Archive for April, 2011

“The tyranny of correspondence”

April 25th, 2011 Posted in 20th Century

“The tyranny of correspondence in these days becomes a formidable thing… To answer even a dozen letters carefully will take up the best part of a morning, and many of us have not the time to spare. Our energy is consumed attending to other work. …Letters, I have no doubt, are doing much to kill public men.”

Sounds quite contemporary, does it not? You might be surprised to learn that this is Robertson Nicoll (writing under the alias of Claudius Clear) in 1901: see his Letters on Life (Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1901), 149, 151. What would he say about e-mail?

Why I do theology

April 10th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

Many years ago, when I made the decision to go to Wycliffe College and study for a ThD there, my father, who was doing extremely well as an electrical engineer, was asked by one of his friends, who was a believer, about what I was doing. My father told him and then added, “there is no money in theology”! About three years ago, this man to whom my father said those remarks, conveyed them to me when I was teaching at Muskoka Baptist Conference one summer’s night. From the point of view of my father then, I could have done much better for myself in another field. Recently, someone whom I love dearly (not my wife!) said much the same to me: I should have gone into a university setting where I could have made the double the amount of money.

This was my response then and still is now: I was called in February of 1974 by the Lord Jesus to serve his people and he has yet to rescind that call. And I love the Lord Jesus Christ more than anything this world has to offer–and its offers are very attractive–but he is sweeter than all of his creation and it affords the deepest joy to live for him. 

More recently I have thought of Paul’s statement in 2 Cor 11:28-9, a word that has been much with me in recent days: when an apostolic prayer/burden like that is given, it cannot, without serious spiritual risk, be ignored.

A word to the wise from the Ancient Greeks for the use of our social media

April 10th, 2011 Posted in Uncategorized

The description of Facebook and Twitter as social media is somewhat deceptive. Do they get people in touch? Oh yes, and sometimes long lost buddies re-connect, which is for the good. But, as vehicles of significant social interaction, do they qualify as social media? Not really. Some people seem to think they do and they use them to air all kinds of things best left unsaid in even as liquid a medium as the digital. Simply put: Facebook is not the place for some of the rant and rave that I have seen. In the final analysis, there is nothing like the face to face discussion.

Maybe Plato and the Greeks were not all wrong in their complaints about the written word in the social medium of their day–the letter and the book: it is a dead word, cannot speak, cannot respond, can never serve in the stead of the spoken word. Of course, as a Christian who lives on the the written Word of God, I do not buy this. But the point they are making does seem to fit our day’s social media: they appear to be responsive, but in reality they do not meet the heart’s needs for love and companionship.

Newton on doing controversy–needed now as much as ever

April 9th, 2011 Posted in 18th Century

Over at Tom Hicks’ blog, Life in Christ,he cites some portions of a John Newton letter regarding controversy. Am always amazed at that saint’s wisdom! No wonder he is well described as the letter writer par excellence of the Great Awakening. See here: and follow the link to the whole letter here on the OPC website:

We live in perilous days when there be dragons abroad, and it is so easy for the snarkiness latent in some of our Evangelical tradition to emerge when confronting these dragons. I deem Newton’s letter a sane corrective.