Archive - August, 2006

Tim Keller on preaching in a post-modern city

Here’s a great article from Pastor Tim Keller on preaching in a post-modern city. The senior pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, Keller will be one of several guests at the Desiring God national conference which is less than 1 month away and is almost completely sold out.
(HT: Justin Hoover)

We need engineers!

I’ve previously blogged on Thomas Friedman’s fascinating book The World is Flat. A major theme Friedman unpacks is that technology, one of the primary forces leveling the playing field between nations in our increasingly global marketplace, is being more hotly pursued by countries like India and China. Whereas the average age of an engineer in the US is over 40 (and increasing every year), college and graduate students in India and China are pursuing science and engineering in droves while enrollment in these disciplines by US students remains flat. As an engineer by trade, and an engineering professor at Northwestern College, I find this recent comment in the August 2006 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) newsletter to be very interesting:

The president of India, an aeronautical engineer who stewarded his country’s guided missile program, has made it his mission to raise India to glory through scientific scholarship. According to an article in the August 21-28 Newsweek International by Mac Margolis and Karla Bruning, 74-year old A.P.J. Abdul Kalam travels from school to school exhorting students to hit the books and excel in science. By all indications the budding scientists of India have taken that advice to heart. Enrollment is soaring in engineering and technical schools throughout India – and elsewhere in Asia. India, China and South Korea are producing legions of engineers much larger than the US, and those graduates are vying for and winning contracts, customers and patents in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. And that is leading educators in the wealthiest countries, such as the US, the UK and Germany, to lose sleep. These three engineering titans still lead the way in technological innovation, but enrollment in university engineering programs is stagnating and the dropout rate further diminishes numbers of graduates. Now Western educators are trying to fix the problem by curricular changes, such as presenting students with real-world challenges early on. And engineering organizations are trying to correct the misconception that science and engineering jobs are geeky, dirty and dull.

The above citation is based on an article entitled Sexing Up Science: Western educators and industrialists team up to boost engineering’s appeal.

Christianity Today cover story on Calvinism resurgence

CT_cover_this coming week - border.GIF I was hoping that Collin Hansen’s recent (September, 2006) CT cover story would be made available on-line by now, but apparently it hasn’t, so I’m going to blog on it now anyway, even though I can’t provide a link to it (Update: Article available). The article is truly outstanding. I don’t know what Hansen’s theological convictions are, but he certainly wrote a fair piece. Interesting tid-bits and some reflection:
Hansen says that John Piper, more than anyone else, has contributed to the Calvinistic resurgence. That makes sense, given that Desiring God emphasizes the glory and the beauty of God and grips the heart as much as the mind. The book drives people back to the Scriptures to see that God’s desire to glorify Himself and our pursuit of happiness are totally harmonious.
There’s a terrific quote of Joshua Harris noting that when young people begin to realize that it’s about God’s glory, not us, they take “the first step down a path of Reformed theology. Because if you say that it’s not about you, well then you’re on the road of saying it’s not about your actions, your choosings, your determination.”
The Passion conferences organized by Louie Giglio are also recognized as being a catalyst in the Calvinist resurgence, particularly given that thousands of college students and other young adults are attracted to their various events, which generally include speakers such as John Piper and concerts by musicians such as Chris Tomlin, Charlie Hall, David Crowder, and Christy and Nathan Nockles.
Steve Lemke, provost of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, is cited commenting negatively about Calvinists, claiming that “…..baptism and membership figures show that the Calvinist churches of the SBC’s Founders Ministries lack commitment to evangelism.” Tom Ascol of the Founders Ministries blog links to several refutations of Lemke’s research in a recent post.
Dr. Albert Mohler makes an insightful remark as to why this generation of young Christians is particularly “more committed, more theologically curious, more self-aware and self-conscious as believers.” Mohler attributes these characteristics to the fact that today’s young Christians were not raised in an environment of cultural Christianity. “Or if they were, they found themselves in a hostile environment upon arrival on a university campus….Calvinism offers young people a counter-cultural alternative with deep roots.”
I think Mohler makes a great point. The doctrine of a sovereign God who is never taken by surprise and whose love plans and accomplishes redemption for His people is deeply satisfying (and stabilizing) to young Christians in a postmodern milieu in which, supposedly, absolute, foundational truths are beyond reach. Likewise Christians who may have grown up hearing that it was all about them find human-centered, shallow teaching (or self-help platitudes) to ring hollow given our God-given desire for transcendence. We were made to worship infinite majesty, and only a view of such grandeur can ultimately satisfy the soul. Likewise an accurate understanding of God’s holiness and justice puts “amazing” back into grace, leaving us in awe and wonder that God would condescend to make us His own.

