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Archive for May, 2011

The Associated Press (AP) reports on the Muslim-Israeli tensions resulting from the excavation of Jewish historical sites.

John Piper examines the doctrinal orthodoxy of megachurch pastor Rick Warren in a very interesting interview between the two. See the video of the discussion here.

Over at the Gospel Coalition, Nancy Guthrie answers a question she often receives in her teaching ministry: “What Do You Mean When You Talk About Christ in the Old Testament?

Christianity Today reports on the ways Christian microfinance ministries are responding to the broader corruption and scandals in the microlending industry.

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Christianity Today has a symposium of evangelical money managers discussing the question “What’s Wrong with Credit Card Debt?”  The right use of money, the proper understanding of stewardship, and the best way to manage our physical resources is something the church has continually struggled with over the centuries.  From indulgences designed to build massive and shockingly expensive cathedrals in the Middle Ages to credit card and mortgage debt designed to fund Big Hairy Audacious Goals in the age of the Baby Boomers, the church has always struggled to apply the biblical teaching on money and stewardship in its various contexts. Take some time to read (or re-read!) John Pryor’s “money” articles, “The Recession as a Moral Crisis…and the Role of the Church in Its Recovery” and “The Wealth Generating Aspects of Generosity?”  Then offer your own comments here on the church and the issue of money.

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India is currently experiencing a “gendercide,” realized after a 2011 census showed 12 million girls were aborted in the last three decades due to patriarchal social system that privileges males. The worst aborters were wealthy, upper class Indians who could afford sonograms and abortions — which shows, as in the Western world, that abortion is a tool of convenience for the upper classes rather than an aid to the poor.

N. T. Wright made some odd comments about American Christians when discussing Rob Bell’s understanding of hell in his book “Love Wins.” He thinks Americans are obsessed with hell, an incongruity compared to America’s wealth and its history of warfare — his exact quote is “There’s something quite disturbing about that [America’s obsession with hell], especially when your nation and mine has done quite a lot in the last decade or two to drop bombs on people elsewhere and to make a lot of other people’s lives hell.”  Wright’s exegesis is always good and edifying, but anytime he offers his political opinions (and especially when he mixes his politics with his exegesis) he comes off quite daft.

The ordination of The Rev. Brian Morelli, Jordan Easley, and John Wagner took place this past Saturday. Take some time to listen to God’s growing of his church.

Anglican TV provides an interview with Archbishop Greg Venables, who discusses the state of the Anglican Communion.

Heavyweight Catholic theologian George Weigel reflects on the “just” death of Osama bin Laden.

Television producer Mark Brunett is developing a mini-series of dramatic stories on the Bible, to be shown on the History channel.

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Rick Hamlin explains the duties of military chaplains and why they’re vital to the military and the kingdom of God.

Matthew Dickerson, in an accessible and informational piece over at Christianity Today, shows how our theories on the End of Days shape the way we live and think in our earthly home.

The blog Stand Firm has posted an interview with theologian Francis Chan on his new book “Erasing Hell.”

The Catholic bishops of England and Wales announced they are re-instituting the practice of “meatless Fridays,” that penitential rite where Catholics discard the “ways of the flesh” by avoiding flesh — literally — every Friday. Elizabeth Scalia celebrates the news, arguing meatless Fridays help sublimate the ego to God and church.

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First, be sure to read the sixth installment of Douglas Dobbins’ excellent “Meditations on the Lord’s Prayer.”

Anglican Curmudgeon provides an exegesis of Sunday’s Gospel reading, from John 14:1-14, exploring how Episcopal Archbishop Katherine Jefferts Schori‘s interpretation of these verses hastened the departure of some Episcopal churches to join the burgeoning Anglican movement.

Rod Dreher, reflecting on the failed doomsday prophecy of Harold Camping, provides a smart and deeply personal reflection on the longing for utopia. We’ve purposely avoided the hullabaloo surrounding the silly prediction of a false prophet, but Dreher’s piece is well worth promoting for the sake of God’s coming kingdom (the real one).

Most anthropologists believe agriculture slowly gave rise to cities, writing, art, and religion. But in a provocative piece by Charles C. Mann at National Geographic, we learn that new evidence from the Göbekli Tepe excavation site in Turkey shows that worship may have been the spark that ignited civilization.

If anyone isn’t tired of more reviews of Rob Bell’s Love Wins, philosophy professor Jim Spiegel shows the logical fallacies in Bell’s discussion of Hell.

Finally, some church news:  The Rt. Rev. John Guernsey was elected bishop of the new Anglican diocese in Virginia.

