Monthly Archives: August 2009

More Fuller Center Conference Roundup

The “I will build my church…in Ireland” blog is doing a book give away for Michael Haykin and Kenneth Stewart’s recent Advent of Evangelicalism here.

Jeff Straub of Central Baptist Seminary shares some conference thoughts here.

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Filed under andrew fuller conference, books, conferences, michael haykin

Challies Reviews “Money, Greed and God”

Tim Challies has a good review of Jay W. Richards’ book on capitalism and Christianity called Money, Greed and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and not the Problem (HarperOne, 2009). I have the book, but haven’t read it yet (it’s still sitting at Crux!).

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Filed under books, capitalism, economics, reviews, tim challies

Post-Conference Thoughts

The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, housed at Southern Seminary, held their annual conference on August 24-25 in Louisville, KY. The conference was entitled “Baptist Spirituality – Historical Perspectives.” Keynote speakers included Greg Thornbury, Malcolm Yarnell, Crawford Gribben, Robert Strivens, Kevin Smith, etc. On the afternoon of the first day there were breakout sessions that included papers given by Stephen Yuille, Steve Weaver, Gordon Heath, Al Mickle, Aaron Menikoff, myself and others. All in all, the conference was excellent.

In order to save some jack, I drove down to Louisville in an RV with my good friend Greg McManus, pastor of Grace Community Church in London, ON. I would say getting to spend that time with Greg was one of the best parts of the trip. It was a twenty-hour round trip and we slept in the RV on the campus of Southern. The “rig” was awesome and had all of the comforts of home. Shower, microwave, oven, fridge/freezer, washroom, and it slept something like eight people. We bought groceries and ate most of our meals there. The weather was so nice in Louisville that we didn’t even need the airconditioning!

A number of highlights from the conference itself were: Kevin Smith’s paper called “A Distracted Piety: African American Baptists.” It was moving and quite informative. He traced the role of race and it’s relation to theological orthodoxy in the early African-American Baptist movement, showing that issues of race – while important – were subsurvient to doctrinal fidelity. The questions after the paper were also quite informative – if only from my observations as a Canadian. I was struck both from this lecture and Tom Nettles’ on J.P. Boyce that race was and still is an issue in the States. It is deeply entwined with their history, which of course includes the church’s history. I could not wrap my mind around the fact that Christians kept slaves. Dr. Smith did a great job at conveying the need for being Christians first and black, white, hispanic or whatever a distant second.

Greg Thornbury’s paper was also a major highlight for me. I had the delight of sitting next to Dr. Thornbury (dean of Union University) at the conference banquet. In fact, our whole table was great: Thornbury, Aaron Menikoff (and a friend), Malcolm Yarnell, Crawford Gribben, Greg McManus and myself. Greg, Crawford and I didn’t know any of them when we sat down. To see the interchange between Thornbury and Yarnell was extremely entertaining! It was also a delight to meet Aaron Menikoff whom I’d heard so much about. He’s an extremely nice guy.

Thornbury’s paper was on spirituality and theological education. He elucidated what he called “Personal Las Vegas” moments – or PLV’s. This is where a person moves from the Tupelo to the Vegas, using Elvis Presley as an example. Where one dawns the rhinestones in favour of the denim shirt. We all have these PLV’s, where we think something better of ourselves, when really we’ve just chumped out to a cliche. Thornbury applied this to institutions and people who have done this in baptist life, looking at Francis Wayland and his experiences in particular. It was well presented, humourous and indicting – to others and to myself. Thornbury is a scholar to watch.

The conference was timed to coincide with The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s convocation. Southern is celebrating their sesquicentennial this year, marking 150 years of their existence. Therefore convocation was especially poignant. I can’t tell you the feeling that surged through me when the massive congregation arose to sing “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” and the whole faculty processed through the chapel. Looking over to see top evangelical theologians like Tom Schreiner, Stephen Wellum, Michael Haykin, Denny Burk, Bruce Ware, Tom Nettles, Brian Vickers, etc., being led by Albert Mohler and Russell Moore to their seats at the front gave me goosebumps. Being there really made you feel like you were a part of something big. When Dr. Mohler announced the signing of the Abstract of Principles – Southern’s faith statement – the gravitas and solemnity was everywhere in the air. Chip Stam and Brian Vickers signed the statement as new full-time faculty. With quill in hand, they signed the 150 year old document with pride.

