Michael Bird and Bruce Ashford – The Benedict Option: Two Reflective Responses

Michael Bird, a lecturer in Theology and Czar of Postgradistan at Ridley College in Melbourne, and Bruce Ashford, Provost and Professor of Theology and Culture at Southeastern Seminary, participate in The Evangelical Voices in the Academy Lecture Series. The topic of this talk is The Benedict Option: Two Reflective Responses. It is sponsored by The Society for Women in Scholarship, The L. Russ Bush Center for Faith & Culture, and Kingdom Diversity. An introduction to this talk is given by Ashley Gorman, member of the leadership team for The Society for Women in Scholarship, and Ken Keathley, Senior Professor of Theology and Director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Southeastern Seminary.

In Case You Missed It

In a recent article at the Intersect Project, Dayton Hartman shared how God can use heresy for our good.

Survey the evangelical landscape, and you’ll find a lot to be depressed about. Self-professed Christians are compromising on moral convictions for political expediency. Some are denying essentials of the faith to embrace political correctness. And then others are pandering a kind of theological ambiguity that speaks much and says nothing.


I recently heard someone say, “What a depressing time to be a Christian!” Well, I guess that’s true — especially with so many megachurch pastors wearing the ironically large hipster glasses. But it’s also entirely untrue. This particular Christian was lamenting what they classified as the rush toward heresy among once faithful evangelicals. In their estimation, these trends must mean the end of the church in America is drawing near. Two things are worth noting.


At the People’s Next Door Keelan Cook reminds us that “gospel-centered” must mean more than just the preaching.

Gospel-centered is one of those buzzwords today in evangelical Christianity. It, like so many others, has a great origin and a significant purpose. In a day when mission drift threatens to pull us away from our core purpose as Christian churches, terms like “gospel-centered”  (or “missional”) are calls back to our biblical foundations. However, when they stick, they soon become victims of their own popularity. In many ways, I fear this is happening to the idea of being gospel-centered as well. The term now falls into the foggy words category. Foggy words are those words we use in ministry circles that sound good but when pressed no one can really give you a clear definition. They often help more than they hurt for that reason. When it comes to gospel-centered, I think there are two ways that this term seems to shift in meaning.


Bruce Ashford posted an article at his personal blog with five ways to save free speech on college campuses.

During the past 18 months, college students have engaged in disruptive and even violent activities toward guest speakers whose ideas they considered offensive.


In response, college administrators have tended to capitulate to—or collaborate with—the demonstrators by disinviting scheduled speakers and disciplining students or professors whose views were considered offensive.


In fact, recent studies by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the National Science Foundation together reveal that approximately 90 percentof colleges and universities have policies that either prohibit or substantially restrict free speech that is constitutionally protected.


Americans should beware. Unless we act to safeguard free speech on campuses, this depressing trend will continue indefinitely until the censors have gained control not only of universities, but coffee shops, churches, and public squares.


What can we do to safeguard free speech on college and university campuses? Here are five ways that all of us can play our own unique role.


“To Tithe or Not to Tithe?” At the Intersect Project David Jones shared a New Testament guide to generous giving.

To tithe or not to tithe?


This simple question has been debated in small groups, in Sunday school rooms, over kitchen tables and in textbooks for decades. In my new book Every Good Thing, I address it at length.


We don’t have the space to address the question in detail here, but I’ll simply say this: It is difficult to apply Old Testament tithing laws in our own context. In fact, if we survey the New Testament, we’ll find that it does not prescribe a formal method or fixed amount for believers’ giving at all.


Nevertheless, the New Testament does provide several examples and principles of giving that can guide us in our stewardship and giving. These principles ought to encourage many (if not most) Christians to give far more than 10 percent to kingdom work.


In a post at The Gospel Coalition, Trevin Wax shared why Netflix thinks you’re bored and lonely.

This is for all the lonely people
Thinking that life has passed them by . . . 


So sang the rock band America in 1974. Forty years later, lonely people are probably streaming Stranger Things.


