Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Tying up a few loose ends at the end of the week.

First, in answer to inquiries -- No, Reformation21 is not paying the Rev. Furtick to provide me with material.  He is kindly donating it to me for free, for which I am very grateful.  The American phrase is 'the gift that keeps on giving,' I believe. 

Second, the stetson fitting for the Biola debate is not going so well, as Aimee does not like the idea, as you can see.  Good job she shoots straight (though don't tell Todd).

Third, here are a few books worth looking out for:

My former colleague, John Leonard, has an excellent book out on personal evangelism, Get Real: Sharing Your Everyday Faith Every Day.   Not all of the ideas will work everywhere and some will differ with John on how he describes certain things.  But this is a powerful call to outreach and is well-worth a look.   It also carries huge credibility because John is one of the most effective personal evangelists I know and knows whereof he speaks..

Andreas Kostenberger and Justin Taylor have written a great book on The Final Days of Jesus.  If you have ever been confused on what happens when, and how the gospels connect in the narration of Jesus' last days before his death, then this book is a great help.  It has a chronological arrangement of the gospel accounts, helpful charts and insightful commentary.

Finally, Alex Chediak has a new book out, Preparing Teens for College.  It arrived a few years too late for me but looks like an excellent how-to kind of book on the priorities to have when making sure your children are ready to leave home for pastures new.

Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

While the evangelical world is no doubt gasping in horror at the expose that the mass baptisms at Elevation Church have been engineered (who could have seen that one coming?) in a way that would leave Charles Finney drooling at the anxious bench, it is worth remembering that us paedobaptists are in on the game too.  My friend and seeker-sensitive megachurch reformed man, the Rev. Digby St.John-Crimond, of the Re:Tribution (formerly St Olaf the Sublime), used to build his brand loyalty and pull off his part in God's miracle by planting 15 or 20 young, energetic couples in the congregation, armed with realistic plastic toy dolls.  At the key moment, he would call out for those who wanted to come forward and the plants would make their move.  After Digby baptized the dolls, the couples would be pushed towards the video crew who would mine them for great stories.  Sadly, it all went wrong one day when, after an incredible revival moment when Digby had baptized 27 dolls, his hands got wet, he dropped one on the floor, it bounced and the robotic voice jammed in repeating 'Mama mama mama' over and over again. The game, as they say, was up.

Except it wasn't.  Thankfully, being shown to be a complete fraud did not affect Digby's ministry one little bit.  He declared that 'mistakes had been made,' the money keeps rolling in to this day, his books get polite reviews on orthodox websites, and he is still sneakily admired as the greatest visionary for God out there.  After all, he tells a lot of people about Jesus.

Lookie here: I feel a revival coming on!

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Posted on Thursday, February 20, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Some months ago, Peter Leithart declared that it was time Protestantism came to an end.  In a fine response, Fred Sanders offered a trenchant critique of the article.   Then, two weeks ago, Fred contacted me to ask if I would be willing to be part of a debate on the future of Protestantism with himself and Dr.Leithart at Biola University.    Now that, I thought, is one three-way gentlemanly cage-fight I'd like to tell my grandchildren about.

Not sure how it will go down.  I am just a historian, up against two sharp theological and philosophical minds. But, like Fred, I believe Protestantism is worth defending, though I suspect our respective visions of how that should be done will be, like our theologies, somewhat different.  In the meantime, I'm getting fitted for a stetson.

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Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Reading Todd's last post, I am shocked to see yet another apparent act of megachurch pastor plagiarism, or, to give it the modern technical name, 'mistakes that have been made.'   It seems that the Sunday School material he posts is based upon the syllabus we use at my church.  Judge for yourselves -- here is one of the pictures we have the children colour on a Sunday.  Just a simple scene of me humbly loving the people, leading in worship, and inspiring the congregation to higher and higher levels of unity, devotion, and faith:
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Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Elevation Church for their statement of faith, or, to use the modern idiom, "core values." Or, as they put it in their uber-cool but perhaps a bit creepy way at EC, 'The Code'......

Perhaps the Puppetmaster might offer a prize to anyone who can explain what core value 7 means.  It makes the debates in later Lutheran orthodoxy over the communication of properties look like exercises in limpid prose and clear communication:

7: We will continually increase our capacity by structuring for where we want to go, not where we are. We will remain on the edge of our momentum by overreacting to harness strategic momentum initiatives.

