Friday, July 18, 2008

John Adams on the preaching we need

With the recent unpleasantness in Massachusetts, I found myself drawn back to the writings of John Adams.
"It is the duty of the clergy to accommodate their discourses to the times, to preach against such sins as are most prevalent, and recommend such virtues as are most wanted.

For example, if exorbitant ambition and venality are predominant, ought they not to warn their hearers against those vices?

If public spirit is much wanted, should they not inculcate this great virtue?

If the rights and duties of Christian magistrates and subjects are disputed, should they not explain them, show their nature, ends, limitations, and restrictions, how muchsoever it may move the gall of Massachusetts?"
Read the rest here or here. And remember, despite the evidence, he was indifferent to personal religion. Right, public schools?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Greekin' Deacons

Make Acolytin' Averys! He looks so serious next to his doofus father.
That's not my usual surplice (which looks more like this one). But it was hot, so I wasn't going for the more opaque heavy linen (which my long-suffering wife made for me).

This is a pic of my eldest son on his first day as an acolyte. I should threaten to make an alliterative blog for him...

And just for kicks, here's a recent pic of the rest of the family.

Yes, that's seersucker. You can take a boy out of the South, but you can't take the south out of the boy. The Heat Will Rise Again!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Mush Mouth Hymnody

Back when I was a rabid Reformer (instead of a regular Calvinist), I was told by the TRULY REFORMED that to say nice things about John Wesley was just "speaking peace" to the Arminians. Well...having grown up a bit (and grown into Christ's love), I now side with George Whitfield and speak admirably of the evangelist who founded the denomination into which I was born (even though he himself was buried as an Anglican priest). In 1761, John Wesley wrote "Directions for Singing" - a short set of instructions that continues to be printed in the front matter of many hymnals. Apparently, he should have added something about enunciation.

You see, classic hymnody may draw people because of it's majesty, its history, or simple innate conservatism. But the real power of the great hymns are their ability to convey the faith in fullness - through an appeal to the emotions and an appeal to the mind. The doctrinal content is, for me, one of the enduring contributions of classic hymnody. And when it is sung poorly (such that the words muddle together), then we lose its greatest gift. (And when the words are changed or muddled deliberately, that's worse!)*

This tradition of mixing good theology with good music continues in a variety of genres. Michael Card is one of my favorite composers for modern Christian music. Keith Getty makes some incredible songs for congregational singing. Vicar's son, Stuart Townend, is also an excellent composer and worship leader, as well as practical/musical theologian. Let's get past the worship wars of style and move back to Christ-honoring content!

*Concessions can be made for inclusive language regarding humanity without having to muck up the rest of the song.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Becoming a Popular "Evangelical" Writer

There've been a string of pomo "evangelicals" getting lots of press / publishing attention in the last few years. (Think Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, Shane Claiborne, etc.) I like to just call them emerjerks. But I do envy their success. Thanks to Doug Groothius, I now have the secret tools needed to write like them so I don't have to be "right" anymore. It's so...liberating?

Click here for Groothius' list.

Meanwhile, if you don't mind being a crusty old fundamentalist, check out the action at Classical Presbyterian.