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Archive for June, 2010

Are you ready to work your imagination? 

Ok.

Picture Rush Limbaugh.  Um, no.  Correction.  Think of the good qualities of Rush Limbaugh… his sense of humor, his keen wit, his infectious laugh, his radio voice, his passion…  Now imagine Rush Limbaugh undergoing a profound conversion.  Imagine he’s got Calvin’s Institutes tucked under his arm.  Imagine him studying for years.  And finally, imagine him obtaining a professorship at Reformed Theological Seminary. 

Now let me introduce you to the late, Dr. Ronald Nash, a man who, every time I listen to him, reminds me of Rush Limbaugh (without the rabies).    

Few seminary teachers are capable of being both serious and funny, entertaining and penetrating, biblical and light-hearted, but Professor Nash pulls it off.  And he pulls it off with flying colors.

Look, I’ve waded through my fair share of online seminary courses, and I must say, that while much of the content out there is meaty, much of it’s terribly dry.  It’s like a hungry man eating beef jerky in the desert.  Let’s put some gravy on those mashed taters and roast beef, please. 

Well, good news.  Ronald Nash loves the meat and the gravy.  And for that, I heartily recommend his lectures to you.  You can find them over at Biblical Training, a site teaming with excellent resources.          

There are four lectures available for your mental consumption.  All of them are well done.  They are:

Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced

Must Listen Factor: Moderate.  These are full courses, so if you want to wade through them, you’re going to have to put in a lot of time.  Probably only Scavengers with a penchant for theology will want to digest a course or two.

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About fourteen years ago, a friend of mine handed me a cassette entitled “Can Man Live Without God?”  I looked at the name and shrugged my shoulders, “No, I can’t say that I’ve heard of him.”  My friend looked surprised, “You haven’t heard of Ravi Zacharias?  Here.  Take it.  I think you’ll really like him.”

I don’t know that I’ve been more impacted by something, so far as an audio lecture is concerned, than Ravi’s lecture at Harvard.  It profoundly affected me.  Unfortunately, I can’t track down the exact Harvard lecture I listened to, but the one  linked here is similar.

Ravi Zacharias is a masterful communicator.  His stories are rich.  His analogies are arresting.  And his rhythm is mesmerizing.  But most importantly, he is a sound apologist. 

What more can I say?  He’s one of my favorites.  If perchance you haven’t had the opportunity to hear him, definitely download this.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Difficulty: Intermediate

Must Listen Factor: If you’ve listened to other stuff by Ravi, this has a moderate must listen factor (You’re probably familiar with many of the stories, etc).  If not, it is a must listen.      

To Download, click image

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On the one hand, it’s hard to deny that our country was very much a biblical/Christian nation, and yet, on the other hand, notes Professor Noll, a careful investigation of our history reveals an intriguing hermeneutic/application of the Scriptures to our nation, especially with respect to war and politics.  It is argued that a significant number of ministers drew direct, or near direct, parallels between the OT nation of Israel and the United States, thereby allowing them to harness the emotional power and force of such imagery to advance political causes. 

Is he right?  Listen and judge for yourself. 

Difficulty: Intermediate

Must Listen Factor: History buffs would enjoy this.  As for the rest, it’s probably not something you’re going to gobble up.  So I’ll say low to moderate.     

To Download, click picture and download from ITunes.  Or search ITunes for “Westminster Notable Theologians.”  This lecture is number 16.

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While preparing for a talk on abortion, I rummaged around the Planned Parenthood website, hoping to find some statistics and audio files.  To my surprise, they did in fact have a podcast.  The show is called “Speaking of Sex.”  It’s hosted by two spunky, none-too-easily-embarrassed, hip twenty somethings, Malika and Nathan. 

Unfortunately, they applaud murder.   

I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anything more infuriating, anything more maddening, than their two part discussion on abortion.  As though it were the most natural thing in the world, babies are sometimes referred to as fetal anomalies.  In addition to that, advocates of abortion are said to be advancing “reproductive justice.”  Reproductive justice?  Really?  Are you serious? 

It’s just amazing, absolutely amazing what sin can do to sanity.      

If you want to hear perspectives on the rationale of abortion from the inside, wade into these two podcasts.  One might wonder why anyone would, but I think it’s important to stay abreast.  We need to understand how the opposition thinks.  We need to be reminded just how awful it really is.

The first is entitled, “Abortion – In the Clinics, In the Courts (Nov 15th 2006)
The second is entitled, “Abortion: Exploring Choice (Dec 16th 2006)

You will have to scroll down HERE towards the bottom and download from the little headphone icons. 

