Chicago Emerging Baptists

This site is intended to allow a forum for those in the NextGen Network of the Chicago Metro Baptist Assocition to continue their dialogue online and produce a resource for those interested in emerging topics.Please join in the conversation.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

John Piper on Fundamentalism

Pastor John Piper recently gave a little "plug" for fundamentalist Christianity as having some bona fide distinctives. See his recent post here.

I couldn't help but give a little response to this gracious post:

"BJU & DBTS grad here living and ministering w/ gospel-centered "non"-fundamentalists in downtown Chicago...

Dr. Piper: You have no idea how far words like these go, my brother. Though I am somewhat a product of the (midwest US part) FBF, I by God's providence, my theological journey, etc., have become disassociated with them. I espouse principles of separatism (or preferred word) of antithesis consonant with Scripture, I thank God for my heritage and [I] love my fundamentalist brothers and sisters. Your kind, irenic spirit and words let the unity of gospel blaze to the glory of King Jesus. I love you, my brother and teacher! Furthermore, they not only lend credence to the fundamentalist "movement" but also bolster the church of Jesus Christ at large and the intense love that should exist among Jesus' disciples (John 13:34-35). Keep preaching and loving Jesus, Will"


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another great deal!!

We're on a roll here! Desiring God Ministries is offering John Piper's new book The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright for $5!! Over the last several months, I've seen lots of blurbs (positive) on this book. If you're into theological issues in the church, this book is a must have. However, in a recent 9Marks interview British scholars, Simon Gathercole and Peter Williams, when pressed by Mark Dever admitted that if you are a pastor unaware (or dispassionate) of the New Perspective on Paul controversy, there really is no need to start studying it (unless, of course, it starts becoming an issue in your church). White Horse Inn had a broadcast about a few weeks ago on Current Controversies over Justification. Do you guys have any thoughts on the NPP?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

What To Do With Sunday Sermons on Mondays
Part One

James 1:25 says, "But the one who peers into the perfect law of liberty and fixes his attention there, and does not become a forgetful listener but one who lives it out--he will be blessed in what he does" (NET Bible). Have you ever forgotten a text that you read in your private devotional time? Has it ever happened that you forgot about that superb sermon your pastor preached last Sunday? Worse yet, have you not forgotten or forgiven a minister for a bad sermon? Gospel ministers can sometimes be the objects of intense criticism (and sometimes, rightly so!). The comforting thing about even the worst sermons is that the Word is alive; the text still stands true and is efficacious. The point is that we often forget what we are supposed to remember and focus cerebral energy on what should be forgiven. What are we to do about this seeming malady of Christian forgetfulness? Where does the gospel meet us in our need to remember the Word? Over the next couple of weekends, I'd like to attempt to answer some of these concerns by suggesting ways to take Sunday's sermons home with us.

First things first: Get from Saturday to Sunday.
Often getting the sermon in your head for Monday demands focus Saturday night and/or Sunday morning (assuming your service is on Sunday am). What I mean by focus is an attitude of anticipation and preparation. The attitude as the Puritans put it is that the Lord's Day is "the soul's market day." By referencing this quote does not mean I endorse all the strong exhortations and impositions that they placed on their parishioners. Sunday is the day Jesus has set aside for us to concentrate on him in a community (Mark 2:27-28). Oddly enough, for me, I look forward to the weekends not so much as a change from my work but what I get to do on that first day of the week. Throughout my short marriage and time of rearing children, as head of my home, I have tried to create an atmosphere (imperfectly and inconsistently at times) of anticipation for Sunday.

The cousin of anticipation is preparation. The question I'm trying to answer as I prepare for Sunday is: "What do I need to do for this most important day of the week?" Or: "What frame of my mind do I need to be in to worship my Lord, and what does it take to unite my heart with my brothers and sisters to fear God's name? Immediately, I would like to dispel any notion that exists regarding a legallist (misspelling and pun intended). What I mean by legallist is that in order to be best prepared to worship the Lord on his day, I must comply with a laundry list of preparational activities. I am not the Holy Spirit, and that's a great thing! I would hate to bind anyone's conscience. God mercifully grants edifying worship "experiences" at times even to those who may not be deliberately using means like I'm about to suggest. However, I would say that important events or duties--just like any other area of life-- require approriate and careful preparation.

Careful preparation on Saturday eve may include but not be limited to cutting of the TV after a certain hour or staying up late reading a novel; studying into the wee hours of the morning; leaving a social function; refraining from a food or drink that you know will keep you awake; turning off your electronic devices. Positively, you can go to bed early, prepare your clothes (or the kids', if that is the state of life you are in) or the Sunday lunch on Saturday night, play some Christian hymns or songs, read Scripture or some other book that will warm your heart. Pray with your family or roommates, or call someone in your church to pray with them. If your pastor is preaching through a series, review last week's text to refresh.

