Mark Noll, interviewed in Christianity Today about a new book he's authored, "The Rise of Evangelicalism," says of Evangelicalism:
Almost universally, what evangelicalism has been great at doing is bringing life back to cold religious form. But, evangelicalism is a parasitic movement. The great evangelical leaders are not theoreticians of institutions. Some of them are very good theologians on questions of personal salvation. They're not theologians of culture, they're not theologians of society. There are problems with the Christian outreach that is just the theology of society, but there are also problems when the individual attention is so strong that culture and society is lost sight of.
Why people continue to pay Dr. Noll to describe Evangelicalism remains a mystery. He's long cast himself in the role of Evanglicalism's arbiter elegantium. But as he so frequently reminds us, there's little of elegance about Evangelicalism. We're simple people, easily led. And for the masses there is the indefatigable Ron Sider who has faithfully plucked our consciences since before Dr. Noll received his PhD. What more can Dr. Noll provide?
There has been a variety of responses to my short post and long quotation from Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the dangers of philosophy. If I may be so bold as to characterize my opponents, I view them as falling into three camps.
First, there is the view well expressed by John who asks whether I'm opposing all intellectual discourse and arguing for a dichotomized view of religious versus secular truth. John suggests that the works of Jonathan Edwards or Augustine might not have been written if Martyn Lloyd-Jones' (and my own) views of the danger of scholarship held sway in their days. John also suggests that several of the philosophers mentioned in my original post have been champions of orthodoxy.
I disagree little with John's overall thrust. However, at several points I would diverge from him. To begin with, Edwards and Augustine may be viewed as philosophers by some but their approach was fundamentally theological. They began with Scripture and argued from there. They did not start with philosophical theory. They did not try to force Scripture through constructs of the human mind.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 13, 2005 - 2:42pm
It's been extremely hot this past week. When we first exited O'Hare a week ago, the heat was a welcome relief from the cool weather we'd had in Africa and England. But within a few minutes it became oppressive and it hasn't let up since.
The other day when I got in the car the heat brought to mind our Lord's account of the Rich Man and Lazarus in the afterlife, and how the Rich Man in Hell cried out for water, but could have none. For a few minutes I meditated on what an awful place hell is--a place where the heat is unbearable and the thirst can never be quenched.
Reputable evangelicals such as John Stott deny the eternity of hell torments and that is understandable. It's one of the most difficult doctrines to submit to in all of Scripture. But as Harry Blamires wrote in his classic, The Christian Mind, if we're going to start tearing difficult passages out of Scripture, shouldn't we start with the one that's always been more offensive than any other:
(Jesus) was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?" (Luke 9:23-25).
For men tempted to take Stott's shortcut and play with universalism and annihilationism, I highly recommend Jonathan Edward's sermon, "The Eternity of Hell Torments." Commenting on the Biblical account of the Rich Man and Lazarus found in Luke 16:19ff., Edwards exclaims over men like Stott:
It is strange how men will go directly against so plain and full revelations of Scripture, as to suppose notwithstanding all these things, that the eternal punishment threatened against the wicked signifies no more than annihilation.
Incidentally, for several reasons (including that, contrary to His habit in telling parables, our Lord actually names the central character in this account, 'Lazarus') John Calvin believed that this account was not a parable, but real history that Jesus knew from Heaven.
Today, my daughter Hannah and I were driving out in the country and we stopped at a farm stand. The stand's attendant was in her sixties and we waited while she finished her conversation with a customer of a similar age. Of course, the topic was the weather--specifically,the unbearable heat. The customer commented, "Preachers oughta tell their congregations tomorrow that this heat gives you an idea what hell's like."
Prayer: O Father, Creator of both Heaven and Hell, give us a living faith in the blood and righteousness of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that we might escape the fires of hell and be brought safely, along with all who love you with an undying love, into your presence where there is fulness of joy forevermore. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Trace back the history of Princeton Seminary, the mother of all colleges founded to train pastors in America, and one finds two schools gave her birth: The College of New Jersey in the town of Princeton; and earlier, a little building in Neshaminy, PA, a town about twenty miles north of Philadelphia where Rev. William Tennent Sr. was the pastor of two small Presbyterian churches and put up an outbuilding to house a few apprentices in pastoral ministry. In these United States, this was the first Presbyterian educational work beyond the level of common schools.
Like the derogatory terms 'methodist' and 'puritan,' people expressed disdain for Pastor Tennent's humble effort, calling it the "Log College."
Only one person living at the time thought Tennent's work significant enough to leave a written record of its existence, but this was none other than the mighty preacher of the Great Awakening, George Whitefield. Through Whitefield we know the Log College was twenty feet by twenty feet and just a few steps away from Pastor Tennent's home. A rough building constructed of logs taken out of the surrounding woods, the college was built to house only five to ten young apprentices. Speaking of people's "contempt" for Tennent's work, Whitefield wrote:
(The Log College) seemed to resemble the school of the old prophets, for (both) habitations were mean (humble); and that they sought not great things for themselves is plain from those passages of Scripture wherein we are told that each of them took them a beam to build them a house (2Kings 6); and that at the feast of the sons of the prophets, one of them put on the pot, whilst the others went to fetch some herbs out of the field (2Kings 4:38-44). All that we can say of most of our universities is, they are glorious without. (But) from this despised place (the Log College) seven or eight worthy ministers of Jesus have lately been sent forth, more are almost ready to be sent, and the foundation is now laying for the instruction of many others. (It's interesting to note that Whitefield's journal, from which this excerpt was taken, was printed in Philadelphia in 1739 by Benjamin Franklin.)
When J. Gresham Machen left the faculty of Princeton Seminary two centuries later (in 1929), Princeton had built a reputation for training shepherds faithful to Scripture, men who guarded the good deposit handed down to them from the Apostles. By then, the list of fathers in the faith associated with the leadership of Princeton or her two mother-institutions included not only Tennent, but also Jonathan Edwards, Samuel Miller, Charles Hodge, J. A. Alexander, A. A. Hodge, and B. B. Warfield. What a heritage!
Often, though, Princeton's history is compressed, focusing on her academic achievements while neglecting the pastoral vision of those who gave her birth (and their students). The Log College was not known primarily for the academic training the men enrolled received, but rather for refusing to send out pastors who were indifferent to true religion—this was the reason Tennent founded the Log College and his apprentices were known for their piety and unflinching courage in leading their flock to examine themselves to see if they were in the faith.
Log College students encouraged heart religion. They preached for reform and revival, and were not content simply to maintain the status quo within the churches they served. They were unwilling to settle for an intellectual assent to the truths of Scripture without a believing faith evidenced by an experience of regeneration--what our Lord called being "born again." They had a deep conviction that a personal experience and testimony of the work of the Holy Spirit was an absolute prerequisite to church membership, and that without such living faith men ought not to be allowed to partake of the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper by which God makes a distinction between His Own Covenant People and those who do not belong to Him.
Now, almost a century after Machen's departure signaled the end of Princeton's faithfulness to Scripture's God, the elders of Christ the Word and Church of the Good Shepherd have founded a new log college...
by David and Tim Bayly on August 22, 2005 - 12:28pm
Speaking of the Christian vs. secular college debate, a valid alternative to choosing a Christian college is choosing a secular school based on the churches/campus ministries resident on or around that secular campus. For instance, my denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America, has a campus ministry called Reformed University Ministries. RUM's work is called Reformed University Fellowship on each campus. Of course, this work is better on some campuses than others. It's excellent at Vanderbilt.
This was a prominent factor in our encouraging our second child, Joseph, to consider Vanderbilt.
