Monday, 23 July 2018

Isaac Backus: An 18th-Century Evangelical with 21st-Century Wisdom

On questions of race, religious liberty, and political power, the Baptist preacher should be our guiding light.

Isaac Backus may be the most interesting and influential American you’ve never heard of.

At the peak of his career, Backus (1724–1806) rode thousands of miles per year to preach to and encourage Baptist congregations throughout New England. In one five-month span, he rode 1,251 miles and preached 117 sermons. He operated outside Baptist circles, too. He debated some of the founding fathers of the United States and was part of the Massachusetts convention that ratified the Constitution. He wrote a three-volume history of New England and sent it to President George Washington as a “private token of love.” Backus is the only person I know of who was both groom and minister in his own wedding.

Backus was also profoundly influential, though he has never shared the renown of his more notable contemporaries. All the traveling and preaching he did in the decades before and after the American Revolution helped organize a Christian fringe group—the Baptists—into a unified movement. A century or so after his death, Baptists became America’s largest and most influential Protestant denomination. Furthermore, Backus drafted a bill of rights for America’s proposed constitution that bore a striking resemblance to the one that was eventually adopted, especially in its protection of religious liberty. He turned Jonathan Edwards’s heady theology of original sin into a practical and political theology of religious toleration. The historian William McLoughlin has claimed that the system of church-state relations that governed America until the last generation or so was precisely what Backus envisioned and worked his entire life to establish.

I like to think of Isaac Backus, the unschooled pastor ...

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Introducing Missio Mondays

“Come to me,” Jesus says, “and I will make you fishers of men.”

Life moves. One day spills into the next in a dizzying array of unfinished tasks. From the seemingly mundane to the excruciatingly complex, life is filled with responsibilities that we should, or must, do. Somewhere in the midst of this chaos it’s likely that the demands of Jesus upon kingdom citizens get lost—discarded among the various rivals that vie for our affection and attention.

Take Mondays, for example. Your day is likely a lot like mine—filled with objectives to complete, meetings to attend, calls to return, bills to pay, and, well, blogs to read. It’s not that any of these are bad. They’re often necessary realities of life. Some we’ve brought upon ourselves. Others, like unexpected emergencies, have chosen us.

In the midst of the shuffle, we’re prone to listen to the clarion call of Jesus’ mandate for his people and assume that we will get around to it one day. “Come to me,” Jesus says, “and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). This is not merely an invitation for first-century disciples, but the expected life mission of all who opt in to Jesus’ kingdom invitation.

We’re to give our lives away to follow Jesus by seeking those who are lost, broken, wounded, and helpless. All of Jesus’ people are “ministers of reconciliation,” pleading with men and women to call on Jesus in repentance and faith (2 Cor. 5:18).

The expectation is clear, yet it’s also clear that this mission often gets pressed to the margins of the weekly to-do list of many who claim to be a disciple of Jesus, pastors included.

As with every area of life, change begins when we start to reshape our priorities and bring them in line with God’s ...

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Sunday, 22 July 2018

Matthew 19:14

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.””


Saturday, 21 July 2018

Matthew 16:15-16

““But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.””


The Scandal that Is Brexit

Call me a Remoaner all you like, but the current state of affairs concerning Brexit is absolutely scandalous. My UK readers will undoubtedly know most of this and so this is more for the benefit of my international readership. Yes, we hear it all the time: the public have spoken and voted and we should […]


One-on-One with R. York Moore on ‘Do Something Beautiful: The Story of Everything and a Guide to Your Place in It’

Jesus does not merely change our world––He changes the world.

Ed: What is ‘the story of everything?’

York: I’ve intentionally written the book to be accessible to ‘nons’ and anti-churched readers. So many great Christian books will never be read by those who need them most because we speak in coded, theocentric language. This book is accessible for the urban justice advocate who has never been to church and for the Harley Davidson biker who lives to glide over the mountains of Virginia.

This book is inspiring for those who have become one of the millions of ‘de-churched,’ who have lost their belief in the possibility of righteousness and beauty. It is accessible for just about any reader and I’ve intentionally made it so by inviting the reader into a story—the story of everything. This is my way of describing the incredible in-breaking kingdom of Jesus and how it invades our darkness and the darkness of the world.

Ed: What was the inspiration behind the book?

York: For the past several years, I’ve watched scores of Millennials come to Jesus in meaningful ways. In recent years, the number of college students coming to faith in Christ through InterVarsity USA has exploded. As I’ve studied the major heart-felt themes of new Christians and those still on their way, I was inspired to write Do Something Beautiful.

My aim is to engage the three major kingdom draws for this generation—righteousness, beauty, and purposed community. These three themes form the foundation for how nons and even anti-churched Millennials are finding their way into meaningful Christian community. There are also two places in the book where the reader can pray to receive Jesus and begin their journey into ‘the story of everything!’

Ed: ...

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