Archive Page 2


Who is the Neo-Reformed Zealot?


Reading the NYT’s recent article on Mark Driscoll and Scot McKnight’s blurb on NT Wright’s new book I thought I’d compile two lists of where I think the ‘neo-reformed’ are at and why in many ways we present something of a weird paradox to the rest of the Christian landscape as they try to figure us out:

Neo-Reformed (Things people don’t like):

1. We believe in the supremacy of God and his glory in all things.

2. We believe in the 5 solas.

3. We still believe in the inerrancy, authority and sufficiency of Scripture.

4. We are Calvinists – duh!

5. We still believe that people who die without Christ go to eternal conscious punishment.

6. We believe that the gospel is a word – i.e. you can’t ‘preach’ the gospel with actions – you can only proclaim it and live consistently with it.

7. We’re still complementarians.

8. We think that it is possible to develop a truthful systematic theology.

9. We will not budge on the importance of penal substitutionary atonement.

10. Yes, we think it is still possible to be a heretic and yes, there are quite a few those around in the church today.

Neo-Reformed (Things people like):

1. We have a largely open-handed approach to culture.

2. We’re always keen to re-think current practices.

3. Mission is a top priority for us.

4. In light of #3, we have a passion for church planting.

5. We’re more accepting of outsiders than previous conservative groups.

6. We’re into social justice and mercy ministry in a big way.

7. We’re greener than previous conservative groups.

8. #1, #6 and #7 are based on the fact that alongside our doctrine of Total Depravity and the brokenness of our world we’ve attempted to recapture the beauty of humanity and the creation through our understanding of the Image of God and Common Grace respectively.

9. Our Gospel includes the restoration of all things (See Tim Keller’s ‘The Gospel in All its Forms‘)

10. And horror of horrors – a lot of us still think NT Wright is a pretty good author and theologian even if we don’t always see eye to eye.


Scot McKnight is Clearly Concerned about Us

How else can you explain his rather uncharitable comments about us ‘neo-reformed’ in his blurb on NT Wright’s new book? I must confess I’m a little ticked off.


If Every Preacher Would Read This…

If only we could rid our preaching of these habits - spot on Michael.


Where Simple Church can Lead?

I think Michael Foster has some important thoughts to share about the potential dangers inherent in the simple church movement. In our quest for authentic Christian community let’s make sure that we don’t end up with a church that is in fact no church at all.


Top 8 for 2008: Everything

Who was I kidding? There’s no way I’m going to find the time to write a series of ‘top 8 for 2008′ posts between now and the end of the year so instead I’ll simply cram them all into one post. So here you have it, my top 8 for 2008 of everything!

Top 8 things I did or experienced in 2008:

  1. Got married! (October)
  2. Got engaged! (March)
  3. Started planning and implementing a church plant (All year – but especially last three months)
  4. Heard Piper, Driscoll, Chandler and Mahaney at the Resurgence Conference at Mars Hill in Seattle, spent time at the Journey Church in St Louis and met a whole lot of great peeps from Acts 29, and others, in the States (February)
  5. Was taught Deuteronomy by Gary Millar – the best Old Testament teacher I’ve been taught by to date (September)
  6. Road up Sani Pass – my first real 4×4 experience behind the wheel (October)
  7. Decided to stay in Cape Town long term – gotta love this city (March)
  8. Had my thinking about the gospel deepened and enriched ten times over by Tim Keller through numerous mp3s, articles and the odd blog comment (throughout the year)

Top 8 Blogs I followed in 2008 (See my 2007 list here):