RUF is self-consciously church-based and biblical exposition forms the centerpiece of their on-campus weekly meetings. Much different than every other evangelical parachurch campus ministry (trust me), RUF doesn't just pay lip-service to the local church but it pushes its students to be committed to a church--and not as secondary priority after their involvement in the RUF campus ministry, but as foundational to Christian discipleship.
On to a story. Joseph narrowed his choice down to Covenant College or Vanderbilt. He and I visited both of them and Joseph still couldn't choose. When we visited Vanderbilt, Marvin and Susan Olasky's son (Joseph, I think) hosted Joseph overnight and gave high marks to his experience there. Eventually, Joseph chose Vanderbilt.
So with some fear (but always faith), in the Fall of 2000 our family piled in the car and took Joseph to Nashville. We stayed at our son-in-law and daughter, Doug and Heather's, on Friday night and Saturday morning got in the minivan to move Joseph into his dorm room about half an hour away.
The building had only singles and was a pit. It's never easy to let a child go so I was feeling some gloom as we finished carrying boxes and clothes up to the room. The time came to leave and, after praying and giving him a kiss and a hug, we walked out of the room and headed to the staircase. Turning left out of his room and starting down the hall (with tears in my eyes, I admit), I was startled to look in the next door and see, exactly at the same place in the bookshelf over the desk, the same two-volume set we had just placed in the same position in Joseph's room: the Banner of Truth two-volume set of the Works of Jonathan Edwards.
I did a doubletake and looked again, thinking I'd likely been doing the moonwalk and not actually moving down the hall at all as I walked. I must still be looking through Joseph's doorway. So I looked more closely and saw through the door a stranger and his mother. I walked straight into the room and asked the young man, "What in the WORLD are you doing with a two-volume set of Jonathan Edwards on our bookshelf!? Come here, I've got to show you something."
We walked out the door and, turning right, I had him look in Joseph's room and see what he had on his shelf. Then it was time for our new-found friend to do a doubletake. Joseph's next door neighbor then told me how he had an older brother who had gone off to college--a non-Christian school by the way--and been led to faith in Jesus, there. His brother came home and told him about Jesus, at which point he too placed his faith in Jesus Christ.
His brother also turned him on to John Piper, so this younger brother began reading Piper. And he noticed in the footnotes that Piper drank waters from Edwards' well, so he went out and bought this set of Edwards and brought it to school so he could read it. Cinching the matter, he told me his name was Joseph--my son's name, also.
Praise God for His loving provision for His children, even down to determining among thousands of students that two students matriculating at Vandy who love Him would have adjoining rooms and doctrine.
Both Josephs attended RUF which was absolutely critical in their spiritual lives while at Vandy; both grew stronger in their friendship and faith while at Vandy; and our family's faith was strengthened as we saw how much God protects those who belong to Him, including their children.
Incidentally, it turned out that their dorm was sort of a self-selective group of sold-out Christians because all the men living there had asked not to be placed in a co-ed dorm.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 8, 2005 - 11:03am
Several weeks ago Tim and I were asked to contribute to another WORLD magazine web site called Zeitgeist, intended to be a Christian version of National Review Online's The Corner, a group-authored conservative blog.
Our tenure at Zeitgeist has not been easy. There have been numerous run-ins with other authors on the site and the disparate backgrounds and views of the site's authors have produced a general sense of malaise on the site--not at all helped by an apparent lack of readers.
Interestingly, debate has been strongest and sharpest in discussions between Tim and myself and several other Reformed writers on the site.
I don't know if the site will ultimately last, or if we will continue to write for it, but I just posted this entry there in an attempt to lend a degree of clarity and perspective to what may appear to be Tim's and my cantankerous refusal to get with the cultural engagement of the other writers. I post it here because it underlines, I think, the reason Tim and I and many like us in our churches and elsewhere in the backwaters of American Protestant Christianity do not easily fit within the current Evangelical and Reformed worlds, why we are willing to focus on the negative when others see only the positive, why we persist in holding to the idea that faithful ministry declares God's "No" along with His "Yes."
If God is a God of wrath...
Arise, O Lord! Let not man prevail;
let the nations be judged before you!
Put them in fear, O Lord!
Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah
I've been thinking about the divide that seems to have arisen between brothers on this site recently, and it seems from my perspective that the deepest point of division is not Roman Catholic vs. Reformed Protestant vs. Casual Evangelical vs. Orthodox, but of mindsets.
My mind is spiritually fixed on God as a God of wrath and judgment as well as grace. Though not the foreground of the picture, the wrath of God for me is the entire backdrop. The play of grace is performed against a tableau of dying, ruined men.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 19, 2005 - 10:23am
This from Richard Lovelace's important work, Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal. It was called to my attention by my dear friend, Stephen Baker, who is Dean of our Reformed Evangelical Pastors College. It gets at the issue of how we speak about Katrina today, and what our responses as pastors and elders indicate about the content of our faith and the doctrine of the churches we represent.
I took Lovelace's Jonathan Edwards seminar while at Gordon-Conwell and found him a true lover of heart religion and our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as a stimulating scholar. However, being a member with him of the Presbyterian Church (USA) at the time, his analyses of the spiritual condition of that church never rang true for me. For him, revival was always just around the corner.
Specifically, I remember one day when he'd just returned from a meeting between prominent evangelicals within the PC(USA)--this was the group he represented, prominent PC(USA) denominational leaders, and executives from the National Council of Churches. The conclave was held in New York City and Lovelace returned to Gordon-Conwell bubbling over with excitement that the denominational and NCC leadership were really much more open to biblical faith and Holy Spirit renewal than anyone could imagine!
by David and Tim Bayly on October 25, 2005 - 6:03pm
The Spring 2004 issue of Trinity Magazine had an interview of Jonathan Edwards scholar Doug Sweeney who, prior to taking a faculty post at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, served as an editor of the Yale edition of The Works of Jonathan Edwards. In the interview, Sweeney pointed out two things he believes the church needs to learn from Edwards, the second of which follows:
Edwards teaches us that theology can and should be done primarily in the church, for the promotion of Christian wisdom among God's people. In Edwards's day, America did not yet have any modern, post-baccalaureate seminaries. Pastors were our nation's most important theologians, and parishioners understood better how much our lives depend on God's Word. Today, many pastors have abdicated their responsibilities as theologians. And many theologians do their work in a way that is lost on the people of God. I want to be realistic in making this point. A certain amount of specialization is inevitable in modern, market-driven economies. And the specialization of roles within God's kingdom often enhances our Christian ministries. But when pastors spend the bulk of their time on organizational concerns, and professors spend most of their time on intramural, academic concerns, no one is left to do the work that Edwards knew is most important: the hard work of opening the Scriptures in ways that deepen the faith, hope, and love of the church.
(Interview of Edwards scholar and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School faculty member, Doug Sweeney, concerning his new book on Edwards, Rev. Jonathan Edwards: at Home and Abroad. The interview was by Steve Farish and it appeared in the Spring 2004 edition of Trinity Magazine, pp. 18-21.)
by David and Tim Bayly on October 28, 2005 - 9:52am
Absolutely essential to understanding the big-business entrepreneurial ethos of much of conservative Bible-believing evangelicalism today are these two pieces on Rick Warren--the man Fortune magazine aptly calls "the generation's great religious entrepreneur."
As I read about Mr. Warren, I'm in the middle of reading a couple biographies of Jonathan Edwards and preaching through Galatians. So I wonder whether, had Fortune been around at the time, its editors would ever have been tempted to call Edwards or the Apostle Paul "the generation's great religious entrepreneur?" Yes, everyone sees the world through their own lenses, but still I doubt it. Fortune's label is quite right for Mr. Warren but wrong for Jonathan Edwards or the Apostle Paul.
