Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review: The Intolerance of Tolerance

By D. A. Carson

Is tolerance the highest ideal? What does tolerance mean and how can it be achieved? Can an evangelical Christian be tolerant?

Carson’s book deals with these questions as he probes western culture and its fixation on tolerance as the ideal that drives all social interaction. In his preface he states that there were two main incentives to writing this book. The first was the broad appeal and interactions in university settings when he lectured on this topic. The second was the overview that he had provided in his earlier book on culture, Christ and Culture Revisited. He wanted to explore the theme of tolerance and intolerance in more detail.

In the introduction Carson provides two similar but competing definitions for tolerance that become the basis for everything else that he says in the book. He calls these the old tolerance and the new. The old tolerance is defined as the belief that other opinions have a right to exist. The new tolerance is defined as the belief that all opinions are equally valid. He unpacks these ideas and demonstrates from interaction with many other authors that these two ideas undergird much of the confusion and ultimately disagreement that one encounters in trying to discuss differing belief systems.

The next few chapters cover how the shift in meaning of tolerance has occurred and then how it has been applied in today’s society. Carson demonstrates how the older idea of tolerance is vital to a free society, and how the newer definition is actually inconsistent and ultimately unsustainable. Truth claims by major religions including atheism, if taken seriously, all deny the idea of tolerance in the newer definition.

There is time spent on the interaction of evangelical Christianity with the culture at large and how the new tolerance seems to be intolerant of a serious Christianity. Many examples are given.

The final chapter outlines ten suggestions for Christians to interact with culture in a way that affects it in a positive direction. The suggestions are kind and compelling.

As always, I found Carson’s writing to be persuasive and thoughtful. He backs up claims with well documented sources and presents an articulate alternative to much of the rhetoric that has made up Evangelical interaction with culture over the last decades. I found this to be a book of ideas that are very helpful and I hope to implement his ‘Ten words’ for moving the discussion ahead.

[I received this book free from the publisher as a part of the LibraryThing Early Review Program.]

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Gospel Coalition-- Tim Keller

Here is the video from Tim Keller's session. A very helpful sermon on the Exodus 14

Getting Out

Getting Out - Tim Keller - TGC 2011 from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Share your thoughts on this sermon below.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Preacher's Task

I have been reminding myself of the vital necessity of proclaiming God's Word, not my word. Here is a quote that I have found helpful.
“Your task [as a preacher] is not to send people away from church saying, ‘That was a lovely sermon’ or ‘What an eloquent appeal!’ The one question is: Did they, or did they not, meet God today?
There will always be some who have no desire for that, some who rather than be confronted with the living Christ would actually prefer what G. K. Chesterton described as ‘one solid and polished cataract of platitudes flowing forever and ever.’ But when St. Peter finished his first great sermon in Jerusalem, reported in the book of Acts, I do not read that ‘when they heard this, they were intrigued by his eloquence’ . . . or ‘bored and impassive and contemptuous’; what I do read is, ‘When they heard this, they were pierced to the heart.’
The heart of man has a whole armor of escapist devices to hold off the danger when reality comes too near. But I would remind you that Peter’s theme that day – Jesus crucified and risen – is your basic message still, still as dynamic, as ‘mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds,’ as moving and heart-piercing as when men heard it preached in Jerusalem long ago.”
James S. Stewart, Heralds of God (New York, 1946), pages 31-32. Italics added.

What do you see as the task of the sermon?

The Gospel Coalition-- Albert Mohler

The Gospel Coalition just posted the videos for the plenary sessions. I will begin posting them here so you can watch and here some of the better gospel preachers of today proclaim Christ from the Old Testament.
The first session actually begins with the Gospel of John as Al Mohler sets the agenda for the conference.

John 5:31-47
Studying the Scriptures and Finding Jesus

Studying The Scriptures and Finding Jesus - Albert Mohler - TGC 2011 from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Post your thoughts below.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"While High on Heroin, I Started Reading the Bible"

Consider how God powerfully uses his Word. 
What a testimony!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Heavens Declare ...

Awesome time-lapse video of the sky over the highest mountain in Spain, El Teide. Read the write up that the photographer included with the video. Part of the scene from around 30 seconds was shot through a sandstorm from the Sahara Desert. This provided some spectacular views. Well worth your time to watch.

As I watched I was in awe of the beauty that our Creator God has shared with us in this world.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
(Psalm 19:1-6 ESV)
(HT Abraham Piper)

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Gospel Coalition

Tuesday through Thursday I will be attending the Gospel Coalition Conference in Chicago.
I am looking forward to this opportunity. If you would like to hear the Plenary Sessions you can listen to the live stream . I am grateful that Desiring God is offering this service.

Revenge Against My Sin

As I have been meditating on the death of Christ in our concluding messages in the book of John, I came across this hymn by Isaac Watts and found it helpful.

From Book II Hymn 106
Isaac Watts 

Oh, if my soul were formed for woe,

How would I vent my sighs!

Repentance should like rivers flow

From both my streaming eyes.

Twas for my sins my dearest Lord

Hung on the cursed tree,

And groaned away a dying life

For thee, my soul, for thee.

