The Scandal

valiant for truthNo one could ever question his giftedness. From the very first he combined an incisive mind, brilliant communicative abilities, and a dynamic personality. Yet he was no pragmatist. He genuinely cared about right doctrine, and he energetically pursued both its study and its dissemination. As a young man he could have been the model for Bunyan’s young hero: Mr. Valiant-for-Truth.

As he preached, his evident talent quickly gained him a hearing, and at an early age he began a rise to prominence. In fact, it wasn’t long until others wanted to learn from him. Young men aspiring to the pulpit not only wanted to learn from him, they wanted to become him. His tics and mannerisms were copied, and soon his strengths and his weaknesses were reproduced in many churches. He became more than a pastor; he was the focal point of a new approach to ministry. Continue reading

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The Over-Appreciated

momHave you ever asked why Mother’s Day is such a big deal?

I’ll bet you haven’t, and the reason is that you already intrinsically know. Mothers are without a doubt the most important presence in the first decade of life. It is no exaggeration to say that if no one did what mothers do, most of us would have died many times over before we reached ten. We need our mothers, or at least we once did. They were indispensable. Yet, if we think about it, we probably ought to be embarrassed about how poorly we treated them.

And so we invented Mother’s Day. It makes sense. It is a day on which to notice the contribution of someone who otherwise would be overlooked. That is how all special days are supposed to work, and also how they once worked. But then, something went wrong. Continue reading

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Thoughts on Baptism, Communion, and Reformation21

waveI would probably be a happier, healthier Baptist if I just kept my nose out of the ongoing kerfuffle debate over at Reformation21 over the question of closed communion among Baptists. I just wanted to say that right up front so that you would all realize that I recognize the fact.

However, having been critical of some of the Presbyterian brethren there in the past when their treatment of Baptists – and particularly of Reformed Baptists – left just a bit to be desired, and having once written that both sides should “reign in the bullies,” I don’t know that I have a choice. So here are my thoughts in what is so far an unfinished discussion. I’ll try to keep them brief. Continue reading

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John Henry’s Homiletics Lesson

arlington

John Henry Passing The Bart at Arlington

I was reminded today of an incident from my college days. I was traveling with a group of students, and we spent a day at the Kentucky Horse Farm in Lexington, a thoroughbred-themed tourist attraction. Among the residents was the storied champion John Henry, an accomplished gelding who was living out his retirement in Lexington.

John Henry was a remarkable horse. As a colt he appeared unlikely to ever be a champion; he was stubborn, undersized, and poorly formed. He surprised everyone and was eventually voted horse of the year in 1981 and 1984 – the latter at the surprising age of nine. He was popularly believed to be an unusually intelligent horse; in fact his stubbornness had been harnessed, not eliminated. Continue reading

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A Response to Jeffrey Riddle

trumpetIn the August 17 edition of the Reformed Baptist Trumpet Pastor Jeffrey Riddle of Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Charlottesville, VA reviewed Holding Communion Together. In light of the controversy which has greeted this book, I appreciate the restrained tone of this review. While critical, Pastor Riddle did not make wild accusations and for the most part avoided imputing motives to us. Appreciating this, I thought that a response to the points made in his review might prove beneficial. Continue reading

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Constructive Criticism

When David Dykstra and I set out to write Holding Communion Together, we knew that portions of it would be controversial.  Particularly, we knew that a certain sub-set of the non-associational churches would take issue with much of what we said.  Since publication, we have been waiting and hoping that someone of mature and respectable stature within that sub-set of churches would provide us with a thoughtful and articulate review of our work.

We were therefore very grateful last weekend to receive the following review, courtesy of Pastor Paul K. Christianson of Grace Reformed Baptist Church of Clarkston, Washington: Continue reading

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Defining the Incomprehensible

defined

That Which Cannot Be Defined

One of the most fascinating descriptions of sanctuary design which I have heard came from an unbelieving architect hired to design a new facility for a Reformed Baptist church. After meeting with various members and officers, interviewing them about their beliefs, their concerns and their architectural theories, he concluded, “So we’re trying to point to something which ultimately cannot be defined, right?”

Far from making a post-modern statement about the know-ability of truth, he was approaching a matter of great importance in Christian theology. The Christian can never define God, because definition requires absolute comprehension. To define God, we would need to know the limits of His essence, and He has no limits. That which is infinite may only be described; it can never be dissected. Continue reading

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