Here are excerpts from one--only one--forum where Rick Warren spoke. Every statement is a direct quote from that one day. Mr. Warren made his comments in the course of an extended conversation with the following elite journalists: The New Yorker's Elsa Welsh and Jeffrey Goldberg, The New Republic's Frank Foer, Dan Harris of ABC News, The Atlantic Monthly's Joshua Green and Wendy Kaminer, The New York Times' David Brooks and Anne Kornblut, The American Prospect's Sarah Wildman, NPR's Juan Williams, University of Pennsylvania's John Diiulio, Rebecca Haggerty of NBC Dateline, Philadelphia Inquirer's Jane Eisner, The Washington Post's E. J. Dionne Jr.,USA Today's Jill Lawrence, John Parker of The Economist, Reuel Marc Gerecht of the American Enterprise Institute, Luis Lugo of the Pew Forum, and Byron York of National Review. The forum was moderated by Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center:
RICK WARREN SPEAKS
As a writer, you never know who is reading your stuff and so I just wanted you to know I am reading you. I read a book a day and I read tons of magazines, tons of articles, and I just devour enormous quantities of material, and thank God for the Internet. I get The New York Times and I get The Wall Street Journal, and I get the local papers in L.A., but the rest I have to read online or in the magazines that I subscribe to.
There is a verse in the Bible that says the intelligent man is always open to new ideas; in fact, he looks for them. And so when Mike invited me to come to this and I saw your names, I really jumped at the chance. I enjoy these smaller, intimate meetings. You know, when you speak to 23,000, 24,000 people every weekend, crowds don't impress you anymore. So really, anywhere I go is going to be smaller than the group I talk to on Sunday. So it's not like I'm going to get a big wow out of a crowd.
I would much rather come and do this kind of thing where we can dialogue and talk back and forth. Last night, I was in Miami speaking to this huge international convention of all of the Spanish-language publishers and they gave me the city key to Miami, but really I would have more fun with you here today.
* * *
Bono called me the other day...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 1, 2006 - 7:05am
Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. (Hebrews 13:12-14)
Saturday, I wrote about my gratitude for the unity and peace of our own congregation, Church of the Good Shepherd. Since then, I've been thinking about how our unity came to be and I realize how central the battles a number of us went through in another prior congregation were for the development of this unity. In our prior congregation, the central issue was the refusal of a small group of influential leaders to allow any exercise of correction or rebuke by the congregation's elders. They considered anathema even the most private forms of church discipline.
It was a painful ordeal, but the Holy Spirit used it to produce the unity and peace of Church of the Good Shepherd we presently enjoy--including, now, ten years of loving and peaceful congregational meetings.
This comes to mind as I read of attacks other pastors are suffering, particularly our dear brother, Pastor Doug Wilson. David and I are not surprised Doug is under attack. He's a strong leader with biblical convictions, and he's at his greatest precision and boldness in preaching those convictions where the Evil One has focused his attack and there's a breach in the wall. But instead of other church officers giving thanks to God for raising up such a warrior, Pastor Wilson is the object of much envy and resentment. Like all of us, Pastor Wilson is a sinner in both his conduct and doctrine and we are confident he appreciates the licks he takes for his sin.
But taking his licks from fellow presbyters, his children, or his wife is a far cry from having any Tom, Dick, or Harry set himself up as a judge over every word of his pastoral conversations and session meetings extending years into the past and posting those judgments on this gabfest and gossip-pool known as the internet. Need I point out that Doug Wilson is not the only one suffering such persecution?
In both the church and secular world, leaders have lost the manly traits and pander to their constituency. Church officers are given to mollycoddling, equivocation, and self-doubt. One of my favorite cartoons shows a consultant meeting with a pastor in his office. The wall holds a graph of the congregation's attendance trends and they're down, down, down. Pointing to the graph the consultant says, "I'm no expert in these things, but I think it might help if you didn't end every sermon with, 'But then again what do I know, anyhow?'"
Pastor Wilson preaches, teaches, and leads as if he has received the good deposit and intends, come hell or high water, to pass it on to reliable men...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 1, 2006 - 5:23pm
Last night we began studying the life of Jonathan Edwards at the Reformed Evangelical Pastors College. We're using Iain Murray's biography as our text, supplementing it with selections from Edwards himself, as well as Philip Gura's quite helpful, Jonathan Edwards: America's Evangelical (2005) and George Marsden's, Jonathan Edwards: A Life (2003).
I've particularly appreciated Gura's careful explanation of the family, community, and theological context of the development of the halfway covenant in New England. As a result of his work, for the first time I think I have some understanding of the many different pressures brought to bear on Edwards as he began to oppose the halfway covenant and found himself caught up in a conflagration within Northampton which led a short time later to what many saw as his ignominious departure from his congregation after over two decades of faithful work there.
One question at the center of the halfway covenant was what to do with the children of parents who, while they themselves had grown up in a Christian home with fathers and mothers who had a testimony of a work of grace in their own lives, had no such testimony themselves and consequently had not sought admission to the Lord's Table. So when they, in turn, had their own children, the question was whether their children ought to be admitted to the Sacraments? Or, to put it crassly, can we properly speak of covenant grandchildren?
In that connection, I was reminded of a letter I read some time back written by John Calvin in response to a series of questions he'd been asked by John Knox. One question in particular bears closely on this matter. Edwards records Knox's question as follows:
It is not without reason that you inquire whether it be lawful to admit to the sacrament of baptism the children of idolaters and excommunicated persons before their parents have testified their repentance.
So that our readers may have something of the context for Calvin's answer, you'll find the entire letter reproduced below...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 6, 2006 - 9:38pm
As I mentioned before, we're studying Jonathan Edward's life in the Reformed Evangelical Pastors College right now, using Iain Murray's biography. (Last month the men read Edwards' Charity and Its Fruits with my brother, David.)
On pages 35-37, Murray deals with Edwards' conversion quoting a fair amount of the text below, but leaving out (I'm sure for the sake of brevity) much of the best stuff--particularly the beginning paragraphs explaining how central for his conversion was the resolution of his questions and doubts concerning predestination as he came finally to love God's sovereignty. So here is the section almost in its entirety. It's the most memorable Edwards I've ever read, even though Edwards never meant for it to be published.
Speaking of publishing, Cumberland Valley Bible Bookstore is offering the two-volume set of Edwards' works right now for the lowest price I've ever seen, $40. Why not pick up a copy today for each of your children so when they graduate from high school you'll have a set on hand for each of them?
From Jonathan Edwards' Personal Narrative:
From my childhood up, my mind had been full of objections against the doctrine of God's sovereignty, in choosing whom he would to eternal life; and rejecting whom he pleased; leaving them eternally to perish, and be everlastingly tormented in hell. It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 14, 2006 - 9:44pm
Two Puritan quotes came across my desk last week, one from Chris Taylor and the other from Iain Murray's biography of Jonathan Edwards. Both demonstrate the biblical wisdom our church fathers brought from the Word of God into every other area of human knowledge. These particular quotes demonstrate the timelessness of their perceptions concerning God's Creation as we look backwards from this time in which Darwinists are so loathe, in the main, to admit that "It is He Who hath made us, and not we ourselves."
(In this sermon, Owen is speaking of the variety of ways God's providence guides His gracious act of election and regeneration.)
