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Posts from the ‘Culture’ Category

An Unconditionally Conditional Faith – (reposted by request)

Note: This series of blog entries was lost in the transition to GenRef’s new format. I’m reposting them one by one by request. Special thanks to for keeping the links up!)

Imagine that you and a Christian friend you’ve not seen in a while are taking a theology class together. The teacher hands out copies of the Apostle’s Creed and asks the students to sign them if the Creed accurately represents their beliefs. Happy to codify your Christian convictions, you sign your copy. However, you notice that your friend is busy making marks on his paper. You watch as he places an asterisk beside each statement of the Creed. He places one final asterisk at the bottom of the page and writes next to it: “These beliefs are subject to change.” Read more

Ducking the Real Issues?

Is it wise for Christians to market their own morality as entertainment? That question seems to be worth asking as the feathers settle after this month’s Duck Dynasty flap.

Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson entertains. He also markets duck calls for hunters. As a reality television star, his lifestyle and morality serve as his product. His status as a for-profit entertainer ought to inform the debates Christians have regarding his GQ magazine interview earlier this month. Read more

(Dis)ingenuous – part three of a GenRef series on Emergence Christianity

The day after your long and sometimes troubling conversation with your friend, you decide to seek counsel from the teacher of the theology class you’re taking together. You knock on his office door and he greets you warmly. He takes several books and a loose pile of papers off a chair. You sit, impressed at the library surrounding and towering over you.

The professor notices your looking around, glad that you apparently appreciate his collection. “Some of these books are centuries old” he says with a wistful smile, and then he chuckles. “Sometimes I think that my truest friends are dead people!”

Slightly unnerved, you ignore the disturbing ways that statement could be understood, focusing instead on the reason for your visit. You tell the professor about your friend, including as many details as you can remember of the Emergence Theology (ET) which has so captivated him. “Ah,” the professor begins. “So that explains the asterisks on the Apostle’s Creed.” Read more

Understanding E.T. – (Emergent Theology, not the alien!) – part 2 of a GenRef series…

Imagine that you are back with your Christian friend, talking in the hall after the theology class you’re taking together. You inquire about his placing asterisks on his copy of the Apostle’s Creed. “Yeah” he begins sheepishly. “Maybe the asterisk thing was over the top, a bit too in your face, and I don’t mean to be like that. Although it was funny when the prof read it and spit out his drink!”

You ask your friend what happened to his faith since you saw him last. After a minute’s reflection, he replies: “I stopped worshiping the idol of epistemic certainty.” Recognizing that the conversation is about to get very philosophical, you invite your friend to the Mars Hill of postmodern America: The local coffee shop. Read more

An Unconditionally Conditional Faith

Imagine that you and a Christian friend you’ve not seen in a while are taking a theology class together. The teacher hands out copies of the Apostle’s Creed and asks the students to sign them if the Creed accurately represents their beliefs. Happy to codify your Christian convictions, you sign your copy. However, you notice that your friend is busy making marks on his paper. You watch as he places an asterisk beside each statement of the Creed. He places one final asterisk at the bottom of the page and writes next to it: “These beliefs are subject to change.” He signs the paper and, with a smile, asks you about the concerned look on your face. Read more

Love Thy Neighbor as Thy Selfie

photoI have been a fan of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for many years. I love the art of language and the skill it takes to document the ever changing and living tongue of the anglophonic people.

This week all nerdly eyes were on Oxford as they announced the word of the year. This is an annual event at which a new and influential word is chosen based on how it has come into the language. Sure, it’s not the Superbowl, but some of us get pretty excited about these things.

Did you hear what this year’s word is? Selfie.

Yep. Selfie.

What is a selfie you might ask? The OED defines selfie as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”

Why is this so interesting? The selfie is not just a way of putting yourself out there for the tweeters of the world to see. The selfie is a reflection of the corporate fallen heart of mankind. Read more

Seven Themes in Thanksgiving in the New Testament

The smell of turkey roasting is wafting through the church building even as I write. Preparations are being made in the kitchen so students learning English as a second language can experience a traditional Thanksgiving meal in place of regular classes this evening. Many of us will gather with families next week to give thanks to God for the bounty of another harvest season.

How do we grow in gratitude? Last week, we considered Eight Themes in Thanksgiving in the Psalms. This week, we consider Seven Themes in Thanksgiving in the New Testament: Read more

Highlights of Sanctification: Overcoming Modern Challenges

On Friday and Saturday I spent a wonderful time in Indianapolis with over 300 other believers being fed by Tim Challies and David Murray as they addressed the topic of growing as believers in the midst of the unique challenges of the modern world.  The Second Reformed Presbyterian Church hosted the time well by providing a warm welcome to all, making available room for the huge layout of books by Reformation Heritage Books with tasty refreshments nearby, and offering special times of question and answer sessions with David and Tim, be it for youth around pizza or pastors around a tasty lunch. Certainly the time was a taste of the eternal fellowship we will fully enjoy one day.

