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Zondervan e-Book Special

In conjunction with this week’s show, “A Place for Weakness,” our good friends at Zondervan are discounting the e-version of Michael Horton’s book, A Place for Weakness, to $3.99.

This is a great opportunity to go a little deeper into the problem of suffering through what is undoubtedly Mike’s most personal book.

The promotional pricing ends on June 3rd, so get your copy today! The discount is already available through these retailers:

Amazon’s Kindle

Barnes and Noble’s Nook

 

 

For more on the book and what personal and pastoral problems led Mike to write it, check out the following video.

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Is This Good News?

In his Wednesday Mass homily this week, Pope Francis attracted considerable media attention.  According to reports, the message drew on Mark 9:40, where Jesus says, “He who is not against us is for us.”  Like the disciples, we can be intolerant of the good that others can do—even atheists.  Because we’re all created in God’s image, there is still a possibility of doing good.  So far, nothing particularly controversial in terms of classical Christian teaching.  The most ardent evangelical would affirm that although our works are so corrupted by sin that they cannot justify us before God, they can help our neighbors.

However, the pontiff added, “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics.  Everyone!  ‘Father, the atheists?’  Even the atheists.  Everyone!…We must meet one another doing good.  ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’  But do good: we will meet one another there.”

Reports from major outlets, including the Huffington Post, express astonishment at the pope’s comments.  What is this strange new teaching? Of course, it’s not new at all.  It has been an emphasis ever since the Second Vatican Council, where the previously shunned speculations of Karl Rahner, S. J., became official teaching.  There is no way to reconcile the previous councils and papal pronouncements depriving non-Roman Catholics of salvation with the idea of the “anonymous Christian.”  Nevertheless, there it is.  Not the development of dogma, as Cardinal Newman formulated, but the flat contradiction of dogma.

Before Vatican II, the standard teaching was that ordinarily no one can be saved who does not submit to the magisterium and papal authority in particular.  Especially in trouble were those who had been reared Roman Catholic and yet explicitly rejected the pope’s headship.  Although they were consigned to everlasting punishment by papal decrees, the Protestant Reformers never applied the same rule to their Roman Catholic opponents.  Calvin even said that although Rome has excommunicated itself according to the criterion of Galatians 1:8-9, “There is a true church among her.”

What has changed?  We keep hearing from Protestants that, given the Vatican II reforms, if Luther and Calvin were alive today they’d renew their Roman Catholic membership cards. I doubt it. Not even the craziness of contemporary Protestantism could push them to make that move against a Scripture-bound conscience.

What has changed is that Rome has carried its incipient Semi-Pelagianism to its logical conclusion.  I know, Karl Rahner and Vatican II repeatedly condemn Pelagianism and extol grace as the fundamental basis for salvation.  Yet that has always been Rome’s teaching.  It is by grace alone that we are empowered to cooperate in meriting further grace and, one hopes, final justification.

The Reformers never accused the medieval church of embracing outright Pelagianism, but of that subtler form of works-righteousness that invokes grace as no more than assistance for our attainment of God’s favor.  Maybe Protestants don’t get that because this is essentially the same tendency at work in many mainline and evangelical churches.

There is a certain truth, then, to the idea of development, at least from the sixteenth-century Council of Trent and the twentieth-century Second Vatican Council.  Various seeds have come to full flower:

  • Collapsing special revelation into general revelation, and therefore the gospel into the law, Rome maintains that Scripture provides a higher revelation—greater illumination.  The gospel is simply “the new law”—easier than the old covenant—with Christ as a “new Moses.”
  • Collapsing our works into Christ’s, the familiar slogan of the medieval church was “God will not deny his grace to those who do what lies within them.”  It is this slogan that is official dogma, according to Vatican II and the current Catechism of the Catholic Church.
  • The Council of Trent anathematized the view that we are so thoroughly bound by sin that we cannot cooperate with God’s grace by our own free will.  The new dogma simply extends this logic to conclude that everyone is “in Christ,” infused with saving grace, and capable of attaining final justification by grace-empowered works.
  • The medieval dogma of implicit faith was a way of demanding absolute obedience to everything taught by the pope and magisterium, which Calvin described as “ignorance disguised as humility.”  Now, implicit faith is invoked to support the idea that even atheists evidence an openness to divinity by their good works.  They may not have explicit faith in Christ—or even in any transcendent Creator, but it lies buried in their sub-consciousness nevertheless.