"Now, is all this variety, think you, to be ascribed unto chance, as the philosopher thought the world was made by a casual concurrence of atoms? Or hath the idol free-will, with the new goddess contingency, ruled in these dispensations? Truly neither the one nor the other, no more than the fly raised the dust by sitting on the chariot wheel;--but all these thing have come to pass according to a certain unerring rule, given them by God's determinate purpose and counsel." (Owen, John. Works, Vol. VIII, 12. This sermon was preached in 1646)
Chris Taylor's comment: I find Owen's logic interesting. As evolutionists refuse to attribute glory to God's wisdom and power in the creation of man, so Arminians refuse to give God the glory in the re-creation of men in regeneration.
"An infinite length of time has no tendency to alter the case. If we should suppose people traveling in the snow, one after another, thousands in a day for thousands of years together, and all should tread exactly without the least variation in one another's steps so as, in all this time, to make no beaten path but only steps with the snow not broken between, this is a demonstration of intention, design, and care. Or if we suppose that, in the showers of rain that fall out of the clouds on all the face of the earth for a whole year, the drops should universally fall in order on the ground so as to describe such figures that would be Roman letters in such exact order as to be Virgil's Aeneid written on every acre of ground all over the world, or so as exactly to write the history of the world and all nations and families in it through all ages without departing from truth in one fact or minutest circumstance - that would distinctly demonstrate a designing cause. Length of time has no tendency at all to produce such an effect of itself. If we multiply years never so much to give large opportunity, it helps not the case without a designing cause." (Murray, Iain. Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth Trust. pp. 139-140.)
Books and Culture is part of the stable of publications put out by Christianity Today Incorporated which include Christianity Today, Marriage Partnership, Christian History and Biography, Your Church, Campus Life, Christian Parenting, Leadership Journal, Today's Christian, and so on. Evangelical Christianity is big--very big--business and CTi is a corporate monument to evangelicalism's coming of age. Just up the street from my father-in-law's Tyndale House Publishers, the ties between CTi, Wheaton College, and my wife's and my home church, College Church in Wheaton, are endless.
Within CTi, the publication aimed at intellectuals is Books and Culture. Someone gave me a copy of the September/October 2005 issue and in it I found this piece on Jonathan Edwards, to which I responded with this letter just sent to Books and Culture's editor:
To the editor,
Teaching a class on Edwards at the Reformed Evangelical Pastors College recently, I've been reading the biographies of Edwards by Philip Gura, George Marsden, and Iain Murray. Gura has been particularly helpful in tracing the history of the conflicts Edwards faced in his work of shepherding so I was curious to read Allen Guelzo's review of Gura's work, "Unpalatable to Modern Sensibilities: Which Jonathan Edwards?" that appeared in the September/October issue of Books and Culture. Sadly, Guelzo's piece is not scholarship but a combination of posturing and prejudice...
Note from Tim Bayly: The exchange with Dr. Guelzo over his review of Philip Gura's recent work, Jonathan Edwards, has continued over the past couple of days. For the earlier exchange, please look at the comments under my initial post. Dr. Guelzo requested that I place the exchange on our blog, so here it is. I've tried to format it in a way that is helpful, but it may still be confusing. None of the exchange will make any sense, though, unless the reader first reads Dr. Guelzo's review itself, along with my blog post responding to Guelzo.
For the record, Allen C. Guelzo is the Henry R. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era & Director of Civil War Era Studies at Gettysburg College. His comments are all in italics.
* * *
Dear Tim Bayly:
Very much by accident, I tumbled across your comments on my review of Gura. I am amazed, to put it mildly, at how utterly wrong-headed your reading of the review was. Far from being a critic or (demonizer) of JE, I play second fiddle to no one in admiration of him.
If one reads the review, it's hard to see how anyone could come away from it thinking the reviewer is an admirer of Edwards--unless, of course, one has prior knowledge of your commitments. Consider this summary of what the review had to say concerning Edward's life and work:
(Guelzo wrote that) Edwards' training was in "scholastic theology," his preaching was "never particularly scintillating" nor his writing "particularly graceful," it was Edwards' "pastoral ineptness" that triggered the "exasperated" townsfolk to fire him, Edwards made "only a very modest impact on his own contemporaries," Edwards "never knew what it was to duck an argument," and he was a "prig".
I still don't see any response on your part to my basic point--that you failed to say anything at all good about this man of God...
(Note from Tim Bayly: Here are excerpts from one of the final comments under my post, "Bishop N. T. Wright as it were." The comments are indented and my responses are not.)
* * *
This post of yours is incredibly misguided.
Since it's rhetoric that's the subject of my original post, let me point out that this criticism is almost always made by members of the academy. This particular occasion, it's worth noting that Mr. Owen has an E-mail address at montreat.edu. And note that the opening statement does not accuse me of misguiding my readers, but of being misguided myself--incredibly so. So who's the villain, I wonder--who's the man who misguided me?
Well, at least I can blame my stupidity on someone else.
1. You apparently are not even capable of looking at ethical questions from Wright's Anglican frame of reference.
Most people wouldn't balk at the use of the word 'ethics' here, but we ought to. There's a world of difference between sodomy being a matter of "ethics" and it being in direct opposition to the order of Creation and an abomination to God. The minute Christians allow the discussion of sodomy to be labelled a matter of "ethics," the battle's largely lost since today speaking of "ethics" carries a relativistic connotation. We debate "ethics" but obey commandments...
by David and Tim Bayly on April 20, 2006 - 10:03am
By any Christian and biblical, as opposed to nationalistic, evaluation of the righteousness of the United States in her conflict with middle eastern nations, we must not stoop to using the hypocritical criteria of a patriot who says, "My nation, right or wrong." As Christians we are different, called by God to "judge rightly." And a righteous judgment of our nation must start, not with others' sins against us, but ours against a holy God.
It's always easier to point a finger outside our home, community, or nation and to cry out against others' sins, but judgment must begin locally, and move out from there. This is the meaning of Jesus' statement about splinters and beams--we are to correct ourselves before we correct others.
As Christian citizens, then, we must look long and hard at our own nation when we consider the justice of our claims against Iran, Iraq, or Al Qaeda. As the Apostle Paul says:
Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:1-4)
So when Christians cry down the wickedness of other nations and rulers without any mention of our own wickedness, I read it as nationalism uninformed by Scripture. And that's bad. Christians are not to judge their own and other nations as if the relations between nations are only a matter of who did what to whom on the international level.
When we want to condemn some combination of mid-east forces for bombing the World Trade Center and the Pentagon...
Pentecostals are celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of their founding at the 1906 Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles. An article from the Christian Science Monitor lists some of the defining marks of Pentecostalism. (Thanks, Chris.) Here's a list of ten, followed by my own response to each:
1. A focus on New Testament "gifts of the Spirit" such as healing, prophecy, and tongues.
2. Spontaneity due to the moving of the Holy Spirit during worship, including prayer for physical healing and deliverance, prophecy, tongues, and a change in the order of worship.
3. Expecting God to make His presence known during worship.
4. A focus on praise leading to lively, upbeat, and jubilant music.
5. Expressive worship, including the lifting of hands, tears, clapping, etc.
6. A belief in the imminence of Christ's return.
7. A belief that after becoming a Christian one should have a second experience called "the baptism of the Holy Spirit" by which the believer receives the real power that makes him able to live with "an extra zeal that is miraculous--(that's) like a turbocharged faith."
8. A belief that this second experience is normally proven to have happened by the individual speaking in tongues.
9. A denial of the need for its pastors to be trained: if God calls you, get up and preach--that's it.
10. Finally, "Pentecostalism has the ability to translate itself into the language and culture of the people being reached, drawing on local music."
by David and Tim Bayly on September 11, 2006 - 1:16pm
Farewell sermons are particularly poignant, being the "be on guard and goodbye" message of a shepherd to the flock he has loved and cared for, but now must leave. If you haven't read the sermon Jonathan Edwards preached upon his departure from Northampton, find a copy and read it. Also, the message the Apostle Paul gave to the Ephesian elders when he took his final departure from them is one of the most moving texts found in the New Testament. Look for it in Acts 20.
