Archive | Theology/Bible

Mohler Blasts McLaren and the Emergent Church Movement

I don’t know if you saw TIME magazine’s recent issue on the 25 most influential American evangelicals, but a pastor named Brian McLaren made the list. I saw McLaren interviewed on Larry King after the issue came out. The more McLaren talked, the more peeved I became. He was absolutely ridiculous in his inability to articulate any conviction on any important issue—except to say that other evangelicals are too hung up on dividing people with their beliefs.

R. Albert Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, just reviewed McLaren’s book A Generous Orthodoxy, and gave it the raking-over-the-coals that it deserves. He also comments on the so-called “Emergent” church movement and its insistence on a rejection of propositional truth. Therefore, I commend Dr. Mohler’s essay to you for your enjoyment and edification (see link below).

“A Generous Orthodoxy”—Is it Orthodox? – by R. Albert Mohler, Jr.


Review of “Justification: What’s at Stake in the Current Debates”

Mark Husbands and Daniel J. Treier, eds. Justification—What’s at Stake in the Current Debates (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2004). ISBN: 0830827811. $23.00.

The ten papers appearing in this volume are selections from the conference on Justification held at Wheaton College Graduate school in April of 2003: “The Gospel, Freedom and Righteousness: The Doctrine of Justification.” One would think that a book such as this one, published at the time that this one was, would be all about the current debate over the so-called “new perspective” on Paul. This collection of essays, however, demonstrates that there is much more to the Justification debate than the quarrel about the character of first century rabbinic Judaism and its influence on the apostle to the Gentiles. These papers take up the question whether imputed righteousness is “fictive, forensic or transformative” (p. 7). The book divides into four parts: (1) Justification and Biblical theology, (2) Justification and the Crisis of Protestantism, (2) Justification in Protestant Traditions, and (4) Justification and Ecumenical Endeavor. Continue Reading →


Review of “Making Sense of the New Testament”

Craig L. Blomberg, Making Sense of the New Testament: Three Crucial Questions (Baker: Grand Rapids, 2004). ISBN: 0801027470. $14.99.

Craig Blomberg’s Making Sense of the New Testament is published as a companion volume to Tremper Longman’s 1998 book, Making Sense of the Old Testament: Three Crucial Questions. In the current volume, Blomberg sets out to identify “three crucial questions” that must be answered by anyone who wishes to consider the truth-claims of the New Testament. In chapter 1, he sets out to answer the question of whether the New Testament presents a reliable historical portrait of Jesus. Here he takes up the old question of whether the Christ of history resembles the Christ of the scriptures. Blomberg concludes that the historicity of the Gospels and Acts is confirmed by sound evidence and that accepting their historical claims does not require a leap of faith. Blomberg does a good job of taking the reader step-by-step through the evidence, and in the end produces a very convincing apologetic for the veracity of the Gospels and Acts.

In chapter 2, Blomberg takes up the controversial question whether Paul was the true founder of Christianity. He queries whether the teaching of Jesus can be reconciled with the teaching of the great apostle to the Gentiles: “Was Paul, in fact, the second founder, or perhaps even the true founder of Christianity as it has developed down the centuries?” (p. 15). In this section, Blomberg responds to the skeptical charge that Paul’s letters reveal a radical revision of the teachings of the historical Jesus. Blomberg does well to point out that Paul is aware of the Jesus traditions that were current in his day and that some of these traditions appear in his letters. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-25, for instance, Paul makes use of a tradition that was handed down to him by word of mouth. This tradition looks remarkably similar to Luke’s version of the Jesus’ words at the Last Supper (Luke 22:19-20). Paul and Luke’s use of a common oral tradition shows the antiquity of Paul’s theology of atonement and that he was concerned with the historical Jesus. Blomberg wrestles with other texts in Paul that allude directly or indirectly to Jesus’ teachings. Blomberg says that, “Theological distinctives between the two men remain, and the differing purposes of the Gospels and the Epistles must be taken into account” (p. 106). Thus, there is more evidence of continuity between Jesus and Paul than is commonly acknowledged by New Testament scholars, and the points of discontinuity can be explained by the different purposes of Paul the letter writer and the evangelists who wrote the Gospels.

In chapter 3, Blomberg considers how the New Testament applies to the modern day. He explores the various principles that govern the interpretation of the New Testament’s diverse literary forms. These include (1) determining the original application intended by the author of the passage, (2) evaluating the level of specificity of those applications to see if they should be or can be transferred across time and space to other audiences, (3) if they cannot be transferred, identifying broader cross-cultural principles that the specific elements of the text reflect, and (4) finding appropriate contemporary applications that embody those principles (p. 108). He then works out these principles in relation to the different sections of the New Testament canon: the Gospels, Acts, Paul’s letters, Hebrews and General Epistles, and the Revelation. The principles that Blomberg elucidates can provide a good starting-point for developing legitimate implications out of the author’s original meaning. One notices, however, that it is still unclear how one is to know when it is appropriate to move beyond the intention of the biblical author in applying the scripture. For example, on page 140 Blomberg says that the interpreter needs to “recognize that Paul lays down principles which could not be fully implemented in his world but which challenge later Christians to move even further in the directions he was already heading” (emphasis mine). This “further” idea sounds remarkably similar to William Webb’s “redemptive movement hermeneutic,” to which Blomberg refers in an extended footnote on pages 172-173. Webb’s hermeneutic appears to the present reviewer to be highly unstable and, in Webb’s application of it, favorable to an egalitarian reading of Paul.

In sum, Blomberg has produced a handy little primer on some of the basic questions that face the reader of the New Testament. There is not much new here for specialists in the field, but this book will be useful for beginning students of the New Testament at both the college and graduate levels. It is also useful as an apologetic tool for anyone who might be interested in evidence concerning the historical claims of the New Testament.


