Monthly Archives: April 2008

Book Review: Sex, Sushi & Salvation

Have you ever found yourself enjoying the edgy writing style of Rob Bell or Shaine Claiborne while simultaneously shaking your head at some of their theology? If you have, I suggest you pick up Sex, Sushi & Salvation. Christian George’s new book engages readers with fresh stories and comparisons, and yet he maintains a solid, biblical understanding of Christian theology.

In Sex, Sushi and Salvation, Christian shows us how God alone can quench the hunger of our souls – a hunger that demonstrates itself in our desire for intimacy (sex), community (sushi bars), and eternity (salvation). Christian’s passion is to see the Church in the West revive rather than “rot,” and he is doing everything he can to wake us up from our slumber of complacency.

Rather than turning to the next fad, Christian takes us back into time, showing us the passion of men like Francis of Assissi and Jonathan Edwards. As one who considers himself “a pilgrim,” Christian recounts his adventures in Celtic lands, Transylvania (now Romania), Greece and Italy.

Christian’s self-deprecating humor shines in every chapter. His innovative metaphors (“God walmarted himself” to describe the accessibility of Jesus” or “Christians are God’s boomerangs… He bends us back to himself”) make his book immensely entertaining and highly informative. There are a few moments or lines of this book which will make you laugh out loud.

But never does Christian’s humor stop readers from understanding his deep appreciation for the Church and the importance of having a relationship Jesus Christ. More than anything, this emphasis on relationship stands out. Not wanting merely to know about God and God’s people, …

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Finger Pointing and the SBC Decline

The Thirty Years’ War over religion devastated much of Europe in the mid 1600’s. By 1648, the war had degenerated into skirmishes and local battles. War had become so entrenched in the national psyche that the fights continued, often without anyone remembering why.

We should not miss the parallels between the the Southern Baptist Convention and the Thirty Years’ War. As we approach the 30th anniversary of the events which set in motion the Conservative Resurgence (a battle for the Bible that the conservatives fought and won), we continue to fight one another, often over non-essential matters that threaten our cooperation.

No one was surprised at the recent news from LifeWay’s research showing the Southern Baptist Convention in decline. In recent years, many have warned about the falling number of baptisms. But now our membership numbers are reflecting the decline (and it’s not because we have reformed in the area of regenerate church membership).

How will we react to the news of our decline? I fear that the already-battling factions of the SBC will now point the finger at one another. The younger generation will blame the older leaders for being stuck in a time warp… the older generation will blame the younger leaders for deserting the Convention and expecting unearned places at the table. Some will point the finger at the Calvinists who are “killing evangelism,” while the Calvinists will blame the non-Calvinists for unfettered revivalism. The traditionalists will speak out against the seeker-friendly churches for watering down the gospel, while the contemporary church leaders …

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Gospel Definitions: Gilbert Beebe

Like so many Bible terms, the word GOSPEL has been given various definitions contrary to its original and proper meaning.

The word has its origin “in Christ before the foundation of the world.” This was contained in the “promise” God made before the foundation of the world. (Tit. 1:2) The “gospel,” the “good news” or “good tidings” is the declared fulfilment of that promise.

In Isaiah 61:1-3 is found the outstanding proclamation made by the Sum and Substance of the good tidings, — Jesus Christ Himself:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the meek, He has sent Me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all that mourn. To appoint to them that mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.”

The Redeemer repeated this same proclamation of Himself in the synagogue.

While this prophetical statement is often quoted, its full significance is rarely understood. In this one sweeping declaration, there is encouched – not the beginning of the gospel, not a part of its fulfilment, – the grand total of what …

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A Prayer before Blogging

O Creator of the universe,
who has set the stars in the heavens
and causes the sun to rise and set,
shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind.
Fill my thoughts with the loving knowledge of you,
that I may bring your light to others.
Just as you can make even babies speak your truth,
instruct my tongue and guide my pen
to convey the wonderful glory of the gospel.
Make my intellect sharp,
my memory clear,
and my words eloquent,
so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries which you have revealed.

- Thomas Aquinas, (1225-1274)

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Family Pride

“What is called family pride is often founded upon an illusion of self-love. A man wishes to perpetuate and immortalize himself, as it were, in his great-grandchildren. Where family pride ceases to act, individual selfishness comes into play. When the idea of family becomes vague, indeterminate, and uncertain, a man thinks of his present convenience; he provides for the establishment of his next succeeding generation, and no more.”

– Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, pg. 51

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In the Blogosphere

A Christian TV host announces his homosexuality and is surprised at the amount of support he has received from the Church. (HT – Tullian)

Richard Mouw of Fuller Seminary looks at the singing of “Shout to the Lord” on American Idol and celebrates the inspiration that comes from Christian music.

