In my first sermon, I wanted to aim high. So I plagiarized from Knowing God, by J. I. Packer.
I was to preach for the first time to my home church in northern Ontario, having returned from a year of Bible school. I wanted to make good in the eyes of those who had discipled me, so I drew on the best book of theology I had ever read—which, of course, meant the best of about a dozen.
And by "drew on," of course, I mean "stole shamelessly from." In fact, I tried to summarize J. I. Packer's 35-page chapter on our adoption by God, perhaps one of the best treatments ever of that subject and itself a model of concision. My attempt to compress the already pithy certainly failed, and my plagiarism is inexcusable, but you have to admit: I had good theological taste already, even at the tender age of 17.
Forty years after its publication in 1973, Knowing God continues to bless readers around the world. It continues to inspire authors, too, as it does what very few books have been able to do: present page after page of carefully nuanced Christian doctrine in a style that people actually enjoy reading.
In so many churches, even those that pride themselves on serious preaching, you will hear pastors pause apologetically to warn their congregations, "Now, I'm afraid we have to stop here for a moment for some theology."
(One wonders, of course, what they thought they were doing before that, and what they think they will be doing after the dread theological interlude….)
J. I. Packer's Knowing God, however, makes no apology for theology. Or, rather, it does: it defends the value of theology from its very first pages, both telling and showing that knowledge of God, while it ...
A Facebook study says they're good at it. Experts weigh in on whether they should do more.
The stereotypes of "ring by spring" and the "MRS degree" are proving true—at least at Christian colleges. According to Facebook's data science team, of the top 12 schools offering both men and women the best "chance of finding a spouse," 11 are Christian. (Council for Christian Colleges and Universities members include Dordt College, Oklahoma Christian University, and Kentucky Christian University.) Reactions below are listed on a spectrum, with "Yes" at the top and "No" at the bottom.
"Christian colleges must challenge the unnecessary delay of marriage among millennials and teach them a worldview that honors it. I pray that college pastors, professors, and administrators would esteem marriage as highly valuable and teach healthy relationship formation."
Ted Cunningham, author, Young and in Love
"Not directly, but nor should colleges discourage marriage. When finding a mate becomes known as a goal of college, it hampers friendship. But solid friendship should definitely be part of their mission. If they succeed at that, good marriages will likely follow."
Lisa Graham McMinn, writer in residence, George Fox University
"Their mission is to educate students to engage the world for the kingdom. But when students focus their education on a Christian framework, God may bring couples together as they are obtaining their education to work in a unified manner toward the Great Commission."
Lynne Kohm, professor of family law, Regent University
"There is already enough pressure on young Christians to marry, and many are marrying early who shouldn't. Christian colleges should be in the business of encouraging students ...
This Christmas, I’m letting the Bible, instead of my emotions, shape my gift list.
Starting in late November, Americans will spend upwards of $579 billion on holiday gifts. I count myself among this elite group. Though self-gifting is on the rise, most of us are focused on finding the perfect presents for all 37 people on our list, including: the dog groomer, the kids' school bus drivers, and that super-helpful town librarian.
We're motivated to buy these gifts for sundry reasons: gratitude (to show our love and appreciation for others), civic responsibility (to keep the national economy afloat), internalized voice of bad mother (to stave off shame and guilt), and boredom (we've got to do something on those long dark nights once daylight saving time ends).
For the most part, gratitude inspired my family's gift giving as I was growing up. We were both predictable and orderly; wish lists were made and handed to the appropriate parties not long after Thanksgiving. On Christmas morning, an equal mix of practical gifts, flannel nightgowns, as well as frivolous ones, hand-sewn Barbie costumes, were found under the tinsel-laden tree.
We took turns opening our presents–no frenzied shredding in our English/German household. I intently watched the recipients' faces in the hope that my choices met their mark. (For future reference, facial expressions of Northern Europeans–whose behavioral etiquette forbids squealing in delight–often mask their true sentiments.)
Though I appreciated my parents' and sisters' offerings, I remember the hollow, disappointed feeling that always settled on me once the boxes had been unwrapped and the stockings emptied. It was as if the curtain unceremoniously fell before the play reached the climax. This had less to do with what we ...