Category Archives: Articles on Church

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

The Meaning of the Word Church and What It Means for Us Today

The Meaning of the Word Church and What It Means for Us Today

Our word church is comes from the older kirk (Scottish) or kirche (German), which in turn derives from the Greek adjective kuriakos, meaning “belonging to the Lord.” The Greek term directly behind our word church, however, is ekklesia, a combination of the preposition ek (“out of”) and the verb kaleō (“to call”). Ekklesia could refer… Continue Reading

Practice Makes Perfect: Culture and the Liturgies of Life

Practice Makes Perfect: Culture and the Liturgies of Life

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series Practice Makes Perfect You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

So here are the primary points of my argument: Culture is the behavior of a people. The formation of certain kinds of behaviors falls squarely in the nature, purpose, and mission of churches. The cultivation of holy living necessarily involves shaping the inclinations of hearts. The heart’s inclinations are shaped through habitual practices. Liturgies are… Continue Reading

A Modest Proposal: One Loaf in Communion

A Modest Proposal: One Loaf in Communion

In 1 Cor 10:17 Paul says, Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. For many Christians, Paul’s words in that verse do not make as much sense as they might otherwise, because they break the their Communion bread before they see it.1 While I… Continue Reading

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Practice Makes Perfect You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Over the past several weeks I have been making the argument that in order to shape the behavior–the culture–of a people, we must give attention to the inclinations of their hearts, and such inclincations are shaped through habits. Let us bring this full circle. I have argued that liturgies form us because they embody beliefs… Continue Reading

Reenactment

Reenactment

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series Practice Makes Perfect You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

We saw last week that in order to counteract the negative effects of worldly liturgies, the liturgies of our churches must be shaped by Scripture. So let us specifically consider the liturgies in Scripture for a moment. The Mosaic Law is filled with them, and these liturgies help us to see both the purpose of… Continue Reading

Corporate Worship is Formative

Corporate Worship is Formative

This entry is part 7 of 10 in the series Practice Makes Perfect You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Last week I mentioned that we are inevitably shaped by worldly liturgies, and so we need something to counteract this. This is where it will be useful to narrow the definition of leitourgia to how it has been used at least since the LXX as the work of the people in corporate worship. Most evangelicals… Continue Reading

Worldly Liturgies

Worldly Liturgies

This entry is part 6 of 10 in the series Practice Makes Perfect You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Our aim over the past several weeks has been to discover how Christians can cultivate higher inclinations toward what is true and good, but we must recognize that the reverse also happens—deformation of our inclinations. Again, our actions are not always the outcome of rational choices, and this is true of sinful behavior as well. Sometimes… Continue Reading

The Form of the Liturgy

The Form of the Liturgy

This entry is part 5 of 10 in the series Practice Makes Perfect You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Behavior is shaped by liturgies because, as Lewis stated, our inclinations are organized through trained habits, and habits are formed through rituals. And it is the shape of those rituals that cultivates the habits, because the form of the liturgy embodies certain values. Allow me to illustrate. Imagine a dense forest separating two cities. In… Continue Reading

The People’s Work

The People’s Work

This entry is part 4 of 10 in the series Practice Makes Perfect You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Perhaps one of the best ways to help us contemplate how behavior is shaped in the way that I have been explaining over the past several weeks is by considering the nature of behavior as we discussed it a few weeks back. I have suggested that culture is the behavior of a people. It is the ergon… Continue Reading

Habits

Habits

This entry is part 3 of 10 in the series Practice Makes Perfect You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Last week I suggested that data transmission alone does not create disciples. Rather, we must focus upon the heart’s inclinations in order to shape one’s behavior. With the limits of data transmission in mind, what will it take, then to nurture true discipleship? If cultivating holy behavior requires influencing the heart’s inclinations, how does this… 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

Make Disciples

Make Disciples

This entry is part 2 of 10 in the series Practice Makes Perfect You can read more posts from the series by using the Contents in the right sidebar.

Last week I argued that culture is essentially the behavior of a people. Here is the second peg to the argument I am developing over these several weeks: The cultivation of culture should be a concern for conservative Christians because the formation of certain kinds of behaviors falls squarely in the nature, purpose, and mission of… Continue Reading

The Enemy of My Enemy?

The Enemy of My Enemy?

Recently (and perhaps surprisingly), a well-known post-semi-evangelical said something that, on its surface, might seem encouraging to us cultural conservative types: “Stop trying to make Jesus cool.” She unleashed an acerbic millennial jeremiad at the baby boomers’ seeker-sensitive model of ministry. Her tearing down of the stronghold was vigorous in a storming barbarians sort of way, but it does highlight one now-obvious… Continue Reading

Worship Implies a Theology

Worship Implies a Theology

We spend a lot of time thinking about how our culture has affected Christian worship, and we often reflect on what sorts of things we need to address in order to even begin to think about leaving a better church for our kids and grandkids. It’s usually not pretty. Over the last decade or so,… Continue Reading