Archives For _samp

Around-the-Horn[1]When Marriage is Hard
So this is why they make you take vows.

A Bubba With A Passion for the Gospel and for Golf
On Sunday Bubba Watson, one of the most untraditional golfers on the PGA Tour, was the winner of the 2014 Masters Tournament. But golf isn’t Watson’s top priority.

It’s Back – The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife and the State of Modern Scholarship
From Albert Mohler: Last week, the Harvard Theological Review released a much-delayed series of articles on the fragment. After a series of investigations undertaken by diverse scholars, the general judgment claimed by Professor King is that the fragment dates back to ancient times.

The Neutrality of Bigness
Last Lord’s day, despite the absence of a few, we had an encouragingly large congregation. By some standards, it was large. By others, pitifully small. By ours, with a visiting family of believers, and a number of visitors from the community, several for the first time, it was a joy.

Archbishop Welby Struggles with a Greater Truth
The Archbishop’s mistake, or naiveté, was to treat these opposing views as standing upon equal ground.

Moralism is Not the Gospel (But Many Christians Think It Is)
one of the most seductive false gospels is moralism. This false gospel can take many forms and can emerge from any number of political and cultural impulses. Nevertheless, the basic structure of moralism comes down to this — the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior.

A Medical Account of Jesus’ Death
When you reconstruct the medical aspects of Jesus’ crucifixion, the result is a brutal, vivid picture of what Jesus endured to save people from sin.

Around-the-Horn[1]Till Conscious Uncoupling Do Us Part
The twitter universe was abuzz when actress Gwyneth Paltrow announced on her digital media website GOOP, that after 11 years of marriage, she and her husband, Coldplay front-man Chris Martin, were “consciously uncoupling.”  #consciousuncoupling  . . . Say what?  Everyone else calls it a separation, split, break-up, or divorce. But Paltrow, known as somewhat of a lifestyle guru, thinks those terms carry too much negative baggage. So what, exactly, is conscious uncoupling?  Here are 3 main ideas that I’ve extracted from all the GOOP-y conscious-uncoupling gobbley-gook . . .

Four Types of Belonging
Four different dimensions of belonging have emerged as I have studied churchgoing. I have named them activities, events, people, and places. The central idea is that all four are present in each of us but, for most individuals, a particular one is dominant.

John Donne in Lent
Donne is the poet of embodiment. He writes about things we can see and feel: fleas, ants, bearbaiting, the sudden blush of a young girl, a long voyage at sea, theatres that “are filled with emptiness,” and wartime in an “age of rusty iron.” He also writes a lot about himself and his torturous relationship with God. After he died, Donne was called “a second St. Augustine.” The Doctor of Grace is quoted more than seven hundred times in Donne’s surviving sermons. There is no doubt that he read and lived out the Confessions over and over again. The Augustinian themes of restlessness, original sin, repentance, forgiveness, pilgrimage, predestination, the resurrection of the body, and the overarching hope of salvation born of pain—these are all present in a language that still dazzles in both poetry and prose.

The Book of Common Prayer is Still A Big Deal
The key differences, I think, lie in two other areas. First, in what Cranmer took away: for instance, the whole panoply of devotion to the saints was cut back tremendously, leaving the saints’ days still in place but emphasizing that they are examples to be followed rather than intercessors.  Second, and for Cranmer most important, is the strong emphasis on a lectionary that took people through the whole Bible—and, if people went to Morning and Evening Prayer, read through the whole of the books of Psalms each month. Cranmer wanted the literate to read the Bible thoroughly and faithfully, and for the illiterate to hear it read every day.

Is Opposition to Marriage Like Opposition to Interracial Marriage?
Is opposition to same-sex marriage at all like opposition to interracial marriage? One refrain in debates over marriage policy is that laws designating marriage as exclusively the union of male and female are today’s equivalent of bans on interracial marriage. Some further argue that protecting the freedom to speak and act publicly on the basis of a religious belief that marriage is the union of a man and woman amounts to the kind of laws that enforced race-based segregation.  These claims are wrong on several counts.

Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are
Fascinating TED video.

The Life You (Don’t) Want: Oprah’s Tour For the Self
This is cultural consumerism at both its highest and lowest — humanistic in its instincts, privileged in its priorities, and carefully glazed with all the right marketing to deceive itself that justice is at hand and Neighbor Love has the wheel. It’s as if human desire has grown so weary of natural constraints and so content with its own appetite that it would prefer to label self-indulgence as “self-help” and be done with it.  It’s faux-self-empowerment for the self-centered, heart-religion as a mantle for hedonism.

Why Teaching Poetry is so Important
Students who don’t like writing essays may like poetry, with its dearth of fixed rules and its kinship with rap. For these students, poetry can become a gateway to other forms of writing. It can help teach skills that come in handy with other kinds of writing—like precise, economical diction, for example. When Carl Sandburg writes, “The fog comes/on little cat feet,” in just six words, he endows a natural phenomenon with character, a pace, and a spirit. All forms of writing benefits from the powerful and concise phrases found in poems.

Around-the-Horn[1]Sex & Violence In The Bible
Sex & Violence in the Bible is a survey of explicit content in God’s Word. It is just over 200 pages of examining those parts of the Bible that we so often pass over and so rarely hear from the pulpit. While such a book could so easily prove base and puerile, Joseph W. Smith wrote this one for noble purposes and with a deep desire honor God. What caught my eye and convinced me to read it was Carl Trueman’s little blurb on the cover in which he describes the work as “A needed antidote to the crudity of the schoolboy culture.” Indeed.

World Vision Repents
Only two days after announcing it would hire Christians in same-sex marriages, World Vision U.S. has reversed its ground-breaking decision.  “What we are affirming today is there are certain beliefs that are so core to our Trinitarian faith that we must take a strong stand on those beliefs,” said Stearns. “We cannot defer to a small minority of churches and denominations that have taken a different position.”

Seven Key Facts About the Pomosexual Revolt
Facebook recently decided to let people configure their profile with an available list of any number of genders. For them to publish a master list of the available options would obviously be way too confining, but one estimate puts the available options at 58 or so. One example is cisgender, a word for someone who, for the most part, identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth. And they also have genderqueer, for example, but they don’t have demiguy, and one only wonders when the hatred will stop.  If your inclination is to think the world has gone crazy, you are right. But it is crazy with a logic to it. There are reasons for the pomosexual revolt. There are hidden drivers, and if you understand them, you will understand the central features of what is happening. Here are some of the key principles.

I cannot imagine that anyone in our country has been able to escape the heated rhetoric about this topic.  Most often conversation degeneratse into accusations of some sort or another.  In this heated discussion I found this article by Richard Hays, Dean and the George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School, excerpted from his book The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation (a book selected by Christianity Today as one of the 100 most important religious books of the twentieth century) helpful in explaining the biblical teaching and the historic understanding of the church.

The People Who Oppose The Gay Marriage Law
Interesting article from the BBC:  Sometimes the debate on gay marriage has been polarised, casting those who supported the measure as the right-thinking and those who opposed it as irrational and guilty of tacit homophobia.  The law to allow gay marriage passed quickly and there are those who still feel they have not had a proper chance to air their concerns.

The Most Consequential Religious Liberty Case In A Generation
One of the most important religious liberty cases in a generation will come before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties will be making their final appeal for an exemption from Obamacare’s coercive “contraceptive” mandate. Obamacare requires employers to provide health coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptive devices. So what’s the problem?

Flee Youthful Passions
The “youthful passions” in this context are not sexual.  Paul has in mind the passion for controversy, that feeling inside that relishes a fight and loves to be proved right and even prophetic.



Don’t Settle For Silly Books
For some reason many of the junk books that populate the Christian market are targeted to women. So I’m calling for a holy rebellion against bad, sentimental, mystical, and otherwise silly books for women.

