Mike Potemra has some nice things to say about Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith at National Review Online.
Mike Potemra has some nice things to say about Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith at National Review Online.
This was recently sent to us from a White Horse Inn listener in the Seattle area:
I was flipping through radio stations on my way to work today and stopped for a moment on a Christian radio station and heard an advertisement for a Christian university with a concluding slogan that made me say out loud to myself “Wow! I can’t beleive that!” The school’s promise was that if I enrolled as a student I would be prepared to become “God’s creative and redemptive agent in the world.” I couldn’t believe this incredible offer since it sounded like they were making me a promise to become a member of the Trinity. So I did some research and confirmed on the school’s website that becoming “God’s Creative Agents” and “God’s Redemptive Agents” is in fact part of their vision for all students. Now, I don’t actually beleive that the school meant to say that they will help mold their students into the Messiah, but I wanted to pass this on to you yet another example of the common confusion that we are called to be the gospel rather than being called preach the gospel.
- Micah Adamson avid White Horse Inn listener, enjoying hearing you talk about getting the gospel right and getting the gospel out in your focus on the great commission this year.
Michael Horton was recently interviewed by John Starke about his new book The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way. This highly anticipated work is being released this week from Zondervan, and is now available from various online retailers. The book is currently among the top ten bestselling books of Christian theology at Amazon.com, and is #1 in the sub-category of “systematic theology.” Justin Taylor recently reported that the book is heading back to the printers since Zondervan has already sold out of its stock from the first print run. Stan Guthrie and John Wilson recently discussed the book at some length on the Books and Culture podcast. They called it, “A textbook worth reading outside the classroom.” Here is an excerpt from John Starke’s recent interview:
As you look at theological developments today, what challenges should young scholars, pastors, and leaders be spending energy on for the next 20 years or so?
We Americans are activists, and that’s definitely true of evangelicals. That’s been part of the movement’s strength. But [it] can also become a weakness. Like Martha, we can be “troubled by many things,” rather than choosing “the better part” with Mary, sitting at our Lord’s feet as disciples. There is a lot of work to be done in recovering sound doctrine and exegesis, but Christianity is not just a list of truths; it is a church. It’s possible to have been raised in the church today without ever having really belonged to the church. One can go from the nursery to children’s church to youth group to college ministry without ever having been baptized, catechized, and making a public profession of faith for membership in a local body. To be a disciple is to become an apprentice of our Lord through the ministry that he established in the Great Commission. It’s not just about “getting saved,” but “growing up into Christ” in his body. So we need to do theology not only for the church but in the church, and we need to think through more concretely what that looks like in an age of “mission creep.”
Systematic theologies are always, by nature, in summary form. But was there an area in your text that you wished you could have developed further?
That’s part of the torture of writing one of these things. In my four-volume dogmatics series with Westminster John Knox I could wander into themes that interested me already. But that’s also why I learned a lot from having to focus also on many important topics that I had not treated. My Zondervan editors were terrific—and persistent—in keeping to my word limit, so I had to curb my enthusiasm and make sure I treated the whole breadth of Christian doctrine. If I had more space, though, I would have added a fuller exploration of the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments. Classic Reformed treatments (think of Calvin’s Institutes, for example) included these sections, but there’s been a tendency in modern systems to divide the labor between systematic theology and ethics. I think that can contribute to the pulling apart of the fabric of faith and practice, dividing the spoils between theologians and ethicists. Although I endeavor to integrate these throughout the book, having a distinct section on the Decalogue would have been useful, I think.
Resources for further Reading / Listening
Full text of John Starke’s interview with Michael Horton at the Gospel Coalition Blog
9Marks interview with Michael Horton
WSC Office Hours audio interview with Michael Horton
Books & Culture Podcast discussion of The Christian Faith
Starting with Matthew’s Gospel is like walking into the middle of a movie. We have to go back to the Old Testament in order to see the unfolding plot of which Jesus Christ is the main character. On this program the hosts will explore the themes of exile, exodus and conquest showing how they each culminate in the great announcement that Jesus Christ has been given “all authority in heaven and earth” to judge, to save, and to reign forever.
Dr. Brian Lee, pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Washington D.C., and occasional White Horse Inn guest blogger, has an opinion piece up at The Daily Caller (which some call a conservative alternative to The Huffington Post). The article is titled, “Christianity is neither conservative nor socialist,” and serves as an excellent introduction to the Two Kingdom approach to the relationship between Christianity and civil government. Here are the first few paragraphs of Dr. Lee’s article:
Both the Christian Right and the Christian Left get the question of Christianity and politics wrong. Christianity is not politically conservative or politically liberal — though Christians may be either. Christianity is not political at all. It is in a sense politically agnostic. But in another sense it calls into question the basis of every earthly power, including politics.
