Pastors and Theologians

A good post on pastors leading their congregations theologically. But coming from the Gospel Coalition (with Piper’s image prominently displayed on the page), I have a question about one of their points:

9. Independent churches shouldn’t run their own seminaries.

Ummm… what is Piper doing at Bethlehem Baptist?

Just wondering. (I don’t know how I feel about the point, but I am wondering about the apparent discrepancy.)

Race and Reconciliation

I posted some initial thoughts on Pentecost and race here. Then I saw this video with Piper, Keller, and Anthony Bradley discussing race and reconciliation. Piper is okay on this stuff, but Keller really jolted me into paying attention with corporate racism thoughts. He gave a “white guy’s” perspective, and I could understand more clearly what I’ve thought of before. He communicated it so clearly.

It really opened up Joshua 7 and the sin of Achan to me. I found it to be an insightful video.


The Great “I LIKE” Campaign, Part 2

For a fuller explanation of what this is about, go HERE. Basically, I am choosing to say something GOOD about a subject or people when it’s normally easy pickings for criticism. My aim is also to choose “opposites” on a given day. This is a personal project because I can be an “equal opportunity offender.” My goal now is to be an equal opportunity LIKER.


Rob Bell, emergent pastor.

John Piper, Reformed pastor.

Talk about two opposites! When just the clip of a video by Rob Bell promoting his new book Love Wins came out, John Piper tweeted: “Farewell, Rob Bell.” So, here we go.

Rob Bell is passionate about Jesus and compassionate toward people. I have watched several of his Nooma videos and I love his communication style. His heart for God really comes across in these videos.

John Piper is passionate about the glory of God. His book, Desiring God, is a top ten book of mine. The out and out zeal he has for proclaiming the glory of God is contagious.

These are just two things I LIKE about two very opposite men.

Join me in the the great I LIKE campaign!

Rob Bell: There Really IS a Hell!

Following up on his controversial (and hot-selling) book, Love Wins, Rob Bell told Diane Sawyer in a special interview for ABC News that he had a vision two nights ago. He spent 90 minutes in a very dark, hot place. In this vision he saw the flames of hell and realized they are indeed eternal. (In a side note, he can now report Mohandes Ghandi is in hell.)

This follows the stunning news that John Piper has renounced Calvinism and embraced Armininian theology and says boldly, “I choose to do so.”

The news has shaken the emergent theological community, along with the young, reformed and studly Calvinist community. Sales of Mickey Mouse shirts and watches plummeted.

More to come.

The Need for Pastor-Scholars

One of my goals is to truly be a “pastor-scholar.” I certainly don’t think of myself in the vein of John Piper, yet I have as a goal the ability to strive to know God and then communicate him to my church. I don’t want to be a slouch intellectually or spiritually. Yet, I don’t want people in my church feel like they need a Master’s degree or something.

In the vein of the early church fathers, or perhaps Jonathan Edwards, I desire to pursue God with my mind AND my spirit.

More Thoughts on Piper’s Leave of Absence

Christianity Today weighs in on Piper and it’s a good thought.

Here are a couple of comparisons: We just seem to applaud workaholism. We applaud a Dick Cheney who has stents put in his heart and he’s back on the job the next day.

Urban Meyer, football coach at the University of Florida, can’t quit. He saw some sort of handwriting on the wall last December. It scared him so much, he resigned. That lasted about 48 hours. Then, it was a “leave of absence.” Now, he’s running full bore with spring practices. And we don’t utter a peep. The man digs himself an early grave, but doggone it! He wins FOOTBALL games!

It’s a crazy world. We need to heed the voice of the Spirit a little more quickly.

John Piper Taking a Leave of Absence

This news came out this past weekend: John Piper is taking a leave of absence from ministry from May 1 to December 31, 2010. The letter of explanation is here.

I have always had a deep admiration for John Piper and his ministry, though our theologies may have an occasional clash. His integrity in incredible, and it shines through in this letter.

This paragraph is gripping:

“But on the other hand, I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noël and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry. Since I don’t have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins.”

I can remember so vividly over 20 years ago the fall of some televangelists, one of whom I deeply admired. He had been prophetically warned to do exactly what Piper is doing. Piper sees this on his own and is taking aggressive action. The evangelist didn’t see it on his own and then ignored godly counsel.

Piper will remain in my prayers.

Thoughts About “Icons”

Recent blog activity has been caught up in a discussion over the Manhattan Declaration. This is a statement coming from Catholics, Orthodox, and Evangelicals concerning three major points about our current culture in America. The debate is over whether this is just some right wing political move or it’s legitimate.

Some of the disagreement comes down to theology. How can an evangelical stand alongside a Catholic? Some objections (like from John MacArthur) raise up old lines of division that show the Body of Christ really has a hard time standing together for just about ANYTHING without an argument breaking out. (There’s a reason it’s called the “family” of God, I suppose.)

Some objections raised would be Catholics and Orthodox theology. Perhaps it’s also the veneration of saints and icons. There are fundamentalists and Evangelicals who have a serious problem with the saints and icons of the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

This stirred my thoughts. In my own sordid sense of humor, I would present the idea that while we don’t have “icons” in the sense of the Orthodox Church, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, Charismatics, Reformed and other Protestants do have our own versions. We take the “high” road and say it’s not worship. But I would argue there are times we fall into celebrity cults in the Church.

It’s a serious issue I’ve seen raised since the days of Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. Now, it’s even hit the Reformed movement. The likes of Mark Driscoll and others raise serious questions about our tendency to celebrate certain people. I am NOT saying Driscoll and others seek worship! I am saying we tend to set these guys up in places they do not belong.

I would offer (in a sense of humor kind of way) some of our Protestant “icons” through the centuries.






























The Need for Spiritual Reading

There is a great line from the movie “Shadowlands.” The C.S. Lewis character, played by Anthony Hopkins, says, “We read to know we’re not alone.” He picked that up from a former student and let it teach him something valuable later in life.

A challenge I have in my own life is reading great books. Books teach me. The temptation is to read only for pragmatic purposes. I could read because I’m preparing for a class, or preparing a sermon. To read deeper is a challenge… and a joy.

Spiritual reading for me is reading to know God. It will take me a little longer. It may not be something I can preach or teach right away. It may be something that takes me several readings to understand. Yet, I pound away because I want God to do something IN ME. Not for others. IN ME. I need my heart made pliable.

What reading challenges you?

My top books:

Seven Storey Mountain, by Thomas Merton

Desiring God, by John Piper

Loving God, by Chuck Colson

Divine Conspiracy, by Dallas Willard

The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas A Kempis.

I have some fiction books that have been great, but these are spiritual wells where I draw the best water for my life.

What about you?