Dr. Mohler preached a great sermon from Revelation 1 on the eschatological nature of Christian ministry {here’s the video you can see Greg, Crawford and I at the bottom left of the screen}. He reminded us that Christ is sovereign over time, over kingdoms and over the church. And keeping this in perspective will only envigorate ministry and keep us in the faith. It was a great way to start the school year.

It was also a tremendous delight to spend time with Crawford Gribben. He’s a good friend and one who’s company I truly enjoy. I was glad that he and Greg to meet. I love it when I can introduce friends and the time spent hanging out with both of these men was fun; especially our breakfast at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville where my friend John Tucker joined us. This place was ciche to the core – very Americana. I had the biggest breakfast I’d ever seen in my life – complete with grits and biscuits. I couldn’t finish it because it was so big! But man was it good.

In terms of my own paper, I think that it went well. From what I gather, most people came to my session, which was encouraging. I chalk that up to people being attracted to the name of Jonathan Edwards in the title: “Alexander Carson (1776-1844): Jonathan Edwards of the Nineteenth Century.” The response from people afterwards was humbling and deeply encouraging. I got a charge out of presenting the paper, although the Q&A left something to be desired (thanks Crawford!). Many thanks to the Center for allowing me to present, it was my first time doing something like this and they made it a great experience!

Steve Weaver, who ran the conference, did an excellent job. I remember running those conferences when it was the Jonathan Edwards Centre for Reformed Spirituality. We did them on a much smaller scale, and that was tough! Steve ran a massive conference at a huge campus with lots of attendees. I was impressed. Dr. Haykin was a great host, both of the conference in general and my own break-out session. So congratulations to both of them for a job well done. Hopefully the conference audio will be available at the Fuller Center website and you can listen to all of the talks. I highly recommend the Smith paper and Thornbury’s.

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Filed under al mohler, andrew fuller conference, baptists, church history, conferences, crawford gribben, friends, louisville, michael haykin, southern seminary

Wallace on Elders

The author of my second year Greek grammar (aka. “fat Wallace” as in the size of the book) is Dan Wallace. He is also the director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts and professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Seminary. Anything that Wallace writes on the New Testament and on textual criticism should be heeded.

He has a very good post on the necessity for churches to have a plurality of elders leading their congregation. I whole heartedly agree with the basic thrust of this article and would commend it to anyone who would argue that churches are to be run by a single pastor and a board of deacons. This completely misses the mark.

Who Should Run The Church? A Case for the Plurality of Elders

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BlogTO on the Toronto Storm

There are some great shots at BlogTO of Toronto’s storm yesterday that saw tornado damage in parts of the city. The one above is my favourite, of the storm sweeping over the downtown. It’s from a slightly different angle than the view from my apartment, but it’s essentially the same. Wow.

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Bahnsen’s Lost Book on DeMar’s Radio Show

Greg Bahnsen, Christian apologist extraordinaire, wrote a manuscript for a book on apologetics that had been lost after his untimely death. This manuscript has since been found and published. Here is a video of Gary DeMar on his radio show with Joe McDurmon discussing the process of getting the book into our greedy little hands.

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Faith Cook on Biography

Faith Cook is a fantastic writer. Of the number of biographies that she has written over the years, two stand out: Selina and The Nine Days Queen. Cook is a committed, Reformed Christian and also a stellar historian. Her works are never dry and she supplies readers with both scholarly research and good spiritual interpretations.