What’s different is this: where the older view denied that faith was sufficient for justification, the new view denies that faith—at least the explicit faith in Christ everywhere assumed in Scripture—is even necessary.  In other words, good works not only now supplement faith in justifying sinners but replace faith entirely.

It’s no wonder that the media is welcoming this Wednesday homily with such glee.  Aside from some major social problems, the world, after all, is not as in need of being rescued as we thought.  We just need a little direction to get back on the road, some encouragement to be more tolerant and attentive to the plight of others.  Somehow Jesus Christ has made it possible for all of us to wind up in heaven (purgatory, etc., left to the fine print).

But is this a gospel—good news?  Perhaps it is to good people who could be a little better, but not to the ungodly who need to be justified before a holy God.  What’s so amazing is that the pope’s message is treated as kinder and freer, even though it replaces faith in Christ with our own acts of charity.  For anyone who knows what God counts as true love—and therefore good works, this can only provoke deeper guilt and fear.

Although the surprise expressed by the Huffington Post report cited above reveals unfamiliarity with official teaching, it does get one important thing right in its conclusion:  “Of course, not all Christians believe that those who don’t believe will be redeemed, and the Pope’s words may spark memories of the deep divisions from the Protestant reformation over the belief in redemption through grace versus redemption through works.”  Anyone who thinks that the Reformation is over doesn’t realize just how much further from the gospel Rome has moved in recent decades.

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Moore Prayers

One of Mike Horton's nephews in the wreckage of his home

One of Mike Horton’s nephews in the wreckage of his home

No matter how many times it’s been asked–and answers offered–the perennial question is provoked by fresh wounds: “How could a good and all-powerful God allow such a tragedy?”  The massive 2-mile-wide tornado that leveled much of Moore, Oklahoma, exposes the fragility of life—but also the apparent contradiction between a God who is good and all-powerful.

Receiving the news, my heart raced as I thought about my brother, sister-in-law, nieces, nephews, and cousins in Moore.  My parents were from there.  It was a place I’ve known well since childhood, visiting extended family.  So I scanned the local OKC TV stations for updates.  I knew by the description of the devastated area that the home of my brother and sister-in-law was in its path.

Finally, late at night I received an answer to my text-messages and talked to my brother by phone.  “It’s all in God’s hands,” he said.  It was from him that I first heard the doctrines of grace.  He and Linda are enthralled with the God of grace and glory who has revealed himself in his Son.  We don’t know why, but he does—and that’s enough.  It’s one thing coming from me, and another thing hearing it from my brother just after he and his wife had lost every material treasure they had.

His wife was away for the afternoon, beyond the range of the tornado.  Their children were just out of its path.  Waiting it out at home, my brother—a veteran of “Tornado Alley”—changed his mind when he heard it was a Category 4 or 5.  Climbing into his truck with debris already falling, he drove off for several miles until he saw the twister pass his neighborhood.  Returning only 5 minutes later, he found only a heap of rubble.  Yet there they are, extending a helping hand to neighbors.  Why?  Because life is meaningless and “sympathy” is just an expression of self-interest?

Without answers, we are faced with senseless tragedy.  Arbitrary, meaningless, random.  We search for answers—to make some sense of things—because our hearts and minds are not satisfied by this shrug.  It’s not an easy thing to affirm faith in a good God who could have restrained this ferocious storm but didn’t.  But it’s more offensive both to reason and to life itself to imagine that we live in a world where there is no ultimate meaning or purpose.  The only thing worse than losing a loved one in such a tragedy is believing that their death—and their life—had no transcendent purpose.

I noticed that evangelists of atheism—mainly from other parts of the country—quickly appeared in chat rooms.  “If a god who allowed this does exist, we would have to call him evil,” said one.  It’s struck me that this person lives in a world as simplistic as any radical fundamentalist claiming to read God’s mind.  For both, the answers are clear.  For both, God is not hidden and he does everything directly and immediately.  Both imagine a God who sends natural disasters like Zeus throwing thunderbolts from Olympus, either for sadistic pleasure or for specific judgments.

The nihilistic shrug is not an answer—even a partial one.  It’s not a comfort at all.  It has absolutely nothing to say in a situation like this.  “Stuff happens” is the only response consistent with a naturalistic worldview.  But the emptiness spreads.  It’s not just the bad things, but the good ones, that are reduced to meaningless trivia.  It also means that the love that has been overflowing in extravagant generosity shown not only to but even among victims of the tornado themselves is meaningless.

