Immanuel Kant thought that, ”Taken literally, absolutely nothing worthwhile for the practical life can be made out of the doctrine of the Trinity” (The Conflict of the Faculties, 1798). I am convinced by Scripture and experience that the great German philosopher could not have been more wrong on this point. The one God who exists as three inter-loving Persons has everything to do with “the practical life.” The Trinity is a precious and practical doctrine, one that touches all of life—how we break anti-loving cycles in our hearts, how we pray, how we worship, how we do church, how we build relationships, etc.... Read More →
Can't sleep? Insomnia got you down? Announcing the cure: ReReform.com has added a brand new sermons page featuring a compilation of free streaming audio sermons. Simply click on "Sermons" on the menu bar and start listening. Where's God when life hurts? What is biblical meditation? What's the role of the church in redemption history? How do we help our utopian neighbors? How do we kill sin in our lives? How does the Trinity change everything?
When it comes to the debate about God’s sovereignty, there is a common caricature that goes something like this: Calvinists are all about God’s power while non-Calvinists are all about God’s love. Some scholars have even branded their non-Calvinism “relational theism” to set their loving God apart from the relationally challenged power-God of Calvinism. Sure Calvinists will also talk about God’s love, and non-Calvinists about God’s power. But wedged between them seems to be the question of which attribute of God is more ultimate—power or love? Must we side with either the power-God of Calvinism or the love-God of non-Calvinism? ... Read More →
I went out to meet you in the clouds at the beach. Each one held a sermon and the currents rose to preach. Clashing and inspired against the buzzing of the streets. They said, 'Our beauty's not from us. Our beauty's not from you. Don't confuse the windows for the wall you can't see through. And if you think we're humbling, majestic, and sublime, what if there's a finger painting every moving line?
Don't settle for us, don't settle for us, don't settle.
With His medium the spectrum and the molecules and time, follow every brushstroke 'til you reach the Painter's Mind. We're but a canvas who can't love you or stretch our arms and die. Our beauty's not from us. Our beauty's not from you. Don't confuse the window for a wall you can't see through. If you think we're humbling, majestic, and sublime, what if there's a finger painting every moving line?
Don't settle for us, don't settle for us, don't settle.'
You will build me a sanctuary with a marquee that says 'Come on in.' Come hear our pastor, a stand-up comic. You know he dare not speak of sin. Come hear our worship. You'll swear you heard it on the radio, on top ten. But I'll be standin' alone in the cold, dark night. I'll be knockin' on your crystal doors. I'll go wanderin' through your cities into the bars where I feel at home.
So please don't build me a sanctuary, an ossuary with the bones of men. Tear down your marquees, sell back those palm trees, 'cuz what I got's free and it's always been. But I'll be standin' alone in the cold, dark night. I'll be knockin' on your crystal doors. I'll go wanderin' through your cities into the bars where I feel at home.
I'm gonna build me a sanctuary, a living temple with the hearts of men. Construct a marquee of grace-lit sinners arranged in letters that say 'Come on in.' And I'll be standin' high with my palms raised from the sky. I'll be shinin' like a diamond in the night. We'll be cryin', drinkin' the beauty of how we know it should've always been. We'll be cryin', drink in the beauty of how we know it should've always been.
October 31st is here—a sacred day for costume stores trying to justify their ongoing existence and dads looking to raid our kids’ plastic pumpkins for a sugar fix. It is also a very special day for those of us who love the Gospel. Why? Because October 31st is Reformation Day.
