Why the Reformation Still Matters

None of the goodness or relevance of the Reformation’s insights have faded over the last five hundred years.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Europe had been without a Bible the people could read for something like a thousand years. Thomas Bilney had thus never encountered the words “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). Instead of the Word of God, they were left to the understanding... Continue Reading

Philosophy Rebuts Key Barrier Between Science and Religion

It is not that observation and experience were irrelevant to Descartes; rather, his idea was that truths about the natural world should hold with the same degree of certainty as those of mathematics.

How did Descartes hit upon this conservation law? Not simply by observing nature. “In fact,” he points out, “it often happens that experience may appear to conflict with the rules I have just explained.” Descartes believed that the methodology of physics resembles mathematics more than the “scientific method” we learn in school — beginning not... Continue Reading

From Luther to Merkel

Germany’s long-abandoned Reformational past could offer hope for its future.

 “I believe in God, and religion is also my constant companion, and has been for the whole of my life. We as Christians should above all not be afraid of standing up for our beliefs.” Merkel, now 63, was a preacher’s kid: Her father was a Lutheran pastor. She does not attend church regularly but... Continue Reading

The Boy Scouts and the Disappearance of Paths

The Boy Scouts offered a pathway toward manhood, a vision of the good life that brought together nature and nurture, and lifted up a moral vision to be pursued and cherished.

But the disappearance of paths leads to the disappearance of meaning. In the past, those who transgressed well-worn paths found the experience exhilarating precisely because there were paths to transgress. Today, with pathways quickly disappearing, even the most brazen acts are met with a yawn. Some LGBT writers mourn the normalcy brought by gay marriage, because... Continue Reading

Willow Creek Chooses Co-Ed Pastors to Succeed Bill Hybels

Megachurch becomes biggest in America to appoint a female lead pastor.

“When we saw this shaping up, we had to ask ourselves, ‘Can our congregation have a lead pastor that’s a woman?,’” said Hybels, speaking from Willow Creek’s central campus in South Barrington, Illinois, one of seven locations in the Chicago region that draw a collective total of 25,000 worshippers each weekend. “And because this is... Continue Reading

Idolatry at the Office: Confessions of a Workaholic

However noble our efforts may appear to the world, we labor in vain when we strive apart from God.

To someone scrambling for worth in the dark, the accolades were intoxicating. I soon guarded my professional identity as if it were a crust of bread during famine. I embraced a twisted asceticism that denied worldly comforts in favor of “doing the right thing.”   During my second year of surgical residency, I totaled my... Continue Reading

Tota Scriptura

The issue that we face in our day is not merely the question of sola Scriptura but also the question of tota Scriptura, embracing the whole counsel of God

In this case, the Bible is reduced to the status where the whole is less than the sum of its parts. This is an issue that the church has to face in every generation, and it has reappeared today in some of the most surprising places. We’re finding, in seminaries that call themselves Reformed, professors... Continue Reading

The Piper Debate and the Federal Vision Controversy

One more time: The Federal Vision comes round again.

Never denying the Reformed doctrines of election, regeneration, and perseverance in the arena of God’s decrees, they chose to “move, live, and have their being” in the realm of the objective covenant.  In the realm of the objective covenant, all those baptized are regenerated and justified, the elect can fall away, and the Last Judgment... Continue Reading

There’s Never Been a Better Time to Be a Christian

In the fight for morality, we have truth and Jesus on our side.

Original editor’s note: Campbell Markham is a Presbyterian minister in Australia. He delivered this address on September 7, 2017, at the Tasmanian launch of the Coalition for Marriage. Currently, Pastor Markham is defending himself against an anti-discrimination prosecution brought against him for his writings on marriage.   What a mess our poor nation is in. There... Continue Reading

Sorry, Pastor – Numbers Are NOT People

Church metrics can be helpful. But only if we use them wisely. And hold them lightly.

