What Does “The Empty Hand of Faith” Mean? (Boston)

"Upon the whole we may see that the gospel teaches us to come empty-handed to the market of free grace for remission of sins and God’s favor."

So what does “the empty hand of faith” mean?  It means coming to Christ empty-handed simply to receive the free, gracious gift of full forgiveness.  When we come to Jesus for pardon and justification, we don’t need to bring Him anything in exchange; we don’t need to clean up our act, put nice clothes on,... Continue Reading

The Transgender Matrix: It’s Time to Choose the Red Pill

In the 1999 sci-fi movie The Matrix, the hero, Neo, is given a choice of two colored pills: red or blue

“But a funny thing happened. After about eight years, I gradually awoke. I realized the simple biological truth: I was still a man, had always been a man, and always would be a man. In terms of The Matrix, I took the red pill.”   In the 1999 sci-fi movie The Matrix, the hero, Neo, is... Continue Reading

The One Habit We Want All Our Kids to Have

The introduction to David Murray's new Bible reading plan for kids

Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids has just been officially released. Apart from Amazon, you can also buy it at Reformation Heritage Books or Westminster Books. Access sample pages here. It can be used with any version of the Bible. Here’s the introduction that explains a bit more of the thinking behind the book and it’s aim of... Continue Reading

The Great Migration

This “migration” could also be called, with little exaggeration, The Great Spiritual Betrayal.

McLaren is driven to interfaith thinking and practice because he believes “Religion will not survive if we believe that our religion is the only one true religion” (102). This is why McLaren’s god is surprisingly like, as he claims, the impersonal tribal deities of Africa and the gods of Hinduism, Buddhism and other Eastern religions... Continue Reading

A Failed Attempt At ‘Bible Communism’

The founder of the 19th century Oneida commune believed in an extremely literal sense of ‘love thy neighbor’

“In establishing the society of inquiry as a communal economic unit, Noyes was no doubt influenced by the tradition of Christian socialism, as well as by the more general fad for associationist models in forward-thinking reform circles of the 1840s. But what Noyes was after was a much more radical.”   In Oneida—a runner-up for... Continue Reading

Sundays in the Middle Ages and a Contrast

It's hard to imagine what it would have been like to go to church and be unable to understand what was going on

I can’t imagine not being told why we were celebrating Christ’s death and yet being expected to go through the motions. It would seem exactly like a “mystical spectacle” complete with its own incantations. And this brings us to the heart of the matter – Was the gospel even taught at all? As I partook... Continue Reading

Seven Characteristics of Liberal Theology

Even if one wishes to avoid liberal theology, it would still be wise to know something about a movement that has exerted such considerable influence over the past 200 years.

Liberals believe they are making Christianity relevant, credible, beneficial, and humane. Evangelicals in the line of J. Gresham Machen believe they are making something other than Christianity. That was the dividing line a century ago, and the division persists.   What is theological liberalism? Liberalism is both a tradition—coming out of the late-18th century Protestant... Continue Reading

So Pastor, What’s Your Point?

Just because a sermon has points, doesn’t mean it’s got a point.

Most preachers (and I include myself in his) hate being asked for a throughline (or “sermon proposition”). That’s partly because it’s hard work to produce one. But it’s mainly because it usually exposes the lack of one, forcing more work on the sermon in order to create a credible and compelling throughline. But it always... Continue Reading

Predestination Must Be Preached (Augustine)

In the early 5th century Augustine echoed Scripture’s teaching on this point as did others later in church history.

“For as piety must be preached, that, by him who has ears to hear, God may be rightly worshipped; modesty must be preached, that, by him who has ears to hear, no illicit act may be perpetrated by his fleshly nature; charity must be preached, that, by him who has ears to hear, God and... Continue Reading

A Review: Resilient Ministry: What Pastors Told Us About Surviving and Thriving

Resilient Ministry is a summary and analysis of American pastors’ reflections considering long-term fruitful ministry and the effects of stress.

This work unfortunately becomes a collection of aphorisms, like a bag of  fortune cookies. The advice is often very good and helpful but it all lacks a biblical and theological framework. This makes it impossible to use as a guide to ministry choices. Because this core is missing, it becomes a platform for the contemporary... Continue Reading