White Horse Inn Blog

Know what you believe and why you believe it

WHI-1058 | Conversations with Tullian Tchividjian & Thabiti Anyabwile

On this edition, Michael Horton talks with Tullian Tchividjian, pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The conversation centers on Tullian’s forthcoming book, Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Later, Michael Horton talks with Thabiti Anyabwile, author of The Gospel for Muslims and The Decline of African American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity. Thabiti is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Cayman Islands.


The Great Announcement
Michael Horton
Christ Died for the Sins of Christians Too
Rod Rosenbladt
Jesus, Muslims & The Gospel
Adam Francisco


Zack Hicks


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Being under the Word with Carson, Keller, and Piper

The fine folks over at The Gospel Coalition have released another video discussing various aspects of ministry and the church. In this video D.A. Carson, John Piper, and Tim Keller discuss the Christian’s relationship to God’s Word, especially pastors.

Biblical Authority in an Age of Uncertainty from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Christianity and Politics, Progressive Style

Guest-Post by Brian Lee, pastor of Christ Reformed Church in Washington, DC (which worships in Teddy Roosevelts church).

It is amazing how quickly we forget that the confusion of Christianity with politics has happened on both sides of the political spectrum.

Theodore Roosevelt broke from the Republican Party in 1912 to form a third, Progressive Party for his presidential run — the so-called “Bull Moose Party,” so named because Roosevelt said he felt like a “bull moose” after bolting the Republicans. Sporting red bandanas (symbolizing the rise of the proletariat) and viewed as radicals by establishment Democrats and Republicans, the Progressives gathered for their nominating convention in Chicago in August 1912.

The convention was a historic event in American politics, marking the first time a candidate appeared at his own nominating convention. But perhaps most remarkable was its religious fervor, well detailed in Edmund Morris’s Colonel Roosevelt. The New York Times reporter wrote, “It was not a convention at all; it was an assemblage of religious enthusiasts.”

As Roosevelt mounted the stage preparing to speak, he led the assembly in the singing of “Onward, Christian Soldiers” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Roosevelt’s address was entitled, “A Confession of Faith,” and it closed with a motto he had already invoked at the Republican convention weeks earlier, “We stand at Armaggedon, and we battle for the Lord.” As Morris notes, “If Progressivism was, as more and more critics were suggesting, a religion, it needed its mantras.” A tumult ensued — “enthusiasm turned to ecstasy” — and ten thousand voices sang Roosevelt’s name to the tune of “Maryland, my Maryland.”

The convention closed with the singing of the Doxology.

Basic Apologetics: How can Jesus be the only way?

William Cwirla (LCMS): At issue is the “scandal of particularity,” that Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life, and that “no one comes to the Father except by him” (John 14:6). Statements like these would be hubris at best, insanity at worst, except for the fact that Jesus died on a cross and bodily rose from the dead.

This is why the Apostle Paul makes the bodily resurrection of Jesus as an historic fact the lynchpin of his apologetic. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). If Jesus did not rise bodily from the dead, we could not be sure of any of his claims or the claims of his apostles. They could easily be the work of madmen or ambitious religious zealots. The bodily resurrection of Jesus, an historic fact established by the testimony of eyewitnesses who saw him, touched him, heard him, ate with him, validates Jesus’ claim to be the way, the truth, and the life.

The Buddha didn’t rise from the dead; Mohammed didn’t rise from the dead. No one else but Jesus died and rose. This means we have to take all of his claims seriously, or we will be living in denial of a plain fact of history.

What often lies behind this question is failure to apprehend the paradox that salvation in Christ is both inclusive and exclusive at the same time, and so people charge God with being “unfair.” Jesus is the inclusive Savior of the world, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, who drew all into his death when he was lifted up on the cross. “He is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). At the same time, Jesus is exclusively the Savior of the world; the world has no other Savior because the world has no other death that atones for sin.

Michael Brown (URC): The Bible is very clear about the exclusivity of Christianity. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The apostles subsequently preached this same message: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). But this is precisely what many people in our culture find so scandalous and offensive about Christianity. An objector will often ask, “But isn’t God pleased with the person who lives a good, moral life and sincerely tries to do what is right even if he doesn’t come to God through Jesus Christ? What happens to that person when he dies?”

The answer, according to Scripture, is very simple: the person who truly lives a good and moral life does not need to come to God through Christ at all. A good person is in no danger of God’s judgment and needs no Savior. He has nothing to worry about; when he dies he will go directly to heaven on his own merit.

