Sunday, December 21, 2008

driscoll on gospel, church, and culture

I love these little paradigms Driscoll has. They're helpful when attempting to synthesize American Christianity. He explains them all in further detail in his books, but you should get the picture.

Gospel + Church - Culture = Fundamentalism

Culture + Gospel - Church = Parachurch

Church + Culture - Gospel = Liberalism
Of course, the conclusion to these is that Gospel + Church + Culture = the Kingdom [or biblical Christianity or whatever you'd like to call it]. Read his "Confessions" book. It's insightful and hilarious.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I like how Rob Bell and his little posse believe in what they call "Narrative Theology." Go here and read their schpeel on it. Of course, the chunks of this that are beautiful and good must be held to in light of the NT's exhortation to pursue doctrinal purity.

Needless to say, the marriage of Systematic Theology and Narrative Theology is an arranged one. The families on both sides often seem near-sighted and ready to hate their in-laws. That's why I'm a member of the First Emerging Reformed Bapti-costal Holiness Church of Prophecy of the Second Coming.

theology for little people

It's awesome to know other guys in ministry who are older, wiser, and cooler than you because they've had their hand to the plow longer. I spoke to one of my favorites today - Chet Andrews.

I got to tell him that Sara and I were pregnant. He told me that if I thought discipling and encouraging students was a blessing, then getting to do that with your own kids is far sweeter. I so look forward to the day. It nearly cripples me with excitement to think about. 

Here's some great kid theology that I might be hunting after soon.

My mom read this kid's version of Pilgrim's Progress to me. The pictures are really intense. I used to be scared to death of the Apollyon pictures.

Our good friend Heather was the artist's model for Sproul's book on the little Lightlings. That's really spiritual of me. It's actually a great read too.

And this book, I've cried reading this book on SEVERAL occasions. This is one of the best books in print. I read it to my 10th graders and it's the quietest they ever get.

Again, here are others that look good for teaching younger kids the Bible. What a blessing to have books like this.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

EDWARDS [quote of the day]

The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, to fully enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops; but God is the ocean.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

"examine yourselves to see whether or not you are in the faith" [2 Cor 13.5]

This is our buddy Piper at a pastor's conference. How should I say this? It's Beautiful. Fragile. Humbling. Terrifying. Sweet.

Friday, December 12, 2008

the pope got shot on the day i was born

It's true. May 13, 1981.

Hopefully that was odd enough for you to keep reading. It means nothing except that what you are about to read is loads of pseudo-ecumenical happiness.

My wife's family is diverse and fun. Most of them went to Bob Jones and are now Catholic. One of them went from BJU to Oxford and is now a Catholic priest here in the states. His name is Father Dwight Longenecker. 

Dwight and I are pals. We have good discussions about old fundamental Baptist hymns, philosophy, the sacraments, his homilies, etc. He is fairly popular as a Catholic apologist, writer, and speaker. He has written quite a few books. Even the Greenville News just did a write-up on him.

Earlier this fall, Sara's grandma celebrated her 80th birthday. We all gathered at the beach in a big house to celebrate for a weekend. Soon after this, I was informed that Dwight had written an article about me called "Sleeping With the Enemy." Sure enough. PLEASE go read it so the rest of this will make sense.

First off, I'm actually humbled that Dwight thinks I'm a nice and smart fella. Second, I like how he says that we do often agree on issues, but how we get there is a different story. I'm finding this out more and more as a teacher. I want to teach HOW and WHY just as much as WHAT.

After this though, I believe that even Dwight would admit he paints too broadly over Protestantism. He surely doesn't mean to over-generalize, but I feel he is close to it. His article is really cute, academic-sounding, and philosophical. But the bottom line is that Jesus said when we do it to the least of them, we have done it to Him [Mt 25.40]. "Dialectic" is way too big of an attempted explanation here. That is pure obedience in view of the person and work of Jesus. If you even try to qualify that it begins to lose its simplistic beauty.

Furthermore, he really wants Protestants to have a sacramental worldview. This is faintly hinted at in his article. I also know this from talking to him. And here's a shocker - I totally agree with him! If we don't believe that grace tangibly and supernaturally enters into our space, time, and matter universe then we shoot the Bible and the mission of Jesus in the foot. NT Wright says good stuff about having this kind of lens in his "Surprised By Hope."

Also, I think Dwight's soup kitchen illustration is like attempting to separate a "both/and" situation. Follow me here: Is the kingdom of God here or is it coming? Well, yeah. Was Jesus fully man or fully God? Uh... yes. Did Christ die for us or for God? Let me think - absolutely! So, in our hypothetical soup kitchen, both of us would be legit in our intentionality.

