Another good post from Al Mohler on the foundational value of marriage in our civilization. Mohler discusses an article by James Q. Wilson (Ronald Reagan Professor of Public Policy at Pepperdine University) which argues that our current marriage crisis is rooted in a basic failure to reconcile the values of character and freedom.
Pastor John Piper’s first sermon to Bethlehem following his sabbatical is now on-line, both in audio and written format.
(HT: Justin Taylor)
The topic he takes on here is of extraordinary importance. I spent a semester wrestling with the issue of justification and God’s grace in a Greek exegesis class on Romans 9-11. I wrote a 12 page paper on Rom. 9:30-10:13. Upshot: the law of God called for perfect obedience, which no sinner could provide. Righteousness was the goal of the law, but it could only be attained apart from the law (Rom. 3:21). Righteousness was never attainable by (sinful) human performance. Abraham was counted righteous by faith in the Old Testament (Rom. 4:3), and this was written for our sakes also, because we are likewise counted righteous when we place faith in the death and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 4:23-24). That is why the parable of the tax collector who is justified (Luke 18:9-14) — rather than the other man — is so riveting.
Marni, Karis and I are back from visiting her family in CA and introducing many of them to Karis. It was a great trip, but somewhat tiring as we took a red-eye back to MN last night.
You may recall I had written a cautionary post regarding Multnomah being sold. Well, it turns out rumors were true — Random House has picked up the Christian publishing company, just as the picked up Waterbrook Press a few years back. But they are apparently not being closed. Nevertheless, Tim Challies echoed my concern regarding the disturbing trend of secular companies having ownership over Christian media organizations (whether dedicated to books, as in the case of Multnomah and Waterbrook) or music (as in the case of the contemporary Christian music scene). An excellent discussion followed Challies’ post, including some interesting commentary from Christian musician Steve Camp.
Are you ever looking for short, readable works that can clearly, articulately, and carefully explain the gospel message to those uninitiated to biblical language? Quite frankly, I know of no better resource for this than Tom Wells’ little book, Come to Me! — which is now available for as little as a penny on Amazon.com!!!
I was reminded of Wells’ work for several reasons: First, I just received a few copies in the mail (and that always helps); Second, I just heard of someone I know professing faith in Christ (which is great); Third, I read Mark Dever’s sober-minded post on whether evangelists should ever question professions of faith. Here’s an excerpt of Dever’s counsel of how we should respond to new professions of faith:
What should we do? Encourage the new believer in all things good. Remind them of the gospel. After some appropriate time (which would vary much from case to case) they should be baptized and join a church. They should regularly hear the preaching of the Word, commune, fellowship, pray and obey the Word. They should be building relationships in order to do that. And they should be told to hope in Christ alone for their salvation. Our desire is to find every professor getting safely home to heaven.
See the context of Dever’s admonition here.
Looks like I am able to get back into my blog, but blogging will still be light until Thursday. We are currently in CA visiting with my wife Marni’s family and therefore missed John Piper’s first sermon at Bethlehem since February.
Matt at What Else Floats has a good post summarizing the message. The sermon dealt with the justification of the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. Though I have not yet heard the sermon, there seems to be a relationship between the message and a manuscript that Piper has written, which he described in an open letter to Bethlehem at the close of his sabbatical. Here is the description:
The other book is a response to N. T. Wright on the doctrine of justification. I have no immediate plan to publish it until I get the feedback from critical readers. My motivation in writing it is that I think his understanding of Paul is wrong and his view of justification is harmful to the church and to the human soul. Few things are more precious than the truth of justification by faith alone because of Christ alone. As a shepherd of a flock of God’s blood-bought church, I feel responsible to lead the sheep to life-giving pastures. That is not what the sheep find in Wright’s view of Paul on justification. He is an eloquent and influential writer and is, I believe, misleading many people on the doctrine of justification. I will keep you posted on what becomes of this manuscript.
This should be an outstanding book.
(HT: Tim Challies and Justin Taylor)
We’re going camping for a few days. Here’s some interesting stuff for now:
The Thirsty Theologian continues his analysis of the permissibility of alcohol for Christians today.
Al Mohler reprints a blogpost regarding a Time Magazine assessment on “Being 13.”
The Jollyblogger expresses some balancing thoughts on the converse of the feminized church — namely the hyper-masculine church.
Have a great weekend!
Awhile back the team at Boundless.org ran an article by Danielle Crittenden on the cost of delaying marriage. It contained some counter-cultural statements that tipped the apple cart, even for many Christians. Here are two examples:
But if a woman remains single until her age creeps up past 30, she may find herself tapping at her watch and staring down the now mysteriously empty tunnel, wondering if there hasn’t been a derailment or accident somewhere along the line.
