The Case Against Evangelistic Worship

Lee Irons:

Some of you may be aware that there is this thing called “the missional church” or “the missional movement” or just “missional.” It is a fundamental shift in thinking in which ecclesiology is subordinated to missiology. The church exists exclusively as a means for the accomplishment of the so-called missio Dei. Therefore, everything the church does should be missional and should engage the culture for the sake of winning people to Christ. Of course, if “everything” the church does ought to be missional, then this will logically impact corporate worship. When the church gathers for corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, what is occurring in that meeting and who is being addressed? The missional movement says that worship ought to be evangelistic and that the service should not only edify the saints but also address unbelievers. I have written a paper in which I critique this view. I have chosen to interact with a paper by Tim Keller titled “Evangelistic Worship.” I argue exegetically that worship is not evangelistic but covenantal. It is a meeting of the triune God with his covenant people. Unbelievers may be present and God may even use the service to convert them (1 Cor 14:23-25), but unbelievers as outsiders to the covenant should not be addressed in worship. Evangelistic meetings, Bible studies, and other meetings for the purpose of apologetic engagement are valuable, but worship is not an evangelistic meeting. Read the paper here: A Critique of Tim Keller’s “Evangelistic Worship”

Is Prophecy for Today?

The Proclamation Trust reposted a video from their 2010 Evangelical Ministry Assembly (EMA). This is a discussion/debate between Ian Hamilton (Cambridge Presbyterian Church; Cambridge, England) and Wayne Grudem (Phoenix Seminary, Arizona) on the topic of prophecy in the local church. A helpful resource on this topic is Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views


Some Suggestions for Praise Bands

James K. A. Smith, a professor at Calvin College, posted an open letter to praise bands that is worth reading. In it, he is complimentary of the desire to lead in worship and utilize gifts, but he analyzes what the church has “unwittingly encouraged” praise bands to do. Smith explains:

In particular, my concern is that we, the church, have unwittingly encouraged you to simply import musical practices into Christian worship that–while they might be appropriate elsewhere–are detrimental to congregational worship. More pointedly, using language I first employed in Desiring the Kingdom, I sometimes worry that we’ve unwittingly encouraged you to import certain forms of performance that are, in effect, “secular liturgies” and not just neutral “methods.” Without us realizing it, the dominant practices of performance train us to relate to music (and musicians) in a certain way: as something for our pleasure, as entertainment, as a largely passive experience. The function and goal of music in these “secular liturgies” is quite different from the function and goal of music in Christian worship.

Keep reading. I might add that Smith’s book Desiring the Kingdom is helpful in thinking through some of the “secular liturgies” within our culture.

Favorite Apps

I am often asked about my favorite apps, so this is a short post listing a few of them. At the top of the list is DropBox. With DropBox, I can sync my folders across multiple platforms: iPhone, laptop, desktop at church, any computer hooked up to the internet. Initially, you get about 2 gig of free online storage space, and you can pay for more if you need it. You have a folder on your computer that syncs with the online storage. Then you can add DropBox to any other computer and have instant access and instant syncing. no more wasted time on figuring out which file is more recent, or which essay or sermon is most up to date. Give Drop Box a try for free here.

Check out the Best of Mac App Store 2011 Here (Opens in Apple’s App Store for the Mac). The app that I have paid for and think is a must have is 1Password. Also check out Macworld’s app Hall of Fame.

Here are the apps I use most frequently on my iPhone:

  • DropBox
  • ESV Study Bible
  • Kindle
  • Instapaper
  • Instagram
  • Netflix
  • Pandora
  • Shazam

Paideia Conference in Chattanooga, TN

From the Paideia website:

We are very excited to present Paideia Gathers 2012 in Chattanooga, TN, March 2-4, 2012. The event will be held at the Read House Hotel in downtown Chattanooga. This event will explore the theme,

The Cosmic Scope of Christ’s Redemption.

This theme is a wonderful evocation of the motto of The Paideia Centre, namely “Christ is the clue to all that is,” taken from Lesslie Newbigin. Christ is indeed the clue to all of life but, as his disciples, we have to purse that clue togetherwith all the rigor we can muster in all areas of life.

The keynote speakers are Craig Bartholomew, Brian Fikkert, Michael Goheen, and Joe Novenson will be preaching for us on Sunday.

In 2011 The Paideia Centre held its first Paideia Gathers event which you can read about here. It was a wonderful occasion with delegates from across North America and this year’s conference builds upon that event. In the context of worship – our chaplain is Robby Holt – and community – note the story telling session – we will renew our sense of the greatness of Christ and the extent of his reign, and then in the breakout groups continue the work of pursuing that clue which is Christ in our particular vocational areas. This year we are devoting more time to the breakout groups in the hope that they will initiate ongoing work to deepen Christian practice in these vital areas of life. As you will see from the list below the range is creation-wide and we are recruiting high caliber facilitators to lead the breakout groups.

