Archive for the ‘Responses’ category

Evangelize as Your Edify, Edify as You Evangelize

July 14, 2011

One of the biggest tensions regarding philosophy of gathered services is the issue of breadth and depth, or who should be the priority and focus of the ministry.  Obviously, everything we do should be first and foremost with a focus and passion for the honor and glory of God.   But the question we are usually asking is this: “Should our gathered services be evangelistic, focusing on unbelievers, or edifying, focusing on believers?”

Yesterday, Tim Keller answered the question by referencing Martyn Lloyd’Jones by saying “both.”  Keller concludes:

The lesson I eventually learned from him was—don’t preach to your congregation for spiritual growth thinking everyone there is a Christian—and don’t preach the gospel evangelistically thinking that Christians cannot grow from it. In other words—evangelize as you edify, and edify as you evangelize.

I agree with MLJ and Keller completely.

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Tim Challies, Rick Warren, and My Take on the John Piper Interview

June 1, 2011

Last Friday, I took some time to post my thoughts on John Piper’s interview of Rick Warren.  And I was entirely not surprised by the comments my post received. However, I did appreciate the interaction I received offline with my fellow pastors and with other friends through email, Tim Challies included. Tim shared with me that he was going to share his thoughts in greater detail, which he did yesterday. I encourage you to check it out, though I take a little different approach, as you will see here.

In his post, Challies shared with his readers that I “marveled at the theological agreement between the two men” and used my blogpost as typical of what the blogosphere was positively regarding the interview. I guess you could say that my blogpost was an appreciative response to Piper’s appreciative interview. Obviously, Challies and I interacted with the interview with different perspectives and came away with different conclusions. Having said that, I thought I’d elaborate more on my take of the interview.

First, I do not consider myself a careful observer of all things Rick Warren.  I have read a couple of his books, follow him on Twitter, and occasionally here about what he is doing during the year. I don’t read the watchdog blogs that are obsessed with him, nor do I care to try to correct him every time he says something I disagree with. It is not that I am entirely ambivalent about Warren as much as it is that I have far greater concerns about the issues in my own life that demand far greater attention. The scope of the interview with Warren was limited to his book The Purpose Driven Life, and while that may have not felt to be sufficient material for a thoroughgoing critique, I’m glad Piper stuck with a first-hand source that all of us can evaluate on its own merits.

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Charles Finney, Cooperation, and the GCR

November 17, 2009

Over at Between the Times, Drs. Danny Akin and Bruce Ashford have continued their excellent series on “Seven Crucial Aspects of Our Mission” (which is broken down in true Puritan style of multiple sub-points and cases) with an article focusing on cooperation between Calvinists and non-Calvinists.  As you know, this issue has been with us for a very long time, and during the more heated moments in recent SBC life, I was documenting all the events, articles, and commentary that was taking place.

Having been involved in Southern Baptist discourse for the past 6-7 years (I know, I’m young), I would argue that the relations between Calvinists and non-Calvinists is the best that it has been.  The rhetoric and caricatures are rare, and the conversation between those with soteriological differences has increased, especially with the advent of Twitter.  I know it’s crazy, but Twitter as a social-networking platform has interconnected Southern Baptists in a form of internet community that would otherwise not exist in real life.  I’m not sure as to why or how this has happened, but perhaps “following” each other has allowed us to see that those with whom we disagree are not as bad as we think they are.  They love Jesus, desire to honor Him in faithfully preaching His Word, and are genuinely seeking to make a difference for the glory of God.  Having the opportunity to see glimpses into the lives of people who otherwise would be a faceless name or distant interlocutor makes you think twice before lobbing bombs at one another.  We are not enemies.  We are brothers in the trenches seeking to advance the kingdom against our common enemy, the devil.

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As Dying Men with an Everlasting Message

September 2, 2009

About a year and a half ago, my friend Nathan Finn asked the question, “What are the most pressing issues facing the Southern Baptist Convention?” I revisited my answer yesterday and felt portions of it deserved a re-post.  Prior to the push about a Great Commission Resurgence, there wasn’t a clear narrative about what to do or where to go in the future, and still with the current GCR Task Force, I wonder to what degree or role the gospel plays in the formation of the future.  So in light of where Southern Baptists are today, I want to say it once again: our greatest problem and our greatest need is the gospel.  Here’s what I wrote.

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What Does It Mean to Be Gospel-Centered?

