Saturday, July 14, 2007

Quote of the Day

"What Christ asks of His disciples is not so much exposition of doctrine about Him as witness to His power. Now witness to His power can be given by the most illiterate if he has had experience of it. It does not require long training for a man to say: 'Whereas I was blind now I see', even though he may be compelled when asked: 'What sayest thou of Him?' to answer: 'I know not.' Such a man was quite prepared to say: 'I believe' and to worship, when told that his Healer was the Son of God. Christ did not require any long training in doctrine when He said to the Demoniac of Gadara: 'Go and tell how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and how He had mercy on thee.'

I remember a missionary in India telling me that most of the converts in his district were brought in by extremely illiterate men. He said: 'The villagers look at them and say, "We know what you were, we can see what you are; what has made the difference?" These men cannot preach sermons,' he said, 'but they know enough to answer, "Christ", and the result is men are converted to Christ.' I do not remember that he told me that many evil results followed, or that doctrine suffered from such witness. The truth is that such witness is a preaching of the doctrine, and of the true doctrine. The doctrine is implied in the witness, though it may not be intellectually apprehended. It is far more true preaching of the doctrine than a long discourse on the Divinity of Christ."

From The Spontaneous Expansion of The Church by Roland Allen pp. 53-54

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Christians Recently Killed in Turkey

Many of you have probably heard on the news some information about the believers who were killed recently in Turkey. I ran across a letter tonight that describes the death of these three men and the response of the church in Turkey to these deaths. It is titled A letter to the Global Church from The Protestant Church of Smyrna. I have been to Turkey and have seen firsthand the great lostness in this nation. The lives of the believers mentioned in this letter were a great encouragement to me. I hope they will be to you as well.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Our Anniversary

Today was mine and my wife's sixth anniversary. We had a wonderful day helping some strangers move into their house, spending some time at the Black's farm for their student day, and we just returned from an amazing fondue dinner. Now, contrary to some of the claims made by some of my blogging friends lately about their wives being the greatest, I definitely have the greatest wife in the world. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ryan Bolger on George Barna's "Revolution"

Ryan Bolger at Fuller Seminary has written a follow up to his review of George Barna's book "Revolution." His follow up post is called "From little c to Big C church." In this post he makes the following statements,

"In terms of community, do we experience community within our “official” local church, or do we share connections with many others, including friendships, occasional gatherings, and online
conversations? Indeed, we are formed by the many activities of which we are a part – and our connections of church are global and go beyond the 'brick and mortar' of Sunday morning."

"Christians continue Jesus' mission in diverse ways, both locally and globally, through face-to-face and faceless commitments. To call one 'real' church and the other secondary belittles the significance of the global body of Christ."

I think he makes some great points here. If we only subscribe to the church being lived out in an "official, local" sense, then I think we will miss out on much that God has to teach us through the "Big C church." I know I have learned much through reading what others, who I may never meet in person, have written. In response to the quotes above: Is a local/universal church distinction seen in Scripture? If so, how would "local" be defined scripturally? If not, how does the Scripture view the church?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Unstructured (Fluid? Spirit Led?) Gatherings - My Responsibility

This past Saturday night I gathered with Alan and his family along with some other friends at Alan's house. For Alan's recap of this meeting see here. This was the first time I went to this gathering since Alan began opening up their home several weeks ago. My wife and I arrived about 6:10 and people kept showing up until about 6:45. We had dinner together and then gathered in one room to share with each other. Since this was my first time at this gathering, I was paying close attention to how it was structured. Having talked with Alan before, I know his desire is to keep these gatherings as unstructured as possible in order to allow the Holy Spirit to lead the body to encourage and edify one another. Though the meeting was less structured than most of the gatherings I have been to, Alan was still guiding the conversation throughout our time together by asking questions about some different things he has been studying. Even though Alan asked these questions there were still times of silence and awkwardness because no one was saying anything. As I have reflected on our time that evening, I have come to a couple of conclusions.

