The PCA at 50: Essential Elements from the Past Will Guide the Future
Let us be ever on guard to be sure that the Bible continues to be presented in each of these seminaries as the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
In the end, the PCA did something that no other denomination had ever done before. “Committees of commissioners” were created to oversee the work of the permanent committees. In this manner, the presbyteries as courts of the church oversee the work of the committees through the ruling and teaching elders working as committees of commissioners. The... Continue Reading
Don’t Deny Our Fallenness
Renaming Wheaton’s Buswell Library fails to tell the gospel story.
The recent expunging of the name “Buswell Memorial Library” came as the main concrete outcome of a lengthy committee study of the history of race relations at Wheaton College, commissioned and then approved by President Philip Ryken and the board of trustees. The study itself was a worthy enterprise, revealing many dark spots as well... Continue Reading
A Review of B. B. Warfield’s “The Emotional Life of Our Lord”
Originally written in 1912, the essay itself covers only 83 pages which can be read without much time or effort, but with significant reward.
At a time when the theological winds of his day were denying the deity of Jesus, B. B. Warfield wanted to affirm from the Bible the foundational doctrine of his humanity, that this doctrine should not be lost in the fog of controversy. This he has done well. Jesus the God-Man took upon himself the... Continue Reading
Every Generation Needs Reform: 5 Lessons about Reform from 2 Chronicles
The question isn’t whether churches need changing, but are we being changed and sanctified by the word? If we’re not, then we will be as useful to the Kingdom of God as Ahab’s prophets.
In the case of Jehoshaphat, his reforms produce something far more interesting and engaging and serious than what had previously captured Judah’s attention. In what we might consider rather mundane detail, in commissioning teachers to go to the towns and people with an open Bible, this King was shepherding the people wisely and lovingly. Going... Continue Reading
Rediscovering E. Digby Baltzell’s Sociology of Elites
As hard as elite reform may be, reducing social atomization is more difficult, and trends appear to be moving in the wrong direction.
Baltzell would see the end of the establishment and the collapse of the upper class into an irrelevant rump as a significant underlying cause of many of today’s social maladies, such as the progressive collapse of norms in our political life. This is frequently bemoaned, often with a heavy dollop of blame heaped on one’s... Continue Reading
The Basics: The Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone on Account of Christ Alone
If we are not clear about this great doctrine, we have no assurance of our salvation, no foundation for living the Christian life, and we have no gospel to preach to the unbelieving world around us.
Scripture is clear that faith unites us to Christ, and through faith in him we receive all that he has to give us–namely the forgiveness of sin accomplished by his death, and the gift of righteousness based upon his life of faultless obedience. Through faith in Jesus, our sin is imputed to him so that... Continue Reading
The Sons of God and the Daughters of Man: Part 1
Getting our bearings in a notoriously difficult passage.
In Genesis 3, Eve’s sin occurs when she takes the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree God had forbidden his image-bearers to eat from. Note the language in 3:6: the woman “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes,... Continue Reading
Hammering Out Item 1
The aim of Item 1 is to help calm some of the division caused by a loose use of titles, and reserving in our polity the terms “deacon,” “elder,” and “pastor” to the ordained biblical offices they denote.
Item 1 passes the presbyteries and the 51st General Assembly, the most radical changes in churches may just be more clear labels of who is a “Youth Pastor” (and is ordained) and who is a “Youth Director/Coordinator” (and is unordained staff); or, who is in the ordained diaconate as distinguished from those who should properly... Continue Reading
The Most Terrifying Verse in the Bible
Dear Christian, as you read 2 Timothy 4:10, your heart should scream: “How?! Why?!
We hear of grandiose catastrophes, such as missionaries who, despite many years of preparation, choose adultery at the expense of their family and ministry. We hear of husbands who succumb to the allure of money, forsaking everything else. And we hear of individuals like Demas, who opt for the pleasures of this age even after... Continue Reading
You Probably Have a Good Pastor
I am calling for careful consideration as to whether we have made too much of the bully pastor while irresponsibly neglecting the far more common reality of the bullied and wounded pastor.
