Author Archives: David de Bruyn

Spurgeon Uncut and Unpasted

Spurgeon Uncut and Unpasted

Reading Spurgeon is a sheer delight to the heart. At the same time, it is often faintly discouraging to the preacher. How could a preacher manage such eloquence? His sentences are positively dripping with imagery, his prose saturated with trope and metaphor. It seems impossible for such poetic gold to have flowed from a preacher… Continue Reading

The Many Meanings of “Reformed”

The Many Meanings of “Reformed”

I find it quite amusing these days to be classified by some as “Reformed”, when I’d barely heard the term for most of my Christian life. I grew up in Baptist circles that didn’t use the term “Reformed”. In fact, the first time I heard it used of my church was when a student attending… Continue Reading

Two Views on Christ’s Invitation

Two Views on Christ’s Invitation

Below are two works of Christian imagination. Both attempt to depict what it means for Christ to invite sinners to Himself, and how sinners should understand themselves. On closer examination, however, they are nearly opposite in meaning. We do not see the same Christ, the same Gospel and the same dilemma of the sinner in… Continue Reading

Ten Mangled Words – “Equality”

Ten Mangled Words – “Equality”

This entry is part of 36 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Equality is one of those ideas whose basic meaning is understood, but whose presence is demanded where it cannot possibly be expected. After all, equality is a fairly simply concept: when two amounts are equal, neither is greater or lesser than the other. But while equality in mathematics is a simple matter, equality in human… Continue Reading

Unicultural Uniformity

Unicultural Uniformity

This entry is part 35 of 36 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Of the little pilot-fish words that swim alongside the more commonly mangled word, culture, two of the more frequently heard are multicultural and diversity. In fact, these have become unquestioned, and probably unassailable holy-words in modern culture. A competitive company will have somewhere on its Vision and Mission statement, “Our core-values include a commitment to… Continue Reading

Pagan Culture and Apostate Culture

Pagan Culture and Apostate Culture

This entry is part 34 of 36 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

In discussions of evangelizing the post-modern West, something is often forgotten. Those cultures which were formed by Christianity and have since abandoned it are not reverting to paganism. They are not pagan cultures. They are apostate cultures, and an apostate culture is a much scarier animal than a pagan one. C.S. Lewis wrote on how… Continue Reading

Missionaries and Culture

Missionaries and Culture

This entry is part 33 of 36 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Missionaries do their work in a perilous environment. Such has been the rise of ideas such as “multi-culturalism”, that many missionaries now go by a different title: aid–workers, social-workers, educators, or even consultants. Opting for different titles is understandable. In the popular imagination, missionary is increasingly synonymous with colonialist, imperialist, or patronizing religious types “forcing” their… Continue Reading

We Don’t Want Your White Man’s Religion

We Don’t Want Your White Man’s Religion

This entry is part 32 of 36 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

In Africa, particularly where black nationalist sentiments arise, it is not uncommon to hear the title of this post thrown around in conversation. Similarly, half-formed sentiments are uttered about missionaries who replaced the harmonious earth-religion of the peaceful indigenous people with their foreign religion, so as to steal their land and subjugate them. The saddest… Continue Reading

Christian Culture in Church History

Christian Culture in Church History

This entry is part 31 of 36 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

A common error in the study of church history is to seek to find a version of one’s present branch of Christianity in the past. Since Christian doctrine and practice develop over the centuries, trying to find oneself in church history is like trying to find out how people in Shakespeare’s era texted one another,… Continue Reading

Two Exams, and Two Questions

Two Exams, and Two Questions

I present my children with two written tests. They open the envelope of the first, and see the heading, “Dad Orthodoxy”. A series of questions about me follows, which they find delightfully easy. “What is your father’s first name?” “What color are your father’s eyes?” “What is your father’s favorite meal?” “Where did your father… Continue Reading

Culture, Not Race

Culture, Not Race

This entry is part 30 of 36 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Scripture does not define the word culture, but it certainly describes the phenomenon of culture-making. Humans are meaning-making creatures, who fashion their world after their values, religions, and world-views. The Bible also describes the behavior or way of life that comes from a certain culture. The Greek word anastrophe is translated conduct, or way of… Continue Reading

Culture – More Than Creation

Culture – More Than Creation

This entry is part 29 of 36 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

If the word culture is to be useful, it must define something. It must name and describe a discrete phenomenon in the world. A useful definition must limit its subject, so that we could easily say what is not culture. The problem with many definitions found in Evangelical literature is that they seem to include… Continue Reading

Ten Mangled Words – “Culture”

Ten Mangled Words – “Culture”

This entry is part 28 of 36 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Jackhammers are not the ideal tool for mixing cake batter. Some mess will almost certainly result. Evangelical Christians using the word ‘culture’ often remind one of a baker with a such a power tool. When most Evangelicals begin writing or speaking on culture, one winces. A migraine is certainly on its way. The word culture,… Continue Reading

Relevance in the Eye of the Beholder

Relevance in the Eye of the Beholder

This entry is part 27 of 36 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

A book on chastity may not seem relevant to teenagers necking in a parked car. First-aid kits don’t seem relevant to two boys beginning a scuffle. Wedding vows don’t appear relevant to a person plunging into an affair. When we are morally committed to a course of action, it narrows the horizon of what we… Continue Reading

On Baby Grands and Expensive Hymnals

On Baby Grands and Expensive Hymnals

“Why this waste?”, said the greediest member of the Twelve. Judas’ supposed concern with helping the poor and for efficient use of ministry finances was really a facade for his unvarnished envy. Judas wanted money, and like every jealous soul, disliked money being spent lavishly on someone else. The sentiment that it is frivolous waste… Continue Reading

Relevance and Notoriety

Relevance and Notoriety

This entry is part 26 of 36 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

One of the powerful spells cast over the modern world is the charm of celebrity. One quipped that a celebrity is someone who is famous for being famous, but few stop to notice that. Celebrity culture is the true opiate of the masses, and if it were not so, the word paparazzi would never have… Continue Reading

Relevance and Intelligibility

Relevance and Intelligibility

This entry is part 25 of 36 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Modern Christian champions of relevance mean many things by the term. One use is the concept of intelligibility. When calling for the church to be relevant to this generation, they mean that its message must be understandable, clear, and intelligible. Thus far, no objection. No command exists to make the Gospel obscure or arcane. If… Continue Reading

Relevance and Importance

Relevance and Importance

When some people speak of “making Christianity relevant”, they are referring to demonstrating Christianity’s importance and applicability. They fret over the fact that unbelievers and the wider culture dismiss Christianity and religion so easily. Secularism provides people with enough food, shelter, conveniences, comforts and sufficient diversionary amusements to keep them from truly investigating the claims… Continue Reading

Relevant or Current?

Relevant or Current?

This entry is part 24 of 36 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

When some people speak of the importance of relevance, they don’t mean relevance at all. After all, relevant, strictly speaking, merely means ‘pertinent to the matter at hand’. Relevance needs an object: relevant to whom or what matter?, we may ask. The fact that some people use the word relevant as a quality not requiring… Continue Reading

“Relevance”

“Relevance”

This entry is part 23 of 36 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Perhaps one of the great put-downs today is to be told that your church is not relevant, or that your preaching is not relevant to “the issues people are facing”. Being called irrelevant cuts a little deeper than being called intolerant; for if you’re cited for being intolerant, it merely means your teaching may have… Continue Reading