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Tim Challies

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February 2011

February 28, 2011

Rob Bell may be a universalist. I don’t think this would prove surprising to too many people. Certainly his theological trajectory over the years has been concerning and it’s rare for a guy to suddenly and radically reverse that kind of a path.

Rob Bell Love WinsBell has a book coming out in the near future, one titled Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. According to the publisher’s description, “Bell addresses one of the most controversial issues of faith—the afterlife—arguing that a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering. With searing insight, Bell puts hell on trial, and his message is decidedly optimistic—eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts right now. And ultimately, Love Wins.” It needs to be noted that this kind of copy is typically written by the publisher rather than the author and that it is intended to sell the book rather than necessarily provide an accurate description of the book’s contents.

A few days ago a video appeared on YouTube and Vimeo and other sites. In that video Bell describes the topic of the book. Here it is: (people reading via RSS may need to click this link):

Over the weekend several bloggers wrote about this video: Josh Harris, Denny Burk, Kevin DeYoung, Justin Taylor, Phil Johnson, and Z among them. Some of those articles went viral, garnering thousands of comments between them, making a bit impact on Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

I am not going to comment on whether or not Bell is a universalist. To be honest, at this point I think it is a little bit too early to make that determination. I watch the video and read the marketing copy and think that it shows a very deliberate vagueness that is meant to raise questions but not answer questions, that is meant to generate controversy and sell books. And so far it’s succeeding admirably. My guess is that in the end Bell will take a vague universalist position—not outright universalism but still something that is still clearly unorthodox (as Brian McLaren did in his earlier days before he got into the kind of outright denial that has been the core of his more recent books).

February 28, 2011

It’s the last day of the worst month of the year. And fittingly, it’s several degrees above the freezing mark with a steady rain starting to obliterate the snow. Spring is nigh. Tomorrow I’ll have a collection of desktop wallpapers to bring some spring cheer to your desktop.

5 Things I Can’t Find - R.C. Sproul Jr writes about 5 things he’s surprised that he can’t find in the Bible.

Discovery - One of the space shuttle Discovery astronauts is taking photos of Discovery’s last mission and putting them on Flickr. There are some really amazing ones there.

USA 2010 Income Statement - This isn’t good.

Commentary Sale - Today only Monergism Books has several volumes of the (excellent) Reformed Expository Commentary series on sale. Each one is 50% off: Hebrews, Jonah & Micah, Zechariah, The Incarnation in the Gospels.

American Idol - This blogger writes about his near-tragic experience with the other American Idol: gluttony.

Manslater - I caught this on Josh Harris’ blog and got a laugh out of it. Or a chuckle, anyway.

Hope can see heaven through the thickest clouds. —Thomas Brooks

February 27, 2011

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I have the privilege of preaching at Grace Fellowship Church this morning. I awoke feeling tired and worn, believing that fatigue is God’s means of rebuking me, of calling me to depend on him instead of myself. So I turned to the Valley of Vision, looking for a prayer that I could make my own. Here is how that book ministered to me today.

My Master God,
I am desired to preach today,
but go weak and needy to my task;
Yet I long that people might be edified with divine truth,
that an honest testimony might be borne for thee;
Give me assistance in preaching and prayer,
with heart uplifted for grace and unction.
Present to my view things pertaining to my subject,
with fullness of matter and clarity of thought,
proper expressions, fluency, fervency,
a feeling sense of the things I preach,
and grace to apply them to men’s consciences.
Keep me conscious all the while of my defects,
and let me not gloat in pride over my performance.
Help me to offer a testimony for thyself,
and to leave sinners inexcusable in neglecting thy mercy.
Give me freedom to open the sorrows of thy people,
and set before them comforting considerations.
Attend with power the truth preached.
and awaken the attention of my slothful audience.
May thy people be refreshed, melted, convicted, comforted,
and help me to use the strongest arguments
drawn from Christ’s incarnation and sufferings,
that men might be made holy.
I myself need thy support, comfort, strength, holiness,
that I might be a pure channel of thy grace,
and be able to do something for thee;
Give me then refreshment among thy people,
and help me not to treat excellent matter in a defective way,
or bear a broken testimony to so worthy a redeemer,
or be harsh in treating of Christ’s death, its design and end,
from lack of warmth and fervency.
And keep me in tune with thee as I do this work.

February 26, 2011

After a busy week and just prior to what is bound to be a busy Sunday, we are looking forward to a nice, quiet day at home. Tim Keller’s King’s Cross showed up in the mail yesterday and it looks like just the kind of thing I’d love to kick back and read on a Saturday afternoon. Beautiful.

Talk to Kids About Sermons - Joe Holland has a list of 8 tips for talking to your children about the sermon.

A Disturbing Trend - Unfettered Bloke (interesting blog name) writes about pastors and their ministry saying “Behind our responsibility to God, our responsibility to our family is our #1 priority above all else. If our family fails, everything else fails with it.”

Ask R.C. Live - Ligonier Ministries recently hosted another episode of “Ask R.C.” You can watch the video here.

Dead Island - This video gamer writes about a rather ugly trend in game design—more and more games involve destroying children.

How to Encourage Your Pastor - Thom Rainer has a good list of ways you can encourage your pastor.

Said Musa - Said Musa has been released (as you have probably heard by now). Praise God! And now let’s pray that he doesn’t immediately get thrown onto an international Christian stage because you know there are book offers already being sent his way!

Parenting Through Snow Days - Here’s some biblical advice on dealing with snow days.

A Sequence of Lines - On one hand this is about the most boring video you’ll ever see. But on the other hand, it is strangely fascinating to see how things change over time—how each of us can think we are faithfully copying something when, in reality, there has been massive though unintentional deviation.

No man can give at once the impressions that he himself is clever and that Jesus Christ is mighty to save. —James Denny

February 25, 2011

Free Stuff Fridays

This week’s Free Stuff Fridays sponsor is CBD Reformed—you know them by now, I’m sure. They are giving away a prize package that contains 3 books by 3 authors you know well, I’m sure.

  • Think by PiperThink by John Piper  – Retail Price $19.99
  • Crazy Love by Francis Chan – Retail Price $14.99
  • Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis – Retail Price $13.99

Additionally they are offering a 4-day sale (February 25 – 28) on the following three products:

Anyone is invited to take advantage of those deals, regardless of whether you enter the giveaway or whether you win the giveaway.

Giveaway Rules: You may only enter the draw once. Simply fill out your name and email address to enter the draw. As soon as the winners have been chosen, all names and addresses will be immediately and permanently erased. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway closes Saturday at noon.

Note: If you are reading via RSS or email, you may need to click through to see the form.

February 25, 2011

Standing at the gas pump this morning watching the numbers add up I decided to try a little math. If you factor in the metric to imperial conversion and then factor in the Canadian dollar to US dollar conversion, I am now paying almost $5 per gallon of gas. That just isn’t right.

Signs You Are Growing in Grace - Timmy Brister provides a round-up of tweets from Scott Smith. Who says Twitter can’t carry significant content?

The Day I Became Catholic - Rick Thomas speaks of the moment he (functionally) converted to Roman Catholicism. It’s worth reading.

Benny Hinn - Benny Hinn is in trouble. “Televangelist Benny Hinn is being sued by Strang Communications, a publishing company that alleges that Hinn violated a morality clause in their contract when he began an ‘inappropriate relationship’ with Without Walls pastor Paula White.” May his money perish with him.

Technology and Values - Some interesting thoughts on the morality of technology (a topic I happened to discuss in an interview yesterday): “It’s important to remind ourselves that technology is not such a villainous force. It’s not a force at all. No technology – good or evil, exceptional or mundane – is built in a vacuum. No technology is built without human intervention.”

Who Owns the Job? - Douglas Wilson offers a few comments on collective bargaining, placing it within a biblical context.

I don’t want to live in this body for the rest of eternity. I can’t see. My wife thinks I can’t hear. I can hear, but my wife thinks I can’t. It’s the fan! It’s the fan! —John Piper

February 24, 2011

Mary KassianYesterday David and I were privileged to enjoy a great conversation with Mary Kassian. Mary is one of the best Christian thinkers when it comes to issues related to women in family, society, culture and church. We spoke to her about pop culture, Twilight and TwiMoms, meat dresses, raising girls in a world like this, encouragement, and many other things.

Honestly, of all the interviews David and I have done, this one seemed to offer some of the most immediately-practical wisdom and advice. We were truly blessed to have Mary take the time.

Mary blogs at GirlsGoneWise.com, a blog I commend to you. She is the author of The Feminist Mistake and Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild, both books that come highly recommended.

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