Monthly Archives: August 2010

Donald G. Bloesch: On the Death of My Friend

Bloesch Donald G. Bloesch, a prominent evangelical theologian who was an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, passed away last Tuesday, August 24. This news deeply moved me since Dr. Bloesch was one of my most trusted and beloved mentors. This was true even though I never formally studied under Don as a professor. My relationship was far more interesting in its own way.

Back in the 1970s I first heard the name of Donald Bloesch but at first I didn’t think much about him since I was fairly shut off in my own sectarian world of thought and practice. One summer, in the late 1970s I believe, I attended a small gathering associated with the ministry of a popular magazine of the time called Present Truth. The magazine actually opened my eyes to the need for recovering gospel truths in an age that was fast losing its grasp on the grace of God. Two teachers were leading this small gathering

By |August 31st, 2010|Categories: ACT 3, Death, Personal, Theology|

Do You Know Who Is and Is Not a Real Christian?

One of the most common responses I have run into about my thesis regarding missional-ecumenism comes down to this question: “I cannot cooperate with churches and people who are not Christian!”

If it were only this simple. You know who is and is not a follower of Christ and thus you can clearly judge the matter and not cooperate with false professors of the faith. Again, this problem arises in very conservative contexts where we believe we can judge the fruit of others and if they do not confess all the faith, or the part we think to be vital to living faith, we judge them to be false. This does not generally happen in real life situations, face-to-face, so much as it feeds an attitude that is ubiquitous in many churches. We say that we are just “fruit inspectors.”

Look, if someone is born again we can know they are, right? No, we cannot. God alone judges the heart. And only called and equipped leaders (elders) are charged with determining false teaching inside a church. Making this command the calling of every Christian, in

Digital Books, the Internet and the Future

Home_Photo_books I am both a reader and a writer. I once had an immense library but I have sold about 60% of it in the last four years. I sold some of my best books earlier this year, removing about 35-40% of my theology section. I confess that this was not easy to do but it became increasingly obvious that it was the right thing to do.

I routinely bump into someone who says, “I just bought a book on the Internet and your name was in it. Are you selling all your books for some reason?” The answer is a qualified yes. I still have a larger than average library but it is shrinking. Why?

The first reason is driven by the market and the space limitations in my home. My dear wife does not want books in our living space so I am limited to a very large basement and a nice study, which is more than enough room. But even with this space

By |August 29th, 2010|Categories: Books, Personal|

The Uncertainty Principle

There is a theory, or model, in economics called “the uncertainty principle.” Such a cycle comes about when companies and small businesses are not convinced that it is a good time to invest and grow a business. Now I am not an economist. I read some economics and I know just enough to be aware but not overly anxious. I do know what I feel sure that you know quite well. The last 26 months have been difficult for millions of people. This recession has hit me personally in several ways creating income loss and a fairly significant lifestyle change with it. This is not all bad as this change has taught me new faith and has proven to be very good if the truth is known.

images This uncertainty principle says that so long as people are unsure about the future they will put off investment and hiring. This means that the unemployment rate is connected to the confidence investors and leaders have about

By |August 28th, 2010|Categories: Economy/Economics, Wealth|

Reforming the Home Church

Yesterday I reported on the growing home church movement and gave some reasons why this development is happening. I have to say that I see this movement in a more positive light than some I know but I believe the impulse of true reformation is needed here as everywhere else. Toward this end I ask some questions about the home church movement.

UR Church 1. Can such a movement genuinely thrive if there is not more emphasis on teaching and preaching the Word?

I think the answer is a qualified no. Regardless of how teachers are chosen and equipped they will always be needed in the church. A church without gifted teachers proclaiming “the whole counsel of God” will not be healthy if the New Testament is really our model. This does not mean we need "clergy" or a hierarchical arrangement, simply that we need gifted teachers. It also doesn't mean that such teachers must be in a special class of "ministers" in order to be genuinely

A Parody That Rocks

North Point Church in Atlanta is one of the better known mega-churches in America. Led by Andy Stanley the church is known for taking the gospel seriously. It is also a church that is not afraid to look at a lot that is being done today with a biblically critical eye. This video will make you laugh and it just might make you cry too. It is not a blanket condemnation of modern music but rather a biting critique that should make you pause and ask important questions, especially if you are leading such a congregation.

The Home Church Movement

House church There seems to be little doubt that the “home church,” or the informal church that meets in the houses of participants, is growing across America. The Barna Group estimates that between 6 and 12 million people now attend a home church in America. The reliable Pew Forum discovered that 9 percent of American Protestants attend home church exclusively. Any movement that attracts 10 percent of the total of Protestant worshipers is likely to have a growing and considerable impact on the church at-large. While I do not think traditional churches will just go away anytime soon I expect the home church movement will grow in the years ahead. Why?

1. The home church is simple. Ed Stetzer, the president of Lifeway Research and a specialist in missiology, notes that the appeal here is to a “simpler expression of the church.” He adds, “For many, church has become too much (like a) business while they just want to live like the Bible.”

2. People

How Does Changing the Law Impact Marriage?

Does changing the law about marriage, to include gay marriage as a legal norm, have any bearing on the culture in general, and one man/one woman marriage in particular? I argued yesterday that it does and I believe many of the advocates of gay marriage admit the same if we bother to listen to them. I gave evidence of these opinions yesterday. Today I want to explore this question with an actual historical illustration that provides clear evidence that changing how the law deals with marriage will have a decided consequence on the strength and longevity of both marriage and the well-being of families.

marriage-expiration Consider the changes in divorce laws that allowed for what we call “no fault divorce.” This change did not begin to gather support and then become law until the 1970s. This time period gives us one generation to study what has actually happened. This change not only made it easier, and less costly, to get a divorce but it changed

By |August 25th, 2010|Categories: Homosexuality, Marriage & Family|

Will Same-Sex Marriage Undermine Your Marriage and Family?

marriage_-_hands Would the legalization of gay marriage affect traditional marriage in America? Note carefully the question I’ve actually posed here. Mine is not a moral question, in and of itself, but a pragmatic and philosophical question. “What would happen to the institution of marriage in our society if we embrace gay marriage?”

It might surprise you to find out that changing the law to place gay marriage on par with heterosexual marriage would actually have a decidedly negative impact on marriage. On what basis do I make this sweeping statement? Well, on the basis that many advocates of gay marriage admit this point openly.

Earlier this year the New York Times ran a piece by reporter Scott James, himself gay, saying that new studies of gay couples in San Francisco show that half of gay partners consent to each other having sex with other people. The Times article went on to say that the prevalence of such relationships could “rewrite the traditional rules of matrimony” by

By |August 24th, 2010|Categories: Homosexuality, Marriage & Family|

The Value and Importance of the Apostles Creed

The most commonly asked question I have received about missional-ecumenism, at least from many conservative Christians, is this: “How can we work together with other Christians if we do not agree on essential Christian doctrine?” Added to this is the concern that somehow I am asking Christians to give up something important to the faith.

I believe the answer to this question is not fully provided by my response on this week’s video but I do believe the best place to begin a response is with the two great creeds of Christianity: the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. For centuries Christians had these two great standards as a guide to what they personally confessed. This was what the one, great, catholic and apostolic church likewise confessed; i.e. the Christian faith.

There is more taught in Scripture than what we have in the creed but there is never less. There is more to be given if people

By |August 23rd, 2010|Categories: Missional-Ecumenism|

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