Morning Mashup 02/07


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10 Reasons to Know a Little Bit of Church History – This will serve as a refresher to all my fellow Church History II students, as well as any and every Christian.

Why John Piper Strives for Ethnic Unity – His answer is theologically, biblically, historically, and practically grounded. We would all do well to learn from his example and join him in the fight.

Leaving the Church Means Leaving Christ – It is an argument like this that nails the coffin shut on Donald Miller’s view of the church. Absolutely excellent piece from Denny Burk. “We are not playing games here. Leaving the church means leaving Christ. And that is true no matter who you are or what your learning style is.”

Olympics: Engage Sochi Ready to Launch – Will Baptists have an impact on the winter Olympics in Sochi? Co-director of the ‘Engage Sochi” initiative has some answers.

Nobody Gets the Church They Want – “You may not bring a checklist and clipboard when you show up at church, but we all bring a want-list. Maybe you want a certain kind of music, a certain experience in worship. Maybe you want a preacher who can dive a mile deep into two verses in Romans. Maybe you want charismatic, extroverted leaders who can connect with anyone and always know what to say. Whatever might be on your list, I can guarantee this: not everything on your list is on God’s.”

Don’t Pray Like a Pagan – An excellent lesson on prayer from R.C. Sproul.

When Distractions Keep Us From Our Kids – Here’s one for the moms (and dads) out there. Christina Fox writes, “No doubt, technology provides many benefits to our lives. But we can’t be naïve to the consequences, including primarily its impact on our in-person relationships. It entices us away from face-to-face contact and real authentic connections.”

$5 Friday – More books and resources from Ligonier Ministries on sale today. Be sure to check them out.

When a Christian lives with eternity in mind, shaping life in view of it, death truly does lose its sting. –Owen Strachan

Throwback Thursday: Balthasar Hubmaier on Baptism


otb_throwback_thursday_featuredWhat is baptism of water? This is a question that has sparked debate among faithful, biblically sound Christians for centuries. Should infants be baptized? Should believers only be baptized? Is baptism a work or merit of salvation? Is it a sign? Is it necessary? How necessary?

As you can see, questions over baptism are innumerable, and they come with varying answers that have led to a plethora of denominations within Christianity. Even with these questions and the many answers that have been given, the importance of giving an answer is not diminished. As a Christian, this is an incredibly important doctrine to be able to articulate an answer.

What is baptism, really?

Your answer to this question should determine which denomination you belong to, how you approach universal/local church membership, the Lord’s Supper, etc.

I find it very helpful to not only search the Scriptures and theological works to develop a biblically and theologically sound answer, but to also search the halls of church history. What have Christians throughout the history of the church said and believed about baptism? It is through standing on the shoulders of these stalwarts of the faith that we can more clearly see doctrinal truth.

As a Southern Baptist, the view I hold on baptism found tremendous resurgence in the 16th century with the Anabaptist movement. The theological juggernaut in this movement was a man by the name of Balthasar Hubmaier (1480-1528). He was a Catholic priest who converted to Zwinglian theology in 1523. By 1525, he joined the Anabaptist movement as a result of his conviction that believer’s baptism is the only appropriate understanding of baptism. He was burned at the stake in 1528 by Catholic authorities for his beliefs.

In 1526, he wrote A Christian Catechism to serve as a teaching tool, which propagated his Anabaptist ideas. In the catechism, he addressed the doctrine of baptism. The question is asked: “What is the baptism of water?” This is the answer Hubmaier gives:

It is an external and evident sign of the internal baptism of the Spirit which man gives with the reception of water, whereby he confesses his sins before all men. He shows also thereby that he believes that these are forgiven through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. By this he also lets himself be externally registered, enlisted, and thus, by the baptism of water, incorporated into the community of the church, according to the institution of Christ; before the church the person also openly and verbally makes a vow to God and promises in the power of God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, that he will from now on believe and live according to his divine Word. And where he trespasses in this regard, he will submit to brotherly punishment according to the ordinance of Christ (Matt. 18:15)… (cited in A Reformation Reader: Primary Texts with Introductions, ed. Denis Janz, pp. 202-204)

 

Morning Mashup 02/06


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God Threw A Stone – Tullian Tchividijian: “Though no one on earth can throw the first stone, God can. And he did. The wonder of all wonders is that the rock of condemnation that we justly deserved was hurled by the Father onto the Son. The law-maker became the law-keeper and died for us, the law-breakers.”

