Free University Orthodoxy

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During the debate over “biblical inerrancy” that raged among evangelicalism for several years in the late 1970s, I remember someone observing that Harold Lindsell’s 1976 book, The Battle for the Bible, which pretty much got that debate going, was more a theory of institutional change than it . . . . Continue Reading »

From Rudolph to Bethlehem

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Even though Rudolph had been around as a story book character well before 1949, Gene Autry’s recording in that year of the musical version of the saga made the red-nosed reindeer a standard member of the Yuletide cast in popular culture. I was a nine-year-old at the time and, having successfully . . . . Continue Reading »

Taking Special Vows in Theology

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To say that we evangelicals haven’t always engaged in respectful dialogue with folks representing other perspectives is to put it mildly. But there are clear signs that things are improving, in at least some parts of the evangelical world. The presence of many evangelical voices as a part of the . . . . Continue Reading »

Sporting Transcendence

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Recently I got quite caught up in a football game on television. It was a close match right to the very end. And in a dramatic finish the college team I was rooting for pulled off the victory. Watching it was a good way of spending a few hours. I did not experience any self-transcendence, however. . . . . Continue Reading »

A Good Word for Locke

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The lecturer was setting forth a biblical perspective on the role of government, with special attention to the Pauline text in Romans 13. At one point he introduced a rhetorical flourish with a passing negative reference to John Locke. The Bible sees the authority to govern as coming from God—“and not,” the lecturer said, “from a human contract, as John Locke insisted.” Continue Reading »

Talking Calvinism with Robert H. Schuller

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One day in the spring of 1990, I received a phone call from Professor Hendrikus Berkhof, a well-known theologian at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. He was visiting Southern California and had a free day at his before flying out. “I would like to see Fuller Seminary,” he said. Having never spent time with Professor Berkhof, I was quite honored by his request. I had read and re-read at least five of his books, and his discussion of themes in Reformed theology had (and has) significantly influenced my thinking. Continue Reading »

China's New Consumerism

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On a chilly afternoon last October, as my son and I walked through a bustling shopping district in Xi’an, China, we passed a group of teenage girls who were chattering loudly in Mandarin. Obviously they had been shopping in a nearby mall, as several of them were carrying bags labeled with familiar names, including “Gap.” What struck me especially, though, was that one of the young women wore a t-shirt featuring a picture of Justin Bieber.Earlier that day I had given a lecture to 120 pastors from midwestern and western China, who had been brought together by the Three-Self church leadership for continuing education. In our conversations, several pastors expressed concern about a growing penchant for consumerism in the younger generation, a reality that was confirmed for me by my brief encounter with the teenagers. Continue Reading »

Hartford: A Reminiscence

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This year marks the 40th anniversary of the 1975 “Hartford Appeal for Theological Affirmation.” Some of us who were signers have been quietly reminiscing about the project. One of my fellow participants wrote me about it recently, referring to “the ‘historic’(?) Hartford conclave.” Putting the “historic” in quotes with a parenthetical question mark rightly distanced the Appeal from any status as a major ecclesiastical document. The Appeal may show up in an occasional footnote these days, but its actual theological content is seldom recalled. Continue Reading »