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“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”~Matthew 6:10

Because we do not know what is best for ourselves, we must continually entrust our souls into the will of our Father. This is especially true as we follow our Lord Jesus Christ. For we often find ourselves in circumstances beyond our control, where the earth breaks apart beneath our feet, and where we are powerless to accomplish our vocation. Indeed, so often does the Lord lead us into perplexity, that we must reckon our permanent dwelling place to be confusion and powerlessness. Yet the Lord Jesus, knowing that the calling is too great for us, leads us by the hand so that we might ask the Father for assistance. It is impossible to follow Christ without the assurance that God is our helper, because our only security, in the midst of so many assaults, is to be fortified in the safety of his will.

Many religions assent to a divine will. This was true in the ancient world, and it no less true today.  Because so many people claim to follow God’s will, each of whom conceiving of that will in different ways, our souls are tempted to doubt whether we have truly known God’s will at all. Indeed, Satan stirs our world into such confusion in order to pour doubt into our hearts. This is why God’s people, in seeking to honor his will, must always focus our eyes upon the Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that we open ourselves to all the forms of doubt if we remove our gaze from him. All our surety in following God rests in trusting Christ, apart from whom all our ideas about God’s will are mere inventions. Yet when we cleave to Jesus as our only law, we know that God supports us in all our circumstances. For this reason, let us forsake all our doubts, believing that Jesus is truly worthy of all our trust.   

In the Garden of Gethsemane, amidst much confusion and inner turmoil, the Lord Jesus prayed for the Father’s will to be done (Matt 26:39). In praying this way, the Lord Jesus invited us to view him as the model for our prayer life. Though Christ knew that he must carry the cross, he was also filled with confusion and perplexity. If the Master was baffled in his vocation, then the servants should not be surprised to find themselves in the same condition. To follow God’s will does not entail a perfect knowledge of his intentions or designs. Rather, all our confidence rests in one thing: that Christ approves of us. If indeed the Lord granted us advanced knowledge of our lives, yet withheld his approval from us, then we would have no remedy for our impotence. Yet with Christ’s endorsement, we are able to march into hostile territory with full vigor, even as circumstances seem to oppose us, being filled with all confidence that the Lord favors us.       

Let us never, however, use God’s will as an excuse for lethargy and fear. It is easy for us to retreat into some hiding place, because we fear failure or suffering. Whenever we desire to block the commandments of God from reaching our ears, we must remember that we are not our own. Rather, we belong to Christ, and as such we have no input in God’s providence. We were nonexistent when God framed the world with his word, and in a few short years, we will recline on a bed of death. For this reason, we are to resign ourselves to doing our duty, knowing that our short lives find their value in being conformed the will of Christ. Let us therefore resist all our impulses for self-reliance, but let us rather find all our stability in cleaving to God’s will, believing that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit continually surround us in the sure bonds of love.

Who can calculate how the Lord will use us for his purposes? Those who yield to the will of God can hope that their efforts will be used for mighty ends. Indeed, the Lord might be pleased to use our obedience for purposes beyond our comprehension. With so many ailments attending this world, it is easy to view every malady as a permanent fixture of this world. Yet our confidence in our vocation must spring from a knowledge that God is able and willing to overcome all of Satan’s devices. As we follow the Lord, we are to believe in the power of God, knowing that his will is destined to prevail over every strategy of Satan. Let us proceed, therefore, with confidence in our mission, having full assurance that the will of God is always victorious. We are to fling away every doubt which attends us, whatever difficulties surround us, holding the conviction that our lives are not wasted in God’s service. Let us not wander aimlessly, as if confusing circumstances proved that God has forsaken us, but let us hold the confidence that God will be favorable to us, so long as we trust in Christ. To this end, let us pray as Christ taught us: “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

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The blog Treading Grain as posted a video of biblical scholar D. A. Carson discussing “What the Church in America Needs.”

Bored with the Book of Common Prayer? The blog Confessions of a Carioca has some advice, based on the verses in II Timothy 4:3-4.

Ready for a C. S. Lewis College? Northfield Seminary is undergoing a complete renovation, including core curriculum and, yes, changing its name to C. S. Lewis.  Since we already have the C. S. Lewis Bible, then it makes sense to have a C. S. Lewis college. Who wants to bet their creative writing classes will be called Inklings 101?

Pitzer College in California has started a brand new degree program called “secular studies.”  It’s probably only natural, after the banishment of theology and the marginalization of religious studies in colleges, to start seeing programs in secularism and atheism. Although, as Alan Jacobs comments in The Wall Street Journal, perhaps the academic study of secularism is a sign of the decline of secularism itself. We shall see!

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