If Wendy Davis and Planned Parenthood are the face of the pro-abortion movement, then there may yet be hope that this is the last generation for legal abortion in the United States.

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First some background: Yesterday the 5th-Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling and allowed Texas’ new restrictions on abortions to remain in effect. This case will certainly be heard by the US Supreme Court, and is probably the most significant case in the struggle to end legal abortion.   Continue Reading…

Many years ago, I was an upperclassman at a bible college.  Like most upperclassmen in bible college, I had spent a few years learning vast quantities of information and was both eager and embarrassingly incompetent to make “real world” applications of all the things I had learned.  In an effort to connect the theological dots I had assembled, I–along with several other Bible geeks–had a lunchtime discussion club where we would entertain issues of what we called “theoretical theology”.  We would think of (usually) bizarre theological questions, analyze them, and then attempt to come up with solutions to those conundrums. Most of the time, the questions were ridiculous but still involved big theological issues (i.e. dispensationalism, creationism, pacifism, Calvinism, the second coming, etc.) in a roundabout way.  The questions often were hilarious and allowed us to address serious issues in a humorous way that often ended up in carefully articulated responses.

One of the questions I remember the most was:

– If I am a New Testament Christian and I got a DeLorean with a flux capacitor and went back to the time of Moses, would I still be saved by grace or would I suddenly lose the Spirit and have to keep the law?

back-to-the-future-DeLorean

Now that question is both silly and impossible, but it was the manifestation of a few budding theologians attempting to struggle through and apply the numerous biblical/theological truths they were learning.  I’m sure that some people now want me to address that crazy question, but that’s not the one I’m going to focus on.  In my first post in this series, I gave an illustration of how the scripture often addresses matters more clearly than we may think.  In my second post in this series, I gave an (ill received) illustration of how the Bible directly speaks about far more issues than we often expect.  Both of those two involved matters that the scripture directly addresses and in the first post I made passing reference to “applying hand lotion to a penguin” as a theological question.  I mentioned in the comment thread that I would get back to that idea and now, here I am.

Am I seriously going to talk about the application of hand lotion to penguins as a “theoretical theology” question?

Yup.

Not the whole bird of course; that would be silly and needless.  Just their feet.

Let’s not be totally absurd! Continue Reading…

You can complete a form. Maybe there’s a phone number to call. Or in some cases, you might even be able to make an appointment with a real live individual. In business and government services, it’s a mark of sound practice to provide people with a means of filing complaints. But what are Christians to do with their complaints over another Christian – or even an entire church? What we find, as with most things, is the Church is called to practices quite different from that of a business or government agency.

Complaints in the Church?

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Spurgeon2I recently received an email asking a question that I have been asked from time to time. It pertains to the topic of spiritual gifts and cessationism. In today’s article, I’ve summarized the question and provided my response.

Question: You mention Charles Spurgeon as an advocate of cessationism. But Spurgeon confessed that on several occasions, while he was preaching, he received impressions from the Holy Spirit that gave him extraordinary insights to expose specific sins in people’s lives with incredible accuracy. From my perspective, those impressions seem to align with the gift of prophecy. How do you reconcile Spurgeon’s impressions with your claim that he was a cessationist?

Response:

It is important, at the outset, to note that Scripture – and not Spurgeon – is our final authority in these matters. I’m confident that Charles Spurgeon would agree with us on that point. Whatever we conclude about Spurgeon’s experiences, we need to remember that our convictions must ultimately be drawn from the Word of God.

Having said that, I do think it is helpful to think carefully about the issues you raise in your question. With that in mind, I’ve summarized my response under the following three headings.

A) Was Spurgeon a Cessationist?

Yes. The nineteenth-century ‘Prince of Preachers’ taught that the miraculous gifts of the apostolic age (including the gifts of tongues, prophecy, and healing) had passed away shortly after the first century.

In a sermon entitled, “Final Perseverance” (March 23, 1856), Spurgeon spoke of the spiritual power that was available to his congregation with this qualification: “Not miraculous gifts, which are denied us in these days, but all those powers with which the Holy Ghost endows a Christian.” Continue Reading…

swashbucklersWith the publication date of Things that Go Bump in the Church only eight days away, the marketing machine is in full swing. I’m not as well-connected as the other authors, Mike Abendroth, and Byron Yawn, but int he tradition of the little drummer boy, I have this blog’s Monday slot to give…

The book deals with intimidating and misunderstood doctrines, poking some fun at the Amityville Horror genre. Here is an excerpt from my chapter on demons, called “Spiritual Swashbuckling.” 

       *  *  *

It was a dark night. Raining. I awoke to frantic knocking on my cabin door. Youth camps often come with various genres of drama, from relationship angst to teary confession sessions. As a camp counselor I had encountered my diverse array of spiritual emergencies on my watch, ranging from the need to rebuke a bevy of mean girls, to confiscating contraband magazines from the guys’ dorm. But the look in this kid’s eyes was one of genuine terror. Something was wrong. I grabbed my Bible and charged through the pouring rain in pursuit of the young man who had been sent to summon me. When I got to the dorm room, all twelve teenage boys were standing outside, shivering wet.