Has the glut of material dedicated to diagnosing and exposing bad pastors been recklessly unaccompanied and counterweighted by the far less interesting fact that most of us have good pastors? What is more, has the definition of bullying become so broad and subjective that nearly every pastor can be accused of bullying by doing no... Continue Reading
What the Jubilee of Aquinas Says About Rome and Roman-Protestant Relations (in Some Quarters)
Of great concern is that the movement to promote the teachings of Thomas Aquinas has been welcomed by some Protestant academics.
Some of the Reformers quote Aquinas approvingly, but their doing so is not abundant or unqualified, and much less does it suggest a praise of his person or a general commendation of his doctrine. The contemporary advocates of studying Thomas sometimes make it sound like the Reformers (and Puritans, et al) were Thomistic to the... Continue Reading
God the host, God the dinner companion, God the meal, invites us to come and eat with him.
You don’t have to be best friends with everyone you invite over but we are supposed to welcome strangers. Do it by degrees, go a little further than before, but make your table a hub of life and hope to those who eat at it. Beyond the commands of scripture, we could talk about cultural... Continue Reading
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Goddess
Christians should take note of the increasing clarity of the neopagans.
We really ought to appreciate how overt the religious themes in the ad are. Humans sacrifice and perform good works in order to placate an angry deity. Modern neo-paganism has rarely been as well-represented in such a short video. I half-expected one of the employees to slaughter a ram on top of an altar of... Continue Reading
Manning the Cultural Ramparts
On Christopher Rufo’s 'America’s Cultural Revolution'.
One reason Rufo’s book is so helpful is that it collects information that otherwise is so scattered as to make it hard to get a good, overall picture of the radical changes taking place in American society. By doing so it shows average Americans that they’re not crazy. Things really are headed off the rails... Continue Reading
Our System of Doctrine
“The system of doctrine” phrase in the past referred to the Confessional documents themselves as containing the doctrines found in Holy Scripture.
One danger of reducing “the system of doctrine” down to a generic “Calvinistic system” – such as we see argued for by Charles Hodge – is that such a move was not the original intention of either our American Presbyterian forefathers or the Westminster Divines. What is fundamental to our doctrinal standards? Is it Calvinism?... Continue Reading
Having the Street Smarts to Talk about God
New book helps Christians to converse about tough issues.
In ‘Street Smarts’, Koukl teaches the kinds of questions that are most effective while also providing sample conversations on the most common topics, which is another very important contribution of this book. In addition to answering the misconceptions about faith that people often have—from God’s existence to the divinity of Jesus—Street Smarts helps believers engage... Continue Reading
The Silent Ministry Killer
Protecting our next generation of ministers is not optional. The living God does not take this matter lightly.
The Lord Jesus Christ provides his church with the tools necessary to expose abusive ministers and protect young ministers. For example, he provides a roadmap for godly confrontation in Matthew 18. Most importantly, as the Good Shepherd, he models what it is to effectively shepherd the flock of God (John 10). Instead of preying upon... Continue Reading
Cessationist: The Film
The stakes are high, which means we do well to deepen our understanding and sharpen our convictions.
Does ‘Cessationist’ offer a valid defense of its position? While admitting that I am by no means unbiased, I believe it does. Before it offers any substantial critique, it explains why there is solid evidence within Scripture that God meant for the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit to operate for a time, but then to... Continue Reading
Man Shall Not Live by Online Bread Alone
The Supplement Is Not a Substitute
The allure of shortcuts is an ever-present temptation, in matters of faith just as in other spheres of life. Friendship is hard. Church life is difficult. To cultivate a rich and meaningful life with God takes time and effort. We won’t grow in holiness and righteousness by racing to supplements designed to help us bypass... Continue Reading
Know Your Flock Before You Preach
Spending time getting to know those entrusted to our care is an act of love.
Three connected tasks demand the time of a pastor-teacher: preaching/teaching; people-work; and leading/admin. A wise pastor, it was recommended, gives a third of his time to each of these tasks, each task relating to and serving the others. To preach effectively involves knowing the people to whom we are preaching. Knowing the people fuels our... Continue Reading
“Fact-Checking” the Resurrection
Skeptics of Christianity often challenge the truth about the resurrection, but they do so without evidence.
Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, testified that the resurrected Christ Jesus appeared not only to the apostles but also to more than 500 other people (1 Cor. 15:6)! There were quite a few witnesses whom skeptics could examine, but instead of fading away as a conspiracy, the truth of Jesus’ resurrection was... Continue Reading
When Genuine Obedience Becomes Impossible, Hell Becomes Impossible as Well
There are real serious warnings in Scripture where Paul will list off certain types of sins and say that if you’re marked by these, you don’t inherit the kingdom of heaven.
There’s no way to understand the pastoral epistles unless you realize Paul has a category for Christians who are living a faithful, obedient life, and a category for those who are not repentant, in whom there’s no progress. They’re so marked intractably by these sins without fighting, without struggle, giving themselves over to them that the... Continue Reading
On Being For and Against
Almost all important choices involve being for something and against other things. And in the culture wars, there really is no way of getting around this.
We need to think of finding creative and positive ways in which to make our case, especially in the culture wars. These folks are right to suggest that we should be known more for what we champion than what we resist. But in most of these contentious issues of the day, to be for something... Continue Reading
“Pride” Is Nothing to Be Proud Of
The whole Pride agenda is wrong and profoundly immoral. Pride neither is nor has anything to be proud of.
As God’s Word teaches over and over, you, and all lost sinners, are called to recognize your sinful condition before God, acknowledge it, and repent by turning from it, and accepting the only remedy He has provided to deliver you from eternal death: the gift of eternal life. The saving remedy God provided was to... Continue Reading
Public Pulpit Prayers
Public prayer has different parameters because of its public and open nature. So how can you prepare for public prayer?
One way to learn how to pray well is to read the prayers of others. You can use these in the pulpit to great personal and congregational benefit. Can you pray extemporaneously? Of course! Yes. But you can also bring written prayers into the pulpit as well. In public prayers remember that as a minister, you... Continue Reading
Let Suffering Lead to Gentleness, Not Bitterness
Cultivating Gentleness in the Tossings
A gentle spirit isn’t cultivated through gritted teeth, clenched fists, and a strained smile. Gentleness grows in a heart set on this truth: the Lord is near (Phil. 4:5b). A gentle woman holds a deep, residing peace in her heart that comforts her anxieties. She knows her life is in God’s hands, therefore anything that... Continue Reading
Is Our Kingdom Failing His Kingdom
We need young believers trained and equipped and envisioned with the gospel strategy; to die to self in service of the Gospel and Christ’s bride – the church (and not just the comfortable, good looking bits).
Church planting is all about dying to self. It means leaving something comfortable and which we love [don’t plant a church, or join a plant, because you are unhappy with where you are] to start something new. It means labouring with a smaller team, a smaller budget, a smaller leadership, and having to establish all... Continue Reading
(WCF 4) Creation: “Man”-ifesting God’s Glory
Creation is not about the creature; it is about the Creator.
Man’s dominion over the creatures proceeded from his relationship with the Lord Who gave him that dominion. It is not enough to say that man’s relationship to God was primary and his relationship to the other creatures secondary. Rather, how man conducts himself in the creation is to display him as being made in God’s image.... Continue Reading
Justification: The Source of Righteousness
God has graciously provided a righteousness that comes only from Him on the basis of faith alone.
Because God’s righteousness is eternal, the one who receives it from Him enjoys it forever. Paul makes it very plain throughout all of his epistles that this righteousness is never imparted to anyone on the basis of law keeping. No, it has been manifested apart from the law. What does it mean, “even the righteousness of God... Continue Reading
A High Ecclesiology in the Digital Age
Our digital efforts should reinforce the work of the embodied local church, not replace it.
As members of Christ’s body, we should connect ourselves as members of a local expression of that body. Digital space disconnects us from our bodies, communities, and physical locations, and swirls us about in cyberspace, but the church roots us in reality, grounds us in love, and is ground zero for our life with Christ. ... Continue Reading