Adam McHugh, plainly and accurately states that the “slant towards extroversion in the larger culture has also infiltrated the church.” (See part 1 of this series for more on how this ‘slant’ came to be.) Not only has this slant permeated how our congregations interact, how our services are planned, and how our programs are organized, but extroversion has also become the assumed, paradigmatic personality for our pastors and leaders. Let’s consider some of the voices alerting us to this reality in our churches.
“Anybody else discouraged today by the pastoral blueprint in the ‘church growth’ movement?” writes Jared Wilson, a pastor from New Hampshire. “The most ‘successful’ types of pastors today,” he continues, “are more of the entrepreneurial type than the pastoral. They are speakers, CEOs, innovators, vision-casters, pioneers, personalities, and administrators. But too few are pastors.” Wilson is not the only one observing this trend.
I’m very thankful for the opportunity to contribute a column at Place for Truth, and I pray the Lord will use my contributions for the furthering of His kingdom.
Given the Alliance’s clear emphasis on the subject (coupled with evangelicalism’s increasing murkiness), I can think of no better theme for my first post than this: “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). Two texts are particularly helpful for understanding what Paul means by this.
Christians are frequently reminded to “remember the reason for Christmas,” meaning, of course, that we should turn our attention away from the cultural trappings and to the fact that Jesus was born to Mary in Bethlehem. But this Christmas, perhaps we should fix our attention a little more closely, not just on the details of Jesus’ birth, but on the miracle of the incarnation. In so doing, we join a great cloud of Christian witnesses, who have reflected deeply on this glorious mystery.
The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. (WCF 1:6a)
Calvin’s and Beza’s thought was so fertile as to spawn many followers. Summaries of Ponet, Daneau, Hotman, and many others are worth consulting at any Inauguration. Another disciple who particularly refined this theory was the Marian exile, Christopher Goodman, whose ideas will be explored briefly below.
The popular Federalist Papers in many ways reflect the continuation of Calvin’s view of man and the state. Alexander Hamilton began The Federalist Papers by asserting that the people of this country have reserved to themselves the important question of whether “societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government” (Federalist #1). While he admitted that the people must cede to that government certain prerogatives (#2), Ham
We may well complain that our generation ranks among the most immoral generations of history and that could well be true. But the more sinister issue is the reason that lies behind this tragedy. It is the fact that ours is probably the most amoral generation of history. It simply does not possess any meaningful framework of morals to guide its conduct. To borrow the overused cliché, ‘It lacks a moral compass’. People behave the way they do because morally and spiritually, as in the days of Jonah’s Nineveh, ‘they cannot tell their right hand from their left’ (Jon 4.11).
A Stew Pot
One of the more frequently visited proverbs of my childhood came to me from my mother. “A stew pot never boils,” she would say. I felt what it meant long before I actually understood it. Explanation of the phrase came in its fuller version: “A stew pot never boils when watched.”
Exuberant over an experience, an oh-so-sweet manifestation of divine providence, you delightedly seek to give God praise in telling your story. “It was such a ‘God thing’,” you proclaim. As you see it, God wove together an otherwise inexplicable combination of events to deliver a wonderful—even stunning—outcome. The story nearly tells itself, and the words gush with geyser force. In such times, it is good to credit the Lord for his work. That is what God’s people do.
The Protestant Reformation declared that the Scriptures displayed four perfections: authority, clarity, necessity, and sufficiency. When we say that the Scriptures are sufficient we mean that God has given us all that we need to know for salvation and life. The Westminster Confession of Faith, while written more than one hundred years after the initiation of the Reformation, well encapsulates this precious insight that we have inherited from the Reformers:
When I was young and living under my parent's tutelage, cleaning my room was a primary chore assigned to me. However, even though I was the chief custodian of my room I was not the boss! After cleaning, my mother would show up for the inspection. More often than not, she would look at me with her head cocked to one side, hand on her hip, and say, "It will suffice." I always took that as a negative statement. It was as if she said, "You pass…but barely!" When I got a little older, I discovered that the word suffice is from the Latin word sufficere meaning