Out of darkness, light is already emerging.  And instead of turning on God, like many of the faraway critics, they are turning to God for comfort, even as God sends his people to tend to their temporal needs.

This is in no way to treat lightly the tremendous loss incurred.  The amazing spectacle of victims who have lost much extending a helping hand to neighbors who have lost more is a testament to the fact that there must be something more to life than making up meaning as we go along.  Yet it doesn’t assuage the grief over losing a loved one.

The choice is between placing our confidence in a God who is both good and sovereign despite the moral and natural evils—even when we don’t have all the answers, and giving up on any transcendent meaning for love as well as suffering.

And that choice isn’t arbitrary.  How can we be so sure?  Perhaps it might have been, except for the fact that the Triune God revealed in Scripture has fulfilled every one of his promises in history.  Most conclusively, he has sent his Son to rescue sinners by his life, death, and resurrection.  Who knew what God was doing at the cross?  Jesus’ disciples fled, the Romans jeered, and his own people judged him cursed by God.  By the look of things, Good Friday yielded only one of two choices: a God who doesn’t care or a “Savior” who was a fraud.  Because Christ has been raised in history, our lives are no longer “the show about nothing.”  We have come from somewhere grand and although we have fallen from it, we are being taken far beyond that glorious beginning, in the train of the Conqueror who has defeated death and hell.

If you want to help victims of the Moore tornado, please consider donating one of these organizations:

The American Red Cross

The Presbyterian Church in America Disaster Relief

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Disaster Relief Fund

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The Radical, Missional, but not-so-new Legalism

Being wired for Law makes us susceptible to Christians and other religious people trying, in the most creative and eloquent ways, to goad Christians into adopting a new law.  Writer Anthony Bradley has pinpointed one way our culture is coaxing Christians towards a new law or “new legalism.” “Being a “radical,” “missional,” Christian, “he says, “is slowly becoming the “new legalism.””

These calls to be “radical”—or whatever is the new “extraordinary”—snooker us because we are wired for the Law.  We were created for the Law.  Adam chose to disobey the first law given to us by God and we bear the consequences of that today.  Israel proclaimed that they would keep the law given by Moses. As they stood together as a nation (Exodus 19:8), they promised, “This we will do.”  Like Adam, though, they broke the covenant and, as a consequence, lost the right to stay in God’s Promised Land as his chosen people.  Ever since then we have gone looking for a new law in an attempt to erase our narcissistic shame.  We love new laws, particularly when they promise to make us look spectacular.

Sadly, because Adam disobeyed, we are no longer able to keep this type of law or what really matters:  God’s Law.  That is why Christ came.  He fulfilled God’s Law perfectly, took our sins upon himself, and died on the cross to satisfy justice and bear the condemnation we deserved because we broke (and willfully keep breaking) God’s Law. Jesus did for us what we could never do and then intentionally gave to us his own earned righteousness.  This is the glorious gospel, the true missional and radical action.  We did nothing; Christ did everything.    But instead of claiming this truth, we forever harangue ourselves into adopting some new law so we can prove that we are not quite as bad as Adam.

But now there is no new law to fulfill.  Clarion calls abound for us to band and stand together again and shout “This we will do.”  But Christ did it all.  Michael Horton calls Christianity a “sit down” religion, not because our faith is not active, but because we have to sit down and receive before we have something to give others.  We are active, but it is because we’ve been given something.   So every Sunday we sit down in church to hear God’s word preached by God’s servants and to learn about our glorious inheritance.  Every Sabbath we turn our hearts towards the north star of God’s living and beautiful words because we are so prone to forget our inheritance and wander into the wilderness.  In our anxiety, we prefer to launch a new movement to assuage this restlessness that only the Father, speaking to us about His Son through the power of the Holy Spirit, can cure.

Anthony Bradley is dead right.  We are sons and daughters of the living God; this is our inheritance.  Therefore we can become lovers of the one true God and lovers of our neighbors.  Mr. Bradley suggests that we need to recover a true sense of vocation, and certainly that is correct and proper.  But before we rush off to our vocations, we need to learn to sit in wonder at our radical, missional God who calls us to learn who we are in union with His Son.  Only then will God’s Word properly inform us so that we do not create another legalism that obscures our inheritance and only gives us, in the end, something else to do.

