Archive for August, 2011

Creedal Christian addresses the Anglican church’s decision to maintain the historic episcopacy, while also recognizing the validity of the non-episcopal churches. Many Anglicans believe a church is not a church without a bishop, an attitude which doesn’t contribute much to ecumenical relations. Creedal Christian gives a cheer and half to the decision to hold the episcopacy in tension. We should too.

Stand to Reason discusses whether prayer make any difference within God’s sovereign plan for us.

Christianity Today presents a graphic illustrating the lasting effects of Christian education. If you were educated in a conservative Protestant school, you’re more likely to seek a vocation that helps others (you’re also least likely to seek a well-paying job). Home-schoolers? You’re more likely to get divorced and to feel helpless towards the problems of life. The good news is that you’re more likely to seek a well-paying job while having a vibrant spiritual life.

CNNBelief reports on the ways the military trains chaplains to go into battle.


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N.T. Wright leads off today’s Round-up with a long essay in Spectator magazine arguing for the enduring power of the Christian faith and Anglicanism in particular. Wright discusses the ways in which the church demonstrates the Lordship of Christ through charitable acts within our communities — that no matter how divided we are, believers still demonstrate love to the world. He also says “gay vicars” and “happy clappies” in one fun-filled sentence.

Russell Prejeant offers a brief article on our tendencies to read the Bible the wrong way, and offers solutions to help us with our everyday Bible reading.

Daniel Darling offers this advice: “Don’t neglect the Holy Spirit in your parenting.”  Darling discusses the trials of tribulations of parenting a child in the throes of rebellion. In his case, the rebellious child was only 3 years old.

Robin G Jordan has returned with another post on the ACNA ordinal (the new liturgical guidebook that orders our worship). This time, Jordan offers an alternative ordinal that he thinks is more biblical and orthodox.

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Most people who embrace the life of the mind for the benefit of the kingdom have likely been influenced by Mark Noll’s “epistle from a wounded lover,” The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Now, Noll has released a new book called “Jesus Christ and the Life of the Mind” which provides a foundational statement on the nature of intellectual activity and the Christian thinking. Christianity Today has an interview with the learned master.

Canon Alson Percival provides a brief and accessible article answering the question “Why study the Bible?

Caitrin Nicol presents a long essay in The New Atlantis deploring the materialism and determinism of the modern age, in which the “soul is dead” and our material selves cannot be “remystified.”

Philip Wainright, over at the blog Barnabas Project, explores the relationship between music and Evangelicalism.


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Sociologists Rodney Stark and Byron Johnson take issue with the survey results from Barna Research Group regarding the characteristics of American religion — Evangelicals in particular. Barna has recently published several studies claiming to show the deterioration of the church in the U.S.; Stark and Johnson argue it isn’t that bad.

Anyone want to see Oh Brother, Where Art Though? Amy Butler writes about the spiritual power of Baptist hymns in the Associate Baptist Press.

Robin G. Jordan is out with another critique of the new Ordinal for the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), this time focusing on the doctrine in the book of ordered worship.

Over at the blog Conciliar Anglicanism, Fr. Jonathan answers the provocative question “Can there be a church without a bishop?”  It’s a long and thoughtful piece, full of all the theology and ecclesiology you might expect.


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Douglas Dobbins has begun a new series on the Decalogue, in which he provides a theological interpretation of the Ten Commandments useful for our spiritual formation. Read his introduction here. Can’t wait to see where this series goes!

David Neff, in Christianity Today, argues that our pursuit of justice in this age foreshadows the perfect justice that will come in the next age.

Keith Anderson, in Ministry Matters, laments the decline of Mainline churches, searching for causes such as cultural changes, the death of American Christendom, and the church itself.

Jay Thomas, over at The Gospel Coalition, has a lengthy advice column for future senior pastors. One nugget of advice from his experience: Be prepared that not everyone will like you…and be prepared that some will love you too much.

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David Brooks, over at The New York Times, celebrates a special kind of altruist: one defined by the virtues of courage, deference, thanklessness, and commitment.

Jillian Farmer, over at the Associated Baptist Press, reflects on the intersection of theology and reality in the divorce of her parents.

File this under the “Curious things happen when you try too hard to be relevant and inclusive” department: Christ Community Church in Spring Lake, Michigan has changed its name to C3Exchange and removed the cross from its steeple.

A. S. Haley, over at the Anglican Curmudgeon, compares our current troubles in the church to the 4th-5th century trials and tribulations between the Eastern and Western segments of the church.