This is a reminder to put people ahead of stats. Whether our church is growing, shrinking or static, we need to celebrate stories of changed lives more than our attendance numbers. Don’t pursue a bigger crowd at the cost of a healthier church. We need congregations where people truly do come before numbers. Keep ministering.... Continue Reading

The Five Choices Of Declining Churches

Leaders of declining churches have five choices.

Leadership recognizes the simple choice is, “change or die.” The church decides to make significant leadership, methodological, organizational, structural, and philosophical changes. Advantages: The church may reverse the decline and become a gospel influence in the community again. For those who are on board, there can be a sense of radical obedience to the gospel.... Continue Reading

Can We Trust Government To Correct Our Cognitive Biases?

Can we trust government to be less prone to cognitive error than the private-sector consumers whose mistakes we want to correct?

Critics have found evidence that some of the cognitive biases identified by behavioral economists are not as severe asis often claimed, or may even be artifacts of flawed experiment methods.  Nonetheless, as Thaler and others have effectively shown, cognitive bias is often a genuine problem. Few if any people are as systematically rational as homo... Continue Reading

Air Force Punishes Colonel Over Marriage Views

U.S. Air Force suspends an officer and revoked his recommendation for promotion to brigadier general because he would not sign an unofficial document affirming a retiring subordinate’s same-sex marriage.

Col. Leland B.H. Bohannon, Air Force Inspection Agency commander at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., signed all the requisite documents for a senior noncommissioned service member’s May retirement ceremony except for one: a letter of “spousal appreciation” for the gay serviceman’s partner.   (WNS)–U.S. Air Force officials have suspended a decorated officer and... Continue Reading

Westminster & Preaching: Prayer and the Pulpit

Preaching cannot live without prayer.

Because men are sinners, prayer must always be employed in preaching. Prayer before and after preaching must not only plead that God graciously overcome the ruinous effects of our sin, but that God would also turn his anger away from our obstinacy and unbelief.   In his first sermon on our Lord’s prayer in John... Continue Reading

An Open Letter to those Suffering with Depression

I want to assure you right up front that there is hope and there is help.

Recovery took longer than I expected or wanted and I was surprised at how many different components were involved in my healing. But have hope: if you are patient and use all the different means God has provided, you will most likely be among the 95% of people who do get better. You’ve already taken... Continue Reading

Survey Finds Most American Christians Are Actually Heretics

We’re an embarrassment to heretics everywhere

Why does it matter that we’ve become a nation of doctrinal dunces? What harm is there in flunking Christianity 101? Well, for Christians, the answer is obvious. If we really believe what we profess—that the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single most important fact of history and eternity—then we’d better... Continue Reading

Forbidden Friendships: Can Men and Women Be Friends?

Can men and women be platonic friends, or should they avoid each other?

In response to the sexual revolution of the 1960s, various high-profile scandals, and the recent changes in marriage laws, many Christians have gotten defensive about marriage. It is right for us to defend the Biblical doctrines of marriage. But in doing so we have exalted the relationship to a godlike status promising it can fulfill... Continue Reading

“Faith that Maketh a Man Righteous”: Hugh Latimer on Being Saved by Faith Alone

"our merits are not able to deserve everlasting life: it is too precious a thing to be merited by man"

Elsewhere, in his famous sermon The Sermon on the Plough, Latimer positively and in succinct Reformation fashion, described saving faith as “a faith that embraceth Christ, and trusteth to his merits; a lively faith, a justifying faith; a faith that maketh a man righteous, without respect of works.” Little wonder that Latimer affectively described this faith... Continue Reading

Multi-Tiered Salvation

Whenever someone implies that there are multiple tiers to salvation, I get suspicious.

This is one teaching that will rob you of your assurance and confidence in Christ. Why? Because there is an “initial” salvation that gets you in the door – forgiveness of your sins, but you need to haul yourself to the next level by your surrender. The act of surrender also needs to be a... Continue Reading

Is It Really God Speaking to You?

The problem with equating the voice of your conscience to the voice of God: your conscience can be wrong.