First, as I pondered the question of why I didn't have more to say, I realized that I would have more to share with my brothers and sisters if I spent more time in the Scriptures than I actually do. Now, I had spent time reading the scriptures during that week, but I had not spent time meditating on them, searching them out, and seeking to learn from God what he wanted to teach me. Hindsight shows that even though I read the scriptures desiring to hear from God, I didn't wait around long enough in reading them to actually hear from Him. I just read them and went about my busy life. So, if I am going to have something to build up others with, then the way in which I am relating to and learning from God must change.

Second, I realized that it is real easy to hide behind structure. A common example of this might be having one teacher who teaches the entire time a group gathers. Since the responsibility to speak, share, or teach is placed on only one person. The others who are there can either study up beforehand and listen actively or they can just show up and not really listen. It is very difficult to tell the difference between the two since there is no interaction during the gathering. (though the difference might become apparent in any interaction after the speaker is finished) It was pretty apparent as we gathered as to who had been studying and seeking God and who had not. Even though it was apparent that I had not spent the time needed to be prepared to edify my family in Christ, the fact that it was apparent has functioned as a motivator in my life to draw closer to God.

All this to say that my awareness of my own responsibility to come prepared when I gather with other believers has become much more clear to me this week. What are your thoughts on how the structure of our gatherings affects the way we live out our responsibility toward other believers?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Early Christian Mission

For some time now I have wanted to read the two-volume work by Eckhard Schnabel, "Early Christian Mission." In these books Schnabel seeks to explain the rise and expansion of the mission of the early Christians. The first volume examines the mission of Jesus and the twelve while the second volume looks at Paul and the early church. I have just begun reading the first volume and have found it to be well written and engaging so far. I hope to continue to post my thoughts and favorite quotes from this book as I read through it. I expect that it will generate some great questions for discussion. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the preface:

"Missiologists, missionaries, and representatives of missionary societies seek to promote interest in cross cultural dialogue and witness and to encourage and develop the involvement of Christians, young and old, in active outreach to non-Christians. As laudable as these endeavors are, their proponents have not always sought to provide exegetical explanations or to engage in theological discussion when presenting models for missionary work and paradigms for effective evangelism."

"Typically, understanding among evangelicals about the early Christian period and about the endeavors of the earliest Christians is, more often than not, unconsidered, and sometimes naive or romanticized."

"Views that fail to take into account the historical and social conditions of life in the first century are potentially problematic."

"One example is the view, naive despite the notice in Acts 4:32, that the early Christians were a united group of activists, uniform in their theology and thick as thieves in their relationships, who were willing and eager to subordinate differences of opinion and behavior to the missionary mandate. This view fails to recognize, for example, that the conflict whose solution is recorded in Acts 15 evidently was not supported by all missionaries based in Jerusalem, or that Paul was willing to separate from missionary coworkers as a result of differences of opinion, or that churches recently established by Paul were visited by Jewish-Christian missionaries whose goal was to influence them theologically and institutionally."

"Before we can develop 'lessons' for Christians today, we need to heed the facts as they present themselves in the New Testament."

"Scholars need to attempt comprehensive descriptions of the history and proclamation of Jesus and the early church so that the church that carries the name of Jesus Christ and accepts the witness of the apostles as normative criterion of faith and practice may render an account of its identity, purpose, and goals."

I have already been challenged by these few short quotes. I expect that these books will help me to think more critically and accurately about the mission that Jesus has called us to. In addition, I hope the quotes and thoughts I will post concerning these books will edify you as well.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Last Twelve Verses of Mark Conference

This weekend SEBTS hosted a conference on the last twelve verses of Mark. The conference featured five wonderful scholars presenting different views on whether these verses are original to the text of Mark. The scholars included Keith Elliott, Darrell Bock, Daniel Wallace, David Alan Black, and Maurice Robinson. Summaries of their presentations can be found here or here. Rather than recounting all the details of the speakers presentations, as Alan and Lew have already done a fine job of, I want to give my reaction to the conference as a whole.

The conference was one of the best conferences I have been to. All of the speakers presented their views well even throwing in some humor from time to time. I was challenged by what Daniel Wallace had to say regarding presuppositions and how they can drive us to certain conclusions. His words definitely caused me to reexamine my presuppositions as I listened to each speaker.

I came into the conference holding to the position that the last twelve verses of Mark are part of the original text. And although I still hold that position afterwards, I have gained a much greater appreciation for those who hold to those verses not being original. I can easily see how two scholars can come to differing possible (or even probable) solutions to this isssue. It is just not as simple as I would sometimes like it to be.

I also came into the conference believing that the internal evidence for a variant cannot determine which reading is the original since the internal evidence can often be argued legitimately for both sides of the issue. Because of this, internal evidence can only support other evidence that we have. This view was confirmed as I listened to the speakers. They were all using the same internal evidence and coming to different conclusions. It was not that one person was making a bad argument while the other made a good one. They all had good arguments. It was helpful to see this aspect of the internal evidence illustrated as the presenter gave their different views.

For those readers who have read Alan's or Lew's summaries of the conference, my view is closest to David Alan Black's. Maurice Robinson presented some great verbal and thematic parallels, but I am just not to the point of giving priority to the Byzantine text type (though I do see it as equal to the others). Dr. Black and Dr. Robinson come to the same conclusion, but methodologically I am closer to Dr. Black's position. As for Keith Elliott's suggestion of there possibly being a lost ending of Mark, I am not to the point of accepting conjecture as a solution to the problem in these verses. Darrell Bock and Daniel Wallace would both argue that the gospel does not include these verses in the original. My biggest issue with accepting this position is that it seems to place too much weight on Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. I wonder whether anyone would argue for the omission of these verses (as most scholars do) if either Sinaiticus or Vaticanus happened to contain them.

Finally, I really appreciated how Dr. Black and Dr. Bock made it a point to say that while the types of questions that were asked at this conference were interesting and important, we still need to keep the Gospel primary and focus on taking it to a lost world.

These are just a few of my thoughts regarding the conference. I would love to hear from others who were able to attend.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Mael over at The Adventures of Mael and Cindy has begun a series on pastors. His first post is on the use of the word "minister." He raises some interesting points on how this term and others are used in the New Testament. I am looking forward to reading these posts.

Encouraged and Edified

It has been quite a while since I posted on my blog. Though I have not posted much, I have been reading the blogs of others and have been encouraged by the way I see God working in His church.

I wanted to share with everyone how encouraged I was yesterday evening as I gathered with some fellow believers. Most Wednesday's we gather to continue studying through the book of Acts (the book we are in at this point) and to pray together and encourage one another. The Spirit is always faithful to teach us from God's Word whenever we meet. However, sometimes I think we have gotten so focused on making sure we complete the "activities" we normally do on Wednesday, that we actually miss what is going on in each others lives. Last night was different though.

We had several people who could not be there and were trying to decide if we should continue in Acts or wait until next week. I decided to ask everyone what the Lord had been teaching them over the past week and what the Lord had done in their lives during the time we had with Dr. and Mrs. Black last weekend. We ended up spending three hours talking about anything ranging from sins we were struggling with, to missions, to prayer, to giving. We even discussed how different generations view things like "church buildings." We talked about reaching out to those in neighborhoods that are not like the ones we live in and how it takes faith for God to lead us into something we wouldn't naturally be comfortable with.

I was encouraged and edified in hearing about my brothers and sisters struggles and what the Lord had taught them from Scripture. I also went home knowing how to more specifically pray for my brothers and sisters. The evening definitely did not go as I had planned, but it was so amazing to be part of what the Spirit had planned and led us to do. How has the Spirit been leading you lately?