Recent comments on this blog

Dear Readers,
I want to apologize for taking a couple of days to post your comments. I was not being rude; I simply was not aware that you had posted a comment awaiting my moderation. Normally, I am informed via an automatic e-mail. It didn’t happen for the last two days since I posted an Open Letter to Dr. Kostenberger (which he has graciously replied to in a comment). Thankfully, it now appears to be working again. Thank you for your patience.
Just a reminder, let’s try to demonstrate civility even when we disagree. That way, we can all be edified by dialogue over thorny matters.
Blessings,
Alex

Evangelicals and Foreign Policy

Walter Russell Mead, Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy, has penned a very interesting essay on the changing face of evangelical involvement in U.S. foreign policy. His article appears in the September/October 2006 edition of the prestigious journal Foreign Affairs. He summarizes his article as follows:
Summary: Religion has always been a major force in U.S. politics, but the recent surge in the number and the power of evangelicals is recasting the country’s political scene — with dramatic implications for foreign policy. This should not be cause for panic: evangelicals are passionately devoted to justice and improving the world, and eager to reach out across sectarian lines.
Dr. Albert Mohler provides a great overview.

Deliberate Childlessness – an International Trend

Here’s an article in Newsweek International on the growing trend of deliberate childlessness throughout the industrial world. This represents a boon (in the short-term) for some industries, such as real estate, restaurants and some forms of luxurious recreational travel, but it ultimately will bring negative consequences in its train.
Related Posts: State of the (Marriage) Unions – Childlessness, Economic Ramifications of Childlessness, Women and Childlessness

