Life and Links

The past few weeks have been intense, with wedding planning and all the little details that go with my senior year. Tomorrow I get the pleasure of hearing the Beggster at Harbison Chapel in the morning and evening for our Christian Life Conference. I know many friends who are coming from around the area and some peers parents are coming as well. A grand time indeed.

City Journal - good academic perspective on urban living

Wired Magazine - fun and odd columns on our perpetual culture

instructables - you have to see it to know what I mean

Sam Desocio is the new assistant pastor at City Reformed (PCA) in Pittsburgh

Smalltime presbyterian confessionalism annoys me

Joe Thorn's ministry paradigm on 1 page of paper

Abraham Piper on why pastors should blog

Tim Keller interview with ByFaith (PCA Mag) and with Monergism
[personal note: I am reading his the reason for God and it is excellent, highly recommend it]


Over the years several men shown love and care to me through giving me various books. Anthony Selvaggio gave me both of his (The Prophets Speak of Him and What does the Bible say about Marriage), Nathan Eshelman gave me Beeke's Meet the Puritans (with a John Hancock in it), Kent Butterfield gave me Keller's Ministries of Mercy. Yesterday another was added to this list. Matt Filbert gave me the Redeemer Church Planter Manual (by Keller) and Coaching Urban Church Planters. (by the Redeemer Church Planting Center). As I was perusing them today, I saw my lack of gratitude towards these men for their kindness. Selvaggio's Marriage book and Keller's book on Mercy Ministry are milk and meat for my reading diet.

I am sure Filbert's kind gifts will be too.


Abandoning or Transforming Culture: Do we have a choice? Notes from Jerram Barrs

7 days ago Jerram Barrs came to speak here at the Grove. I sat down and enjoyed a lovely conversation with him over lunch. I greatly appreciated the time he took to answer every question deliberately. He spoke on three occasions; I made it to two of them. The most invigorating lecture/talk however was entitled Abandoning or Transforming Culture: Do we have a choice?

After outlining the various ideas of Christ and Culture, he laid down an argument for culture transformation. Three Principles and three "how to" guidelines for each.

1.) Affirmation - activities of culture is to respond to the Creation Mandate (reaffirmed in the Noahic Covenant) and the fact that mankind is made in the image of God (Psalm 8)

  • Appreciation - delight what is good in culture (Philippians 4:8). John Calvin, "It is not blasphmey of the Holy Spirit that Pagans speak good and give good gifts."
  • Incarnation - incarnate the gospel in every culture, adopt whatever you can from, and of, every culture. This is to live as fully human as you can. Love the culture and love the people of that culture.
  • Bridges into Culture [Common Grace] - recognize all kinds of truth, justice, and beauty to communicate the gospel of Christ.

2.) Sober Realism of Reality

  • Nonidentification - there is no such things as a Christian culture. What grows from transformed hearts are the firstfruits of what is yet to come.
  • Christian Identity - in relationship to Christ and place in the kingdom of God
  • called to humility and to challenge the culture we live in and within ourselves - transformation occurs by bringing Scripture to bear on reality and life. To do this read scripture and whenever you find a passage you do not like or want to reinterpret, you are dealing with sin, or you have given in too much to the culture you live in

3.) Solemn Warning - culture expresses the religious elements of the human heart. In the words of TS Eliot, "Culture is the incarnation of her religion."

  • count the cost - there are things that are off limits
  • cultural embodiment - encourage new believers to put on and live in the cutlure
  • the transformation of Culture - salt and light in every aspect you can and your work

---- [Robbie's thoughts] ----

A lot of what Barrs said would throw Christendom in an uproar. Which is sad. How can I incarnate the Gospel? By admiring the creation around me to start. Look and enjoy the arts, music and movies. Incorporate the creativity of the community in which I live into my life. (I am drawing the line at The Scream.) Hang outs such as coffee houses, java cafes, internet cafes, some small restaurants, and many others are excellent examples to start. At the Crazy Mocha this summer the art on display was by those who lived in the community. Why can't the church do that? Why can't I do that?


Driscoll preached on the Regulative Principle

In my tiny world there is a little discussion going on. Steve Steele and Sam Desocio are in that ring. I need to get out more. And it is about the regulative principle sermon Mark Driscoll gave 8 days ago. I find this funny as this is my 200th post.

I love Mark Driscoll. God is blessing the preaching of the gospel there and many people are coming to know Christ. Mars Hill knows more about God's saving grace than most churches do in their lifetime. Awesome truth and fact. I love Mars Hill and Driscoll because they love Jesus in all his glory- fully incarnate and fully divine. They are Christians and they are brothers and sisters.

I appreciated the sermon because I heard the gospel, I saw Mark humble himself before thousands of people (potentially many more as it is posted online). His words can now be stones hurled at him, I hope it is not so. I appreciated the sermon as he explain worship in a trinitarian way - Glorifying God the Father, through the mediation of God the Son, by the indwelling presence of God the Spirit.

As a brother I disagree with Mark's take on the regulative principle.
The fundamental disagreement is the idea that all of life is worship, and that there is little difference between scattered worship and gathered worship. Many theologians hold this position, John Frame and DA Carson are two of them. (And I love John Frame!)

Hywel Jones in his commentary on Hebrews says "to glorify God" means to reveal Him. 1 Corinthians 10:31 is then read as "
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to reveal God." The verse is then read in a clearer and lucid way in the how to glorify God. Our prayer should be to reveal the creator in all things. Gathered, corporate worship owns a different purpose. Yes it is to reveal God in all his splendor (Tim Keller notes that this is how worship is evangelistic), it is further as worship motivates Christians to please Him. It is in worship that you encounter God in His glory- you dont do that while drinking coffee.

At one point in his sermon he quoted Deuteronomy for the biblical reference for the regulative principle, but did not give scripture to support the Normative principle - only alluded to the typical freedom Scripture gives in other areas. (Biblical support vs. none?)

At one point he mentioned acappela worship (which I dont agree with), and psalm singing (which I do find biblical). In this instance Driscoll made sweeping statements that I would like him to unpack and explain more. I agree with Sam, why profile micro-norities, but if you are going to do so, explain and unpack what you say.

I made a comment on Steele's blog on other thoughts pertaining to this.


redeeming more than our souls

For one of my classes my professor requires us to read several chapters and one full book of agrarian thought. Agrarianism is a practical philosophy (how to live life) that is centered around agriculture as the basic mainstay of work and occupation. They are excellent critics of modernity and their educational polemics are invaluable.

Wendell Berry, an agrarian, suggests that the Amish are the most technologically intelligent people because they are incredibly discerning with regards to the technology they incorporate into their lifestyle. Very provacative stuff.

I hold a dear appreciation for these guys as they genuinely are counter cultural. That is something we Christians sturggle with. But at the same time, I wish the agrarians would offer a transforming element pertaining to culture in their criticisms.

Counter cultural Chrsitianity would say no to a lot of baggage in this messy world (premarital sex, adultery, consumerism, selfishness and self-love, many more), yet the gospel redeems various elements of creation (sex is good not bad, marriage and family governed as a ministry and reflecting Christ and the church, moderation with alcohol and smoking, the arts and music - do our churches reflect this?, work - it is effective and enjoyable). Christians should celebrate such a gospel, it redeems more than our souls.

One may start by asking God to redeem our days, time and activities in whatever we may be doing.

[this thursday Jerram Barrs is speaking on this very subject up here at 4pm]