Presbyterianism is pretty simple. As the name suggests, presbyters (elders) are essential to the church. Congregations elect qualified men to ensure that the means of grace (word, prayer, and sacraments) and discipline are maintained. These men—one or more of whom is an elder qualified and approved to preach—constitute the local session, and are accountable to higher courts that have the oversight of larger geographical areas (regional presbyteries and synods or general assemblies).

Recently, a pastor in the PCA and member of the National Partnership (you can read about the NP HERE and HERE) wrote an article praising the denomination for the “latitude” it affords its ministers and members in interpreting and applying its doctrinal standards. But what exactly is confessional/doctrinal “latitude”?

iii. As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin; and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity: (2 Pet. 3:11, 14, 2 Cor. 5:10-11, 2 Thess. 1:5-7, Luke 21:27-28, Rom. 8:23-25) so will He have that day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come; and may be ever prepared to say, Come Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen. (Matt. 24:36, 42-44, Mark 13:35-37, Luke 12:35-36, Rev. 22:20).
ii. The end of God's appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of His mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of His justice, in the damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient. For then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fullness of joy and refreshing, which shall come from the presence of the Lord: but the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.

Now at a companion packet to The Shepherd Leader!

In this packet, you will find three sample tools to consider as you implement your shepherding plan. Click here to download your free resources.

When you set up your shepherding plan you could not have imagined that your entire congregation would be hunkered-down attempting to stay clear of Covid-19.

These are times in which the flock needs to hear from their shepherds for comfort and assurance. I have urged our elders to put a priority on reaching out to their sheep, especially to those who are especially vulnerable.

I recently received this encouraging email from my friend Ken Jones, Shepherding Pastor at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama:

God, Technology, and the Christian LifeBy Tony Reinke. Crossway, 2022. 320 pages, paper, $21.99.

For modern Christians, navigating the waters of technology is a subject increasingly top-of-mind. Tech seems to change monthly, with new products and sciences requiring us to constantly evaluate our approaches. It is a challenging task, and, predictably, there are now many voices offering to guide us through these uncharted seas.

Natural Theology: A Biblical and Historical Introduction and Defense. By David Haines. Davenant Press, 2021. 195 pages, paper, $14.95

In February I published an article on extemporaneous preaching. Since then, I’ve received various comments and had a number of enjoyable discussions. But in all of these interactions a common question arose:

“So Seob, do you really think extemporaneous preaching is the only right way to preach a sermon?”

Over the last week or so, there’s been something of an online dust-up involving the approach to Christian cultural engagement modeled by Tim Keller—pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Keller has long been a favored target of those who would challenge “establishment” American evangelicalism from the right, but in recent weeks he’s been subjected to a level of criticism previously reserved for perceived defectors like Russell Moore.

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" (Jam. 1:27).

"Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God" (Heb. 13:16)

"... that which is pleasing in his sight" (Heb. 13:21)

Note: The following is adapted from a letter sent in response to a gracious correspondent who was concerned about Dr. Trueman’s representation of the words of Rev. Greg Johnson. It is published here rather than First Things due to the intramural nature of the matter involved.

Dear Friend,

Some years ago, I took a Nazirite vow never to write on race in America.  Yet, persuaded by the editorial team at First Things, I broke that vow.  Now it is time to offer a brief reflection on some of the responses.

Carl welcomes a rare participant into today’s discussion: a former student still willing to acknowledge the experience! Kyle Davis is an American serving in South Africa as the Bible Translation Fellowship executive director. Kyle asserts that there are over 7300 languages in the world, yet a complete translation of the Scriptures is available in only 10% of those tongues.

The “Lady Writer” who (perhaps unwittingly) bestowed upon our own Todd Pruitt his “Major Pastor” credentials is today’s special guest. Co-host, professor, and rap artist Carl Trueman joins in to welcome Megan Basham, culture reporter for the Daily Wire. All superfluous titles aside, the three discuss an essential topic: the disturbing state of what is currently referred to as "responsible journalism."

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at Puritan preaching through the lens of the trivium. Scripture gave Puritan preachers a foundational grammar, and through logical/dialectical methods this grammar would be brought to bear upon the minds of men.

The Great Awakening of the mid-eighteenth century provoked the ire of many Protestants. This was due to reports of hysteria surrounding the Awakening's particular brand of revivalism. Many did not know what to make of the excitement and fervor exuded by those caught-up in the movement.

Calvin's sensitivity to the different circumstances in which people live lead him to flip-flop, or at least to be somewhat ambivalent in his attitude to the magistrate. Citing the case of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 27), Scripture requires obedience to bad kings, and even to pray for the well being of the country of exile (Jer.29). No doubt Calvin has his own city of exile, Geneva, in mind.  But should not rulers, who also have responsibilities, be kept on track? Yes, but not by ourselves, but by Almighty God.  This leads to discussion of the vexed question of civil disobedience.

No doubt having the Anabaptists in mind,  and having already defended the right to litigate, Calvin proceeds to defend the entire judicial process. He discourages using the law for the taking of revenge, but upholds the use of due process, 'through which God may work for our good'. (It is interesting that in his teaching Calvin primarily seems to have mind not Geneva, which by this time in his career he believed was governed along right lines, but countries where the law may remain hostile to evangelical Christianity).