This Week’s Good Reads

morning paperEvery week I compile a list of interesting articles from around the web, here’s this week’s list. Check it out, there’s bound to be something here that interests you:

1. “4 Questions to Ask Before Joining A Church” by Brian Croft

I get that a piece like this can’t say everything, but I still think it prioritizes some bad questions. Fundamentally the piece focuses entirely on what “I get out of church.” It does not highlight questions about missions or evangelism, it doesn’t highlight questions about impact in the community, care for the poor, or service. It pretty me-focused. Even for a conversation starter I think this misses some valuable elements.

2. “A Brief Definition of ‘Theology’ A LA Plantinga” by Derek Rishmawy

Borrowing from the brilliant philosopher Alvin Plantinga, my friend Derek has written a simple definition of theology aimed at encouraging those who are scared of the term and of the discipline. “Theology is “just thinking hard about what God has said about himself.”

3. “The Gospel for the City: Tim Keller’s Visit to Rome” by Leonardo de Chirico

Here is a beautiful recap of Tim Keller’s recent visit to Rome and the opportunities he had to preach, teach, and encourage gospel ministry there. Pray for our brothers on the Italian peninsula that this event might serve to promote continued growth moving forward.

4. “A Review of God and the Gay Christian” by Julie Rodgers

Over at the Spiritual Friendship blog, Rodgers has taken the time to carefully review Matthew Vines’ new book promoting the argument that the Bible accepts the gay lifestyle. Her review won’t be any different from other conservative scholars in many respects. She holds to the traditional understanding of the Bible’s teaching and orthodox beliefs about sexuality. But what is commendable about her review is the way she interacts with Vines’ concerns regarding the church’s relationship to the LGBT community. She rightly urges us to listen to Matthew’s concerns and cultivate a healthy, compassionate, and Biblically faithful response in light of them. Her review, then, is worthwhile in that regard.

5. “My Mom’s Motorcycle” by Douglas Gautraud

A friend of a friend made this video and it is both endearing and very clever.

6.  “What is heresy? (An Interview with Justin Holcomb)” by Rachel Held Evans

I have never in my life recommended a link by RHE. I disagree with her more often than not, but this interview is gold! The world “heresy” has a specific and appropriate use, it is probably thrown around too much, too often, and for things that are not technically “heresy.” Holcomb helps us think carefully and strategically here about the proper place to use the label and how to think about those issues that are not technically “heresy” but are still important. Great interview, thoughtful questions, and great clarification.

7.  “Imagination, Church Reform, and the Art of the Impossible” by Bobby Jamieson

“This might sound strange coming from a 9 Marks guy, but I suspect one of the least-diagnosed pastoral blind spots is a lack of imagination.” It does sound weird to hear a “9 Marks” guy say that, but I am learning to be surprised by this group. Here Jamieson writes about the importance of believing God can do the impossible when it comes to church reform. This is a good word of encouragement and challenge, even if you don’t agree with his particular example of a case against multiple services.

8. “The Activity of Sanctification” by Paul Helm

Theologian/philosopher Paul Helm jumps into the sanctification debate and offers his perspective on the proper balance and understanding of the doctrine and its outworking in the Christian life. Here Helm changes the emphasis on the law as an obligation to “do our duty” to an emphasis on life forming character stemming from regeneration. His aim is to help us navigate this question, preserve the importance of the law, while utilizing the paradigm of the NT itself. He does a great job of that.

9. “Pastors, You Make Your Own Sandwich” by Nick Nye

My friend Nick has written a good piece correcting the trend of pastoral “complaining” so common these days (common in me too). I am grateful for what Nick writes here to help us think through how to fight for joy in the midst of the stress of pastoral ministry. It starts, he says, with taking personal responsibility.

10. “Writing About Longing, Ambition, and the Life of Faith” by Bethany Jenkins

TGC’s “Every Square Inch” continues to show the intersection between faith and profession in this series. Here Jenkins interviews a professional writer about the role her faith plays in her work. The answers are encouraging and inspiring.

11. “Theological Ethnography: Embodied” by Timothy K. Snyder

Theological nerds will love this piece over at The Other Journal which traces out the trends of cultural and embodied theology among professional theologians since the mid-twentieth century. Snyder in particular is interested in the focus on ethnography as a conversation partner for academic theology and so he unfolds its progressive development in contemporary writing and research. He also applauds this shift. For my own considerations, these trends have provided some good correctives to overly academic theology, and they certainly open some new doors for ecclesiological considerations, but I side with Gregory Alan Thornbury who argues that we need to return to epistemology as a foundational conversation partner to theology in the 21st century.

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