Daily Archives: November 24, 2012

“Saint” Rick Warren?!?

Apprising Ministries offers to SBTS president Paige Patterson that chasing Calvinist boogeymen isn’t going to help the SBC. Not with things like this.

From the Curator of the Museum of Idolatry at A Little Leaven
We had no idea that Baptists venerated saints. Come to think of it, we had no idea that a Bible twister and false teacher like Rick Warren was considered worthy of such an honor by any self respecting orthodox Christian.

But, someone at Southwestern Baptist Seminary apparently thinks “Saint” Rick Warren worthy of a stained glass veneration. SMH

If you didn’t know, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is an SBC school and Paige Patterson is its president:


Here is an example of General of the Seeker Driven Army “Saint” Rick Warren teaching his man-centered mythology:

The original appears here.


Further reading




Weekend A La Carte (11/24) Challies Dot Com – Informing the Reforming

Squeezing Harder Than That – This is some very good writing from Douglas Wilson. “Now I can understand a vote against women bishops as a preliminary move to try to undo the ordination of women priests. And I can understand a vote for women bishops as the next logical step after having established the practice of ordaining women priests. What I don’t get is the affirming the ordination of women priests and opposing them as bishops. The pig, once swallowed by the python, has to move on down the line.”

NFL Long Shot – This is a long article but a very interesting read. It describes the hard life of an NFL long shot.

Too IntrospectiveTrevin Wax wrote an article on the danger of Puritan-like introspection. Both Jeremy Walker and Carl Trueman have offered helpful responses.

Twice-Yearly Sale – ChristianAudio is having their twice-yearly sale, which means that they’ve got a lot of good audio books that have been reduced in price. (Lots of bad ones, too…)

Was Spurgeon Off His Rocker? – “It was a stretch you might say. A 19th century British preacher apprehended a 3,000-year-old psalm for peace and courage in the midst of dire circumstances. Andree Seu Peterson tells the story in a recent article…”

There would be no manifestation of God’s grace or true goodness, if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from. —Jonathan Edwards


Evangelicalism Goes to Widecombe Fair

As a small footnote to Jeremy’s post, it should also be noted that Trevin Wax’s claim regarding the Reformers is rather overstated:

Though the Reformers sought to emphasize the assurance we can have
because of God’s grace in election and salvation, their descendants
sometimes undercut the beauty of assurance by stressing the fruit of
sanctification more than the fact of justification.

There is some truth to this but unfortunately, it is a lot more complicated than that. First, the ‘Reformers’ were not a monolithic phenomenon so claims about what ‘they’ thought always need to be read against that background.Second, even if (for the sake of argument) we allow that Luther and Calvin are typical — and usually it is these two who are primarily in mind when Christians speak of ‘the Reformers’ — the situation is complicated. Luther’s understanding of law and gospel certainly left a place – a large place – for introspection and even despair in the ongoing Christian life. He was no early advocate of radical sonship theology, despite his being used in this way by some Gospel Coalition writers. If nothing else, the visitation of the late 1520s, the struggles over the catechisms and the debate with Agricola all point both to the complexity of Luther’s development and the ongoing importance of what we might today call ‘introspection’. Yes, for Luther this is the work of the law, not gospel — but it is crucial to understand that the law remains a vital part of the experience of the Christian.As for Calvin, a focus on the Institutes (or at least certain passages of the Institutes) might well yield a nicely objective assurance. A study of the sermons — the place where classroom theology hits the pew, so to speak — is rather more variegated. Moving beyond Luther and Calvin — to Zwingli, Tyndale, Hooper etc., the picture gets even more complicated and, in some cases, decidedly introspective — and that before 1550.Third, we must remember that the Reformation generated new questions. The fact is that the Reformers pushed for personal assurance against a background of medieval theology where such was simply not an issue. Reformation theology generated new pastoral questions, questions it was not in its aboriginal form able to answer; that is why later theologians — for example, the Puritans — had to speak in different ways, after years of reflecting upon the pastoral impact of Reformation teaching. They were striving to answer questions which the very theology of the Reformers has raised for the first time.Finally, on a personal note (and this is not a shot at Trevin Wax but rather at an apparent current trend): perhaps I live in a very different church world to the rest of American Calvinistic evangelicalism — that would not surprise me at all — but in the last few months we have had the Puritans whacked for slavery (and I still cannot name a single Westminster Divine who owned a slave – though I can name a few who, in 1662, lost everything through their stand for the truth) and now for introspection. Yet is it really the case that uncritical appropriation of the Puritans is the, or even a, pressing problem for the church today? Is legalistic introspection really crippling the church? Are there no other, more threatening problems? Not weakness on Trinitarianism? Not books advocating sodomy in marriage? Not the new antinomianism? Not even new Calvinists who are happy to wear sneakers and buy computers made by slave labour in the Majority World? The last twelve months seem to have thrown up a few more likely candidates for pressing ecclesiastical problems than John Owen, John Bunyan, and Uncle Tom Goodwin and all.