John Piper: The Infographic – If you are interested in some basic information about John Piper, this is a creative method for you to get to know this theological juggernaut a little more. So far in my Christian life, no single figure has had more influence on my faith, theology, and ministry concepts than Piper.

How Churches Can Evangelize Their Neighbors – Many helpful thoughts on an important concern of many churches. “[M]ake sure your members understand that, while it’s always good to love our neighbors and build relationships with them for a number of reasons, we love them best by sharing the good news with them. And when gospel conversations do happen, engage the whole church in praying that they would bear fruit and that the Lord would use them to save your neighbors.”

The Merciful Gift of Desperation – Jon Bloom: “Heavenly Father, do whatever it takes to keep us desperate for you so that the deceitfulness of sin does not harden our hearts (Hebrews 3:13). And grant to our suffering brothers and sisters the mercy of sustaining grace. Keep us all faithful by strengthening our faith. And help us to keep praying for each other. In Jesus’s name, amen.”

In Christ, Our Suffering Is Not In Vain – “Jesus suffered for us. Yet we are called to participate in His suffering. Though He was uniquely the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, there is still an application of this vocation for us. We are given both the duty and the privilege to participate in the suffering of Christ.”

Dear Donald Miller – Many have responded to Donald Miller’s post in which he says he doesn’t go to church, but worships God in other forms. This response from Jonathan Leeman may be the best. You will enjoy reading this winsome correction.

We Christians press on because we know that there is laid up for us in God’s presence an inheritance beyond anything we could ever imagine. –Greg Gilbert

Richard Sherman ’30 for 30′ Parody by Frank Caliendo


In this “mockumentary,” comedian Frank Caliendo stars as Andy Reid, Jon Gruden, Chris Berman, Mike Ditka, Bill Belichick, Ron Jaworski, and others to highlight the rising fame of the self-proclaimed “best cornerback in the NFL,” Richard Sherman.

Caliendo nails every single ESPN analyst perfectly. I was rolling in laughter. Sports fans, you must watch this! Enjoy!

Morning Mashup 02/05


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The Central Worldview Clash of the Ham-Nye Debate – Al Mohler provides excellent insight as he comments on the debate between Christian creationist, Ken Ham and atheistic evolutionist, Bill Nye. Mohler writes: “They shared the stage, but they do not live in the same intellectual world. Nye is truly committed to a materialistic and naturalistic worldview. Ham is an evangelical Christian committed to the authority of the Bible. The clash of ultimate worldview questions was vividly displayed for all to see.”

Do We Really Need More Worship Songs? – Stuart Townend: “do we really need more worship songs? Is this latest batch of material actually adding depth and breadth to the current canon of resources? Or is it just causing the genre to become unmanageably bloated, and (perhaps more worryingly) encouraging us to adopt the kind of chew-it-and-spit-it-out attitude towards songs that we have towards so many other ‘products’ in our throwaway, consumerist culture?”

The New American Religion: The Rise of Sports and the Decline of the Church – My pastor and I were talking about this very thing one evening at a middle school basketball game. The idol of sports has millions of worshipers flocking to its “temples.” Mohler laments the correlation between the dramatic increase in sports fandom and the dramatic decline in religious affiliation.

It All Began With Young People: Edwards and Youth Ministry – Spiritual revival in the day of Jonathan Edwards began with young people. This is highly due to Edwards’ pursuit of the youth. Are we pursuing our youth with similar vigor? Or are we content to send them on trips to appease their appetite for fun, all the while ignoring their most basic need?

Review of ‘The Gospel at Work’ – Tim Challies reviews this newly released book written by Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger. The book includes a brief theology of work and it is chock-full of practical applications.

We must fight worldliness because it dulls our affections for Christ and distracts our attention from Christ. Worldliness is so serious because Christ is so glorious. –C.J. Mahaney

Onward Christian Soldier: A Lesson on Fighting Sin from ‘The Faerie Queene’


51x1SLhg30LEdmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene is a 16th century classic work filled with valuable lessons worth heeding by modern readers despite being centuries apart. Through a colorful use of fiction, Spenser weaves a marvelous tale that teaches the human soul, like no history book could. Readers learn with their hearts and imaginations as they journey with the Redcrosse Knight and his fair lady, Una. One overarching theme that is intricately developed throughout Book One is the Christian’s pursuit of holiness as a difficult journey that requires grace fueled fighting. Pursuing holiness requires fighting sin. Sanctification is conveyed as a treacherous battlefield filled with ruthless enemies. The journey requires a godly desire to fight sin through the means of grace granted by God.

