Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.

Tim Challies

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June 22, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include three deals from Christian Focus. This include A Fistful of Heroes by John Pollock ($2.99) and two of the Trailblazers biographies for young people: David Brainerd and D.L. Moody ($1.99 each). Also consider Bedeviled: Lewis, Tolkien and the Shadow of Evil by Colin Duriez ($2.99), Teach Us To Want by Jen Pollock Michel ($2.99), and the NIV Lifehacks Bible by Joe Carter ($3.99). If you are a Kindle user, be sure to check out Bookcision, a neat little service to easily download your notes and highlights.

Be sure to check out Westminster Books’ deal on The Life We Never Expected. There are other books discounted as well. Also, Grace and Truth Books now has the complete inventory of Richard Belcher’s “A Journey In…” theological novels. Some are heavily discounted.

Logos has the NICOT and NICNT series on sale for just $19.99 each which is a great deal. If you’re like me and love good study Bibles, you may want to get the Reformation Heritage KJV Study Bible notes which has only just been added.

The Church Praying

The current issue of the 9Marks Journal considers prayer in the life of the church. All the articles are free to read.

5 Things to Pray for the EU Referendum

Tomorrow is a big day for the UK and many are struggling with how to vote. “But God’s Word has not left any of us struggling to know what to pray for. And those who aren’t voting on Thursday still have the privilege of praying—and praying earnestly—for the referendum.”

10 Things You Should Know about Shame

“Let’s start bringing up the problem of shame in our small groups and Sunday school classes and sermons, so that the light of the gospel can begin to free God’s people from its dark grip.”

The Civil War Prisoner Camp That Became a Place of Horror

“The Confederate Civil War prisoner camp in Andersonville, Georgia, was an utter nightmare for the many soldiers held within. It was dangerously overcrowded, rife with disease, and food and medical supplies were always in short supply.” This short video describes it.

Should Christians Support Gun Control?

Thomas Kidd provides an answer by going to history first.

This Day in 2012. 4 years ago today, The Gospel Coalition hosted their first Women’s Conference in Orlando. (And, as it turns out, they just hosted another Women’s Conference last week.) *

A Gift From Schoolchildren

“In 1946, a group of Russian children from the Vladimir Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organisation (sort of a Soviet scouting group) presented a carved wooden replica of the Great Seal of the United States to Averell Harriman, the U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union.” But it was much more than a mere gift!

One Critical Conviction

This is very good and very important: One critical conviction about God and his Word.

Flashback — The Bestsellers: Jesus Calling

Two years ago I featured Jesus Calling in my series “The Bestsellers.” It continues to dominate the bestseller lists and has now sold more than 10 million copies.

MacArthur

Our security doesn’t depend on our ability to stay saved, but on God’s ability to keep His promise. —John MacArthur

Together 2016
June 21, 2016

On July 16, hundreds of thousands of young people will descend on The Mall for Together 2016. The event’s web site promises, “Together 2016 is the day our generation will meet on the National Mall to come together around Jesus in unified prayer, worship, and a call for catalytic change. We’re coming together with as many people as possible who believe Jesus changes everything.” The event features a long list of speakers: Christine Cain, Francis Chan, Ronnie Floyd, Ann Voskamp, Ravi Zacharias, and many others. And, of course, there will be the musicians: Crowder, Hillsong United, Kari Job, Lecrae, Matt Maher, and Michael W. Smith just to get started. It promises to be a massive event. A couple of weeks ago came the announcement that Pope Francis will even make an appearance via video. “That His Holiness would choose to speak into this historic day is a testament to the urgency and the need for followers of Jesus to unite in prayer for our nation and our world.”

This event was conceived and organized by Nick Hall, founder of the evangelistic organization PULSE and author of the brand new book Reset: Jesus Changes Everything. This work was timed to coincide with Together 2016 and is in many ways a call to participate in the event. To examine the book is to understand what he hopes to accomplish at Together 2016.

