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Is it faith or works? I demand of the text, and the answer seems to be: “Yes.” Is God a God of revelation or of mystery? Is he as close as a whisper or beyond all things? Yes. Yes. Is the kingdom of heaven now or not yet? Should I be wise as a serpent or innocent as a dove? Should I fall headlong into grace or work out my salvation with fear and trembling? Yes. Yes. Yes.

A Both/And Path to Truth: Why the narrow way to faith is also expansive
by Carolyn Arends

Posted in Posts in English, Spirituality, Theology.

The 10 Marks of the Holy Spirit

J.C. Ryle

J.C. Ryle

  1. The Spirit awakens a person’s heart.
  2. The Spirit teaches a person’s mind.
  3. The Spirit leads to the Word.
  4. The Spirit convinces of sin.
  5. The Spirit draws to Christ.
  6. The Spirit sanctifies.
  7. The Spirit makes a person spiritually minded.
  8. The Spirit produces inward conflict.
  9. The Spirit makes a person love one’s brothers and sisters.
  10. The Spirit teaches a person to pray.

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900, first Anglican Bishop of Liverpool)

So simple, yet so biblically grounded and theologically sound!

In the face of much contemporary charismatic sensationalism, these 10 marks will prove to be very helpful in discerning who’s really in the Spirit or actually in the flesh.

Read his full explanation from the tract Having the Spirit.

Posted in Posts in English, Spirituality, Theology.

Moralistic Therapeutic Deism

First, if you profess to be a Christian, check how many of the following points do you agree:

  1. A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.
  2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.
  3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.
  4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.
  5. Good people go to heaven when they die.

If you keep nodding your head and pretty much agree with all of the above, and that they do essentially describe your faith…. sorry, but that’s not biblical Christianity. It is a worldview labeled as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

Watch this:

Solution? Go back to the basics and relearn what true biblical Christianity is about. These are good places to start:

  1. New City Catechism – A joint adult and children’s catechism consisting of 52 questions and answers adapted by Timothy Keller and Sam Shammas from the Reformation catechisms.
  2. The Catechism from the original Anglican Book of Common Prayer (1962 Canada)
  3. To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism – a new Anglican catechism developed in 2014 by the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), with Dr. J.I. Packer heading the Catechesis Task Force as the General Editor.

Posted in Anglican, Culture, Posts in English, Theology.

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Iniquity: The Dark Side of Our Human Nature


In response to the Connecticut Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre:

In the Hebrew Scriptures, there is the concept of “sin” (חַטָּאת), which means a mistake or an offense, and “transgression” (פֶּשַׁע), which means a willful act of rebellion in crossing some moral boundaries, but perhaps the most unknown and incomprehensible concept is “iniquity” (עָוֹן), which means being perverse, crooked or twisted.

With our “modern” sensibilities, we always want to find a cause, something culpable, so that we can explain and make sense of everything, and then exert our control over them, or we just wish that human nature is essentially good, only lacking understanding or being misunderstood, and we can prevent things from happening only if we communicated more, but I think we as a humanity are actually becoming more and more ignorant about the dark side of human nature. In comparison, the ancients are much more honest and real about who we actually are and can be.

As this blogger writes: “As a society, we cannot interpret the immoral actions of human beings solely by reference to neurology gone haywire, nor can we belittle the consequences of sinful actions by a empathetic deference to the sacredness of personal choice…. as Mahn brilliantly points out in his application of Kierkegaard to contemporary society, we must remember that sin is genuinely baffling (it is aporia), and we are all caught up in its web.”

Yes, the fundamental nature of sin and evil is aporia. It is chaotic and irrational. It is the exact opposite of order, goodness, and all that is sensible. Trying to figure it out is like trying to find a pattern in Pi. What we need is not understanding, but salvation instead.


Posted in Current News, Posts in English, Theology.

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Hard questions every pastor has to ask periodically

  • What do I do for fifty-some hours a week?
  • Why has sermon preparation become drudgery?
  • What happened to the sparkle of hope I felt on the day of my ordination?
  • Why does nothing change unless I put my back into it?
  • Where did my feelings of resentment toward my congregation come from?
  • What happened to my prayer life?
  • When did I last read a decent book on theology, a book that pushed me, a book that changed how I think about God?
  • Do I really think another book on developing more pragmatic skills for ministry will turn things around?
  • Why am I always so tired?
… Even knowing what happened on the following day, if we remain stuck in the mood of Holy Saturday we have separated ourselves from the resurrection joy and hope of the Easter Lord. All we have is a huge burden to carry because at this point everything seems to be left up to us to do. It is little wonder, then, that we are always weary.

Andrew Purves, The Resurrection of Ministry: Serving in the Hope of the Risen Lord (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2010), 33.

Note to self:
Yes, Jesus lives.
He lives and is reigning, right here, right now.
Our ministry only partakes in Jesus’ continuing resurrected ministry.
Never ever let go of that reality.

Posted in Pastoral, Posts in English, Spirituality.

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Holding Tension in Anglicanism

Rev. Ed McNeill (Rector of St. James Anglican Church in San Jose) gives us a very well written article on what Anglicanism is about:

In the summer of 2006 the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams very helpfully identified three things that when held together make Anglicanism distinct from other Christian denominations and contribute to the essential character of our church. Other denominations share one or two of these things. What makes Anglicanism unique is the balanced presence of all three. They are:

  1. A reformed commitment to the absolute priority of the Bible for deciding doctrine.
  2. A catholic loyalty to the sacraments and the threefold ministry of bishops, priests and deacons,
  3. A habit of cultural sensitivity and intellectual flexibility that does not seek to close down unexpected questions too quickly.

These three points clearly linked to our reformation heritage, our catholic heritage, and our intellectual heritage nicely capture the core strength of the Anglican way of living out our Christian Faith.

So there we have it: a commitment, a loyalty, and a habit; three marks of Anglicanism.  When these three elements are in balance we have Anglicanism.  Problems within Anglicanism occur when they get out of balance.

(Continue reading for more explanation on these three points)

Tension, tension, tension. I honestly feel a lot of tension and temptation to side with just one (or at most two) emphases above and dismiss the rest. However, my whole Regent education has taught me to embrace and hold the tension, because many important things in theology are not either/or but paradoxically held in great tension as both/and (e.g. three and one, divine and human, already but not yet, unity and diversity in the body of Christ…) Those who claim that they can resolve it easily and dismiss certain theologies or practices have no respect for the church’s history and the struggle of all the saints before us. It can also easily go down the slippery slope of heresy and schismatic moves.

I remember many years ago my mentor prophetically told me that he thinks Anglicanism suits me because it provides a nice bridle to a revolutionist at heart like me. Tension, tension, tension. Keep embracing and holding the tension in humility, admitting that we cannot resolve it until the day we meet the Lord.

Posted in Anglican, Posts in English, Theology.

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What should a good sermon be about?

Q: What should a good sermon be about?

A: About God and about ten minutes.


Posted in Funny, Posts in English, Preaching.

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