Why I choose to #optout

I’ve arrived at the conclusion that social media is responsible for a number of ills in our society.

  • It has allowed us to be ideologically isolated while feeling an illusory sense connection.
  • It has allowed us to shout into the ether rather than silently ponder.
  • It has enabled numerical support (hashtags) to trump the internal coherence of an argument.
  • It has pushed nuance to the margin and created conversations driven by superficial, context-less punch lines.

For these reasons and more, I’ve essentially opted out of social media.

I make the odd appearance on Facebook and occasionally tweet.

In general, however, I really don’t care to be in on the many futile and intellectually-stunted conversations that occur in these media.


Offer your pithy indictments of “white evangelicals,” President Trump, Roy Moore, reformed Christians, republicans, Hillary Clinton, class inequality, critical race theory, to someone else.

I’m one man and I’ve done what I can do.

Like Frodo and Sam, I am choosing to be faithful in the small things that I can control.

Since you’re obviously more of a Saruman, I’ll let you wrestle with the grand unifying theory.

Let me know how it works out.

The way forward for me is not in the big and bold. Instead it is in living a very ordinary life of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in communion with Christ’s church.

I’m not going to change the world. That’s not my job.

I’m not going redeem culture. That’s not the church’s calling.

I am simply going to do my best to follow Christ as he has instructed me–growing in grace through the ordinary means of grace.





Writer’s block

Most writers experience writer’s block–an internal resistance to starting writing. The first task of the writer is overcoming this familiar adversary. In general, the more you overcome writer’s block the easier it is next time.

It’s always a comfort to know that famous writers suffer from this malady. In the video below, Roald Dahl explains some of his procrastination methods.


What do you do to postpone starting to write?

How do you overcome writer’s block?

Judging a book by its cover

my favorite award-winning design from David Fassett


You’ve heard the old saying, “Never judge a book by its cover.” There’s some truth in the adage that sometimes an incredible story lurks behind a boring cover.

At the same time, it’s also true that we often underestimate the ways that design elements contribute to the reading experience. I have learned that the experience of reading a manuscript is totally different from reading a typeset galley.

3737405908.jpgManuscripts offer little in the way of visual clues to the reader. There’s not a lot of white space. Sometimes the best manuscript can feel a little bit more like a term paper than a best-seller.

Book covers offer a visual piece of art that ties together core concepts of the book and also communicates them non-verbally to the buyer. We’re fortunate to have an exceptionally talented art director at IVP.
David Fassett won four ECPA Top Shelf Book Cover Awards this year! I’m especially gratified that three of them awards went for books in the Academic imprint.

IVP Academic books always feature excellent cover designs.





10 helpful books about depression, suicide, and suffering

The shortening days of late Autumn make it easy to pause and think of sadness, suffering, and despair. If you’re looking for resources to help you care for yourself or loved one, consider these books:

  1. Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Darkness is my Only Companion 
  2. Richard Winter, When Life Goes Dark
  3. Kelly Kapic, Embodied Hope
  4. Amy Simpson, Troubled Minds.
  5. Matthew Stanford, Grace for the Afflicted.
  6. Dwight Carlson, Why Do Christians Shoot their Wounded?
  7. Al Hsu, Grieving a Suicide
  8. Richard Rice, Suffering and the Search for Meaning
  9. Brian Hagg Gregg, What Does the Bible Say About Suffering?

Enter any book recommendations you have in the comments and I’ll add them to this list!

What is an Evangelical?


More than twenty years (1996) ago a group of reformed evangelicals gathered in Cambridge, MA and there disseminated a call to reformation among evangelical Christians.

The group is known as the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals and represents that part of evangelicalism that is united around a reformed confessional identity, typically expressed in the Westminster Standards–the doctrinal basis of denominations like the Presbyterian Church in America, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the denomination in which I worship, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

That call for reformation, sadly, has largely gone unheeded even among some of the denominations from which the signatories hailed, which has–at least in part–contributed to the continued decline of evangelicalism into something that has come to be associated (perhaps unfairly) with a particular political outlook and, in addition, with all sorts of negative associations.

The current spate of worthwhile discussions about evangelical identity gives us a chance to revisit some of the core affirmations found in that part of evangelicalism that is descended from the magisterial reformers, especially Calvin.

IVP Academic (2017)

As an aside, similar projects have been undertaken in others parts of evangelicalism.

One worthy project is Chris Gehrz and Mark Pattie’s recent book The Pietist Option.  Pietism was, in some ways, an impulse to recapture the heart of the Christian faith.

In the aftermath of the reformation it became apparent that the diversity of views that had previously existed–and there had been held in check–within in the structure of the Roman Catholic Church would now have room to explore their distinctive approaches to theology.

Over time some Christians believed that while theological debate was important, it had arguably robbed the faith of its heart for Christ. Pietism attempted to correct that.

Ironically, German Pietism came to birth a generation of scholars whose focus on the heart and on Christ as center would, in turn, lead to a renunciation of some of the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith (in the 19th Century).

One lesson we may take from these examples is that in every generation we face new temptations that have the potential to derail our faith. Arguably what makes me a “conservative” or “traditionalist” is my impulse to return again to “the old paths” and to attempt to walk in them (see Jeremiah 6:16).

When I say that I am an evangelical here’s what I mean:

  1. Rooted in the Reformation
  2. Centered on the Bible
  3. Centered upon Christ
  4. Dependent upon divine grace
  5. Enlivened by living faith
  6. Pursuing God’s glory in all things

This outline reveals my identity as a reformed evangelical. Evangelicalism is at its best when its rooted in a Protestant tradition bigger than itself. Arguably where evangelicalism has become diminished it is because it has cut itself off from a broader tradition and created a ghetto.

By this I don’t meant to suggest that evangelicals must be members of the mainline denominations. I think the time for such a strategy is now over. There are, however, plenty of ways in which to faithfully live out a vision of the Christian life connected by covenant to God and other another outside of these denominations.

In the coming weeks we’ll be taking a look at each of these distinctives with the hope of pulling them together to show that what is often critiqued as evangelicalism is actually a counterfeit.

How do you define the term “evangelical”?