Finally, I wouldn't consider myself an apologist, a polemicist, or even a trainee Baptist pastor. I just know that living like Jesus, with Jesus, and for Jesus is our call. I believe this includes the sacraments, the pursuit of acuteness in theology, social justice, humility, and much more. I also believe with all my heart that attempts at those things unaided by the Spirit of God are vain and cloud the vision of life with God in Christ.

Owell. I think I could write forever about this. I love the Dwight. So we disagree a little.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

i hate

I think it's good to be passionate and hate dumb stuff. Never people, of course, but wanting to hate what God hates. So, here are a couple of specific words/ideas that I'm not crazy about. Keep in mind: the most spiritual people around town, the most religious folk you could find - Jesus hated their actions [Matthew 23, John 2].

First off, I hate the word PROTESTANT. If people actually read my blog, I'm sure I'd get some flack for this. But think about it. It is absurd, minimalistic, and ridiculous to define yourself by what you're against. That is the plain idea behind the word PROTESTANT. It is precisely the same as being resolved to vote for one candidate because you think the other one is wrong. Wanting to be known for that which you oppose says nothing directly about what you actually do stand for. If one's religiosity is merely a listing of things they do not participate in [drinking, smoking, cussing, movies, sexual promiscuity, etc, etc], these things say nothing about treasuring our Lord, being obedient to the Spirit, and/or wanting the gospel of grace to go forward. The term "Reformed" carries close to the same historical significance. If I'm forced, I prefer it instead. But PROTESTANT seems to me to be immature and fruitless.

For those who are still with me and think, "Wow. Thompson is really wrangling over words." Well, you're dang straight. Language is one of our primary vehicles for gospel, truth, relationship, and hope. When we aren't precise and intentional in our employment of it, we fail. Alright then. Moving right along.

On most occasions I want to say that I detest or abhor this word. But for the sake of clarity and precision I will say that it often leaves a bad taste in my mouth - CHRISTIAN. What a stupid adjective: Christian music, Christian art, Christian t-shirts, Christian radio, etc. It works far better as a reality than an adjective. I understand that this word has to be used in this way sometimes for delineation, but why do the things described as such always feel so lame to me? I know this is an over-generalization. The term is only used three times in the Bible [Ac 11.26, Ac 26.28, 1 Pe 4.16] and was originally not too positive of a title. Why can't "Christian music" just be music by guys who are believers? I don't get it.

Further, CHRISTIAN as an adjective detracts from Christ the person. It does this in a couple ways. First, the focus slides from Him to His followers and we're sure to blow it real fast. Second, an adjective is an a-relational part of speech. However, the proper noun, Christ, points toward His personhood and calls out for relationship!

I could go on. I just long for the church to be the church. I hate seeing myself and other believers diluted by the sway of cultural cuteness. I want my inaugurated eschatology to be a fully realized eschatology. I'm ready to be with Him, like Him, and for Him world without end.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

this is to remind me to listen

Mohler on the Apostle's Creed. Here.

dominated by the word of God [calvin]

One month before he died at age 54, Calvin wrote his last will and testament. Notice how beautifully Bible-drenched and God-besotted he was.

In the name of God, I, John Calvin, servant of the Word of God in the church of Geneva, thank God that He has shown not only mercy toward me, His poor creature, but what is much more, that He has made me a partaker of His grace to serve Him, through my work. I confess to live and die in this faith which He has given me, inasmuch as I have no other hope or refuge than His predestination upon which my entire salvation is grounded. I embrace the grace which He has offered me in our Lord Jesus Christ and accept the merits of His suffering and dying, that through them all my sins are buried; and I humbly beg Him to wash me and cleanse me with the blood of our great Redeemer so that I, when I shall appear before His face, may bear His likeness. Moreover, I declare that I endeavored to teach His Word undefiled and to expound Holy Scripture faithfully, according to the measure of grace which He has given me.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

you must download and listen

Edwards said that being in the presence of God for all ages to come will give way to ever-increasing joy, knowledge, and love. Here, Sam Storms gives a talk on Edwards' thoughts on heaven and eternity. It's incredible.

But be careful. Listening to this sermon all the way through will likely make you a full-blooded charismatic.

Friday, December 5, 2008

the hebrew names in isaiah 9.6

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. John Walton gives a sweet Hebrew breakdown of how to better understand those terms in Isaiah. Here

Thursday, December 4, 2008

the importance of role models

"Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life." -Brooke Shields

this is the most intense bit of theology and philosophy you'll ever read

Actually a gross pregnancy update.

We thought that the wife was past the throw-up stage of pregnancy. She hadn't barfed since last Friday. She had gone about every day prior to that.

Sadly, we were mistaken. Who would've thought that her 4:15pm Waffle House craving yesterday would have held her back from almost one week vomit-free?

She seems to be better now. The baby has moved from the size of a raspberry to the size of a big lemon. She is so excited about being fat. She is really happy that she can't button the top button on some of her pants.