Open Letter to Andreas Köstenberger

Dear Dr. Köstenberger,
I appreciate your desire to avoid heaping judgment on singles who are fruitfully serving the Lord and enjoying what is (perhaps) merely a season of singleness. And I agree with you that many singles marry later in our culture for entirely justifiable reasons (for example, our increasingly knowledge-based economy encourages more years of study, both at the collegiate and post-collegiate level).
Please forgive me that I have not read your book. Given my family budget, I simply cannot justify the purchase (and sadly many good books fall into this category!). So my response is only to your two posts. I offer these thoughts as one eager to learn and open to correction and further light.
You stated in your post, Here is the critical point, however: How does a person who is currently unmarried know whether or not their unmarried state is permanent or temporary?
Please forgive me, but I had trouble finding an answer to this question in your post. On the one hand, you seemed to agree that we are seeing a unique problem with adult men in our day lacking masculine impulse to assume responsibility and marshal God-given strength for the good of others. I base this on your statement, “It appears that much of Maken’s underlying concern has to do with encouraging men to take more initiative and being more responsible in pursuing marriage. With this I heartily concur.”
So I am confused when you later state: “I think God would have us not only encourage those many toward marriage who are called to marriage (though not prod them to rush into marriage), but also affirm those few who are content in their unmarried state and see it, whether permanently or temporarily (and who among those who are currently unmarried knows for certain which it is?), as God’s calling for them.” (emphasis mine)
Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to suggest that knowledge of whether one’s unmarried state is permanent or temporary is beyond reach. If by this you mean, “nobody knows what the sovereign will of God holds for us,” I think we’d all agree. It seems that’s what you mean because you end your letter saying, in essence, “only God knows.”
But its one thing to say “only God knows if I will marry” and an entirely different thing to say “only God knows if I should marry.” Are there not biblical indicators of whether one should seek marriage? Would you agree that immature men who employ their singleness for selfish indulgence (e.g., excessive golf or other hobbies, spending a high percentage of their salary on entertainment) would be well-served (with respect to their Christian sanctification) by having to bear the huge personal responsibility of a wife? Granted, they must have a modicum of maturity even to marry, but that minimum standard being met, marriage matures and sanctifies them (far beyond the accountability of male roommates, I might add). Many married men readily testify that their wife has been used of God as a great (even the greatest) instrument towards their sanctification. To lack this instrument would have been to stunt their sanctification, would it not? [As an aside, have you not noticed that many single, never been married Christian men in their mid thirties or forties are socially awkward or quirky? Getting married forces a guy to cut-off tendencies that would otherwise become deeply embedded habits.]
In other words, might Christian maturity/fruitfulness be a parameter whereby a single Christian discerns whether they should “get serious about getting married”? A Christian single who zealously serves the Lord, does not overly struggle with lust, and is content with singleness is perhaps justified in not unduly marrying just because someone tells him (or her) he (or she) should. Perhaps his accomplishments for the Kingdom are “monumental,” or perhaps they are meager. Who are we to say what level of contribution is required? Fine. But a Christian single whose “contentment with singleness” is based on his being able to live entirely as he pleases and enjoy zero inconveniences to his self-absorbed, pleasure-craven, comfort-seeking schedule has a lot less biblical grounding to base his “gift” of singleness! Sure, he should get busy reading his Bible, serving in his church, and giving his money sacrificially to the spread of God’s kingdom. But as he does so, ought he not seek a wife, lest the absence of significant, intimate relational involvement leave him more susceptible to his lusts (for unlawful sex, for excessive pleasure, comfort, or autonomy)?
Incidentally, you do not mention the parameter of sexual continence. I agree with you on the context of I Cor. 7 (Paul is dealing with particular Corinthian issues – they were denigrating marriage). Nevertheless, is Paul not referring to a high (unusually high?) degree of sexual continence when he discusses the “gift” in I Cor. 7? Might this not be transferable to our day – a day in which fornication among professing Christian singles runs rampant?
In conclusion, I think there are some biblical grounds for determining whether one should “get serious about getting married.” Do you acknowledge the ones I’ve mentioned, or would you point to others? Or would you counsel a Christian single by saying “only God knows.” The latter seems unhelpful.
Thank you for your ministry to the body of Christ on matters pertaining to marriage and family.
Yours truly and respectfully in Christ,
Alex Chediak

Köstenberger responds to Maken

Dr. Andreas Köstenberger responds to Debbie Maken’s post.
(HT: Justin Taylor)

Gift of singleness? Maken responds to Köstenberger

Joining the blogosphere, Debbie Maken responds to Köstenberger regarding the “gift of singleness.”
Readers of the blog might anticipate that I would want to chime in more substantively, but I have a few other projects going on right now, so I’ll merely refer you to the tennis match, rather than give color commentary. That said, please note these related posts:
Andreas Köstenberger on the gift of singleness, Getting Serious about Getting Married

The Media and Hillary Clinton

Brent Bozell is writing a book with Tim Graham on how the media are trying to pave Hillary’s path to the presidency. His latest example is the recent Time Magazine cover story. Since I previously linked to the Time story without much comment, I thought it appropriate to link to Bozell’s outstanding critique of media bias in the coverage of Sen. Clinton. Excerpt: What, then, what was the tenor of the cover story inside this week’s Time? If you love the Clintons, never fear. Karen Tumulty’s report still carries the usual courtier’s curtsies, starting with talk of the “outsize status of both Clintons” and how Hillary’s husband is, hands down, “the best Democratic political strategist on the planet.”
Related blog post: Mainstream media – Fair and Balanced?

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