Back to the Early Church?

It will not do to romanticize the early church into something that is inherently superior

During the early church, errors flourished. Errors existed over large matters such as the deity and incarnation of Christ (Colossians) and justification by faith alone in Christ alone (Galatians). People struggled with other errors. Did God’s people miss the resurrection of the righteous (2 Tim. 2:18)? Will dead Christians miss Christ’s return (1 Thess. 4:13-18)?... Continue Reading

United Methodist Schism & Local Churches

A debate in over 30,000 local United Methodist congregations about sex will be the mother of all ecclesial battles, exceeding in rancor and venom all previous controversies.

That a formal United Methodist schism, forcing thousands of local congregations effectively to choose sides, would be chaotic and destructive does not of course mean it won’t happen.  And maybe, from the perspective of purity, such division must happen, before there can be renewal and new life, some firmly believe. But whatever happens, United Methodist... Continue Reading

Taking Back Christianese #3: “God is Always Pleased with You”

Is this response helpful? Yes and no. It depends on what a person means and how they frame it.

It confuses justification and sanctification.  This phrase can be used in such a way that it takes what is true of justification (God sees the perfect righteousness of Christ) and applies it without qualification to our sanctification (therefore God is never concerned about our sin).   In other words, it assumes that if God is pleased... Continue Reading

The World’s True Hope

Where are Christians to look in seeking for hope in 2016?

What is the hope to which Christians should be looking in this world? Our hope is not in the secular city, which in time always reverts to the Cainite mean. Our hope is in God, on whom we call, to whom we pray, to whom we offer worship, and for whom we proclaim the saving... Continue Reading

Explainer: Divine Simplicity and the Trinitarian Controversy

If you have followed the recent upheaval over the Trinity and gender, you may have asked yourself these questions

This doctrine [divine simplicity] was once taken for granted by basically everyone, from the earliest days of the church through to the Reformation and beyond, and only became unfamiliar quite recently. I’m not going to be able to explain all the details of the idea here. My objective is twofold: to give a basic outline... Continue Reading

What Did Jesus Do for Women?

In a world where women had little or no legal rights and got little or no respect as intellectuals or spiritual people, Jesus came along and turned the world's view of women upside-down.

Contemporary feminists often blame Christianity for being anti-women. Some neo-pagan-minded feminists put “goddess” bumper stickers on their cars, imagining that a return to the days of goddess-worship would liberate them from the male-dominated oppression of the church. A close reading of the New Testament against the cultural background of the first-century Roman Empire tells a... Continue Reading

Your Work Never Goes Unseen

Our work is done for God's glory and fame, not our own. It's not done for the praise or accolades of man but for the sake of our Savior.

So friends, if you are working hard for the Lord, don’t give up. Don’t despair. All your work done for God’s glory is storing up for you eternal treasures that far outweigh any accolades or acknowledgement in the here and now. None of it is wasted or lost. Your quiet faithfulness in all things, even... Continue Reading

CALVINIST: A Documentary On the Development of the Modern Calvinist Movement

The film’s anticipated release date in October 2017.

Well-known and not-so well-known Calvinists alike will be interviewed and help explain where Calvinism came from and why it is making a sudden comeback. Lanphere will attempt to discover what circumstances led to the resurgence of Calvinism, its successes and perhaps where it’s falling short. Finally, the film will seek to point young Reformed people... Continue Reading

I Am Not a Complementarian

I need a new way to describe myself.

So from now on when people ask me where I am in regard to male/female roles in church and the home I will simply say that I am Confessional. That is, I am part of a church and denomination which has a substantial and clear confession of faith and Book of Church Order both of... Continue Reading

A Prayer of Christ-Loving Voters

A prayer to the eternal God for clarity, perspective and priorities as we face issues in our temporal setting.

Yet here on this Earth that You have created, many other things will end.  Peace eventually ends, as do wars.  Wealth is seldom permanent.  Nations rise and fall.  Political parties come and go.  Companies are launched and go bankrupt.  Technology is invented and becomes obsolete.  Illnesses come and go.  You even tell us in Your... Continue Reading

Tribune Of Poor White People: An Interview with J. D. Vance, Author of “Hillbilly Elegy”

“Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis” is an American classic, an extraordinary testimony to the brokenness of the white working class, but also its strengths.

Interestingly, both in my conversations with poor blacks and whites, there’s a recognition of the role of better choices in addressing these problems.  The refusal to talk about individual agency is in some ways a consequence of a very detached elite, one too afraid to judge and consequently too handicapped to really understand.  At the... Continue Reading

The Marrow of Calvinism

The Calvinist believes that God is the Lord of life and Sovereign of the universe

God’s sovereignty is the marrow of doctrinal Calvinism—provided we understand that this sovereignty is not arbitrary but is the sovereignty of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. As [John] Duncan wrote: “It is a holy will that rules the universe—a will in which loving-kindness is locked up, to be in due time... Continue Reading

The Trinity: God is Not an Undifferentiated Monad

The God of Scripture is Triune: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is a Triunity.

“To put it another way, God’s unity is ontological and not just ethical. God’s unity is not the result of a harmonious unanimous vote within the Godhead. The three persons do not form a committee. God’s unity just is the complete and whole interpenetration of the three persons of Father, Son, and Spirit.”   Some... Continue Reading

Ken Ham and Bill Nye: Round Two

Young Earth Creationist Ken Ham and Bill Nye “The Science Guy” have squared off again

“At the very least, round two of the Ham-Nye bout demonstrates the intractability of the creationist position, at least on the popular level. A cursory glance at the comments section of The Washington Post article, for instance, reveals a number of proud Ham supporters.”   Young Earth Creationist Ken Ham and Bill Nye “The Science... Continue Reading

Resting Upon the Pillow of God’s Promises

The truth of God’s promises comforts and provides rest for his children

“Each night before bed I consider my day. I think of my sin, God’s evident grace, and his unflinching faithfulness. As I prayerfully inspect my own heart my head rests on the pillow of God’s promises. They are the comfort and means of rest to my restless soul.”   Recently my wife bought me a... Continue Reading

What It Means That Mike Pence Called Himself An ‘Evangelical Catholic’

The phrase says a lot about religion, Indiana and the governor himself

“One of the more publicly shared accounts of Pence’s transition from a Catholic youth minister who wanted to be a priest to an evangelical megachurch member came in 1994. That’s when he told the Indianapolis Business Journal about an intense period of religious searching that he underwent in college.”   Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick,... Continue Reading

5 Principles Megachurches Can Learn From Small Churches

Healthy small churches have characteristics that make them work

“Big churches are fond of saying ‘every number is a person’, which is true. But when the crowd gets huge, sometimes people feel like numbers. In a healthy church, every person is a person, not a number.”   Small churches receive a lot from our megachurch friends. We read their books, sing their songs, use... Continue Reading

Heil! the Coming Progressive Utopia

Scotland is a land where preaching the Gospel is compared to noxious Nazism.

The opposition to Christianity takes a troubling turn with the not-so veiled threat of progressive Harvard Professor Mark Tushnet: “The culture wars are over; they [the Christians] lost, we won….taking a hard line is better than trying to accommodate the losers.” There will be, he warns, no accommodations or exceptions.   Commentators in major national... Continue Reading

Does Complementarity Just Boil Down to a Tiebreaker?

The special responsibility of the husband as head isn’t about a moment in a tiebreaker decision

When it comes to something more substantial, like uprooting the family for a career, both husband and wife should empathize with one another. I do believe the husband is called to sacrifice first for the wife. But the first priority of that sacrifice for his wife is to consider the effects of their decision under... Continue Reading

How To Pray When Your Soul Is Bone Dry

Perhaps the hardest thing to do in those times is to even make the effort to pray.

Pray boldly but also pray confidently, relying not on your own words or wisdom, but on the Spirit’s intercession. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our... Continue Reading

Misplaced Fear

Who are you going to fear? Are you going to fear the LORD or are you going to fear man?

