Theological Docetism and the Postmodern Turn

Some thoughts from Chad Granger, applying a lesson from Sunday, worth reading.

Theological Docetism and the Postmodern Turn.

The Gospel Coalition Day 2 recap

Wednesday was a full day here in Chicago at The Gospel Coalition-2011 conference, with three major sessions and some workshop sessions. I also bumped into more friends — old and new!

EARLY SESSION – There was an extra session (over the breakfast hour) with a panel of speakers on Pastoral Transitions. I went to hear from Mark Dever’s insights (and to glean some ideas for a man I know looking to enter the ministry). I am also now more anxious to fulfill my pastoral responsibilities to my church, and help prepare them for their next pastoral transition [hopefully a long way off!].

Main Hall TGC-11 Stage

SESSION 5 – James MacDonald on “Not According to Our Sins” from Psalm 25. This is a popular mega-church pastor from Chicago, whose pulpit style was much more modern (lots of waking about, and use of video clips & props) and anecdotal (lots of personal sharing and illustrations). The props included three large ‘oil drum’ like containers into which he put cue-card sized terms as he made various points. One pastor I talked with said he learned a lot more about James MacDonald than about Psalm 25.

WORKSHOPS. The first workshop I attended was a panel discussion on the training of the next generation of Pastors & Leaders, featuring Al Mohler, Mark Driscoll, David Helm, Don Carson and Ligon Duncan. There some good insights into how seminaries and churches need to work together — and churches need to take the lead in training up future pastors.

Lunch at Giardano's!

For lunch I was invited to join with my friend Ron and the staff of Desert Springs Church — having deep dish pizza at Giordano’s (the best!). it took three taxicabs to transport our little group there (and back again). Sitting in the front with the driver I tried to strike up a gospel conversation. The first driver it turned out, was an Egyptian Coptic Christian, who was glad we were meeting in town. The driver on the return trip said it was his first day driving a cab. He was more interested in tossing me one-liners than anything else. When he learned I was a pastor, he quieted down a bit.

My second workshop was with Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert on the “the Mission of the Church” — no small topic that! It was great to see these guys in person after reading their books and blogs. I have some good notes from this for sharing later on.

SESSION 6 – Conrad Mbewe (of Zambia) spoke from Jeremiah 23:1-8 on “The Righteous Branch.” VERY fine, powerful preaching with great connections of broad themes (shepherd & righteousness) in the OT and NT. This has been one of my favorite sessions so far. Definitely worth listening to when the audio becomes available.

SESSION 7 – Matt Chandler spoke on “Youth” from a well known section of Ecclesiastes 11-12. This young preacher is an energetic expositor and very well versed in the message of Ecclesiastes. Although a much different style of preaching than Mohler, Mbewe or Carson, it was a good sermon with significant applications. (more good notes to use on the blog or at the church!). If you want to listen to this, wait for the video version!

Some of the people contacts today included Pastor David Brame – an old friend from New England days, and Dr Craig Troxel – a friend from the last Banner of Truth conference (where he also spoke). New friends included a fellow I prayed at the close of the first session, a helpful representative from Covenant Seminary, and the lunch bunch from Desert Springs Church (NM), including Pastor & Mrs. Ryan Kelly, Trent Hunter, and others. I even found time to read half a book during the supper hour, and also to pray for my family and the folks at CPCC as they were about to gather for Wednesday night programs (I’m missing them all).

Looking forward to our final day.

Sweet hour of prayer

Needing to practice what I preach, I followed up on my sermon last Sunday (Matthew 6:5-8) with an examination of my personal prayer time. “Do you pray more fervently in public than in private?” I’d asked in that sermon.

Well, the Spirit stirred me to spend an extended time in prayer yesterday, for over an hour. I prayed for my soul, my family, my fellow leaders at church, and the members and friends of the church, and beyond. I was able to pray aloud (in my private study), and thus more carefully weigh my words — and the fervency of my heart — as I gave voice to my petitions. The time passed all too quickly.

When was your last extended season of personal prayer? An brother from a previous generation raised these petitions to the Lord:

Grant us always to know that to walk with Jesus makes other interests a shadow and a dream. Keep us from intermittent attention to eternal things; Save us from the delusion of those who fail to go far in religion….

Amen. pdb

Use a tape measure!

Have you considered the danger of building the house of your life without a “tape measure”? asks Norm Wakefield, of Spirit of Elijah Ministries.

Norm will be preaching at CPCC here in NY on Sunday, June 6th. Here is an excerpt from one of his newsletter articles. — pdb

To ignore the Scriptures is like trying to build a house without a tape measure. The Scriptures are a tape measure, a vital gracious gift, that God has provided so we can walk under true grace and not a false grace as we build the house of our lives — His temple. I’m remodeling some rooms right now in our house, and I cannot imagine cutting the boards as I feel like it because I don’t want any one to tell me what to do. Every time I use a tape measure, it tells me what to do. It teaches me how long 39 1/2 inches is. When something isn’t fitting right, it reproves me because I measure it again and it tells me I cut it 1/4 inch too short. So then it corrects me as I recut the next piece. I am so committed to the tape measure that I have two of them just in case I misplace one! I need it every time I cut a piece of wood to build the walls.

