How to Disagree with Other Christians about Disputable Matters

That’s the title of a sermon I preached on Sunday on Romans 14:1–15:7.

  • I open by explaining triage in order to introduce the idea of theological triage. We must distinguish between first-level, second-level, and third-level issues.
  • I suggest about 75 disputable matters (grouped into 17 rough categories) that can be extremely divisive in some churches.
  • I present 12 principles from Rom 14:1–15:7 about how to disagree with other Christians. I borrow these from a forthcoming commentary on Romans that veteran missionary J. D. Crowley wrote for people in Cambodia: [Read more…]

An Unmistakable Sign of a Legalistic Spirit

25Sam Storms, Tough Topics: Biblical Answers to 25 Challenging Questions  (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013), 311–12, 314–15 [32-page sample PDF]:

Legalism has been defined in a number of ways, but here is my attempt: Legalism is the tendency to regard as divine law things that God has neither required nor forbidden in Scripture, and the corresponding inclination to look with suspicion on others for their failure or refusal to conform. . . .

2. Do you elevate to the status of moral law something the Bible does not require? . . .

Hold your conviction with passion and zeal, but do not seek to enslave the consciences of others who may disagree with you. . . .

One unmistakable sign of a legalistic spirit is [Read more…]

Exulting in Harry Potter

edenTim Keller calls this book “the most accessible, readable, and yet theologically robust work on Christianity and the arts that you will be able to find”:

Jerram Barrs. Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature, and the Arts. Wheaton: Crossway, 2013. (14-page sample PDF)

Chapter 8 is a gem: “Harry Potter and the Triumph of Self-Sacrificing Love” (pp. 125–46). It’s the best treatment I’ve read that (1) responds to Christians who think that the Harry Potter series is evil and (2) exults in its dominant (Christian) theme—self-sacrificing love. [Read more…]

8 Advantages of Heart-changing, Expository Preaching

savingGary Millar and Phil Campbell, Saving Eutychus: How to Preach God’s Word and Keep People Awake  (Kingsford NSW, Australia: Matthias Media, 2013), 40–41:

Expository preaching:

  1. does justice to the biblical material which makes it clear that God works through his word to change people’s lives—as it ‘uncages the lion’ and allows God’s word to speak. [Read more…]

3 Reasons I Don’t Enthusiastically Recommend the History Channel’s “The Bible: The Epic Miniseries”

epicAdapting a book to film is tricky. Sometimes books-to-film turn out surprisingly well (e.g., The Gospel of John—my favorite “Bible” film). Often they don’t (e.g., the recent Narnia films).

The History Channel aired The Bible: The Epic Miniseries throughout March 2013. About 100 million people watched all or part of the series. (I bought the series on DVD after reading two reviews.)

On the one hand, this series will doubtless serve as a means to a good end for some viewers:

  1. Some people think that the Bible is a boring old book filled with irrelevant or misguided rules. This series may spark an interest in the Bible that will compel them to actually read it. That’s good.
  2. Some people think that the Bible is a collection of unconnected or loosely connected short stories. This series may help people view the Bible as one big story with turning points: from creation to the fall to Noah to Abraham to the exodus to Israel and then climaxing with Jesus. That’s good.
  3. Some people are relatively unaware of what the world of the Bible was like culturally. This series may help people better understand what the political scenes were like or how people typically dressed or what various places may have looked like. That’s good.

On the other hand, the series could be far better. While watching it with my wife, we became increasingly disappointed with it. I was planning to watch it with my children but not anymore. I don’t enthusiastically recommend it for at least three reasons: [Read more…]