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There Was No Golden Age

golden age of church history, golden age christianity, old clock, clock gears, broken clock

I often ask my students to give me a quick summary of church history. It’s a good way to see what they know, and, more importantly, what they think they know. The results are fascinating. Beyond the unsurprising fact that most know very little about the story of God’s people between the end of the New Testament and the day before yesterday, the stories usually have at least one thing in common: a Golden Age.

That’s the beginning of my latest post over at Christianity.com: “There Was No Golden Age.” I go on to explain four things that I think is wrong with the “Golden Age Mentality,” and then I conclude with:

There was no “Golden Age.” Or maybe we’d be better off saying that every age is a Golden Age; that is, a time when God is still faithfully working through his people to spread his gospel and display his glory throughout this broken and fallen world.

Feel free to read the whole post, hit the old “like” button a few times, then come back and let me know what you think.

Flotsam and jetsam (10/8)

Good Reads

  • The Myth of the Liberal Young Evangelical: Since 2007, the media has attempted to present young evangelicals in the Millennial generation (age 18-25) as increasingly liberal on social issues and more likely to vote for Democrats. But a new study by the Public Religion Research Institute confirms that the majority of young evangelicals (or at least young white evangelicals) have not abandoned the conservative political (and presumably the theological) positions of their parents.
  • If You Think You’ve Arrived: In the next few weeks I tried my best to stop, listen, and look. What I saw was a proud man who had begun in subtle and not-so-subtle ways to take credit for what only grace could produce. I heard a man speaking who had forgotten who he was. I saw a young pastor who had already begun to act as if he had arrived.
  • Ten Things Pastors Don’t Like about Pastoring: I learned two things from this survey. First, pastors can have strong opinions about what they don’t like. Second, pastors are really different. The responses were wide-ranged and often in opposition to each other.
  •  The Deception of Urgency: Don’t let urgency keep you from your spouse, your kids, creation or the God who made them all. You may find, like me, you get more done when your soul is fed first.

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A Prayer for Sunday (Francis of Assisi)

Francis of Assisi, one of the most famous spiritual leaders and teachers from the middle ages, died on October 3, 1226. Abandoning the wealthy and comfortable lifestyle of his youth, Francis devoted himself to a life of poverty and preaching, eventually founding the Franciscans and the Order of St. Clare. Francis is also famous for saying, “Preach the gospel always, and if necessary, use words.” But he never said this. It must be interesting to be famous for something you didn’t do.

In addition to his extensive preaching/teaching ministry, Francis of Assisi left quite a number of prayers. So, to commemorate his passing, this Sunday’s prayer comes from him. It’s longer than our normal Sunday prayers. But it’s a great reflection on and extension of the Lord’s prayer. Enjoy.

O our most holy Father
Our Creator, Redeemer, Consoler, and Saviour

Who art in heaven
In the angels and in the saints,
Enlightening them to love, because You, Lord, are light
Inflaming them to love, because You, Lord, are love
Dwelling in them and filling them with happiness,
Because You, Lord, are the Supreme Good, the Eternal Good,
From Whom comes all good and without Whom there is no good.

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The 15 Professions that Drink the Most Coffee

I already knew that I drink a lot of coffee. But now I know why. I’m an educational administrator, a writer, and a professor. According to this infographic, that means I was destined to drink large amounts of coffee. It was completely out of my hands.

drinking coffee at work, coffee productivity

HT Scot McKnight

Flotsam and jetsam (10/5)

Good Reads

  • Why Am I Back in Church? Over time, even members of a generation of iconoclasts, or self-styled ones, might one morning come to find themselves in the kind of a place where icons are revered, not smashed.
  • Unhealthy Christian Organizations, Part 1: In recent months, I have run across several people in unhealthy Christian churches and organizations. Having worked in some such settings myself, I have seen patterns that led me to start thinking . . . and writing. Maybe that is not such a good idea, but I think it is an important one. The issue continues to grow and, although such organizations can actually do good, the harm they cause to many others is immeasurable.

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Flotsam and jetsam (10/3)

Biblioburro - Books + burro = awesome.

Good Reads

  • The Puritans Are Not that Precious: We need to understand this. It’s a commonplace Christian assertion that if we believe the right things we ought to do the right things. Then we’re perplexed when either people who believe the right things actually do vile things, or people with supposedly faulty theology actually live better than the orthodox. We’re left groping for explanations and defenses.
  • How Do I Dispose of a Bible? Is disposing of a Bible similar to disposing of a flag, a ritual surrounded by rules and etiquette, or is it just like disposing of yesterday’s newspaper? Maybe it is a little bit of both.
  • How Biblical Is Biblical Counseling? The unfortunate narrowing of “biblical” in “biblical counseling” results from a limited view of the sufficiency of Scripture; it takes the sufficiency of Scripture to mean that Scripture is all we use in counseling and that to include any other resource introduces unmanageable danger.
  • I’m Spiritual But Not Religious Is a Cop-Out: The increasingly common refrain that “I’m spiritual, but not religious,” represents some of the most retrogressive aspects of contemporary society. The spiritual but not religious “movement” – an inappropriate term as that would suggest some collective, organizational aspect – highlights the implosion of belief that has struck at the heart of Western society.

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Should You Check Your Email Right Now? (Flowchart)

Image of God at the Kitchen Table

If you’re a parent, find a place where you can observe your nearest child without being noticed. Spend a few minutes just watching. Whether playing outside, face streaked with dirt and sweat, or inside watching TV, eyes riveted to the rapidly changing images, doing the dishes or listening to music, playing with a ratty toy on the floor or doing homework. It doesn’t matter. Just look.

And, as you look, think to yourself,

“This is my child, made in the image of God, called for a purpose.”

When you’re done, think it again. And again. Let it really sink in. Because, as a parent, nothing is easier to forget.

children playing, kids playing, image of God

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September’s Top Posts

I like September. The beginning of a new school year, fall weather, football on tv, soccer with the girls. That’s good stuff.

And it’s been fun around here as well. A couple of videos generated a lot of attention: Alistair Begg’s comments about American men not singing in church and the Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham exchange. And since we’re still working through the image of God series, it’s nice to see a couple posts on that topic in the top five. I can’t really explain why the PhD post made the list, except maybe the beginning of the school year has more people interested in the topic.

All in all, a good month.

The Top 5 Posts in September

Flotsam and jetsam (10/1)

internet password, social media, technology, growing up, modern world

Good Reads

  • Hollywood’s New Bible Stories: Lured by public-domain source material and epic adventure stories ripe for big-time special effects, studios and filmmakers are rediscovering the Good Book.

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