Happy New Year all, it’s good to be back. This Conversations is likely to be wider than thinner than some, since so much time has gone by since our last edition, but hopefully I can give you a few things to digest while you’re attempting to fulfill all those resolution about working out.
Also, being the new year, I’d like to encourage any of our regular readers in the BPC to consider producing content for the blog. It is still part of my vision for the blog that it would help the BPC to thrive and have a public voice, so having voices from diverse places within our denominational boundaries is vital to that success.
Christmas – Everyone like Spurgeon, right? I’d encourage you to consider the linked article on Spurgeon’s attitude toward Christmas. It’s like that many of you didn’t know that the way we observe Christmas, and even if we observe Christmas is a live debate within the Reformed community. I’m absolutely not going to weigh in on this issue at length, as it is one of the quickest ways to end up with one’s head on an internet spike, but if you’re interested, consider these two discussions on the topic from Reformed Forum. I believe they express both perspectives persuasively and sympathetically.
Read the Bible – Seriously, make a commitment this year to read through the Bible. I would go so far as to say this is a basic Christian commitment, in the day and age in which we live. There is nothing which is a litmus for my spiritual health quite like the amount of time which I spend in regular reading of my Bible. The linked article has a ton of different plans. I’m running M’Cheyne’s schedule this year, but the important thing is to have a plan and stick to it.
Tim Witmer – This is a Mortification of Spin podcast wherein they interview Timothy Witmer, a professor at WTS, pastor, and popular author. I consider this partially of interest, as my session has spent a substantial amount of time with his book The Shepherd Leader (which is really quite good, even with my disposition to be dislike “practical theology” books), trying to understand how to better pursue our shepherding ministry at church. The interview centers around Witmer’s story about leading a United Church of Christ church out of that denomination and into the PCA. While they missed a grand opportunity to join the BPC, it is deeply encouraging to hear narratives about churches leaving liberal, apostate denominations and coming to true, Bible-believing, confessional denominations. It’s definitely worth your listen. Which leads me to….
Dying Churches – We have spent a few articles recently discussing how conservative churches are thriving, while liberal ones are dying, so here’s another one, from the Washington Post, of all places. This study concerns Canadian churches, but if anything, that makes the conclusions more remarkable, considering how much more mainstream aggressively liberal values are in Canada. I hope this is encouragement for all of us to stay the course and reject the liberal narrative of inevitable, undeniable victory for the progressives. God will build his church, and there is a sense in which the current environment is helping the church to recognize those who are not truly of the fold of Christ.
Horton Writing for WAPO? – Michael Horton is one of the scholarly luminaries of the conservative, Reformed community at the moment, so the fact that the Washington Post would willingly publish someone who so openly and clearly dissents from the liberal intellectual consensus of the day is fairly remarkable. He is being critical of Trump (appropriately so) here, so perhaps it’s just a case of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” but we live in strange days. The article itself is very worth considering, as it looks at the apparent alliance between Trump and the propagators of the prosperity gospel. I am fully of the belief that the prosperity gospel is one of the greatest threats to genuine Christianity in the States today, and it is vitally important to call it what it is – heresy. It is vitally important that we acknowledge that the leaders of this movement, like Joel Osteen and Paula White, are not simply fluffy, encouraging, motivational speakers. They are a cancer in this country, and it is a cancer which claims the name of Christ. We should be willing to call things what they are. I know many in our circles decided to vote for Trump, when push came to shove. Despite, this, we need to be willing to speak to him when he makes basic, fundamental, dangerous errors. Confusing the prosperity gospel for the gospel of Christ is such an error, and I am glad that there are voices like Michael Horton speaking such truth into the public square.