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Showing posts from June, 2009

Book Review: What Is A Healthy Church Member?

Thabiti M. Anyabwile, What is a Healthy Church Member? (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008)
This is a small format hardback book of 120 pages, so it's really the ideal size to actually convince someone to read. While books abound concerning the responsibilities of church leaders, there are not so many out there that look at the responsibilities of church members. The book asks, and seeks to answer the question 'How can you, an individual member of a local church, contribute to the positive health of your church?' (p.14).
Anyabwile builds on Mark Dever's Nine Marks of a Healthy Church to provide 10 marks of a healthy church member, unpacking both the meaning and how to cultivate each mark. The 10 marks are that a healthy church member is: An Expositional ListenerA Biblical TheologianGospel SaturatedGenuinely ConvertedA Biblical EvangelistA Committed MemberSeeks DisciplineA Growing DiscipleA Humble FollowerA Prayer WarriorAnyabwile helpfully unpacks each mark in a short chapter of 10 …

3 Characteristics of Church Pioneers

D.P. Williams notes 3 characteristics of church pioneers ('Editorial Forward', Riches of Grace, Vol. xi, No. 1, pg. 3):

Inspiration by the Holy GhostVision, by the the Word and the Will of GodPassion, by the love of God, for the souls of menAlthough he was writing in 1935, things haven't changed since then. These three characteristics are still vital among church leaders. I'm glad Pastor Dan gives a bit of an explanation and not just three words (inspiration, vision and passion), because these are three words that can so easily be redefined. It is not an 'inspirational' speaker that's needed, but rather one who is speaks and acts under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit. It is not the one who can write the best sounding vision-statement, but rather the one who's vision is governed by Scripture and God's sovereign will and eternal purpose. It is not the most passionate/charismatic personality that is needed, but rather one who is passionate for pr…

Book Review: Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be)

Kevin DeYoung & Ted Kluck, Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) (Chicago: Moody, 2008)
Why We're Not Emergent is quite a quick and easy read ( I did, after all, come to it directly from Fesko's tome on Justification). I read it in two evenings and thoroughly enjoyed it. I mention my enjoyment because, on such a touchy subject as the emergent church, enjoyment was not at all what I expected. I think that's the real genius of this format. DeYoung and Kluck write alternate chapters, so there is a continual swapping of style and content. Kevin DeYoung writes as a theologian; his chapters offer theological analysis and critique. Ted Kluck, on the other hand, writes as a journalist; he reports interviews, visits to churches and events, personal impressions, etc. The alternation of authors and styles left me always ready to go on to the next chapter.
Both Kluck and DeYoung fit into the right demographic for the emergent church, yet neither is following their …

Does this remind you of anyone?

This quotation from Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) doesn't make any profound theological observations, but it is one of the paragraphs I have most enjoyed reading of late.
At any rate, my friend David is more than eager to talk about postmodernism, emergent, theology, and the like. I think every church probably has a David or two - he is the rare college student who is passionate about theology, and feels a little bit like an outsider because of it. I wouldn't go so far as to put him in the "rabid young John Piper groupies" department, but if he met a beautiful young girl wearing glasses, no makeup, and an indie-rock T-shirt, reading Calvin's Institutes, he probably wouldn't hesitate to ask her to "court".
Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, Why We're Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be) (Chicago: Moody, 2008), 99.

Jesus Without Theology?

The Jesus-versus-theology mantra is centuries old, and it makes no more sense and no more converts today than a hundred years ago.
Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck, Why We're Nor Emergent By Two Guys Who Should Be (Chicago: Moody Press, 2008), 108-109

Christless Christianity Interview

Here's an iterview with Michael Horton about his book Christless Christianity. Dr Horton summarizes the jist of his book in about 4 minutes, which should be just enough to convince you that the book is well worth reading.
You can read my review of Christless Christianity here.
(By the way, the first 30 seconds or so is a brief news story about an unrelated subject, just so that you're not taken completely by surprise when the interview doesn't start immediately.)


Book Review: Justification by J.V. Fesko

J.V. Fesko, Justification: Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine (Philipsburg: P&R, 2008).
At 461 pages, Dr Fesko manages to present the classical protestant doctrine of justification by faith alone, whilst interacting with opponents old and new. Although this is not a book on the NPP (New Perspective on Paul) Fesko thoroughly critiques NPP modifications to the doctrine of justification, interacting most notably with N.T. Wright.
Fesko starts out by examining the doctrine in Church history, before moving on to Prologemena, Protology, Exegetical theology, the links between justification and other doctrines (Union with Christ, Sanctification, the Final Judgement, and the Church), and finally examines the differences between the doctrine of justification by faith alone and the teachings of both Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.
This is not a nice, simple introduction to the doctrine of justification; it would be amiss of me not to warn you of that. This is not the book I…

Testimony or Evangelism?

Some think of a personal testimony as evangelism. Certainly a testimony of what God has done in our lives may include the Good News, but it also may not include it. In telling other people how much Jesus means to you, you may not have told them the Gospel at all. Have you explained what Christ did by dying on the Cross? It is good to share your own testimony of what God has done in your life, but in your testimony, you may not actually make clear what Christ's claims are on other people.
Testimony is, of course, very popular in our postmodern, "that's-good-for-you" age. Who would object to your thinking you've gotten something good from Christ? But wait and see what happens when you try to move the conversation from what Jesus has done for you to the facts of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ and how that all applies to your nonbelieving friend. That's when you discover that testimony is not necessarily evangelism.
Mark Dever, 9 Marks of a Healthy Chu…

The Trinity in Contemporary Christian Worship Songs

[Update: As many people find this page whilst looking for worship songs about the Trinity, here's a more up-to-date post which does give a variety of newer and older Trinitarian worship songs.]

