Everyone knows that teenagers in highschool struggle with an intense desire to be part of the popular crowd. Yet, few realize that this doesn’t always end after graduation, it just looks different. As an introvert, I am always instinctively observing the people around me, and sometimes this can take a prideful turn. Have you ever been talking to someone at church and suddenly get a sneaking feeling of superiority as you realize you are the more impressive person in terms of style, speech, or interests? Do you notice when the cool people walk in on Sunday morning and try to get their attention?Read More
The sermon is over. The lights dim. As music begins to play, the pastor issues an invitation, “The tables are now open. No matter who you are or where you’ve come from, if you’ve responded to Jesus, then you can come. As the band plays our last song, feel free to make your way up to one of the tables. This is between you and Jesus.” Here in the 21st century, this has become a standard part of evangelical liturgy – an individualized view of the Lord’s Supper, with minimal accountability.
This practice can be traced back to a debate which began in the 17th century and reached a turning point in the 19th century.Read More
Baptist churches have always understood that though every local church is complete in itself, each church may pursue voluntary associations in order to promote their health and the work of the gospel. But with cooperation comes new challenges. How big can an association get? How broad or narrow should doctrinal standards be? How do you balance denominational influence with congregational authority?Read More
The church has always been a counter-cultural witness to the world. We normally think of the church’s witness in her preaching and good works, and rightly so. But sometimes, it’s her very structure and polity which bear witness to God’s kingdom here in this world.
We see this in the story of the Mill Yard Seventh Day Baptist Church in the 19th century. Founded in the 1600s this church had dwindled just to seven women by the 1820s, and they were without a minister.Read More
Charles Spurgeon lived during a time of theological upheaval. A new theology had come over from Germany which disguised itself as Christianity, and yet was “no more Christianity than chalk is cheese.” For in it, “the Atonement is scouted, the inspiration of Scripture is derided, the Holy Spirit is degraded into an influence, the punishment of sin is turned into fiction, and the resurrection into a myth.” Spurgeon would give himself to fighting this new theology in the best way he knew how: planting vibrant, gospel-preaching churches.Read More
Theologian Thomas Oden (1931-2016) was adamant that he brought nothing new to the table. His goal was to be unoriginal. While that vision may not capture the attention of Silicon Valley or your local trendy university town, Oden believed his approach was precisely what a generation of Christians needed who had lost any anchoring in the 2,000-year tradition that preceded them. Oden was convinced that modern Christians lagged behind their forebears in the ability to read and interpret Scripture and to immerse themselves in a deep understanding of God’s revealed word. In terms of theological reflection and understanding, Oden was always “trying hard to catch up with the fourth century.”Read More
“But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.” – Matthew 9:12 (NASB)
“I try to be as good as I can”
From Charles H. Spurgeon’s “The Great Physician and His Patients,” 1865
A minister, when he had done preaching in a country village, said to a farm-labourer who had been listening to him, “Do you think Jesus Christ died to save good people, or bad people?” “Well, sir,” said the man, “I should say he died to save good people.” “But did he die to save bad people?” “No, sir; no, certainly not, sir.” “Well, then, what will become of you and me?” “Well, sir, I do not know. I dare say you be pretty good, sir; and I try to be as good as I can.”
In 1999, theologian and evangelical statesman Carl F. H. Henry contributed a brief essay to Lessons in Leadership: Fifty Respected Evangelical Leaders Share Their Wisdom on Ministry. It is Henry at his best: warm, insightful, taking his gospel seriously and himself lightly. Young people in general and young ministers in particular will find it to be a helpful and penetrating essay. Further, as it was written when Henry was 86 years old (four years before his death), it also provides a remarkable reflection upon a life well lived for the evangel and for evangelicalism.Read More
Since the early days of his pastorate, C.H. Spurgeon tutored and trained up gifted young men for the ministry. Over the first seven years of his ministry, Spurgeon would send out seven ministers, and yet more men were approaching him for training. By the spring of 1861, with sixteen men under his care, the financial cost of training these men was becoming too much. So at a special meeting on May 19, 1861, Spurgeon shared with his congregation his vision for pastoral training and took up a special offering to support the work. But the congregation would do more than just give an offering…Read More
This is a guest post from Dr. Steve Bezner, in which he graciously responded to questions about his study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer at Baylor University and what Bonhoeffer has to say to believers today.Read More
During J. I. Packer’s second year of undergraduate studies at Oxford, he was invited to serve as the junior librarian at the Christian Union student organization. Having been converted only a year earlier, Packer was new to the Union but, as he would soon discover, so were a recent donation of books.Read More
"Should I read historical theologians in my personal discipleship time?"
