My Advent Tool Chest

There are a number of Advent “tools” I make use of to deepen the season and storm the battlements of my heart that have been built up during the year.

First, I hang my new Church Year calendar. The one I use is from University Hill Congregation called Salt of the Earth Christian Seasons Calendar. All the artwork is commissioned by University Hill and is superior. I give the calendar some serious time when it comes to get the rhythm of the year as they develop it. This calendar is not broken up into the usual one month per page. It is one season per page and so reminds me of the meaning of the time I am in. Useful.

Second, I pray the Divine Hours, as I usually do anyway. But I attempt to burrow in a bit deeper and recommit to keeping the Hours. I go here to find the morning, noon, evening prayers. Reading sculpted prayers helps keep me on track. Mostly they are from the Bible.

Third, I use my Mosaic Bible. This is a Bible that utilizes the Church Year. The content is arranged so that every week the reader has a variety of content for reading and reflection. Each week follows a theme appropriate to the Church season (such as Advent, Easter, etc). The content included for each week includes full-color art; Scripture readings; a historical reading; a contemporary reading; a prayer, creed, hymn or quote; and space for reflection.

Fourth, I focus on Advent and Christmas quotes. I have kept a file over the years to which I return and rehearse. I find new ones that stick, as my Pastor used to say, to the gummy side of the memory.

Fifth, I use an Advent devotional. This year it is John Piper’s The Dawning of Indestructible Joy.

Sixth, Advent readings in the Common Revised Lectionary focus on the Second Coming of Christ. So I try to spend more time attending to the sure coming of Jesus. As he came so he will come.


An Evangelical Version of President Obama’s Bowing to a Saudi King? Rick Warren bowing to the Vatican, As Some See It

As you might have heard, Rick Warren recently was at the Vatican by invitation of the Pope for a consultation of marriage and the family, along with Russell Moore and NT Wright. Evangelical views on these topics have much more in common with Rome than they do with mainline Protestantism. In fact, Evangelicals are finding time and again that Rome is of the same mind on most of the great moral issues of our day. Many Evangelicals have gone over to Rome for their clearer moral vision even if their doctrine has some troubling aspects.

Here is a clip of Warren’s statement about collaboration with Rome.

Readers of my blog know that I am a supporter of Evangelical Catholics Together. I am not a Roman Catholic. If I thought Rome got it right, I would be one. But I believe that she has a defective soteriology that weakens assurance, clouds justification by faith alone, and gives the church too high a place in salvation and the priest too high a priestly duty. And yet…. I don’t need to rehearse here all that leads me to draw a circle that includes Rome within the fellowship that I keep.

Dr. James White posted these words about Warren on his Facebook page.

I don’t want to ruin your [Thanksgiving] celebration, but my heart truly aches when I see something like this. The Pulpit and Pen folks linked to this video featuring Rick Warren. It is, to put it bluntly, a complete capitulation on Warren’s part. It is simply horrific. Either he is utterly ignorant of the realities of the dogmatic teachings of Rome, or, he is so completely compromised on his own view of the gospel that he can speak like this. In any case, if I were not spending the majority of the next 36 hours in planes, standing in lines, or trying to be nice to TSA agents and other assorted unsmiling officials, I would be doing a special edition of the Dividing Line, or a ScreenFlow video, about this. It is such a betrayal of the Reformation and the gospel itself, and it is the fruit of the “Mere Christianity” cancer that has eaten away at the robust faith that once delivered millions from bondage to the darkness that is Romanism. I hope to be able to put together a video fairly early on in Kiev in response to this. Timing will be in the Lord’s hands.

Here is a video of Dr. White’s response to the words from Rick Warren.
Where do I even begin? I don’t have time to outline the necessary caveats that should be attached to the words of Dr. White. By the way, I regularly listen to his weekly podcasts, posted YouTube debates, and YouTube presentations. He speaks for that kind of conservative Christianity which is very much of the Evangelical dialogue and for which I have significant appreciation. The man does exegesis! If something is going to pass muster with Dr. White, you better have your Bible open and your theology books memorized. But I have some distance from his mindset. The first has to do with attitude and acerbic wording. The approach he takes leads to unnecessary division. There is an underlying anger and a loss of self-control at times that leads him to riffs that are not careful. The second is that he is satisfied with Reformed mantras that don’t answer the questions being asked. For him the answer to the charge that Calvinism is nothing but determinism is that those who make the charge do not make the distinction between primary and secondary causation. That’s where he stops. He is too easily satisfied. Third, he needs to interact with more with the best people and the best arguments rather than the fringe he seems to constantly focus upon. Some scholars will not debate him because of his approach to the debate and not his stand.
By the way, Dr. White indicates he got some of his info on this from Pulpit and Pen, where the host calls Warren, “you lying Satanic bag of trash.” You listen to this stuff, Dr. White? Is this one of the programs you go to in order to keep up with what’s happening? To use your words, “Really? Really?”
And yet I listen to Dr. White because he presses me, chases me down, and makes me give an account of myself for the stands I take. If there is a way for me to get shot down, Dr. White will find it. He will not only find it, he will plant the flag of victory right into my lifeless body.
I think I speak for the majority of Evangelicals who affirm an alliance with Rome on moral issues of the day and an awareness that a Christian’s relationship with Christ can rise above faulty theological formulations. But I need to remember that Evangelicalism is filled with former Roman Catholics who could not find a personal relationship with Christ there. They are angry and disturbed by what happened to them under the Roman system and see no redemption there. Evangelicals who convert to Rome are not so embittered.

Christianity Leads to Science

Christian History Institute’s “It Happened Today,” focuses on the founding of the Royal Society on this day, November 28, in 1660.

The Royal Society was the first scientific society known to history and several of its most notable members were devout Christians. The real driver behind the society was John Wilkins, who later became a bishop. Among the founding members were Christopher Wren, a man of solid religious convictions, John Willis, a staunch Church of England man, and Robert Boyle, well known for his faith and faith-based charities. Boyle had begun to study science to relieve the tension he saw between the natural philosophy of his day and his faith. He reasoned, “If the omniscient author of nature knew that the study of his works tends to make men disbelieve his Being or Attributes, he would not have given them so many invitations to study and contemplate Nature.”

Rodney Stark’s book, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, gives some of the reasons that are innate to Christianity which led to human advancement. All religions are not alike! The Western world is debtor to the Christian worldview as little as it is recognized by the academy today.

Also see Stark’s The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World’s Largest Religion