Friday, June 16, 2006

Another Friday with Andrew Fuller

Next Friday I'll be en route to the Great Lake State and from there it's the arduous drive to the EFCA National Leadership Conference (and I don't think Fuller will be coming along - but who's to say?), so this might be it for a few Fridays:

Several of our religious denominations have arisen from a conscientious desire to restore Christianity to its primitive purity. From this motive acted, I believe, the greater part of the Reformers, the puritans, the nonconformists, and the Baptists. I do not know that any one of these denominations were censurable for the separations which they made from other professing Christians. It may be alleged that they have torn the church of Christ into parties, and so occasioned much evil; yet some of them did not separate from the church of Christ, but from a worldly community calling itself by that name; and those who did, pretended not to be the only people of God in the world, but considered themselves merely as “withdrawing from brethren who walked disorderly.” It is a melancholy fact, however, that no sooner have a people formed themselves into a new denomination than they are in the utmost danger of concentrating almost all their strength, influence, zeal, prayers, and endeavours for its support; not as a part of Christ’s visible kingdom, but as though it were the whole of it, and as though all true religion were circumscribed within its hallowed pale. This is the essence of a sectarian spirit, and the bane of Christianity.
- from "The Necessity of Seeking Those Things First Which are of the First Importance," The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, vol. iii, 796.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

a dream deferred?

My very first post in December was a call to remember what Carson and Woodbridge refered to as the "twin dangers" when discerning biblical truth. Now that the National Leadership Conference regular registration period has ended and many have no doubt signed up to attend the conference's sessions on the Statement of Faith revision, it seems like an appropriate time to post what John Frame has called an "Unrealistic Dream" in his article "Machen's Warrior Children" (for more writings by Frame and by Vern Poythress and to support their ministry click here). I realize that there are many in our churches and denomination who do not consider themselves Reformed; please understand that Machen's audience is the PCA and other conservative presybterian churches. Nevertheless there is much that can be gleaned from Frame's dream -

1. That Reformed thinkers continue to have bright, fresh ideas, but that they present these ideas with humility and treat with grace and patience those who are not immediately convinced.

2. That Reformed thinkers with bright ideas discourage the rapid formation of parties to contend for those ideas.

3. That those initially opposed to those bright ideas allow some time for gentle, thoughtful discussion before declaring the bright ideas to be heresy.

4. That these opponents also discourage the rapid formation of partisan groups.

5. That those contending for various doctrinal positions accept the burden of proof, willing to bear the difficulty of serious biblical exegesis.

6. That we try much harder to guard our tongues (Jas. 3:1-12), saving the strongest language of condemnation (e.g., “denying the gospel”) for those who have been declared heretics by the judicial processes of the church.

7. That Reformed churches, ministries, and institutions be open to a wider range of opinions than they are now—within limits, of course.

8. That we honor one another as much for character and witness as we do for agreement with our theological positions.

9. That occasionally we smile and jest about our relatively minor differences, while praying, worshiping, and working together in the love of Christ.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

what's better than elvis on the way to new orleans?

Hearing about Mayor Ray Nagin’s reelection should remind us that there is still much to be done in the city that is anything but the Big Easy these days. Two free churches in and near New Orleans continue to meet the physical and spiritual needs of their neighbors in the midst of the reconstruction process, and other churches are joining them by sending laborers and other gifts. Still another church is serving the New Orleans community mission field by offering their hospitality to those short-term teams who are providing post-Katrina relief.

The June newsletter for the Southeast Central District of the EFCA announces:

Grace Evangelical Free Church, Memphis, Tennessee is serving the Gulf Coast in an innovative way: Agape Hospitality Ministry is open for business to house, feed, and pray over those traveling south for EFCA gulf-coast ministries, primarily Covington/Urban Impact. They have had over 100 come through so far and have 4 more groups scheduled in June. Larry Hughes, team leader at Grace says, “It has been a blessing to the workers and to us, especially when we can worship together before they depart. One thing that the elders are praying about is the possibility of getting two showers hooked up with hot water for our guests. We solicit your prayers for this.”

It was a joy to meet, pray, and spend time with Larry and other members of Grace EFC (Memphis, Tennessee) when our first physical labor team from Louisville (also Grace EFC) stopped in Graceland on the way to Louisiana. Indeed there are few pleasures in life greater than being received by complete strangers as brothers and sisters in Christ, and this was the case when we arrived in Memphis.

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Fuller and Missions

This week's "Fuller Friday" quote comes at the beginning of Grace EFC's (of Louisville, Kentucky) Global Conference Weekend, so it is only fitting to bring a word from Andrew that reveals the heart he had to see God glorified throughout all the nations of the earth.

In "The Christian Ministry A Great Work" which was addressed to two missionaries and their wives, Fuller writes:

"The greatest work requires attention to a multitude of little things. -
It is composed of little things. Great works are not accomplished by a single exploit, but by a series of labours - by leaving no stone unturned. Look at Nehemiah. He inquires, weeps alone, prays, speaks to the king, obtains favour and a commission; but still he returned to labour, even in the night, and took a calm and deliberate view of the work; and when he communicated his intenions, his friends joined him; and thus, by a multitude of operations, the work is accomplished. He was laborious, firm, disinterested, patient, and persevering; and looked for his reward to God." The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller, vol. 1, 514.

As an aside, D.A. Carson has some excellent thoughts on what it means to be a world Christian in The Cross and Christian Ministry to purchase this book and other books that I'm considering myself visit my wishlist.