Of course, any writer at historicaltheology.org will answer with a resounding “yes!” Yet, the vast majority of Christians never consider the 2000 years of thoughts and scriptural reflections from those saints, hermits, and religious vagabonds who went before them.Read More
Today, on Ask Pastor Charlie, we address the issue of joining a church. In this day of consumer churches, online sermons, and endless conferences, church membership seems like a thing of the past. Should a Christian join a church? What are some common objections? Does it even matter? Let’s listen in:Read More
What impact can a father have on his kids? In the everyday experience of fatherhood, it’s not always clear. Leading rowdy kids in prayer, or disciplining a child yet again, or bringing a tired family to church, it can sometimes feel like all that effort isn’t making a difference.
And yet, when we read John G. Paton’s memories of his childhood, we’re reminded of the lifelong impact fathers can make on their children. John was a missionary to the New Hebrides in the 19th century, and in his autobiography, he gives a moving tribute to his father and a model for how fathers can raise their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Here are six ways James Paton left a lasting impression in his children’s lives:Read More
To this day, I remember a well-meaning college student teaching on this passage at an event when I was part of a youth group. With all the wisdom of a church father, they read the passage and then waded into interpretation by saying: “Christians are here to give flavor to the world” as they attempted to explain the meaning of “you are the salt of the earth.” I remember how strange and unhelpful that was for years to come. However, for all the weird and uninformed hermeneutics available, there are some great historical examples of references to this passage that will be sure to add flavor to any sermon or Bible study.Read More
At the risk of beginning an article sounding like an ancient curmudgeon, kids these days can’t appreciate one area of life that has become infinitely easier over the last ten years: navigation. No more printing out eight-page documents with step-by-step instructions (and then shuffling through these going 75 down the highway). No more buying Mapscos at the beginning of a cross-country trip. Now, just turn on the data and you have a handheld portal that can lead you to anywhere in the world.Read More
Methods of using stories in sermons have long been debated. Typically, evaluation is given to their quality, length, and volume. One great example of how this can be done effectively is in a particularly powerful sermon by D. L. Moody (1837-1899) that was so riddled with testimonies of God’s work in the lives of famous theological figures that one could criticize the good evangelist for excess if one dares censure the portly statesmen of the faith. Regardless, from Moody’s example the modern pastor can learn better the craft of weaving in the real-life testimonies of saints past and contemporary without distracting from the narrative of the Gospel in their own sermons.Read More
“Tolle lege. Tolle lege.” Augustine heard a voice, perhaps of a child nearby, saying, “Take up and read. Take up and read.” He took this as a command from God, and therefore opened his Bible to Romans 13. From that day forward, Augustine would profoundly shape how believers read and understand the Bible. While the turn-to-a-random-passage and read approach is not encouraged, in this case it had incredible ramifications down to the present day.Read More
Karl Barth was a complex figure. He’s always had a tenuous relationship with evangelicals. In fact, this site derives its name in part from a simultaneously hostile and humorous conversation between Barth and evangelical theologian Carl F. H. Henry. As recent research has confirmed, Karl Barth was no perfect man.  He harbored sin in his life and attempted to justify it to avoid repentance (as we are all prone to do). But he also made significant contributions to Protestant theology, many of which helped steer a new course away from liberalism and toward a renewed appreciation for Christ and Scripture. If you view theological liberalism and traditional evangelical theology as a road trip from Los Angeles to Atlanta, Barth gets you all the way to about Jackson, Mississippi. His theological program has much to commend and leaves much to be desired.
But this post is not focused on Barth the adult or Barth the theologian. Rather, it will look at Karl Barth the child, “Karli” as his parents called him. As Mark Galli points out in his new book Karl Barth: An Introductory Biography for Evangelicals, young Karl had a mean-streak in him that led to his share of fight fights. But alongside this proclivity to confrontation, Karli was captivated by music. He first heard Mozart at age 5 or 6 and was gripped from then on. But Mozart was not the watershed musician for young Barth; his mother was.Read More
Lesslie Newbigin was a missionary, theologian, author, and pastor. He was an endearing man with a gregarious personality. Newbigin loved to tell jokes, “Did you hear the one about John Baillie and Karl Barth?” his friend Rev. Dan Beeby recalled. He also had an adventurous spirit. When Newbigin left the mission field, he made his return journey with wife Helen from Madurai to Bromely (through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey) toting only two suitcases and a rucksack, hitchhiking and bussing their way from south-central India to southeast London. One of Newbigin’s greatest contributions was his Trinitarian perspective on the mission of God.Read More