Friday, November 26, 2010

"Some times churches go liberal because the men of principle and backbone bail out too early."

This is a characteristically thoughtful post from Carl Trueman on churches, denominations, and how left-ward trends gain momentum. Sometimes conservatives are too conciliatory, and sometimes they bail too soon.

I'm Thankful for Phil Johnson

He always seems to find just the right words.
I'm a fundamentalist by conviction but too independent to join the kind of "fundamentalist" fraternity where brashness is mistaken for leadership and trivial matters and trite ideas are treated as if they were fundamental doctrines.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hitchens and the "Lion Cubs"

I've just watched a very small portion of this debate between Christopher Hitchens and William Dembski at Prestonwood Christian Academy, and I'm not entirely sure when I'll be able to finish it.

In the meantime, I'm simply encouraged that a Christian school operated by a Southern Baptist megachurch grasps the reality that 7th graders are able to comprehend the material and significance of this debate.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Stetzer's Criteria for Speaking to Groups He Disagrees With

This is old, by blog standards. Not exactly sure how I missed it back in 2009, except maybe that I got married three days later, my computer died four days later, and I moved halfway across the country two weeks later. Maybe that was it.

In any case, I think it's useful to see how someone with an unusually broad appeal thinks through the issues, even if you don't weigh all the issues the same way he does.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Church, Its Mission, and Doing Other Stuff

Last month, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary hosted a conference that delved into the relationship between the Church, the Kingdom, and the Church's mission. Having listened now to all the general sessions and panel discussion, I thought it might be interesting (and perhaps helpful) to consider some questions it left me weighing.

Let me say first that I agree with Dave Doran's argument that the mission of the Church is not identical to the mission of God or the mission of Christ. Though I think we would disagree a bit over the present nature of the Kingdom, I don't see that as the watershed issue in the debate. For example, Doran seems to share a high level of agreement on this particular issue with Greg Gilbert and Kevin DeYoung. Both of those two pastor-authors would have radically different Kingdom views from Doran, but are much closer to him on the Church's mission than some who seem much closer to Doran on the Kingdom.

So here's my summary of some preliminary issues, which I think is consistent with Doran's conclusions:

1. Some aspects of Jesus' mission are not part of the church's mission (making atonement, destroying the wicked).

2. The church's mission is to display God's wisdom by making disciples.

3. Part of making disciples is shepherding individuals to obey the 2nd great commandment, "Love your neighbor . . ."

4. Loving one's neighbor necessarily involves proclaiming the gospel, but it also involves caring for their this-world needs, even if a "gospel opportunity" is not immediately present or created. It's unthinkable that loving my neighbor requires nothing more of me than sharing the gospel with him, even if sharing the gospel is the most important way for me to show love to him.

But those convictions lead me to some questions: How must the church pursue that obligation to disciple members to love their neighbors? And perhaps the more difficult question, how may the church do so? Here are some more specific ways to consider these issues:

1. Would a church be acting outside its mission if it encouraged/discipled members to love their neighbors by caring for the non-Christian poor, adopting schools, volunteering at homeless shelters, and engaging in other forms of "social action?

2. Would a church be acting outside its mission if it designated a particular individual in the church to coordinate members to do the things listed above?

3. If it designated a deacon to coordinate members?

4. If it paid a staff member to coordinate members?

5. Finally (if the answers of any of those questions are "yes"), does a church have freedom to act outside its mission?