Culture

The closing chapters of the Old Testament are set against the looming ‘Dark Ages’ of Ancient Israel. God had spoken through his prophets and his people had persistently ignored his word and strayed from his ways – even after the exile. The final words of Malachi could not be more ominous. The Old...
Have you ever wondered why Matthew 1:23 quotes Isaiah 7:14? Perhaps the ready answer is that the quote substantiates the virgin conception and birth of Christ, which is true enough. However, the text raises a number of questions. For instance, why did God promise a virgin conceived and virgin born...
To interpret is to identify the meaning or significance that the thing has which we interpret. Humans interpret. We do not choose to interpret; interpretation is unavoidable. But we do choose how we interpret and thereby what our interpretation will be. Furthermore, interpreting is a perpetual...
One December, a week or two before Christmas, the worship leader announced the hymn "Joy to the World" and a woman nearby groaned, "Oh no, not 'Joy to the World' again." I understand her point; she wanted a new Christmas song, but still, how can we grow tired of joy to the world. Psalm 96 begins "...
Erdmann Neumeister (1671-1756) hated Pietism but his music was full of vigorous piety and lively devotion. The difference was in the premises. He (as Luther had done before him) sang about a triune God who works in history and draws us to him through the objective, external Word and sacraments...
Guns in Church When I was a pastor, ten years ago, I learned that a married couple, both FBI agents, joined my church. We already had two police officers in attendance, but I welcomed the news in a day when church shootings, like school shootings, were in the news. "It makes me feel safer," one...
“But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” (1 Timothy 2:12) I begin by quoting that verse because many of you are already thinking about it. I do not blame you. It is an important and much debated verse, and the way we interpret it tends to define...
The name George Wishart is generally associated with John Knox, one of his most devout followers, who remembered him fondly in his History of the Reformation . By the time Knox heard Wishart exhorting in Leith, Scotland, on 13 December 1545, the preacher had already gained a fame as one of the most...
In Francis Bacon’s essay entitled “Of Studies” he gives the now well known dictum that “Reading makes a full man; Conference a ready man; and Writing an exact man.” The axiom is a good. Clear writing not only testifies to clear thinking, but precise writing creates precise thinking. I’ve found this...
The ‘wars’ that have raged around ‘worship’ are anything but new. Even though they may only been expressed explicitly in these terms in the recent history of the church, they are as old as the church. Indeed they are as old as our race itself. The very moment the serpent questioned the principle...

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