Church Props

Kevin DeYoung’s latest book The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism (Moody, 2010) is good—real good. Kevin triggers the megaphone and provides us with a nice guided tour through the scenic Heidelberg Catechism. In the following quote Kevin speaks about the God’s appointed visual aids in the church and especially the importance of the Lord’s Supper. This is from page 138:

Too many churches overlook God’s preferred visual aids—the sacraments—and jump right to video, drama, and props to get people’s attention. We are making a big mistake when we think these “signs and seals” will be anywhere as effective as the ones instituted by Christ Himself. Pastors who don’t explain the sacraments and very rarely administer them are robbing their people of tremendous encouragement in their Christian walk. We can hear the gospel every Sunday, and eat it too.

Of course, this eating and drinking must be undertaken in faith. The elements themselves do not save us. But when we eat and drink them in faith, we can be assured that we receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life. More than that, we get a picture of our union with Christ. As we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we literally have communion with Him, not by dragging Christ down from heaven but by experiencing His presence through His Spirit. Shame on parishioners for coming to the Lord’s Supper with nothing but drudgery and low expectations. And shame on pastors for not instructing their people in the gospel joy available to us in Communion.

Why We’re Not Emergent by DeYoung and Kluck

I’ve already mentioned my anticipation for the forthcoming title, Why We’re Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck (Moody, 2008). This is another book in 2008 pastors should buy and read.

Mostly I love this book for its clear-headed critique of the distinctives of emergent theology. One excerpt really makes this point. In light of the postmodern revel for all things relative, DeYoung uses the Hindu story of the blind men and the elephant to make a critical point of contrast.

“We may all be, by nature, like blind men touching the elephant without knowing whether what we are feeling is a trunk, tail, or ear. But what if the elephant spoke and said ‘Quit calling me crocodile, or peacock, or paradox. I’m an elephant for crying out loud! That long thing is my trunk. That little frayed thing is my tail. That big floppy thing is my ear.’ And what if the elephant gave us ears to hear his voice and a mind to understand his message (cf. 1 Cor. 2:14-15)? Would our professed ignorance about the elephant and our unwillingness to make any confident assertions about his nature mean we were especially humble, or just deaf?

Because of the emerging church’s implied doctrine of God’s unknowability, the word ‘mystery,’ a perfectly good word in its own right, has become downright annoying. Let me be very clear: I don’t understand everything about God or the Bible. I don’t fully understand how God can be three in one. I don’t completely grasp how divine sovereignty works alongside human responsibility. The Christian faith is mysterious. But when we talk about Christianity, we don’t start with mystery. It’s some combination of pious confusion and intellectual laziness to claim that living in mystery is at the heart of Christianity” (37-38).

Why We’re Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be is due out April 1st.


Related: This quote reminds me of Mark Dever’s words from the T4G blog: “The humility we want in our churches is to read the Bible and believe it–everything God has said, dogmatically, and humbly! It is not humble to be hesitant where God has been clear and plain.” Read more.