Archive - January, 2007

Boundless comments on Five Paths

Denise Morris over at the Boundless blog offers an introductory post to Five Paths to the Love of Your Life, which I introduce here (just scroll down).

Brian Vickers on Imputation

Denny Burk provides an provocative review of Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Imputation. Burk’s closing thoughts:

Vickers has done a masterful job in Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness. Not only is it an indispensible introduction to the issues at stake in the current debate, it also offers a compelling interpretation of Paul that affirms the traditional formulation of imputation. There are very few books like this one, and anyone who is concerned about having a biblical theology should give this volume careful consideration.

Update: There is a good discussion on Denny’s blogpost. Brian Vickers, Scot McKnight, and Mike Bird all chip in.

The Horror of Abortion

On January 22, 1973 the Supreme Court ruled that women, as part of their right to privacy, have a qualified right to terminate their pregnancies under certain conditions. Since that time, over 47 million innocent babies have been killed.
Mr. John Ensor discovered that a disproportionately high number of abortions are committed in five states, one of which is Florida (the others included California, Nevada, New York, and another). And 40% of the abortions in Florida occur in Miami. John Piper’s sermon this weekend (not yet posted) highlighted the ministry of John Ensor in Miami appropriately called Heartbeat of Miami. From their website:

Heartbeat of Miami is a bold and winsome call to the Christian community to open 3 to 5 pregnancy help centers in the neediest neighborhoods of Miami over the next two years. These centers will be equipped with ultrasound and staffed by nurses, trained peer counselors, and volunteers from the Christian community. When established they will save thousands of women every year from the violence and agony of abortion- in direct competition to the nearly 40 (!) abortion facilities operating in Miami.

Beyond Miami, the strategy is to raise up new crisis pregnancy centers in the urban centers of the USA where a staggering 94% of America’s abortion facilities exist. In essence, going toe-to-toe against Planned Parenthood. This strikes me as a wise plan to maximize effectiveness at saving lives while raising the consciences of the nation to the fact that loving Christians stand ready to help those experiencing unwanted pregnancies at every step of the process (not just before the baby is born).
This sobering and moving video can help us further appreciate the horror of abortion, and resolve to hasten the day when to be pro-choice is unthinkable.

(HT: Between Two Worlds)

Stereotypes, Generalizations, and Racism

John Piper offers some wise words on stereotypes, generalizations, and racism. Last part:

“So the tough question is: When is a generalization about a group racist? I am using the word racist as something sinful, and the following answers move toward a definition. The following uses of generalization would be wrong (racist):
* When you want a person to fit a negative generalization that you have formed about a group (even if the generalization statistically is true).
* When you assume that a statistically true negative generalization is true of a particular person in the face of individual evidence to the contrary.
* When you treat all the members of a group as if all must be characterized by a negative generalization.
* When you speak disparagingly of an entire group on the basis of a negative generalization without any regard for those in the group who don’t fit the generalization. Or: When you speak negatively of a group based on a generalization without giving any evidence that you acknowledge and appreciate the exceptions. (I assume that Jesus’ generalizations about the Pharisees [Matthew 23] and Paul’s generalization about the Cretans [Titus 1:12] are not sinful because they did have such regard and did appreciate the exceptions.)”

Earlier he provides a great quote from Shelby Steele’s White Guilt (reviewed here). Piper’s essay is worth reading in its entirety.

Evangelical Gender Debate

Dr. Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, posts a great article provocatively entitled, “After Patriarchy, What? Why Egalitarians are Winning the Evangelical Gender Debate”. (It looks like something that came out in a recent issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.) Excerpt:

“Complementarianism must be about more than isolating the gender issue as a concern. We must instead relate male headship to the whole of the gospel. And, in so doing, we must remember that complementarian Christianity is collapsing around us because we have not addressed the root causes behind egalitarianism in the first place.”

Speaking of which, Dr. Albert Mohler and Dr. Ligon Duncan will be doing a half-day conference called Different By Design at the Minneapolis Convention Center immediately prior to the Desiring God Conference for Pastors on February 5.

New Book Promoting Chastity

I’ve previously commented on an outstanding book called What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman by Danielle Crittenden. Here were my remarks:

What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us vividly captures some of the disadvantages women experience in the current male/female milieu prevalent in our culture (in general) and on college campuses (in particular). The book is not explicitly Christian by any means, yet her conclusions are very similar to mine. In short, if women in the 1950s saw themselves primarily through the lens of their uniquely feminine callings (wives, mothers, etc.) and insufficiently as adults with non-gender-specific intelligence, skills, and aspirations, the modern woman tends to view her worth in ways that suppress her uniquely feminine longings. The result is a more androgynous culture, and, yes, one in which women have unparalleled opportunity, but also one in which women are increasingly vulnerable to male oppression–precisely because men no longer feel obligated (by societal mores) to regard women with particular esteem. For example, men are less likely to marry and commit to being breadwinners, so women (most of who still innately long to bear children) feel pressured to simultaneously balance demanding careers.”