In this epic poem, the Redcrosse Knight represents every Christian, and more specifically, a Christian warrior or soldier (I.i.1-2). The focus of Book One is holiness, and this noble Knight of Faerie Land is on a quest that resembles a Christian’s quest for holiness. He is commissioned by his queen to rescue the fair lady Una’s parent’s from the clutches of an evil dragon. As the Redcrosse Knight sets out on this journey with Una, who represents the true Church, or even truth itself, he is met with powerful, destructive, and deceptive adversaries who are vying for his very life. Early on in the tale, Redcrosse and Una travel down a treacherous path that resembles that of temptation and approach a cave filled with blackness and a beast (I.i.10). After ignoring wise warnings from his companion and helper, Redcrosse plunges into the darkness only to meet his first enemy, a mutant serpent named Errours (I.i.12-13).

Soon after the fight begins, Redcrosse finds himself entangled in the deadly grip of the serpent. Though ignoring Una’s first plea to avoid the cave altogether, Redcrosse heeds her battle cry of encouragement: “Now now Sir knight, shew what ye bee/Add faith unto your force, and be not faint/Strangle her, else she sure will strangle thee” (I.i.19). Without fierce fighting, Errours would put Redcrosse to death. However, through this grace of encouragement from Una, Redcrosse defeated the serpent.

By showing the role of faith in killing sin, the point is clearly made that when Christians ignore the warnings of the true Church or when they depart truth, they will fall into the clutches of error and sin. And overcoming error requires fighting with truth as the primary weapon. Spenser develops the necessity for sin-killing effort in the Christian life through Redcrosse’s encounter with Errours.

2883-1-hThis theme is carried on as the couple falls into the deceptive hands of Archimago, a man who appeared godly, but who in reality drugged Redcrosse and Una, deceiving them with dreams (I.i.47), which ultimately leads Redcrosse to leave Una (I.ii.7). One thing that Spenser demonstrates is that through Redcrosse’s continual victories and failures, one thing is certain; the onslaught from his enemies does not cease. Christians cannot expect anything less and, according to Spenser, must continue to fight for holiness. The entire journey is a battleground. It is worth noting that the more deceptive enemies attack the heart of Redcrosse’s strength, namely, his union with Una. This implies that Christians who are at odds with or separated from the true church of Christ will succumb more easily to temptation and sin.

Redcrosse and Una are now separated, but the foes do not cease. Redcrosse is in a constant battle with Duessa, though he does not initially recognize it. And though Redcrosse is capable of defeating smaller enemies, such as the Sarazin knight who lacked faith, without Una’s aid, he lacked the grace necessary to even recognize Duessa’s deceit.

In Duessa’s company, Redcrosse temporarily puts his guard down and stops fighting, both physically and spiritually. Being lured into the House of Pride by its false grandeur, Redcrosse is presented with subtle, but deadly enemies each named for the seven deadly sins (I.iv.18-36). These enemies, along with Sansjoy and Orgoglio, are vividly described as vicious and vile adversaries that cannot only take Redcrosse captive, but kill him.

There is great danger in toying with sin, and without the aid of the church, the Christian can easily fall prey to serpents, evil knights, giants, dragons, and much worse in the quest for holiness. In the end, Spenser brings this theme home with Redcrosse overcoming the giant through the aid of Arthur, the Christ figure, and his ultimate defeat of the dragon, which is a scene in which Philippians 2:12-13 is personified.

All of the fighting and might of a Christian is entirely dependent upon God’s grace. We see this in Redcrosse’s final battle with the vicious dragon. Despite how hard he fought against the dragon, without falling into the Well of Life, he would never have been able to overcome. And who was working in and behind this battle? Spenser seems to believe it is God himself who grants victory: “eternal God that chaunce did guide” (I.xi.45).

blog4Spenser’s theme of fighting sin and temptation as a necessity for pursuing holiness, is fully developed as it is clear that the only way for Redcrosse to ultimately overcome sin and death is by the grace of God. As Redcrosse fights, the grace of God is working in him. The more Redcrosse fights and the more dependent he is on his relationship with Una, the more he overcomes sin and is aware of its presence and vileness.

