White Horse Inn Blog

Know what you believe and why you believe it

WHI-999 | The Formation of the Canon

Why were some books chosen as part of the biblical canon while others were rejected? Why do Catholic Bibles have an extra section called the Apocrypha? Was the selection process primarily about the exercise of power in determining what ultimately became Scripture, or a submission to the inherent authority of sacred texts? These questions and more will be addressed on this edition of the White Horse Inn.

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Zack Hicks

Youth Ministry with Roots

Our friends at MockingbirdNYC connected us with Cameron Cole and the Rooted Conference, a gathering for youth ministry workers who want to speak truth and meaning into the lives of the young people in their care.

Cameron and I corresponded a bit about the conference and what the hopes of the organizers are for it:

What is the Rooted Conference?
Rooted is a theology conference for student ministers. Rooted comes out of a desire to see the Gospel upheld as the center of student ministry; it has come as a response to the overwhelming concentration on methodology at most conference for youth ministries. Rooted hopes to encourage and equip student ministers in Christ-centered ministry, while also fostering a community of people committed to boldly preaching the Cross to young people.

How does the approach to ministry that you advocate at the Rooted Conference different from what is normally seen in evangelical youth ministry?
Sadly, so much of student ministry can be characterized as a moralistic, Christian pep rally. Many evangelical youth ministries seek to prescribe moral behavior, while providing the emotional motivation to “imitate” Jesus. Rooted views the development of a Gospel-centered belief system in students as the ultimate goal. Through teaching biblical theology and repeatedly encouraging students with the basic Gospel–the intersection of our deep depravity and Christ’s amazing grace–we aim to cultivate life-long followers of Jesus, due to a worldview rooted in message of the Cross.

What do youth ministers need to know in order to be effective and faithful in their calling?
Three words I uphold in effective student ministry are truth, love, and Spirit. By truth, I mean that students need to hear the full, undiluted Gospel, including the depth of their depravity and the greater grace of Jesus. Knowing that Christ’s death on the Cross has set them free from a life of performance is what ultimately will change a student’s life to follow Jesus. With love, I mean that all of the doctrinal truth in the world means very little to young people outside the context of loving relationships. By spirit,  I emphasize the scriptural call for ministers to pray for the Holy Spirit to change the lives of students. While we can love students and teach biblical theology exhaustively, only the Spirit can draw students to the Father and sanctify them.

What is the most important thing parents should consider when considering a youth ministry?
I think the two things parents should focus on are whether the youth ministry does relational ministry and whether the ministry has a vision for long-term spiritual formation based on the cultivation of a Gospel-based belief system. Many parents (and youth ministers) succumb to the allure of youth ministry that will “keep my kids out of trouble.” They think that young people will dive into a life of unfettered debauchery and fervent eroticism if they are not repeatedly told to follow the rules. In truth, law-driven student ministry tends to yield thirty year old agnostics who hate the church, while Gospel-based ministry provides a better chance that a student will become a follower of Jesus in the long run. I emphasize the significance of relational youth ministry because young people of this generation want to be loved and known before they will be open to answers and truth.

How can youth ministry contribute to the great, biblical vision of the church as every tongue, tribe, nation, and age rather than contributing to the demographic and socio-economic division of the church?
Most students live in segregated worlds with little genuine interaction with people unlike them. The messages of integration they hear in the secular world usually lack depth and sound artificial; they come across as impotent law. Student ministry serves as the ideal opportunity for students to have authentic relationships with people across racial and socio-economic lines. Creating opportunities for cross-cultural ministry while teaching the message of God reconciling unlike people to Himself can create a foundation for a less stratified church in the future. In this context young people can cross barriers with love and sincerity, not simply out of the obligation that the AdCouncil public service announcement compelled. This generation of young people yearns for such reconciliation and justice, and student ministers can capitalize on it for the sake of the church’s future.

