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  NOVEMBER 2008 COMMENTARIES

November 30, 2008 Commentary:
Young, Restless & Reformed

Because of the interview with Collin Hansen there is no commentary this week.

Click here to see the related information for the November 30 broadcast.


November 23, 2008 Commentary:
We Preach Not Ourselves

How often have you heard the Old Testament interpreted as a collection of stories that we can use for our daily life? From Genesis, we might have any number of heroes to imitate and villains to shun. I never knew growing up that the Old Testament was about Christ. I thought it was about "Bible heroes" whose character I was to emulate. Be faithful like Abraham, devoted like Moses, and so on. Joshua's life could be mined for leadership principles, and we all dared to be a Daniel. What were the five smooth stones I could find in my little bag to slay the Goliaths of my life as did David?

The Bible is nothing like Aesop's Fables: a collection of brief stories that end with a moral principle. Abraham was in many ways a moral failure: sleeping with his servant when God had promised the heir through his wife Sarah, lying to a king by telling him that Sarah was his sister in order to get himself out of a bind, and so forth. Even his willingness to sacrifice Isaac was not an example for us, but was an occasion for God to foreshadow Christ as the ram caught in the thicket so that Isaac-and the rest of us-could go free. Jacob was a schemer, but God had chosen him and in spite of the fact that he continued to commit terrible sins throughout the course of his life, God kept his gracious promise. Joshua is not a source for leadership principles, unless we're planning on leading a campaign of destruction against idolatrous nations in order to establish righteousness in God's holy land. Yet read in the light of the history of redemption, Joshua and his ministry point forward to Christ's person and work.

David can only ambiguously be held up as a heroic example; his main role in the story is to presage his greater son who assumed the everlasting throne that God promised unconditionally to David's heirs. Read the story and you'll know what I mean, though described as "a man after God's own heart," he was an adulterer and a murderer. Even the so-called "Hall of Heroes" in Hebrews 11 is mis-named. The writer consistently mentions that they overcame by faith in Christ, not by their own righteousness. That's what we are going to be talking about in this edition of the White Horse Inn, how do we read the Scriptures? We preach not ourselves, we preach Christ Jesus the Lord.

Click here to see the related information for the November 23 broadcast.


November 16, 2008 Commentary:
Christless Christianity, Revisited

Hello and welcome to another broadcast of the White Horse Inn. As you know we have been going over a series this last year called "Christless Christianity," this has been our theme as we have tried to understand what it is that is going on in the church today and what we can do to bring the focus of our thinking back to Jesus Christ and him crucified. And just this week my book Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church has just been released by Baker. You can go to the Christless Christianity website or the whitehorseinn.org website. We are really emphasizing this and focusing on it because we believe there is a creeping fog even in conservative, even confessional Reformed, Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran, Anglican churches that is drifting towards moralistic therapeutic deism.

You know, Americans believe according to recent studies that Jesus Christ is in some sense divine, and the Bible is the "literal Word of God." 86% of American adults describe their religious orientation as Christian, while only 6% describe themselves as Atheist or agnostic. Judging by its commercial, political, and media success the Evangelical movement seems to be booming. There just doesn't seem to be this great group of atheists who have taken over America. The question is whether this Christianity in American is still Christian.

Now we haven't been asking that question glibly, simply to provoke a reaction, our concern on this program has been that we are getting dangerously close to the place in everyday American church life where the Bible is mined for quotes but largely irrelevant, God is used as a personal resource rather than known, worshipped and trusted, Jesus Christ is a coach with a good game plan for our victory rather than a Savior who has achieved it for us, salvation is more a matter of having our best life now than being saved from God's judgment by God himself, and the Holy Spirit is sort of an electrical outlet we can plug in for the power that we need to be all that we can be. As this new gospel becomes more obviously American that Christian we will have to take a step back and ask ourselves whether increasingly Evangelicalism is a cultural and political movement with a sentimental attachment to the image of Jesus more than a witness to Christ and him crucified. We haven't shown in recent decades that we really have much stomach for the message that Paul called a "rock of offense; foolishness to Greeks and a rock that causes stumbling."

Far from clashing with a culture of consumerism, American religion is not only at peace with our narcissism, but gives it spiritual legitimacy. Calvin and Hobbes comic strip I came across recently explained it well, "Oh look yet another Christmas T.V. special. How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food and beer. Who'd ever have guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spiritually would mix so harmoniously." And so this has been our topic on the White Horse Inn. Not necessarily that everything that we are doing is wrong or foolish, but that everything that we are doing seems to be something other than preaching Christ and him crucified.

Click here to see the related information for the November 16 broadcast.


November 9, 2008 Commentary:
Quitting Church

There is no commentary this week as the show is an interview with Julia Duin author of Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to do About it.

Click here to see the related information for the November 9 broadcast.


November 2, 2008 Commentary:
Election Coverage

Hello and welcome to another edition of the White Horse Inn. In this program we are intentionally - we are being right up front about it - we are using the old technique known as "bait and switch." Election is our subject and it's not the election that you are, like the rest of us preoccupied with at this time of the year, it is God's election. We are used to electing our monarchs, but when we talk about how God has saved us - salvation is of the Lord. It's a very different kind of picture. You know the doctrine of sin of course has never been a big seller, but we're encouraged to find that the story has another chapter. It could very well have ended with God's judgment. The human race was the showcase of divine creation. Men and women uniquely designed to have a relationship with God even the highest ranking angels could never enjoy. Here was the creature in all the universe that actually bore the divine signature and now he lay in ruins. But Satan forgot to figure in God's love and mercy. Who thought that God, who could have just destroyed us then and there would set out to recover a race of rebels.

Now the fall of course came as no surprise to God, because as the Apostle Paul tells us, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before him in love. Having predestined us to the adoption as sons, by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise and glory of his grace by which he has made us accepted in the beloved." And Paul explains the wonder of it all, "because we have been chose in Christ," he goes on to say, "in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace." By taking us out of Adam's doomed family, and placing us in Christ, Paul adds in verses 11 and 12 (of Ephesians chapter one), "we also have obtained an inheritance being predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of his glory."

As I say, we are used to choosing our rulers for ourselves in democratic societies, but Jesus told his disciples "you did not choose me, I chose you and appointed that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain." Now that's good news folks! It means that salvation is of the Lord, not only in the middle and the end, but in the very beginning - in fact before the world was ever created.

Click here to see the related information for the November 2 broadcast.


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