Snippets from the interweb (13th June 2021)

Are tattoos worse than adultery?

Trevin Wax: ‘Tim Muehlhoff and Richard Langer offer an example of culture clash. They recount the story of Amy Medina, an American missionary in Tanzania, whose husband was teaching a class on developing a biblical worldview. Somehow, the subject of tattoos arose, and the class reacted so negatively to the idea of a Christian getting a tattoo that the missionary asked: “Which would bother you more: if your pastor got a tattoo, or if he committed adultery?” The class was unanimous. The tattoo would be more disturbing! What’s going on?’

You never finish a sermon

‘While driving in our SUV on a Saturday morning, my wife asked, “How’s your sermon coming along?” I was set to preach the next Lord’s Day. “It’s about 95% done,” I said, although I spent a better part of 10 hours or so working on it. In truth, 95% done means . . . I’m completely done — because I never finish a sermon.’

Holy power for imperfect preachers

Ray Ortlund: ‘Let’s not retreat one inch from the recent gains we have made in strong, definite, joyous biblical doctrine. But now let’s take the next obvious step. Let’s believe our doctrine so boldly that we dare to experience, more and more, what it really means to be “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).’

The second commandment and the church

‘It is one thing to believe strongly in a particular liturgical flow, or song selection, or style of preaching. If you truly have no preference when it comes to these things, it merely means you live in unreflective ignorance or apathy, neither of which should be confused with humility. On the other hand, it is quite dangerous to ultimatize those preferences as if they are the bar of orthodoxy. A statement like “I just can’t worship in a church that doesn’t…” should finish with either “preach the Word,” “administer the sacraments,” or “execise church discipline.” Anything less risks breaking the 2nd commandment.’

Atrophy happens

‘Atrophy happens. It is the result of not doing anything. It is natural. It happens in nature, it happens in our bodies. It has happened in our churches over the last year and a half. Just like our muscles atrophy and weaken through lack of use so our spiritual muscles atrophy though lack of use. The question as things reopen is will we put the work in to develop and grow those muscles that have atrophied in recent months?’

Pitiful pride

Carl Trueman: ‘Pride month, and its commercial sponsors, is an appropriate key to understanding the priorities of the modern West. It celebrates hedonistic self-assertion. It mocks the values of the past. It uses the language of inclusion to exclude anybody who will not wholeheartedly affirm its ambitions. It strikes a posture of iconoclastic rebellion and liberation while actually being an imperious assertion of conformity to the social elite’s moral order. It has domesticated transgression by turning it into a marketable commodity. And it epitomizes a world where virtue is obtained by deploying nothing more than a hashtag, only to be lost by refusing to follow the herd.’

From the archive: What should we make of mercy ministry?

‘I have lost count of the number of times people have told me doing those things is the gospel itself. It isn’t. I have also lost count of the number of times that people have told me, if we do those things, people will somehow discern some difference in the way we conduct ourselves so that people will come to the Lord through what they see in us. They won’t. People can only come to Christ if we open our mouths and tell them the truth of the gospel. These ‘good works’ are only of any eternal value if, through them, we actually share the gospel.’