Rev. Dan Reuter is a dear friend who, until a couple weeks ago, has been serving as the pastor of the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA)'s congregation in Nashville, Indianan, about a half hour east of Bloomington. For years, Dan has been an active participant in the work of reform within the PC(USA), but as he watched the denomination's Peace, Unity, and Purity Committee issue its recommendations and prepare to get them adopted at this summer's national general assembly, Dan realized that they would be successful and, given the godlessness of the recommendations and what would inevitably follow their adoption--namely, the normalization of the sexually immoral (particularly sodomites) being ordained and serving as church officers--he prepared to pull his credentials from the denomination and, consequently, his call to Brown County Presbyterian Fellowship.
This is the sermon he gave upon his resignation of the pastoral call to Brown County Presbyterian Fellowship...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 12, 2006 - 6:09pm
His watchmen are blind, All of them know nothing. All of them are mute dogs unable to bark, Dreamers lying down, who love to slumber; And the dogs are greedy, they are not satisfied. And they are shepherds who have no understanding; They have all turned to their own way, Each one to his unjust gain, to the last one.
"Come," they say, "let us get wine, and let us drink heavily of strong drink; And tomorrow will be like today, only more so." (Isaiah 56:10-12)
One of the most discouraging aspects of the church today is the refusal of shepherds to say God's "no" as well as His "yes," and to say it in person as well as from the pulpit. We are mute dogs unable to bark.
The Holy Spirit commands us to "Let judgment begin...in the House of God," but we are very careful to make sure judgment is kept outside God's House. We save our prophetic words for pagans: "Hear this, you wicked people of San Francisco and Madison and Las Vegas!" Yet the Apostle Paul commands us not to judge the world, but instead to judge those who call themselves "brothers":
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES. (1 Corinthians 5:9-13)
Shamelessly, we do the opposite of what he commands. We castigate those who make no claim to Christian faith, but we observe a strict hands-off policy toward flagrant sinners within the church. And if an elder or pastor tries to obey the Apostle Paul, and to judge someone who claims to be a Christian but lives a life of rebellion against God, we reserve our most intense condemnation for him.
"But he's on our side!" we exclaim. "He's a Christian and you're treating him like an unbeliever! Jesus said, 'Let him who is without sin cast the first stone' and 'Judge not lest ye be judged.' So why are you judging your brother? Who made you judge over him, anyhow? How do you know he's not a Christian?"
We talk and act as if the Apostle Paul had commanded us to judge those outside the church, but never those inside the church; as if Paul had commanded us to disassociate ourselves from the greedy and sexually immoral who make no claim to faith, but never to cut ourselves off from the greedy or sexually immoral who do claim to be Christians; as if God's people are to hide themselves from sin in the church, seeing, naming, and condemning only the sin of those outside the Household of Faith.
No wonder our churches are filled with hypocrisy. We have no way of dealing with sin because correction, rebuke, and discipline are only for unbelievers...
by David and Tim Bayly on November 16, 2006 - 6:08am
The unmentioned scandal of late-20th/early-21st century preaching is not the number of preachers seeking outside inspiration for their sermons. That's well-documented. Just as baleful in its effect on modern preaching has been the number of preachers who have turned from preaching sermons to a flock to writing sermons for an audience.
My father used to tell his children that written and spoken English are two entirely different languages. And it's true. Equally distinct are sermons addressed to a particular flock and sermons written for a broad reading audience.
Throughout the centuries a number of great preachers have had their sermons collected and published. But the sermons contained in such volumes were seldom prepared with publication in mind. Rather, they were preached to a congregation (often from notes or extemporaneously) and later made available for publication. For instance, John Calvin's sermons are available in written form due to the work of a French shorthand expert named Denis Raguenier who took verbatim shorthand notes from Calvin's extemporaneous preaching. Luther's sermons were carefully recorded by a variety of listeners. Martyn Lloyd-Jones' sermons were mechanically recorded and later transcribed. Jonathan Edwards sermons are still being culled from handwritten manuscripts and must be edited for publication.
Today many preachers write sermons with minds divided between a local congregation and the national audience they hope to reach through a book they intend to publish out of their current sermon series. The result is wretched preaching (and often wretched publishing to boot).
Many of the greatest preachers of our time have declined in power as they have shifted focus from a local church and specific congregation to a national audience. If you listen to early sermons by many preachers whose sermons are routinely published today you find power not present in current preaching. Sadly, the powerful preaching of a young pastor often leads a publisher to offer book contracts for future sermons and those book contracts become the death of the preacher's power.
It's also true that preachers whose sermons are routinely broadcast often fall into a similar trap of preaching for a broad audience rather than preaching to build a particular Church
Preaching for posterity rather than for the current needs of a particular flock leads to emasculated preaching. Those who preach for publication can be divided into two camps: populists and scholars. Populists tend to become more oratorical, to illustrate more liberally and to over-simplify. Those preaching for more scholarly publication (commentaries, for instance) become more pedantic and theoretical. Both types of preaching are devoid of pointed application.
Many good preachers also write great books. But in the end, I am convinced that preaching for publication is preaching for pay and honor. And that always bodes ill for power.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 6, 2007 - 8:50pm
Here's a warm encouragment for those dear souls struggling with sickness, persecution, doubt, or despair:
Christ (had to endure) a very great trial in the time of His agony; so God is wont to exercise His people with great trials. Christ met with great opposition in that work that He had to do; so believers are likely to meet with great opposition in running the race that is set before them. Christ, as man, had a feeble nature that was in itself very insufficient to sustain such a conflict, or to support such a load as was coming upon Him. So the saints have the same weak human nature, and beside that, great sinful infirmities that Christ (didn't have) which (puts) them under great disadvantages, and greatly enhance(s) the difficulty of their work. Those great tribulations and difficulties that were before Christ, were the way in which He was to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; so His followers must expect, "through much tribulation to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." The cross was to Christ the way to the crown of glory, and so it is to His disciples.
(by Tim) False shepherds surround us, building their profitable religious corporations by tickling itching ears. But for the purpose of receiving more of the tithes of the souls under their sway, they call these lucrative corporations tax exempt "non-profit" religious organizations. And the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability provides them a seal to use in their money-making letters assuring their supporters that this ministry is run according to the strictest accounting standards of the non-profit world.
These false shepherds' stock-in-trade is the studious neglect of the defense of God's truth and the call to repentance at the gaps in the wall where it's under attack. So we look in vain for today's super-apostles to speak to the consciences of their sheep about sodomy, divorce, fornication, rebellion, child sacrifice to Molech, internet pornography, greed, and pride. AIDS and global warming, yes; but only because they can cop a prophet's posture on these matters and bask in the kudos it will bring them on the op-ed pages of the "New York Times."
Their product is doctrinal indifference, which is the hatred of God's truth. And yet having the "look at the birdie" technique down cold, they drive attention away from their unfaithfulness by speaking of their cowardice as if it were the state of the art in evangelistic zeal and cultural engagement. So then, quite perversely, the very men who specialize in scratching itching ears have a reputation for being missional and prophetic.
The real test of a man's ministry, though, is repentance. This was the response of the crowds on the day of Pentecost, of the souls under the ministry of Jonathan Edwards during the Great Awakening, and of souls cared for by shepherds after God's heart today.
