A man stood up at a conference and said, “Missional is the new ‘seeker’… the church finally getting its hands dirty.” Someone asked me to respond to him.
When we say missional, what we mean is:
God’s church is so saturated in the gospel and the mission of Jesus, that they see themselves as the sent ones of Jesus in all of life, to make disciples who make disciples, so that the earth is saturated with people who love Jesus and God is glorified in all things. That’s what I mean when I say missional… I want you to understand there are lots of definitions out there, but I when I say [missional] that’s what I mean.
Could you get behind that definition of “missional?” Why or why not?
Certainly, some terms need to be parsed out. As much as I appreciate Vanderstelt’s ministries, I’m not sure his definition of “God’s church” is the exact same as the Reformed confessions. Nevertheless, there is a lot of good here to chew on.
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 →
Getting biblically solid, confessionally Reformed churches in the Midwest is not easy, and St. Paul & Minneapolis MN prove no exception. So it is exciting to see that fellow WSCal grad Rev. Ryan Kron is starting a church plant in the Minneapolis and Eden Prairie area. So if you’re in the southwest Metro area, give Emmaus Road Reformed Fellowship a look.
Update: “Fellowship” no more! Emmaus Road Reformed Church is officially up and running online, and you can join them for corporate worship this Sunday at:
Eden Lake Elementary School
12000 Anderson Lakes Parkway
Eden Prairie, MN 55347
(Google maps & directions)
Maybe you saw this linked from The Gospel Coalition, but if you haven’t read President of Asbury Dr. Timothy C. Tennent’s fall convocation entitled, “The Clarion Call to Watered Down Evangelicalism: Our Mission to ‘theologically educate,’” well then you should go read it now.
Tennent starts off by noting, “Tragically, Niebuhr’s devastating critique [of liberalism] is on the brink of being equally applicable to contemporary, evangelical Christianity.” From there, he turns both barrels on the current state of evangelicalism in America today. Here are some of the heavier quotes:
If liberalism is guilty of demythologizing the miraculous, we have surely been guilty of trivializing it. If liberalism is guilty of turning all theological statements into anthropological ones, surely we must be found guilty of making Christianity just another face of the multi-headed Hydra of American, market-driven consumerism. If liberalism can be charged with making the church a gentler, kindler version of the Kiwanis club, we must be willing to accept the charge that we have managed to reinvent the gospel, turning it into a privatized subset of one’s individual faith journey. I realize that there are powerful, faithful churches in every tradition who are already modeling the very future this message envisions, but we must also allow our prophetic imagination to enable us to see what threatens to engulf us.
Theodore Beza (1519 – 1605) was handpicked by Calvin to continue the Academy at Geneva.
While teaching there, Beza instructed a new student Jacob Arminius (1560 – 1609).
Arminius became an instructor at the University of Leiden, where he taught Gisbertus Voetius (1589 – 1676).
Voetius spent seven years at Leiden. Among his teachers were both Gomarus and Arminius.
Few theologians are known for a higher Calvinism than Beza or Voetius. And yet Arminius fits squarely within their pedagogical history. What conclusions can we draw from this?
We must not become either too mechanical – as if good teachers automatically produce good students – or too indifferent (e.g., “it doesn’t matter who my professors are; I’ll turn out just fine”). Yes, Arminius studied under Beza, but he also learned from Johann Kolmann. True, Voetius learned from Arminius, but he also sat at Gomarus’ feet. Teachers do exert an effect on their students, but it is not automatic or without nuance.
I thank God for the professors I had at Westminster West, but a theologically sound faculty is no guarantee for theological soundness. Students blessed to have excellent teachers should be cautious to proceed in their fathers’ footsteps, and never depart.
Poor theological education is no final impediment to your theological growth. If you lament your professors or education, Voetius is an example of rising above your education and proving to be a master at his craft despite some inadequate examples.
“My goal as a preacher is not to give people ideas and suggestions and resources for transforming themselves. My goal as a minister is to preach Christ into their hearts. We call this the sacramental Word, that is, the Word as a means of grace.”
The annual conference held at Westminster Seminary, CA this year is “Christianity & Liberalism Revisited: A retrospective and prospective.” The title derives from J. Gresham Machen’s 1923 monograph which maintained that liberal Christianity was not, in point of fact, Christian at all. Machen, who would go on to establish Westminster Theological Seminary, became an important figure for confessional Christianity in the face of liberalizing tendencies. By looking backward and forward, this conference looks like a fascinating opportunity to contemplate where confessional Christianity is facing challenges and what, if anything, may be done about it. You can find out all the details at their site.
Wishing you could hear this amazing conference but can’t swing out to SoCal for the weekend? Never fear! WSC is graciously hosting the event live, and you can watch the live stream here. I’ve got my connection all warmed up. The first session begins tonight (Jan 14) at 7pm (Pacific Time).
“Christianity and Liberalism Today” –Michael S. Horton
“The Perennial Machen” –D.G. Hart
“Machen and the Bible” –Joel. E. Kim
“Machen and the Gospel” –J.V. Fesko
“Machen and Ethics” –David VanDrunen
“Machen, Christianity, and the Church” –W. Robert Godfrey
“Q & A” -Faculty
Looks like I’ve got my viewing pleasures all mapped out for the next two days. Will you be watching?