Those looking to dig into the Bible and find a political platform are going to be sorely disappointed. It’s not there. That is for the simple reason that it is not a book about politics, but about God, and how He is saving His people through Jesus Christ. This distinguishes Christianity from Old Testament Judaism and modern day Islam, both of which contain detailed political agendas. Well-meaning Christians that want to outline a detailed “Christian” agenda of their own, however, will simply not find one.
When opponents tried to trap Jesus between his fidelity to oppressed Israel or oppressor Rome, he asked whose picture was on the coin, and taught us to render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar (Matt 22:15-22). When on trial before Caesar, he admitted to being the King of the Jews, but in the same breath asserted “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:33-37).
Already the new Alabama Governor, Robert Bentley, is embroiled in controversy over comments he made in a church service following his inauguration. At the heart of the controversy are his comments about non-Christians not being his brothers and sisters.
On one hand, the reaction highlights the pervasiveness of religious pluralism. The gospel proclaims God’s forgiveness in Christ and that all who are united to Christ by faith—regardless of race, socio-economic background, and gender—are brothers and sisters. That Gov. Bentley’s comments could be excoriated as divisive points up the scandal of the gospel in our culture, with all claims to “no other name” considered incendiary.
On the other hand, the reaction highlights the danger of confusing state office with church office. What’s a governor doing in a pulpit and what’s a church doing hosting a service celebrating an inauguration? If non-Christians are a little tightly wound about Christ’s exclusive claims as endangering the public order, maybe it’s not entirely their fault.
It’s ridiculous to assert that Gov. Bentley’s comments violate the First Amendment; to disallow such comments would be a violation, in fact. However, strictly from a Christian point of view, such unauthorized use of Christ’s embassy for the affairs of civil society ought to be challenged. I doubt that faithful sermons, songs, and prayers in churches this Sunday will undergo similar scrutiny, even though they would be just as offensive to many of our neighbors. But a governor preaching on inauguration day in his secular office makes it even harder for us to convince our neighbors that the gospel triumphs through Word and Spirit rather than through the sword of state.
The Sarah Palin Battle Hymn
The kingdom of God can only be defined by attending closely to its unfolding in history. The reign of God takes different forms in this history, but its goal is nothing less than God’s dwelling in the midst of his people in righteousness, peace, and justice. But how does the Kingdom of God advance? What are its signs and how is it related to the redemption accomplished by Jesus Christ? That’s our subject for this edition of White Horse Inn as the hosts continue their discussion of The Great Commission.
How do seasons of revival come? One set of answers comes from Charles Finney, who turned revivals into a “science.” Finney insisted that any group could have a revival any time or place, as long as they applied the right methods in the right way. Finney’s distortions, I think, led to much of the weakness in modern evangelicalism today, as has been well argued by Michael Horton over the years. Especially under Finney’s influence, revivalism undermined the more traditional way of doing Christian formation. That traditional way of Christian growth was gradual—whole family catechetical instruction—and church-centric. Revivalism under Finney, however, shifted the emphasis to seasons of crisis. Preaching became less oriented to long-term teaching and more directed to stirring up the affections of the heart toward decision. Not surprisingly, these emphases demoted the importance of the church in general and of careful, sound doctrine and put all the weight on an individual’s personal, subjective experience. And this is one of the reasons (though not the only reason) that we have the highly individualistic, consumerist evangelicalism of today. Click here to read the full blog post.
Prof. John W. Montgomery, a guest on the White Horse Inn and a contributor to Modern Reformation, has an important announcement:
THIS JULY, ATTEND THE ONLY “INSTITUTE OF ADVANCED STUDIES” IN CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS
For two weeks–in the French Rhineland–you can study with premier apologists and cover the entire gamut of contemporary objections to historic Christian faith, together with the most effective answers.
Dates: 5-16 July. Location: Strasbourg, France. U.S. academic credit available.
Board of Reference includes Michael Horton and Rod Rosenbladt, who lecture regularly at the Academy. Lecturers this summer (they are all in the Reformation tradition; you’ll have heard of several of them on the White Horse Inn): John Warwick Montgomery, Craig Parton, Esq., Angus Menuge, Adam Francisco. Special guest: Dr Ross Clifford, leading Australian apologist and expert on the New Age.
Registration deadline: 1 February. Cost: $2,995–but a few $1,000 scholarships are still available.
Detailed information on the Academy website: www.apologeticsacademy.eu