Archive for November, 2009

You will find below my reading list for 2009.  You might call it my bibliography for the year.  I have tried to start the list out with things that people would find the most interesting, which for the readers of this blog I think would be the “average joe” section and “church leadership”.  However, for the resident theology nerds you will find a reading list for Biblical theology and exegetical works, as well as theological readings (primary and secondary) from the Patristic period all the way to the modern.  If I felt that a comment might be helpful, or if I wanted to strongly recommend a book I left my remarks next to the bibliograhical information in bold.  If you have any questions about the books themselves I would be happy to answer them.  Enjoy!  To see the list simply click through… (more…)

preached by Rob Sturdy on Nov 29th, 2009

Are cartoons more mature than movies aimed at adults?

Posted: November 30, 2009 by limabean03 in Current Issues, Film

One of my favorite memories growing up is heading off to the movies with my Dad on Saturday’s.  I recently tried to do this with my son David and was trying to figure out what movie we might go see.  I really wanted to see “The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” a Roald Dahl children’s novel set to the big screen by the very talented director Wes Anderson.  I was unsure if “Mr. Fox” would be a film suitable for David.  I was more concerned about any scary scenes frightening him than anything else.  I typed in “Is the Fantastic Mr. Fox suitable for children,” in the Google search bar and came up with this review.  Long story short, we didn’t go see the film, although I still want to.  But I did find this interesting quote in the review that I thought I’d share with you:

“A colleague remarked to me, as we were leaving the theater, that what we’d just seen isn’t a children’s movie—not so much because it’s crass but because its themes and humor aren’t on a kid’s level. If you remember, I opened this review with an allusion to midlife crises. And that’s something no 8-year-old can begin to understand. (Or care about.)

Which brings me to an interesting trend I’ve been seeing in movies of late: Children’s movies are often more mature, more thoughtful and more responsible than some of the adult-targeted flicks I see.

What I mean is that R-rated romps are often infantile in their composition and lack of intelligent nuance, trumpeting only perpetual (and irresponsible) adolescence. The likes of Fantastic Mr. Fox, meanwhile, laud moral compunctions, responsibility, cooperation and familial unity.”

I enjoy movies so I see quite a few of them and I have to agree with the writer’s point.  I recently saw a film called “Up”, which was probably one of the finest movies I’ve seen in years.  It is a children’s cartoon from Pixar, however the film dealt with incredibly complex material such as infertility, growing old, broken families, friendship and responsibility.  It was escapist on one hand (it is a cartoon after all!), but rather than remaining in escapist territory it actually caused you to return and reassess the complexities and confusion of life.  Contrast that with say, the recent string of comic book films that are marketed not to teenagers but to adult men.  In a well documented phenomenon called “delayed adolescence,” it seems as if Hollywood and a great deal of other commercial forces are helping to prolong a man’s teenage years well into his thirties.  Ironic isn’t it, that a theatre will be full of grown men watching the latest Spiderman as they engage the unfulfilled vigilante fantasies of their teenage years while eight year olds will be watching cartoons learning how to be responsible men and raise families.  Seems kind of backwards to me.  Oh well. 

For a preview of “Up” click below. 

preached by Rob Sturdy on Nov 22, 2009

If you will excuse a brief rant (you should be used to them by now!).  One of the problems with Anglicans is that we have so few living, accomplished theologians.  C.S. Lewis (dead but recent!), great apologist and tremendous author, would not and should not (by his own admission!) be included in a list of Anglican theologians.  Of recent note, we certainly the accomplished Alister McGrath, J.I. Packer, John Stott, and of course N.T. Wright.  I suppose one could include the RO crew of John Milbank and others but I suspect they will fail to make an impact at any other level than the highest ivory tower.  Of all the living Anglican theologians  N.T. Wright has emerged as a thoughtful and influential theologian both in the world of academia as well as at the popular level.  It is then perhaps a “perfect storm” of his popularity, mixed with the scarcity of accomplished Anglican theologians that causes many Anglicans to swallow him wholesale without really engaging his exegesis of Paul and his (mis) understanding of the Reformed tradition.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a great fan of N.T. Wright and very much enjoyed his Christian Origins and the Question of God series (I’m currently re-reading all three).  Nevertheless, his exegesis of Paul and his reading of the Reformers, particularly his understanding of Calvin’s exegesis of Paul needs to be read critically.  Often times Wright comes off as someone who has read about Calvin, but has not actually read much of Calvin.  John Piper tried to engage Wright on these issues and in my opinion was not able to rise to the challenge.  However, Michael Horton in the review posted below does a very fine job and the review is worth the read.  It provides a thoughtful balance to those folks who enjoy N.T. Wright but can’t read him critically because they do not have the necessary theological training to read him critically.  Of course the flip side of this coin are those folks who hear Michael Horton or John Piper pronounce a verdict and hop in place so as not to stray to far from the party line.  Read Wright’s new book for yourself.  Use Horton as a good response.  Go read your Bible.  Come to a thoughtful conclusion.  Horton’s review is found directly below:

