Weekly Roundup

Note from the editor:  Evangelical Outpost has nothing to say or share about Miley Cyrus or “twerking.”  That is all.

 

From First Things:  Buzzfeed as a Cultural Battleground.

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A startling (to some) new development in the Syria affair: U.K. Parliament Votes Against Syria Resolution as U.S. Ponders Going Solo.

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Gay marriage activists have long mocked the silly, reactionary notion of a “slippery slope” from their position towards an acceptance of other formerly “taboo” relationships.  They have assured opponents that there is absolutely no connection between acceptance of gay marriage and, for example, acceptance of polyamory.

In a totally unrelated story, BBC asks (non-judgmentally, of course): How does a polyamorous relationship between four people work?

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Wise words from Pastor Kevin DeYoung:  The Preacher at His Best.

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Everyone In The TV Industry Is Passing Around This Speech By Kevin Spacey:  “It’s all content. It’s just story”

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Matt Walsh has some advice for young people:  Kids, go to college or you’ll die alone in misery.  #BlatantSarcasm

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In light of all the recent hullabaloo over “Millennials” leaving the church, here’s an interesting (and overlooked) question:  Why Aren’t Black Millennials Leaving the Church?

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Bonhoeffer saw a fierce battle in his time between Christianity & “Germanism”.  Are we approaching a similar point in America?: America’s Good Servant, But God’s First?

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A friendly rejoinder to Thabiti Anyabwile’s recent article at The Gospel Coalition from Ron Belgau at First Things:  The Problem with the “Gag Reflex.”

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Behold, the greatest Kitchen appliance of all time:

han fridge

 

 

Weekly Roundup

From Kirsten Powers at The Daily Beast: The Muslim Brotherhood’s War on Coptic Christians.

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And from First Things: The Persecution of Egypt’s Christians.

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Doug Wilson has been engaged in some friendly sparring with Carl Trueman over the issues of “Transformationalism” and “Christian Worldview.”  Here’s the latest entry

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And here’s Anthony Bradley’s take:  Much Ado About a ‘Transformationalist’ Nothing.

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Matthew Barrett at The Gospel Coalition suggests that there may be unintended negative consequences when Pastors ditch their physical, paper Bibles in favor of iPads in the pulpit:  Dear Pastor, Bring Your Bible to Church

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Think the above article is a bit of stretch?  Here’s a friendly parody:  Dear Presbyter, Bring Your Scroll to Church.

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From Time Magazine: School Has Become Too Hostile to Boys.

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Are you turned off by the insufferable, condescending tone and aggressively hostile attitude of Richard Dawkins and his “new atheist” followers?  This atheist agrees with you:   How atheists became the most colossally smug and annoying people on the planet.

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From Salon: What if the President Lied to Us?

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As the wise Queen Amidala once put it, let’s bring sanity and compassion back to the Senate: Mark Steyn for Senate.

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Do you support Conservative economics but sympathize with Liberal social values?  That probably makes you a “Libertarian populist.”  Ross Douthat opines on Libertarian Populism and Its Critics.

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From Christianity Today: Why We Call God Father.

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U2’s Bono has come out in support of Capitalism as the best means for helping the poor, rather than direct aid:  Pro Bono Capitalism.

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Warner Brothers announced this week that they are determined to turn their new Superman/Batman film into a disaster of Green Lantern proportions, ensuring Marvel’s continued box office domination over DC.

…Well, ok, they didn’t put it quite like that.  Here’s what they actually said: Ben Affleck is the New Batman.

UPDATE:  I’m not happy about Ben Affleck being cast as Batman, but this is just ridiculous:  Petition Filed On White House Website to Recast Batman.

 

Vinoth Ramachandra and Theology from the Global Church

I was doing some research on short-term missions when I found a blog by Vinoth Ramachandra, a Christian writer in Sri Lanka. He has studied and traveled in Europe, done extensive ministry in South Asia, and he has written cogent criticism of Christianity as it is received in the non-Western world. He clearly and accurately writes things that the West needs to hear, both praising the good and condemning the bad. Incisively addressing everything from the War on Terror, whistleblowers in the US government, and US foreign policy to relations between Western and Eastern Christians, missionary work done badly, and the influence of media on relations in the Church worldwide, Ramachandra is an intelligent voice from the “other side” of world Christianity. Continue reading Vinoth Ramachandra and Theology from the Global Church

For You And For Your Children

Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York has partnered with The Gospel Coalition to produce a new catechism for a new generation.  The New City Catechism is a blend of the best of the Reformation catechisms, most notably the Westminster Larger and Shorter catechisms and the Heidelberg Catechism.  The language of the questions and answers remains mostly unaltered from the originals, but this new catechism is shinier and, most notably, sleeker.

