Monday, April 28, 2014

NEW BOOKS WRITTEN BY WESLEY BIBLICAL SEMINARY PROFESSORS

Dr. Gary Cockerill and Dr. Matt Friedeman have recently written books which are now available.

Dr. Cockerill, Professor of Biblical Interpretation and Theology and Academic Dean at Wesley Biblical Seminary,  has written Christian Faith in the Old Testament: The Bible of the Apostles, published by Thomas Nelson.  In this publication, Dr. Cockerill seeks to give modern readers an understanding of how the faith of contempoary Christians is rooted in the Old Testament. He blogs at From Mangoes to Melchizedek.

Dr. Friedeman has published Swallowed Up In God: The Best of Francis Asbury's Letters and Journals. The title is self explanatory. This is a book for those who might find Asbury's Journals too lengthy to read. It is the author's hope that this book would lead readers to a good biography of Asbury or to the journals themselves. Dr. Friedeman highlights certain quotes from Asbury for the reader to memorize and rearticulate when the opportunity arises. He has also recently written Mark: A Study of Discipleship. Dr. Friedeman is Professor of Evangelism and Discipleship at WBS and pastor of Dayspring Community Church in Clinton, MS. His website is In The Fight.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

THE JOHN WESLEY COLLECTION

Asbury Seedbed has announced a new project, The John Wesley Collection. The project will make available works from Wesley and his Methodist co-workers which have been out of print for decades. As Matt O'Reilly points out, the spread of the New Calvinism movement has been fueled by the availability of works written by great Calvinists from the past, works by Edwards, Spurgeon, and Calvin himself. Lets hope this collection will help Wesleyans become better acquainted with their own heritage and bring a Wesleyan perspective to a wider audience.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

BEST OF THE WEB, 2013. PART 5

Salacious Stories Sell, But Martyrdom Hardly Motivates by Michael Brown: This article deserves a post of its own. In 2012, the internet was abuzz with comments about bad calls by replacement referees. In 2013, Christians were more focused on the Duck Dynasty controversy than on advancing God's kingdom around the world. It used to be that the biggest best sellers in Christian bookstores were stories about missionaries. Now, Christian fiction is what flies off the shelves. In this article, Dr. Michael Brown laments that the plight of Christians around the world rarely is mentioned in Christian social media. From Charisma News.

Friday, January 3, 2014

BEST OF THE WEB, 2013. PART 4

Why "Libertarian" Defenses Of The Confederacy And "States' Rights" Are Incoherent by Jonathan Blanks: I am wary of libertarian influence in conservative circles. Talk of the rightness of the Confederate cause by conservatives makes me ill. So I was glad to stumble upon this article on a libertarian website. Blanks makes the case that the cause of the Confederacy, as well as the post-Civil War South, is at odds with the libertarian defense of individual liberty:
"The anti-libertarian results of the Civil War are evident. The federal government centralized a great deal of power in the post-war years and that sort of power is well-understood to be very dangerous to individual liberty. Yet, it is not as if the abuse of individual rights by the states ended at Appomattox. For the century following the end of Reconstruction, the southern states (and, to a lesser extent, some northern states) implemented laws and customs which systematically stripped the rights of blacks. From voting rights to freedom of contract and free association, the southern states oppressed their black citizens. This retarded the post-war southern economies—stultifying a portion of the population relegated to substandard educational accommodations and economic opportunities—despite protestations from some apologists that the market would work it all out eventually. Similarly, the Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates and Slate’s Matt Yglesias show that the economics of and rhetoric supporting the antebellum slave system were thriving, despite claims that the ‘peculiar institution’ was dying for reasons wholly separate from the war. Indeed, most libertarians know that the laws and powers of a state can sustain bad economic policy—seemingly in perpetuity. The states’ abuses of their own people, from the Founding to the 1960s, time and time again replayed the folly of giving the states the power to oppress its own citizens. Laws, custom, and ‘good-enough’ economic growth trumped individual rights and opening the markets to all Americans. There was no guarantee that slavery would end on its own without direct intervention. "
On the question of the legality of the Southern secession, Blank's writes:
"But to support the Declaration of Independence is to support secession. Thus, from the outset, it is nearly impossible to defend the American idea—that the people may separate themselves from an oppressive government in order to govern themselves—without accepting secession as a legitimate political action under certain circumstances, at least. This, however, does not necessarily mean that all secession is justified. In the Declaration, Jefferson writes, “Prudence…will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes,” necessarily implying that some separations are indeed imprudent and any such separation should be judged on its individual merits. A predictable and stable adherence to the Rule of Law is the indispensable tenet of any form of just government, and so the dissolution of that government must be preceded by systemic injustice or other reason that appeals to higher or natural law. Without this ordered liberty and deference to individual rights, laws cease to mean anything other than the imposition of will by man upon man."
As I did in this blog post, Blanks demonstrates that the defense of slavery was the underlying motivation for the South. From The Cato Institute's Libertarianism.org website.


