Calvinist Quibble

A. N. Wilson is a New Testament scholar who left the Christian faith when he was in his thirties but who has now begun to believe once again. It’s a great story, and you can read about it here.

As great as Wilson’s story is, that is not the main point of my writing today. Dr. Ben Witherington has a short post on his blog about Wilson’s return to the faith, and my aim today is to respond to one little piece from Witherington’s commentary. Witherington writes: Continue Reading →

Justice David Souter Will Retire

NPR is reporting that Justice David Souter will retire from the Supreme Court at the end of the current court term. This means that President Obama will be able to make his first appointment to the Supreme Court.

Even though Souter was appointed to the Court by George H. W. Bush, he has turned out to be a big disappointment on many important issues. His retirement will not change the balance of the Court’s opinion on Roe v. Wade. Nevertheless, Obama may very well appoint a replacement that is younger and more liberal than Souter. That will not be good.

UPDATE: The Associated Press reports, “Justice David Souter has told the White House that he will retire from the Supreme Court at the end of the court’s term in June.”

Is it possible to restore a pastor who has sinned sexually?

I enjoy listening to the “Ask Pastor John” series from DesiringGod.org. These recordings are each about three to four minutes long, and in them Pastor John Piper answers questions on sundry topics. I thought one recent episode might interesting to share here. Here’s the question that Piper sets himself to answer:

Is it possible to restore a pastor who sinned sexually but who is repentant? Or is such a pastor disqualified because he no longer meets the qualification of being “above reproach”?

According to Piper, the answer to the question is yes. You can hear his explanation by downloading the audio from here or by pressing the play button below.

The Difference between Christianity and Politics

Adam Nagourney reports for the New York Times that the same-sex “marriage” issue has become a hindrance to the Republican Party. More and more voters are simply disinterested in fighting over this issue. Nagourney writes:

“In the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, released on Monday, 31 percent of respondents over the age of 40 said they supported gay marriage. By contrast, 57 percent under age 40 said they supported it, a 26-point difference. Among the older respondents, 35 percent said they opposed any legal recognition of same-sex couples, be it marriage or civil unions. Among the younger crowd, just 19 percent held that view.

“Steve Schmidt, who was the senior strategist to Senator John McCain of Arizona during his presidential campaign, said in a speech and an interview that Republicans were in danger of losing these younger voters unless the party comes to appreciate how issues like gay marriage resonate, or do not resonate, with them.”

Think carefully about this last remark from Steve Schmidt. Essentially, he is saying that because the electorate is changing the Republican message on marriage needs to change as well.

Herein is one of the chief differences between faithful, biblical Christianity and democratic politics. On the one hand, political parties survive by changing their messages in order to accommodate the shifting mores and opinions of the culture. On the other hand, Christianity survives and flourishes by conserving its message and by never accommodating to cultural mores and opinions that are opposed to it. Christians have an allegiance to Jesus that trumps every other allegiance, and that means that our commitment to Jesus’ unchanging message must not be compromised for any reason. To miss that is to miss Christianity altogether.

In practical terms, that means that as the culture grows more and more accepting of same-sex “marriage,” faithful Christians will necessarily be pushed more and more to the cultural margins. But this shouldn’t frighten or surprise anyone. Christ’s followers have often found themselves in such a position, and Jesus told his disciples that we should expect it to be so (John 15:18-27). It’s just one more reminder that “here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come” (Hebrew 13:14).

Al Mohler on the ‘Swine’ Flu

On his radio program yesterday, Dr. Albert Mohler talked about how Christians should respond to the potential ‘Swine’ flu pandemic. You can download the audio here or listen to it below.

The interesting thing about this discussion is that Dr. Mohler compares the current threat with how Christians in previous eras dealt with plagues. The comparison is apt and one that we should all be thinking about from a biblical perspective. Continue Reading →

Another Outrage from Planned Parenthood

Lila Rose is a 20-year old college student at UCLA. She has the voice of a 14-year old, but she has an ingenious plan to expose Planned Parenthood’s serial abuse of vulnerable young girls who are pregnant. Rose produces undercover videos in which she poses as an underage teen seeking an abortion from Planned Parenthood. Recently, she was featured in a front-page story in the LA Times. Watch the video, and read the article. Unbelievable.

Danny Akin’s Prophetic Vision for SBC

Dr. Danny Akin is the President of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Last week in Southeastern’s chapel, he delivered a prophetic message—a message that I hope all Southern Baptists will embrace. Dr. Akin’s vision is for a Great Commission Resurgence to sweep through the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). In his chapel sermon, he sets forth eleven axioms of such a resurgence. You can download the message here , read the message here, or listen to it below.

I think Dr. Akin’s vision for the SBC is the right one, and I’m praying for his tribe to increase. There is now a website where you can read the 11 axioms of the Resurgence and sign-up in support of them (www.GreatCommissionResurgence.com). Continue Reading →

Pontiac Goes the Way of the Dodo

transam1When I was a kid, I always believed that the ultimate car of cars was the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. First it was Burt Reynolds in “Smokey and the Bandit.” Then it was David Hasselhoff in NBC’s “Knight Rider.” I just thought that car got better and better. For me, there was nothing more exotic than a Trans Am.

It is a strange thing to watch the passing of an 102 year-old American icon. Yet that is what is happening with the Pontiac brand of General Motors (GM). GM announced this week that it is shutting down its Pontiac brand in order to “concentrate resources on its remaining, strategically more important brands: Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and GMC trucks” (see report from MSNBC.com). A 102 years is a pretty good run for a company, but it is now over.

MSNBC.com has a slideshow showing some of the history of the brand. Make sure to read the report as well.

Is John Piper a Pastor and a Scholar?

piperJohn Piper is not sure whether he should be considered a pastor and a scholar. At least that is what he says in an address he gave last week at Park Community Church in Chicago, Illinois. You can read it here, download it here or listen to it below.

Here’s how Piper describes his task in this message:

“I assume that one of the main reasons I was asked to do this talk is that somebody thinks I am one of these—a pastor-scholar. I’m not sure that I am. And so I thought maybe I should just tell my story as how I got to be the way I am, and you could just decide if I am to not—or in what sense I am and in what sense I’m not—and if it’s a good thing to be this way, or not, and what the implications are for you and for the church.

“So I’m going to look at 7 chapters of my life through the lens of this question: What were the impulses toward scholarship and the pastorate? And along the way you will pick up on what I mean by scholarship and pastoring.”

The rest of this presentation is a great little memoir of a Piper’s life, and I highly recommend it.

Take Heed How You Hear!

Tomorrow morning I will preach in the three morning services of the First Baptist Church in Henderson, Kentucky. As I was preparing tonight, I was reminded of a little exhortation that John Piper wrote eleven years ago titled “Take Heed How You Hear.” In it, Piper gives his parishioners ten practical preparations to prepare to receive the word of God on Sunday morning. You can either listen to the exhortation below or read it here.

I’ll give you the ten points, but you should take time to go and read the rest of the article and the scriptures in it.

1. Pray that God would give you a good and honest heart.
2. Meditate on the Word of God.
3. Purify your mind by turning away from worldly entertainment.
4. Trust in the truth that you already have.
5. Rest long enough Saturday night to be alert and hopeful Sunday morning.
6. Forebear one another Sunday morning without grumbling and criticism.
7. Be meek and teachable when you come.
8. Be still as you enter the room and focus your mind’s attention and heart’s affection on God.
9. Think earnestly about what is sung and prayed and preached.
10. Desire the Truth of God’s Word more than you desire riches or food
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