Husbands, it is your responsibility to ensure that your wife (and children) are not flustered as you prepare for worship. Sundays can be very hectic on families (esp. the mothers of small children). On the way to church, take of few moments of silent prayer to intercede for the service and other men preaching around the country or globe and their churches. Get in your seat a few minutes before the worship service commences to pray, read or pray through a brief text of Scriptures; socialize before these moments and after the service. During the song portion, engage both your heart and mind by trying to think of the Scriptures that support the various phrases that make up the songs you're singing. I have found this to be quite a refreshing challenge as it both focuses me and shows my lack of Biblical knowledge.
Next weekend, I hope to cover a little bit about listening to the sermon and keeping the sermon alive in your mind on Monday.


Children's Bible Story Books

Real quick: Westminster Bookstore is having a good sale on The Jesus Storybook Bible (by Sally Lloyd-Jones). I have been told that this is a very Christocentric, gospel-focused kid's book. Dan Cruver of Eucatastrophe brought it to my attention. You could also to an interview he did with the author from that page. If it is anything like The Big Picture Story Bible (David Helm, our pastor), it promises to be a good buy. My son, Haddon, has really enjoyed the Big Picture one (we're almost through our third time!), and we look forward to this new buy.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Books & Clutter
[Yes, this post title is a play on CT's Books & Culture.]
A homiletics professor of mine in grad school once told us: "There is a difference between a book collector and a library builder." I guess the difference is: library building is a means to an end; whereas, book collecting is an end to itself (though I'm sure those of the latter would dispute this statement).
As my library grows and as I make my family move all over the place, I have found it necessary to electronically keep track of my books or else these precious gems become just clutter for my wife. Recently, I discovered Library Thing, thanks to Christian blogger, Tim Challies, who uses and endorses it. Another resource for personal library organization is Collectorz. The most attractive difference between these seemingly good databases is price: LibraryThing is free (up to 200 books) and Book Collectorz is not. I decided for LibraryThing since after the 200 limit is reached, it only costs $10 a year (or $25 for a lifetime) and it is online. I believe Collectorz has some live or remote access options. I just don't want another program on my computer (does that disqualify me from being a bibliophile?). Also, LibraryThing has a special feature to network with others who share similar interests or titles (a take-it-or-leave-it imho). They also have features that allow you to tag your books certains ways, search and categorize according to the Dewey decimal system or in the Library of Congress. The crown jewel of programs like these is an ISBN scanner. Depending on what you prefer, you can go w/ the $15 USB plug-in option that LibraryThing offers or you can do the wireless $140 option that Collectorz offers. I like the idea of standing in front of my bookshelf and whipping out the books only long enough for a quick scan and then uploading them via a cable, but wanting to save the pennies, I can live with bringing stacks of books down closer to my "short-leashed" scanner. Either way, the effect is the same.
Then again, there are some "progressives" =+) like Andy Naselli, who virtually streamline a conversation and process like this by making a good case for growing an e-library and utilizing certain Bible software programs here. My good friend and local Chicago pastor, Oscar Leiva, would certainly agree with Andy. In fact, every time Oscar and I get on the subject, he always reminds me of the superiority of his program (Logos) over mine (Bible Works). Maybe someone can do Mac vs. PC parody for these Bible software programs; no doubt, it's out there, but I don't want to waste my time on YouTube. If anyone has other organizational tips or has found a good program, let us know.


One Year
If I'm not mistaken, today marks the first year since this blog was started. This is only the thirty-fifth post (i think) in 52 weeks. 3 contributors (now 4). I' m not sure what other site metrics there are. Hopefully, we can double the amt of posts. I think that to be a reasonable goal considering our number. What do you guys think? Some ideas: post vignettes from your Lord's Day sermons; put together a blog schedule; invite other bloggers to post; book reviews...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Harry Potter & Hermeneutics
Though I am not an aficionado of the Harry Potter series, I--like many who appreciate fiction and movies--were "roped in" by author J.K. Rowling's announcement that Dumbledore is gay. For those who espouse heterosexual (Biblical) convictions, this revelation comes as more of a disturbance. For me, it's just another reason not to get tied up in this series (the other being that, Harry Potter actor, Daniel Radcliffe, is now doing nude gigs on-stage). Call me a stick in the mud, I know.=+)
Anyway, John Mark Reynolds at the Scriptorium Daily blog puts his foot down on this authorial liberty that Rowling assumes. His basic point is that unless she writes a prequel, she is deposed as a queen of interpretation of this text; the text stands; Dumbledore is not gay. This post reminds me of principles that guide us in interpreting the Bible, and that hermeneutics is not only about me (or the author). Then again, i may be asked if I elevate the text above both author and reader. Not necessarily. That's a slightly different conversation (or perhaps we can take it up in the comments).
My point in posting this is that rules of language and interpretation are easily hijacked by the lusty, depraved human heart whether Christian or non-Christian, the Bible or Harry Potter. I identify with Ms. Rowling not as an author but as a human being fallen in God's image who is in need of redemption. I am tempted at times to interpret words or situations as I want to see them not necessarily as they are reflected in the Book. It is just amusing to see the world "clap" and/or "gasp" as Rowling makes this announcement, but it's not so amusing when image bearers take the same liberties with the Creator's Word.