So I’m wondering:  How would this election cycle change for us if we were motivated by “the fear of the LORD” instead “the fear of Hillary Clinton” or “the fear of Donald Trump”? What would change if we were kept awake at night by our concern to properly reverence the LORD and not our fear... Continue Reading

Eight Warning Signs of a Bully Church Member

Early warning signs so you won’t be blindsided

They build unhealthy alliances. The bully in one church built an alliance with two weak staff members. The three of them spoke in secret to the personnel committee about the pastor. The pastor was fired without even being asked his side of the story. Watch carefully those the bully befriends.   “I love you pastor,... Continue Reading

Has The Passover Been Abolished?

It is a trend in some Christian circles and churches to host and celebrate Jewish sort of meals that are connected to the Passover.

It may seem interesting and even spiritual to reenact ancient Jewish feasts and meals, but doing so is actually going back to the copies and shadows of the old covenant which is obsolete (Heb 8: 5, 13).  As Hebrews makes very clear, you can’t have the old and the new together – the old is... Continue Reading

We Need a New Name

As a confessional, orthodox, Nicene Christian, I don’t believe the name complementarian defines me or my position on the Trinity or gender roles

Recently I have begun to wonder if it’s time for a new name and a maybe a new movement. Let me explain my reasoning. Whether or not CMBW came up with the term complementarianism, they are the public face of the movement and have defined what it means to be complementarian. Many of the CBMW... Continue Reading

If It Makes You Happy

"Love" is bandied about as the answer to every societal ill.

What is popularly understood as love? The popular notion of “love” seems to be something that more readily resembles “happiness.” If something makes me happy then it is good, not just preferentially but also morally and ontologically. And whatever that good is, it must be celebrated and embraced by all people. This is how love... Continue Reading

The Story After ‘Chariots of Fire’

“The Last Race,” a follow up film to “Chariots of Fire,” is about the ministry of Eric Liddell in China after the 1924 Olympics.

The film first shows Liddell, played by Joseph Fiennes, trudging into an internment camp in 1943, then flashes back to the eastern port of Tianjin and his years in the city as a teacher and missionary after his Olympic victory. After the Japanese invade, he sends his pregnant wife (Elizabeth Arends) and their two daughters... Continue Reading

Evangelical Exodus: The Protestant Seminary That Produced Dozens Of Catholic Converts

A new book tells the story of how numerous faculty members and students of a North Carolina Evangelical seminary found their way to the Catholic Church.

I’d say the fact of authoritative Church councils weighed heavily on me. They essentially were the answer to the above issues of canon and orthodoxy, and they also pointed to what the historic Church was—if the Catholic Church was behind the councils that determined the biblical canon and its orthodox interpretation, was it God-guided or... Continue Reading

Lutherans Armor Up to Defend Women

The U. S. Senate wants to mandate female draft registration—starting a war over conscience.

Last week in Milwaukee ,the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod’s triennial convention passed a resolution, by a 946-89 vote, committing to support “those who have a religious and moral objection to women participating in the selective service system and being subject to a possible draft.” The text of the final resolution built on proposals by more than... Continue Reading

Wisdom and Biblical Principles of Complementarianism

What should complementarianism in the marital relationship look like in a biblically faithful and nuanced fashion?

The Holy Spirit gives us broad principles and examples to follow–thus admitting a measure of subjectivity and necessitating that we seek to proceed with the wisdom that is needed commensurate to the particular situations that may arise. The idea that the Scriptures give us general principles rather than detailed prescriptions for marital situations also tends... Continue Reading

Spin Of The Year

Episcopal Divinity School will cease to grant degrees at the end of the upcoming academic year.

“A school that has taken on racism, sexism, heterosexism, and multiple interlocking oppressions is now called to rethink its delivery of theological education in a new and changing world,” said the Very Rev. Gary Hall ’76, chairman of the board, in introducing the resolution. “Ending unsustainable spending is a matter of social justice.” Translation: “Having... Continue Reading