Monthly Archives: May 2007

Your Money or Your Life

Last Sunday, I had my first opportunity to preach since coming on staff at First Baptist in Shelbyville, TN. I chose to do a sermon on Jesus’ parable about the Rich Fool. For friends and family who couldn’t be there (or readers who just may be interested), I’m posting the video from the sermon here. If you don’t have time to watch the whole sermon (which is about 30 minutes), you might enjoy the fourth video down at the bottom, which has the conclusion and the summary from the message (and a surprising prop!). 





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Conversations with a Catholic 6 – Common Ground on Liturgy

My conversation with Brian, a Roman Catholic continues.

Previous Posts in this series:
Conversations with a Catholic 1: The Church
Conversations with a Catholic 2: Tradition
Conversations with a Catholic 3: Glasses
Conversations with a Catholic 4: Interpreting Scripture 
Conversations with a Catholic 5: Liturgy 

Trevin’s Letter 

I think you’re right to move this discussion in a particular direction. We’ve been sort of all over the place up till now.

So, you want to talk “liturgy.” That’s fine with me. You’ll actually find little disagreement with me here on liturgy and the importance of our worship services.

You use several passages to prove your point about their being the need for specific rhythm and time, and then you use these as a way of transferring the importance in both Old and New Testaments to our present day. I could not agree more. You refrain from using proof texts, and instead, you point to ways in which we can see that how we worship is very important.

You are right to see the Passover parallel in Mark’s Gospel. (It’s in the other Gospels too, actually.) And of course, did you really think you would find disagreement with me on the issue of Jesus being the Lamb of God, whose death is the sacrifice pictured in the OT sacrificial system?

All churches have a liturgy, whether they realize it or not or whether they admit to it or not. I will gladly agree that many …

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Augustine's Conversion

During this time of struggle, Augustine accepts Neoplatonism, thus completely rejecting the Manichean concepts of God that he had adopted earlier. This new philosophy leads him to the question of evil’s origin. “I kept seeking for an answer to the question: Where does evil come from? And I sought it in an evil way, and I did not see the evil in my very search.” This question plagues him, until he realizes that all things are good, even if they are corrupted. “They could not be corrupted if they were supremely good,” he says, referring to the supreme goodness of God. “But unless they were good they could not be corrupted,” he adds, referring to man. This leads him to his final conclusion about evil. Evil does not exist as a substance, but it is a perversion of the will bent aside from God. He reaches a similar conclusion with the idea of falsehood, it being “nothing except the existence in thought of what does not exist in fact.”

Now that he has solved the problem of evil, Augustine has come closer than ever to accepting the Christian faith. He already feels a love for God, but has not yet “settled down” to enjoy God. “I had now found the priceless pearl,” he says, “and I ought to have sold all that I had and bought it – yet I hesitated.” Augustine admits that he has two wills struggling inside him – one will drawing him to God’s love …

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Book Review: Theologians of the Baptist Tradition

Looking for a book that sums up the unique contributions of Baptist preachers and teachers to Baptist theology? Theologians of the Baptist Tradition is a terrific place to start.

David Dockery and Timothy George do a great job of compiling terrific contributions about important Baptist figures of the past. Each chapter is devoted to a particular theologian/pastor. Chapters give biographical information, informative summaries of the teacher’s theology, and a helpful evaluation. The theology of men like Andrew Fuller, James P. Boyce, Charles Spurgeon, E.Y. Mullins, W.A. Criswell is described in a succint style that helpfully summarizes the strengths and weaknesses from each individual.

While the book is a helpful introduction to Baptist thinkers, several more recent Baptists are missing. Where is Stanley Grenz? Wayne Grudem? And several influential Baptists from the 20th century are absent as well (Walter Rauschenbusch, Martin Luther King, Jr.). Obviously, the writers could not include every important Baptist figure from the past few centuries. But men like Rauschenbusch and William Newton Clarke had much more influence (not necessarily good influence) than some of the theologians included in the book (Benjamin Carroll, for example).

Theologians of the Baptist Tradition succeeds in introducing the reader to the conservative Reformed-leaning stream of Southern Baptists. And the book is extremely helpful in this regard. But if you are looking for a book that also includes evaluation and critique of the influential Baptists who charted diverse paths towards liberalism, you will have to look elsewhere.

written by Trevin Wax. © 2007 Kingdom People Blog

Posted in Book Reviews, Reformed Theology, Southern Baptist Convention | 1 Comment

Augustine's Fruitless Pursuit

Augustine describes his twenties as being a time in his life in which he went astray and led others astray. “I was deceived and deceived others,” he confesses, referring to his job teaching rhetoric, and thus the same pagan philosophies in which he has believed. It is during this time of “believing a lie” that Augustine experiences enormous pain at the death of his best friend. This friend, during his sickness, trusted Christ, but Augustine’s heart is nevertheless hardened. “He was snatched away from my madness, that with You he might be preserved for my consolation,” he says looking back at that difficult time.

