Monthly Archives: March 2010

Churches Should Not Preach Abstinence Alone (Trevin Wax)

Abstinence education may be effective for the public school system, but churches should not preach abstinence alone.  After all, telling young people that they should not have sex because of all the bad things that could happen to them actually perpetuates a self-centered view of sexuality.  The teenagers who engage in sexual activity are having sex to please themselves.  The teenagers who do not engage in sexual activity are not having sex in order to protect themselves.  But the common root in both of these mindsets is self-centeredness. . . .

The definitions of what constitutes “sexual activity” are changing, which is why Christian must begin promoting chastity not merely abstinence.

(Trevin Wax, Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals)

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List of Books Read for March 2010

Each month, I put out a list of books I’ve read, and give just a few sentences of review. 

  • Adopted for Life by Russell Moore.  A must-have book for every Christian, not just those who are adopting.  Moore makes the case that adoption is the gospel, since it is a rescue mission to bring those in need of rescue into a stable family.  I could not recommend this highly enough.  You can follow Dr. Moore on Twitter.
  • The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith by Timothy Keller.  The most insightful and enlightening book on the Parable of the Prodigal Son(s) I have read.  To understand that both the elder and younger brother were prodigals, one for morality and one for self-discovery, was worth the price of the book.  I look forward to reading A Tale of Two Sons by John MacArthur next.  Keller pastors the Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.
  • The Gospel Driven Life by Michael Horton.  A marvelous sequel to Christless Christianity.  This book shows how Christianity is Good News (based upon what has already been accomplished) not simply good advice.  While overstating things at times (a review may come later), his grasp of the Scriptures in bringing each aspect of the Old Testament and shining it in New Testament light, makes this book one with which you take your time.  Michael Horton is a professor of systematic theology and apologetics at Westminster Seminary California , editor-in-chief of Modern Reformation magazine, and co-host of White Horse Inn.   
  • Leaders Who Last by Dave Kraft.  This is one of the best leadership books I have ever read.  Kraft has given himself over to the calling of God to equip leaders—which is his ministry at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. 
  • A Call to Prayer by J.C. Ryle.  Repeatedly, Ryle asks this penetrating question, “Do you pray?”  He believes that prayer is the most important, but the most neglected duty of the Christian. 
     
  • The Confederate States of America: What Might Have Been by Roger Ransom.  Yes, another Civil War book!  Roger Ransom is the professor of history and economics from the University of California at Riverside.  He sets the table wonderfully on the background of the Civil War, then changing one or two issues (the CSA winning at Gettysburg, Stonewall Jackson surviving, Britain seeing the CSA as a legitimate country) shows the possibilities of the CSA’s presence in North America.  Yes, it’s all speculation, but an interest of mine nonetheless.
  • The Case for Easter by Lee Strobel.  A quick but helpful read of the evidence of the resurrection of Christ.  Strobel is a former journalist (and atheist) who is now a follower of Christ. 

 Books I’m Reading Now

  • Southern Baptist Identity: An Evangelical Denomination Faces Its Future, edited by David Dockery.  As someone who belongs to the Southern Baptist Convention, I have great anxiety but great hope for this great convention. 
  • Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals by Trevin Wax.  So many Caesars are vying for our attention:  money, sex, success, leisure, etc.  Wax brings a very pastoral tone to this very important topic.  I cannot wait to finish and review it.   
  • Lee by Douglas Southall Freeman and James McPherson.  Robert E. Lee’s allegiance was to Virginia, even though he detested the institution of slavery and the idea of secession.  He could not raise his sword against his homeland or family.  What a sacrifice, considering he was offered charge of the entire Union army.  Though he was the only American general to lose a war, he is considered by many to be one of the greatest generals who ever lived.
  • A Case for Amillennialism by Kim Riddlebarger .  I am sifting through the various eschatological views to make sure I believe what I believe not simply because I was told to at a young age, but because the Scriptures speak on the matter.  I believe Christ will return and set up his literal kingdom, and that the church will be resurrected into his presence and that unbelievers will be resurrected to judgment.  I’m now working on putting the pieces together.
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Stephen Prothero on the Faith and Politics of Millennials

I enjoy reading Stephen Prothero.  He is a religion professor at Boston University who has a gift of writing in general, but also of evaluating American religious trends.  He and Stephen Nichols are my two favorite writers in this arena.

