On Saturday, November 16th a seminar by Stand To Reason will be hosted at Clear Lake Evangelical Free Church to spotlight Greg Koukl. This seminar is designed to equip followers of Jesus Christ to explain and defend Christian beliefs and values with people who don’t understand or who don’t accept the source of authority. Stand to Reason trains Christians to think more clearly about their faith and to make an even-handed, incisive, yet gracious defense for classical Christianity and classical Christian values in the public square. There is a $10 cost (which includes lunch), and you can register online or by calling 641) 357 – 7581. Continue reading →
Is there an American form of Christianity? Many believers who live in the United States would be content simply to identify themselves as Christians, others as American Christians, and still others would be inclined to say they are Christians in America. But are believers in any of these groups able to identify distinctive traits of American Christianity? Do you know enough of the history of Christianity in this country to recognize how your own expression of Christian faith and practice has been shaped by America in the modern age, for good or ill?
None of us are simply “biblical Christians” but have a history that has shaped us in one way or another. Reformed Christians have a rich heritage going back to the Protestant Reformation in sixteenth-century Europe, but they also have a peculiar history in the United States. Join us for this free two day conference which will explore some of the major outlines of the history of Reformed & Presbyterian Christianity in the United States.
Both video and audio resources for thinking biblically about ecclesiology and polity.
One of the enduring decisions that continues to divide Christian denominations is polity – how the church is to be governed. Episcopal, congregational, presbyterian… each of these systems of authority and submission draws from elements of Scriptural truth, and believers have been unable to completely reconcile the various strands across denominations.
One sign of encouragement, however, seems to be recent, small trends towards agreement. Many denominations that are independent/congregational have been putting a greater emphasis on partnering together, and connectional/presbyterian denominations have displayed a willingness to think about the importance of the local congregation.
Examples of this abound in confessional, orthodox American Christianity. Denominations that were created out of the fight against modernism and biblical faithlessness – e.g., the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, the Presbyterian Church in America, the United Reformed Churches of North America – have all by in large been careful to regulate centralized power and emphasize local, congregational authority (no doubt partly in reaction to abuses they had witnessed prior). On the other end of the polity spectrum, independent churches are showing an increased interest in working together. Networks such as Acts 29, the Gospel Coalition, Redeemer Network, and Reformed Congregational all act as evidence for this trend. Perhaps there is an increasing desire to find strengths on both ends of the spectrum, and God willing, careful students of Scripture will find ways to biblically and confessionally articulate these truths that lead to greater unity.
Mark Dever interviews Andy Davis for 9Marks on Davis’ remarkable experience witnessing God’s favorable blessing on his church. This is “must listen” material for all Christians who long to see their congregations reformed and always reforming.
Reforming your local church is no easy task. Let me begin by stating that the substance of what follows is advice based on personal experience in three pastorates, as well as my interaction with pastors from across the country who have come to embrace Reformation theology and attempted to incorporate that theology into the life of their respective churches.
First Things First
Two preliminary observations are in order. First, it must be understood that there is no guarantee that what has worked in one place will achieve the same results elsewhere. What follows is an overview of what I and others have done and should not be viewed as a sure-fire formula. If anything, I pray that this summary will be used as a guideline for pastors as they think through the comprehensive challenges of reforming a local church.
Second, reforming a church ordinarily begins with the pastor. This is only right because it is through the preaching and teaching of this biblically ordained office that the doctrinal direction is established. If the pastor and elders are not convinced that Reformational theology is the proper theological framework, not much progress will be made. Any effort on the part of the laity (no matter how noble the intention) to teach contrary to the doctrine of the pastor and elders is disruptive to church order. Once laypeople have become convinced of Reformational theology, however, they can be instrumental in bringing these truths to bear in the life of their local church if: (1) they have access to the pastor and elders; (2) they have the confidence and support of the pastor and elders; and (3) they proceed with permission and caution. I will begin with advice for pastors and conclude with a reflection for lay reformers.
The Ground on Which You Stand
Pastors, know your context. There is a huge difference between reforming an existing church that stands within the Reformed tradition but has drifted from its standards, and bringing Reformational theology into a new context where it has never been intentionally or formally held. Continue reading this article by Ken Jones at ModernReformation…→
Introduction In April 1996, the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals held its first major meeting of evangelical scholars. The Cambridge Declaration, first presented at this meeting, is a call to the evangelical church to turn away from the worldly methods it has come to embrace, and to recover the Biblical doctrines of the Reformation. The Cambridge Declaration explains the importance of regaining adherence to the five “solas” of the Reformation.
April 20, 1996
Evangelical churches today are increasingly dominated by the spirit of this age rather than by the Spirit of Christ. As evangelicals, we call ourselves to repent of this sin and to recover the historic Christian faith.
In the course of history words change. In our day this has happened to the word “evangelical.” In the past it served as a bond of unity between Christians from a wide diversity of church traditions. Historic evangelicalism was confessional.
Sola Scriptura: The Erosion of Authority
Scripture alone is the inerrant rule of the church’s life, but the evangelical church today has separated Scripture from its authoritative function. In practice, the church is guided, far too often, by the culture. Continue reading →
J.I. Packer – “Seek fellowship among those who share your [theological] vision of the renewal that the Christian world needs, even the evangelical world. Recognize that spiritual truth and spiritual renewal are the primary things, and that ecclesiastical matters come second. Then, the Lord will be with you, will bless you, and use you. So may it be. Amen.”