Depression comes over Augustine’s life, and the darkness of sorrow comes over his heart. “Everywhere I looked I saw death,” he says. “I suppose that the more I loved him, the more I hated and feared, as the most cruel enemy, that death which had robbed me of him… My life was now a horror to me.” Not being able to stand the pressure of living in the same place, he flees Targaste and returns to Carthage.

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Augustine: The Early Years

 The first three books of the Confessions present the first nineteen years of Augustine’s life. The autobiographical portion of the book opens as a prayer of thanks and praise to God and an acknowledgement that “restless is our heart until it comes to rest in You.” Before beginning his story, Augustine ponders God’s immensity and the miracle of God the Creator coming into the heart of a mortal human being. “And, when You are poured out on us, You are not thereby brought down; rather, we are uplifted,” he states in amazement.

Man’s sinfulness from infancy is noted and expounded upon as Augustine begins to relate the details of his birth in Tagaste, North Africa in 354. As a student in grade school, he speaks of his idleness, the evil that exists in his heart even as a child, and pride that was instilled in him that later turned into resentment and anger. In the middle of his severe reprimand of his own childhood actions and attitude, Augustine gracefully brings his mother, Monica, into the picture, writing of her Christian faith and desire that he too trust in the God she loves. He portrays his mother as a saint, before again resuming his reprimand against his own actions.

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A Look at Augustine's Confessions

Perhaps no other author or theologian has more profoundly shaped Western civilization and the Christian church than Saint Augustine (354-430). His contributions to Christian theology have helped shaped the present day view of the Trinity, while his conception of societas – a community held together and identified by its love and loyalties, has become the basis of Christian social teaching and the meaning of “Christendom.” One of his most important works, The City of God, in which Augustine argues against the prevailing view that Rome fell due to its becoming a Christian city, is considered to be a brilliant example of Christian apologetics.

Augustine’s Confessions is the autobiography of one the most important Christian thinkers since the Apostle Paul and was written in a time in which men did not write down the stories and events of their lives. More than just an autobiography however, Confessions is an intimate conversation between Augustine and his God, the good God who chases him with His unconditional love, who haunts him with His holy standards, who convicts him through a mother’s testimony and prayer. This is the story of a man’s futile search for satisfaction until he meets the God who has been searching for his soul.

Over the next few days, we take a walk through this Christian classic.

written by Trevin Wax. © 2007 Kingdom People Blog

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A Prayer for the Day of Resurrection

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you:
I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
You have been a stronghold to the poor,
a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;
for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
like heat in a dry place.
You subdue the noise of the foreigners;
as heat by the shade of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is put down.
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food,
a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day,
“Behold this is our God; we have waited for him,
that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
  Isaiah 25:1, 4-9

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How to Read the Word

“Never read the Word so you can appear more knowledgeable or wiser. Study it to learn of your sins and how to discipline yourself, for this will benefit you more than knowing the answers to many difficult questions.”

– Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

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Conversations with a Catholic 5: Liturgy

My conversation with Brian, a Roman Catholic, continues. You can read previous posts by clicking on the links below.

Conversations with a Catholic 1: The Church
Conversations with a Catholic 2: Tradition
Conversations with a Catholic 3: Glasses
Conversations with a Catholic 4: Interpreting Scripture 

Brian’s Letter 

Let me address the Eucharist, statues and icons, etc. later. Remember, a 2000 year old Church has a lot more to explain than does a church started two weeks ago in someone’s living room. Getting too much thrown at me leads to a disjointed discussion which accomplishes little.

For now, I think it’s important to return to your statement that you don’t see hierarchy and liturgy in scripture. I didn’t go in depth with regards to hierarchy and only cited a passing example or two, which were summarily pooh-poohed. But, let me exert a more thorough attempt at showing liturgy. (Although more thorough, it scarcely scratches the surface, but you should be able to catch the gist of it.)

This isn’t about “proof texts”, but is more an arms length view of scripture. So, lay your Baptist glasses on the desk for a moment, and try on these Catholic glasses…

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