God, The Founders, And George Will by Conrad Black: This National Review article points out something about many conservatives which Christians fail to understand. Many conservatives extol the virtues of religion, and Christianity in particular, because they perceive the benefits religion, particularly Christianity, bestows on civil society. Yet these very conservatives don't believe in God at all.

There are conservatives who don't believe in God, and there are conservatives who use African American conservatives for their own purposes. And when African American conservatives are seen to be no longer useful, white conservatives throw them under the bus. This is what Kay Cole James says in an interview with Marvin Olasky. The interview, The Calvary Is Not Coming, appeared in World Magazine. James believes that white conservatives gave up on African Americans after the 2012 election. I'm sure she's right. (Unfortunately, the link I provided does not contain the entire interview; I cannot seem to find another link to the whole interview. The link provided access to the entire interview when I posted this.)

Roy Ingle didn't have an article on my Best of the Web, 2012. Why? Because he didn't post this great satirical post until after the Best of the Web, 2012 was already published. Divine Determinism And Facebook pokes fun at Calvinism. From Roy Ingle's  Arminian Today blog.

Part 5 will feature only one article. This article deserves a post of its own.  

Monday, December 30, 2013

BEST OF THE WEB, 2013. PART 3.

With the exception of issues relating to Calvinism and Arminianism, I am usually at odds theologically with Roger Olson. Nevertheless, he wrote four posts that I felt were outstanding this year.

Discrimination Against Boys In Education (And Elsewhere):  Dr. Olson speaks out against punishing boys for past discrimination against girls and women. Here is a short excerpt:
"...neglecting to address real discrimination against boys will result in harm to society. Boys will drop out of social productivity and participation, something that is already happening among young men in their twenties, develop strong resentments, and become a drag on society’s progress in overall health and well being."

A Theology Of Duck Dynasty(Or What Duck Dynasty Says About American Culture And Christianity: Whether the show's subjects intended it or not, this show reflects a growing trend, even among Christians, to speak of God, yet to avoid mentioning Christ. Olson doubts that Christian entertainment which makes minimal reference to Christ is truly Christian. He specifically refers to Touched by an Angel and Seventh Heaven in this regard:
I don’t remember Jesus ever being mentioned on notable Christian-oriented network television shows such as Touched by an Angel or Seventh Heaven. (Yes, I used to watch these—mainly with my family when we had children at home and also in order to know what they were when people asked me about them!) These and some other programs have been heavy with God-talk and religious values, but light on anything particular. One often got the impression they were trying to draw in as many viewers as possible while at the same time not offending anyone. But I’m not sure it’s real Christianity if it doesn’t offend some people some of the time. And I’m not sure it’s real Christianity if it avoids mentioning Jesus." (For the record, I have not watched these shows, or Duck Dynasty. Even if Olson is wrong about these particular shows, his overall thesis is valid.)

Where The Devil Is Satan (In Contemporary Christianity) ?: Dr. Olson examines why not only theological moderates, but Evangelicals as well, refrain from speaking of Satan as a real personal entity. One of the reasons he lists: Calvinism. 