Are you too introspective?

Over at the Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax has warned us against what he calls the Puritan paralysis: that crippling, morbid self-analysis – what Mr Wax calls hyper-introspection – that directs all our spiritual attention toward self and our efforts rather than toward Christ as the object of saving faith, and so cuts the nerve of Christian service as assured saints. He writes:

We can avoid this type of introspection by avoiding the pitfalls of some of the Puritans. Though the Reformers sought to emphasize the assurance we can have because of God’s grace in election and salvation, their descendants sometimes undercut the beauty of assurance by stressing the fruit of sanctification more than the fact of justification. Self-examination was a “descending into our own hearts” to root out every possible sinful tendency and desire.Beware the paralysis that comes from this type of introspection. If our goal is to discover, analyze, and root out every aspect of sinfulness in our hearts, then we will never come to the end of the task.

Of course, Mr Wax is correct to say that there can be a morbid introspection that turns our eyes upon self for the evidences and away from Christ for the foundation, and that some Puritans and others in the Puritan tradition opened a door for those so inclined to head in that direction. Some readers may know of the treatment by Thomas Shepard (1605-1649) of the parable of the ten virgins, in which he compares at length those without oil and those with oil in their lamps, emphasising how positively and creditably like one another they were outwardly, and yet some were lost when the Bridegroom arrived, prompting the lament from one wounded soul, “Oh, to be one of Shepard’s hypocrites!” While there is much of value in the book, the suggestion is that the realities of faith were so parsed down that the tender conscience might look at genuine marks of salvation in the life and explain them away, so losing assurance. And, of course, we should not forget that these same charges have been laid against Jonathan Edwards book on The Religious Affections, which takes a similar approach of analysing those things which are and are not genuine indicators of the saving work of the Spirit. As the good advice goes, “For every one look at yourself, take ten looks to Jesus Christ.”Mark Jones has gone helpfully into bat in the comments to provide something of a balance. Mr Jones points back to the historic Puritan position, summarised, for example, in the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith:

This certainty is not a bare conjectural, and probable persuasion, grounded upon a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel; and also upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises are made, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; and as a fruit thereof keeping the heart both humble and holy.

Here there is a clear and balanced statement about the nature and foundation of the assurance of salvation, because the root of saving faith always produces in its season the fruit of good works. One of the evidences that we are in Christ is that, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we become more like Christ. If there is no fruit in the life – and, of course, that statement itself needs to be explained and qualified – then we have no grounds for concluding that a man is walking with God. Healthy saints are holy saints, not forgetting that the grounds on which their good deeds are accepted in the sight of God remains their relationship with his beloved Son.Indeed, Mr Wax is operating on precisely this principle in his post. Again, he says,

To be clear, in warning against the Puritan paralysis, I am not saying we should never engage in self-examination. Self-examination in light of the Scriptures is appropriate and necessary for every believer. The Apostle Paul calls us to this discipline (2 Cor. 13:5).But our self-examination needs to take place in light of Romans 8: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

