Archive - August, 2006

SBC and church membership

Pastor, author, and blogger Mark Dever writes about a serious mistake made at the most recent Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) meeting.
(HT: Justin Taylor)
One corollary question might be: what (if anything) should be done about regular attenders who, lacking a biblically defensible explanation, are unwilling to become members of a particular church after a significant period of evaluation?

Review of With One Voice by Josh Riley

Josh Riley of has written a very gracious and detailed review of With One Voice, written by my wife and yours truly.
An Excerpt:
There’s no shortage of relationship books on the market, to be sure. But some discount the Christian perspective to the point that they offer little hope, or encouragement, to the Christian striving to live lives pleasing to God. And some Christian books on the subject tends toward checklists and “principles,” some of which are helpful but focus too much on the goal of marriage and too little on the process of living a life of ministry and service in preparation for marriage. Others end up advocating goofy dating practices that don’t always address the issues of the heart and can leave one thinking they will be guaranteed success in marriage if only they follow a myrid of extrabiblical rules.
The Chediaks have avoided both pitfalls. Their advice is sound, biblical, and grounded in the real world, though sadly many in the contemporary evangelical may not have the discernment to recognize it. And make no Chediaks mistake about it — this isn’t the pious writing of simplistic nerds with no experience in the real world; Alex is a professor at Northwestern College in Roseville, MN, and also is serving as an apprentice at the Bethlehem Institute in Minneapolis under the direction of John Piper. His wife Marni had a successful management career with Fortune 500 companies before joining Alex in ministry.

[Phew…..I was glad to hear that my wife and I are not nerds! Now as for my Northwestern students…..-:)]
The entire review is engaging and a helpful overview for those who may be interested in our book. We are deeply humbled (and very grateful) for Mr. Riley’s interest in our work.

Evangelical Feminism and Liberalism

On this weblog, I have posted several times on my concern that the evangelical church, on a whole, seems to be losing its moorings on central issues such as God’s design for men and women. Some churches move towards egalitarian positions on matters such as women in leadership in the name of cultural progress, following arguments such as those developed by William J. Webb. Others, such as City Church in San Francisco, CA, are moved more by more traditional evangelical feminist arguments. An example of an articulate scholar of this persuasion is Dr. Ben Witherington.
Wayne Grudem, whom many regard as today’s foremost complementarian scholar, responds to Webb’s trajectory argument in Appendix 5 of his outstanding tome, Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth. He responds to Witherington’s reading of I Timothy 2 in chapter 8 of the same tome.
Another hot-button issue related to gender and the church is whether (and to what degree) there is a connection between evangelical feminism and liberalism. In chapter 13 of this same Grudem volume, the correlation between evangelical feminism and theological liberalism is explored. There is a disturbing trend between denominations that move toward egalitarian perspectives on the ordination of women and those that reinterpret “headship” in Ephesians 5 to make the husband-wife submission Paul is discussing entirely symmetrical (meaning there is no real sense in which the husband has primary leadership responsibility in his home). Further, it seems that egalitarian churches have been more likely to abandon the historic position of biblical inerrancy. These churches also exhibit a trend toward the denial of anything being uniquely masculine. Next, there is a tendency to calling God Father or Mother. (For example, we’ve seen the PC(USA) discuss alternate titles for the Persons of the Trinity.) The final step seems to be the approval of homosexuality. Grudem cites not only the PC(USA) but also the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the Christian Reformed Church (which many still believe to be largely evangelical). Again, it is not being suggested that there are no evangelicals in these denominations. But the denominational trends are certainly important and disturbing, as it puts remaining evangelicals in a collision course with their own leadership.
Much has happened since 2004 when Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth was published. Wayne Grudem has now further developed his insightful commentary on this important subject in a new book entitled Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? The book is available in just a month from Crossway, and can already be pre-ordered.
Also on this topic, Roger Overton and Amy Hall of the A-team are blogging through Wayne Grudem’s Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth every Friday (about a chapter at a time).

President of Iran launches a weblog

Though the Internet is severely restricted in his country, that should not stop Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from participating in the international blogging movement. This looks legitimate — and concerning.
See the BBC’s report here.
Click here to go directly to President Ahmadinejad’s blog — the second flag from the left will give it to you in English. His post is about 2000 (English) words long, but don’t worry….he promises to be more brief in the future.
(HT: Justin Taylor and Dana Olson)
Update: President Bush, rightly, going after Iran today, reminding the world of the link between Hezbollah (messing things up in Lebanon and Israel) and Iran. “We can only imagine how much more dangerous this conflict would be if Iran had the nuclear weapon it seeks,” says Bush.
Also, this note of alarm from Bill O’Reilly. I’m not sure about his take on the details (e.g., a military draft), but in the main, this piece is timely and reasonable.

Zuckerman on the Israeli – Lebanese conflict

Referring to the Israeli withdrawl from the Gaza Strip almost a year ago:

Everyone hoped then that the Palestinians would show the world what they could achieve with freedom as a template for a future independent state. Alas, they have shown us all too well. Not one day of peace has followed since then. The pattern was set on the very day of Israel’s pullout. Palestinian militants fired rockets from Gaza into Israeli towns on the other side of the border, targeting innocent civilians living in the pre-1967 Israel recognized by the international community. The final straw came last month, with the Hamas attack that killed two Israeli soldiers and resulted in the kidnapping of a third. Last week, inspired by the rhetorical threats of Iran’s incendiary president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah–like Hamas, another Iranian proxy–attacked Israel from the north, killing eight Israeli soldiers and abducting two more, and then began raining rockets down onto Israel civilians.entirity. I hope Zuckerman is incorrect with regard to his pessimistic outlook, but his assessment of some of the underlying issues is compelling.