Is America Becoming A Police State?: How would we know if the answer to the question is yes?

Arrogance vs Confidence In The Truth Of The Gospel by Kevin Watson:  Post modernism has influenced many to think that to claim certainty of knowledge is arrogance. Even those within the Church have felt this influence, being told that to claim absolute truth for the Gospel is arrogant, while uncertainty equals humility. Watson humbly disagrees. From Dr. Watson's Vital Piety blog.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

BEST OF THE WEB, 2013. PART 2

Same Sex Parenting: Child Abuse? by Robert Oscar Lopez: Raised by a lesbian mother, Mr. Lopez knows that children raised by same-sex couples suffer emotional abuse because they are denied either a mother or a father (Though he doesn't condemn his mother, whose huband walked out on them). Here are two quotes from his article:
"Let’s be clear: I am not saying that same-sex parents are automatically guilty of any kind of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse to the children they raise. Nor am I saying that LGBT people are less likely to take good care of children.
What I mean is this: Even the most heroic mother in the world can’t father. So to intentionally deprive any child of her mother or father, except in cases like divorce for grave reasons or the death of a parent, is itself a form of abuse. (Though my mother raised me with the help of a lesbian partner, I do not feel I was abused, because I always knew that my mother didn’t intend for my father to divorce her.)"
"It is abusive to tell a child, “We are your moms” or “we are your dads,” and then expect the child never to feel the loss of such important icons, in addition to the injury of having been severed from at least one, and possibly both, biological parents—not because it was necessary, but because the two adults insisted on the arrangement. The lessons children learn from this undermine selfhood: might makes right, little people are subject to the whims of self-serving parents, and powerful people can impose “love” on weaker beings with money or political influence over adoption agencies, family courts, sperm banks, and surrogate mothers.
None of these problems would arise if we lived in a world where gay people saw children not as a commodity for purchase but rather as an obligation requiring sacrifices (i.e., you give up your gay partner instead of making your kid give up a parent of the opposite sex, because you’re the adult.)"
Last year Lopez wrote a more personal article detailing his own struggles for emotional health and the choices he has had to make concerning the members of his own family. Growing Up With Two Moms: The Untold Children's View is even more compelling than the first article cited. Both articles appeared on the Public Discourse website from The Witherspoon Institute.   

Homosexual Behavior And Fornication: Intimate Bedfellows by Jerry Walls: Why are same-sex relationships finding increased acceptance among younger Christians? Jerry Walls believes that one factor among many is that younger Christians engage in premarital sex. They won't admit it publicly, but because of their own behavior, younger Christians don't develop an attitude that same-sex relationships are sinful. However, the day is coming when heterosexual sin will have its defenders from within conservative, evangelical churches. From the School of Christian Thought webpage from Houston Baptist University.

Rachael Held Evans' Why Millennials Are Leaving The Church made quite a buzz on the internet. No, this is not a recommendation. I do recommend what I believe were the best responses to her:

The Rise Of The Chicken Little Evangelical Blogger by Jake Meador. Meador is not impressed with Evans' notion that the Church's refusal to accomodate itself to millennial attitudes spells doom for the Church. After all, remember what the Church has endured for centuries. The Church has not only survived, but thrived. A quote from Meador's article in Mere Orthodoxy:
"...we’ve been burned, beheaded, disemboweled, and flayed alive and come through it all. We’ve been killed by our brothers and sisters in Christ, we’ve fought wars, we’ve been sent off to concentration camps and gulags. There have been many times in our history where the greatest hindrance to joining the church was that getting baptized could lead to imprisonment, torture, or even death. And through all that, the church has endured. But in the minds of certain Christian bloggers, privileged white millennials and their nebulously defined intuitions and impulses pose a greater threat to the long-term flourishing of the church than the Colosseum."

Would Jesus Attract Millennials? by Allan Bevere: He would attract some, but the content of his message would repel most. See John 6. As most millennials are extreme individualists, they would see the Church as irrelevant for their lives. Especially as secular institutions are able to meet the needs Evans claims the Church must meet to retain millennials. HT: The Methoblog.

