It is not we who can sustain the Church, nor was it our forefathers, nor will it be our descendants. It was and is and will be the One who says: “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” As it says in Hebrews 13: “Jesus Christ, yesterday, and today, and forever.” And in Revelation 1: “Which was, and is, and is to come.” Verily He is that One, and none other is or can be.
For you and I were not alive thousands of years ago, but the Church was preserved without us, and it was done by the One of whom it says, ‘Who was’, and ‘Yesterday’.
Again, we do not do it in our life-time, for the Church is not upheld by us. For we could not resist the devil in… the sects and other wicked folk. For us, the Church would perish before our very eyes, and we with it (as we daily prove), were it not for that other Man who manifestly upholds the Church and us. This we can lay hold of and feel, even though we are loath to believe it, and we must needs give ourselves to the One of whom it is said, ‘Who is’, and ‘Today’.
Again, we can do nothing to sustain the Church when we are dead. But He will do it of whom it is said, ‘Who is to come’ and ‘Forever’. And what we must needs say of ourselves in this regard is what our forefathers had also to say before us, as the Psalms and other Scriptures testify, and what our descendants will also experience after us, when with us and the whole Church they sing in Psalm 124: “If the Lord himself had not been on our side, when men rose up against us,” and Psalm 60: “O be thou our help in trouble, for vain is the help of man.”
Sixteen more books have fallen in The Big Bible Bash. And only sixteen remain. Two of our 2-seeds are out, and one of the Gospels has now been eliminated. The tournament has begun to favor NT books, with only 6 OT books remaining. But that includes heavy hitters like Genesis, Isaiah, and Psalms. So this round of voting should prove very interesting. (Update: Voting is now closed.)
All of the number 1 seeds cruised to relatively easy victories in the Round of 32, winning with an average of 90.5% of the vote in their races. But it was a tough day for the 2-seeds. (2) Mark fell to ( 7) Philippians (41.3% vs. 58.7%); and (2) Proverbs fell to (7) Revelation (32.6% to 67.4%). Even (2) Matthew struggled for a while against (7) Exodus, before winning with 61.6%.
- 7 Traits of False Teachers: The existence of the counterfeit is never a good reason for rejecting the genuine. Peter essentially tells us, “Of course there are counterfeit Christians. Of course there are teachers who do the church more harm than good. What else would you expect in this fallen world? Grow up! Don’t be naïve! Don’t miss what’s real simply because you have seen the counterfeit.”
- Living Well in Ordinary Time: ”The hardest thing in the world is to be where we are,” observes Rowan Williams in his Lent book, Christ on Trial: How the Gospel Unsettles Our Judgment. Enigmatic though it may be, I think Williams’s remark is one worth pondering if we are to negotiate faithfully the current challenges before church and world.
- Book Publishers Scramble to Rewrite Their Future: Wired magazine takes a look at changes in the book publishing industry.
- A New New Testament: Are you Serious? The council of 19—including two rabbis—examined several ancient writings…and determined which of these worthies deserved a place at the table with original New Testament books. Ten books were selected for this honor, along with two prayers and one song.
As I announced last month, my family and I are moving to Wheaton so I can take up a position there. That means we’re looking at a couple of transitions here at Western Seminary, one of which involves our Th.M. program. I’ve been directing the ThM at Western for the last six years, and it’s been an incredible experience. So I’m pleased to announce that Western has selected a new program director for the Th.M., and it’s someone who will do a great job leading the program forward.
Todd Miles has been teaching at Western for 10 years now, focusing mostly on theology, ethics, and hermeneutics. Not only is he well respected by both students and faculty, but he is an outstanding academic supervisor. As program director, I’ve always known that if I assign a student to Todd, that student is going to get quality time and attention at every stage of the program. And students routinely express great appreciation for the time and effort that Todd puts into reading and commenting on their research projects. So, if you’re looking for a Th.M. program with program director who will really invest himself in you, your research, and your future, Todd’s the guy.
To introduce him, I asked Todd to answer a few quick questions about himself and the program.
