Protect me from knowing anything I don’t need to know. Protect me from even knowing that there are things to know that I don’t know. Protect me from knowing that I decided not to know the things to know about. Amen Continue reading
As a follow-up to Asher and Mike. Worth a watch, mostly for Trueman’s opening thoughts on the phenomenon, the rest is primarily application for pastors, both celebrity and non.
What do you think of the phenomenon of the celebrity pastor?
Does it harm God’s purpose for his church? Or is it no big deal?
This is the era of celebrity pastors, bloggers, and parachurch-ministry-leaders. Names like Mark Driscoll, Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, Al Mohler, John Piper, and C.J. Mahaney come to mind. It wouldn’t be hard to list dozens more, especially if you include bloggers.
There is a common human tendency to elevate and rally around charismatic men who lead passionately, communicate poignantly, and inspire those around them. With the advent of the internet, the megachurch, and the parachurch ministry network, gifted pastors can hold influence over scores of people beyond their own churches. And, while many of these pastors undoubtedly seek such influence, more disconcerting to me is the ease with which people give them a sort of de facto authority in their lives.
Mike raised this concern last year in his critique of the phenomenon of the “Gospel-Centered Parachurch Ministry.” Today I’d like to extend this blog’s commentary on the influence of celebrity pastors. While I will not argue that there is anything inherently sinful or unbiblical about a church leader gaining influence outside of his own church, I would like to suggest that there’s enough dissonance between this phenomenon and the biblical picture of the church as God’s temple to give us pause. Continue reading
What happened that allowed people to start judging truth by how they feel about it? What happened that so many refuse to consider a collection of ideas “truth for everybody”?
If you have been in American Evangelical Christian circles anytime within the last 30 years or so, the answer that may quickly come to your mind (possibly in the voice of Francis Schaeffer) is: “Relativism!”
Sovereign Grace Ministries is going through changes. Some have called them the growing pains of a movement’s adolescence. It has to do with the growth of a local preaching ministry into an international movement of partnering churches within about 30 years.
At this blog questions of how to help sustain Sovereign Grace Ministries are being asked and solutions explored. How do you structure a church or a group of churches, a denomination? The technical word for church governance is “polity”. In this section of the blog is a polity proposal that I have some concerns about.
Here are my concerns in the form of an address to the authors of the aforementioned blog: Continue reading
True, I could spot Orion’s belt of three stars. And once, on a clear night at a Florida beach, someone pointed out to me the hazy glow of the Milky Way. I knew that the sun sets in the east and rises in the west. And I even figured out a couple of years ago that the moon does the same.
But that’s about it.
My four-year-old son knew more about celestial affairs than I did, as evidenced by this conversation on a clear winter night:
My father-in-law: What are those two bright stars near the moon?
Me: I don’t know. Maybe they’re planets.
My son: One of them’s probably Jupiter because it’s the biggest planet.
Me: I don’t think people can see Jupiter without a telescope. I think we can see Venus and maybe Mars, but not Jupiter–it’s too far away.
My son: I read in my book that you can see Jupiter without a telescope.
Me: (chuckling) Jupiter is the biggest, but I’m pretty sure it’s too far away for us to see with the naked eye.
Two days later, Continue reading
While the Bible might not make the top-ten list of feminist classics, the story of Deborah offers an amusing–even, at times, satirical–commentary on the vaunted warrior culture of the ancient near east.
Comedy at its best exposes human weaknesses in ways that simultaneously entertain and encourage reflection on self and society. The Bible itself exemplifies this literary mode in episodes like Balaam’s ill-fated attempts to curse Israel (Numbers 22-25), Jonah’s ill-advised attempt to run away from God, and Haman’s ill-hatched plan of ethnic cleansing that leads instead to his own demise (Esther 3-7). In each case some form of human sin or folly is enacted and exposed via irony and humor.
In the book of Judges, God repeatedly inspired a writer or collection of writers to record stories from Israel’s history in ways that comically portray both the folly and depravity of a society in which “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”
In the tale of Deborah and Barak’s victory over the Canaanite general Sisera, irony emerges from the simple facts of the story: Continue reading
A couple of Sundays ago, I was in Maryland and caught a sermon at Covenant Life Church by Joshua Harris on authority in the church. It was part of a series on church polity that his church is conducting in the context of rewriting its constitution.
Something he said struck me, something quite obvious–yet something I’ve mostly brushed over in my thinking on polity, something I didn’t really address in my November post on this topic:
The primacy of Christ’s authority over his church requires that no man have unchecked authority within the church. (paraphrased from memory)
In my discussion of authority in November, I emphasized the decentralization of authority for a different reason. I argued that decentralization promotes maturity within the congregation in accordance with Paul’s vision for the church in Ephesians 4.
I still believe this. But the supremacy of Christ’s authority establishes an Continue reading
In honor of The Artist winning Best Picture at this year’s academy awards, I thought I’d share some thoughts on silent film that I’ve been kicking around lately.
It started a few months ago when I watched The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. I’d neither understood the appeal of silent film nor had any interest in the genre until that day. I decided to watch the 1920 horror classic simply because 1) I could stream it for free, and 2) I’d often heard it referenced as a foundational cinematic work.
The black-and-white relic of German Expressionism gripped me for a number of reasons: the bizarrely asymmetrical doors, walls, and corridors; the eerie, dreamlike atmosphere; the striking close-ups of facial expressions; the plot devices that I recognized as influences on today’s films.
But upon further reflection, I’m most struck by the way a silent film works on the mind. Continue reading
I’m struck by some parallels between the Obama Administration’s so-called “contraception mandate” and two church-state / conscience-state clashes from British history.
In the 1160s, King Henry II and Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, engaged in a bitter battle over the authority of the church versus the authority of the monarchy. The most acute controversy surrounded the privilege of the church to try clergy accused of serious crimes. Henry sought to transfer this privilege to the state.
In 1170 four knights loyal to Henry murdered Becket in the cathedral at Canterbury.
In the 1530s, King Henry VIII fought the authority of the church in order to Continue reading