Archive for the 'Evangelicalism' Category
I want to see more reformed and evangelical South African Christian blogs – I want to see more people talking about what it means to be the church in South Africa in the contemporary world in which we live. So I’m laying down a challenge to anyone out there who is a South African Christian to start a blog.
Now most people think its a stack load of work to keep up a blog – and I guess if you want to post everyday then it is a bit of work and time. But I think its also very rewarding (read my post on the 10 benefits of blogging I’ve experienced in the last 2 years) and you don’t have to post everyday to write a good blog. So go over to Blogger or WordPress (blogging platforms) and get going.
Here are some tips to start off with:
- Start reading other good Christian blogs (browse through the links on my sidebar)
- Learn how to use a feed reader and syndication (I use Google Reader and Feed Burner)
- Don’t write long complicated posts
- Sign up with Amatomu
- Link, link and link to other similar blogs
- Make sure the template or layout you choose is simple and easy to read
- Categorize or tag all your posts
- Don’t use corny pseudonyms – use your real name!
- If you can, make your name the url
- Always give credit to material you find on other blogs by linking back to the source
- Don’t promo your blog by dropping spam comments on other people’s blogs telling them to check out your site
- Don’t rant and preach too much on your blog – people will get tired of you – write posts that encourage dialogue rather
- Have fun…
If you decide to take up this challenge then leave a comment below with a link to your new blog. Come on your bloggers…
UPDATE: If you already write a reformed, evangelical South African blog then introduce yourself and leave us a link in the comment section to your blog.
The small community of evangelical Christian bloggers in South Africa has just grown by one. My friend, Martyn Kilian, has decided to take the plunge into the Christian blogging world. Martyn is the pastor of the Church on the Hill in Simon’s Town. Go over to his blog and give it a read: newLIFE
The ‘Global Anglican Future Conference‘ (GAFCON) starts tomorrow in Jerusalem. For evangelical and conservative Anglicans around the world this is a potentially enormous and important conference. My own denomination – the Church of England in South Africa (CESA), who have long been out of official communion with Canterbury, have been invited along as observers. This conference could potentially mark a significant turning point in the history of one of the largest denominations in the world. It is also a conference that is beginning to concretize much talk about the church of the Global South rising up to replace the West as the future of global Christianity. In that light its of no surprise to see Lamin Sanneh of Yale University as one of the speakers.
This is a conference all evangelicals should be praying for – that God would be pleased to bring fruit and resolution to the crises facing Anglicanism.
For more information David MacGregor is constantly updating his blog with stories about GAFCON.
If I were to write a book what would it be about? I’ve often thought about this so I’m going to give you my answer and then tag some other people with the same question.
If I were to write a book I’d like to write something on the subject of ‘authenticity’ in the Christian life. I know this is one of the major concerns of the Emerging Church and its one of the reasons that the EC resonates with me. I don’t think I’d be good and showing the church exactly how to be authentic – that would just be arrogant. But I would like to poke some fun at some of the bogus expressions and ideas that are afloat in the broader Christian community and then maybe tentatively suggest some ways forward. These are the areas I’d like to tackle:
Bogus ideas about the Bible.
Bogus ideas about guidance.
Fake expressions of community.
Fake expressions of spiritual experience.
All that is bogus in the contemporary Christian ‘worship’ (music) scene.
Preaching that leaves the listener unconvinced because of lack of conviction.
And there are others I could think of…
I’d like to take some pot shots at a number of different expressions and traditions of the Christian church (The emergents, the calvinists, the arminians, the charismatics, the roman catholics, the seeker-sensitive crowd, and many others). My aim wouldn’t be to run down the church but rather just to give us a reality check of what we really look like and to begin a conversation about how we might restore authenticity before a watching world that craves it.
So that’s what I’d write – I wonder what the following people would write:
From a ‘listening to speakers’ point of view Matt Chandler was my highlight. Driscoll, Piper and Mahaney were all brilliant, but for my money, Chandler stole the show. At one stage during the conference I remember feeling exhausted, and close to skipping a session, but then looking at the schedule to see who was next and it was Chandler – needles to say I stayed and listened. He had brilliant wisdom, for a pretty young guy, and he was purposefully passionate about the content of his message which really just boiled down to: preach the gospel.
Matt Chandler pastors the Village Church in Dallas and knows a thing or two about how to reach nominally ‘evangelical’ Christians with the gospel. Being in Dallas he ministers in what he calls ‘the center of the evangelical world’ – the only problem he sees is that this center has lost the gospel message of Jesus as its true center.
