Articles

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

Rightly Defining the Spirituality of the Church

Article by   February 2016
Sean Michael Lucas's fascinating book, For a Continuing Church, highlights in no uncertain terms the vital importance of the doctrine of the spirituality of the church to the origins of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). Next to the authority of Scripture, no other commitment played a more important role in forging the identity of the evangelical Presbyterians who established the PCA. These Presbyterians insisted that the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) had exchanged its spiritual mission of evangelization, summarized in the Great Commission's call for the church to make and train disciples (Matthew 28:19-20), for the activism of the social gospel. continue

Richard Hooker: A Companion to his Life and Work

Article by   February 2016
W. Bradford Littlejohn, Richard Hooker: A Companion to His Life and Work. Cascade Books: Eugene, OR, 2015. $24.99Littlejohn takes seriously the role defined for his book by its sub-titular label as a "companion" to the life and work of the... continue

Church History's Greatest Myths

Article by   February 2016
This year marks the 500th anniversary of the publication of Erasmus' Greek New Testament. It was a landmark publication for biblical studies, though we may tend to forget its role in the Reformation. 2016 will not receive as much attention as 2017, which may as well dubbed Luther-palooza for all the books, seminars, and conferences that will cover the 95 Theses. But to those who have struggled with their aorist declensions, this is the root of your frustration. Tyrant thy name is Erasmus. continue

Beauty Embodied

Article by   February 2016
A striking literary maxim can confound us because it is both horribly wrong and wonderfully right. "Beauty will save the world." Oh yes (sarcasm), Renoir's Girl with a Watering Can will stay the machete of a thick-bearded Muslim extremist, and Brahms' Requiem will blunt the needles of heroin addicts: horribly wrong. But salvific beauty does not have to stay machetes. It can be subtle, cracking the shell of the commonplace that surrounds the human soul and flooding it with light. And if Renoir and Brahms can do that much, if Rilke's rhymes can make a hairline fracture and Rodin's Eve a pinhole, perhaps that is all we need: so, wonderfully right. And in tracing the theological roots of Dostoyevsky's maxim, I came to find just how profound it is. continue

The Lost Word, and the Lost World

Article by   February 2016
In 2009, John Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College, challenged the evangelical world with the publication of his The Lost World of Genesis One. He argued that contrary to a traditional, literal reading of Genesis, essential clues to understanding the first chapter of Genesis were found in ancient Near Eastern literary and cultural contexts: "the key... is to be found in the literature from the rest of the ancient world." Claiming that Genesis 1 was written in a way shaped by ancient Near Eastern temple inauguration, Walton argued that the text spoke of God ordaining functions for creation as his temple, rather than describing creation's material origins. According to Walton, Genesis simply does not address material origins, aside from the first verse. This "long lost understanding" of the Genesis text, Walton argued, helpfully removed obstacles to a rapprochement between contemporary mainstream scientific interpretations of the past and the Christian faith. continue

Meet the New American Dream

Article by   January 2016
Meet the New American Dream, Same as the Old American Dream: Thoughts after seeing JoyMovies are more than entertainment, date night venues, or after (during) work escapes. At their best, they are something closer to lay theology or therapy even.... continue

How Should We Then Defend?

Article by   January 2016
I suspect that 2015, from a Christian perspective, will go down in history as one of the darkest and gloomiest centuries of human history. The cavalier destruction of human life, in the name of religion, is on the rise worldwide. No matter how much we protest that terrorists will not change our way of life, gun sales are rising sharply, as more and more people wonder whether shopping at a mall, or going to a movie, or having a Christmas party, will be the occasion for another random act of violence. continue

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