Over and besides those qualifications that should be in all Christians--they that rule the church of God, should be men of counsel and understanding. ...Remember what was said of old, (Malachi 2:7) "the priest's lips should preserve knowledge: and the people should seek the law at his mouth." But when this is wanting, the people will be stumbling and departing from God and one another. Therefore God complains, (Hosea 4:6) that his people were destroyed for want of knowledge; that is, for want of knowing guides. For if the light that is in them that teach be darkness, how great is that darkness! and if the blind lead the blind, no marvel both fall into the ditch. (John Bunyan, Exhortation to Unity and Peace, pp. 29,30.)
In a screed for peace posted by Prof. Reggie Kidd of Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando) a week ago today, Dr. Kidd proved himself an able controversialist, but of the modern sort. A jab, a parry, and a thrust; he lopped off the heads of his opponents sending them rolling into the ditches at the side of the road, but all was well—Dr. Kidd never posed the slightest threat to the feminized discourse characteristic of our modern defenders of the faith who claim for themselves Calvin’s, Luther’s, or Machen’s mantle. Said the good Dr. Kidd while sheathing his bloody blade, “It should be obvious to all that I am a man of peace.” And so he titled his post, “Mutual defenestration means self annihilation.” Not surprisingly, the one-hundred plus comments his post garnered are permeated with admirers congratulating him on his irenic spirit.
Apparently it takes a pastor with many session meetings under his belt to see who’s kidding whom. One could go on at length demonstrating the exact perimeter of the swaths cut by Dr. Kidd’s sword, but there’s one stellar example. Keeping in mind that Dr. Kidd possesses the terminal degree and his life’s work is within the Academy, could there be a more fatal thrust to the bodies of his intended victims than to call the Report of Ad Interim Study Committee on Federal Vision, New Perspective, and Auburn Avenue Theologies adopted by the PCA General Assembly this summer “a tendentiously and carelessly written paper?”
No, this short piece by Dr. Kidd is no blow for peace. It’s too bad the guys commending him can’t see it, but the rest of us shouldn’t allow ourselves to be bamboozled. To focus our thoughts, let’s line up Dr. Kidd’s good guys and bad guys. In fact, to purge the pomo spirit from among us this Monday morning, all at once let’s do every one of those hateful things that go directly against the spirit of our age: let’s delineate, distinguish, and divide.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 30, 2007 - 5:03pm
(Tim) Despite all the brilliant scholars, today, who show they're in vogue by dissing Edwards for his purported "immediatism" and "populism," my dear friends pay, them no heed. No heed at all.
Rather, put a finger in their eye by ordering Hendrickson's (thanks for the correction, David Gray) two-volume set of Edwards' works at the great price of $40 now being offered by Cumberland Valley Bible Bookstore, a place we like to do business. Drink from the well men like John Piper have been drinking from for many years, now. Apart from a Bible, it's hard imagining any Christian work you could buy that would provide the same bang for the buck. This is spiritual meat for your soul and the souls of your loved ones.
And by the way, the J. C. Ryle set on the Gospels they're also offering is some of the best devotional, expositional reading I've ever done. If you want only one set of commentaries on the Gospels, get this one.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 16, 2008 - 7:22am
(Tim: a dear Christian brother writes:) I'm currently reading through Charity and Its Fruits by Jonathan Edwards and, in his Lecture VII, "The Spirit of Charity is an Humble Spirit," he mentions two things that I hope will be an encouragement...
[h]umility disposes men to be of a yielding spirit to others, ready, for the sake of peace, and to gratify others, to comply in many things with their inclinations, and to yield to their judgments wherein they are not inconsistent with truth and holiness. A truly humble man is inflexible in nothing but in the cause of his Lord and Master, which is the cause of truth and virtue. In this he is inflexible, because God and conscience require it. But in things of lesser moment, and which do not involve his principles as a follower of Christ, and in things that only concern his own private interests, he is apt to yield to others.
I feel that many evangelicals have no way of connecting the dots between humility and inflexibility in "the cause of truth and virtue." Not to draw too fine a point, but I think it is also worth noting that Edwards maintains this inflexiblity not only for God's sake, but also for conscience's sake. Conscience is constrained by the Word of God. I fear that there are far too few whose conscience is pricked by or who would blush at an easy departure from the inconveniences of Holy Scripture.
by David and Tim Bayly on February 2, 2008 - 3:22pm
(Tim) Preparing to preach tomorrow on Matthew 21:23 ff., the question the chief priests and elders of the people asked of Jesus reminded me of the attack of Charles Chauncy on Jonathan Edwards and the other preachers of the Great Awakening:
When (Jesus) entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” (Matthew 21:23)
Isn't this always the question the status quo, official Christianity, the powers that be, or Kierkegaard's "Christendom" asks of true heralds of Christ: "By what authority are you doing these things?"
So no, although there are clear and significant problems that accompany bypassing proper authority, particularly when it's ecclesiastical authority, the dangers of letting that authority silence you when you are a herald of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are much greater...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 11, 2008 - 8:29am
(Tim, w/thanks to Dave M.) Here's a good explanation why "modern readers" will find Jonathan Edwards' sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, "a difficult text." The explanation is from the most recent E-mail newsletter produced by The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University:
Jonathan Edwards' (in)famous (sic) sermon, "Sinners in
the Hands of an Angry God," is among the most anthologized pieces of
American literature. It is taught in most American literature survey
courses in high school and college as the classic example of a Puritan
sermon. As a result, it forms the only impression that most people have
of Jonathan Edwards.
In spite of the obvious benefits to the legacy of Jonathan Edwards
from this wide anthologizing, "Sinners" is a difficult text to engage,
understand, and teach. The language is relentless and challenging. Its
form and content is unfamiliar to most modern readers. Most of all, the
text itself is specifically designed to provoke fear and discomfort in
its hearers. All of these factors contribute to making "Sinners" a
difficult text to read in 2008.
But difficult texts are often important texts that careful study.
While "Sinners" is not representative of the full orb of Jonathan
Edwards' thought, it is Edwards' most famous text and will no doubt
continue to be studied and taught for many years to come.
Pastors and elders, would the souls under your care understand Edwards' sermon, or would they also find it "difficult?"
by David and Tim Bayly on February 14, 2008 - 10:06am
(Tim, thanks to Jeff) Recently we published a short piece by Lucas Weeks critiquing the syncretistic statement signed by a number of prominent evangelicals titled, "A Common Plea." Others have also been critical of the statement and those who signed it, bringing a few (including Wheaton College's president, the Rev. Dr. Duane Litfin) to withdraw their names. When John Piper voiced his own criticism of the statement, he asked his friends to respond.
Unfortunately, Rick Love of Frontiers (an evangelical mission to Muslims) did so, and promptly dug his hole even deeper...
(Tim) Here's a response to this comment left by a reader: "It seems that many in the complementarian community spend almost all their energy on the negative side of the equation."
Feminism is toxic and its relentless attack on Scripture and the Church doesn't give faithful shepherds a lot of opportunity to take their preaching and teaching somewhere else, avoiding this breach. We must focus our defensive work where the good deposit is under attack. In response to people complaining of the frequency of his preaching against fornication, Spurgeon said once that he'd stop preaching against it when people stopped doing it.
Pastors today aren't preaching or teaching against this heresy. And when we do, we do it half-heartedly making it clear to our flock and other shepherds that we wish the need for battle would go away because we're men of peace and love and grace, and we really don't enjoy beating up on women.
