White Horse Inn Blog

Know what you believe and why you believe it

Making the Switch

We need your help, dear readers, for a future issue of Modern Reformation magazine.

Have you made the switch from a broadly evangelical megachurch to a church in one of the Reformation traditions that does ministry…shall we say, slightly differently?

We’re particularly interested in hearing from people who were on staff at church A and now are working in some form or fashion at church B. We want to ask some questions about the differences, the similarities, and the challenges with making the switch.

Even if you weren’t on staff at the megachurch, but have recently made the switch yourself from megachurch to a Reformational church, we’d like to hear about your experience, too. What led to the switch, how have you adjusted, what do you miss, what have you gained?

Feel free to leave a comment or send us an email at editor@modernreformation.org.

Thanks!

WHI-1221 | A Christian Among Muslims

There are over a billion Muslims in the world, and, according to many, that number is likely to double over the next twenty years. How are we to reach this group with the gospel of Jesus Christ? What do we need to know in order to be effective in our witness toward Muslims? On this edition of White Horse Inn, Michael Horton discusses these questions with Fikret Böchek, who recounts his fascinating conversion from Islam and his current ministry among Muslims in Smyrna, Turkey.

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WHI-1220 | Reformation Brazil, Part 2

Many project that by 2020, the majority of Brazil’s Christian Population will be Evangelical Protestant, ninety percent of whom come from charismatic or Pentecostal churches. But according to our guest on this program, there is a new interest in Reformation theology among Brazil’s Pentecostals. Michael Horton discusses this trend with Walter McAlister, who is the Bishop of what he refers to as a network of over two hundred “Reformed Pentecostal” churches. In the second half of the program, Michael Horton will be speaking with Herber Campos Jr. about the state of Brazilian Christianity.

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The Gospel Commission
Michael Horton
The Gospel-Driven Life
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The Death of Courageous Faith, by Walter McAlister

mcalister

The West is dying. The poet Archibald Leach once said, “An era dies when its symbols, although seen, no longer mean.” Do we believe what our fathers in the faith believed? Many will say yes. And of course, in one sense, they are right. The creeds, confessions, theologies, hymns, and liturgies, are repeated and taught. But faith is more than mental ascent. True faith requires courage. “Courage” comes from the root word which means “heart.” In other words, the life of faith must have its roots both in our hearts and minds together.

Many contend for a return to a stronger confession. According to them it is a reaffirmation of key doctrines that are lacking in our day. This is, no doubt true. We have become historically myopic, theologically obtuse, and biblically illiterate. But we have become blindsided by a foe, who in plain sight inspires no opposition or even consternation. Our society has become profoundly, tragically, and even fatally superficial. We have become a mass of consumers that skim malls, surf channels, and scan Twitter feeds. We have “news” blasted in any political or ideological flavor we prefer, 24/7. And it is in this chaotic and media saturated world of personal unrelenting choice, that our hearts and minds have been filled with pablam. We have become the consumers of the banal.

But the problem is not merely out there in the world. Christians themselves have essentially become consumers of religious products and services. We have privatized the Christian life. We walk it alone, choosing what to see, who to hear and what to believe. We hire pastors who become service providers in this increasingly media oriented faith milieu. Even in the modest venues of small local churches, there is little fidelity to a pastoral authority (a concept all but obliterated in a consumer culture, in which we no longer adhere to a covenant of fellowship). Our lives have almost nothing to do with what is said on Sunday. And even when we enter a church we hear superficial sermons in the increasingly prevalent culture of self-help, self-realization, and therapeutic deism (for more on this, see Michael Horton’s book, Christless Christianity). We worship the flag, which we place on our own platforms beside the cross and sing its hymn on the fourth of July, as “good Christians are meant to do” (something any Christian in the world, outside of the USA, finds incomprehensible). We mortgage our future and risk our fiduciary sanity in order to build a house a bit larger that has more walk-in space, and a deck. In short. We are lost.

We have no heart when it comes to faith. It does not inform our priorities, our work, our leisure, our consumption, or even our sexuality. In fact, it has almost nothing at all to do with they way we live. So we simply do church on Sunday, where we sit in a semi-comatose trance in order to hear another self-help message. On Monday, we will go about being as non-Christian as those who think that Evangelicals are just a bunch of bigots who don’t love homosexuals. It is no wonder that the kids are leaving the church in droves. Any statistician will tell you that the church is rushing towards bankruptcy. But our true loss is one of the heart. There is no doubt that there are great things happening in the Church. There are true believers and great pastors out there. However, there is even greater danger on the horizon.

It is never internal flaccidity that destroys the church. Its growing weakness only makes the Church ripe for conquest. More and more, we will have to take heart to be Christians in the face of real opposition that is getting more and more militant. What we need therefore is courage. It is time to weep and pray. It is time to realize that in our perceived wealth, our true poverty has been obfuscated. We are dying. By taking the Christian life and reducing it to a decision or profession of faith, we have lost the precious message of the pilgrimage. We no longer make disciples, instead we’ve become entertainers. Perhaps we need to become less multimedia and more personal. We must become less oriented to the celebrity and more relational in the community of the strong and weak alike. We must return to prayer, and to the renewing of our minds.