An example of this kind of fighting in other places in literature can be seen in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. There are many elements of The Faerie Queene found in The Lord of the Rings, including the importance of unity and companionship in the fight against sin and evil. The primary foe Sauron and similar foes like Gollum stand in the way of Sam and Frodo’s quest to return the ring in order to destroy it. Without their perseverance and determination in their fight against evil, they would have succumbed to the hard-pressed pursuit of Sauron.

Overcoming evil and sin requires active sin-fighting faith and reliance on the grace of God in the means he has left us. Spenser conveys this dramatically and vividly in the Redcrosse knight’s journey to rescue Una’s parents from the dragon. We would do well to learn from him and fight sin by the power of God’s grace with the same ferociousness.

Morning Mashup 02/04


coffee-newspaper

When Neighbors Begin – In response to Rachel Held Evans’ comments on when life begins, Douglas Wilson writes: “The size of these tiny people only affects the clarity of the situation if we define the humanity of others on the basis of our limited eyesight. But why is the question of a soul connected to size, as though the naked eye were in charge of these things?”

Returning Home to Ex-Cannibals – “The Sawi were headhunters and cannibals when Don and Carol Richardson arrived in their Indonesian village carrying their seven-month-old boy, Steve—and a message that would change the tribe forever…” In this fifteen minute video, see if things have changed in the past fifty years since the gospel was first taken to these people.

Sneering Calvinists – I have been guilty of many of the things mentioned in this post, but I will heed Rishmawy’s plea: “I’m issuing a plea of sorts to my Reformed brothers and sisters for patience with, or a “helpful humility” toward, those who don’t embrace the distinctives of Reformed theology, Calvinism, and those of us to those who hold it.”

4 Things a Pastor Should Consider Before Engaging Social Media – Some words of caution from Trevin Wax for pastors who are diving in or considering to make the jump into the world of social media.

Death: Shall We Weep or Rejoice? – When a Christian dies, what is the proper response? I know in the past, I have thought very erroneously about this. John Piper nails it in this post.

Donald Miller’s Prescription for Spiritual Suicide – I benefit greatly from Denny Burk’s frequent commentaries on multiple blog posts, articles, worldviews, etc. This is no exception. Errant views of the church can sound attractive, but “prescriptions” like the one Donald Miller provides is unhelpful, unbiblical, and dangerous for the soul.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men now not reck his rod? –Gerard Manley Hopkins

Receiving the Bible for the First Time in Your Language: This is Why We Go


openbibleHere are two videos that should be motivation enough for active and passionate participation in evangelism and missions. The countless hours of language learning that goes into Bible translation is well worth it. I thank God for those whom he is using to extend his grace through Christ to the nations through translating the Bible into countless languages. A few things are clear in these two videos.

1. The mission is not yet accomplished.

2. The mission is well worth the sweat, blood, and tears.

3. God’s glory is evident in the joy of all peoples.

This video is from China.

 

This video shows the Bible being opened for the first time in this people’s native tongue.

HT: Justin Taylor

Should We Marry If We Disagree About Baptism?


baptism2I was recently asked this question in a class discussion. I was glad that this question was asked, as it is a highly practical issue that would need to be handled properly and with great care. What I will do here is outline the presuppositions of the question and then attempt to give an answer. I would love for you to contribute to this discussion by commenting below.

The Question

The question simply is this: Should a couple who differs on the doctrine of baptism marry? The scenario is this: A man who believes in believer’s baptism only (say, a Baptist) is dating a woman who believes in infant baptism (say, a conservative Presbyterian). They are both incredibly biblically convinced of their positions. They are both strong believers and passionately committed to Christ. The two have expressed a desire to marry. What advice would I give them? What would I counsel them to do?

My Answer

This is a somewhat lengthy post, so if you are just here to see where I stand, then let me sum it up for you. Should a couple who differs on the doctrine of baptism marry? No, for the sake of unity in marriage and the inevitability of practical problems that would arise.

Biblical Basis

An exegetical (biblical) basis for my answer is found in 1 Corinthians 7:39. In reference to widows, the apostle Paul writes,

“A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.”

There is a level of unity that should exist between a couple considering marriage. Marrying “in the Lord” implies that there are certain issues that should keep two people from marrying. Firstly, Christians should never marry non-Christians (v. 39). Marriage is not a mission field (1 Cor. 7:16). So, if a couple is at odds on primary issues (the Trinity, the atonement, authority of Scripture, the person of Christ, etc.), they should not marry. I also believe that there are secondary issues that could keep two believers from marrying “in the Lord.” One example that would fall under this category is gender roles. There needs to be unity in understanding and practice of gender roles. Essentially, and most desirably, the two should affirm biblical complementarianism. Husband and wife are equal in worth, but distinct in role (see Eph. 5:22-33).

