As American Christians we frequently see debates about whether Christianity is being persecuted in the United States. Strictly speaking, we aren’t being arrested for being Christians, churches are not being seized by the government, and so on. To compare what we in the United States face with what a Christian in some other country, say Saudi Arabia, faces is a stretch.
But the real issue is not whether we as Christians are being persecuted. The issue is we are definitely being marginalized, and that marginalization is what happens before explicit forms of persecution. So I don’t think we are being badly persecuted now, but given how we are being marginalized I think persecution is going to happen at some point down the road.
In October of 2013 John MacArthur hosted the Strange Fire Conference (followed quickly with the publication of a book by the same name). This re-ignited a serious debate among biblical Christians, one that split people within certain denominations and theological traditions while also uniting people of diverse denominations and theological traditions with one another.
The nature of the Strange Fire conference and book evoked a certain degree of outrage within Pentecostal and Charismatic circles. Having a great gift for remaining uncontroversial, I wrote a blog post titled “A Pentecostal in (General) Support of the Strange Fire Conference.” This blog, much to my surprise, drew a lot of attention. John MacArthur himself positively quoted it in an interview he did with Tim Challies. My guiding conviction in that post was that, while I believe the gifts have continued, they need to be exercised and practiced biblically. Far too often continuationism has provided cover for every kind of abuse, absurdity, and at times even heresy.
Allow me to get the shameless appeal portion of this post out of the way immediately: I have recently put together a book, The Budget Record Book, and it is now available for purchase here.
This book, unlike the vast majority of my writing, is not explicitly theological. I do not discuss the doctrine of the Incarnation, I do not attack Pelagianism, and I do not explain how Open Theism is inconsistent with the doctrine of Biblical Inspiration. This book is meant to help people budget, and friends and family familiar with my theological work are looking at this book and saying “What gives?”
Dear Pentecostals and Charismatics,
If you know me, you know I am one of you. I am an associate pastor at a Pentecostal church. I volunteer with Chi Alpha, the Assemblies of God college ministry. A Pentecostal church was founded in my paternal grandmother’s home. At times I have even undertaken to defend our doctrines from cessationist critics.
Yet I’m an awkward Pentecostal. I don’t really fit in very well. I stand between two families of Christians, Pentecostals and charismatics on one hand, and my more reformed Baptist and Presbyterian brothers and sisters on the other hand. This is not a normal place to be. My reformed friends find my belief in the gifts a curiosity, an enigma, an outlier and anomaly. My Pentecostal and charismatic friends find my Calvinism to be strange, if not antithetical to Pentecostalism itself. This despite the fact that the Pentecostal and charismatic movements have always been highly ecumenical, spanning denominational boundaries and finding homes in a vast array of theological contexts.
Continue reading here.
There has been something of a kerfuffle regarding certain contributors over at The Gospel Coalition lately. Tullian Tchividjian was planning on leaving TGC in August, but his departure is being hastened. I am in no position to speak about individuals or ministries involved. I simply do not know enough about what is happening or why, and I’d rather not wildly speculate at this point. However, Tchividjian has made some comments that are worth reflecting on.
The following is an updated version of a Facebook note I wrote in September of 2012. As this issue is once again hitting the media, I thought it important to republish this:
As I got online today, a trend on Facebook caught my attention: It was a story of an ancient papyrus known as “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” I mentally sighed as I thought about having to deal with a new round of Dan Brown style conspiracy theories. I read the article, knowing I would soon be asked about this find.
“It is not possible to be intellectually honest and believe in gods.
And it is not possible to believe in gods and be a true scientist.”
-Professor Peter Atkins
The above quote reflects what is the assumption of Western culture: There is a deep and necessary conflict between science and religion. To adopt a religious perspective is to cease to be scientific, to be scientific is to abandon religion. Faith and science, it is assumed, are antonyms. Like many assumptions of our popular society, this one is widely accepted, often repeated, has an aura of intellectual respectability, and is entirely wrong.