Category Archives: Articles on Church

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 Intelligibility

Relevance and Intelligibility

This entry is part 25 of 26 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

Sincerity and Profanity

Sincerity and Profanity

This entry is part 20 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Many pastors and Christian leaders believe they are purifying Christianity and worship when they remove any kind of formality from corporate worship. Formal dress, an exalted tone in prayer, or reverent music are eschewed for a more casual and informal approach. They appear to believe that retaining forms that are not immediately recognizable or penetrable… Continue Reading

Authority and Authoritarianism

Authority and Authoritarianism

This entry is part 11 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

When authority is usually discussed, about three sentences later, the word authoritarian will make its entrance. In fact, for some, authority is authoritarian – there is no other kind. Recovering the mangled word authority from all the thought-debris that has been hurled at it requires distinguishing it from authoritarianism. I’m not sure whether dictionaries help or… Continue Reading

I’m Still Here, Too

I’m Still Here, Too

The most recent issue of Frontline Magazine is apparently getting a bit of buzz. I don’t subscribe, but through friends I’m getting caught up. It appears that the Fall 2016 issue, “Convergence,” caused a stir with how it treated the younger generation who grew up in fundamental Baptist churches. As a sort of response, Mark Ward… Continue Reading

Pastors – Become Literate in Christian Culture

Pastors – Become Literate in Christian Culture

When the topic of music and worship comes up, a favorite slap-down argument against thoughtful discrimination of music is that pastors need not study music to be faithful pastors. It is beside the point to say that pastors need not become art critics. If their vocation is that of shepherding the flock, it is manifestly… Continue Reading

Judging Matters of Freedom

Judging Matters of Freedom

This entry is part 8 of 26 in the series Ten Mangled Words You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Modern Christians are in the habit of labelling all sorts of things as ‘matters of Christian liberty’ or ‘areas of preference’. We do not doubt that these adiaphora (“indifferent things”) exist; Scripture explicitly deals with them in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8-10. The question is, how do we identify them? Genuine adiaphora can be… Continue Reading

A good and bad way to use Lent

A good and bad way to use Lent

It’s that time of year again, a time when Evangelical Christians debate whether or not it is a good thing to observe Lent. My answer to that question is always the same: it depends on what you mean by “Lent” and “observe.” Here is a short note I have sent our congregation on occasion to… Continue Reading

Horatius Bonar on Trendiness in Religion

Horatius Bonar on Trendiness in Religion

Every pastor and Christian leader feels a certain pressure to be relevant. We do not want Christianity to slip away into an oblivion. We do not want the church to go “backward” during our watch. This impulse has led many to the conclusion that Christianity must “keep up with the times.” One of the criticisms… Continue Reading

Differences over philosophy of culture must always affect cooperation

Differences over philosophy of culture must always affect cooperation

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series That They May Be One: Conservatism, Cooperation, and the Center of Christian Unity You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Up to this point in this series, I have described the essence of conservative Christianity, particularly its philosophy of beauty and culture, and described the nature of ecclesiastical cooperation. So where, then, do philosophies of culture fit on the spectrum of Christian fellowship and cooperation? First, to state the obvious, philosophy of culture is clearly… Continue Reading

The “Two Hands” of Ministry

The “Two Hands” of Ministry

In 2006 an approach to church ministry began to gain popularity. It was called a “two-handed” approach to ministry. One closed hand represented the theology of the church and its grasp of biblical truth and principles. The hand being closed symbolized the non-negotiable aspects of theology. One open hand represented the methodology of the church.… Continue Reading

Chestless Churches

Chestless Churches

What would ‘Churches Without Chests” look like? To use a strictly Lewisian definition, it would be groups of professing believers without ‘the spirited element’. In plain language, that would be believers who have profoundly under-developed parts of their souls. Chestless churches would be: Churches Without Beauty. The music, the poetry, the rhetoric in the sermons,… Continue Reading

Tozer’s Third Concern – Worship and Entertainment

Tozer’s Third Concern – Worship and Entertainment

Perhaps Tozer used more ink on the topic of worship than on any other. As Tozer watched the heritage of Christianity being exchanged for a religion that sought credibility in its intellectualism and popularity through its pragmatism, he saw the ultimate casualty was Christian worship. For as genuine illumination of the Scriptures dissipates, and as… Continue Reading

Tozer’s Second Concern – Pragmatism

Tozer’s Second Concern – Pragmatism

A.W. Tozer had the uncommon ability to step aside from his own culture, and see as alien what had become natural. Tozer saw that the pragmatic philosophy of Americans, which had brought such material success to the nation, was devastating the evangelical church. He wrote: “As one fairly familiar with the contemporary religious scene, I… Continue Reading

Tozer’s Three Concerns

Tozer’s Three Concerns

Although A.W. Tozer’s writings ranged over all kinds of topics, three concerns dominated Tozer’s writings. You’ll find him returning to these often, and giving them different treatments each time. What they amount to is what Tozer saw as the most serious maladies of evangelicalism and fundamentalism. The first was what he called textualism. For Tozer, this… Continue Reading

What Churches Take For Granted (But No Longer Should)

What Churches Take For Granted (But No Longer Should)

A first-grade teacher does not require, but typically expects the five and six-year-olds that arrive in class to be able to: * understand enough language to communicate with other humans * eat their own food without assistance * sit in a chair (or on the floor) without rolling on the stomach and flailing helplessly *… 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

The Green Book

The Green Book

Poor Alex and Martin. Misters King and Ketley had no idea that their forgettable English textbook would unleash one of the twentieth century’s most eloquent and destructive critiques of modernism, with the two of them in the marksman’s crosshairs. The Control of Language: A Critical Approach to Reading and Writing, was published in 1939 as… Continue Reading

Paul, Plato, and Calvin on Music

Paul, Plato, and Calvin on Music

In 1 Corinthians 14:7-8, Paul says, ”If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” 1 Cor 14:7-8 (ESV) The “flute,” I’m told, was a woodwind instrument more akin… Continue Reading