Mar 162010

What David Trotter learned after leaving his wife and church (and being restored to his family) (HT: Jonathan Herron)

Jared Wilson on Michael Spencer.

Michael Buckley is holding an art auction to help support Spencer and his wife Denise, and pay his medical bills (For a sample of iMonk, check out this thread on spiritual formation)

Guess who the Guardian says is the new face of Christianity in America. (HT: Todd Rhoades)

Al Mohler and other panelists at Southern Seminary recently grilled Brian McLaren.

Bob Kellemen blogs through McLaren’s A New Kind of Christianity.

Are you a church planter???

Tim Challies reviews the book Son of Hamas.

Mark Lauterbach:

How often do I demand and critique because others do not measure up to my expectations and, of course, my “superior” gifting?  Am I aware that people are limited, as limited as I am?  Peter Drucker has a quote I live by.  In his massive book on Management, he notes, “people are weak, some of us are pitifully weak.”

As a pastor I am weak, and my people are weak.  They have limited ability, and I have limited ability.  Demanding more from them is not the path of the gentle shepherd.

More from Lauterbach:

How easy it is to think of the people I serve as obstacles to what God wants to do — and to treat them with disrespect.  They are not obstacles.  They are God’s redeemed people, my brothers and sisters, as slow to change as I am.  Does God drive his sheep — does God use a cattle prod?  I wanted to serve them as my Savior served me — with respect for their persons.

Nick Charalambous, former internet campus pastor at NewSpring Church:

My contention is simply this: The web church doesn’t solve any problems that Jesus hasn’t prepared and equipped the church to handle in the past, the present, or the future by physical means. In fact, the Web church may, in time, cause problems for the larger church that are harder to fix than the original problem of the declining evangelistic power of our physical church communities.

Mockingbird blog looks at Christoph Blumhardt’s Lutheran/charismatic theology of the cross, and on a Lutheran view of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

Tom Stipe: It could have been worse.

The Gospel Coalition’s helpful resources for responses to Christian universalism.

Philip Schroeder’s “heads-up” for megachurch pastors from a small-church pastor.

Seven counterfeit gospels, from Paul Tripp and Tim Lane (taken from their book How People Change, listed on Tullian Tchividjian’s blog) (HT: Justin Buzzard)

Tim Chester: The context of pastoral care is in the gospel community.

What’s so attractive about pornography again? This?

15-minute church services?

Dave Bruskas recommends five books for readers new to John Piper.

The Eremos blog looks at Eugene Peterson’s Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places.

Tim Chester reviews Frost and Hirsch’s ReJesus.

Scot McKnight looks at John Stott.

Westminster Seminary now on iTunesU.

Dan Edelen: The times and our response to them as Christians.

Bryan Lilly on how to preach the gospel to yourself.

An Allie update.

Good news from David Wayne (aka the Jollyblogger)!


Cathleen Falsani with N.T. Wright.

Trevin Wax with Mark Galli.

Stephen Altrogge with Bob Kauflin (part 1 and part 2) (HT: Zach Nielsen)

  53 Responses to “Linkathon 3/17”

  1. I went ahead and posted this now to be done with it. Besides you will need the extra time for reading 😉

  2. Last

  3. I like Mark Galli, yesterday I received his book “Jesus Mean and Wild: The Unexpected Love of an Untamable God.” I have scheduled to read it the 3rd week in April.

  4. BrianD,

    I got the tweet about Westminster yesterday.

    Haven’t slept yet…

    Good work!

  5. As much as it pains me I agree with Mohler and Ware…McLaren really just reinvents a god that he can stomach.

  6. Love the new look!

    Thanks for posting about Allie. You all have been great prayer partners these past three years.

  7. Joel Osteen: “Billy Graham, his gift was to go out and win people to Christ. It’s different being a pastor. I’m trying to teach people – how do you live the abundant life? That’s my gift. Some people are good at taking the scripture line by line and talking about how it was written, but that’s not my gift… I believe you’ve got to repent of your sins; you’ve got to have a relationship with Christ. So I believe all the fundamental things, I just don’t focus on that.”


