In the news

Read Fiction for Christ's Sake

Read Fiction for Christ’s Sake

‘Make the most of the time, because the days are evil’ says Paul to the Ephesian church (5.16). Somehow many of my brothers and sisters have taken this as an injunction against reading fiction. ‘Why would we spend time on something that is essentially a lie?’ says the diligent Christian. Never mind the time that we waste on so many other useless pursuits.

Sadly, this seems to be a case where many Christians use Paul’s words as their excuse for not having read a novel since their senior year of sophomore school. I so ‘No’ to this nonsense. Give me a good novel over a spiritual how-to book every day of the week. The problem with fiction is that it does not tell you what it means. It is dangerously open-ended and vague. It can strike readers in hundreds of different ways.

I am here to say that not only is this a good thing, but it is an essential concept that we need if we are to understand why people interpret the…

Read more…

Christ the Conqueror of Hell

Christ the Conqueror of Hell: The Descent into Hades from an Orthodox Perspective

By Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev (SVS Press, 2009)

 

What could a Russian Orthodox Archbishop’s in-depth look at Eastern liturgies have to do with the urban church? Very much it turns out.

Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev demonstrates that while emphasizing Christ’s decent to Hades may be out of fashion today, it was vital to the early church. He shows this from the New Testament, other early Christian writings, and the Church Fathers. The early church’s hope rested entirely on Christ’s victory over death and hell. This belief fundamentally shapes the life of the church. 

The second half of the book delves deeper into the Eastern Orthodox liturgies and will perhaps not be as interesting as the first half for many non-Orthodox readers. However, the survey from the New Testament through the Fathers is worth the price of the book. The author successfully shows that…

Read more…

Letters to the Church: A Response/Review

Letters to the Church by Francis Chan (David C Cook, 2018)

“Imagine you find yourself stranded on a deserted island with nothing but a copy of the Bible. You have no experience with Christianity whatsoever, and all you know about the Church will come from your reading of the Bible.” So begins Francis Chan’s Letters to the Church. Choosing to frame his work with this scenario highlights the basic shortcoming this book.

I should begin by saying there is much that is worthwhile in Letters to the Church. With emphases on prayer, the Spirit, sacredness, the Church as a family, what’s not to love? People are coming to Christ, churches are multiplying. All good things.

Unfortunately, Letters fails to address the assumption inherent in the opening scenario, and this colors much of what follows.

Yes, I understand that this is a thought experiment, a hypothetical situation meant to make us reflect on what Scripture says.…

Read more…
As we live out the Great Commission to the people groups around the globe, we are challenged with contextualizing the vast differences in people based on ethnicity, race, culture and life experiences.  While it may sound simple to say that we should "just share the Gospel", we cannot ignore the complexities caused by our own ethnocentricities making it difficult to present the Gospel in a way that is void of our own cultural biases and life experiences.  In other words, it would be naive to think that our culture is neutral and everyone else's is biased.  We share our lives within our own lens and biases.  Yet, we know we have been tasked with the Great Commission to take the Gospel to the ends of the world.  This is one of the key challenges of missions.  How do we know what is "raw" Gospel truth and what has been influenced by our own culture and experiences?
 
A lingua franca, sometimes called a bridge language or common language, is a…
Read more…

If God Gave Revival to the City, What Would it Look Like?

If you are a believer, you probably have some idea of what revival looks like, or, at the very least, have longed for an extraordinary move of God to come in your family, church, and city.  Within believing circles, saints and congregations have historically prayed for revival.  Prayer concerts, camp meetings, special services, all night vigils, and seasons of seeking God dot our various church calendars, albeit less than a century ago.  Still, believers long for revival, for a fresh visitation of the Lord, for renewal of faith, for corresponding actions of justice and compassion, and for an abundant harvest of souls.

Often times, though, we associate revival with wild eyed preaching, scary spiritual manifestation, or targeted rants against particular social sins.  Those who do not wish to be associated with fanaticism will steer…

Read more…

Revival Blog: Steps to Revival

Steps to Revival

I am distressed at the zeal of heretics and at the amnesia of the believers.
— Leonard Ravenhill

Everything in me knows that true spirituality is not the end result of a cook-book process.  You can no more dictate to the Lord what he will do and when he will do it than you can predict next week’s weather conditions.  We use models, science, instruments, and logic, but, all too often, we still get it wrong.

Throughout my Christian life I have come to understand that “God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform.”  He cannot be coaxed or manipulated into doing something that he does not want to do; prayer is not a form of magic or divine mind control.  God desires to move in regard to our prayers, but has made it clear that he seeks those who will worship him in spirit and in truth.  He is not an ephemeral figure in a lamp that is…

Read more…