Monthly Archives: October 2011

Mohler-Wallis Debate Media Here in 10-14 Days

According to the Henry Center, media from last night’s Mohler-Wallis debate on social justice will be up in 10-14 days.

Here’s what the Center just published about the debate from Thursday night:

The ATO chapel of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School was filled to capacity as over 600 people attended the stimulating debate between Jim Wallis and Al Mohler on the question: Is Social Justice an Essential Part of the Mission of the Church? An even larger audience was able to view the debate through our live-stream. Dr. Chris Firestone, philosophy professor at Trinity International University, was excellent at moderating the event. Many people in attendance agreed that the discussion clarified in a helpful way the important theological and social issues that are at stake.

For those of you who missed the conversation, we’ll be posting the free audio and video of the entire event within two weeks here.

You better believe I’ll have it on this blog when it hits.  The conversation was the most significant public discussion of the issue that has happened in a long time; hundreds were on the live-stream, which featured discussion as lively as did the actual event.

Let’s hope the conversation continues and sparks a generation of Christians who prioritize proclamation of Christ’s gospel and realize that the truly converted person cannot help but have a passionate interest in the welfare of others, in a physical and especially spiritual sense.


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This Week at TEDS: Mohler-Wallis Henry Center Debate & Alistair Begg

(Update: Post corrected thanks to Tyler Wittman)

Thursday night at 7pm CST (8pm EST), the much-anticipated (and widely-covered) debate between Al Mohler and Jim Wallis takes place.  The Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is staging the event.  Anyone and everyone can watch the live-stream here starting at 7pm on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

I would encourage readers to pray that this event will lead to gospel clarity on a confusing issue.

Here is the event description:

North American Evangelicals have recently experienced a revival of interest in issues of social justice. The growing sentiment among many today is that Jesus preached “good news to the poor,” and was indeed among the poor and marginalized. These Christians believe that the implications of these facts should renew the church’s understanding of the gospel and its mission. Rightly or wrongly, this interest in social justice is transforming the blueprint and vision of ecclesial ministry.

For others, this blueprint conjures up concerns about 20th century liberal Protestantism and a watering down of the gospel’s message of salvation. The defining mission of the church, for them, continues to be the sharing of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ to all nations, generations, and social classes. The issue of social justice, though important, is not to be considered as an essential part of the mission of the church.

A basic question at the heart of the debate is this: Is social justice an essential part of the mission of the church?

The Henry Center for Theological Understanding, in its Trinity Debates forum, is pleased to provide a public venue for addressing this question by hosting two prominent voices from competing perspectives. Jim Wallis will answer “Yes” and R. Albert Mohler will answer “No.”

Tomorrow is a big day for the Henry Center.  Alistair Begg will speak in the Scripture & Ministry lecture series at 1pm CST, the premier lecture series of the HCTU.  His talk, entitled “Inadequacy: The Surprising Secret to Being Useful to God,” looks excellent.  I’m guessing you’ll want to get the media in a few weeks’ time.

Here is Begg’s blurb (he references the NBA!):

The NBA champions this year was a team made up of fewer stars and less glitz than their opponents. We might say that humility triumphed over hubris. There are lessons-a-plenty in this for an evangelical church that routinely produces all-stars. Such an approach endangers the recipients of such adulation and discourages those who are by-passed in the process. In this lecture, Alistair Begg will consider God’s pattern of using unlikely and ordinary characters and address the possibility that what we regard as a hindrance may be the key to usefulness in God’s service.


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Kenneth Kantzer of TEDS Predicted Inerrancy, Evolution Crises in 1987

A little while back I mentioned Kenneth Kantzer, founding dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.  In the course of my research on Kantzer and his fellow neo-evangelicals, I came across this documentary fragment that will be of interest to many who are following current evangelical battles over inerrancy, theistic evolution, and the historicity of persons and events in the book of Genesis.