As I believe it would be well worth the investment of time to listen to their messages, here are four paragraphs highlighting each one.  To listen to the particular talk, just click the title’s hyperlink.  Read more

Eight Themes in Thanksgiving

As our nation reflects more on the nature of gratitude at this November, here are eight themes in thankfulness from the Psalms that guide us to a more God-glorifying gratitude:

  1. We give thanks for who the Lord is. We give thanks “due to his righteousness” (7:17), “to his holy name” (30:4), “for your name is near” (75:1), “for he is good” (118:1), and “to the God of gods” (136:2). Do we know God’s name and his attributes? Grateful hearts do. Read more

The Christian Home: Another Protestant Reformation Blessing


The Reformation was a time of rediscovery. The church, in a sense, rediscovered justification by faith alone. The reformation also rediscovered biblical worship, and this was seen as the second pillar of the protestant reformation. As the church was freed from the bondage of a fear based religion, other blessings were brought forth.

Other aspects of the reformation affected the life of the church and had profound implications on a developing Christian society. One such blessing in the rediscovery of biblical religion was the Christian home and the Christian marriage, which brings us to Psalm 128.

Read more

Call It Pornolatry

As a number of men have recently blogged on the plague of pornography, and offered help for protecting your family and redeeming your life from it (see Tim Challies, “The Porn-Free Family“; Eric Simmons, “I Hate Porn“; John Piper, “Pornography: The New Narcotic“), I thought I would join with these other brothers and offer another piece of arsenal in the fight.  Below is a re-posting, slightly edited, of a piece I wrote a while back that employs the strategy of prophets like Isaiah who used satire to try to help people see their sin.  Only as men see pornography for the false worship it is and turn to the living God will they find freedom and life.


Modern man thinks he does not worship idols, which only proves that he does. How so?

Consider for a moment the current epidemic of pornography.  The pornography industry was put into check somewhat by the morality movement during the 1980′s that led a few national chains to quit carrying obscene material.  Yet, with the advent of the Internet and personalized computers, pornography has returned with a vengeance. Some of the facts: Read more


Christian young people in North America who sense a long-term call to the mission field in developing countries are often ready and willing to give up most of their material possessions. They are willing to go with the clothes on their back and eat beans and rice to tell about Jesus. The problem is that the citizens of those developing nations might be eating only beans or rice. Thus, the native people often perceive that the most materially advantageous job to have is one connected with Christian ministry. Read more

Texts Over Which To Weep

Does God ever seem cruel to you as He’s portrayed on the pages of Scripture? You come across something God says, does, or commands His people to do and you cringe, thinking: “Is God really like that? Is this as bad as it seems? Is He as bad as this seems?” Certain depictions of God seem to violate the very instincts of love and justice wrought in believers by the Holy Spirit. What sense are we to make of this struggle of sentiments within us, each of which claims to represent the true and living God? Read more

Emperor Norton and King Jesus

empnort2.gifBetween 1859 and 1880 four presidents served the United States, but  as they came and went, one emperor reigned in the United States . Lincoln, Jackson, Grant, and Hayes were all president of the United States during that time, but Emperor Norton I was Emperor of the whole United States and Protector of Mexico.

“Back East” there were significant events that were shaping the growing nation, such as the Pony Express sending mail from coast to coast. The Homestead Act opened the fly-over states resulting in a population surge (including many Covenanters) along the prairies and fields of grain. The Emancipation Proclamation freed Southern slaves and eventually the United States would work on healing herself following a war of ideologies.  And who could forget the fact that the National League was founded as a cradle for Dodger’s baseball (go Blue!).

Many things were changing in the United States between 1859 and 1880,  but one thing remained a constant. Emperor Norton was the self-proclaimed rightful heir of the United States and Mexico.  Read more

The Fading Glory of Sex

My friend Bill VanDoodewaard at The Christian Pundit has written an excellent post entitled Art, Nakedness, and Redemption.  In this article, he demonstrates quite clearly, using his extensive knowledge of history (in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Francis Schaeffer), how nudity in art has more to do with promoting the cultural ethos from which it emerges than we might think.  For instance (and here I am sorry to ruin your next museum trip), have you ever thought that those exquisitely carved Greek statues of naked men may have more to do with that society’s homoerotic promotion than, say, with the beauty of the human body (which will be what your guide will tell you)?

This post helps connect the dots between the immorality we see in art and the immorality that we see in the culture and especially the church.  The bad fruit of rampant pornography, fornication, and divorce in the modern church has much of its roots in the arts.  Before you read anymore of this post, you should first read his.

Bill then concludes his post by bringing Scriptural light to bear on how Christians should not fall for the line that “mature adults” can view certain pieces of pornographic art.  Instead, we should acquire the maturity of wisdom that longs for modesty in the art we enjoy.

Reading this stirred up within me concerns I have long had in a related area.  Not only is the evangelical church facing cultural pressures from without in the area of immorality, but also from within.  I believe some of the church’s more well-known leaders are fostering such by their disproportionate teaching on sex and their own lack of discretion. Read more