Wright sees Genesis 15 as the background for everything that Paul says in Romans 4 (66). So too did the Reformers (especially Calvin) and the federal theologians who followed. Wright is even willing to speak of Abraham’s righteousness as “his right standing within that covenant, and God’s righteousness” as “his unswerving commitment to be faithful to that covenant—including the promise (Romans 4:13) that Abraham would inherit the world. Here we have it: God’s single plan, through Abraham and his family, to bless the whole world. That is what I have meant by the word covenant when I have used it as shorthand in writing about Paul” (67).

Wright does a great job of showing how Romans 4 is rooted in Genesis 15, Deuteronomy 27-30, and Daniel 9 (67). However, since he is only working with “one covenant” and his “single-plan” emphasis eschews any nuance between different types of covenants (a temporal-typological and an eschatological homeland) even within this one plan, he mistakenly assumes that Deuteronomy (the Sinaitic covenant) is just another form of the Abrahamic promise except for its ethnic exclusivism (esp. 67). Wright is most persuasive in his insistence that justification be interpreted in the light of God’s covenantal promise. This is something I never heard in mainstream evangelicalism, but have heard repeatedly from Reformed theologians. “As in Daniel 9, it is because of God’s faithfulness to the covenant that he must punish his faithless covenant people, and as a result their covenant failure (‘unrighteousness’) thus shows up his covenant faithfulness all the more” (68).

It’s not an abstract point that Paul is making, Wright correctly insists, but one that is bound up with the covenant history of Israel. “The point of Romans 3:1-8 is not a general discussion about God’s attributes and human failure,” he properly contends. Nevertheless, again we meet an example of a good point swallowing other important things whole: “Likewise, the unfaithfulness of the Israelites is not their lack of belief…The point is that God has promised to bless the world through Israel, and Israel has been faithless to that commission” (67). Paul expressly says in Romans that his countrymen according to the flesh were condemned for refusing to place their faith in Christ rather than in their own works (Rom 9:32). The writer to the Hebrews says that the wilderness generation was barred from entering the promised land because they did not respond in faith to the preaching of the gospel (Heb 3:16-19). As covenant theology has emphasized, the covenants with Adam and Israel are indeed a commission to bring God’s righteous kingdom to the ends of the earth. However, it is not only a commission to global mission, but a specific kind of commission to fulfill all righteousness. Adam and Israel were entrusted with God’s law, on trial in God’s garden, and both probations ended in the failure of the covenant partner. This is the bleak backdrop of Jesus’ identity as the Last Adam and True Israel. However, for Wright there is no distinction between covenants: judgment on the basis of Sinai (Dt 27-30), with deliverance on the basis of the Abrahamic promise (Gen 15).

Remarkably, Wright accuses the old perspective (or at least Piper) of down-playing the law-court metaphor (68). This is highly ironic, given the fact that the grounding of justification in the law-court (imputation rather than infusion) has been the heart of the debate between Reformation and Roman Catholic interpretations. As in his other books, Wright mistakenly assumes that the Reformation view argues that God’s essential righteousness—in other words, his own attribute of righteousness—is somehow given to believers. But this overlooks the crucial role of Jesus Christ as mediator in the traditional view: It is not God’s attribute of righteousness, but the right-standing that results from a complete fulfillment of God’s law, that is imputed to believers. It is Christ’s obedience, not his essence, that becomes ours. Further, Wright appears to argue against the “old perspective” as if it were the very opposite (viz., the Roman view). In this context, Wright insists, “righteous” doesn’t mean “virtuous,” but in right standing (68). “That ‘finding in favor,’ that declaration, is ‘justification’; the result is that Bildad is now ‘righteous,’ that is, ‘in the right.’ This does not mean, primarily, that Bildad is virtuous, certainly not that he has a special concern for the glory of the judge” (69). Why does Wright keep criticizing justification as “making virtuous” as if it is the Reformation view, when it is precisely the view that the reformers rejected? (more…)

