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Blessings, Kingdoms, Smiles and Books

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This is a compilation of various things that caught my eye this week. They were things that needed more explanation than I could offer in A La Carte, but not enough that they merited an article of their own.

Same Sex Blessings

It’s easy to write off the Anglican Church, and especially so up here in Canada where it seems that so few churches have really remained faithful to the gospel. So many churches, or at least the ones that get the publicity, have long since forsaken the gospel. But sometimes we receive a breath of fresh air. Such was the case when I read a three-part series called “Where Do I Stand (On the issue of Same-sex Blessings)?” Written by Mark Larratt-Smith (who, incidentally and according to my parents, used to attend a Bible study group they were part of back in their Anglican days), the article details his view on these same-sex blessings. He begins with an affirmation and defense of the Sovereignty of God and then moves to the authority of Scripture. He roots the issue firmly in God’s authority over us. “The central issue here really isn’t about same-sex relationships at all, but about God’s sovereignty and the creation of idols.” He gets it right as he cuts to the very heart of the issue:

In fact, what is involved is an attempt to redefine the nature of Almighty God, in order to make Him fit with our contemporary society’s view on a single social issue. In this it does not seem to me to be any different from any other attempt to create a tame god who will comfortably reflect and endorse our own sense of what is appropriate. It is just another example of making one of the gods of stone or wood that the Old Testament prophets denounced. Its implicit message is that, if I don’t agree with God’s version of reality, I will reconstruct a god who is more congenial with my own view of the world. As I have stated above, such a god is not worth worshipping and certainly not the source of any hope to rely upon.

People who do not get right God’s sovereignty and God’s authority through His Word will never be able to get other issues right. Larratt-Smith goes right to the gospel–right to the source.

You can read the article here: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

The Emergent Kingdom

Just a few days ago I was pondering the whole emerging and emergent Church movement(s) and began to realize that there is one issue the emerging people have been writing about a whole lot and that most traditional Protestants do not speak of nearly as often. I was thinking of the kingdom of God. Whether you are emerging or emergent, the kingdom of God plays a pivotal role in your theology. And yet it tends to be a mere footnote for most Protestants.

The very next day I received in the mail the latest copy of Gary Gilley’s “Think on These Things” newsletter and was delighted to see that the title is “The Kingdom of Emergent Theology – Part 1.” While Gilley approaches the issue from a dispensational perspective, already he has shared some valuable insights. While he acknowledges the differences between emerging and emergent, Gilley says “Since both emerging and emergent camps have the same view of the kingdom, I will be using the term ’emergent’ throughout this discussion to refer to both wings.”

If there is one thing the emergent conversation has closed ranks around it is that the kingdom of God is on earth now, but it will progressively resemble God’s kingdom in heaven as Christians understand their true mission, which is to make this world a better place for all. The emerging movement sees itself as a wakeup call to those who would follow Jesus. It is our task to bring the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven by aggressively challenging injustice, fighting poverty, aiding the sick, working on ecological concerns and, in general, saving this planet and everything on it. Emergent leaders believe that people are catching on to this new vision of the kingdom, and as a result, are optimistic about the future. No doomsday tribulation period is on their radar screen nor is Jesus coming in judgment upon the wicked. The kingdom, while already here, will progressively become like heaven as we attend to the social ills and needs around us. Tomorrow looks bright and the day after that looks brighter still.

Gilley continues to tie emergent theology into postmilleniallism and offers a brief critique. “Emergent eschatology is by-and-large identical to liberal postmillennialism which flourished prior to the mid-twentieth century.” Since I am not dispensational I know that I will have some disagreements with Gilley, but still look forward to reading the rest of the article when it becomes available next month. For now I’m hoping that someone from the non-dispensational perspective can also do some work on the issue of the kingdom. I think if we narrow in on that one issue, we’ll be in a better spot to understand much of the appeal of this whole emerging movement.

You can read Gilley’s article here: The Kingdom of Emergent Theology

Was the Father Smiling?

This came in to my RSS reader just a few minutes to late to include in today’s A La Carte, but it was too good to pass up. Mark Altrogge posted a great little article on The Blazing Center. Here’s a brief excerpt:

When in college, every Saturday after Thanksgiving, I played in the “Turkey Bowl” (the original and true Turkey Bowl, not one of the ten thousand played across the nation which are but cheap imitations). Before this collar-bone-cracking, skull-smashing game of tackle football, the 2 best players would pick their teams. I always knew I’d be chosen last, like I had some kind of disease they might catch from me if I were on their team. By the time the picks dwindled down to me, the captain with last pick would “choose” me with as much enthusiasm as if he’d just been asked to shovel a mountain of manure.

I’m glad God didn’t choose his children with such “enthusiasm”. I can see the Father smiling as he wrote the names of his chosen ones in his book. He elected his own with joy and excitement, not in compulsion. He saved because it brought him pleasure and joy. God inscribed his children’s names on his palms with a happy flourish. Jesus said it was his Father’s pleasure to give his children the kingdom.

Read the rest here

The New Monergism Books

Last week marked the launch of a new Monergism Books. Though I did not do all of the design work for this project, I was involved in various ways behind the scenes (configuring the shopping cart, adding functionality to it, and driving the project forward).

Some of the more notable new features, other than the new design, are: improved search functionality, book recommendations, customer profiles and wishlists, product ratings and reviews and even an affiliate program (which will launch very soon). There is also a new economy flat rate shipping option that will get your books to you for only $3.99 (provided you are shipping to a U.S. address).

Reformation Theology has a more complete explanation of the new features. And, of course, you’ll want to check out the store.

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    A La Carte (February 22)

    A La Carte: Ice, wind, and unanswered prayers / Was it all a waste? / Prepping for the impending apocalypse / The best analogy for the Trinity / Getting to stop by woods on a snowy evening / Bible translation and AI / and more.

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    Like an iPhone, Only Much More So

    Can I confess something to you? There’s one thing Aileen does that really bugs me. We will be talking together and enjoying one another’s company. But then, as we chat, I’ll hear the telltale buzz of her phone. And I can tell that I’ve lost her. I can see it in the look on her…

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    A La Carte (February 21)

    A La Carte: When cultural tailwinds become cultural headwinds / Talking with kids about gender issues / Try to be more awkward / Life is more than mountaintop experiences / Tinder / Unpacking “separation of church and state” / and more.

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    A La Carte (February 20)

    A La Carte: How hell motivates holiness / The bond of love / How to love our friends in truth, even when it stings / The distorting power of the prosperity gospel / Thinking about plagues / and more.

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    A Difference-Making Ministry for Any Christian

    The experience of preaching is very different from the front than from the back, when facing the congregation than when facing the preacher. The congregation faces one man who is doing his utmost to be engaging, to hold their attention, and to apply truths that will impact their hearts and transform their lives.

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    A La Carte (February 19)

    A La Carte: Courageous pastors or overbearing leaders? / Jesus didn’t diss the poor / 8 qualities of true revival / Why don’t you talk about the sermon? / The idol of competence / The danger of inhospitality / and more.