Killing Calvinism

I finally got my hands on Killing Calvinism by Greg Dutcher. This is a book I have been eager to read, and after scanning through the book I do not expect to disappointed. When my mother saw the book last night she said, "That doesn't sound quite right. Killing Calvinism?" Once I explained what the book was about she was eager to read it. From the website:

As "insiders" of the Calvinist resurgence, there are at least eight ways we can mess everything up. 1. By loving Calvinism as an end in itself. 2. By becoming theologians instead of disciples. 3. By loving God’s sovereignty more than God himself. 4. By losing an urgency in evangelism. 5. By refusing to learn from non-Calvinists. 6. By tidying up the Bible’s “loose ends”. 7.  By being a bunch of arrogant know-it-alls. 8. By scoffing at the emotional hang-ups others have with Calvinism.

You can pick up a copy Killing Calvinism here, or on Amazon.

For more help with the heart and spirit of Reformed theology check out The Joy of Calvinism, by Greg Forster and Living for God's Glory, edited by Joel Beeke.

Theology Can Kill

Depending on the tribe you belong to, the term “pastor/theologian” might be seen either as a redundant, or oxy-moronic expression. Some view the pastor as a practitioner, and the theologian as a theoretician; two separate roles. Others, like those of us in Acts 29, understand the pastor to be a leading theologian among the people he is called by God shepherd. At the recent Acts 29 Bootcamp in Louisville, KY I was given the opportunity to lead a break out session in the Pastor as Resident Theologian Track. The title of my session was, "How Theology Can Kill Your Church." If the audio is made available, I'll link to it [Now available: here]. I sought to make four basic points.

Thanks to Chuck Heeke who took some amazing photographs throughout the bootcamp.

Theology Can Kill Your Church (Plant) when:

1. Your Theology is Under-developed Under-developed theology leaves your church defenseless against false doctrine and heresy, and corrupts the spiritual growth of the body. We need a robust theological confession and culture in our churches.

2. Your Theology is Over-valued Theology is over-valued when we find our identity more in a system than in the Savior. The dangers here are often pride and pugnacity. Good theology will always give a clear picture of God and self, which promotes strong convictions and humble hearts.

3. Your Theology is Compartmentalized Compartmentalized theology is a purely academic discipline removed from Christian experience. The danger here is being satisfied with knowledge over transformation. We need "experimental Calvinists" who are not content to be right, but desire to be made right by the Spirit of God in conjunction with the truth of God.

4. Your Theology is Disconnected When our theology is disconnected from the gospel, all of the above dangers are likely, and additionally our preaching will be little more than moralism. Imperatives apart from the gospel tell people to "do this," and doctrinal preaching divorced from the gospel tell people to "know this." In both cases people are not led to the grace of God in Christ, but to their own attainments. We need theologians who can show the connection between doctrines like sin, creation, the Trinity, etc. and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

In short, I was aiming at encouraging our men to be passionate, convinced, humble, experiential, gospel-centered theologians.

I shared some of my journey and failures in all this, and some of you asked what books I have found helpful. Here are just a few of them, but these were instrumental in breaking me of pride and theological elitism, while encouraging humility. Feel free to make your recommendations in the comments.

The Practical Implications of Calvinism, A. N. Martin (read it online for free) Words to Winners of Souls, Horatius Bonar (read it online for free) Vital Godliness, by William Plumer (read it online for free) Quest for Meekness and Quietness of Spirit, Matthew Henry

Gospel-Driven Life

I just started in on Michael Horton's new book, The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World. The Introduction was good enough to pull a few quotes from. Here's one where Horton explains the gospel in terms of our story, and The Story.

The Good News is not just a series of facts to which we yield our assent but a dramatic narrative that replots our identity. Think of it in terms of a theatrical play. Each week we come to church with our own scripts. If yours is anything like mine, it's "the show about nothing." Yet God descends to give us a new script: a rich plot in which our original character dies and is raised with the lead character. Instead of trying to find a supporting role for God in our play, God writes us into his script as a part of a growing cast for his new world. The script does not offer a blueprint for a new creation, if we will only follow certain steps for realizing it. Instead, through this gospel the Spirit sweeps us into the drama, into the new creation that has already been inaugurated.

Horton - Gospel Driven Life