Monthly Archives: November 2007

Doubleshot: The Supremacy of Christ

First, a passage from Mark Driscoll’s contribution (“The Church and the Supremacy of Christ”) to Piper and Taylor’s The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World:

The supremacy of Jesus Christ as our sovereign and exalted God is our authority for mission. There is not one inch of creation, one culture or subculture of people, one lifestyle or orientation, one religion or philosophical system, that he does not possess full authority over and command to turn from sin and glorify him . . . Indeed, the authority of our mission rests on nothing less than the authority delegated to us by the exalted Lord Jesus Christ who rules over all.

Nevertheless, as Christians enter into their local culture and its subcultures, we must also remember that it is Jesus (not us) who is sovereign, and it is Jesus (not the church) who rules over all. We are to come in the authority of the exalted Jesus, but also in the example of the humble incarnated Jesus. This means that we must come into culture as Jesus did — filled with the Holy Spirit, in constant prayer to the Father, saturated with the truth of Scripture, humble in our approach, loving in our truth, and serving in our deeds. Once we have the incarnation and the exaltation clear in our Christology, we are then sufficiently ready to contend for the truth of the gospel and contextualize it rightly for various cultures and subcultures of people, as Jesus did and commands us to …

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Honorary Thinkling Alan has a neat post on the first gospel message this week:

To whom was the first gospel message preached? The answer took me off guard a bit when I was reading through Genesis recently.

Of course students of the Bible are familiar with the seed of the woman that is promised in Genesis 3. The fancy word for this is the protoevangelium (“first gospel”).

What I never really thought about was this “first gospel” message was not preached to Adam and Eve directly. It was preached to Satan. And it sure wasn’t “good news” to him.

The Lord God said to the serpent,“Because you have done this,cursed are you above all livestockand above all beasts of the field;on your belly you shall go,and dust you shall eatall the days of your life.I will put enmity between you and the woman,and between your offspring and her offspring;he shall bruise your head,and you shall bruise his heel.”

It’s fascinating to think about the implications here. Why would God arrange it this way? The Lord did not address Adam and Eve with the promise of redemption. They were given the task of taking dominion over the earth. But in redemption, they would be bystanders, benefiting from the labors of another. Paradise, and Paradise lost, were about them. Paradise regained was not.

The Lord did not hide his plan for redemption from the serpent. It was right out in the open. The usurper will be usurped, and a son of the woman will do it. You’ll …

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Kingdom Crashing

“And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold. A great God has made known to the king what shall be after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation sure.”

Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel, and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings, and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.”– Daniel 2:44-47

In the context of this particular story from the book of Daiel, the arrival of a new kingdom that shall never be destroyed is an earth-shattering event. The breaking in of God’s kingdom will break into pieces all of the world’s other kingdoms and bring them to an end.This violent imagery carries right on over to the Gospels as Jesus proclaims the arrival of the kingdom in himself. He says and does things that hearken right back to Daniel describing the kingdom like a stone cut from a mountain by …

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Brief Review of Simple Church

Finished Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger a couple of days ago. It goes down smooth but has a funky aftertaste.

I think my appreciation of the Simplicity concept did the book some favors, because I often had to appreciate the book’s approach in spite of its consistently pragmatic tone.It is a book aimed at the practical way of “doing church,” and the problems they point out in how many (most?) churches “do church” are very real. Rainer and Geiger are to be commended for bravely saying to their “big church” brethren, “Doing too much stifles growth, and it’s likely you are guilty of doing too much,” particularly since churches with lots of people and lots of programs are usually considered to be healthy.

Further, they are ruthlessly faithful to the Simple Church concept even when it means saying (not suggesting, but saying) a church should even cut “successful” programs if they do not conform to the simple growth process. Mainly because the success of non-integral programs draws energy and resources away from integral ones. When you overschedule a church’s programming, you challenge people to discriminate against certain programs (because you can’t expect everyone to be at everything and do everything), and many times they discriminate against the ones that would be most helpful to their spiritual growth.

So while Rainer and Geiger are great champions for Simple, I was heartened by their avoidance of being simplistic.

In the end, however, despite its encouragement to drop and renovate the program-glut, Simple Church …

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I know it is very, very difficult to forgive.

At some point, your “inability” to forgive becomes less and less the fault of the person who wronged or hurt you and more and more your choice.

Angry person, when we withhold forgiveness from others, we reckon ourselves better than God.