The 33-year-old single woman who decides she wants more from life than her career cannot so readily walk into marriage and children; by postponing them, all she has done is to push them ahead to a point in her life when she has less sexual power to attain them.
The Boundless.org editors were deluged with messages expressing shock and outrage. Many of these were from single women in their 30s who either wanted to be married, but felt they had no options, or enjoyed their singleness and felt insulted by Crittenden’s remarks.
Candice Watters then wrote a sober, winsome response to each of these (and several other) concerns. Here’s an excerpt (she first quotes some of the criticism):
One example: “Do I sound bitter? I am really not bitter. I am frustrated, because I see articles that do not seem to present the other side of the story, that despite our best efforts, some of us have just not met someone. That sometimes a person does not have a choice about delaying marriage, because the possibility has never presented itself.
And another: “I don’t want to sound like a complainer, but I think that the delayed marriage factor has a lot to do with Christian men as well as women. I find it frustrating to be accused of being very independent when I haven’t even had the option of anything else! It’s not like I had ten suitors on my doorstep, and I turned down marriage at 20. I didn’t have the option of marriage at 20 or even 30. … I need the support of the Christian community. Your Boundless article seems to put us all in the bucket of waiting too long or too late. But what about just waiting, because that’s your only choice.”
I think this writer is on to something. The problem of delayed marriage has a lot to do with men who won’t take initiative. Women want to be pursued and men are charged by God to be the pursuers. Proverbs says, “he who finds a wife, ” Finds. That’s no passive verb. It’s active. It instructs the man who wants God’s blessing to get out there and look. And to the men we say, get going. It’s time you accept the challenge to pursue marriage.
To the women, I say stop glorifying the single years as a super-holy season of just you and Jesus. Yes, being single does provide the chance to be uniquely intimate with Jesus. Enjoy that. But don’t advertise it. Why? Because it gives guys permission to kick back and let you. If they think you’re perfectly happy as a single, why wouldn’t they let you stay that way? Especially when so many of them are gun shy. Thanks to a 50 percent (give or take a few points) divorce rate and absentee dad problem, many of them grew up without a mentor (their dad) and without a godly model for what marriage should look like. Many of them are scared, and for good reason.
Read the whole essay from Watters.
Note: The article from Crittenden is (for the most part) an excerpt from her outstanding book on this topic entitled What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman.
Sean Higgins over at Tohu Va Bohu has a lot of good things to say about the myth of adolescence. His outline is:
I. The Myth of Adolescence
II. The Birth of Adolescence
* An Introduction to the Myth of Adolescence
* A Definition for Adolescence
* The Birth of Adolescence
III. The Growth of Adolescence
1. The Enactment of Child Labor Laws
2. The Endorsement of Compulsory Education
3. The Expression of Parental Wishfulness
4. The Establishment of a Juvenile Justice System
5. The Evolving Popularity of Psychology (Part 1) (Part 2)
6. The Emergence of Target Marketing Strategies
7. The Expansion of National Media
8. The Easy Sell of Irresponsibility Excuses
* Adolescence Growth Enhancements
IV Adolescents in the Old Testament
* Vocabulary for OT Young People
V. Marks of a Healthy Student Ministry
Check out his posts here.
Alex and Brett Harris over at The Rebelution have an excellent series of posts that seem to have originated from Thomas Friedman’s best-selling book The World is Flat (an excellent read).
They provide a good synopsis of the book in their first post, and also do a nice job highlighting the problems regarding the (poor) math and science competency in the USA today, particularly at both the college and high school level. I happen to care deeply about this given my engineering background and involvement with prospective engineering students at a Christian college (each of whom will be required to read this chapter from Friedman’s book):
The National Science Board (NSB) reports that the number of American eighteen-to-twenty-four-year-olds who received science degrees has fallen to seventeenth in the world, even though we ranked third 30 years ago. Furthermore, the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) showed that American twelfth graders finished 15th out of sixteen countries in advanced mathematics and dead last out of sixteen countries in advanced science.
Don’t think for a moment that the up-and-coming world is sitting still. Of the 2.8 million bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering granted worldwide in 2003, 1.2 million were earned by Asian students in Asian universities. Only 400,000 were granted in the United States. Shirley Ann Jackson, the 2004 president of the American Association for Advancement of Science explains, “the proportional emphasis on science and engineering is greater in other nations.”
Check out the The Rebelution‘s series of posts here.