing other than believing in... Continue Reading

The Strange Encouragement of the Church’s Appalling History

The story of Church is full of light, but there is an undeniable dark side that we need to accept as well.

An honest reading of church history also makes the Bible’s history far more applicable. There is no hint of a whitewash of Israel in Genesis or Judges, 1 Kings or 2 Chronicles. The story of the early church is full of great achievements alongside rifts, squabbles, betrayals, and disappointments. Scripture paints God’s people as a... Continue Reading

Are Evangelicals Responsible for the Post-Truth Culture?

The author argues that we are in a “post-truth” climate created by a shift in truth values, and holds Evangelicals responsible for this shift.

Worthen characterizes this [presuppositionalism] as the idea that although all people view the world through inbred preconceptions, only Christians have access to absolute truth. The result, she concludes, is that “if this sounds like the forerunner of modern cultural relativism, in a way, it is.” Rephrased, the evangelical contention that only a biblical worldview affords... Continue Reading

Jonathan Edwards and Isaac Newton

This is the world in which Jonathan Edwards lived. Science was not the opponent of theology, but rather its handmaiden.

As George Marsden asserts, Edwards was “profoundly influenced by Isaac Newton, probably the most important thinker of the era. Like many men of his time Edwards was determined to know everything and how it all fit together in God’s universe.” (62) At the bottom of such questions of gravity and solidity was God Himself, recreating... Continue Reading

The Bottle Dungeon

The Bible describes hell as a place of punishment, reserved for those who rebel against God.

No one can really know what hell is like. While we can affirm certain characteristics, we cannot be dogmatic about it, but we must acknowledge it is real. It relates to the justice and wrath of a holy God, inflicted upon all those who reject the One who suffered its torments on Calvary’s cross.  ... Continue Reading

Wyoming Judge Censured For Views On Same-Sex Marriage

State high court allowed Judge Ruth Neely to keep her job but ordered her to officiate all marriages.

Justice Kate Fox, writing for the majority, insisted “Neely’s religious beliefs are not an issue.” Instead, the court ruled Neely’s remarks about homosexuality and same-sex marriage violated judicial standards of conduct and jeopardized the reputation of the Wyoming judiciary. But dissenting justices argued the majority opinion legislates from the bench and forces Neely and like-minded... Continue Reading