The Friday Briefing 20 (1 March 2019)

How contemporary worship music is shaping us—for better or worse Matt Merker writes, “Now that contemporary worship music has become not only a major feature of evangelical identity in North America but also a multimillion-dollar industry, it’s worth asking an often neglected question: How does contemporary worship music shape us? Monique Ingalls, assistant professor of music at Baylor University, tackles this question in her book, Singing the Congregation: How Contemporary Worship Music Forms Evangelical Community. . . . . Rather than proceed with a traditional book review, it may be more useful to my readers to share some ways in which Ingalls’s work has prompted my own thinking. So here are four areas of reflection, which I invite you to consider with me.”

Christian life: learning from the Battle of the Atlantic – we can only win the spiritual battle if we fight for our devotional life John Stevens writes, “I have just finished reading Jonathan Dimbleby’s excellent book The Battle of the Atlantic . . . . . . . . The Battle of the Atlantic was the unsung campaign of the war. . . . . There were few dashing heroes and much hard slog. But it was the crucial battle, because every other battle depended upon it. We need to make sure that we fight the crucial battle to maintain our spiritual health and vitality if we are to prevail in the spiritual war in which we find ourselves.”

Typology: what it is and why we need it David Schrock writes, “. . . Christians going back to the early church have rightly seen (and looked for) ‘types’ of Christ in the Old Testament. But at the same time, questions have arisen to ask: What is a type? That is the question I want to answer today in broad and simple strokes. . . . . for those just getting acquainted with the idea, I want to introduce typology as simply as I can.”

5 lessons Jordan Peterson has taught the Church Esther O’Reilly writes, “A year ago, I had no idea who Jordan Peterson was. . . . . As I watched Peterson’s status rocket rise, it became a social experiment in itself to watch how Christians reacted to it all. It seemed that they either really, really liked Peterson or really, really did not like him.” She asks, “Is Peterson getting something right that the Church has been getting wrong? It’s easy to run down a list of things Jordan Peterson could learn from the Church. But could the Church learn something from Jordan Peterson? Bearing in mind that The Church is not a monolith, and thus any attempt to answer these questions will over-simplify, I think the answer is yes. I didn’t come up with twelve rules, but here are five.”

God’s metrics Nick Batzig comments, “God’s metrics are not our metrics. The way in which we seek to measure fruitfulness and faithfulness is often quite skewed.” He asks, “What ought a faithful ministry look like?”

The Power of the Cross (Oh, To See The Dawn) Here is a suberb and moving hymn about Jesus’s sacrificial death for us, written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty.

How contemporary worship music is shaping us—for better or worse.

Matt Merker writes, “Now that contemporary worship music has become not only a major feature of evangelical identity in North America but also a multimillion-dollar industry, it’s worth asking an often neglected question: How does contemporary worship music shape us? Monique Ingalls, assistant professor of music at Baylor University, tackles this question in her book, Singing the Congregation: How Contemporary Worship Music Forms Evangelical Community. Focusing on the decade from 2007 to 2017, she examines modern praise through sociological lenses.”

He comments, “. . . the main value of Singing the Congregation is its thorough description of the world that contemporary worship music has created. For that reason, even if musicology is a new field for you, I recommend this book to pastors, worship leaders, and anyone else with an interest in the modern worship movement—fans and critics alike. . . . . Ingalls’s focus is on worship music as sociological phenomenon, so there is little here in the way of theological interaction with worship lyrics. Still, Ingalls’s in-depth account of how contemporary worship shapes evangelical life proves the axiom that ‘the medium is the message’. In other words, contemporary worship music not only reflects evangelical values and convictions about how to engage with God, it also profoundly influences those values and convictions. . . . . Rather than proceed with a traditional book review, it may be more useful to my readers to share some ways in which Ingalls’s work has prompted my own thinking. So here are four areas of reflection, which I invite you to consider with me.”