But what is his premise, in terms of his post? Healthy saints are not overly introspective but properly missional, having a Biblically balanced perspective on Christ and themselves, a Scripturally informed understanding of the grounds of their relationship with God in Christ. So, are you too introspective? Have you allowed your missiological effectiveness to be thwarted by this? Are you looking too much to yourself and not enough to Christ?The trouble is that a tender conscience might take these very questions and make them the grounds of the self-same problem that Mr Wax contends against. If “Satan loves to take the tender conscience and stir up doubt of salvation, doubt of sanctification, and doubt of progression in holiness,” then he can do so as well with these things as anything else.John Owen – a Puritan, you know – somewhere says that it is the trouble of the preacher that when the terrors of the law are proclaimed, they too often seem to wash over those who ought to tremble under them while those who have no cause to fear are deeply troubled; by the same token, when the preacher ministers comforts to believers they are swiftly embraced by those who have no right to them and rejected by the very saints who most need them, as outside their entitlement. This is the battle that every shepherd of the sheep faces: to explain and apply the truth with that proper discrimination that brings needful truth to bear on needy souls, with prayer that the Holy Spirit will so make it plain as to accomplish the purposes of almighty God in his proper time.


New Poverty Figures Raise Questions on Role of Church, Christians

In the final months of the presidential election, both major candidates mentioned the term “middle class” countless times in any effort to mobilize the country’s largest voting bloc. What they rarely, if ever, mentioned were those who live below the poverty line and what role the government and the Church should play in helping these 46.2 million Americans.


Can Catholics Have the Assurance of Salvation?

So is “grace” in the Bible God’s unmerited love, mercy, and forgiveness for sinners on account of Christ? Or….is it those things, plus man’s “grace-filled” works of obedience? Everything hinges on how a church defines the “grace” that is said to save us.


Doesn’t capital punishment contradict the message of grace and forgiveness?

Some people think that capital punishment contradicts the Christian teaching of love, grace, and forgiveness; but it does not. Christian love does not negate righteousness. In fact, God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that the righteousness of the Law could be fulfilled in Christ where a payment for sin is necessary (Rom. 6:23). So, judgment and forgiveness can coincide, but they cannot contradict each other.

The Bible says there is a time to give birth and and a time to die, a time to kill and a time to heal (Ecc. 3:2-3). Likewise, there is a time to forgive and a time to carry out the penalty of the Law. Romans 13:4 tells us that the government “…is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil,” (Rom. 13:4). God has no problem with being both forgiving and also the one who executes judgment – in this case, through the state.

But, let’s think a bit more about this. If forgiveness and grace are what Christians are to live by and thus not inflict capital punishment, then what about the rapist and the thief? Shouldn’t we also extend forgiveness and grace and not punish them with prison time? After all, is it consistent with grace and forgiveness to punish them? Of course it is. We must punish people and establish Law and Order so that society, as a whole, runs better. So, we have to ask what makes “putting someone to death” potentially inconsistent with love and forgiveness, while we also keep others in prison for the rest of their lives for their crimes? Why just stop with capital punishment? If we negate one aspect of punishment, why just that one? Why not the rest?

So, it is not inconsistent to execute someone and also advocate grace and forgiveness.


Great Quotes on Great Leadership

Al Mohler’s new book The Conviction to Lead is probably the best book on leadership I’ve ever read. (You may want to read my review) I recently went back through the book looking for the quotes that most stood out to me. Here is a small collection:

Christians are rightly and necessarily concerned about leadership, but many seem to aim no higher than secular leadership standards and visions. We can learn a great deal from the secular world and its studies and practices of leadership, but the last thing the church needs is warmed-over business theories decorated with Christian language.

Without apology, the Christian leader is a devoted student and a lifelong learner. Convictional intelligence emerges when the leader increases in knowledge and in strength of belief. It deepens over time, with the seasoning and maturing of knowledge that grows out of faithful learning, Christian thinking, and biblical reasoning.

The most important truths come alive through stories, and faithful leadership is inseparable from the power and stewardship of story. The excellent leader knows how to lead out of the power of the narrative that frames the identity and mission of the people he will lead, and the leader knows how to put his own story into service for the sake of the larger story.

