Archive for July, 2013

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The Month Of July

July 8, 2013

I won’t be preaching this month. Calvary will enjoy having some great guest speakers preaching on these Sundays. Personally, I head off for vacation on July 15th and I am hoping that our second child isn’t born before then.

However, I thought I would take a brief moment now and let you know what I will be working on until the 15th. Hopefully, this provides you with some topics of prayer for the church as a whole. Make it to the end – the last one is HUGE 😉

  1. I am rewriting A Missional Manifesto; this was a short booklet, published two years ago, describing the Core Values and Mission of Calvary. I am not, of course, changing the mission of the church (to glorify God by making disciples who love God, love others, and serve the world), or the Core Values (The Gospel, Biblical Community, and Missional Activity). Rather, the revision involves updating the stories of God’s grace interspersed throughout the booklet, as well as writing more on church planting. This booklet will come out in September coinciding with a sermon series on our vision as a church, which will include personal testimonies from the people at Calvary.
  2. I am writing a Blog post on Church planting that responds to possible objections, or fears, that the concept of birthing a church can create in people, as well as once again explaining the importance of church planting. In addition, I will be placing in everyone’s box a short article written by Timothy Keller covering the same topics.
  3. I am working on a series called ‘Elements’ for August. This will be a teaching series that focuses on many of the ‘Elements’ that make up our life together as the gathered people of God on a Sunday morning. There will likely be messages on Communion, Baptism, Church Discipline and Generosity. These messages will be recorded, placed on C.D.’S, and given to new people in the future who are seeking to become members, or who just have questions on the above topics. Some of these topics are greatly misunderstood in the church today so it should be a wonderfully clarifying series about ‘why we do what we do when the church is gathered’.
  4. There has been a church planting couple that has stepped forward in the last fives months, or so, who together sense that God is calling them to help birth a new church. This couple been engaged in a lengthy season of discernment that has involved; meeting with our BCBC Board and the church planting team consisting of members who have much experience in planting churches themselves and assessing the fitness of church planters. This couple underwent a lengthy assessment, and a thorough interview, that examined the their giftedness and aptitude for this role. This potential church planting couple passed through this assessment with very high marks and no red flags. They have also been in conversation with the elders over the last several months and the planter has been interviewed on multiple occasions. God has also graciously given one of the elders a prophetic word/ vision involving this couple (The story will be told in due time ;). No decision has been finalized, which is why this couples identity hasn’t been disclosed. We didn’t want to raise hopes only to have them dashed. It is, however, quite possible that we will have a church-planting apprentice at Calvary part time in the fall (with their part time salary paid for by BCBC), only to go full time in the New Year.  This model of planting has been employed with great success by the Mennonites in the lower mainland in recent years. This apprenticeship would involve a year of training, learning, growing, and transitioning into building a core team from Calvary for a church plant in over a year or so. I know I have just created intrigue; that was my hope. Hang on a couple of weeks and more information will be forthcoming. In August, Roger Huzinga, the leader of BCBC’s church planting board, will be speaking at Calvary on church planting.  Afterwards, we will have a lunch were you can ask Roger any questions, including what he thinks about the church planting couple that we have been talking to over the last months. Roger has a wealth of experience in regard to starting new churches.
  5. I am working on a Monday and haven’t taken my Canada Day stat yet so that if we have the baby before the 15th (my vacation) I have two days extra to take off so that I can support my wife. Pray for us.

Anyways, very exciting stuff! Please be in prayer for the church over the summer months. Please share this article on Facebook, or with Calvary people.

God Bless,

Chris Price

lead Pastor

Calvary Baptist Church

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Clear Minds, Dirty Feet

July 4, 2013

How do you write an honest book review about a project your friend has poured himself into for a year? Let me assure you, it helps if you actually enjoyed the book that they wrote. In July 2013, Jon Morrison released his fourth book, Clear Minds, Dirty Feet. This is a book on Christian apologetics. The term apologetics is an unfamiliar word that refers to speaking in defense of the Christian faith. 

Now, I recently read a book review where the reviewer criticized the author for writing a philosophical work rather than a theological discourse on a topic. This would be a devastating critique if the author being reviewed had actually intended to write a theological work. Since it is apparent that he undertook to write a philosophical work the criticism was one big adventure in missing the point; almost like criticizing an apple for not being an orange. In this brief review I hope to commend and critique the book Jon actually succeeded in writing rather than the book he could have written, or even should have written.