How To Keep Millennials In The Church? Let's Keep Church Uncool by Brett McCraken:  Millennials, instead of expecting everyone else to listen to you, why don't you take time to listen to older Christians and previous generations who labored for the Church throughout much struggle. Older Church leaders, quit being obsessed with what everyone else thinks about the Church. Wow! An interesting article actually appeared on the Washington Post's On Faith blog.

When We Are Born That Way: Casting Stones vs. Permitting Sin by Marian Green: This was written before Evan's article was posted, so it is not a direct response to her. Yet it is a perceptive critique of millennial Christian attitudes. Here is an excerpt:
"Here is my manifesto: I don’t know how to speak to people about the transformation of Jesus Christ unless I give them the hope and promise of change. I cannot give people food without telling them that what they have been eating is toxic to the soul. I cannot give them clean water unless I will also tell them the filth they have been bathing in will kill them. I cannot clothe them without confessing to them the intricate glory of the Creator who made them.
I cannot give them Jesus and tell them to continue to live in sin."
This is the approach William and Catherine Booth followed when they began the Salvation Army. They met physical needs while preaching holiness, in their case, a Wesleyan holiness message. John Wesley correctly saw that holiness leads to what he termed social holiness. Yet holiness must precede social holiness. See also Marvin Olasky's The Tragedy of American Compassion. Green's article is from her Uprooted and Undone blog. HT: I cannot recall.
I apologize for the appearance of some of these articles. At the present time, my access to computers is limited. Articles written on the computer I am now using are published with a variety of font sizes, especially when quoting other articles through cut and paste. I do have access to other computers, but time considerations mandated that I compose and publish from this computer. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

BEST OF THE WEB, 2013. PART I

There has been a greater number of articles that have appeared on the internet this year that I have considered outstanding. Therefore, for the first time, this end of the year review will be a series of posts, rather than just one. Unfortunately, since late June, my regular internet viewing routine has degenerated into chaos. I'll never know how many more outstanding articles I have missed. Anyway, here are the first five:

Greater Grace: The Story of God, Redemption, and Steve McQueen from the Southern Gospel Yankee blog. I did a bit of research online to check the accuracy of this post since some have erroneously claimed famous and historical figures converted to Christ. I did find other sources that confirm this account. My favorite post of the year. HT: Gene Veith.

The Art of Dying by Rob Moll. This actually appeared on Jesus Creed in 2011, but I came across it this year. This short article contains important advice for pastors and local churches on how to deal with members who have terminal illnesses. Here is a short excerpt:
"A good death–one that survivors feel was meaningful and honorable–is far more difficult when there is intensive medical intervention. The more aggressive the treatment, the more painful and more difficult a death is likely to be. The church can be active here by learning and teaching Christian views of dying well. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Associationfound that people died more poorly after being advised by their pastors, mostly because they were urged to pursue more treatment. Instead, the church can promote spiritual faithfulness in anticipation of life with God."

Also from Jesus Creed: Expectations:Theirs and Mine by Mark Stevens. On pastors dealing with with the expectations of others and their own expectations of themselves.

Daddy, Why Do People Steal From Us? by Peter Chin. A Korean family ministering in an urban setting experience numerous thefts of their possessions. How can the father explain this to his daughter without perpetuating racial stereotypes? From Christianity Today's This Is Our City blog.

Some Christians believe that to contend for religious liberty is a sub-Christian activity. After all, they say, the early Church didn't demand freedom to worship in ancient Rome. Christians Don't Have A Right To Be Stupid by Tonyia Martin provides an effective antidote to such thinking.  Here is the paragraph that caught my interest:
"Christians who continue to face persecution around the world often look to American Christians to continue to uphold religious freedom and set a standard. Coptic Christians in Egypt have told me that one of their greatest fears is that someday America will no longer be a place where Christians can express and live out their faith as freely as we can now. If that ever happens, they expect persecution to worsen worldwide."
From Christianity Today's Her-Meneutics blog.