    So it is with our lives. Every day we are “cutting wood” and building our houses with our words and actions. When things are not working out right (can’t love, can’t forgive, get angry, feel wounded and abused, deceive, ignore, reject, etc.) it simply is the fruit of working without a “tape measure”. The notion that the person walking in true grace doesn’t need an objective “tape measure” is as foolish as trying to build without a tape measure. The house that is built without a “tape measure” is a house that will fall down and need to be rebuilt.

“The Gift of Scripture” –– in the Chariot, July 2009

Easter Sermon is online…

Dear Friends,
My message “The Good Shepherd Lives Again!” from Easter Sunday (April 4th) is now online for listening and/or downloading, at Please use this link or the sermon link in the righthand margin to access any of our sermons.
— pdb

Sloth – real name for tolerance?

In our adult Sunday school class we’re doing a mini-series on Pluralism. Yesterday, in unmasking the false tolerance so prevalent in today’s culture, I quoted the wise educator/author Dorothy Sayers. Read it and learn; read it and weep for those caught in the clutches of “tolerance.” — pdb

The sixth Deadly Sin is named by the Church Acedia or Sloth. In the world it calls itself Tolerance; but in hell it is called Despair. It is the accomplice of the other sins and their worst punishment. It is the sin which believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing, lives for nothing, and only remains alive because there is nothing it would die for. We have known it far too well for many years. The only thing perhaps that we have not known about it is that it is mortal sin…
— Dorothy Sayers

[quote taken from online sources; originally from her essay: The Other Six Deadly Sins: An address given to the Public Morality Council at Caxton Hall, Westminster, on October 23rd, 1941 (long out of print)]

Christians are to be counter-cultural…

If we are born-again by the grace of God, with a sure hope of heaven and eternity, what should we do and be in this world?

Dr. John R. W. Stott observes in his fine book on the Sermon on the Mount:

“For the essential theme of the whole Bible from beginning to end is that God’s historical purpose is to call out a people for himself; that this people is a ‘holy’ people, set apart from the world to belong to him and to obey him; and that its vocation is to be true to its identity, that is, to be ‘holy’ or ‘different’ in all its outlook and behavior.” [page 17]

“…the followers of Jesus are to be differentdifferent from both the nominal church and the secular world, different from both the religious and the irreligious. The Sermon on the Mount is the most compete delineation anywhere in the New Testament of the Christian counter-culture. Here is a Christian value-system, ethical standard, religious devotion, attitude to money, ambition, life-style and network of relationships — all of which are totally at variance with those of the non-Christian world. And this Christian counter-culture is the life of the kingdom of God, a fully human life indeed but lived out under the divine rule.” {p. 19]

Saturday’s Prayer & Praise Breakfast

Saturday is our 15th annual Prayer & Praise Breakfast at church — an important conclusion to our Week of Prayer (with daily prayer meetings in homes). After we eat, we sing, I open the Word of God, then all share testimonies from the week before we spend one more session together in prayer.

The testimonies are not all “answers to prayers” but often are about how the week challenged (or changed) the person, and how thankful they are. And this is good! Our aim on Saturday morning is to raise praises and give thanks to the Lord!

In my sharing (on Romans 15:13), I plan to warn against cynicism and how it can undermine prayer. One of the key weapons against cynicism is thankfulness:

“Nothing undercuts cynicism more than a spirit of thankfulness. You begin to realize that your whole life is a gift. Thankfulness isn’t a matter of forcing yourself to see the happy side of life. That would be returning to näive optimism. Thanking God restores the natural order of our dependence upon God. It enables us to see life as it really is.”

— Paul Miller in his book, A PRAYING LIFE, page 89


Prayer Week 2010 underway!

With each new year comes a new need for our annual Week of Prayer at CPCC. Our Prayer Week begins with a fresh sermon on prayer from God’s Word, usually from a guest preacher. This year in lieu of a special guest preacher, I was pleased to speak from LUKE 10:2 (which will soon be online)—

“…pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest…”

In addition, I also taught a special session of the Adult Sunday School Class on “Seven Practical Helps for Prayer” with time for questions and answers. I hope to post on these points, but here is the list…


Then Sunday night, we had our annual “CONCERT OF PRAYER.” This hour uses several 6-8 minute segments of praying, each “orchestrated” around a set theme. It is always a powerful way to begin our week of praying together.

Monday through Friday, from 7-8:15 PM, we have a nightly prayer meeting is led by an Elder in someone’s home. These begin with a brief devotional thought then requests are shared and conversational praying begins. (Note: praying aloud is never forced upon anyone, at any meeting). Many folks attempt to attend all five weeknight meetings to watch how the Holy Spirit is working among us during the week.

On Saturday, at 9:00 AM, we gather in the Fireside Room for our annual Prayer & Praise Breakfast, where answers to prayer & testimonies are shared, and one final round of prayer takes place after we share a hot breakfast together.

May the Lord again open our eyes to the power, privilege and potential of prayer among us during “Prayer Week 2010.”

Yours by divine mercy,

“The Word Became Flesh” Advent Sermons

I’m very excited about our Advent sermon series — “The Word Became Flesh” — on the incarnation, from John 1:1-14, which begins today. Within a few days, each sermon should be available at our Sermon Audio site.

May God be praised.
— pdb