Category Archives: Church

Celebrating Christmas like a Puritan

In the following clips Doug Wilson explains how to celebrate Christmas like a Puritan. It’s probably not what you think.

“Relief and buoyancy are the characteristic notes . . . It follows that nearly every association which now clings to the word puritan has to be eliminated when we are thinking of the early Protestants. Whatever they were, they were not sour, gloomy, or severe; nor did their enemies bring any such charge against them . . . Fore More, a Protestant was one ‘dronke of the new must of lewd lightnes of minde and vayne gladness of harte’ . . . Protestantism was not too grim, but too glad, to be true . . . Protestants are not ascetics but sensualists.”

– C.S. Lewis, English Literature in the 16th Century

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“Theology is for Everyone” – Dr. J.I. Packer

Here is a lecture that J. I. Packer gave on why “Theology Is for Everyone” (MP3) at St. Peter’s Anglican Church (Tallahassee, Florida) on February 1, 2010:

“Knowing about God (theology) is crucially important for the living of our lives.  As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesman to fly him to London, put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it.  The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God.  Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you.  This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.”

J.I. Packer, Knowing God


Should Christians read non-Christian books?

 

Should Christians read non-Christian books? I would say yes, but I’m young and you probably shouldn’t heed too much of what I say. However, there are several old, and very much dead church leaders who have said the same thing. Perhaps you should listen to them. (Please do note that when Calvin says “profane authors” he does not mean raunchy romance writers, but merely thoughtful non-Christian writers.)

“Therefore, in reading profane authors, the admirable light of truth displayed in them should remind us that the human mind, however much fallen and perverted from its original integrity, is still adorned and invested with admirable gifts from its Creator. If we reflect that the Spirit of God is the only fountain of truth, we will be careful, as we would avoid offering insults to him, not to reject or condemn truth wherever it appears. In despising gifts, we insult the giver.” ~ John Calvin

“All truth is from God; and consequently, if wicked men have said anything that is true and just,  we ought not reject it; for it has come from God. Besides, all things are of God; and, therefore, why should it not be lawful to dedicate to his glory everything that can properly be employed for such a purpose.” ~ John Calvin

“All branches of heathen learning have not only false and superstitious fancies and heavy burdens of unnecessary toil, which every one of us, when going out under the leadership of Christ from the fellowship of the heathen, ought to abhor and avoid; but they contain also liberal instruction which is better adapted to the use of truth, and some most excellent precepts of morality; and some truths in regard even to the worship of the One God are found among them.” ~ Augustine of Hippo

“Heathen learning is not unprofitable for the soul…”~ Basil of Caesarea

“For the journey of this life eternal I would advise you to husband resources, leaving no stone unturned, as the proverb has it, whence you might derive aid.” ~ Basil of Caesarea


How the Creeds Helped Me

Here is a great post written by Winfield Bevins on the Creeds of Christian faith and how they helped him.

These standards of our faith have stood the test of time and have the power to speak to our postmodern world. They have been battle tested and found to be true and essential in every generation. We need to keep the past and the future in perpetual conversation so we can have a fresh expression of the timeless gospel in the twenty-first century.

Here Because of Their Faith

The Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayerhave helped me in two important and surprising ways. First, they helped me realize I am a part of the larger Christian family whose roots go back to the time of Christ. Too often, contemporary Christians forget there have been two thousand years of Church history. The history of the church is full of amazing stories of great men and women who helped change the course of history and fought to pass on the faith so future generations may believe. We are indebted to them; it is not too much to say we are here today because of their faith.

Know Your Spiritual Genealogy

For years I felt like a spiritual orphan who was unaware of having a rich family heritage and roots. Then, like someone who discovered their family genealogy for the first time, I discovered my spiritual family tree. Robert Webber reminds us, “Our family tree begins not with the Reformation or the twentieth century evangelical movement but with Jesus Christ, and it continues through the Apostles, the primitive Christian community, the Apostolic Fathers, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, the Church of the Reformation, and all who say, “Jesus is Lord.”

What We Should Know and How We Should Live

Secondly, they help me live out my Christian faith. I’d be lost without them. They provide a moral and doctrinal compass for Christians. These essential doctrines help us navigate our way around the larger story of God. Like a roadmap, they provide us with a clear and concise summary of what Christians should know and believe from the Bible. Theologian and author J.I. Packer says, “The hundred word Apostles’ Creed is the simplified road map, ignoring much but enabling you to see at a glance the main points of Christian belief.”


Christian doctrine is not just for knowing, but for living. The essentials give us a foundation to build our life upon. What we believe about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit shapes and influences how we live and how we see the rest of the world:

  • God is the Creator of all things, so I should care for his creation
  • Jesus died for my sin, so I must live for Him and share my faith with others
  • God created us to live in community, so I need the church

In the end, a creed is not just what we believe but how we live out what we believe.


Is Church Membership Biblical?

“The spouse of Christ cannot be adulterous; she is uncorrupted and pure. She knows one home; she guards with chaste modesty the sanctity of one couch. She keeps us for God. She appoints the sons whom she has born for the kingdom. Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulteress, is separated from the promises of the Church; nor can he who forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewards of Christ. He is a stranger; he is profane; he is an enemy. He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother.”

CyprianTreatise on the Unity of the Church, 6.

I was 28 when I became the pastor of Highland Village First Baptist Church (now known as The Village Church). I had had a rough go early on in my church experience, and at that time I was not fully out of my “disenchanted with the local church” phase.

In all honesty, I wasn’t sure at the time that church membership was biblical. Despite that, the Spirit had made it all too clear that I was going to be pastoring this small church in the suburbs of Dallas. That was one of the many ironies of my life in those days.

Highland Village First Baptist Church was a “seeker-sensitive” church in the Willow Creek mold and had no formal membership process, although they were actively working on one and wanted the new pastor’s input. I had a strong understanding of the church universal but wasn’t well versed—and, as I said, somewhat skeptical—about the church local. We started growing quickly with young and oftentimes disenchanted 20-somethings who usually had no church background, or bad church backgrounds. They liked The Village because we were “different.” This always struck me as strange because we weren’t doing anything but preaching and singing.

In conversations with these men and women I began to hear things like “The church is corrupt; it’s just about money and a pastor’s ego,” or “I love Jesus, it’s the church I have a problem with.” My favorite one was, “When you organize the church it loses its power.” Although something occasionally resonated in me with these comments (I, along with most of my generation, have authority and commitment issues), I found them confusing since they were being made to me by people who were attending the church where I was the pastor.

To read the rest of Matt Chandler’s blog post click here.