Now I may not have captured our critic's sentiments, personally, but from many years experience I know I've hit the mainstream. So think where we'd be if Calvin or Luther or Knox of any of hundreds of other shepherds had tried the positive approach in the darkness of Rome's shadow across the Middle Ages? What if Calvin had written his Institutes without the central thrust of opposing and exposing Rome? Would anyone read them?
The real issue isn't that many within the complementarian camp spend almost all our energy on the negative side of this equation, but that we live in an evil day much like the day of the Apostle Paul and Athanasius and Peter Waldo and John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards and John Newton and J. Gresham Machen and Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Francis Schaeffer, and that our work must follow theirs in being faithful with God's "yes" and His "no." And if our only "no" is said in opposing those who don't say "yes" often enough to suit our tastes, we're not really saying "no," are we?
…Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed… For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him. (Genesis 18:18,19)
(Tim) When the Lord entered into a covenant with Abraham, He was pleased for that covenant’s fulfillment to be dependent upon Abraham “command(ing) his children and his household… to keep the way of the Lord….” Still today, it pleases God to use means to accomplish his will, and he has declared the Church should be built up, instructed, and guarded by men—not angels. Where those men are missing or their work is soft and effeminate, the Church has suffered the removal of her vital manhood; she has been emasculated. (n. 1)
When we speak of the emasculation of the church, though, we are not saying she has been robbed of her Bridegroom nor that her adoptive Father has cast her out of his household. Christ is “faithful over God’s house as a son” (Hebrews 3:6 RSV), (n. 2) and we have his promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against her. So then, the Church can never be emasculated in any definitive sense, even though her officers may be characterized by a womanly softness and sentimentality.
Such, though, is the church of our time. About twenty years ago I heard Elisabeth Elliot Gren say, “The problem with the church today is that it’s filled with emasculated men who don’t know how to say ‘no’ to a woman.” At the time, I was floored by Elliot’s audacity, but now I realize she was guilty of understatement. Christian men today have a problem saying “no” to almost anyone—not just women. Preachers, elders, and Sunday school teachers place an overwhelming emphasis on the positive and have an almost insurmountable aversion to the negative.
In the mid-eighties, my father was asked to represent the pro-life side at a campus-wide dialogue on abortion held at the Stupe, Wheaton College’s student union. He began his presentation with the statement, “I am not here to represent the pro-life, but the anti-abortion side of this issue..."
"For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is greedy for gain, And from the prophet even to the priest Everyone deals falsely. They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace. Were they ashamed because of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; They did not even know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; At the time that I punish them, They shall be cast down," says the LORD. (Jeremiah 6:13-15)
(Tim) A few years after Yale was founded, a student spoke critically of one of Yale's tutors saying, "He has no more grace than this chair." Yale's response was swift: The student was expelled and, despite his apology (contra Wikipedia), Yale refused to reinstate him. Centuries later, Yale named one of her Divinity School buildings for this student. It's the only building ever named for a student who was expelled.
One of this student's contemporaries also attended Yale a few years earlier when Yale was just being chartered. At that time, Jonathan Edwards himself was caught up in the discipline of Yale's tutors. Their infraction?
They were promoting Arminian theology. Yale had been founded because of Harvard's betrayal of Christian doctrine, so no one involved in Yale's founding was about to let it happen again.
What does Yale discipline today?
This past year, a Yale art student regularly impregnated herself (artificially, with a syringe), then killed the babies she never knew by taking oral abortifacients--all of which she carefully documented with a video camera for display at a Yale art exhibition. Yale's administration was quite embarrassed and released a statement...
by David and Tim Bayly on August 11, 2008 - 6:08am
(Tim: from left, Philip Moyer, Mick Buschbacher, Andrew Henry, Jim Hogue, Jody Killingsworth) Church of the Good Shepherd is served by a wonderful group of modern-day sons of Asaph, church musicians who serve the Lord and their brothers and sisters in Christ faithfully each week, leading us in worship. They call themselves the Good Shepherd Band and on their MySpace page they've posted a statement of the musical principles we follow in our worship. To listen to their latest music, check out their web site. How our faith is strengthened through their hard work!
• We believe that music used for worship
should arise from the context of the local church and should be
essentially pastoral: it should rebuke as well as encourage, it should
teach as well as emote. Consumer driven worship has its finger more on
the pulse of the pocketbook than the worshipper’s true spiritual
condition. Consumerism is driven by the mantra “The customer is always
right! Whatever the customer wants, the customer gets!” Apply that
principle to preaching and you lose preaching. Apply it to worship and
you get CCM.
• We believe that music used for worship is
obligated to declare the whole counsel of God. It should lead people to
praise God both for His “Yes” and His “No”...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 1, 2008 - 10:39am
God has ordained the Sacraments to divide men...
(Tim) From The Huffington Post, here's some commentary on the congregational applause that greeted Senator McCain's statement at the Rick Warren pow-wow, that life begins at conception:
These are church people. What they say and
what they do often doesn't match....
As loudly as they may have applauded McCain's straight talk about
abortion, a lot of women in that audience have had abortions. A lot of
their mothers, their sisters and their daughters have too.
How do I know?
I know because evangelicals who've studied each other have shown
again and again that evangelical behavior differs very little from that
of the rest of the country.
The writer is correct to say the church is filled with women who have murdered their babies. Even if you don't believe the pollsters, do the simple math and you'll see that the over two-thirds of Americans who claim to be Christians have to account for the murder of millions of the babies murdered since 1973's Roe v. Wade. And although the writer doesn't mention it, the church is also filled with the men who fathered those children and demanded or acceded to their murder.
Acknowledging this, we need to keep some things in mind.
First, regardless of how they identify themselves spiritually or
theologically here on earth (membership in the PCA, for instance), like
unrepentant adulterers and thieves, murderers who refuse to confess
their blood-guilt and ask for God's mercy will not be in heaven. As the
Apostle Paul puts it so bluntly:
Or do you not
know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not
be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor
effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor
drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of
God. (1Corinthians 6:9,10)
Second, as a minister
of the Word and Sacrament, the essence of Pastor Warren's calling is to
be as constant and explicit in making this dogmatic pronouncement as
the Apostle Paul in the Word of God. He cannot fail to discipline those
who, while murdering their unborn children, attend his church and take
the Lord's Supper there.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 27, 2008 - 4:15pm
(Tim) It's hard reading the old guys. Think about Jonathan Edwards preaching any of his sermons to his flock in Northampton--any sermon at all, just pick one. In those days, the church wasn't a thinly sliced part of the town's demographic. Being reformed didn't mean smoking cigars, drinking single malts, keeping one eye on the Dow Jones and the other on the R. C. Sproul video. Rich and poor, young and old alike sat under Edwards' preaching and understood him.
Today, even pastors who spend our lives working with words are challenged just trying to read Edwards. If we'd been there to listen to him, the sermon's length, vocabulary, logic, and the prominence of biblical terrors would have left us stupefied. We would have left the church-house shaking our heads and clucking our disapproval.
The old guys require the reader to be literate and to have a heart knowledge of the Word of God. But who has the patience for such work today? And what congregation would put up with it?
by David and Tim Bayly on February 11, 2009 - 6:56am
(Tim, w/thanks to Jake) For a number of years, Yale's been hard at it putting the works of Jonathan Edwards online, freely available for hoi polloi who can no longer afford the critical edition now running around $110 per volume
. It's an ill wind that blows nobody some good, though, and I suspect the high price of the hard copies is part of the reason all of us are now able to search the volumes online. So I'm happy.
Don't allow anyone else to give your Edwards to you. When I was at seminary in New England, I took a course in Edwards' works under Richard Lovelace. One night (it was a small evening seminar), I well remember coming to the session with great anticipation, having read a good portion of Edward's harder truths that week. But then, Dr. Lovelace started the class with a statement to the effect that "Here, Edwards goes a little bit off the deep edge, engaging in his well-known penchant for negativity."