But the question is not what happens to good people when they die; rather, the question is: What happens to guilty people when they die? The problem is that the standard of goodness and morality is not our own, but God’s, and he demands perfection! Says Paul in Romans 2:13: “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law.” This is something that only Christ has achieved. No one except Jesus has lived a good and moral life that is acceptable to God. This is Paul’s whole argument in Romans 1:18-3:20, namely, that everyone has sinned against God and the whole world is under his wrath. Thus, there are no good people. Our own righteous deeds are not good enough for a holy God who must, by his very nature, demand a righteousness as good as his own. This is what makes Christ the only way to salvation: he is the only true doer of the law. He is the only one who has kept the law perfectly, satisfying all its demands for those who believe (see Rom. 8:1-4).

Still, one might object: But if Jesus is the only way, what about the natives in the deep jungles of South America who have never heard of Jesus? How can God judge people for rejecting Jesus if they have never heard of Jesus?

Again, the biblical answer is rather simple. God will not and cannot punish someone for rejecting Christ who has never heard of Christ. That would be unjust and there is no injustice in God. A person is not condemned for rejecting Jesus of whom they have never heard. Rather, they are condemned for rejecting the Father who has made himself clear to the whole world (see Rom. 1:19-20).

WHI-1057 | The Great Commission & The Great Commandment

Sometimes we confuse the Great Commission (making disciples through the gospel) with the Great Commandment (serving our neighbors through loving works), as if the official mission of the church is the same as the individual Christian’s many obligations in the world. If Christians are called to citizenship, social justice, and good works in the world, does this mean that the calling of the church as an institution is to transform the kingdoms of this age? This special edition of the White Horse Inn was recorded live at The Gospel Coalition in Chicago, and features special guest Julius Kim, associate professor of practical theology at Westminster Seminary California.


The Church’s Mission
D.G. Hart
Trees or Tumbleweeds
Michael Horton
Augustine & Jerome
Michael Horton
WHI Discussion Group Questions
PDF Document


Zack Hicks


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The Gospel Commission
Michael Horton
Living in God’s Two Kingdoms
David VanDrunen
The Gospel-Driven Life
Michael Horton


Guilt, Grace & Gratitude
The Emergent Church Movement
The Preached Word

Cate-what? Horton on Recovering Catechesis

Mike Horton was recently a guest on Issues, Etc. to discuss his recent Modern Reformation article “Trees or Tumbleweeds” which stresses the need for churches to recover the neglected practice of catechesis.

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Basic Apologetics: “I think all paths lead to God”

William Cwirla (LCMS): When people say things like that, I always like to ask, “On what basis do you think that? What evidence can you put forward that this statement is true?”

It is true that all religious paths, save one, lead to the same place, but that place isn’t God. All religions, save one, hold that you must work your way to God, whether by your creeds, your conduct, or your worship. This is essentially the religion of the Law, something that all religions, save one, have in common.

The statement presupposes that we are on a search for God, much like a hiking trip through the mountains, and whether we take the high road or the low, we will all ultimately wind up in the same place. Buddhism essentially works this way, and even a surprising number of Christians have been caught up into believing this notion that all paths lead to God as long as you sincerely follow your chosen path.

The path is not ours to define but God’s. Jesus pointed out that the way to destruction is broad, and no one has trouble finding that road, while the way to life is exceedingly narrow, and those who find it are few (Matt. 7:13-14). Christianity is the only religion that is really a non-religion, in the sense that we don’t work to God but God comes all the way to us. “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-6). God in Christ does it all.

The narrow door Jesus was speaking of is the narrow door of his own death. We would not seek this door on our own, much less find it. Who in their right minds would construct a religion out of an all-sufficient, all-atoning sacrificial death of the Son of God in which the sinner is justified before God? To the wisdom of the world, this is utter nonsense, not to mention bad for morality in general. That’s why from start to finish, God must do the work of salvation for us. We would not have it this way on our own.

As with everything else in Christianity, it all hangs on the death and resurrection of Jesus. While it is theoretically possible that there are other ways for a sinner to stand justified before God, God has not revealed any. Instead, he sent his only begotten Son who claimed to be the only way to the Father (John 14:6). On its own, that might be an outrageous example of hubris on the part of Jesus. But then, he’s the only One who died and rose bodily from the dead. We’re going to have to take his word on that one.

Jason Stellman (PCA): Well, in a certain sense it is true that all paths lead to God. The Bible teaches that all people, great and small, rich and poor, will stand before their Maker. The problem isn’t getting to God, it’s being accepted by him.

Many today feel that God will happily receive all who stand before him with a smile and a warm hug (R. C. Sproul jokingly calls this view “Justification by Death”). But if we take a few moments to consider who this God is, it becomes necessary to reevaluate our position and question our confidence.

Let’s use the realm of civic justice as an illustration. Suppose there were a judge in a certain town who was known for being an accepting, gregarious fellow in private, and his magnanimous personality spilled over into his work. So when thieves, murderers, and kidnappers stand before him, he just can’t help but love them and let them off with a small slap on the wrist. If this were to happen over and over, the town would rise up and demand justice, wouldn’t they? And rightly so. We all have an inherent sense of right and wrong (which really flares up when we’re the ones wronged!) which tells us that criminals should be punished.

