Monthly Archives: October 2011

A Sheep-Cropped Knoll

I began Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited last night and am now in the second chapter. I’ve only read Waugh’s Scoop, but enjoyed it and am looking forward to becoming ensconced in this one. Also, a friend whose literary tastes I trust said Brideshead is his favourite novel–that’s weighty coming from him.

I came across a striking sentence that I read a number of times for the sheer joy of it’s imagery and the smooth glide of its words–what a long sentence too! It comes from the scene where Charles and Sebastian travel to Brideshead for the first time and take a rest near a “clump” trees to enjoy a glass of wine and strawberries. Here it is, Charles is the narrator:

On a sheep-cropped knoll under a clump of elms we ate the strawberries and drank the wine – as Sebastian promised, they were delicious together – and we lit fat, Turkish cigarettes and lay on our backs, Sebastian’s eyes on the`leaves above him, mine on his profile, while the blue-grey smoke rose, untroubled by any wind, to the blue-green shadows of foliage, and the sweet scent of the tobacco merged with the sweet summer scents around us and the fumes of the sweet, golden wine seemed to lift us a finger’s breadth above the turf and hold us suspended.

Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1981), 32-33.

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Four Questions

Tyler Horton runs the Me and Brooks blog, dedicated to things Puritan (generally) and Thomas Brooks (specifically). Tyler is wont to interview various he’s-and-she’s about Puritan-related topics, and I got held up with four questions dealing with how to define Puritanism; the subject of an essay I published in Puritan Reformed Journal. I’m thankful to Tyler for asking good questions and for posting my mediocre responses. The questions are:

1) I absolutely have always held “the notion that Puritanism was a monolithic movement distinguished by its piety, Calvinism, and anti-Anglican posture.”  What parts of that definition are misleading?

2) What is the danger in holding that previously mentioned definition of Puritanism?

3) Calling the Puritans “hot Protestants” or the “hotter sort of Protestant” appears to be a comment not just about their passion but also quality.  Were the Puritans simply the best Protestants of their day?  Are they the ‘hottest Protestants’ in Church history?

4) Can you break down your lengthy definition of a “Puritan” from the article into its essential elements?  What are the essential distinguishing features that need to be included in a good definition of the term?

You’ll have to click here to read my answers.

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Filed under articles, church history, interviews, me and brooks, puritan reformed journal, puritans

Trueman Interview on James MacDonald

In earlier posts on the issue of James MacDonald inviting T. D. Jakes to be on his show The Elephant Room I had expressed hope that The Gospel Coalition would act appropriately about the whole matter. From what Carl Trueman says in an interview on No Compromise Radio, some Coalition worker contacted him trying to shut him up. This is very disconcerting. What will this spell for the Coalition?

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Filed under carl trueman, gospel coalition, heresy, interviews, james macdonald, t d jakes

Taylor on MacDonald

In my previous post about James MacDonald and T. D. Jakes I mentioned a friend who was upset about the virtual silence by some TGC leading lights. I’m thankful that Justin Taylor has now shared his critical opinion on the matter: The Elephant Wins.

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Filed under blogging, gospel coalition, heresy, james macdonald, t d jakes

The Implications for Harvest

There are a number of reasons to be disturbed by James MacDonald’s invitation to T. D. Jakes to appear on the Elephant Room. My biggest disturbance has to do with the gospel here in the Toronto area. As most are aware, MacDonald heads the Harvest Bible Fellowship network of churches. There are a good number of Harvest churches in Ontario, most of which are near Toronto. They are vibrant, growing, gospel-centered, Calvinistic churches. I’m thankful for them and am always delighted to hear when new ones are planted.

What are the implications of MacDonald’s actions for Harvest churches?

If I were a minister in a Harvest Bible Chapel I would be severely upset to see the face of my movement courting heresy; and so naively. I’d be embarrassed to read MacDonald say that Jakes isn’t a modalist, and then define Jakes’ view of the Trinity in perfectly modalist terms (” T.D. Jakes website states clearly that he believes God has existed eternally in three manifestations”). I’d be horrified to read his dismissive treatment of those who are concerned with what’s happening–especially when some critics are respected leaders in the very same movement that MacDonald is a part of: The Gospel Coalition. Are Carl TruemanAnthony Carter and Thabiti Anyabwile’s concerns unfounded?

While MacDonald may not ultimately pay a personal price for his relationship with Jakes, whom he calls a brother, the churches in his movement will. Each minister and each church member now have to seriously reflect on whether they can partner with a minister who could be so willing to allow a wolf into the sheep-fold. They have to reconsider their involvement in a movement that has put its imprimatur on an ant-trinitarian, health-and-wealth heretic; because by extension, their membership in Harvest would imply their endorsement of MacDonald’s actions, whether explicit or implicit.

Last night a friend and I were talking about this whole mess. My friend was nonplussed over the virtual silence of TGC higher-ups like Justin Taylor, John Piper, Don Carson or Tim Keller. My hope is that there are a lot of back-room discussions about this and that the TGC guys are soon to be coming out with some strong actions against MacDonald. They must, not merely for the purity of abstract theology, because good theology is never merely abstract. MacDonald’s theological laxity will have direct impact on the churches he leads, and the TGC guys need to step up not only for the cause of the Trinity, but also for the churches who are sure to be damaged by this. I trust that these leaders will do what is right. We’ve already seen good responses from members like Trueman and Anyabwile, and if what Thabiti intimated is an indication–he spoke of discussing his initial post with respected leaders before putting it online–then surely others are concerned and talking.

I’m sad that this is happening. I’m sad that MacDonald has been so flippant. I’m sad because I love what Harvest is doing, and I don’t want it to stop or be hindered. These are the ecclesiological implications of bad theology and bad pastoring.

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Filed under churches, evangelicalism, harvest bible chapel, heresy, james macdonald, t d jakes, trinity