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The Hallway And The Rooms – Michael Horton

‘The Hallway and the Rooms’ is the title of an essay in which Michael Horton contasts the difference between ‘movements’, such as ‘evangelicalism’ and the churches. A movement can be a wonderfully fruitful means of carrying out mission and ministry, but they are not a substitute for churches.

Movements can serve an important role in shifting broad currents, but they are shallow. They rise and fall in the court of public opinion, not in the courts of the churches where Christ has installed officers to shepherd his flock. That doesn’t mean that they are wrong: it’s wonderful when thousands of brothers and sisters encounter the God of glorious grace in a deeper way. Yet movements can’t go very deep: when they do, differences are bound to emerge. The usually rise and fall with the personalities who lead them. Nor can movements pass the faith down from generation to generation. Only churches can do that.

He also makes a suggestion that the comtemporary movement that has emerged in conservative biblical circles identify itself as ‘evangelical calvinism’ instead of ‘reformed’ since many of its proponents do not hold to the historical distinctives of reformed theology.

For centuries, the “Reformed” label has been embraced by people from Anglican, Presbyterian, and Reformed traditions. Only in the last few decades has it included those who do not embrace a covenantal interpretation of Scripture, which encompasses baptism and the Supper, the connectional government of the church, eschatology, and a host of other issues that distinguish Reformed from non-Reformed positions. I often run into Christians who say that they are Reformed—and also dispensational or charismatic, Baptist or Barthian, and a variety of other combinations. Like the term “evangelical,” “Reformed” is whatever you want it to be. It’s hard to challenge pragmatic evangelicalism’s cafeteria-style approach to truth when “Reformed” versions seem to be going down the same path.

Horton’s concern here is not to ‘unchurch’ those who do not agree with his position, instead his motive is just the opposite:

I’m suggesting this not just out of a concern to protect the distinctives that I believe are essential to Reformed Christianity, but also out of a concern for the ongoing vitality of the movement toward the doctrines of grace. Right now, it seems to me, this movement is being threatened by the movement mentality that characterizes evangelicalism more broadly. The very lack of a doctrine of the church lies at the heart of this.

Read the whole essay here.

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Superb Bible Teaching & Reference Visual Aids

VisualUnit is a new blog that features visual teaching aids created by Mark Barry for his work with AFES.
Here’s some samples.

These images are available as jpeg or pdf formats.

Bookmark this one for sure.

HT: Isaac.


It’s All Over, Gordon

It’s not always just one moment that signals political demise.
But sometimes it is.
For John Hewson, it was answering a question about the theoretical GST payable on a birthday cake.
For Mark Latham, it was too firm a handshake outside a radio studio.
For Kim Beazley, it was getting Rove McManus and Karl Rove mixed up.

For Gordon Brown, it was not knowing when the microphone was still on.
Only brave pundits would have forecast a Labour victory, now it should be interesting to see if they can safely run second.

Heard about this on AM at the gym this morning.
Al found this youtube.

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Presbyterian Pulse – April 2010 Issue

I’ve just read the April Presbyterian Pulse, the monthly magazine of the Presbyterian Church of Australia in New South Wales.

Second birthday celebrations; a launch of a biography about Graham Millers’ life; college graduations; Woonona ministry, including a beachfront baptism; 29 workers commence online training; background to the field placements that ministry students are serving in; John McClean writes about the problems with making an ethics curriculum an alternative to religious eduction; along with the usual columns and items.

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A Prayer For Those Who Walk With The Black Dog

There’s a melancholy strand in my DNA.
It’s not as pronounced as it used to be, but it still reminds me that it’s there.
I know others struggle with depression and depressive tendencies.
There’s a couple in ministry that I’ve never met, but as I read of their struggles to settle in the place where God has called them, as I read that one does this dealing with depression, my heart aches.
I know how empty words of consolation, encouragement and counsel can be. Really, I do.
It reminds me that the smartest thing that Job’s friends ever did was sit in silence with him. They only made a mess of it by speaking.

But there is prayer. Pastor Scotty Smith has been there. He’s walked with the black dog.
This is his prayer for others who still do. It’s my prayer as well.

A Prayer About Depression

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 43:5

Most gracious and kindhearted Father, my heart goes out and my prayers reach up today on behalf of those who struggle with various degrees of depression. There are people I deeply care about who live all along the axis of mild seasonal melancholy to the relentless pangs of suicidal depression.
Father of mercies and God of all comfort, lead me in my praying and my caring for this wide range of friends. Thank you for rescuing me from a way too simplistic view of depression by which I used to judge those who experience darkness and despair of soul. It saddens me to realize the pressure I put on people to get better… to “get over it”… and just to be happy.
But David asked the right question, Father—the question I want to ask as I seek to love well. What are the various reasons for a downcast disturbed soul, and what does hoping in you look like for each?
Father, for my friends who are depressed for no other reason than living with a grace-less gospel-less heart… keep them miserable until they rest in the finished work of your Son, Jesus. May they despair of their own unrighteousness and their wanna-be-righteousness, until they are driven to the righteousness that comes from faith in Jesus.
Father, for my friends who suffer from depression generated by anatomical anomalies, lead them to the right kind of medical care. And help us in the community of faith be patient and understanding of the complexities involved in their care. The risk of abusing “meds” is always there… give us wisdom together.
Father, for my friends who suffer from demonic induced depression… I really need humility and wisdom about this one. A part of me doesn’t even want to acknowledge this is a viable issue, but how can I read your Word and dismiss the demonic so lightly? I know his condemning… blaming and shaming voice is enough to generate the deepest forms of despair. But teach me more about the “schemes of the enemy,” and how to care for those under the spell and sway of the “defeated-yet-fury-filled” one, who knows “his time is short.” (Revelation 12:12)
I do and I will yet praise you, my Savior and my God. My hope is in you, Father—for me and for all of my broken-hearted friends.

So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ compassionate and victorious name.

And I will say no more.

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An Image Of Gospel Unity

It’s easy to say that people who value truth don’t value relationships.
Justin Taylor shows us a photo that speaks far more than a thousand words about the relationships that flow from a mutual committment to the Gospel: ‘An Image from T4G I Won’t Soon Forget’.