August 26, 2009

In the coming days, I am going to post some thoughts on the subject of living gospel-centered lives.  This past Sunday, I began teaching the nine-week study “The Gospel Centered Life” by Thune and Walker at Grace.  My co-teacher and I had a great discussion in our preparations about what it means to be gospel-centered.  We don’t want to throw words or phrases out there and assume people automatically understand what we are talking about.  If we are not careful, those phrases can become so commonplace and cliche that we reference them with little tangible reality and substance.

Last Saturday, I asked my Twitter followers the question, “If you were to explain to a new Christian what it means to be gospel-centered, what what would you tell them?” Below are some (not all) of the responses I received:

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Podcast with Acts 29/SBC Church Planters

August 26, 2009

This is a blogpost originally posted on February 21, 2009.  In light of the recent discussion about Acts 29 church planters in Southern Baptist life, I felt this podcast would be a constructive resource to know more about some of the A29 churches planters, what they believe, and their practices.

The Insight Podcast is hosted by Doug Baker, and recently he sat down with Acts 29 church planters J.D. Greear, Daniel Montgomery, Tyler Jones, and Sean Cordell to discuss a host of issues.  The podcast is divided into two parts.  You will certainly want to download them both.

* Part 1 *

Topics: Postmodernity – What is it?; Contextualization – What is it?; Culture and Theology; Ministry in an Urban Context; Diversity in the Local Church; Tradition and Traditionalism; The Craving for Authenticity; The Emerging Church Movement; Gospel Reductionism; The Emergent Church Movement;  Acts29 Church Planting Network; Vintage 21’s Theology and Doctrine; Tony Jones and the Gospel; The Gospel and Propositional Truth; Homosexuality and Modern Culture; Christology – Missiology – Ecclesiology.

* Part 2 *

Topics: Institutions and Denominations; Acts29 Network – Its Founding and Future; The SBC as a Missional Network; The Doctrinal Commitments of Acts29; Biblical Preaching as a Priority; Acts29 and Southern Baptists; North Carolina – Still the Bible Belt?; Requirements for an Acts29 Church Planter; Churches Planting Churches – the Biblical Model?; The SBC and Church Planting; The Future of the SBC.

I’m grateful for Doug Baker putting together an excellent podcast dealing with substantive issues that really matter to the church today. You can find previous podcasts hosted by Baker here.

Acts 29 Responds to Baptist Press and SBCToday

August 25, 2009

Scott Thomas, director of Acts 29, has taken the time to respond at length to the accusations and charges against Acts 29 from the guys at SBCToday and Baptist Press.  It is not fair to imply everyone at Baptist Press is carrying the anti-Acts 29 agenda, so perhaps it is best to limit the sphere of accountability to Will Hall, their executive editor.

In general, Thomas explains the nature of the fellowship with the SBC and the concerns many A29/SBC church planters feel:

We are glad to have SBC churches in our fellowship.  They give to the Cooperative Program and we are glad.  They are governed as elder-led churches (rather than elder-ruled churches).  And, they have expressed to me that they would like it if the misrepresentations would end and we could focus on the gospel, mission, and church planting.  I am assured by Southern Baptist leaders that the attacks by those in the SBC are not representative of the larger convention.

As I have stated on more than one occasion, neither SBCToday or the Baptist Press sought to attain first-hand evidence for their arguments but merely jumped to erroneous conclusions determined by their own understanding.  Thomas writes,

We are not sure why one denominational publication is obsessed with Acts 29 and continues to publish information without checking with us.  It seems odd at best, and agenda driven at worst, to publish information about what Acts 29 believes and practices without ever checking with Acts 29 leadership (emphasis mine).

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Baptist Press Continues Anti-Acts 29 Agenda, Publishes Errors of SBCToday

August 24, 2009

Baptist Press has continued to spread the anti-Acts 29 agenda by publishing the errors of SBCToday in the recent “first person” article entitled “Covenant or Confession” authored by Tim Rogers.

Just last week, I showed how Baptist Press has degenerated into an anti-Mark Driscoll/anti-Acts 29 campaign under the leadership and vision of Will Hall, their executive editor.  It appears that there is no level so low Baptist Press is unwilling to stoop, even publishing known errors and blatant mischaracterizations.   Baptist Press carries the subtitle “News with a Christian Perspective” and sadly enough, the news they are publishing is not fitting for the journalistic ethics of non-Christians.

