Monthly Archives: June 2009

A Blog Sabbatical

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a personal sabbatical from blogging. No new material will appear at Kingdom People during the month of July. On August 1, I will resume blogging here at Kingdom People.

I know that the short-term nature of the blogosphere makes an extended absence unwise from a blogger’s standpoint, but I took a month-long hiatus last year and found it to be good for my soul. Here are some reasons I am taking a break this month.

1. Need for Spiritual Refreshment
I look forward to directing some of the time I would have spent blogging to more prayer, Bible study, and devotional reading.

2. Other Important Responsibilities Vying for My Time

    Things quiet down at church during the summer. It is a good time to think about the upcoming fall and what God envisions for our church in the upcoming year.
    Our son, Timothy, enters kindergarten in August. We are about to enter the “school-year” schedule for the next dozen years or so. I want to enjoy this summer with Timothy before he begins a new chapter of his life.
    I am taking two more summer classes this month. These classes will demand much of my reading time.

3. Blogging can be addictive.

I do not want to be constantly concerned about blog statistics, comments, and links. The best way to avoid the danger of caring too much about a blog is by taking a break from it for awhile.

4. Blogs are also inherently self-promoting.

My blog may have good and helpful content in the short-term, but if …

Posted in Blog Sabbatical | 21 Comments

My Book Now Available for Pre-Order

I am happy to announce that my new book, Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals (Crossway, 2010) is available for pre-order at Amazon.

Special thanks to the good folks at Crossway for their investment in this project. Thanks also to more than a dozen Christian leaders and authors who have endorsed the book. I hope to begin posting some of those endorsements in August.

Click here to pre-order Holy Subversion or here to read some excerpts (scroll down).

Posted in Book Info | 2 Comments

Piper vs. Wright on Justification: A Layman's Guide

Some friends have encouraged me to explain “in a nutshell” and in easy-to-understand laymen’s terms what the big debate between John Piper and N.T. Wright is all about. Many who enjoy reading the works of these men have discovered they lack the time (or patience) to sift through all of the relevant material surrounding the New Perspective on Paul, and just how Wright’s version of this perspective is different from the traditional perspective maintained by men like John Piper.

“The Justification Debate: A Primer” (Christianity Today, June 2009) is my humble attempt at summarizing the two views as succintly and simply as possible. Please note that both John Piper and N.T. Wright looked over my work and made some slight revisions regarding their respective summaries. (To see the summary statements in the form of a helpful chart, download the pdf here.)

Together with the Piper/Wright summaries is an article written by myself and Ted Olsen entitled “Not An Academic Question.” This second article lets pastors sound off on how this theological debate is influencing their ministry.

Posted in Reformed Theology, Theology | 25 Comments

In the Blogosphere

Want to win Desiring God’s Sunday School curriculum for kids?

Dan Kimball on Emerging Church memories

Some notable bloggers/authors commenting on N.T. Wright’s Justification. Here are Mike Wittmer‘s and Kevin DeYoung‘s initial thoughts.

An interview with the authors of How to Argue Like Jesus.

A special moment at Southern Seminary’s Sesquicentennial celebration. Dr. Mohler invited 95-year-old former president Duke McCall (president from 1950-81) to the platform.

Richard Nixon had mixed feelings on abortion.

Justin Taylor interviews David Dockery on the future of the Southern Baptist Convention.

7 basic knots every man should know.

M. Night Shyamalan launches an online interactive experience.

Top Post this Week: Gospel Confrontation and Gospel Comfort

Posted in In the Blogosphere | Leave a comment

Book Review: John Grisham's The Associate

I have been a John Grisham fan for about ten years now. The first Grisham book I read was A Time to Kill, which is still my favorite. Other Grisham books I have enjoyed are The Rainmaker, The Testament and A Painted House.

In recent years, I have been disappointed by Grisham’s output. Nevertheless, during a brief beach vacation earlier this summer, I picked up Grisham’s newest: The Associate (DoubleDay, 2009). The Associate proves that Grisham is still able to craft an interesting story.

(Warning: Spoilers Follow)

The Associate is about Kyle McAvoy, a promising law student who has a wild past. During his college years, he found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and almost was charged (falsely) with rape. Years later, a sinister group of lawyers show Kyle a video that places him at the scene of the crime, and then they blackmail him into becoming a spy in the firm in which he works.

If I could sum up this book with one Bible verse, it would be this: “Be sure your sins will find you out.” The sins of Kyle and his friends in their twenties cause a ripple effect. The girl who claims she was raped now hates men and has turned to lesbianism. The other guys involved are trying to get on with their lives, but several are haunted by guilt.

The Associate casts a negative light on frat house parties. Grisham exposes the lifestyle that many in America have come to see …

Posted in Book Reviews | 8 Comments

Frank Beckwith's Journey Back to Roman Catholicism

In 2007, Francis Beckwith, the president of the Evangelical Theological Society, announced that he was stepping down from his post after having converted back to the Catholic Church of his childhood. Beckwith’s announcement sent shock waves through the evangelical world. Even some of Beckwith’s closest friends did not see his conversion coming.

Why did Frank Beckwith, a well-respected evangelical scholar and author, return to the church of his childhood? Return to Rome: Confessions of an Evangelical Catholic (2008, Brazos Press) is a personal memoir that tells the story of Beckwith’s decision to rejoin the Roman Catholic Church.

