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By In Podcast

Episode 16: Colin Kaepernick and the NFL Culture War

In this episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Pastors Uri Brito and Andrew Isker discuss the recent brouhaha over the flag and the NFL. They discuss the religious nature and culture of the NFL as well as various American idolatries.

On August 26, 2016, then–San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick quietly remained seated during the National Anthem at 49ers pre-season game. A few weeks into the new ritual, he was asked about it: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” explained Kaepernick.

Since then some players have continued the protest, but “gasoline was poured onto the fire,” said Andrew Isker, at a campaign rally for failed Republican Senatorial candidate Luther Strange. At the event, President Trump criticized the on-going protests as, “a total disrespect for our heritage,” and encouraged NFL owners to fire protesting players. Trump described a scenario where NFL owners would react to the protest with, “Get that son of bitch off the field right now, he’s fired. He’s fired!”

Pastor Isker explains how the protests have revealed the political worldview of the NFL as aligned with the entertainment industry. “Their views, especially in the case of Kaepernick, are radically to the left and the NFL has more-or-less given cover to allow this.”

They conclude with a call to worship the Triune God as the most central act of the Christian. This is a helpful discussion. Please leave your comments.

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By In Podcast

Episode 12: Clergy Self-Care

In this episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Pastor Uri Brito and the Rev. Canon Dr. Tony Baron discuss the idea of clergy self-care and pastoral life satisfaction.

“We ought to love the church,” says Uri Brito. “But never at the expense of our families.”

Uri Brito is the Senior Pastor of Providence Church in Pensacola, Fl. He is married to Melinda and is the father of four children. He is the editor of The Church-Friendly Family, author of The Trinitarian Father, and a certified counselor through the Association of Biblical Counselors (ABC). Uri is also the founder and a contributor to Kuyperian Commentary and a board member of the Theopolis Institute. Rev. Brito received his M.Div from Reformed Theological Seminary and is currently a doctoral student at RTS.

The Rev. Canon Dr. Tony Baron shares on what constitutes a healthy and satisfying life and how to approach each of them. You can watch his entire video series on pastoral life satisfaction here.

Tony Baron is a psychologist, theologian, professor and author— he has successfully planted two churches, developed a Christian Healing Center, and started two consulting firms based on the concept of servant leadership. Dr. Tony Baron serves as the Director of Azusa Pacific Seminary in San Diego and Associate Professor of Christian Leadership and Spiritual Formation at Azusa Pacific University. Baron is also founding president of Servant Leadership Institute, a resource think tank on leadership development and transformation, and has shared his expertise with churches and denominations worldwide. Ordained as an Anglican priest and serving as Canon for Clergy and Congregational Care for the Anglican Church in North America under Bishop Todd Hunter, Baron has a great love for current and future pastors who seek to live, learn, and love the Christ-life within the Church.

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By In Podcast, Pro-Life

Episode 11: Abortion, Courage and Blood Money

In this episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Jesse Sumpter interviews Pastor Toby Sumpter to discuss the Christian’s responsibility on the abortion issue. Pastor Sumpter believes, “We need to pass laws outlawing abortion in our states and then we need to refuse to show up in federal court.”

In June of 2017, Pastor Sumpter penned an article entitled, “Courage & Blood Money: A Proposal toward the Abolition of Abortion” for his blog on Crosspolitic. In this cutting blog post, he criticizes Christians for failing to demonstrate the courage to challenge the federal government on abortion.

“What would happen if the Feds started sniffing around the Colorado or Washington State marijuana laws?” asks Pastor Sumpter. “Or what about states that have declared that they will not enforce illegal immigrant laws? I’m pretty sure the states wouldn’t give the Feds the time of day.”

The Idaho pastor notes that current efforts to make progress against abortion are often undermined by the cowardice of American Christians. “We think we need to be nice — but that is not a fruit of the Spirit,” said Sumpter. “We need to be patient, to be kind… but what we need to recognize is that there are more options and tools at hand.”

