Evangelicalism

My bad: on making theological retractions

“My bad,” is a pretty common expression when playing pick-up basketball. If you make an errant pass or let your man drive around you or lose the ball off the dribble, the standard way to acknowledge your error is simply to say to your teammates, “my bad.”

Contrary to Erich Segal, marriage means always having to say you’re sorry. Segal wrote this inanity because, as Sir Elton John puts it, "'sorry seems to be the hardest word." To say "my bad" to my wife is hard, but repentance is the privilege of the Christian and God has set things up so that "my bad" and "sorry" are a necessary part of the grease that keeps a marriage running smoothly.

In marriage, "sorry” can cover a whole multitude of issues, all the way from putting the wrong piece of clothing in the dryer to dropping a plate to an angry outburst.  But … How does a pastor or theologian say "sorry" or "I was wrong?" And if you’re a published author, it gets even more complicated.

I remember one time hearing a pastor … 


If Paul had to deal with postmoderns...

Dear “Brother” Paul:

I’m finding it very difficult to write this letter to you since I know how you’ll respond. But I choose not to think about that. You’ve mentioned me in two of your allegedly “private letters” to brother Tim and I feel I must respond.

In the first you claim that I’ve rejected the faith and a good conscience. And, as if that was not bad enough, you accuse me of blasphemy. How would you feel if someone said those kinds of things about you? Have you ever thought of that? I thought you...


Church fathers: only God is good...

Happy Father's Day, home fathers and church fathers!

When I graduated from high school, the Wheaton area was the center of Evangelicalism and Evangelicalism was riding high. Our father, Joe Bayly, was out on the road speaking at conferences so often he was a member of United's million mile club and my girlfriend's father had just started Tyndale House Publishers. At the time, Ken Taylor had two best-sellers making Tyndale lots and lots of money—a long-shot manuscript rejected by all the legacy Christian publishers that he issued under the title Dare To Discipline,


Pay me $500, then clap...

Ah yes, Christian conferences. And now comes the Christian TED copping the style "Q." Audience members pay $500 for the curation of Christian insight and brilliance, ending up with some talking head from Christianity Today. It's like paying Beats $500 to curate sermons and you end up listening to Joel Osteen's smile.

Anyhow, Q was in N, recently, and the guys over at TF were invited...


Tetzel, eat your heart out...

"As soon as a coin in the coffer rings / the soul from purgatory springs." - Johann Tetzel's pitch as he sold the indulgences that funded the Sistine Chapel.

Amazon has started a Christian book imprint called Waterfall. Publisher Mark Pereira explains Waterfall's mission to the Library Journal:

Our main focus [at Waterfall] is to publish books that entertain and inform readers with a transforming message (that includes) Christian Living through spiritual refreshment and personal growth (as well as) stories in the romance, mystery, and suspense genres.

Books with a transforming message that entertains readers. Christian Living and spiritual refreshment through mystery, suspense, and romance. 

The recent merger of Zondervan and Thomas Nelson Publishing is now called HarperCollins Christian Publishing and the same Library Journal article reports this explanation by HC Christian Publishing executive Tracy Danz of their market for Christian fiction...


Post on John MacArthur's money: answering objections...

Back on January 30th, we ran a post updating readers on the latest IRS Forms 990 filed by John MacArthur's non-profit companies and what they show about his annual income. Since the post, several commenters have questioned whether MacArthur really had any say over his study notes being packaged with the neutered New International Version, whether we're saying MacArthur's income is sinful; and if so, what specific sin we're accusing him of? Here are some responses to those questions and challenges:

Brothers,

I've been out of the loop for a while. I appreciate others who have responded to some of the more recent objections to this post. Now, a couple responses of my own.

First, John MacArthur himself had absolute control over whether or not to package and sell his MacArthur Study Bible notes with the neutered Bible now sold under the name New International Version. It was his decision and he alone is the man who could have stopped it. His elders board did not make the decision.  Zondervan doesn't control MacArthur's study notes. John MacArthur controls John MacArthur's study notes. This is how publishing works.