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The Formation of Reformation, Part 3: Worship Culture

This post draws heavily from two of my own previous sources. It is mainly an adaptation of an Element message I gave called Dispatching Do-it-yourself Worship in our “Kill Your Idols” series, but it also draws from and expands on several points in a previous GDC blog post called Tips for Worship Leaders. I particularly recommend the latter because it’s succinct and “listy,” and because it also suggests things I don’t mention below.

The first thing we confront is that “worship” in evangelical culture has become synonymous with music. I never would have intellectually assented to the notion that worship always means music, but I will never forget how pleasantly jarring it was to me back in the mid 90’s as I was listening to a Vineyard “Winds of Worship” live album, which recorded one of the leaders (my favorite at the time, David Ruis, I think it was) closing the music time and transitioning into whoever was about to preach with the words, “We don’t stop worshiping now. We keep worshiping all through the preaching of the Word . . .” As I said, I wouldn’t have denied that notion before hearing it, but somehow hearing it was a necessary thing.

Worship has become a bona fide movement, a cottage industry. Worship music has become a standalone genre. Whereas you used to have to go to church or to a worship service of some kind to hear specifically-worshipful worship music, now you can go into your local bookstore …

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Hot Potatoes the Church Must Handle

This is just a random list of “side issues” I think of future importance to the evolving discipleship culture of evangelicalism. These are matters of internal Church culture I think will need to be tackled by those interested in reform.

1. The rise of young Calvinists* who equate a commitment to doctrinal orthodoxy with a commitment to Calvinism. And on the flipside, the rise of those disinterested in doctrinal orthodoxy b/c the perception is that to be passionate about theology makes one a Calvinist jihadist.

2. The push on behalf of the LDS “church” to be considered not just Christians, but evangelical Christians. And the apparent sympathy for this movement from scholars/pastors within the evangelical church.

3. The effect evangelicalism’s burgeoning political apathy may have on social justice issues evangelicalism can’t afford to be apathetic about.

4. The preoccupation of major denominations with issues non-essential to the faith.

5. Economic depression and widespread unemployment, two American cultural crises the Church — with its addiction to bigger, faster, better — is not equipping its own culture to confront.

6. The proliferation of technology that makes the world smaller as it makes individuals actually less and less personally connected. And the Church’s present inclination to accommodate this distance rather than to counteract it.

That’s all I can think of right now. Anybody got any others?

* Before you get mad, let me remind you I’m one of those awful five-pointers myself.

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Manifold Distress

Monday night at dinner with some Element peeps, we were talking about the merging of culture and church. Specifically, we were discussing the self-perpetuating cycle that occurs when, in order to accommodate the shorter attention spans of people attending church services, we shorten and distill and sensationalize elements of worship, and in doing so only further cultivate short attention spans.

But “the culture” is a boogeyman.

Here’s Leland Ryken on biblical illiteracy from an interview with Ryken on the ESV by Gary Shavey at The Resurgence:

GS: This is a hard question, but as you look into where we are headed in terms of post-modernity or post-post-modernity, where do you think the attacks on the Scriptures are going to come from?

LR: The Bible has gone into eclipse in the evangelical world through sheer neglect. The enemy is within. The attacks from the outside are almost irrelevant. The Bible has been replaced by other things in the pulpits of evangelical churches, and church members tend to view the Bible as it is viewed in the church service. The evangelical church has only itself to blame for its well-documented biblical illiteracy. Several trends have gone hand in hand–the eclipse of expository preaching of the Bible, the loss of dignity in worship, in music, and in Bible translations, and the triumph of the modern media (including an obsession with entertainment) in the lives of Christians.

Sheer neglect. By the Church.

The challenge to the emerging generation of evangelical reformers is how to contextualize without accommodating, assimilating, and …

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Putting the "I" in Idolatry

Yeah, this is old, but it appalled me today so I’m gonna act like it’s new. :-p

In related news, I was perusing a church website today, browsing their sermon audio, and one of the titles in a “God at the movies” sort of series was “The Fantastic Four: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and ME!”

I kid you not. And the caps and exclamation point are theirs.I’m hoping the title is just a terrible mistake and belies the actual message content. I didn’t feel compelled to listen to it, in any event.

In other news, the chief end of man being to glorify God and enjoy Him forever is disturbing.

(HT for the image: BHT)

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Still No Justice for Eric Volz

Last Friday Eric Volz began his second year in a Nicaraguan prison for a crime he didn’t commit.

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