No organization that exists simply for itself is worth leading. Leaders want to lead organizations and movements that make a difference—that fill a need and solve real problems. That story frames the mission and identity of the organization, and explains why you give your life to it. The excellent leader is the steward-in-chief of that story, and the leader’s chief responsibilities flow from this stewardship. Leadership comes down to protecting the story, bringing others into the story, and keeping the organization accountable to the story. The leader tells the story over and over again, refining it, updating it, and driving it home.

Leadership is the consummate human art. It requires nothing less than that leaders shape the way their followers see the world. That leader must shape the way followers think about what is real, what is true, what is right, and what is important. Christians know that all truth is unified, and so these concerns are unified as well. Leaders aim to achieve lasting change and common alignment on these questions.

In any context of leadership, passion arises out of beliefs. For the Christian leader, those convictions must be drawn from the Bible and must take the shape of the gospel. Our ultimate conviction is that everything we do is dignified and magnified by the fact that we were created for the glory of God. We were made for his glory, and this means that each one of us has a divine purpose.

Before anything else, leadership is an intellectual activity. While it is natural to point to action as the essence of leadership, activity is the result of thinking, and in this first stage of leadership the seeds of eventual success or failure are sown. Our actions may never reach the heights of our thinking, but you can be certain that the quality of your actions will never exceed the quality of your thinking.

Organizations suffer and even die by indecision, but some people seem to have little or no confidence in their decision-making ability. Are they missing a decision-making gene? No, they lack the courage of their convictions, the discipline of critical thinking, or the confidence of steady leadership.

Every great leader is a great teacher, and the greatest leaders seize every opportunity to teach well. Ideas do drive the world, and beliefs determine actions. The leader who wants to effect long-term, lasting, determinative change in an organization has to be its lead teacher, changing minds in order to transform the organization.

Manager can do their work by ordering people to do something, but leaders are never satisfied with people taking orders. Leaders want to see every member of the organization learn what must be done, and why. Leaders are not satisfied until every individual understands the mission, embraces it, and brings others into it.

Character is indispensable to credibility, and credibility is essential to leadership. The great warning to every leader is that certain sins and scandals can spell the end of our leadership. We can forfeit our role as leader and the stewardship of leadership can be taken from us.

To be human is to communicate, but to be a leader is to communicate constantly, skillfully, intentionally, and strategically. The effective leader communicates so pervasively that it seems second nature, and so intentionally that no strategic opportunity is ever surrendered.

Communication requires courage for the very simple reason that, if your convictions mean anything at all, someone will oppose you.

The courage required for leadership and for the risk of communication is usually the everyday courage required to get up in front of people and expose yourself and your message to the scrutiny of others. If this seems too daunting, then follow. Do not aspire to lead.

Our spiritual maturity will never exceed our knowledge of the Bible, which is an especially urgent principle for Christian leaders.

Leaders get things done. Faithful leaders get the right things done in the right way. The essence of leadership is motivating and influencing followers to get the right things done—putting conviction into corporate action.

Most leaders enjoy speaking, but many do not do it well, and their leadership is hampered. Speaking is an art and a craft, not a science. The most effective speakers love language and enjoy telling a tale. They experiment with different ways of using words and sentences, different strategies for constructing messages and talks. Leaders who are good speakers learn to use their voice as an instrument rather than a piece of equipment. They learn how to use humor without becoming comedians; to arouse emotion without selling out to emotionalism; and to make an audience want more, not less, from the speaker.

If the leader is not leading in the digital world, his leadership is, by definition, limited to those who also ignore or neglect that world. That population is shrinking every minute. The clock is ticking.

The leaders who make the biggest difference are those with long tenure. Great impact requires a lengthy term of leadership, and the leader who wants to make a difference had better make a public commitment to stay.


Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Psychology And Human Wisdom

Apprising Ministries reminds you of what’s been forgotten about the man-centered Robert Schulleresque pragmatism of Rick Warren in his recent resurgence.


Gary Gilley Reviews Spiritual Disciplines Handbook By Pastrix Adele Calhoun

Apprising Ministries also documents for you that New Calvinist Tim Keller actually endorses this book of contemplative mysticism. I wonder, does New calvinism now accept the unbiblical practice of women elders?