They sheepishly confessed that they had been experimenting with an occult game, glassy-glassy. This is where people supposedly channel spirits, which move a glass over a lettered board to eerily spell out instructions from the netherworld. The boys breathlessly recounted what they had witnessed. Shortly after they had turned out the lights and sealed the door, they heard an intense crying sound in the room like a baby had been pinched. This was followed by hissing noises and more high-pitched cries. The stunned boys all looked thoroughly traumatized. This was no prank being played on the camp counselor. I wanted to ask which one of them was disturbed enough to bring Satanic paraphernalia to a Christian camp, and why none of the others were man enough to put a stop to it. Instead, I clutched my Bible, boldly kicked open the door, and flipped on the light switch.

Continue Reading…

MacArthur and PiperSeveral months ago, shortly after the Strange Fire Conference, notable continuationist pastor, John Piper, responded to some of the claims of the conference via his question-and-answer program, Ask Pastor John. Over the last couple of weeks, John MacArthur has begun responding to Piper’s remarks over at the Grace To You blog. These posts represent valuable, rubber-meets-the-road exegetical discussion as it relates to the cessation of the miraculous gifts, and it’s happening between two lifelong students of Scripture who many in our generation consider to be fathers in the faith. It’s surely an exchange you don’t want to miss.

I want to devote today’s post to recapping what’s been said there so far.

#1 Biblical Prophecy and Modern Confusion

In the first post, MacArthur begins with some comments of appreciation for John Piper and his ministry, speaking of his gratitude for Piper’s friendship and partnership in the Gospel. He also takes some time to briefly clarify an apparent misunderstanding of what and wasn’t being said about Piper at the Strange Fire Conference.

He then moves quickly into addressing the issues that Piper brought up in his first podcast. First, he comments on Piper’s definition of prophecy, and notes how he “illustrates one of the central concerns of . . . Strange Fire: the charismatic movement, even down to the most conservative continuationists, has entirely redefined the New Testament miraculous gifts.” He goes on to engage with that redefinition.

Continue Reading…

Now in my last post (which is here), I wrote about the sufficiency of scripture and explored that topic a bit, taking a look at what Isaiah 65:8-16 teaches us about gambling/playing the lottery.  Now even though I tossed out the “please don’t ask me every sort of hypothetical question” line, they still came.  I understand that, honestly.  It’s only natural for people who are thinking about things to toss out questions and attempt to feel out the boundaries of an answer.

Thinking

What about gambling for fun?

What about supporting the local hospital by buying a lottery ticket with no expectation of winning?

What about this?

What about that?

Now believe me, I am headed towards delivering some principles to address all those questions…but not quite yet.

Please be patient with me as this is a Cripplegate original mini-series, and I’m making the posts more concise in order to maintain an expected standard of quality.

That being said, let’s get on with the show.

So last time we talked about gambling and looked at a passage that many of you may not have known applied to gambling.  The whole point there was to point to the idea that the scripture often addresses matters more clearly than we may think.  Now, I’m going to point out a similar idea: the Bible directly speaks about far more issues than we often expect.  Today I’ll illustrate that by giving an issue that has come up for me several times, but initially caught me wildly off guard.  What is it?  Well, let me keep you hanging for a second or two. Continue Reading…

driscollMark Driscoll’s recent apology has provided for some thoughtful and edifying discussion.

And as we discuss, it’s best for us to remember a few things: We need to love and pray for him. We need to remember that we’re not omniscient. And we need to hope for the best and pray accordingly.

And in doing so, the church as the opportunity to grow from this. Questions are being raised. Ideas are being circulated. But there have been too many erroneous assertions and objections in the mix.

Here are a few categorically unhelpful ideas buzzing throughout evangelicalism regarding the Driscoll apology:

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wesleyJohn Wesley (1703–1791) is best known in church history as the founder of Methodism. His commitment to the biblical gospel, passion for evangelistic preaching, and skill at organizing the budding Methodist movement are all notable traits. And God used those qualities to help spark the Evangelical Revival in England in the mid-18th century (a revival that paralleled the Great Awakening in North America). In that respect, there are many helpful things that we can learn from Wesley’s example.

His marriage, however, left a different kind of legacy; one which is also noteworthy, but not for good reasons.

As Methodist author John Singleton explains:

The saga of John Wesley’s marriage is a cautionary tale from the roots of Methodism that ought to resonate today with any couple so involved in church life that they fail to leave enough space for each other.

Wesley and Mary Vazeille, a well-to-do widow and mother of four children, were married in 1751. By 1758 she had left him—unable to cope, it is said, with the competition for his time and devotion presented by the ever-burgeoning Methodist movement. Molly, as she was known, was to return and leave him again on several occasions before their final separation.

Due to her husband’s constant travels, Molly felt increasingly neglected. She grew jealous of her husband’s time since he was often away. And she became suspicious of the many friendly relationships he maintained with various women who were part of the Methodist movement. Wesley for his part did little to assauge her fears. Continue Reading…

If we can agree that the goal of the Christian life is to glorify God as much as is possible, then there really is only one natural question: what is the single most God-glorifying action a Christian can do?

Some may argue that all elements of a Christians life, such as prayer, fasting, worship, parenting, sanctification, etc.,  are equally important. But I disagree. While all spiritual disciplines are interconnected—if your prayer time falters, so do your affections for Jesus, and then your sanctification falters, and then you sin—they are not all equal. I argue that evangelism is the single most important action for a Christian, and I measure importance by the way an action glorifies God. Pastor MacArthur has often said “nothing so much glorifies God as his gracious redemption of hell bound sinners,” and if the chief purpose of mankind is to glorify God, nothing glorifies God as effectively as evangelism.

Continue Reading…