  1. Church Planting Novice – Jonathan Dodson. A newcomer to the list, this blog has been perfect for where I’m at in my thinking at the moment. So much wisdom and insight from a guy on the ground.
  2. Between Two Worlds – Justin Taylor. Last year’s number 1 drops down one place – but still a great blog.
  3. Tim Chester. Up from last year’s number 7 spot. Tim’s writing never stops enlightening, challenging and encouraging all at the same time.
  4. John Scheepers. Give it up for the Saffa bloggers! John is a friend of mine who writes a great blog and brings a welcome voice to the South African Christian blogsphere.
  5. Drew Goodmanson. Down from #2 – sorry Drew. Drew doesn’t post very often, but when he does its almost always worthwhile.
  6. Justin Moffat. Another newcomer to the list. Justin writes an informative and challenging blog with an Anglican slant – I’ve enjoyed it a lot this year.
  7. Michael Jensen. Michael drops down from last years 3rd but still turns out great post after great post. Plus he sent me a copy of his new book which I’ll be reviewing here shortly.
  8. Jason Allen. Jason was one of the first people I became ‘blog friends’ with when I started blogging. I’ve always enjoyed his blog and the sanity he brings to some current trends that rage through the church blogging world.

Top 8 Books for 2008 (books I read this year – most of them are older than 2008 – please note that the books are a little one-sided topically because most of my reading this year revolved around my dissertation):

  1. Total Church – Steve Timmis and Tim Chester. Ok so I first read it in 2007 but I’ve read it several times this year because of my dissertation and I still think its the most important book I’ve ever read on ecclesiology.
  2. The Reason for God – Tim Keller. The first apologetics book that I feel comfortable giving to my friends.
  3. Planting Missional Churches – Ed Stetzer. Great book with practical insight. Really helpful for where I’m at.
  4. The Forgotten Ways – Alan Hirsch. Really good yet at times frustrating. I’m on the same page as Hirsch with a number of things – I guess I’m just a bit more conservative on one or two others.
  5. Breaking the Missional Code – Ed Stetzer and David Putman. Another great help on all things missional.
  6. On the Incarnation – Athanasius. I delved into a bit of church history this year and thoroughly enjoyed this one.
  7. The King of God’s Kingdom – David Seccombe. Dr Seccombe (Doc) was my New Testament lecturer this year and so I got a chance to have a crack at his book. It’s a great overview of Christ in the gospels.
  8. Jesus and the Victory of God – NT Wright. Vintage Wright – I don’t agree with him at every point but this is an important book.

Top 8 places I visited in 2008

  1. Seattle, Washington, USA
  2. St Louis, Missouri, USA
  3. Castleburn, Drakensburg, KZN
  4. Sani Pass, Lesotho
  5. Lost City, Sun City, North West Province
  6. Franschoek, Western Cape
  7. Betty’s Bay, Western Cape
  8. Durban, KZN (my old stomping ground)

That’s my year in a nutshell. It’s been the year with the biggest changes in my life to date. Not only did I get married but we decided to stay in Cape Town and plant churches here rather than in Durban. Things have come a long way in the last 12 months – here’s to an equally exciting 2009.

Merry Christmas all – have a great one!


Contender for Post of the Year

It’s late in 2008 and so people are busy preparing their top 10 lists on blogs, books, posts, movies, songs etc. Now depending upon how much I blog between now and the end of the year you may see one or two of those lists appear here. But just to get your taste buds going here’s a really late entry and, in my book,  contender for post of the year: Jonathan Dodson – The 50/50 Gospel – Part II


Payne on Piper and the Glory of God

John Piper’s presentation at the Evangelical Theological Society has drawn some (rather undeserved?) criticism from Tony Payne over at the Sola Panel. Piper’s 7 theses which he calls the ‘nub’ of what he’s been saying for the last 25 years were as follows:

Thesis 1

My all-shaping conviction is that God created the universe in order that he might be worshipped with white-hot intensity by created beings who see his glory manifested in creation and history and supremely in the saving work of Christ.

Thesis 2

I am also persuaded that people need to be confronted with how self-exalting God is in this purpose. To confront them with this, I give a quiz:

Q 1: What is the chief end of God?
A: The chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy displaying and magnifying his glory forever.

Q 2: Who is the most God-centered person in the universe?
A: God.

Q 3: Who is uppermost in God’s affections?
A: God.

Q 4: Is God an idolater?
A: No. He has no other gods before him.

Q 5: What is God’s chief jealousy?
A: God’s chief jealousy is to be known, admired, trusted, enjoyed, and obeyed above all others.

Q 6: Do you feel most loved by God because he makes much of you, or because he frees you to enjoy making much of him forever?

