Modern Pensées

Reconsidering theology, philosophy, culture, economics, and politics

Archive for April 2011

Best Links of the Week

leave a comment »

Forbes, of all places, has a really interesting piece entitled, “The Seminary Bubble,” which points out some real weaknesses to the seminary model of ministerial preparation.

IMF forecast shows Chinese economy eclipsing the U.S. economy in 2016

Cold War era abandoned monuments in Yugoslavia – some pretty incredible photos of some fascinating pieces

Trevin Wax deconstructs a good number of widely promulgated but fictitious/dubious sermon illustrations/factoids – of note:  Gehenna as a burning trash dump outside of Jerusalem, the high priest rope around the ankle bit, NASA accounting for the missing day

Kevin DeYoung has a real nice piece on Business (Profit, Product, People, Principles)

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones weighs in on video preaching (in a way) – there is a certain metaphysics of presence that I think Lloyd-Jones is onto here – it may be empirically difficult to state what is lost, but there is certainly an opportunity cost worth weighing

California has over 100,000 illegal immigrants in it’s prison system at a cost of $34,000 per year per person (Texas spends an average of $12,000 per inmate)

Waiting times at a three year high in England for healthcare – still want a government 14 trillion in debt becoming your health insurance company and provider?  Diseconomy of scale!

Some beginning to call for Uncle Sam to raid your Roth IRAs for more tax revenue

Durham, NC man who sold fake “gluten free” products sentenced to eleven years in prison

David Brooks has a nice op-ed in NYT entitled “Creed or Chaos” giving some nice analysis to Africa

William Buckley interview of Hugh Heffner on Judeo-Christian Sexual Ethics (1966):

(HT: 22 Words)

Pretty intense video of Tuscaloosa tornado as it goes over University Mall:

Best Links of the Week

with 3 comments

Click picture for higher resolution image (HT: JT)

Parents, Don’t Dress Your Daughters Like Tramps

Front Porch Hack – Brilliant idea about turning your garage into your front porch for the purpose of creating intentional Gospel inroads into your neighborhood (HT:  JT)

Tax compliance costs $.30 on every taxpayer $1

In order to balance our current budget we would have to tax at the following rates:  Corporate 88%, Highest Income 88%, Middle Bracket 63%, and Lowest 25%.  Some of our precious entitlements have to go, this is insanity.  The sad part is that this would only balance the budget for this year and not even touch the $14,000,000,000,000.00 debt and trillion in compounding annual interest.

S+P says 33% chance they will downgrade U.S. debt from AAA

Mubarak has a heart attack during questioning

Wisconsin man finds live bomb in the wall of his own home

Best University ROI – Glad to see University of Florida yielded a 14.6% ROI.

U.S. Navy tests laser weapon on boat

iPhone keeps log of everywhere you go

You couldn’t pay me enough to do this job:

RC Car powered by soda can rings:

Best Links of the Week

with one comment

Recent test at CERN shows some evidence of new atomic/subatomic element(s).  The data is statistically significant at 3 standard deviations so far, however, the gold standard in particle physics and astrophysics is five standard deviations.  Hence, some have remained cautious about the findings thus far.  In a similar vein, here is an interesting piece on neutrinos.

Two shot in British nuclear submarine.  Reminds me of Capt. Rameus’ classic line, “Be careful what you shoot at in here… some things don’t react to kindly to bullets”

Stephen Moore writes in WSJ, “We’ve Become a Nation of Takers, Not Makers

Fascinating case of a baby born at 21 weeks, 9.5 inches long, and less than 10 ounces… and still going strong.

Random stuff from cars, to trailers, to whole homes, and even body parts will be washing up on the West Coast for the next three years.

Interesting book review from Ed Stetzer- “5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them

Bernard Lewis has a nice piece in the WSJ entitled, “The Tyrannies are Doomed

Ben Bernanke and FED sought to hide that TARP money went to foreign banks

Infographic:  Failing schools across America

12 year old whiz kid talks about astrophysics

Some interesting new texts written in code and potentially concerning Jesus, the crucifixion, and early Christianity

Unreasonable Doubt” – Examines the roots of atheism

John Piper gives a few thoughts regarding what Koran burning is analogous to and what it is not analogous to.

 

When “Believing the Gospel” Doesn’t Work

leave a comment »

I wanted to re-post something that Chuck DeGroat wrote earlier this week on his blog, The New Exodus.  I think this is a pretty important discussion that needs to happen amongst the New Calvinism.  Reductionism is dangerous and it hurts people.  Legalism is dangerous and it enslaves people.

When “Believing the Gospel” Doesn’t Work

Maybe you’re like the many men and women who I’ve talked to.  Having been through Sonship (a fairly well-known discipleship program in conservative Reformed circles) or having digested the writings of Keller or Powlison or Tripp, your still struggling.  Or, maybe your version of “believing the Gospel” came from a preacher who told you that the answer to your lifetime of guilt was greater “Gospel depth” or deeper “Gospel transformation.”  And so, you searched high and low for that newer and better way, the Gospel way, only to try to believe better and repent better and be less guilty.  And that, too, didn’t amount to much.

