Monday, March 30, 2009

Blips on the Blogosphere 19

UPDATE: I'm still working on re-posting the articles from my series on Arminianism vs Reformed theology, but I have decided to edit them as I proceed, so the process of reposting will likely take longer than I'd originally planned.

In the meantime, more "blips from the blogosphere"...


Seems there's been a lot of interest lately in the existence (or not) of Satan. A number of thinkers weigh in on the question, "Does Satan Exist?", in the "On Faith" section of the Washington Post.

Then on Nightline: Faceoff, the same question was debated by a panel in a show that aired March 26th. Arguing that Satan does not exist were writer and philosopher Deepak Chopra and United Church of Christ minister Bishop Carlton Pearson (he doesn't believe in hell either). Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church and Annie Lobert, founder of the international Christian ministry "Hookers for Jesus," argued that Satan does indeed exist. I've collected all the videos on vodpod and you can watch some of them right here: Jordan's Video. Click the link at the bottom of the widget to view all my collected videos.


Fans of Tim Keller, author of "The Reason for God" and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church of New York City, will be delighted to have this new resource: a "Tim Keller wiki" which features links to news, books, articles, audios, videos, sermons and will be regularly updated by Tim Keller fans.


Recently I received by mail a flyer advertising an upcoming debate at Bioloa University between author and atheism defender Christopher Hitchens and the author and Christian apologist William Lane Craig. I learned that although the debate will be on a live webcast, one must purchase the rights to listen in. As much as I'd like to listen to this debate, in which it sounds Hitchens will be overmatched, I'm not willing to shell out money for it. Besides, Mr. Craig has debated many others and many of the debates are available for free online.

A debate between William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong was later turned into a book titled "God?", which you can preview at this link.

Speaking of debates and apologetics, there is an excellent blog, Apologetics 315, that features links to numerous apologetic resources, including debates in MP3 format.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blips on the Blogosphere 18

I've been hard at work editing the old introductory article to my "Arminian vs Reformed theology" series and getting ready to re-post the series. In the meantime, here's some things I've stumbled across in the blogosphere lately.

Alex Chediak, who live-blogged almost all of the recent Ligonier 2009 National Conference (the reformed ministry headed up by R.C. Sproul), has put together links to all his conference posts here.

AND THIS JUST IN (3-26-09): Videos from the 2009 Ligonier National Conference (The Holiness of God).

And if you're into photos, check out these conference photos on Flickr.

Pointing out that more top church blogs are by reformed bloggers than any other "theological strain or movement", an article titled "Young, Restless, Reformed Bloggers" asked this question back in January:

Are there so many popular Reformed blogs because of the movement, or has the movement grown, at least in part, because of so many average Reformed Joes and more-than-average Reformed mega-stars getting into New Media and using it more effectively than the other guys?

The author of the article, A- Team blogger David Nilsen, is inclined to think that the Reformed community as a whole, from the big ministry names to the not well-known (yet numerous) bloggers, have been drawn to "new media" (such as blogs) and has used such media very effectively in promoting the reformed view. I agree with this assessment. Let's keep up the good work friends.

Mark Dever writes on "What I CAN and CANNOT Live With as a Pastor" (there's also a corresponding MP3). One of those things Dever cannot live with is the practice of infant baptism, which he calls, sin. Wow. Fighting words? But Dever doesn't seem like he wants a fight, and explains his views in a related article, "The Sin of Infant Baptism, written by a sinning Baptist".

The coming evangelical collapse by Michael Spencer

Writing for the Christian Science Monitor (March 10, 2009 edition), Michael Spencer adapted a series from his blog, and created the above-titled article. In it he presents his vision of what is on the horizon for evangelicalism, and the picture he paints isn't pretty. I admire Spencer for speaking in this "naysaying" prophetic voice, saying things that aren't very heartening but at the same time, seeming to do so as a challenge to all Christians to prepare for tough times ahead. He says he's not a prophet and that his predictions could be wrong, but I do think much of what he's envisioning are trends one can already see in the present.

A few of his predictions:

    Denominations will shrink, even vanish, while fewer and fewer evangelical churches will survive and thrive.

    Expect evangelicalism to look more like the pragmatic, therapeutic, church-growth oriented megachurches that have defined success. Emphasis will shift from doctrine to relevance, motivation, and personal success – resulting in churches further compromised and weakened in their ability to pass on the faith.

    The emerging church will largely vanish from the evangelical landscape, becoming part of the small segment of progressive mainline Protestants that remain true to the liberal vision.

    Aggressively evangelistic fundamentalist churches will begin to disappear.

    Charismatic-Pentecostal Christianity will become the majority report in evangelicalism. Can this community withstand heresy, relativism, and confusion? To do so, it must make a priority of biblical authority, responsible leadership, and a reemergence of orthodoxy.

