White Horse Inn Blog

Know what you believe and why you believe it

Michael Horton & The Christian Faith

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

WHI-1033 | Exile, Exodus & Conquest

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.

RELATED ARTICLES

The Great Announcement
Michael Horton
Jerome, Augustine & The Fall of Rome
Kim Riddlebarger
You Are Here
Kim Riddlebarger
WHI Discussion Group Questions
PDF Document

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

Introducing Covenant Theology
Michael Horton
Is God a Moral Monster
Paul Copan
The Christian Faith
Michael Horton

PROGRAM AUDIO

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MUSIC SELECTION

Zack Hicks

Christianity: Conservative or Socialist?

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).

Click here to read the full article at The Daily Caller

The Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man

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.

Can You Say “Kingdom Confusion”? I Knew You Could!

The Sarah Palin Battle Hymn

WHI-1032 | The Gospel of the Kingdom

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.

RELATED ARTICLES

Jesus vs. Paul
Michael Horton
The Great Announcement
Michael Horton
The Return of the King
Michael Kruger
WHI Discussion Group Questions
PDF Document

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

Introducing Covenant Theology
Michael Horton
Living in God’s Two Kingdoms
David VanDrunen
The Gospel Commission
Michael Horton

PROGRAM AUDIO

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MUSIC SELECTION

Andrew Osenga

Tim Keller on the Ways and Means of Revival

Tim Keller has posted an interesting blog piece on the ways and means of revival. Here’s the opening paragraph:

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.

International Academy of Apologetics, Evangelism, and Human Rights

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

As silly as it sounds

Tired of Bible Pictionary? Play Omega: The End Times Board Game tonight!

Silent Night?

How did you spend your Christmas? Different cultures in different parts of the world spend Christmas in different ways, even observe Christmas on different days. But for most of us, Christmas is a day of rest, of refreshment, and of joy. Not for the Christians in Iran, however. We recently received the following update from our friends at Elam Ministries, reporting that 70 Christians were arrested during Christmas day raids by the government.

In the early morning hours after Christmas day, the Iranian government arrested 25 Christians in Tehran and other locations. They also planned to detain sixteen others, but were unable to locate them. There are also unconfirmed reports that the authorities have arrested over 50 other Christians. According to BBC Persian, the Governor of Tehran has vowed to arrest more evangelical Christians.

One of those detained was able to make a call to friends from an unknown location on the morning of the arrests, leaving this message –

“Unfortunately early this morning the authorities came to our homes. They arrested us and many other believers. I want to ask you to pray for us.We are sure God will never leave us or forsake us. God bless you. Sorry for giving you bad news over Christmas, but I believe God will do something for us.”

Those who received the voice message were impressed by the caller’s courage and calmness.

Armed, plain-clothes, special security officers forcefully entered the homes of Christians while they were asleep, and verbally and physically abused them. They were handcuffed and taken for interrogation. Among those arrested were five married couples. One couple was separated from their two-year old baby. Another couple was also forced to leave their baby that the mother was breast feeding. A number of single young women were also among those taken.

Another sixteen Christians would have been arrested, but were not at home. The security forces broke into at least five such homes, ransacking them, taking personal possessions, changing the locks and placing a government seal on the door. Family members of these Christians have been called by the authorities and threatened and harassed. They were instructed to tell the Christians to surrender themselves.

After many hours of interrogation, eleven of the detained were released. The other fourteen are still in prison. There has been no contact from eight of the arrested. Six have been able to make a very short call to their families. In one of the brief calls, one of the arrested complained that they are being subjected to sleep deprivation.

None of them have been granted any legal representation. No charges have been made, though it is clear that they were arrested for their active Christian faith.There has been a gross lack of due process. The government authorities have not provided any written documents as to the reason for the arrests, any record of the items confiscated, and family members are not allowed to visit the detained.

There is an urgent need for Christians all over the world to intercede for our brothers and sisters in prison in Iran.

Let us pray that they will experience the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit, even in their prison cells. Pray they will have supernatural endurance and courage through this trial, and be shining witnesses to the guards and other inmates. Pray for peace and wisdom when they are being interrogated. Pray for their health. Pray for comfort and confidence for their families. Pray they will soon be released.

Pray for the welfare and protection of those the government is still seeking to arrest. Pray the Lord will guide their every step. Pray for the wider church in Iran to continue faithfully and fearlessly proclaiming the Good News of the Gospel. Pray for those who are working to help the persecuted and their families.

It is comforting to know that our sovereign, omniscient, all-powerful God knows about every single arrest that has been made, and that He will bring glory to His name through this suffering. He will cause this persecution to bring victory for His Kingdom in Iran.

Thank you for your prayers,

The Elam Team

For more information, visit Elam’s website and subscribe to their email updates.

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