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.

Posted on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

The latest Mortification of Spin: Bully Pulpit is now available, dealing with the apparent inability ofHagler Hearns.jpg the evangelical Christian world to understand how public criticism of public teaching works. If you are uncomfortable with the idea that one can criticize a Christian leader who has used their high-profile public position to say or do something that is harmful and/or wrong before one has sat down at Starbucks, bought them a latte and affirmed them in their calling, then this podcast is probably not for you.

And if you are of that persuasion but do listen to the program, please be aware that we are happy to waive our right to a latte and all that faux affirmation and instead give you permission to criticize us to your heart's content.  Such is a badge of honour.

Posted on Monday, October 21, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

I had great fun last week attending the Reformation Worship Conference at Midway Presbyterian Church near Atlanta.  There was one terrifying moment when Irfon Hughes approached me andzorro.jpg spoke in his native language.  Not having heard the Dark Tongue of Mordor spoken by a native for nearly thirty years, I had forgotten the sinister chill which always accompanies it.    It was also a pleasure to be at a party on Friday night where the mysterious, tanned and masked Zorro-like swordsman, known in the P.C.A. simply as 'El Rubio,' held court.

While in Atlanta, I enjoyed staying at the house of David Hall where I was able to connect with a number of old acquaintances: Mark Ross, T. David Gordon and Terry Johnson, as well as David himself.  Listening to them three musketeers.jpgtalk, I was reminded of how much I owe to their writings.   T. David Gordon's two works, Why Johnny Can't Preach and Why Johnny Can't Sing Hymns are brilliant examples of how the author blends theology, churchmanship and media ecology (which, quite frankly, sounds like too much fun to be a legitimate post-Fall calling) into a critique of contemporary church life.   David Hall may not be as well known as T. David, but he has written numerous books.   Among them, his The Practice of Confessional Subscription is outstanding and should be required reading in any class dealing with matters of church authority and confession.  His syllabus for church officer training is also very good. Terry Johnson's Leading in Worship is a most useful handbook for those called to this task, one which has no obvious competitor.  It is just out in a second and expanded edition and I am not able to find an online link for it as yet, but I will make one known as soon as available.   In the meantime, his little book on catechizing children is now out from Banner of Truth.

All for one and one for all, as they say.

Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

The latest Mortification of Spin is up in which we are joined in the Underground Bunker once again by Aimeelamour.jpg 'Dueling Banjos' Byrd, one of the founders of the recent Reformed Chick Lit. movement which looks set to become a major cultural force in West Virginia.  Her next book, Real Housewives Wear Denim Jumpers, will soon be available for pre-order, I believe.  Anyway, this time we pick up on the theme of spousal abuse and ask Aimee for her reflections on pastoral responsibilities in this area. 

On another note, we did receive very hostile reactions from numerous Stryper fans regarding the insensitive and hurtful podcast two weeks back, when we began by mocking their heroes. To quote just a few 250px-StatlerAndWaldorf.jpgcomments from our Inbox: 'Misguided and unhelpful'; 'They built up a straw man, squeezed him into spandex, then kicked him down and stamped on his mullet;' 'Once hirsutely helpful to those with hair, now just a couple of balding internet bullies.'  What can we say?  We do wish to apologise for any offence caused to members of the Reformed Hair Rock Community and we will ask the Puppetmaster to ensure that all satirical references to Stryper are henceforth removed.

Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Westminster Theological Seminary has a faculty opening in Practical Theology.  You can find molesworth_reasonably_small.jpgdetails here, although for some reason the bit about washing the Church History professor's car each week seems to have been omitted.