If last year’s event is anything to go by, this years’ Paideia Gathers is not to be missed! We invite you to come, to register online, and to prayerfully invite your friends and colleagues.

There is a registration fee of $75 that includes the event registration and most meals (excluding dinner Saturday evening). The Read House Hotel is providing discounted room rates for the event. Your hotel stay will need to be made separately from this registration. DO NOTE THAT TO BENEFIT FROM THE REDUCED HOTEL RATE YOU NEED TO BOOK YOUR HOTEL ROOMS BEFORE FEBRAURAY 9. The reservation link is: Click here.

There will be more information provided as the event draws near.

In Christ

Craig Bartholomew

Music is the Sound of Reality, or Reality in Sound

Stratford Caldecott (author of a great book on education: Beauty for Truth’s Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education) posted a link to a helpful article on music by Robert R. Reilly: “The Music of the Spheres.” That is where I got the title for the post (his quote: “Music is, in a way, the sound of metaphysics, or metaphysics in sound.”). But I can’t put metaphysics in the blog title! Reilly explains how music gives voice to underlying views of reality, and in the twentieth century, music was reconceptualized:

Music in the Western world was shaped by a shared conception of reality so profound that it endured for some twenty-five hundred years. As a result, the means of music remained essentially the same—at least to the extent that what was called music could always have been recognized as such by its forbearers, as much as they might have disapproved of its specific style. But by the early twentieth century, this was no longer true. Music was re-conceptualized so completely that it could no longer be experienced as music, i.e. with melody, harmony, and rhythm. This catastrophic rupture, expressed especially in the works of Arnold Schoenberg and John Cage, is often celebrated as just another change in the techniques of music, a further point along the parade of progress in the arts. It was, however, a reflection of a deeper metaphysical divide that severed the composer from any meaningful contact with external reality. As a result, musical art was reduced to the arbitrary manipulation of fragments of sound.

Here, I will sketch of the philosophical presuppositions that undergirded the Western conception of music for most of its existence and then examine the character of the change music underwent in the twentieth century. I will conclude with a reflection on the recovery of music in our own time and the reasons for it, as exemplified in the works of two contemporary composers, the Dane Vagn Holmboe and the American John Adams.

I suggest you read the whole article.

10 Digital Commandments

David Murray, after reading Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence, provides a list of the 10 most important digital commandments that he took away from the book:

  1. Thou shalt repeat every day: “Nothing is confidential.”
  2. Thou shalt not multitask
  3. Thou shalt be optimistic
  4. Thou shalt distinguish between reputation and integrity
  5. Thou shalt simplify your life
  6. Thou shalt say “NO”
  7. Thou shalt be personal
  8. Thou shalt have a technology Sabbath
  9. Thou shalt have a digital mentor
  10. Thou shalt share information

Keep Reading to see his explanations and suggestions.

Westminster Academy Houses featured in Commercial Appeal

For all the local folk who follow the blog, Westminster Academy (where I teach theology in the Upper School) was featured in the Commercial Appeal: “Schools At Westminster, full houses abound.” The Upper School (7-12) is divided into four groups of students called a house system. Each house is named after a figure in church history: Athanasius, Becket, Boniface, and Columba. The article explains how the process takes place. I participated in the Becket House imitation at Second Presbyterian Church. It is one of the important ways we bind the students together in community.

Free from Logos: “Revelation and Inspiration” by Warfield

As part of their Free Book of the Month program in 2012, Logos is giving away Revelation and Inspiration by B. B. Warfield. This is the classic defense of the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. John Stott once said, “This book is marked by the careful exegesis for which Warfield was renowned, and lays a solid foundation for an acceptance of biblical authority. The argument is compelling; I do not believe it has ever been answered.” You can get it here.

What teachers really want to tell parents

That’s the title of an excellent article by Ron Clark at CNN sent to me by a fellow teacher. Clark is the author of The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck–101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers, and has been named “American Teacher of the Year” by Disney. He founded The Ron Clark Academy, which educators from around the world have visited to learn. He begins the article this way:

This summer, I met a principal who was recently named as the administrator of the year in her state. She was loved and adored by all, but she told me she was leaving the profession.

I screamed, “You can’t leave us,” and she quite bluntly replied, “Look, if I get an offer to lead a school system of orphans, I will be all over it, but I just can’t deal with parents anymore; they are killing us.”

Unfortunately, this sentiment seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list “issues with parents” as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.

So, what can we do to stem the tide? What do teachers really need parents to understand?

