Seven Letters Seven Dangers
Several weeks ago I sent my cadre of writers a question. I asked them, “If you could identify and warn your fellow believers about the greatest spiritual danger that they may face in life what would it be?” I was a little shocked at how fast they responded. The response was immediate, which told me that I had struck a nerve. What is more, these writers are not only good writers but perceptive thinkers. So, I decided to challenge them. I asked them to put their proverbial money on the table by identifying their concern and warning their brothers and sisters accordingly. They eagerly took up the challenge.
However, I would like to take the opportunity before launching this series to set the stage. First, let me say a word about the format. Who doesn’t love to receive a hand written letter even in this email driven age? That was especially true in days gone by. I once knew someone who served in Vietnam as an infantryman and he told me that the mail call was the highlight of the week. There is good reason why people love a letter. It is up close and personal. I remember receiving letters when I was a kid and thinking that each letter had its distinctive scent. All reminiscing aside, in order to give some semblance of symmetry to the project, not to mention a personal touch, I have asked each of our writers to use a letter format. Thus, each writer will address the imaginary figure of Theophilus. But this raises another point.
Second, let me also say something about what we are not saying. We are not suggesting that Scripture is somehow insufficient to address these concerns. However, like any Bible lesson, the preacher or teacher brings an element of creativity in order to give shape to the material on which he is teaching. These letters are no different. Each of these letters will draw down on Scripture in order to make their point. In other words, we are simply bringing the gospel to bear in this fictional format.
Our purpose in these letters is to speak personally, pointedly and most importantly, Biblically into our current church culture that Christ might be glorified and fellow believers might be strengthened. So, read them like Theophilus. Or to put it another way, read them and heed them like a friend of God.
Jeffrey A. Stivason is the pastor of Grace Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gibsonia, PA. He holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology and is an adjunct professor at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary and is an online instructor for Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, PA. Jeff is the author of From Inscrutability to Concursus (P&R), he has contributed to The Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia (Eerdmans) and is the Senior Editor for Place for Truth.