Pastors on Pedestals

The first danger I want to highlight is that of the celebrity pastor who is ultimately so big as to be practically beyond criticism.  Some pastors are just so successful as communicators that, frankly, they are placed on a pedestal and become, in both their precept and example, authoritative sources of wisdom to their followers.  In part this is because many rightly think that thankfulness, not criticism, should be the appropriate response to seeing the Lord bless a ministry. Who really wants to criticise a man who brings so many the good news? Yet in an age where sheer numerical success and the ability to pull in the punters and keep them enthralled is often assumed to be a clear sign of faithfulness, there are dangers of which we must be aware…

Praise God for preachers whose ministries are extraordinarily blessed; but let us hold them to the same exacting standards as Paul held the super-apostles in Corinth.   Celebrity ministers who act as influential lone rangers in constituencies where there is no accountability can prove remarkably dangerous.  And if they do not come up to snuff on standards of life and doctrine, let us not pretend otherwise, or trade off fidelity for eloquence or stage presence.  Make no mistake: tomorrow’s church will be the epitaph of today’s leaders.

Carl Trueman

A Most Eloquent Exposition on the Cross

The Glory of the Cross is understood when we see that the impaled and immolated Christ is not simply a helpless victim, rather that the Cross was the instrument by which our Lord wielded his Almightiness, through the Eternal Spirit, as the weapon of his warfare so that it became the means of his victory over sin, Satan and death. Christ was not simply suffering the will of God, he was doing it.

The cross was not the stake of a martyr: it was a theatre of war, the scene of a mighty conflict. Incalculable spiritual power was being wielded. Sin was being rendered impotent; death was being destroyed; the rulers of the darkness of this world were being routed. At no point of our Lord’s death was there loss of consciousness or exhaustion or strength. His spirit is not simply to depart, or to expire. It is rather dismissed, on the authority of the Saviour, as a magnificent shout of triumph reverberates through heaven, earth and hell – ‘It is finished!’ So forgiveness in the Bible is grounded firmly in the rectitude of God, not his indulgence. It is a righteous act, and a judicial action sanctioned by the Moral law. The sacrifice of the Lord of glory, the blood of God the Son, justify justification. In the flesh of the Son of God the sins of the church of God have been condemned.
Therefore in the logic of redemption there is now no condemnation. In Christ, they are all that the righteousness of God requires the Holy One to require, and for that reason not only may  God forgive them, but God may not forgive them. It is to the divine fidelity that the eloquence of the Cross is ultimately addressed. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ Jesus that died. That is the Glory of the Cross.
Geoff Thomas, Minister, Alfred Place Baptist Church,
Aberystwyth, Wales, UK

The Challenge of Teaching the Bible in an Academic (or church!) Setting

Teaching in a theological climate is a very lonely and sometimes daunting enterprise. Even with the most absorbed and friendly class, you are all alone there in front. What you say will inevitably be passed on—sometimes garbled and distorted. When you read the exams and one student after another gets it all wrong, there is really only one conclusion available: you, with all your preparation and good intentions, have deceived a whole class, and they will go on to deceive the waiting world. It is hard to be fearless and open to learning and willing to teach something new and important. It is easy to be safe and lazy.

Clair Davis, Chaplain and Professor of Church History, Redeemer Seminary, Dallas TX

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