All Around the Web – July 30, 2021

Joe Carter – The FAQs: 3,400+ Christians Killed by Nigerian Jihadists in 2021

Thom Rainer – Here’s What’s Offensive About Each Of The MLB’s 30 Team Names

John Stonestreet – What is Our Christian Identity in this Anonymous Age?

TGC – Herman Bavinck: 100 Years On

Sean McDowell – 3 Surprising Truths (and Myths) about the Apostles

TGC – 6 Christian Athletes to Watch in the Tokyo Olympics

Logos – 7 Biblical Facts about the Angel Gabriel

Fight of Faith – Distracting Ourselves to Death

Chuck Lawless – Thursdays with Todd: “Preaching Hurt”

Church Answers – 7 Practical Ways to Prep for Fall

Crossway – 10 Key Bible Verses on Slothfulness

Not the Bee – The Pittsburgh Steelers are making unvaccinated players wear yellow wristbands

Babylon Bee – Compromise Reached: Everyone Still Afraid Of COVID Will Be Locked Down, Everyone Else Will Live Lives As Normal

Babylon Bee – Pelosi Puts Unbiased Republican Hilliard Clintock On Jan 6 Committee

Babylon Bee – Top 10 Reasons You Should Just Turn Your Guns Over To The Government TODAY

Babylon Bee – To Improve Box Office Performance, LeBron To Be Digitally Replaced By Michael Jordan In ‘Space Jam 2’

“Seeking the City”: Blogging Through Brand and Pratt – Introduction 2

I cannot praise the following gem enough:

We believe most Americans who call themselves “Christian,” whether the cultural variety or the supposed “born-again” species (so labeled these days increasingly without appropriate examination of the claim) or the “fundamentalists” breed or the “liberal//progressive” community, have in common a general compassion for the “poor” and “less fortunate” and “downtrodden” and “disadvantaged,” etc., whether they reside in the United States of America or somewhere else in the global community. No one wishes to harm the “poor” or push grandma over the cliff of unconcern for her Social Security benefits in her old age.* In our opinion the constant litany of guilt-mongering and race-baiting and dishonest use of images and “studies” and “crisis” declarations amount to the instigation of class warfare and envy and are the productions of political and economic motivations unworthy of Christians. When these same tactics appear in the literature and publicity and appeals of Christian (as they choose to name themselves) organizations, books, sermons, ministries, theologies, etc., it all seems particularly egregious to us. (32)

Every politician and pundit is telling a story and it is important that the story they tell is accurate. That is rarely the case. Concern over the southern border’s security does not automatically imply one is anti-Hispanic. Being against Jihadism does not automatically translated to being anti-Muslim. Raising concern over the crime and abortion rates of African-Americans does not make one racist. Standing against increase spending and the growing welfare state does not mean one is against the poor. Yet that is the story often told in the public square.

The party bearing the most guilt here is the left including progressive Christians. But such stories, let alone false accusations, are too simple. If we are to have an honest conversation in our country about issues as important as justice, poverty, healthcare, economics, and taxes, then the rhetoric needs to be toned down. Instead of race-baiting and the rest, it is imperative that both sides be able to articulate the opposition in a way that the other side would agree. Only when we understand our arguments can we actually have a true debate.

In the end, we should learn this simple lesson: when two sides are in a debate and one side resorts to name calling and race-baiting they have lost the argument.

*This reference to pushing grandma over a cliff regards an actual ad that was run by the Democratic Party against Republican Representative Paul Ryan’s budget plan. Here is that ad:

All Around the Web – July 29, 2021

Kentucky Today – FBC Owenton finds revived spirit with Gospel to Every Home | My parents church. Proud of them.

John Stonestreet – Mississippi Challenges Roe at the Supreme Court

F&T – 5 Lessons Every Church Leader Must Learn From the Pandemic

F&T – Why Am I Struggling to Implement Vision in My Church? Three Common Snags Holding Pastors Back

GetReligion – Covering Mark Driscoll and life after Mars Hill: Why isn’t this a mainstream news story?

Reformation21 – Tiyo Soga – The First Ordained Black South African

Chuck Lawless – 7 Reasons Some Pastors Don’t Trust Church Members

Samuel Parkison – CT’s “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill:” An Inquiry

Baptist Press – FIRST-PERSON: Getting to the Edge of Lostness

Kentucky Today – ERLC backs brief, urges court to reverse Roe v. Wade

Babylon Bee – Dangerous New Freedom Variant Causing People To Ignore Government And Live Their Lives

Babylon bee – Unemployment Up 800% Among Ethnic Mascots

Babylon bee – To Defeat Delta Variant, Experts Recommend Doing All The Things That Didn’t Work The First Time

Babylon Bee – Who Said It: Joe Biden Or This Crazy Escaped Asylum Patient We Met Behind A 7-Eleven?