Just recently, I was talking to yet another person whose digested all the writings and listened to all the sermons and read all the tweets, and ‘Gospel repenting and believing’ isn’t working.  He went through Sonship.  And each time he talked to his Gospel phone coach, he’d confess his latest idol.  “I’m justifying myself through my attempts to repent better, and repentance is now my idol.  So, I’m repenting of my repentance, but I’m still neck deep in feelings of guilt.  What’s wrong with me?”

“Gospel Tweeting” is the latest phenomenon.  The answer to all our problems is this:  Just believe the Gospel!  If it was that easy. This seems to me to be the newest quick fix, the most recent Christian cliche, and I’m growing weary of it.  I’ve counseled people who’ve done the full Sonship workout only to be more racked with guilt than ever.  They are repenting of their failed repenting and repenting of their failed attempt to confess their failed repenting.  They’re more twisted in guilt than ever.  And the ‘Gospel Twittersphere’ isn’t helping.

This is oversimplified Calvinism.  Period.  It doesn’t take the complexity of sin seriously enough, though it claims to in every way.  It doesn’t take it seriously because it oversimplifies the remedy, leaving troubled and struggling people feeling even worse.  Gospel counselors tell people that their troubles amount to a failure to believe the Gospel.  Freedom is available, we’re told.  Just repent and believe! Over and over, preachers are trying to boil this down to 140 characters on Twitter.  And I think it’s Gospel arrogance.

The problem is that we’re far more complex and psychologically broken that we’re often aware of.  It’s not just “unbelief” that bears down on us.  It’s a whole host of things – neural pathways grooved by years of living a certain way, a “divided heart” that thrives on its habitual polarities, weakness of will, and the extraordinary brokenness manifesting in the systems we inhabit, whether in our families or workplaces or churches.  And if I’m not being pessimistic enough, consider John Calvin’s words:

“But no one in this earthly prison of the body has sufficient strength to press on with due eagerness, and weakness so weighs down the greater number that, with wavering and limping and even creeping along the ground, they move at a feeble rate. Let each one of us, then, proceed according to the measure of his puny capacity and set out upon the journey we have begun. No one shall set out so inauspiciously as not daily to make some headway, though it be slight. Therefore, let us not cease so to act that we may make some unceasing progress in the way of the Lord. And let us not despair at the slightness of our success; for even though attainment may not correspond to desire, when today outstrips yesterday the effort is not lost. Only let us look toward our mark with sincere simplicity and aspire to our goal; not fondly flattering ourselves, nor excusing our own evil deeds, but with continuous effort striving toward this end: that we may surpass ourselves in goodness until we attain to goodness itself. It is this, indeed, which through the whole course of life we seek and follow. But we shall attain it only when we have cast off the weakness of the body, and are received into full fellowship with him” (Institutes, 3.6.5 or pp. 1:689)

But the problem extends beyond understanding the complexity.  It’s the cure that is far more difficult.  Having counseled too many men and women who beat themselves up for not growing fast enough by repenting and believing, I’m convinced we do many people a disservice (and harm!) by oversimplifying both the problem and the cure.  Those fearful of modern psychology need to begin listening at this point, because what we’ve found is that growth and maturity isn’t found in a method or a discipline or a repentance exercise.  In fact, growth is harder, longer, more painful, and more puzzling than many of us care to admit.  People who we serve in the church would like microwavable strategies, but the fact is that growth and maturity isn’t microwavable.  It defies programs and methods.  It frustrates the most competent pastor or therapist or spiritual director.  And, it can’t be captured in a tweet, even a well-formed Gospel tweet.

I admire the hearts of my friends out there who attempt to tweet Gospel cures.  They mean well.  Most are pastors, and you know who you are.  And I really do like you a lot.  But, hear me when I say that people are suckers for your 140 word fixes.  Why do you think you get re-tweeted so much?  We’re suckers for remedies and methods.  We love a sound byte.  But I’m asking you to step back and consider the complexity.  Do you really see people growing that quickly in your churches?  Do you really see ‘Gospel transformation’ happening in a “repent and believe” moment?  I’m prone to think that this is where we need a good dose of those old stories, like Pilgrim’s Progress, that highlight the long and difficult journey.  Because most people I know don’t find that the methods work.  Most people I talk to struggle day to day just to believe, just to utter a one word prayer, just to avoid another outburst of anger or another deluge of cynicism. Most people find that it takes a lifetime to believe that they are the prodigal who is lavished with a Father’s prodigious love.

Gospel tweeters:  Relax.  You are far more screwed up than you think.  And your cure is far too simplistic to help.  This journey requires more than a 140 characters of Gospel happy juice.  A big and good God requires a long and difficult Exodus journey for real change to happen.

Best Links of the Week

leave a comment »

Daily Stormtroopers 365

Religion May Become Extinct in Nine Countries (Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland)

In March, U.S. Government spent 8x more than it had coming in

Some interesting rhetoric between Dmitry Medvedez and Vladimir Putin.

Two sets of excellent photographs from the Japanese devastation:  BBC and Boston Globe

Libyans using Western journalists as human shields

Cash for Clunkers 2

Paul Allen takes some shots at Bill Gates and gives some revisionist accounts of the history of Microsoft

Massive publisher Conde Nast got scammed for $8 million by one email

Interesting article in WSJ about feminism and provocative clothing among teenage girls (HT:  Lisi)

The 10 Most Profitable Movies of All-Time

Worthwhile video (HT: Jutty):

%d bloggers like this: