2008-04-03 The Brief

A Barista Named Chad

At Starbucks I work with Chad Mondragon who is the administrative pastor at Providence Community Church, in Lexington, KY.  Chad is theologically solid and I enjoy talking theology with him.  Chad has a ton of blogs/websites I have listed them below (in alphabetical order of course!) with a brief description of each.  Seriously check these out.

Chad and Melody: This is Mondragon family site.

Providence Community Church: This is the church’s website, hence the name, and there is a lot of good stuff here.  If you live near Lexington watch this site for updates as they just did a conference on a Biblical Theology of Creation, with two guest lecturers from the Central Baptist Theological Seminary of Virginia Beach.

Providence Community Church Blog: This is the church’s blog check here for sermon notes and other goodies.

South-Side Community Group: This is the blog for Providence Community’s south-side small group study.  They are currently studying through Ephesians and there are some maps and other resources dealing with that on this blog

Biblical Counseling

This semester I have had the privilege of taking a biblical counseling class at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary taught by Stuart Scott and it has profoundly impacted my understanding of both pastoral and lay ministry within the church.  Because of this I hope you will take the time to look at the Christian Counseling & Education Foundation and the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors.  Both of these websites are loaded with free resources to help you do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-14).

Books

Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist’s Journey with the New Calvinists, by Collin Hansen, profiles the rise of Calvinism, or Reformed Theology, among young Christians.  I am young, I am restless, and I am reformed so this looks to be a fantastic read.  Tim Challies has reviewed the book and it is available here.  Prior to its development into a full-length book the brief article “Young, Restless, Reformed: Calvinism is making a comeback―and shaking up the church” was published in Christianity Today.

Culture

Why Americans Never Vote for What They Really Want: This article by Der Spiegel addresses the tension that exists because American voters want to have their cake and eat it too.  From the article, “The findings are clear: the desires of American citizens contradict their fundamental convictions.”  Yesterday I had a conversation with Nick Cooper about celebrities who tout their concern for third-world countries when their weekly earnings could rival many of these countries GNP.  Yes, American’s want the world to become a better place up to the point that it actually costs them something.

Ethnonationalism: With racial tensions in America, ethnic cleansing and genocide in Africa, and sectarian violence in the Middle East it is clear that these tensions profoundly affect us at the interpersonal, national, and global level.  I am sure that many of us are aware of the interpersonal and national issues arising from this but what about the international effects of ethnic prejudice?  Jerry Z. Muller examines ethnocentrism and ethnonationalism at the global level in his recent article US and Them: The Enduring Power of Ethnic Nationalism.

Evangelism and Biblical Theology of Work

Over at Provocations & Pantings there is a lengthy series of posts addressing a biblical theology of work.  Because of our inherited sin nature we tend towards laziness and a work ethic that does not glorify God.  The unbiblical dichotomy between ministry and secular vocation―like when an individual says, “At work I am an architect but I am really a minister of the gospel”―has devastated numerous individuals understanding of employment.  From my observations I think this error characterizes evangelicalism at large and in all likelihood has affected your understanding of work as well.  This is why I recommend that you take the time to read the following posts:

·         The Cross Isn’t Sexy: A Dying Man’s Confession 

·         Missional Work 

·         Putting in Time or Preaching the Truth: What’s More Valuable?

·         Don’t Waste Your Work! 

·         Witnessing at Work: Sacred vs. Secular?

·         Gospeling at Work, Part 1

·         Gospeling at Work, Part 2

·         Churches, Affirm the Importance of Work and Mission

·         Note: As more posts are written in this series I will simply add them to this list so come back and check for updates.

2008-03-26 The Brief

It has been almost three months since I have done one of these and I am thankful that Tim Morrison and Justin Sok are always faithful to keep me up to date on all of the latest news since I have not had much time to scour the web lately.

Ignite

For those of you who do not know Ignite UK recently began podcasting you can visit The Ignite UK Podcast or read “The Joys of Podcasting” for more on this.  For those of you who wish to see all of our sermons and download both MP3’s and PDF files please check out the Ignite UK Sermons webpage and come back as it is frequently updated.

Culture

Leaving on a jet plane?  If so your tickets are likely to get cheaper among several other benefits as a result of the “open-skies agreement.”  Foreign Policy has more on this and the declining value of the US dollar over at their blog in a post entitled “Tourism Cage Match: Paris v. Detroit.”

Preaching

I am not a big fan of politics and have a particular distain for modern evangelicalism’s replacing the kingdom agenda with a political one.  For most of you this is no surprise.  Over at Reformation 21 Rick Phillips, commenting on the Barack Obama – Jeremiah Wright controversy make one of the most profound and succinct statements on the travesty of kingdom politics that I have ever read.

From the article:

Surely the church pulpit is intended for higher and better matters than the small concerns of national politics!  The pulpit is not an institution of the republic, but of the Kingdom, and it’s only legitimate use is the preaching of King Jesus.  Politics should be kept out of the pulpit not merely for reasons of church-state separation, but because the pulpit is for matters of such greater significance.