Dying for the sake of the Gospel (Phil 2.25-30)

Posted: November 23, 2009 by limabean03 in Uncategorized
Preached by Iain Boyd on 11-15-09

Prayers requested for Iain Boyd and his family

Posted: November 23, 2009 by limabean03 in Trinity Tidings

If you were at Trinity this past Sunday you would have heard that our Associate Pastor, Iain Boyd received the very sad news that his cousin was shot and killed over the weekend.  I have copied the post from his blog below and included a news article about the young man, Jay Derby, who was killed.  Please pray for Iain, Shelly, and their family that Christ would  be the ultimate source of strength and consolation. 

“I got a phone call about 8:50 this morning that my 20 year old cousin, Jay Derby, was accidentally shot and killed last night. I’m with my family in Charlotte now. Please pray for me and my family in the midst of this tragic loss. In the midst of this senseless death, the Lord is comforting me tremendously through the truth of His word. Please pray for the same comfort for my aunt and uncle as they struggle through the loss of their son.”

Click here to go on over to Iain’s blog and leave a message of support.

Here is the news article from the Charlotte Observer:

An Appalachian State University student from Matthews was killed in Boone early Sunday in what police say was an accidental shooting at an off-campus party.

Jay Derby, 20, was a 2007 graduate of Butler High School studying business, his father Mike Derby said.

When Mike Derby last talked to his son, Jay Derby was planning his trip home for Thanksgiving break.

“He was doing well in school, his grades were good, he was looking forward to coming home,” Mike Derby said. His son was one credit hour from being a junior and planned to graduate in 2011.

At about 5:30 a.m. Sunday, two Matthews police officers knocked on Mike and Susan Derbys’ door.

“They said that Jay was shot while at a party,” Mike Derby said. “It was a tragic accident.”

read the rest of the article by clicking here

I’ve copied a post from Colin Burch’s blog that I think is well worth your time.  It is a fine application of the Gospel and puts the hope squarely where our hope belongs, on Jesus Christ.  One of the best things about the post is that it puts our hope in Christ not only for ourselves, but for others.  Be sure to pay him a visit over at his blog by clicking here…

In yesterday’s sermon at Trinity, Rob said we won’t talk about Philippians again for a while. That’s because we’re heading into the Advent season. I think most of us would agree that Rob and Iain, along with those parishioners who contributed to the devotionals, have done a great job walking us through Philippians.

As a closing thought (from a layman), I want to alter Philippians 1:6 just for a minute: …he who began a good work in that other person will complete it.

It’s easy to remember, “He who began a good work in you [that’s me!] will complete it.” I would rather apply that to me than to you, but the truth is, God is working in you — and in others who have kept the faith, no matter how peculiar, strange, or difficult they might be.

It’s not easy to remember we have different starting lines for the races of life and faith that we run before the “cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1). When I forget those different starting lines, I tend to think things like, “Why can’t that guy get with the program!” But the very existence of grace presupposes that our individual messes are deeper than we can manage individually. Some messes are easy to survive socially — some messes are even funny — but others aren’t so easy to pass-off socially. Some of us can look nearly perfect, even saintly, while some of us will never get close to good. Too many factors out of my control, and out of the control of the person I might be judging, are involved in any given circumstance. Few of us are completely happy with who we are, with the way we were born. When I think about it all, I ought to be asking, “Why can’t I get with the program?”

For whatever reason, the central works of our separate lives are done by our heavenly Father through our faith in the sacrifice of Christ. He promised to complete the work in the ancient Philippian people, and by extension through Scripture, he promises to complete it in us, too. What is that work? My guess is that it is something along these lines: To “keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy” (Jude 24). That’s true for the end of all things, no matter how much change we accomplish — or fail to accomplish — in our time on earth. It’s not that our human efforts mean nothing — do we dare challenge the Parable of the Talents, or the wisdom of the Proverbs? — but we’ve been given hope as a gift, so our successes don’t have to fill us and our failures don’t have to kill us. Something even greater than the greatest success is waiting for us.

