Overcoming the World: 2014 Ligonier National Conference

Speaking at this years conference are Voddie Baucham, Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Steven Lawson, Albert Mohler, Stephen Nichols, R.C. Sproul Jr., R.C. Sproul, and Derek Thomas.  These men consider some very difficult question as it relates to our contemporary culture. How are we to confront this present world?  How do we live faithfully as godly remnant in such a world?  How should we defend the faith?  How do we stand up for and champion biblical ethics in a society that is hostile to our ethics?

From the website:

As has been true in every generation, the church today faces many challenges from the world. The intellectual and moral opposition that we face can seem overwhelming at times, which is why we need to remember that Christ has already overcome this opposition. By His life, death, and resurrection, our Savior has conquered our enemies, and by His Spirit He has granted us to share in the victory. The Lord, in His Spirit, comes alongside us to strengthen us for the battles we face. This strengthening occurs as we are grounded in His truth (John 17:17).

Ligonier is offering this years conference free for online viewing, it is also available for purchase.

Blog post of Highlights >>>

Overcoming the World >>>

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The Rise of Pentecostalism

What are the roots of Pentecostalism? How did it rise? How did it become what it is today?  These are timely questions given the recent Strange Fire Conference. In the face of the dust storm that has followed I would like to suggest listening to Pastor Tom Nelson’s concluding message on church history that answers these questions and provides a clarifying light on the rise and development of Pentecostalism and Neo-Pentecostalism, also known as the Charismatic movement.

Did you know Pentecostalism owes it’s theological heritage to a major error in John Wesley’s Methodism?  Did you know that Pentecostalism is uniquely a “Made in America” product? Did you know that the beginnings of Pentecostalism can be pinpointed to particular individuals at a particular location on January 1, 1901?

If you lean toward Pentecostal or Charismatic beliefs this is your heritage, and I’ll warn you, it’s not pretty. Nelson views the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement as being as destructive to Christianity as 19th century Liberalism.

By the way, Nelson gave this message in the Spring of 1999.

The Rise of Pentecostalism >>>

Strange Fire Conference

The Strange Fire Conference has exploded with a brilliant fireball and started wildfires across Christendom. The blogosphere and twitter feeds have flashed with shining lights of support and burning embers of anger, frustration and sadness.

Whatever your position on the charismatic issue, this conference is initiating an important examination of doctrine and charismatic practice. It’s clear that this isn’t some pet peeve of MacArthur. This conference sold out quickly and the amount of people who have tuned in to watch the live feed appears to be enormous. MacArthur and his fellow speakers spoke to an issue that many Christians have been waiting for for a long time. MacArthur may be the face, but behind him are legions of God’s people who are immensely grateful that a group of men have taken a stand against things that have been frustrating and saddening them for decades.

The conference raised a lot of very good questions that the charismatic movement should answer.  Conrad Mbewe asked why there are no healings that conform to Matthew 11:4-5. Where are the deaf who are hearing? Where are the lame who are waking? Where are the blind who are seeing? This was followed up by MacArthur posing the question that if these gifts continue why do continuationists believe they continue in a lesser degree than is found in the New Testament? Phil Johnson asks the charismatics why they aren’t policing the abuses of their own movement? Anyone under the “charismatic” brush should be more concerned about the abuses than the cessationists are, right? Some bloggers have responded to this by saying they don’t have time to address the abuses, but given the size of the movement, and the large number of churches in the movement that are bigger than MacArthur’s church somebody in the movement should be should be doing something, no?

I’ve been watching the blogosphere for how those in the line of fire are responding.  So far I have been very disappointed in what I’ve seen. There has been far too much ad homonim, misrepresentation and superficial argumentation. Far too many have even jumped into the waters of criticism without having listened to the conference.

The church throughout history has seen explosive and divisive issues far greater than this conference. When the church responds with anger and juvenile mud slinging nothing is solved. But when the church gathers to examine the arguments in light of the careful exegesis of Scripture, it can produce a wise and reasoned and articulate response that is biblically clarifying, truth magnifying and God exalting.

To those in the charismatic and continuationist camps, I say you have a golden opportunity handed to you on a platter. Respond to the arguments and biblical exegesis of MacArthur and colleagues with strong, clear, well articulated biblical responses that support your position. If you do, and you’re right, the church will be stronger for it.  A lot of Christians are going to be looking for a well reasoned biblical response from your camp. It’s time to step up to the plate like Christian, godly men, and give a ready defense of your position. God’s people will be watching.

