In Case You Missed It

In a recent article at the Intersect Project website, Dr. Bruce Ashford writes about how to engage culture like C.S. Lewis.

As Lewis scholar Michael Travers has noted, Lewis viewed evangelism as the main purpose of a Christian’s life. Lewis’ literary career can be viewed as an extended exercise in evangelism. Not only in his explicitly theological books, but also in his literature, Lewis wanted to translate Christianity into popular language for ordinary people who were not theologians. In his fiction texts, he tried to create in his readers a longing for God, and to help them “see” the gospel in concrete form. He called this type of writing praeparatione evangelica, or “preparation for the gospel.”

So for Lewis, “evangelism” is something that Christians do with their whole lives, not only through interpersonal encounters, but in the work they undertake and the shape of their professional lives.

We can learn many things about Christianity and culture from Lewis’ life and writings. Three significant lessons stand out.

At the Southeastern Literary and Art Magazine, Rebecca Byrd has written the worn-out student’s guide to break reading.

Final papers and exams are turned in. The mild shakiness of a days-long caffeine overload wears off. The semester’s books are relegated to the (ever-expanding) bookshelf in a triumphant gesture of victory. You actually sleep… for the whole night! Now it is time for one of my favorite celebrations: finding my break reading! While you may have just spent the entire semester with your head in your books, this type of reading is different because YOU get to decide what to read. I’ll acknowledge that some people may just want to put the books down for a while, and that’s okay. But for me, I like to take those weeks or months (if it’s summer!) to read something different. Here is a list of some possibilities for your break reading if you don’t know where to start

Dr. Andreas Köstenberger recently added a post to his blog titled “Christmas: A Call to Witness.” Dr. Köstenberger writes:

As a little boy, I was blessed to grow up in the small country of Austria, the land of “Silent Night, Holy Night” and of The Sound of Music. Christmas was truly a special time of the year, and many Christmases were in fact white. My sister and I would leave our wish list for the Christ child on our window sill the night before Christmas (we celebrated on Christmas Eve), and then, on Christmas Eve, behind closed doors, we heard our Christmas tree being set up and decorated by (we surmised) angels. Later that evening, we would enter our living room, and, lo and behold, find most of the presents we had wished for. What a joy for a child’s heart! Receiving presents! Little did it dawn on us that Christmas was not only a time to receive presents but, at least in the original instance, entailed a call to witness.

Chris Martin writes at his personal blog about three ways to encourage people in a world of negativity.

Perhaps what could set Christians apart most in this cultural moment isn’t a baptized belly-aching, but an atmosphere of encouragement. Everyone is angrily advocating for their value systems with every passing tragedy. What if we just took a break from that and tried to lift each other up? I don’t know. I’m just tired of being upset—sad, angry, or otherwise—and I would love to see a bit more positivity in general.

Here are three ways I try to encourage people from time to time. I value words of affirmation and encouragement, so I am most likely to do #1 below, but any of them (and more) are great. Maybe you need to encourage family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, cashiers, waiters, or others. Here are just a few general ways you can encourage people.

Spence Spencer recently published an article discussing the importance of amateur theologians.

There are two very important aspects of the Christian theological enterprise that need to maintained in order for the church to be (or become) healthy. First, there need to be professional theologians. Second, the discipline of theology needs to be accessible to amateur theologians.

The terms “professional” and “amateur” are intended to refer to more than the status of being paid for thinking and writing. It is certainly true that someone who is paid to think theologically and express those thoughts cogently (we hope) for others to read should be able to be more productive theologically and, perhaps, research and think more deeply. However, the bigger concern here is the training for becoming a theologian. The discipline of theology needs to be accessible to those that have the professional credentials (read advanced degrees) in the discipline and those that don’t.

Recently, a group of professional Catholic theologians got together to call on the New York Times to silence columnist Ross Douthat. It wasn’t just any Catholic theologians, it was a group of leading Catholic thinkers from Georgetown, Loyola, St. Thomas University, Yale, Harvard, Lasalle, and more. In other words, a pretty big group of well-credentialed theologians got together to call for the muzzling of one journalist.

 

In Case You Missed It

Recently at TGC, Trevin Wax published an article giving tips for reading better while retaining more. In his article Trevin writes:

Last week, I posted a video to my Facebook page in which I gave some tips for reading faster, better, and wider. Also last week, Hubworthy released book recommendations from people associated with The Gospel Coalition. (My list of “essential reading” is here.)

With so many good books to read, it’s natural to want to read better and wider. Here is my response to a few questions that were sent to me on Facebook, prompted by the video.

In a guest post on Art Rainer’s blog, Sam Morris gives five helpful tips for becoming a better public speaker:

Whether it is a sermon full of ‘umms’ or a prayer spoken at the speed of sound, if the audience has lost track you are not communicating effectively. As a pastor, this could quite literally be the difference between redemption and condemnation.

There are a myriad of reasons why a pastor should always continue to develop as a public speaker. Here are  five communication tips for pastors to consider.

Elizabeth Wann published an article earlier this week at Desiring God explaining the hidden ministry of motherhood. Elizabeth writes:

[T]he main role God calls us to as wives and mothers is our home and family. God made women to bear and nurture life and men to provide for and protect the lives of women and children. The heart disposition in these matters manifests itself in where our priorities lie.

At the Baptist Press, Don Whitney explains how he started praying the Bible:

It was the first of March 1985. I remember where I was sitting when it happened.

I was pastor of a church in the western suburbs of Chicago. A guest preacher was speaking at a series of meetings at our church. He was teaching on the prayers of the apostle Paul in his New Testament letters, and encouraging us to pray these inspired prayers as our own.

Then, at one point he held up his Bible said, “Folks, when you pray, use the prayer book.”

In that moment I suddenly realized, “The entire Bible is a prayer book. We can pray not only the prayers of Paul in Ephesians, we can pray everything in the Book of Ephesians.”

Chris Martin recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Russell Moore about his latest book ‘Onward’.

I do not count it coincidence that a leader as articulate and gracious as he has been made the leader of one of the most influential Christian organizations in Washington, D.C. amidst our present culture context. The Lord knew what he was doing when he led Dr. Moore to lead the ERLC, and I’m thankful for that. People who get on TV to represent Christianity sometimes make Christians look silly. Dr. Moore has done quite the opposite, and I’m thankful someone like him represents evangelicals on CNN and other places.

In Case You Missed It

1) At Christianity Today, this young Iraqi girl — living in a mall in Mosul because her family would likely be killed by ISIS if they went outside — teaches the Arab world and us about forgiveness.

2) Anthony Bradley argues at World Magazine that talk of Jesus and social justice among evangelicals often ignores the largest group in the U.S., poor whites.

3) From First Things, Matthew Schmitz points out the ironically traditional view of the family held by gay fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana.

4) At Facts and Trends, Chris Martin and Marty Duren note several hashtag dos and don’ts for churches.

5) For helpful stuff on faith and culture, check out the new Intersect Project hosted by SEBTS in partnership with the Kern Family Foundation.