  8. David Trotter told a wonderful story of restoration, I count my sin much worse so I doubt restoration is possible in the same way, but it was nice to see it happen. It did my heart good.

  9. I always want to agree with Mohler. I may have an intellectual man-crush on the guy. Seriously, I had the oddest dream the other night…ummm, never mind that.

    I did agree with the content of the discussion, but I thought some of the rhetoric they used was beneath the discussion. Like, “This book should should be called ‘An old kind of apostacy'”, and , “Mclaren has finally taken off his wolf’s clothing”. I’m all for pointing out the errors of his theology, but in such an acadeim setting, name-calling just destroys the credibility of those on the panel.

  10. Kellerman’s critique of McLaren is very strong but it does trouble me some because I see in the critique my own distance from those giving the critique from a vantage point of a heaven/hell based salvation message. Which I do not reject entirely but which has more to do with the constructions of theologies outside the Bible rather than inside.

    I am no Mclaren, Jesus crushed the head of the Serpent, Jesus atoned for sin and came as the remedy to the human condition of alienation to God through a broken covenant. But the message within the Bible, the message of the Gospel is simply not about where you go when you die…it is about becoming a new creation in Christ and participating in the restoration of all things as the firstfruit of that new creation.

    For the record the Bible speaks of heaven over 7hundred times and does not use the phrase ‘go to heaven’ a single time. So while McLaren makes the Gospel about some quasi-liberation the critics make the Gospel about other worldly destinies… Brian is warmed over liberalism and his critics are less than the Biblical revelation as well.

  11. So I realize this is off topic, even for as diverse a linkathon as this one, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.

    I spent a chunk of the ride home yesterday trying to explain March Madness to my wife, then trying to explain why every year about this time I am tempted by the braketology and the Field of 65, but it makes me uneasy, mostly because I tend to see it as exploitation of people who are good at sports and bad at math, people whose bodies and lives are damaged for the entertainment of their social betters, meaning, mostly, people who can afford to spend or borrow and spend the money required to attend a major college.

    And then I read a piece of the “what’s so attractive…” link above, and it reminded me of the same thing. I have to admit I didn’t read it all; I just finished reading Running With Scissors, and my tolerance for graphic descriptions of certain acts is a bit low right now.

    What I’d like to know is this: am I way off the mark in lumping these two forms of entertainment together?

  12. MDSF,

    I have no clue what you are asking…

  13. MSDF…. Yes but there is a similar attraction in the adrenaline rush … which is the hook.


    Great job on the linkathon…this week the articles are fresh and diverse I am enjoying it. As soon as everyone figures out if Jesus is LORD there will be more readers….

  14. Joel Osteen is the FACE of American Christianity…

    Well there are some worse faces… but hmmm… Joel is to preaching what People Magazine is to reading… inch deep and mile wide…

  15. MDSF yes. Way off. Donny Pauling is telling people the truth about what porn really is all about (as opposed to it being “sexy”). I don’t see any correlation between it and the NCAA Tournament.

    On an unrelated note, I’m reading Eugene Peterson’s Leap Over a Wall and am getting ready to start A Long Obedience…

  16. What Tom Stipe shared is excellent. His son has a fractured skull resulting from an accident and could have died. His plight nonetheless is difficult and any parent’s worst nightmare. It’s clear things could have been much worse. Yet if this is the message we have for Tom and Maryellen and others who are going through their own trials maybe we need to reassess the comfort we are offering. Thanks for sharing this BrianD.

  17. Michael —

    I was asking if it’s appropriate to draw a line between the exploitation involved in being a sports fan and the exploitation involved in being a consumer of pornography.

    I don’t have any illusions about the porn industry being glamorous, I guess.

    Maybe the question I’m asking is somewhere on the periphery of the discussion of whether there is such a thing as personal responsibility for structural sin. Maybe not.