Reset begins as a biographical work that tells about the beginning of Hall’s ministry. A man of unusual zeal, he has an all-consuming passion to see souls saved. Since his college days, he has been touring the world holding arena-sized evangelistic events for young people. As he tells the story, it seems that he has met with great success, at least judging by the numbers he offers: “I was subsequently invited to tour with a group of bands to forty-seven cities around the country as part of Winter Jam, a gathering that drew about ten thousand … each night.” “If we needed to reset our priorities, I explained to the ten thousand or so people gathered there that night, then Jesus could help us do that.” “As a ministry, we’d already done events in thirty-nine of the fifty states, reaching two and a half million people and seeing a half million of them respond to the gospel.” “…in the end, more than fifty thousand people (that we know of) surrendered their lives to Jesus.” “Over the year to come, our tour reached six hundred and fifty thousand people.” From his description, it seems that he has spoken to many millions and seen hundreds of thousands of them turn to Christ.

“Reset” is the gist of Hall’s message, his one-word summary of the Christian gospel: “Jesus offers a reset to anyone from anywhere, for anything. All we need to do is turn to him.” Or “Whatever has been tripping you up, a reset is available to you. You don’t have to earn it, buy it, beg for it, or swipe it when nobody’s looking. It is yours, free of charge. It is yours, by the grace of God. All you have to do is receive it, open hands and open heart. Say yes to the life you were meant to live. Say yes to a Father who’s good.” Time and again he leads to a call like this one: “You don’t have to go one more second in this life without knowing Jesus—his love, his care, his presence, and his joy. He is standing at the door to your heart and calling your name, asking if it’s cool to come in.”

If the first half of the book is a description of the gospel through the “reset” theme, the second half is seven common ways people feel a deep need for a reset: faith, plans, self-image, relationships, purity, habits, and affections. He closes with a call for this entire generation to experience a reset.

This “reset” message will be at the heart of Together 2016. In fact, it seems that those two words, “reset” and “together,” will dominate. “Reset” will describe the personal change he wants each person to experience—Christians as they reset from bad patterns to adopt better ones and non-Christians as they reset their lives to accept Christ for the first time. Meanwhile, “together” will represent the broad call for unity Hall envisions in which denominational lines will be forgotten and all who profess Christ will stand together against division. For this reason the speakers and musicians span conservative evangelicalism all the way to traditional Roman Catholicism. It is, by design, an ecumenical event.

I am going to offer a couple of critiques, but want to assure you that I do so somewhat tentatively. Hall is a man who is on fire to share the gospel with others. I, meanwhile, am constantly battling to be more than tepid when it comes to evangelistic fervor. I want to be careful before criticizing someone who deals seriously with God’s commands that we take the good news of the gospel wherever we go. As I read the book I was challenged by Hall’s zeal. I was inspired by his desire to dream and to actually attempt great things for the Lord. I was moved by his commitment to prayer. I was reminded of the value of speaking the gospel freshly to each generation. And yet I still had very real critiques.

The first critique is that “reset” does not quite capture the gospel message of the New Testament. I understand that Hall wanted to find a word that resonates with young people. The word “reset” is common in technology and, therefore, familiar to the millennial generation. Hall says “The offer of a reset is exactly what the gospel is about.” This is true, but only kind of. To reset something is to set it back to the way it used to function. Yet the gospel assures us that we have never functioned properly; we are not computers that came from the factory in perfect condition and have been gummed up with viruses and malware. We are not malfunctioning machines that need to be restarted, but dead souls who need to be given life. It’s not that the reset metaphor is utterly wrong, but that it is incomplete, it isn’t used in the Bible, and it isn’t sufficient, especially as the heart of the message. The full truth of the bad news and the full beauty of the good news is obscured by this soft “reset” gospel. And, indeed, Hall never deals with the full extent of our depravity and our spiritually deadness. He sets the good news in incomplete contrast with the bad.

The second critique is that “together” does not quite capture the gospel unity of the New Testament. Hall has determined that denominational divides must be put aside for the sake of the gospel. If we want to have a message that resonates with the world today, we must first eradicate that division. “Jesus directly challenged a culture of division. He prayed we would be one—one family, one body. And He told us to love our enemies. Everyone loves their friends; it’s when we love those who aren’t like us that the world takes note. It’s time to come together around Jesus in a counter-cultural moment of unity and love for each other.” Yet his position is naive. Iain Murray explains this in Evangelicalism Divided:

The ecumenical call in [the mid-20th century] was not for truth and salt; it was supremely for oneness: the greater the unity of ‘the Church’, it was confidently asserted, the stronger would be the impression made upon the world; and to attain that end churches should be inclusive and tolerant. But it has never been by putting unity first that the church has changed the world. At no point in church history has the mere unity of numbers ever made a transforming spiritual impression upon others. On the contrary, it was the very period known as ‘the dark ages’ that the Papacy could claim her greatest unity in western Europe.

