Tag Archives | faith

Practical Theology | Mark J. Cartledge

The cover of Cartledge's Practical TheologyEmpirical and Theology are unlikely partners. Empirical refers to that which is verifiable through observation. Theology (at least in the more conservative traditions) is rooted in revelation and textual studies. In Practical Theology, Mark Cartledge demonstrates how these two ideas play well together in a Charismatic milieu.

Practical Theology is written in two parts. In the first three chapters, Cartledge explains his methodology along with a variety of research methods that suit. Particularly enlightening is the way he weaves contemporary philosophy and charismatic scholarship together to define truth.

The chapters in the second half of Practical Theology illustrate the methodology of the first half. Cartledge has used both quantitative and qualitative research methods in his career. He uses the data he gathered throughout his research to demonstrate various ways of doing sociological studies. These chapters are interesting on two levels. They illuminate some key ideas in charismatic theology: prophecy, the role of women, and glossolalia to name a few. At the end of each study Cartledge offers a reflection on the methods used to interpret the data.

Practical Theology should be read by anyone interested in doing sociological research from a charismatic perspective.

Cartledge, Mark J. Practical Theology: Charismatic and Empirical Perspectives. Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2003.

Faith is Sight | T. F. Torrance

ThomasFTorranceFaith is God’s gift of sight to those blinded by sin.

—T. F. Torrance in Leonard J. Vander Zee, Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: Recovering the Sacraments for Evangelical Worship (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2004), 63.

Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper | Leonard J. Vander Zee

The cover of Vander Zee's Christ, Baptism and the Lord's SupperEvangelicals have an uneasy relationship with the sacraments. Having tossed five of the Catholic’s seven, the Protestant church has doubled-down on the value and importance of baptism and the Lord’s supper. My own fellowship, the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, refers to these two sacraments as “Ordinances.”

Vander Zee’s book is an attempt to take sacramental theology seriously and to renew evangelical interest in these two Biblically-based traditions. His approach is firmly rooted in the theology of John Calvin whom he quotes liberally throughout the book.

The sacraments physical signs graciously given to us by God whereby the believer is united to Christ through the Holy Spirit. Baptism is that once-in-a-lifetime moment where the believer is brought into the Christian community. The Lord’s Supper is a regular time where the physical signs of bread and wine bring us to God through faith.

Although this is a valuable book for the evangelical church at large, it’s more directly applicable to Reformed congregations. This is clear in the chapter on infant baptism which Vander Zee supports and encourages despite no scriptural basis for the practice. Here’s the line that made me shake my head in disbelief:

The primary objection to the baptism of infants, beside the lack of clear biblical evidence, is the fact that in infant baptism one of the most important aspects of New Testament baptism is missing: confession and the profession of faith in Jesus Christ. (122)

I found it hard to believe that in the midst of such a biblically reasoned book, “lack of clear biblical evidence” is relegated to a sub-clause! Despite my disagreements with his theology, I was encouraged by his call for “respect and tolerance” (133) between traditions. (I would go further, however. If we’re going to be biblical, “love” is called for, not mere “respect and tolerance”.)

Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper is a thoughtful book on the importance of the sacraments (or ordinances!) whereby believers are united to Christ by the Holy Spirit in faith.

—Leonard J. Vander Zee, Christ, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper: Recovering the Sacraments for Evangelical Worship (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2004).

Political Faith | Randy Balmer

Randy BalmerOnce you identify the faith with a particular candidate or party or with the quest for political influence, ultimately it is the faith that suffers.

—Randy Balmer in Scot McKnight, Kingdom Conspiracy (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2014). 204.

1 John 5:1-3 | Jesus is the Christ

No Rollerblading


I took much joy in Bible College pointing out the silliness of dormitory rules.

Take, for example, this combination:

  1. Students shall wear proper footwear in the dorms.
  2. Students shall not roller-blade in the dorms. (I like to believe that I had a small part to play in the formation of this rule—the figure “8” hallway made an irresistible roller-blade course!)

My problem was the combination of the two rules. If you wanted to roller-blade outside, you had a conundrum on your hands. You couldn’t wear sock feet to the door because you would violate rule #1 (above). On the other hand, you couldn’t wear your roller-blades downstairs due to rule #2. There was no place to store footwear by the door. What was a law-abiding student to do?

Or take the dress code that stated that male students must wear a tie to chapel services (this was the 1990s). I remember the day my class mate wore his tie as a headband. He followed the rule—to the letter!

When people make laws to restrict behavior based on arbitrary principles, things always devolve into legalism. Jesus’ simple commandments, on the other hand, are liberating.

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Grace and Effort | Dallas Willard

Faith is not opposed to knowledge; it is opposed to sight. And grace is not opposed to effort; it is opposed to earning.

—Dallas Willard, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1984, 1993, 1999), 194.

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