On April 24, 2010, The Gospel Coalition Ontario Chapter will hold its first conference in Canada. The theme of the conference is the centrality of the gospel in authentic Christian ministry. The purpose of the conference is to bring pastors and Christian leaders into an awareness of their responsibility for gospel-centered ministry and to challenge them to be faithful in exemplifying this in their ministries.
While the conference is aimed at pastors, leaders and students of pastoral ministry, all are welcome to attend.
Please join us at West Highland Baptist Church, 1605 Garth Street, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
J.I. Packer is on one last crusade. He wants the church universal to recover the need for catechesis...life long learning of the doctrines and practices of the historic church.
According to Packer, we will not experience or sustain the renewal and outreach of the church unless we recover this lost practice. It's that important.
Why? Packer argues that Christian belief and behavior are foreign and have to be learned. Not only this, but the fact that Christian belief and behavior are foreign is itself a foreign concept.
Catechesis has been part of the church's practice, particularly in the patristic and Reformation eras. Every time our culture has become nominally Christian, the practice has been lost, which has led to all kinds of problems. Now that we live in a post-Christendom culture, catechesis is more important than ever.
Packer suggests that we need to adapt our methods, particularly when catechizing adults. The format of programs like Alpha and Christianity Explored may be useful.
We discussed this at Monday's Theology Pub, and I'm convinced we need to get on this. Listen to Packer's talk and see if you don't agree.
The next step is harder: actually doing something about it.
What do Tim Keller and Brian McLaren have to do with each other? Both have addressed similar issues in recent days. The differences in how they deal with these issues couldn't be greater.
Brian McLaren has released a new book. He suggests that we read the Bible as an inspired library that records "an ongoing vigorous conversation with and about God." It's more of a messy conversation with an evolving view of God than a final authority. McLaren also takes issue with the concept of a violent God, arguing that we've moved away from primitive understandings of a tribal deity. We need to read Scripture differently, and we need to get past our outdated issues of a wrathful God.
Tim Keller preached a sermon on February 14. This series was planned in advance, and I doubt that Keller was thinking of McLaren as he preached. From the passage, Keller showed that Christ's view and use of Scripture is higher than ours. He also spoke on the doctrine of God's wrath, explaining that this view of God is more loving and leads to greater concern for social justice.
I've read many reviews of McLaren's book, but this one sermon by Tim Keller would be enough. And yet there's no indication that Keller was even thinking of McLaren. Maybe we don't need more reviews. Maybe we just need a better grip on theology clearly communicated from our pulpits on a regular basis.
If you're a preacher, like me, we'd better take this seriously. Let's not wait until a book comes out before we give our people an understanding of important issues like the doctrine of Scripture and the nature of God.
But let's also be encouraged. Keller just preached the text in front of him and it was covered. Of course, Keller knows the issues in our culture that the text addresses. As we stick to the text and allow it to speak to our culture, many of the important issues will be covered.
Maybe we don't need more book reviews. Maybe we just need better preaching.
Later this week I'll be reviewing Crave: Wanting So Much More of God. Some blurbs for the book:
"Tired of fluffy books on the spiritual life? Chris Tomlinson has written a biblical, God-centered antidote. Crave takes us on a frank and honest journey through the challenges of the Christian walk in today's world. It is at once a wise, practical, and readable guide, useful for those who recognize spiritual mediocrity in themselves but want to grow beyond it." (Duane Litfin, President, Wheaton College)
"Written with an enjoyable and attractive vulnerability, this book will draw many to places we've wanted to go in our relationships with God but have struggled to find because of the clutter of life. I love how Crave challenges cultural and comfortable Christianity, both in how we internally experience the reality of Christ and externally express the gospel to the world around us." (David Robbins, Campus Crusade for Christ, Regional Director)
Rules: You may only enter the draw once. As soon as the winners have been chosen, all names and addresses will be immediately and permanently erased. The giveaway closes Thursday at midnight.
Update: Congratulations to Sam Haist. The book is on its way to you.