Hall’s unity extends too far. “We’re coming together with as many people as possible who believe Jesus changes everything.” But believing Jesus changes everything is an insufficient basis for deep and lasting unity. I’m quite sure Satan himself agrees that Jesus changes everything! Hall’s unity extends a welcoming hand to those who deny the gospel of grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone. It denies or downplays crucial distinctions. It demands unity at the expense of the gospel. It extends so far that it will grant the pope the title of “His Holiness!” Yet as J.C. Ryle warned so many years ago, “Unity without the gospel is a worthless unity, it is the very unity of hell.” And “Unity which is obtained by the sacrifice of truth is worth nothing. It is not the unity which pleases God.” Hall’s kind of unity does not and cannot please God because it welcomes those who damage or destroy his gospel. Sadly, some disunity is good and necessary when it involves separation from those who deny what is most fundamental to the gospel.

I love Hall’s zeal for evangelism. I love his fervent prayer. I love his desire to see the church united. I love his heart to reach the Millennial generation. And make no mistake—his message is perfectly crafted for that generation. The message of “reset” resonates because who isn’t unhappy with some part of who they are or what they’ve done? Who doesn’t want a reset? “Together” resonates because who would advocate disunity or division? Combined, the two of them resonate because what young person isn’t enthusiastic enough to believe that simply gathering with a few hundred thousand others for some messages and rock concerts can actually change the world? Who wouldn’t want to be part of something so big and so exciting? But they don’t know that this has been tried before, and tried again, and tried again after that, and always found wanting.

None of this is to say that the event will be utterly fruitless. God works his miracle of salvation in a million different ways and he may just save his people—even many of his people—at Together 2016. I pray he does. But that alone cannot validate the event. I cannot endorse “reset” as the heart of the gospel. I cannot endorse Together 2016 as the fruit of the gospel. The first is sorely lacking and the second seriously misdirected. It may sound ironic or full-out fundamentalist, but I’d stay away from Together.

Together 2016

June 21, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include The Reign of Grace by Scotty Smith ($3.99) and Who Is Jesus? by Darrell Bock ($3.99). New from GLH Publishing is The Atonment by Francis Turretin ($0.99).

What I Can’t Know If I Don’t Know the Trinity

“It’s not only that a proper understanding of the Trinity is some sort of arid proposition we need to check off a list of ‘need to know’ facts to be ‘good Christians.’ Rather, it’s that without a knowledge of the Trinity, we are simply robbed of all of the chief comforts of Christian faith…”

From ‘Caustic’ to ‘Blinding’

Here’s a guy who travels far and wide to get stung by insects and report on which stings are the worst. Here’s his entry for the tarantula hawk: “Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair dryer has been dropped into your bubble bath. A bolt out of the heavens. Lie down and scream.”

10 Things You Should Know About What the Roman Catholic Church Believes Regarding Mary

Sam Storms rounds them up.

The Sin of Retaliation

“When someone crosses us or makes demands on us our initial reaction is to respond in the same way. Why not? This is the way we’ve heard that the world works. Right? Retaliation is sinfully seductive and bitterly sweet.”

What Is an “Accurate” Translation?

Bill Mounce demonstrates what a difficult question this is. 

This Day in 1607 and 1579. 409 and 437 years ago today respectively, the first Anglican parish in America was founded, and the first Anglican service in the world was held. *

The Evolution of the Book

What makes a book a book? Is it just anything that stores and communicates information? Or does it have to do with paper, binding, font, ink, its weight in your hands, the smell of the pages? TED-Ed takes a look in this video.

Should Christians in America Fight for the Religious Liberty of Muslims?

David Prince provides an answer.

Flashback: God Does Not Owe Us a Happy Ending

We love stories and viral videos that have happy endings. Yet so often the stories in our own lives do not have such happy endings… 

Stetzer

Never value ability over character. Character eventually catches up. —Ed Stetzer

I Forbid You To Say These Things at My Funeral
June 20, 2016

YouTube told me I ought to watch a clip from a recent episode of America’s Got Talent. After all, who doesn’t like to see some unknown person make it or blow it on the big stage? In this case the young man did a tremendous job of imitating Frank Sinatra and, of course, received thunderous applause for his effort. When the cheering had subsided he was told by the judges that his dear grandmother must be looking down from heaven aglow with pride. Somehow that kind of clichéd syrupy sentimentality is just what people want to hear in those moments. It got me thinking about some of the absurd statements I’ve heard over the years, and especially the ones I’ve heard at funerals. Here are a few things I sincerely hope no one will say about me at my funeral or any time thereafter. In fact, I hereby forbid it.

