Posted on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

A while back I bumped into somebody who mentioned that he was 'talking to my people' toMy People.jpg arrange for me to come and speak at his church.   Somewhat puzzled, I asked him who 'my people' were.  Equally puzzled, he responded that they were the people he contacted to arrange for me to etc. etc.  I then explained that I had had a series of assistants when Vice President at Westminster (beginning with the peel.jpginestimable Mrs. Peel, pictured left) who helped me be in the right place at the right time with regard to Seminary business and even remembered such things as my cell phone number for me.  Having relinquished my administrative position, however, I had also relinquished that advantage in life.   Finally, the penny dropped: the gentleman realized that the person responding to emails sent to the account which bears my name was none other than the person whose name was on said account: me, myself and I.  Yes, if you email me and I respond, it is me.  Then again, if you email me and I do not, please be assured that it is me who is ignoring you.

Last week I was having breakfast with a friend who works in the publishing industry.  He commented on the fact that now, when his company asks someone to speak at a conference, they almost always have to pay for the person to bring along a personal assistant.   At the upper levels of reformed evangelicalism, we are now dealing with (as Babs once sang) people who have people, the luckiest -- or shall we say 'providentially blessed' -- people in the world.  And, of course, so many of the key authors now have personal literary agents --  though I cannot resist noting that, in a deceptive twist of adjectival language, it typically seems to be the least literary Christian authors who often require the services of the same.   Market forces are wonderful upholders of standards, are they not?

Makes me wonder: even if you are naive enough to think I am wrong on celebrity reformed evangelicalism, are the leaders of the same perhaps taking themselves just a tad too seriously, with all those self-named ministries, agents, personal assistants and assorted entourages? 

Still, perhaps I am misreading the situation. Maybe I should get my people to talk to your people about that one.  As for me,  I have no army of people for I am my people -- or should that be 'person'? And when I travel, I'm just the man in a man in a suitcase.jpgsuitcase.   And a pretty small one at that.

Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

The BeeGee's edited book on the atonement, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her, is finallymolesworth runs.jpg here.   There is also a website with accompanying promotional video.  Just in time for Christmas.   

Posted on Thursday, November 14, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Over at Credo, friend of Ref21 and indeed of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, baptist pastor and theologian, Fred Zaspel, has posted some moving reflections on the recent loss of his daughter Gina, at age 29.

Posted on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

This week we have the pleasure of interviewing Boyce College professor, Denny Burk, on his new book, What is the Meaning of Sex?   The book itself is excellent and we are grateful to Denny for giving his time to the podcast.    

Posted on Monday, November 11, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

I have a few things to report from around the patch today.

First, it is that time of year again.  Yes, the Banner of Truth Trust once again honours the
Santa Murray.jpgseasonal convictions of one of its early supporters, Professor John Murray, by offering its books at a special discount for Christmas.  The Trust has been producing quality Christian literature for decades and many of us have taken regular advantage of its unwavering commitment to the liturgical calendar in order to stock our shelves with beautifully produced and worthwhile books.   So as you down your Yuletide cognac, make sure to toast the memory of one of the men who made it all possible.

images.jpgSecond, the Boys from Brazil have launched a Portuguese language equivalent of Reformation 21 under the auspices of the Alliance.  It can be found here.   Earlier this year I was in Brazil and met with said boys.  They told me that once upon a time they had wanted to be young, restless and reformed. Oh my. But having read Ref21, they said that they had realized that it is ok to be simply Calvinist cranks.  Praise indeed.  I have a lump in my throat even as I recall the conversation.  Keep up the good work, brothers, and do not let the Top Men buy your souls.  Oh, and while we're at it, boys --- make sure to keep all references to Chelsea FC far, far away from the blog.   Normal Ref21 rules of decency and taste apply, after all.

gatiss.jpgThird, congratulations are (over)due to Lee Gatiss (pictured left at the Church Society's annual Puritans and Prelates Halloween bash.  At least I hope that is what it was.  Otherwise, the spirit of Hooper is clearly dead....).  He has piloted the NIV Proclamation Bible through to publication.  This Bible has helpful introductory essays, concise introductions to each biblical book and decent cross referencing.  With a special focus on helping preachers and Bible study leaders, it strikes a nice balance between the plain text and an overly heavy interpretative apparatus.  I go back and forth on whether I prefer the ESV or the NIV (both having strengths which complement the other's weaknesses) and so this well-bound volume is a welcome addition to the bookshelf.

Finally, Danny 'Jekyll' Hyde's book on infant baptism, which is the one we give away on thejekyll-hyde-243x304.jpg literature table at Cornerstone, is now available in Spanish and can be downloaded for free via his church's website.   One of the best introductions to the subject available.  Readable and accessible (but, in this particular edition, only if you read Spanish, of course.....)

