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The Gospel in Contexts

“What hath Athens to do with Jerusalem?” Tertullian’s famous question has remained relevant through the years as the church has grappled with how to respond to the pagan academy. As someone who has spent most of his life in “Athens” (most recently near Yale University), I now find myself in a sort of “Jerusalem.” Four years ago, I moved to a “Jerusalem,” a culturally Christian environment (across the street from Wheaton College). That journey has afforded me the opportunity to compare the experience of communicating the gospel in two distinct contexts. Continue reading article at Leadership Journal....

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Tebowing!

One of the strange delights of living in a country where you did not grow up is the joy of exploring a whole different sporting culture. For instance, take basketball. Well, when I went to school, basketball was played as distinctly second-rate also-ran game. For an Englishman I was not that bad. But I remember an American we had with us who was on our team and seemed to spend the whole time running up and down putting the thing in the appropriate basket. I could catch, pass, but throwing the ball through the rim was a whole different ‘ball game’. I find that games which I played growing up can engross me when I watch them, if I have a moment to spare, even on TV. But if I did not play it myself, it’s all I can do to stop myself from yawning. But watching games ‘live’ is a different...

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Occupied?

Watching St Paul’s, London, from a distance has been an interesting experience recently. I was then intrigued to discover that this Christian street preacher in Calgary was comparing his treatment with that of “Occupy Calgary.” Artur Pawlowski comments that, “I have stood over 70 times in the courts. We have been charged over 100 times. Eight arrests,” he says. “Just because I believe in Jesus Christ, I’m treated differently.” Apparently his treatment is in contrast to the more familiar and understanding attitude that the Occupy protesters receive. There may be many reasons for this beyond the scope of the theological, perhaps, and beyond the scope of this article. But it raises an important question for Mr. Pawlowski and for us: what sort of ‘counter-culture’ campaign is the church allowed to launch these days? What kind of marching would be permissible? When was the last time anyone threw any money lenders out of any temples? If the Guardian’s statistics are correct (‘grauniad’ anyone?),  the true picture...

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An Evening with Atheists

As we continue in our sermon series “God’s Answer to Atheism” at College Church, guest blogger Drew Dyck, managing editor of Leadership Journal,  shares with us his experience attending an atheist gathering in his neighborhood: Christians love talking about atheists. Generally, however, we’re less excited about talking to them. Well, one night last winter I set out to change that, at least in my own life. I attended an atheist gathering in my neighborhood. But first I had to go online and join their “meet-up” group. I remember my hand freezing on my computer mouse, unable to click the “join us” invitation. For a moment the cursor hovered over the button. Did I really want to do this? I had already interviewed dozens of atheists for the book project I was working on, but most of my interviews had been conducted over the phone or via email. Somehow the prospect of sitting face to face with them was more intimidating. I wasn’t afraid...

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9/11 Anniversary Lessons

Evangelicals Now published this month a recent article I wrote on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11: To even attempt to broach such a demanding topic in a few hundred words is to rush in where angels fear to tread. So first a preliminary word: this will not be exhaustive. It will not be ‘exhausting’ either, for which you may breathe a sigh of relief, because of its appropriate brevity. But the temptation in such a piece as this, on such a topic as that, is to attempt to provide ‘bullet points’ on all the major aspects that should be addressed (for instance, suffering, providence, war, religion, martyrdom, death, bravery, rescue missions, firefighters, security, to name but a few, and not to mention the massive secondary ‘literature’ about the event ranging from the popular urban legends to the more diatribe like, probably academic too). Instead, I will simply attempt the topic of “hermeneutics.” Yes, I know, hermeneutics is...

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Moody and magnificent!

(Warning: flagrant self-promotion to follow.) My book No Other Gospel (Crossway, 2011) has just been published and I have duly been doing the rounds of radio interviews on Christian radio in the US. They have certainly been fascinating. Whereas in the UK there is Premier Radio listened to by a loyal audience, no doubt, in the US there is a very large population of Christians who listen to Christian talk radio, with news and music, and regular preaching programming. Some of it perhaps classifies as ‘naff’ or ‘cheesy’, but much of it is genuinely edifying and helpful. There is also the very fast-paced twitter and blogging world. Recently a controversial new book, with a pre-release video, was posted by a well known American blogger and over the weekend received something like a quarter of a million hits. That kind of attention, and internet traffic, was enough to get CNN interested. We are talking —...

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No Weddings and a Funeral

Some remarkable new studies have emerged about the changing patterns of marriage in America. For decades, it has been assumed that the more educated elites tended towards being more liberal in this and many other ways, while the lower echelons, the less educated with minimal if any college education, are assumed to be more conservative with relation to marriage and anything else. A strange complexity For a long time it has been known that this picture has a strange complexity to it: the more educated, while liberal in theory about marriage, actually tend to be pretty conservative about it in their own practice. What’s new, though, is that there is a growing body of evidence that the less educated, whatever their ideological theory, are in practice moving decisively away from long-term marriage commitments. There is more divorce, more out of wedlock birth, less commitment to the institution of marriage. This is a seismic change...

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Whence now ‘religious’ politics?

After Glenn Beck (a Mormon Fox News commentator) organised and led a massive rally in Washington DC recently, calling on the need for reviving America, many discerning Christian commentators were disconcerted — to say the least — to discover that evangelical Christians seemed able to embrace Beck as one of their own. Justin Taylor has since posted a repeat of the ESV Study Bible’s teaching about what is different between Mormonism and Christianity (1), and Russell Moore has opined successfully that the problem is not that Beck is an effective leader, nor that he is allowed to speak his mind in religiously free America, but that some evangelical Christians are so undiscerning (2). What has caused a situation where genuine Christians can embrace rank heresy with excitement about its positive effect on their country? Of course, putting the question like that is not perhaps entirely fair, for the feeling is that, given...

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To change the world

A book which deserves a much longer review is James Davidson Hunter’s To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy and Possibility of Christianity in the Later Modern World. As I say, I cannot possibly do this book justice in these few words, other than to say that if you are interested in the problem of cultural change in our day you really should read it. I don’t agree with everything that Hunter says. For instance, it is frustrating that Hunter (so sure footed elsewhere) makes if not monumental gaffes in historical summary, at least takes a particular side in the historical debate about particular events without seeming to realise that the side he is taking is far from non-controversial. He seems to regard it as an open and shut case that Luther was at least partly responsible for the German genocide of the Jews, and that Calvin was entirely responsible for the...

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The Ideological War in the Aftermath of September 11

With the recent renewed furor over the legacy of 9/11, I was interested to dig around and find what I had posted about it for our church in New Haven soon after the original 9/11.  Yale sends a lot of people to work in Manhattan so in the immediacy of that terrible event New Haven was in mourning with lots of connections to the workers in downtown Manhattan. I remember coming out of our apartment and seeing a Yale undergraduate sitting on the steps of the house – we were renting a multifamily at the time – and my wife noticing that she was simply sitting there weeping uncontrollably.  This didn’t seem normal and when she told me I immediately switched on the news channel on the TV and saw one of the buildings with a plane stuck in the side of it. Sometime later, I thought some ideological reflection on what 9/11 was going to do to us would be helpful.  This...

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