The Church’s Response to Same Sex Marraige

Came across this article that echo’s what I have been saying about the church’s response to same sex marriages for awhile. Canadian Cary Nieuwhof’s five points are spot on. In his blog post he cautiously offers advice to his American counterparts on how the church should respond to same sex marriage, especially in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling. (Same sex marriage has been legal in Canada for 10 years). See his blog post here: “His Some Advice on Same-Sex Marriage for US Church Leaders From a Canadian.”

His second point, “It’s actually strange to ask non-Christians to hold Christian values,” is especially poignant for Christians to consider. I have been saying the same thing since the Southern Baptist Convention voted to boycott Disney in 1997. Then I said it was unrealistic to expect “Mickey” to hold Christian values and practices since “he” was not a believer.

I wonder if “we” are upset over the loss of being the nation’s “conscience.” No longer are Christians able to insist that people act sort of “Christian” under the force of law. Now it seems that people will only have an opportunity to act Christian if they are truly saved. I get the sense from reading the NT that the early believers had to live and speak from a truly minority position as well. They did it with love, not comprising the truth and within that position the church flourished. Maybe modern Christians need to take a page from their “playbook.”

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The Pastor and Theologian in One Person

While in not so many words, Douglas Webster offers an advertisement for Baptist Bible Seminary’s PhD program in his recent review article of a new book: The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision by Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson. In his review, “Calling All Augustines” Christianity Today (July/August 2015 see article here) he notes that the authors call for a return of the pastor theologian. They rightly see the need for the academic and pastor to be combined in one man and he in the local pastorate. In our PhD program (see here) we are designed to do just that. All of our professors have extensive pastoral or missionary experience, are currently involved in their local church and all possess terminal academic degrees within their fields from DTS, TEDS and BBS. A number of our graduates and current PhD students are fulfilling this book’s vision. I am thinking of Dave in Canada; John in California; Jay in Delaware and Mike in New Jersey just to name a few. These men are pursing this degree to simply be a better pastor for their flock. These men are not “passive conveyors of insights from theologians” but are men who combine academic rigor at the highest level with a pastor’s heart. Webster concludes his article by recognizing the need for more men such as these. I agree completely. Local churches should be looking for such men as these and supporting their pastor who wants to pursue such a course.

Preaching the Song

This past Sunday I had the privilege of leading off a sermon series for Restored Church in Wilkes-Barre PA on sexuality. Church attendance normally runs around 100. Due to its employment of a billboard that I mentioned in a previous post, Sunday’s attendance was over 200 people. There will be a podcast of the message here in the not too distant future.  The press was there and ran a story about the message as well. 

Preaching the Song of Songs

Anyone interested in preaching the Song of Songs (SoS) needs to read the concerns of John MacArthur. MacArthur’s four-part series is entitled “The Rape of Solomon’s Song.” MacArthur raises some issues that should be in the forefront of the preacher’s mind as he crafts his message for his particular audience concerning the SoS. However, the impetus for the articles is really, in MacArthur’s own words, the “crass” preaching of Mark Driscoll (see some transcript excerpts of Driscoll’s sermon here).

While Driscoll may go where angels fear to tread and incur MacArthur’s censure, one wonders how MacArthur would exposit such a text that is deep in metaphor and needs to be explained (carefully and sensitively) for a contemporary audience to understand this portion of God’s word and apply it to their lives. While MacArthur refers those who ask that question to his study Bible as an example of how he would expound the text of the Song (part 3), surely that is not all he would say in a message. If he did, one wonders why he would skip SoS 7:2-5 without any comments entirely (The MacArthur Study Bible, 949)! While Driscoll may read (and explain) too much into that most intimate scene, MacArthur errs by saying nothing.

I am at a loss to know how to preach the SoS by following MacArthur’s example in his study Bible or his premise that the Song “speaks in secret terms about that which should be kept secret” (part 2).

Preaching in the 21st Century

As I prepare to facilitate a PhD seminar concerning teaching and communication methods next week, I came across an essay by D.A. Carson.  In this article Carson writes of the challenges of preaching (or may be better) reaching a 21st century audience.  Anyone who is interested in preaching should think through his observations carefully.  Those who desire to be effective in the pulpit should appreciate Carson’s balance: primary need for the study of the Word and the need to understand the contemporary audience to whom it is intended.  View the article