495 years ago on October 31st a young German theology professor carried a hammer and parchment to the door of the Wittenberg Church and hammered his 95 Theses into the wood. They were 95 points at which Martin Luther questioned whether the church of his day was living in synch with the Scriptures. With no Facebook or blog posts to get people thinking about life’s big questions, Luther, like many professors in his day, posted on the next best thing—a church door (Al Gore would not invent the internet for another 470 years!). Rather than opening an app and refreshing their News Feeds, people would congregate around Europe’s church doors to read and discuss the latest posts. Luther’s post got Wittenberg and (with help from the newly invented printing press) most of Europe buzzing with questions about where the 16thcentury church had veered off biblical course. The Reformation was in motion. ... Read More →
In Part 1 of "Don’t Be An Idiot!” we saw how religion, advertising, entertainment, eastern, and western worldviews have all joined hippie icon Timothy Leary in chanting, “Death to the mind!” In Part 2 we turn to how Jesus can help defibrillate our minds back to life, how He can help inspire us to a radically counter-cultural intellectual vitality.
Among other things, Jesus is “the Logos“ (John’s first title for Jesus in John 1:1, and where we get our term “logic” from). “In the beginning”—that is, before an expanding universe, before the beautiful bundle of organic dust called “earth,” before scientists and philosophers to scavenge around the earth searching for answers — before all of that Jesus, the Logos, existed. By verse 3 of John’s gospel this Logos creates “everything” (one reason why there is an underlying logic to the universe, detectable patterns, order, symmetry, elegance). Long before Einstein’s massive genius realized that E=mc2, the mind of Jesus grasped this insight into mass-energy equivalence. Why? Because He thought it up. ... Read More →
On the What’s Hot and What’s Not List of our culture today, reason is somewhere in the sub-zero temperatures of the Arctic. Deep thinking and the disciplines required to sustain a vibrant life of the mind are not “in.” Our reasoning powers—given by God for His glory—are under threat from many fronts. I briefly highlight four:
1. “Doctrinal Doo-Doo”
On one side our minds are threatened by the kind of faith captured in the words of a popular worship leader:
The Lord is saying, ‘I’m bypassing your mind and going straight to your heart’ [because] the heart is what matters to the Lord.
It is as if our minds somehow don’t matter to the God who made them. In this anti-intellectual landscape Christian celebrities shout, “Don’t give me that doctrinal doo-doo! I don’t care about it” (an actual quote from Paul Crouch, founder of TBN). ... Read More →
The Peace and Love Hippie Hostel is one of Paris’ most budget-friendly, a dingy sanctuary for under-showered backpackers. It was there that I met Derrick. Derrick didn’t believe in organized religion. Derrick didn’t believe in unorganized religion. He didn’t believe in God, holy books, or that there was any transcendent meaning to the human story. Derrick believed in Marijuana, and that Marijuana alone gave life meaning. One factor that drove Derrick to find meaning in chemicals rather than Christ was, quite frankly, Christ’s people—the church. In Derrick’s own words, “Whatever the world can do, Christians can do ten years later and worse.” He went on to cite Christian music, movies, literature, and church trends that struck him as derivative, contrived, inauthentic, shallow, and kitsch. The version of life’s meaning coming from the Christian mainstream seemed utterly irrelevant to Derrick. The big irony was how so many of these Christian endeavors were aimed precisely at being relevant to guys like Derrick. The harder the church tried to be relevant, the more irrelevant she became. ... Read More →
Before there was Fifty Shades of Gray, before Hunger Games, before Harry Potter, there was the Bible—history’s undisputed bestseller (with over five billion copies more than its closest rival, Quotations From Chairman Mao). Yet human history’s bestseller is also the most distorted, misinterpreted, and misapplied literature in the history of our small race. The Bible has been what the Dutch theologian and astronomer Albert Pighius famously described as a proverbial “nose of wax,” molded and contorted to fit the profile of human traffickers, war mongerers, power-hungry religious institutions, and anyone else who wants to forge a divine signature of approval over their dehumanizing ideologies. As a free tip for aspiring cult-leaders: The best way to twist the Bible into divine warrant for your own agenda is to adopt an interpretive methodology that glosses over the original, historic, intended meaning of the text (e.g., the Inquisitors who burned heretics alive would have a hard time vindicating their actions as divinely sanctioned if they took seriously what Jesus actually meant when he said “Love your enemies”). ... Read More →