Keep Reading…

DG Pastors Conference: God, Manhood, and Ministry

Desiring God is hosting their pastors conference this week, and for those of us that can’t make it to Minneapolis, they are providing a live-stream for free. They are actually providing this in multiple languages. Go here for the various links, and below is the live-stream schedule:


8:30 – 9:30 PM
Doug Wilson
– “Father Hunger” in Leading the Home


10:00 – 11:00 AM
Crawford Loritts
– Lessons on Biblical Manhood Learned from His Father

11:30 – 12:30 PM
Darrin Patrick
– Being and Building Men for the Local Mission

2:45 – 4:00 PM
John Piper
– Biographical sketch of J.C. Ryle

8:30 – 9:30 PM
Doug Wilson
– “Father Hunger” in Leading the Church


10:00 – 11:00 AM
Ramez Atallah
– Pastoring with Vision, Creativity, and Courage in Hard Places

11:30 – 12:30 PM
Speaker Panel
– Doug Wilson, Darrin Patrick, Crawford Loritts, Ramez Atallah, John Piper

2:00 – 4:00 PM
A Conversation with Doug Wilson and John Piper
– The Supremacy of Christ in All of Life: The Pastor and His Worldview

Situating the Church in the West

I have read and listened to some of Michael Goheen’s work from the book he co-wrote with Craig Bartholomew (Living at the Crossroads) and the corresponding website. Recently I grabbed Goheen’s new book A Light to the Nations: The Missional Church and the Biblical Story as I am preparing for the mission/missional section of my 11th grade theology class. Although I don’t have time to mention a lot about it right now (maybe later), I do want to suggest this book. The opening chapter, “The Church’s Identity and Role: Whose Story? What Images?” is one of the best concise surveys I have read of the Western church and the story we live by. In about 12 pages, Goheen summarizes the early church, the rise of Christendom, the Post-Enlightenment Church and our current situation. Go to the link above and check out the preview. Very helpful for situating the church in our current situation.

Sidney Greidnanus Lectures on Preaching Christ from the Old Testament

Sidney Greidanus is one of the important writers and preachers in regard to the recovery of Preaching Christ from the Old Testament. Justin Taylor pointed out that Greidanus gave two lectures at the Spurgeon Fellowship last year:

Preaching Christ from the OT – Session 1 (MP3)

Preaching Christ from the OT – Session 2 (MP3)

For those not familiar with Greidanus, he has been working on the issue of Old Testament preaching for some time. His book Sola Scriptura was an analysis of a controversy in the Dutch church on this topic. He also has three books that cover this topic, two of which focus on particular books of the Bible.

American Religion

Wilfred McClay:

“The same mix of convictions can be found animating the rhetoric of the American Revolution, the vision of Manifest Destiny, the crusading sentiments of antebellum abolitionists, the benevolent imperialism of fin-de-siecle apostles of Christian civilization, and the fervent idealism of President Woodrow Wilson at the time of World War I. No one expressed the idea more directly, however, than Senator Albert J. Beveridge of Indiana, who told the United States Senate, in the wake of the Spanish-American War, that ‘God has marked us as His chosen people, henceforth to lead in the regeneration of the world.’”

“The American civil religion also has its sacred scriptures, such as the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Gettysburg Address, and the Pledge of Allegiance. It has its great narratives of struggle, from the suffering of George Washington’s troops at Valley Forge to the gritty valor of Jeremiah Denton in Hanoi. It has its special ceremonial and memorial occasions, such as the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Martin Luther King Day. It has its temples, shrines, and holy sites, such as the Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall, the Capitol, the White House, Arlington National Cemetery, Civil War battlefields, and great natural landmarks such as the Grand Canyon. It has its sacred objects, notably the national flag. It has its organizations, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Boy Scouts. And it has its dramatis personae, chief among them being its military heroes and the long succession of presidents. Its telltale marks can be found in the frequent resort to the imagery of the Bible and reference to God and Providence in speeches, public documents, and patriotic songs, as well as in the inclusion of God’s name in the national motto (‘In God We Trust’) on all currency.”

[HT: Peter Leithart]

Eighth Day Books

I love books, and I really love bookstores. At least for me, the digital revolution cannot take the place of holding books in my hands and rummaging through bookstore, finding a hidden treasure. One of my favorite bookstore online is Eighth Day Books. One of the great things about this bookstore is their catalogue. I’m not kidding. I love reading through it, and at 171 pages, there is plenty to discover. Add to their suggestions the fact that they include a Flannery O’Conner quote on the back:

St. Thomas called art “reason in making.” This is a very cold and very beautiful definition, and if it is unpopular today, this is because reason has lost ground among us. As grace and nature have been separated, so imagination and reason have been separated, and this always means an end to art. The artist uses his reason to discover an answering reason in everything he sees. For him, to be reasonable is to find, in the object, in the situation, in the sequence, the spirit which makes it itself. This is not an easy or simple thing to do. It is to intrude upon the timeless, and that is only done by the violence of a single-minded respect for the truth. (from Mystery and Manners)

You can download their catalogue here as a pdf.