This week I write upon returning from a nine-day trip with friends to England, where much of my visit centered on an examination the English Reformation. I was fortunate to be exposed to the lessons of history through two groups, Christian Heritage Cambridge and its spinoff, Christian Heritage London. These groups focus on reminding Britons and their guests of the influence of Christianity on Western civilization and inspiring and equipping Christians to demonstrate the reasonableness and transforming power of their faith. Since my wife and I worship in an Anglican Church here in the States, I was particularly interested to learn more about the history of our "mother church," the Church of England. What I found was an incredibly rich history that testifies to the breadth and depth of Christian influence upon the British Isles and upon western civilization as a whole.
We spent most of our time exploring Cambridge, Oxford and London, where Christianity's influence and impact is abundantly evident. Cambridge and Oxford are homes to centers of learning with names like Jesus College, Christ's College, Emmanuel College, Magdalene College, All Souls College, and Corpus Christi College. These colleges were inspired by the Christian notion that since a rational being created the universe, it would be worthwhile to investigate the principles underlying its order. Sir Isaac Newton's life and career is a testament to the power of this belief. A devout but unorthodox Christian, Newton studied at Trinity College in Cambridge and became the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. A renowned physicist and mathematician, he formulated the laws of motion and universal gravitation and put to rest the mistaken notion that the earth was the center of the universe.
Then there are the churches and cathedrals that dominate the landscape. The most prominent of those houses of worship is St. Paul's Cathedral, the architectural masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren, which sits atop London's highest point, Ludgate Hill. It was designed to glorify God and to draw the gaze of worshippers to the Transcendent. St. Paul's is to London as St. Peter's Basilica is to Rome. Recognizing its central importance in English History, Hitler sought, and failed, to bomb it into powder during World War II. In so doing, he only reinforced the will of Britons to resist the Nazi menace. more >>
In this last year there have been many books and movies that draw from the Bible for inspiration. From "Noah" to "Son of God" to the upcoming "Exodus" inspired by the story of Moses, many are calling this "the year of the Bible movie." However, drawing on Biblical material is not new. We enjoy a long tradition of films, TV series and books that draw heavily on the Bible for inspiration.
As a writer who sometimes draws on Biblical material for inspiration, I'm well aware that there is a difference in opinion between some Christians about whether or not we should take "creative license" with the stories of the Bible. The argument is that the stories should be able to stand on their own – they are, after all, The Word of God – and that adding anything to them is unnecessary at best, and heretical at worst.
In my experience, the criticism against creative interpretations of the Bible frequently comes from people with a didactic motivation: bible teachers, preachers, etc. (although there are many more teachers and preachers who don't have a problem with it at all). There is obviously nothing wrong with having a didactic motivation – the world needs teachers! But I would just like to draw attention to the fact that the artistic and didactic motivation employ different methods to communicate truth, but we both have the same goal in mind – sharing God's love. more >>
Award-winning journalist Lisa Ling visits with Christians who believe in deliverance, or the practice of casting out demons in an upcoming episode of her Oprah Winfrey Network program, "Our America With Lisa Ling."
In the premiere episode of her final season of "Our America" on OWN, Ling visits charismatic churches in Georgia and Florida to observe first-hand how some Christians practice deliverance — "where faith and the power of Christ are called upon to cast Satan's demons from the emotionally tormented," according to a press release.
Similar to those who practice exorcisms, Christians who practice deliverance ministry believe that demonic forces not only can possess people, but inflict them with various physical, psychological, spiritual and emotional ailments. more >>
The long-simmering controversy over the doctrine of sanctification has heated up considerably lately, especially with The Gospel Coalition's removal of Tullian Tchividjian's blog from its website. Tullian has taken to the media and yesterday in an interview made the comment that he has been slandered. He has also publicly stated that the criticisms against his teaching are based on personal and spiritual defects in his accusers. No specifics are given, much less proof of how he could know this. If this was not surprising enough, Tullian then stated that there is nothing controversial in anything that he teaches. Hearing this, one has to wonder if he actually has read the concerns raised against him (see Michael Kruger's post which argues that Tullian is not responding with reference to the actual criticisms).
Since I am one of the people who has expressed grave concern over Tullian's teaching regarding sanctification, and since I described his blog post on 1 John 5:3-4 as false teaching, let me respond that whatever my personal defects or those of others in this debate, the real issues are in fact substantive and not at all personal. In the interest of clarification, let me therefore point out where in my opinion the controversy lies over Tullian's teaching.
Let me make a few preliminary comments. First, I was providentially hindered from attending last week's meeting of the council of The Gospel Coalition and thus did not participate in the decision to remove Tullian's content. Having spoken with many who were there, I can state with certainty that this decision was solely based on concerns over Tullian's teaching of sanctification. Tim Keller and Don Carson have pointed out that these concerns had previously been made clear to Tullian, despite Tullian's public claim that he has never been informed of any problems. Moreover, I can only say how astonished I was to listen to Tullian's interview with Janet Mefferd two days ago, where he permitted her to more than insinuate that his removal from the TGC blog was based on his criticisms of the Sovereign Grace Ministries legal controversies. Whatever one may think of the SGM scandal, there is no doubt that this claim is simply false. more >>
It is refreshing to see a public figure with enough guts to take on the liberals in our society today. Most celebrities who are criticized for making a politically incorrect statement will fold like a tent and immediately issue an apology.
Such pandering is not in the make-up of Phil Robertson, start of the TV reality show Duck Dynasty. In an interview with GQ published in December, Robertson ruffled feathers when he commented that homosexuality was sin. He quoted from the Bible, specifically, 1 Corinthians 6-9.
Robertson recited Paul's biblical warnings, "Neither the sexual immoral, nor the idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves, nor greedy, nor druggards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherent the kingdom of God." For those comments, Robertson was suspended by the A&E network, which airs Duck Dynasty, for 9 days. The network distanced itself from the remarks and the resulting hoopla may have led to a ratings decline for the show. more >>
Phil Robertson, the patriarch of Louisiana's Duck Dynasty clan is being accused once again of making "anti-gay" remarks when he quoted Scripture during at sermon he delivered at his home church in West Monroe on Easter Sunday. Remarks not in a national magazine, nor on TV, nor in any other forum, but in church.
If America is not committed by its Constitution to protecting a speaker in the pulpit, then we must ask ourselves what is the status of every speaker in every pulpit of every church in the nation?
Who's next? more >>