Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Growing unity among true evangelicals

There is a current movement towards more and more unity among evangelicals who hold to the historical authority of the Word of God and the doctrines of grace. This spring, there will be a conference called Together for the Gospel, which will feature leaders and pastors from different Christian traditions across the country that hold to a Biblical Gospel. Be sure to watch the videos for the conference!

Last week, CJ Mahaney, a reformed charismatic, was invited to preach at John McArthur's (who is a committed cessationist) church. Several years ago this would have been unthinkable. Read about it here.

Finally, just today Bethlehem Baptist (John Piper's church) put up an article on their website detailing their plan to expand church membership to allow believers who were baptized as infants. Here's the key section:
After more than three years of study and prayer and discussion of this issue, the Council of Elders believes that membership requirements at Bethlehem should move toward being roughly the same as the requirements for membership in the universal body of Christ. That is, we have come to the conclusion that it is seriously questionable to say to a person who gives good evidence of being a true Christian and who wants to join Bethlehem: you may not join.

This conclusion raises problems of consistency for our present Constitution and By-Laws and our present church Affirmation of Faith and Church Covenant. These documents hold up some less than essential beliefs that must be affirmed in order to be a member at Bethlehem. Thus the door to membership at Bethlehem at the present time is significantly narrower than the door to membership in the universal body of Christ. The elders believe this should be changed because of how serious it is to exclude in principle any truly born-again lover of Christ from membership in the local church.

The most obvious change this involves is allowing the possibility that a person may become a member who has not been baptized by immersion as a believer but who regards the baptismal ritual he received in infancy not as regenerating, but nevertheless (as with most Presbyterians) in such a way that it would violate his conscience to be baptized as a believer. The elders are proposing that under certain conditions such persons be admitted to full membership.
Read the rest here.

As a credo-baptist, I find this to be very encouraging news.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Subjected in hope

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. - Romans 8:20-21
Who is the "Him" in verse 20 who subjects creation to futility? Is it Satan? Physics? No, it is God. God is ultimately sovereign over the futility of creation. And we know it is God, because creation is subjected "in hope". Our hope in the midst of futility comes from the very fact that we know it is God who has ordained the futility. Because the futility of this world is under the sovereignty of God, though we might not comprehend it, we can be assured that He has a divine design in it for our good and for His glory.

Because it is God who has done it, then we have the sure hope that, one day, He will also have the sovereignty to set creation "free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God". If we lose the sovereignty of God, then we lose our hope as well.

Links: The Goodness of God and the Reality of Evil, The Sovereignty of God @ DG

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The end of the ECM?

Ron Gleason of recently finished a four-part series on the Emerging Church Movement. It's an entertaining read, with some very pointed and insightful moments, arguing that the ECM will not last. I found part 3 to be the most interesting. Check it out:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Queen of Iowa

Andrew Peterson will be releasing his next album, The Far Country, on August 30th. (You can pre-order it on his website for $10) The main theme of this album will be about the adventure towards the heavenly country, along with all the joys and sorrows that come with this journey. One of the tracks on this album is called The Queen of Iowa, which describes a memorable house-concert that he played in... I'll let him share about it in his own words:
Earlier this year, in January, Ben and I got invited to go play probably the best concert of our whole lives for this lady named Jodie who lives in Iowa. Her church invited us to go up and play for her because she's dying of AIDS, and she got the AIDS from a rape about 13 years ago. It's kind of a scary environment to play a concert in the living room of a person who's dying. They said she hadn't opened her eyes for about a week, and they thought she didn't have much time left. And she liked my music, so they flew us up there to play for her.

And I remember when we got there, we walked into the room, and we had to wash our hands really, really well because of the germ factor, and we had to leave our shoes at the door. We went in and saw this woman who had been fighting this disease for 13 years of her life, and she kind of had wasted away. And she's still alive now, amazingly, but she had wasted away so much, and she was laying under this little blanket with her eyes closed, not moving. They were talking to her, and the folks at the church said "She can hear you. We can tell that she's listening because sometimes she cries."

She wasn't a Christian when the rape happened, and her family was also nonbelievers. They had hired this person, John, to be her care giver and to kind of take care of her through all the problems AIDS was going to bring, and he fell in love with her, and they got married, which is amazing. He fell in love with a woman he knew was dying.

And then, a church in this town in Iowa found out about her story and kind of embraced her, and she came to know the Lord about 3 or 4 years ago, as did her husband, and it turned this sorrowful battle that she was fighting into...I think a kind of peace, a kind of joy.

Anyway, it was an amazing experience to be able to spend that time with her. I remember that, um...anyway, here's the song that came out of that. There's nothing quite like being in the presence of someone who's facing death, but even more so there's nothing like being with a Christian who's facing death, and they face it with joy. So, uh, here's the song.

I met the queen of Iowa.
She was dying on a couch in the suburbs,
And with all of the things she was dying of
She was more alive than the others.

She was pretty as a flower in a crystal vase
That lights up the room as it withers away
She opened her eyes when she heard the music play.

We sang a hymn to the rhythm of the river that flows
Down from the mountain of the Holy Ghost
Into the souls of those who know His name
Like the queen of Iowa.
She was the queen of Iowa.

Her majesty was all ablaze.
She was burning hot but not consumed.
Our shoes removed in that holy place
In the hallowed ground of her living room.

I bowed down low, and I kissed her hand,
And we raised a toast to the Promised Land.
I saw the tears of joy run down her face.

We sang a hymn to the rhythm of the river that flows
Down from the mountain of the Holy Ghost
Into the souls of those who know His name,
Like the queen of Iowa.
She was the queen of Iowa

I could see my illusions scatter
Every time she drew a breath.
I could see the heart of the matter
The heart is a matter of life and death.
I'll never be the same.

We sang about oceans of love again
As she stared past the ceiling and the sky above.
Two court musicians; it was me and Ben,
We were singing for the queen of Iowa.

We sang a hymn to the rhythm of the river that flows
Down from the mountain of the Holy Ghost
Into the souls of those who know His name.

There was a peace like a river in a valley of bones
That fills the valley up and it carries them home
To come alive again in the river of grace,
Like the queen of Iowa.
She was the queen of Iowa.
Long live the queen of Iowa!
She was the queen of Iowa