ScribblePreach Awards 02.18.17

From the Pub: Modernity and the Institution of the Family

“The man who lives in a small community lives in a much larger world. He knows much more of the fierce varieties and uncompromising divergences of men. The reason is obvious. In a large community we can choose our companions. In a small community our companions are chosen for us.

Thus in all extensive and highly civilized societies groups come into existence founded upon what is called sympathy, and shut out the real world more sharply than the gates of a monastery. There is nothing really narrow about the clan; the thing which is really narrow is the clique. The men of the clan live together because they all wear the same tartan or are all descended from the same sacred cow; but in their souls, by the divine luck of things, there will always be more colours than in any tartan.

But the men of the clique live together because they have the same kind of soul, and their narrowness is a narrowness of spiritual coherence and contentment, like that which exists in hell. A big society exists in order to form cliques. A big society is a society for the promotion of narrowness. It is a machinery for the purpose of guarding the solitary and sensitive individual from all experience of the bitter and bracing human compromises. It is, in the most literal sense of the words, a society for the prevention of Christian knowledge.” -GK CHESTERTON

Kindle Deal of the Week: Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln

“21 Powerful Secrets of History’s Greatest Speakers”, for $1.99.

Preaching: Expositional Imposters

This is a fantastic review of the several ways “expositional” sermons can leak into something…quite different. I’d be willing to say most “expositional” preaching falls under these categories.

Apologetics: Is Christianity a White Man’s Religion?

I’ve been devouring the RAA Network’s writings after discovering them a couple of weeks ago. This is a great response to the accusation that Christianity is merely an oppressive tool for the white man.

Theology: The 2-Minute Clip on Homosexuality Every Christian Should Watch

You can’t help but admire Sam Allberry’s courage, vulnerability, and faithfulness as he makes some profound theological points about Jesus’ life, ministry, and the pursuit of purity before his denomination.

A Glimpse of Truth: What Jesus Can Teach Today’s Muslims

This is a great article in the NY Times posted by a thoughtful muslim man who has a strikingly good grasp of Jesus’ life and mission. It was helpful for me to think through ways I can bridge the gap between my Christian faith and my muslim neighbor’s.

Books and Lit: Sho Baraka Responds to Lifeway

Artist Sho Baraka’s albums have been removed from Lifeway stores because they’ve been deemed “offensive”…for using the word penis. His response is great.

Writing: When Do I Spell out Numbers?

YES! I’ve always wondered about this – this article gives great, simple guidelines.

Christians and Culture: 16 Ways to Promote Unity Amid Political Disagreement

This is a fantastic article, quote some of my favorite men on the subject, including Oxford ethics professor Oliver O’Donavan and Mark Dever – who lives this! My favorite quote: “There are many times—and surely a major election is one of them—when the most pointed political criticism imaginable is to talk about something else.”

Micro Book Review: The Whole Christ

4 out of 5 stars.

Last month, I wrote a review of Sinclair Ferguson’s “Devoted to God”, and gave it a mediocre 3 stars. I had high expectations, since a reviewer I trust called it “a modern classic”. I heartily disagreed – great points were made, but the writing was too rambling and disjointed to qualify as a classic.

This month, I’m singing a different tune.

“The Whole Christ” really IS a modern classic. Sinclair Ferguson plays to his strengths by seating us at the feet of a historical narrative concerning the “Marrow” doctrine – a conversation eerily similar to those we find in the reformed fold today.

Ferguson’s basic thesis is that antinomians (Christians against following the law), and legalists (Christians gripingly following the law, or their own law) both have the same problem: neither believe that the law is a gift, given from the bosom of God’s fatherly love. But arguing that point won’t solve the problem: what we need is to see the radical unity of Father, Son and Spirit in the gospel.

I couldn’t help but think of N.T. Wright’s critique of American evangelicalism as a form of paganism: the willing Son appeases a wrathful Father. No wonder we see the law as a curse! Wright points to the song “In Christ Alone” as apropo example: “On the cross where Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied…” It’s true, he notes: but it’s only HALF the truth. It would be equally true to say (and should, he says, be said perhaps every other verse), “On the cross where Jesus died, the LOVE of God was satisfied.”

That’s Ferguson’s point exactly: we Christians can be a fearful bunch, either grumbingly and unpleasantly following God’s laws, or abandoning them completely. The solution is the “Whole Christ” – the gospel of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When we understand the radical unity of love between them for us, we are free to see the law as a great and gracious gift from a loving, heavenly Father. The gospel, and the gospel alone, is the solution to both legalists and antinomians.

A wonderful treasure.

(I did knock one star off for the footnotes, however – this is a five-star book if you completely ignore the footnotes. Crossway did a good job focusing Dr. Ferguson’s writing…but they would’ve done better to cut out those segments entirely. Every time I dropped my eyes down to them, I found myself completely lost. So – buy the book…and ignore those tantalizing pieces of rotten fruit at the bottom. Trust me.)


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Nicholas McDonald is a blogger, pastor, and author of the book "Faker: How to Be Real When You're Tempted to Fake it." He studied creative writing and communication at Oxford University and Olivet Nazerene University, and received his M.Div from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He currently resides in Lexington, NC, with his wife and two boys, Caleb and Owen.


  1. The Chesterton quote reminds me of what Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple often says of her little village: everything that people do are like in the world is what people do and are like in a village, except in the village you see all of it up close and without distraction.

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