While Spencer does see evangelicalism as a "crumbling empire", he remains optimistic. "We can rejoice that in the ruins, new forms of Christian vitality and ministry will be born. I expect to see a vital and growing house church movement. This cannot help but be good for an evangelicalism that has made buildings, numbers, and paid staff its drugs for half a century.

We need new evangelicalism that learns from the past and listens more carefully to what God says about being His people in the midst of a powerful, idolatrous culture."

Personally, I resonate with his statement that "a small band will work hard to rescue the movement from its demise through theological renewal", noting that "this is an attractive, innovative, and tireless community with outstanding media, publishing, and leadership development."

Spencer believes that despite such efforts, the "coming evangelical collapse will not result in a second reformation, though it may result in benefits for many churches and the beginnings of new churches."

Perhaps a reformation on the scale of the great Protestant Reformation is not to be, still it is my hope to be part of that small band that will trumpet reformed doctrine, and preach and practice the gospel in powerful ways, so as to purify the church and make her more effective in producing mature disciples, of whom I hope to be one.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The New Calvinism- Picking Up Where I Left Off

Back in November of 2006, I began writing a series examining Arminianism vs Calvinism (Reformed) theology. At the time, I had already become convinced that the Calvinistic position was the more biblically accurate, but I was still working through all its theological implications, as well as trying to answer from scripture the Arminian objections.

So as I began writing the series, my purpose was multifold. First, I wanted to study through to solid answers and put my conclusions in writing, as I have found that putting thoughts down in words brings about greater clarity and insight. Second, I wanted to present a strong, biblical argument and to answer objections biblically. My foundation for bible study is the conviction that the Bible contains the answers to these all-important questions, it being the true revelation of God to man. Third, I hoped my writings on the topic would be helpful and even educational to others who might also be wrestling with the serious theological questions brought out by the ongoing debate between Arminians and Calvinists.

I had also come to recognize that one’s answers to these profound theological questions, in other words, one’s theology, plays a vital role in determining how one lives out their Christian faith. For myself and my family, I wanted to be convinced I had come to sound, biblical conclusions. And as one wanting to be a guide and a help to others in these matters, I knew I would need to have solid convictions, anchored in a confidence that I had come to accurate conclusions based on correct biblical interpretation. Of course I recognized that sincere and godly people have come to different conclusions on many of the questions raised in this ancient debate, nonetheless I proceeded, based on the conviction that embarking on this type of study would bear good fruit. It would challenge me to my best thinking and digging into the Bible would undoubtedly bring more light to my understanding of these things.

Yet I found the challenge of writing on these matters while answering many objections was very consuming, and about midway through the series, I set it aside. Now, 2 and ½ years have passed since I first began writing and I feel compelled again to complete it. I have read and thought more on reformed theology. I am now attending a church that is solidly reformed in its preaching emphasis. My convictions about the accuracy of the reformed theological perspective has continued to grow.

A recent article in Time magazine has also provided new inspiration, since it lists “The New Calvinism” as one of the 10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now. In fact, the new Calvinism is at #3 on the list, though I’m not sure whether the list is in order of priority. I’m challenged by this that the biblical truths Calvin and others pointed to have fresh relevance in these troubled times.

As the world economy faces monumental challenges, wars continue to rage, and famine and natural disasters plague, religious questions are naturally raised. Does God really exist? What is the nature of God— is He the personal God of the Bible or the impersonal divine force that many religions describe? If He is indeed a personal God who is completely sovereign over all things, then why does He allow such pain and suffering? These are the challenging and profound questions that thinking people have always asked. Perhaps in these tremulous days the answers presented by the great Reformed thinkers are growing attractive to many. But more important, does the reformed picture comport with the Bible, or is it merely a man-made theological system? This being also the 500 year anniversary of Calvin’s birth, I feel it is fitting to take up such questions again, and to re-post my series comparing and contrasting the answers provided by Arminian vs Calvinistic (Reformed) theology. My plan then is to re-post the original articles (with perhaps some editing), then pick up in the series where I had left off. Stay tuned for more.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

2009 Ligonier National Conference: The Holiness of God

The 2009 Ligonier National Conference, The Holiness of God, is taking place today, March 19th through the 21st. This conference draws high-quality reformed preachers/teachers, and the lineup this year is outstanding, as usual. Speakers include Thabiti Anyabwile, Alistair Begg, Donald A. Carson, J. Ligon Duncan III, Sinclair Ferguson, W. Robert Godfrey, Steven J. Lawson, R. Albert Mohler Jr., R.C. Sproul, Jr., Derek W.H. Thomas and of course, the great reformed teacher R. C. Sproul.

For those who can't be there (like myself), the conference organizers have graciously made it possible to watch the live webcast of the mini-conference on Calvin as well as the main sessions. Click here to register, watch and be blessed!

Also, Alex Chediak is live-blogging the event and doing a masterful job of summing up each portion of the conference on the Ligonier blog.