“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”

5 Great Sermons from Church History – #1 Gregory the Theologian on the Grandeur of God

This is the first installment of a five-part series called, “5 Great Sermons from Church History.” This is not meant to indicate that these are the greatest or the best sermons, or even the five most important in the history of the church. However, these sermons were selected based on historical significance, content, accessibility (both good translations and comprehensibility), and each as exemplary of the particular era in which it occurred. Given the scope, the five sermons stretch over the entirety of church history. Extreme redaction is unavoidable with such a project. Each of the entries will take a similar approach, namely: Brief background on speaker and sermon, redacted block quote to capture the heart of sermon, and brief commentary on whole sermon. Continue reading “5 Great Sermons from Church History – #1 Gregory the Theologian on the Grandeur of God”

“The law and glory of Christianity”: Loving All People According to the Puritans

Probably the last thing that comes to mind when someone mentions the Puritans is a loving attitude towards all people. Many imagine the Puritans as obsessed with themselves as God’s people, and obsessed with God’s judgment against humanity at large. Though it is true that they believed in the doctrines of election and hell, they also believed that Christians had a duty to love all people, and this did not contradict the former, nor was it less important. In fact, one might argue that because of the Puritans’ highly developed views of God’s law and love they were able to speak of this command in a deep and meaningful way, rather than a shallow or vague way. Continue reading ““The law and glory of Christianity”: Loving All People According to the Puritans”

The Explosive Effect of the Bible

If there is a single thread running through the whole story of the Reformation, it is the explosive and renovating and often disintegrating effect of the Bible.[1]

It’s this idea that Timothy George unpacks in Reading Scripture with the Reformers.[2] So often, when it comes to our retelling of the events of the Reformation, we focus on the preaching ministry of pastors like Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and others. And rightly so! After all, the recovery of God’s Word went hand-in-hand with a recovery of the preaching of God’s Word. In large part, this is how God’s Word was opened up for people.

However, we must not forget that once people received the Word, they themselves now were equipped to speak and defend and live out that Word. In Reading Scripture with the Reformers, George provides several vignettes of the transformational effect of the Word, even among some unexpected individuals: Continue reading “The Explosive Effect of the Bible”