From John Piper over at

In answering the question why we should care about an author’s intention, C. S. Lewis gives two answers in his book An Experiment in Criticism.

“Why,” they ask, “should I turn from a real present experience—what the poem means to me, what happens to me when I read it—to inquire about the poet’s intentions or reconstructions, always uncertain of what it may have meant to his contemporaries?”

There seem to be two answers. One, is that the poem in my head which I make from my mistranslations of Chaucer or misunderstandings of Donne, may not be so good as the work Chaucer or Donne actually made.

Secondly, why not have both? After enjoying what I made of it, why not go back to the text this time looking up the hard words, puzzling out the allusions and discovering that some metrical delights in my first experience where due to my fortunate mispronunciations, and see whether I can enjoy the poet’s poem, not necessarily instead of, but in addition to my own. (100-01, paragraphs added)

I would add two more.

  1. CourtesyTreat authors with respect and seek what they were trying to communicate. I call it the hermeneutical Golden Rule: Do unto authors as you would have them do unto you. Most of us are offended if someone spreads the rumor that we said hurtful x, when in fact we said helpful y.
  2. Authority


    If we are reading the Bible, it’s authority lies in the author’s intention (ultimately God’s) not our perceptions. We honor the authority of scripture by doing the hard work of thinking authors’ thoughts after them.

How can my life be meaningful?

Posted: November 23, 2009 by limabean03 in Uncategorized
The final session in our eight week introduction to Christianity called “Awakenings”

If the text is emboldened that is the text that we will be preaching on.  You’ll notice we are taking a break from our Philippians study for a few weeks but we will pick it up in the new year. 