At the Theology Network site she has an article entitled “Why Read Christian Biography?” {HT: Challies} In it she offers six reasons:

1) It helps us understand God’s past acts
2) It helps us appreciate the spiritual life
3) We see gospel theology in action
4) It provides us with appropriate warnings
5) It shows us how to suffer rightly
6) It gives us principles and patterns

Her concluding paragraph is worth quoting:

Perhaps the greatest blessing of all that comes from reading Christian biography, and one that should encourage us to start if we have not done so already, is the assurance that our God is an unchanging God. All that he has done in the past he can repeat in our day. His power in unlimited, his grace as plentiful. He is still able to take up men and women who earnestly seek him and use them effectively in whatever sphere he may chose. As we read, we enter into a great heritage of two thousand years of devotion and service to the God of heaven. And who can tell what he might yet do for us even today?

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Paracalypsis

Here is a useful resource for Christian origins and patristics. Paracalypsis has a lot of primary sources online in various languages. From various manuscripts of the biblical texts to works by Fathers like Ignatius, Irenaeus and Augustine.

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Ruse on New Atheism

Michael Ruse is a well known atheist philosopher and scientist. Although he’s a Brit, he has a strong Canadian connection in that he taught at the University of Guelph most of his career. He is currently in better climes in Florida. Ruse is a vociferous anti-creationist and has even gone to court as a witness against creationist teaching in Arkansas. Ruse engages frequently in debates against Christians, in particular proponents of the Intelligent Design movement like William Dembski. His most recent book is Darwinism and Its Discontents (Cambridge, 2008).

When Alister McGrath co-wrote  The Dawkins Delusion? with his wife Joanna McGrath a few years ago, Ruse endorsed the book saying that it was a great rebuttal of Dawkins, whom Ruse accused of being an embarassment to the atheist community. Now, at BeliefNet, Ruse has published an article explaining why he doesn’t line up with the so-called New Atheism. Check out: “Why I Think the New Atheists are a Bloody Disaster.”

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Filed under apologetics, articles, atheism, michael ruse, richard dawkins, science

August: First Things Recruitment Month

One of my favourite things to do is go to the Eaton Centre with Vicky on a Saturday morning. While she’s shopping, I go up to the Indigo book store, buy the latest copy of First Things a cup of coffee from Starbucks and sit and read, looking out the window at the old city hall.

First Things is an ecumenical journal, but not in the wishy-washy, pomo, why can’t we all get along kind’ve way. Rather, it’s a journal that accepts contributions from all denominational stripes – although politically most writers are conservative. Founded by the late Richard John Neuhaus, the journal very much is shaped by his overall political perspective.

August is what First Things is calling “recruitment month.” So they are putting up all of their articles housed in their archives online at no cost. The month is half over! Why are you reading my blog? Get over to First Things and start reading!!!

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Andrew Fuller Center Conference

The Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies is holding its annual conference next week at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. This year’s topic is “Baptist Spirituality: Historical Perspectives.” The Center has just published the flyer for the conference, which you can download here. Key note speakers include Michael Haykin, Malcolm Yarnell, Crawford Gribben, Thomas Nettles and other notables. Not in the latter category (!) is myself, whose ugly mug you see there on the second page.

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Filed under baptists, church history, conferences, crawford gribben, michael haykin, southern seminary

Gavin and Quentin

An old friend of mine, Gavin Booth (he actually filmed my proposal to Vicky) is doing a video project called How Many Days? It’s his mission to meet the Hollywood personalities who have been an influence on him – Gavin is a movie director, writer, nut… In the following, Gavin goes onto Much on Demand here in Toronto and actually meets Quentin Tarantino! I must say, of all of the people Gavin’s met so far, this is the one I’m actually jealous of! Check it out on YouTube:

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Martin Amis: “Poetry is dead.”

Martin Amis is a British novelist who is probably most famous for his book London Fields. He also teaches at Manchester University. In a very good interview with Vice, Amis discusses those writers who have influenced him most (I love what he says about Jane Austen’s subtlety), the role of politics in his writings and his opinions of culture and fiction writing. I thought that this question about fiction well captures the state of reading and writing today (it reminds me of “The lost art of reading” recently published in the LA Times):

How do you feel about the current state of fiction?

