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Check out our NEW new header

Nick has been hard at work making modifications to the header image, and here is his latest effort. (If you haven’t been following the back story on this process, you can check it out here and here.) Again, feel free to wade in with your thoughts, opinions, or other random comments.

Flotsam and jetsam (5/28)

Logical Fallacies

In arguing for a doctrine of resurrection in the OT, I find that I must disagree with other previous scholars. I found this great page which describes in detail the different logical fallacies. I have been trying to use the proper terminology to be precise in how I disagree with someone’s argument, and am trying not to commit the same errors myself!

Flotsam and jetsam (5/27)

  • Joe Carter has an interesting post on “Why Evangelicals Love the Jews,” arguing that, at the popular level at least, it has less to do with eschatology than with evangelicalism’s biblicism and general ignorance of history.
  • Peter Leithart offers a good summary of Kereszty’s argument that the late middle ages saw a general degeneration of the Eucharist, which the Reformation did much to restore.
  • The New York Times has a good piece on the meetings that are taking place between the two most significant leaders in the Orthodox Churches, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church. There is hope that these meetings will alleviate some of the tensions that have developed between these two branches of the orthodox church in modern times.
  • Over at the Internet Monk, they’ve begun a “new” series rehashing some of their overall criticisms of evangelicalism. If you’re looking for a refresher course in what people mean when they say they’re fed up with contemporary evangelicalism, this wouldn’t be a bad place to start.
  • The Christian Science Monitor has a good article covering the ongoing violence between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria. I haven’t heard much about this recently, and I thought it would be good to highlight so we don’t forget what’s happening over there.
  • In a news flash, apparently head banging is bad for your health.
  • And, sadly, the Onion reports that the Dread Secretary of Evil Hammond S. Reynolds, head of the U.S. Department of Evil, has issued a statement demanding that all residents of the U.S. must die…as soon as they get the necessary budgetary approvals.

Austin Farrer on the proper role of apologetic arguments

Peter Leithart posted a good quote from Austin Farrer that I thought was worth reposting here. Commenting on C.S. Lewis’ apologetics Farrer said:

“though argument does not create conviction, the lack of it destroyed belief.  What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned.  Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish.”

We need a new header

Ok, I think this blog has existed long enough under a generic WordPress header. It’s a very nice picture of some random bridge somewhere, but unless there is a troll lurking underneath (trolls always have to lurk, it’s very important) it isn’t going to cut it anymore.

So, I’m looking for suggestions. Does anyone have a good idea for what our new header should be? With this particular theme, it needs to be an image that is either 760 x 190 pixels or can be cropped to that size. Suggestions can include images that you already have or ones that you think you or someone else could create/find reasonably easily.

Flotsam and jetsam (5/26)

On Bruce Waltke’s resignation, evolution, and evangelicalism

CT just published a good piece on Bruce Waltke’s resignation from RTS over comments that he made in a video interview over at BioLogos. The article summarizes RTS’s concerns:

According to RTS interim president Michael Milton, Waltke’s resignation was accepted because of his “mainline evolutionary” views and “uncharitable and surely regrettable characterizations” of those who disagree with his biblical interpretation.

Apparently Waltke has not expressed any criticism of RTS for their decision, but did say that he sees the whole situation as “providential” in that it brought the issue to the forefront and gave him the opportunity to teach at Knox.

The article goes on to highlight several other evangelical scholars who have landed themselves in touchy situations over this issue. And, of course, it raises all over again the question of where the line is between academic freedom and confessional conviction. That’s never an easy line to draw. But when the issue is as sensitive as this one, particularly among your constituency, it gets even harder.

Flotsam and jetsam (5/25)

Expository preaching – friend or foe?

The Gospel Coalition posted an article today by Iain Murray titled “Expository Preaching: Time for Caution.” In it Murray raises some questions about the current trend toward expositional preaching, where “expositional” is understood to refer to “preaching which consecutively takes a congregation through a passage, or book of Scripture, week by week.” Although he recognizes some of the reasons often given for this style of preaching ministry, he raises five concerns:

  1. Not everyone is gifted/capable of doing this kind of preaching well.
  2. Preaching should not be seen as merely instructional.
  3. There is a role for lecturing your way through the Bible, but that is not the primary function of preaching.
  4. Expositional preaching can easily become a dull running commentary on the text, rather than the powerful and memorable declaration of important ideas.
  5. Expositional preaching is not conducive to evangelistic preaching because not all texts are equally conducive to Gospel proclamation.

He concludes with two final thoughts. (1) This doesn’t mean we should avoid this kind of expositional preaching, only that we shouldn’t make it the exclusive focus of the pulpit. (2) We shouldn’t limit “expositional” to this kind of preaching, but should extend it to any kind of sermon that seeks to explain God’s word clearly and powerfully.

My initial reaction when I started reading the article was not terribly positive. I immediately jumped to what I think of as the opposite of expositional preaching – the kind of “topical” sermon that takes its starting point from some biblical text, but never returns to it. Obviously, though, that is far from Murray’s mind. He is still talking about preaching expositional sermons, he’s just pushing back on the idea that a truly expositional preaching ministry needs to walk through entire books passage by passage.

My second reaction was one that he actually dealt with throughout the article. I concluded that of course we need expositional preaching or people won’t ever hear the whole word of God. And, I’m actually still concerned about this one. As I reflected a bit more, however, I began to wonder if the contemporary emphasis on expositional preaching was related to the modern shift away from other teaching times. With the downfall of Sunday schools and Sunday evening services, where do people hear the word of God taught/lectured on a regular basis? If Murray is right and teaching/lecturing is not the primary purpose of preaching, something that I would agree with, how are we ensuring that people are getting that other kind of equally necessary time in the word? They certainly aren’t getting it from most of the small groups that I’ve been a part of. (Hmmm, what’s the common denominator there?) Is it possible that expositional preaching of this kind is the solution to a problem that we should be trying to solve in other ways?

So, here are the questions for our consideration. First, what do you think of Murray’s arguments? Do they hold water? Second, what do you think about the contemporary emphasis on expositional preaching? Does it lie at the very heart of good preaching? Is it something that has possibly gotten overemphasized in the modern church because of weaknesses in our teaching ministries elsewhere? Or, do you just like topical preaching and would like to hear more series on “You and Your Money.” I must confess that although I’ve had many regular teaching ministries over the years, I’ve never had to preach every week. I think we all can and should have an opinion on this, but I’d be particularly interested in hearing from those of you who preach (or have preached) on a more regular basis.