SERMON SERIES:  Philippians Part I

Sept 13th  :  Phil 1. 1-11; Psalm 116, Mark 8. 27-38

Sept 20th  :  Phil 1.12-18; Psalm 54, Mark 9.30-37

Sept 27th        Phil 1.18b-21; Psalm 19, Mark 9.38-48

Oct 4th       :  Phil 1.21-26; Psalm 8, Mark 10.2-9

Oct 11th   :  Phil 1.27-30; Psalm 90, Mark 10.17-31

Oct 18th    :  Phil 2.1-11; Psalm 91, Mark 10.35-45

Oct 25th   :  Phil 2.5-11; Psalm 13, Mark 10.46-52

Nov 1st     :  Phil 2.12-18; Psalm 149, Matt 5.1-12

Nov 8th     :  Phil 2. 19-24; Psalm 146, Mark 12.38-44

Nov 15th   :  Phil 2.25-30; Psalm 16, Mark 13.14-23

Nov 22nd  :  Phil 1.6-7, 29-30; Psalm 93, John 18.33-37

Sermon Series:  The Lordship of Christ

Nov 29th :   Luke 21.25-36; Psalm 50, 1 Thess 3.9-15, Zech 14.4-9

Dec 6th   :   Luke 3.1-6, Psalm 126, Amos 9.11-15

Dec 13th :   Luke 3.7-18, Psalm 85, Isa 12.2-6

Dec 20th :   Luke 1.39-56, Psalm 80, Heb 10.5-10, Micah 5.2-4

Dec 24thIsa 9.2-7, Psalm 96, Titus 2.11-14, Luke 2.1-20

Dec 25thIsa 52.7-10, Psalm 98, Heb 1.1-12, John 1.1-14

Dec 27thIsa 61.10-62.3, Psalm 147, Gal 3.23-29, John 1.1-18

Jan 3rd    :  Jer 31.7-14, Psalm 84, Matt 2.1-12

SERMON SERIES:  Philippians Part II

Jan 10th :  Phil 3.1-10, Luke 3.15-22, Psalm 89.1-29

Jan 17th :  Phil 3.8-16, John 2.1-11, Psalm 96

Jan 24th :  Phil 3.14-4.1, Luke 4.14-21, Psalm 113

Jan 31st :  Phil 4.2-9, Luke 4.21-32, Psalm 71

Feb 7th  :  Phil 4.10-20, Luke 5.1-11, Psalm 85

Feb 14th:  Phil 4.21-23, Luke 9.28-36, Psalm 99

SERMON SERIES:  Renewing the Spirit in the Word of Christ

Feb 21th :  Deut 26.1-11, Psalm 91, Rom 10.5-13, Luke 4.1-13

Feb 28th :  Gen 15.1-18, Luke 13.22-36, Psalm 27,

Mar 7th :   Josh 24.14-25, Luke 13.1-9, Psalm 103

Mar 14th :  Hez 29.3-11, Luke 15.11-32, Psalm 34

Mar 21st :  Isa 43.16-21, Psalm 126, Luke 20.9-19


March 28th :  Luke 22.39-23,56; Psalm 22.1-21, Isa 45.21-25

April 4th:  Luke 24.1-10, Psalm 118.14-29, Isa 51.9-11

This is a comment written in response to a post over at StandFirm which poses the question, “What does the Diocese of Upper South Carolina need in its next bishop?” While the whole post was interesting, the best part was this comment I’ve posted below. While the author is addressing the issues of the Upper Diocese, his remarks could be applied to any church in any denomination. I’ve emboldened the remarks that I hope you will pay the most attention to.  My two take home points from this post are (1) most churches will not grow because they are not willing to make the necessary changes to grow. They like things just they way they are and new folks would upset the apple cart. (2) Liberal theological commitments do not build the mental furniture necessary for motivating an individual to evangelism.  Once you remove the centrality of Christ, the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and Hell the urgency to evangelize is greatly diminished.  If you would like to see this post in its original context click here.

Where a church, or a Diocese, has a history of expansion and growth, then growth doesn’t change what church is for people – it reinforces it. But if the Diocese is as you’ve described – static, or declining – genuine growth will undo much of what ‘church’ means to most of your laity and clergy. It would involve a very different kind of culture, one where most people in church haven’t been there for eighteen plus years and where there are constant new faces.

I’ve been part of churches, and talked with people who have been part of churches, who have been turned around after a long period of slow decline. Even when that turn around hasn’t involved significant changes just to reach new people, just the fact of a steady influx of new people has changed things so much that dealing with very disgruntled and even angry long-term members has been a real issue.

In your situation, I think you are not so much talking about ‘growth’ (which absolutely everyone wants. No really, they do.) but ‘change’ (which almost no-one wants.) Once churches are in a pattern of static numbers or slow decline they usually continue that until they are one step away from ceasing to exist. Then they are usually willing to try something (change? death? not much to choose between them, so why not try something new?) – but often have few resources at that point.

Trying to change before that point is often very very difficult. But it’s not simply about creating growth.

So in Australia – my home, if not where I’ve been for the last couple of years – I’d argue that the Diocese of Tasmania has managed to turn things around (or at least, has, a good chance). Their current bishop has, under God, introduced the kind of measures needed to revitalise dying churches. But it only happened because the Diocese was almost dead, and all except the most principled liberals (for whom it was liberal or nothing) were prepared to have a nice evangelical who was pro-WO if that might mean a new lease of life. Even then, the kind of changes he had to make, even as a nice guy, created enough ill-will to sink his nomination to be Archbishop of Melbourne.

2. Liberals don’t want people to come to faith in Christ. The nice ones don’t mind if they do, and don’t object to it. But they don’t want it. Not the way evangelicals and (it seems from the GAFCON launch here in the UK) your American Anglo-Catholics often do.

You can’t really grow churches unless you either give people what they want (e.g. the prosperity gospel) or what they need. The latter is costly and demanding, and ministers have to be willing to go through a lot to make that central to their ministry. Liberals, by and large, can’t sustain that – they don’t believe in Hell, in any objective atonement, in an eternal judgement. They might think people are better off with faith, but they don’t see it as a matter bigger than life and death. Without that, the ‘need’ of the current congregation for stability and security (especially under the circumstances you describe where there is no slack left in the system for normal crises) will trump a general desire for ‘growth’ in the abstract.