Two of Prothero’s books are sitting on my office shelves:  Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—And Doesn’t (Harper One, 2007); and American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2004).  He has a new book coming out called “God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World—And Why Their Differences Matter” (HarperOne, 2010). 

Prothero has written an op-ed piece in the USA Today on “Millennials Do Faith and Politics Their Way.”  It’s worth the read.

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How Does John Piper Feel About the Prosperity Gospel?

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SBTS Panel Discussion on Brian McLaren’s new book “A New Kind of Christianity”

Brian McLaren has published a new book entitled, “A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith.” McLaren has always been one to explore the nuances of the Christian faith, yet with this latest book, he has gone from exploration to denial. He has issues with how God is revealed in the Scriptures, especially the OT; how we view salvation (by saying Christ is not the only way); and by his denial of hell–and this is just for starters.

The video of a panel discussion at SBTS a few weeks ago is worth watching. It seems that McLaren’s new kind of Christianity is truly an old type of heresy packaged for the postmodern age. Have any others read this book? What are your thoughts?

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Links to Help Your Grip (3.29.10)

  • John Piper’s upcoming leave is a humble lesson for us all.
  • Russell Moore’s article warns the church about losing its blood:  “The eclipse of blood in American Christianity has quite a bit to do, I suspect, with American prosperity.”
  • Check out our new Neighbors to the Nations blog, set up for our Neighbors to the Nations Sunday on Sunday, September 12, 2010 at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.
  • Crossway has released a free chapter on Worship from Driscoll’s "Doctrine" http://ow.ly/16Ukru
  • My afternoon at the IMB International Learning Center http://ow.ly/16UgVR
  • Hershael York, professor at Southern Seminary and pastor of Buck Run Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky tells us when eschatology matters most (hint: its not in a classroom or backroom debate). 
  • My friend, Mark Combs who is pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Salem, Kentucky, wrote an insightful article on the recent health care legislation passed in Washington, D.C., last week.   
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A Free Chapter on Worship from Driscoll’s “Doctrine”

Check out a chapter for free on “Worship” from Mark Driscoll’s magnum opus, “Doctrine.”  Looks good!

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My Afternoon at the IMB International Learning Center

I just posted a short blog entry on our “Neighbors to the Nations” blog on an afternoon I had at the IMB International Learning Center.  Enjoy!

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Mozart, Salieri, and Loving the Gifts of God over the God of the Gifts

I love the movie Amadeus.  Told from the vantage point of Antonio Salieri (1750-1823), a contemporary of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).  All Salieri ever wanted to do was make music.  He wanted to be famous.  He struck a deal with God—if God made him famous, he would swear to God his devotion, service, and chastity. 

Yet Salieri is confused that God would deny him this precious talent, yet give the impish, bacchanalian Mozart such a glorious gift.  It comes to a watershed here:

 

Why would God do such a thing?  We must be careful of elevating the gifts God gives and the fame we crave and putting them as an idol in God’s place. 

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A Lesson for Christians from a Communist

Recently released from jail, a young communist disciple wrote to his fianceé, breaking off their engagement:

We communists have a high casualty rate. We are the ones who get shot and hung and ridiculed and fired from our jobs and in every other way made as uncomfortable as possible. A certain percentage of us get killed or imprisoned. We live in virtual poverty. We turn back to the party every penny we make above what is absolutely necessary to keep us alive. We communists do not have the time or the money for many movies, or concerts, or T-bone steaks, or decent homes, or new cars. We have been described as fanatics. We are fanatics. Our lives are dominated by one great overshadowing factor: The struggle for world communism. We communists have a philosophy of life that no amount of money can buy. We have a cause to fight for, a definite purpose in life. We subordinate our petty personal selves to the great movement of humanity; and if our personal lives seem hard or our egos appear to suffer through subordination to the party, then we are adequately compensated by the thought that each of us in his small way is contributing to something new and true and better for mankind.

There is one thing in which I am in dead earnest about, and that is the communist cause. It is my life, my business, my religion, my hobby, my sweetheart, my wife, and my mistress, my breath and meat. I work at it in the daytime and dream of it at night. Its hold on me grows, not lessens, as time goes on; therefore, I cannot carry on a friendship, a love affair, or even a conversation without relating it to this force that both drives and guides my life. I evaluate people, books, ideas and actions according to how they affect the communist cause, and by their attitude toward it. I’ve already been in jail because of my ideals, and if necessary, I’m ready to go before a firing squad.

What would the world look like if Christians exhibited that type of commitment?

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