Archive - 2011

Tim Tebow Outsells Rob Bell

Jeffrey MacDonald, writing for USA Today, reports that Tim Tebow is the top religion author of 2011, outselling Rob Bell:

Tebow’s Christian life story, Through My Eyes, has become the top-selling new release of 2011 from HarperOne, a leading religion book publisher. With 220,000 copies sold since its June launch, Through My Eyes has even outsold Rob Bell’s best-seller Love Wins, which sparked intense debate with its unorthodox views about hell.

Go, Tebow!

HT: Ray Pritchard

Chasing Suitors With Snow Shovels

Pastor Doug Wilson on fathers asking would-be suitors about pornography:

Given how accessible porn is nowadays, it has inevitably caused certain dislocations in contemporary courtships. I do urge fathers to bring the subject up when prospective suitors first seek their permission to court their daughter. A father may feel it is an awkward subject for him to bring up, but it is certainly not going to get less awkward later on, when more is at stake.

An excerpt:

I am a pastor in a college town. I have no idea how many Christian young men I have counseled and taught about their problems with pornography, but the number would have to be a high one. These young men can be divided into two broad categories. By far the largest category is made up of those men for whom marriage is the solution to their problem. God’s answer to sexual temptation turns out to be (surprise!) sex. I have not measured this precisely, but let us say this group is in the 90% range. They are not gifted with celibacy, obviously, and so the apostle Paul shoos them toward the altar, telling them in his typical Pauline fashion, to get the lead out (1 Cor. 7:9). In this sense (and only in this sense), a struggle with sexual temptation is actually a qualification for marriage, not a disqualification. It is a reason why a man should get married, not why he shouldn’t.

Read the whole thing.

Related: This article and this other one on singleness/sexuality/marriage.

Calvin College Recommends Michael Le Roy as New President

Morgan Feddes of Christianity Today reports

Calvin College’s presidential search committee has recommended Michael Le Roy as the next president of the Christian Reformed school.

Le Roy, currently provost and executive vice president at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, will replace outgoing president Gaylen Byker, who is stepping down after 16 years at the helm. The board will vote on Le Roy’s nomination on February 9.

If approved, Le Roy would be the first Calvin president in 60 years who is not a member of the Christian Reformed Church, as well as the first president who did not attend the college. Le Roy is an ordained elder of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Read the whole thing.

God’s Purpose for Christmas

Boundless published an article today called God’s Purpose for Christmas. Here’s how it opens:

The Christmas decorations are out, and holiday music fills the air. But Christmas means different things to different people. For some, the Christmas season is about having survived another year, enjoying extra time to reconnect with family and friends, and bargain-hunting for great gifts. In fact, many who celebrate Christmas don’t think much about a reason for the season. Or if they do, it’s just a swirl of unrelated thoughts about family traditions and a generic sense of good-will toward all.

Read the whole thing.

RC Sproul Jr.: On the Passing of His Wife

Yesterday, Dr. R.C. Sproul, Jr. reported that his wife Denise went home to be with the Lord, following a protracted battle with cancer. Today, he published a reflection that he wrote two days prior to her passing. He discusses our ungrateful tendency to forget past blessings, rather than remember how God in His providence has delivered us and graced us in countless ways.  He writes:

“…as I face a future without the spiritual wisdom of my bride it is less important that I bank what I can still receive from her, and more important that I give thanks to God for all the wisdom He has bestowed over the years through her. Looking through the gift of her wisdom to the source of that wisdom makes it less likely that I will miss her wisdom while I miss her.”

His concluding paragraph:

It was the grace of God that gave us all a blessed life in southwest Virginia. Leaving there didn’t mean leaving that blessing. In like manner it was the grace of God that gave us the blessed life of having Denise for a wife and mother. Losing her doesn’t mean losing that grace. It means remembering where it ultimately came from. To confuse God’s means of grace with His grace is to fall into idolatry. To look beyond and through the blessing to its Giver is to understand how our God works through what He has made. God loves me. Where I live, and with whom doesn’t change that but reveals that. My calling is to give thanks.

Read the whole thing.

Review: Jack Abramoff’s Capitol Punishment

As a longtime observer of the political process, I was intrigued to see that disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was out of prison and had written an apparently “tell-all” book. I first heard him on 60 minutes talking about the “revolving door” – how easy it is for senior lobbyists to entice senators, congressmen, and their staff (particularly their chiefs of staff) with the prospect of a job in lobbying after they’re ready to move on. With this golden opportunity dangling before them, the powerful person on Capitol Hill was sure to do your bidding so long as they remained in power. (Lobbyists earn far more money than staffers, and the later control access to elected officials.)