The article can be read in its entirety here.

Theology

Biblical Theology and Justin Martyr: In what I found to be a surprising reminder to read theological works we often take for granted, in light of the new and the novel, Russell Moore shares hermeneutical, biblical theological, and missiological insights gleaned from reading Dialogue with Trypho.

Happenings at Southern Seminary: I really wanted to attend the Gheens Lectures at SBTS this semester but was unable to due to work.  Erickson and Goldsworthy are two of my favorite contemporary authors and they bring immense theological insight to any topic.  Below are the lectures from these two speakers.  Other SBTS audio resources are available here.

Millard Erickson

“Can Theology Learn from History?” (MP3)
“Can Theology Learn from Physics?” (MP3)
“Can Theology Learn from Economics?” (MP3)

Graeme Goldsworthy

“The Necessity and Viability of Biblical Theology”  (MP3) (PDF)
“Biblical Theology in the Seminary and Bible College” (MP3) (PDF)
“Biblical Theology and Its Pastoral Application” (MP3) (PDF)

Missiology

Earlier this month Russell Moore did a fantastic series on the Great Commission at The Henry Institute. 

Theology Bleeds: Great Commission Emphasis 

Triumph of the Warrior-King: A Theology of the Great Commission, Part 1 

Triumph of the Warrior-King: A Theology of the Great Commission, Part 2 

Triumph of the Warrior-King: A Theology of the Great Commission, Part 3 

Triumph of the Warrior-King: A Theology of the Great Commission, Part 4 

Triumph of the Warrior-King: A Theology of the Great Commission, Part 5

2007-12-10 The Brief

Culture:

Last week I posted on the The Golden Compass and I plan to see the film sometime this week.  Why would I want to see a film that aims to destroy the church?  First, I think there is much we can learn from this film.  Much of what the film hates about “Christianity” is something we should hate.  In the film, the Magisterium, the ruling authority in the Catholic Church, represents “Christianity” as a whole.  While this attack is clearly directed at “Christianity” as a whole, I do not think his terminology here is accidental.  Much of what the world perceives as “Christianity” is not; it is a stagnant cultural force, an institution, which exists to enforce nonsensical cultural forms on others.  I think the same can be said about much of society, what they perceive to be “Christianity” is not and we should rally to put that stagnant, dead, deceptive, manmade “Christianity” to death.  We do that by submitting to the Lordship of Christ and living as the people of God and incarnating the gospel in our culture as servants of those in culture.  Second, I wholeheartedly agree with Al Mohler, “This is about the battle of ideas and worldviews.”  I have had two conversations this week, one about this film and one about another film, which deeply convicted me because I was unable to engage them in the battle of ideas because I had not seen the films.  As Christians we should not be retreating.  We must see these films, discern their true meanings, and then engage in the battle of ideas.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (II Corinthians 10:4-5).

Since the last post on this topic, Al Mohler has done a phenomenal post on the film entitled The Golden Compass — A Briefing for Concerned Christians.

Blogsphere:

Nick Cooper has returned to the blogsphere with his slick new blog Moderate Obscurity.

Justin Tapp has two great posts up on the translation of Scripture: Psalm 1:6 and John 10 and the Jews.  I have commented on the latter post; however, I hope that some of you with an understanding of Hebrew will comment on the first post.

Vintage Faith: While this is not a blog, it is on the internet and there is a blog on the site.  I have recently found Dan Kimball’s website Vintage Faith . . . exploring the emerging church and vintage Christianity.  The website has many great resources that need to be read with discernment.  Yes, that was an oxymoron.  Here is what I mean.  Dan is painting a picture of what he feels the future of the church needs to look like if it is to impact post-christian America.  Much of this picture is extremely helpful and much is not.  His criticisms of stagnant cultural and institutional “Christianity” are very helpful; however, his proposed solutions are not always helpful.  Far too many have reacted in extreme ways against the Emerging and Emergent Church and in so doing have robbed themselves of many fantastic resources to aid them in ministering to the emerging American culture.

I think an example will illustrate this quite well.  For many Karl Barth and Neo-Orthodoxy are viewed as liberal theology.  However, Barth served to buttress the faith against the assault of liberal theologians like Friedrich Schleiermacher, Albrecht Ritschl, and Adolf Harnack.  During this time, the main battle was between Liberalism and Fundamentalism while Barth’s Neo-Orthodoxy appeared and combated Liberalism it was also attacked by Fundamentalists.  Looking back it is clear that Barth had numerous critiques of Liberalism which would have greatly benefited Fundamentalists had they taken the time to understand him.  We need to learn from our mistakes and listen to and learn from the Emerging and Emergent Church and move forward to reach these emerging cultures as better-informed and better-prepared followers of Christ.

