Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Offence of the Cross Ceasing

Further proof that there's nothing new under the sun. He could very well be describing much of today's preaching.
Leave out the holy character of God, the holy excellence of his law, the holy condemnation to which transgressors are doomed, the holy loveliness of the Saviour’s character, the doctrine, and the holy tempers and conduct of all true believers: then dress up a scheme of religion of this unholy sort: represent mankind as in a pitiable condition, rather through misfortune than by crime: speak much of Christ’s bleeding love to them, of his agonies in the garden and on the cross; without shewing the need or the nature of the satisfaction for sin: speak of his present glory, and of his compassion for poor sinners; of the freeness with which he dispenses pardons; of the privileges which believers enjoy here, and of the happiness and glory reserved for them hereafter: clog this with nothing about regeneration and sanctification, or represent holiness as somewhat else than conformity to the holy character and law of God: and you make up a plausible gospel, calculated to humour the pride, soothe the consciences, engage the hearts, and raise the affections of natural men, who love nobody but themselves.

And now no wonder if this gospel (which has nothing in it affronting, offensive, or unpalatable, but is perfectly suited to the carnal unhumbled sinner, and helps him to quiet his conscience, dismiss his fears, and encourage his hopes,) incur no opposition amongst ignorant persons, who inquire not into the reason of things; meet with a hearty welcome, and make numbers of supposed converts, who live and die as full as they can hold of joy and confidence, without any fears or conflicts. ...

What wonder if, when all the offensive part is left out, the gospel gives no offence? What wonder if, when it is made suitable to carnal minds, carnal minds fall in love with it? What wonder if, when it is evidently calculated to fill the unrenewed mind with false confidence and joy, it has this effect? What wonder if, when the true character of God is unknown, and a false character of him is framed in the fancy,--a God all love and no justice, very fond of such believers, as his favourites,--they have very warm affections towards him?

I would not give needless offence. Let this matter be weighed according to its importance. Let the word of God be examined impartially. I cannot but avow my fears that Satan has propagated much of this false religion, among many widely different classes of religious professors; and it shines so brightly in the eyes of numbers, who ‘take all for gold that glitters’, that, unless the fallacy be detected, it bids fair to be the prevailing religion in many places.

Thomas Scott, Letter and Papers, edited by John Stott (London: Seeley, 1824, pp. 441-444)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The chief dangers to Christianity

The chief dangers to Christianity do not come from the anti-Christian systems. Mohammedanism has never made inroads upon Christianity save by the sword. Nobody fears that Christianity will be swallowed up by Buddhism. It is corrupt forms of Christianity itself which menace from time to time the life of Christianity. Why make much of minor points of difference between those who serve the one Christ? Because a pure gospel is worth preserving; and is not only worth preserving, but is logically (and logic will always work itself out in history) the only saving gospel.

- Benjamin Warfield, 1894, Selected Shorter Writings, vol. 2, p. 665-6.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What I will be doing this Thanksgiving

Unfortunately, I will be spending Thanksgiving away from my family this year, but I'll have the opportunity to spend it with the Devers. Mark describes a few Thanksgiving traditions:
We will, before we eat, sing a hymn or two. We will read a psalm and pray. When people sit down with their food, I will read some early thanksgiving proclamations from the 17th century, perhaps from the revolutionary period, from Lincoln, and the current year's. (Each year the president makes a thanksgiving proclamation, which you can print out from the White House's website.) I'll read a little about the history of Thanksgiving, and ask a few questions about it. (Like, how did it get moved from the last Thursday in November to the fourth?) My wife generally lays out 3 corns on each plate before dessert to remind us of the thanksgiving for surviving the first winter at Plymouth. We go around 3 times, each expressing something that we're thankful for. This time ranges from serious to light and back again. And then we pray. All of this is interspersed with lots of conversation (and eating) and likely some games for those who want to stay around into the evening. (And, ok, maybe we do watch Mr. Bean's Christmas special.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Good times

This year's ETS annual meeting is in Washington, DC, and a lot of pastors and theologians are here in town. Last night, several students from TBI spent the night at CHBC, and the staff and interns got to have dinner with them, followed by a great interview between Mark and John Piper and a time for Q&A, where they discussed topics like N.T. Wright on justification, the term "missional", the church and social action, the church and culture, abortion, congregationalism, church growth, and several other very interesting topics. Hopefully, 9Marks will be releasing this interview soon.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Growing Healthy Asian American Churches - Book Review

I've written a short review of Growing Healthy Asian American Churches, edited by Peter Cha, Steven Kang (whose office is right next to David Wells' at GCTS) and Helen Lee. My introduction:
The dilemma for ethnic churches is a familiar one: Immigrants move to a foreign country in search of opportunities. They are drawn to other immigrants who share the same language and culture, and plant churches together so that they can worship in their native tongue and cultural context, and raise their families in these churches. But the difficulty begins with the next generation, as their children begin losing the traditional culture, replacing it with the local culture. Even as the ethnic church continues to provide a familiar community for new immigrants, it becomes decreasingly relevant for each passing generation. How will the church deal with these two increasingly different groups under one roof? How can the church ensure that it is built on biblical truth, rather than a particular culture? How does an ethnic church fit into the bigger picture of what God is doing? These and many other difficulties face Asian American churches today.
Read the rest here.