The first round of voting is over, so we’re on to the Round of 32 in The Big Bible Bash. And, as expected, the first round favored the top seeds. Indeed, somewhat surprisingly, the higher seeds won every single contest. Even the close races between the 8 and 9 seeds ended up in a victory for the 8 seeds.
As you may know, we’re giving away almost $500 worth of commentaries and other great books from Zondervan, IVP, Baker, Eerdmans, and Crossway. All you have to do to participate in the giveaway is cast your vote for your favorite books of the Bible. If you missed out on the earlier rounds, no worries. You can still vote in the later rounds and be eligible for the giveaway. So cast your vote now! (Update: Voting is now closed.)
Although it’s time to put the first round behind us, we can take a few moments to reflect on the most interesting developments from the first round. Here’s the updated tournament bracket. But, if you’re just interested in the highlights, here you go!
- DIY Superpowers for the Cyborg on a Budget: So what kind of sixth sense could you acquire today if you were in the market? Anything from infrared vision to an internal compass to a sort of “spidey sense” that alerts you when something is approaching from behind. And the cost can run from the tens of thousands of dollars to as little as a few bucks, as long as you have a scalpel and a hearty tolerance for risk and pain.
- How Movements Recover: [Augustine] wanted the church to go on offense and swallow the world. This would involve swallowing impurities as well as purities. It would mean putting to use those who are imperfect. This was the price to be paid if you wanted an active church coexisting with sinners, disciplining and rebuking them.
- 10 Ideas That Make a Difference: They can be as huge as a new constitution or as tiny as a medical microchip. In this special report, TIME explores innovations that are changing the way we work, live, pray and play.
- Why Should Protestants Care about the Pope? In many ways, for better and/or worse, Christianity still goes through Rome. And there is no more visible representative of worldwide Christianity than the bishop of Rome. That may make a great many Christians (and non-Christians) squeamish, but it is what it is.
After one day of voting in the Round of 64 for the Big Bible Bash Tournament, most of the favorites are performing as expected. At this point, it appears as though all of the top seeds will move on to next round.
And IVP has generously donated a few more boks to the giveaway. That means we’re now giving away 15 BOOKS WORTH ALMOST $500!
A Few Close Races
Although the top seeds are doing well, we do have a few races that are too close to call. And that includes almost all of the contests involving a 8 seed vs. a 9 seed.
Okay, here is where the real fun gets started in our tournament of Bible books. Yesterday’s play-in games eliminated two books. Haggai looked like it had a shot for a while, but eventually lost to 2 John (59% to 41%). 3 John, on the other hand, never had a chance, losing badly to Ezra (15% to 85%). With those two out, the field of 64 is set, and we’re ready for the main part of the tournament to begin.
As a reminder, for every round that you participate in, you increase your chances of winning UP TO $150 WORTH OF COMMENTARIES from IVP or Zondervan, and you can also win a number of other great books about the Bible from IVP, Eerdmans, Crossway, and Baker. All you have to do is vote for your favorite Bible books in each round.
Although voting is now closed on the play-in games, I’m going to leave voting open on the random questions/predictions until the Round of 64 is over. Remember that each of those questions that you predict successfully will earn you another chance to win a prize. So get your votes in before Monday.
Use the link below to cast your votes. Let the voting being!
- Why Pope Francis Excites (Most) Evangelical Leaders: Pope Francis has drawn much attention for being the first pope to come from the ranks of the Americas and the Jesuits, as well as take the name Francis. But evangelical observers highlight other reasons for enthusiasm for yesterday’s precedent-setting election. (Also check out Running the Numbers behind Pope Francis’ Election.)
- Multisite Church: Come-and-Get or Come-and-Give? What about multisite churches? Let me say that I know some really bad ones… they fit all the stereotypes. But, I know some good ones, too. I’ve preached at several that were on mission, raising up leaders, and doing great ministry.
- Are Successful Women Really Less Likable Than Successful Men? Humans tend to be opposed to changes in the status quo until they are forced, through experience, to see that change isn’t such a big deal.
- God’s Love Supreme: The Arrival of Jazz as Christian Worship Music: Some American churches have brought improvised jazz into the sanctuary because of its prayerful, stirring power; others, because it attracts attendees who might otherwise skip church.