John decided he didn't want to lose out on one of the largest Bible markets in the English-speaking world, so after negotiating royalties (which unlike John Piper's royalties, remain a secret), he signed an agreement with Zondervan to sell his own study notes in the text of a Bible that everyone knows has gagged God's words for the sake of pacifying the feminists.

There's no debating these simple facts. Readers may differ concerning the reason MacArthur did this, but it's certain he made the decision to sell the neutered Bible he had previously opposed because of its unfaithfulness to the text of Scripture.

Second, the Bible commands us to exclude men from ministry who are greedy:


Your tax and missions dollars at work...

Vice President Joe Biden and our new ambassador to Japan, Caroline Kennedy, have been tag-teaming Tokyo, hectoring the Japanese over their national failure to push mothers out of their homes and into office cubicles and factories. Joltin Joe and his pretty sidekick say Japanese women need to stop caring for elderly family members and children and begin to do something constructive that will show up in Japan's gross domestic product. Something like programming a robot instead of teaching a child. Something like feeding hundreds of adults in a cafeteria instead of their children in their own kitchen.

This is what our tax dollars pay for: American women who despise femininity and motherhood moving to foreign countries where they work to pollute those nations with our most contagious disease...


A call to transform neither individuals nor society...

After having this post up for several hours, I've decided to take it back private. Sorry for the on-again off-again disruption. Also, I ask the forgiveness of my friend Bob Patterson, his friend Darryl Hart, and Baylyblog readers for posting this in the first place. In writing this post, I sinned against Christian humility and charity.


Mondays with Bill: Bill Mounce won't allow HIS wife to call him "Lord"...

...just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him "Lord," and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear. - 1Peter 3:6

Bill Mounce is a New Testament scholar who sits on both the feminist New International Version 2011's Committee on Bible Translation funded by Zondervan and the anti-feminist English Standard Version's New Testament committee funded by Good News Publishers/Crossway. How does Dr. Mounce spread his feet between translation responsibilities for both feminist and anti-feminist Bibles?

Bill Mounce is able to keep one foot in both camps because he's a complementarian. Calling himself a "complementarian," Bill Mounce did a post recently telling the world that, despite the Apostle Peter's commendation of Sarah calling her husband "Lord," he himself would most certainly never allow his wife to call him "Lord." In fact, says Dr. Mounce, if my wife addressed me in any way similar to the way Sarah addressed her husband, "I would see it as a failure to lead on my part"...

We'll return to Dr. Mounce's post in a minute, but first let's set the context for Mounce's errors within the world of Evangelicalism...


You are what you read...

Years ago, my father-in-law, Ken Taylor, worked to get me to read Christianity Today. He suggested I subscribe, then tried to give me a gift subscription (which I declined).

An hour or so ago, my dear brother David Wegener left a copy of the November issue of CT on my dining room table, pointing me to a one-page article he thought I should read. I'll read the article, but only because I love David and please understand my love for David is very, very deep. Yet even in the throes of such loving deference, I still found myself a minute ago tearing the magazine in half and placing everything but the article in the trash. Why?

Jesus warned His Disciples—and thus us: "Beware of the leaven of the scribes and Pharisees." I can find nothing that so precisely matches "leaven" as the editorial content of CT and nothing that so precisely matches "scribes and Pharisees" as the men CT promotes...


A.W. Tozer: man of prayer, introverted pastor, and Evangelical mystic...

A Review of Lyle Dorsett, A Passion for God The Spiritual Journey of A.W. Tozer (2008)

A number of us have enjoyed the books of A.W. Tozer (including, The Pursuit of God, The Knowledge of the Holy, and Worship: The Missing Jewel of the Evangelical Church), but few of us know anything about his life and pastoral ministry. Years ago, I read James Snyder’s biography of Tozer and learned a lot from it. However, this more brief biography by Dorsett was based on interviews with Tozer’s family and friends, so it gives a more intimate portrait, though that’s a complicated word to use to describe Tozer.

