White Horse Inn Blog

Know what you believe and why you believe it

Calvin on the Christian Life

Our friends at Desiring God have posted an abridged excerpt from Mike Horton’s forthcoming book, Calvin on the Christian Life.  If you missed his small talk at their recent Pastor’s Conference, this is a great recap.

Calvin hits shelves at the end of March–for more information, go to the series page at Crossway.

 

WHI-1192 | The Nation’s Inheritance

Some say that believers are “saved by grace but stay in by works.” Throughout the history of this program we have rejected that view, arguing that we’re actually saved by grace alone on account of the work of Christ alone. Here in the book of Joshua, however, there is a kind of “works” principle, tied not to individual salvation but rather to Israel’s ability to stay in the land of promise. The nation’s inheritance was pure gift. But in order to keep it, they must be holy. How can we understand this concept in light of Scripture’s larger teaching? We will continue The Gospel According to Joshua in this edition of White Horse Inn by unpacking this crucial question.

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If My People
Kim Riddlebarger
Creeds & Deeds
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PROGRAM AUDIO


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The Gospel Commission
Michael Horton

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On The Road With White Horse Inn

If you have some time today and over the next week, please pray for one of our senior staff members who is traveling through several closed countries in the Middle East taking White Horse Inn resources to evangelical pastors. We hope to provide more detailed information after he returns, but we’ll refrain for now to protect him and the Christians he will be meeting with over the next few days.

For those of you who received our 2013 year-end fundraising appeal, this is the first step of what we called our “international strategy” in the letter. Your gifts are being put to immediate use to get almost 25 years of solid Reformational content into the hands of people all across the world. Thank you for your generosity!

WHI-1191 | God’s Conquest

On this program we discuss God’s conquest of the city of Jericho. Is it appropriate to use this particular narrative as a pattern for things in our own lives that we’d like to conquer? How should we understand God’s command that every living thing in Jericho should be destroyed? What is significant about the fact that Rahab and her family were spared? Join us as we discuss these questions and continue our series, The Gospel According to Joshua.

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Religion & Politics
Michael Horton, Jim Wallis, et al
Holy War in Joshua
Michael Horton

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PROGRAM AUDIO


Click here to access the audio file directly

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

Gospel Transformation Bible
(Joshua notes by Michael Horton)

RECOMMENDED AUDIO

So Many Popes!

A recent article today in Charisma News by Brooklyn minister, Joseph Mattera, raises some important questions with extraordinary ramifications.

The author is concerned with the proliferation of evangelical and Pentecostal megachurches that reflect a Roman Catholic model of church leadership, especially in Latin America.  Churches become empires with numerous departments and programs staffed by an army of “professional” Christians under the command of the CEO.

The fact that these questions are raised by an overseeing bishop of a church within a coalition that affirms the ongoing office of apostles, and in an article published in a charismatic magazine, is especially significant.  It’s a hopeful sign that leaders like Mattera argue for a more biblical view of the church and ministry, with officers mutually accountable instead of making unilateral decisions.

 

The Lure of Unaccountable Power

Joseph Mattera puts his finger on a very big problem in the global church today.  It’s not only in countries with a Roman Catholic history where “papal” models proliferate.  They are well known features of U.S. church life.   Perhaps “papal” isn’t the right analogy.  The pope today has little authority over renegade teachers and bishops. The communion that he leads at least in theory is as internally divided by countless factions, schools, and personalities as Protestantism is more visibly.  A better analogy might be the founder and CEO.  After all, popes at least are elected by the college of cardinals.

Even in our circles, there is a tendency to create stars whose models of “doing church” divide the ordered life of local and wider assemblies of mutual accountability.  Few actually set out with that purpose.

It begins as an experiment; then, if it’s successful, it becomes a model.  To preserve its success and the ongoing creativity and innovative potential of the leader/model, the church tends to isolate itself from the wider assemblies of the church (presbytery, general assemblies or synods, etc.).  A network emerges with ties to the leader/model that are stronger than the bonds between ministers and elders who have taken oaths to a common confession and church order.

Before you know it, factions arise in opposition to and in defense of a particular model and spokesmen and the court of public opinion (especially blogs) replaces the courts of the church for fraternal discussion, debate, encouragement, and correction.  Churches that needed the visionary insights are able to reinforce their prejudices unhindered by face-to-face engagement and the more experimental churches that needed wisdom and correction are able to pursue their agenda without interruption.  Instead of listening to the multiplicity of voices (“wisdom in many counselors”), churches actually become more narrow, insular, and independent.  We may belong formally to the same denomination, but our deeper affinity is the tribe—the church-within-a-church to which we belong.  Eventually, the church-within-a-church becomes its own denomination, and so on.