Thesis 3

I press on this because I believe that if we are God-centered simply because we consciously or unconsciously believe God is man-centered, then our God-centeredness is in reality man-centeredness. Teaching God’s God-centeredness forces this issue of whether we treasure God because of his excellence or mainly because he endorses ours.

Thesis 4

God’s eternal, radical, ultimate commitment to his own self-exaltation permeates Scripture. His aim to be exalted glorified, admired, magnified, praised, and reverenced is seen to be the ultimate goal of all creation, all providence, and all saving acts.

  • “He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Ephesians 1:5-6).
  • God created the natural world to display his glory: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalms 19:1).
  • “You are my servant Israel in whom I will be glorified” (Isaiah 49:3); “. . . that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory (Jeremiah 13:11).
  • “He saved them [at the Red Sea] for his name’s sake that he might make known his mighty power” (Psalm l06:7-8); “I have raised you up for this very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (Romans 9:17).
  • “I acted [in the wilderness] for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations in whose sight I had brought them out (Ezekiel 20:14).
  • [After asking for a king] “Fear not . . . For the Lord will not cast away his people for his great name’s sake (l Samuel 12:20-22).
  • “Thus says the Lord God, It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act [in bringing you back from the exile], but for the sake of my holy name . . . . And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name . . . and the nations will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 36:22-23, 32). “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 48:11).
  • “Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy” (Romans 15:8-9).
  • “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again” (John 12:27, 28).
  • “He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
  • “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
  • “I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).
  • “Whoever serves [let him serve], as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified” (1 Peter 4:11).
  • “Immediately an angel of the Lord smote [Herod] because he did not give glory to God” (Acts 12:23).
  • “. . . when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints and to be marveled at in all who have believed (2 Thessalonians l:9-l0).
  • “Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory, which thou hast given me in Thy love for me before the foundation of the world” (John l7:24).
  • “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14).
  • “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the lamb” (Revelation 21:23).

Thesis 5

This is not megalomania because, unlike our self-exaltation, God’s self-exaltation draws attention to what gives greatest and longest joy, namely, himself. When we exalt ourselves, we lure people away from the one thing that can satisfy their souls—the infinite beauty of God. When God exalts himself, he manifests the one thing that can satisfy our souls, namely, God.

Therefore, God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is the most loving act, since love labors and suffers to enthrall us with what is infinitely and eternally satisfying, namely, God. Therefore, when God exalts God and commands us to join him, he is pursuing our highest, deepest, longest happiness. This is love, not megalomania.

Thesis 6

God’s pursuit of his glory and our pursuit of our joy turn out to be the same pursuit. This is what Christ died to achieve. “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). When we are brought to God as our highest treasure, he gets the glory and we get the pleasure.

Thesis 7

To see this and believe this and experience this is radically transforming to worship—whether personal or corporate, marketplace or liturgical.

In light of these 7 theses Payne says the following:

As helpful and as biblical as these theses are, I have a problem with them. There is something missing in their content and emphasis, and it is the primary and central something that every Christian preacher is put on earth to preach: the proclamation of the message that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (read the rest here)

I must confess I really struggle with Tony’s critique because it really looks like unhelpful knit-picking to me, something that I find more and more of as I read the Sola Panel Blog and The Briefing which Tony edits. Yes I know Piper invited criticism at the outset of his talk but Tony is not really critiquing, he’s actually essentially saying that the proclamation of Christ as Lord is not central to Piper’s preaching – for me that’s a bridge too far. Do I think Piper can overemphasize certain parts of biblical theology to the point that sometimes other equally biblical parts are under-emphasized? Yes I do. But where Tony goes is too far for me – and quite frankly I find it unhelpful and disturbing.

The only reason I make a point of mentioning it is because I’m concerned that this overly critical rhetoric is becoming a serious problem on blogs like the Sola Panel and in the Briefing magazine. Now I’m sure Tony might come along and give a rational thought out response to me and point out where I’m in error – but I get the feeling that that won’t remove the bad taste that I and many others often get after reading certain articles from these publications. It saddens me because I value so much of the ministry of the Sola Panel and the Briefing – I just wish they were a little more generous at times.

I shmaak SA Blogs, sorted with
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