Articles by Matthew Tuininga

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

Conformity to Jesus as the Paradigm for Christian Ethics 3

Article by   January 2016
In his second essay on the imitation of Christ Herman Bavinck wrestles with a very old problem. He points out that the New Testament was written by and for Christians who came from the underside of society - the poor, the weak, and the oppressed. As a result, its emphasis falls on the virtues and practices that are appropriate for people in such circumstances, such as patience, forgiveness, and obedience. The question is, how are Christians to work out the imitation of Christ in contexts of power, authority, and influence? If the New Testament's version of a Christian ethic is a classic example of an "ethics from below," how are we to implement it when we need an "ethics from above"? Here Bavinck points to the fact that the New Testament itself contains the principles for such an ethic, and suggests that Christians must get to the hard work of using those principles to translate the way of Christ into a way of life appropriate for our own circumstances. continue

Conformity to Jesus Part 2: Death and Resurrection With Christ

Article by   December 2015
In Part 1 of this series I highlighted the prominent attention the New Testament gives to the call to Christians to imitate Christ. I introduced this theme as the first step in defending my thesis that the central paradigm for the Christian life (i.e., Christian ethics) in the New Testament is union with and conformity to Jesus Christ, in whom all of God's purposes for creation are fulfilled. Here in Part 2 I want to argue that the imitation of Christ should be understood as the practical outworking of the Christian's obligation to be conformed to Jesus' death and resurrection. continue

Conformity to Jesus as the Paradigm for Christian Ethics (part 1)

Article by   December 2015
One of the strengths of the Heidelberg Catechism is that its emphasis is Christocentric from start to finish. From its wildly popular first answer - "That I am not my own, but belong - body and soul, in life and in death - to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ" - to its sensible explanation of what it means to be a Christian - that "I am a member of Christ and so I share in his anointing" - to its pastoral teaching regarding "what is basic to our prayer - the childlike awe and trust that God through Christ has become our Father" - it maintains its powerful emphasis on the believer's union with Jesus as the essence of the Gospel. continue

Presbyterians and the Political Theology of Race: Part 3 - Gospel Politics

Article by   July 2015
In his "Letter From a Birmingham Jail" Martin Luther King, Jr., charged the "moderate white clergy" with failing to grasp the clear implications of the Gospel for the South's social institutions. "I have heard numerous religious leaders of the South call upon their worshippers to comply with a desegregation decision because it is the law, but I have longed to hear white ministers say, 'Follow this decree because integration is morally right and the Negro is your brother.' ... In the midst of a mighty struggle to rid our nation of racial and economic injustice, I have heard so many ministers say, 'Those are social issues with which the gospel has no real concern,' and I have watched so many churches commit themselves to a completely otherworldly religion which made a strange distinction between body and soul, the sacred and the secular." continue

Mississippi Praying

Article by   July 2015
Carolyn Renée Dupont, Mississippi Praying: Southern White Evangelicals and the Civil Rights Movement, 1945-1975. New York: New York University Press, 2013. 303 pages. $55.00 ($26.99 on Kindle).Carolyn Renée Dupont's Mississippi Praying, is a thoroughly stimulating analysis of the ways in which... continue

Presbyterians and the Political Theology of Race: Part 2 [Old Testament Politics]

Article by   July 2015
In Part 1 of this series I observed that southern Presbyterian defenders of segregation emphasized the Old Testament as the authority for biblical norms regarding race over against the more New Testament oriented arguments of their opponents in the civil rights movement. The most prominent version of the southern Presbyterian argument was not the caricatured appeal to the mark of Cain, let alone to the curse of Ham, as we might like to imagine. It was much more sophisticated than that. It usually ran something like this: continue

Presbyterians and the Political Theology of Race: [Part 1] - Cultural Captivity?

Article by   June 2015
At the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5 President Obama called Christians to exercise humility in their responses to Muslim acts of terror, referencing some of the great sins of the Christian tradition. His comments provoked a sharp backlash, much of it focused on whether or not the Crusades were a cause of Islamic terrorism. But Christians were more muted in their response to the president's allusion to slavery and the oppression of Jim Crow segregation. As Anthony Bradley recently warned in a Facebook post, "Don't let your evangelical friends only talk about the Crusades... [W]ill someone clarify the Trail of Tears, slavery, and Jim Crow, and so on for us?" continue

A Stone of Hope

Article by   March 2015
David L. Chappell. A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow. Chapel Hill: University of Chapel Hill Press, 2004. 344 pages. $27.95.David L. Chappell's A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow... continue

Should Christians Love Their Country?

Article by   September 2013
In a provocative article published on reformation21.org on July 2, Rick Phillips offered some thoughts on the meaning of Christian patriotism in an America that is changing rapidly. Phillips eschewed any identification of America with the kingdom of God, framing his reflections within the context of the two kingdoms doctrine. continue
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