This is the legacy of pietism, reinforced by a few centuries of revivalism.  If Reformation churches were too closely tied to the state, the danger is that evangelicalism is too closely identified with the democratic egalitarianism at the heart of modernity.  It’s the danger of looking upon the world as a market instead of a mission-field and upon the church as a sales force rather than sheep to be looked after.

I’m not suggesting at all that the pietist-revivalist tradition of Protestantism encourages the lure of unaccountable power.  That is already in us, part of our sinful condition.  Much less am I saying that a biblical form of church government (presbyterian, I’m bound to say!) saves us from arrogant self-assertion.  What I do believe, however, is that the system of checks and balances that it sets up can at least make it more difficult for us to have our way in that regard.

 

Calvin: No Fiefdoms!

One of the striking take-aways from Scott Manetsch’s Calvin’s Company of Pastors is the extent to which the Genevan reformer resisted the cult of personality.  Insisting on a plurality of ministers and elders, with decisions falling to the mutual consent of officers in local and broader assemblies, Calvin never saw St. Pierre’s as a personal fiefdom.  He never spoke the way we often do today about his church or his pulpit or his ministry.  In fact, ministers rotated to the various parish churches each week, so that the people would be attached to Christ rather than to men, to the ministry rather than the minister.  Pastors have to remember, Calvin said, that they are friends of the bridegroom, not the groom.  It’s their job to lead them to Christ, not to themselves.

Many in the orbit of the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” today seem to be drawn to extremes: either the independent egalitarianism that ends up creating many popes or the older top-down hierarchy of Rome.  In case after case that I’ve witnessed, the moves have been made by leaping over biblical models of church government.   There are of course many in the past and today who have given careful consideration to the case for this covenantal ecclesiology.  Yet the greater tendency, I suspect, is rash (restless) hastiness.  Those looking for a visible pope on earth dismiss it as too democratic, while those who want to build their own fiefdoms dismiss it as too stifling and, ironically, “hierarchical.”

Christ is still fulfilling his pledge to build his Church regardless.  As we look at the actual state of the particular churches and denominations to which we belong, we may feel compelled to make that choice between a “wild west” evangelicalism and an ahistorical idea of “Camelot” that the longing for Rome and Constantinople represent.  No form of government will guarantee the existence of the true Church; that is lodged in the true preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments.  Yet the form of discipline is not thereby made unimportant, when after all our only Head and King mandates not only the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments, but “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”  And whether it always looks like it or not, we have his promise: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mat 28:19-21).

Mike Horton in the New Issue of Credo

CredoCredo is a relatively new online magazine from a Calvinistic Baptist perspective that is getting rave reviews for its content and design. In their latest issue on justification, they asked a number of theologians for their take on the issues at stake in contemporary debates about justification. Click the link below for answers from Mike Horton, Philip Ryken, J. V. Fesko, Guy Waters, Brian Vickers, and Korey Maas.

Read Credo.

WHI-1190 | Another Exodus

After God called Israel out of Egypt to be a chosen and holy nation, the people sin greatly against him and are forced to wander in the desert for forty years. After that entire generation dies out, a new generation led by Joshua is finally allowed to enter the land of rest. What new challenges do the people of Israel face in the land promised to Abraham and his descendants? How long will they be able to stay in the land? That’s our focus for this edition of the program as we continue our discussion of The Gospel According to Joshua.

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Sermons on Joshua
Kim Riddlebarger

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PROGRAM AUDIO


Click here to access the audio file directly

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

Gospel Transformation Bible
(Joshua notes by Michael Horton)

RECOMMENDED AUDIO

WHI-1189 | Holy War

Christians rightly condemn acts of violence by Islamic terroristsmdash;justified by the perpetrators as forms of jihad. But if the killing of innocent civilians is always wrong, how are we to explain the kind of holy war that we find throughout the book of Joshua? Is this a “text of terror” that we should reject and exclude from the canon of Scripture? How are we to understand the difference between the jihad of today and the holy wars of the Old Testament? That’s what we’ll wrestle with on this episode of White Horse Inn.

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Holy War in Joshua
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Thy Kingdom Come
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Click here to access the audio file directly

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WHI-1188 | Is God A Moral Monster?

On this program I talk with Paul Copan about the claims of Richard Dawkins and other “new atheists” that the God of the Old Testament is a petty, vindictive, bloodthirsty, genocidal, ethnic cleanser. Is God’s command to Joshua to invade Canaanite cities and to kill men, women, and children best understood in terms of ethnic cleansing? How should we think about the God of the Old Testament? These important questions are on tap for this edition of White Horse Inn!

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Holy War in Joshua
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MUSIC SELECTION

Zac Hicks

PROGRAM AUDIO


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You’re Invited to the 2nd Annual WHI Weekend

For more information or to register please visit the White Horse Inn Weekend homepage.

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