From Father to Son :: J.R.R. Tolkien on Sex
An excellent article from Albert Mohler: Even as Tolkien is celebrated as an author and literary figure, some of his most important messages were communicated by means of letters, and some of the most important letters were written to his sons.

Bill Gates: People Soon Replaced by Bots in the Marketplace
From Business Insider: “Software substitution, whether it’s for drivers or waiters or nurses . . . it’s progressing. . . . Technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of skill set. …  20 years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model.”

Idolatry in Corporate Worship
What’s your greatest hindrance to worshiping God as you gather with the church for corporate worship?  I can think of a number of possible answers: Our song leader isn’t very experienced. The liturgy is too stifling. The band sounds bad. The preacher is uninspiring. Our church is too small. Or, our church is too big.

29 Incredible Colorized Historical Photos
Pretty cool.

Evangelical Housekeeping
Do you think it is important to learn about the latest theological trends? What do they have to do with you? Should your pastor bother to know about the current evangelical climate?  Let’s start with that last question.  I think that one is an easy “yes.” It’s pastoral. Part of shepherding is spotting the threats to the flock. We see all of the apostles constantly warning the congregations and other pastors about false teaching. They even used names. We should also be able to trust that our pastors are faithfully working to preserve the truth of God’s Word and the purity of the church.

What’s Your Social Class?
Here is a fun quiz from the Christian Science Monitor that purports to identify one’s socioeconomic status. The questions are about psychology, tastes, and personality traits, not salary. For example, a few test how well one identifies emotions. Our readers should pay particular attention to the religious identity question (number 19) and the diagnostic explanation at the end of the quiz. Do you know which religious group in America is the wealthiest and best educated?



Download it here.

To those seeking ordination Scripture lists certain qualifications (1 Timothy 3.1-16 and Titus 1.5-9) that should be noticeably present in the life of the inquirer. Particularly, they should be sound in the faith. They should have an ability to communicate the Gospel, teach and disciple others in the faith. Their lives should reflect holiness and discipline which brings honor to Christ and which causes them to be well thought of by those outside the Church. They should demonstrate wisdom and discretion. There should be visible fruit of their faith as well as a public affirmation by their local congregation of their sense of call.

Read the rest.

What is Reformation Anglicanism?

Perhaps the easiest way to describe Reformation Anglicanism is simply by defining the words. By “reformation,” we mean that expression of the Christian faith that arose in the 16th century, commonly called the Protestant Reformation, which sought to reform the church according to the teaching of the Bible and the practice of the early church. By “Anglican,” we mean those Christian reforms that took place in England during the Protestant Reformation.

There is of course more to be said and we hope to say much more in the future.  For now it may be useful to set forth a few boundary markers to help identify partners and shape future dialogue.

Reformation Anglicanism is Gospel-centered

Of the many things that could be said about the English Reformation, one aspect that is consistently overlooked is that it would not have been possible were it not for the experience of men and women receiving the good news of Jesus Christ in a personal and transformative way.  Take for example the experience of Thomas Bilney, who recounted his own conversion in the following words:

At the first reading (as I well remember), I chanced upon this sentence of St. Paul (O most sweet and comfortable sentence to my soul!):  ‘It is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be embraced, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief principle (1 Tim 1.15).

This one sentence, through God’s instruction and inward working (which I did not then perceive), did so exhilarate my heart, being before wounded with the guilt, of my sins, and being almost in despair, that immediately I felt a marvelous comfort and quietness, insomuch ‘that my bruised bones leaped for joy’ (Psalm 51.8).

Through what would eventually become one of Cranmer’s famous “comfortable words,” Bilney learned that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” and that meant that Christ Jesus came into the world to save men like him.  This good news, that Bilney found in the Scriptures is the Gospel, something that William Tyndale said “makes a man’s heart glad and makes him sing, dance, and leap for joy.”  The Gospel said Tyndale:

Is joyful tidings and, as some say, a good message declared by the apostles throughout all the world of Christ, the right David, who has fought with sin, with death, and the devil, and has overcome them. By this all men who were in bondage to sin, wounded with death and overcome by the devil are, without their own merit or deserving, loosed, justified, restored to life and saved. They are brought to liberty, and reconciled to the favor of God, and set at one with Him again.