My Mentor John Piper and Romans 12:1-2

John Piper discipled me in my car when I attended Dallas Theological Seminary. I used to listen to his sermons as I would commute to and from work and school. Throughout my career in seminary, the Lord used John Piper to shape my thinking about God and the scriptures more than any single teacher that I ever had. I know of no preacher who combines exegetical, theological, and devotional depth like Dr. Piper. His ministry, which is called “Desiring God,” makes all of his sermons (manuscripts and audio) available for free at

I am teaching on Romans 12:1-2 in a Sunday morning bible study at my church. As is normal for me, I draw on a number of different resources in preparing for my teaching. Five of John Piper’s sermons in particular have been tremendously helpful to me, stimulating not only my mind but also my heart. Therefore, I heartily recommend these sermons to you.

Build Your Life on the Mercies of God – by John Piper
Present Your Bodies as a Living Sacrifice to God – by John Piper
Do Not Be Conformed to This World – by John Piper
The Renewed Mind and How to Have It – by John Piper
What Is the Will of God and How Do We Know It? – by John Piper


My New Favorite Album: “Soul Still Remembers”

Pictured above: The Critics’ CD release concert in Shreveport, LA.

I’ve just posted a review of the the Critics‘ debut CD on the “CD Baby” website (click here). “Soul Still Remembers” really is my new favorite album, and the Critics are my new favorite band.

Musically, “Soul Still Remembers” deserves a place among the all-time greats. I am a fan of bands like Counting Crows, Vertical Horizon, and Train, and this album surpasses them all. A written review cannot do justice to the Critics by way of description. You simply have to buy this album and listen to it for yourself.

To enjoy the album as it was intended, you really have to buy the CD. The songs are not arranged willy-nilly, but actually appear in an intentional sequence. The CD jacket is printed like a book, complete with chapter divisions and endnotes. Each song comprises a chapter (or “canto”) in what is supposed to look like a book of poetry. And the lyrics are indeed poetry.

The lyrics portray the ruminations of an individual who is grappling with the issue of repentance, and each chapter opens up new vistas into the human condition before God. All of this is mixed with a profound understanding of the Word of God and how it describes our plight and salvation. Every time I reread these lyrics, there is a new insight that I hadn’t seen before.

One of my favorite songs of the album is “To Jeremiah,” a poem about the prophet and the Biblical book bearing his name. This song illustrates what is true of the rest of the pieces on the album; the lyrics can stand alone by themselves as poetry. Here’s “To Jeremiah”:

Sing to me, Jeremiah,
of pickled skin and cracked bones,
of wrists rusted by chains
and feet cut by the stony road
where lion and bear wait
to kill your view of faulty Zion,
stripped down from her hill.

Tell me, Jeremiah,
about this town with no King,
where you, pressed face-long to the ground,
taste your teeth broken down
for the least of these.
Women eat salty skin
boiled and baked within them,
in their own hands,
and the prophets lie
and see clever fantasies
to calm the captives.

Let me, Jeremiah,
bear the yoke while I’m young
that I might sit down and shut up
disgraced in my own ashes—
a “harlot-town’s son”—
so I can better know your hope
because, sir, I’ve seen your King.
Oh, Jeremiah sing,
for your King, at last, has come.

A new kingdom has come.

Do not delay. Make haste and add this album to your collection.

(When you visit the CD Baby website, listen to the following songs: “A Floor Below,” “Worse Than I Thought,” and “Soul Still Remembers.”)

Pictured below: Me (left) and the lead singer Myles Roberts (right) after the CD Release concert.


The Demise of Sloan and the Fortunes of “Baylor 2012”

After the Board of Regents fell short by one vote last May to oust the President of Baylor University, opponents of Robert Sloan finally got their way on Friday without firing a shot. It was announced on Friday that Sloan would step down from the position of President and CEO of Baylor and move into the position of Chancellor. Though the public face of the transition appeared very amiable, it is an open secret that this transition was the result of pressure from opposition both within and without the University.

Sloan had become a lightning rod of sorts, advocating a vision for Baylor University that would make it a top-tier academic institution while maintaining a distinct Christian mission and identity. This vision is called “Baylor 2012.” In Sloan’s words, “Baylor University has the opportunity to become the only major university in America, clearly centered in the Protestant traditions, to embrace the full range of academic pursuits.”

In the November 2004 issue of First Things, Richard John Neuhaus expressed precisely what was at stake in this vision:

“The crux of the conflict at Baylor is over the nature of truth, and whether it is possible under evangelical Protestant auspices to build a world-class research university and thus provide a counterforce to the dreary history of the declension of Protestant (and Catholic) higher education from Christian seriousness, a declension powerfully narrated by James Burtchaell’s The Dying of the Light. . . . The cultural and intellectual influence of Christian higher education in this society has a lot riding on the bold, and predictably embattled, experiment underway at Baylor” (First Things, November 2004, pp. 71-72 ).

I fear that the vision of “Baylor 2012” will have a whole different character or be perhaps entirely lost without Sloan at the helm. However, I am reminded by a good friend that the glass may not be half empty, but half full. He writes:

“Don’t forget that the board is pretty well Sloan’s board. The chairman is a member of Prestonwood. Wouldn’t it be ironic if a greater than Sloan was elected President? Also, remember the Provost, who will run the school in the interim, is Dr. David Jeffrey, a Wheaton grad who has hired about half the present faculty, all of whom are conservative evangelical Christians who know how to integrate faith and learning. If this is a movement of God, not just of Sloan, who can stop it?”

I will be hoping and praying that my friend is right.


Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes