What Are You Supposed to Do for God?

J. D. Greear:

You go into a progressive church… and what you walk away with is “You gotta recycle, you gotta feed the poor, you gotta take care of the earth.” You go into a conservative church and it’s more about “You gotta do missions, you gotta do your quiet time, you gotta do True Love Waits.” You go into seeker churches, and you walk out with… “5 Ways to Fix Your Life”. You go into a traditional church and you walk out with “This is what a real Christian looks like.”

Is there anything wrong with most of these? No. But anytime we preach a gospel that leaves people thinking about what they are supposed to do for God and not what God has done for them, we have preached a false gospel.

Guilt’s Desire for Justice

A guilty soul is a soul that feels it deserves punishment equal to the offense. This is a psychological reality. The guilt-burdened soul cries out for the lashes and nails of justice. That is why the soul of man never rests until the conscience has been purged by a believing look at the bleeding, crucified Lamb of God.

Pearl, To Train Up A Child, 45

Why Parenting is Scary

As the child relates to the figurehead of parental authority, in like manner he will later be prone to relate to God. If parents allow their commands to be treated lightly, the child will take the commandments of God lightly also. Children raised by fathers who are cautious and uncertain, slow to assume command, will grow up with no fear of God and no respect for his commandments.

Pearl, To Train Up a Child, 35

“I’m very proud of it, Mr. President. I worked for it.”

Rush Limbaugh invited President Obama yesterday to come on his radio program for a debate. This was my favorite part:

I, Mr. President, will send my jet, EIB One, to pick you up and bring you here and take you back to wherever you want to go.  You’d love it.  It’s not as big and luxurious as your jet, but it’s got enough seats for your Secret Service detail.  But it is something to behold.  I’m very proud of it, Mr. President.  I worked for it.  I paid for it.  Taxpayers pay you for your travel.  Nobody pays me for mine.  I pay for it.  I pay for the airplane.  I pay for the travel.  I pay for practically everything I do.  We can talk about that, too.  I could tell you what that’s like.

Read Calvin’s Institutes in 2009

My general New Year’s resolution is to be more intentional, efficient, and productive with my time. It occurred to me that if I cut most of the time I spend putzing around on the Internet and planned how that time was spent, I could really get a lot done. (And I wouldn’t miss the putzing.)

So one aspect of that is getting some good reading done. And fortunately for me, the Year of Productivity is also the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth, so there is a lot of good Calvin-related stuff coming out. My favorite project is reformation 21’s Blogging the Institutes. They’ve broken Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion down into 5-days-a-week readings, and one of their bloggers posts on each day’s section.

I’ve mentioned before that Calvin is way underrated, by anti-Calvinists and Calvinists alike. His writing is instructional and devotional, and his intellect is really unmatched. Institutes of the Christian Religion is one of the most important books ever written, and this project makes it more accessible (and finishable). If you want to learn more about the Bible and theology, this is one of the best ways I could think of to do it. (I started today, reading two days’ worth, and it took me less than 15 minutes. It’s very doable!) You can get the reading plan by emailing r21@alliancenet.org, or contact me directly and I’ll get it to you.

Just for good measure, here’s Piper on the discipline of scheduled reading:

Suppose that you read slowly, say about 250 words a minute (as I do). This means that in twenty minutes you can read about five thousand words. An average book has about four hundred words to a page. So you could read about twelve-and-a-half pages in twenty minutes. Suppose you discipline yourself to read a certain author or topic twenty minutes a day, six days a week, for a year. That would be 312 times 12.5 pages for a total of 3,900 pages. Assume that an average book is 250 pages long. This means you could read fifteen books like that in one year.

Or take a longer classic like John Calvin’s Institutes (fifteen hundred pages in the Westminster edition). At twenty minutes a day and 250 words a minute and six days a week, you could finish it in twenty-five weeks. Then Augustine’s City of God and B. B. Warfield’s Inspiration and Authority of the Bible could be finished before year’s end.

This astonishing discovery freed me from the paralysis of not starting great, mind-shaping, heart-enriching books because I lacked enough big blocks of time. It turns out that I don’t need long periods of time in order to read three masterpieces in one year! I needed twenty minutes a day, six days a week. (Brothers, We are Not Professionals, 66-67)

Donald Miller on Obama

Donald Miller is one of the better voices of the Emergent crowd. I liked most of Blue Like Jazz, and I think he’s a great writer. He led a prayer at the Democratic convention– no problem there; I would have gone if they’d asked. (They didn’t.) But he’s saying some really stupid things regarding his support for Obama.