In the 60 minutes segment, Abramoff sounded contrite. He now wanted to help reform the process, he said. Fight for term limits (“Washington is a dangerous place”), close the revolving door (make it illegal for public servants to later pursue K street employment), and make it illegal for lobbyists to give anything of value to power brokers (not even a glass of water, let alone campaign funds, or a lucrative job offer). All this made me want to read the book.

Continue Reading…

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011)

Earlier today Christopher Hitchens succumbed to esophageal cancer after an almost two year battle. He was 62 years old. His brilliant, engaging, and witty essays will be missed by thousands. I enjoyed the debates he had with Doug Wilson a few years ago on the existence of God and whether Christianity was good or bad for the world. (These were captured in a book and documentary-style film.)

One can only hope that before departing our great plant this highly gifted man recognized that he was far more than some accidental life form. Perhaps he reached out to the God in whom we each live, move, and have our being (Acts 17:28), and who, rich in mercy, came to earth to reconcile us to himself.

The Political Significance of the “Middle Class”

This infographic explains why we’ll be hearing the phrase “middle class” relentlessly in the next election cycle. Whoever wins the middle class, wins. It’s that simple. The swings reveal that this group morphs with time — siding with the GOP 53-46 in 2004, and then basically reversing in 2006. Then back with the GOP in 2010.

It’s also true that the majority of voters (between 55-60%) have come from the middle class (defined here as having $30,000-$100,000 annual household income). Notice that you don’t have to win this group by a huge margin – a little over 50% will do just fine. The GOP posted big gains in 2004 and 2010, and Democrats dominated in 2006 and 2008. Yet nobody ever won more than 53% of this precious middle class vote.

HT: Washington Post

Why We Need Jesus – Michael Horton

Writing in Christianity Today, Horton’s article begins this way:

A passenger on a recent plane trip happily divulged his spiritual views. Raised in a conservative religious home, he proudly dismissed traditional Christianity, with its radical claims about Jesus of Nazareth, because it substitutes dogma for reason, he said. Fifteen minutes later, he became an apologist for a sacred cosmos, with tarot cards and astrology. But of course, he said, these were true just for him.

The encounter epitomized what we have all experienced in a culture that identifies reason with naturalism and faith with feeling. And it comes from a deeper problem: the attempt to “climb to heaven” on the rungs of reason, morality, and experience. The “search for the sacred” is what happens when our God-centered nature is taken captive by sin. Religion and spirituality are all about what we feel and think deep within our precious, delightful, individual souls. The true God calls us outdoors into a history that sweeps us into its wake. Yet we prefer to sit inside our own souls and minds, stewing in our own juices.

Biblical faith emphasizes that we cannot ascend to God on our own; rather, the God of the Bible descends down to us. Our inner self is not the playground of “spirit,” but the haunted plains on which we build our towers of Babel. In other words, our hearts are idol factories, in bondage to sin and spin. As Jeremiah declared, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (17:9, ESV, used throughout). We look for a god we can manage rather than the God who is actually there.

Keep reading it here.

Mitt Romney: No Flip-Flop on Marriage

I’ve been watching the GOP presidential race with increasing interest. Each candidate has significant flaws, in my opinion. Nevertheless, this article by Maggie Gallagher on Mitt Romney’s history on the marriage issue is encouraging. Gallagher is the founder of the National Organization for Marriage and a 14-year syndicated columnist. She writes, in part:

I don’t mind anyone criticizing Romney for the things he has done. But this particular attack is grotesquely unfair. I know. I was there.

In the summer of 2003, when I learned the Massachusetts courts were likely to make gay marriage a reality, I quit my job and started up a think tank to work full time on the marriage issue. I traveled to Massachusetts multiple times to confer with local leaders, testify before the legislature, address grassroots gatherings, meet with policymakers.

Mitt Romney didn’t just oppose court-ordered same-sex marriage with words, he fought hard, including behind the scenes.

When the people of Massachusetts mobilized the most massive signature-gathering operation in the state’s history in support of a marriage amendment defining marriage as one man and one woman, Romney supported the effort.

Read the whole thing.  [HT: Marvin Olasky]

On the other hand, I’m not terribly impressed with the way Romney is running his campaign.  His avoiding interviews, and declining the one-on-one debate invitation from Speaker Gingrich, show weakness — not so much that he has something to hide, but that he “can’t take the heat.”  (Also, this site gives another perspective on Romney’s tenure in MA.) [HT: Peter Knickerbocker]

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