Mark D. Roberts

Mark D. Roberts

Fascinating Links from Christianity Today

I regularly peruse Christianity Today Magazine’s online website and its Liveblog. I recommend that you do the same.
Some of today’s posts I found particularly striking. Ted Olsen, writing for the Liveblog, put up “Postcard from San Diego: Fighting ‘Bibliolatry’ at the Evangelical Theological Society.” In this post he summarizes an address by J.P. Moreland at the Evangelical Theological Society meeting in San Diego. According to Moreland, as quoted by Olsen,


“In the actual practices of the Evangelical community in North America, there is an over-commitment to Scripture in a way that is false, irrational, and harmful to the cause of Christ,” he said. “And it has produced a mean-spiritedness among the over-committed that is a grotesque and often ignorant distortion of discipleship unto the Lord Jesus.”

Wow! Them’s fightin’ words in a group that prides itself on its commitment to Scripture. And coming from Moreland, a highly-regarded evangelical philosopher and professor at Biola University, such an accusation can’t be ignored. I once had Moreland preach in my pulpit at Irvine Presbyterian Church. He did a great job interpreting the Scripture and challenging us to take it seriously. Moreland’s latest book, picture to the right, is called Kingdom Triangle: Recover the Christian Mind, Renovate the Soul, Restore the Spirit’s Power. I haven’t read this book yet, but I expect it’s a good one. (Thanks, Ted Olsen, for this overview.)
Christianity Today Magazine is featuring a number of articles on the issue of faith and work:
Uwe Siemon-Netto, in “Work Is Our Mission,” offers a Lutheran perspective on the value of work. On the basis of Luther’s doctrine of the two kingdoms, Siemon-Netto writes:


“This idea—that by doing our daily chores we are priests equal to the minister serving at the altar—is hugely liberating, especially as we know that in our other abode, the right-hand kingdom, we are already redeemed. With this theology, Luther put laity on par with liturgists, preachers, and others officiating in divine service, and thus laid the groundwork for the modern vision of democracy. And this is perfectly biblical.”

“Integrating Faith and Work” is an interview by Collin Hansen of David Miller, executive director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, and author of God at Work: The History and Promise of the Faith at Work Movement (Oxford, 2006). Here’s one excerpt from the interview:


What have we as Christians lost by not integrating faith into the workplace? We’ve lost a whole generation of people who either go through the motions when they go to church or just don’t go to church anymore. My research shows that sermons seldom wrestle with biblical teachings and theologies of work, which is where most people in the pews are spending their time.

“The Mission of Business,” by Joe Maxwell, offers a fascinating look at the growing effort by Christians to advance their evangelistic and justice agenda through for-profit businesses. Many think that the next wave of evangelism throughout the world will come through BAM (Business as Mission). Here’s an excerpt from the article:


The phenomenon has many labels: “kingdom business,” “kingdom companies,” “for-profit missions,” “marketplace missions,” and “Great Commission companies,” to name a few. But observers agree the movement is already huge and growing quickly. BAM “is the big trend now, and everyone wants to say they’re doing it,” says Steve Rundle, associate professor of economics at Biola University

Thanks, Christianity Today, for covering such valuable and timely issues. (It occurs to me that since I am now working for Laity Lodge, I should mention that we have a ministry relationship with Christianity Today. Through, we supply the content for CT’s page. But my interest in and appreciation for CT antedates my working at Laity Lodge by, oh, about 32 years.)

  • RJS

    You are right – them’s fighting words. But Moreland is absolutely right. The single most significant factor driving me from faith as a grad student was the Evangelical over-commitment to scripture. And the single most significant discovery that allowed me back was the realization that the truth of Christianity does not hang on this.

  • Mark Goodyear

    The Moreland quote reminded me of something I read in Hans Urs von Balthasar’s book, Prayer.
    First, he admires protestantism’s “earnest study of the word of God.” But then he writes, “…too often it lacks something that could lift it to genuine contemplation and vision, namely, the Word’s indwelling…”
    Growing up in the Church of Christ, I knew many teachers who were quite open about denying the reality of the Holy Spirit except through the printed word of the Bible. It’s been hard to overcome that.

  • Charles

    I greatly respect your opinion, but I think Keith Mathison who wrote “The Shape of Sola Scriptura” would have done a better job on this topic. From Olsen’s excerpts, Moreland sounded a bit philosophically naive.
    From his arguments about circular reasoning, his interaction with modern reformed philosophers like Kuyper seems a bit abbreviated to say the least!

  • Evan

    I have to say that my initial impression is that this is another fight over “definitions” posed in a fractious manner.
    If the question is whether or not God can communicate validly with a person outside the reading of Scripture, there are many examples in which that has appeared to validly occur. (Peter Marshall’s description of “the tap on the shoulder” comes to mind.) And I suppose that there is no argument that if such communication conflicts with Scripture, the validity is gone. Yet an argument there appears to be, because actually defining all of the above in a precise manner is difficult and tricky.
    Experience is also replete with examples of excess or error in extraBiblical communication, and I would venture that is why such extreme caution is used and indeed, needed. “God told me to divorce my wife and marry the secretary” is an easy call to make, but what do you do with someone who says that God has revealed to him the individual names of the 153 fish in John 21? What is THAT communication? Is it SATAN, bad pizza or what? And make no mistake, there will be some folks who insist that it is certainly possible God Himself DID reveal this truth to that person, and who are we to say?, etc. It is a very treacherous topic to broach.
    So in an area that begs for extreme caution that has divided folks in the past comes the accusation of “over-commitment to Scripture,” a description that is not only questionable in describing the problem, it is deliberately provocative and likely to polarize. If the goal is to arouse passions, grab headlines and give ammunition to non-Christians, it succeeds. If the goal was to foster understanding and a resolution of conflict, well, I would say that name-calling has always been a poor way to go about that.

  • Amera Joseff

    All may be interested to know that JP has posted his response to the CT blog on the Kingdom Triangle blog:

  • Mark D. Roberts

    Thanks, Amera, for this valuable link!

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