In a talk Kantzer gave on October 4, 1987 to the TEDS advisory committee, he included a section entitled “Theological Changes That Could Affect Evangelical Seminaries.”  He listed the following (this is a word-for-word reproduction):

1. Limitations on inerrancy
2. Theistic evolution
3. An historical Adam and Eve
4. A freer view of introduction problems like: the historicity of Noah, the author of Ecclesiastes, the Pentateuch, and the Psalms
5. Premillennialism

If I’m not mistaken, he went five for five–or very close to it.  Inerrancy has come under fire through the Enns-Westminster controversy and the writing of Kenton Sparks.  Theistic evolution is the subject of a major debate between Southern Seminary president Al Mohler and the BioLogos Foundation.  The necessity of the historicity of Adam and Eve was recently questioned by Westmont College Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman.  The other OT “introduction problems” mentioned by Kantzer in his fourth point, especially the authorship of the Pentateuch, are the subject of much discussion among biblical studies faculty in evangelical seminaries.

Premillennialism is not as viscerally debated as are others on this point, but evangelical institutions and leaders are very much puzzling through whether it should remain “on the books” in statements of faith and other confessional documents as the eschatological position required of professors.  The Evangelical Free Church of America came within a hair’s breadth of removing it from their confession a few years back (EFCA Canada did remove it from theirs); influential pastor Mark Dever suggested a few years ago that it was a sin for churches to require members to assent to a premillennial position.

So again, I think Kantzer went five-for-five.  That’s a remarkable record.  This is one more indication that he was a uniquely wise leader and one who is worthy of significant historiographical consideration.  One is moved by this list to pray for the future health of evangelical seminaries, whether TEDS itself, Gordon-Conwell, SBTS, Reformed Theological Seminary, Westminster Theological Seminary, or others.  We pray that these schools will not give ground to the culture where it begs it from them, but that they will uphold the life-giving teachings of God’s Word.


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Video Interview with Credo Magazine on Jonathan Edwards

This from Credo magazine:

We are pleased to release an interview with Owen Strachan, co-author of The Essential Edwards Collection: Set of 5 Books, on the monumental figure, Jonathan Edwards, perhaps the greatest theologian-philosopher in American history. In Part 1 of this interview Owen introduces us to the life and thought of Edwards, his Puritan heritage, as well as the theological issues and debates of his day. In Part 2 Owen explores the pastoral heart of Edwards, how Edwards was fired from his church, his missionary efforts, and his preaching on hell. In Part 3 Owen takes us back to the beginning of the Great Awakening, the differences between Edwards and later revivalists, and the legacy Edwards left behind.

Here are the videos:

  • Part One–who was Jonathan Edwards?  Was he a Puritan?  What struggles and battles did he fight in his day?
  • Part Two–what was Edwards like as a pastor?  Why was he fired from his church?  Did he have a missionary heart?  Why did he preach on hell?
  • Part Three–What happened to kick off the First Great Awakening?  Was Edwards just like other, later revivalists?  What is his legacy?

It was great fun to do these, and I’m thankful to Matthew Barrett of Credo for this opportunity.  They’re nicely shot, edited, and presented, the speaker notwithstanding.  Readers of this blog do not need me to remind them that I am a fan of Edwards and of this new magazine, fast becoming a virtual theological powerhouse.

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Baseball, Jackrabbits, Theology, and Other (Mostly) Necessary Things

Recently, I had the opportunity to write a blog for the Criswell College blog entitled For Christ and Culture.  I wrote on evangelist Billy Sunday and said this:

Billy Sunday is a heroic figure in evangelical history. By the end of his life, it was widely believed that no one had preached the gospel to more people than the one-time Chicago White Stocking centerfielder, once the fastest man in baseball. More than almost any other figure of his generation, Sunday had a passion to share the good news of Jesus Christ with people lost in their sin and far from God. There will be many we meet in heaven who, in God’s grace, found the narrow way to it through the efforts of Billy Sunday.

I went on to tangle with one of the evangelist’s most famous sayings:

One of the evangelist’s most famous utterances was that he knew no more about theology than a jack-rabbit did about ping-pong, a witticism that could wring a laugh out of the staunchest supralapsarian. The remark was intended to downplay the role of theology in Christian practice, which Sunday believed bore far more importance than did exegetical minutiae and doctrinal hair-splitting. Such useless activities constituted the study of theology, in the evangelist’s mind. Better to get out and share the gospel than to lose oneself in the study of books.

