Monthly Archives: August 2005

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Doing and Teaching Apologetics

I teach in many settings, both in churches and classrooms. A new one for me this fall is the Wheaton College Graduate School, where I have become an adjunct professor of evangelism this year. It is an opportunity that I cherish and one that will challenge and inspire me I am quite sure.

I met my fall class in apologetics for evangelism for the first time on Tuesday at 1:15 p.m. at the Billy Graham Center. The Wheaton M. A. program in evangelism has been recently redesigned and is thus being re-established this fall. For this reason I have only six students in this first class. This in itself will allow unusual opportunity for relationships and real learning. After meeting my students yesterday I believe I will be the one who is actually learning the most over the next few months.

My students come from Maine, Ohio, Washington, Connecticut, Chicago and the Bahamas. One student, perhaps two, intend to invest their lives in evangelizing Muslims. Another, a Haitian, is already a thirty-five year old full-time evangelist in Nassau who grew

By |August 31st, 2005|Categories: Evangelism|

Christ Alone or Christ Plus?

The center of every faithful biblical theological recovery and renewal must be Christ alone. Even our evangelical emphasis on Scripture and grace must be centered upon Christ alone. Christ is the center of everything for the faithful Christian, not just the one who helps pull life together. He is not simply my Savior, or my helper, he is all, he is Lord. Paul’s argument in Colossians 1:15-23 make this all quite plain—Christ is supreme!

Evangelicals have lost the supremacy of Christ! By marginalizing Christ in our movement we have made him something other than Christ the theme of our best-selling books, the emphases of our popular ministries, and the thing that attracts people to our cause. It is not Christ we preach, but Christ plus whatever else makes people connect to our teaching or our movement.

I noted on August 29 the comments of David Bryant re: the national periodicals which recently surveyed the evangelical movement in America. In these articles Bryant noted that the mention of Christ occured only five times in over 150 pages of reporting. These various articles

By |August 30th, 2005|Categories: Renewal|

Christ Alone Our Identity?

The Protestant Reformers sought the renewal of the Christian church, in the sixteenth century, by means of both doctrine and practice. They stressed a number of important doctrinal truths, with the goal of reforming the church’s pastoral and liturgical practice. The two doctrinal truths that are most often cited, when people talk about the Reformer’s efforts, are sola Scriptura, called the formal principle of the Reformation, and sola fide, called the material principle. I believe, however, there is a very real sense in which the most important sola for them was solus Christus.

The Reformers understood that the Old Testament prepared the way for Christ. The New Testament, understood in this way, explained the Christ who was concealed in the Old. The New Testament put forward his life, death, burial and resurrection as the basis for faith and life in the Spirit. At the center of the whole of divine revelation the Reformers saw Jesus Christ as God’s perfect and final Word. Their emphasis was intended to bring glory to Christ alone in the saving of God’s people.

Now you

By |August 29th, 2005|Categories: Renewal|

The Need for Revival is Universal

I have been given a gift and with that gift a marvelous opportunity to use it. As a teacher of the Word, and a servant of ministers and missionaries, I get to travel very widely and encourage many faithful servants of God. This week I have had the opportunity to be among a lovely group of missionary couples (sixty couples in all) who serve mostly small churches in very out-of-the way towns and villages in Canada and the northeastern US. The event, in Schroon Lake, New York, is the annual regional mission conference for Village Missions, a group based in Dallas, Oregon.

I have preached to these folks from 2 Corinthians 1-5 on how Christ’s strength is prefected in their human weakness. I have sought to be transparent and honest, stressing "integrity" and "godly sincerety" from 2 Corinthians 1:12 (TNIV), the theme verse for this week. They have responded wonderfully. I have sensed God’s presence with us, especially in the evening worship times. In the end I am the one who receives the greatest blessing form being with people like these faithful

By |August 25th, 2005|Categories: Renewal|

Brother Roger Laid to Rest

Brother Roger (see August 22) was laid to rest today in France. The service was led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, who served the communion to all who gathered. As Brother Roger would have wanted it there was no distinction made between Catholic and Protestant in the distribution of the elements.

Kasper noted that two things marked Brother Roger’s long life and ministry. First, he worked humbly and tirelessly for real ecumenism. He did not seek to change "official" dogmas but chose to demonstrate the common bonds that unite all who love Christ. Second, Kasper noted that "every form of injustice or neglect made him very sad." I pray that both will motivate me more and more as I seek to be an agent for reformation.