Oh how I hate those lusts of mine

That crucified my God!

Those sins that pierced and nailed his flesh

Fast to the fatal wood!

Yes, my Redeemer, they shall die,

My heart has so decreed;

Nor will I spare the guilty things

That made my Savior bleed.

Whilst, with a melting, broken heart,

My murdered Lord I view,

I’ll raise revenge against my sins,

And slay the murderers too.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Just for Fun

Here are a couple of videos of a prototype of a robotic mule and a robotic biped being developed for military applications.

Friday, March 04, 2011

The Choice of a Lifetime

Last evening I was privileged to attend a fund raising banquet for the Women’s Center of Northwest Indiana. What a blessed evening. There were over 800 people in attendance. That is a tremendous army of supporters for a very God honoring, Christ exalting organization.

The featured speaker was Janet Parshall. Her address was very positive and encouraging. The thesis of her remarks was that there has been a hopeful shift toward life in the national discussion on abortion. [in no way did she say the fight was over, but she did say that it is appearing that the tide is beginning to turn.] Her remarks were similar in tone and reasons to Trevin Wax’s recent post on the same topic.

While Parshall’s remarks were encouraging and helpful, the highlight of the evening actually occurred before she spoke. Two women, clients of the Center, gave testimony on the decision to choose life that they had reached because of the gentle work of those that volunteer at the Women’s Center. The first client will be having her child next month, the second to speak carried her two month old daughter up on the stage with her. Listening to these two women and realizing that they represent so many others was a blessing.

I had tears on my cheeks as I listened to these two women describe the care and compassion that they received. I praise God for his moving in their hearts. Their choice to bring these children into the world is profound. It is a choice that has eternal implications.

Pray for this ministry and others like it that exhibit the light of the gospel in the very darkest of areas.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Coincidence or Providence

I was doing some sermon work this morning. In the middle of my thinking through the passage I am working on, a friend started a chat with me. Since he generally has some good thoughts on the topic I was working on, I asked him for some input. He sent me a link to an article that speaks to the topic, then we chatted about it for a few more minutes. About that time I checked my feed reader and was surprised to see an article, not only on the topic I was researching, but on the very same passage of Scripture I was preaching from.

Coincidence or providence?

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


Five years ago today a good friend of mine went home to be with the Lord. I miss him.

I am praying for his wife and children, for the grandson he never met, for the other good friends who also miss him.

I am also looking forward to joining him. The prospect of heaven is so sweet. The presence of the Lord awakens a longing in my heart for that day.

Yet today, God has left me here to do his mission; to be faithful in serving him. May I be faithful to the end.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Cranes and Hope

This morning I took my daily walk and was pleasantly surprised to hear some unusual bird sounds over head. I look up and watch flock after flock of Sandhill Cranes winging their way north. The majesty of the birds was wonderful to see, and the promise of spring that they herald is wonderful to contemplate.

I have watched over fifty winters come and go and have matured [somewhat] in my view of winter. I often tell people that I don’t complain about the weather, I determine to enjoy it. And I do enjoy it. But there is something about the change of seasons, particularly about the coming of spring that is refreshing to the soul.

The change of seasons reminds us that God is still God; he is sovereign over the march of time. It is he that decrees the weather, the cycles of climate, the day-to-day elements. No matter what investment of money and effort man has made, we cannot significantly impact these things.

The change of seasons also reminds us of the orderliness of God. He set the stars and the planets in place. He set up the laws of physics which govern the interaction of matter in this universe. This orderliness allows us to plan for the different seasons, to be prepared for what is coming.

The change of seasons, particularly the coming of spring, brings hope. One of the lines from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that captures this the complaint that ‘…it is always winter, and never Christmas.’ When the hope for the change of seasons is denied, the inhabitants of Narnia despair. But with the coming of spring their hearts are lifted and hope is reborn. So too, we are reminded of the loving-kindness of God as we see the newness and freshness of spring coming.

Now you will have to excuse me while I go outside and enjoy the sunshine quickly before the weather changes again.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Perseverance MUST finish?

This morning I was reading Bill Mounce’s weekly article on the Greek language as used in the New Testament. Normally he takes a particular Greek word or phrase and discusses possible meanings and draws out the implications of the appropriate translation. This week though didn’t rely on the Greek translation as much [though he did discuss the best way to translate it]. Rather he drew out the practical implications of James 1:4, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” [NIV]
“… We are being told to be patient with the maturing process. Testing will produce perseverance, and we are not to sidestep the process but rather lean into it and allow perseverance to do all that God intends it to do, and at the end of the day lies the promise of spiritual maturity… Perseverance in the face of trials is a difficult topic. Isn’t it true that our natural instincts are to run from the trials and testing? No sane person enjoys pain, and we have psychological terms for those who do. But God has evidently so ordered reality that the path to spiritual maturity is down the narrow path, the path of pain and persecution. That’s just the way it is. We can either run from it and never grow up, or we can embrace it, lean into the pain, and trust God.”
Read the rest here.

I found this a very helpful way to express the reality that trial and suffering are realities that God prescribes for us to walk through as he matures us.
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