This Week’s Good Reads

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

1. “Porn Stats” by Covenant Eyes

Here’s a big picture look at the consumption of pornography from Covenant Eyes 2015 annual report. It’s disheartening, but it allows us to see clearly the nature and depth of the problem. We have a lot of work to do within the church, especially as it relates to protecting and teaching our young men and women.

2. “Why Church Discipline Goes Awry and How to Avoid It” by Jonathan Leeman

Jonathan has written a good piece here on the abusive patterns of some forms of church discipline. He boils it down largely to an issue of church culture and pastoral care. Churches where the leadership is controlling, fearful, and unable to live with tensions are likely to practice abusive discipline. Cultures that are fueled by gospel humility will seek to provide humble individualized pastoral care, apologize for mistakes, and attack phariseeism. A great piece on what is a hot topic right now.

3. “Peter Thiel, N.T. Wright on Technology, Hope, and the End of Death” by Max Anderson

This fascinating recount of a “fire-side chat,” so to speak, between the billionaire tech expert and the Biblical scholar examines the two men’s ideas, philosophies, and answers to the question of eternal life and defeating death. Of particular interest to the author is the lack of moral philosophy in conversation with technological progress. That should be a  concern. Sillicon Valley religion is a fascinating world, I am thrilled to see Wright engaged in it at the moment. This is a captivating piece, in Forbes magazine no less.

4. “A Soul Physician” by Tim Challies

Here’s a reminder for all counselors and disciple-makers: sometimes the presenting problem is only the surface level manifestation of a deeper root issue. To be truly helpful we need to be careful listeners who ask good questions. Getting to the root requires time, patience, and sensitivity. This is a good reminder, friends.

5. “Farewell Cultural Christianity” by Rusell Moore

Dr. Moore continues to help the church navigate the new cultural climate it finds itself in with grace and truth. In this piece he actually argues, contrary to many Evangelical voices, that the “changing cultural landscape” can actually “strengthening our witness” as believers.

6. “Does the Bible Permit Polygamy?” by Aaron Armstrong

A point-by-point examination of the subject across the pages of the Bible. The answer is now, but Aaron gives a more comprehensive look at the subject than just a simple theological assertion. He attempts her to root his conclusion in the text of the Scriptures.

7. “Slavery and Homosexuality: Hasn’t the Church Changed Its Mind Before?” by Bill Kynes

An excellent article on the usefulness of tradition in Biblical interpretation. I have often argued that Protestants have over-reacted against tradition in their shift away from Catholicism. We need tradition. Here, Kynes gives us two arguments for its value. He concludes by applying the value of tradition to the subject of homosexual practice and concludes that it does not stand in line with the history of the church. The principle applies more broadly than just homosexual practice, but it’s worth examining here in particular. Check it out.

8. “The Institution of Marriage, Same-Sex Unions, and Procreation” by Alasdair Roberts

A fantastic piece that attempts to provide some clarity on the distinction between marriage as an institution and the individual intentions of a married couple. In light of such a distinction, then, Alasdair explains why same-sex unions can be said to “harm marriage.” He writes:

It also underlies the common claim that two persons of the same-sex getting married cannot harm your marriage. While it may not harm your marriage, it harms the institution of marriage, which, in the long term, harms everyone.

Understanding this distinction is important for communication some of our cultural resistance towards gay marriage.

9. “Your Fear of Getting Caught is Contributing to Porn Addiction” by Stephen Kuhn

This is a great piece that points porn addicts to a truth they may have overlooked. Their fear of being found out, fear of exposure, is keeping them trapped in a cycle of porn use. This author tells his own personal story and how finally coming clean, being honest and accountable changed his life. I want to remind my readers that you are never alone in this struggle and we have a whole recovery program set up to help you fight it. Don’t stay in hiding.

10. “Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Letter to My Son” by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Friends, if you want to peek behind the curtain and get a glimpse of what it is like to grow up black, live black, and raise black kids, then read this long letter by brilliant writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. It, of course, won’t really do the trick, but it can serve as a starting place for more sensitivity, compassion, and conversation.

11. “Making Sense of Scripture’s ‘Inconsistency’” by Tim Keller

A great article that plainly addresses the criticisms leveled at believers regarding opposition to homosexuality. Here Keller speaks to the charge that Christians pick and choose which Old Testament laws to obey. He points out that Jesus changes our relationship to the Old Testament and therefore we are not be inconsistent when we uphold the Bible’s moral teaching on sexual ethics, but disregard its civil code of eating shellfish. This is an important apologetic against some of our common critics, check it out.

12. “Toward a Gracious Historic Sexual Ethic” by Scott Sauls

This piece discusses the need for Christians to walk the fine line between living like a Pharisee or a Sadducee. On the one hand there is a need to be loving and gracious to those who do not share our ethic, but on the other hand we must hold firm to God’s created and structured laws about marriage and sexuality. If it’s obvious, that’s okay, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the obvious lest it become less obvious.

13. “The Shalom of Neurochemistry” by Krispin Mayfield

This is really a beautiful piece on the way that God rewards human connections. Mayfield writes about the beauty and power of oxytocin, calling it a “shalom packed into a hormone.” He notes specifically about its deficiencies in the domestic abuse offenders he counsels and speaks to its renewed development through counseling. Again I am reminded of the complexity and interdependency of our being. Physical, social, psychological, emotional, and spiritual all interplay with one another. As a Biblical counselor I firmly believe in the truth of Romans 12:2. Krispin reminds us of the neurochemical dimensions of that in this beautiful piece from Behemoth magazine.

14. “8 Signs You Are a Discipleship Bully” by Derek Brown

Hey Pastor, Sunday School teacher, youth worker, small group leader, etc.: be aware of your tendencies and temptations in this area.

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