Quite.   Though I would advise you not to try to stay on the edge of your momentum at home.molesworth_reasonably_small.jpg It can lead to serious injury and even death. EC Strategic Momentum Initiators are trained professionals who understand the physical risks involved and use specialised equipment in a controlled environment.

Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

For those who still write to me every now and then congratulating me on my greatest comicMolesworth crystal ball.jpg creation, Paul Morgan Lewellyn Ap-Levy, there is finally proof of his independent existence.  For some years, I have thought of him as my sole ally in the never-ending war against the aristos of the parachurch reformed evangelical world.  But now it appears he has gone to Versailles to be interviewed, along with Dave Strain. 

While the present Mrs T is not happy with M. Levy for the comments made about Scotland, the interview is well-worth listening to.  Paul and Dave extol the beauties of Presbyterian worship, church and evangelism, morning and evening services, and the Lord's Day.   Music to my ears, even as the sell-out goes down.  It also contains a sober warning to any young woman tempted to learn the Shorter Catechism.  It can lead to unexpected consequences and take a terrible, terrible toll.
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Posted on Wednesday, February 19, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Regular MoS listeners will know that, with the addition of Aimee, we have made the transitionniceville (180x135).jpg from being' not nice' to being 'nice.'  That's what having a Housewife Theologian's touch has done for us, as she has laid down the law on a number of fronts: no more dirty laundry left on the studio floor ("Come on guys, your mothers wouldn't stand for this....), no more late nights hanging out  with TeamPyro ("They are a bad influence, naughty boys, layabouts, not very nice at all!"), and no more pipe smoking ("What a filthy habit!  Stop it now!") in the vicinity of the Underground Bunker (that last prohibition is a heavy, heavy blow to Todd). 

Anyway, in this week's podcast, we think we have taken things to a new level and actually tried to go from being 'useless' to being 'useful' by talking about the anarchy that is sexual morality and sexual identity in the current climate. The MoS teams hopes that this interview might at least help some to think more clearly about the issues.

In the meantime, the team is preparing for another marathon recording session in two weeks, under the cold, hard, all-seeing eye of the Puppetmaster, the Napoleon of Spin, the Moriarty of Mortification.
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Posted on Monday, February 17, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

While it may be good news for those suffering from coulrophobia, reports are coming out in the national press that America may be facing a critical shortage of clowns in the very nearclown.jpg future.  One may scoff at such news but when one remembers how many sectors of the economy depend upon a thriving clown population -- makers of baldy man wigs, water pistol bow ties, oversize shoes, garish boxer shorts, and indeed much of the European and American automobile industry -- this is no laughing matter.

The reasons for the decline in the clown population seem complex.  Increasing levels of good taste, higher literacy rates, and increasing self-respect in many parts of society have probably taken their toll on clowning communities.  Indeed, why would anyone want to be a clown when the same skill set makes politics an easier and more lucrative option? 

Still, there is no need to despair.  There are always some willing to take a brave stand against good taste, intelligence, and sophistication.  Thus, the church is mounting an impressive, if a little belated, fightback. Coulrophobes beware: Ref21 predicts that the era of the clown is not over just yet.

Posted on Saturday, February 15, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

It is true.  When it comes to the 'criticism sandwich' of my sermons, the present Mrs T is on what I can only with some charity describe as a no-carb diet.  Nevertheless, I wonder if some of the Pope of Ealing's ex cathedra criticism of my book plug is rooted in the fact that he has his own indulgence-like trade in 'Married for Ministry Seminars' which he and the present Mrs L run from the Ealing Vatican.  As I always say to the students in my history classes -- 'Follow the money...':
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Posted on Friday, February 14, 2014 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

A couple of cheery things to note.  Over at First Thoughts I reveal the secret of a long and happy marriage, at least as proposed by American psychologists.  Here, meanwhile, I am happy to bring your attention to a cheerful little book spotted yesterday by Mark McDowell: Calvin, The Psychopath by Rear Admiral Joseph H. Miller.  I believe it is part of a projected series which will include Augustine, The Serial Killer, Thomas Aquinas, The Genocidal Maniac, Gregory of Rimini, The War Criminal, and John Owen, The King of Disco.   As you can see, Aimee Byrd (she's the nice one) was very unhappy to realise that her reputation for being very nice might well be compromised by her not very nice soteriological-podcastical connections. aimee.jpg