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in his “Treatise on the Lord’s Supper” Calvin says “If we have careful regard to the end for which our Lord intended it [the Supper], we should realize that the use of it ought to be more frequent than many make it. …The custom ought to be well established in all churches of celebrating the Supper as frequently as the capacity of the people will allow.”
“Of primary importance in the Lord’s Supper is what God does, not what we do. The Lord’s Supper is above all a gift of God, a benefit of Christ, a means of communicating his grace. If the Lord’s Supper were only a memorial meal and an act of confession, it would cease to be a sacrament in the true sense. The Lord’s Supper, however, is on the same level as the Word and baptism and therefore must, like them, be regarded first of all as a message and assurance to us of divine grace. … Indeed, the host here, in granting the signs of bread and wine, offers his own body and blood as nourishment and refreshment for their souls. That is a communion that far surpasses the communion inherent in a memorial meal and an act of confession. It is not merely a reminiscence of or a reflection on Christ’s benefits but a most intimate bonding with Christ himself, just as food and drink are united with our body.” (Bavinck, Dogmatics IV, 567).
Koko and I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving! As the Psalmist says (Psalm 107:1-9),
1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble
3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in;
5 hungry and thirsty,their soul fainted within them.
6 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.
8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
I recently received Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel by Russell Moore. If you are not familiar with Moore he is the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. Onward is a profoundly deep and engaging look at American Christianity, some of its problematic preconceived notions, and a very encouraging way forward.
In this book Moore makes an argument for the Church to engage our culture while maintaining the Gospel of Christ. In our efforts to make our amends with the culture of modernity we have set Christ aside and elevated high moralism and perfectionism as the substance of our Christian faith. The end result is a religion that ostracises the culture for not living up to its moral expectations and pays a little more than lip service to Christ.
Moore suggests a better way of going, “Our call is to an engage alienation, a Christianity that preserves the distinctiveness of our gospel while not retreating from our callings as neighbors, and friends, and citizens”. The miscalculation of the church during modernity was that it naively thought if it toned down the Gospel it could present Christianity as a religion of values something that everyone can buy into, right? Wrong, there is a whole society that views values as Victorian moralism of a bygone age, leaving our churches with no attendees and no Gospel.
This is why Moore says, “We must learn to be strange enough to have a prophetic voice, but connected enough to prophesy to those who need to hear. We need to be those who know both how to warn and to welcome, to weep and to dream.” Rather than tone down the Gospel we should be doing as Paul says and holding it up. This is what Christianity is about. I also appreciate his line about being strange. At times it feels like we want to show the world how much we are like them. Moore tells us to accept the strange. Moore goes on to say “Let’s not aspire to be a moral majority but a gospel community, one that doesn’t exist for itself but for the larger mission of reaching the whole world with the whole Gospel.”
This review has gone longer than I wanted so i’ll abruptly end here. I highly recommend Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel for the laity all the way up to Church leaders.
Rating 5 out of 5.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Years ago a pastor friend e-mailed me and said he was reading a book by Collin Hansen Young Restless and Reformed. He went on to say it helped him understand me better. I knew him pretty well and I knew what he was saying was out of candid sincerity but it made me wonder what was it that lead him to believe any of these things about me. Was I young? At the time maybe. Was I restless? Looking back I can definitely say yes. Was I Reformed? That’s too complicated to get in to here. But one thing I wasn’t was the crowed described in Young Restless and Reformed.
The idea behind Young Restless and Reformed was that there were these evangelicals who experienced the best that contemporary evangelicalism could offer (i.e. Arminian, seeker driven, motivational preaching, cutting edge praise and worship music, mega churches, celebrity pastors, etc.) and came out of that feeling short changed. The product in other words didn’t live up to the hype. They found refuge in the theology of the Reformers but were restless because they didn’t know how to bring this recovered theology into contemporary Church. This became a new endevor for the YRR crowed.
Enter in Austin Fischer, Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed describing his way from “Reformed” theology back to Arminian theology. I haven’t read this book but I came across an interesting blog post written by Kevin DeYoung which you can find here.