Archive - November, 2011

Jack Abramoff and Capitol Punishment

Jack Abramoff is a notorious corrupt lobbyist who spent a few years in prison. Now he’s back in the public’s eye, promoting his book, Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist. I suppose one cannot question the author’s credibility on the subject. The book sounds fascinating.

This interview with David Gregory on Meet The Press reminded me of the need to pray for our leaders (I Tim. 2:1-6) as they wrestle with serious issues and are regularly subject to enormous temptations.

Note: It would be the subject of another post entirely, but I don’t necessarily share Abramoff’s opinion regarding Speaker Gingrich. The Speaker still, in my opinion, has a chance to honestly answer questions about his activities with mortgage giant Freddie Mac.

Man Enough to Love a Real Woman

Joshua Rogers:

Cory, one of my happily married friends, was annoyed with some of his single, male buddies.

“Joshua, it’s so irritating,” he said. “I suggest a woman to them, but they say ‘she’s not attractive enough,’ or she’s lacking in some other area. And here’s the crazy part: In every case — without exception — the woman is way out of their league.”

I shook my head. “I know. I used to be like those guys, always finding a problem with every woman I dated. I didn’t realize I was the one with the problem.”

And my problem was pride. I measured women against a vague standard of perfection that eliminated each woman almost as soon as I met her. It was a pageant of sorts, where women were scored in a number of categories. And somehow I had gotten it into my head that I was worthy to be their judge.

Read the whole thing.

Our Calling and God’s Glory

That’s the title of an excellent article by Gene Veith on the doctrine of vocation.   From the introduction:

Whereas the doctrine of justification has wide currency, the doctrine of vocation has been all but forgotten. The word vocation can still be heard sometimes, but the concept is generally misunderstood or incompletely understood. The doctrine of vocation is not “occupationalism,” a particular focus upon one’s job. The term means “calling,” but it does not have to do with God’s voice summoning you to do a great work for him. It does not mean serving God by evangelizing on the job. Nor does the doctrine of vocation mean that everyone is a minister, though it is about the priesthood of all believers. It does not even mean doing everything for God’s glory, or doing our very best as a way to glorify God, though it is about God’s glory, at the expense of our own.

The doctrine of vocation is the theology of the Christian life. It solves the much-vexed problems of the relationship between faith and works, Christ and culture, how Christians are to live in the world. Less theoretically, vocation is the key to strong marriages and successful parenting. It contains the Christian perspective on politics and government. It shows the value, as well as the limits, of the secular world. And it shows Christians the meaning of their lives.

Read the whole thing. Veith is the author of God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life and Loving God with All Your Mind, both of which I found very helpful in writing Thriving at College.

Inside Tullian Tchividjian’s Early Struggle at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church

Drew Dyck has a great interview with Tullian Tchividjian about his difficult first year at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. I am thankful to God for this brother, who has blessed me in many ways through his speaking and writing. As Dyck reports:

Tchividjian’s church plant, New City, merged with the larger Coral Ridge, but the honeymoon was short-lived. Seven months later a group of church members, headed by Kennedy’s daughter, circulated a petition calling for his removal. On September 20, 2009, Tchividjian survived a vote to remove him from leadership.

An excerpt from the interview:

Some of the reasons you were opposed seem trivial. You didn’t wear a robe, like Dr. Kennedy did. You weren’t political enough from the pulpit. Was there something beneath those objections?

Not preaching politics was a big one. But yes, I’m sure there was something underlying those complaints. Part of it may have been an old-fashioned power struggle. There were people who had been in places of power under Kennedy who felt that this was their church, and they should be in charge of running it. I think some of them probably saw in me a young guy who would be wide-eyed by coming here and would basically do whatever they said. What they underestimated was that we had prayed and thought hard about what God wanted this church to be, and we were very determined to get there.

Continue Reading…

Ministering to the Depressed

David Murray, author of Christians Get Depressed Too (Reformation Heritage Books, 2010):

David P. Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

HT: Justin Taylor

Freeman Hrabowski: Promoting Excellence in Math and Science

60 minutes had a great profile tonight of Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Hrabowski is churning out a large number of excellent math, science, and engineering students.  I appreciated his emphasis on high expectations, realistic optimism, hard work, and cooperation over competition.

He’s right: telling college students “look to your left, look to your right, one of you won’t make it” can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as those lacking confidence conclude they’ll fail. The opposite danger is to suggest success comes easily, a perspective which stunts effort, and therefore leads to poorer outcomes (even if educators seek to hide the results by lowering standards or inflating grades). Hrabowski strikes the right balance between being nurturing and supportive, but also setting very high standards.

Science, engineering and math counted for 41 percent of the bachelor’s degrees earned at UMBC last year – well above the national average of 25 percent.

From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin

Christopher Benson reviews Darryl Hart’s book From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin in Books and Culture. An excerpt:

Focusing on the evangelical intelligentsia rather than the rank-and-file, he considers “the reasons that representative born-again Protestant academics and pastors give for political participation, their understanding of the good society, or the value of the American polity.” The literary evidence that Hart marshals is impressive. He takes us through the writings of young progressives in the 1970s (Richard Pierard, David Moberg, Mark Hatfield, Richard Mouw), historical revisionists (Peter Marshall, Jr., Francis Schaeffer, Donald Dayton), correcting historians (Mark Noll, Nathan Hatch, George Marsden), fundamentalist “party crashers” in the 1980s (Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, Pat Robertson), faith-based pundits (Chuck Colson, Ralph Reed, Marvin Olaskey, James Skillen), leftist evangelicals (Jim Wallis, Randall Balmer, Tony Campolo, Ron Sider), and “heroic conservatives” (Michael Gerson, Joel Hunter, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren).

Hart then turns to traditionalist conservatives (Russell Kirk, Roger Scruton, Michael Oakeshott, Mark Henrie, Patrick Deneen) for an alternative to the “redemptive utopianism” that prevails among evangelicals. In Hart’s account, latter-day evangelicals, for all their internal differences, closely resemble their revivalist ancestors, stitching a patchwork quilt of American exceptionalism and providential benediction, patriotism and piety, evangelism and social action. “Deep within the soul” of members of the Religious Right, Hart observes, beats “the heart not of a Burkean conservative but of a Finneyite activist.” If we follow the levels of reading in How to Read a Book, Hart has reached the highest level as a syntopical reader, placing multiple books in relation to one another and constructing a new and perceptive analysis on the subject. However, I do question how much can be extrapolated about the political ethos of evangelicalism—a remarkably pluriform movement—from literary evidence alone.

Read the whole thing. I’ve not yet seen this book, but I’m familiar with Hart’s book from his previous work.  Elsewhere in his review Benson compares From Billy Graham to Sarah Palin to  Hunter’s To Change the World (another textbook-like work I hope to read).  A shorter work I’ve enjoyed on this topic (and from a slightly different perspective) is City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era (by Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner, with a Foreword by Tim Keller).

Piper on the Racial Sins of Our Fathers

Collin Hansen interviews John Piper on the racial sins of the church, today and over the last generation or two. Piper is the author of Bloodlines, a compelling account of how the gospel obliterates ethnocentricism as we come to see ourselves as a global people of God, called out from every nation into one new humanity.

I’m about 100 pages into it so far and am finding it to be excellent, especially the chapter on personal responsibility and systemic intervention, the two perspectives used to explain (and propose solutions for) the disparities along racial lines that persist in our day.


Time-markers —

0:05 — Is there more white supremacy today than 50 years ago?

1:42 — Does ethnic diversity bring out more racism or help eradicate it?

3:03 — Why do some Bible-believing Christians disobey what the Bible teaches?

3:44 — How opposing interracial marriage was the foundation to segregation.

6:00 — How does the Bible or specifically, Reformed theology, abolish racism?

Check out Collin’s commentary on the video and read his review of Bloodlines.

HT: Desiring God