Saturday, August 29, 2015

How Reliable Are Psychology Studies?

The Atlantic recently published How Reliable Are Psychology Studies? It's an illuminating article, well worth your time, with helpful and encouraging suggestions and directions for a way forward.

The Word Made Flesh: God's Self-Revelation

D. A. Carson:
The emphasis of the Prologue, then, is on the revelation of the Word as the ultimate disclosure of God himself. That theme is dramatically reinforced by the remarkable parallels between v. 1 and v. 18, constituting an inclusio, a kind of literary envelope that subtly clasps all of 1:1-18 in its embrace. Thus ‘in the bosom of the Father’ is parallel to ‘with God’; ‘the unique one, [himself] God’, is parallel to ‘was God’; and to say that this unique and beloved Person has made God known is to say that he is ‘the Word’, God’s Self-expression.
The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, MI: 1991), 135.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Piety

Calvin:
I call "piety" that reverence joined with love of God which the knowledge of his benefits induces. For until men recognize that they owe everything to God, that they are nourished by his fatherly care, that he is the Author of their every good, that they should seek nothing beyond him—they will never yield him willing service. Nay, unless they establish their complete happiness in him, they will never give themselves truly and sincerely to him.
—John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion 1.2.1

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Consulting the Communion for All of Christ

Vanhoozer:
While the local church is a true church, it is not the whole church. It may feel like a blow to our ecclesial pride to admit it, but the truth of the matter is that no single Christian community communicates the fullness of the gospel or of what is in Christ. Local churches (and even denominations) would thus do well to consult the broader communion, historical and geographic, of the saints to see how other communities are acting out what is in Christ.
—Kevin Vanhoozer, Faith Speaking Understanding, 167.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Creation Care in Perspective

It is not unusual for (post)modern evangelicals to sound the alarms arm in arm with the secularists about the pending doom of creation if we don't act fast. It's commonplace, at least in my quarters of evangelicalism. And it's not that I am against stewardship of God's creation, but I do want to speak against what I perceive to be a lack of proportion and priorities.

I do believe that Christians should be good stewards of creation. But we need a focusing of our priorities. And so let's begin with creatures created in God's image who are eternal beings, and who are killed by the millions in our nation. It seems mentally and spiritually imbalanced to get bent out of shape over creation and not care much about God's image-bearing creatures who are taken to the slaughter in abortion clinics near you.

Now of course I realize that politically one issue is accepted and encouraged by many secularists (creation care), while the other isn't (civil rights of unborn children). And so therein lies the challenge. It's easy to go along with creation care in our culture—unless we're talking about the crown of creation, namely, human beings.

Many evangelicals are zealots when it comes to saving the planet (whatever that means), but these same evangelicals often just don't appear to care much about the unborn who are slaughtered by the millions, butchered for profit, with their parts sold cooly and calmly for grand and noble purposes (like buying a lamborghini). 

Perhaps even worse, many just don't want to get into it because it involves swimming against the tide culturally and politically. It involves cross-bearing. And that's uncomfortable to our tender little evangelical hearts. If we stand up for the unborn, in Jesus' name, we just might not be accepted. And above all we can't have that.

So, yes, let's be good stewards of creation. But let's not let secularists define for us how this looks. And surely the crown of creation—image-bearing human beings—ought to be the focus of our energies and efforts in caring for creation. God cares more about human beings than he cares about trees and lions. (Not doubt about it. Not afraid to say it. But, at the same time, this is not the same thing as saying he doesn't care about trees and lions at all.) And perhaps once we've stopped shedding so much human blood our hearts might be in better shape to think and act straight about trees and lions and the like.

How could anyone argue otherwise? Well, actually, no one, so far as I know, is arguing that caring for creation while ignoring creatures is the way to go. Yet the relative neglect of concern for the unborn among creation-care types should give us pause before following their lead. When these folks start giving themselves to the most vulnerable and most valuable among God's creation, God's beloved image-bearers, then perhaps we should pay a little more attention to what they're saying. Perhaps then their hearts will be in the right place to speak wisdom about creation care.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Redemptive Communication

A redemptive strategy for engaging readers and hearers is summed up in these six communication tasks:

1. Know the people with whom you are speaking.
2. Love them genuinely.
3. Enter into their questions, their defining experiences, their terminology.
4. Retell their story in a fuller way than they are able to tell it, creating dissonance.
5. Show and tell the truth of God and his gospel of Christ in a fresh and personally relevant way.
6. Hold open a door of invitation to come in.

—David Powlison, "Giving Reasoned Answers to Reasonable Questions," Journal of Biblical Counseling 28, no. 3 (2015): 5–6.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Getting a New Testament Vision for Your Marriage

"We must recover the New Testament's vision for marriage as an aspect of discipleship and as a reflection of God's unbreakable faithfulness" (Vanhoozer, Faith Speaking Understanding, 155).

Disciples of Christ and Marital Fidelity

"One of the most important ways disciples act out the reconciliation that is in Christ is by practicing marital fidelity" (Vanhoozer, Faith Speaking Understanding, 154).

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Peaceful Planned Parenthood Protest

I participated in a peaceful Planned Parenthood protest today in Aurora, IL, which was part of a nationwide protest effort. It went well. There was an outstanding turnout.

It almost makes me want to become a Roman Catholic again. Our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters are leading the way in this greatest of civil rights issues of our times. I'm proud of them.

To my Protestant brothers and sisters, I'll say what one local Presbyterian minister said publicly to the Protestants in the crowd: "We've got a lot of catching up to do."

However, this is not a Christian concern only, though of course many Christians are concerned precisely because of our beliefs and convictions: we value all human life as bearing the image of God, and as given incalculable worth by God himself. 


But we want all Americans who stand for the civil rights of all people—all people, regardless of their age or stage of life, including life in the womb—we want all Americans, whether Christian or not, to join in this greatest of all social justice issues. You won't want to be on the wrong side of history on this one.

So let's follow the lead of the Roman Catholic Church and fight for the life of the weakest and most helpless in our society (which, not incidentally, oftentimes includes the women who are taken advantage of for their babies' body parts to sell).

Friday, August 21, 2015

Healing and the Messiah

In John 9, we read of the healing of a man born blind. We also read of the opposition of the Jewish leadership to Jesus, and of the fear of some of this Jewish leadership.

After the man who was born blind was healed, his parents were asked by the Jews who it was who had healed him (Jn. 9:19). And they were afraid to name Jesus (9:20–22), because "if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue" (v. 22).

Confess Jesus to be Christ? By saying he had healed a man? Given him sight? Yes. Apparently confessing this healing would have been bound up with a confession of the coming of the Messiah. And likewise in Matthew’s account (chapters 8–10), the healing ministry of Jesus signals the coming of the King and the kingdom of God.

Now go and read Isa. 35:4–6. The King has come, and his kingdom has dawned.