Should pastors separate the Christian wedding ceremony from the civil rite?

This question is no longer as hypothetical as it used to be for Americans.

Here are three helpful resources:

  1. D. A. Carson, “The SBJT Forum: To handle certain categories of divorce and remarriage cases within the congregation, some churches have established a kind of ‘ecclesiastical court.’ What biblical warrant, if any, exists for this practice?The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 6, no. 1 (2002): 104–7. See point 1 on pp. 105–6.
  2. D. A. Carson, “Counsel to a Young Church Planter on Marriage” (December 5, 2009). See point 5.
  3. Collin Hansen, ed., “TGC Asks: Should pastors separate the Christian wedding ceremony from the civil rite?” (August 6, 2010). Four pastors weigh in: Steve Dewitt, Ryan Kelly, Jay Thomas, and Bob Bixby.

Tithing after the Cross

tithingDave Croteau has written another book on tithing:

David A. Croteau. Tithing after the Cross: A Refutation of the Top Arguments for Tithing and New Paradigm for Giving. Areopagus Critical Christian Issues 7. Gonzalez, FL: Energion, 2013.

Dave explains here why he wrote a third book on tithing and how this differs from the first two. (I blogged about the second one.)

Here’s my endorsement: [Read more…]

How should churches relate to others with same-sex attractions? Read Peter Hubbard.

lightPeter Hubbard is a gifted teacher, and he wisely navigates what are uncharted waters for many Christians: How should churches relate to others with same-sex attractions?

Peter Hubbard. Love into Light: The Gospel, the Homosexual, and the Church. Greenville, SC: Ambassador International, 2013. 175 pp.

PeterI’ve been encouraging Peter to publish this book, and I’m grateful he did. [Read more…]

Top 10 Tips for Being Clearer

savingGary Millar and Phil Campbell, Saving Eutychus: How to Preach God’s Word and Keep People Awake  (Kingsford NSW, Australia: Matthias Media, 2013), 50–61:

  1. The more you say, the less people will remember. . . . “Biscuits and sermons are improved by shortening”. . . .
  2. Make the ‘big idea’ shape everything you say. . . . That’s one of the best reasons to preach from a full script—you get to edit before you speak. . . . [From p. 64: “[I]t’s easier for your listeners to catch a baseball than a handful of sand.”] [Read more…]

The 2 Issues I Most Frequently Address When Copy-Editing

In the last eight years or so, I’ve done a fair bit of copy-editing. For example, I’ve edited some books and copy-edited every issue of Themelios since TGC took over that journal in 2008. For the last three years I’ve been editing a massive forthcoming project that will probably be about 1 million words (more on that later).

Here’s my basic philosophy of writing in six words: Omit needless words, and be clear (HT: Strunk, Zinsser, and Williams). There’s a lot more to good writing than that, of course, but it’s hard to communicate well when your writing is cluttered and convoluted.

So I most frequently address two issues when copy-editing: [Read more…]

Spurgeon: A Living Theology of Suffering

9781781911228v3Tom Nettles, “Sickness, Suffering, Depression,” ch. 17 in Living by Revealed Truth: The Life and Pastoral Theology of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (Fearn, Scotland: Mentor, 2013), 594:

Spurgeon never doubted that his exquisite pain, frequent sicknesses, and even despondency were given to him by God for his sanctification in a wise and holy purpose. [Read more…]

Don Carson on the Providence of God

tinkerD. A. Carson, “Foreword,” in Melvin Tinker, Intended for Good: The Providence of God (Nottingham, England: IVP, 2012), 9–10:

Fewer than two hundred years ago, a student writing an advanced paper in most history departments in British or American universities might well include some reflections on what his or her historical treatment implied about divine providence. Today it is unthinkable to include such reflection. At a more mundane level, reflections on divine providence continue to surface in trivial conversations. Not long ago I was flying home after speaking at a conference somewhere, and it appeared that our plane was going be delayed by an hour or two because of bad weather, or perhaps forced to land at another airport. Suddenly the pilot announced that there was a small break in the weather, and we were heading straight in with minimal delay. The passenger in the next seat smiled and muttered, ‘Someone up there loves me: I’ll make my connecting flight.’ I confess I smiled back and asked him, ‘If you missed your flight, would that constitute evidence that he doesn’t love you?’ [Read more…]