Jerry Walls Interview – Modern Reformation

Dr. Jerry Walls will be interviewed this Fall in the periodical Modern Reformation. I had the privilege of reading the interview in advance of its publication. An outstanding spokesman for classical Arminianism (a position I do not hold), Walls really tries to understand Calvinism and avoid its caricatures. I found his book Why I am not a Calvinist (co-authored with Dr. Joe Dongell, InterVarsity Press, 2004) to be an clear and fair presentation of Arminianism. Dr. Walls provides a strong argument for a libertarian view of human freedom as opposed to compatibilism (the view that God’s decrees and human freedom, defined as the power to do what one wants, work harmoniously or “compatibly,” neither doing violence to the other). Though ultimately I found the philosophical and exegetical arguments set forth by Walls and Dongell (respectively) to be unpersuasive, I recommend their book for anyone seeking to accurately understand the Wesleyan strand of Arminianism.
Dr. Tom Schreiner and Dr. Bruce A Ware are commendable proponents of the compatibilist position (often in response to Open Theism). Wayne Grudem’s remarkably accessible Systematic Theology also contains a good section on the topic.

Ned Lamont victory – a bad sign for the Democratic Party

On July 30, yours truly predicted that Joe Lieberman (who perhaps might have been our Vice President today were it not for a few thousand votes and Ralph Nadar’s candidacy) would be hung out to dry by the Democratic establishment in Connecticut and beyond (so I’m batting 100%, 1-for-1, in political predictions).
Following his 52-48 August 8 primary loss to Ned Lamont, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and Sens. Chuck Schumer, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Dick Durbin, John Kerry and Christopher Dodd have all declared their support of Ned Lamont in the November general election. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson today became the first prominent figure to explicitly call on Sen. Lieberman to drop his reelection bid.
This past Wednesday, Jacob Weisberg, writing in the left-of-center publication Slate lambasted the Lamont candidacy with this incisive piece entitled Dead with Ned. Weisberg’s reading on Ned Lamont’s victory is that:
This is a signal event that will have a huge and lasting negative impact on the Democratic Party. The result suggests that instead of capitalizing on the massive failures of the Bush administration, Democrats are poised to re-enact a version of the Vietnam-era drama that helped them lose five out six presidential elections between 1968 and the end of the Cold War.
In a nutshell, Weisberg asserts that:
The problem for the Democrats is that…..Many of them appear not to take the wider, global battle against Islamic fanaticism seriously. They see Iraq purely as a symptom of a cynical and politicized right-wing response to Sept. 11, as opposed to a tragic misstep in a bigger conflict. Substantively, this view indicates a fundamental misapprehension of the problem of terrorism. Politically, it points the way to perpetual Democratic defeat.
I do not agree with all of Weisberg’s remarks (he regards the Iraq war as a mistake), but his entire essay is quite thoughtful and well written.
(HT: Justin Taylor)

Talking to people rather than about them

A good word from Pastor John Piper on why talking to people, rather than about them, is often more difficult yet more loving.
But Jesus does not call us to make safe choices. He calls us to make loving choices. In the short run, love is often more painful than self-protecting conflict-avoidance. But in the long run, our consciences condemn us for this easy path and we do little good for others. So let’s be more like Jesus in this case and not talk about people, but talk to them, both with words of encouragement, because of the evidences of grace we see in their lives, and with words of caution or warning or correction or even rebuke. Paul urged us to use the full range of words for the full range of needs: “Admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

Introduction to my wife, Marni

My wife Marni will be posting some book reviews here, so I’d like to introduce her to you a bit:
The former Maren Kristine Haugen grew up in Palo Alto, CA where after being homeschooled through elementary school she demonstrated academic prowess as a high schooler at Crystal Springs Uplands School. Her English SAT score is more than 100 points higher than mine, yet I have the audacity to call myself a writer. Marni also played the trombone, acted in several plays, and was involved in summer camps such as City on the Hill which taught leadership and the formation of a Christian worldview.
Marni later attended Stanford University, where she majored in Human Biology and did dorm talks on abstinence. Graduating in 1993, she worked for Pacific Bell (now AT&T) until 2004, serving in several management positions, the last of which was Director of Knowledge Management. During her single years Marni enjoyed her time as a leader in Bible study fellowship and traveled all over the world. We married in Dec 2004, and when we moved to MN Marni worked for General Mills as a team lead until our first child, Karis Joy, was born in March of 2006.

Billie Graham – Newsweek Interview

I finally got around to reading the Newsweek interview of Billie Graham, now 87, and mostly avoiding the spotlight nowadays. The interview is a bit disappointing in some ways, notably:
(p. 6): When asked whether he believes heaven will be closed to good Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus or secular people, though, Graham says: “Those are decisions only the Lord will make. It would be foolish for me to speculate on who will be there and who won’t … I don’t want to speculate about all that. I believe the love of God is absolute. He said he gave his son for the whole world, and I think he loves everybody regardless of what label they have.”
It seems to me that such convictions necessarily undercut the urgency of the gospel call — and command — to repentance and faith in Christ, the only way to God. (See my post on Tom Wells’ outstanding book Come to Me!)
Graham did have a good word that is particularly fitting for young Christian workers:
(p.6) If he had his life to live over again, Graham says he would spend more time immersed in Scripture and theology. He never went to seminary, and his lack of a graduate education is something that still gives him a twinge. “The greatest regret that I have is that I didn’t study more and read more,” he says. “I regret it, because now I feel at times I am empty of what I would like to have been. I have friends that have memorized great portions of the Bible. They can quote [so much], and that would mean a lot to me now.”
The entire interview is here.

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