But whatever sense of justice and fairness we share as humans beings is there because we have been made in God’s image. If we think evil should be punished, how much more true is this when we consider God and his standards, his holiness, and his judgment? God is infinitely more pure, just, and offended at sin than we, and therefore his very nature demands that sinners be punished for their actions.

The good news, of course, is that God is also infinitely more gracious and merciful than we, and for this reason he has sent his Son into the world to walk in our shoes, live the life we have failed to live, and die the death that our sins demand. So though it is true that “all paths lead to God,” it is also true that only one of those paths leads to forgiveness and blessing. All others lead to eternal destruction.

From Modern Reformation (March/April 2006): Does God Believe in Atheists?

Chandler, Horton, and Keller on How to Disagree

Our friends at the Gospel Coalition are releasing videos they shot at their recent conference. Mike Horton was a guest for a few of these discussions. In this video, Mike talks with Matt Chandler (pastor of the Village Church) and Tim Keller (pastor of Redeemer PCA) about godly disagreement. Whether you are a scholar whose work has been savaged by an unscrupulous critic or just a normal Joe who is at loggerheads with a brother or sister in Christ, you’ll benefit from the wisdom here.

Chandler, Horton, Keller on How to Disagree from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

How Jesus fulfills the Ten Commandments

From Pastor Wade Butler’s The Procession of God, a resource from our friends at New Reformation Press.

The Jews call the 10 Commandments the 10 Words. The 10 Words reflect the future tense. You shall not. You SHALL not. If we put the right emphasis on the words, we see the 10 Words which God wrote on stone to Moses were also predictions of how Jesus would act.

That is why Jesus said He came to fulfill the Law. One fulfills a prediction, one keeps a Law. And although Jesus kept the Laws, He also fulfilled them. When God wrote the 10 Words, the people were at the base of Mount Sinai worshiping a golden calf. Despite that, God wrote a description of Jesus, the child of Abraham. He said of Jesus:

  • You shall have no other Gods – and Jesus didn’t. He insisted that He and the Father were one.
  • And you shall not make any graven images – Jesus didn’t need to. He was the image of the invisible Creator.
  • You shall remember the Sabbath Day – Jesus was dead over the Sabbath and didn’t move a muscle. His heart didn’t beat. He did no work. He didn’t decay for the Father would not allow Him to see corruption.
  • You shall honor your Father and Mother – He honored them both by dying for the Father and taking care of His mother, even while on the cross.
  • You shall not murder – Instead, He gave His life a ransom for many to stop the murderer Satan.
  • You shall not commit adultery – Instead He created a Bride from the blood and water from His side.
  • You shall not steal – He had no place to lay His head and constantly gave all He had to those lost and wandering.
  • You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor – No, He told the truth, but His neighbors all managed to bear false witness against Him.
  • You shall not covet your neighbor’s house – He owned the whole creation, yet did not covet it. He loved it and was willing to die to set it free. He did not want it as His own; he wanted it free to want Him and Him alone.
  • You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife – He didn’t need a neighbor’s wife. He created a new wife for Himself from the blood and water from his side. The whole creation was to be the Bride of Christ with which He would and did become one flesh through the miracle of becoming flesh and the marvel of Theosis…

Basic Apologetics: How can God exist when there is so much evil and pain in the world?

William Cwirla (LCMS): The problem of suffering (theodicy) is really a matter of the clay critiquing the work of the potter. The question lays a moral problem at God’s feet and then questions the existence of God. “Evil” implies “good” and our ability to discern the difference. Without an external objective standard of good and evil, we would have no ability to speak of evil in the world. Therefore, to call the existence of God into question on account of the presence of evil in the world presupposes a higher standard of the good against which to judge what is and isn’t evil.

The question presupposes that God should run the universe according to our set of rules. If we were God, we wouldn’t permit the presence of evil in the world. This is an anthropocentric view of the universe, as though everything that causes us suffering is necessarily evil.

The question fails to take into account the presence of sin and its cosmic effects. The fall of Adam not only plunged humanity into sin, it also disrupted the inherent harmony of the created order (Rom. 8:18-25). Pain and suffering exists because the inherent harmony of creation has been messed up by sin. Even when human beings don’t have a direct hand in the cause of suffering, say an earthquake or a hurricane, it is nevertheless due to the disruption of creation’s order by sin.

So what is God to do? One thing he doesn’t do, at least on a regular basis, is intervene. He doesn’t block bullets from finding their targets; he doesn’t turn hurricanes away from cities; he doesn’t necessarily keep a meteor from plummeting through the roof of your house. Instead, he restores order to the cosmos by reconciling all things to himself in the death of his Son Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:18-19) and bringing all things together under a new Head of creation (Eph. 1:10). In Christ, the God who suffers, “evil” and pain are ultimately employed for good, trumped by the all-reconciling death of Jesus.