This is why that voice in your head needs to be submitted to God’s Word and not just assumed it is God. God could very well be using your conscience. It is not wise to go against your conscience. But our conscience must be recalibrated to the word of God. It is also possible that your conscience could be... Continue Reading

Yes, You Should Say Something: Overcoming Awkwardness with Grieving People

Grieving people aren’t expecting you to say something that will take away the hurt. They’re really just hoping you will be willing to hurt with them.

What makes a great friend in the midst of grief is someone willing to overcome the awkwardness to engage. He or she comes alongside and is willing, at least for a while, to agree that this is terrible, unexplainable, the worst. No forced looking on the bright side. At least not yet. No suggesting you should... Continue Reading

Provocative Platforms

A fall from grace affects us all.

The Driscolls, Tchividjians, and Webbs are responsible for their sinful choices. But I can take responsibility for my part in clamoring for their platform—for the longevity of their brands. And perhaps if I recognize my own culpability, I can begin to consider what it may look like to turn from living as one unfilled and... Continue Reading

The Baffling Call of God

The gospel allows us to move ahead without having all the answers, without knowing perfectly the purposes of God.

Confident of God’s call on my parents to serve Him in Africa, I was baffled by what they were enduring for the sake of the needy there. Furthermore, as I dealt with my own weary and broken heart, I was baffled at what God was doing in my own life. None of it made sense.... Continue Reading

God Works Through His Appointed Means

"Yes, it is far better that he comes through the gospel than that he would now enter in through the door; for you would not even know him even though he came in."

The Christian must give priority to the outward institutions of the Word, both in preaching and in the sacraments. As God came to us in the incarnation, so He continues to come through outward means to accomplish His purpose. They are the means that God has appointed and through which He works by His Spirit.  ... Continue Reading

Does John Piper Believe in Salvation by Works?

The issue is: “Does Piper reject Reformed orthodoxy regarding salvation by faith alone?”

Reformed confessions’ teaching on salvation by faith alone, if Piper answered these questions: 1. Does justification received now in this world by faith declare not only God’s present verdict but what shall be his final verdict regarding his people? 2. Can justification, once declared, be revoked? 3. Will any who are justified in this age... Continue Reading

The Old Perspective on the Works of the Law

The Reformers understanding of Paul's argument radically impacted later Protestant formulations on the doctrine of justification.

According to proponents of the New Perspective(s) on Paul, justification does not–as the Reformed have always maintained–involve the imputation of Christ’s righteousness by faith alone. The crux of the argument has to do with how one defines the phrase “works of the Law” (and its various related forms in Pauline literature).   Biblical studies have... Continue Reading

The First Lady in France

For Marie Dentière, the astonishing news of saving grace and the powerful message of equality before God were truths that had been suppressed by the Catholic Church and needed to be shouted from the housetops by anyone who had seen them for themselves in God’s word.

Far more than a historian, Marie Dentière was an articulate (if inflammatory) evangelist. She loved and revered the Bible, was distressed that the Catholic Church had withheld so much of it from the people, and preached that every person, including women, should be able to read God’s precious and glorious words for themselves.   Born... Continue Reading

College Professors Aren’t Killing Religion

But college degrees certainly aren’t helping.

A bevy of recent academic work casts doubt on the idea that college experience directly undermines religious identity (even if the studies do not all come to precisely the same conclusion). A pair of University of Texas sociologists argue that “the religious belief systems of most students go largely untouched for the duration of their education.” They... Continue Reading

In By Grace, Stay In By Faithfulness?

Everyone must say with David: “Lord, do not enter into judgment with your servants, for before you no living person shall be justified.”

“Men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for... Continue Reading

What the Church Can Learn from Weinsteingate

As church history makes clear, especially recent church history, many churches have their own Harvey Weinsteins, and we haven’t covered ourselves in glory in dealing with them.

A person’s gifts and usefulness should never be used to cover or balance out evil. Just as, “But he makes great films,” and, “But he makes us lots of money,” were used for decades to excuse Weinstein’s abuse, so “But he preaches great sermons” and “But he brings in lots of people/money/publicity” can also excuse... Continue Reading