It’s official. The Southern Baptist Convention is now declining.

I enjoyed meeting Jared Wilson this week at N.T. Wright’s lecture in Nashville. Jared recaps the event here.

Is there more common ground between the Emerging Church and the Reformed Resurgence than we realize?

Owen Strachan asks terribly uncomfortable, but necessary questions about the amount of television we watch.

Is C.S. Lewis Prince Caspian?

Top Post this Week at Kingdom People: Interview with N.T. Wright on Surprised by Hope

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Trevin Wax Interview with N.T. Wright on Surprised by Hope

On April 22, 2008, Bishop N.T. Wright and I sat down for a cup of coffee at Loew’s Vanderbilt Plaza in downtown Nashville. We discussed his new book, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Churchincluding some of the criticisms leveled against the book from Mark Dever, Doug Wilson and others. Below is the full transcript of our talk. To jump ahead to the sections that interest you, see the following breakdown.

1. On Being Compared to C.S. Lewis
2. On Eschatology Leading to Action
3. On Mark Dever’s critique of Wright’s notion of a “public gospel”
4. On Avoiding the Errors of the Social Gospel
5. On the Importance of the Ascension
6. On Hell
7. On Purgatory
8. On Doug Wilson and Third World Debt
9. On John Piper’s Future of Justification

Trevin Wax:You have described Surprised by Hope as the sequel to Simply Christian. Both of these books have titles that remind us of famous works by C.S. Lewis. Likewise, you have been described as the “C.S. Lewis of this generation.” What aspects of Lewis’ work do you fully ascribe to? And what aspects of his work would give you pause?

N.T. Wright: First off, let me make it quite clear: I don’t think anyone is “the C.S. Lewis of this generation.” Lewis was inimitable. I take my hat off to him. He did an extraordinary job. Consider his range and the fact that …

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Book Review: The Faith

Colson the Catechist

A culture warrior sets out to explain Christianity’s essential doctrines.

(My review of Colson’s book originally appeared in Christianity Today here.)

Most Christians in the West lack the doctrinal and theological tools with which to stand fast in the onslaught of two hostile forces: Western secularism and Islamofascism. So say Charles Colson and his frequent coauthor Harold Fickett in The Faith, a book that celebrates the Christian faith’s essential doctrines, beliefs held by Christians “everywhere, always, by all.” Colson and Fickett believe that Christians are living in a unique time of special opposition: “Western culture is doing everything in its power to shut the door” by which humans pass from darkness to light. Only a robust reaffirmation of the essentials of Christian doctrine, they say, will provide a firm foundation for political and social engagement.

The first half of The Faith emphasizes what Christians believe about God, namely the reasons for his existence, his self-revelation to human beings, his triune nature, and the actions he has taken to defeat evil. The second half focuses on how our beliefs about God influence our beliefs about everything else, with Colson and Fickett articulating the Christian understanding of saving faith, reconciliation and forgiveness, the mission and nature of the church, sanctity of life, and so on. The result is a winning combination of Christian apologetics and Christian doctrine — a manifesto for looking at the world in a distinctly Christian way.

The authors not only see assaults on Christianity as external; …

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Gospel Definitions: Robert F. Capon

“Christianity is NOT a religion; it is the proclamation of the end of religion. Religion is a human activity dedicated to the job of reconciling God to humanity and humanity to itself. The Gospel, however – the Good News of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the astonishing announcement that God has done the whole work of reconciliation without a scrap of human assistance. It is the bizarre proclamation that religion is over – period.”

Robert F. Capon

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Book Review: Do I Know God?

How can I be sure that I know God?

Can I be a Christian and not feel God’s presence?

Should I trust my feelings?

Is it right to even want assurance of my relationship with God?

Pastors and laypeople alike wrestle with these and other difficult questions about the reality and vibrancy of our relationship with God. Tullian Tchividjian’s Do I Know God? Finding Certainty in Life’s Most Important Relationship (Multnomah, 2007) offers answers to these questions in a way that is both pastorally sensitive and unflinchingly biblical. Do I Know God? is written not only for people who want to know God, but also for those of us who want to know that we know God.

In his exploration of the answers to this important question, Tullian takes us in three directions. First, he helps readers understand what an authentic relationship with God looks like. In the early chapters, he exposes the false assumptions of many who assume they know God, showing how knowing about God is different than knowing God personally.

Next, he helps us examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith by asking tough, biblical questions about the fruitfulness of our lives. Towards the end, Tullian shows us some practical ways to help us sense the assurance of our salvation.

Pastors who wish to preach on assurance of salvation would do well to consult Tullian’s book. Laypeople who struggle with the assurance of their salvation will discover the book to be very accessible. Peppered with illustrations from Tullian’s ministry and personal experience, …

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