Yes, yes; that's the problem with Edwards. He's so negative you get an ulcer reading him. What we need today is something positive that people can relate to; something that will give people hope and not lead them into despair.
Well, if you've read Edwards, you know that there are few men in the history of the Church who are more...
In the deep South, Reformed people were adamantly opposed to any
interference with the practice of black slavery and emphasized aspects
of the tradition that favored confining the activities of the church to
strictly "spiritual" issues. -George Marsden
(Tim) Where did R2-K Normative Withdrawalists come from? They like to claim the Apostolic Age, but the Apostles were persecuted and died at the hands of the civil magistrate, and it wasn't for their ministry of the Word and Sacrament during Lord's Day worship services. Certainly they can't trace their lineage back to Calvin's Geneva or Knox's Scotland. And they themselves deny a Puritan blood line and much of any affinity for Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards.
Some try to trace it back negatively, claiming it's the necessary lesson to be learned from certain errors of those who have given themselves to Christ's command to clothe the naked and feed the hungry. Men feeding the hungry and clothing the naked in the past were Quakers or suffragettes or Arminians, so there you have it: doctrinal heterodoxy proves the danger of Christians joining together to feed the hungry and clothe the naked.
Or it's bad when the church does it. Or bad when the pastor of the church does it. Or bad when the church and the pastor and the church officers do it. Or bad when someone preaches the necessity of doing it on a blog. Or bad when someone says its still normative today--the feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, that is--in such a way as to call into question justification by grace alone...
Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they
might trap Him in what He said. And they sent their disciples to Him, along
with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach
the way of God in truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any.
Tell us then, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or
But Jesus perceived their malice, and said, “Why are
you testing Me, you hypocrites?” (Matthew 22:15-18)
(Tim: this is first in a series, with the second, here) A few years ago, I was speaking with a friend who taught
theology at a respected evangelical seminary. We were discussing the response
of some Christian leaders to being confronted over their abuse of Scripture. I
expressed my conviction that the leaders’ commitment to turn from their sin was
only pragmatic, and that in time they would proceed to do the very thing they
had just promised not to do.
My friend was astounded that I could think these men capable
of deception. He went on to tell me why he thought I was susceptible to such
uncharitable thoughts: “Your problem, Tim, is that you spent too many years in
the mainline denomination with other pastors who weren’t even Christians. But
now, you’re back in the evangelical world and these men we’re working with are
believers. You should never accuse another believer of lying.”
(Tim: this is second in a series, with the first, here) It's in vogue for preachers to cop a posture of humility, today, but it’s almost always a counterfeit humility. While claiming to be speaking for God, they deny the
very authority of God and His Word that forms the only foundation they can
stand on when they say, “Thus says the Lord.”
Jonathan Edwards, the best-known preacher of the Great Awakening in Colonial
America, points to the difference between true and false
A truly humble man is inflexible in nothing but in the cause
of his Lord and Master, which is the cause of truth and virtue. In this he is
inflexible, because God and conscience require it. But in things of lesser
moment, and which do not involve his principles as a follower of Christ, and in
things that only concern his own private interests, he is apt to yield to
There are various imitations of (humility) that fall short of
the reality. Some put on an affected humility. Others have a natural
low-spiritedness, and are wanting in manliness of character. …In others, there
is a counterfeit kind of humility, wrought by the delusions of Satan: and all
of these may be mistaken for true humility. 
And it will be, like people, like priest... (Hosea 4:9b)
"A feminized Christianity may work to attract a certain type of man, but
he’s probably not the man you want around when the local Imam starts
practicing taqiyya on your congregation."
(Tim, w/thanks to Tim R.) Here's an article about the effeminacy of the Christian church, today. The piece approaches the crisis by noting the attractiveness of Islam to real men, making the point that a re-masculinized Christianity is necessary to hold off the forces of Islamic jihad. But if faith in Jesus is for this life only, we are of all men most foolish. We love, worship, and trust Jesus, not because it's useful, but because we fear the Holy God and know our sin, we dread Hell's worms and fire, and we ache for Heaven's joy and peace in the presence of the Lord. And yet...
Reformed men and women need to understand how focused the PCA is on gussying herself up for this effeminate age. As a denomination, we are all about perfect pitch rather than men making music to our God Who is a consuming fire. No Delta blues for us; it's all Julliard, violins, pianos, and maybe the occasional acoustic guitar or mandolin just to keep the audience off-balance. As with music, so with preaching: we allow no danger and take no risk. After all, women don't like danger. It could hurt their child.
But men? Real men don't wake up until they see why they're needed. And that need usually has something to do with danger--bullets, grenades, bombs, sexual predators, heresy, the wrath of God, death, and Hell.
But what have wedonetoHell? We've turned it into the Narcissists' heaven. It's man getting himself forever, and what's not to like about that? No scared children. No women having hissy-fits over spiders hanging over the crackling fire. No worms eating a carcass. Just me, myself, and I forever...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 10, 2011 - 1:24pm
(Tim, w/thanks to Michael for finding the text) Yesterday, our sermon text was 1Corinthians 4:7-16. Here the Apostle Paul rebukes the Corinthian super-apostles for bragging about their gifts and using them to diss Paul: "For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?"
During the sermon, I mentioned this closing section of Edwards'' sermon, "Christian Charity: The Duty of Charity to the Poor Explained and Enforced," in which Edwards answers common objections to sharing our gifts with others. Note particularly Objection IX and Edwards' answer. Since first reading it thirty or so years ago, I've never forgotten it.
Incidentally, note Edwards doesn't answer Objection I from an unregenerate man by exhorting that man simply to meditate on, and trust God's grace. Rather, he exhorts him to keep God's Law, trusting that Law to serve the man as his schoolmaster to Christ. This is the opposite of our pastoral method and preaching today in Reformed churches (at least)...
by David and Tim Bayly on October 21, 2011 - 9:25am
Under the post, Repenting of parachurch, Baptist childhoods..., one comment elicited this response from your scribe. I posted it as a comment, there, but also put it here for the benefit of those who don't keep track of comments. (TB)
Brothers, allow me a few responses, although they must be hopelessly brief considering the weight of these matters.
>>Be careful when you sling around words like apostasy, idolatry (Per Calvin we're all "fabricum idolarum") and heresy.
We are careful. That is, careful--very careful--to keep them alive. The proper word to use concerning Roman Catholicism is 'heresy'. Read Joe Brown's Heresies. Reformed pastors and elders use this word following our Reforming fathers's example because Roman Catholicism is a system of doctrine that leads souls to Hell. Systematically.
The center of Rome's system is the merchandising of salvation through...
by David and Tim Bayly on December 15, 2011 - 6:04am
Where is sin? I've been reading Job and it struck me that this truth is completely absent from the church:
How then can a man be righteous before God? How can one born of woman be pure? If even the moon is not bright and the stars are not pure in his eyes, how much less man, who is but a maggot--a son of man, who is only a worm! (Job 25:4-6)
Do your children know they are sinners? Do you and your wife know how desperately wicked you both are--that your hearts are unbelievably deceitful? Do you preach for conviction of sin in your flock? Do you share Jonathan Edwards' conviction that the doctrine of original sin is the key to conversion and revival?
It's always struck me that the Reformed church seems incapable of preaching the sinfulness of sin. Yet doctrinaly, we continue to pay lip service to total depravity. How can we do this? What good is it to have a tool that we are in principle opposed to using? The demons have more faith in total depravity...