3. Your churches seem to have two related problems. They are in constant stress, and they are not receiving a ministry that feeds and matures them. The latter is because they are being ministered to by liberals. The former is also because they are being ministered to by liberals – but only because they themselves are more traditional in theology and the difference connects up with the three-year GC tsunami cycle to create constant stress. If they were liberal as well they wouldn’t have the stress because they’d be on board with the leadership.

So at present, the best a minister can hope to do is keep conflict to a minimum and keep the church experience stable and full of good qualities that, while not the gospel, still strengthen and encourage human life. But that is precisely what you don’t need if you are looking for growth – growth is going to involve creating stress, and making the gospel fairly central.
Hence promoting a cultural change in the leadership – either nicely (by not touching the current rectors but just making more evangelicals available) or aggressively (by trying to push the current ministers out while bringing more evangelicals in) is necessary to be able to address both problems. And both problems need to be addressed for growth to take place.

5. So I agree with you that what the Diocese needs is growth. But I think you need to address the leadership issue to get there. Liberal leadership and traditional congregations can’t make the wonderful Pied Piper kind of music together that might lead the children of Adam out of the city of Man. Hence, I think the Bishop needs to have a vision for leadership change, and be sufficiently godly and competent to effect it under God.

One of the obvious contrasts between the Old and New Testaments is that in each the people of God are different. In one God’s saving activity focuses primarily on a national entity (i.e. ethnic Israel); in the other such focus centres on an international community (i.e. the global Church). It is clear, however, that New Testament writers considered the national entity to be in many respects a type or foreshadowing of the international community. [1] Yet some New Testament authors, in particular the Apostle Paul, seem to go much further – suggesting that the reality of the Christian Church was not merely foreshadowed in Israel but was in fact the ultimate climax and goal of the promises made to Abraham. [2] In other words, the promises made to Abraham concerned more than the physical nation of Israel; their supreme focus was on something far greater and more extensive: the international community of faith. [3]

An important question naturally arises from this: ‘How has this gulf between the nation of Israel and the Church of Jesus Christ been bridged?’ Did New Testament interpreters such as Paul perform exegetical somersaults to cross the divide? Indeed, must the modern interpreter do likewise in any attempt to defend their hermeneutics? Or is it exegetically defensible to find in the promises given to Abraham the Church of Jesus Christ not merely foreshadowed, but actually anticipated?

To answer these questions three things must be carefully examined:
1. the promises made to Abraham and their development in the book of Genesis;
2. the way these promises are interpreted and refined in the rest of the Old Testament; [4]
3. the way these promises have been reinterpreted and extended in the New Testament.

read the whole thing here

Andy Morgan: The Trinity and Christian Marriage

Posted: November 19, 2009 by limabean03 in Uncategorized
Andy Morgan, Associate Pastor at Prince George Winyah, teaches on Christian Marriage at Trinity Church at Fall Marriage Night, 2009.

We will be taking a brief hiatus from our Philippians devotionals.  They will be starting back on the week of Jan 10th.  In the meantime, I would encourage you to find some way of reading the Bible on your own.  Let me propose three different methods:

a.  Essential 100 Bible Readings:  This list runs through some of the key points in the thematic development of the Bible.  If you were to read through these 100 passages a few times, reading one of them a day, you would begin to have a solid grasp on the flow of the Bible.

b.  Scripture Union also has some great devotionals.  Many people have been using something along the lines of Forward Day by Day or Our Daily Bread for years.  The problem with these devotionals is that you don’t actually read much of the Bible.  Scripture Union’s devotionals provide systematic ways to read through parts of the Bible.  You could either do their Advent devotional “Journey to Bethlehem,” or one of their bible study guides like Discovery or Encounter with God

c.  Through the Bible in a Year.  This would take a little more effort than following the daily devotionals online.  The payoff, however, is tremendous.  I use the Discipleship Journal, but you could use the One Year Bible, McCheyne’s Bible Reading Plan.  You could even use the Episcopal Daily Lectionary.  It is helpful because all the readings are bite sized.  However, you won’t read the whole Bible, and sometimes the readings are from the Catholic Apocryphal readings, which we don’t consider inspired Scripture.  Whatever you do, don’t let the pattern God has formed in you in the past weeks slip away!  Capitalize off of it and use it as a launch pad to get you set on a life time course of daily spending time alone with God!

Click here to read the final devotional for this series