It will always be produced; I worry more about it being read. Poetry is already dead in those terms. Poetry requires that you stop the clock. When you read a poem the writer is saying, “Let’s stop and examine this writing.” People don’t like solitary reflection anymore, so poetry no longer has a place in the culture. This will eventually seep out to include the novel. The day of the long, reflective, discursive novel, such as the great Saul Bellow novels, which were eight-month best sellers in their time, are over. The novel now is streamlined and sped up. It is a reflection of the age.

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TBS Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

TBS Renovations

TBS Renovations

This past year has seen a major overhaul to the residences at Toronto Baptist Seminary. It’s sad to see the houses change, in a way, because I lived there for three years. I actually haven’t gone in the buildings to see them from the inside yet – I want the thrill of the surprise.

To celebrate their opening, TBS is planning an open house and ribbon cutting ceremony on August 29th from 10:30am – 1:30pm.

The itinerary is:

10:30am – 11:45am – Tours
12pm – 12:30pm – Ribbon Cutting
12:30pm – 1:30pm – Lunch

If you can make it, please come. It’s a great way to celebrate the blessings of God together.

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Steve F. and the Gospel

My buddy P-Mac is the evangelism intern at Grace Fellowship Church and once a week, as part of his internship, he does evangelism downtown for New City Baptist. John has been mentoring P-Mac on evangelism in the gay community. P-Mac and another good friend of mine, Steve F., have also been doing evangelism together in Rexdale, in the neighbourhood where GFC is located. They often speak to people at bus-stops as well as in the nearby mall. Steve has a good story here that I found encouraging: “Thoughts from Steve F.: Evangelising, Joy, Planting and Watering.”

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Ussher on Christ’s One Person

“And here we must consider, that the divine Nature did not assume an humane Person, but the divine Person did assume an humane Nature: and that of the three divine Persons, it was neither the first nor the third that did assume this Nature; but it was the middle Person, who was to be the middle one, that must undertake this mediation betwixt God and us. which was otherwise also most requisite, as well for the better preservation of the integrity of the blessed Trinity in the Godhead, as for the higher advancement of Mankinde by meanes of that relation which the second Person the Mediator did beare unto his Father. For if the fulnesse of the Godhead should have thus dwelt in any humane Person, there should then a fourth Person necessarily have been added unto the Godhead: and if any of the three Persons, beside the second, had been borne of a woman; there should have been two Sons in the Trinity. Whereas now the Son of God and the Son of the blessed Virgin, being but one Person, is consequently but one Sonne; and so no alteration at all made in the relations of the Persons of the Trinity.”

James Ussher, Immanuel.

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Bird on the Wretched Man

Michael Bird, who teaches New Testament at Highland Theological College in Scotland, offers four reasons why the “wretched man” in Romans 7 is not a Christian describing the struggles of the Christian life. I agree with Bird – I believe this person is likely a pre-convert-to-Christ Jew. I essentially switched to this less common view after I audited Romans with Tom Schreiner at TBS a couple of years ago. Check out Bird’s reasons here.

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Libraries of Seventeenth Century Primates

Long Room

Long Room

Dr. Andrew Cambers of the University of Exeter has a 26 page report on the libraries of post-Reformation Primates in the British Isles. Of interest to myself is the section on James Ussher’s personal library of some 10,000 volumes which formed the bedrock of Trinity College Dublin’s library. Also included are Cranmer, Parker, Wolsey, Loftus, etc. It is hosted by the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at the University of York.

Check out: “Archbishops and their Books: Ecclesiastical Libraries in Post-Reformation Britain.”

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Filed under books, james ussher, puritans, research, Resources

Oliphint on Van Til

This is for Shed:

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Longman on Van Til

Old Testament scholar Tremper Longman III discusses Van Til’s The Defense of the Faith as a book that most influenced him. I must say, I was delightfully surprised by this. Longman calls the book “monumental.” Indeed.

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Filed under books, cornelius van til, video