The scriptures teach us of Christ alone reconciling sinners to God by grace alone and not by works, for God’s glory alone and received simply by faith alone.  Reformation Anglicans are passionate about the Gospel not only because the Reformers were, but because we believe the Gospel still heals bruised bones, still makes the sad and sorrowful leap for joy, and still gives victory over sin, death, and the devil reconciling the child of God to himself and leading God’s people in liberty.

Reformation Anglicanism is Catholic

A caricature of the Reformation Anglicans is that they ignore the patristic witness and the contributions of the undivided church in favor of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.  Not only could this not be further from the truth but this is also a serious misreading of the English Reformation.  The English Reformers very much saw themselves in continuity with the patristic church.  This is why Cranmer begins many of his homilies with support from such early church theologians as Athanasius, Augustine, John Chrysostom and many others.  Cranmer’s implied point is that there is Patristic support for the theological points at the heart of the Reformation.  More explicitly, John Jewel argues that “God’s holy Gospel, the ancient bishops, and the primitive Church do make on our side.

The English Reformation did not believe it was charting a new course but rather recovering an old one.  The English Reformers believed that the Medieval church had lost its way and therefore needed to be re-formed.  Modern Reformation Anglicans see themselves, like their forbearers as reformed catholic Christians in continuity with the historic church and bearing the doctrine and substantial marks of early Christianity.

Reformation Anglicanism is Confessional

The Articles of Religion were passed by Parliament in 1563.  It is clear by the preface to the Articles that these were to serve as the measuring stick for English Protestant Orthodoxy or as we might say, Anglican Orthodoxy.  The preface reads as follows:


Articuli, de quibus in synode Londinensi anno Domini, iuxta ecclesiae Anglicanae computationem, M.D.LXII. ad tollendam opinionum dissensionem, et firmandum in uera Religione consensum, inter Archiepiscopos Episcoposque utriusque Prouinciae, nec non etiam uniuersum Clerum convenit. Articles whereupon it was agreed by the Archbishops and Bishops of both provinces and the whole clergy, in Convocation held in London in the year of our Lord 1562, according to the counsel of the Church of England for the avoiding of diversities of opinion and for the establishment of consent regarding true religion.


As can be seen from the above, the Articles of Religion were meant to establish orthodoxy within English Protestantism.  Clergy in the Church of England, to demonstrate their orthodoxy subscribed to the Articles of Religion.

The significance of the above is as follows:  one did not become a Cranmerian.  Unlike the Lutherans, there is no such thing as a Cranmerian Church.  Rather, one subscribed not to the teachings of Thomas Cranmer (or Ridley, or Parker, or Hooker, etc.) but one subscribed to the Articles of Religion.  Reformation Anglicanism is informed by the various personalities of the English Reformation but it is identified by a confession of the faith of the Protestant Church of England.

Some may rightly ask “but what of the Book of Common Prayer?”  To which we respond:  the doctrine is the seed, the devotional (Prayer Book) and institutional life (Ordinal) is the flower.  The Book of Common Prayer is the fruit of the scripturally founded, Gospel-centered doctrine discovered in the Articles.  From here we note three things:

1)   That Reformation Anglicans are “confessional” does not imply they are not catholic.  Explicit in the Articles is an embrace of the early councils and creeds grounded not upon their institutional authority, but rather because “they may be proven by certain warrants of Holy Scripture” (Article VIII).  We note with pleasure that the Jerusalem Declaration of the GAFCON movement “upholds the four Ecumenical Councils and the three historic Creeds as expressing the rule of faith of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church.”