He is looking down on you. The Bible gives us little reason to believe that the dead keep an eye on the living. And, frankly, I rather hope they don’t. When I am dead I will finally, blessedly be more alive than I’ve ever been because I will be free of sin and its consequences. I can’t help but think that the very last thing I’d want is to look down (or up or sideways or whatever direction earth is in relation to heaven) and have to witness more of sin and its effects. I love you all plenty, but I don’t particularly want to kick off forever by watching you sin. Not only that, but there’s no earthly or heavenly reason you’d want or need me to. Surely you aren’t indicating that God’s watchful eye is insufficient and that it somehow needs to be supplemented by mine, are you? No, I’m not looking at you. I’m looking at Jesus as he’s looking after you. You’ll be fine.

He’s with the angels now. This one gets me. Listen, I’m eager to meet some angels and to learn what they are all about. I’m especially eager to meet the angel who comforted Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. What I wouldn’t give to know what words he spoke in that moment! But here’s the thing: When I die I won’t be with the angels. I’ll be with Jesus. To say I’m with the angels is like watching a man walk into Buckingham Palace and saying, “He’s with the queen’s secretary now.” While that is strictly true, it’s also completely missing the point. He’s with the queen! And when I’m no longer with you, I’ll be with the king.

God needed another angel. Please don’t say this. Please don’t say this because if you know me you know that I’m no angel. But even more, don’t say this because it completely misrepresents both men and angels as if human beings aspire to evolve or transform into some kind of supernatural being. Angels and humans are completely different orders of being! Iguanas don’t die and become giraffes and men don’t die and become angels. I’m a human being now and will be a human being for the rest of eternity.

He was a good man. He is now, but he wasn’t always. He is good now that he’s in that place where he has been perfected by an instantaneous act of God. He is good now that God has transformed him to take away all desire for ungodliness and unholiness. He’s good now, but he wasn’t on this side of the grave. Frankly, he could be kind of a jerk at times. He could be moody and arrogant and self-centered. He was bad. But he was also forgiven and battling to kill his love of sin and desire for sin. He was learning and growing and displaying God’s grace. But he wasn’t good. Not like he is now. Not like God had created him to be.

He wouldn’t want you to cry. Go ahead and cry. You don’t need to cry for me, of course. But I wouldn’t tell you not to cry at all. Every funeral is an opportunity to consider the harsh reality of human mortality and the treasonous acts that made this mortality inevitable. There is no virtue in a stiff upper lip. There is no virtue in suppressing grief. There is no virtue in thinking that the joy of one man entering heaven ought to dispel the grief of those who are left behind. Funerals are a perfectly appropriate time to mourn—to mourn for the one who died, to mourn for others you miss, to mourn your own mortality, and to mourn the One who died so we could live.

We’re not having a funeral; we’re having a celebration. Why pit the two against one another as if only one can be true? We are having a funeral and it is a genuinely sad occasion. Yet we do not, can not, must not mourn as those who have no hope. A Christian funeral marks both a departure and an arrival; it provides an occasion for both grief and joy. As the poet says, “One short sleep past we wake eternally, and death shall be no more.” A sunset brings cold darkness but also the warm hope of dawn. Death brings the end of a very short life and the beginning of a never-ceasing one. It’s as wrong to refuse to mourn as it is to mourn without hope.

June 20, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include a selection from Crossway by Vern Poythress: Inerrancy and Worldview and Inerrancy and the Gospels ($2.99 each); Redeeming Science, Redeeming Sociology, Redeeming Philosophy ($4.99 each), and Redeeming Mathematics ($3.99). Also consider The ESV and the English Bible Legacy by Leland Ryken ($2.99) and Putting Jesus in His Place by Robert Bowman & J. Ed Komoszewski (free).

My Father

My good friend Sam writes movingly about fatherhood and fatherlessness. “I’ve come to accept that I am probably never going to meet my father. I know that I am probably never going to shake my father’s hand—or give him the most awkward hug in history. I am never going to get to ask him the questions I’ve been wanting to ask since I was old enough to have questions.”

