And When Everyone’s Gospel-Centered…

Many evangelical book publishers, churches, ministries and individuals claim to be gospel-centered, gospel-driven, etc. Google search “gospel-centered”  and you’ll find a staggering 5,600,000 results, while Amazon produces over 2,000 “gospel-centered” products. (Tim Challies provides a helpful breakdown of some key books and ministries here.)

Much like First Things editor R.R. Reno recently imposing a ban on robust, I suggest we consider similar sanctions on gospel-centered, driven, etc. Can’t we be more creative in our descriptions? One day “gospel-driven” and similar monikers risk becoming like the word evangelical.

Syndrome’s council has robust gospel-centered implications:

N.T. Wright Interview: The Normalcy of Narrative

N.T. Wright discusses the perceived slippery subject of narrative with Ken Meyers in a forthcoming Mars Hill Journal interview. Here’s a teaser:

But I think an awful lot of people, without even realizing it, live in a narrative….

Every time somebody says, ‘But now that we live in the modern world,’ dot, dot, dot. [sic] That’s what’s going on; they’re invoking that narrative. So I suspect that part of the problem is that controlling narrative is so big that it has driven many Christians, preachers, pastors, etc. to de-narrate their own faith and to leave it as sort of chunky little clumps of dogma.

Read an extended excerpt of Wright’s comments on narrative here.

Robustly Reformed Best Baggage?

Even though he uses “robust” twice in a quick span (a word First Things Editor R.R. Reno recently retired from his vocabulary due to overuse), Carl Trueman’s article on why Reformed Christianity provides the best basis for faith today is worth reading.

An excerpt:

“The Reformed Church has its own baggage, but given the nature of its origins and our own moment, it is the right baggage….”

Yes, this article is in a (gasp!) Roman Catholic periodical. Ironic?

Read Trueman’s article here.

Baseball, Apple Pie…and Sproul?

Is R.C. Sproul un-American?

Tonight is Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game (here in Minneapolis), but apparently the kind folks at Ligonier don’t think you’ll be watching it. What to do instead? Watch Reformed theologian R.C. Sproul answer a rare live Q and A session online.

“Hey, wanna come over and watch the All-Star Game tonight?”

“No thanks, I’ve got other plans. I’m going online to watch a live Q and A with a spry 75 year old Reformed theologian. Jeter ain’t got nothin’ on him!”

And a very different midsummer classic tradition is born.

More info. here.




The Reality of the Church

John Stott:

The problem we experience, whenever we think about the church, concerns the tension between the ideal and the reality. The ideal is beautiful. The church is the chosen and beloved people of God, his own special treasure, the covenant community to whom he has committed himself for ever, engaged in continuous worship of God and in compassionate outreach to the world, a haven of love and peace, and a pilgrim people headed to the eternal city. But in reality we who claim to be the church are often a motley rabble of rather scruffy individuals, half-educated and half-saved, uninspired in our worship, constantly bickering with each other, concerned more for our maintenance than our mission, struggling and stumbling along the road, needing constant rebuke and exhortation….

The Contemporary Christian: Applying God’s Word to Today’s World, pp. 219-220.

Creeds, Kids and Cash

This summer I’m encouraging my kids to learn the three basics of catechism, i.e. The Ten Commandments, The Lord’s Prayer and The Apostles’ Creed. For all of July they must memorize—verbatim—all three essentials of the Christian faith.

I culled from various renditions, scrupulously edited them for content and punctuation, and printed them on card stock and gave a copy to each of our children. I aimed for one essential catechism for everyone (i.e. one not just for children while a different version for adults, but one singular catechism for everyone).

As an incentive for memorizing them (when I was a younger parent I would have disdainfully called it bribery), we put out a monetary award, as well as a family celebratory breakfast at our favorite breakfast haunt.

So far this morning, while listening to some upbeat bluegrass music, one of my daughters was speed-rapping to The Apostles’ Creed. Disturbing combination but I’ll take it.

Download the PDF here.

The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17)

  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below—you shall not bow down to them or worship them.
  3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
  4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  5. Honor your father and mother.
  6. You shall not murder.
  7. You shall not commit adultery.
  8. You shall not steal.
  9. You shall not give false testimony.
  10. You shall not covet.

The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13)

Our Father in heaven,

Hallowed be your name.

Your kingdom come.

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth;

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into hell.

The third day he rose again from the dead.

He ascended into heaven,

and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.

An Independence Day Prayer: Then and Now

From the Book of Common Worship (1946 edition):

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; we humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will.  Bless our nation with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners.  Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way.  Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues.  Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth.  In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

2014 Translation (mine):

Almighty God, who has given us this good land: May we strive to be a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our nation with just work, sound learning, and conduct pleasing to you. Save us from needless violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought here out of many diverse and distinct people groups. Give your spirit of wisdom to those who are in government, that there may be justice and peace, both here and abroad. In spite of our many failings, use us for your glory and for the overall good and flourishing of the world. Draw us to yourself and change our hearts, that we may humbly display your praise among the nations of the earth. In times of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, may we always trust you. We ask all of these things through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Heidelberg Catechism Devotional: An Update

It’s been several months since my family began using Starr Meade’s book Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Heidelberg Catechism (previously written about here). Although our consistency is spotty (nothing new here), on the whole my wife and I agree that’s it’s been quite good. Overall our kids, ages 8-17 (not including our 19-year-old Yalie) are engaged, asking questions, learning, and don’t seem bored stiff (and all under 10 minutes). I’d call that a triumph. Moreover, they’re learning critical foundational truths derived from Scripture and building a vocabulary and rubric of faith with real life application.

Along with taking our kids through the Heidelberg for the first time, it’s also the first time my wife and I have methodically gone through it (not including various cursory readings). Which makes me wonder: why has it taken me this long to discover such a gem?