I wonder if he doesn’t have a word or two for a country like South Africa that still has a fairly large ‘evangelical’ churchy hangover? Go snoop around his church’s website and download some of his talks from their sermon library.
I’m off to join the ‘Matt Chandler is my Homeboy’ group on Facebook…
JP Moreland has a very interesting post entitled, ‘What, Exactly, Is An Evangelical?‘ I must admit that it is a bit tiresome at times to carry around all the incorrectly attributed baggage that the term ‘evangelical’ brings with it in the current climate. Especially when you’re in South Africa and so far removed from the whole American political saga.
Kevin Jamison made the following insightful little remark in the context of concerns that he holds about a certain ministry he used to be involved in. And although the remark concerns that particular ministry he also notes that this problem extends far wider to broader evangelicalism. Here’s what he had to say:
“It seems today that many Christians are more familiar with “Blue Like Jazz” and “Velvet Elvis” than they are with the book of Joshua, or even the book of Romans! Young Christians are trying to become “New Kinds of Christians” without ever really learning about the historic Christian faith.”
I must say that his sentiments ring so true with me. I’m beginning to meet younger Christians here in South Africa who are completely absorbed in that sort of literature but have never read large sections of scripture. And I say this as an out and out Donald Miller fan – I absolutely love his books. I fear though that a “New Kind of Christian” who doesn’t clearly understand an “Old Kind of Christianity” is going to end up as a “New Kind of Nothing Much”.
Brian McLaren on Christianity in the west:
“We have been arguing about the origin of species while an unprecedented extinction of species occurs on our watch; we’ve been fighting endlessly (and unproductively) about unborn children while achieving precious little for the already-born children in Darfur or Congo or Malawi or downtown Cincinnati. These stale expressions of bad faith have left many of us gasping for the fresh air of good faith.”
Hmmm…I better tell all those wonderful missionaries and Christian aids workers in Congo, Malawi and Darfur, that I regularly meet, to give up because they’re wasting their time – no one notices. I suppose I should tell that lovely couple, those friends of mine, not to bother with their ministry to children at risk on the Cape Flats because they should be picketing against abortion. Maybe I should suggest to my girlfriend that she give up working for a homeless organisation because us Christians don’t do that sort of thing, we debate evolution! Am I being facetious? Yes Iam, but come on Brian is that comment REALLY fair? Or is that the comment of someone who came from the most conservative twig on the most conservative branch of the most conservative tree?
As an evangelical the term ‘gospel’ is an absolutely crucial concept for me. Today however there’s a whole lot of confusion over the exact definition of the term (although I’m pretty sure there’s often been confusion – throughout church history). This post is an attempt to open dialogue over the term. I’ll start by giving my definition and it would be great if you readers would chip in with your own definitions and interact with mine – as the title suggests its an open forum. I just ask that any discussion that might stem from this be done in a civil manner – by all means disagree but please substantiate your comments. Oh and no essay comments please – try not to make them too long, it kind of kills the dialogue.
Well here’s my definition:
The Gospel is the historic act of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ through which God reconciles a people to himself. (I take my cue from here).
Right, now you peeps have a go…
Dion has written a post on discouragement. In it he mentions that one of the things that has discouraged him recently is the response of the conservatives to Desmond Tutu’s statements earlier in the week (See Dion’s mention of those responses here). Now I am a conservative and I did respond to Tutu’s words. I don’t know if Dion had me in mind when he wrote those posts, I don’t even know if he read my post. He definitely didn’t mention me or my blog in either of his posts and so as I write this post I write it not in response to Dion, or even someone like Gus who commented on my post. I write rather as a kind of open question to anyone who is willing to propose an honest answer. Here is my dilemma/question:
I wish to know how I ought to respond to someone like Tutu when he makes the statements that he makes. I, along with many other evangelicals, believe that homosexual practice is sin in the eyes of God. I absolutely detest homophobia and hope that in my life and ministry it will be evident to all that I am as accepting of homosexuals as I am of anyone else on this planet. Yet I still stand with a prolific leader of the church in my country making statements that I am convinced to my core are not in accordance with Scripture. How should I respond? Do I ignore my convictions for the sake of a percieved unity when in my heart of hearts I know that God (if he truly has spoken by his scriptures) laments those statements of Tutu’s?