All Around the Web – July 28, 2021

John Stonestreet – What is Demisexuality and the Better Christian Vision of Identity?

Doug Wilson – Budgeting for Stupidity

F&T – U.S. Is One of the Most Divided Nations, but the Church Can Help

Logos – 9 C. S. Lewis Books You Should Know (Not Named Mere Christianity)

Hibbs – The 3 Most Important Truths I Learned at Seminary

Chuck Lawless – 10 Times When Prayer is Not Enough

TGC – Lessons from London for a Divided American Church

TGC – Teach Children to Value Singleness

Crossway – An Open Letter to the Hesitant Church-Goer

Kentucky Today – Southern Baptist seminaries shine in enrollment report

The Atlantic – The Fastest-Growing Group of American Evangelicals

Babylon Bee – Trump Sneaks Back Into White House Hidden Within Trojan Ice Cream Cone

Babylon Bee – Feminists Declare Victory After Obliterating Women’s Sports, Relabeling Mothers ‘Birthing Persons’, Getting Women Drafted

Babylon Bee – Report: FBI Helped Thanos Get Six Infinity Stones In Attempt To Bust Him On Plot To Kill Half The Universe

Babylon Bee – Man Can’t Wait To Get To Heaven To Ask God Who Truly Won 2020 Election

Jesus is King: A Theology of Matthew – Part 6

We are quickly approaching the conclusion of Matthew’s Gospel. Near the end of his life, Jesus takes his disciples to Mount of Olives which overlooks the Herodian Temple and describes its destruction and his return. Like the rest of the book, Matthew returns to the theme of King and Kingdom in the Olivet Discourse.

The King’s Return

After predicting the destruction of the Temple, the disciples become curious. “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:3) Although a full exegesis goes beyond our purpose, what is important to see is the emphasis on earthly kingdoms at war with each other. Verse 7 explains, “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

These nations, at war with each other, will declare war against believers. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.” Despite that, however, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (vs. 14) Here, Jesus connects the Kingdom of God with the gospel of Christ. Thus it is through the preaching of the gospel that the Kingdom comes, not through wars or an election.

All of this leads to the coming of the Son of Man. The “son of man” language is taken directly from the prophet Daniel and it is clearly messianic. This “Son of Man” brings the prophetic Day of the Lord and destroys evil and suffering forever. He comes, we could say, as a king to establish his eternal kingdom.

The King on His Throne

Chapter 25 returns to this theme of kingship, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins …” (25:1). The message this chapter is preparedness. Christ, the King, will return and set up his kingdom. Our response must be one of readiness.

The conclusion of the Olivet Discourse is littered with king language. Matthew explains that “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” (25:31-32). What we see here is all the nations, and their kings, gathered before the throne of the King. He is truly the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.

In fact, the text describes Christ as the King. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Again, he adds, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (vs. 40)

Thus the King is also the final Judge. He rewards the righteous and condemns the wicked. He, alone, possesses all authority and all the nations bow before him. This is consistent with the Old Testament imagery of the Messiah and Matthew sees it in the eschaton.

All Around the Web – July 27, 2021

Joe Carter – Christian Student Clubs Triumph Against Religious Discrimination

Thom Rainer – The Challenges Churches Face Leasing Facilities in a Post-COVID World

John Stonestreet – Journal of Medical Ethics Says Parents Don’t Have Rights Over Children

Cripplegate – You Called? 4 Considerations When Discerning the Call to Ministry

F&T – Who Are ‘Evangelicals’ and Why Knowing That Matters for Your Church

Tim Challies – I Miss My Son Today

TGC – How Forced Migration Built the Church of Antioch

Chuck lawless – Reasons Your Church Members Aren’t Volunteering . . . and What to Do about It

Reformation21 – Nigeria’s Grief

Rejoicing with the Truth – Why Does God Allow the Righteous to Suffer?

CCEF – Am I Responsible for My Husband’s Sexual Sin?

Kentucky Today – 28 abducted Baptist school students freed in Nigeria

Babylon Bee – FBI Discovers Building Full Of Dangerous Extremists Organizing Acts Of Terror Across Country

Babylon Bee – To Improve Olympic Chances, US Women’s Soccer Team Replaced By 15-Year-Old Boys Team In Wigs

Babylon Bee – To Get Kids Interested In The Vaccine, Biden Holds Photo Op With Teen Pop Sensation Hanson

Babylon Bee – CNN Airs Hour-Long PSA On Warning Signs Of Dementia

“Seeking the City” by Chad Brand and Tom Pratt: A Review

They who will not rise to defend the good and innocent are doomed to be enslaved and consumed by evil. (690)

Changing the world sounds grand until you consider how poorly we do even at changing our own little lives (823)

The latest shibboleth of egalitarian distributional advocacy is “save-the-planet” talk.

Who should and can do the best job [at caring for the poor?] Government cannot give compassion, nurture, or personal consideration – the things the Bible associations with love. It can [only] give money and services. The government does not make a good mother or father, and it does not build a home.

Without the foundation of the sanctity of familial relations there can be no lasting basis for a stable society. (83)

The one permanent earthly structure Jesus did authorize was his church. (185)

While in college and seminary, my favorite Bible passage was Ecclesiastes 12:11-12, The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd.But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. I can concur! One cannot graduate from my alma mater without a real love and appreciation for books. Yet at the same time, it is humbling to know that, especially in a digital age, the writing and publishing of books knows no ends.

Yet there is one other proverb Solomon does not give us worth our attention when it comes to reading: Not all books are created equal. Some books are worth brief attention while others are worth a serious study. Some books rehash old ground while others birth a movement. There is a clear difference, for example, between Your Best Life Now and Mere Christianity

Recently I was given a complimentary copy of Dr. Chad Owen Brand and Thom Pratt’s masterful book Seeking the City: Wealth, Poverty, and Political Economy in Christian Perspective (Kregel, 2013). The book numbers over 900 pages and took over a decade to write and publish. The authors have served in the pastorate, business world, and academia and bring those experiences and expertise to this insightful book of theology, politics, and market economics. 

In my experience as a pastor, Christians are often opinionated in matters of politics and the economy but rarely have a wholesome, robust theological and Christian perspective on the subject. The authors seek, in this volume, to provide the reader with a theological treatment and exegesis on these difficult issues. A brief review cannot do justice to the major arguments and themes of the book but I offer the following.

First, the book’s thesis. Near the end of the introduction, the authors write:

We believe that though the Bible does not spell out an economic or political philosophy as such, that a free-market system of economics accompanied by a political system that elevates human freedom, classically conceived, is most consistent with the teaching of Scripture. We recognize that, since humans are sinners, a system of checks and balances in such a system will be necessary for its success and that the political structure should be concerned to provide an environment that promotes a maximum of equal opportunity for all. We believe that such convictions are implicit in Scripture and find their highest point of historical development in the founding and refounding of the American experiment. We further believe that this structure is under assault in our day and may not survive the distant future. That is a main part of our concern. (38)

In order to defend this thesis, the authors explore three areas: the biblical theology, historic theology, and practical theology (my terms). In the first part, the authors provide an extremely helpful and thorough survey of the biblical narrative with special attention to creation, the fall, the decalogue, the prophets, the ministry of Jesus (especially the Sermon on the Mount), and the apostles. Regarding the role of Scripture in their study, the authors write, The Bible is the true metanarrative and foundational document for human understanding of the world, the way it “works,” its past rightly interpreted, its present rightly comprehended, and its future fully anticipated (47-48).

From there, the authors provide the same insight into how history, with special emphasis on the Christian Church, has dealt with the issues of politics and the economy. The survey especially highlights Christian thinkers like Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and John Calvin. By the time the authors arrive at the American experiment the narrative slows down. One important figure here is John Smith whose Wealth of Nations defines laissez faire economics and the authors develop his thoughts and how Christian thinkers like Calvin influenced him.

Finally, the authors tackle contemporary challenges and issues (this is an oversimplification) in light of the biblical and history perspective. The political and economic challenges of climate change (global warming today, global cooling four decades ago), Keynesian economics, progressive policies, ecology, the creation of wealth, charity, social justice, egalitarian government solutions (824), etc. Here, the authors apply the principles developed to the challenges today.

Because I will later blog through the book I will refrain from exploring its major arguments. In the mean time, I want to highlight a number of a few key points and strengths of the book. First, the authors have served Christianity by writing a theological work focused on political economy. Most popular books on the subject attack the so-called culture wars or defend free markets without any serious treatment of theology. Likewise, other works of theology fail to apply Christian doctrine to the public square. This makes this volume worth the investment and careful study.

Secondly, the book is well-written. I will resist the real temptation of providing a number of examples. Though the book limits its audience to those with some biblical and theological background and education, the authors have not simply thrown a textbook together, but rather articulate their views extremely well. 

