Posted on Thursday, April 03, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

The OPC website notes that today (April 3) marks the anniversary of an important judicial ruling in California, that a church has the right to fire a gay organist.The book which Charles McIlhenny wrote about the ordeal, When the Wicked Seize a City, is still worth reading and is perhaps more relevant today than it was way back when.

Posted on Thursday, April 03, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

There are numerous items to report today.  

Tim Challies notes that the extremely informative and helpful volume by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb on helping victims of sexual abuse, Rid of My Disgrace, is now available on Kindle for the bargain price of $1.99.  It was reviewed on Ref21 a few years ago and is well worth a puchase.

Mike Horton's excellent new study of John Calvin has been available for a few weeks.  Anything MH writes is worth reading and this is no exception.

No doubt inspired by news of Jimmy Page's remastering of the entire Led Zeppelin back catalogue, with new material, Banner of Truth is rumoured to be remastering James Bannerman's Church of Christ with a new introduction.   Watch this space for further developments.

For those who tweet, Frank 'the Turk' Sollozzo has launched a dubious new hashtag (or, as I pronounce it, mari-joo-arner tag), #LEWD, League of Edgy Women Divas, in honour of our very own Aimee Byrd.  All I can say is, it is oh-so-much easier to joke about such edgy divas when you do not actually have to work with them.

Finally, in a week when we are claiming every square inch and encouraging Calvinist dessertmolesworth runs.jpg chefs everywhere, our Machen Hall correspondent brought this apposite and helpful video to Ref21's attention this morning.  We hope you find it helpful.  Just go easy on those Christian pastries.

Posted on Wednesday, April 02, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

In our never-ending quest to make the streets of Gotham safe for women and children and people like Paul Levy, She Who Must Be Obeyed has instructed the MoS team thisWonder Woman Gloria.jpg week to address the matter of mystical Christian chick lit., specifically the publishing phenomenon that is Jesus Calling.  We ask tough questions, such as "What is wrong with thinking Jesus is whispering into your ear?", "What are the implications of such things for the understanding of scripture?", and "To what extent are pastors obliged to read this material in order to be able to speak to congregants about it in an informed manner?"   We are confident that, if it came to hand-to-hand combat with Sarah Young, either of our favourite superheroine chickliteristas, Nunchucks or Wonder Woman, would win an easy victory without even breaking sweat.  But for those of us not blessed with their very intimidating presence and superpowers in the congregation each week, how should we handle this kind of issue?
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Posted on Tuesday, April 01, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

I remember the time (oh frabjous day!) when I suggested that so much Christian world-and-life-view talk seemed to be little more than a way of dressing up the political and cultural interests of the middle class chatterati in pious Christianspeak.  Not manymolesworth_reasonably_small.jpg people agreed with me then.  But, according to friends Todd and Darryl, the evidence keeps piling up.   Ho hum, I was slow off the mark this time because I feared it was all an April Fool but happily acknowledge that they have scooped me.  Alas, there is not one square inch of middle class life over which etc. etc.

We await the usual formal letters of complaint to the Puppetmaster at Head Office.  Indeed, we might even read a few of them this time on an episode of the Spin.  Just for old times' sake.

Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

I wonder if highly observant readers can spot the subtle differences between these two descriptions of the ideal candidates for ministry?

Elevation Church:

The typical applicant is 23-30 years of age who is a recent college/seminary graduate or someone with relevant experience. However, do not let the age range deter you from applying. The applicant should also be someone seeking to join with Elevation Church, who is a high capacity leader with the ability to multi-task and thrives in a fast paced ministry environment.

Ephesian Church:

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle,molesworth_reasonably_small.jpg not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Christianity Today reports that World Vision has reversed its decision of two days ago and will not now employ people in same sex marriages. 

The letter announcing the decision is interesting.  The language of 'mistake' is used, though at least this time as the object of an active verb, not the subject of a passive.  Further, while the Board asks for forgiveness, this is apparently for the pain and confusion caused to the constituency. 

This is quite a contrast to the language used in the latest First Things by my old Aberdeen University colleague and friend, now Notre Dame professor, Francesca Murphy, who applies the language of blasphemy to the idea of gay marriage.   I do not share all of Francesca's theology of marriage but I appreciate that she reminds us that sin is primarily against God.  Forgiveness from fellow humans who have been 'hurt' is one thing; Forgiveness from the God who is blasphemed, however, is quite another.  It seems that the spirit of Psalm 51:4 has virtually vanished from the too-big-to-fail ministries, church and parachurch, in the evangelical world.

Cynics would no doubt see the absence of any concept of having offended against God inseedy searle.jpg these 'mistake' idiom statements, of which there have been a number over recent weeks, as something of a poker tell and would want to follow the money. But regular readers of this blog know that I am the last person to be cynical about such things.....

Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

But now I'm in the OPC.   I had no idea that, of everything I have ever said or written, it would be my pronunciation of marijuana that would catapult me to celebrity fame.   What can I say?  Well, actually, I'll let Huey Lewis and the News say it for me.
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Posted on Wednesday, March 26, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Big changes were implemented in the Underground Bunker this week when the Puppetmastershe.jpg announced the appointment of a new Executive Producer, presumably in a desperate attempt to impose some kind of order.   For personal reasons, she will be known to the world simply as She Who Must Be Obeyed.   She is of good OPC stock, and I am of course impressed by the appropriate 1Cor. 11 head covering; but I do wonder why the standard issue denim burka has apparently been abandoned for something rather more exotic.  Still, as Nunchucks now has a key ally in SWMBO, life in the Bunker for Todd and myself is changing dramatically, and not for the better, I hasten to add.

As to the podcast, we all know that the church is being faced with a rapidly changing social context which raises a variety of new challenges.  Thus, this week the Puppetmaster flew the team out on location to Colorado in order to address the matter of marijuana.  In states where it is legal, what should the church's attitude be? Should we discipline members who partake?  Take no stand? Offer pious advice?  That is the question before us this week in the latest Mortification of Spin: Bully Pulpit.

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Posted on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Dale Coulter has a fine piece on the Old and New Calvinism over at First Thoughts.   By making the connection (which others have done) between current parties and the Old School/New School debates of the nineteenth century, he offers some useful and historically informed conceptual clarity to those new Calvinists who struggle with the fact that many of us are more ambivalent (ambivalent, not dismissive) towards the movement than they would like. 

As he says, Old Schoolers do not have the numbers to make an impact.  But that is part of the division too.  We are not concerned about building mass movements; rather, we are concerned about impact at a local and then a denominational level.  This is not because we care nothing for the body of Christ as a whole but because we are aware of the church's limited resources, and of the fact that most people in the churches where we worship have no deep interest in such movements.  They are too busy being Christians in their daily lives.molesworth_reasonably_small.jpg They work hard for the local church; they witness to their neighbours; they support the denomination with their tithes; they pray for the denomination and her missionaries in particular and for the extension of the kingdom in general; and they trust others do the same for their respective churches.  And that's about it.  More than enough to keep us all busy, as they say.

Posted on Tuesday, March 25, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Dr. Fred Zaspel, Warfield aficionado and baptist pastor, has launched a new website, Books at a Glance.  The idea is to provide short, thoughtful reviews on a large number of theological books.  One of the great delights about living at the present time is the wealth of great Christian writing, old and new, which is available.  Yet the problem is knowing which books are worth reading in depth and which can be skimmed.   This is where good book reviews can be very helpful and that is the philosophy underlying this venture.   Highly recommended.