Best of the Week – 2017/09/20

I’ve started posting a collection of blog posts, articles, podcasts, and books that I have found interesting, helpful, challenging, important, or funny. I don’t endorse everything I post, but I only post content I think is worth taking the time to consider. We all have to make choices about what content we “consume,” so I hope I can point you in directions that are worth your time.

Blog Posts & Online Journals

  • Reformedish, “The Reforming Catholic Confession” – Derek Rishmawy introduces a new Protestant confession signed by leaders from across 250 denominations and spanning every continent that seeks to demonstrate Christian unity and catholicity.
  • Comment, “Catechesis for a Secular Age” – James K.A. Smith interviews Tim Keller about Christian formation, revival, and mission as part of a continuing conversation between the two.

Online Newspapers & Magazines

  • Christianity Today, “Of Old Testament Haircuts and New Testament Head Coverings” – Author Wendy Alsup explains a difficult passage in the New Testament where Paul instructs women to cover their heads during corporate worship, showing that it has to do with God’s protection of women from violence and sexual exploitation.
  • The Atlantic, “Donald Trump Is the First White President” – Ta-Nehisi Coates argues that Donald Trump is the first president whose entire political existence depends on the fact of a black president, a claim that pushes against the argument that Trump was elected primarily by a forgotten white, rural working class demographic.

Podcast Episodes

  • Cultivated, “Audrey Assad”– Host Mike Cosper interviews Roman Catholic singer, song writer, and speaker, Audrey Assad, about her life, overcoming her fundamentalist roots, the winding path of her musical career, and how she remained a Christian amidst the darkest seasons of her life.
  • TGC Podcast, “How Sharing the Gospel In Our Secular Age Is Different” – Collin Hansen interviews Tim Keller and Russell Moore about evangelism today.

Books

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Best of the Week – 2017/09/06

I’ve started posting a collection of blog posts, articles, podcasts, and books that I have found interesting, helpful, challenging, important, or funny. I don’t endorse everything I post, but I only post content I think is worth taking the time to consider. We all have to make choices about what content we “consume,” so I hope I can point you in directions that are worth your time.

Blog Posts & Online Journals

Online Newspapers & Magazines

Podcast Episodes

Books

  • The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch – a wonderful book exploring healthy boundaries regarding the use of technology that will help families grow into people of character, wisdom, skill, and courage

Best of the Week – 2017/08/18

I’ve started posting a weekly collection of blog posts, articles, podcasts, and books that I have found interesting, helpful, challenging, important, or funny. I don’t endorse everything I post, but I only post content I think is worth taking the time to consider. We all have to make choices about what content we “consume” each week, so I hope I can point you in directions that are worth your time.

Only a few to recommend this week

Blog Posts & Online Journals

Online Newspapers & Magazines

Podcast Episodes

  • Pass the Mic“Bonus – Current Events: Charlottesville”– Hosts Tyler Burns and Jemar Tisby discuss the events of last weekend in Charlottesville as white nationalists demonstrated around a confederate monument scheduled for removal, counter protests followed, and violence against counter protesters left 1 killed and many others injured.

Best of the Week – 2017/08/09

I’ve started posting a weekly collection of blog posts, articles, podcasts, and books that I have found interesting, helpful, challenging, important, or funny. I don’t endorse everything I post, but I only post content I think is worth taking the time to consider. We all have to make choices about what content we “consume” each week, so I hope I can point you in directions that are worth your time.

Blog Posts & Online Journals

Online Newspapers & Magazines

  • WSJ, “Could Football Ever End?” – Jason Gay reports on a new study leading many to quit the sport, and he suggests that if football were ever to end, it will be from an internal collapse of the sport as parents and players move to other sports.
  • The Atlantic, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation” – Psychology Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University suggests that the Millennial generation she calls “iGen” faces a mental health crisis due, in large part, to smart phones.
  • The Christian Science Monitor, “The Coming Evangelical Collapse” – Michael Spencer’s 2009 article has proven prescient, predicting that Evangelicalism’s identification with right wing politics, its failure to pass on the orthodox faith, and its rampant consumerism will dramatically alter the religious landscape of our nation.
  • NYT, “Google’s War Over the Sexes” – Ross Douthat weighs in on the controversy at Google over James Damore’s manifesto that got him fired.

Podcast Episodes

Best of the Week – 2017/08/02

I’ve started posting a weekly collection of blog posts, articles, podcasts, and books that I have found interesting, helpful, challenging, important, or funny. I don’t endorse everything I post, but I only post content I think is worth taking the time to consider. We all have to make choices about what content we “consume” each week, so I hope I can point you in directions that are worth your time.

Like last week, I’ve included material that’s a few months old.

Blog Posts & Online Journals

Online Newspapers & Magazines

Podcast Episodes

  • Risen Motherhood“How Many Children Should We Have”– Hosts Emily Jensen and Laura Wifler talk about embracing children into family life while raising a number of considerations to balance.
  • Audition: A Podcast of Mars Hill Audio, “Oliver O’Donovan on political theology” – Host Ken Myers interviews the moral philosopher on the Church’s historic belief that governments are expressions of God’s rule, and that the reality of the king of God is a necessary point of reference if we are to understand politics correctly.
  • Radiolab, “From Tree to Shining Tree” – Hosts Jad and Simon explore the forest and uncover the incredibly ability of trees to communicate and create symbiotic relationships with fungi.