2)   Reformation Anglicans judge authentic Anglicanism according to conformity to the historic confession of the Church of England.  Again, the Jerusalem Statement:  “We uphold the Thirty-nine Articles as containing the true doctrine of the Church agreeing with God’s Word and as authoritative for Anglicans today.”

3)   Reformation Anglicans embrace the ordinal and historic prayer books of the settled church (1559, 1662) as authentically showing forth the fruit of the doctrine contained in the Articles.  Again, we stand in line with the Jerusalem Declaration which notes:  “We rejoice in our Anglican sacramental and liturgical heritage as an expression of the gospel, and we uphold the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as a true and authoritative standard of worship and prayer, to be translated and locally adapted for each culture.”

 As many of us seek to recover our great Anglican heritage we must first acknowledge that as a work of recovery, we are as men stumbling about in a room that has been neglected for quite some time.  As a room that has been neglected for some time, the primary work is to help turn the lights on, uncover the furniture, and dust off the paintings.  We must re-familiarize ourselves with this tradition.  Towards that end, we urge each of you interested in this movement of Reformation Anglicanism to dedicate yourself to a deep familiarity with the Articles of Religion and we strongly encourage you to read the following:

Reformation Anglicanism is not a slogan.  Rather it is a Christian tradition, indeed the most historic Christian tradition within Anglicanism.  As a tradition, it deserves to be studied, meditated upon, and prayed over.  In the Diocese of the Carolinas, the Ridley Institute aims to provide a Reformation Anglicanism Bibliography for all its Ordinands to complete and be prepared to be examined upon by the end of their theological training.  We would encourage all those interested in this movement to take the study of it seriously.

Reformation Anglicanism is not a historical fetish.  Rather, we see in the English Reformation and the 39 Articles of Religion a clear, vibrant, and costly articulation of the saving power of the Gospel as proclaimed by our Lord Jesus and set forth in the Holy Scriptures.  In this time of global Anglican turmoil, Reformation Anglicanism acts as an anchor rooting us within faithful, historic, Gospel-centered Christianity.  It is the Gospel-centrality that exalts the glory of God, the grace of Jesus Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit that we cherish above all else.  Reformation Anglicanism is simply a gracious reminder that Anglicans who cherish such things do not need to look beyond their own tradition to be resourced for mission both now and in the future.


My Girlfriend’s Sexual Past
I’m often asked how much should we know about our significant other’s sexual past – and how to deal with what we learn.  Boundless provides a helpful answer.

Celebrity Pastors:  A Retrospective
When I raised the ‘celebrity pastor’ issue a few years ago, my primary concern was the distasteful self-promotion and the cultivation of cults of personality which it seemed to involve.  The first time that I caught serious flack for this was when I mentioned an incident where a group of European churchmen was evicted from the VIP seating at a conference to make way for some young folk.

Defining Success in Ministry
A nice 6-minute video clip from Rich Nathan

“Son of God” Veers Toward Gnostic Heresy
Son of God gives oxygen to a claim that early church leaders denounced as historically and theologically false because it contradicts the earliest accounts of Jesus’ life. The movie’s portrayal of Jesus’ Last Supper with the disciples creates the impression that Jesus ordered Judas to betray him.

The Church’s Identity
The Ordinary Pastor looks at the way society allows people to customize gender today, and then compares that to the church. It’s an apt comparison.

Gender, Discrimination, And Marriage
In the name of equality, same-sex marriage seeks to codify gender discrimination. But marriage welcomes everyone: husband and wife, father and mother, grandfather and grandmother.

The 5 “R”s to Remembering Everyone’s Name You Meet
Name memory is not a spiritual gift or some kind of genetic trait you inherit. People who are good at remembering names simply try harder and place a higher value on remembering names than others.  The good news is that you don’t have to be a genius. Everyone can remember names if they work at it. Most of us just don’t know how. Here is a system I have used to help myself remember names better.

The Busy Trap
From the NYT:  Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.


