Monthly Archives: July 2011

In honor of John Stott

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Pastor and theologian John Stott died this morning in London. He was born on April 27, 1921 and died July 27, 2011. He was a pastor and author in Britain, and a leader in evangelicalism worldwide. He’s a man whose writing I greatly respected, so I wanted to honor him by posting some of my favorite quotes of his. I hope you enjoy:

We have to deny or disown everything within us that is false to our true humanity. But there is nothing in God that is incompatible with his true deity and therefore nothing to deny. It is in order to be our true selves that we have to deny ourselves; it is because God is never other than His true self that He cannot and will not deny Himself. He can empty himself of his rightful glory and humble himself to serve. Indeed, it is precisely this that has to be done in Christ.

How then can God express His holiness without consuming us and His love without condoning our sins? How can God satisfy His holy love? How can He save us and satisfy himself simultaneously? We reply at this point only that, in order to satisfy Himself He sacrified – indeed substituted – Himself for us.

For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting Himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices Himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives that belong to God alone; God accepts the penalties that belong to man alone.

Faith has absolutely no value in itself, its value lies solely in its object. Faith is the eye that looks to Christ, the hand that lays hold of Him, the mouth that drinks the water of life. And the more clearly we see the absolute adequacy of Jesus Christ’s divine-human person and sin bearing death, the more incongruous does it appear that anybody could suppose that we have anything to offer.

We are not to regard the cross as defeat and the resurrection as victory. Rather, the cross was the victory won, and the resurrection the victory endorsed, proclaimed and demonstrated.

*All of the quotes above were taken from The Cross of Christ by John R. W. Stott

Stott, John R. W. The Cross of Christ. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006.

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Pardon me, your Imago Dei is showing

Hands of God and Adam

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Why should we be involved in culture? Isn’t culture wicked and base? Shouldn’t we spend most of our time being involved in spiritual matters? The answer is not quite so simple.

Imago Dei is a Latin phrase that simply means you are created in the image of God. So to use it in a sentence, “Giovanni, your incredible artistic ability reveals your Imago Dei.” (Honestly, how many times do you get to use the name Giovanni in a sentence? Take advantage of it when you can!) One of the most prominent manifestations of this is that the God of the Bible is a Creator. As the Creator, he intends for us to create as well, as His image bearers.

Cultural Mandate

The first command God gave to Adam and Eve is recorded in the first chapter of Genesis.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:27-28 ESV)

In the next chapter Adam is also given the responsibility of naming all the wildlife (Genesis 2:19). Just like God named Adam as a way of showing His dominion over him, Adam names the animals as a way of showing dominion over them. (As an aside, “[having] dominion” in no way promotes or condones abusing creation. To say we can abuse plant and animal life because it’s our dominion would be to imply that we’re ok with God abusing people because we’re His)

Theologians call this command the Cultural Mandate. Adam wasn’t just supposed to hang out and enjoy the garden, he was to be about the business of ruling and contributing to creation. Many people believe that the garden of Eden was lush and green, but the rest of the earth had not yet been cultivated. So Adam was to take what God had begun, and continue it. He was to create culture.

As culture got more complex people built more intricate buildings (Genesis 11:1-9), developed craftsmanship (Exodus 31:1-11), mastered musical instruments (1 Chronicles 16:41-42) and more. Some of these cultural achievements were sinful. Others were commanded and empowered by God. That’s why the answer to the first paragraph is not so simple. God commanded for culture to be developed, but like everything else, people have corrupted it with sin.

Be a Part

People have always created and participated in culture. This is why people feel compelled to spend hours writing and recording a song. Why people literally shed blood, sweat and tears painting a fresco. It’s also why we like to hum a song while we work. Culture is unavoidable. At the very essence, it’s what we do. Don’t run from it – redeem it.

So take a few minutes to enjoy the beauty of a painting, listen to the intricate notes in Beethoven’s 9th, plant a garden with your kids. By enjoying and participating in beauty, you may find yourself longing for the One who created beauty itself.

***I’m spending some time at the beginning of my quest as “perfectly fractured” to explain some basic beliefs I hold and the goals of this site. Since perfectly fractured is “thoughts on culture, worldview, the gospel and more . . . but mostly Jesus,” it seems proper to explain why these thoughts are important. To see the first post, on some of my most basic of beliefs, check out Broken Beginnings.***

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Learning from Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse at Eurockéennes de Belfort (Fest...

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We all love Amy Winehouse. Maybe we don’t all love Winehouse specifically. For some of us it’s Lindsay Lohan, The Peoples’ Court (my personal favorite) or gossip about the weird neighbor down the street – but we all love her. What we really love is people whose lives seem to be train wrecks. We love these people because, even on our worst day, we’re way better than they are . . . aren’t we?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the last couple days you’ve heard of Amy Winehouse. She’s most famous for her song “Rehab,” where the singer with one of the most unfortunately appropriate last names sings “they tried to make me go to rehab, I said ‘No, no, no'”. Now she’s the newest member of the 27 club after her “unexplained” death on Saturday. Her cause of death may be “unexplained,” but her life of public struggles with drugs and alcohol was not.

The Sober Truth (Sorry for the lame pun)

The truth is that you are Amy Winehouse – and so am I. Every single one of us has been captured by a sin that, if it were as deadly as drug and alcohol addiction, we would be dead too.

So what we can really learn from Amy Winehouse has nothing to do with her. There’s a reason we’re all captivated by lives that are spinning out of control. We desperately want to be righteous, and we know that we’re not. The Amy Winehouses of this world pique our interest because their obvious unrighteousness enhances our perceived righteousness. They have become functional saviors.

There is a much better way to look at other peoples’ lives. Instead of trying desperately to obtain a righteousness we can never achieve on our own, we should look to the true and greater savior – Jesus.

The Good News

The good news of the Bible begins with bad news. The bad news is that our best attempt at righteousness stinks. According to the Bible, “we have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isaiah 64:6 ESV). This isn’t talking about our bad days, this is talking about our good days.

Fortunately it doesn’t stop there. Because of Jesus, we can get what Martin Luther calls “the great exchange.” We literally give God a trade. He takes our stinking righteousness and imputes (gives) Jesus’ righteousness to us. “The Lord laid upon Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6 ESV). Jesus literally took on our sin, so that we can put on His righteousness. “For our sake he made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV).

I think that’s way more buzzworthy news. Who knows, maybe I’m just sensitive because Amy Winehouse was my age . . .

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Broken Beginnings

Beauty is most obvious when contrasted by brokenness. That’s the meaning of “perfectly fractured.” The world as it was created to be changed in Genesis 3. When Adam and Eve introduced sin into the world everything broke. The ability to work without frustration, harmonious marital intimacy, and an unhindered relationship with God.

However, God is also sovereign. He is in complete control of human history. He wasn’t caught by surprise. He knew sin was coming and He had a plan in place. After they sinned, He declared what theologians call the protoevangelium (literally “first gospel”). God tells the serpent who tempted Eve, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” Genesis 3:15 ESV (emphasis mine). It’s just a hint, but it foreshadows the coming of Jesus. He was going to come, he would be hurt, but he would destroy the serpent. Eventually, he would make all things new (Revelation 21:5).

In the meantime, things are still fractured. The current effects of that fracture are multifaceted: nothing works right, children go hungry, people get hurt and much more. The world looks bleak.

Restoration

We can have hope in the world’s broken state, because the Bible promises that Jesus will restore all things. That leads me to the goal of this site. Because of sin, our views of God are now fractured. Cynics think God is too harsh and unfair. Fundamentalists think we need to follow man-made rules to please him. There are countless false views of God in-between.

I want to use this site to address many of these false views with the Bible. We can wade through the brokenness of sin and wrong views of God by exposure to the truth. So come on a journey with me. We’ll take a look at culture and worldviews that you see everyday. By exposing it to the gospel, we can see it restored. Through restoration, we can see our fractures perfected.

Heck, maybe I should just let these guys say it:

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