Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Firm, yet winsome

The Pastor’s Perspective
“Firm, yet winsome”
First Published: January 18, 2005

It is Presidential Inauguration week in Washington, and a number of our folks will be there with the Mississippi delegation. This important national event should prompt us to thank God for his national mercies, not the least of which are our civil liberties, as well as to pray for all our public servants at the federal level (of whatever party affiliation). Many New Testament passages will provide you ideas for petitions on their behalf, as well as for God’s will to be cultivated in your own attitude towards government and public witness (e.g., Romans 13 and 1 Peter).

This reminds me that we ought to be concerned to cultivate an effective public witness to Christ in the way we engage with the culture and talk about the “first things” with our contemporaries. David Brooks (and outstanding, Jewish, cultural commentator) recently described the tone (or “voice”) of the aged evangelical leader John Stott’s public witness to Christ in this way: “It is a voice that is friendly, courteous and natural. It is humble and self-critical, but also confident, joyful and optimistic.” He goes on to note that Stott believes in absolute truth “not because we are ultra-conservative, or obscurantist, or reactionary or the other horrid things which we are sometimes said to be. It is rather because we love Jesus Christ, and because we are determined, God helping us, to bear witness to his unique glory and absolute sufficiency. In Christ and in the biblical witness to Christ God's revelation is complete; to add any words of our own to his finished work is derogatory to Christ.” Brooks calls Stott “Mr. Rogers with a backbone of steel.” Quite a compliment from an astute observer of religion.

Now, we may not be aiming to be Mr. Rogers in our public witness to the truth of Jesus Christ, but surely there is something to be said for the respectful tone and substantive content that has caught David Brooks’ attention in the message of John Stott. Since many voices the represent evangelicals in radio and television talk programing do not do so with the same courtesy and substance of John Stott and others (like our friends John MacArthur and Al Mohler), we will perhaps have to overcome some negative stereotyping when engaging with our neighbors. But speaking the truth in love will certainly help thaw some of the ice.

Men, on Friday night, January 28th, Sinclair Ferguson will be with us for the annual Mid-South Men’s Rally. You don’t want to miss it! Come join us for supper and then for a feast from God’s word. Some of you may be interested to know that Dr. Ferguson recently preached for the royal family, at their estate of Balmoral, in Scotland.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

No comments: