June 9, 2005

David set the ball rolling with You might be a presbyterian if…. so here goes with the traits of charismatics of which I am one (this should be treated as humorous)

So, you might be a charismatic if….

1. You secretly wish you could swing from the chandeliers during worship
2. You have ever sang the song “Bind us together lord”
3. The words “wine” “river” “sprit” and “fire” and “breath” are all synonyms to you

4. You know (or think you do) exactly what the words Rhema, logos, Ruach and Pneuma mean, but have never heard of any other greek or hebrew words.
5. When you hear of the phrase “slain in the spirit” you dont think it means God killing someone!

January 28, 2005

Having been accused of being too close to jollyblogger I decided it is time to find something to disagree with him over- but what I ask myself?

Could I disagree with his denominational aggregator ? But on what grounds? That I am gutted that there’s finally an aggregator I can’t join? That seems rather more self-seeking than even my worst critics would accuse me of being. Could I criticise the reintroduction of denominational divisions online? Nonprophet chruch has some legitamate worries about this. Is it wrong to carve up the blogosphere like this?

I will have to go on record as believing it is not. It is important for people of like minds to be able to find each others blogs and interact. But impotantly no-one need be part of only one aggregator so being part of a denominational aggregator doesn’t stop me from gaining readers from other groupings as well. Also, I am sure I will pop by aggregators from other groups from time to time

The more ways we carve up the blogosphere in different ways, the easier it will be for people to find our blogs. When submitted to google, aggregator pages often rank quite highly- 10 Christian Blogs is rapidly rising through the ranks for the term Christian blogs for example even though it is still new and many people havent had a chance to link to it yet. This should help non-bloggers find a selection of Christian blogs easily.

In any case it would be hypocritical of me to criticise David for setting up a denominational aggregator when I have just started Reformed Charismatic Blogs. Admitadly it is not quite denominational but does closely define those who would want to appear there. (Any submissions greatfully received)

So that just leaves one sticky point- what to disagree with David over? Well over here presbyterians tend to be paedobaptists….maybe David sprinkles babies? I could so debate on that one with him.

I know how it would go though- I would say “but the bible says believe AND be baptised in that order” he would say “but what about the households of Acts” I would say in almost every case the households are described as “believing” he would say something about covenant and circumscion, I would say but Paul says NT circumcision is what is done in our hearts at conversion. He would say something about denying babies the blessings of being in the covenant community. I would say “but what blessings exactly- what does it do for a baby”. He would probably say “not very much to be honest”. I would say, but on worst case scenario if I am wrong I am merely delaying my kids from enjoying baptism and allowing them to remember it, and I would ask “whats the worst case scenario if you are wrong?”. He would have to say that worst case scenario thousands are ignoring Christ’s command coz they believe they did it as kids. I would say, on balance even if I am wrong I would rather not take those chances and in any case loads of people have been falsely innoculated against christianity as they were christened as kids and believe they got it all at that point. He would then say “but thats not what I am talking about” and I would say short of banning baby baptism altogether “how can I make sure that non-believers dont do it?”. Then I would reiterate “what have my kids missed out on?” then just maybe he’d have no real answer to give and I would go away thinking I have won and he would go away thinking I had missed the point. So maybe thats a whole argument summarised. Probably knowing my luck I will find Jollyblogger is actually a baptist presbyterian if such a thing exists and I will be back to the drawing board for something to disagree about……… But having said that, I wonder if david has the guts to own up to being a reformed charismatic and joining my latest aggregator……. Maybe thats the isssue to disagree on, although the last time we tried that one we ended up agreeing more than we thought……

May 19, 2004

Jollyblogger is as much a hero to me in the blogdom as C.J.Mahaney is as a preacher! He is much wiser than I am, much more measured in his comments, and brings out the best in me. It is fantastic to have a great conversation going on between two very different schools of Christian thought – even if on most points he and I would definitely agree!

At risk of boring some of you, I intend to carry this on in our fast becoming inimitable style- measured, relaxed, often with a day or two in between posts to allow for time to reflect, and with liberal smatterings of kindness to one another. This is still a place for godly debate in Christian circles!!!

What I also love about this is it is an example of people from rather different backgrounds moving closer together, and approaching the truth from different vantage points.

There is no doubt that we have clearly demonstrated two things, just in the nature of this conversation. Firstly not every cessationist denies the validity of any experience of God. Secondly not every charismatic denies the primacy of biblical authority over subjective impressions.

What I mean by that is, people can believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit have stopped, but still either long for or actively experience the presense and power of the God who acts. People who claim to experience the gifts of the Holy Spirit can also be bible scholars.

So yes, there is much agreement. Agreement that Spurgeon is an amazing character, and recognition that “if Spurgeon was a Cessationist he was far more open to supernatural manifestations than are the cessationists of today are.”

But perhaps where I might differ from Jollyblogger is that I would advocate the seeking after an experience of the supernatural God.

To quote the Doctor again “We must not be content until we have had some manifestation of the activity of God. We must concentrate on this. This is my plea, that we concentrate on this, because it is the great message of the Bible……. Let us put it like this: Do we really believe that God can still act? That is the question; that is the ultimate challenge. Or have we, for theological or some other reasons, excluded the very possibility?”

You see, I would advocate the need to consciously receive the Holy Spirit, and whether the cessationist Matthew Henry means quite the same thing as this or not when he says “many are deceived in this matter, thinking they have received the Holy Ghost when really they have not.”, the sentiment is clearly there.

It is as we know the communion of the Holy Spirit that our Christian lives can be transformed. Right now, I feel that there are many in the church- myself included- who could use some more of the Holy Spirit. In fact who couldnt? Please pray for me that I might be full of the Holy Spirit.

In terms of what the Holy Spirit does, I was actually rather confused by an article Dave refers to which asks Does God Speak Today Apart from the Bible?

“We need to ask ourselves, first, what does it mean to say that ‘God speaks today’? Keeping in mind the traditional meaning that ‘God speaks today through the Bible,’ the phrase has come to be used in two other senses. For some, the words ‘God speaks today’ are simply a popular, if misleading, way of describing the fact that God guides and directs His people by His Spirit in the application of His written word through promptings, impressions, insights, and the like. Most non-Pentecostals and noncharismatics have explained these (more or less) intuitive experiences in terms of the Spirit’s works of illumination, leading, and conviction. A few would even acknowledge that, among those who fit a given psycho-spiritual profile, these experiences might be accompanied by things seen or heard. All of these experiences are, however, carefully distinguished from the Spirit’s work of revelation.6 Hence, though the Spirit’s illumination and guidance may sometimes focus on phenomena such as promptings or impressions, those phenomena are not specifically interpreted as involving the biblical ministry-gifts of revelation, such as prophecy and tongues or their correlates (e.g., visions, dreams, auditions).”

Now this seems to me to be having your cake and eating it! Either God doesnt speak today at all, or he can speak through impressions which are equivalent to the New Testament gifts. What exactly is this third way that is being suggested? I velieve that what is happening here is that people are nervous of identifying fallible modern impressions with those that we are assuming are infallible in Scripture.

In the article that Dave recommends (Which I have in libronix form) in the Journal of Evangelical Theology, (39/1) of March 1996, by Vern Poythress of Westminster Seminary, called Modern Spiritual Gifts As Analogous To Apostolic Gifts: Affirming Extraordinary Works Of The Spirit Within Cessationist Theology, Vern Poythress is clearer in what he is saying.

I maintain that modern spiritual gifts are analogous to but not identical with the divinely authoritative gifts exercised by the apostles. Since there is no strict identity, apostolic teaching and the Biblical canon have exclusive divine authority. On the other hand, since there is analogy, modern spiritual gifts are still genuine and useful to the Church. Hence there is a middle way between blanket approval and blanket rejection of modern charismatic gifts.

But I dont believe that New Testament gifts were always authoritive, nor do I believe that they were only excercised by the apostles. 1 Corinthians is proof enough of both ascertions!

A fundemental question for me which cuts right to the heart of this issue is ‘When were biblical apostles and prophets infallible?’ Was it only when writing scripture or was it at all times? Well clearly the apostles made mistakes- they are documented in the bible. I also remain unconvinced that Agabus prophecy about Pauls capture was 100% accurate in all its detail- and certainly the application sought by many ‘Don’t go’ was not correct!

Lets put my question another way. Suppose we could identify a letter from Paul to one of the churches that had been lost since biblical times. Suppose we could prove 100% that it was from him. Would we add it to the bible? Would we treat it as authoritive? Or would we see it as an interesting example of literature that might illumine the rest of the bible, but is clearly not inspired or else it would have been in the bible. Could it have contained a mistake and therefore God arranged for it to be lost? I think our answer to a question like this reveals much about our attitude to apostles in the bible.

Dare I say it I dont believe that apostles were always infallible- only when writing scripture. Thus it is entirely plausible for me that ministry gifts and even the offices of apostle and prophet could exist today in a fallible way. I believe that we should not make biblical gifts into something they were not intended to be.

And Dave, let me say, I dont blame you for wheeling out the dodgy examples of charismatic folly- I could share loads! But what I would say is lets be careful not to advocate not using real money just because we found a few counterfeit notes.

I would argue that the apostles, prophets and others mentioned in Ephesians 4 are all ongoing fallable gifts given to the church throughout all ages UNTIL we are all perfect and mature. Since we havent got there yet, they must continue. Actually I am not convinced even that Ephesians 2 is talking about something that happened in the past to all the church- what is true of The Church as a whole is usually true of local expressions of it in my view.

Matthew Henry in my view clearly fudges this issue, but does so in a most illumining way. He is quite clear that in his view some of the Eph 4 gifts continue to today. But who is to read into Eph 4 which of them continue and which stop? And just where in the passage does this idea of some of these gifts stopping come from? To me Eph 4 is quite clear if read without our traditional spectacles on, all of these gifts are there for all of our good for all time in the church.

I do believe we need to see more of the gifts that God gives us, and more of the filling of the Holy Spirit in this day. Why not pray now for an outpouring of God’s Spirit on his church at this time!

December 21, 2013

We are getting closer both to Christmas, and to the end of my series exploring the highlights of my more than ten years of blogging. So far I have posted about the years 20052006200720082009, 20102011, and 2012.

Here then are my highlights of 2004. With a few exceptions which should be obvious from the titles bellow, there were quite a lot of memorable posts, but few series this year, and so I thought I would present these a bit differently than I have been.

December 20, 2013

I am continuing my trip down memory lane. So far I have posted my personal blogging highlights from the years 2006200720082009, 20102011, and 2012.

Today we reach 2005.

At the beginning of the year I was still at the height of what was a really defining dialogue for the early days of this blog, with a gentleman who longtime Christian blog readers will be familiar with as the Jollyblogger.  David hasn’t been active on the Internet in recent times, since 5 years ago this December he was diagnosed with cancer.  Having said that, he is still preaching over at the church he pastors. I enjoyed listening to a recent sermon of his: The Gift while writing this post.

David is a Presbyterian and yet I found he and I agreed on far more than we disagreed.  So much so that some people thought we were the same person in the early days!  So, come January 2005 I was looking for things to disagree with him about to prove that we were two people!

In February, I shared a Simple Gospel summary which led to a lot of criticism at the time. Interestingly, given the fact that I would later write Raised With Christ, as far as I can remember nobody complained at the time that there was a glaring hole in that summary: the resurrection of Jesus!

March 2005 saw me mentioning our forthcoming move as a church into the cinema.  At the time we were  around 100 adults, but I spoke of how we were convinced God was calling us to build a large church in North London.  I thank God that  the work has been so blessed of God in recent years. It was really like he pressed the fast forward button.

Over the year I also wrote a few posts on preaching including:

The Toronto blessing was  a time when some believed the church was going mad.  At the time I wrote a substantial article responding to the phenomena. It was the first substantial Christian article I ever wrote. To mark the 11 year anniversary of the events I posted it on my blog.  It is hard to believe that it will be 20 years next May! As I said back then, “Some of my reformed friends are uncomfortable with the fact that I am willing to see good in what happened. No doubt some of my charismatic friends will be unhappy with the fact that I accept that unhelpful excesses also occurred in some places.”  I commend the article as it includes some suggestions about how to respond to unusual phenomena.

I took a moment to pause and ask why bother blogging,  and my rather bold views of what blogging could accomplish do remain valid today.

A major series of 2005 was my interview with the translators of the ESV.  I think it still makes interesting reading today but I apologize for the formatting errors that have somehow crept in due to the various hosting moves over the years.  I really could use a blogging intern to help me tidy some of those older posts up.  Any volunteers?

I used the blog to put forward a couple of controversial ideas.  The first was that Galatians was written before the Jerusalem council, and the second Did Paul meet Jesus?  I also posted on the New Perspectives on Paul.

Another major series was based on a sermon I preached Churches that Change the World this includes some posts on a fascinating way of looking at personality in a team, Social Styles.

I posted the results of a conversation with my then 8 year old, on the question What is Love? and preached a sermon inspired by this.

2005 will forever be remembered as the year of the London Tube bombings which was a moment of real merciful deliverance for us as a nation from what could have been so much worse.

All in all, I think 2005 was a vintage blogging year, and I commend some of these old blog posts for your interest.

August 5, 2011

Today’s guest post comes from David Wayne, the Jollyblogger.  Adrian and David were so close and interacted so much in the early days of Christian blogging that at one point there was an internet rumour that they were the same person!

Adrian’s early debates with David Wayne over the charismatic issue were some of his favourite early blog posts. David has been blogging a lot less lately due in large part to his fight with cancer.  It is great to hear from him again.

God is to be Glorified in Us, Not Useful to Us

By David Wayne

So, as I reported awhile back I am going back to blogging.  But, since with the Lord a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day, the time frame on that is, well . . . let’s call it flexible.

But I thought I would share something today that I hope is helpful.  It’s a quote from Larry Crabb, sorry I don’t remember which book – I know it’s got to be from at least 10 years ago –

The goal is that God be glorified in us, not useful to us.

That sums up my life.  I think that sums up much of the Scripture and I think it sums up where we go wrong in so many ways.  I just can’t figure God out.  I can’t figure out why I can have one day that is so good I feel like I must be cured and then go for weeks without wanting to get out of bed.  I can’t understand why I, as His beloved child, am following pretty much the standard path of the cancer sufferer – doing good for awhile, the cancer abates when I’m on chemo and grows when I’m not.  My life pattern is one where, in order to keep the cancer in abeyance, i. e. keep it from killing me soon, I have to live a life of basic illness from chemo.  I can go off chemo and start feeling a little better for a time but then the cancer grows and death looks closer.

A friend told me tonight that someone told him the covenant promises of God stand for the believer – obey and God will bless, He will cause your kids to follow Christ, and will prosper you financially and otherwise.  I’ve heard basically the same thing about health.  My friend is also going through some very difficult long term trials and he didn’t think this person understood the covenant promises of God anymore than I do.

If this is the case, if the O. T. covenant promises stand as literally stated then how do you explain the cross of Christ.  If the cross removed the curse then why do the all time top 12 of the Christian faith not have lives that conformed to the pattern of blessing – why were the most obedient tortured and subject to horrible rejection and death.

For the record I am staking my life on the hope of the covenant promises, but I believe their final fulfillment comes in the age to come.  For now I can only conclude that the life of a faithful believer is one of pain, suffering and confusion.  This doesn’t mean it’s one without joy and contentment, and I don’t mean to say that my life is without joy and contentment.  There are times these days when I know greater joys than I ever did before cancer.  But I’m also far more confused and disoriented than ever …

Follow this link to read the rest of the article:

“God is to be Glorified in Us, Not Useful to Us” by David Wayne, the Jollyblogger

 

February 19, 2008

No. 2 on the list of most-read posts on this blog appeared on October 26, 2007. This post was an expression of some of my own concerns and frustrations about the blogging world I have come to love so much. I said some things I had been wanting to say for a long time, and it was not a great surprise that the aftermath of this post would lead me to disable comments on my blog a month later. Tim’s book addresses discernment, which lies at the root of many of my issues with the Christian blogosphere and its direction.

A couple of updates to the original post appeared several days later and have been included here as part of the original post.

UPDATE—November 3, 2007
Phil has now written part two of his reply, and I have responded with a post entitled, “Of Tone, Discernment, and the Charismatic Question.”

UPDATE—October 29, 2007
Phil Johnson over at Pyromaniacs and I have been debating the issues raised by my criticism of him in the comments section of his original post. Just search for “Adrian” using the “find in page” function if you want to follow our specific debate. Phil has also written a new post, “If you can’t say something nice,” and we are debating in the comments on that post.

I will leave this post at the top of my blog for a couple more days as I want to give you all a chance to read it. If you are interested in some of my related thoughts on this subject, you could read the following posts:


Those of you with an eagle-eye will have already noticed that I am publicizing Tim Challies’ forthcoming book, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. I doubt that many are surprised that I should want to encourage you to read his book, and I will show in this post why that is the case.

To begin with, however, I want to be very open and honest with you. When I first heard that Tim was writing a book I was actually a little concerned. This may surprise those regular readers who know how much I respect Tim and enjoy his blog. But I still had in my mind an old paradigm where those who are in some way “approved” as trained experts are the ones who should write books. Tim, like me, has no theological degrees. I also know that, just like me concerning this blog, he has been rather surprised by the way in which his readership has grown to an extent he never predicted (and, I should say, to a substantially larger figure than my own). So I was surprised that Tim put his neck on the line still further by taking on the challenge of writing a book.

Tim and I have both been riding a wave—the wave of blogging. In both the secular field and the Christian field, it seems that the most successful bloggers almost all seem to have something in common; they are not “officially trained” recognized global experts in their chosen fields. Perhaps this is because the real experts are too busy to write on a daily basis, or perhaps this is because of a new phenomena in our culture—one with which I’m not particularly thrilled, to be honest. In our 21st century culture there is a growing mistrust of any form of authority and of academics. It is actually rather sad to me that this now seems to be spilling over into the Church, and that it might seem, at first glance, to also include the Christian blogosphere.

David WayneOne of the most influential early articles discussing the Christian blogging phenomenon was titled, “We Know More Than Our Pastors,” and it embodied this trend. It concerned me immensely. David Wayne summarized this piece and sounded some very valid concerns about it. For me, I wanted almost nothing to do with the concepts outlined therein.

Even as I have enjoyed the way that I have been able to be buffeted in this hurricane called blogging, I have also been somewhat concerned about some of the implications of this new marketplace of ideas. I suppose that, despite these reservations, I remain in the blogosphere because I am drawn to it as surely as a bee is to a flower in bloom, and as the Apostle Paul was to the debating spots of ancient Athens.

I am also here because somebody has to be. I am certainly not here because I imagine myself to be at the vanguard of some modern reformation that will sweep away the “old guard” in the way some bloggers (usually not Christian ones) speak about. I am here because, ironically enough, I see this new media as a way that we can proclaim the old, old message. I am here because, in some small way, I can act as a signpost to direct passing traffic to wiser heads than mine. The more readers I find visiting here, the more I feel the need to both quote and link to others. Whatever the size of your blog readership, that filtering process is the single best gift you can give both to your readers and to the writers of even the biggest blogs. I am pleased that the headlines from several bloggers who deserve to be read more than I do appear in the “Warnie Winners” box in my sidebar.

The blogging community can be thought of as a road system, a library, an ecosystem, or perhaps most aptly of all, a jungle. With no single classification system or map, what is needed are good wise guides. There are precious few of them online.

Read more . . . Blogging, Discernment, and a Book by Tim Challies

December 23, 2007

There are only a few more things I’d like to do before I shut down the blog for Christmas. Posting will resume on the 1st of January, but I’ve got something a bit different planned for that month. I’ll tell you more about that when the post I’ve written for that day is published by my editor and research assistant, Annette Harrison.

One thing I do want to do besides saying “Happy Christmas” to all of you is to say a big “thank you!” I obviously want to thank you, my readers, as our interactions make this a much more rewarding experience (yes—even those of you with whom I disagree!). Most of all, I want to thank my family for allowing me to give multiple hours to this hobby of mine. And I want to thank Annette for her help with editing. If anyone out there is looking for a paid remote editor, please drop her an e-mail at annette.harrison@gmail.com and tell her I sent you!

There is, however, one group of people I would like to thank in more detail—those websites and blogs which have sent traffic my way. This surely is a competition where some major kudos go to the winners. It’s almost worth linking to my posts just to share, hopefully, a spot on this list with so many illustrious companions! I will simply reveal here those of you who have done the most to help send readers to my blog this year. I have decided to increase the number of bloggers getting a “thank you link” to 70 this year—have a look and see where your blog stands in these rankings! I did this last year, and it’s interesting to compare the rankings from last year with those of this year. (I will indicate in brackets the previous year’s ranking.)

These sites are ranked in order by the ones who sent me the most visitors as referrals in the second half of 2007. Perhaps not surprisingly, the vast majority of these websites are sites I love and often link to myself. There is a lot of linky love going on, and I count many of these people as my friends. If any of them are unknown to you, why not pop over and visit their site during the next couple of weeks while there will be nothing new here. You just might find yourself wanting to keep going back!

This year you will also get to hear what I think of the top fifteen winners. While I have expanded the list this year because so many interesting blogs rank beyond the top 15—since I couldn’t think what to say about Facebook—15 seemed like as good a place as any to stop my comments. So whoever you are, I want to thank you for your kindness in reading and sending other readers to this blog. I hope that the people you sent found something useful, even if it was only a handy link from which to continue surfing. Remember, keep linking, and who knows? You might make this list next year!

Here, then, are my top referring websites, with the exception of search engines and aggregators:

THE TOP FIFTEEN TRAFFIC DONORS TO THIS BLOG

  1. BETWEEN TWO WORLDS (3) http://theologica.blogspot.com/
    The blog with three names—”Theologica” or “Between Two Worlds” or more likely known to most of us simply as “Justin Taylor’s blog”—has leap-frogged over two others into top place this year. No other website, apart from search engines, has sent me so much traffic, and for that I am very grateful. But I am much more grateful for the wonderful resources that Justin’s blog provides. Reading his blog is dangerous as it sends you off to read all kinds of interesting material from the farthest reaches of the Christian Internet. Justin is a real asset to the Church today. May God continue to bless him!

  2. PYROMANIACS (1) http://teampyro.blogspot.com/

    The fall in position of the blog of Phil Johnson and friends is, I suspect, not because of a fall in popularity of their blog. Rather it is because I have been less successful trolling for links there. If Phil and the crew want to knock Justin off the top spot next year, they will just have to link to me more often in 2008. Despite my disagreements at times with their style, I do have great respect for the fire-lovers and value what I learn from them. In addition, Phil is an old friend, and whenever we meet for coffee at Waterloo, interesting events arise!

  3. CHALLIES.COM (2) http://www.challies.com/

    Tim Challies is another great blogging friend of mine. He was just as I expected him to be when we ate steak together just minutes after I got off a plane in Toronto. He hates me to remind him that I played some part in “discovering” him, but I am proud to acknowledge that his blog has left mine standing as it roars off into the distance! I believe that Tim is a man to watch, and that he will be around online, at Christian conferences, and in books for a long time to come. If you have not already done so, be sure to get a copy of his book, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, when it comes out in just a few days. It’s exciting to watch what God will do by his grace with a man who is willing to let God lead him.

  4. WIKIPEDIA (—) http://wikipedia.org/

    This year a surprise entry on this list has been Wikipedia. This site is another place I enjoy visiting for all kinds of reasons beyond the fact that it sends me web traffic. An experiment in collaboration, it gives purchased encylopedias a run for their money. People often criticize it, but ultimately, if something’s wrong, you can actually go in there and correct it! If nothing else, it gives us an accurate perception of what techno-savvie web users think about a given subject.

  5. BLUEFISH PROJECT (5) http://thebluefish.blogspot.com/

    Holding stable is part of Dave Bish’s character, so it’s perhaps appropriate that he is the only site in the top 5 which did not change rank! Dave Bish is another good friend of mine. He traveled out to the edge of London just to meet me for lunch. We have chatted many times online, and his blog is one of the most popular Christian blogs in the UK. He has devoted his life to helping students find Christ—a noble profession.

  6. CHRISTIANITY TODAY (—) http://www.christianitytoday.com/

    I believe the willingness of main-stream Christian media sites to partner with and link to blogs will be a major feature of the next few years. Over the last year, I have become increasingly impressed by the massive resource that is Christianty Today. I just wish we could get this magazine in the UK!

  7. T4G BLOG (—) http://blog.togetherforthegospel.org/

    Despite the fact the Together For the Gospel guys seem to have largely abandoned their own blog, it still keeps sending me traffic. No other website with so little freshly updated material has sent me so much traffic. Perhaps as the brothers begin to turn their thoughts more and more to the 2008 T4
    G conference we’ll see more posts coming from them. I’m determined to return to “blogging through the T4G Statement” of eighteen months ago. (I really must finish before their next conference!!) Oddly, this time last year they had more content, but sent me fewer hits!

  8. BEN WITHERINGTON (8) http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/

    Ben Witherington is the first website on this list where I don’t have any personal contact with any of the authors or representatives. But that’s only because he doesn’t list an e-mail on his website. If any of you have a working e-mail for Ben, drop him a line and tell him he holds 8th place for the second year running in this list of my top referrers. Tell him I love his blog, and would love to make e-mail contact with him!

  9. HUGH HEWITT (11) http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/blog/

    Hugh was one of the first prominent Christian bloggers to link to me, and for that I will always be grateful. He blogs mostly about American politics, and when I am interested in finding out about what’s going on in that arena, Hugh’s site is one of the first places I go. Glad to see him rising up the charts a little, but surely you can do better than that next year, Hugh!

  10. TERRY VIRGO (—) http://www.janga.biz/terryvirgoblog/

    It is truly impressive that such a new blog should make it into this list’s top ten. With a full year in 2008, I fully expect to see Terry in a higher slot this time next year. Terry Virgo is a name with which every reader of this blog should familiarize themselves. Please do go read my interview with him, his blog, and listen to some of his sermons. He is the man who has taken a small band of reformed charismatics in the UK and led them to what is now more than 200 churches, with another 300 churches worldwide. I am privileged to follow him as he follows Christ. He is the single most influential church leader over my theology and values. He has shaped so many of the people who have, in turn, shaped me. I thank God for Terry, and being linked from his blog was one of the highlights of my year. If you want to make a new year’s resolution this year, determine to find out more about this man and what God has accomplished through him.

  11. THE JOLLYBLOGGER (4) http://jollyblogger.typepad.com/

    David Wayne was my first real blogging buddy. I still miss our “tag blogging” and remember the times when people accused us of being the same person. He is another blogger who I have been able to have the joy of meeting in the flesh. Let’s do some tag blogging again this year, David. And c’mon! Surely you can do better than #11! Let’s see a jump back up in the rankings next year!

  12. SHEPHERD’S SCRAPBOOK (—) http://spurgeon.wordpress.com/

    Regular readers of my blog will recognize the name, Tony Reinke, as the source of some of my photos. But he doesn’t just do good photos—he does great posts as well! He seems to be on the upward climb, and I keep finding him referred to all over the place. Expect to hear more from him next year. Remember, just like Tim Challies, you first heard of him here!

  13. EVANGELICAL OUTPOST (—) http://www.evangelicaloutpost.com/

    Joe Carter’s site is a massively influential Christian blog. To have any traffic coming my way from him is a great honor indeed. It has been one of the greatest mysteries of blogging that for some reason his and my blogs seem to live in worlds that overlap surprisingly little. I do enjoy his material, so I’m hoping that next year we will be able to interact a bit more than we have in recent years!

  14. ALBERT MOHLER (7) http://www.albertmohler.com/

    Al is America’s favorite seminary professor. If Wayne Grudem had time to do a radio show and a blog on top of his seminary tasks, preaching, and writing books, he could undoubtedly give Dr. Mohler a run for his money. One of the mysteries about Al is that he doesn’t seem keen to leave us with many books that have been penned by his hand! Nevertheless, I’m happy that he sends me a fair bit of traffic!

  15. UNASHAMED WORKMAN (—)
    http://unashamedworkman.wordpress.com/

    The sidebar of this blog alone is a worthy resource. I will know when I have arrived as a blogger when I have been added to this amazing list of blogs and other sites to visit. Even without having a place on that list, Unashamed Workman has still managed to make the top fifteen blogs which send traffic my way. That’s because he has linked to some of my material. The quality of his own posts makes this blog a very worthwhile read.
  16. http://facebook.com/
  17. http://monergism.com/
  18. http://qaya.org/
  19. http://reformation21.org/
  20. http://danhames.blogspot.com/
  21. http://fide-o.blogspot.com/
  22. http://solofemininity.blogs.com/ (12)
  23. http://theopedia.com/
  24. http://stevenjcamp.blogspot.com/
  25. http://sfpulpit.com/
  26. http://psalm305.blogspot.com/
  27. http://desiringgod.org/
  28. http://lashawnbarber.com/
  29. http://creative2567.blogspot.com/
  30. http://julnbde.blogspot.com/
  31. http://ceruleansanctum.com/
  32. http://42.blogs.warnock.me.uk/
  33. http://piercedforourtransgressions.com/
  34. http://mrlauterbach.typepad.com/
  35. http://boarsheadtavern.com/ (9)
  36. http://scotwise.blogspot.com/
  37. http://thesimplepastor.blogspot.com/
  38. http://against-heresies.blogspot.com/
  39. http://chri.st/
  40. http://earnestlydesire.blogspot.com/
  41. http://ken-fields.blogspot.com/
  42. http
    ://energionpubs.com/

  43. http://charismaticbloggers.blogspot.com/
  44. http://worldmagblog.com/
  45. http://thedigitalsanctuary.textdriven.com/
  46. http://kiwiandanemu.org/
  47. http://theresurgence.com/
  48. http://englishbibles.blogspot.com/ (6)
  49. http://expositorythoughts.wordpress.com/
  50. http://cartoonchurch.com/
  51. http://ukcommentators.blogspot.com/
  52. http://parablemania.ektopos.com/
  53. http://theologyonline.org/
  54. http://bigbadmo.blogspot.com/
  55. http://rianniello.blogspot.com/
  56. http://adrianreynolds.blogspot.com/
  57. http://enjoyinggodministries.com/
  58. http://wordandspirit.co.uk/
  59. http://firstimportance.org/
  60. http://9marks.org/
  61. http://andycottingham.com/
  62. http://exiledpreacher.blogspot.com/
  63. http://tatumweb.com/
  64. http://gospelgrowth.blogspot.com/
  65. http://matthewhosier.blogspot.com/
  66. http://robrufus.blogspot.com/
  67. http://peter-ould.net/
  68. http://fundyreformed.wordpress.com/
  69. http://faithbyhearing.wordpress.com/
  70. http://phillipjohnson.blogspot.com/
October 25, 2007

UPDATE—February 19, 2008
In January 2008, the following post was identified as the 2nd all-time most popular post with readers of this blog. The 3rd most-read post was “The ESV: A Bible Translation for Everyone?

This post was an expression of some of my own concerns and frustrations about the blogging world I have come to love so much. I said some things I had been wanting to say for a long time, and it was not a great surprise that the aftermath of this post would lead me to disable comments on my blog a month later. Tim’s book addresses discernment, which lies at the root of many of my issues with the Christian blogosphere and its direction.

***************

UPDATE—November 3, 2007
Phil has now written part two of his reply, and I have responded with a post entitled, “Of Tone, Discernment, and the Charismatic Question.”

UPDATE—October 29, 2007
Phil Johnson over at Pyromaniacs and I have been debating the issues raised by my criticism of him in the comments section of his original post. Just search for “Adrian” using the “find in page” function if you want to follow our specific debate. Phil has also written a new post, “If you can’t say something nice,” and we are debating in the comments on that post.

I will leave this post at the top of my blog for a couple more days as I want to give you all a chance to read it. If you are interested in some of my related thoughts on this subject, you could read the following posts:


Those of you with an eagle-eye will have already noticed that I am publicizing Tim Challies’ forthcoming book, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. I doubt that many are surprised that I should want to encourage you to read his book, and I will show in this post why that is the case.

To begin with, however, I want to be very open and honest with you. When I first heard that Tim was writing a book I was actually a little concerned. This may surprise those regular readers who know how much I respect Tim and enjoy his blog. But I still had in my mind an old paradigm where those who are in some way “approved” as trained experts are the ones who should write books. Tim, like me, has no theological degrees. I also know that, just like me concerning this blog, he has been rather surprised by the way in which his readership has grown to an extent he never predicted (and, I should say, to a substantially larger figure than my own). So I was surprised that Tim put his neck on the line still further by taking on the challenge of writing a book.

Tim and I have both been riding a wave—the wave of blogging. In both the secular field and the Christian field, it seems that the most successful bloggers almost all seem to have something in common; they are not “officially trained” recognized global experts in their chosen fields. Perhaps this is because the real experts are too busy to write on a daily basis, or perhaps this is because of a new phenomena in our culture—one with which I’m not particularly thrilled, to be honest. In our 21st century culture there is a growing mistrust of any form of authority and of academics. It is actually rather sad to me that this now seems to be spilling over into the Church, and that it might seem, at first glance, to also include the Christian blogosphere.

David WayneOne of the most influential early articles discussing the Christian blogging phenomenon was titled, “We Know More Than Our Pastors,” and it embodied this trend. It concerned me immensely. David Wayne summarized this piece and sounded some very valid concerns about it. For me, I wanted almost nothing to do with the concepts outlined therein.

Even as I have enjoyed the way that I have been able to be buffeted in this hurricane called blogging, I have also been somewhat concerned about some of the implications of this new marketplace of ideas. I suppose that, despite these reservations, I remain in the blogosphere because I am drawn to it as surely as a bee is to a flower in bloom, and as the Apostle Paul was to the debating spots of ancient Athens.

I am also here because somebody has to be. I am certainly not here because I imagine myself to be at the vanguard of some modern reformation that will sweep away the “old guard” in the way some bloggers (usually not Christian ones) speak about. I am here because, ironically enough, I see this new media as a way that we can proclaim the old, old message. I am here because, in some small way, I can act as a signpost to direct passing traffic to wiser heads than mine. The more readers I find visiting here, the more I feel the need to both quote and link to others. Whatever the size of your blog readership, that filtering process is the single best gift you can give both to your readers and to the writers of even the biggest blogs. I am pleased that the headlines from several bloggers who deserve to be read more than I do appear in the “Warnie Winners” box in my sidebar.

The blogging community can be thought of as a road system, a library, an ecosystem, or perhaps most aptly of all, a jungle. With no single classification system or map, what is needed are good wise guides. There are precious few of them online.

Tim ChalliesOne such wise guide is surely Tim Challies. I know that he shares many of my concerns about the world of blogs, and has a similar attitude in wanting to support those in positions of authority in the Church rather than tearing them down. I know that he is submissive to others. I like that he respects those, like me, who might differ with him on secondary issues, but firmly join hands on the Gospel. I have also met a godly man called Paul Martin who pastors him wisely. The more I came to know Tim, the more my concerns about the concept of a non-expert writing
a book began to evaporate. If the modern world needs non-experts to grapple with the words of the experts and make them more accessible to the rest of us, then those who have been given that gift should be encouraged to find an appropriate outlet, even if that looks a bit different from previous models.

Writing a book is very different from writing a blog, even though the number of words involved in a blog over the years may be just as numerous. With a blog, there is instant feedback, and a chance to easily go back and reword or retract an argument. With a book, not only is it more permanent, it is somehow expected to be more accurate, so the responsibility feels greater. James 3 is ever present in the mind of a preacher, and should be in the mind of a blogger as well. Speaking personally, I have applied it even more strongly to the concept of writing a book, which quite frankly has always terrified me rather than attracted me.

But for some people there comes a time when a book finds them and demands to be written. That is what has happened to the man I am glad to call my friend, Tim Challies. He is painfully aware of the cacophony of voices available online, and the need to discriminate between them. The average member of your congregation might well be either theologically illiterate or have imbibed a watered-down, overly simplistic doctrinal system which he has heard away from your church pulpit. Blogs, mp3s, books, magazines, TV programs, conferences, and radio all compete for the minds of modern Christians. The battle has never been stronger. How should we respond to this?

There are a number of different approaches that could be taken. We could just ignore what is going on around us, which would not be wise. We could, instead, become great experts in the different types of false teaching that are being purveyed. There are some bloggers who seem to have the goal of ferreting out everything that is less than perfect. These are often termed “watch blogs.” The temptation is to take some kind of perverse gratification out of proving others wrong. As the years have gone on, by God’s grace, that temptation has increasingly looked less appealing to me, although there was a time when I frequently delighted in giving in to it.

Phil JohnsonSometimes even bloggers with good intentions can fall into the trap of being over zealous in their discernment. I am sure I have fallen into that trap myself at times. But this past week, in reading a post by Phil Johnson, I thought I saw a classic example of someone who had over-reached himself in reacting to some things he had discerned. Now, don’t get me wrong. I share many of Phil’s concerns. I am indeed concerned about some aspects of Willow Creek’s ministry philosophy. Personally, I am not sure how to interpret their recent “repentance,” and certainly was VERY worried to see that they have invited Brian McLaren to speak at one of their conferences. BUT it bothers me that Phil seemed (at least to me) to be implying that Willow Creek has absolutely nothing to teach us. I am sure that if we fail to recognize something as being good and helpful and true, we fail in our discernment as much as if we blindly accepted everything in a naive way. I know it sounds cliched, but we really must be looking for the good in people, especially in those who have not denied important aspects of the Gospel. It is quite correct to say, “I like what this person says about the following subject, and have learned from them, although I disagree strongly with them on another subject.” If, instead, we lump people and whole movements together into an amorphous lump of theological rejects, surely we risk alienating them and, ironically, driving some further away from the truth of the Gospel that I know Phil and I both love.

But if Phil was harsh on Willow Creek, he went on in the same post to be even harder on the charismatics. I mention this because this kind of over-zealous discernment is sadly quite common. Again, quite rightly, he was pointing out the sin in a specific charismatic minister. Also, quite rightly, he was pointing out that due to an absence of discernment this kind of error is all too common in the charismatic movement, and sadly is often covered up. So far so good. And, despite his claim that his charismatic friends would be angry at these comments, I agree! What I struggle with, however, is that he then makes plain that he believes that charismatic doctrine itself is to blame for these sins and the lack of discernment that allows them to continue unchallenged. Phil applies the red card of his disapproval to the entire movement that, despite all its acknowledged weaknesses, I am thrilled to have been part of for decades. Should we use discernment with such a broad brush stroke?

Jesse PhillipsMy dear friend, Jesse Phillips, took Phil to task admirably in the comments section and repeated this on his own blog. No one seemed able to answer his arguments that while it is true that some second-order implications which people draw from core charismatic doctrine do encourage gullibility and an absence of discernment, the core doctrines themselves do not need to do so. Phil, in reply, claimed that reformed charismatics were a new breed, and only caused by alien influences on the movement. This is not true. Men like Terry Virgo and C. J. Mahaney and the groups of churches they lead have been around for many decades now. Perhaps these groups are not as visible as they could be, but I know they are also not alone in being committed to a firm grasp on reality and the wisdom of the Bible.

To simply dismiss the entire charismatic movement in just one sentence does not seem a wise response to the fastest growing segment of Christianity. It is not, of course, wrong to disagree with charismatic theology (some of my best friends online are cessationists, like Tim himself, of course), but Phil does not seem to recognize any good that has come out of the movement. It would be like me refusing to acknowledge the fantastic work being produced by cessationists. Much as I disagree with some of the positions cessationists take, I am willing to go so far as to state I learn as much and perhaps even more helpful theology from their teachers as I do from fellow charismatic teachers. Doesn’t discernment require that we identify helpful material even when it comes from those we disagree with on relatively minor points?

There is surely another way to respond to the marketplace of ideas to which we are exposed in today’s church. The single best approach to discerning truth from error is to focus on understanding and proclaiming the truth more (while remaining aware of what is being taught around us). We need to learn to recognize the truth for ourselves by studying the Bible. But we must recognize that we ourselves are not immune to error. We need to ask God for humility wherein we submit ourselves to the views of others and are willing to be taught by them. Indeed, we should be willing to use our discernment as a sieve to strain out the good bits from a mixture of error in order to do so. None of us has a monop
oly on truth, or for that matter, error. Some may grasp certain aspects of the truth with remarkable ease, while others of us may struggle to understand it for years. There is, in my view, often much truth in the very ministries of those who we eagerly criticize. We can learn from more people than we like to think we can—provided we have discernment. I am frequently provoked when I read the writings or listen to the teachings of others who come from different parts of the Church than I. This must be done with caution, of course, and requires that I have studied the Bible for myself first. The more we understand the biblical truth for ourselves the better skilled we will become at testing everything and holding onto the good. I love the way Tim says it in his book:

“We can best know what is wrong by first knowing what is right. Experts on counterfeit currency know this as well. They train others first to know the traits of genuine currency because such knowledge will make apparent what is fraudulent. Christians need to dedicate themselves to learning and knowing truth so that what is evil and abnormal will appear obvious. For this reason the Apostle writes, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8). He encourages us to think first and foremost about what is right and true and pure and lovely. In Romans 16:19b he says this as well, exhorting the Roman church “to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.” Never does the Bible tell us to dwell primarily or repeatedly upon what is false.