At a conference sponsored by the Wall Street Journal last year, Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, offered a purpose statement for his entertainment juggernaut: “Fundamentally, we’re about eliminating loneliness and boredom. . . . That’s what entertainment does.”


Eliminating boredom and loneliness. Chew on that for a while, and you’ll realize that only one of these issues is truly a problem, while the other is actually an opportunity.


At his personal blog, Chuck Lawless shared an open “thank you” letter to Southern Baptists.

I don’t typically write a post specifically for my denomination, but I’m making an exception today. In the past few weeks, I’ve been with Southern Baptists in Maryland, California, Ohio, North Carolina, and Virginia. They’ve been college students, pastors, church planters, laypersons, and denominational leaders. I’ve been reminded in these weeks of how much Southern Baptists mean to me, so I’m writing this thank you note to you.

In Case You Missed It

In a post at the Intersect Project, Scott Hildreth discussed three ways Christians can flourish in culture.

In a recent post, I explained how culture is a pathway for the gospel. With that in mind, how can Christians flourish in contemporary culture? Here are a few suggestions.


This week Aaron Earls posted at his personal blog, The Wardrobe Door about how we need more “Thoughts and Prayers,” not less.

“Thoughts and prayers” have become an all-too-familiar restrain in American life. A somber, liturgical response to yet another horrific mass killing.


For those of deep faith and even sometimes those of little or no faith, those words are all we can muster after the initial shock. We share the words when no others will come. Hopefully, they come in the midst of actually empathetically thinking about the victims and emphatically praying for them. For many, however, those words are not welcome. They ring hollow for some who are desperate for specific, practical steps. Others regard them as ineffective, at best, self-deluding and hindering actual good, at worst.


So what should we make of the “thoughts and prayers” of millions offered up in the aftermath of a tragedy? Without a doubt, they are good. Even if you believe prayer is nothing more than talking to empty air, there are benefits to the prayers of others.


Brittany Salmon recently posted at the Intersect Project discussing how adoption and the pro-life cause is more than a political stance.

Our family stands out.


We can’t go to a grocery store without someone stopping and asking us questions about each of our children. For starters, we have identical twin daughters with bright blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. Like typical four year olds, they are feisty and sweet with a touch of sass. The amount of commentary we receive on them alone is enough to write a whole other blogpost, but to add to the excitement we also have a son who doesn’t look anything like us at all.


You see, our son joined our family through the blessing of adoption. He is a beautiful, strong black boy. He is smart and kind and loves to laugh loudly at his sisters. Put that combo together in a grocery store and we’re magnets for conversation starters. Some people stare. Some people are kind. But our diverse family draws attention in a homogenous world in which we tend to surround ourselves with people who think, look and act like us.


One day while standing in the checkout line, a well-intended fellow believer approached our family and commended us on the pro-life stance we took by adopting. I smiled and said, “Yes, we are pro-life, but our son’s birth mom is the true hero; she’s the one who should be commended for her pro-life choice. We really are the lucky beneficiaries of her brave love.”


In a recent article at his personal website, Bruce Ashford discussed how Socialism suppresses society.

Several recent polls reveal a troubling trend: younger Americans have positive views of socialism and Communism.


Although this trend has been evident for years, a recent poll found that nearly half of Millennials say prefer Socialism or Communism over democratic capitalism, with upwards of twenty percent going so far as to consider Josef Stalin was a “hero.” In another poll, found 53 percent of 18- to 29-year-old respondents viewed socialism favorably, compared to only a quarter of Americans over 55. Yet another survey found that 43 percent of respondents younger than 30 have a positive view of socialism.


At his personal blog this week, Chuck Lawless shared ten times when it is wise to turn a deaf ear in ministry.

Charles Spurgeon, in his Lectures to My Students, wrote about the importance of church leaders having one deaf ear in ministry. The one open ear helps you to be wise in ministry, but the deaf ear helps you to avoid being unnecessarily burdened and frustrated. Based on Spurgeon’s writing, here are times to turn a wise deaf ear.