  18. What exploitation is involved in being a sports fan?

  19. What exploitation is involved in being a sports fan?

    I’m glad you asked.

    I think this started to bother me when I read the divorce and bankruptcy statistics for retired NFL players.,190555

    And then whole Mike Webster story came and went:

    and the NFL started talking about head injuries.

    Having attended a pretty good major university, seen how student athletes were treated, known some former college athletes, etc. I started questioning the way I had salved my conscience about this before: that college athletes get good educations in exchange for their years of service, that high school athletes make well-informed decisions when choosing how to allocate their time and opportunities, that most high school athletes understand that they are not Kobe Bryant or LeBron James and make good use of their high school and college years, etc.

    I’ve reached a point where it makes me almost as uneasy to watch a college basketball game as it made me to watch a boxing match after the death of Duk Koo Kim: somebody is being badly treated, and the fact that I don’t know who or how badly doesn’t change the fact that I’m participating by contributing to revenue streams for the companies that ultimately benefit from coverage of college sports.

    Please see also the recent article in Slate about KU coach John Calipari:

    And the comments from Bobby Knight, hardly a disinterested party, regarding the NCAA’s “one and done” problem:

    This stuff is troubling, but it’s kind of an open secret on e.g. ESPN Radio: coaches at many major universities are paid to cheat in the hope of winning a national title and bringing home, regardless of the damage to the program in the future, the athletes who play for them, etc.

    I realize it’s a tenuous connection, but I wonder if it’s possible to be an ethical sports fan. It’s already kind of difficult to be an ethical shareholder in a major corporation, and until recently I owned shares in Walmart. I’ve certainly owned shares in fraudulent and ultimately disreputable companies through mutual funds.

    I realize that in Reformed circles the questions around structural sins are still hot and the answers are up for grabs, but I tend to see a lot of this stuff as being similar if not actually the same.

  20. It’s UK not KU and Calipari probably isn’t more or less crooked than any other major college coach.

    At what point do we say ‘the whole world is corrupt’ and retreat into a Christian bubble? We know how well that’s worked out.

  21. I could probably post similar links about restaurants. Workers being exploited, health officials being paid off, price gouging and product kickbacks, people getting sick due to health code violations.

    However, I still go out to dinner.

  22. Brian —

    It’s UK not KU

    Duly noted.

    Calipari probably isn’t more or less crooked than any other major college coach.

    The Slate article argues that he’s more crooked, as programs he’s left have been sanctioned twice.

    At what point do we say ‘the whole world is corrupt’ and retreat into a Christian bubble? We know how well that’s worked out.

    I think that’s what I’m asking here; is it right to be upset at the porn industry for ruining bodies and lives for entertainment purposes and not be upset at the sports broadcasting industry for ruining bodies and lives for entertainment purposes?

    Certainly if I were personally exploiting women or minorities for my own entertainment the appropriate Christian response would be to stop. How much does an activity have to be intermediated before my conscience shouldn’t bother me?

  23. MLD —

    I was sort of hoping you’d say more than this; I’m under the impression that Lutherans have gone further than most groups in considering the implications of say investment decisions.

    Do you know how e.g. Thrivent draws the line between ethical and unethical investment decisions?

  24. How far do you go?

    Depends on the individual. Some will be able to watch ESPN, hold shares in Wal-Mart, listen to Christian music, eat at a restaurant, buy products from China. Some won’t.

    Ultimately, by my understanding of the Bible I believe we have liberty to do or abstain from any or all of those things.

    I will say that I have no interest in arguing over Calipari. I don’t have the knowledge to defend him and I don’t have the time. I do believe that inferring to Calipari as a sleaze ball is the ‘trendy’ thing to do by some ESPN personalities, specifically Pat Forde and Bob Knight.