Books

  • The Deep Things of God by Fred Sanders – an exploration of the doctrine of the Trinity as it relates to Evangelical faith, the gospel, and the Christian life

Best of the Week

I’m going to start posting a weekly collection of blog posts, articles, podcasts, and books that I have found interesting, helpful, challenging, important, or funny. I don’t endorse everything I’ll be posting, but I’ll only post content I think is worth taking the time to consider. We all have to make choices about what content we “consume” each week, so I hope I can point you in directions that are worth your time.

I’ll start with content I’ve come across the last few months, and then I’ll proceed week by week from there.

Blog Posts

Online Newspapers & Magazines

  • USA Today, “‘Born This Way?’ It’s way more complicated than that.” – Alia Dastagir throws a wrench in the rally cry of the mainstream gay rights movement by pointing to the interrelations of biology, psychology, and the social/cultural context in the development of sexual orientation.
  • The Atlantic, “The Church of Crossfit” – Julie Beck highlights how gyms and other secular communities are starting to fill spiritual and social needs for many nonreligious people.
  • NYT, “Gray Matter: Don’t believe in God? Maybe You’ll Try U.F.O.’s” – Psychology professor Clay Routledge explains that while religion is declining, the “religious mind” continues even and especially among secularists because we are hard wired to find meaning and significance in our lives.
  • National Review, “Post-Christian America: Gullible, Intolerant, and Superstitious” – David French interacts with the previous article and argues that although secularists expect a world without religion to be more rational, humane, and enlightened, some evidence suggests post-Christian America will be more tribal and vicious.
  • NYT, “Why I’m Leaving the Southern Baptist Convention” – African American Pastor Lawrence Ware explains why this year’s convention of Southern Baptists with its poor handling of a resolution against the Alt-Right and the marginalization of black leaders has led him to leave the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

Podcast Episodes

Books

Newbigin and the Cruciform Church

Over the last month, I have been slowly reading through Lesslie Newbigin’s famous book The Gospel in a Pluralist Society. It’s a treasure, and I regret not having read this book earlier in my education and ministry.

For years now, I have been reflecting on and wrestling with the nature and mission of the church. I have been thrilled to see the emergence of a gospel-centered movement, a recapturing of the gospel for the whole of the Christian life and not just for conversion. However, as the movement has grown, I have been disappointed that this has not produced cruciform churches. In other words, gospel-centered preaching has not, in large part, changed the form or shape of ministry in the American Church. Churches that identify with the gospel-centered movement still tend to be triumphalistic churches of “glory” rather than churches in the shadow of the cross.

I thought this passage from Newbigin (chapter 9, point 7) rightly explains what the character of the church’s ministry should look like:

I have said that it is clear from the New Testament that early the Church saw itself as living in the time between the times, the time when Jesus, having exposed and disarmed the powers of darkness (Col. 2:15), is seated at the right hand of God until the time when his reign shall be unveiled in all its glory among all the nations. The character of this time is given to it by the character of the earthly ministry of Jesus. It is marked by suffering, and by the presence of signs of the kingdom. That is why the Fourth Gospel, in its portrayal of the missionary commission, says that when Jesus said, “As the Father sent me, so I send you,” he showed them his hands and his side—the scars of his passion—and he breathed into them the Spirit who is the foretaste of the kingdom (John 20:19-23). The Church in its journey through history will therefore have this double character insofar as it is faithful to its commission. On the one hand it will be a suffering church, because the powers of darkness, though disarmed and robbed of final authority, are still powerful. As Jesus in his earthly ministry unmasked the powers and so drew their hostility on himself, so the Spirit working through the life and witness of the missionary Church will overturn the world’s most fundamental beliefs, proving the world wrong in respect of sin, of righteousness, of judgment (John 16:8). Consequently the world will hate the Church as it hated its Lord. But, on the other hand, just as the ministry of Jesus was marked by mighty works, which for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, were signs of the presence of the kingdom of God in power, so in the life of the Church there will be mighty works which have the same function. They are not—so to say—steps on the way to the kingdom, but unveilings of, glimpses of that kingdom which is already a reality, but a reality known only to those who have been converted, have been turned from false gods to the living God. These negative and positive elements in the life of the Church will be related to each other in the ministry of Jesus (cf. 2 Cor. 4:10). The cross was a public execution visible to all—believers and unbelievers alike. The resurrection was as much a fact of history as the crucifixion, but it was made known only to the chosen few who were called to be the witnesses of the hidden kingdom.

When the church fails to unmask the powers of the age overturning its most fundamental beliefs (i.e. consumerism, nationalism, etc.) and chooses instead to utilize the powers of the age in order to attract crowds of congregants, it fails to live into its own identity and actually acts in cooperation with the same powers that crucified the Lord whom the Church claims to serve and proclaim! Furthermore, when a church’s “mighty works” serve to point to the glory and importance of itself, or when the “mighty works” are thought to be steps toward transforming the world into the kingdom, she participates in the worship of false gods and shows herself not to have turned to the living God at all.

I long for a gospel-centered movement that produces gospel-shaped (cruciform) churches.