Another secondary issue that I feel should keep two believers from marrying is baptism. I would not go so far as to say it is impossible for a practicing Presbyterian and Baptist to marry, but I would consider such a marriage to be unwise. There are too many practical problems on the horizon for these couples.

An Example in Inter-Denominational Ministry

When I consider how I would do ministry with someone who affirms infant baptism (say, an evangelical, conservative Presbyterian), I could see partnering with him in a conference setting where we can solely focus our strengths around those central themes of the faith that we both passionately affirm. I could write a book with a Presbyterian. I could even engage in a healthy debate over the issue of baptism.

However, I am not certain I could do missionary work with a Presbyterian. I know I could not plant a church with him. The more intimate issues of the faith, such as church membership, gathering for worship on a regular basis, partaking of the Lord’s Supper, etc. would have us at odds and thus require us to not cooperate in such settings. There are a few important issues that require us to remain separate or not unified, according to our biblical convictions and consciences. Of course, the two of us could be great friends and partners in the gospel in many ways.

The Uniqueness of Marriage

But friendship is not marriage.

I would apply this line of thought to a couple with differing doctrinal understandings of baptism considering marriage. Though I would tread carefully, I would encourage this couple to be patient and to continue to search the Scriptures. I would advise them to show considerable grace to one another as they delve into this issue. I would encourage them to honestly consider each position, all the while pointing them to credible literature dealing with this doctrine. I would have them not only speak with me on this issue, but speak with the pastor of the one who affirms infant baptism (assuming they already attend separate churches).

Assuming they are both totally set in their biblical and theological convictions; and after considerable time are still at odds on this issue, I would advise them to not marry. Marriage is to be an earthly demonstration of a heavenly reality. It is a picture of the relationship between Christ and his Church. As such, to glorify the grandeur of this relationship, it is important that there be unity between husbands and wives (particularly on primary and even certain secondary issues).

A couple who differs on interpretations of Revelation (what I consider a tertiary issue) will disagree, but at the end of the day, be able to worship regularly together and be on the same page when it comes to their children.

On the other hand, a couple who differs on the issue of baptism will want and (personally) need to worship in different local churches in different denominations, according to their own convictions. I would fear this to be too dangerous to the marriage, particularly when it comes to children. Would the infant be baptized or not? Would one spouse compromise his/her convictions to worship with the other? If so, which one? It would be incredibly gracious for one to abandon their own convictions for the sake of unity, but I am not sure there would actually be unity with an issue of this magnitude. One, depending on his/her position, would feel they are personally disobeying God when their child is either baptized or not baptized.

If you marry, marry to the glory of God. Glorifying God in marriage will require unity, especially in more pertinent matters. For this reason, I do not think it wise to marry someone who differs with you on the issue of baptism.

Possible Exception

I have heard it argued differently, namely, that the wife should sacrifice her biblical convictions out of submission to her husband. So, if the wife affirms infant baptism, she would sacrifice that and join a Baptist church; and when they have children, the babies will not be sprinkled. In certain cases, particularly all tertiary issues, I would agree with this argument. I do see this as a possible exception to my argument. If a woman is entirely willing and eager to submit to her husband on this matter, I may would change my mind. Still yet, I find this issue, though not primary, to be too important and to hold too many practical problems. And would there be true submission and unity in marriage over an issue of this magnitude?

Closing Thoughts

Even though this is not a primary doctrine that would separate a Christian from a non-Christian and of course make marriage unbiblical, I feel that the issue of baptism is one that needs to have both husband and wife standing on common ground. Again, I would encourage this couple to not marry because of the importance of unity in marriage and the biblical convictions/conscience that would be compromised.

If you are in such a relationship or have counseled couples in similar situations, I am eager to see your reaction to my position and would encourage you to correct me where you feel I may be off base.

Mark Driscoll Interviews Some Seattle Seahawks


seattle-seahawks-interview-with-mark-driscoll“Jesus makes sense. Jesus is the greatest treasure. Jesus is better than the Super Bowl.”

Some insightful background into the lives and faith of four players, including  QB Russell Wilson, and one coach of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. Mark Driscoll, a Seattle resident and football fan, conducts an excellent interview that shows the impact of Christ on these Christian men, their families, and their football.