The relationship of truth to error is such that we can best know error by knowing truth. The opposite is not true. People who invest undue effort in concentrating upon what is false will not necessarily be able to identify what is true. By dwelling upon the beautiful truths of Scripture we will subsequently learn discernment. A discerning person will know that he must focus his heart upon what is true and pure and lovely, having confidence that in doing this God will bless Him with the ability to expose darkness.”

Tim Challies takes us from the turbulent marketplace of ideas that is the modern western church back into the world of the Scriptures. Sadly, today many people fall into the trap of being naively blown from one wind of teaching to another. Others become so expert at straining out the gnats of what they believe to be error that they are unable to learn from anybody. Instead they believe themselves to be the guardians of “true” doctrine. Tim shows us from the Bible itself how to avoid both errors. Tim’s reliance on the Bible is refreshing in an age when doctrinal pillars of our faith are being challenged by prominent preachers, and there is a constant search for novelty in parts of the Church. This book, like no other I have seen, aims to give ordinary Christians like you and me the tools we need to learn how to discern truth from error. I wholeheartedly urge you to get yourself a copy and read it, and then buy one for a friend.

I will close by quoting another passage from Tim’s book that expresses well his aim in writing the book:

This book is written for the general reader who wishes to understand discernment, to understand what the Bible teaches us about discernment, and who wishes to equip himself in this discipline. It is not written primarily for people with theological training, though I trust they, too, can benefit from it. Rather, it is written for you and for me—average Christians living in a culture and in a church where it so often seems that anything goes. It is written for those who look at much of what is said and done in the name of Jesus and ask themselves, “How can this be right?” It is written for all those who believe that it is the duty of every Christian to think biblically about all areas of life so that they might act biblically in all areas of life . . .

I do not intend to do the work of discernment for you. There are many books, web sites, and ministries that claim to teach discernment but do so by simply listing all the things you must do and the things you must not do. This book approaches the subject differently and is the result of my studies in Scripture to find the tools of discernment that God provides to us in his Word. And so I will not present a list of ministries you should avoid or endorse, authors whose books you should burn or buy, and music you should not listen to or that you should immediately download to your MP3 player. Rather, I hope to teach biblical wisdom on how you and I can become more discerning. I will present to you the wisdom of the Bible as it teaches us how we can become men and women of discernment. I will present principles you can use as you walk this life distinguishing between what is truth and what is error, what is right and what is wrong.

February 18, 2007

It’s been awhile, so I thought it would be a nice idea to do a blogspotting post today. Blogspotting was initiated by Phil Johnson and ruthlessly copied by me and others. It is simply a way for me to thank all of you for linking to this blog. Links are the lifeblood of the Internet, and the more of them we send each other’s way, the healthier the Internet is as a whole. They also help Google out a lot. Think of links as bonds of friendship that also form the signpost system for the Internet highway. It’s the nearest thing the Internet has to a good old fashioned library card index system. It is because links are so central to the workings of the Google search engine that it has taken them so long to figure out a way of diffusing Google bombs. So here goes with some reciprocal linky love.

First up is my friend, Andrew Fountain. He has linked twice recently. He liked my sermon on Revival and shared about his meeting with John Lanferman.

Speaking of new friends, in a post entitled Adrian Warnock on Mars Hill Church, Mark Moore is incredibly kind.

John Schroeder links to me in a post Rules of Interpretation and Lessons for the Church.

Another friend, Phil Johnson, is almost as excited as I am about the revival of Charles Simeon’s works.

In a move that might spark surprise in both the Warnock and Phillips camps, the Christian Reconciliation Carnival #1 holds us both up as examples of how to debate with brotherly love.

Jollyblogger tells the world I have joined LinkedIn, and is trying to encourage everybody to do that. Requests to join my network and complimentary testimonials gratefully received!

Steve Bishop has discovered my interview with Wayne Grudem. A visitor to our church, who at the time was clearly at the brink of conversion, now publicly identifies himself as a Christian and claims I wink a lot!

Wayne Leman predictably linked my quote from Lewis on translating into the vernacular to Bible translation. Kevin also links to my writings about the ESV Bible.

Morning Highlights and Mark Olson both describe Lloyd-Jones as “early modern,” which seems like a strange phrase to me and makes me wonder which of them didn’t “hat tip” the other.

Joe Carter’s Outtakes of 02.06.07 linked to my still unsolved Spurgeon challenge.

In a post entitled “Revival and the Baptism with the Holy Spirit” the wonderfully-named A Debtor to Mercy blog linked to my post on Piper’s view of the Doctor.

I received to my knowledge my first link in a foreign language blog “Confissões de Um Reformado Carismático“—a machine translation of the post reads reasonably well. Also, in a post entitled “Lütuf Doktrini (Seçilmişlik Öğretisi) ile ilgili ingilizce websiteler” by Les Huguenots, I noticed a link to a very old post of mine on Limited Atonement.

Speaking of new links to old posts, there was one to my definiton of the term “Reformed Charismatic“.

My interview with a deacon at Mars Hill generated a few links, with one blogger saying Remember Wendy? Another asked Ever Heard of Wendy Alsup? And yet another replied I’ve heard of Wendy Alsup! One blogger surely gets the last word with “When Wendy Speaks, Everybody Listens.”

One blogger is glad they followed the link for one of my adverts and says “LOGOS: Truly an Amazing Resource.” Another agrees with my book review of What is Reformed Theology? Another linked to a post I wrote On Theological Argument for Argument’s Sake. Jeff Wright provides one of the few links I could find to anything I have written on revival. Priorities likes an observation I made about blogging.

Russell very kindly nominated me for one of the 2007 Weblog Awards. I didn’t win!

The Pulpit Magazine is in the middle of a series Revisiting the Charismatic Question and links to me. I am not sure whether to go over there and see if they have any new arguments to interact with. Do you want to see more on this blog about that issue? I haven’t forgotten, by the way, my intention to publish a summary post listing arguments in favor of a charismatic position or reviews of a couple more useful books on the subject.

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