Mark Green is the President of White Horse Inn

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Should we open Congress with prayer?

bleeprayerBrian Lee, former White Horse Inn staff member and current pastor of Christ United Reformed Church in Washington D.C., recently penned a provocative piece for The Daily Caller on the topic of whether ministers of the gospel should offer a prayer before congress.  He wrestled with this issue for some time after he was recently invited to serve as a guest chaplain for the US. House of Representatives. The article also includes links to the text and video clip of the prayer he offered earlier this month.

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Adler in the Modern Age

White Horse Inn producer Shane Rosenthal and I were chatting about the May/June issue of Modern Reformation and thought you might appreciate some helpful hints on how to approach a blog post.  Save your attention-span talents for reality television, or Richard Dawkins’ lastest book, or finding a really good doughnut shop.

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Inventing My Religion

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Yesterday I offered the musings of a generalist in reaction to Hal Taussig’s A New New Testament (Houghton Mifflin, 2013). As promised, today Michael Kruger digs more deeply into the book as a noted specialist in the field. President and Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), he wrote his dissertation at Edinburgh under Larry Hurtado on early Christian writings. In addition to scholarly monographs in this field, he is co-author of The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity and his new book, Canon Revisited (highly recommended). He has an extended review of Taussig’s new release at his website, but for us here he focuses on the final section of A New New Testament.


The problems in this section are no less abundant than in other sections, so we will only be able touch on them briefly. We can divide our discussion into three sections: (1) historical problems, (2) methodological problems, and (3) theological /philosophical issues.

Historical Problems

There are many historical/factual statements throughout this section that are highly questionable. Let me just mention three.

1. On p.484, Taussig claims that we have fragments of the Gospel of Thomas “from the first hundred years after Jesus died.” In other words, prior to c.130. Curiously, he never mentions which fragment he has in mind. The only options are P.Oxy. 1, 654, and 655, but these are all third century. To suggest there is a Thomas fragment from the early second century is shockingly inaccurate.

2. On p.501, Taussig claims that Clement of Alexandria rejected the gospels of Mark and Luke and “accepted only Matthew and John.” But, this simply isn’t true. Clement affirmed four and only four gospels as authentic. At one point he dismisses a passage in the Gospel of the Egyptians on the grounds that “We do not have this saying in the four gospels that have been handed down to us” (Strom. 3.13). Eusebius agrees and says that Clement affirmed all four gospels (Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 6.14.5-7).

3. On p.506, Taussig argues that there was no New Testament in “the first five hundred years of ‘Christianity’” because “the technology of book production was such that combining all twenty-seven texts into one was more or less impossible.” I find this statement to be incredible. The technology for large codices was in place long before the year 530 (five hundred years after Christ). Not only do we have full NT and OT codices in the 300′s (e.g., codex Sinaiticus and Vaticanus), but we have multi-quire codices all the way back in the second century (e.g., P66), suggesting that the technology for larger books was in place quite early.

Methodological Problems

When it comes to choosing the books for this “new” canon, it is clear that Taussig is using a particular methodology. Let me just mention one aspect of this issue.

When describing how these new books were chosen, Taussig says they were “selected in a manner similar to the way historical Christianity made many of its crucial choices: by a collective decision-making process” (512). But, this modern “council” does not function at all like the ancient ones. Taussig gives the impression that ancient councils actually chose books and decided the canon. But that is a misleading way of describing the process. The ancient councils did not just “pick” books they happened to like, but affirmed the books they believed had functioned as foundational documents for the Christian faith. In other words, these councils were declaring the way things had been, not the way they wanted them to be.

In contrast, this modern New Orleans council, is simply picking the books they prefer, not the books that have historically functioned as foundational to the Christian faith. For example, this new council included a bizarre and esoteric poem entitled The Thunder: The Perfect Mind. Was this a foundational document for early Christianity? Not at all. For one, it is not necessarily even a Christian document, never mentioning the name of Christ or any distinctively Christian doctrine. Moreover, as Taussig himself admits, “There is no mention of Thunder in any other known piece of ancient literature”(179). Is this a foundational document? Hardly.

Theological Issues

Finally, it should be noted that Taussig, in this final section, reveals a little of the theological motivation for this book. There is nothing wrong with having a theological motivation, but it is still worth pointing out.

Taussig offers a reason for adding these documents, namely that they “can make a real difference in the spiritual lives of ordinary people” (489). What kind of difference? “[The Gospel of Mary] inspired women to think of themselves as real leaders in conventionally male-dominated situations. The Gospel of Thomas proclaims the radical availability of God inside people, and The Thunder: Perfect Mind reframes what it means to be men and women” (489).

