Articles

The Westminster Assembly and the Debate about the Word

Article by   July 2016
In concluding that the public reading of the Scriptures is a ministerial task, the assembly did not appeal to direct examples, but argued instead that it reached its conclusion "by just consequence." continue

The Hermeneutics of Biblical Lament (Part 1)

Article by   July 2016
What is the fruit of biblical interpretation? For example, in interpreting anceint texts such as the Psalms, should our primary goal be to reconstruct the ancient Psalmist's meaning? Or, for Christians, should it be to receive the Psalms as prayers, to be prayed by the Spirit, in Christ? continue

Same-Sex Attraction and the Church

Article by   July 2016
Christians, including young evangelicals, are increasingly being persuaded that it is unreasonable to ask those who experience exclusively same-sex attraction to live celibate lives. Sexuality is considered to be central to human identity, and sexual experience is thought to be an essential part of any decent life. To expect a person to be celibate - for his or her entire life - is to ask that person to deny his or her very own self. It is to reject any and all possibility of happiness. continue

God's Ambassadors: The Westminster Assembly as Candidates and Credentials Committee

Article by   June 2016
The Westminster Assembly had taken upon itself the wonderful but formidable task of examining preachers for ministry in the church. By mid-autumn of 1643 the assembly recognized that it needed to further clarify and solidify its procedures for the examination of ministers. Since the members of the assembly were Reformed men, they did what Reformed people do: they appointed a committee, and after careful deliberation, it returned to the assembly with a list of twenty-one rules. continue

The Real John Knox

Article by   June 2016
In Jane Dawson's recent biography...we meet Knox the man. His life was a remarkable one by any account. He was the key figure not only in the Scottish Reformation, but also a major player in the Reformation in England and on the Continent. But Dawson introduces us to Knox as a family man, a Christian brother, and a believer struggling (as do we all) to remain faithful to the Lord. continue

Praying for Heretics: Irenaeus of Lyons' First Prayer for the Gnostics

Article by   May 2016
How should we respond to heresy? As we have seen in our previous article, the early Christian theologian Irenaeus of Lyons (c.130-c.200) is a great model here. There must be a robust theological response based on Scripture. And confessional parameters... continue

Calvin's Company of Pastors

Article by   May 2016
During the period of the Reformation the city of Geneva became one of the most important centers of theological and pastoral development in the world. At that time, under John Calvin's leadership, the pastors (over 130 from the city and countryside surrounding Geneva) were gathered together into what was called the "Company of Pastors." continue

Scotland's Protestant Martyrs: Thomas Forret

Article by   April 2016
The persecution of Protestants in Scotland, at least if measured in martyrdoms, peaked in 1539, shortly after Cardinal David Beaton, a zealous opponent of reform, was appointed primate of the country. Glasgow witnessed the execution of two individuals that year continue

The Best of All Worlds

Article by   April 2016
The cross required sin and evil in order to do its work of showing us how loving and just God is. So the Reformed supralapsarian theodicy understands sin's presence as instrumentally useful; as directed toward a greater good: the fullest communication of who God is to his people. continue

God's Ambassadors: The Westminster Assembly and the Reform of the English Pulpit, 1643-1653

Article by   April 2016
The assembly of divines that authored a famous confession of faith, catechisms, and much more, met in Westminster, now a suburb of London, in the middle of a bloody civil war that tore apart, England and Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. The English parliament, for a variety of reasons, raised an army to try to rein in the power of the king and to gain reforms in taxation, religion, and political process. The English parliament was called the Long Parliament because it met for a long time (1642-1653). continue

Ressourcement: Irenaeus of Lyons and His Answer to the Hyper-Spirituality of Gnosticism

Article by   April 2016
Contrary to much of modern thinking, there is truth and there is error. And just as it is vital to find the one--without truth there can be no salvation--so it is requisite to shun the other--for error in vital matters will lead to damnation. Though Christians have had two millennia to think about these matters, one of the best of guides is still the second-century apologist, Irenaeus of Lyons. Irenaeus is the most important Greek-speaking theologian of second-century Christianity; yet, materials for his life are meagre at best. But what we do know of him makes us eager to find out more about this winsome theologian and pastor. continue

'Rise, heart; thy Lord is risen'

