1) A Week of Interesting News from The Vatican...First, the Vatican is restoring an age-old cause of the reformation and is now offering indulgences for its communicants to reduce their penalty in purgatory (bone up on indulgences at theopedia.com).
If indulgences reduce the penalty for sin, what worth is Jesus? (2 Corinthians 5.21 & Romans 5.9-11)
Any philosophy without Christ will need a form of indulgences to justify sin. Religion operates on earned righteousness. Even the rising popularity of carbon offsets smacks of this religious practice (especially in their abuse).
Second (which is connected to the first philosophically), the Vatican Claims that Darwin's Evolution is Compatible with Christianity.
Genesis 1.31 - Are millions of years of naturally selected death compatible with the "good" God declared in Genesis 1?
Romans 5.12 - If you are of the persuasion that Genesis cannot be taken literally, then does death come into the world by sin or natural selection?
The connection between death and sin is fundamental to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and therefore fundamental to Christianity. Any idea that claims death comes from anything other than sin attacks the very basis for Christ's sacrifice.
Fortunately (maybe), the Vatican will be allowing a presentation on Intelligent Design at its next Darwin Conference (I'm not making this up). Although I don't think it will be too favorable.
"The committee agreed to consider ID as a phenomenon of an ideological and cultural nature, thus worthy of a historic examination, but certainly not to be discussed on scientific, philosophical or theological grounds," said Saverio Forestiero, a conference organizer and professor of zoology at the University of Rome.
2) Has Global Warming Caused the Fires in Australia?
3) President Obama Tries to 'Balance' on Church-State Tightrope - USATODAY.com
4) "Finally Alive" by John Piper
"I realize it is shocking that I would be reading a book by John Piper, but this one has novel merit for me as a pastor..." (more review here or click the cover image to purchase "Finally Alive" or download a free .pdf version at desiringgod.com)
4) Preparation for Summitview's Sermon Series on 1 & 2 Peter
Here's a great study guide (in .pdf) from "Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter" the current sermon series at Mars Hill. The guide provides fantastic background to Peter's epistles especially useful to Summitview as we prepare for our 10-week series. (Total coincidence really, I planned this series back in July - must be the Holy Spirit)
5) Pastors in the Media
For good this time... check out Pastor Mark on "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News" (see the video) on CNN this weekend.
The controversy over "The Shack" continues and the response from the pro-Shack crowd to the anti-Shack crowd has me thinking Shakespeare... "Thou dost protest too much..." Tim Challies has a great, thorough review here.
7) The Soul of The Author
This week has been one of increased clarity regarding the calling on my life as Jesus-follower, husband, dad and pastor. My job is to bring more Gospel. Whether through forgiveness, my own repentance, clarity in preaching, speaking to my own soul or instruction of my kids it must run through the filter of the Gospel.
Specifically, I'm learning that repentance and asking for forgiveness are two different things. I'm praying that God's grace will grant me real repentance.
A couple thoughts that stirred me this week:
"Let your wife worry about your clothes. Buy books and study. We don't need any more well-dressed, hip, funny heretics." - Matt Chandler
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation (Psalms 42.5)