Archive - October, 2007

Free Audio Book: The Life of David Brainerd by Jonathan Edwards

ChristianAudio announces:

America’s greatest Theologian, Jonathan Edwards, had a heart for missions. And Edwards deeply respected David Brainerd, who gave his life for missions to Native Americans. The Life of David Brainerd is an inspiring tale of one of the most notable missionaries in American history.Use the coupon code OCT2007 to receive the Download Format of The Life of David Brainerd for free in the month of October.

I just downloaded the nine audio files which constitute the entire book — over 8 hours of free audio!
Related: John Piper’s biographical sketch of David Brainard.

Missional & Reformed: Conference at Westminster

One age-old fallacy in Christian circles is that you can’t believe in Reformed theology and care about sharing Christ with others. This faulty logic is based on a false dichotomy between man’s responsibility (to forsake sin and to trust in Christ alone for salvation) and God’s sovereignty (in unconditionally choosing a people for Himself from before eternity past). Others, unwilling to go that far, associate “Reformed” with being old-school, inflexible, and unwilling to adapt to cultural changes. In other words: You can’t be both Reformed and missional.
Since I think the above association is sad and mistaken, I was delighted to learn that Westminster Seminary in Escondido, California is hosting a Conference on January 18-19, 2008 on the topic Missional and Reformed: Reaching the Lost & Teaching the Reached. They conference organizers note:

The claim of the emergent/emerging churches to represent a truly “missional” approach to ministry, witness, and evangelism is generating much interest and ink. This conference considers what it means to be Reformed and missional. We start with the conviction that Christ the Lord has established an institution (the church) and has given to it a mission to make disciples of all the nations. Without the church there can be no mission and where there is no mission, there is no church. Tough questions remain and this conference doesn’t promise to have all the answers, but we hope to ask right questions about mission and ministry in our pluralistic age.

The schedule features six plenary sessions, each of which bears an engaging title and is led by a Westminster Seminary California Professor:
“The Mission and the Confession of the Church: Friends or Foes?” (W. Robert Godfrey)
“Why the Mission Needs the Marks of the Church” (R. Scott Clark)
“Why the Marks of the Church Need the Mission” (Michael S. Horton)
“Mission According to Paul” (Joel E. Kim)
“Mission in a Pluralistic Age” (Hywel R. Jones)
“Mission and Missions: Evangelism in the 21st Century” (Julius J. Kim)

There is also a time for Q&A.
Registration is only $45 through November 26th.
(HT: Tim Challies)

Some Reflections on “The War”

I appreciated the note at the end of the Ken Burns’ documentary. The film was dedicated to all who were wounded and died in a necessary war on our behalf. WWII was unspeakably gruesome. From the atrocities of Hitler’s madness throughout Europe, and particularly in the death camps, to the horrible slaughter of women and children in China by the Japanese (until recently unacknowledged by many in Japan), the war was both a display and the result of human depravity. Yes, American soldiers occasionally retaliated in inappropriate ways, but for the most part we should be humbled and grateful for their sacrifice and service to defend liberty. Hitler had his sights on America, and Japan owned the Pacific. We would live in a very different world today were it not for the bravery and service of millions–of (in some respects) an entire generation. So many fought voluntarily and thought little of their sacrifice (including Japanese and African Americans, sometimes ostracized even after they returned).
Denny Burk is right: the relative peace, prosperity, and security most of us enjoy is the exception, not the normal human condition. And while untold yet unspeakable suffering still occurs throughout the world, King Jesus will someday return and right every wrong:

“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”
– II Peter 3:8-13

The Memoirs of Eugene Sledge

Eugene Sledge.JPGThe last episode of Ken Burns’ The War aired last night. Marni and I watched about 70% of it (and recorded the entire series on several VHS tapes). It was absolutely captivating. A great balance of historical coverage on how WWII progressed in each of the major theatres combined with the personal stories of several families from Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento, California; Waterbury, Connecticut; and Luverne, Minnesota.
The soldier Eugene Sledge stood out to me. While engaging in several years of fighting in the Pacific, Sledge would keep an informal diary on loose sheets of paper that he would stick in the pages of his pocket New Testament. Every now and then, the producers of THE WAR would directly quote Sledge, read by one particular actor in a dry, laconic tone (which seemed to fit Sledge’s personality). I kept saying to my wife Marni: “What a fantastic writer!” Particularly when I considered that he was not exactly recording his musings in an ideal environment. His records of the major battles at Peleliu and Okinawa were later published (at his wife’s urging) in the 352-page volume entitled With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa. Sledge’s memoirs were later named one of the top five books in epic 20th-century battles, and with good reason. The book is currently the 116th best-selling book on Amazon. Consider some of these excerpts:
On his enlisting with the Marine Corps:

Prompted by a deep feeling of uneasiness that the war might end before I could get overseas into combat, I enlisted in the Marine Corps at Marion, Alabama. The recruiting sergeant asked me lots of questions and filled out numerous official papers. When he asked, “Any scars, birthmarks, or other unusual features?”? I described an inch-long scar on my knee. I asked why such a question. He replied, “So they can identify you on some Pacific beach after the Japs blast off your dog tags.”

On fighting in Peleliu:

We existed in an environment totally incomprehensible to men behind the lines–service troops and civilians. To the noncombatants and those on the periphery of action, the war meant only boredom or occasional excitement; but to those who entered the meat grinder itself, the war was a nether world of horror from which escape seemed less and less likely as casualties mounted and the fighting dragged on and on. Time had no meaning; life had no meaning. The fierce struggle [in the abyss of Peleliu] eroded the veneer of civilization and made savages of us all.

On leaving Peleliu:

As I struggled upward (onto the boat) with my load of equipment, I felt like a weary insect climbing a vine. But at last I was crawling up out of the abyss of Peleliu! I stowed my gear on my rack and went topside. The salt air was delicious to breathe. What a luxury to inhale long deep breaths of fresh clean air, air that wasn’t heavy with the fetid stench of death. But something in me died at Peleliu. Perhaps it was a childish innocence that accepted as faith the claim that man is basically good. Possibly I lost faith that politicians in high places who do not have to endure war’s savagery will ever stop blundering and sending others to endure it.

On fighting in Okinawa, after Germany surrendered:

Nazi Germany might as well have been on the moon. On Okinawa no one cared much. We were resigned only to the fact that the Japanese would fight to total extinction as they had elsewhere, and that Japan would have to be invaded with the same gruesome prospects.

Reflecting on V-J day:

We thought the Japanese would never surrender. Many refused to believe it. Sitting in stunned silence, we remembered our dead. So many dead. So many maimed. So many bright futures consigned to the ashes of the past. So many dreams lost in the madness that had engulfed us. Except for a few widely scattered shouts of joy, the survivors of the abyss sat hollow-eyed and silent, trying to comprehend a world without war.

Mr. Sledge apparently had great difficulty adjusting upon his return. He went to business school on the G-I bill, tried the insurance industry, and later quit. Eventually, he studied biology and became a teacher. His wife said that the study of nature helped him maintain his sanity. He passed away in 2001.

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