Archive - July, 2013

Keller and Piper on C.S. Lewis (and George MacDonald)

I grew up reading lots of C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald, so I appreciated this five minute video with Tim Keller and John Piper discussing these matters.  I think Keller nails it on MacDonald–lots of common grace. He was a beautifully gifted writer, but he got the core issues (sin, atonement, penal substitution) wrong. I don’t know why.

Why are millennials leaving the church?

Rachel Held Evans sounded off (again) over the weekend on CNN’s religion site.  But I think Rod Dreher and Anthony Bradley are more on point.  Evans’ critiques don’t really explain what’s happening.  For example, Dreher writes:

Crucially, the data cited in American Grace show that the young began to fall away from the church in the early 1990s; around the time that homosexuality, including same-sex marriage, began to be a topic of mainstream discussion. Understand, it’s not that Evangelicals are becoming more liberal, necessarily (though some are); it’s that young people who were raised Evangelical are becoming more liberal, and ceasing to identify with Evangelicalism. In the book, the scholars postulate that sympathy for the gay rights movement among late X-ers and Millennials has a lot to do with it.

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Short Q&A to go with John 3:16

We find both Scripture memory and catechism work to have great value for our young children (7, 5, and 2). It puts vital knowledge into their minds, which we pray God will push into their hearts.  May it be said of them that “from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus”  (2 Timothy 3:15).  One of the most frequently memorized passages, with good reason, is John 3:16. Here are four simple question and answers that we’ve used to go along with their memorization of John 3:16.  

Whom does God love?

God loves all of humanity, even though we are evil and deserving of judgment.

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Four Ministry Books For $20

Matthias Media Ministry BundleThe Matthias Media Bundle from WTS Books looks like a great deal: Four books for $20. Sale ends 7/31.

Ligon Duncan and Tim Keller: A More Relevant PCA?

A great interaction between PCA denomination leaders Ligon Duncan and Tim Keller on the last day of the 41st General Assembly.  An excerpt:

“We both believe that we are in a new cultural moment,” said Duncan. “We need to know where we are, how we’ve gotten here, and how we can forge a biblical, faithful consensus on how we’re going to address that together.”

Keller picked up the conversation by painting a bleak picture of where America is as a culture: “This is an unprecedented time in human history. There have always been relativists. There have always been doubters of God. There have always been atheists. What’s new is the breadth of conviction that there is no such thing as truth. There have never been whole societies built on that idea. Never.”

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Parents Shell Out Less for Kids in College

Good WSJ article today on a concerning trend:  The share of college costs paid by parents out of income and savings fell to 27% from 37% three years ago.

What’s picking up the slack?  Looks like university scholarships, student loans, and relatives/friends:


Two other highlights:

  • In 2013, 57% of families reported a student living at home or with a relative, up from 43% three years ago. Students from low-income households have traditionally lived at home in larger numbers, but among families with incomes over $100,000, the share of students staying at home has doubled to 48% since 2009-2010.
  • Nevertheless, in 2013, 85% of parents said a degree was an investment in the future, up from 80% in 2008.

Read the whole thing.

Hero Worship and Holy Emulation

John Piper wrote a few years ago on the important distinction between hero worship and holy emulation.  Here’s an excerpt:

What is the meaning of the attention given to well-known pastors? What does the desire for autographs and photographs mean? The negative meaning would be something akin to name-dropping. Our egos are massaged if we can say we know someone famous. You see this on blogs with words like “my friend Barack” and the like. And I presume that, for some, an autograph or a photo has the same ego-boost.

However, I don’t assume the worst of people. There are other possible motives. We will see this below. But it is good to emphasize that all of this is more dangerous to our souls than bullets and bombs. Pride is more fatal than death.

When I say “our souls” I mean all of us—the signature-seeker, the signer, and the cynic who condemns it all (on his very public blog). There is no escaping this new world. The question is, How do we navigate it for the glory of Christ, the crucifixion of self, the spread of truth, the deepening of faith, and the empowering of sacrificial love?

Read the whole thing.

President Obama Speaks on Trayvon Martin

President Obama surprised the press pool today by making a 16-17 minute (seemingly off-the-cuff) statement on the tragic death of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent ruling in the George Zimmerman trial.  Frankly, I was impressed to see the President employ his considerable oratorical powers to give the larger context as to why the Zimmerman ruling has resulted in such powerful reactions from so many people. Even if one agrees with the Zimmerman verdict, it’s helpful to understand why others are frustrated, and Obama explains it well.

Take a listen for yourself. His remarks received a warm response from Trayvon’s parents (as expected), but also from Robert Zimmerman (George’s brother).

What’s a College Degree Worth?

College is expensive. Is it financially worth it? Yes, but you need to graduate, and the return on investment depends on the degree.

Here’s a helpful and accessible article by Dr. Jonathan James of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. He breaks down the wage premium of a bachelor’s degree and an advanced degree as compared with a high school degree.  He also looks at the choice of a college major, explaining that the “differences in the college major premium are as large as the college wage premium itself.”

Here’s one of his figures:

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Importance of Vocation for College Students

An exceptional speech entitled “Renewing the Wellsprings of Responsibility,”  was given in 2009 by Dr. Nathan O. Hatch, President of Wake Forest University.  The immediate context was the collapse of the housing industry and associated sectors:

The current economic turmoil is taking its toll on jobs and psyches on Wall Street and on Main Street. It will also slam shut the easy routes to fame and fortune that many students have enjoyed. But now we’re left with the question: what happens when the rewards aren’t there? When the applause stops and the checks shrivel?

Students will be forced to reassess what’s at their core. What are their values? Have they found the deeper meaning in what they plan to do? I suspect that many career choices have been rooted in a paycheck and a craving for accolades and esteem, rather than a passion for a particular type of work. Can this crisis be a wake-up call for students to face the challenge posed by William James: “The great use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.”

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