Thursday, January 24, 2008

Differing Views of Muslim-Christian Dialogue

A few months ago 138 Christian leaders, including a number of evangelical notables from Fuller Theological Seminary, Christianity Today, and the National Association of Evangelicals were signatories to an open letter, "Loving God and Neighbor Together: A Christian Response to 'A Common Word Between Us and You.'" Originating with several significant scholars from the Yale Center for Faith & Culture, and published in the Novemeber 18, 2007 New York Times , it was a response to an open letter by 138 leading Muslim scholars, clerics, and intellectuals from around the world.

This week leaders from several Baptist bodies (American Baptist Churches USA, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and Alliance of Baptists) announced that they had met on January 4-5 in Hartford, Conn with Dr. Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of North America "to begin discussions on ways Baptist and Muslims can speak, share and learn from each other as we seek to fulfill Paul's admonition in Romans 12:18 'If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.'"

Since this is an important subject as well as a timely one, I wanted to refer my readers to the recent statement on the subject of Christian-Muslim dialogue by Dr. John Piper:

One can hardly listen to the passionate appeal of Dr. Piper without being moved by his sincerity and urgency of concern for the lost. Piper has long been a model of lifting high the cross of Jesus Christ as the only hope for an alienated humanity. He delivered his message without harsh words or bitter acrimony. Indeed, the power of his message is strengthened by the humble passion coupled with burning zeal for the glory of God. Since so many of those connected with the Yale effort are fellow alums with him of Fuller seminary, it will be interesting to see what response they make to it.

Yale Center for Faith & Culture
Baptist press release -
John Piper video -

Thursday, January 17, 2008

2008 Soul Health Prescription: Take Twelve Puritans and Pray for Me in the Morning

Why not start out 2008 with a challenge more beneficial and spiritually uplifting than any resolution? Timmy Brister has issued a book-a-month plan for reading 12 Puritan classics during this year ( Reformation Heritage Books, a well known seller of Reformation and Puritan classics has obliged by packaging the dozen Banner of Truth books for a substantial 36%discount.

If you have never tried reading Sibbes, Flavel, Watson, Bunyan, Burroughs, or Baxter, what better time than now? Mr. Brister describes the reasons for this project quite simply:

First, the Puritans had a relentless pursuit of God. In their writings you will find believers who knew their God deeply through a rich God-centeredness that affected every area of their lives. We are living in a day where it is hard to find folks who know their God well.
Second, the Puritans were physicians of souls. These men studied themselves and had a real, experimental knowledge of Christianity. Nowhere will you find more “uses” and applications for your life than in their writings. Not only did they know God well, they knew the minds, hearts, and consciences of men well.
Third, the Puritans possessed genuine piety because they knew how to fight the fight of faith. These men took direct aim at indwelling sin and fought hard for their personal sanctification. Their writings are incredibly pastoral and at the same time intimately convicting.
Fourth, the Puritans were pacesetters in church history. They ran in such a way to win, and whether it is their study of Scripture, commitment to family worship, personal devotion to prayer, or caring for the souls in their community, these men ran and ran hard.
Fifthly, reading the Puritans will provide you a healthy perspective so as to prevent chronological snobbery. Let’s face it. It is tempting to read only what is novel, trendy, and popular. Yet it is worthwhile to read books 100 years or older to understand how Christians lived, face struggles, dealt with issues (doctrinal, ecclesiological, ethical, etc.), and experienced God. Frankly speaking, you will not find anything close to Owen, Watson, Brooks, and Baxter on the front shelves of your local bookstore.

Here is the schedule:
January- Sibbes, Bruised Reed
February- Flavel, Mystery of Providence
March -Watson, Godly Man's Picture
April -Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices
May -Bunyan, Come and Welcome
June -Owen, Mortification of Sin
July -Bridge, Lifting Up
August -Burroughs, Rare Jewel
September- Bolton, True Bounds
October -Guthrie, Christian's Great Interest
November -Baxter, Reformed Pastor
December -Alleine, Sure Guide

Both my wife, Jeanette, and I plan to augment our devotional reading this year with some of the most soul nourishing writing in the history of Christianity! Join us!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Best Dog at My Son's Wedding Reception - Tux and All

On Saturday, our fourth child, Nathan and his bride Bethany, had their wedding reception. Since it was a "special" day, family member McDoggie "Mac" Everett McFadden was also present, tux and all.
Mac sleeps with Jeanette and me. And, when I am listening to theology lectures on iPod, he cocks his head, furrows his brow, and you would swear he was analyzing the points. Of course, he does specialize in dogmatics.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

On Banning "Wordsmithing," "Waterboarding," and Describing Colors that "Pop" - Scolds on a Tear

The Lake Superior State University censors released their annual list of words to be banned earlier this week. I wanted to see how many of them could be worked into a single paragraph.

In a scene that can only be called “emotional,” I read the list of proposed banned words "authored" (or is it "wordsmithed"???) by the Lake Superior State University experts in their latest attempt to throw the majority of us careless speakers “under the bus” for one more time. Oh well, “it is what it is.” A bunch of academic snobs, bored with writing about “Black Friday,” engage in a deconstruction of the vernacular of American English that can only be described as totally “random” and bereft of a raison d'etre. In this “Post 9/11” world, I suppose academics have nothing better to do than to critique the “organic” nature of spoken English. All such snobs who declare that such prissiness “is the new tolerance,” should be subjected to “waterboarding” and made to participate in their own inane “webinar.” What happened to noblesse oblige and the sense of “give back” by those who have been privileged to enjoy such a top rate education? “Back in the day” when people used Blackberry’s without a Bluetooth, before people described contrasting colors as making things really “pop,” academics generally left insipid locution alone. But, in the “perfect storm” environment of serious daily news regarding the “surge,” economic downturn numbers as the housing bubble bursts, and a “decimating” of standards for education in most states, couldn’t the scholars from Michigan come up with something more important to proscribe than a few dumb colloquialisms? Or, as the teens say today in response to everything from pictures of underclad women to winning football games, from consuming a satisfying meal to getting an unexpected snow day: “Sweet.”

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Have a Blessed New Year in 2008!

I find myself in agreement (again) with Dr. Glenn Layne's positive comments about Transformation Ministries. Check out his "Happy New Year Thoughts" over at Durable Data ( The number of congregations intentionally covenanting together to do ministry has inched over 100. 150 active covenanting congregations by the end of the year would not be unlikely (deo volente).

We are blessed to have such a Godly leader in Dr. Dale Salico. He was at the church where I was preaching last Sunday. The man is focused, pumped, and ready for 2008. We are even beginning to hear of currently unaffiliated churches that want to be part of a more missional movement. It is truly an exciting time to be doing ministry!