CT interviewed Miller about being asked to pray at the convention. When asked about his stance on abortion, here are his strongest words:

The issue of abortion is a very sensitive one and it’s an important issue…  I hope the Democrats will listen to those of us who lean toward pro-life and those changes can be made. [emphasis added]

Those of us who “lean toward pro-life”? Wow, way to take on the party line.

In a more recent interview (HT: Challies), he says several things that are just flat-out wrong.

[Obama] is also standing up to his own party on the issue and moving the party forward to elevate the issue of the sanctity of life within the Democratic Party.

The best possible spin you can put on this is that Miller has no clue what he’s talking about. Let’s go over this again: Obama has a perfect 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America. He has said his first act as President would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act. He voted, at various times, either “no” or “present” on bills to protect infants who were born alive after abortion attempts. There is no sense in which he is “standing up to his party”– unless it’s to move them further to the left on abortion.

I simply do not see McCain’s stand on abortion being as strong as conservatives think it is. He changed his mind on the issue only a few years ago, in fact. I think it’s a ploy to get votes.

While I share Miller’s wish that McCain would speak more strongly on abortion, his voting record simply couldn’t be much better. He’s certainly the anti-Obama on this issue, with National Right to Life calling his voting record on abortion “one of the best in the Senate.”

I am willing to look uncool to help the first African-American become President.

Right, because supporting Obama is so uncool right now. I guess this one isn’t factually wrong so much as just stupid.

Most evangelicals polled will vote for Barack.

The myth of an evangelical migration to Obama has been repeatedly debunked. Obama doesn’t poll as well among evangelicals as Kerry in 2004. See here, here, and especially here. I have no idea why Miller thinks this statement is true.

Look, I’m all for robust discussion. And no, you most certainly do not have to be a Republican to be a Christian. But if you’re a believer supporting Obama, you really owe it to yourself to have a decent reason (just as you would for McCain). Vote for him because you believe the government should have a bigger role in health care, or because you oppose the war, or because you prefer his economic policy. But don’t vote for him and try to tell the rest of us it’s a valid pro-life move. That’s a sham, and well-informed people ought to know better.

George W. Bush is Batman.

Novelist and screenwriter Andrew Klavan:

There seems to me no question that the Batman film ‘The Dark Knight’…is at some level a paen of praise to the fortitude and moral courage shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war.

You’ll have to take Melissa’s word for it, but I said the same thing the night we saw The Dark Knight.

If you– no, scratch that. No “if.” Just watch this video. Even Klavan’s rabbit trails are brilliant.

Carson on Liberal Theology

You never, never want to get on D. A. Carson’s bad side, because let me tell you, he’ll make you look really stupid and sound very civilized doing it.

Certainly liberal theology… was on the ascendancy during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, but until the twentieth century it did not capture the majority of people in most denominations. And now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, classic liberal theology looks more and more outmoded. It still embraces more than its share of scholars, of course, but its denominations are shrinking, its influence in the culture is declining, and its most extreme and vociferous proponents– the Jesus Seminar, for instance– simply look silly. (Christ and Culture Revisited, 34)

Kind of makes you want to giggle and point, doesn’t it?

Calvinism at the Wesley Foundation (before me!)

You can imagine my surprise when, while reading Collin Hansen’s new book Young, Restless, Reformed, I saw the name of the campus ministry where I used to work!

Joel [Brooks, founder/director of University Christian Fellowship at Samford] embraced Calvinism during his freshman year at Georgia. It turns out that not even the Wesley Foundation is safe from Calvinism. He joined the Wesley Foundation because that Methodist group was much more conservative than the Baptist equivalent. But Calvinists had infiltrated the Wesleyan ranks. Joel picked fights with them at first, and they obliged with spirited debates. But one Calvinist shocked him by refusing to argue. He told Joel to spend a couple of weeks reading the Bible first. Joel took four weeks studying the relevant passages.

“He never even had to talk with me,” Joel said. “It was like I saw Scripture through a different lens.”

A great anecdote for the next time I get asked about coming from the Wesley Foundation to RTS.