Dimming the Gospel Light: 1. Can we still be Protestant 500 years on from Luther?

Mark Thompson“Today I watched a good friend — of more than twenty years standing — consecrated as a bishop in the church of God. It was a magnificent occasion in which we were able to celebrate God’s continued goodness to his people by his provision of godly, faithful and courageous Christian leadership. The sermon was one of the most inspiring challenges I have heard to put first things first and not to flinch when the pressure is on to do what others would be pleased to see us do. Taking his cue from Acts 6, the preacher (Simon Manchester) reminded us of the apostolic commitment to prayer and the ministry of the word.

And then there were the promises my friend made:

Will you instruct the people committed to your care from the Scriptures, and teach nothing (as required of necessity for eternal salvation) except what you are convinced may be proved by the Scriptures?

Are you ready to drive away all false and strange doctrine which is contrary to God’s word; and privately and publicly to call upon and encourage others to do likewise?

Add to these the hymns that were sung. …

The final element making this such a grand occasion was the presence in the congregation of many of the old saints who had served Christians in this city (and much further afield) so very well over such a long period of time …

All of this made me ponder anew on a more general dimming of the gospel light in many churches and church organisations around the world. In some places there seems to have been a discernible neutering of genuine evangelical ministry at a time when it is needed more than ever. So I’ve decided over the next few months or more to prepare a series of posts on questions for which we need a clear, unambiguous, courageous and truthful answer. …”

– Read Dr. Mark Thompson’s whole article at Theological Theology.

David Cook’s encouraging report from the UK

David Cook“We have been in the U.K. now since 13th February, long enough to have some reflections:

In Australia we may think that the Church we see in the Royal weddings or funerals is typical of the church here – formal and lifeless. That is contrary to our experience. We have found the Church to be faithful, creative, lively and very well led.

We are here as part of the 4 yearly Passion For Life and my role has been to either preach evangelistically or to encourage others to do that…”

– Presbyterian Church of Australia Moderator General (and former SMBC Principal) David Cook is in the United Kingdom, where he’s spoken at various places including St. Helen’s Bishopsgate and The Tron in Glasgow. Read his reflections here (you may need to scroll down to 27 March 2014).

’815 in Transparent move to punish Fort Worth’

AS Haley“Episcopalians in non-litigating parishes and dioceses should be asking: Why the silence? Why is 815 being allowed to run amok with the Church’s precious resources? Who is really in charge? Where are those who helped put the Presiding Bishop into power, and who will act now to curb her irrationality and her grasping at straws?”

– A S Haley, the Anglican Curmudgeon (and lawyer), takes a look at the latest Episcopal Church legal manoeuvrings.

A Loss of Vision

Dr Mark Thompson“It is unsurprising that this statement has convinced no one. The suggestion that they are just following the theological lead of the churches and denominations is a massive failure of judgment. After all, the defection from biblical teaching by large tracks of the American church is well documented and grieved over by churches around the world and by those faithful Christians and congregations that remain in the US.

What’s more, our collective responsibility to live obediently under the word of God is not something that can be put to one side or delegated to someone else in the way that Mr Stearns seems to think it can be. If our operations are not driven by our theology then there is something massively wrong. For Christians seeking to humbly and intelligently live as disciples of Christ in today’s world, there is no ‘theology-free zone’…”

– At Theological Theology, Dr. Mark Thompson comments on the World Vision USA decision.

The Worldliness in World Vision’s new hiring policy

Kevin DeYoung“We are entering the days and the decade of a great shifting and sifting of evangelicalism. The capitulation will not happen all at once. The camel of compromise will poke its nose into the tent little by little.

We will hear about the unity of the church, as if Christ in John 17 were interested in a unity indifferent to the truth (John 17:17). We will hear about the reputation of the church, as if Christ promised that everyone would love us as long as we meant well (John 15:18-19). We will hear urgent pleas to stay on mission and not be distracted by controversy, as if Christ’s gospel of the kingdom had little to do with actually repenting and believing in the gospel (Mark 1:15). We will hear—in a hundred ways from a thousand voices in a million devilish disguises—the siren song that beckons the church to change or die, as if we could rescue Christianity by saving it from itself…”

Kevin De Young’s piece at The Gospel Coalition is well worth reading in full.

Piper: World Vision USA’s move trivialises Perdition and the Cross

Canon David Short, Rector, and Canon Dr. J.I. Packer, Honourary Assistant Minister, ST John's VancouverJohn Piper looks to the godly example of Jim Packer when he responds to Christianity Today’s report that “World Vision’s American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman.”

Piper: “This is a tragic development for the cause of Christ, because it trivializes perdition — and therefore, the cross — and because it sets a trajectory for the demise of true compassion for the poor.

When J.I. Packer walked out of the 2002 synod of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, he was protesting its decision to ‘bless same-sex unions.’ His rationale is relevant for the developments at World Vision…”

Read it all at Desiring God.

Related:

Pointing to Disaster — The Flawed Moral Vision of World Vision – Albert Mohler.

On World Vision and the Gospel – Russell Moore.

Franklin Graham Statement on World Vision – Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. “My dear friend, Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, would be heartbroken. He was an evangelist who believed in the inspired Word of God.”

The Road Less Traveled: The Faithfulness of J.I. Packer vs. the Capitulation of World Vision – Justin Taylor.

The Hole In Their Bible – Todd Pruitt. “Stearns says that World Vision is united around the Apostle’s Creed. But what profit is there in affirming belief in God while denying that which He has made so clear?”

And from the files: Are we stronger than He? – by David Short, published in ACL News, January 2005 (PDF file).

Photo: Canon David Short and Canon Dr J I Packer at St. John’s Vancouver – they both left the Anglican Church of Canada because of that denomination’s departure from obedience to the Scriptures.

Fred Phelps and the Anti-Gospel of Hate

Albert Mohler“Fred Phelps became infamous due to one central fact — he was a world-class hater. He brought great discredit to the Gospel of Christ because his message was undiluted hatred packaged as the beliefs of a church.”

– Albert Mohler writes on the tragic legacy of the founder of ‘Westboro Baptist Church’.

Why Holidays are More Christian than Holy Days

Phillip Jensen“There are Holy Days and there are holidays and Christians support both, though they prefer holidays.

The word ‘holiday’ comes from Holy Day, but has been secularised. The Holy Day celebrates something of eternal, supernatural or religious significance. The holiday is just taking time off work. Holy Days are not always celebrated by taking time off – sometimes they are marked by fasting or feasting or wearing special clothing. However, some Holy Day celebrations do involve taking time off from work. …”

– Dean of Sydney Phillip Jensen writes in his weekly column.

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