You can preregister for the Rooted Conference at a reduced rate until June 1! After that, the rate goes up slightly.  And, just in case Cameron’s interview didn’t motivate you to attend, check out what our own Rod Rosenbladt said about this conference:

In an era of “Christless Christianity,” the chances of a student hearing a vigorous presentation and/or defense of historic Christianity are few — in church or on campus.  But to have students hear and embrace this Gospel is to later effect many educated people who never consider darkening the door of a Christian church, don’t see any reason why they should.  As former associate staff of Inter-Varsity, I heartily commend the Cathedral of the Advent’s conference on student ministry.

Dad Rod Likes It!

Rod Rosenbladt, who early in White Horse Inn history was given the moniker “Dad Rod,” sent over this piece from Mark Galli that was featured on the Christianity Today website on April 15.  Mark Galli is the senior managing editor of Christianity Today, and his recent writing gives us goosebumps. We’re only sorry that it took us a month to redirect people to this–another insightful commentary on American Christianity.

Here’s a teaser:

A major motive for being a Christian and participating in its rituals and disciplines is about to collapse. This is going to make a lot of Christians panic, but I believe the recent development will be all to the good.

The development is the discovery that hallucinogenic drugs can give people an experience seemingly identical to powerful religious experiences.

Read the rest of this article and you’ll agree with Dad Rod: this is powerful stuff.

Horton on Hannity.com

Mike Horton made a surprise guest appearance on Hannity.com Sunday night. On the “forums” section of political commentator Sean Hannity’s website, a discussion about “Reasonable” Christianity vs. Revivalism in America broke out and someone posted a link to Horton’s Modern Reformation (Jan/Feb 1995) article, “The Legacy of Charles Finney.”

In addition to reading the article, listen to this 2007 White Horse Inn episode on “Charles Finney and American Revivalism.”

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A former Presbyterian, Charles Finney is the godfather of American evangelicalism and his formative influence is felt today in churches across the denominational spectrum. Here’s how Mike Horton put it:

Finney’s one question for any given teaching was, “Is it fit to convert sinners with?” One result of Finney’s revivalism was the division of Presbyterians in Philadelphia and New York into Arminian and Calvinistic factions. His “New Measures” included the “anxious bench” (precursor of today’s altar call), emotional tactics that led to fainting and weeping, and other “excitements,” as Finney and his followers called them. Finney became increasingly hostile toward Presbyterian doctrine, referring in his introduction to his Systematic Theology to the Westminster Confession and its drafters rather critically, as if they had created, as he put it, a “paper pope,” and had “elevated their confession and catechism to the Papal throne and into the place of the Holy Ghost.” Remarkably, Finney demonstrates how close Arminian revivalism, in its naturalistic sentiments, tends to be to a less refined theological liberalism, as both caved into the Enlightenment and it’s enshrining of human reason and morality. Finney writes “that the instrument framed by that assembly (the Westminster Confession and Catechisms) should in the nineteenth century be regarded as the standard of the church, or of any intelligent branch of it, is not only amazing, but I must say that it is highly ridiculous. It is as absurd in theology as it would be in any other branch of science. It is better to have a living than a dead Pope.”

You can read the rest of Mike Horton’s opening commentary here.

WHI-998 | The Origin of Scripture

Why is the Old Testament arranged the way it is, and how do the various books relate to each other? Is it likely that these documents were edited and amended over time? On this edition of the White Horse Inn the hosts examine the covenant origins of the Old Testament scriptures.

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David Hlebo

Horton at the Resurgence

We’re grateful to the folks at the Resurgence for hosting Mike Horton on their blog and video feed this spring.  If you missed any of it or want to bookmark it for further reading/viewing, here are the link:

Blog post on “Renewing the Great Commission”

Answer to questions regarding the balance of public, family, and private worship

Full video interview

Ken Jones Moving to Florida

If you are in the Los Angeles area, you only have a few more weeks to see and hear White Horse Inn cohost Ken Jones before he takes up his new call at Glendale Missionary Baptist Church in Miami, Florida.