My piece attempted to show how this kind of thinking is deficient.  Here’s one of my closing paragraphs:

I tend to think that, contrary to common wisdom, all Christian activity is theological. We may consciously operate from such a conviction. With Sunday, we might disavow the role of theology in our lives, pointing out that we’re a doer, not a thinker.But let’s pause there for a moment. What is more theological than being an evangelist? Or a missionary?…What is more theological than believing that Jesus is the Son of God and then telling people that truth? What is more doctrinal, more philosophically potent, than venturing out into Islamic territory to announce to people that the one true God includes three holy persons, each God, together one?

Read the whole thing here.  I like Billy Sunday and would love to be as evangelistically prolific as he was.  I think his saying, though, points to a flaw in common evangelical thinking, one that I would love to see corrected in coming days.

I also did a lively radio interview on “Coffee with Creamer” about the Sunday piece.  My commentary starts at about the 16:15 mark.  I spoke in chapel on 2 Kings 6 and Matthew 27.  The message was entitled “Those Who Are with Us.”  All of this activity was enriching and exciting, and it is good to see how the Lord is using Criswell College for his glory and the upbuilding of his church.


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First Issue of Credo Magazine: John Frame, Bruce Ware, Tim Challies on Scripture

A few months back I made mention of a new magazine, Credo, which is reformed, credobaptistic, and focused on theology and history.  The first issue was published yesterday and it is a humdinger.

Click here to go to the main page of the magazine.  Credo is an online production, and you can read it either as a PDF or as a digital publication.  You’ll find stimulating resources like an interview with Bruce Ware, another with John Frame, an interview on the reformers with Timothy George, an article for the “reformed pastor” by Tim Challies, an article on B. B. Warfield by Fred Zaspel (author of this excellent resource on Warfield), an article on the King James Version by Michael Haykin, and much more.

Here’s a brief description of the issue’s contents:

Is Scripture inspired by God or is it merely the work of man? Peter writes, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet 1:21). The October issue of Credo seeks to affirm the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture as doctrines that are faithful to the testimony of Scripture itself. Contributors include: Gregg Allison, John Frame, Timothy George, Fred Zaspel, Michael A.G. Haykin, Tim Challies, Matthew Barrett, Thomas Schreiner, Tony Merida, Owen Strachan, J. V. Fesko, Robert Saucy, and many others.

By the way, I have a piece on sola Scriptura, the Reformational idea that Scripture alone is the church’s final authority (contra historic Roman Catholic Christianity).  Here’s a snatch from it:

As Luther affirmed the objective nature of Scripture’s authority, he felt the existential weight of this truth keenly, as both Roland Bainton’s Here I Stand and Erik Erikson’s Luther make clear. Scripture was the creator of the church, and Scripture was the guardian of the soul. He was captive to the Word, and could do nothing but affirm this reality. Sola Scriptura, we see, is not a doctrine that we hold lightly. It is an explosive idea, one that asserts precedence over all other systems and that destroys our natural sinful claim to self-rule. To affirm this great Reformational idea is to affirm in simple biblical terms that God is true, and every man is a liar.

Go here to start digging into this excellent magazine.  In coming days, Credo will be releasing individual pieces of content on its blog, which will make it easy to “Tweet” or “Like” the material.

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On the Trinity, Gospel, Local Church and More: Videos

What is the value of church history?  I attempt to answer this very important question here in a video interview with conducted at the 2011 national conference of The Gospel Coalition.  I reference the doctrine of the Trinity–currently a hot-button issue due to the matter of modalism raised in light of the Elephant Room video series–to show that while historical theology does not create truth, it certainly allows Christians to put together biblical insights, to systematize doctrine for the flourishing of God’s people and the defense of God’s name.  (That’s Athanasius, Trinitarian theologian par excellence, to the root, by the way.)

You can watch the featured video here.  Here is a list of other videos that I did for this organization, which is committed to putting out rich doctrinal content to aid Christians in their walk with Christ.  I’m thankful for the chance to have made a small contribution and hope that these videos stimulate thought and learning.  They were very fun to do.  Most are between 2-3 minutes.

Here are the topics I talked about in bite-size pieces:

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