Archives For Evangelicalism

October 15, 2014

Portrait of a Hypocrite

by Eric Davis

Drama MasksIf you spend any amount of time with little kids, a particular phrase will be heard more than once: “Watch this!” Perhaps they’ll perform a new trick they learned on the playground or show you how fast they can run on their budding legs. And it’s cute to watch. They are learning life and enjoying the thrill of using their newly-discovered, God-given skills.

But it’s quite another thing when the, “Watch this!” isn’t shed by the adult years. And it’s not so cute any more when “Watch this!” becomes the underlying operating principle for which we do life and religion. In fact, far from being cute, Scripture gives it a name: hypocrisy. The New Testament idea comes from a word used to describe an actor who would put on a certain mask during a theatrical performance. You get the idea. Hypocrisy is that thing which is all-too easy to see and diagnose in others, but might be more present in us than we’d like to see and admit. It’s a deep sickness, showing itself in several ways.

Here are 7 things we might see in a portrait of a hypocrite:

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The Home TeamIt is said that marriage and family counseling comprise something around 80% of all counseling issues. This means that the bulk of a pastor’s counseling will be in the throes of the family. It also means that the bulk of the strife, hurt, and pain out there exist in the place where they should be the most scare: the family.

Not a few writers have recognized that. For example, an Amazon search of books pertaining to help with the family serves up some 200,000 hits. Point being: in so many ways, the family is one of the great battlefields. Everyone needs help and equipping for it. But not all that glitters among the 200,000 hits is gold. For all those reasons, it was a joy to read Clint Archer’s newest book, “The Home Team.”

As you might guess, Clint uses the team theme throughout in order to flesh out the structure and happenings of biblical life in the home. Using that unique illustration, nine chapters are given to covering the family dynamics.

I benefited from the book and recommend it for several reasons:

1. It’s biblical.

This isn’t a given in the slough of family literature out there. In fact, it’s probably the vast minority. Clint’s work is an exception.

A sound theology undergirds each chapter. For example, in chapter one, Clint clears the air as to what the origin of the problem for all families: the Fall. This is critical to set up families up for realistic expectations and actual solutions.

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Last month I posed this question: Should same-sex couples be allowed to marry? Or, more particularly, in states that have followed the democratic process to define marriage as exclusively between a man and woman, should judges intervene and nullify those laws? Where new elections are held, should Christians vote to allow LGBT couples to legally marry?

I answered this question by saying that as much as it depends on voters, legislatures, or judges, that no, marriage should not be redefined. There are three parts to this answer:

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Have you ever used a term for a while and one day come to realize that you may have been using the term incorrectly?

Being in the church and using “Christan language” as much as I do, I have used the term “forgiveness” for decades and a little while ago, I realized that I wasn’t really clear on a definition of the term.

Using that word

I’ve heard and read a lot about forgiveness.  There are tons of books out there that address various aspects of forgiveness, but they all seem to regularly suffer from the same flaw: I rarely find a satisfactory biblical definition of the term “forgiveness”.

- People will often talk about what forgiveness looks like, meaning they’ll talk about no longer “bringing it up” once you’ve forgiven someone…but that only tells me what forgiveness does, not what it is.

- People will talk about how God forgives and quote various passages that deal with the frequency or gracious nature of forgiveness (seventy times seven, right?), but again those tell me about how forgiveness looks, not what it is.

I recently wanted to really put my thumb down in a biblical idea of what forgiveness is in its essence; a single statement to summarize a definition of “forgiveness” that is positive and gives my mind a nail on which to hang thoughts about forgiveness.  I’m not going to answer all the questions on forgiveness at all, but only try to define the term from the scriptures.  So, here’s a short definition of “forgiveness” that I’ve come up with some biblical explanation: Continue Reading…

In many ways, Mark Driscoll’s stepping down from his church brings to a close a somewhat ignominious chapter in the history of American Evangelicalism (you know something is ignominious when it gets Voxified). The Driscoll Decade of Drama unfolded like a circus: for ten years there was a show in town, and there were otherwise respectable people selling tickets. Many of those people have now taken to hoping for Driscoll’s repentance. Here is the most famous example:


First, a few disclaimers. 1. Ten years ago I made a personal rule to not blog on anything related to Mark Driscoll. To the best of my memory I have kept that quasi-vow, but am breaking it now.

