Archive - April, 2008

Modern Parables – Individual DVDs Available

Awhile back I reviewed Modern Parables – a modern rendition, via the medium of film, of six of Jesus’ parables (Hidden Treasure, The Good Samaritan, The Shrewd Manager, The Persistent Widow, The Sower, and Prodigal Sons). Forgot the “cheesy Sunday School videos” stereotype, the cinematography of Modern Parables is as excellent as their theology. Two of the six videos are now available as individual DVDs, and the others will be available sometime between late May and mid-July. Check out a trailer:

See more trailers.

Interview withJustice Antonin Scalia

60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl conducts an interesting and entertaining interview of originalist Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. I appreciate Scalia’s perspective on the differing roles of the judicial and legislative branches. Justices interpret the constitution and legislators create laws. In being an originalist, Scalia is pleading that we should seek to interpret the Constitution the way its authors originally intended, rather than as some sort of living (i.e., changing) document. This interaction seemed not unlike the discussion on many University campuses where postmodern professors seek to ascertain what a text means to them rather than what the author actually intended to convey.
I also appreciated Scalia’s ability to attack ideas without bitterness or rancor to those with whom he disagrees. Apparently, Scalia and Justice Ginsberg are good friends. Scalia quipped: “I attack ideas. I don’t attack people. And some very good people have some very bad ideas…And if you can’t separate the two, you gotta get another day job. You don’t want to be a judge. At least not a judge on a multi-member panel.”
Check it out.

Interview with Justin Reimer

Tim Challies interviews Justin Reimer, founder of The Elisha Foundation. I did a two-part interview with Mr. Reimer awhile back: Here is Part 1 and Part 2.

In My Place Condemned He Stood

It is hard to deny that a proper understanding of the atonement is at the heart of the gospel. Christians can disagree over whether to baptize infants, over whether congregations should vote, or over end times, but as J.I. Packer notes, since one’s belief about the atonement is bound up with one’s belief about the very character of God, a faulty understanding can be indicative of a major problem. In our day, massive distortions exist on the significance of Christ’s death. Some are bold enough to call it “divine child abuse,” since they deny that God’s righteous indignation toward sin implies retribution for wrongdoing (either to be experienced by Christ, or by us forever). Others merely sideline the centrality of Christ’s dying work by emphasizing the idea of Jesus as teacher, an example/model of a godly man. Still others celebrate the cross as a victory over demonic forces on behalf of his people (Col. 2:15), or as a manifestation of God’s deep love toward us (II Co. 5:14-15).
Of course, Jesus was a teacher and a good example. His death was a victory over spiritual forces of evil and a manifestation of God’s intense love for humanity. But Jesus’ death, primarily, was a sin-atoning sacrifice, the payment of our debt to bring us to God. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” (I Peter 3:18)
It is hard to improve upon P.P. Bliss (1838-1876):

Bearing shame and scoffing rude
In my place condemned he stood
Sealed my pardon with his blood
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

This new book by Packer and Dever is a response to the subtle and not-so-subtle attacks on the doctrine of penal substitution. Why penal? Because Jesus paid a legal penalty. Why substitution? Because He endured it on our behalf. Jesus experienced the condemnation and rejection that we deserved. This book can bless many different kinds of people. A creative exposition, it serves as devotional reflection on the heart of the Christian message. It can also serve to challenge a legalistic friend who sees Jesus mainly as a good teacher. I highly recommend it.
Read the Foreword, Preface, and Introduction.

Discussion on Thabiti’s T4G Talk

The Nine Marks guys are having a good interaction on Thabiti Anyabwile’s T4G message. Jonathan Leeman asks two good questions. Thabiti responds.

The Pennsylvania Democratic Primary

The oft-discussed demographic divide between Senators Clinton and Obama seems to have persisted in yesterday’s Pennsylvania primary. In short, Clinton dominates among white women, the elderly, those without college degrees, union members, and (apparently) more religious voters. Alternatively, one could also argue that Obama is penetrating these voting blocs (Clinton’s margins are decreasing, despite the highly publicized Jeremiah Wright and “bitter” controversies). This table by Jay Cost helpfully summaries the divergence in the Ohio and Pennsylvania primaries:

Clinton & Obama in PA.JPG

Christians and Alcohol

The entire most recent issue of the Criswell Theological Review is dedicated to Christians and alcohol. They published an article by Dr. Richard Land and Dr. Barrett Duke which argues that alcohol, while not inherently evil, ought not to be consumed by Christians at all. They also included an article by Dr. Kenneth Gentry which argues that a moderate use of alcohol is permissible for Christians. [Note: I have not yet read these articles, but it sounds like a good discussion.]
[HT: Denny Burk]

Let No One Despise You For Your Youth

John Piper kicked-off a five-part sermon series on a “vision for the rising generation of young people.” When I was still at Bethlehem, I had the pleasure of hearing this vision in seed form, and participating in several productive meetings on this topic. Piper’s introductory message was taken from I Timothy 4:11-16:

“Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

The sermon series will continue in the coming weeks with messages being brought by David Michael, Sam Crabtree, Kempton Turner, and Gregg Harris. Gregg is the father of Alex and Brett Harris, authors of the recent book Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. Piper begins his kick-off sermon with some comments on this new, provocative book. The entire series should be very profitable.
Along this same theme, I was honored to accept a gracious invitation by Steve Wright and Mike Hall to live-blog the ReThink conference on May 16 in Raleigh, NC. The conference is named after a great book by Steve Wright that examines the traditional youth ministry model employed by many North American churches and calls for a deeper partnership between parents and churches for training children in the gospel. The conference is absolutely free and promises to be well worth attending. Speakers include Randy Stinson, Leon Tucker, David Horner, Dave Owen, and Steve Wright.

Jonathan Dodson on Engaging Culture

Discussing the opportunities (and dangers) associated with Christian cultural engagement, Dodson writes:

Our practice should flow from our position in Christ. Our actions ought to reveal our redeemed identity, not form our identity. Consider the danger of mistaking your newly formed habits for who you are. For instance, do you think of yourself now as an environmentalist or as a citizen of Zion with an environmental conscience? Do you draw significance from being a “pro-lifer” or from being new creation in Christ Jesus?
Ask yourself, “Am I confusing my practice with my position?” or “Am I finding my significance in what I do instead of who I am in Christ?” Guard yourself from subtly allowing cultural convictions to take the place of your identity in Christ. Ground your identity in the gospel and your practice will be more redemptive and more honoring to the Lord.

Read the whole thing.

Tim Keller at Westminster Theological Seminary

Complementing the other Tim Keller videos I’ve posted about his new book, The Reason For God, Tim Keller shares a panel with several faculty members from Westminster Theological Seminary, and discusses what gave rise to the book, the challenges of evangelism (and apologetics) today, and more. Pastor Keller was once a professor at Westminster.
(HT: Tullian Tchividjian)

Page 1 of41234»