I desire to be beyond reproach in the way I use this blog as a mouth piece. I desire to be gracious and display humility at all times when interacting with those with whom I disagree. But I cannot ignore my convictions. So how should I respond?
The following question was recently posed to NT Wright: How does the doctrine of sola Scriptura influence your work and your method?
This is his response:
Well, in terms of method, sola Scriptura is what I’ve always tried to do, basically. You could put it negatively… If you find yourself thinking down a track where you think, Oh, well, if I go there, that’ll mean ditching this bit of the Bible or that bit, then all sorts of warning lights flash and say, “You probably shouldn’t be going there!” It may be that you’ve misheard your own mind, as it were, and there may be a way through this because there are always puzzles that we hit, but basically, my aim has been to expound Scripture and to expound Scripture in such a way that I do not set one Scripture over against another.
However, I have to say, and my work on the authority of Scripture, which you probably know – a little book called The Last Word in America. Silly title, by the way. That was Harper’s folly to call it that. It wasn’t my idea. Fancy having a book called The Last Word! I mean… it’s very silly. If I was going to write a book called The Last Word it would be on Christology, not on Scripture. “In the last days, God has spoken to us by his Son…”
But I’ve been trying to stress that the risen Jesus does not say to the disciples, “All authority on heaven and earth is given to the books you chaps are going to go off and write.” He says, “All authority on heaven and earth is given to Me.” So that if we say that Scripture is authoritative, what we must actually mean is that the authority which is vested in Christ alone is mediated through Scripture.
That’s a more complicated thing than simply having a book on the shelf, full of right answers that you can go and look up. It’s more a way of saying that when we read Scripture and determine to live under it, we are actually saying we want to live under the sovereign lordship of Jesus mediated through this book.
When you say it like that, then all sorts of other things happen as a result, like what is the sovereign lordship of Jesus all about? Is it simply to fill our heads with right answers to difficult questions? Well, right answers to difficult questions are better than wrong answers to difficult questions. But no, the authority of Jesus Christ is there to transform and heal and save the world, to make the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of our God and of his Christ. So the question then is, how does the authority of Scripture serve that purpose?. And that’s actually much more interesting than simply using Scripture to settle or raise indeed doctrinal disputes within the church.
For a lot of evangelicals Karl Barth and his theology is something of an enigma – you hear his name quite a lot and know that he’s quite an important theologian but don’t know too much about him or even where to begin looking. Here’s a book that might be a great way in for the theology buffs out there. I thought I’d give it a bit of shout out because one of the editors (David Gibson) is the brother of a friend of mine. You can access the website for the book here.
Here are some of the details of the book:
Engaging with Barth: Contemporary Evangelical Critiques
David Gibson & Daniel Strange (eds.)
(Nottingham: Apollos, January 2008)
‘More than perhaps any other theologian in the twentieth century, Karl Barth has dominated the subject-matter of theology and posed the questions with which the theologians of the different churches have been, and are, occupied, although they may want to “go beyond” him, go back behind him, or even protest against his answers’ (Eberhard Busch).
Karl Barth’s theological legacy provides both opportunity and challenge for historic, confessional evangelicalism. While there are now numerous excellent studies highlighting the value of Barth’s theology, often receiving it with ringing endorsement, there are fewer more cautionary or critical responses.
This volume engages critically and courteously with Barth on a range of vital topics where, for the contributors, his interpretation of Scripture, reading of church history, and confession of Christian doctrine are unsatisfactory. This engagement is offered as a positive contribution to the wider programme of constructive theological reflection that seeks to articulate the gospel of Jesus Christ in and for the contemporary world, in the conviction that the ‘pattern of sound teaching’ (2 Timothy 1:13) really matters.
Carl R. Trueman
David Gibson & Daniel Strange
1. Karl Barth’s Christocentric Method
2. Does it matter if Christian Doctrine is Contradictory? Barth on Logic and Theology
3. Karl Barth as Historical Theologian: The Recovery of Reformed Theology in Barth’s Early Dogmatics
4. Karl Barth and Covenant Theology
A. T. B. McGowan
5. The Day of God’s Mercy: Romans 9-11 in Barth’s Doctrine of Election
6. Witness to the Word: On Barth’s Doctrine of Scripture
Mark D. Thompson
7. A Private Love? Karl Barth and the Triune God
Michael J. Ovey
8. Karl Barth and the Doctrine of the Atonement
Garry J. Williams
9. Karl Barth and the Visibility of God
10. Karl Barth and Jonathan Edwards on Reprobation (and Hell)
Oliver D. Crisp
11. ‘Church’ Dogmatics: Karl Barth as Ecclesial Theologian
12. A Stony Jar: The Legacy of Karl Barth for Evangelical Theology
Michael S. Horton
Select Bibliography of Karl Barth’s Works
Index of Names
Index of Topics
Index of Biblical References
Index of Ancient Writings
Evangelical reception of Barth’s theology takes a step forward in this well-informed collection. These are articulate, confident appraisals which take Barth seriously enough to press him hard on what the authors consider his divergences from the classical Reformed tradition. Whether correct in their judgements or not, these essays warrant careful thought from those concerned for theology’s orientation to the gospel.