Can this happen? Yes it can. Will it happen? Short of a miracle, no. As has happened in the past, the religious status-quo will likely continue to sink into decay. The light will become increasingly dim. But Christ is faithful. I believe that he will revive, reform and revitalize his Church in his own good time. And we will once again find men of courage. In the words of Charles Spurgeon, “We have reached a crossroads. If we turn to the right, our sons and the sons of our sons will follow. But, if we turn to the left, unborn generations will curse our names for having been unfaithful to God and to his Word.”

May God have mercy on us all.

 


Walter McAlister appears on the Aug 24th edition of the White Horse Inn (Reformation Brazil, Part 2).  He  has been a minister for 33 years and is the leader of a small fellowship of Reformed Pentecostal churches in Brazil, called The New Life Christian Church Covenant. Founding president of the seminary Instituto Bispo Roberto McAlister de Estudos Cristãos, and of the Anno Domini Publishing company, he is author of the 2011 Brazilian Christian Publisher’s book-of-the-year, The End of an Era (O Fim de Uma Era). Married to Marta, he resides in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

WHI-1219 | Reformation Brazil, Part 1

With over 40,000 students, Mackenzie University in São Paulo is often referred to as “the Harvard of Brazil.” An institution of the Presbyterian Church of Brazil, Mackenzie had, like countless other schools, succumbed to theological liberalism. But in recent years something amazing has happened. The school has officially abandoned its liberalism and reaffirmed its belief in the inerrant Scriptures and the Westminster Confession. On this program, Michael Horton speaks with the leaders of this movement and of the opportunities for Reformation in the country of Brazil.

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WHI-1218 | Chaos & Grace

What is the state of contemporary Christianity, and what are some of the trends that are shaping the way we think about God, heaven, hell, and the Christian life? Why are evangelical Christians prone to think about the gospel in subjective and experiential terms? On this edition of White Horse Inn, Michael Horton will be discussing these questions with Mark Galli, Senior Managing Editor of Christianity Today magazine and author of Chaos & Grace: Discovering the Liberating Work of the Holy Spirit.

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God Wins
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WHI-1217 | God in the Whirlwind

Why are so many Christians focused on practical Christian living rather than on understanding who God is and what he has done for us? Why are we more interested in our own subjective experience than we are with objective truth? Joining the discussion is David Wells, author of numerous books including No Place for Truth, The Courage to Be Protestant, and most recently God in the Whirlwind.

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No Place for Truth
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WHI-1216 | Extravagant Grace

We’ll be concluding our series with a focus on sin as a condition that often results in various forms of addiction, depression, and despair. How should we counsel those who are young in the faith, who have a newfound desire to walk with God, but who often find that they don’t have the ability to live the life they desire to live? Joining me in this discussion is Barbara Duguid, author of Extravagant Grace: God’s Glory Displayed in Our Weakness.

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Sin & Sins
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Extravagant Grace
Barbara Duguid
Counsel from the Cross
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WHI-1215 | Rid of My Disgrace

How should Christians respond to the growing number of sexual abuse cases? How does this issue affect the mental and spiritual lives of both victims and perpetrators of this form of assault? More importantly, how should we apply the gospel of grace in these situations? Mike Horton will be discussing these questions with Justin and Lindsey Holcomb, authors of Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault (originally aired Dec. 30, 2012)

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Google Identifies a Surprising Trait of Leadership

This just in: After an evidence-based study, Google has identified a surprising trait of the ideal leader. Business Insider summarizes the findings:

The prototypical leader is a hero: gives the rousing speech, inspires the troops, and shows up at the last minute to save the day. At least that’s how leaders are portrayed. But that’s not at all what Google discovered as their most important qualities. At Google, they’re obsessive about looking at data to determine what makes employees successful, and what they found in the numbers was surprising. The most important character trait of a leader is one that you’re more likely to associate with a dull person than a dynamic leader: predictability. The more predictable you are, day after day, the better.

Score another point for “ordinary.” At White Horse Inn, we’ve been focusing on the importance of ordinary, sustainable, faithful discipleship and disciple-making in the body of Christ. In fact, we dedicated a recent White Horse Inn radio series to the topic. In October, Zondervan will release my book, Ordinary: Sustainable Discipleship in a Radical and Restless World.

Church leaders may be as surprised as anyone by Google’s findings. The evangelical world is the product of successive waves of the extraordinary-latest-and-greatest movements. Just compare the ideal characteristics of successful pastors today with those in the pastoral epistles (especially 1 Tim 3:1-13; 4:6-5:25; 2 Tim 2:14-4:5; Titus 1:5-2:15). The apostle’s list is closer to the “predictability” that Google discovered in high-quality leadership.

And what’s true for pastors is true for the rest of Christ’s body. We’re burned out on calls to radically “reboot” our lives and churches—to keep up with the latest spiritual fad or be left behind.

A faithful pastor preaches the Word, administers the sacraments, and looks after the flock with the elders. Faithful believers are also content with this ordinary ministry. It may not be as exciting as joining the latest bandwagon, but Jesus pledges his presence in saving grace to this ordinary church and its ordinary disciples.

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