It is “shinier” because it is designed for the iPad (though there is also a version for normal web browsers), with each Q&A including not only a written commentary from a famous theologian of the past (Chrysostom, Augustin, Calvin, Spurgeon, Lewis, etc), but also a short video commentary from respected pastors and council members of TGC.  One of the great beauties of a catechism is that it’s question-answer format allows almost anyone to pick it up and begin learning the faith as if they had a teacher right along side them.  Expanding the simple questions and answers to include these supplemental expositions of key themes and doctrines greatly enhances this already practical feature of the catechism.

The video commentary from Q&A 1:

This new catechism is “sleeker” for two reasons.  First, it is a “joint” catechism for both children and adults.  Each question has a shorter child’s answer that is contained within the longer adult’s answer.  For example, question 1 is “What is our only hope in life and death?”  The two answers are:

Child: “That we are not our own but belong to God.”
Adult: “That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.”

In this way there is a unity between the child’s catechism and the adult’s catechism.  Really, they are not even two catechisms.  As the child grows, their own answers simply grow into a more complete answer, rather than using different words to respond to different questions.

Second, there are only 52 questions, one for each Lord’s Day (that would be Sunday) of the year.  This is where I see a potential for criticism.  Some in the Reformed community are already mocking this new catechism.  While such mocking is mostly unwarranted, 52 questions is less than half the number of questions in the Westminster Shorter, which does beg us to question whether this catechism is ultimately a sorry, watered-down replacement for its predecessors.

My initial response is no, with one caveat.  Running quickly through all 52 questions, I didn’t notice any troubling gaps in doctrine, save that infant baptism is nowhere to be found.  This isn’t surprising, since TGC is a partnership between paedobaptists and credobaptists, but for those in Reformed and Presbyterian denominations this absence may serve to highlight the superiority of the old catechisms already in use.

And yet that may be the point.  Since those denominations still use the Westminster and Heidelberg, this new catechism is not really designed for them, rather it is designed for those broadly “Reformed” churches who identify with organizations like TGC, but who do not already have a built-in structure of catechesis.  I certainly wouldn’t use the new catechism to replace the Heidelberg or Westminster in my own classroom, but I would gladly make use of it as a supplement.

In the end, the New City Catechism is a wonderful way to help the modern evangelical church back to the ancient and indispensible practice of catechesis.  I will leave you with Pastor Keller’s excellent summary:

 At present, the practice of catechesis, particularly among adults, has been almost completely lost. Modern discipleship programs concentrate on practices such as Bible study, prayer, fellowship, and evangelism and can at times be superficial when it comes to doctrine. In contrast, the classic catechisms take students through the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer—a perfect balance of biblical theology, practical ethics, and spiritual experience. Also, the catechetical discipline of memorization drives concepts deeper into the heart and naturally holds students more accountable to master the material than do typical discipleship courses. Finally, the practice of question-answer recitation brings instructors and students into a naturally interactive, dialogical process of learning.

In short, catechetical instruction is less individualistic and more communal. Parents can catechize their children. Church leaders can catechize new members with shorter catechisms and new leaders with more extensive ones. Because of the richness of the material, catechetical questions and answers may be integrated into corporate worship itself, where the church as a body can confess their faith and respond to God with praise.

One last thing, to The Gospel Coalition:  I do not have an iPad, so please release an android version soon.  Thanks!

Disagreeing with Grace: Why Lines are Hard to Draw

Over the last week or two, we’ve seen large-scale disagreements play themselves out in a variety of locations. The Gospel Coalition’s Jared Wilson posted some troubling words, which offended and hurt many, and he was called out. Wilson’s original post has since been pulled, but both parties have reconciled, at least over the offense. There is a deeper disagreement here–one between different interpretations of Scriptural teaching on the marriage relationship–but it was truly a relief to see apologies pushed forth and publicly accepted. I was worried, for a bit there. Continue reading Disagreeing with Grace: Why Lines are Hard to Draw