Sunday, August 26, 2007

Introducing the Newest Member of the Harmon Family

You are looking at the latest addition to our family and his namesake. Meet Luther, our 10 1/2 week old Boston Terrier puppy. We have had him now for almost two weeks, and he is already displaying personality characteristics consistent with his namesake. Some have even suggested there is a physical resemblance, but no consensus has emerged.

He is still learning to do his business outside rather than inside, but we are optimistic that eventually he will learn the appropriate place to relieve himself. Although theologically I know that he lacks a sin nature, there are times that my belief is tested!

Luther has already brought much joy into our family and we hope that in God's providence he will grant us many years to enjoy Luther.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Questioning Evangelism

This weekend I read the best book on evangelism that I can remember reading. It is called Questioning Evangelism: Engaging People's Hearts the Way Jesus Did by Randy Newman. No, Newman is not questioning the practice of evangelism, but rather advocating that we use questions in our efforts to communicate the gospel with others. Drawing on Jesus' own example as well as wisdom from the book of Proverbs, Newman explains the potential of questions to enrich our gospel conversations and effectively move people towards Christ. This is Part 1 of the book.

In part 2, Newman explores a series of common questions that are raised by non-Christians in gospel conversations, including: intolerance, problem of evil, reliability of the Bible, homosexuality, marriage and hypocrisy. His handling of these issues is biblically sound, culturally informed, and presented in an engaging manner.

Part 3 completes the book by dealing with three further issues: compassion for the lost, dealing with anger, and learning when to be silent. Newman also handles these topics with a mixture of grace and truth that reflects the biblical wisdom on these matters.

Randy has served on staff with Campus Crusade for over 20 years and brings this vast experience to the subject. But in addition to these years of experience, Randy brings his Jewish sense of humor to the subject in a manner that makes the book less of a handbook and more of conversation. Indeed, as a personal friend of Randy, as I read the book I found myself thinking, "I can hear Randy saying those very words and even his tone of voice." You will NOT be bored by this book. Particularly noteworthy are the frequent sample "dialogues" throughout the book that give tangible examples of what gospel centered conversations might look like.

But don't just take my word for it; listen to two of the endorsements from the back of the book:

"This book is must reading for those who want to learn how to bring apologetics into evangelism in a biblical and relationally sensitive way" - J.P. Moreland, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

"This book reflects both a deep grasp of biblical theology and a penetrating compassion for people. How very much like the Master himself!" - D.A. Carson, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

I would have endorsed the book, but I wasn't asked :)

But in all seriousness, this is a must read for anyone interested in communicating the gospel in a compelling way.

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Kingdom of Priests

Last week during the class "Guiding Principles for the People of God in a Postmodern World" I led a session on "A Kingdom of Priests." What I attempted to do was trace this biblical-theological thread from Genesis to Revelation. The texts I chose to highlight were: Gen 1-2; Exod 19:5-6; Ps 110; Heb 5:1-10; 1 Pet 2:4-10; Rev 20-22. In preparing for this, I came across a helpful description of what it meant for Israel to be a kingdom of priests in Douglas Stuart's commentary on Exodus in the New American Commentary series. Stuart summarizes it in four terms (the terms in parentheses were my attempt to make them all start with "i")

  1. Live (Incarnate)Israel would be an example to the people of other nations, who would see its holy beliefs and actions and be impressed enough to want to know personally the same God the Israelites knew.
  2. Proclaim (Invite)Israel would proclaim the truth of God and invite people from other nations to accept him in faith as shown by confession of belief in him and acceptance of his covenant.
  3. IntercedeIsrael would intercede for the rest of the world by offering acceptable offerings to God (both sacrifices and right behavior) and thus ameliorate the general distance between God and humankind.
  4. Preserve (Inscribe)Israel would keep the promises of God, preserving his word already spoken and recording his word as it was revealed to them so that once the fullness of time had come, anyone in the whole world could promptly benefit from that great body of divinely revealed truth, that is, the Scriptures.
What do you think of this summary? And how does this description relate to the church today? Based on 1 Pet 2:9-10 we would obviously want to argue for some continuity, but are there any discontinuities that must be recognized?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

And Now for Something Entirely Unrelated ...

Today's post is a hiatus from biblical theology and the emerging/emergent church discussion for something much more banal. Here is my question: should I create a Facebook or MySpace account? Several people recently have suggested the need for me to do so, and I have been resistant. But I might be able to be persuaded that one or both would be a good idea.

So, what do you think? For those of you who have such accounts, why do you have them and what benefits and drawbacks do you see with them? For those who do not, why not?