  25. I’ve started (not finished) Matthew Paul Turner’s latest book. I read the excerpt where he says his profile of Amy Grant was rewritten to include an ‘apology’ by Amy Grant for her divorce from Gary Chapman – something she never actually said to Turner.

    Now, in the excerpt I’m about to link to, she never says anything like ‘yeah I did it and it was great! What is the deal?’

    If what Turner says is true, the publisher lied by having Grant say something she never actually said.

    Read this for yourself – and ask yourself if the CHRISTIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY is something you’d want to support.

  26. Ultimately, by my understanding of the Bible I believe we have liberty to do or abstain from any or all of those things.

    Then I must have totally misunderstood the point of the pornography link above; I was under the impression that the author was making the argument that pornography is sinful because of the damage it does to the people who make it, not just because it is harmful to the consumer.

    I haven’t paid a lot of attention to the ongoing dialog about pornography; I’m under the impression that the prevailing argument is that “porn is bad for marriages.” I thought the author was making the (relatively novel) argument that the industry itself is evil.

  27. John Stott. Refreshing testimony of one who remained in pursuit of goodness rather than consumed with being great.

  28. His small book, “The Preacher’s Portrait” has had the greatest impact over time in reminding me of who I am to be and what I am to be about in the pastoral ministry of the New Covenant.

    I discovered the reference to the book from a Pastoral Theology manual compiled by a Calvinist CCBC teacher of some time past. 🙂

  29. MDSF,

    Unless I’m missing something profound, you’ve hardly made a case for you thesis concerning sports.
    To compare it with the porn industry is just odd to me.
    The porn industry is destructive to everyone it touches…athletics give opportunities to folks who may not have had them and provides much enjoyment for others.
    I see no correlation between the two at all…

  30. Vic,

    He is a giant…

  31. Michael —

    Thanks. That’s what I was asking.

    The porn industry is destructive to everyone it touches…athletics give opportunities to folks who may not have had them and provides much enjoyment for others.

    I think I would have agreed with you five or so years ago. Please note that I’m not objecting to playing sports; what’s bothering me is the industry surrounding major college and professional sports.

  32. BrianD —

    Read this for yourself – and ask yourself if the CHRISTIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY is something you’d want to support.

    Thanks for sharing this article. Gerald sounds like a classic “double high authoritarian.” I wish he only existed in stories.

  33. MDSF, you took my point and tied it back to the Pauling article in a way I never intended to be made.

    I commented on your views regarding sports; when you asked about the NCAA brackets and organized college sports, it became an entirely different conversation.

    I would say something differently in regards to porn…pornography is wrong. I’ve looked at nekkid women many a time knowing that it was wrong to do so.

    My comments – about you and I coming to different conclusions on college and pro sports, and it being something that we can have liberty to enjoy or not enjoy under Christ – do not apply to pornography. Porn is wrong. I know it’s wrong. I can make a much better case for an abusive, a-hole Bobby Knight than I can for watching porn, soft-core, hard-core, written, whatever. I want to make all of that crystal-clear.

  34. MDSF, take a look at the high school scene if you want to go deeper. Youth sports.

    I would understand if you want to enjoy the games w/o knowing the skubulon behind the scenes (like not knowing how bologna is made)…and if you want to wash your hands of the entire spectacle. As I said I believe we have liberty to do both.

    I would recommend Turner’s book to you for now, having read just a portion of it. I will give you my final recommendation once I finish it.

  35. BrianD —

    take a look at the high school scene if you want to go deeper. Youth sports.

    Yeah, I started paying attention to this after hearing former college athletes talk about their AAU experiences.

    I’m not sure how much room there is in Christian liberty for ignoring how the bologna is made. I guess that’s at the heart of what I was asking.

  36. I understand, MDSF, exactly where you are coming from.

    I also come from a background of Christian experts telling people what they should listen to, not listen to, support, not support. Thereby putting the church under the law of men and women who appointed themselves to tell the rest of the church what to do and what not to do.

