Why YouTube? Four Reasons, and Some Reflections Thus Far

About a month ago I started a YouTube channel. It’s something of an experiment for me, but here are four reasons (or “hunches”) that motivated me: 1) There are lots, and lots, and lots (and lots) of people who will neither attend a church service nor read a theology book, but nonetheless are interested in ultimate, philosophical, and religious questions. For better or worse, people are taking such questions to YouTube. So YouTube is a mission field. It’s a strategy to engage people by going where they already are. 2) It seems to me that theology is pretty sorely underrepresented on…

There Is More to Life Than We Knew

One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes comes from a little-known letter. In 1958, Lewis was savoring the remaining time he had with his wife, Joy, who was ill. He wrote to a friend, “my situation is not easy to describe. My heart is breaking and I was never so happy before; at any rate there is more in life than I knew about” (quoted in Alan Jacobs, The Narnian, 285, italics mine). At the time Lewis wrote these words, his own health was starting to fade. He was five years from his own death. He had lived a very…

Should Churches in California Defy Government Restrictions? A Response to John MacArthur

Yesterday John MacArthur released a video update to his church family. As is well-known, Grace Community Church has chosen to defy the state order issued by Governor Newsome banning indoor worship services. At 10:35-10:50 of the video, MacArthur states: Churches are shutting down—large churches shutting down until, they say, January. I don’t have any way to understand that other than they don’t know what a church is, and they don’t shepherd their people. He further intimates that pastors and church leaders who choose not to resist the Governor’s order lack the courage to direct the church to her calling in…

Why Augustine on Creation?

Several people have asked about my book on Augustine’s doctrine of creation, and what kinds of readers might be interested in it, so I thought I’d provide a little bit of context for what the book is about, who it’s for, why I wrote it, etc. This is a book that came out of our year in Chicago. We spent the 2017-2018 school year living on campus at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where I worked at the Henry Center as a research fellow in connection with the Creation Project. Basically that meant that my job was to write. It was…

Discussion Questions for Finding the Right Hills to Die On

I’ve had a number of folks mention that they are taking a church board or ministry team or small group through Finding the Right Hills to Die On: The Case for Theological Triage. So I am providing some discussion questions in case they are useful for groups to utilize in this process. Gregory the Great used to call himself “a servant of the servants of God.” That sums up what I have hoped for this book: that it would serve those who serve the church. I pray that these questions would play the same role. Introduction 1) Do you have…

Five Books to Read by Church Fathers

One of the questions I get a lot about theological retrieval is where to start. Lots of people see the value of reading ancient texts but are unsure exactly where to dive in. So I thought it might be useful to identify five classic texts from the church fathers that (1) are significant, theologically and historically, (2) are relatively easy to read and understand, and (3) in some cases tend to get neglected. Any list like this is bound to be somewhat arbitrary and leave important works out, so take this all with a grain of salt. But these works…

Theological Retrieval for Apologetics

In my Theological Retrieval for Evangelicals I give a number of reasons why I think retrieving the theology of the historic church is valuable in our culture right now. One that I don’t discuss, but have been thinking more about lately, is its role in apologetics and cultural dialogue. People tend to think of theological retrieval as primarily an academic interest, but I think it is useful in a wide variety of practical contexts, including apologetics. Here are two great examples of retrieval “at work.” First, in his 2009 debate with Christopher Hitchens, which I have enjoyed watching many times,…

Some Favorite Quotes from Confronting Christianity

I know I’m a little late to this, but I just finished Rebecca McLaughlin’s Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion (Crossway, 2019), which I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s similar in both style and content to Tim Keller’s Making Sense of God, which is the last book I read in my current research project on apologetics. Confronting Christianity tackles a wide variety of issues, from classical objections like “how could a loving God allow so much suffering?” (chapter 11) to the most immediately pressing questions of contemporary Western culture like “doesn’t Christianity denigrate women?” (chapter 8) and “Isn’t…

Apologetics Should Speak to the Heart

I’d like to make apologetics my next major intellectual project. This is what I want to give my thoughts and spare reading to during my late 30’s. It’s been brewing in me for a while. Part of it is my innate love of philosophy, which I haven’t formally studied since college, and which feels refreshing and fun to go back to. The greater reason, though, is that it seems like we are at a fascinating cultural moment in which fresh work in apologetics is needed. I thought about this recently while reading my latest book in this personal project, Tim…

Gratitude Leads to Joy

Lately I’ve been practicing what I call intentional gratitude. I stop in the day, as often as I think to, and pause to recount things for which I am grateful. I’m always amazed at two things: how many things I have to be grateful for how easy it is to overlook them It’s like the old saying about seeing the glass as half-empty, or half-full. Our lives are always like that: both full and empty. There are things we have, and things we lack. Blessings and disappointments. And our default seems to be for the bad things, the disappointments, to…