“The aggregate product coming out of Hollywood is something that can be deeply offensive to people like myself, and I think Christians have sat back. … Now we’re realizing instead we need to engage, and we need to make quality work,” says Jon Erwin, director of October Baby, currently in theaters.
Musician Sufjan Stevens has draw much fanfare for a couple new album releases and his return to the concert circuit. I learned of this interview via Jeffrey Overstreet’s blog, and I was encouraged to see Stevens labeled as a Christian. Then I came to this:
Q. Do you believe that God can be reached through other faiths? John 14:6 categorically states Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” and nobody can get to the Father expect through him. A lot of people take that very literally and don’t believe you can find spirituality through Buddhism or Islam or whatever…
Stevens: Yeah, I mean who can know the mind of God and who can be his counselor? It’s not man’s decision, you know. If God is infinite and he’s in all of us and he created the world then I feel there is truth in every corner. There’s a kind of imprint of his life and his breath and his word and everything. You know, I’m no religious expert, and I don’t make any claims about the faith. All I can account for is myself and my own belief and that’s a pretty tall order just to take account of myself. I can’t make any claims about other religions. There’s no condemnation in Christ, that’s one of the fundamentals of Christianity.
Do you mind if I make a few observations? Continue reading Sufjan Stevens and the Popularity of God’s Mystery
This is a great movie and based on a true account of Scottish POWs in Japan during WWII.
A misguided pastor from North Carolina plans to burn “satanic” books this Halloween, including recent translations of the Bible.
“I believe the King James version is God’s preserved, inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God… for English-speaking people,” the pastor said.
Of the non-biblical books to be burned, they have works by Billy Graham, Rick Warren, John Piper, John MacArthur, Mother Teresa and many others. You can read a list here. (Maybe a Christian bookstore closed recently.)
I guess my impulse is to laugh off such foolishness, but I can’t do it this time. I’m grieved. This man and his congregation are deceived about the nature of God’s holy word in English and the mercy or gracious freedom he gives to his people. I’m even more bothered by his claim to have studied at a Christian college in my town. He says he left because they were too liberal, which is a little funny. Fundamentalists are known by the way they divide up believers and separate themselves from others. The plain meaning of the text is all they need to know God’s will, and by “plain meaning” they mean their interpretation alone. They have gone to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses, and the voice they hear is Jesus’ voice, so how could they misinterpret anything?
I’m not too bothered, of course, because there isn’t anything I can do about it. Still, having heard stories of religious abuse, I can’t laugh when those who appear to be clanging cymbals like this hit the news. I’m not a satirist, I guess–which brings to mind this video of a panel discussion from a Ligonier Ministries conference. Doug Wilson gets into acting like Jesus acted, saying we throw some heavy interpretation into our answers when asking what Jesus would do. We almost never think that Jesus would give a satiric or biting answer, like calling some religious leaders a brood of vipers. Piper, Sproul, and Mohler all comment on that idea.
(Isaiah 53) Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
“Whilst Christian is among his godly friends,
Their golden mouths make him sufficient mends
For all his griefs; and when they let him go,
He’s clad with northern steel from top to toe.”
But now, in this valley of Humiliation, poor Christian was hard put to it; for he had gone but a little way before he espied a foul fiend coming over the field to meet him: his name is Apollyon.
(Artist Justin Gerard did some fantastic work on Pilgrim’s Progress, but the illustrations are no longer online. You can view his work on his website, Gallery Gerard.)
Then did Christian begin to be afraid, and to cast in his mind whether to go back, or to stand his ground. But he considered again, that he had no armor for his back, and therefore thought that to turn the back to him might give him greater advantage with ease to pierce him with his darts; therefore he resolved to venture and stand his ground: for, thought he, had I no more in mine eye than the saving of my life, it would be the best way to stand.
So he went on, and Apollyon met him. Now the monster was hideous to behold: he was clothed with scales like a fish, and they are his pride; he had wings like a dragon, and feet like a bear, and out of his belly came fire and smoke; and his mouth was as the mouth of a lion. When he was come up to Christian, he beheld him with a disdainful countenance, and thus began to question him. Continue reading The Friday Fight: Apollyon
Billed as “the most powerful sermon ever preached on American soil,” a presentation of Jonathan Edwards’ message, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” can be downloaded for free. This sermon shaped my understanding of salvation with its glorious imagery and biblical sense.
America’s greatest theologian, Johnathan Edwards, was born on this day in 1703. From his work Religious Affections, he wrote:
. . . who will deny that true religion consists, in a great measure, in vigorous and lively actings of the inclination and will of the soul, or the fervent exercises of the heart. That religion which God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak, dull and lifeless wouldings, raising us but a little above a state of indifference: God, in his Word, greatly insists upon it, that we be in good earnest, fervent in spirit, and our hearts vigorously engaged in religion: “Be ye fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11). . . . ‘Tis such a fervent, vigorous engagedness of the heart in religion, that is the fruit of a real circumcision of the heart, or true regeneration, and that has the promises of life; “And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live” (Deut. 30:6). If we ben’t in good earnest in religion, and our wills and inclinations be not strongly exercised, we are nothing.
England’s uber-blogger Adrian Warnock has a list of books which he believes every Christian should read:
- ESV Bible
- God is the Gospel by John Piper
- Humility – True Greatness by C.J.Mahaney
- Living the Cross-Centered Life by C.J.Mahaney
- Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
- Spurgeon’s Sermons
- Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
- C.H.Spurgeon, The Soulwinner
- What is Reformed Theology?
The list is certainly weighted toward certain authors, but the books look to be contenders for required reading. What do you think?
Please pray for Adrian’s health and that the Lord would give him grace to perservere through his sickness. He has shingles.
Sherry of Semicolon has a new URL for her blog and a review of Joseph C. Phillips’ new book about being a conservative black Christian living in Hollywood. She writes:
He is not a stereotypical black American, Joseph Phillips has faced misunderstanding and accusations of not being ‘black enough.” He has struggled to understand how much of his identity as a person depends on the color of his skin and how he can fit into American society as not just a man and an actor, but as a black man whose “race” is an inevitable part of what other people see when they see him, an inevitable part of the image he sees in the mirror.
You can read Phillips’ essays on his website.