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All a Matter of Timing: Baptist Press and Mark Driscoll

August 20, 2009

Yes, it’s all a matter of timing.

Over the course of the past six months, Baptist Press has come out with three articles besmirching Mark Driscoll and Acts 29.  But have you paid attention to the timing of their pieces and what Baptist Press is attempting to do?  I have, and here are my thoughts.

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Own Your Weaknesses

August 10, 2009

During our evening service yesterday, Tom Ascol shared with the Grace family his reflections over the past 20+ years, addressing the strengths, weaknesses, and prospects for the future.  What struck me in particular was the sincerity and humility of heart exhibited in addressing the weaknesses where Tom confessed his fingerprints over the areas where the church needed to be strengthened (he did not mention, however, the fact of his fingerprints over the areas where the church is strong–which are many).  It is tempting to give a superficial examination of the areas where you are weak and consequently give an equally superficial expression of repentance by simply admitting their existence and not following through with genuine change.

Working with Tom as a fellow pastor has been an education like none other, including the fact that he is the first pastor I have known to address areas where we are we and call us to repentance–himself leading the way.  Sadly in many cases (in my past experience) the finger is pointed at other people in accusation and self-righteousness, and yet the gospel requires that we point the finger at ourselves and expose the areas where we need to repent, mature, and reflect the character of Christ more faithfully.

The prospects of the future are tied both to how we humbly and gratefully handle our strengths and how honestly and repentantly addresses our weaknesses.  A failure to own our weaknesses is a failure to recognize our need for God’s grace in our lives on a continual basis.  It is in weakness that both God’s power is made perfect and His grace is found to be sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9).  The strength of the church is not found in focusing on its strengths but by focusing on its weaknesses so as to experiencing God’s grace and power.  We are to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1) because it is “by the grace of God that we are what we are” (1 Cor. 15:10).

I have been challenged afresh to examine myself not with a cosmetic approach but one of a heart surgeon.  Our Lord is merciful to hear the cries of the humble and contrite of heart and display His mighty strength in weakness.  May we own them in gospel humility that God might own our efforts to bring Him great glory.

Morris Chapman, Calvinism, and Saving Faith (Part 3)

July 21, 2009

In my third and final post (see Part 1 and Part 2) on Morris Chapman’s recent comments on Calvinism, I want to focus on what Baptists have historically said on the issue of the Holy Spirit’s work in salvation and more specifically saving faith.  Before I do, however, I want to comment briefly on how Chapman used (1) Packer’s antinomy and (2) Spurgeon on saving faith—both of which do not stand in his corner.

Packer v. Chapman on Antinomy

Personally, I am not a fan of the idea of antinomy.  Like Paul Helm, I am inclined to believe that antinomy is too permissible and “could be a license for accepting nonsense” (Paul Helm, The Providence of God, 66).  It is along these lines that I believe Chapman has brought the employment of antinomy in question.  Assuming Chapman is referring to J.I. Packer’s explanation of antinomy, one should note that Packer and Chapman have very little in common when it comes to understanding God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.  For instance, Packer writes,

“God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility are taught us side by side in the same Bible; sometimes, indeed, in the same text.  Both are thus guaranteed to us by the same divine authority; both, therefore, are true.  It follows that they must be held together, and not played off against each other.  Man is a responsible moral agent, though he is also divinely controlled; man is divinely controlled, though he is also a responsible moral agent” (J.I. Packer, Evangelism & the Sovereignty of God, 22-23).

Chapman indeed plays God’s sovereignty (“sovereignty alone”) against human responsibility and uses antinomy to justify doing so.  However, the principle proponent of antinomy says it is incorrect to do so.  Furthermore, Packer agues that “it is God who saves” and “God’s prerogative to give results” because “only God can give faith” (Ibid., 27).  While Packer holds that man is divinely controlled and yet morally responsible; Chapman does not.  Packer believes that God is sovereign in salvation and that faith is a gift from God; Chapman does not.  Therefore, I find it curious that Chapman would employing the idea of antinomy when the very ones who argued for it have done so on completely different grounds and in completely different ways.

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Morris Chapman, Calvinism, and Saving Faith (Part 2)

July 20, 2009

In Part 1, I sought address specific comments by Morris Chapman from his convention “report,” nothing also a few areas of duplicity.  In Part 2, I want to interact with his “Clarification of Intent,” especially as it concerns the doctrine of saving faith.