10 Unforgettable Lessons on Fatherhood

Ray Ortlund shares ten lessons on fatherhood he drew from his dad. “In no particular order, here are ten lessons on fatherhood I learned from watching him, each lesson living on in my life from memories of his care for me.”

Sexual Desire and the Single Girl

“Imagine keeping a lion in a small cat-carrier. For years. Day after day. Night after night. He roars. He eats. (A lot.) His energy is endless. And yet you keep him caged.” That’s how Colleen Chao describes sexual desire as a single girl.

Raising Christian Kids in a Public School

If your children are in public schools, you may appreciate Melissa’s thoughts on her family’s experience.

On Dancing and the Regulative Principle

Andrew Wilson and Jonathan Leeman are discussing dancing in worship services and whether it is wise or permissible. In this first article Leeman tells why he is not in favor.

This Day in 1974. 42 years ago today, Matt Chandler was born. Happy birthday Matt!

California on Fire

This is some amazing footage of wildfires in California.

Our Best Life Yet to Come

Randy Alcorn offers some encouragement: “Our perspective today is informed by the reality that resurrection awaits God’s children. This means we’ll never pass our peaks. The best is yet to come! No need for bucket lists, because the adventures awaiting us in the New Heavens and on the New Earth will far exceed the greatest thrills of this life.”

Flashback: 7 Marks of a False Teacher

False teachers have been present in every era of human history, they have always been a plague and have always been in the business of providing counterfeit truth. While their circumstances may change, their methods remain consistent. Here are seven marks of a false teacher.

Price

Christianity can been seen as a system of morality or ethics. In fact, it is the opposite, it is a declaration of moral and ethical failure. —Tom Price

June 19, 2016

It comes as no surprise that an article about my position on baptism generated quite a number of letters to the editor. What surprised and delighted me was that they came from all over the world. Not only that, but many of them added nicely to the conversation. Here are a few representative samples.

Comments on Why I Am Not Paedobaptist

I, too, have gone back and forth on this issue. I was raised in a credobaptist tradition and was baptized as a believer. A few years ago, I started attending a Lutheran church (although I do not hold to all of Lutheran doctrine, this was the only church in my area, that I could find, that preached the Gospel). I read and listened to various arguments for both positions (including the Sproul-MacArthur debate you mentioned). Both sides seemed to have a compelling argument, so I was undecided for awhile. A debate on baptism with Dr. James White and Gregg Strawbridge finally convinced me of the credobaptist view. Specifically, Dr. White argued that paedobaptists apply an Old Testament paradigm to a New Testament teaching. Essentially, circumcision applied to the biological descendants of Abraham, while baptism applies to his spiritual descendants. Since it is only by a profession of faith that we can know who are Abraham’s descendants, we cannot baptize infants.
—Gary G, Fontana, CA

Tim: I have watched some, though not all of that debate. I will keep watching it. I appreciate this kind of friendly, informative debate as a means to come to convictions, to deepen existing convictions, and to better understand alternative viewpoints.

***

I agree with most of what you say in your article, and understand the tentativeness you express in declaring your view “right” and the view of those—who are otherwise clearly evangelical and orthodox in their Christian beliefs—as “wrong.” However, I believe their is a much more significant harm introduced by the paedobaptist view than what you describe, and it is this: Despite verbal (and written) insistence that the act of baptism is not what “saves” the child (i.e., it is not what brings the child out of the kingdom of this world and into the kingdom of God), the act of baptizing that infant speaks an entirely different message to that child’s family, as well as to the congregation of that church and to non-believers who are present (or who are even aware of the church’s practice). Paedobaptism is unbiblical. We are not acting in truth (nor in love) when we do not clearly declare it to be so.
—Larry O, Grayson, GA

Tim: I would caution you to be careful when using the word “unbiblical” in this context. I know it is strictly true that one of the two positions is unbiblical, but we also need to acknowledge that both are within the bounds of orthodoxy and the gospel thrives under both beliefs. It is undoubtedly true that some streams of Protestantism fall into the trap of assuming that baptizing a child somehow saves him, but there are many others where the parents and church fully understand that baptism does not regenerate and that they still very much need to preach the gospel to their children and call on them to respond to it.

