The mysterious case of the disappearing gospel

Have you noticed?

Christian organizations everywhere are emphasizing the importance of engaging in practical ways with the poor and needy. The talk is of ‘impacting people’s lives for the Kingdom’ and ‘responding to Jesus’ call to look after the poorest and most vulnerable’.

This is a good thing, surely? Is this not simply following the example that Jesus set? And does not Paul exhort the Galatians to ‘do good to all’ (Gal. 6:10)?

This short video makes a pertinent observation. (For best results, choose ‘720p’ and view full screen.)

Try this experiment:

Spiritual growth? There’s an app for that

The folks from Leadership Network are into innovation in a big way. And they have something shiny and new. It’s called Monvee.

Remember, Leadership Network is the organization that helped infect the church with the twin blights of Seeker Drivenism and Emergence Christianity. Leadership Network has marketing clout, and knows how to use it. Monvee could be huge.

One of the problems with the Church Growth Movement’s seeker-driven approach to mass-producing disciples is that it has largely failed to consider how to make disciples who are growing into spiritual maturity in Christ. When the most mature members of your own congregation tell you that they are ‘not being fed’, there’s a problem. And when the mainstream media writes that ‘megachurches like Saddleback are market-driven, with transcendence not on the menu’, and worse, describes you as the ‘butt end of Christianity’ using the words ‘bland, cheerful, dull’, the scary prospect of irrelevance beckons. And with irrelevance comes that worst nightmare of the Church Growth CEO pastor – stagnant or shrinking congregations.

Monvee is the solution to this problem of stalled Christian lives lacking in transcendence. Market research has uncovered a missed opportunity, and Monvee is the new product that has been created to fill this void.

Rick Warren plays the Pharisee card

Rick Warren, CEO of Saddleback Church, yesterday played the Pharisee card. He wrote:

‘It drives Pharisees nuts to watch God keep blessing ministries they ridicule & despise.God’s sovereignty is often humorous.’

What’s the Pharisee card? Good question.

Legalism and licence

Which of these two statements is true?

  1. We are never permitted to sin.
  2. We cannot avoid sinning.

Both of these assertions appear in an excellent article by Todd Wilken (of the Issues, Etc radio programme). Todd writes:

They seem so different. One person lives his life striving for moral perfection. The other person doesn’t try that hard. The first is convinced that he can avoid sinning, if he tries hard enough. The second is equally convinced that he can’t avoid sinning, so why try at all? After all, He says, ‘I like to sin; God likes to forgive; that’s a pretty good deal.’ The first is all about keeping the rules; the second is all about breaking them.

The first is a legalist. The second is licentious. They seem very different, don’t they?

Which are you? A legalist? Or licentious? Either way, you won’t regret reading the full article:

Thank you to my friend Paula Coyle of Purpose Drivel (please visit!) for bringing this article to my attention, and for the opening question to this post.

What is a sermon for, and is it right for us to judge a poor one?

My friend James kindly posted some thoughts in response to my How to diagnose a sermon article. That article gave a three-step diagnostic (courtesy of the Issues, Etc. radio programme) for reviewing sermons. You can read his comments in full on that article, but his three main points were:

  1. That I seemed to be ‘casting judgment on the speaker and the sermon rather than looking for the Lord to help you pick out those things from Him which are helpful for your sanctification and growth in Grace’.
  2. That there are some texts that do not lend themselves to a forthright preaching of Christ. The commandment not to commit adultery, for example. And that, therefore, the steps for diagnosing a sermon that I propagated cannot be justly applied to the preaching of such texts.
  3. That a lecture by Dr. Peter Masters (of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London) perhaps did not seem to fit the criteria I recited in my article, and that therefore my yardstick might be invalid.

I found myself writing enough in response to these points to warrant a separate blog post.

Luther’s Small Catechism on the Ten Commandments: Introduction

In times past, many Christians used to educate their children and new converts in the basics of the Christian faith by way of catechisms.

Some still do.

The rest of us might want to give the idea some serious thought, for our times are not so very different from those in which Luther found himself:

What if? (Absolute truth)

Many people in the Church seem to be asking ‘What if’ questions. Which started me thinking…

What if…there exists a truth
which is absolute?

What if…it is true that
there is a God?

What if…this God made
the heavens and the earth?

The point of the ‘sheep and the goats’ passage is NOT that we should try harder to do good works

During his Olivet discourse, Jesus tells His disciples of the coming day of judgment when He shall separate the sheep from the goats:

31When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

Am I wasting my time studying 2,000 year-old texts?

Someone called Bill left a comment on my previous post. Bill asks a good question, namely this:

Is it worthwhile for us to spend significant amounts of time studying the Bible, the newest parts of which were written over 1,900 years ago?

Yes! In every way.

Why do I believe this?

An exercise in paying close attention to the text – should elders be married and have children?

I’m guessing that your church’s elders/pastors/shepherds/overseers/bishops – Biblically, all the same office – are not required to have children, right?

Given that opening question and the title of this article, you might be expecting me now to try and convince you that they should.

Nope, that’s not it.

I am going to make the argument that elders should have children. But not because I want to persuade you of this. No, rather because I hope my argument is wrong and I want you to show me why. I can’t see the flaw, but perhaps you can. And if so, please leave a comment and tell me what it is. I’d be very grateful, as I am rather uncomfortable with an interpretation that has been in the minority throughout much of church history. Think of this as a personal doctrinal loose-end that I’d like to tie up.