It is here that we come to the heart of this book’s theological aims. In fact, Taussig even admits, “These kinds of significant meanings in the lives of real people are at heart of what the New Orleans Council…wanted for the public” (489).

Thus, this book is not about history but theology. Not about the past, but the present. It is a book designed to change our conceptions of gender and to make it more egalitarian. And it is a book designed to give us a Gnostic version of God, a God found inside of us.

In sum, Taussig has produced a new set of Scriptures to accommodate his new theology. And thus he has reversed the normal order of things. While theology usually comes from Scripture, Taussig has used his theology to create a new Scripture. It’s man-made religion at its best.

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A New New Testament?

codex_sinaiticus

A Buddhist monk, a rabbi, a nun, and a Protestant professor walk into a bar…

If it weren’t so sad, it might be a good set-up for a joke. But a recent Huffington Post article heralds a New New Testament that now includes heretofore lost pieces of Scripture. As the book’s subtitle has it: “A Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts.”

The author, Hal Taussig, is a United Methodist pastor and visiting professor at Union Seminary in New York. He has written several scholarly works along similar lines as well as more popular books such as A New Spiritual Home: Progressive Christianity at the Grass Roots; Reimagining Life Together in America: A New Gospel of Community (with Catherine Nerney, SSJ); Reimagining Christian Origins (with Elizabeth Castelli); Wisdom’s Feast: Sophia in Study and Celebration (with Susan Cole and Marian Ronan). This book is the fruit of a meeting convened by Mr. Taussig at Union with a modest group of like-minded scholars and spiritual leaders of different communities. The event culminated in votes for the inclusion of what came to be ten new additions to the New Testament.

Remains of the Jesus Seminar?

My immediate reaction is that it displays the dearth of imagination. Various liberals, it’s the usual cast of characters from the ruins of the “Jesus Seminar.” Given their bios, Buddhist spirituality seems to be the tie that binds. Which makes sense of why they prefer Gnostic gospels to the real ones. And why the Christian church didn’t take long to recognize that they weren’t an authentic part of the New Testament. And remember the reports of the Jesus Seminar participants casting votes for the verses they thought belonged to the proper New Testament? Same methodology with this one.

There was a time when liberals were on the cutting edge of scholarship. Though often weaving entire systems out of thin air, they at least had creativity in their favor. Frankly, it’s astonishing that scholars of any standing in the guild would offer these texts to the public as if they had been freshly discovered in a Vatican vault. Surely they’re familiar with Irenaeus of Lyons, Tertullian and other ancient Christian writers who refuted these Gnostic writings. It’s also astonishing that those who are so dogmatically committed to late dates for the canonical texts (despite the scholarly trend in recent years) offer dates for the pseudo-gospels that most specialists would consider not implausibly but impossibly early. Evidently, the projected audience for this book is the reader waiting eagerly for a sequel to The DaVinci Code. If evangelical scholars tried this sort of methodology they’d be drummed out of the Society of Biblical Literature.

The key thing in all of this is to see that those who do not like the Bible we actually have are driven by theological motives to spin old heresy as “the other Christianity.” After all, liberalism is the “other Christianity,” which Christianity has consistently rejected as not Christianity. Conspiracy theories abound. A male-dominated clergy (never mind the deeply misogynist remarks in various Gnostic gospels) obsessed with a “blood cult” (Christ’s vicarious death for sinners) marginalized the voices of the ecclesiastically underprivileged (heretics).

There’s a long history here. Various Gnostic revivals erupted in the Middle Ages, claiming to be the true Invisible Church (over against the false visible one). Then radical Pietists like Gottfried Arnold re-wrote church history with the orthodox as villains and the Gnostics as the true Invisible Church. This approach was picked up by the Tübingen School of higher criticism and became part of the mother’s milk for generations of liberal ministers. Those who don’t like Christianity need their own Bible. That’s fine. There are lots of religions that have their own normative texts. However, they don’t pretend to slip in missing gospels to a canon that they don’t really like in the first place.

Which Canon, Which Community?

Only in America do scholars imagine that they can invent a new kind of Christianity by casting votes. Talk about a conspiracy of elites ignoring the voices of millions of believers from every continent and language! Contrast this with the reception of the biblical canon—early and geographically widespread—by the whole church.

