John Adams and Two Kingdom Prayers

McCullough on Adams worship while traveling in Europe
At Rotterdam, on a Sunday, attending services at an English Church, they listened as the English preacher prayed that “a certain king” might have “health and long life and that his enemies might not prevail against him.” Praying silently on his own, Adams asked that George III “be brought to consideration and repentance and to do justice to his enemies and to all the world.” (p. 244)

VanDrunen on prayer
If the minister prays for the peace and prosperity of America, this Christian from a foreign land should have no difficulty saying “amen,” since Scripture straightforwardly instructs believers to pray in this manner (e.g., see Jer. 29:7; 1 Tim. 2:1-2) and surely no Christian should wish war and poverty upon fellow believers anywhere in the world. Likewise, if the minister prays for a just resolution to an international dispute in which America is involved, this Christian should also be abel to repsond with “amen,” for what Christian would not wish justice to be done everywhere in the world?

But now we might imagine that the minister prays for America’s victory in an international dispute or that the congregation is asked to sing a patriotic American song after the sermon (perhaps this Christian just happens to visit America on Fourth of July weekend). What if her own native country is the one having the dispute with America, and her own livelihood and security are at stake? What if she feels patriotic sentiments for her own country and has no interest in expressing patriotism for America? She would be unable to yield her “amen” to such proceedings, and this would be perfectly understandable – just as understandable as an American worshiping in a Russian church and feeling disinclined to pray for the triumph of Russian foreign policy or to sing patriotic Russian songs. When we are immersed in our own culture and own national interests, it is often difficult to realize how often we attach the church’s identity to a national or ethnic identity, and hence betray the spirituality of the church. The scenarios that I have imagined might cause us to pause and to reflect upon how the church can do better at living as thought there really is no Jew, Greek, Barbarian, or Scythian within its walls. (p. 149-50)

Dabney’s 7 Points for Preaching

R. L. Dabney

T. David Gordon’s Why Johnny Can’t Preach is responsible for bringing R.L. Dabney’s (1820 – 98) 7 “cardinal requisites” back on my radar. I’m generally against “New Year’s Resolutions” as being far too American and theologia gloriae (wink, wink), but I do hope to reflect more proactively to my own preaching in light of Dabney’s requisites for the year to come.

When I first read these, I was surprised to see nothing about “Christ-centered,” “redemptive historical,” etc. Now, I would suggest that Dabney is getting more at preaching method than content. Thoughts? Without further ado, then, the 7 “cardinal requisites:”

1. Textual Fidelity
“Since the mind of God is disclosed in Scripture, the sermon must be entirely faithful to the text-a genuine exposition of the particular thought of a particular text.”

2. Unity
“Unity requires two things. The speaker must, first, have one main subject of discourse, to which he adheres with supreme reference throughout. But this is not enough. He must, second, propose to himself one definite impression on the hearer’s soul, to the making of which everything in the sermon is bent.” Continue reading

Resources for Preaching on Galatians

For the weeks leading up to December 25 (what the un-RPW world calls otherwise known as “Christmas” & “Advent”), we’re taking a 30,000 ft aerial flyover of the book of Galatians. Thinking especially that God sent His Son “in the fullness of time,” we’ll be using Galatians as a foil for considering Christ – and His benefits – that have come to us in these last days where we have the fullness of Christ. Topics like justification, adoption, freedom, covenant, the apostolic ministry, sanctification, and the Gospel will be addressed. And with the short window we’re giving ourselves, along with the 30k ft approach, that means I have to be pretty concise; so no, I won’t be doing any extended reflections in this series on “what are the στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου?”Here are some of the resources that I’ve found helpful for thinking about Galatians:
F.F. Bruce’s commentary in the NIGTC series. I love this series (usually) and I enjoy Bruce. Continue reading

Tolkien’s “On Fairy-Stories”

One of the most quoted and celebrated critical pieces of Tolkien’s is his apologia for the fantastical fiction, “On Fairy-Stories.” Here, Tolkien clarifies what it is about Marchen that draws the reader out of their normal reality to “recover” more their own reality than they would have ever dreamed. He explains several of his most important compositional tools – such as eucatastrophe and mythopoiesis – and brings critical scholarly work and discussions of trolls together in a way that can hold the attention of even this reader.

Originally a contribution to a fetschrift for a colleague (which was edited by C.S. Lewis), the article appeared in various formats, including The Tolkien Reader (1966). It is now republished in a (critical) edition by Flieger and Anderson.

On a not wholly related note, but nevertheless still within the Faerie!, is the intriguing article by Jeffrey Mallinson in the Journal Of Religion and Popular Culture: “A Potion too Strong?: Challenges in Translating the Religious Significance of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings to Film.” Now that we are somewhat sufficiently chronologically removed from the films, I’ve enjoyed looking back at some of Mallinson’s arguments. You can read his article here.

On Fairy-Stories

I propose to speak about fairy-stories, though I am aware that this is a rash adventure. Continue reading