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Tim Challies

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Thursday Ramblings

I returned safely home from the Cleveland area yesterday evening. It is quite a long drive but one that is still faster, I would imagine, than flying since it allows me to avoid waiting in airports, the inevitable airline delays, and all the other trappings of air travel. As always, it is very good to be home. I’ll be here for another two weeks and will then head for Louisville for the New Attitude conference, though this one will be unique in that Aileen and Michaela will be traveling with me. That will mark the end of a busy spring conference schedule!

Because I have a billion emails to catch up with and many clients waiting for my attention, I can do little more than ramble today. So please bear with me. If you are one of the many people who sent me an email about homeschooling, do know that I am making my way through, attempting to read each one and to reply to it thoughtfully.

I really enjoyed The Basics Conference and would definitely recommend it to any pastor. It was another one of those conferences that just seeks to bless and serve and spoil pastors. It seemed that not a detail was overlooked. I enjoyed the fact that it featured lower-profile speakers. This may not seem like a benefit but in a sense it is. When one or more of the really big-name speakers is at a conference (guys like John Piper or John MacArthur) the atmosphere somehow changes. Or that’s how it seems to me. Baucham and Lobb and Thomas are all good speakers and gave good and challenging messages.

There is one aspect of these conferences that I find so moving. At the conference we met a couple who had volunteered to serve doing whatever needed to be done—serving coffee, serving food, cleaning tables, and so on. The husband is a lawyer who represents very high-profile clients and is surely a wealthy and important guy. And yet here he was, traveling across the continent to wait tables and to serve pastors. Where but in the church does one see this? Who but God can help a person like this seek after heavenly treasure when he could so easily be enamored with his earthly treasure. And I see this at almost every conference I attend. I always find it moving.

Changing topics, you may have noticed that I have not yet commented on the Francis Beckwith situation. This is primarily because I have little to say. To be honest, the fact that Beckwith has crossed the Tiber, so to speak, means very little to you or to me or to most Protestants. Sure he was the President of the Evangelical Theological Society, but most of us never even encounter ETS and it never intersects with our lives. So it seems to me that his return to Catholicism has been given a lot of airtime but really has very little significance to the average Christian. There is just one thing I’ll say about it. It seems to me that it is never the simple Bible teachers who convert to Catholicism. People who simply study the Bible and teach it as the Word of God very rarely find Rome attractive. But those who dive into philosophy seem to be more likely to feel themselves drawn to the intellectualism of Rome. They lose sight of the beautiful simplicity of free grace and are drawn to the “grace” of Catholicism, which is really no grace at all. This is not to say that Protestantism is inherently anti-intellectual, but that we depend on Scripture rather than the philosophical constructs of man. It is sad that Beckwith felt the call to return to Rome. I hope he is granted grace to see the error of his ways.

Finally, I am going to re-post a book review in a few moments (I first posted the review some 13 months ago). Don Piper’s 90 Minutes in Heaven continues to appear on the New York Times list of bestsellers and I’d like to post the review again, hoping to intercept Christians who are thinking of reading it. It’s a book that is clearly very popular, but one that offers a view of heaven that is seriously unbiblical.

That’s it for me today. I’ve got work to do and emails to write. I’ll try to have something more interesting to say tomorrow.