***

I appreciate your honesty and respectful tone in this article. I was baptised as a child and grew up in the church, but am now excluded from membership of my current church due to my not having received credobaptism. The situation is difficult because both positions make a strong case, and I do not want to a) get baptised just to become a member b) devalue or undermine the meaning of baptism c) (most importantly!) disobey Christ. Your article summarised the issues nicely, and helps frame my thinking as I read and pray about this issue further. Thanks.
—Greg D, Glasgow, Scotland

Tim: I’m glad to hear it, Greg. Baptist churches are like most others in that they will not welcome people into membership who have not been baptized. They do not recognize infant baptism as a valid baptism and, hence, require that each member first be baptized as a believer. There is a clear path of progress from professing faith to being baptized to becoming a member. While this is not universal among Baptists, it is the common practice.

***

Thank you for your brotherly love toward us who are paedobaptists. Often when I read a credobaptist’s description of paedobaptists, I feel mischaracterized as one who believes in baptismal regeneration or as one who feels good that my child is a member of the covenant with God and so is careless in bringing up my child in the training and discipline of the Lord. We had our children baptized because we were following our best understanding of God’s Word, and we did teach them and disciple them in the Christian faith as we continued to follow our best understanding of God’s Word.

I am grieved by the fact that while most Baptists will admit with you that we are within the bounds of orthodoxy and are Christian brothers and sisters, we are kept from joining in the family meal of the Lord’s supper in their churches. We are warned away just as if we are unbelievers or unrepentant adulators. The Lord knows how to make his commands perfectly clear, but he did not give specific requirements for baptism as concretely as he provided the directions for the making of the items used in worship in the tabernacle. I pray that one day all Christ’s visible church may meet at his table in all his congregations and proclaim together the Lord’s death until he comes again.
—Susan R, Allen, TX

Tim: I think there is another way of seeing this, and it’s to be thankful that churches are taking seriously the responsibility to fence the Lord’s table. I’d much rather be excluded from participating in Lord’s supper in a church where they are serious about purity than participate in one that opens the doors far too wide. I think most sound churches work hard to find the proper balance.

***

Thank you for your brief article. This is an issue that really tore my family up for a time. It was even suggested I was abusing a covenant child by not baptizing her. I maintained my view that both views were within orthodoxy and that obedience in this and bringing the child up in the nurture and admonition of the LORD was what was most important. It got ugly at times. We weathered it and it was dropped eventually. It still hurts at times though. I stay quiet about it as I think it could flare again and bring more discord when we have had much loss and pain over the past few years. I too have tried, being raised in the Presbyterian Church and from a family of pastors for centuries in the Presbyterian Church, which I was reminded of frequently, to find a way to be convinced. That never happened. Unity with those of differing convictions on this and other non-essential theological positions is my aim, and worship with a precious church family of mostly paedobaptists currently. We disagree but do not divide over it. I still celebrate with parents when they bring their child to be baptized. If we agree on the essentials then we can fellowship freely and in love as the Body of Christ.
—Colin F, Clarksville, TN

Tim: Unfortunately the beautiful doctrine of baptism has too often turned into a battleground. I am sure many convinced paedobaptists can tell how they’ve come under fire for making the alternate choice.

***

Thanks for your article on “Why I’m not a Paedobaptist.” As someone who has grown up in “reverse” to you - dedicated as a child in the Baptist Church and Baptised as a Believer in my teens, yet now a part of the Anglican Church - I found it stimulating. I’d like to ask about your thoughts on “baptism of membership.” In your article, you wrote a line regarding being baptised for membership into a church. “…in order to become a member, I had to be baptized as a believer.” As far as I can tell, there is no scriptural basis for a second (or even more!) baptism to indicate membership into a specific local church. Would you be able to elaborate?
—Tim B, Adelaide, Australia

Tim: Yes, I’m glad to elaborate. All I meant was that I had not yet been baptized as a believer and, therefore, according to Baptist doctrine, had not been baptized at all. In order to come into the membership of that church I first had to be baptized. I didn’t mention a more difficult issue—this church was only willing to accept baptism by immersion. Aileen had been baptized as an adult but not by immersion. She had to wrestle through the issue of whether or not she could in good conscience be “rebaptized,” this time by immersion.

***

Thank you for writing about this issue with grace and honesty. I grew up in a baptist church, and now I’m a member of one. There are virtually no Presbyterian churches in my area. The closest practice to baptizing children I’ve seen is the Roman Catholic Church, though I know their belief system is works-based, therefore, they do not baptize children out of the same orthodox convictions Presbyterians do. I’m a single Christian girl, and I also believe in credobaptism. Anyway, you mentioned in your article that though this is an important issue, it is not a critical one…which allows us to work together with those who are paedobaptists. My question is, how would you advise a single Paedobaptist and a single credobaptist who wish to marry each other? Are these opposing views a deal-breaker for marriage? Would love to hear your take on this. Thanks!
—Katherine B, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Tim: This is a difficult issue and one that probably needs to be taken case-by-case rather than in broad ways. It also demands more space than I can give it here. So very quickly, it is difficult to see how, if such a couple marries and has children, they will have unity in raising their children if one believes it will be disobedient to baptize children and the other believes it will be disobedient not to. One of them will have to violate convictions and conscience, something that is never wise nor safe. I might point you to Russell Moore’s thoughts on marriage with theological divisions. The context is different but the questions and concerns will be much the same. Either way, such a situation needs to be approached carefully, prayerfully, and with input from other mature Christians.

***

Hi Tim. While I would also associate myself with being a credo baptist, I earnestly try to understand why paedobaptists do hold to infant baptism. In some of my searching, I have heard those who do hold to it question why credo baptists practice baby dedications. What are your thoughts on baby dedications and do you see them as a similar practice to those who practice infant baptism?
—Kaleb P, Kitchener, ON

Tim: That, too, is a little outside what I can answer here. But let me say this: Our Baptist church does not practice baby dedications. We do not consider them unbiblical as much as a-biblical. The Bible neither commands nor forbids them which gives us freedom to practice them or not practice them. We have chosen not to. I will see if I can expand our reasons into an article and share it here in the future.

Comments on The Things You Think You Can Handle on Your Own

I appreciated this article’s call to pray for the things I don’t think to pray about, and it’s a worthy thing to consider—I intend to spend some time prayerfully thinking about in which areas I need to pray more. On the flip side, though, I do want to offer an attitude of prayer that perhaps was missing in the article. In the instances of daily provision and safety while traveling, I tend to see those as places where it is more faithful to depend on God as my Father to take care of me. A child fully expects there to be food at each meal, and has every confidence in his daddy’s expert driving skills; he doesn’t ask his father to be sure there will be lunch or to drive safely. So I find myself wondering if perhaps the best way to be prayerful about some things is to simply trust that God has already provided and is an expert in caring for those needs, and to thank Him for His provision.
—Jordan S, Lawrenceville, GA

June 18, 2016

The only new and notable Kindle deal I found is The Narnian by Alan Jacobs ($1.99). There is also a day-long sale on certain kids’ series, though I’m not familiar with the books. See here for the list.

Christian Audio

Christian Audio is holding their twice-yearly sale. This is a great time to try out their service. During this sale even brand new books are heavily discounted.

Why Sex Isn’t the Best Thing Ever

Lore Ferguson: “One of the best blessings to me in my singleness were friends who did not make marriage an ultimate thing in my eyes by only telling me the beautiful parts of their marriage, but who told me the difficulties of it as well. They also prayed for me actively to someday have the gift of marriage. I hope I am doing the same for my still single friends who desire the gift.”

A Swimming Pool in the ICU?

Here’s an interesting little story that appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

The Two Words Fathers Should Say to Their Children

As theologian D.A. Carson says, “Do you ever say to a young Christian, ‘Do you want to know what Christianity is like? Watch me!’ If you never do, you are unbiblical.”

God Permits Evil, But Does Not Cause It

Sometimes the fine distinctions make a world of difference.

Tomorrow in 1939. 77 years ago tomorrow, pastor John MacArthur was born. Happy birthday, Dr. MacArthur!

It’s Going to be an Issue

“Biola University, located in Southern California and one of the country’s most well-known and prestigious evangelical colleges, now finds itself arguing for its right to be evangelical.”

The Death of Dawson Trotman

60 years ago today the founder of Navigators died while saving a girl’s life. Here’s what happened.

Flashback: Leading in Love

Wayne Grudem allows a little glimpse inside his marriage to see how complementarianism plays out in real life.

Give Me Your Heart

I’m thankful to Ligonier Ministries for sponsoring the blog with the article “Give Me Your Heart.”

Spurgeon

The more empty I am, the more room is there for my Master. The more I lack, the more He will give me. —C.H. Spurgeon