Return to Rome is primarily a narrative, although it is laced with Catholic apologetics, evangelical appreciation and criticism, as well as theological reflection. Speaking of his book, Beckwith states:

“It is not meant to be an apologetic for Catholicism or an autobiography in the strict sense.” (16)

Despite Beckwith’s stated intentions in writing this memoir, it is hard to see this book as something less than a Catholic apologetic, since he devotes a considerable amount of space to delineating the theological reasons for his movement back toward the Roman Catholic Church.

Beckwith begins his story with his departure from Roman Catholicism. Raised in the atmosphere of post-Vatican II Catholicism, Beckwith received little conservative and traditional teaching.

“My religion teachers often spoke of Catholicism as ‘our tradition’ rather than as a cluster of beliefs that were true. This relativizing of the faith did not engender confidence in the young students under their tutelage. Moreover, basic Catholic doctrine was often presented inadequately.” (36)

He writes honestly about the weaknesses of …

Posted in Book Reviews, Roman Catholicism | 17 Comments

Gospel Confrontation and Gospel Comfort

In counseling, I often come across two kinds of people:

Some people think they are true Christians, but are probably not. They need a dose of gospel confrontation.

Other people doubt they are true Christians, but probably are. They need a dose of gospel comfort.

Sam’s Story

Sam is a twenty-something who is upset with God because of a recent downturn in his business profits. He waltzes into my office, mad at God and (by extension) the church.

I ask a few diagnostic questions, and I quickly discover that Sam is living with his girlfriend. He rarely attends church. His biggest goal in life is to make a lot of money.

In short, Sam is not living the life of a Christian. I fail to see any genuine fruit of repentance. The more I talk to him, the more I realize that he is not concerned about his lack of commitment to the Christian community; neither is he upset about his misplaced priorities or sexual immorality.

I ask him some questions about his spiritual condition. He tells me about a decision he made at a youth event ten years ago. He raised his hand, filled out a card, and got his “ticket to heaven.”  He insists that he is truly saved because of this experience.

What does Sam need? The gospel.

Sam needs to be confronted with the lack of fruit in his life. He needs to see his life compared to the holiness of God. He needs to hear that true salvation always leads to good works. The absence of fruit in his …

Posted in Counseling | 10 Comments

Southern Baptists in the 21st Century

This week, I am in Louisville for the Southern Baptist Convention and the historic commemoration of Southern Seminary’s 150-year anniversary. In honor of the Convention meeting this week, I have decided to point my readers to some past material I have written about my denomination.

Also, you may like to take a (pictorial) tour through the famous Cave Hill Cemetery, where many prominent Southern Baptist leaders’ bodies are resting and awaiting resurrection. Enjoy!

Cloud of Witnesses: Cave Hill Cemetery

A tour of the grave sites of some famous Baptist forefathers…

Introduction: Southern Seminary

James P. Boyce (1827-88)

John A. Broadus (1827-95)

Basil Manly, Jr. (1825-92)

A.T. Robertson (1863-1934)

E.Y. Mullins (1860-1928)

John Sampey (1863-1946), Ellis Fuller (1891-1950), Roy Honeycutt (1926-2004)


Personal Reflections on the Southern Baptist Convention

Screwtape on the Southern Baptist Convention (March 2009)

A Plea to the Current Leadership of the SBC (February 2009)

Unchurched or Unsaved? – Baptist Press (November 2008)

7 Types of Southern Baptists (June 2008)

Finger-pointing and the SBC Decline – Baptist Press (April 2008)

Celebration and Concern about the Reformed Resurgence (April 2008)

Southern Seminary and Calvinism (March 2008)

How Older Southern Baptists Can Mentor the Younger Generation (February 2008)

Posted in Southern Baptist Convention | Leave a comment

Spurgeon's Prayer: The Wonders of Calvary

Great God,
there was a time when we dreaded the thought of coming near to You,
for we were guilty and You were angry with us,
but now we will praise You
because Your anger is turned away and You comfort us.

Yes, and the very throne which once was a place of dread
has now become the place of shelter. I flee to You to hide me.

O bring us, we pray You, now near to Yourself.
Let us bathe ourselves in communion with our God.
Blessed be the love which chose us before the world began.
We can never sufficiently adore You for Your sovereignty,
the sovereignty of love which saw us in the ruins of the Fall,
yet loved us anyway.

We also bless You, O God, as the God of our redemption,
for You have so loved us as to give even Your dear Son for us.
He gave Himself, His very life for us
that He might redeem us from all iniquity and separate us unto Himself
to be His peculiar people, zealous for good works.

Never can we sufficiently adore free grace and undying love.
The wonders of Calvary never cease to be wonders,
they are growing more marvelous in our esteem
as we think of Him who washed us from our sins in His own blood.
Nor can we cease to praise the God of our regeneration
who found us dead and made us live,
found us at enmity and reconciled us,
found us loving the things of this world
and lifted us out of the muck and mire of selfishness and worldliness
in the love of divine …

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Arguing Ants

“If we begin to get a glimpse of the vast glory of God, we will realize that many of our conflicts are like two ants arguing about which is taller while standing in front of Mount Everest.

“We quibble over some infinitesimal difference of opinion while the vastness of Almighty God soars into the heavens.

“We need to stop looking at one another relative to ourselves, or, better yet, stop looking in the mirror. And we need to turn our eyes to the loveliness of Christ in his Word.”

- Chris Brauns, Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds

Posted in Quotes of the Week | 2 Comments