He was born in 1897 in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains of Central Pennsylvania. The third of six children, Tozer’s family was poor and all the children learned the value of hard work that farm life teaches. His father modeled aloofness and insensitivity to his children. He was irreligious and his family did not attend any church, though he encouraged his children to attend school. Aiden Wilson Tozer finished the eighth grade, but that ended his formal education.

The key event in Aiden’s childhood took place when the family home burned down when he was ten years old...


Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA) responds: the best defense is a good offense...

(This post is the follow-up to an earlier post which should be read first. The earlier post is titled "Christian Medical and Dental Association doesn't want abortion to divide Christians...".)

Last week, we heard from Christian Medical and Dental Association's CEO, Dr. David Stevens. He responded to our earlier post (detailing CMDA's punitive actions toward a dental student who taught a pro-life position in CMDA's Bible study) by laying out his subordinates' explanations of their actions. Thus, his communication with us was simply a number of bullet points, criticizing the dental student's teaching method and character.

There was no acknowledgement that CMDA was wrong in disciplining the student for his pro-life commitments. In our earlier work seeking a resolution to this matter, this is the response we had gotten from CMDA regional and national staff, so we weren't surprised Dr. Stevens continued this line of defense.

The same day we heard from Dr. Stevens, World Magazine contacted us asking for more information. We declined, explaining that we wanted first to work toward a private resolution.


Christian Medical and Dental Association doesn't want abortion to divide Christians...

Then they themselves also will answer, "Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?" (Matthew 25:44)

(NOTE: CMDA's president, vice-president, and midwest regional director have all responded to the content of this post by attacking the gifts and character of the young dental student whose teaching on abortion CMDA had disciplined—as outlined below. We have now published a follow-up post in which we document CMDA's defense, responding with a careful and detailed demonstration of their attack's errors of fact.)

Walmart has an unimpeachable return policy. Read about it on their national website. It is one of the most generous in the industry, but it's only as good as the implementation at your local Walmart when you try to get a refund. If every Walmart were free to reject returns, the official policy wouldn't be worth the paper it was printed on. This is true of every national organization with local branches. The acid test of a national policy is its local implementation.

This is seen all the time with parachurch ministries. For example, the national office of Inter-Varsity was unwilling to discipline a local chapter that promoted homosexuality. Similarly, although the PCA issued a fevered condemnation of Federal-Vision theology at the national level, she hasn't been able to find any local individual who holds to what she condemned. Men tried for Federal-Vision leanings are always exonerated.

The most recent example is the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA). Officially opposed to abortion since 1985, CMDA punished a man who taught their curriculum and position on abortion in one of their local Bible studies. When their official position against abortion becomes painfully local, they undermine it. They are prophets at a distance, but at home they desire peace.

Case in point: a godly, irenic dental student (let's call him John*) attending a CMDA Bible study was asked to take over teaching the study...


New version of The Gospel Blimp released today...

Speaking of books, if you haven't yet read Dad's Gospel Blimp, you really should. Written back in 1962 after two decades working in the parachurch world of Evangelicalism, Dad's parable remains quite funny and painful.

Good news! Today Clearnote Press released a new version of this classic. With an intro by Doug Wilson, the Gospel Blimp is bound with a full set of Dad's other stories/parables formerly published as I Saw Gooley Fly.

The title is The Gospel Blimp (and Other Parables); (Kindle), (Paperback), (Nook), and (eBook-Kobo). Later this week it will be available on iTunes.

It would be a great encouragement to the men of Clearnote who did the work of revision, proofing, and design if readers of Baylyblog were each to buy a copy. And, if you're willing, you could like, share, and/or comment on the announcement on the FB page of Clearnote Fellowship. Thanks.