Lester Ruth gave a lecture at the Institute for Christian Worship at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary examining the Trinitarian theology (or lack thereof) of contemporary Christian worship songs. The lecture lasts an hour, but is well worth a listen, particularly for those involved in leading worship, choosing songs, convening meetings, etc.
Of course, for the topic to have any relevance, we're taking for granted that Trinitarian content is a desirable thing in Christian worship. Ruth notes: I think there’s a risk if we lose the Trinity in our worship content, including our songs, of perhaps idolatrous worship; worship aimed to a god that doesn’t even begin to match up with the fullness of His revelation; less than orthodox worship (orthodox meaning the right glorification of God);…

What Guides Us?

Our commission is to be guided by Scripture and not by conservatism or progressivism. God's Word will always shake us up, wherever we are on the spectrum.
Michael Horton, A Better Way, 225

Congratulations to Penygroes Students

Today is the last day of the year for the students at the Apostolic Church School of Ministry in Penygroes. So congratulations to the students on their succesful completion of their studies. I pray that you would all 'follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard ... in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus' (2 Timothy 1:13). May you ever be faithful witnesses to Christ.

2 Book Recommendations for Preachers

I've been meaning to get round to writing proper reviews of these two books for quite a while now. So just in case I never actually get round to reviewing them, I thought I'd just give a quick recommendation.
Spirit Empowered Preaching: Involving the Holy Spirit in Your Ministry, by Arturo Azurdia, looks at the role of the Holy Spirit in preaching. Azurdia not only looks at the function and need of the Holy Spirit's activity in preaching, but also points to some helps and hindrances to a Spirit-empowered sermon. He helpfully reminds us that unless preaching glorifies Christ, it will not be accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Why Johnny Can't Preach is a completely different type of book. Whilst Azurdia focused on the Holy Spirit's role in preaching, Gordon focuses on part of the preachers role. Gordon's thesis is that many contemporary preachers simply can't preach due to the influence of the media culture in which we live. Electronic media have chan…

The Work of the Ministry

D.P. Williams comments on the work of the ministry: it is the work of the Ministry to enlighten every mind and win every will by grace and truth to come under the one will of the Head, even Christ. The Members of the Body can only be Perfected or grow to the full stature by the – Ministry of TruthSo, it is the ministry of Truth that is the essential work of the ministry. Thus, as it is God's Word that is Truth, it is the ministry of the Word that is the heart of the work of the ministry. It is only by the Word of God that the saints will be perfected. It is only through ministering the Word of God that the minister can faithfully lead the saints on toward maturity. Growth is good, but it is only through the ministry of the Word that true growth can be brought about.
You can read the rest of the article from which this quote comes here.

Congratulations Graduates of 2009!

I'm sure that some people will be breathing a sigh of relief today as the end has finally come. Others might be feeling nostalgic as their time in Belgium comes to an end. 
This afternoon we'll have our graduation ceremony, and then the students will be leaving: some for  the summer and some for good, having completed their studies and going on to serve Christ around the world.
Congratulations to all the graduates of 2009. Praying that you will all be faithful servants of Jesus Christ wherever He has called you to serve.

Happy Birthday CTS!

Tonight we're celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Continental Theological Seminary. That means that for half a century CTS has been training pastors and missionaries here in Belgium.


D.P. Williams on The Plan of God

If D.P. Williams in French wasn't your cup of tea, perhaps you might prefer some D.P. Williams in English
In this article from the Herald of Grace, D.P. Williams deals with some of the distinctives of Apostolic theology, namely God's Eternal Purpose and the Church. Williams notes that: To God the plan of the Church is Divine and sacred, but man has lowered His ideals for His Church to a mere social community, a place of entertainment for the earthbound nature, and not a ‘Naos’ (the Holiest of all, for God to dwell therein in Eternal Glory).

Glorified, Risen and Ascended (Pt 5)

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
So, having seen that Christ's Ascension lies behind His Headship His Church, let's go on to have a look at an important expression of that Headship. Ephesians 4:11 mentions 5 gifts given by Christ to His Church: 'And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.' In Apostolic theology these 5 gifts used to be referred to as the Headship Ministries, because they are ways in which the Headship of Christ is expressed in His Body, the Church. Christ is explicitly called Apostle, Prophet, Teacher and Pastor (Shepherd) in Scripture, and the verb-form of evangelist is also used of Him. So the ultimate expression of each of these five ministries is Christ Himself. That means that any man who is an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher is expressing something of the Head's ministry to His Body. Christ gives men as apostles to express something of His apostleship, etc.
Today we usua…

Theology Avoidance Disorder

C. Michael Patton has written about Theology Avoidance Disorder
A brief excerpt:
What I find is that people have a theological disorder when it comes to truth. They are theologyphobic (theology, “study of God” + phobia, “fear” or veriphobit (veri, “truth” + phobia, “fear”). Really it is simply a rationalization of some sort of a Theology Avoidance Disorder (ThAD). It is saying to God that you are not interested in coming to know about him, his word, or his truth (at least in any detailed way), but you, nevertheless, want to experience all the benefits of the relationship.
You can read the whole thing here.

The Theologian's Task

The theologian's task is not to divert the ears with chatter, but to strengthen consciences by teaching things true, sure and profitable.
John Calvin, Institutes i.xiv.4

D.P. Williams in French

Ever wanted to read D.P. Williams in the 'original' French (by the original French, I do of course mean a translation, but it is a translation made way back in 1937)? Well, here's your chance: an article from L'Héraut Apostolique by D.P. Williams himself, entitled Quelle est Votre Croyance? ('What is your belief?').