Another significant obstacle for states like Idaho is the amount of federal funding that the state depends on each year. A legal breech between the state and federal government could jeopardize the billions of dollars the federal government gives to the state. According to Pastor Sumpter, “the feds are paying us to murder 1300 to 1400 babies every year in the state of Idaho… they are bribing us to murder our children. We ought to say ‘no’ and that we won’t sacrifice the life one child for all the money in the world.”

Toby J. Sumpter serves as a minister at Trinity Reformed Church in Moscow, Idaho and is the author of the commentary Job Through New Eyes: A Son for Glory and Blood-Bought World. He is married to Jenny and they have four children.

Podcast music and editing by George Reed.

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By In Books, Politics

Transcendent Faith in a Disenchanted World

To make the Christian faith plausible to the secular mind, we either have to (1) de-mystify their Scriptures or (2) re-enchant their cosmos. In addition to the later apologetic being more truthful, it’s also more beautiful. In his new book Recapturing the Wonder (available here), Mike Cosper has written a truly beautiful book—one able to re-enchant the world of even the most jaded modern. Drawing on the work of Charles Taylor, James K.A. Smith, Dallas Willard, and Thomas Merton, Cosper shows that there is indeed a path—paved in ancient practices—to transcendence in an age of materialism and consumerism. As a High School teacher, I’ll certainly be using the content of the book in classes for years to come. The book is especially apropos for college students. Were I organizing a reading scheme for a CCO/InterVarsity/RUF leadership team, Recapturing the Wonder would be at the top of my list this semester. To whet your appetite, below are a few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Ours is an age where our sense of spiritual possibility, transcendence, and the presence of God has been drained out. What’s left is a spiritual desert, and Christians face the temptation to accept the dryness of that desert as the only possible world. We have enough conviction and faith to be able to call ourselves believers, but we’re compelled to look for ways to live out a Christian life without transcendence and without the active presence of God, practicing what Dallas Willard once called ‘biblical deism’—a strange bastardization of Christianity that acts as though, once the Bible was written, God left us to sort things out for ourselves.”

“Technology has given us the sense that everything within the universe can be made to appear to our senses and harnessed for our purposes. It may be meaningless, but it can be comprehended and mastered. This mastery, though, is a bit of an illusion as well. The accumulated body of scientific knowledge can tell us all about the canvas, oils, and minerals that combine to make a work of art, but they cannot tell us why it takes our breath away.”

“We hunger for that kind of know-how, for a relationship with Scripture that leads to something deeper than head knowledge. We long for wonder, and we long for communion with God, but we’re so afraid of getting something wrong that we either avoid Scripture altogether or treat it as a cold, dead abstraction, unable to connect it to real life.”

“In a disenchanted world, we have our own overarching narrative, and its cornerstone is progress—a sense that the world is moving from disorder to order, that humanity is improving not just biologically and evolutionarily but morally, intellectually, and spiritually.”

“The power of habit is in the way it tunes our body and soul to anticipate a return to the rhythm. We’re primed for it, and when we’re starved of it, we’ll feel pangs of hunger.”

“Regular is a word that needs some redemption in our modern usage. We’re so used to superlatives that we tend to be dismissive and suspect of the ordinary. We don’t want regular; we want super-sized awesomeness. But regular is a good word, and it’s important to embrace it in two senses here. Regular means ordinary. But regular also refers to time. We need solitude to be regular in the sense that it’s repeated— a rhythm we return to as Jesus did.”

“Consuming is about possession, and consuming something uses it up. The end goal of a fast food meal is a pile of empty wrappers. The end goal of most consumer products is obsolescence. We are not meant to dwell with cars, smartphones, and running shoes—not for long, anyway. These things are meant to be used up, and once used up, disposed of or recycled into something new.”

“Reading about the lives of saints, I don’t see immovable giants. Instead, I see Merton falling in love with a nurse and having an affair. I see Brennan Manning fighting a life-long battle with alcohol abuse. I see Charles Spurgeon and Martin Lloyd Jones—two of the greatest preachers in the English language—fighting lifelong battles with depression. But Merton came home to the monastery, Manning died declaring ‘all is grace,’ and Spurgeon and Jones kept preaching the gospel… Somehow, grace abounds in a world full of sorrows.”

