The Resurrection Of Dick Whitman?

Don Draper Season 6

From time to time I have talked about Mad Men in this space. This is going to be the most pixels that I’ve dedicated to the show thus far. If you haven’t watched right up to last night’s season finale, skip this post. (Likewise, if you find Mad Men dull or slow or otherwise uninteresting, you may not like it in here, or you might, just saying.) (more…)

Musical Religious Experience

My old friend Tim hosts a bbq every year during NXNE; 159 Manning is becoming something of a famed event. I’ve missed everyone so far.

At this year’s party they did some shape-note singing, a kind of southern-Protestant influenced communal sing-along. On Facebook, Tim linked to the blog of a girl who actually got to sit in the midst of the group as they sang; I love how she shares her experience of what it was like. As non-religious as she claims to be, she can’t help but use religious language to explain her experience. I find that telling.

I’ll leave it to C. S. Lewis to better explain what I think her words reflect: “The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited” (C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory).

Call for Papers

I mentioned in an earlier post that ETS has re-started its Ontario/Quebec regional meeting. A call for papers has now been issued for the September 2013 meeting. Here it is:

Inaugural Meeting of the ETS Ontario/Quebec Region
Theme: “The Authority of the Bible for Today”
Heritage Theological Seminary, Cambridge, ON
14 September 2013
Speakers for the inaugural meeting are Dr. Stanley Porter (President and Dean, Professor of New Testament at McMaster Divinity College) and Dr. David Robinson (Associate Pastor, Westminster Chapel)
All full members of ETS and student members enrolled in Ph.D. programs are invited to submit paper proposals on this year’s theme. Quality papers on topics not directly related to the theme are also welcome.
All paper proposals should include a title and abstract (300 words), and the presenter’s name and institutional affiliation. Please submit paper proposals to Dr. David Robinson: An acceptable paper should be delivered in 25-30 minutes, with 5-10 minutes for discussion.
The submission deadline for proposals is 31 July 2013.
Dr. David Robinson
ETS Ontario/Quebec Program Chairman

Or check this flyer out: Call for Papers

Handling Abuse Allegations: A Study In Contrasts

Zach Hoag posted this video from the Australian army chief addressing allegations and contrasted it with the mealy-mouthed words of those rushing to defend C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries from allegations of abuse. The video:

Note here that the general states that these matters are under investigation, but unlike the TGC leadership, he does not use that as an excuse to stay silent. The presumption of innocence does not mean that we need to be deaf, blind, and stupid. His warning is clear and direct and it extends to not only to the perpetrators to those who stood by idly and did nothing about it. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept, indeed.

Now some might be tempted to say that the army is rather a different organization from the church. (This may be news to Mark Driscoll.) Where is the grace, the forgiveness? The obvious response to this is that if the case against C.J. Mahaney was that he was a universalist or he affirmed gay marriage, then the response would take a tone much more like that of the Australian general. Tolerating spiritual and sexual abuse however is something that is not a matter for the church to handle, rather it is matter for secular legal authorities to hash out around technicalities like the statute of limitations on sex abuse cases while casting aspersions on the victims.

One hopes that TGC never sinks to the level of the Roman Catholic church which is now furiously lobbying to keep a short statute of limitations on sex crimes in various jurisdictions so as to avoid more shame and more legal costs.

C.S. Lewis On Where The Real Conflict Lies …

As always, Jack is gold:

It is your senses and your imagination that are going to attack belief. Here, as in the New Testament, the conflict is not between faith and reason but between faith and sight … Our faith in Christ wavers not so much when real arguments come against it as when it looks improbable – when the whole world takes on the desolate look which really tells us more about the state of our passions and even our digestion than about reality.

C.S. Lewis, “Religion: Reality or Substitute”

A Mature Reflection On Dallas Willard’s Theology

Dr. Wesley Hill, author of Washed and Waiting, has written what I think is the most mature reflection I’ve seen on the life and theology of the recently deceased Dallas Willard. Willard has quite the following. There are definitely Willard’ites out there who will one gulp everything Willard has ever said and done. On the other hand there are those who think the man is secretly leading the advance guard of Nicolae Carpathia.

Dr. Hill has a more balanced approach. He writes of greatly appreciating Willard’s work, having first come across it as a grade 9 student. I wonder if this is one of the main reasons for understanding how Dr. Hill has been able to deal with his same sex attraction and what the Scriptures says in such a mature fashion. Nevertheless, he points out some problems with some of Willard’s exaggerated rhetoric, whilst still being deeply appreciative:

In the years since high school, as I’ve followed up those first tentative theological steps with more exploration in the Christian tradition, I’ve become less enthused about some of Willard’s conclusions. I now think, for instance, that when Willard characterized much of classic Evangelical soteriology as concerned only with “managing sin” or offering “fire insurance” to escape hell, he painted a regrettable caricature.

