Here is a brief roundup of headlines and happenings there were topics of discussion and reflection among Christians this week. Topics range from the death of a giant of the faith, to the bullying of a sweet, young kid, to the coming of Advent.
The Death of R.C. Sproul
Beloved and respected teacher R.C. Sproul passed away on December 14, and this resulted in an outpouring of tributes. I dedicated Friday’s A La Carte to rounding up many of them. My favorites came from John MacArthur, who spoke warmly of the friendship they shared (“No nationally known Christian leader has been a better friend to me than R. C. Sproul.”) and Al Mohler, who was first a student and then a friend of Dr. Sproul’s (“He never made a half-argument, presented a half-correction, preached a half-sermon, or laughed a half-laugh. He was all in, all the time.”). Perhaps best of all was Steven Lawson’s moving and at times hilarious contribution. “No one could go from being so serious about the holiness of God to laughing so loud that all around could hear him. One night at dinner, he laughed so hard with Sinclair Ferguson and me that he literally pulled a muscle in his rib cage. I am serious. We had to call my brother, a physician, to come to the restaurant and attend to him. How many people do you know who have hurt themselves laughing? R.C. did.” Ligonier Ministries repurposed RCSproul.com to serve as a kind of memorial site. Be sure to visit the Remembering R.C. page to see an overview of his life and ministry. A memorial service will be live-streamed on Wednesday.
Keaton Jones and Bullying
One day the whole world felt bad for Keaton Jones, and the next day half the world was castigating his mother. What could have been a good opportunity to discuss bullying was turned into something else entirely. Internet fame is fleeting and often brings terrible, unwanted consequences. The National Post provided a summary and recap of the story of Keaton Jones and his bullying. In the aftermath, Samuel James shared a helpful reminder that children and the internet are not usually a good combination. “My concern is that Keaton’s vulnerable, emotionally fragile moment, a moment that thousands of other kids identify with every day, was broadcast to millions of strangers, the overwhelming majority of whom do not really care about him.” Meanwhile, Chris Martin aptly caught some of the craziness in a Twitter thread.
Think twice before pulling out your phone and hitting “record.” Think twice more before uploading it and hitting “share.” Seriously.
The Season of Books
This is the time of year when avid readers are recapping what they read in the past year and when they are selecting their favorites. I noticed a significant decline in the number of such recaps from years prior, but still rounded up the ones I found. Among the books that gained the most attention in 2017 were Trevin Wax’s This Is Our Time, David Murray’s Reset, and Jared Wilson’s The Imperfect Disciple. Interestingly, there seemed to be much less agreement than in 2016 when quite a number of books were chosen over and over again. Between you and me (and without reference to the three books just listed), I don’t think 2017 was a banner year for Christian publishing.
Finally, of course, everyone was talking about Advent. It is, after all, just a week until we celebrate Christmas. Courtney Reissig wrote about Christmas in a Minor Key, saying, “Much like the Israelites who came before us, we are living in a minor key. We are living in a world filled with ache, sorrow, loss, sin, and darkness. Yes, Christ has come, but all is still not right, and we often feel it in our bones.” Kimberly Wagner reminded us that The Nativity Brings a Death Blow: “This year, when you open your mail to find a Christmas card with a lovely manger scene, remember that although the setting appears peaceful, this night brought a warrior Child, the One who would conquer death, hell, and the grave. Make no mistake, this birth brought with it a fatal death blow to the enemy of our souls.” Unlocking the Bible offered 10 Ways to Keep Christ the Center of Christmas while John MacArthur attempted to dispel The Confusion at Christmas.
It seems fitting that I should give the final word on Christmas to R.C. Sproul: