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« Who Said That? | Main | The Canons of Dort, First Head of Doctrine, Article 6 »

Some Interesting Links on a Friday . . .

Links.jpgThanks to Scott Clark for reminding me that this thought-provoking essay by Dr.  Robert Godfrey is online--A Reformed Dream.  If you are a member of a confessional Reformed or Presbyterian church and haven't read this, you need to!  Would that my sons live to see this become a reality--it probably won't happen in my lifetime.  Click here: Modern Reformation - Articles

Here's the best news from the blogosphere I've heard in some time.  Purgatorio is back!  You'll certainly want to bookmark this one.  Marc Heinrich's blog is always witty and thought-provoking.  His parody of Tim Challies' new book is priceless.  Click here: Crossway Stands Behind Challies - purgatorio

Eschatological nuttiness never seems to take a day off.  When the House of Commons addressed a motion to "disestablish" the Church of England, the motion was routinely assigned a number.  You guessed it-"666."  Now, we can take that in one of two ways.  Either the House of Commons was doing the devil's work by trying to disestablish the C of E, or else we might say, the C of E has been asking for such a designation for a long time.  I'll leave that up to you to decide.  Click here: Devilish debate on end for Church of England - Yahoo! News

Finally, here's a story about some poor guy who thought he saw the "mark of the beast" on his hand, so he cut if off with a circular saw and then microwaved it.  Talk about a misreading of Matthew 5:30!  He's been put away for his own protection.  Click here: - Man Sees 'Mark of the Beast'; Cuts Off, Microwaves Hand - Local News | News Articles | National News

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Reader Comments (10)

Responding to: A reformed dream.

I have become reformed in the last few years, and looked for "reformed" churches in two different cities so far.

It is much much worse than "dream" suggests. I've attended dozens of "reformed" churches that don't preach the gospel. If you want extreme examples:

-A church called "Westminster Reformed" preached a sermon about why they had decided to replace the words "God" and "Christ" with "Gloria" in the liturgy.

-A church called "Living Stones Christ Reformed" preached a sermon using a powerpoint slideshow featuring Star Trek's "Borg"(on all 26 slides) to help us understand that if we really learned to love that we could assimilate the culture into the church.

-A church called "Covanent Reformed" (apparently M. Horton spoke there a few weeks before I attended) preached a sermon about how the world has gone to hell because everyone loves Britney Spears and she's devalued marriage by eloping.

-A church called "Christ the King Reformed" preached a sermon about our mission to transform culture by living sinless lives and becoming more politically active so that we can usher in God's Kingdom and realize his plan for a perfect utopia on earth.

I think I've attended close to 50 reformed and lutheran churches during my two searches. Most of the dogs weren't so memorable, and everything pales in comparison to insanity I experienced when I looked for an evangelical church, which precipitated my reformation.

The problem is not about identifying oneself as reformed as much as it is about preaching the gospel. A church can agree with all of thr right confessions and still never preach the gospel (or even worse, completely preach against it).

To me, if a church goes through the effort to put the word reformed in the name of their church, it should be a giant waving flag that says we preach the gospel here. Unfortunately, there a just a lot of churches that historically associate themselves with the word reformed, or worse have co-opted the word reformed to mean post-mil theonomist.

I know its unreasonable to ever expect there to a word in a church name that guarantees the gospel is preached inside (if there was, I'd been calling for a new division called the Faithfully Gospel-preaching confessionally reformed Churches of America.:> )

I'm now a member of the OPC. I don't love everything about it. For example, they don't celebrate Christmas and Easter. But at least they consistently preach the gospel (and even better, pastors visiting on rotations do too.)

January 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmil
Wow. And I thought it was bad with Baptist churches. Because, as you know, "Baptist" covers a multitude of sins. Folk have been put off by our affiliation with the American Baptists and then been pleasantly surprised when we turn out to be - dare I say it, KR? - Reformed. Or at least Calvinist. Or holding to the Doctrines of Grace. You get the picture.
It's like the interchange between Agrippa and Festus in Acts 25 - they concluded that this whole dispute "was about a dead man named Jesus whom Paul claimed was alive". THAT should be the message from the pulpit every week!
January 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPB
No, I don't want to read a story about a man cutting his hand off. That just too sick! We have to draw the line somewhere.
January 11, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy
I always enjoy your Friday Links...This world is full of strange and amusing factoids. The poor guy who cut off his hand is either totally delusional or stoned. Either way, he sure needs custodial care...Stuff like this does happen, like it or not.
January 11, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterhb

Preachers think that by expounding the Word they are preaching the Gospel - they aren't. In fact it's possible to enter a Bible believing church and hear a sermon from the OT (though full of sound Biblical data & doctrine) and not even hear the name of Christ, though He might be dangled like a lucky charm at the end. I know, I attend one - at the moment. I think a WHI broadcast put it this way - 'did Christ need to die for that sermon to be preached' - the answer is too often No. People are desperate to hear some good news instead of being hammered with the law all the time..
January 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMike
Amil: how about the "Resolved-to-Know-Nothing-but-Christ-and-Him-Crucified Reformed &c."?
January 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPhil Walker
Mike & Amil,

Brothers, your experience is not uncommon. We’ve run into it to…your experience sounds all too familiar. I’ve run the gambit in the central part of our state and found that the issue is not just the Warren like churches we’d formerly attended. I attended a “reformed/Calvinistic” SB church in which zero Gospel was preached, sermons if you merely altered the nouns which could have been preached in any Mosque, to the point of utter despair. Even in our present PCA church if were not for the pastor himself I fear for it in the future.

I discovered that here in KY so close to Southern Seminary there was a great “awakening” to a version of Calvinism and the TULIP that I thought was good coming out of a Saddleback/arminian SB church. But in the end it turned out to only be a bigger “law” stick being used.

It goes something like this, the denomination and pastors within see a problem among the people, they blame it on “easy decissionism”, “easy believism” and so forth. Yes that’s a problem. But the solution is not Law and Gospel, or Gospel at all or the Cross, or really Christ crucified and risen. So, they realize that you cannot motivate people by the soft approach of the Warren and Olstean and/or liberal type of theology/churches. They think they’ve discovered Calvinism and the TULIP afresh in seminary. Law and Gospel, no not at all, that would be Lutheran. So they take their “TULIP” and conservativism and beat away with it. What they’ve really done is discovered a harder law whip to use and beat with. But Christ is no where to be found, in fact He’s completely covered up and lost. At the end of the day the essential difference between Warren/Liberal types and the so called “Calvinistic/TULIP/Conservative types is nothing more than degree of law that will move the will into action. But fundamentally it still just carrots and sticks, not Christ and Him crucified. But they will swear they are preaching the Gospel. Our last church had no problem at all diligently exegeting the text, there was no laziness nor sloth on the pastors/elders part. However, like the Pharisees of old all they were doing was “searching the scriptures and thinking that by them they have eternal life…” with the same diligence the Pharisees did. Yet they miss God, Christ, right before their very eyes and their sermons reflect.

It became so bad for us I told my wife one Sunday heading home in absolute depression and despair, and we drive great distances to even get to a confessing church, I’m not exaggerating or joking, “Why are we going to church? I could have heard that sermon - only varying the nouns maybe a bit - in any Roman Catholic church, any Mormon Ward, any JW Hall, any Muslim Mosque.”

I don’t have an answer, but I suppose misery loves company. You are right, “People are desperate to hear some good news instead of being hammered with the law all the time.”

Mike you hit it on the head about the expounding part. There’s a way to do that that is a disease today and Christ is missed altogether. Great efforts in exposition but no Christ.

I thought we were the only one’s experiencing this in our state.

Yours truly,

January 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLarry KY

I understand, and I'll pray for you. I'm not sure where you are in Kentucky, but if you're willing to drive to Nashville, Covenant Presbyterian is a good church.

If you can't find a confessional church where they preach the gospel, keep looking. Maybe by some freak chance there's a faithful independent or pentacostal or mainline denomination church. There are some good lutheran denominations(wisconsin and missouri) too. The best sermon I ever heard in my life was at a lutheran church. Besides me, there were only two others in the congregation, and i was asked to take my son to the empty nursery across the campus where I listened to it over an ancient crackling speaker.

There is also a reformed espiscopal denomination which seems promising on their website, and don't forget the confessional baptists.
January 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAmil

I appreciate that very much! We are pretty far from Nashville, it would be a about a three hour drive. If we are in that area though, that's good to know, definitely. At our PCA church now our pastor preaches good Gospel. It's mainly when he's gone and some of the teachings in and around the SS classes I've gleaned. It was exhausting to us at first, like a hit in the gut when we first began to detect this. My concern, rightly or wrongly, would be if he ever left. It could go sour real quick. I told my wife, "I love these people and in terms of keeping doctrine "intellectually" in line they do well...but I could never go to them in a spiritual struggle, they just don't understand the deep deep despair that can occur with a seemingly harmless statement that is really not gospel at all (and you can’t preach it to yourself, I can’t). I've been thrown back on the "law" too many times in the past, in too many various and “nice ways” meant to help.

There is a small baptist church I know, and the pastor is a very very close brother/friend of mine, we talk all the time. I’d love, as far as I know what is taught and preached, GREAT law and gospel. But I wrestle with the whole issue of the sacraments. He preaches good 200 proof Gospel and endeavers to cut the Law and Gospel rightly every time. In one sense I'd love to go there and endeavor together with them (and we do as friends), but then what about my children, what am I communicating to them about their baptism and by extension my own? I don’t mean that in harsh way but the Gospel there, because one of my old terrors was that very attack against my soul. That's an emotionally tough one for me.

There are a couple of LCMS churches we are also looking into right now. There are a few more of those than PCA churches down here, most are pretty small (not that numbers mean a thing at all, just giving you a feel for the area). I think the whole state may have 3 or 4 PCA churches, 1 OPC (very far away for us), no other Reformed that I’m aware of; probably around 20 to 30 LCMS churches sprinkled throughout the State, more SB churches than you can shake a stick at, and that’s not a good thing now days. And plenty of off-shoots.

It’s probably similar in TN as in KY, very weird. Literally 1000s of churches, this area is church building saturated, it’s not like out west. Yet, in the sense of Gospel, real Gospel, Christ crucified being preached there are very very few and far between.

At my buddies church I mentioned above, a couple drives 95 miles one way, literally passing 100s of churches in dozens of towns, WITH 3 very young kids to attend this church. They clearly heard a message they were not hearing in the other SB, Reformed Baptist churches and even one PCA church in their area. That’s how desperate people are to hear Christ’s voice. All around this area there are churches with big congregations, zero Gospel. My buddies church, its tiny. I’ve gotten past being mad about it, something I struggled with for a while coming out of it – now its just exasperation and a pleading ‘come on guys’ your called to preach the Gospel, please open your eyes, your killing people with your “preaching”.

I treasure your prayers,

January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLarry KY

The south is fascinating with its sea of christ-less churches. I think if you throw a stone in Tennessee in an area zoned for buildings you have at least a 10% chance of hitting a church. Even more striking than the buildings, they seem to all be doing quite well with regular donations and attendance.

I've never been to a church with a perfect cut of law and gospel mixed in the sermons. I've found that usually law and gospel alternate through the weeks in the context of the sermon, while the gospel is at least presented in its minimal form during the confession, and again during the lord's supper. My current pastor will hammer us with law for 3 weeks during the sermon followed by a week of mostly gospel. [I'm ecstatic at this point that I have a pastor that actually believes the gospel.]

As far as reformed sermons online go, even Dr. Riddlebargers main emphasis is to faithfully teach the scriptures, and Christ's total sufficiency to redeem us is not always the focus of that teaching, although it seems to be at least touched on or alluded to. I think this is redressed by consistently emphasizing the gospel at other places in the liturgy.

One of the best reformed pastors I have heard online is Charles Garland formerly from Portland City Church, now at Ivy Creek in GA. His law scalpel is so efficient at completely devastating you well beyond the point of despair that by the time he bestows you with message of the gift of Christ's righteousness (unfortunately that usually comes after the sermon mp3 is over) you feel like a dying starving child thats just been given the first meal that you can remember.
January 16, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLarry

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