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Reason.com has a long essay arguing for what we all fear: Theology is Dead. This is no boilerplate special, either. The author, Mark Goldblatt, interacts with Nicholas de Cusa, Rene Descartes, and St. Anselm while exploring the relation of rationality to theology, the nature of causality, and the paradox of infinity. A smart, but accessible, essay that struggles with the nature of the theological task.

As if on cue, Robert A. Ratcliff writes on Ministry MattersWhy Theology isn’t a Dirty Word.” Not nearly as smart as Goldblatt’s essay, but at least someone out there still sees the importance of theology to the church.

Robin G. Jordan is back with another critique of the new ordinal recently released by the college of bishops in the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Jordan is worked up about the issue since the ordinal is the guidebook from which our churches’ worship and liturgy is based.

Kristin Wolf asks a provocative but not surprising question in this age of gender-bending: What if Jesus were a woman?

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Fr. Brian Barry reflects on a “father-son moment” to illustrate the apostle Paul’s point about the relation between law and sin in his post “Apart from the law, sin lies dead.”

In a sympathetic article, CNN reports on the anti-porn crusade in evangelical churches in which pastors use every technique in the book to preserve the purity of their congregations. One interesting facet of the article: Jennifer Wright Knust, the Boston University theologian with the peculiar sexual ethic (we’ve mentioned her before in this space), again betrays a serious peculiarity by seemingly supporting the use of pornography as an outlet for godly sexual desire.

Jeffrey J. Kripal reviews Grant Morrison’s book Supergods, looking at the rise of Gnosticism in comics and science fiction literature. Is Superman a Gnostic god?

Financial guru Dave Ramsey is offering his radical money management program to churches. Hopefully he’ll start by shredding churches’ mortgage notes. Probably too much to ask for, though.

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 7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law, sin lies dead. 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. 10 The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.
Romans 7:7-10

I just returned from vacation in Northern Ontario.  Our family has an island on Lake Temagami.  This year, my dad told me about a great opportunity.  There is a long access road to reach the lake, and a couple miles away from the landing, there is a dump directly off of the road.  There, in big red letters, is a sign that reads “NO BEAR WATCHING.”  Naturally, my dad had seen the sign and decided to stop and look for bears.  After he saw a bear there, he recommended that we stop there as well.  So, on the way home, we stopped in.  Once again, there was a decent sized black bear, just wandering around the dump.  We all watched it for a minute and then continued on our trip.  My three-year-old son continues to use these words to tell the story: “The sign said ‘No Bear Watching’ but we did it anyways!”  The funny thing is this: there is more bear watching because of that sign than there would be without it.  In fact, if a bear had eaten me while I was watching it (which is of course ridiculous), it would have been a direct result of somebody’s decision to protect us by posting this sign!

As I drove away from the dump (just in time to watch my cousin and his two children pull into the dump to look for bears as well), I realized that this is precisely what St. Paul is talking about above in Romans 7.  He is showing that, without the aid of the Spirit of God, those who have the Law aren’t any better off than those who don’t.  In fact, they can be worse off.  This isn’t because there is anything wrong with God’s law, Paul argues.  No, it is because sin uses the law as an opportunity.  We hear “You shall not covet” and immediately our minds start coming up with new ways to covet.  We hear “Don’t eat the fresh-baked cookies in the cookie jar” and we say, “Ooh, cookies!”  We read “NO BEAR WATCHING” and immediately say, “Let’s stop and look for bears!”  That’s the problem with giving sinful people an absolute standard of right and wrong… it gives us too many bad ideas.

St. Paul isn’t just giving us bad news… he is preparing us for Romans 8, one of the most uplifting sections of Scripture, describing life in the Spirit.  But before he can introduce this, he needs to make us despair of the alternatives.  If we want to be holy, the law is not enough.  Good preaching is not enough.  No amount of information is enough.  The Jews are not even a step ahead of the Gentiles, despite the many gifts given to them.  Without the active power of the Holy Spirit, we are still nowhere, if not worse off than before.  But, when the Spirit of God dwells in us, God does what the law could never do.  Then we have the power to really break free of sin… the infinite power of God dwelling in us.

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Catholic intellectual George Weigel discusses Christian martyrs in Pakistan.

The Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper explains why she believes “debt” is a spiritual concept.

The online magazine Relevant asks a provocative question: “Is Your Church Too Cool?” Kind of ironic coming from a magazine whose purpose is to make churches “cool.”

John Wilson, in The Wall Street Journal, makes the argument that “No One Takes the Bible Literally.”


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