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.

Posted on Wednesday, October 09, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

After the switchboard at the Underground Bunker was jammed with complaints that the last episode did not mention Eastern Orthodoxy, Reformed Baptists or 'Dave' from Manchester, we have introduced a new ratings system to help obviate any future offence by warning of what to expect.

G: Suitable for general evangelical audience.  Agreement to differ on soteriology, sacraments, continuation of supernatural gifts of the Spirit, sanctification, multi-site ministry, and ecclesiology.

PG (Presbyterian Guidance): Contains occasional scenes of a presbyterian nature which some baptists may find mildly offensive.  Some mild criticism of male grooming products and skinny jeans.

PG13: Some sacramental language. Occasional graphic ecclesiology.  Baptists under the age of 13 must be accompanied by a Presbyterian.

R: Contains scenes of an explicitly Reformed and Presbyterian nature which many will find offensive.  Frequent use of confessional language.

NC17: Completely unsuitable for non-confessional people.

The latest MoS, Mad, Mad, Mad is rated G, for general evangelical audience. 

Posted on Tuesday, October 08, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Here is a report on Rosaria Butterfield's talk at USF.   Kudos to RUF for organising it and to Mrs Butterfield for what was obviously a gracious and faithful presentation.

Posted on Monday, October 07, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

I spent part of last week back with the Boys from Brazil, speaking on Reformation worship and spirituality in its Anglican and Puritan variations. The highlight of the week was being able to images.jpgdenounce from the lectern the audience member who was wearing a Chelsea shirt -- a gesture calculated as an insult to the guest lecturer, I have no doubt -- closely followed by the opportunity to debate the communication of properties with the very thoughtful and learned Lutheran theologian, Carl Beckwith.

It also provided a classic example of Misinformation Technology.   Returning to my hotel room late on Friday night, having declined the opportunity to round off the day with a chocolate pizza (yes, such oxymorons do exist), I found a friendly email from Pastor Kent Butterfield, warning me of a Facebook storm which was brewing.  Apparently someone was claiming on said medium that I had declared earlier that day that Christ was not in the psalms.

Now, my active internet presence is restricted almost entirely to this webpage.  No Facebook.  No twitter.  I did do Linkedin for about a week, but when the first three people who wanted to "link" me were among those who had tried to relieve me of the annoyance of having gainful employment at Westminster, I terminated the account as being somewhat beyond the rational categories I possess for processing "links" in daily life.    Then last year somebody contacted me to tell me that he had rubbished me on his blog.  Well, it was good of him to tell me; but as I believe in freedom of speech and do not on the whole read blogs, I did not find the news either philosophically or personally offensive.  In short, for me social media is watching old episodes of Taggart and Rebus on Youtube with the present Mrs T.  So I typically find a Facebook storm about as personally worrying as a real storm in the southern Atlantic.  But to hit me on the psalms.....ooh, that hurts.  That hurts indeed.

Who steals my internet connection steals trash....But he that filches from me my good psalms robs me of that which not enriches him, and makes me poor indeed.

Truth be told, I had delivered two lectures which emphasised the absolute centrality of psalm singing to Reformation worship and indeed to biblical worship. I am not sure how that became a denial of Christ in the psalms.  Sure -- everyone wants in on the psalm game these days, with N T Wright being only the latest to jump on the bandwagon for the psalter in worship; but I was doing it when it was a sign of lunatic irrelevance, something akin to thinking one was Napoleon, one up the scale of social acceptability from granny bashing, and not the hip hallmark of missional attractionality or whatever the latest meaningless jargon is.   To engage in a Pauline style boast, I was making the point that we need to sing psalms long before male grooming products and skinny jeans became mission statements.     Indeed, I am fairly confident that I started arguing for such so long ago that at that time I could myself wear skinny jeans without fear of serious personal injury.   It is also why we generally have a 50% psalm to hymn ratio at my church.  Not impressive to an exclusive psalmodist, I know, but not a bad percentage for one who is not persuaded of the EP position.

In short, while I would make sure that I preached on certain psalms before the congregation sang them (137 being the most obvious example), I still believe -- as I have done for two and a half decades -- that psalms are vital to Christian worship.  They give voice to a range of emotions,molesworth_reasonably_small.jpg many of which are neglected by traditions of hymnody and praise songs; they focus on God, or on man in relation to God; we can be fully confident that they express that which God wishes to be expressed; and above all they contain Christ.  Yes, they really do.

As a postscript, do pray for Kent and Rosaria Butterfield.  The latter will be speaking at USF this week.   Pray for safety, for courage in the face of opposition and for opportunities to speak the truth in love.  You can read more about the event and get a taste of the likely opposition here

Posted on Wednesday, October 02, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

The latest offering from the Underground Bunker is up.   Todd describes his journey between tribes, I feel his pain and then offer absolution.  WARNING: Southern Baptists may find some of the material disturbing. 

Posted on Friday, September 27, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

I have just been tipped off that Jon Payne and the chaps at Tolle Lege Press are reaching the final stages of a very secret publishing venture: a near 1,000 page tome by Hughes Oliphant Old on the Lord's Supper in the Reformed tradition.  I remember a decade ago causing a near riot at an Anglican college in the UK when I gave a lecture expounding the Book of Common Prayer's theology of the Lord's Supper and highlighting it as a much neglected element in the arsenal of pastoral care. I had carelessly forgotten than Anglican evangelicalism by and large defines itself as not being Tractarian and thus as downplaying the role of the Lord's Supper (and baptism) in the church.  Old's book looksOld on Communion.jpg set to rectify that position, reminding us all how important the Lord's Supper is for believers and as a pastoral tool.   The work is vast in scope, discussing the Supper from the beginnings of the Reformation to Jean-Jacques von Allmen.    I have only seen the introduction and table of contents but imagine this will be a very important book for Reformed pastors to have on their shelves.

Posted on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 by Carl Trueman on Postcards from Palookaville

Banner of Truth has launched a new series of video shorts by their authors.   You can see the first, featuring Westminster alumnus and PCA pastor, Paul Wolfe, here.    It is brief but contains a remarkable amount of wise thinking about the importance and impact of the preached word.

Paul is also a cancer survivor whose remarkable book on his experience of grace through suffering is an excellent read.  You can purchase it, and his book on heavenly mindedness, here.