Thursday, November 19, 2009

First Corinthians and Other Goodies

This is my 300th post.

I haven't posted links to sermons in a long time, so I will have to play catch up.

You can hear my sermons on The Sower, The Mustard Seed and the Leaven, and the Wheat and the Tares here. That finished out our summer series on the Parables of Jesus. It was a great series, but I'm glad its over.

Gary and I have started a new series on 1 Corinthians. A few weeks ago I taught on 1 Corinthians 1:10–17. I opened by recounting the sad story of a recent church split in Florida, and then we talked about what the passage had to say about dividing versus trying to maintain unity. We are called to divide from those who teach error. But we are also called to maintain unity in the church.

At Believers Fellowship, we appreciate diversity within the body of Christ. We are united with all of those who affirm the Nicene Creed, and separate from those who don't. We have beliefs beyond what is written in the creeds. We cherish these beliefs--they make us who we are. But we recognize that these beliefs are not bases for division.

Find the 1 Corinthians series here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Evangel" on First Things

First Things, a Roman Catholic publication, has a new blog dedicated (mostly) to evangelical writers. It is a noble ecumenical act. I've been following it for the couple of weeks that it has been in existence, and I have to say it just might be my new favorite blog. It gives evangelical perspectives on theology, ecumenicism, culture, politics, etc. The contributors span the spectrum of evangelicalism (and there are a few Roman Catholics, too), and they seem to be able to disagree without yelling at each other. Some good lines from posts you will see on the front page of today:

"Ah, Dallas: the epicenter of evangelical awesomeness. ;-)"

"As I look toward 2012, I realize that as a Romney guy I often feel like the kind of person who would have a party for Windows 7 . . . my candidate is very attractive, but safe as an Osmond.
But then I realized that if I become an Obama guy, I would be one of those people who buy Apple computers: vain, proud of a small market share, and desperate to look like I am young."

"I think this is largely true — the only 800+ page non-thriller novels I’ve read tended to be old and Russian. The bite/byte-sized culture in which we operate today makes our attention spans struggle to hold beyond 140 characters, much less 140 pages ."

Friday, November 6, 2009

Scot McKnight's Top Books on Leadership

Scot McKnight suggested the following books as his favorite for leaders:

Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle
The Odyssey by Homer
The Aeneid by Virgil
The Divine Comedy by Dante
Confessions by St. Augustine
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
On Walden Pond by Henry David Thoreau
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Dymer by C.S. Lewis
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
"Leaf by Niggle" by J.R. Tolkien
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway
I and Thou by Martin Buber

He concludes, "Not your usual list of books on leadership, but I wonder sometimes if leadership might best be described by those who are intellectual and cultural leaders instead of by those who talk about it." You can read the whole article here.

Interesting take on leadership. I have to agree, especially with his conclusion. If you want to be a leader, you don't need to read a book on 10 leadership principles by some guy who will be forgotten in 20 years. You need to read the books that changed the world.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Jared Wilson on "Evangelicalism with More Cowbell"

Jared Wilson has a great post at Evangel about the new building project at First Baptist Dallas. He links to some impressive videos that show you just what $130 million will get you.

I predict that this campaign will be an epic failure. I went to FBCD for a number of years. I almost quit the ministry after my time there. They need a new building, but their problems run much deeper than that.

Christopher Hitchens on "How Religions End"

I am reading God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens. The purpose of his book is not to eradicate religion, but to bolster the atheist position in public discourse. Religious conversation, writes Hitchens, is “the beginning—but not the end—of all arguments about philosophy, science, history, and human nature. It is also the beginning—but by no means the end—of all disputes about the good life and the just city."

In chapter twelve, “How Religions End,” Hitchens recounts the story of Sabbatai Sevi, a seventeenth century messianic claimant who was pressured by authorities to either renounce his messianic claims, or submit to a trial by ordeal. Archers would shoot at Sabbatai Sevi, and if God deflected the arrows he would be vindicated as messiah. He did not accept the trial by ordeal, but instead he renounced his claims, embraced Islam, and was deported. His followers, distraught at his apostasy, responded in ways varying from arguing that his conversion was a ruse to claiming that he had ascended into the heavens.

The parallels with the messianic claims of Jesus are noted. Hitchens speculates that had Sabbatai Sevi been executed, we would have another world religion on our hands.
Perhaps. But Hitchens speculation remains just that—speculation.

In The Resurrection of the Son of God, N.T. Wright points out that Jesus was not the only messianic claimant of his day. In fact, even the New Testament attests to others (Acts 5:35–39). Wright argues that people typically did not respond in the way that they did to Jesus’ claims, execution, and supposed resurrection. In most cases, the death of the leader led to the dissolution of the movement. But with Jesus, something else happened. Why?
Whatever happened to Sabbatai Sevi, his disappearance led to the dissolution of his movement. We can speculate about what would have happened had history taken a different course, but that kind of speculation will always be fanciful.

I would refer back to my previous post on “The Tawdriness of the Miraculous and the Decline of Hell,” that the empty tomb and resurrection appearances are necessary but not sufficient grounds for faith. Yes, there are reports that Jesus rose from the dead, and these reports are integral to our faith. But they are not the only grounds of our faith. The continuing work of the Holy Spirit validates the message of the Gospel.