“Follow Jesus if you must, seek the face of God if you must, but don’t be surprised if, after a while, it feels like you’ve been battling angels in the darkness. Seeking God’s face in a fallen world is not the easy life; it’s the good life.”

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By In Film, Podcast

Episode 10: A Review of the Movie Dunkirk

In this episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Pastor Andrew Isker and Sean Johnson offer a review of  “Dunkirk” – a 2017 war film written, co-produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan.

Dunkirk is set in May of 1940, when Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.

Michael O’Sullivan of the Washington Post described Dunkirk as uncomfortable to watch, “it never relents or relaxes. At the same time, it’s impossible to look away from it.”

Sean Johnson also offered a written review of Dunkirk for FilmFisher.

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By In Interviews, Podcast

The Life of J.R.R. Tolkien

In this interview, Pastor Uri Brito discusses the life and legacy of J.R.R. Tolkien with Pastor Mark Horne.

Pastor Horne is the author of J.R.R. Tolkien of Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church.

“When Tolkien becomes famous he’s almost too old,” says Horne, who has written about Tolkien’s little known early life and career.

Born in South Africa and growing up in Great Britain, J.R.R. Tolkien, or Ronald as he was known, led a young life filled with uncertainty and instability. His was not a storybook childhood- his father died when Ronald was three years old, and his mother died just before he reached adolescence. Left under the guardianship of his mother’s friend and priest, Ronald forged his closest relationships with friends who shared his love for literature and languages.

As Tolkien grew older, married, served as a soldier, and became a well-respected Oxford professor publishing weighty works on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf, the Christian faith that his mother had instilled in him continued as an intrinsic element of his creative imagination and his everyday life.

It was through The Hobbit and the three-volume The Lord of the Rings that Tolkien became a literary giant throughout the world. In his fiction, which earned him the informal title of “the father of modern fantasy literature,” Tolkien presents readers with a vision of freedom- nothing preachy- that a strong, unequivocal faith can transmit.

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By In Music, Podcast, Worship

Episode 8b, Fighting Musical Relativism in the Church with James B. Jordan

In part two of this series on music, Jarrod Richey again interviews James B. Jordan, scholar in residence at the Theopolis Institute (Birmingham, Alabama) and founder of Biblical Horizons.

On this podcast, Jordan addresses the question of the appropriateness of music in worship, the use of chant in the Protestant tradition, and musical instruments.

Jordan makes the argument that “worship shouldn’t sound like the rest of the week.” He acknowledges that this often makes modern worshippers uncomfortable, but points to John Calvin’s example of teaching the Genevan Psalter, then strange and unfamiliar to the adults, to children. “Do you want you children growing up not knowing the psalms?” asks Jordan. “Or are you willing to set aside what makes you feel good for the sake of your kids?”

Demystifying chant, Jordan points out that part of the problem is the English language itself. He explains that “other languages don’t have two different words for sing and chant.” Jordan surveys the various Protestant uses of chant and explains the surprisingly recent history of what we think chanting sounds like.

Finally, James B. Jordan offers practical wisdom for pastors and worship leaders on how to develop music in their local congregations. “Don’t do anything that calls attention to yourself,” says Jordan, who prefers to see the leaders in worship as servants, not performers. On the issue of instruments in Worship, Jordan playfully tackles to the controversy of guitars and explains how the pipe organ most fully respects the orchestral dignity of the worship service.

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About James B. Jordan

James B. Jordan Theopolis Biblical Horizons His father was a professor of French Literature and his mother a piano teacher and a poetess. Jordan graduated from the University of Georgia in 1971 with a degree in Comparative Literature and studies in music and political philosophy. He finished his master’s degree in systematic theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia and was awarded the D. Litt. degree from the Central School of Religion, England, in 1993.

Jordan is the author of several books, including The Sociology of the Church (1986); Through New Eyes: Developing a Biblical View of the World (1988); Creation in Six Days (1999); and several books of Bible exposition, worship, and liturgy.

Music:

Psalm 119 – Psalm Sing, Christ Church, Moscow, ID.
Rendition of Psalm 119 by Dr. David Erb.

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