Here’s the monthly roundup of articles and resources from the web for December 2018.
Evangelicalism, Christian Identity, and Church Membership. One of my favorite posts of the year, by Jonathan Leeman.
America’s New Religions. “[In post-Christian America,] the need for meaning hasn’t gone away, but without Christianity, this yearning looks to politics for satisfaction…We’re mistaken if we believe that the collapse of Christianity in America has led to a decline in religion. It has merely led to religious impulses being expressed by political cults.”
My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience. A powerful letter from a persecuted pastor in China. See also, Chinese pastors sign statement affirming religious freedom.
Imperfections Make Sundays More Beautiful. “God knows what we really need — not a slick service, free of distraction, led by seemingly perfect people. We need to gather with his family, a community of weak and error-prone people, to be reminded that we are all imperfect. We need to learn to love those who make mistakes and value them because they are in Christ, not because of how well they “perform.”
10 Reasons the Old Testament is Important for Christians.10 reasons why the first word in the phrase Old Testament must not mean unimportant or insignificant to Christians. See also, The Danger of Neglecting the Old Testament.
Why I’m Wary of ‘the Presence of God’. “There’s a lot of talk of ‘the presence of God’ these days. We want to ‘encounter the presence of God’, to ‘be filled with the presence of God’ and to ‘host the presence’. We want to be ‘carriers of the presence’, and we refuse ‘to go without God’s presence’. But I’m wary of ‘the presence of God’, or at least I’m wary of how we talk about it. I fear we’re using the language of the presence of God in a way that is unbiblical and (therefore) unhelpful.”
How to Evangelize Friends Identifying as LGBTQ. “How do we evangelize our LGBTQ neighbors? We remind our neighbors that only the love of Christ is seamless. Not so for our spouses or partners. Only Christ loves us best: he took on all our sin, died in our place bearing God’s wrath, and rose victorious from the dead.”
My Friend Claims She’s Gay, What Do I Say?. Wise counsel from pastor John Piper: “the best thing you can do is somehow draw your friend’s attention to the powerful role that feelings play in her life right now. They are all out of proportion to the truth and the authority of Scripture.”
The Return of Paganism.”…lately I’ve become interested in books and arguments that suggest that there actually is, or might be, a genuinely post-Christian future for America — and that the term “paganism” might be reasonably revived to describe the new American religion, currently struggling to be born.
What It Means to Love Christ. “Do you love Christ? Let’s start to answer that question by asking another: Is love something you feel, or something you do?”
3 (Evangelistic) Reasons to Quit Complaining. “When everyone complains, the one person who doesn’t stands out. In a world where grumbling over the weather and the state of the roads is just ordinary conversation, a contented Christian shines with gospel radiance.”
Bend Every Pleasure Back to God: Enjoying Gratitude with C.S. Lewis. “Would you like to be a more joy-drenched, thankful person? Learn, with Lewis, how to bend every pleasure back to God.”
The Pastor’s Job Isn’t To Fix Things. “the pastor’s role is not to fix, but to minister. It’s not to repair what has been broken, to restore what has been separated, to heal what has been wounded. Rather, the pastor’s job—and his great delight—is to minister. “To minister” is “to tend to” or “to provide.” A father who cuddles his hurting daughter is ministering comfort, a doctor who tends to a wound is ministering healing, and a pastor who carries out his calling well is ministering truth. His unique role is not to solve problems but to minister the Word to the people under his care.”
8 Ways to Battle ‘Comfort Idolatry’. “…a Christianity that’s accessed only as it suits us, only when it’s comfortable and on our terms, is not really Christianity. To truly follow Jesus is to flip the cultural script on comfort. It is to shift one’s gaze away from a consumer self and toward our worthy God; from an inward, self-help orientation to an outward, others-helping orientation. Healthy Christians are always wary of easing into comfortable Christianity.”
Biblical Theology Set to Music: ‘Hebrews’ by Psallos. Psallos exists to help “clarify Scripture through music” that is both “artistically excellent and theologically rich.”
The Immutability of God (Credo Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 4). “Does God change? Everything hinges on the answer to that question. If he does change, he is not the eternal, self-sufficient, simple, and infinite Lord scripture says he is time and time again. If he is not immutable, then our salvation is uncertain as well, for only one who does not change can ensure that his promises to redeem us will not change. In this issue of Credo Magazine, we see that immutability is not some abstract, irrelevant attribute of God but one that is essential to who God is and what he has promised to accomplish for a fallen world in flux.”
Mitch Bedzyk serves as a teacher and worship leader at Elmira Christian Center. He received his Master of Theological Studies from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and works in IT for the NY state Office of Mental Health. He and his wife, Sarah, have one son named Oliver Paul and are foster parents. In his spare time he enjoys reading, coffee, guitar, following the Bundesliga and MLS, and supporting Bayern Munich. You can follow him on Twitter @mitchbedzyk