But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.  1 Peter 3: 14-16

Think Theology - Apologetic Report
Sunday, 17 July 2016 00:00

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 29

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[The debate which dominated the sixteenth century, but which plays little part in modern evangelicalism, is the debate over the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Very few people reading this, I imagine, have questions about whether Jesus is bodily present in the Lord's Supper raised in their church membership classes. Yet Heidelberg's...

Wednesday, 13 July 2016 00:00

Is Priesthood Abrogated in the New Testament?

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Is the priesthood abrogated in the New Testament? In my fascinating discussion with Jonathan Leeman, which started off being about dancing and ended up being about hermeneutics, it became a key point of disagreement. The reason is that, for the Baptist argument, priesthood becomes a crucial (the only?) example of an Old Testament practice which is...

Tuesday, 12 July 2016 09:24

Add hominin, ad hominem?

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I did not attend last weeks Think conference on Genesis, engaged as I am in actual pastoral work with my flock – a task too important to take time off on 3-day long jollies masquerading as learning. Besides, my young disciple Wilson did not offer me sufficient remuneration to justify my absence from Ring of Bright Water, much as he desired...

Monday, 11 July 2016 00:00

Hole-Boring, Fuse-Lighting Prayer

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Here's a wonderful analogy for prayer from Norwegian author Ole Hallesby, quoted in Tim Keller's Prayer:

If we overstress submission, we become too passive. We will never pray with the remarkable force and arguments that we see in Abraham pressing God to save Sodom and Gomorrah, or Moses pleading with God for mercy for Israel and himself, or...

Sunday, 10 July 2016 00:00

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 28

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[The Lord's Supper reminds and assures us, Heidelberg says, that we share in Christ's sacrifice and benefits. If you're someone who is inclined to doubt that Jesus died for you, and/or that everything he has is yours, then the Eucharist is there to help. But how does it do that? In two ways: "First, as surely as I see with my eyes the bread of the...

Friday, 08 July 2016 07:26

Supporting Evidence

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Further to Andrew's post from this morning, Peter Leithart offers the following observation:

Postmodern notions of power are fundamental to postmodern notions of the text and of the self. There is more than a little irony in this situation. After all, totalizing stances toward life, such as Islam and fundamentalist Christianity, are among the most...

Thursday, 07 July 2016 22:35

The New Aristocracy Featured

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Animal Farm is about communism; everybody knows that. A popular uprising against a self-serving elite, that ends up turning into a self-serving elite itself: the parable is clear, the irony palpable. Every schoolboy knows it.

In many ways, though, Orwell has written a parable of modern, meritocratic, cosmopolitan liberalism, whether he intended to...

Wednesday, 06 July 2016 00:00

Complementarianism in Crisis? Featured

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"Complementarianism as currently constructed would seem to be now in crisis," writes Carl Trueman. "But this is a crisis of its own making -- the direct result of the incorrect historical and theological arguments upon which the foremost advocates of the movement have chosen to build their case and which cannot actually bear the weight being...

Sunday, 03 July 2016 23:36

Where the Difference Really Lies

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Ruth Gledhill, former religious affairs correspondent for The Times, was on Radio 4 yesterday morning, talking to Edward Stourton about the current conversations within Anglicanism on sexuality. She made a number of fascinating comments, but the one that struck me the most was this:

I think what we have here is not so much different views on what...

Saturday, 02 July 2016 22:41

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 27

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[There are 130 questions and answers in the Heidelberg Catechism, and I agree with 129 of them. The exception is Q74; despite its venerable heritage and laudable clarity, I just can't go there. What I find interesting, however, is how extremely edifying Heidelberg's treatment of baptism still is for credobaptists like me: "God wants to assure us,...

Friday, 01 July 2016 00:00

Are You a Good or Bad Local?

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In Small Town Jesus, which Matt recently reviewed for us, Donnie Griggs has written about a much-needed topic: how to do Christian ministry in small towns. When I met him recently, I was astonished to hear that the church he leads has a congregation of about 900 in a community of 9,000 (plus two other sites in other small towns); he obviously...

Tuesday, 28 June 2016 22:32

A Tale of Two Brexits

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For a few hours on Monday evening, the Internet was awash with jokes comparing Brexit and England's ignominious departure from the European Cup. Some of them were pretty good. But as I reflected on the two exoduses yesterday morning, it occurred to me that there was more to the comparison than met the eye.

Some of the similarities are cosmetic,...