Second, I have a huge/tremendous respect for John Piper and Douglas Wilson. They are probably my two favorite living authors, and Wilson is probably my favorite Christian blogger (along with Challies, of course). I mean no disrespect to these men at all. Continue Reading…

It has been ten days since a police officer shot and killed an African-American man in St. Louis, and there have been increasing calls for pastors to speak up about it. In fact yesterday morning I saw one of the Ferguson protest leaders on CNN lamenting the relative silence from pastors on what happened.

The question though: what should pastors say? For whom should they speak up? Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile (who pastors a church about 15 miles away from me) pleads with pastors to break their silence and speak out against the injustice of using lethal force against an unarmed teenager. Meanwhile Pastor Joshua Waulk wrote a compelling post urging pastors to “stop using language that is unduly sympathetic to the pro-Brown narrative, without regard for the potential innocence of PO Wilson, such as repeatedly calling Brown an unarmed teenager.”   Continue Reading…

August 12, 2014

Please, Tell Me So

by Eric Davis

We’ll keep this brief. Not much more needs to be said about the Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill situation. Just three quick items for consideration as we’ve had a few days to consider some of the responses.

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As more courts overturn laws that define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, I have encountered many Christians who are genuinely confused about the issue. Because our culture has almost entirely capitulated to the notion of same-sex weddings, it is becoming common for believers to defend these unions as “marriage” because, after all, the government shouldn’t legislate morality (or “separation of church and state,” or some other line like that).

But in order to articulate the case against the judicial redefinition of marriage (which I will do next week–this isn’t that post), a person first must have a firm grasp on the answer to this foundational question: What is the role of government?

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prayingI remember the first few times hearing about a heavenly prayer language. Some called it praying, or speaking, in tongues. Not long after coming to faith in Christ, a group of friends took me to a few meetings where this would be happening. We gathered in homes, the forest, and a local church to experience these supposed, Holy-Spirit-induced prayers. What I witnessed was fairly similar: various individuals caught in a trance-like state, speaking, or praying (I wasn’t sure), out loud using non-language noises in somewhat of a repeated fashion. The prayers/noises sounded something like, “Hasha-batta, kala-hasha, nashta-kala, hasha-batta..”

Subsequent to that, others reported that they were having similar experiences during private prayer to God. They said that the Holy Spirit gave them an ability to pray in non-language sounds as a means of infusing their prayers, and encouraged me to seek this out. About one year later, I observed some of the same, a supposed Holy-Spirit-infused prayer language, while attending one of the largest, and most well-known charismatic churches in the nation. These were some of my first experiences with this prayer language phenomena. I soon discovered that it is a widely practiced phenomena (in various forms) both inside and outside Christendom.

I, like many, began to ask: Is this prayer phenomena in Scripture? And, if so, what does Scripture say about it?

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When the world’s attention shifted to Ukraine and Israel last week, the Islamic leaders in Iraq capitalized on the distraction. For weeks the functional government in central Iraq (ISIS) had told Christians they had to make one of four choices by this past Saturday: forfeit their property as a “Christian” tax, convert to Islam, leave, or die. But a week ago ISIS revised their list, and said paying the “tax” was no longer an option.

When Friday came around, residents awoke to an Arabic “N” spray-painted on the houses, property, and farms of all suspected Christians. The government had come during the night to demonstrate that they knew who the Christians were, and the spray-painted N’s were a not-so-subtle reminder that the deadline to convert, flee, or die was only 24 hours away.   Continue Reading…