Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Black Christians in American Church History

One of the challenges for me in wrestling with issues of race and the church is that, as a young man, I was woefully ignorant of so much of the story of black Christians in America. I doubt I am alone in this.
When I began to teach at Gordon-Conwell, I naturally was assigned the Church History courses, which set me on the path towards research into modern American history. I am still functionally a novice in many of these areas, but the path has been rewarding. I am still ignorant of so much of this story, but at least I know my ignorance better.

Monday, September 26, 2016

If We Are So Burdened, Why Aren't Prayer Meetings Full?

I often wonder why the church does not pray more. Why it is so hard for Christians to talk to God but so easy for us to discuss our complaints with others? Or to vent on social media?
Are we really as upset as we let on? Do we really believe that God will answer us and act? If the answers to the first two questions are “yes” then why don’t we pray more?
If we are not prayerful in our response to sin and destruction then we ourselves are demonstrating a lack of faith and hypocrisy. We want things to change but don’t believe that God can or will do anything. And, we say that we hate sin, but by not praying, we ourselves are sinning.
You can read the rest.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Church Sign of the Week (9/23/16)

Anyone need their lawn chair blessed?

Also, this is a pretty open invitation. People have pet rocks and inanimate and imaginary pets.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

9/11: A Libyan Christian's Perspective

As 9/11 this year coincides with the Great Islamic Feast and is followed by the Orthodox Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross I wanted to share one of the most impactful events in my life that  through 9/11 led me from Islam to the Precious and Life-Giving Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I had just turned 14 years old over the summer enjoying my last days of summer vacation before going back to school and beginning my O Levels. On that day my parents were out of town for a funeral of a distant relative. My mother’s sister was babysitting. My 11 year old brother was sick with the flu and my 2 year old baby brother was playing in his room. My aunt was in the kitchen making chicken soup. Our house was big, on the Mediterranean coast of Tripoli, and each of us had his own section of the house to themselves. It was a sunny afternoon but I chose to watch a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie on Abu Dhabi TV instead before I headed out in the evening for Tennis practice at the Club down the street.
You can read the rest.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Honor One Another!

Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)
I wonder if Romans 12:10 is one of the most under-obeyed commands in Scripture. I wonder if we have lowered our standard to “Do no harm to one another,” which is passive, and if we are not destroying each other we must be doing okay. But the gospel is all about the glory of God coming down on sinners (2 Thessalonians 2:14). Honor to one another is an obvious next step. The doctrine of glorification (Romans 8:30) creates a culture of honor (Romans 12:10). Our faithfulness to the gospel, therefore, should prompt people to say about our churches, “How they honor one another!”
What might keep us from pressing further in this way?
You can read the rest.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Slavery and the Bible

My bread and butter course at Baylor University is the "America to 1877" survey class. The most troubling issue I cover in the class is slavery. What especially piques the interest of Christian students is the biblical case against slavery - or the lack thereof.

"How do we know the Bible is against slavery?" I ask. Most students have never given much thought to the issue. Of COURSE the Bible is against slavery, they assume, because slavery is wrong. "OK, give me some verses that tell us that slavery is wrong," I say. Silence. Some savvy students might cite the Golden Rule of Luke 6:31.

Occasionally someone remembers Galatians 3:28, and its note that in Christ there is neither slave nor free - although that does not quite tell us that slavery is wrong. Just because in Christ there is neither male nor female, slave nor free, Jew nor Greek, does not mean that those identities cease to exist.

What does the Bible say about slaves and masters, I ask them? Again, some remember the household codes of Ephesians and Colossians, where servants/slaves are told to obey their masters. Or they note various other Old and New Testament practices where the authors seem to assume the existence of slavery, rather than commenting on its morality.

It is hard to imagine a more challenging historical and scriptural topic than slavery. It has become ammunition used by skeptics who have denounced the Bible as fundamentally immoral. I believe that maturing Christians should grapple with these kinds of Bible "problems," instead of just assuming that the Scriptures give us transparent answers to all of life and history's conundrums.

You can read the rest.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Tim Keller is Releasing a Prequel Book!

Remember when, in film, prequels were a fad? Well, how about a prequel apologetics book?

I only say "apologetics" because that's Barnes & Noble's best categorization, which isn't exactly fair. Tim Keller has always been possibly the most personable and charitable author among modern Christian pastors, and his books certainly don't take the sadly and unnecessarily reactive and combative tone of many other works on apologetics (or even on non-essential theological issues). I always joke that Tim Keller is the one person that might, just might, stand a chance of making me jump on the Neo-Reformed bandwagon. But I digress.

Tim Keller is releasing a new book tomorrow! It's entitled Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical. It's a prequel to his popular book Reason for God.

You can read some excerpts.

I know I'd like to get it.

HT: Tim Keller and Matt Smethurst