    My arguments are partly a reaction against that…and hopefully an acknowledgment that God is perfectly adequate to allow me to watch sports or lead me away from sports if He so wills.

    He brings freedom, not bondage. If your conscience won’t permit you to support sports, He won’t push you to do anything that is not in line with His word and His will for your life.

  37. BrianD —

    My comments – about you and I coming to different conclusions on college and pro sports, and it being something that we can have liberty to enjoy or not enjoy under Christ – do not apply to pornography.

    Understood. I’ve tried wading into this sort of issue (“why does argument X apply to Y and not to Z”) here before with roughly similar success.

    I would like to know, though, how Christian liberty, entertainment, and structural sin all fit together.

  38. Here’s the thing:

    we live in a fallen, evil world.

    If we knew how the bologna was made in every single profession…and were determined to avoid places we knew were bad…we probably couldn’t go anywhere in this world.

    Perhaps, instead, knowing that college sports and the business world and the media and politics and any other human endeavor is tainted by sin…we as Christians are to be a light in the darkness???

  39. Where’s everyone else when you need them to chime in? Maybe I should post our conversation on the .com to get them to chime in 🙂

  40. MDSF, my answers I fear are too simplistic. You’re asking some pretty challenging, and complicated, questions.

    I keep coming back to liberty in Christ, and being a light in the darkness.

    I also should be mindful of not flouting my liberty in the face of those whose consciences don’t permit them to be as free as I.

  41. MDSF. We are risen with Christ. We have the freedom and the calling to be amongst fallen men and women. We have been rescued from this present evil age. As the Father sent Christ into the world in like manner Christ sends us by the Spirit.

    If one can enjoy the company of people with a clear conscience then let them go for it doing it as unto the Lord and not unto men. Wisdom may call some to walk away from situations and endeavors. The love of Christ may compel another to walk,live and witness with discretion and wisdom in similar situations.

    We can rejoice for each other’s opportunities and pray for one another that we would walk in wisdom making the most of our opportunities.

  42. Sorry I missed your comment Michael. I am running in and out of the blog living room.

  43. Thanks all.

    I’m not trying to put anyone on the spot here; this is something that bothers me every year about this time (March Madness, NFL combine, spring training) and I’m trying to work/think through it.

    As someone with libertarian tendencies the notion of any kind of collective responsibility gives me the willies, but I can’t quite convince myself that being a sports fan is entirely ethically neutral.

    I realize Reformed types have more of a notion of community than we evangelicals do; I thought maybe this was something for which there was an consensus Reformed answer.

  44. Oh yeah and: I will definitely have to give Hear No Evil a look-see. I’ll put it on my list with To Serve God and Walmart, not to mention Salvation on the Small Screen, and In the Land of Believers.

    These are my people, more or less, and I’m thrilled to see them get this kind of attention, unpleasant as it may be sometimes.

  45. MDSF, I’m not aware of any uniform Reformed viewpoint on sports.

    You are though probably more likely to run into the Mark Driscoll-type espousing his love of baseball or MMA than you are someone who wrestles with those issues the way you are.

  46. In the Land of Believers was the book written by the atheist who passed herself off as a believer at Thomas Road Baptist Church, right?

    Have you read the Kevin Roose book? Similar concept (I don’t think he’s an atheist), he was an Ivy League student who spent a year at Liberty U. and wrote about his experiences.

  47. I gotta call it a night, but I’ll check back in the morning.

    Good conversation, MDSF; hopefully we helped you a little in finding some answers to these questions.

    I live in a state where college basketball is a god, and I am also a UK fan (KU is Kansas, btw). They play Thursday night. Community is more important to me, so I’ll listen on the radio.

    Perhaps one day I’ll grow sick of the whole thing and swear off organized sports altogether. For now I suspect it’s like every other human endeavor, full of sin and brokenness, and I enjoy the games for what they are.