We run into trouble with the question of evil and suffering when we attempt to address it apart from the cross of Jesus Christ. Then the discussion becomes a philosophical abstraction, pitting God’s mercy and love against his omniscience and power. The cross of Jesus silences these speculations. Here the Innocent One suffers on behalf of guilty humanity; here God himself bears the ultimate injustice and evil in his own crucifixion which he makes the reconciliation of all things. Jesus Christ, the second Adam and the new Head of creation, sets the disordered universe back into order by his own dying and rising, gathering all things into his death (John 12:32).

In Christ, there is no problem of evil and suffering, for “in all things God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). The existence of God is not negated by the presence of evil. Rather, the presence of evil demonstrates the cosmic reality of sin, ultimately reconciled once and for all in the death of Jesus Christ.

Michael Brown (URC): First, we must understand that God did not create the world evil. The Bible reveals to us that God made all things good. He created humans in true righteousness and holiness. He crowned them with glory and honor and gave them dominion over the works of his hands. Violence, sorrow, and death were not part of man’s original experience; he only knew the blessing of life in God’s good earth. It was not until Adam sinned against God and broke the covenant into which he was placed that the horror of evil, pain, and death came to be a regular part of existence in this world. As a result of the fall, God could have judged the world immediately and plunged all of mankind into the eternal punishment we rightly deserve. It is only because of his great grace that he chose to redeem a people out of this fallen and dark world. That is why this age of suffering continues: God is gathering in his elect until the Last Day. We have the confidence that God is in fact doing this because he sent Christ his Son “who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” (Gal. 1:4a).

Second, we must understand that while this present evil age continues, God oversees all things by his providence, that is, his constant interaction and intervention with the world he has made. He not only preserves his creatures, but is directing everything to its appointed end, “work[ing] all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph. 1:11b). He even uses the evil acts of men for his own purpose and glory. Yet, he does so while remaining free from and the just judge of evil. It is this understanding of providence that led Joseph to declare to his brothers who sinned against him: “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20a). What this shows us is that God is both good and sovereign. We are comforted to know that he is always in control and that, as the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, “whatever evil he sends upon me in this vale of tears he will turn to my good; for he is able to do, being Almighty God, and willing also, being a faithful Father” (Q. 26).

Finally, we must understand that the story is not over. Just as this world was once free from evil and pain in the beginning, so shall it be again when the King returns. Paradise lost will be paradise restored, only infinitely greater. This universe will be resurrected to fit the glory of the age to come-an age in which God has promised to dwell with his people and forever keep them from pain, suffering, and evil. As we read in the final chapters of the Bible: “He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:3b-4).

Jason Stellman (PCA): One philosopher claimed that there are many arguments against God’s existence, but this is the only good one! There are a couple ways to approach this question. But before I start apologizing on God’s behalf and defending his actions, we must remember who it is we’re talking about here: the all wise, all powerful, good, and loving God.

We need to be reminded of this because our sinful temptation is to think that God has gotten himself stuck in a corner and we need to reason him out of it. But this is the height of arrogance. “Let God be true,” Paul insisted, “and every man a liar.” God doesn’t need us to get him off the hook! This is crucial to remember: There’s no hook on which God can get stuck from which we must rescue him. If there is a hook, it is we who are stuck on it, not God.

C. S. Lewis used to object to God’s existence for this same reason (all the evil in the world). But then he realized something that many today have never wrestled with: How do I know things are evil or bad? His conclusion was that, in order to be able to recognize evil, he must have some standard of “good” against which he measures everything else. To use his illustration, one cannot recognize a crooked line unless he first has some concept of a straight one. But if there is no God, the very objection to evil loses its force, for if the universe is nothing but the result of random chance, then evil could never be recognized as such.

So that leaves us with the uncomfortable conclusion that there is a God, and this God allows (and in some way ordains) that evil things occur. What do we do with this? I think it is at this point that eschatology becomes very practical. The story into which we have been written is not just a tale about a Shepherd whose sheep got lost and remained that way. Rather, the Christian story is about a God who went to such great lengths to redeem his fallen ones that he sent his own Son to live, die, and rise again for them. Though we are still living in a period of delay, the promise remains that this same Lord Jesus will descend from heaven and put all things right. To Adam it seemed as if Paradise was lost. To us, Paradise feels postponed (though we presently experience it in part). But from God’s perspective and according to his testimony, Paradise has been regained, and the day will come when a new heaven and new earth will descend, and the former things-such as evil and pain-will be remembered no more.

So my point is this: the problem of evil cannot be abstracted from the rest of the story God is telling and considered on its own. All good drama needs a point of crisis, for without this the ending doesn’t appear nearly as glorious.

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