Tuesday, 28 June 2016 00:00

Thank God He Judges Featured

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“Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for … you have made the city a heap of rubble.” (Isaiah 25:1-2)

It is easy to tell whether or not you have grasped what it means for God to be the Holy One of Israel. When you read his stern words of judgment in Isaiah, instead of feeling offended, you feel like...

Here are the concluding two paragraphs of Simon Gathercole's superb Defending Substitution: An Essay on Atonement in Paul. It's not every day that the final paragraphs of an academic monograph are both a revelation and a joy to read. Nor is it common for a book to engage in detailed Pauline exegesis and dialogue with German interlocutors, and then...

Sunday, 26 June 2016 00:00

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 26

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[We are now halfway through the Heidelberg Catechism, and of course the year—but the relentless focus on the way Christian doctrine benefits, comforts and assures the believer has not changed. "How does baptism remind and assure you that Christ's sacrifice benefits you personally?" Ursinus and Olevianus are not worried that these sorts of...

Saturday, 25 June 2016 00:00

Dancing in the Streets: A Final Response

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Ostensibly we've been talking about dancing this week, but we've really been talking about hermeneutics - which, as Jonathan Leeman and I both agree, is a substantially more important issue. Here's my response to his response to my response to his response to my original questions about his original post.

Hi Jonathan, I think we’re nearly...

Thanks for your thoughtful reply. I have to admit, the length of this dialogue would suggest I care a lot more about dancing in the church than I actually do. I honestly don't think it's that big of a deal. 9Marks does not exist (and I don't write) to warn churches against dancing! One guy asked me in a mailbag what I thought, and I gave him my...

So I'm in a conversation about dancing and the Regulative Principle with Jonathan Leeman from 9Marks. Here's my response to his response to my response to his article, which hopefully illuminates the hermeneutical difference between me and him (and possibly that between modern charismatics and modern Baptists as well).

Hi Jonathan,

In order to keep...

Wednesday, 22 June 2016 05:00

Why I'm (Probably) Voting Leave

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Like Andrew, I have tried to remain (oops!) neutral during the referendum campaign - and was rather gratified that in yesterdays quick Twitter poll it was a 45/55 split as to whether respondents thought I would be Brexit or Remain. In a normal election campaign I will comment on issues, but as far as possible strive to avoid revealing a party...

Wednesday, 22 June 2016 00:00

Why I'm Voting Remain

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Christians can, and do, reach different conclusions about Britain's membership of the EU. Although there are bad reasons to vote Remain (e.g. greed) and Leave (e.g. xenophobia), there are good reasons on both sides as well, and a great many Christians will vote tomorrow on the basis of one or more of them. For most of the campaign, I have remained...

An ancient Jewish oral tradition tells us that King Manasseh executed Isaiah by commanding that he be sawn in two. There is evidence in 2 Kings 21:16 and Hebrews 11:37 which suggests that this tradition may true. What we know for sure, however, is that many modern scholars are still trying to saw Isaiah in two today.

Here is how their argument...

Regular readers may remember a post I wrote on dancing a while back, in response to a piece at 9Marks by Jonathan Leeman. Jonathan and a colleague of his suggested we continue the conversation, particularly the way our respective arguments relate to the Regulative Principle (in a nutshell, the idea that all our worship practices need to be...

Sunday, 19 June 2016 00:00

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord's Day 25

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[The area where most self-identified "Reformed Charismatics" are most out of step with the Reformed tradition, at least in my experience, is in our sacramental theology. Here, the Heidelberg Catechism presents a crisp, nuanced and uplifting explanation of the sacraments. The Spirit "confirms" faith through them, and salvation by them. They are...

Friday, 17 June 2016 00:00

Jonathan Edwards: God Permits Evil, But Does Not Cause It Featured

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There was a bit of a theological scuffle two weeks ago over the age-old question of whether we should say that God wills, or ordains, or permits, or allows evil. It followed a discussion on the subject at The Gospel Coalition, which was provocatively headlined, "Why 'God Didn't Ordain That Tragedy' is Terrible News.'" (I know.) Needless to say,...

Thursday, 16 June 2016 00:00

10 Things I Like About Advance*

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I spent last week at the Advance Global Conference. I’ve been to a lot of conferences in my time, but this was one of the best. Here, in no particular order, are ten observations about the week:

1. Being both charismatic and reformed is fantastic Andrew was with us for a day and spoke to this theme, and it’s true – the lived...