There have been a number of good articles written about how Strange Fire should be responded to. Tim Challies attended the conference and has a very helpful article titled Lessons Learned at Strange Fire. Trevon Wax has written The Right and Wrong Way to Engage John MacArthur’s “Strange Fire” Conference at the Gospel Coalition website. Thabiti Anyabwile has written an article about why you should care about the discussion of the Strange Fire Conference, here. He closes his article with this exhortation:

I hope you’re following with careful concern to know the truth rather than to vindicate your party. I hope you’re listening with rapt attention because you’re eager to hear God’s voice more clearly and to walk with your Savior more closely.

If you decide to skip listening to these messages you should at the very least listen to Joni Eareckson Tada’s incredible testimony to a life of disability and suffering.

Strange Fire Conference media >>>

Strange Fire short video comments >>>

Al Mohler on “Why Expositional Preaching is a Bad Idea”

Do you know how your understanding of preaching  has been shaped  in recent centuries by the Pietists, the Revivalists, the Liberals, the Pragmatists and the Consumerists?  If you don’t, you need to because these influences are shaping the crisis of preaching in the church  today. That’s why this message by Al Mohler deserves a wide, wide hearing.   It is 21st Christian preaching and its origins 101.

The frightening reality today is that preaching has metamorphosized into many different forms, and we are therefore required to differentiate these unbiblical forms from true biblical preaching, and to do that we label biblical preaching as “expository” preaching.  And sadly, expository preaching is far from the norm in the church today, and it’s no wonder given the contented widespread biblical ignorance we see in the Christian church.

Mohler is a champion for expository preaching, and in this message he carefully and wisely considers the  many arguments given by opponents of expository preaching, and examines how each of these historically developed from bad, and even shocking theology.  Hence his provocative title.  This should be required listening for your leaders and discipleship groups, if not your whole church.

By the way, if you haven’t listened to any of the messages at the 9 Marks at SBTS conference you are missing a real treat.

Why Expositional Preaching is a Bad Idea —

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B. B. Warfield on Arminians and Evangelicals

Kim Riddlebarger did his doctrinal thesis on B. B. Warfield. In this lecture he discusses many aspects about Warfield’s life that you will find fascinating.  Much of Warfield’s life was engaged in defending the Gospel from the persistent Arminian erosion that is so widespread today.  In his writings he carefully explains how the Arminian gospel is, at it’s heart, a theological contradiction within itself.  He defences are as fresh and timely today as they were over a century ago.

Warfield on Arminians & Evangelicals >>>

Introducing Friedrich Schleiermacher

Michael Reeves has been doing a tremendous job of providing very interesting and helpful talks on various aspects of church history, and highlighting key figures.

So who is Schleiermacher and why should we care?  He is the father of modern liberalism.  And Reeves 3 session talk should interest you because, even though you may not think you are a theological liberal, chances are you are going to see how this man you’ve never heard of has probably influenced parts of your theology, and definitely much of what we in our conservative churches.

Introducing Friedrich Schleiermacher >>>

Rethinking Secularization

Al Mohler interviews Peter Berger, author of the book In Praise of Doubt: How to Have Convictions Without Becoming A Fanatic.  Berger has had a tremendous impact on Mohler’s thinking, even though Mohler does draw very distinct lines of where he differs with Berger.

One of the nice things about the format of Mohler’s Thinking in Public podcast, is that he helpfully prepares the audience by providing needed background and context before going into the interview. Then throughout the interview he turns off the tape, so to speak, to summarize for the listeners what was covered and explains how that information should be thought about as a Christian.  Even though I was able to follow the discussion and the sociological concepts, Mohler’s comments throughout brought a greater deal of insight to this interview.

Some of the important concepts drawn from Berger are his concepts of plausibility structures and cognitive contamination.  On the surface these are word pairs that would cause me to check out of an article or interview. But Mohler has done such a good job keeping these things in a helpful context that I was intrigued.

One of the reasons Berger’s work is so helpful is because the world in which we live today is a world of pluralism; a world where there are a great many ideas about religion and God coexisting.  More than ever Christians today need to have a strong grasp of theology because we are bombarded by the contamination from this world of religious pluralism.  And one of the dangers that we see repeating itself over and over is when well meaning Christians will bargain away parts of the Gospel that they would never otherwise surrender willingly.

This is a very intriguing interview that will keep your mind churning long after it’s over.

Rethinking Secularization >>>