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.

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