Author: Bobby Griffith

Nostalgia, the PCA and General Assembly

Nostalgia is denial – denial of the painful present… the name for this denial is golden age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one’s living in – it’s a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present. Midnight in Paris       As we go into the 40th General Assembly next week, there is the temptation to look at today, with its controversies, factions and seeming lack of unity, through the lens of nostalgia. Nostalgia is powerful. We have industries...

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Pursuing a Ph.D While Planting?

Like many in our small world, I did not stop my formal education after seminary. In fact, I did another Master’s degree (History) and went through to the Doctorate (History). Last Monday, I finished my final seminar. In the fall, I have a private readings scheduled and then I sit for comprehensive examinations in March with the dissertation to follow . That sounds so fun, right? A Presbyterian fulfilling that famous Reformed E/INTJ longing for knowledge. Not so fast my friend. I am also a church planter and we started weekly worship this past January.  Let me give you...

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Numbers and Faithfulness

Ansgar was a ninth century missionary to the Scandanavian area. We know about him from statues, a biography and other sources. He was the first to establish Christian churches in Denmark. Yet, after his death in 865, those churches disappeared. While Ansgar has his own Wikipedia article and is known in Church History, he probably would not get invited to speak at major conferences, nor would he write best selling church planting books. Ansgar was faithful to his calling, yet we do not look to him for great sermons or helping to ignite a mass movement of Christianity. One scholar has said, “Ansgar pushed against a door that was not ready to be opened.” Many of us in ministry are captive to celebrity. We buy the latest books by “successful” pastors and Christian leaders. We pay money to attend conferences and training seminars where we hear sermons we could never preach, listen to music performed at a level we could never attain, and learn techniques our gifts and abilities are unable to implement. That is not to say we cannot learn or improve, but it is to that most of us are, well, ordinary. The average church in the US has around 100 attending weekly.If you pass 250 that puts you in the top 10% in the nation! If you plant in the PCA, it takes around 100 or...

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What I read in 2010

It’s 2011 and I and many of my friends posted the “what I read in 2010” lists on facebooks, blogs and other forms of social media. These are great because they provide insight into people’s interests, but also the influences which shape the way they think. And they give ideas for newer books to peruse this year! I logged somewhere in the mid-40s for total books read last year. When I reviewed the list, I was both satisfied and dissatisfied. First, there was not enough fiction on my list. To my shame, I read one novel, a ghetto pastoral called The Breadgivers, which is a classic. Second, a lot of my theological reading was either general or rereads. I need to change that. The most satisfying portion of my reading list was the fact that I did read more than ministry-related works. Now, since I love history, most of those books were related to that field, which is a deficiency, I admit. One way pastors, and anyone for that matter, get out of touch with our people or culture is by limiting reading only to the theological. A good way to supplement that is to read outside the P&R or IVP catalog and “one click” a few other books on amazon that may interest us. We can learn a lot about the human condition and, I believe, have a...

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My Thoughts from General Assembly 38

I remember a talk by Dr. Chapell during my first year of seminary (2003) where he told us about life in the PCA.  I do not remember the exact context of the talk, but he gave a list of “hot topics” that the PCA went through over the previous several years. He talked about the Creation Days controversy. He talked about the debate over strict vs. “good faith” subscription to the Standards. He then proceeded to tell us that, if we were going to stay in the PCA, we needed to be prepared for “the next big controversy” which would be purported to destroy the denomination. He did not say this sarcastically, but more like a wise teacher, sagely reminding us to love those with whom we may disagree. He also said that, for some reason, we should expect controversies every 2-5 years. Since that time, I saw the debate over the Federal Vision unfold (and General Assembly’s response) and I have now witnessed the passing of most of the Strategic Plan. (I am using short-hand, here). I realize that the debate over FV is not fully over, but the assembly acted and the denomination did not split in two. Did we lose a few churches? Yes. But the extent to which the “deep divide” existed seemed to be overstated. I was curious to see how the SP would...

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About Vintage 73

Vintage73 is a collaborative blog focusing on the culture and values of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). The site was born out of a desire for honest and charitable discussion within and about the PCA.

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