Posted on Thursday, November 07, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Earlier today in a post over at First Thoughts I offered some reflections on the way in which identity has been psychologized.   Then, as if on cue, my attention was brought to this piece of Mumpitz which is apparently what passes for serious reflective journalism in one of the country's top schools. 
Here is a classic quotation:

"Cissexism is, simply put, the belief that men should be men and women should be women."

Err, yes, I think I'm tracking with you.  Sounds like a good idea.  Or am I missing something?

Oh, wait, that's bad, is it?  Thank goodness there is a strategy to deal with this outrageous kind of thinking:

"To address cissexism at Georgetown on an individual level, all you have to do is present yourself in a way that is not "appropriate" for your gender."

Sorry, old chap, when it comes to this one, I'm a bit of a Ray Davies man myself: 'I'm not the
seedy searle.jpg world's most masculine man but I know what I am and I bet I'm a man...."  Plus, I don't think I'd look good in twin set and pearls.

A phrase about lunatics, asylums, and internal transitions of institutional power comes to mind.

Posted on Wednesday, November 06, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Over at Janet Mefferd's radio show, Dan Dan Dispensational Man, discusses charismaticism.   I Hagler Hearns.jpgnow forgive DP for sending me a link to a Chicago concert which I opened at a faculty meeting without realising my laptop's sound was on and which thus earned me a rebuke from the Moderator, our esteemed Shepherd Leader.  Would never have happened in Machen's day.  Chicago, that is, not appropriate moderatorial discipline.

Posted on Wednesday, November 06, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Over at the Underground Bunker, Bob and Dorothy have a go at another hard part of megachurchlamour.jpg pastor ministry: what do you do with a 16 000 square foot mansion?  For those pastors whose calling is dangerous primarily because of the potential eye damage done by flying champagne corks in the first class compartment of any plane on which they may be traveling, this podcast will be unusually hard and discouraging.

Posted on Tuesday, November 05, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Perhaps I am alone in this but maybe, just maybe, there are others out there who are fed up of hearing just how hard the ministry is.  Indeed, the 'ministry is hard and dangerous' style of writing is almost a genre in itself these days.  

The latest addition to the Ministry Hall of Pain comes from Mark Driscoll.  The article is interesting as a sign of the times.  For years I have pointed out to students that the 'I was dragged into ministry kicking and screaming' line has been a staple of ministerial testimonies since at least Gregory of Nazianzus (with Calvin being perhaps the most obvious example).  In recent times, however, that cliche seems to have been replaced with the 'As a pastor, I have received death threats' narrative as a means of helping to give the story a touch of authenticity.  This article does not disappoint on that score.  

Such threats are no doubt nasty and frightening.  But does the wider world need to know about them?  Does placing such knowledge in the public sphere serve to do anything other than enhance our own delusions of importance?

More to the point, is ministry --- particularly well-paid ministry in a large, vibrant church --- really that hard?  Perhaps it is.  But is it as hard as working in the secular world, where one's faith might be subject to ridicule on a daily basis and where one might actually lose one's promotion or even position because of one's Christian convictions?  Is preparing sermons as hard and boring and depressing as working in a dead-end job on a shop floor somewhere?  Is such well-paid ministry as mega church pastors enjoy as depressing or worrying or even frightening as working for minimum wage and fretting about how to pay this month's bills?    I very much doubt it.  It seems to me that many of us work in churches where we as ministers are among those most protected from the harsh realities and dangers of life in a post-Christian world.   So we should not flatter ourselves about how hard and dangerous our calling is.

Perhaps it is time for those of us who have ministerial jobs which we by and large enjoy andMolesworth in Corner.jpg which actually shield us from much of the aggressively secular world out there to spend less time puffing ourselves up as martyrs to a cause or as danger men living risky lives on the edge and instead give thanks for the comparatively easy green pastures in which we have been allowed to lie down. 

Posted on Friday, October 25, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Over at The Housewife Theologian, 'Nunchucks' has posted a guest column by Persis Lorenti reflecting on a recent Mortification of Spin, specifically on the question of why women in abusive relationships are often reluctant to ask for help.

The sad news from the UK is that Oliver Barclay, a very influential but understated leader in the post-war evangelical world, has died.  The Independent carries an obituary of him.   I never met Dr. Barclay but owe him a debt of gratitude: in the mid 1990s, he recommended my name to John Benton as someone to write occasional columns for the British evangelical newspaper, Evangelicals Now. Until that time, I had written solely for the secular academic audience, so he gave me my first break into writing of a more journalistic and non-historical vein.  For that I am grateful; others are perhaps less so.

molesworth_reasonably_small.jpgFinally, for any who have missed it, Denny Burk's excellent book, What is the Meaning of Sex, is now available.