Author Archives: Michael Riley

A Resurrection Psalm

A Resurrection Psalm

Paul commands us to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. We can (and do!) debate the identity of hymns and spiritual songs, but we know what a psalm is. And for this reason, our church has adopted the practice of regularly singing the psalms. In particular, we have a “psalm of the month,” which we… Continue Reading

Carnal Christians: A Pastoral Perspective

Carnal Christians: A Pastoral Perspective

Michael Riley I have read with interest the recent exchange in this newsletter on the validity of two-category Christianity. Dr. Hauser argues that Paul’s letter to the Corinthians supports the recognition of two different classes of Christians: the spiritual and the carnal. Dr. Pratt contends that Christians must bear fruit, and that while all Christians… Continue Reading

The Sacrifice

The Sacrifice

Among my favorite works of devotional poetry is George Herbert’s “The Sacrifice.” Here is produced for our church, with a handful of annotations to aid in understanding some of Herbert’s references. Continue Reading

Being a Disciple of Jesus

Being a Disciple of Jesus

The final words of Jesus before his Ascension give the Christian church its marching orders: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with… Continue Reading

Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain

Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain

What does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain? In common understanding, the Commandment forbids using the word God as a profanity. And ultimately, this ends up being a legitimate concern, although I have come to believe that it misses the central point of the prohibition. The challenge we have here is that… Continue Reading

A Thousand Throwaway I Love Yous

A Thousand Throwaway I Love Yous

In a healthy marriage, there are a thousand throwaway I love yous. This demands explanation, and there’s probably a better wording to make this point. But there’s also a certain rhetorical power to stating it this way, and so it stays for now. I’ll illustrate what I’m after this way. Imagine this scene: I am at… Continue Reading

Some Reflections on Pastoral Love: Part 2

Some Reflections on Pastoral Love: Part 2

Last week, I wrote of several ways in which Paul evidenced his love for the very difficult congregation of Corinth. Now, I will add one more item to that list and suggest one very practical application of pastoral love. In Paul’s great excursus on Christian ministry in 2 Corinthians 2-7, he employs several metaphors that… Continue Reading

Some Reflections on Pastoral Love: Part 1

Some Reflections on Pastoral Love: Part 1

With only the possible exception of Galatians, 2 Corinthians is the most personally revealing letter that Paul wrote to a church. While good men differ on the precise timeline of events and correspondence that led to the writing of 2 Corinthians, I understand it to be the fourth letter from Paul to Corinth. And in the… Continue Reading

There are no conservative hermits

There are no conservative hermits

The following is excerpted and adapted from an address that I had the privilege of offering at a recent gathering of conservative friends, on the nature of pastoral love. As many of you have found (and despite accusations to the contrary), conservatism is a much broader set of commitments than a particular music preference. Among… Continue Reading

Article 12: On the Cultivation of Christian Tradition

Article 12: On the Cultivation of Christian Tradition

This entry is part 13 of 16 in the series A Conservative Christian Declaration You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

  This is a series to further explain the articles of “A Conservative Christian Declaration.” . We affirm the importance of beginning our pursuit of sound worship and holy living within the bounds of traditions that we have inherited from the saints of the entire church age (2 Tim. 2:2, Phil. 3:17). Many of these believers,… Continue Reading

Article 2: On the Whole Counsel of God

Article 2: On the Whole Counsel of God

This entry is part 4 of 16 in the series A Conservative Christian Declaration You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

This is a series to further explain the articles of “A Conservative Christian Declaration.” . We affirm that the center and apex of Christian faith and fellowship is the whole counsel of God, including right belief, right living, and right affection (Deut. 6:1–9). We further affirm that the transmission of biblical Christianity necessarily involves the preservation… Continue Reading

Article 1: On the Gospel

Article 1: On the Gospel

This entry is part 3 of 16 in the series A Conservative Christian Declaration You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

This is a series to further explain the articles of “A Conservative Christian Declaration.” . We affirm that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the boundary of Christian faith (1 Cor. 15). We also affirm that to ignore this boundary by granting Christian recognition to those who deny the gospel is to demean the gospel itself… Continue Reading

Lewis, liturgy as dance, and the regulative principle

Lewis, liturgy as dance, and the regulative principle

Some time ago, I posted a link here to one of my favorite quotes from the eminently quotable C. S. Lewis. Lewis offers a comparison between liturgy and dance: both must be learned, he suggests, so that when they are employed, they needn’t be thought about. When dancing (I suppose, not having any experience here myself),… Continue Reading

What music does

What music does

In my last post, I had shared a brief argument that, at least for me, undergirds my conservatism in worship, without forsaking the principle of sola scriptura. I noted in the post that it originated as a letter to a friend of mine, so I was taken aback a bit when some of the comments said… Continue Reading

Accepting sola scriptura and arguing musical style

Accepting sola scriptura and arguing musical style

This is a little intro piece that I’ve written for some friends who have asked for a basic defense of musical conservatism. It hardly gets us to full-blown conservatism, but at least offers the structure of why I think the Bible, while not addressing musical style, still gives us a standard for musical style. _____… Continue Reading

Sound Theology

Sound Theology

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series A Sound Church You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

(The articles in this series were originally written for publication in the local newspaper of the town in which I pastor.) So far in this series, I’ve argued that a church wishes to align with God’s priorities will have two characteristics: a commitment to follow the Bible as an absolute authority, and (following from the… Continue Reading

Some cautions on children’s ministry

Some cautions on children’s ministry

This week, Calvary Baptist Church is hosting its annual Vacation Bible School, so I thought I’d say a word or two about the privilege and challenges of ministering to children. The faith of a child is precious thing, and should be cultivated with the utmost care. It is my hope that my own children and… Continue Reading