Thirdly, if I could summarize one major point of the book in one sentence it would be, No government can love my neighbor for me (760). Government, at best, can enforce what the authors call coercive neighbor-love (761) while the Bible calls on the Christian to love their neighbor out of love for God. This is, at least to me, a major, underlying argument of the authors. God created us to work, build, cultivate, and contribute to society and the economy. Prosperity is often the result of hard work, but prosperity is not our goal, doxology. Therefore, the God who loves our neighbor has commissioned us to equally love and serve our neighbor. 

Government can never and will never accomplish this. Therefore, claiming that raising the minimum wage or taxing cigarettes is “the moral thing to do,” is not consistent with Christianity. Demanding redistribution rarely motivates the individual, made in the image of God, to sacrifice and serve other image bearers. Love is not a by product of legislation, but of the cross. While Christ suffers on the behalf of sinners, progressive applaud themselves for passing legislation. These two are not morally equivalent.

I highly recommend this volume and consider it a book that is worth one’s time and investment. At first I hesitated to consider its pages mostly due to its length, but, like all great works, quickly discovered I should have picked it up sooner. 

In the end, the authors make a compelling case for limited government and a free market not based on Republicanism, but theological principles. The authors avoid the dangers of advocacy (vote Republican!) and oversimplified fault-finding (blame Democrats!) prevalent in most books of this nature. 
I will conclude as the authors do:

C. S. Lewis years ago seemed to be warning of a terrible time and place where perpetual winter prevailed at the behest of the white Witch, her Imperial Majesty Jadis, Queen of Narnia (or so she imagined herself), who deplored Christmas and was defeated only when the sacrificial Aslan returned from the among the dead to defeat her. His Chronicles of Narnia, couched int he guise of children’s stories, teach far more than fairy-tale lessons. In our opinion, if the real world of ruling-class, czarist fantasies continues to set the agenda, a long winter threatens the political economy and constitutional liberties of an enervated and supposedly secure populace with no Christmas in sight. Lewis was prescient: “Of all the tyrannies, tyranny sincerely expressed for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent oral busybodies.” We must concur. (877-878)

And I too.

This book was given to me courtesy of Kregel Publications for the purpose of this review.Originally published on March 24, 2014.

All Around the Web – July 26, 2021

Samuel James – Call it Racism, Not ‘White Supremacy’

Randy Alcorn – Can Our Loved Ones in Heaven See Us During Important Times in Our Lives?

John Stonestreet – Confused Souls Find Rest in God’s Image

TGC – Mobilizing for Missions When You Can’t Travel

Chuck Lawless – 9 Possible Steps to Take when Praying is Difficult

Logos – Are the Superscriptions in the Psalms Part of Scripture?

John Stonestreet – The God Committee and Playing God

Chuck Lawless – Thursdays with Todd: 6 Reasons to Build Pauses into Your Sermons

F&T – 4 Keys to Developing Women Leaders in Your Church

Kentucky Today – US life expectancy in 2020 saw biggest drop since WWII

Not the Bee – California responds to female inmates complaining of sexual abuse by “males who identify as females” by sending condoms and Plan B pills, offering abortions

Babylon Bee – Following The Science: Texas Issues Travel Ban On Democrats To Prevent Dangerous COVID Outbreak

Babylon Bee – Joel Osteen Decides To Diversify His Portfolio And Not Invest All His Treasure In Heaven

Babylon Bee – Desperate Humanity Sends Robot Back To 2004 To Stop Mark Zuckerberg From Ever Inventing Facebook

Babylon Bee – Op-Ed: To Convince The Unvaccinated, We Need To Scream At Them That They’re Brainwashed Morons And We Hope They Die

Starting a series on 2 Samuel soon. I love these videos.

All Around the Web – Babylon Bee Edition

Babylon Bee – Space Returns Unwanted Amazon Delivery

Babylon Bee – AOC Says How She Accidentally Glued Her Face To Her Coffee Table Is A Clear Failure Of Capitalism

Babylon Bee – Planned Parenthood Relieved After Learning Biden’s ‘They’re Killing People’ Statement Was Just Referring To Facebook

Babylon Bee – Dangerous Anti-Science Extremists Hold Super-Spreader Event In D.C.

Babylon Bee – Here’s A List Of 10 Great Jobs You Can Get With That $100,000 College Degree

Babylon Bee – Pharaoh Blames Plague Of Locusts, Water Turning To Blood On Climate Change

Babylon Bee – CNN Introduces Premium Subscription Service That Blocks All CNN Programming From View

Babylon Bee – 8 Ways To Entice Your Bored Congregants Back To Church

Babylon Bee – Inspiring: US Women’s Soccer Team To Boycott Scoring Goals Until Racism Is Defeated