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…

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,…

Why We Misunderstand the Beatific Vision

I’ve been reading Hans Boersma’s helpful and interesting book Seeing God: The Beatific Vision in Christian Tradition (Eerdmans 2018). For a while I’ve been wanting to learn more about this intriguing and often neglected doctrine, so now I’m finally getting around to it. The beatific vision is widespread throughout the early and medieval church, East and West, and into Protestantism (especially the Reformed tradition). Yet many evangelical today have never heard of it, or misunderstand it. As Kyle Strobel puts it, “few doctrines are as ‘standard’ in the history of theology, and ignored in contemporary theology, as the beatific vision.”…

Is the Bible Pro-Slavery?

“The Bible is pro-slavery.” This is a common charge these days. It is a part of the New Atheist attack on religion, and it also comes from various progressive circles to defend certain social views (in line with the so-called redemptive-movement hermeneutic). It is not an incomprehensible claim. In fact, it has some apparent, face value support—and not just in Old Testament law regulations, but in New Testament epistles written by the very apostles of Jesus Christ: Ephesians 6:5: “Bondservants, obey your earthly masters” (all translations ESV). Colossians 3:22: “Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters.” I Peter 2:18: “Servants,…

Is 6-Day Creation the Only Long-term Viable Option? A Response to Tim Challies

[Update: Just to be clear, the Tim Challies quote just below is an excerpt from Thomas Purifoy’s article, not Tim’s own language. Please read this response with that in mind.] I like Tim Challies, and benefit from his blog regularly. Recently he promoted the film Is Genesis History? on Facebook, linking to an article by the film’s director Thomas Purifoy, which includes this assertion: I wanted to offer a few brief thoughts in response, because many of those who read this statement may not be aware of other perspectives on this issue. My comments here come in a larger context…

How Carl Sagan Strengthened My Faith

I’m about 37 years behind on this, but I finally got around to reading Carl Sagan’s Contact (it was originally published in 1980, and made into a film in 1997). I was interested in the book because I’m interested in the larger science-religion relationship in our culture, in which Carl Sagan is a kind of iconic figure. I want to understand scientific worldviews in the way that Atticus Finch talks about as “seeing the world through another person’s eyes”—that is, in a careful, generous, un-caricatured way. Contact, as the best-selling English-language science book of all time, is a good entry…