* * *

BTW, for the foreseeable future, no Bayly family member will receive any royalties on the sale of this book.


Abraham Kuyper: a giant we need...

A Review of James Bratt, Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat.

In history today, studying the “little people” is in and studying the giants is out. Kuyper was a colossus and has not been particularly well-served by biographers. When we study him, we can see further ahead since we are dwarves standing on the shoulders of a giant. Consider his accomplishments and the highlights of his life.

Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) had two conversions, three nervous breakdowns, and at least four vocations in his extraordinary life. He started a political party, a university and a denomination. He wrote book after book, column after column, gave speech after speech, and was one of the finest devotional writers of his era. As we say in my family, he was...


My intimate friendship with C. S. Lewis...

Well done, Andrew (Lazo). It is encouraging to see collaborative and respectful engagement between scholars, especially in the field of Lewis studies. You and McGrath have quietly set a high bar for better behaviour among researchers and writers. Hat tip to you and McGrath both. - Lancia E. Smith, First Things comments

Recently, there has been some discussion online about the precise date for the conversion (to theism) of C.S. Lewis. The consensus seems to be that Lewis himself misreported the date in his book, Surprised by Joy, and in his new biography of Lewis, Alister McGrath has set the record straight.

Of course McGrath's correction pleases me immensely. What a man! What a scholar! How utterly punctilious of him! I must say Alice (as McGrath's friends call him) has inspired me to make bold and bring forth my own more modest contribution to this scintillating discussion. The talk has centered on the quality of Lewis’ memory, which many consider prodigious. Well, was it?

Readers of this blog likely are unaware that I knew Jack (as friends of Lewis called him) in the early sixties and late fifties when I was a student at Cambridge...


"Historical" claims lacking fruit...

Reading the likes of R. Scott Clark, Michael Horton, and Matthew Tuininga, one walks away with the impression that all of the problems within Evangelicalism stem from our failure to respect history and toe the line of our Confessions in history (as revised in more recent history); and an infatuation with the new along with the desire for success as measured by the world. And their solution?

Go back.

It's a tempting critique because it rings with a certain amount of truth, but continue reading these men and you'll find that, after wagging the chin about historic Reformed orthodoxy a bit, other cards start slipping into the deck...


The global warning of Wheaton and Calvin biologists...

Here's a letter to Congress signed by a bunch of Evangelical academics who are on the global warning bandwagon and tell us the salvation of Gaia is at stake. Starting with the overpopulation mania of the seventies, I've noted Calamity Jane fads and Christian author fads have about the same half-life—ten years.

Some time ago in Madison, Wisconsin, I used to protest the genocide of over a billion infants with one of the guys who signed this letter, but now he's climbed a couple socioeconomic brackets and is protesting anthropogenic global warming. It might help to explain his new commitments that he's since moved from Madison to Wheaton where he teaches biology.

Which brings me to a couple observations. First, note how many of the signatories are from Wheaton and Calvin where profs live in mortal dread of appearing insufficiently progressive. They should get out more. 

Second, note that only five (2.6%) of these guys have the terminal degree in Atmospheric Science, Climatology, or Meteorology...


Ya ya brotherhood...

Just now a brother asked me to go look at some blog where I read some dudette marketing some conference for women sometime next year. The ad copy read:

Tim Keller, John Piper, and Don Carson will again join and bless us.

Yeah, for sure. Every godly woman needs to be there.

Earlier today a fellow pastor wrote to ask if we'd done a review of Tim Keller's book on marriage. Seriously?

He'd been pushed by someone to read it and...


Exodus International repudiates the holiness without which no man will see God...

Here's an Atlantic Monthly interview that is a tragic betrayal of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by Alan Chambers, the leader of Exodus International which he's just announced he's shutting down. This is the way of all flesh in our Vanity Fair. We repent of our prior Biblical commitments...