With that said, Karl Barth is not for everyone and Dan Kimball is not for everyone.  The key is in the word “discernment.”  Honestly, most people are not very discerning and for that reason, I hesitated to post this.  However, for those discerning individuals who do not want to buy his books but would appreciate his insight check the site out.

Unexpected Insights:

These problems, and the answers, are not new.  But the way we intend to tackle them using the small groups of local churches in large numbers is revolutionary.

The bottom line is that we intend to reinvent mission strategy in the 21st century. This will be a new Reformation.  The First Reformation returned us to the message of the original church.  It was a reformation of doctrine – what the church BELIEVES. This Second Reformation will return us to the mission of the original church. It will be a reformation of purpose- what the church DOES in the world.

In the first century, mission strategy was always congregationally based.  The first missionaries were sent, supported, and accountable to local churches.  The church at Antioch was the first to do this.  There were no mission societies, mission boards, or parachurch organizations.  Local churches accepted the responsibility for Jesus’ Great Commission and his Great Commandment, and the growth of the church worldwide was explosive.

Today, most local churches are sidelined and uninvolved when it comes to missions.  The message from most mission and parachurch organizations to the local church is essentially “Pray, pay, and get out of the way.”  But in the 21st century . . . [We] intend to help thousands of other local churches move back to the frontline in missions, in compassion, and in providing the social services that historically the church provided.  I believe the proper role for all the great parachurch and relief organizations is to serve local churches in a supportive role, offering their expertise and knowledge, but allowing the local churches around the world to be central focus and the distribution centers.

I deeply believe that any organization that marginalized or minimizes the local congregation’s responsibility to “Go”, or bypasses the local church’s moral authority to fulfill the Great Commission,  is out of sync with the strategy God intended, and modeled in the book of Acts.

I was quite surprised when I found out who said those words.  I will do another post on this in the coming week and will announce the author then.  In the mean time, I would urge you to resist the urge to “Google” the above quote and simply discuss it.

2007-12-03 The Brief

Politics:

            Campaign 2008: Foreign Affairs presents “a series of articles by the top U.S. presidential candidates previewing the foreign policy agendas they would pursue if elected.”  So far, these are the essays that they have made available, with two more arriving every month.

            The War We Deserve: “Americans now ask more of their government but sacrifice less than ever before.  It’s an unrealistic, even deadly, way to fight a global war.  And, unfortunately, that’s just how the American people want it.”

Culture:

            The Golden Compass: If you have not heard of the controversy surrounding the upcoming film The Golden Compass then it is likely that you will sometime soon.  Al Mohler provides a phenomenal commentary on today’s radio program, “The Golden Compass”: A Clash of Worldviews at the Box Office.  The LA Times is also running an article entitled Religious furor over ‘The Golden Compass’.  If you have not seen the trailers for the film, they are available at the Official Golden Compass website here.  I would agree with Mohler’s advice that spiritually mature individuals should see the film and then seriously discussing the underlying themes which the film promotes.  Sadly, far too many Christians are so ill-equipped in the areas of discernment and apologetics that such a task is impossible.  What about you will you be seeing the film?  If enough people see it, I may have a post where individuals can discuss the film.

            Fire: I am not sure how many of you have heard of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education; however, I find their website to be especially informative and it should be a daily read for students who want to stay informed of how their rights are being violated by the educational institutions of this country.

            The Gospel of Judas: I am sure you all remember the controversy caused by the Gospel of Judas last year, which was honestly nothing new as there are numerous Gnostic texts available.  Well the Gospel of Judas is back and causing controversy again, this time the National Geographic Society’s flawed translation is being put under the microscope.  Al Mohler discusses April D. DeConick’s new book, The Thirteenth Apostle:  What the Gospel of Judas Really Says, and her recent New York Times article, Gospel Truth, in his post Revising the Revisionists — New Controversy over “The Gospel of Judas.”  I appreciate DeConick’s willingness to call out the National Geographic Society on their inexcusable mistake, I only hope this stirs up as much controversy as the flawed work’s original publication.

Economics:

            The Dying Dollar: Der Spiegel profiles the plunging value of the US dollar and its affect on the global economic situation.

Random News:

            Ironically, I was talking just this week about the disappearance of the payphone and the LA Times is currently running an article on AT&T’s plans to cut its payphone business by the end of 2008.  The article is available here.

2007-07-31 The Brief

            Are There Holy Texts in Your Toilet?: Well let’s hope not as a student at Pace University in New York was arrested on two hate-crimes charges after surveillance videos linked him to acts of flushing Qur’ans down a toilet.  Foreign Policy covers the story here and the original Newsday article is available here.

            Who Needs Captain Planet anymore?: If you have watched anything on TV, turned on the computer, or picked up a newspaper in the last year then you should know that saving the planet is all the rage.  Der Spiegel provides a lengthy article discussing the recent rush to save the planet.  Call me a pessimist but I wonder how much is about charity and how much is about turning a profit.

            Walking with Giants: World Magazine profiles the recently opened creation museum in northern Kentucky, which I need to go and visit sometime soon.