University of Aberdeen
Karl Barth was the most dominant theologian of the twentieth century, at once brilliant and baffling, majestic and frustrating. His influence, though, has scarcely waned. That is why this book is important. What we have here are some of the best essays I have read on Barth. They combine sure-footed knowledge of his ideas with critical insight into what those ideas mean. They are appreciative but also tough-minded and this combination is rare today. I commend this book highly.
David F. Wells
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
The house that Karl Barth built continues to loom large in the neighbourhood of evangelical theology. The authors of Engaging with Barth are not content to admire it from the outside but survey it from within, carefully moving from room to room, noting both positive and negative features. They do a particularly good job examining the structural integrity (read “orthodoxy”) of Barth’s house, detecting here and there both worrying cracks and uneven surfaces. At the end of the day, they neither raze nor condemn the dwelling, but offer a fair and sober assessment that is invaluable for potential buyers – even for those thinking of staying only overnight.
Kevin J. Vanhoozer
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
I spent the day doing some work on Isaiah 61:1-3. This short text is full of great gems of insight into the promise of the Gospel which comes through the Servant/Messiah, ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ. After all the passage is most famous because it is quoted by Jesus in Luke 4:18-19 where Jesus directly identifies himself as that Servant/Messiah. One of the issues surrounding the passage revolves around the exact meaning of the term ‘poor’ in verse one – just how narrow or broad is the term being used. Well John Oswalt, an accomplished commentator writes the following:
‘The connotation of this term is not restricted to financial or material conditions. Nor is there any justification in the context for limiting the reference to an oppressed minority of righteous persons. Rather, it speaks of all who are distressed and in trouble for any reason, including sin.’ (The Book of Isaiah – chapters 40-66, NICOT, p. 565)
I think there’s a word of caution here for us as we operate within a younger evangelicalism that is horrified at the neglect of the poor (in the narrow sense) by previous generations of evangelicals and so is busy reconstructing a theology to address the problem. Let’s make sure we use the texts in such a way that we bring out the full meaning of terms and not just the narrow sense in order to support our personal battles – even if those battles are good and right in and of themselves.
I’ve been reading a lot of blogs of late where my guess would be that the authors wouldn’t classify themselves as ‘evangelical’. I read them because I appreciate the way these folk wrestle with so many pressing issues and how they integrate multiple academic disciplines with such skill trying to probe into important topics facing the broader Christian movement. Yet as I read these folk I often wonder what they think of us.
Let’s say that by chance they drop by …daylight and browse around, reading some of the posts. I wonder what they think about 4 young evangelicals who believe the Bible is God’s authoritative, infallible word for life and salvation, that salvation comes only through repentance and faith in Christ because of his work of substitutionary atonement and that hell is a real and coming judgment for those who reject Christ? Do they think we’re simpletons? Naive in our faith? Closed minded and narrow? Anti-intellectual? Misguided? What do they think?
I’ve already mentioned how excited I am about the Gospel Coalition. I really hope and pray that it is the beginning of a returning to the center that is so desperately needed amongst evangelicals. And so I was eager to read Colin Hansen, one of the editors of Christianity Today, giving something of an overview of what the Gospel Coalition is all about. Have a read and I hope you will be as encouraged about the future as I was. (HT – Chris)
Michael Jensen has some must-read thoughts on the divisions in contemporary evangelicalism. I think the following quote concerning evangelical identity is most telling about possible reasons behind the division:
“…saying what you are means at some point saying what you are not, too.”
Denny Burke has all the audio from the recent Convergent Conference at South Eastern Baptist Seminary. It includes a very thought-provoking talk by Mark Driscoll about his relationship to and views on certain key figures in the emerging church conversation.