Links to Think: 03.12.12

Conversion and Conversionism - Mike Horton discusses conversion, the ordo salutis, and the reading list for his recent article, “What To Do When Your Testimony Is Boring.” I appreciate his highlighting a covenant view of children here in his explanation of conversion and conversionism (emphasis mine):

“Conversion is a biblical teaching wherein we learn that we’re not active in our regeneration.  However, activated by God’s grace, we repent and believe.  Repentance and belief are gifts, but we are the ones repenting and believing – this is conversion.  “Conversionism” (the conversionism in the evangelical church, with which we’re all familiar) is reductionistic in two ways.

First, it reduces the field of conversion to those who have no connection with the church.  When we treat conversion as always something radical and distinct from the ordinary means of grace in the covenantal nurture of Christian families and churches, we make void the promise “for you and your children,” (Acts 2:39).  Half of our missionfield—those covenant children already entrusted to our care—is cut off.  They are not Christians; they must become Christians outside the ordinary operations of the church’s ministry, in an event specially crafted to produce conversionsSecond, it reduces the time of conversion to a moment in the past.  In the New Testament, though, conversion is a lifelong process.  The question is not whether I repented and believed once upon a time.  My older brother isn’t walking with the Lord.  Nevertheless, whenever I have raised the question, he assures me that he is “saved” because he responded to an altar call and invited Jesus into his heart when he was 7.  There is no valid profession of faith today, but he was taught early on that none of this really matters.  Conversion—the daily call to die to self (repentance/ mortification) and live to Christ (faith/vivification)—is ongoing.  It is a life of conversion, however imperfect and incomplete, not a moment of conversion, that believers embrace by God’s grace.”

Russia in color, a century ago – The Boston Globe’s “Big Picture” highlights some amazing color photos from Russia around 1910. (These are amazing! Take a look.)

“Photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) undertook a photographic survey of the Russian Empire with the support of Tsar Nicholas II. He used a specialized camera to capture three black and white images in fairly quick succession, using red, green and blue filters, allowing them to later be recombined and projected with filtered lanterns to show near true color images. The high quality of the images, combined with the bright colors, make it difficult for viewers to believe that they are looking 100 years back in time – when these photographs were taken, neither the Russian Revolution nor World War I had yet begun.”

Jesus is Coming Back When? - Joe Carter at the Gospel Coalition Blog gives a helpful overview of four main eschatological views.

I grew up in a Christian school where with few exceptions (including one really good exception), high school Bible classes consisted of filling up chalkboards with diagrams, and up and down arrows of when and how the end-times would play out. I also grew up being part of churches that frequently sponsored or held prophecy (which, of course, was specifically end-times prophecy) conferences, and grew up reading the Left Behind series (and watching the movies when they came out). Until college, I don’t think I even knew there were other views of the end times.

I continued under a similar eschatological teaching (no chalkboard charts or cheesy Christian pop novels, though; and we did discuss other views) throughout college and the church we were part of when first marriage, where a missionary’s support was dropped when he concluded he no longer held the same view. (Ironically, it was while studying through the last chapters of Matthew during our final months at this same church that I came to see how some of the other views could make sense.) Upon having to leave this church ourselves, my husband and I were both surprised on our first visit to a new church (where we now attend), and the pastor preached a sermon that briefly touched on end times views but stated clearly that he didn’t believe his particular view was the way, the truth, and the life. Since much of my life had been spent under teachings of dispensational premillenialism, it was helpful to read through this article.

Four Reasons Why Public Critique Does Not Invoke Matthew 18 - Rick Phillips offers insight on the frequent misapplication of Matthew 18.

“This demand for personal contact prior to public criticism of published writings is becoming almost ubiquitous these days.  We even hear complaints that public critique violates Matthew 18 unless there has private dialogue first.  Let me offer the following four reasons why this is completely wrong…”

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