Read the whole article HERE. Matt Merker serves as an elder and pastoral assistant at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. He writes congregational hymns, including He Will Hold Me Fast. His music website is HERE.

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Christian life: learning from the Battle of the Atlantic – we can only win the spiritual battle if we fight for our devotional life.

John Stevens writes, “I have just finished reading Jonathan Dimbleby’s excellent book The Battle of the Atlantic which I received as a Christmas present. He makes a compelling case that the battle to defeat the U-boat menace in the North Atlantic was the most important campaign in the Second World War, since it ensured the supply of food, fuel, raw materials and arms to the UK and Russia. . . . . However, despite the crucial importance of this “battle” – which was really a sustained four-year campaign – it does not receive the attention given to other allied victories such as the Battle of Britain, or El Alamein.”

Stevens applies this to our Christian walk. He comments, “The Battle of the Atlantic is a reminder to us that some battles are ultimately more important than others. Offensive warfare cannot be maintained unless the supply lines on which it depends are maintained. . . . . The Battle of the Atlantic was the unsung campaign of the war. . . . . There were few dashing heroes and much hard slog. But it was the crucial battle, because every other battle depended upon it. We need to make sure that we fight the crucial battle to maintain our spiritual health and vitality if we are to prevail in the spiritual war in which we find ourselves. If you have neglected your personal devotional life and church commitment take drastic action now.”

Read the whole article HERE.

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Typology: what it is and why we need it.

David Schrock writes, “In yesterday’s sermon on Numbers 20, we ran into something known as typology. As it has been variously defined in church history, typology occurs in the Bible when an historical person, event, or institution—in this case a water-giving rock—foreshadows the coming Son of God. As with Exodus 17, this life-giving, water-streaming rock is a type of Christ, at least according to the apostle Paul. Writing in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul recounts a number of events in Israel’s history (see vv. 1–13), including this rock. . . . . . . . Paul makes the stunning claim that the Rock was to be identified with the Lord, and since Christ is the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:6), the Rock is to be identified with Christ. Two verses later, he adds, “Now these things took place as examples (typoi) for us, that we might not desire evil as they did” (v. 6). Most versions rightly translate typoi as “examples” but you can see from the Greek word that the examples Paul has in mind were types, a word he uses elsewhere to relate Adam and Christ (Rom 5:14), a word Peter uses to speak of Noah’s baptism (1 Peter 3:21), and a word used in Hebrews to relate the tabernacle on earth with the one in heaven (Hebrews 8:5).”

Dr. Schrock continues, “On the basis of passages like these, Christians going back to the early church have rightly seen (and looked for) ‘types’ of Christ in the Old Testament. But at the same time, questions have arisen to ask: What is a type? That is the question I want to answer today in broad and simple strokes. . . . for those just getting acquainted with the idea, I want to introduce typology as simply as I can.”

Read the whole article HERE.

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5 lessons Jordan Peterson has taught the Church.

Esther O’Reilly writes, “A year ago, I had no idea who Jordan Peterson was. Like many people, I got my first inkling after That Debate went viral. I was entertained, but I didn’t understand what I was watching. If you had told me then that this Canadian psychology professor was embarked on nothing less than a decades-long quest to rescue Western Civilization from the pit of nihilistic despair, I would have assumed you were joking. But Jordan Peterson, it seems, was not. As I watched Peterson’s status rocket rise, it became a social experiment in itself to watch how Christians reacted to it all. It seemed that they either really, really liked Peterson or really, really did not like him. . . . . Fortunately, some Christian engagements were balanced and thoughtful.” O’Reilly provides links to a number of commentaries by Christians on Jordan Peterson that she especially enjoyed. She makes special mention of Paul VanderKlay, a pastor who, she says, has “attained a level of understanding that the bite-sized book reviews and quick takes I’ve seen can’t touch.”

O’Reilly comments, “It is a myth that all of Peterson’s fans are young men, angry or otherwise. . . . . However, young men—particularly quirky, introverted, intellectually curious young men—do form a large percentage of his base. It hasn’t escaped people’s notice that this is precisely the demographic the Church has not been reaching, or worse, has been losing. Yet VanderKlay has said in interviews that he “could not have asked for a better men’s ministry” than the influx of men he has been regularly meeting to discuss Peterson’s work and its religious connotations. Men who would never attend a Bible study are suddenly beating down Paul’s virtual and real-life door to have conversations about God, Jesus and the Bible.”

O’Reilly asks, “Is Peterson getting something right that the Church has been getting wrong? It’s easy to run down a list of things Jordan Peterson could learn from the Church. But could the Church learn something from Jordan Peterson? Bearing in mind that The Church is not a monolith, and thus any attempt to answer these questions will over-simplify, I think the answer is yes. I didn’t come up with twelve rules, but here are five.”

O’Reilly’s points out five imperatives demanding the Church’s attention today. By way of example, one point she makes concerns teaching in the local church. She points out that the Church ”must satisfy the intellectually curious”. In her discussion of this, she says, “The Bible says we are to love God not only with our hearts but with our minds. Church should equip us to do both. The intellectually hungry should not go away unfed. Bible studies should not offer milk when people are silently begging for meat. Pastors should be well-read, not only in theology but in great literature, in poetry, in history. Highly educated church members with the gift of teaching should be connected with young people craving what their anemic public educations are not giving them.”

Read the whole article HERE.

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God’s metrics.

Nick Batzig writes, “God’s metrics are not our metrics. The way in which we seek to measure fruitfulness and faithfulness is often quite skewed. . . . . The fruitfulness of a Gospel ministry is never observed in total in the here and now. . . . . While the fruit may not always be evident in the here and now, Paul insisted that there is a day coming when “each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor”. What ought a faithful ministry look like?”

Batzig comments, “. . . those who are faithful will build with the persistent preaching of Christ crucified, sound doctrine, prayer, the sacraments, church discipline, a loving and holy Christian community and biblical worship and evangelism. . . . . It’s easy for those laboring faithfully to become discouraged when they look over at other churches and see how much more quickly they seem to have grown. It is much more difficult for them to remember that everything is merely scaffolding; and, one day God will reveal what sort of materials were used in the building.”

Read the whole article HERE.

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The Power of the Cross (Oh, To See The Dawn).

This is a superb hymn written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. Townend writes, “The song paints the picture of that Good Friday when Christ was tried, beaten, nailed to a cross, suffered and died, and the chorus tries to explain the significance of it all. Then the last verse effectively paints us into that picture, for it is our name written in His wounds.” The lyrics and other information are available on Stuart Townend’s website page for this hymn HERE.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations (apart from those in quotations from other authors) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, published by HarperCollins Publishers. © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

‘Genesis 24 and God’s plan for the world’ by David Schrock

camel train, Middle East, Palestine, Egypt, Abraham, Genesis 24, Isaac

Image from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs online catalog.

“And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh, that I may make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and God of the earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell, but will go to my country and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac.” . . . . ”Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, taking all sorts of choice gifts from his master; and he arose and went to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor.” (Genesis 24.2-4,10). An old photograph (taken between 1934 and 1939) showing a camel caravan in the Middle East.

Genesis 24 tells how Abraham found a wife for his son Isaac. It’s the longest chapter in the Book of Genesis. David Schrock explains this story and explores its importance in the Bible storyline. He writes, “. . . the longest narrative event in Genesis is a love story, one that seems Dickens-like in its profusion of extraneous information. Certainly, as the promises of God are given to Abraham and his offspring, the marriage of his son is no small matter. Yet, it seems as though the account of the servant traveling back to Mesopotamia to find a wife for Isaac is prolix detour from the rest of Genesis. . . . . So why the long drama of finding Isaac a wife? My answer is that this story reflects God’s story for the world, and the long-time-in-coming union between God’s beloved son with his bride. Let’s consider.”

