What About Islam?

We’re conversing again about Islam, as the recent Orlando massacre has raised awareness to a new level. Before September 11, 2001, few people in America ever talked about Islam. Indeed few were knowledgeable enough to carry on a decent conversation. But we now live in a post 9/11 world, and it is difficult to ignore the potential threat of Muslims in our midst. Yes, we need to have a national conversation and we need it to be an honest one.

Peaceful Muslims

Undoubtedly, the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful individuals, not intent on murder, who are good citizens and neighbors. They live in America because they appreciate the religious freedom guaranteed by our Constitution as well as the economic opportunities available here, just like most of us who are not Muslims. But the problem is that radical Muslims keep blowing people up in the name of Islam, and it’s getting harder to ignore the connection between Islam and the constant threat to law abiding Americans. Read more about What About Islam?

The Components of Literal Interpretation

From Dispensational Publishing House; used by permission. Read the series so far.

Dispensationalism & the Literal Interpretation of the Bible, Part 4

While it is true that “literal interpretation” is not the private property of dispensationalism, the claim is actually the consistent use thereof. A case can still be made that traditional dispensationalism can make good on this claim.

There is no lock-step consensus on what “literal interpretation” really is. In the 19th century, E. R. Craven, the American editor of Lange’s Commentary, with unusual clarity made the point that literal interpretation is better termed “normal” since both literal and figurative interpretation can be comprehended in the term.1 More recently, Roy Zuck differentiated, correctly, literal interpretation into “ordinary-literal” and “figurative-literal.”2 It is not the intent here to define precisely what “literal interpretation” really is, but rather to suggest four rubrics or principles that must be entertained in understanding literal interpretation. These must be held in relationship to other factors of good hermeneutics such as context, literary genre and the like. There may be other such fundamental underpinnings, but at least these must be comprehended in a proper approach to Scripture. The first two of these principles will be our focus in this installment. Read more about The Components of Literal Interpretation

Timothy Keller’s View on Creation (Part 2)

FBFI National Meeting workshop presented by Matt Recker June 14-16, 2016, with permission from Proclaim & Defend. Read Part 1.

In Part 1, we defined Timothy Keller’s view of theistic evolution and offered his rationale for holding his position.

3. Keller’s Theistic Evolution: His Errors:

The following quote from his book, The Reason for God, highlights some deep flaws in Keller’s thinking. In the quote, Keller replies to the concerns of a young intellectual who is terribly bothered by the “unscientific mind-set” of the Biblical teaching that God directly created the world by His wisdom and power in six days. Keller responds to this struggling young person with these words: Read more about Timothy Keller’s View on Creation (Part 2)

When Followers Don’t Follow: A Closer Look at Coercion

Life is stewardship. In a perfect world, everyone would not only recognize that fact, but they would also recognize and accept the responsibilities that go with their individual stewardship. Perhaps people would still need to be told what to do, but they would never need to be coerced. “Do this in order to receive this short term reward” would be weird, and “Do this, or else” would be unheard of.

But that isn’t the world we live in, and people are much in need of leaders to influence, persuade, and yes, coerce.

Coercion, though, is so easily botched! As a result, leaders often lapse into acting like either bullies or beggars, and both errors tend to produce followers who don’t follow. As one who struggles to use the tools of leadership properly (and who has experienced their misuse by others), I believe it’s worth the effort to understand coercion better. Read more about When Followers Don’t Follow: A Closer Look at Coercion

Timothy Keller’s View on Creation (Part 1)

FBFI National Meeting workshop presented by Matt Recker June 14-16, 2016, with permission from Proclaim & Defend.

Tim Keller is the highly influential founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. My first introduction to Dr. Keller’s evolutionary position was in a New York Times article, January 25, 1998, which quotes him saying:

On Creationism: ‘‘I don’t think Genesis teaches that the world was created in six 24-hour days. Evolution is neither ruled in or ruled out at Redeemer.”1

At the time I read the article, I was not sure why he took that view. My goal today is to explain what he meant by it, and why I believe he is in error. In taking on this task my goal is to fairly and respectfully define his theistic evolutionary view, give his reasons, show errors in this position, and finally attempt to provide an answer to his views. Read more about Timothy Keller’s View on Creation (Part 1)

Nine Lessons I Have Learned as a Homeschool Mom

Emma and Kenny Krogering

We often think about homeschooling in terms of what it means for our children; the books they will use, what they will learn, and how to prepare them for a future career. However, now that I’m near the end of my tenure as a homeschooling parent, I think more and more about what I’ve learned about myself and my children.

Children need the freedom to grow as individuals.

As much as parents may talk about kids being unique and special, the temptation to compare them to other children their age is insidiously ever present. Our society has accepted the idea of chronological age as the best indicator of what-a-child-should-do-when, and Christians have allowed legalistic thinking to blur our vision of God’s path to spiritual growth. Read more about Nine Lessons I Have Learned as a Homeschool Mom

Regaining the Joy of Ministry, Part 4

From Voice magazine, May/June 2016. Used by permission. Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

We Rejoice in the Proclamation of the Truth

We must ask ourselves this critical question: “What brings us the most pleasure?” As we have already pointed out, most often we answer the question based upon personal affirmation and ministry success. Those events and accomplishments that serve to affirm our value and worth bring us joy. We experience greater personal satisfaction when people appreciate our efforts and our activities accomplish significant results. Let’s be honest, Monday morning is always brighter if our attendance was up on Sunday and people were complimentary. While these are nice, the problem is that these things are not always present. However, when we look at the early apostles, the basis for their joy differed radically from ours. We find our joy in what we accomplish in ministry; they found their joy in the ministry itself. We find our joy in the results of service; they found their joy in the act of service. The difference is enormous. Read more about Regaining the Joy of Ministry, Part 4

The Creation Narrative - Genesis 1 & 2 (Part 10)

Read the series so far.

Adam Is Tested

In the next section (2:15-17) we read of God giving the man a straightforward command:

Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you may not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was an actual tree. It is not called a symbol and need not be seen as one. I agree with Merrill that we should not think of “good and evil” in this place as contrasting values so much as an idiom for comprehensive knowledge.1 Certainly, ethical knowledge would be included, since all knowledge bears an ethical stamp, but the innocence of our first parents does not at all lead us to think they were ignorant of the meanings of the terms “good” and “evil.” God is communicating meaningfully to Adam, not speaking over his head. Every word which God speaks to Adam presupposes his ability to receive and comprehend it. Thus, the expression “to freely eat” was just as well understood as the designation “every tree of the garden.” Again the warning “in the day you eat of it you shall surely die” was God speaking to a comprehending and responsive creature. He was not speaking into the air.2 Read more about The Creation Narrative - Genesis 1 & 2 (Part 10)