Is It Time to Bring Back the Original Sunday School?

Sam Weller, associate professor of creative writing at Columbia College Chicago and authorized biographer of Ray Bradbury, recently published an article in The Chicago Tribune that got me thinking: “Without school librarians, we’re on a dystopian path.”

In his commentary he expresses his concern about cuts in staff and funding for school libraries. During a visit to rural Shawnee, Oklahoma, he found out that their school library received no funding whatsoever for new library books in 2016. In Wichita, Kansas, certified librarians were being replaced by clerks. The Kansas Department of Education has reduced the number of certified librarians in their state by 31%. The number of school librarians in the Chicago public school system has dropped from 454 to 160.

Mr. Weller reminds the reader that Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 depicts a dystopian society that no longer values reading and education. Read more about Is It Time to Bring Back the Original Sunday School?

The Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem

A Sermon (No. 405) Delivered on Sunday Morning, August the 18th, 1861 by the Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

“Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.” (Matthew. 21:5.)

We have read the chapter from which our text is taken; let me now rehearse the incident in your hearing. There was an expectation upon the popular mind of the Jewish people, that Messiah was about to come. They expected him to be a temporal prince, one who would make war upon the Romans and restore to the Jews their lost nationality. There were many who, though they did not believe in Christ with a spiritual faith, nevertheless hoped that perhaps he might be to them a great temporal deliverer, and we read that on one or two occasions they would have taken him and made him a king, but that he hid himself. Read more about The Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem

Dispensationalism 101: Part 2 - Covenental Thought

From Dispensational Publishing House; used with permission.

Last time, we began this series by considering the difference between dispensational and covenantal theology. We thought about some basic things that we must understand in order to deal properly with that issue. We begin this article with a brief review.

Covenantalism in a Nutshell

The terms covenantal and Reformed are often used interchangeably. There are dispensationalists who speak of being Reformed, yet the way they use the term Reformed is in respect to salvation, referring to the doctrines of grace. Another might refer to himself as a Calvinist-dispensationalist, but this is a rather awkward phrase, since Calvinism is typically used in the discipline of soteriology, not eschatology. This designation would be used to refer to men like John MacArthur and faculty from his school, The Master’s University,1 and others who have embraced the doctrines of grace and who apply a consistently literal hermeneutic, especially in the prophets, while not reading Jesus into every Old Testament verse or giving the New Testament priority.2 Read more about Dispensationalism 101: Part 2 - Covenental Thought

From the Archives: Musings from a Country Cemetery

Reprinted with permission from Dan Miller’s book Spiritual Reflections.

A forgotten country cemetery sits atop a windswept hill not far down the gravel road from where my parents used to live. While living at home, my attention was always drawn in the opposite direction of that cemetery.

In the other direction was “town.” School, friends, athletic events, parades, concerts, restaurants, church—everything exciting was in that direction. But as the years passed and occasion afforded a brief visit home, my interests were strangely drawn toward that quiet graveyard. On occasion I would walk there and stroll among the tombstones.

Bordered by a shallow creek and cow pasture, nestled among a few gnarly trees, this little cemetery is one lonely place. I never saw another person there. There is no marquee, driveway or parking lot. No flowers, shrubs, benches, sidewalks or manicured lawn. Nor are there any impressive monuments—just simple, weathered tombstones rising in obscurity from the prairie grass. Some of the stones, as if too weary to stand any longer in their struggle against time, have been toppled over and rest on top of the graves they mark. Read more about From the Archives: Musings from a Country Cemetery

Why Church Planting Should Not Be Funded

In a rather “accidental series,” I’ve written an evaluation of the church planting movement, followed by my thoughts on why your church won’t be able to find a pastor, and then gave some instructions on how to start a home church. Each of these articles had the common thread of the dismay over the condition of the church in our day. Now I’d like to complete these thoughts with a further word about church planting. I am convinced that the church planting movement, with all its failures, has been responsible for much of the sickness of the church today, and those who care about the health of the church should avoid the funding of church planting efforts, especially through networks and denominational agencies.

How Did We Get Here?

Read more about Why Church Planting Should Not Be Funded

"Replacement Theology" - Is It Wrong to Use the Term? (Part 2)

Read the series so far.

It’s a Real Thing

That replacement theology actually exists should be beyond dispute. In a well known admission, the esteemed NT scholar C.E.B. Cranfield wrote,

the assumption that the Church has simply replaced Israel as the people of God is extremely common… . And I confess with shame to having also myself used in print on more than one occasion this language of the replacement of Israel by the Church. (C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Epistle to the Romans, vol. 2, 448.)

If such a prominent voice as Cranfield’s says that replacement theology is no fiction then clearly we have something to talk about. Read more about "Replacement Theology" - Is It Wrong to Use the Term? (Part 2)

Jesus and the Strong Man (Mk 3:22-30)

The Accusation

The Pharisees charge Jesus with being demon-possessed, a tool of Satan (Mk 3:22). Mark doesn’t tell us what prompted this confrontation. The Lord left that up to Matthew, who tells us Jesus had just conducted an exorcism on a demoniac, who was blind and could not speak.

And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” (Mt 12:22)

Why did Mark not give us this background? Each writer has his own reasons for omitting or including certain excerpts. Mark isn’t interested in providing full context. His emphasis is on Jesus’ increasing isolation as the opposition against Him grows at a rapid-fire pace. Read more about Jesus and the Strong Man (Mk 3:22-30)

The Interconnectedness of Philosophy, Theology, & Worldview

A worldview is the perspective through which one views the world. By definition, a biblical worldview is derived exegetically from the pages of the Bible. Philosophy and theology have long been perceived as rivals in worldview, but if we define those terms lexically and through a Scriptural lens, then we find no friction between the two disciplines. In fact, the two are complementary.

Philosophy as a discipline is recognized as “the systematic and critical study of fundamental questions that arise both in everyday life and through the practice of other disciplines.”* Philosophy the discipline is often confused with philosophy as a worldview. The discipline is informed by the worldview (or the perspective by which the philosopher is viewing philosophy), but the discipline is distinct from worldview.

For example, many of the early Greek philosophers set out to find answers to life’s great questions using only naturalistic evidences. To their credit, they were in part motivated by a desire to move away from superstition and unwarranted belief in a pantheon that was hardly explanatory. The naturalistic worldview of these thinkers shaped much of what we understand as philosophical inquiry, but it is important to note that it was their worldview that was naturalistic, not the discipline of philosophy itself. Read more about The Interconnectedness of Philosophy, Theology, & Worldview