Any comments on the Obama/McCain appearance at Saddleback over the weekend?

In case you missed it, Kevin has put together a post with all of Obama and McCain’s answers put side by side. You can find that here.

My question keeps coming down to this: how do we, as followers of Jesus and partners in the mission of God to this broken world, choose a candidate? What issues do we focus on? What characteristics or viewpoints in each candidate do we value as a result of our faith commitments?

I’d love to jump on the whole Purple politics bandwagon or put forth the idea (more…)

As many of you undoubtedly know, The Shack is getting a lot of attention. It’s sort of an underdog story: an unpublished salesmen writes a book for his children that was never supposed to be published. When it is published, it is done so on a $300 budget by a small, independent press. Through word of mouth, the book has grown into a best seller.

One of the reasons, I think, the book has been such a huge seller is because of the basic story line: a man endures a tremendous loss, goes into depression, finds “God” personally (and literally), and is restored to a life of joy. This resinates with a lot of people because loss and pain are parts of all of our lives.

Although this book has touched many people and, perhaps, even brought them closer to “God,” there are many people that I would strongly caution before reading this book. Others I would greatly encourage them to read it. I’ll explain my reasoning below.

Before I start, I’d like to point you to some well done (and more in depth) reviews of the book:
Tim Challies has a free .pdf review that is very in depth and well done.
Ben Witherington does a nice job balancing the positive and negative.
Amy encourages people to read The Shack in order to engage critically with the theology presented.
—Steve Bishop calls us to remember the genre of the book before passing judgement.

Literary Comments

As a piece of literature, The Shack is pretty much deplorable. The writing is awkward and the entire story line is completely contrived. It seems, at least to me, that Young had (more…)

I was curious if anyone else has read this book. It has been a pretty impressive seller, especially for a Christian novel and, furthermore, by a formerly-unpublished novelist.

I just finished reading it today and have some thoughts that I’d like to post about, if others would be interested in it. I thought it would be profitable to discuss, since it is being read by so many people.

Anyone else read it? Thoughts? Criticisms?

UPDATE: My cousin Amy just posted a great review of The Shack. My review will deal with similar issues that Amy raised.

Dr. Bruce McCormack of Princeton Theological Seminary has just written a thought provoking essay on the Christology of the HTFC report and how it does not reflect a Reformed Christology.

You can read the essay here.


Recently Westminster Theological Seminary released documents that were written surrounding the debate over Pete Enns’ book Inspiration and Incarnation (hereafter I&I). The last document in that large packet was an essay written by Dr. Peter Lillback, president and professor of Church History at Westminster, entitled “”The Infallible Rule of Interpretation of Scripture”: The Hermeneutical Crisis and the Westminster Standards.” The main focus of Dr. Lillback’s essay was to show how Peter Enns’ work falls outside of the Westminster Standards (at the end of the essay he “shows” how Enns violates the Standards in 7 different ways).

I have thought of different ways to respond to this essay, from an overview to a point-by-point review, and have decided to simply follow the flow of Dr. Lillback’s essay and object where objections need to be made. I would encourage everyone to read Dr. Lillback’s essay first, and then read this response. If you have not read the essay by Dr. Lillback, please do not throw in your two cents regarding this response. In my opinion, if you aren’t going to take the time to actually read the documents, then you don’t have the right to comment. I also want to apologize for the length of this post, (more…)

The documents that were prepared by the Historical and Theological Field Committee against Peter Enns’ book Inspiration and Incarnation as well as the response to their report by the Hermeneutics Field Committee (in favor of Enns) were handed out to interested students yesterday. Today, they have been released on Westminster’s website.

Along with these reports are also the Edgar-Kelly Motion, the Faculty Minority Report, and an essay by Dr. Peter Lillback.

These documents are extremely enlightening. We’ll be sure to weigh in on them in the near future.

In the wake of the revitalization of this blog (something I am very happy has happened), I’d like to quote Harvie Conn and reflect on the implications of his quote which seem to have something to say to the current tensions not only within the Reformed world, but also some of the tensions that hit us Westminster students closer to home.

In the Preface to Inerrancy and Hermeneutic, Conn lays out the goal for the book. He writes:

Our primary interest is in helping the pastor understand what has been going on in the last couple decades and how these developments can be analyzed and, to a degree, appropriated by someone with a continuing commitment to the inerrancy of the Bible. Our goals, then, are not only defensive but also creative and affirming (9-10).

I see in that quote an attitude that encapsulates the best of what the Reformed faith can offer. It does offer a framework within which one can defend oneself, and one’s church, from heresies and serious theological errors. But the Reformed faith has always, since its inception, been a progressive faith that is constantly reforming itself. The Reformed faith also provides a base for creative and affirming scholarship that may reform and revise certain aspects of its heritage, but never causes one to abandon that heritage.

I’m not sure the term “Reformed” really helps the issue. The term is in the past tense, bringing with it the sense that all the work has already been done. Perhaps it would have been better to use “Reforming.”

But let’s not get hung up with semantics. The point is that Conn was carrying on the heritage that he inherited. Not in a stagnate way, but in a way that I think the Reformers would have wanted it to be carried on. I don’t think the Reformers, or anyone with an ounce of humility, would have believed that their word was the last. When approached with new evidence the appropriate response is not to hide behind a document written from a viewpoint that is alien to more than half the world. Rather, the response should be to learn from our heritage then engage with the evidence and, finally, measure both by Scripture.

I’ll end with a quote from a professor who encapsulates the best of what the Reformed world has to offer, both in his love for his tradition and for his creative and reforming scholarship:

Our tradition certainly has a well-documented legacy of serious, historically oriented biblical studies, open to seeing new ways where the Spirit and evidence lead, open to seeing how God is leading his people to greater understanding of his Word. And there is much work waiting to be done with respect to furthering this legacy concretely by engaging new discoveries and theories, as well as perhaps reinvestigating older discussions. (Peter Enns, “Bible In Context: The Continuing Vitality of Reformed Biblical Scholarship”)

It is a sad day in the Reformed world when some would rather hide behind their history than responsibly approach the present.

I had an interesting “conn-versation” with a close friend tonight. This friend was part of a confessional, PCA church up until a few years ago…when this friend went through a divorce. This friend was told that the only legitimate grounds for divorce were fornication and physical abuse. This friend’s divorce did not fall into these categories because it was based on emotional abuse, therefore this friend was viewed as someone who was sinning. The issue is a bit too complex to write about fully and I would not want to violate my friend’s trust by writing all about the issue on a public forum. But my friend’s issue began me thinking about a few things… (more…)

Last fall, towards the end of the semester I took to reading Ministries of Mercy by Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City at the urging of my cousin and her husband, who I was living with at the time. It was a paradigm shifting book for me and also proved to be a precursor to me moving from the suburbs into the city to begin working with the mercy minstries at liberti church.

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Mark,

I hope to get a chance to read that book. I must admit that I have not read that widely in the area of racial reconciliation or race related theological issues. I guess I naively assumed that reading about the Gospel and God’s mission to redeem all people to himself until the glory of God covers the earth as the water covers the sea included racial issues a priori.

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