On the flip side, I heartily recommend the following pro-life talks for your audio consumption.  The first two are from the podcast “Think Again.”  Greg Koukl’s resources are excellent as well.  He’s a well known defender of the unborn and has spoken and written extensively.  You might check out “Precious Unborn Human Persons.”  The “Think Again” podcasts can be found here.     

I would also highly recommend John Piper’s recent message on abortion.  As usual, he is clear, arresting, passionate and biblical.  It is entitled, “Born Blind for the Glory of God.”  You can find it here.  It’s a must listen, simple as that.

 Difficulty: Intermediate

Must Listen Factor: Given our cultural milieu, it’s a must listen.  Most of us aren’t going to wade through all of them, and that’s ok, but at least pick one or two.  I would encourage you to prioritize Piper and the Planned Parenthood podcasts.

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I’m never been the tree hugger type.  That being said, I certainly love the beauty of the natural world.  And if I think of the world in terms of my neighborhood, it’s a bummer when people trash it.  I wouldn’t want all the trees cut down, nor would I want the birds to suddenly disappear.  The wider world is no exception.

When it comes environmentalism, however, the issue is about more than mere beauty.  According to some, our very survival is at stake (Think Al Gore).  Or, in the case of certain Christians, the issue is elevated to near super spiritual heights, as if it were on par with the Gospel itself, or a direct and insuperably linked byproduct.  But is this right?      

For myself, I cannot help but shake my head when Christians overemphasize this subject; when they act as if one of the major currents running through the bible is the idea of being green.  Yes, stewardship is certainly important.  Beauty is important.  Greed and over indulgence is taken seriously.  Yes, this is all true, but we must not lose sight of that which is fundamental.  We must not foreground that which is a background issue.  In other words, read through the bible and note what is emphasized.  Is the idea of being green a concern of the apostle Paul?  Of John?  Of Jesus?  Discipleship focuses on many, many other things.  Granted, self control and stewardship and love for one’s neighbor will certainly entail a number of green lifestyle changes (even national concerns), but it’s not central.  Am I wrong?    

If you want an example of a Christian going too far, in my opinion, I would first recommend the following:

Is God Green? – Jesus, the Church, and Caring for the Earth, by Kyle Van Houtan.

The second might be: What is a Beautiful World? (Caution: This one is a bit on the boring side.  But it still illustrates the overall point). 

Now if you want a more balanced perspective, I would point you to these:

A Christian Perspective on the Environment, by Jay Richards (Unfortunately, the audio quality is a little scratchy).

Three lectures by Douglas J. Green at Westminster Theological Seminary.  Search for them here.

Understanding Him to be the Gardener: An Ecological Perspective on Adamic Dominion.  Part 1
Where is the world Going? An Ecological Perspective on Eschatology.  Part 2
Green Bible Meditations:  What is Dominion?  And Where is the World Going?

Point of Inquiry, a decidedly non-Christian organization, had this to say recently:

Michael Mann, Unprecedented Attacks on Climate Research

Difficulty: Intermediate

Must Listen Factor: Low to Moderate

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Under what circumstances or conditions is a nation justified in engaging in war?  To protect itself?  To protect an ally?  To obtain oil?  Land?  To stop an evil dictator from mistreating his citizens?  To stop genocide?  When an enemy nation is threatening to hurt you? 

When a country is at war, opinions about it fly freely.  Just visit a café on a Saturday morning.  Pontifications abound.  Unfortunately, few ever think deeply about what constitutes just war.  War is one thing.  But what a just war?  Is there such a thing? 

In this helpful lecture, D.A. Carson explores the subject with care and insight, offering guidelines for righteously engaging a nation in war.  I found it quite interesting, and I think you will as well.  And while we’ll probably never have to make a decision about going to war, being informed will help us speak more clearly and biblically, not to mention vote more intelligently. 

Difficulty: Intermediate

Must Listen Factor: Moderate                

To Download, click picture, or go to Part 1 here and the Q and A here.

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Apparently this message was delivered back in 2009 at a men’s breakout session at a Sovereign Grace Pastor’s Conference.  Mark Dever’s goal was to address the following question: What is a congregation’s responsibility to the wider community?  His answer came in the form of 35 points.  Yes, 35 points!  Have no fear, however, the points move quickly and capture biblical elements quite well.    

I must say that I appreciated the approach and found it enjoyable.  It also served the Q and A time, which was substantial (I’d say about 40 minutes), surprisingly well. 

One may want to quibble over his emphasis here or there, but then again, maybe not (He takes some issue with Tim Keller, for example).  At the very least, this session will make you think.  It just might make you ask afresh, “So what should we be doing outside the walls of the church.”  And that’s a good thing. 

Difficulty: Intermediate

Must Listen Factor: Moderate

To Download, click picture.

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