- Kevin DeYoung offers The Four Indispensable Qualities of Good Preaching: veracity, clarity, authority, and authenticity.
These four qualities are indispensable to good preaching, but some are more indispensable than others. The farther you go down the list, the harder the traits come. But the good news is it’s the top of the list that matter most.
- Scot McKnight asks, Are Denominations Broken?, and shares a letter calling for radical transformation in the PC(USA).
To say the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is deathly ill is not editorializing but acknowledging reality.
- Daniel Kirk engages the controversy surrounding new translations of “Son of God” that are more acceptable in muslim cultures.
If the phrase “son of God” is tantamount to blasphemy to Muslims, is it acceptable to translate the phrase differently into Arabic in the name of making the gospel known?
- Patheos is adding another new blog, and this one looks like it could be very interesting. Evangelical Crossroads features Mark Russell (Asbury), Allen Yeh (Biola), Michelle Sanchez, Michelle Stearns (Mars Hill), and Dwight Friesen (Mars Hill). (HT)
- Stuart comments on a new report estimating that there have been 270 new Christian martyrs every 24 hours over the last decade.
- Protests in Egypt continue to escalate as the US increased pressure on Egypt to end the emergency law.
- And, here’s a list of 102 words that we can thank Shakespeare for.
We were discussing persecution and martyrdom in the early church during my church history class this morning, and I had the students read portions from The Martyrdom of . Polycarp was an early Christian leader (traditionally thought to have been disciple of John the Apostle) who was martyred around AD 155. Regardless of whether you think this account of his death is terribly accurate historically, it’s an amazing piece of Christian literature and a testimony to the ideal of Christian faithfulness under pressure. And, it has two of my favorite quotes from early Christianity.
Here are the relevant portions:
Now, as we were entering the stadium, there came to Polycarp a voice from heaven, ‘Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man’. And no one saw the speaker, but the voice was heard by those of our people who were there. Then he was led forward, and great was the uproar of those who heard that Polycarp had been seized. Accordingly, he was led before the Proconsul, who asked him if he were the man himself. And when he confessed the Proconsul tried to persuade him, saying, ‘Have respect to your own age’, and so forth, according to their customary forms; ‘Swear to Caesar’, ‘Repent’, ‘Say, “Away with the atheists!”’ Then Polycarp said, ‘Eighty-six years I have served him, and he has done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me?’
But the Proconsul again persisted and said, ‘Swear by Caesar’; and he answered, ‘If you vainly imagine that I would swear by Cesar, as you say, pretending not to know what I am, hear plainly that I am a Christian. And if you are willing to learn the doctrine of Christianity, give me a day and listen to me’.
I have my students read this every year and it never gets old. I particularly like the part where God tells Polycarp to man up. That’s great.
- Wired Magazine has a fascinating article on the fight brewing over the new edition Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), “Inside the Battle to Define Mental Illness.“
At stake in the fight between Frances and the APA is more than professional turf, more than careers and reputations, more than the $6.5 million in sales that the DSM averages each year. The book is the basis of psychiatrists’ authority to pronounce upon our mental health, to command health care dollars from insurance companies for treatment and from government agencies for research.
- Michael Hyatt explains why the iPad couldn’t kill the Kindle.
So how did Amazon do it? How did they compete with the Mighty Apple, when everyone was predicting they would be crushed by a more sophisticated machine? They used a four-prong strategy.
- iMonk discusses Luther’s A Treatise on Good Works.
Luther’s great insight was that obedience to God which springs from faith exhibits itself in the course of our ordinary, daily vocations.
- Matt Flannagan discusses original sin and the moral gap between everyone’s moral ideals and the universal reality of moral failure.
It seems then that this paradox is part of our moral experience. It is inevitable that we will sin. In an important sense we cannot but fail morally and yet we are responsible for our moral failure. On the face of it, there appears only two ways to address this. One is to deny we are responsible for our moral failures. The other is to claim that we can achieve moral perfection. But both claims seem to be obviously false and as such are implausible.
- Stuart reports on the targeting of Coptic Christians in Egypt in the wake of the recent bombing and resulting violence.
- And, here’s a list of 100 things we didn’t know last year.
- Tullian Tchividjian explains The Tri-Centrality of the Gospel.
There’s a lot of discussion taking place regarding the essence of the Gospel. People are asking questions like “What is the center of the Gospel?” and “Can (or should) the essence of the Gospel be distinguished from its implications?” Some insist the gospel is just the message of Christ’s substitutionary atonement and that anything else is an “entailment” or a “result.” However, the Bible says the essence of the Gospel is bigger than this.
- Stuart offers another good article reminding us of the terrible persecution of Christians in Iraq.
Two Iraqi Christians have been killed in a new wave of apparently coordinated bomb attacks in the capital just two months after militants massacred 46 Christians in a church in the city.
- Matt and Madeleine Flannagan discuss William Lane Craig, Original Sin and Original Guilt. In the process they provide an excellent example of reading someone charitably and carefully before assuming they’re an idiot. A good lesson for us all.
But really it is the duty of readers to read in context, to read charitably – where there are two possible readings, the one that does not entail blatant contradictions two lines later is probably the reading we should adopt… It is unfortunate that in this case it appears many Christians have failed to do so and are so quick to publicly jump to conclusions about one of their brothers.
- Tom Verenna has an excellent post on the destructive nature of labels in academia.
As a friend of mine once said, “atheism and theism died in the trenches of World War 1.” Indeed. If we continue to fear each other, the answers will always elude us and, alas, the past as we know it will disappear to us entirely.
- You can now lend Kindle books to your friends for up to 14 days. (Has anyone tried this yet?)
- And, here’s a list of 10 Unusual Traditions for Ringing in the New Year around the World