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The word Schadenfreude first caught my attention during the mid-1980s, well before it was popularized by Lisa Simpson. The term designates the satisfaction or joy that comes from considering the troubles of other people—especially the misfortunes of one’s opponents. Schadenfreude may be one of the most universal human vices. Expressions of Shadenfreude can even be heard among those who have dedicated themselves to Christian work. These expressions are not limited to rejoicing over the misfortunes of the Lord’s enemies. Very often, Christians seem to take a kind of perverse delight in the downfall of other Christians.
Not that we would be so crass as to express happiness that a Christian brother has fallen into sin—no, we are careful to cluck out our disapprobation. But our disapproval rings a bit hollow when the time we spend expressing it far outstrips any time that we ever spent on expressions of encouragement or approval. Is it possible that this imbalance might indicate what we treasure in our hearts?
We can attempt to justify our Schadenfreude as a matter of biblical discernment and as the...
In the Treasury of David, C. H. Spurgeon says (here commenting on Psalm 23:3a, “He restoreth my soul”), “‘He‘ does it. His ministers could not do it if he did not. His Word would not avail by itself. ‘He restoreth my soul.‘”
“His ministers could not do it if he did not.” If you are a minister of any kind–whether a Sunday School teacher or a pastor or mother of children–we must have this constantly before our minds. We are nothing. We depend upon God alone for true eternal success in Christian ministry. Worldly results can be manipulated. True success is spiritual, and comes by the will of God. He is the one who restores the souls of men and women.
I was thinking of Spurgeon’s comments in connection with a piece written by Mark Jones for reformation21′s blog, “So you want to be a Doctor?” In connection with Jones’s...
I’ve seen a lot of mistaken rhetoric online–even by otherwise conservative Christians–about contraceptives and the Hobby Lobby ruling by the Supreme Court. I’d like to just highlight some facts that many seem to be missing, just so everyone has correct information as they discuss this important case.
Here are the facts about the four abortive contraceptives involved in the Hobby Lobby case:
The Atlantic reports that the number of houses of worship in the United States is declining, and there is one salient reason why: the poor economy of the country since late 2008:
When I was a boy I grew up in a traditional American home. My father taught me the value of hard work, integrity, courtesy, and the disciplines of standing alone for right, offering a firm handshake, and looking people square in the eye. He had learned these things from his father, he from his father before him, and so on for many generations of my family. The Snoeberger name was a good one, I was told, and I knew early on that it was my duty to represent that name well. I reflect fondly on this bit of personal history as Father’s Day approaches.
My father also introduced me to the Gospel. Not every father in the Snoeberger clan did this. While I can’t bring to mind a Snoeberger who was not a good citizen and a hard worker, I regret to say that not all were genuine followers of Christ. Some lived, it seemed to me, as though their reputation for industry, integrity, and benevolence were sufficient ends unto themselves, and, as a result, they put little stock in the work of Christ, except perhaps to follow his ethical example. By God’s grace my father knew better, and so...
These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.—Colossians 2:17
Colossians 2:17 gives us another important insight into how the earliest Christians put their Bibles together. But, the NIV here nicely obscures some of the difficulties of this verse, which literally reads: “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the body of Christ.” Here I simply want to surface Paul’s biblical theology by untangling his compressed logic.
An uncommon metaphor. Paul uses an uncommon metaphorical word pair when he contrasts shadow with body. Let me tease this out with five observations on the use of this sort of metaphor and word-pair in Paul’s day. (a) Literal objects cast shadows. (b) One of the objects that casts a shadow is a body. For a quick example, see Philo, Confusion 190. (c) This literal phenomenon generated various metaphors. For the classic example of this, see Plato’s Allegory of the Cave...
About two weeks ago I began a recommended reading list for those who wish to brush up on the history of the church. My initial suggestions included a couple of church history survey texts. In this post, I’m going to mention a few titles that focus on the development of Christian doctrine over the past 2,000 years or so. The earlier list was comprised of books that emphasize key people and events (the story); these books emphasize the development of theology (the ideas).
In the summer of 1998, I took my first course as a test drive student at DBTS. The course I chose was History of Christian Doctrine, which was then taught by Dr. Gerald Priest. Our textbook for that class was Louis Berkhof’s classic work, The History of Christian Doctrines...
Normally when book reviews appear on this website, they’re for new books: cutting edge books that add some new piece of information or fresh analysis to our ever-growing bank of theological information. But we also need to reflect on historical gems—classic treatments that inform the present far more thoroughly and penetratingly than any one week’s worth of web chatter can possibly hope to do.
So for my contribution to the Tchividjian controversy, rather than manufacture some spectacular new twist, I’d instead like to commend to our readers B. B. Warfield’s out-of-print work Studies in Perfectionism, a condensation of his larger block of material on sanctification that appears as vols. 7 & 8 of his C...