It’s a simple point, but I think it goes to the heart of this whole genre of “Re-Imagining Christianity” as if early Christianity were an extended Oprah show. The point is this: certain canons give rise to certain communities. Representing the wider church (long before the rise of the Roman papacy), church councils met not to select texts for inclusion in the canon but to discern which texts were already canonical. As church historians like Eusebius recount, the church’s act was discernment and submission, not creativity and decision. There’s a reason you’ve heard of the 27 New Testament books we have.

The Christian Church, despite all of its divisions, received these as their normative scriptures from the beginning. They were in use as sacred Scripture in churches stretching from the shores of the Atlantic to the far reaches of Asia. Clement of Rome quotes from 10 of the 27 books in 95 AD; Polycarp, 16 of them in 120 AD, and so on. They are appealed to as the final court of appeal. The Church only felt obliged to settle the issue when Gnostics tried to add their own scriptures, radically different in worldview, doctrine, practice, and historical connection to the apostolic communities. The first orthodox canon that we know about is the Muratorian Fragment, which may date as early as 170 AD.

Various Gnostic sects arose as parasitical on Christianity—drawing from biblical imagery and terms, but entirely subverting the biblical message. By any standard of critical scholarship—the language used, historical references, etc.—these are much later than the earlier texts that became normative the new covenant community soon after they were written. The claim of A New New Testament that the ancient church was playfully enjoying a symphony of texts beyond these is nothing more than the projection of contemporary heirs of the ancient heretics.

By the way, it’s worth mentioning that this argument only works if, with the ancient church, we believe that the Word is the mother and the church is the offspring. The Word spoken by the apostles created the church; then whatever the Holy Spirit wished to have committed to writing as the new covenant constitution became the basis for preaching, teaching, worship and discipline. If the church created rather than recognized the canonical Word as the voice of its Great Shepherd, then two problems arise. First, we must discount the way in which the earliest Christian writers appealed to Scripture, imposing the anachronism of a later (medieval) development. Second, we have little to say when writers like Hal Taussig, Elaine Pagels, Karen King, John Dominic Crossan, Bart Ehrman, and others claim that the only reason we have these 27 books is the arbitrary will of a circle of leaders claiming the mantle of the apostles.

In the next post, my friend Michael Kruger, who has read the book in advance of its release, will offer a specialist’s interpretation. His doctoral dissertation at the University of Edinburgh (under Larry Hurtado) was on non-canonical literature of the early Christian period. Since then, he has written helpful studies bearing on this topic. With Andreas Kostenberger, he is the author of The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture’s Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity. His own recent book, Canon Revisited, is the new gold standard on the subject. Michael Kruger teaches New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), where he is also President.

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Can Christianity Survive Gay Marriage?

Our friend, Gene E. Veith, links to Rod Dreher’s recent article in American Conservative on the death match between Christianity and the changing sexual mores of America.

This raises a critically important question: is sex the linchpin of Christian cultural order? Is it really the case that to cast off Christian teaching on sex and sexuality is to remove the factor that gives—or gave—Christianity its power as a social force?

Dreher’s entire article is worth a read. But Veith’s conclusions are stellar:

If Christianity becomes radically marginalized, having no cultural power at all, perhaps Christianity will have to return to its essence:  Christ, the Gospel, the forgiveness of sins.   Because no matter how much people wish to erase anything that restricts them and makes them feel guilty, if Christianity is true (and it is), the moral reality remains.  It’s like thinking we can destroy nature; nature always destroys us.  Sin kills.  People in a society that give itself over to sin will feel those sins.  The Gospel will become good news again.  Christ will save them.  And, ironically, once the Gospel predominates again in the Church, cultural influence–including the Christian view of sexual morality–may well come back as a byproduct.

Read the whole thing.

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Riddlebarger’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians

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Kim Riddlebarger is cohost of the White Horse Inn, senior pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Anaheim, and an adjunct professor at Westminster Seminary California.  Kim recently contributed to the Lectio Continua Expository Commentary on the New Testament series with a commentary on First Corinthians.

The White Horse Inn store is currently taking pre-orders for this volume. We realize that some outlets might be shipping these books already, but we’ve asked Kim to take the time to add a little something extra for our friends. Each book you purchase through our store is signed by Dr. Riddlebarger himself!

To place your pre-order Click here

Here’s Mike Horton’s endorsement from the book’s jacket:

Having shared and sat under the ministry of Kim Riddlebarger for many years, I am delighted to see the fruit of his faithful labors reach a wider audience. Combining attention to exegetical detail with decades of pastoral experience, this commentary will reward generously with its unique insights into this wonderful epistle.

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