Chapman’s Charges

Quote #1

“I have heard and read with increasing frequency of the belief that . . . the response of faith is given by God and is not the free response of the human heart to the saving initiative of God.”

Notice what Chapman is doing here.  He is saying that either if (A) faith is a gift from God, then (B) a person is not a free, responsible human agent.  In other words, Chapman seems to be saying that for a person to be morally responsible, faith must be self-engendered (not given by God).  If God supplies the faith, then a person’s freedom is violated.  Chapman expounds on this idea in the second quote.

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The Executive Committee Form Letter and Appropriate Action

July 14, 2009

Last week, I wrote about the questions and concerns Southern Baptists are having about the Executive Committee and encouraged them to contact them, sincerely expressing their thoughts, concerns, and questions in particular about the forced resignation of Clark Logan. Since last week, the link to the Executive Committee members has had nearly 250 click throughs, and some who wrote letters were kind enough to send me carbon copy.  The letters I read were thoughtful, careful, and respectful, and I appreciate those who took the time to write in such a praiseworthy manner.

Unfortunately, the Executive Committee has drafted a form letter with a generic response that I am posting in its entirety.  Read it, and let me know your thoughts in the comments.  Is the Executive Committee providing such a response for legal cover?  What are we to think when even their own members were unaware of what happened to Clark Logan?  Is this another disappointing move in the wrong direction in order to avoid being accountable, transparent, and forthright with Southern Baptists? Is this generic response indicative that the Executive Committee officers are listening to the voice of Southern Baptists and giving appropriate attention to such an important (and public) matter?

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Addressing the Morris Chapman Controversy in the SBC: A Call for Accountability, Transparency, and Unity

July 8, 2009

Morris Chapman has served as President and CEO of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention since 1992.  During the 17+ years that he has served in this position, he has undoubtedly done some great things for Southern Baptists, and his role in advocating the Conservative Resurgence is one to be remembered, including being a past president of the SBC from 1990-1992.  However, Chapman’s actions over the past couple of months have spiraled downward to a point where many Southern Baptists are deeply concerned about his actions, not the least of which are the following:

1. Within a few weeks after the formal and public announcement of the Great Commission Resurgence document, it was being reported that Chapman was having serious disagreements with the two leading architects of the GCR–Johnny Hunt (president of the SBC) and Danny Akin (president of SEBTS).  At one point, Hunt wondered if the differences were because “he’s [Chapman] sitting as an executive director and I’m out there with the pastors every week.”  At this point, the Chapman and the GCR was no private or personal matter, and Chapman was just beginning his counter-GCR campaign.

2. Two weeks later (a month after the GCR document is released), Morris Chapman utilizes the denominational online “news wire” of which he is CEO to publicly express his grievances over the GCR document, in particular Article IX (for a detailed response to Chapman, check out Tom Ascol’s interaction).  At this point, Chapman had clearly positioned himself with an opposing vision than that of GCR advocates.  Ironically, the second reason why Chapman did not sign the GCR document was because of his belief that it would cause division, which leads to the third development–SBC Louisville.

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Reflections on My First SBC Annual Meeting: 10 Lowlights

June 30, 2009

At the SBC 2009 in Louisville, there were far more highlights than there were lowlights, as seen in my previous post.  However, there were some significant moments and observations I came away with from my first SBC Annual Meeting that were rather discouraging.  Here are some that I jotted down:

1.  Morris Chapman

What Morris Chapman did as a part of the Executive Committee report should be enough to bring about his resignation.  It was that bad.  Seriously.  Whether he claims ignorance or spoke with such ill-informed knowledge, the level of incompetence and grandstanding for political agendas as the most influential bureaucrat in the SBC is appalling. There is too much power and pulpit for one man among a convention of autonomous, local churches to continually say such things without accountability to the convention he is positioned as the Executive Committee CEO.

2.  Motions & Moralism

It has been pointed out already by several that motions can be made by any credentialed messenger at the SBC and that the motions do not necessarily represent the common voice of the SBC populace.  While that is true, I do believe the motions reveal a lot about the ongoing need for the recovery of the gospel in the SBC.  The Pastor’s Conference centered a great deal on gospel unity, passion for mission, and a commitment to seeing renewal in our local churches.  The motions, however, focused on education, boycotts, homosexuals, drinking, cussing, flags, etc., all of which leads me to the next lowlight.

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