Around-the-Horn[1]Jesus, Friend of Sinners: But How?
Jesus was a friend of sinners not because he winked at sin, ignored sin, or enjoyed light-hearted revelry with those engaged in immorality. Jesus was a friend of sinners in that he came to save sinners and was very pleased to welcome sinners who were open to the gospel, sorry for their sins, and on their way to putting their faith in Him.

7 Mistakes We Make In Women’s Bible Study
Women’s Bible studies can help us get serious about the Scriptures. They spur us on to stay in God’s Word and think deeply about what it means and how it applies to our lives. But, just as Martha became “distracted with much serving” (Luke 10:40) and neglected sitting at Jesus’ feet, we women can become distracted and lose focus—even when we gather together for Bible study. Here are seven common mistakes we tend to make.

Spiritual Schizophrenia
Does the public persona of your faith live in harmony with the private realities of your life? Here are a few examples . . .

Has Failure Become A Virtue?
In recent years church leaders have rightly spoken out against moralistic therapeutic deism, which is really just a fancy name for legalism – the idea that we earn God’s favor through external obedience to a moral code. Moralistic therapeutic deism, as in the days of Jesus, pervades our culture and even our churches. And it’s as harmful today as it was when Jesus spoke against it two thousand years ago.  I fear, however, that as an antidote, some are now articulating an equally skewed view of grace. I have come to call this view “ecstatic failurism” – the idea that believers cannot obey the Law and will fail at every attempt. But more than that, that our failure is ultimately cause to celebrate because it makes grace all the more beautiful.

Magic and Meyers-Briggs
There is an infinite, qualitative difference between what we usually do and who we are. The test-result gives us the former, but can never give us the latter. I believe we suffer from an inordinate desire to ignore this fact. If the test can give us who we are, we can be freed from the responsibility of becoming who we are.

It May Be Time To Call An Old Friend
My friend Wiley Pugh recently died.  Wiley died at 58 of a sudden heart attack.  My one regret is that it had been more than a decade since we talked. He’d cross my mind – and I’d think I should give him a call.  Maybe you have a Wiley Pugh in your life.  Tomorrow is promised to no one.  Pick up the phone…today.

The Patience of Jim
Next time you’re running about two quarts low on hope, or feel like you’re on the wrong end of God’s Whac-A-Mole game, think of Jim Kelly and be glad you’re not him.  Jim Kelly is sport’s Job. If it’s raining anywhere, it’s raining on Jim Kelly. He’s as unlucky as a one-legged dog. And yet when you see Jim Kelly, he acts as if he just won Publishers Clearing House. “I’ve been blessed,” says Kelly, 54. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

The Terms of Our Surrender
From the Ross Douthat at the NYT: If your only goal is ensuring that support for traditional marriage diminishes as rapidly as possible, applying constant pressure to religious individuals and institutions will probably do the job. Already, my fellow Christians are divided over these issues, and we’ll be more divided the more pressure we face. The conjugal, male-female view of marriage is too theologically rooted to disappear, but its remaining adherents can be marginalized, set against one other, and encouraged to conform.

An apt word to the clergy of the western church as we are tempted to “be on the right side of history” rather than faithful to the faith once delivered to the saints.

“It is your duty to to fix the lines (of doctrine) clearly in your minds: and if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession. This is your duty not specially as Christians or as priests but as honest men. There is a danger here of the clergy developing a special professional conscience which obscures the very plain moral issue. Men who have passed beyond these boundary lines in either direction are apt to protest that they have come by their unorthodox opinions honestly. In defense of those opinions they are prepared to suffer obloquy and to forfeit professional advancement. They thus come to feel like martyrs. But this simply misses the point which so gravely scandalizes the layman. We never doubted that the unorthodox opinions were honestly held: what we complain of is your continuing in your ministry after you have come to hold them. We always knew that a man who makes his living as a paid agent of the Conservative Party may honestly change his views and honestly become a Communist. What we deny is that he can honestly continue to be a Conservative agent and to receive money from one party while he supports the policy of the other.”

Christian Apologetics, C. S. Lewis, Easter 1945