On a side note, we actually named the kid Raspberry Thompson for the pregnancy because it was the first fruit size we found out about. So, I wrote a little song called "Raspberry You." It's simple, happy, and cutesy. You can download it here [it is a website for my kids at school]. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


The book of Judges is a fun read. One of my favorite parts has to be when our pal Ehud goes in to evil king Eglon and tells him he has a special message from God for his kingship. All of Eglon's cool kingly people leave and Ehud give Eglon God's special message - a razor harp sword right in his gut. Eglon was so fat that the whole sword and the handle disappeared. What a cute message.

On a more thought-provoking note, I read something very helpful about Judges yesterday. First off, "judges" might not be the best term. I know that I think of Judge Judy and other afternoon redneck Fox Network court shows when I hear the term. In the LXX, it is the same word as savior, deliverer, and/or rescuer. So, here's that lovely insight. It's from David Howard:
No individual is called a "judge" in the book; the only time the term is used in that way it refers to God [11.27]. This is a significant part of the book's message: It is YHWH who is the true Judge of His people, and He controls their fortunes, both for blessing and for punishment.
The noun "judge" is used six times in 2.16-19 to refer to the judges that are to come in the book. None are named specifically in this passage because this text serves as an overview of much of the book's content.

All of this, though, is beautiful. Samuel, or whoever wrote Judges, is fully aware that YHWH and YHWH alone is the just and justifying Judge over His covenant people.

Monday, December 1, 2008

on prayer

Every Christian needs a half hour of prayer each day, except when he is busy, then he needs an hour. [St Francis of Sales] 

Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden. [Corrie ten Boom]

Don't pray for lighter burdens. Pray for stronger backs. [Anonymous]

Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is of life. [Jonathan Edwards]

The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray. [Samuel Chadwick]

Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness. [Martin Luther]

SURPRiSED BY HOPE [helpful tid-bits, interaction, review, and reflection]

After discussing prayer in general as a part of the church's mission, Wright says that there are four roots of biblical prayer: transcendence, intimacy, celebration, and covenant.

He expresses his frustration with how Easter Sunday is treated theologically and ecclesiastically. Wright says that

Easter week ought to be an eight-day festival, with champagne served after morning prayer or even before, with lots of alleluias and extra hymns and spectacular anthems. Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don't throw our hats in the air? Is it any wonder we find it hard to live the resurrection if we don't do it exuberantly in our liturgies? Is it any wonder the world doesn't take much notice if Easter is celebrated as simply the one-day happy ending tacked on to forty days of fasting and gloom?
Regarding "new creation" as a hermeneutic we employ rather than a experience that is simply spiritual, Wright relates justice, beauty, and evangelism to this "new creation" hermeneutic and Jesus' resurrection. Of beauty, he states,

We are moving away, I think, from the old split in which it was expected that good Christians couldn't be good artists and good artists couldn't be good Christians. We now have, thank God, some wonderful Christian painters, sculptors, and even poets who are showing the way forward. I want to offer a proposal about where the artistic endeavor belongs - within the discipline of the Christian mission, within the map of creation and new creation.
[Along these same lines, my father-in-law is an art professor. He always says that the first thing anyone knows about God when they read the Bible is that He is an Artist: "In the beginning, God created..." There's some aesthetically satisfying image-bearing that needs to happen because that is true.]

Wright's subtitle is: "Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church." His purpose in this book is accomplished. He gives excellent and corrective insights throughout. However, Wright also seems to ease the weight of a couple issues that should be equally related to eschatology, resurrection, and mission.

Concerning the rapture, he dishes out some academically tactful blows to those who swear Tim LaHaye and Hal Lindsey should be canonized. Isn't it logical to study how the apocalyptic genre functioned in Second Temple Judaism rather than interpret Revelation with the lens of CNN? Wright does excellent Jewish and Roman background work to bring many of the second coming passages to light. Speaking on 1 Ths 4.16-17 and how Paul mixes metaphors when speaking of Jesus' coming, Wright says,

In the next chapter, 1 Ths 5, Paul says that the thief will come in the night, so the woman will go into labor, so you mustn't get drunk but stay awake and put on your armor. As the television programs say, don't try this one at home.
Overall, this is a great read. Tom Wright's correctives are quite helpful. I thank God that the world's leading New Testament scholar is not a flaming liberal whose denial of the supernatural is as simple as eating and breathing. On several occasions, Wright says things like, "I am compelled by the New Testament..." We should be as well. Don't be a stuck-up Calvinist and hate him.

[He is also friends with
Bishop John Inge, who did my wedding. He gives "Uncle John" a shout-out in his last chapter. This gives me 4 cool points.]

Lastly, thinking critically and spiritually is a challenge. It is also a necessity. It is what I tell my students they must do, it is what all Christians must do, and it is what I feel that Tom Wright does in his new book. Take that approach and go read. Shalom.