The End of The Spear

Tim Challies posts a link to an article by well-known Christian author Randy Alcorn who weighs in on the End of the Spear controversy.

Alcorn's concern is that some glaring inaccuracies were distributed around the internet by Christians and as a result the film studio (run by Christians) was slandered. If that is true, it is very unfortunate. As is true with many things, we need to be very careful before we push the forward button.

His primary concern, though, seems to be that Matthew 18 was not followed in dealing with this situation. I have to confess that I am not sure Matthew 18 is intended to cover this kind of situation. There seems - to me anyway - to be a difference between a brother who sins against me as an individual, and dealing with a public position taken by a person or group that is considered unbiblical.

What Alcorn asks, though is that we get our facts from the mouths of those involved in the decision to cast Chad Allen. He prints six questions that are answered by the studio execs and asks that we form our opinion on the basis of what they say. I've read their responses, and since I forwarded some objections about the film to our church, I will forward this link as well. But I didn't find their explanations particularly comforting or helpful. I'll certainly give them the fact that they didn't cast Allen in this role deliberately, but I'm not satisfied with their explanations of why they went on with the project.

Your mileage may vary.

On another front, Mark Dever's 9Marks newsletter had a fine article this past week that is worth reading. Go to the website and read How My Mind Has Changed - the Centrality of the Congregation. It is worth distributing, especially to your staff and elders.

I'm currently reading The Deliberate Church. Much of it apparently comes from things that Dever has taught or written. So far the book has been worth reading and shows a seriously thought-out approach to church life. I found his discussion of the biblical basis for church membership pretty interesting ( page 60-61).


Lots of books, little time, administrivia.

What a combo! I have a good number of books I'd like to read. Things get in the way. Some of it is me, some of it is circumstantial. How do I do a better job and read more?

There have been a couple of reading-oriented posts on the new Together for the Gospel blog. Yesterday (January 25th), Mark Dever shared his program of reading that was quite interesting. Dever is both a theologian and an historian, and his reading schedule reflects that. Today, Al Mohler's entry, "Some Thoughts on the Reading of Books" provides some very useful advice and some insight into how a very busy person stays on top of things.

I also received the monthly newsletter of Preaching Now ( in which the ten best books of the year for preachers were listed. It comes from an article in the Jan-Feb issue entitled The Top Ten Books Every Preacher Should Read.

I've got a couple of books on my list as you probably do. How do you make sure that you get to them. Al Mohler reads late at night. When do you do your best reading. Do you have goals, lists of books to read? Do you skim or read thoroughly? Do you take notes? What's on your list to read this year?

By the way, in signing off, Dr. Mohler points to a resource I don't remember seeing before: Bible Researcher. Looks like it would be of value.

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Thanks to those of you who responded to my blog yesterday. Your comments were both encouraging and helpful. It meant a lot!

Blogging, Time and Miscellany

What to do with this blog?

It's been two weeks since I posted, and have considerably slackened my blog posting over the last few months. When Stronger Church was birthed nearly a year ago, my purpose was to point out resources that could be used by those committed to seeing the church maintain biblical moorings. Some earlier posts linked to internet resources, recommended commentaries, and discussions of preaching. Along the way there were several rants about suspect methodology and a few posts about personal experiences.

Reading some of the blogs I scan each day has made me aware of issues facing the church that I might not have known about. I've been able to correspond with a couple of other people who share the same perspective that I have (and a few who don't). By reading blogs and writing one, my thinking has been refined in some areas. I recently told a friend that writing on my blog has helped me to think through a number of issues.

It seems that the most successful blogs are maintained by people who are highly committed to posting at least once (and sometimes more) per day. I've struggled to do that, and in the last few weeks have noticed one former regular blogger disappear, one decide that daily posting is too much, and one new blogger wondering if blogging will cut in on other things he ought to be reading. A weekly or every-other-weekly posting schedule is going to mean that people are less inclined to read, and if no one is reading, what's the point?

I'm not sure where I'm headed with this. I don't think I can commit to daily posting, but I want to be able to share with other people of like interests and passions the things that I find helpful in my own walk as a pastor. So for those of you who have tuned in and not found anything new, stay with me for a bit. I'm working on some things that I hope will be of value.

Dealing with Sin

Luther speaks about the need for us to deal with our sins by recognizing what Scripture says about Christ paying for them:

You must rely on these and similar verses with your whole heart. The more your conscience torments you, the more you must rely on them. For if you don't and try to quiet your conscience through your own sorrow and penance, you will never find peace of mind and will finally despair in the end. If you try to deal with sin in your conscience, let it remain there, and continue to look at it in your heart, your sins will become too strong for you. They will seem to live forever. But when you think of your sins as being on Christ and boldly believe that he conquered them through his resurrection, then they are dead and gone. Sin can't remain on Christ. His resurrection swallowed them up."

From the 1/7 reading in Faith Alone, Zondervan, edited by James Galvin.

Luther on Justification by Faith Alone

A few weeks ago, while over at my favorite bookstore (Westminister Seminary), I saw a new version of a devotional called Faith Alone based on the writing and preaching of Luther. My wife was kind enough to get it for me for Christmas.

The first several days focus on justification by faith, and I've been struck with how simple the Gospel is, and how simple it is to grasp of this subject (which unfortunately is often bypassed in our presentation of the "gospel").

In today's reading, Luther says:

Instead we should conclude with Paul that we are justified by faith alone, not through faith formed by love. So we shouldn't attribute the power of justification to something formed in us that makes us pleasing to God. We must attribute it to faith, which takes hold of Christ the Savior and keeps him in our hearts. This faith justifies us apart from love and prior to love. We concede that we must also teach about good works and love. But we only teach these at the proper time and place - when the question deals with how we should love, not how we are justified.