Packer’s Dusty Discovery at Oxford in North Gate Hall

Guest post by Jason G. Duesing.

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. Continue reading “Packer’s Dusty Discovery at Oxford in North Gate Hall”

“Should I read historical theologians?”

I write today to answer a common question:

Should I read historical theologians in my personal discipleship time?”

Of course, any writer at 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. Many scholars of the Protestant Reformation did champion going back to the sources with the Latin phrase ad fontes, literally meaning “to the fountains.” However, these reformers were talking about getting back to the ultimate source of their information about God: the Bible.

Certainly, our faith is nothing if cut off from this original wellspring. Yet, it is helpful to understand through which territories this fountain has traveled on its way to us moderns. Indeed, these paths were often wastelands where the stream of the true faith all but trickled through deserts. Other times, it raged in torrents as the floodgates upstream released a torrent as happened in the Reformation movements. Could we not learn from these times of drought and plenty alike? How did others see the Bible before us? What did they learn from it, and how did they apply its teachings to everyday life?

Continue reading ““Should I read historical theologians?””

Ask Pastor Charlie: On Joining a Church

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: Continue reading “Ask Pastor Charlie: On Joining a Church”

“The greatest honor…is to be like Jesus Christ, and to excel in charity”: Baxter’s List of Motivations and Practical Tips for Loving All People

In my previous article, I showed that the Puritans believed that loving all people was a hallmark of the Christian faith. Though some may be surprised that these summative and forceful statements came from the Puritans, many would not be surprised to hear that the greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor. However, actually doing this in real life is hard. Continue reading ““The greatest honor…is to be like Jesus Christ, and to excel in charity”: Baxter’s List of Motivations and Practical Tips for Loving All People”

James Paton and the Impact of Fathers

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,[1] 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: Continue reading “James Paton and the Impact of Fathers”

Salt & Light: Historical Sermon Illustrations from Matthew 5:13-16

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – -Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV)

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.  Continue reading “Salt & Light: Historical Sermon Illustrations from Matthew 5:13-16”

C.S. Lewis on Theology as a Map

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. Continue reading “C.S. Lewis on Theology as a Map”