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Showing posts from February, 2018

Michael Reeves on the 4 Biggest Mistakes Evangelicals Are Making Today

Find 43 minutes to watch this excellent talk by Michael Reeves (President of Union School of Theology) at the European Leadership Forum. Dr Reeves is not only a wise theologian, but also a fantastic communicator, and so the 43 minutes will fly in and you'll learn a lot. He traces problems for evangelicals in how we see God, what it means to be human, humanity's problem, and the nature of grace, and shows how they lead to problems in the life and mission of the church.

So if you want to know why grace isn't like a can of spiritual Red Bull (and why that's a big problem), or how getting the wrong idea about sin can lead to pastoring like a drill sergeant, or how the first question of the Shorter Catechism can help us bridge the problematic gap between evangelism and discpleship, then watch the talk.

Seriously, this will be very helpful viewing for anyone involved in church leadership, preaching, evangelism, discipleship. So find three quarters of an hour to watch it!

Tempted in Our Place

Every day we pray, 'lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.' We need to pray like this, because one man, Adam, stood before the Serpent, tempted in our place. Yet we can pray with confidence like this, because another man, the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, stood before the Tempter in the wilderness, tempted in our place. And, where Adam had succumbed to temptation for us, Jesus overcame temptation for us.

You see, the temptation of Christ isn't merely an example to give us a few tips to help us overcome temptation. As Martin Luther warned, 'Be sure, moreover, that you do not make Christ into a Moses, as if Christ did nothing more than teach and provide examples as the other saints do, as if the Gospel were simply a textbook of teachings or laws.'

Jesus wasn't tempted in the wilderness merely as our Example, but as our Substitute, our Saviour, and our Victorious Champion. The Lord Jesus 'was led ... by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempte…

Why We Need Theological Training (Part 4)

We’ve met a few figures from history in the course of this series. Donald Gee and C.S. Lewis helped us think about the need for theological study in Part 1. Augustine helped us see the intertwining of the theological and the practical in effective ministry training in Part 2. And Gregory of Nazianzus drew our attention to the connection between serious theological study and reflection and the Christian life in Part 3. But this link between academic theology and the Christian life of faith wasn’t a crazy new idea that Gregory came up with. It was the norm for theological study for most of the history of the church (and most of the history of academic theology for that matter).

Johann Gerhard, the great theologian of post-reformation Lutheranism, underscores Gregory’s point:

‘Everyone must certainly have three things throughout his whole course of theological study and not just the beginning: (1) the obligation of upright intent, (2) sincere pursuit of piety, (3) the duty of devout pray…

Why We Need Theological Training (Part 3)

We’ve seen in Part 1 that biblical and theological studies are needed for the health of the church and that they’re a way of loving the Lord with all our minds. Then, in Part 2 we looked at how effective training intertwines the theological and the practical. Practical ministry training rests upon the foundation of the theology and biblical studies side of training, and so if you take away that foundation, you end up with training that isn’t really doing its job. Now let’s learn some lessons from one of history’s great theologians.

Gregory of Nazianzus (aka ‘the Theologian’) pointed out that:

‘Discussion of theology is not for everyone … It is not for all people, but only for those who have been tested and have found a sound footing in study … We need actually to “be still” in order to know God, and when we receive the opportunity, “to judge uprightly” in theology. Who should listen to discussions of theology? Those for whom it is a serious undertaking, not just another subject like an…

Why We Need Theological Training (Part 2)

So, hopefully we’ve established in Part 1 that biblical and theological studies are good for a healthy Pentecostalism, and a way of loving the Lord with our minds. But they aren’t just individual pursuits, for the odd member of the Pentecostal community here or there. Serious biblical and theological study isn’t just for one expert whom we can wheel in in case of emergency! Rather, this serious study is fundamental to the training of well-equipped Christian ministers.

Augustine of Hippo has left us a book for the training of pastors (De Doctrina Christiana), which he starts off by presenting to us the two necessary aspects of ministerial training:

1) ‘A way to discover what needs to be understood’
2) ‘A way to put across to others what has been understood.’
The second thing here is essentially communication. We might think in terms of practical theology/missiology/homiletics/evangelism. (And Pentecostal training has often been really strong on this.)

But, notice that Augustine’s 2nd nec…

Why We Need Theological Training (Part 1)

‘Bible schools are unnecessary.’ So thought the early British Pentecostal leader Donald Gee. Of course, he changed his mind long before he went on to become the principle of a Bible college. But that view he had before he saw the light and recanted the error of his ways wasn’t unique to him. Many Pentecostals and Evangelicals in his day thought the same. And many still do today. So, still today, many say things like: ‘it’s the Spirit’s anointing we need, not a college course’, or ‘we need to equip leaders, not train theologians.’ Still today serious theological education can be viewed in some quarters as either a waste of time or an unnecessary luxury. Now, I’m sure there is a way to mess it up and turn it into one of those, but most things in life can be messed up to become either a waste of time or an unnecessary luxury without doing away with the goodness of the thing itself. And theological education is, in itself, not only a good thing, but a necessary, beneficial, and even life-…