  48. I read that link that BrianD put up. I was so shocked. I felt like “the little old lady from Pasadena who just crawled out of a cave.” I had no idea that kind of thing was happening or being made. (ignorance was bliss)

    When I read those people’s testimonies my heart was broken for them. God help them and heal their broken souls and bodies.

    MDSF, I hear what you are saying about the corruption in the sporting industry. (I think)


    Porn is pure evil. There is nothing remotely redemptive, positive or in any way good about it. It only causes harm to anyone it touches.

    Sports, on the other hand builds healthy bodies, enables some to further their education (my son graduated college debt free on a basketball scholarship), builds confidence, team spirit, etc, etc. Of course it can be mis-used….my goodness, the BIBLE can be misused and abused, and people misuse it to hurt and deceive others all the time. Do I need to name names?

    I understand what you are saying about the corruption in our society in sports, TV, finance, music, etc. just about everything man touches he corrupts. However, that doesn’t negate the fact that there are many positive elements in these things as well and they can be used in a positive manner.

    Porn has NOTHING positive to offer anyone’s life. Porn only destroys those producing it and watching it.

  49. BrianD —

    I don’t know much about To Serve God and Walmart; it appears to be a more academic treatment of (evangelical?) Christian attitudes toward capitalism, corporatism, etc.

    Salvation on the Small Screen is by a young Lutheran woman. I am under the impression she spends a bunch of time watching Christian television (TBN, maybe?) and commenting on it from a Lutheran perspective. I am hoping this is more than just “they’re not Lutheran so they’re doing it wrong.”

    In the Land of Believers is by a woman who was a graduate student at the University of Virginia, and spent some time in Lynchburg passing herself off as a believer at Thomas Road and spying, basically. From what I’ve read she was somewhat less sympathetic than Kevin Roose was, and she has been criticized for being intellectually dishonest, etc. I’d still like to read the book for myself.

    I highly recommend the Kevin Roose book. It was probably my favorite book from last year. Then again, Liberty (circa 1989) is my alma mater, so I already knew what he was talking about.

  50. Nonnie —

    Porn is pure evil. There is nothing remotely redemptive, positive or in any way good about it. It only causes harm to anyone it touches.


    After having an overnight to think about this I guess I’d try this approach: I know Christians find pornography objectionable, but I don’t entirely understand why. Most of them seem to focus on the sexual aspects (both on the production and consumption side) and ignore the societal costs: exploitation, organized crime, drugs, etc.

    In the sports business (professional and amateur sports above a certain level) all of these things are present except for much of the sexual angle (no Tiger Woods jokes please). But there are other things porn doesn’t offer: gambling, poor role models, misdirected public spending, misplaced values generally.

    I don’t understand why the conservative Christian community focuses so much attention and effort on pornography without casting a critical eye toward high-profile sports as well.

  51. MDSF said:
    “After having an overnight to think about this I guess I’d try this approach: I know Christians find pornography objectionable, but I don’t entirely understand why. Most of them seem to focus on the sexual aspects (both on the production and consumption side) and ignore the societal costs: exploitation, organized crime, drugs, etc.”

    I agree 100% with you on this.
    However, sports, in and of itself does not necessarily involve drugs, organized crime, exploitation. Sports, tv, arts, etc, can be used in very positve ways.
    Porn cannot! ! Again, there is NOTHING good about it. And please don’t put porn and sex on the same level. They are 2 different things. Porn is evil and destroys lives. Sex is a gift God has given man (and woman) to use within the confines of marriage and is a great blessing to a man and wife.

    You are talking apples and oranges.

    I hear what you are saying that there are terrible things happening out there in this fallen world, but after reading that article I am convinced that porn should rate higher than just about any kinds of destructive force in our society. Pure evil.

    I hope this post doesn’t sound angry with you. I am not in the least. Just typing away and trying to explain my position. I was so shaken by that man’s blog. I truly had no idea and my heart is broken for these men and women.
    Sorry, I can’t say the same for Tiger. Praying for he and his wife and children but again…..apples and oranges.

    Blessings to you!

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