Ken will be preaching through the end of May at Greater Union Baptist Church in Compton, California, where he has served as pastor since 1990.  This Saturday, May 22, at 9:00 a.m., you can also hear Ken speak at the men’s breakfast at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Glendale, California.  If you plan to attend, please RSVP to (818) 244-3747 or office@churchonglendale.org.

Ken’s first Sunday at GMBC will be June 6. His formal installation as the fifth pastor of the church will take place on June 27th.  I asked Ken a few questions about his move and his future with White Horse Inn:

After 21 years at Greater Union, why did you accept a call to Glendale? I wasn’t looking to leave Greater Union. The church is going well; we’ve seen tremendous growth–not just in terms of attendance, but also in the quality of our members and their life as disciples.  But I could see that what we were privileged to participate in at Greater Union was needed at Glendale and that seemed like a great fit for me and my wife, Lisa.

You’ve been on the White Horse Inn panel for more than ten years. How will your work with White Horse Inn inform your work at Glendale Baptist? The thing that ties together all the different themes that Mike, Kim, Rod, and I take up each week on White Horse Inn is preaching. People and churches who encounter the Reformation can become intellectually convinced of the truth of the doctrine of justification, for instance, but it isn’t until that truth soaks through the preaching that a church experiences real change.  Preaching is the key. Too often it is inconsistent (I even saw that in my own life as I began to grapple with and understand the doctrines of the Reformation). So, I hope to bring consistent Christ-centered preaching and a Christ-centered hermeneutic to my new role as the pastor at Glendale Missionary Baptist Church.  It benefited Greater Union, it will benefit Glendale, and it will benefit any church that is new to the Reformation.

At the most recent taping for White Horse Inn, Ken made a few comments about his move.

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Ken and the elders and congregation at Glendale Missionary Baptist Church are committed to his continuing to participate as a cohost of White Horse Inn. So, even though his ministerial duties have changed, we’re glad to say that his voice will still be heard each week on White Horse Inn!

WHI-997 | The Spirituality of Emerging Adults

What is an emerging adult, and how have the beliefs and religious practices of this group changed in recent decades? What effect does our contemporary culture have on the religious lives of young people in our day? Joining the panel to discuss this topic is University of Notre Dame professor Christian Smith, author of Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults.

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

Souls in Transition
Christian Smith
Soul Searching
Christian Smith
Soul Searching
(DVD Documentary)

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Music

WHI-996 | Contending for the Faith, Part 2

On this edition of the White Horse Inn, the hosts continue to explore the topic of “Contending for the Faith,” as they take questions from the live audience in Southern California. Questions include: are we simply assuming the truthfulness of Scripture since we can’t interview the eyewitnesses of Christ’s resurrection; what should churches do to encourage evangelism in our time; and can our testimonies be seen as evidence of the gospel’s truthfulness.

RECOMMENDED BOOKS

When God Goes to Starbucks
Paul Copan
The Reason for God
Tim Keller
Missional & Reformed
WSC Faculty (MP3 Audio)

PROGRAM AUDIO

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Andrew Osenga

What’s the point?

I wasn’t really prepared for something this good, but this article by Andrew Root at the Youth Specialties website is gold. Read it if you’re in youth work, or regularly preach or teach God’s people, or wonder why you don’t seem to fit in with the dominant Christian culture of giddiness.

Here’s a teaser:

I wonder if one reason even good kids know little about the Christian faith (as the National Study on Youth and Religion pointed out), may be because they sense there is little to know, for Christianity from the perspective of the shiny and happy is about being good and avoiding bad. They don’t see Christianity as living into an altogether different reality, where from death comes life, where the God of glory is found in shadows, in brokenness and yearning, rendering brokenness and yearning impotent to determine our destiny. From the perspective of trying to keep kids away from the bad, Christianity is about avoidance.

(ht Mockingbird)

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