After showing us how Genesis should be read in the context of the whole Bible story, he comments, ”. . . we have reason to read Genesis 24 as a narrative meant to point to Christ, just as the firstborn son of Abraham points to Christ (cf. Romans 8.31–32). We should likewise see the account of Isaac and Rebekah’s marriage as patterned after the original marriage and foreshadowing a greater marriage—after all, this is the mystery marriage, that every husband and wife are types of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5.22–33). Last, we should consider how Moses intended to tell the history of Isaac and Rebekah and perhaps something else—namely another rehearsal of the exodus event he had experienced with Israel. . . . . With these ‘reading requirements’ in place, what do we find in Genesis 24?”

Dr Schrock details how the story in Genesis 24 foreshadows how God will bring a bride to His Son. He concludes, “Incredibly, Genesis 24 is not the longest chapter in Genesis by accident. It is a pure and holy story of covenant marriage, set against all the other debauched stories of sexual immorality in Genesis. And . . . it teaches us how to look at the entire world with hope in Christ and the marriage he offers to those who forsake their fathers and join themselves to God’s Son. . . . . It surely should encourage us as we the bride serve our Master and call others to come to him!”

Read the whole article HERE.

CREDITS Scripture citations (other than those in quotations from other authors) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, published by HarperCollins Publishers. © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

‘Getting Excited about Melchizedek’ – an audio message by Don Carson

Melchizedek, Abraham, Colin Nouailher

Image by Marie-Lan Nguyen / Jastrow : Wikimedia Public domain

‘Melchizedek and Abraham’, attributed to Colin Nouailher (painted between 1560 and 1570) and held by the Louvre. Melchizedek meets Abraham and his troops (the figures are depicted in clothing and armour of the 16th century).

Melchizedek isn’t a Bible character that we imagine anyone could get really excited about. Yet he’s one of the most significant pictures of Jesus in the Old Testament. He prefigures Jesus as our High Priest and King. Augustine wrote: “The New Testament is in the Old concealed; the Old is in the New revealed.” Melchizedek is one of the outstanding instances of this principle.

Melchizedek was the priest of the true God and king of Salem. Salem seems certain to have been the city later called Jerusalem. In Genesis 14 we read that Abraham and his allies defeated a confederation of kings who had seized Abraham’s nephew Lot. Then we read: “After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” (Genesis 14.18-20). We next encounter Melchizedek in Psalm 110. David wrote: The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psalm 110.4). In the New Testament, the only passages that relate to Melchizedek are Hebrews 5.5-10, 6.20-7.25. The writer tells us: “So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 5.5-6).

If anyone could get us excited about this mysterious Old Testament priestly king, it’s Don Carson – one of the finest Christian speakers and writers of the present day. Dr Carson tells us: “. . . precisely because he is both king and priest, the figure of Melchizedek turns out to be one of the most instructive figures in the entire Bible for helping us put our Bibles together. He helps us see clearly who Jesus is. . . . . . . . he turns out to be utterly revolutionary in opening our eyes to the glories of our Savior.” With his characteristically clear and compelling way, Dr Carson takes us through the Bible passages that relate to Melchizedek and explains how significant this man is.

The audio of Don Carson’s message (as MP3) is available HERE. The video is available HERE and HERE. The text is available HERE.

Don Carson preached this message at The Gospel Coalition’s 2011 national conference at McCormick Place in Chicago. The eight plenary addresses from that conference, including Dr. Carson’s address, have been edited by Dr Carson and published under the title The Scriptures Testify about Me. The publishers’ descriptions of this book are online HERE and HERE.

Don Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, USA. Dr. Carson has written or edited more than fifty books, including The Gagging of God, An Introduction to the New Testament, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, How Long, O Lord? and The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God. He has served as a pastor and is an active guest speaker in church and academic settings around the world.

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.