Confessional Protestantism, the seedbed of Evangelical theology, has always stressed the importance of a renewed way of life. In the words of the Westminster Confession, when we are incorporated into Christ, “the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified; and [we are] more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness.”

But the crucial point, for Protestant theology, is that this transformation is only possible as the fruit of having our sin, not “managed,” exactly, but canceled, destroyed, borne by Christ on the cross and borne away. Freed in this way from fear of divine condemnation, we are joyfully enabled to inhabit the kind of changed life Willard writes about. And Evangelicals, from the beginning of our movement with people like John Wesley and William Wilberforce until now, have in fact done so.

On the other hand, though, I’ve come to view many of Willard’s insights as abidingly significant. His practical teaching, found in the final third of The Divine Conspiracy and elsewhere, on why and how to practice disciplines (like memorizing Scripture, fasting, and observing times of solitude and silence) has no peer. (It was largely because of Willard that I decided to memorize Romans 6-8 while in high school.) And some of his sentences sparkle with such insight and comfort that they merit revisiting. For instance:

Out of the eternal freshness of his perpetually self-renewed being, the heavenly Father cherishes the earth and each human being upon it. The fondness, the endearment, the unstintingly affectionate regard of God toward all his creatures is the natural outflow of what he is to the core—which we vainly try to capture with our tired but indispensable old word love.

The reasons I’ve spent the last ten years acquiring graduate degrees in theology, and the reasons I’m now a teacher at a seminary, pursuing ordination to the priesthood and helping to train students who are also pursuing Christian ministry, are multiple and complex. But lying near the heart of that tangle of reasons is, I think, a frightened, frustrated seventeen-year-old picking up Dallas Willard’s book The Divine Conspiracy. I’ll always be grateful for the stimulus I gained from it, and for its author. May he rest in peace. (HT: First Things)

JP Moreland Speaks At Dallas Willard’s Funeral

An MP4 of this was online, but no one has yet to put it up on Youtube, so I went ahead and added it to our blog’s account. Enjoy this touching tribute to a life well lived.

As Dr. Moreland has said elsewhere:

I loved Dallas Willard.  He was like a father to me.  I will miss him terribly.  Among those who have influenced me most, he stands out like a giant oak in the midst of saplings.  In Dallas’s case, all the things being said to eulogize him are actually true.  We have lost a five-star general in the armies of God, and the world is not what it was when he was among us.

ETS in Canada

Did you know that there used to be a Canadian meeting for the Evangelical Theological Society? A number of years ago it changed into a separate body, but this year is being revived. On September 14, 2013, at Heritage College in Cambridge, ON, a meeting of the newly formed Ontario and Quebec region will meet to discuss “The Authority of the Bible for Today.” The two plenary speakers will be Dr. Stanley Porter, President and Dean of McMaster Divinity College, and Dr. David Robinson, associate pastor at Westminster Chapel, Toronto.

I assume a call for papers will come shortly. As for now, check out this flyer:

ETS ON-QC 2013

Another Precedent For NT Wright On Justification

A while ago I wrote a post building on the work of my friend Steven Wedgeworth, showing how N.T. Wright’s doctrine of justification is within the bounds of Reformed orthodoxy. Interestingly, while reading a source on justification in the early church 1, I was alerted to another precedent for Wright’s view in the Reformed tradition, from perhaps an unlikely source:

5. Suppose a person freely justified by the grace of God, through faith in the blood of Christ, without respect unto any works, obedience, or righteousness of his own, we do freely grant, — (1.) That God does indispensably require personal obedience of him; which may be called his evangelical righteousness. (2.) That God does approve of and accept, in Christ, this righteousness so performed. (3.) That hereby that faith whereby we are justified is evidenced, proved, manifested, in the sight of God and men. (4.) That this righteousness is pleadable unto an acquitment against any charge from Satan, the world, or our own consciences. (5.) That upon it we shall be declared righteous at the last day, and without it none shall so be. And if any shall think meet from hence to conclude unto an evangelical justification, or call God’s acceptance of our righteousness by that name, I shall by no means contend with them. And wherever this inquiry is made, — not how a sinner, guilty of death, and obnoxious unto the curse, shall be pardoned, acquitted, and justified, which is by the righteousness of Christ alone imputed unto him — but how a man that professes evangelical faith, or faith in Christ, shall be tried, judged, and whereon, as such, he shall be justified, we grant that it is and must be, by his own personal, sincere obedience.


  1. From Nick Needham’s chapter in Justification in Perspective, 44.

An Atheist On Christians In The Media

Probably not what you were thinking:

Jim Henderson has posted a whole bunch of clips from his interview with Ira Glass, and they are worth checking out. It would be great if more of the Christian-atheist conversation could take this sort of tone.