One of the associated lies of the sexual revolution is that women can engage in a string of casual sexual encounters without long-term emotional repercussions. Dawn Eden, once a feminist and sexual libertine, tells her story of transformation into a celibate Catholic in The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On. She writes this introductory article in the Times Online. Excerpts:

“The Sixties generation thought everything should be free. But only a few decades later the hippies were selling water at rock festivals for $5 a bottle. But for me the price of “free love” was even higher.
I sacrificed what should have been the best years of my life for the black lie of free love. All the sex I ever had — and I had more than my fair share — far from bringing me the lasting relationship I sought, only made marriage a more distant prospect.”


“The misguided, hedonistic philosophy which urges young women into this kind of behaviour harms both men and women; but it is particularly damaging to women, as it pressures them to subvert their deepest emotional desires. The champions of the sexual revolution are cynical. They know in their tin hearts that casual sex doesn’t make women happy. That’s why they feel the need continually to promote it.”

Sounds like a good book.
[HT: Justin Taylor and Denny Burk]

Wayne Grudem on Offensive Language

Yesterday, Wayne Grudem wrote a warm, articulate and balanced e-mail to John Piper on the use of offensive language. Grudem is responding to Piper’s explanation on why he used a vulgar word in a breakout session at the Passion 2007 Conference. Later reflecting on his choice of words, Piper noted:

“I regret saying it. I am sitting here trying to figure out why I say things like that every now and then. I think it is a mixture of (sinful) audience titillation and (holy) scorn against my own flesh and against the devil, along with the desire to make the battle with Satan and my flesh feel gutsy and real and not middle-class pious.”

Grudem’s correspondence makes a helpful connection between physical and verbal cleanliness:

“Using the words commonly thought to be offensive in the culture seems to me to be sort of the verbal equivalent of not wearing deodorant and having body odor, or of going around with spilled food on our shirts all the time. Someone might argue that not wearing deodorant or wearing dirty clothes are not morally wrong things in themselves, but my response is that they do give needless offense and cause others to think of us as somewhat impure or unclean. So, I think, does using words commonly thought to be “obscene” or “offensive” or “vulgar” in the culture generally. Plus it encourages others to act in the same way. So in that way it brings reproach on the church and the gospel.”

Grudem’s entire e-mail has been posted by Desiring God with his permission. It is the best statement on offensive language that I have ever read. I join Tim Challies in expressing my gratitude for these two brothers.

Believer’s Baptism – Schreiner and Wright

Tom Schreiner and Shawn Wright have done the church an excellent service by co-editing a volume called Believer’s Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ with Broadman and Holman. The book’s description (from Amazon):

Is believer’s baptism the clear teaching of the New Testament Scriptures? What are the historical and theological challenges to believer’s baptism? What are the practical applications for believer’s baptism today? Volume two in the NEW AMERICAN COMMENTARY STUDIES IN BIBLE & THEOLOGY (NACSBT) series for pastors, advanced Bible students, and other deeply committed laypersons addresses these compelling questions.
Indeed, Believer’s Baptism begins with the belief that believer’s baptism (as opposed to infant baptism or other faith proclaiming methods) is the clear teaching of the New Testament. Along the way, the argument is supported by written contributions from Andreas Kostenberger, Robert Stein, Thomas Schreiner, Stephen Wellum, Steve McKinion, Jonathan Rainbow, Shawn Wright, and Mark Dever.

This issue is of great contemporary importance, as some baptist churches in our day have sought to downplay baptist distinctives. Dr. Albet Mohler’s article on theological “triage” is helpful. He distinguishes between first order issues (on which salvation hinges), second order issue (which should determine church or seminary affiliation), and third order issues (which would not prevent Christians from joining together in a covenant community). He characterizes the bodily resurrection of Christ as a first order issue, believers baptism and the ordination of women as a second order issue, and eschatology as a third order issue. Southern Seminary actually dedicated their entire Fall 2005 magazine to Baptist identity, and why it matters.
As a baptist by conviction, I applaud the arrival of this volume.
(HT: Justin Taylor)

Joe Carter Reviews With One Voice

Joe Carter writes this gracious review of With One Voice (which is summarized here):
“In With One Voice: Singleness, Dating and Marriage to the Glory of God, Alex and Marni Chediak provide the ultimate answer: It is more important to become a certain type of person than it is to find a certain type of boyfriend/girlfriend.

‘What are you doing to become the sort of person who would be winsome and attractive to the kind of person you want to marry?’ (p. 45)

Such candid questions and refreshing candor is the hallmark of this superb book on dating and marriage. It is filled with advice that is redemptive, realistic, and relevant.”
Read the whole thing. Joe’s review has been added to the other reviews (from Lydia Brownback, Tim Challies, Josh Riley and Ryan Corbett).
Thanks, Joe! We appreciate your kind words.

William Wilberforce – book by John Piper

John Piper’s short biography on William Wilberforce is available January 29 as a softcover book and immediately as a free PDF.
Speaking of Wilberforce, Piper notes:
“He believed with all his heart that new affections for God were the key to new morals (or manners, as they were sometimes called) and lasting political reformation. And these new affections and this reformation did not come from mere ethical systems. They came from what he called the “peculiar doctrines” of Christianity. For Wilberforce, practical deeds were born in “peculiar doctrines.” By that term he simply meant the central distinguishing doctrines of human depravity, divine judgment, the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross, justification by faith alone, regeneration by the Holy Spirit, and the practical necessity of fruit in a life devoted to good deeds.”
I previously mentioned the upcoming major motion picture Amazing Grace. Here is the trailer:

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