The Church

Why you should banish the word “layman” from your vocabulary.

One sometimes hears the phrase “in layman’s terms…“ followed by a description of some process or situation to explain to the untrained exactly what is going on. There are certainly times where I want a trained professional performing some task. The guy who replaces my water heater, or the one who took out my gall bladder – I don’t want someone with no credentials doing that work. But that sort of thinking can be problematic…

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Evangelicalism

Caveat Credor: The Hazards of Confessionalism

According to Wikipedia, Confessionalism is “a belief in the importance of full and unambiguous assent to the whole of a religious teaching. Confessionalists believe that differing interpretations or understandings, especially those in direct opposition to a held teaching, cannot be accommodated within a church communion.” It is not an unalloyed blessing. Confessionalism arises in times of theological pluralism, as an attempt to define the borders, and to mark the boundaries of orthodoxy. In this sense,…

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Bible

The Value of Reading Scripture in Print

Nothing will show you a generation gap like the media one uses to read the Bible. Roughly stated, the older crowd reads in print, younger Christians in electronic format. The benefits of a Bible app are many; portability, and having the Bible always at the ready, for example. Plus, the possibility of having several versions, and perhaps study tools along with that are also advantages. On the other hand, the advantages of print Bibles are…

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The Church Worship

What should corporate worship look like?

A couple of years prior to becoming a christian (and while still attending a mainline, liturgical church), I remember asking myself, “Where do the robes come from?” I had been reading the New Testament, and it struck me that I didn’t find anything there about pastors wearing special garments or vestments. The answer is tradition. When we approach the question of worship, the things we do when we gather corporately, tradition has assumed immense importance.…

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Reformation

Is the Reformation to be repented of?

It is not so surprising to find calls for unity among Christians in this 500th anniversary year of the Reformation. So has the Archbishop of Canterbury (and earlier, Pope Francis) done in recent remarks. But we should be clear to distinguish between the effects of social upheaval,  and the ideas – the doctrines – that were the impetus preceding that upheaval. The Reformation was a massive shift in European society that came about for many…

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Bible Evangelicalism

Whither Evangelicalism?

IT’S NOT THE NUMBERS THAT ARE IMPORTANT FOR THE FUTURE. An article at Religion News Service on the Future of Evangelicalism in America examines (once again) the questions of what lies ahead for an admittedly amorphous movement. The article is really just a teaser for the book the same name, and I say once again because this has been a topic of discussion and research in the recent past. Molly Worthen’s Apostle’s of Reason: the Crisis of…

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Bible

Knowing the Word through the word in the Coming Year

GROWING ONE’S FAITH APART FROM SCRIPTURE IS NOT POSSIBLE. The new year is a typical time for resolutions, and new beginnings. One of those that Christians often take up is to read through the entire Bible in a year. I’m struck at times by the number of Christians who have not done this.  It is simply impossible to learn more about God, his truth, his plan of redemption, the person of Jesus Christ – any…

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Worship

The Incarnation: History cum Doxology

THE INCARNATION IS BOTH FACT AND WONDER. I am not big on Christmas, for all the usual reasons. Commercialization, not a hint of it in Scripture, and the diversion of traditions that too often blunt, rather than enhance our understanding of the incarnation. But as it happens, I am going through Luke’s gospel these days, where we find the most complete narrative of the birth of Jesus. As my perusal coincides with Christmas I am struck by…

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Bible The Church

It’s Not Just Strength of Belief That Matters

THE SUBSTANCE OF DOCTRINE IS VITAL It isn’t news that mainline Protestant congregations are numerically shrinking, but once again, research confirms that it’s the underlying theology of these churches that is the reason for the lack of growth. I say once again, because these observations are not new. the Barna Group has on several occasions highlighted this. Ross Douthat’s 2012 book, Bad Religion also profiled this trend. Further evidence of this is found David Millard Haskell’s…

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The Church Worship

The Primacy of the Lord’s Supper in the Local Church

“As often as you eat this bread” should not mean as seldom. The subject of the Lord’s Supper, (or Communion) is a large topic, and has engendered controversy and differing views through many centuries. In what follows, I do not propose any sort of exhaustive look at the subject, but rather to look at the Lord’s Supper with the specific question of how often it should be celebrated, and why. Within evangelical congregations, either “low-church”…

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