Brother Roger was the son of a Swiss Calvinist minister. He began the community he is now famous for, near Cluny, France, in 1940. He obviously did not see irresolvable conflict between his Reformed heritage and his ecumenical vision. I have come to agree with him over the course of the past ten years. I

By |August 24th, 2005|Categories: The Church|

Why Pat Robertson Harms the Cause of Christ

I once thought Pat Robertson was a fairly bright man with an oddly conservative position on many issues. I now think he is completely misguided in the extreme, if not completely foolish.

You can overlook a certain number of silly comments over time but after awhile you have to say Pat Robertson is positively harmful to both the Christian church and the Republican Party. I care very deeply about the first, and very little about the second. His comment on Monday that the US should assassinate ("take out") President Chavez of Venezuela is not only irresponsible, it is positively dangerous for the cause of Christ in Venezuela. It also adds fuel to the fires of misunderstanding and opposition to evangelicals in general. Frankly, people like Robertson require me to regularly tell people that I am not associated with him or his tragic version of conservative Christianity.

Sadly, Robertson went crazy again this week. Hopefully he will soon be so marginalized by serious Christians that this new comment will make him less and less important to the mission of the church.

By |August 24th, 2005|Categories: Current Affairs|

The Death of a Great Monk

Brother Roger Schutz, a Protestant monk and the founder of ecumenical Taizé Christian community in Burgundy, France, was stabbed to death during a service there late last week.

"Given all the current controversies surrounding so many religious leaders, Brother Roger was the last for whom any would have predicted a violent death," London Times religion correspondent Ruth Glendill wrote in a personal column.

The Protestant leader was a symbol to the entire world of Christian reconciliation. The unique Taizé community includes monks from Lutheran, Anglican, free church evangelical, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox traditions. In an earlier piece I wrote about the death of John Paul II I noted that it was Brother Roger who publicly received Communion from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) at the funeral. This was an astounding and powerful symbol that violates Catholic law in my understanding. But it also demonstrates the kind of respect the entire Christian world had for this unusual man.

Thousands of evangelicals have visited this community in the village of Taizé for years now. One reporter has noted that

By |August 22nd, 2005|Categories: The Church|

My Love for Baseball and Anita

I took a trip today. It is the kind of trip that my wife teases me about mercilessly. It was "a trip down memory lane." I attended the Hall of Fame Luncheon for the Atlanta Braves at the 755 Club at Turner Field in Atlanta.  The luncheon allowed me to relive history as we celebrated the 1995 World Championship Braves team. The Braves also inducted professional scout Paul Snyder and Boston Beaneater Herman Long into their Hall of Fame. The occasion was further used to pay tribute to some of Snyder’s former prospects: members of the 1995 World Series championship squad. The whole event was loads of fun.

During the ceremony, attending members of the 1995 team held a question and answer session. The most interesting speaker of all was David Justice, who was, and still is, one outspoken guy. DJ talked about facing your fears, about real determination to succeed, and of the serious dedication needed for a team to win. He saw all three of these as the keys to winning. He also talked about how much fun these guys

By |August 19th, 2005|Categories: Baseball|

Why I Thank God for Rick Warren

The more I see and listen to pastor and author Rick Warren the more I like him. He strikes me as totally unimpressed with himself and completely committed to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.

Don’t get me wrong. I am inclined to think that Warren’s "purpose driven" concept is a good one but the content he pours into it is not purposeful enough. To put it another way his definition of purpose is just too small. This is where a more theologically developed view of divine purpose would help him if he studied, and used, the great Protestant catechisms. (The next issue of our Reformation & Revival Journal has a marvelous serious article on this very point written by theologian Jonathan Wilson; cf. Volume 14, Number 2, Reformation & Revival Journal.)

But Rick Warren is a man of integrity, a man who speaks with simple clarity and a very big heart. He comes across, at least on television, as caring and very soft spoken. In contrast to some of our more harsh spokespersons in our evangelical movements he

By |August 18th, 2005|Categories: American Evangelicalism|

Life Really Is a Lot Like Baseball

Life is a lot like baseball. Former slugger Frank Howard put my point well: "The trouble with baseball is that by the time you learn how to play it, you can’t play it anymore." So very true.

Yeas of dedicated hard work, constant repetitions, and honing little things into real skills for the long haul all go into learning this game. It all looks quite easy on television but believe me it is never easy. I stepped into a batting cage a few weeks ago at the Louisville Slugger Museum in Louisville, Kentucky. I was never a great hitter I assure you. But I had not seen a ball thrown toward me, with a thirty-four ounce bat in hand, for more than twenty years. And the machine threw it at only forty-five miles an hour, half the speed of a major league fastball. I flinched, ducked and moved back on the first pitches I saw. After dinging a few harmlessly I finally found a groove and hit a few hard. Hooray for me. Then in my sense of pleasure I realized, "This

By |August 17th, 2005|Categories: Baseball|
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