Monday, March 28, 2011

Blurring the Lines of Orthodox Christianity – Rob Bell, Love Wins, and Pastoral Firings

Blurring the Lines of Orthodox Christianity – Rob Bell, Love Wins, and Pastoral Firings

I finished reading Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins, on Saturday morning. I intend to share some thoughts on Bell’s book over the coming weeks – but as we all know, the road to hell is paved with such good intentions. Then again, according to Bell, there is no such hell for a road to lead to, except in a subjective, this-worldly sense. But I digress …

Today I wanted to share an interesting news story that my wife forwarded to me on Friday. Here is the link ( to a story out of Grand Rapids. A Methodist pastor (Chad Holtz) in North Carolina was fired last week. The immediate precipitating cause was his expression of support for Rob Bell and the conclusions of his book, although the news story hints at deeper issues lurking under the surface. There are a couple of intriguing questions that are posed through this story.

(1) Is the Christian church intended to be, as the fired pastor intimates, “open hearts, open minds, open doors”? What does that mean, historically and presently?

(2) Is the church “threatened” by people who challenge “the way we’ve always thought”?

My short answer to both main questions is an emphatic NO – at least not in the way that pastor Holtz suggests.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Reliability of the New Testament Gospels (v. 1.3)

Come, Let Us Reason Together: A Forum about Central Issues of Faith & Skepticism
Cedar Creek Baptist Church - Tawa J. Anderson
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 – The Reliability of the Gospels

NOTE: These are the 'teaching notes' from a Q&A forum at Cedar Creek Baptist Church on March 23. It is slightly revised from an earlier blog essay with the same title posted last summer.

I. Why is New Testament Reliability a Major Apologetic Question

The Christian faith has historically embraced certain core doctrines about Jesus of Nazareth. Amongst other beliefs, Christians throughout the centuries have believed things about Jesus – His deity, His atoning death, and His bodily resurrection. The source for those beliefs are, without a doubt, the collection of books, letters, and Gospels that we have in the New Testament. Historic Christianity presumes that the documents in the New Testament are fundamentally trustworthy – that we can take them relatively at face value in terms of how they present the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

But what if they are not trustworthy? What if the words that appear in my Bible as red-letter words, truly words which were uttered by Jesus of Nazareth? What would be the damage to the Christian faith? What would the implications be if Jesus did not say or do the things that the New Testament says he said and did?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Rob Bell, Love Wins - Discussion Forum

Forum Discussion of Rob Bell’s Love Wins Out
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Thursday March 17, 2011
Dr. R. Albert Mohler (President, SBTS), Dr. Denny Burk (Dean, Boyce College), Dr. Russell Moore (Academic Dean, SBTS), and Justin Taylor (Crossway Books, blog –

This week, Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins, was released to the reading public. Rob Bell is the preaching pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in, a congregation of close to 10,000. His podcasts are followed by additional tens of thousands, while his thought-provoking short video series (NOOMA) have been widely disseminated in the North American Church. Rob Bell is a leading figure in ‘Emergent Christianity,’ an amorphous and diverse group which includes both a protest against the perceived ‘dead orthodox’ of much American fundamentalist evangelicalism and a positive projection of a vibrant personal commitment to following Jesus.

Many evangelical leaders have expressed concerns over the general direction of Bell’s moving theological commitments over the past several years. When Bell’s new book project began to be publicized, concerns heightened.

On Thursday, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary hosted a forum discussion focusing on Bell’s book. This blog post will summarize and expand upon that forum discussion.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Greg Beale - Lecture on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament

The C. Edwin Gheens Lectures
Dr. Gregory K. Beale @ The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
The New Testament Use of the Old Testament
March 14-15, 2011

This week I was privileged to witness another top-notch New Testament scholar in person at Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, as Greg Beale delivered the annual Gheens Lectures. While Beale delivered three lectures (two on Tuesday, one on Wednesday morning), because of teaching responsibilities, I was only able to be present for the first one. All three lectures should be available through SBTS’s resource center within the next week or so; I will endeavor to watch the other lectures and provide a link to the video when it becomes available.

In the meantime, I wanted to share the substance of Dr. Beale’s initial lecture, and some personal reflections upon his address.

Lecture 1 – Recent Objections to an Organic Link between Old Testament Texts and Their Use in the New Testament

Dr. Beale has been a strong proponent of the organic unity of the Old and New Testaments throughout his academic career.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? The Problem of Evil - Cedar Creek Baptist Church

Come, Let Us Reason Together: A Forum about Central Issues of Faith & Skepticism
Cedar Creek Baptist Church - Tawa J. Anderson
Wednesday, March 16 – The Problem of Evil

NOTE - the following are expanded teaching notes from a youth Q&A forum at Cedar Creek Baptist Church in Louisville, KY, last night. Hope you enjoy them!

Why do bad things happen to good people? This is one of the most haunting questions facing modern man. Why does such seemingly senseless tragedy strike such seemingly innocent victims? Why are many babies born with deformities or handicaps? Why are young women in southern Sudan raped and beaten by armed militia from the north? Why are girls in Thailand sold into sexual slavery to provide a few months income for their families and to satisfy the perversions of Western tourists? Why did an unimaginably powerful earthquake in Japan cause a massive tsunami and cause so much destruction and death?

To put the question in another way, why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? If God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving, why is there such deep and senseless evil and suffering on earth? David Hume, the eighteenth century atheist philosopher, stated the logical problem of evil when he inquired about God, "Is He willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is impotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Come, Let Us Reason Together (Part I of V) - Evolution and Christianity

Come, Let Us Reason Together: A Forum about Central Issues of Faith & Skepticism

Cedar Creek Baptist Church (Louisville, KY)

Wednesday, March 2 – Evolution and Creation

NOTE: These are teaching notes used for a 15-minute presentation followed by a 40-minute Q&A session with the youth at Cedar Creek Baptist Church, in Louisville, KY. Today is the first of five weekly sessions we will have. I will seek to post each of the five sessions.

I. The Importance of Addressing Evolution

Tonight we are talking about the relationship between evolution and Christianity – a controversial topic, but one which needs to be addressed. Why is this an essential topic to address?