The Content

Throughout the course of Clear Minds & Dirty Feet the author tackles various arguments for the existence of God, including the well-known Teleological, Cosmological and Moral arguments. Not only does he explain the arguments he, in some instances, responds to potential objections. For example, he addresses common rejoinders to the Teleological (design, or ‘fine-tuning’) argument by discussing the weak anthropic principle (thank God he doesn’t call it that), the concept of a Multiverse, and the well-known but ridiculous, ‘who designed the designer’?  Not only does he accurately present these arguments in a readable manner, when he does respond to potential objections he is successful in showing how they ultimately fail to be convincing.

It is, however, worth pointing out that the arguments for God’s existence that Jon employs have their limitations. Even if the Cosmological, Teleological and Moral arguments were all successful and compelling to most readers we would still not arrive at the great Christian doctrines of faith.

This underscores the importance of Jon’s latter chapters on the reliability of scripture, the person of Jesus, and the resurrection of Christ. In fact, the logical flow of Jon’s chapters is to be commended and leads the believing reader to feel as though his or her faith is being systematically strengthened throughout the course of the book.

In the second half of the book Jon argues winsomely for the central doctrines of Christianity with chapters on the reliability of scripture, the deity of Christ and His resurrection from the dead. He also responds to potential objections to the Christian worldview based on the doctrine of hell, perceived conflicts between faith and science, and the reality of suffering and evil in our world.

In his chapter on the difficult doctrine of hell you can tell that Jon is not simply an apologist, he has also studied his theology. For an introductory book on Christian apologetics there is, at times, a theological depth that is often missing in other works of this nature where the main focus is philosophical argumentation.

Jon also writes both philosophically and pastorally on the problem of evil. He doesn’t minimize evil, or try to skirt the difficult topic, rather he plunges right into the center of it offering the reader reflections that are intellectually credible and, ultimately, existentially satisfying. Jon is surely right in stating that every worldview needs to give an account for suffering in the world and he does well in showing that Christianity’s answer is both reasonable and bursting with hope in the face of hardship.

The Clarity

I don’t wish to tear other authors down in an attempt to build up Jon. It is worth noting, however, that many well-known, trained apologists have sought to write popular works of Christian apologetics for the masses. Many of these have been incredibly helpful but in reading through much of them I have often wondered if these writers have still, inadvertently, over shot their target audience.

In Clear Minds and Dirty Feet Jon has succeeded in writing a book of apologetics that can actually be understood by those unfamiliar with the issues. In addition, the comics interspersed throughout the book add a creative flair and help communicate the ideas in an easily understandable fashion. As a result, Jon truly has written a great introductory book on Christian Apologetics that I would heartedly recommend to people at my church.

Jon has also done a favor for the skeptic. It is painful to watch the frequent You Tube attempts to refute arguments for God’s existence by misunderstanding the premises. Jon writes so clearly that he makes it exceedingly difficult for the skeptic to commit the blunder of ‘discrediting’ an argument by misunderstanding it.

Potential Weaknesses

I wrote in the above section of this review that Jon’s book is readable, enjoyable and actually manages the difficult feat of explaining complex ideas to the reader. This great strength, however, could be turned into a weakness if this book is pushed into the service of addressing needs it was never intended to meet. For example, some one well versed in these topics may thoroughly enjoy the book but not find the content challenging enough. Moreover, a university student pursuing a philosophy degree may also need to look elsewhere to be sufficiently challenged in their belief, or unbelief. Again, I think this book must be read as an introduction to Christian apologetics, to read it as anything but that is to be disappointed that Jon didn’t write a book that he never intended to write.

In explaining the arguments for the existence of God the author also misses (perhaps intentionally) a few counter arguments that are commonly brought up against the Cosmological argument and Moral argument (the Kalaam Cosmological argument, for example, is accused of all types of logical fallacies; equivocating on the word ’cause’, begging the question etc, etc. All without warrant of course). Yet, without addressing these well-known rejoinders found on You Tube (and elsewhere) he makes his arguments easier for the informed skeptic to ignore. As a friendly reviewer I would hasten to add that this is likely a necessary weakness of a book covering a wide range of topics. After all, Jon has cited enough resources for the interested skeptic, or Christian, to pursue.

Pick Up & Read

Read this book; it is worth your time and mental energy. This short work will open your mind to the wide world of Christian apologetics and it will do so in a manner that is fresh, fun, informed and ultimately satisfying. One caution; be prepared to be challenged, not just in your thinking, but also in how you live your life. This book is meant to equip you for God’s mission in God’s world; the goal is not simply to empower you to win arguments but rather to give you the encouragement and confidence to, by God’s grace, win people to Christ. Clear Minds and Dirty Feet will challenge you to get your mind clean and clear and your feet dark and dirty, all for God’s glory and the good of our world.

So to conclude this short review; as an avid reader of Jon’s books this is my favorite to date and I am glad to recommend it to you. You can buy this book at http://www.amazon.com by typing in Clear Minds, Dirty Feet.

God bless,

Chris Price