Article by   March 2016
The Christian confession of the resurrection encompasses two great matters: first, that Jesus Christ is the living one who died and is alive for evermore (Rev. 1.18), and, second, that together with him 'God made us alive' (Eph. 2.5). These two elements of the confession - its Christology and its soteriology - belong together, but stand in a strict and irreversible sequence. It is only because God raised Christ from the dead that we also have newness of life; what we experience and confess of our own resurrection is wholly derivative from the principal reality: 'Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father' (Rom. 6.4). Yet we would not know Christ's resurrection in its full range if we did not also consider its extension into the realm of creatures, its generative power and effect. continue

Openness Unhindered

Article by   March 2016
Rosaria Champagne Butterfield. Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ. Pittsburgh, PA: Crown & Covenant Publications, 2015. 206pp. $12.99"Follow me as I follow Christ." So Paul unsubtly implores on several occasions (1 Cor.... continue

Socialism is Merely Human: A Response

Article by   March 2016
The attraction of young voters to Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign has puzzled some observers. The bewilderment is often mentioned in conjunction with Sanders' declared vision of "democratic socialism," a phrase that challenges most Americans who remember the Cold War and the Soviet Union before its collapse. Soviet-style communism became the implied definition of "socialism" in American politics and still haunts our understanding of the word. Certainly it seems to haunt Rick Phillips' post of February 19, 2016, "Socialism is Evil." continue

Risen

Article by   March 2016
Over the last few years, movies about Christianity have begun to trickle into the theaters with more frequency. We've had Old Testament stories like Noah (2014) and Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014). We've had contemporary family dramas like Courageous (2011)... continue

Confessing Christianity: Yesterday's reformation for today's reformation

Article by   March 2016
The word 'confessing', I confess, is a little bit vague. We use the word when we are admitting that we could have done better, or owning that we've actually done wrong. And in places where a life dedicated to Christ is unappreciated, or even illegal, confessing to Christianity means confessing to a crime - at least the eyes of our opponents. By Confessing Christianity, I mean something at once more positive and more precise. I am thinking of confessing as professing; I want to make the case for a Christian faith that affirms an allegiance to Christ, but also to a body of truth that we love and teach because of Christ. I mean something like "creedal Christianity," and if I was having better day, I might have picked those words as the title to this reflection. But maybe not. Because a creed is a short statement about the Christian faith, and a confession is a longer one - and my main point is that churches today need more truth, not less to confess. continue

Persuasion: Beyond the "Burp Effect"

Article by   February 2016
I am not at all sure exactly when or why the topic of persuasion began to preoccupy my thoughts. I am sure that there must be a number of influences in my past that, cumulatively though somewhat subconsciously, were catalysts in my own thinking. The one event that I do remember was an illustration that Os Guiness gave in a lecture that I attended many years ago. He illustrated the difference between "just telling the truth" in our communication of the gospel, on the one hand, and persuasion, on the other. A concern for "just telling the truth," Guiness said, produced what he called "The Burp Effect." "The Burp Effect" is demonstrated when we are content simply to "burp" the gospel on someone. The result is that, like a burp, we might feel much better, but our audience is inevitably offended! continue

Paul Within Judaism

Article by   February 2016
Mark D. Nanos and Magnus Zetterholm (eds.), Paul Within Judaism: Restoring the First-Century Context to the Apostle. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015It is nearly forty years since the publication of E. P. Sanders's Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977) initiated a revolution... continue

A Conversation about Islam with Karen & Carl Ellis

Article by   February 2016
I recently had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Karen and Carl Ellis to discuss some issues surrounding the Church's role in the discussion over Islam, how reformed theology can speak into the exchange between both faiths, the situation surrounding Dr. Larycia Hawkins and Wheaton College, and a few other thoughts, besides. Carl and Karen Ellis are co-founders of Ellis Perspectives and The Makazi Institute, affectionately known by their students as "Black L'Abri." They teach nationally and internationally on Cultural Apologetics, Understanding Islam, US Church History and Theology. Carl serves on the board of UK-based Barnabas Aid, and Karen serves as the Ambassador for the Swiss-based International Christian Response, both vibrant charities that serve Christians living in hostile regions continue

Hail, Caesar!: the Coen Brothers' Confederacy of Dunces

Article by   February 2016
In John Kennedy Toole's Pulitzer Prize winning Confederacy of Dunces, Ignatius Reilly is an absurd hero. He's brilliant, yet undisciplined. He has cultivated a philosophy of taste and decency, but it doesn't stop him from gorging himself on hotdogs. He... continue

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