Top 10 Posts from 2013

Here are my top ten most-read posts from 2013:

10. The coming collapse of the PC(USA). “Over the last forty years, the make up of our nation has changed considerably. That this change is all but absent in the profile of the PC (USA) suggests that it has been unable to effectively carry out the very essence of its stated mission—bearing witness to the kingdom of God in there here and now—which includes both ethnic and age diversity under the gospel.”

9. Making sense of Calvin on church unity. “for Calvin, a true church may have numerous errors, notorious sinners, unfaithful ministers, and yet be a true church (this point is often made by those arguing against departing from the PC (USA)). Likewise, a false church may have pockets of faithful ministers, flourishing congregations, and lively saints (perhaps something that needs to be pointed out by more evangelicals).”

8. How to say nothing in a thousand words or less. “Some of you who read my blog will one day step into leadership in large organizations like the Presbyterian Church (USA). As you do, you will find that a significant part of leading in these organizations is going to meetings. Another significant part is writing letters that serve as statements to constituents of the organization you serve. Unfortunately, many people who enter these positions are the product of an educational system where the underlying assumption is that the purpose of writing is to communicate something. Big mistake.”

7. Baby rescued from sewer drain. “A remarkable story from China is making its way around the internet. A newborn baby boy was rescued from a sewer pipe after his parents flushed him down the toilet in an act of apparent infanticide.”

6. Freedom of conscience…in context. “It is true that American Presbyterians have tended to avoid creating a list of essential tenets of the reformed faith. However, it is also true that during period of theological decline and unfaithfulness American Presbyterians have looked to greater scrutiny of teaching elders as a way to assist in the renewal of the church. While it may be popular to claim that every Christian is just as much a minister as the teaching elder, it should be noted that the ministry of the teaching elder is clearly under a higher standard according to the Bible. Not many, we are told, should aspire to the office of teaching elder since those who do will be judged more strictly (James 3:1).”

5. How is the PC(USA) reformed, evangelical, missional? “It is true that the words “reformed,” “evangelical,” and “missional” could be used by both denominations to describe themselves. However, using the same word doesn’t necessarily mean that each is using the same definition or meaning for the word in question.”

4. Five observations about the Fellowship of Presbyterians Annual Meeting. “The Fellowship of Presbyterians is a missional order of evangelical presbyterians who are connected to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and who–in that context–are working to reform their own ministry in order to adapt to the unique new challenges facing churches in this post-Christendom period. ECO is a missional order that is independent from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and working toward the same goal–making flourishing churches–in partnership with Fellowship Churches. This is really quite remarkable.”

3. Why contemporary worship is not the answer. “Asserting that young adults want contemporary worship is really not an accurate or helpful picture of reality. It may be the picture we want to be reality as leaders in the church. After all, after almost twenty years of doing it we have a pretty good idea of what “contemporary worship” is. We think we can pull it off.Don’t confuse what is comfortable for us with what young adults really want. There’s a word for that: projection. We want contemporary worship and so we conclude that that is really what “young people” want.”

2. Rachel Held Evans and evangelicalism’s implosion. “Our work is not to justify the church. As Richard John Neuhaus noted in his jewel of a book Freedom for Ministry “…Because we do not pretend that the Church is the Kingdom of God, we offer no excuses for its not being the Kingdom of God. There will be not satisfactory Church, no Church that can be embraced without ambiguity, until the world of which the Church is part is satisfactorily ordered in the consummation of God’s rule. In short, we cannot get it all together until God has gotten it all together in the establishment of the Messianic age” (24). This reality is lost on Evans and others.”

1. The church made implausible. “The takeaway is that it is possible to construct a type of life (really, a range of lifestyles) that makes it all but impossible to be meaningfully involved in a church. That type of life is quickly becoming normative. And as something becomes normative, resisting it becomes something that requires both intentional effort and sacrifice, both on the part of congregations and of individual Christians.”

Thanks for reading my blog in 2013!

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