“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.”[1] Wilson is not the only one observing this trend.

Years ago, one of my favorite Rainer Maria Rilke poems gave me a new perspective on the night, and I’m reminded of this at Christmas time whenever we sing “Oh Holy Night,” one of the most beautiful songs that has ever entered my ear. Let me provide the poem first and then explain what I mean.

You, darkness, of whom I am born—

 

I love you more than the flame

that limits the world

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Paolo Sarpi is not a familiar name in American discussions of the Protestant Reformation but was well known in 16th-century Europe. As was often the case, particularly in firmly Roman Catholic countries like Italy, placing a precise label on Sarpi’s theological beliefs is difficult and counter-productive. His life, however, offers an excellent vantage point for an overview of the Church of Rome after the Council of Trent (1545-1563).

Sarpi and the Venetian Interdict

William Tyndale’s English translation of the New Testament, first published in 1526, was met with sharp disapproval in England – not only because it was common knowledge that Scriptures should not be placed in the hands of the uneducated masses, but also because of the translation itself.

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This article is the third part of an article called "On the Hermeneutics of Subscription." Read part 1 and part 2

Scotland and Ireland Prior to the Adopting Act

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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.

On January 1 1519, Ulrich Zwingli became the pastor of the principal church of Zurich, Switzerland. When he preached through the New Testament from the Greek, the Reformation began in that city. Zwingli taught salvation by grace and justification by faith; he also compared what he saw in his church to what he read in Scripture. Four years later, church folk heard Zwingli say fasting during Lent had no biblical basis, and decided to force the issue by publicly eating sausage at the start of Lent.

In the years just before the Reformation, a great number of Christian leaders saw the need for moral reform in Europe. The church was corrupt and the gap between biblical precepts and daily life seemed far too great for an ostensibly Christian society

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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.

This week on Theology on the Go, Dr. Jonathan Master is joined by Dr. Liam Goligher, pastor of the historic Tenth Presbyterian Church in downtown Philadelphia, PA. As pastor of Tenth Presbyterian, Dr. Goligher has done much thinking and teaching on the topic of missions, and how Christians are to reach the lost. This installment of Theology on the Go gives a glimpse of some of that teaching as Dr. Goligher chats with Jonathan about the doctrine of missions.

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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.[1] 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).[2] While he admitted that the people must cede to that government certain prerogatives (#2), Ham

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Although for many churches, the celebration of Christ’s Nativity is over for another year, for many others it is yet to come. They will celebrate the Feast of Epiphany on January 6th and on into the Sunday that follows. In part it will mark the visit of the Magi to worship the infant Jesus; but overall it will provide further opportunity to reflect on and rejoice in the Incarnation itself.

Christmas is fast approaching and images of Mary are everywhere – from cards to Nativity scenes – but she is strangely absent from many, if not most Protestant pulpits. Yes, she may be accorded a passing reference in the Christmas narrative, but she can come across very much as a bit-part, or an ‘extra’ in the drama being rehearsed. But, for those who seek to measure the balance as much as content of preaching against the text being proclaimed, this should raise genuine questions.

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The first Psalm sets the stage for the entire Psalter. Its attention on the covenant God and covenant blessing and cursing, as well as its preoccupation with God’s Word as the source for our understanding, focus the entire Psalter. In fact, as scholars like O. Palmer Robertson have contended, Psalms 1 and 2 serve as the “pillar or gates” to the whole edifice of the Psalter.[1] They are the great building blocks that support the whole.

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.”

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We often pray the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer after sinning.  We should learn to pray the sixth petition before similarly sinning again, remembering, ye have not because ye ask not (James 4:2).

In this series, we are examining how the Lord’s prayer shapes our prayer life. In this post, we want to apply the phrase “…Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…” How does this statement in the Lord’s prayer shape our prayers?

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            The Westminster Confession of Faith begins with what many have deemed some of the most well articulated statements concerning the doctrine of Scripture. And incorporated right into the confession’s understanding of Scripture is a brief, little clause on how one might do theology. The clause, which has garnered much thought over the centuries, was placed there as an expression defending the sufficiency of Scripture in all of life.

If all your paperwork rolled like a sea over your desk, you’d struggle to navigate and prepare your tax returns.  If you blanketed your computer’s desktop with all your digital files, you’d smother the writing of a departmental report.  So is any unorganized library a maze of confusion.

This is why our cabinets, computers, and shelves have filing systems.  And this is why we need systematic theology.

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