Saturday, January 29, 2011

Theology Network

Several years ago, when my two sons were much younger, I bought the book "If You Give a Mouse A Cookie." It's the story of a mouse who visits a young boy's house who, when one thing was asked for by the mouse, another need became obvious (If you give a mouse a cookie, he'll also need milk, if you give him milk and cookies he'll become sleepy and need a nap, etc.).

That often happens when visiting an Internet site. A search for one thing leads to the discovery of something completely unexpected. That happened to me early last year when I was participating in Tim Challies' "Reading the classics together" project. We were reading the book "The Bruised Reed" by Richard Sibbes. I thought that I had seen full electronic copies on the Internet of this title in the past. So, when I started searching, I found a full copy on the website for Theology Network. While I did use the electronic text from Theology Network for my reading of Sibbes' book, I began to look at what was available on the Theology Network.

The site, which is run by the Christian Unions in the United Kingdom, is a wonderful resource for learning about the Christian faith. There are text articles and audio recordings which cover a range of topics, such as learning more about the nature of the God's word, the Trinity, world religions, Christian history and numerous other topics. I'm not new to theological studies and have appreciated when topics which can be complex are explained simply and yet keep a depth of understanding that someone with advanced studies can appreciate as well as a novice to the faith. I suggest you take a look to see what some brothers and sisters in Christ in the UK are doing to promote Christianity not only in Britain but around the world. Their link is here.

One teacher at Theology Network who I've found particularly helpful is Mike Reeves. He is head of theology for UCCF (The parent organization for Christian Unions). He's covered a number of topics which even for myself have been eye-opening and enlightening. I particularly recommend his lesson on "Do It Yourself Theology". Link here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Two Word Story

In the very near future, the people of metro Detroit will become familiar with a new "catch-phrase", namely the "two word story." I won't elaborate on details here. Such details will become obvious in the near future.

Let me offer a two word story. It is "the gospel." The word "gospel" comes from the old English for "good tale" or more literally "good news." Indeed, that is what the Gospel is. It is good news.

In the midst of many "two word stories" which you might hear in the near future, it must be remembered that, ultimately, there is only one real "two word story."

It involves the announcement of what God did for us humans in the work of His Son, Jesus. While many may be anxious to tell others what Jesus did for them, the proper emphasis must be kept. It is not what Jesus did for ME. It is what JESUS DID for me and for others. In our very individual-oriented culture, my fellow Christians might, inadvertantly, center in on the story of their own encounter with Christ and start and END with that. That would be a dreadful mistake. Their experience is the effect. What Christ did in history for us is the cause.

The good news of the Gospel will be (and is) true whether we have internally experienced it or not. When someone tells others of their subjective experience, what differs that experience from anyone else's experiences? Some might have have a "mystical moment" while looking at a sunset, scoring the winning basket in a basketball game or even the influence of alcohol or some other mind-altering substance. The Gospel is NOT an emotional personal experience.

The good news of Christ as presented in the Bible is an objective announcement. It would be just as true if you live or if you had never existed. It is not about us but rather what Christ did for us.

One of the best summaries of this good news (the Gospel) which I have ever read is found in an article by Michael Horton called The Great Announcement (linked here) I highly suggest you read it and reflect upon what it says. Christ's followers have been privileged to tell everyone about this good news. Once believed, this good news does bring us joy. We cannot help but inwardly (and outwardly) rejoice when we have placed our lasting trust in the living Jesus, whose work on Earth is the core of the Gospel. My two word story is "The Gospel."