Author Archive | Denny Burk

A. T. Robertson on Women Preaching

A. T. Robertson is without question the greatest scholar of New Testament Greek that the Southern Baptist Convention has ever produced. Indeed, he is one of the greatest scholars of New Testament Greek that has ever lived. In 1906, Robertson wrote a sharp critique of the practice of women preaching in “mixed public assemblies.” His brief remarks appear in the introduction to W. P. Harvey’s booklet Shall Women Preach (Louisville, KY: Baptist Book Concern, 1906). I recently came across this short essay and thought it worth highlighting here. See below. Continue Reading →

Ten Thoughts about the “Billy Graham Rule”

Earlier today, I saw an interview on CNN about a Christian politician who practices the “Billy Graham Rule” (watch above). It is an awkward interview to watch, but it illustrates the cost to men and women who are making a good-faith effort to avoid compromising situations. This is by no means everything that can or should be said about the so-called “Billy Graham Rule.” Nevertheless, I thought I would update something I wrote previously on this topic. I personally believe that the rule is wise and ought to be pursued with rigor by Christians who are serious about holiness and witness. So in that spirit, here are ten brief reflections on this particular discipline: Continue Reading →

Beware of a “Test the Fruit” Hermeneutic

When Matthew Vines’ book God and the Gay Christian came out in 2014, I could hardly have imagined how much of an impact it would have among evangelicals. Nevertheless, it has had an impact. Some of the high-profile evangelicals (e.g. Jen Hatmaker) who have come out affirming gay marriage have done so on the basis of arguments found in Vines’ book.

Among the ideas from Vines’ book that I still see gaining purchase among evangelicals is a particular hermeneutical oddity that Vines draws from Jesus’ teaching about “trees” and “fruit” in Matthew 7:15-20, where Jesus says,

Every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Whereas Jesus applies this to false teachers, Vines applies the principle in a way that goes against the way Jesus intended it. Vines writes, Continue Reading →

The Anti-Science Propaganda of Transgender Activists

Dr. Allan Josephson is a research psychiatrist who led the department at the University of Louisville from 2003 onward. In 2017, Dr. Josephson appeared on a panel about gender dysphoria in which he warned against the rush to diagnose children with gender dysphoria and then to prescribe hormones and surgeries as treatment.

As a result of this, the University of Louisville demoted and then fired him. Why? Not for scientific reasons. His scientific credentials and research are impeccable. They fired him because his research did not support the rush to diagnose and to prescribe mutilating surgeries for children.

Madeleine Kearns has an interview with Dr. Josephson that explains the whole shameful ordeal. Dr. Josephson explains why he has chosen to speak up about what mental health professionals are doing to gender confused children with these treatments: Continue Reading →

There is no death of sin without the death of Christ

“Unless a man be a believer,–that is, one that is truly ingrafted into Christ,–he can never mortify any one sin… Seneca, Tully, Epictetus; what affectionate discourses they have of contempt of the world and self, of regulating and conquering all exorbitant affections and passions! The lives of most of them manifested that their maxims differed as much from true mortification as the sun painted on a sign-post from the sun in the firmament; they had neither light nor heat… There is no death of sin without the death of Christ.”

John Owen, “Mortification of Sin in Believers” in Temptation and Sin, The Works of John Owen, vol. 6 (Edinburgh, UK/Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1967), 33.

Spurgeon on the “Business” of Prayer

“Some brethren get up in our prayer meetings, and say some very good things; but what they really ask for, I am sure I do not know. I have heard prayers of which I have said, when they were over, ‘Well, if God answers that prayer, I have not the least idea of what he will give us.’ It was a very beautiful prayer, and there was a great deal of explanation of doctrine and experience in it; but I do not think that God needs to have doctrine or experience explained to him. The fault about the prayer was, that there was not anything asked for in it. I like, when brethren are praying, that they should be as business-like as a good carpenter at his work. It is of no use to have a hammer with an ivory handle, unless you aim it at the nail you intend to drive in up to the head; and if that is your object, an ordinary hammer will do just as well as a fine one, perhaps better…

“When I pray, I like to go to God just as I go to a banker when I have a cheque to be cashed. I walk in, put the cheque down on the counter, the clerk gives me my money, I take it up, and go about my business. I do not know that I ever stopped in a bank five minutes to talk with the clerks; when I have received my change, I go away and attend to other matters. That is how I like to pray; but there is a way of praying that seems like lounging near the mercy-seat, as though one had no particular reason for being found there. Let it not be so with you, brethren. Plead the promise, believe it, receive the blessing God is ready to give, and go about your business.”

-Charles Haddon Spurgeon, “The Two Guards, Praying and Watching” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 38 (London: Passmore & Alabaster), 206-207.

A Review of James Dolezal’s “All That Is in God”

I really wish I had not waited as long as I did to read James Dolezal’s 2017 book All That Is in God: Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism (Reformation Heritage, 2017). As it is, I only picked it up a month or so ago, but I would have picked it up much sooner if I had realized what an important book this is. It’s only 137 pages, but it is without question one of the most significant books that I have ever read. I don’t agree with everything in this book. In fact, there are parts of it that I found quite frustrating. Nevertheless, the main thesis of this book is one that needs to seep down into every nook and cranny of evangelical theology. Continue Reading →

Amazon bans books on “conversion therapy”

I am a Christian. I hold to what Christians have always believed about sexuality—that the only legitimate context for sexual activity is between one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage. Any other kind of sexual activity—including the homosexual kind—is against God’s design for His creation and is prohibited by scripture. I also believe that we are all sexual sinners of some sort. 

Nevetheless, I affirm that the grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and that this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. I deny that the grace of God in Christ is insufficient to forgive all sexual sins and to give power for holiness to every believer who feels drawn into sexual sin.

This is all standard fare Christian doctrine. It is the unbroken testimony of the Christian church for its entire 2,000-year history. And I think—if I understand this news story correctly—it is a perspective that Amazon has banned (or is about to ban) from the books that it sells on its site. Let me explain. Continue Reading →

How a Christian Patriot Might Love His Wayward Country

I love G. K. Chesterton’s reflections on what it means to be a Christian patriot. If you have never read it, I encourage you to read “The Flag of the World” in his classic work Orthodoxy. Chesterton contends that love of one’s homeland is not like house-hunting—an experience in which you weigh the pros and cons of a place and choose accordingly. He writes:

A man belongs to this world before he begins to ask if it is nice to belong to it. He has fought for the flag, and often won heroic victories for the flag long before he has ever enlisted. To put shortly what seems the essential matter, he has a loyalty long before he has any admiration.

We do not choose our homeland. It is something that we are born into. Thus our acceptance of our home is not like a house that we can leave when we tire of it. It is like the love we have for our family: Continue Reading →

The PCA General Assembly Affirms the Nashville Statement

Last night I stayed up until after 1am watching the annual General Assembly (GA) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The debate went into the wee hours of the night because the assembly had several measures before it relating to sexuality and gender identity. The most controversial measure was Overture 4, which is titled “Declare the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood’s ‘Nashville Statement’on Biblical Sexuality as a Biblically Faithful Declaration.”

Overture 4 is remarkable not only because it affirms the Nashville Statement, but also because it calls on the PCA to use the Nashville Statement in discipleship materials produced by the denomination. Here are the relevant lines from the overture: Continue Reading →

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