What in the world is Ross doing?
In 1983 I had an experience that culminated in 1985 in what is called regeneration. Ordained at First Congregational Church, Berkeley, California, after earning a Master of Divinity degree at Pacific School of Religion, I was confronted by the reality of the Bible as I taught the Bethel Series Bible Study Program at a church I was serving in St. Louis, Missouri. I had read and studied the Bible for many years, but the Bethel Series opened it up to me in a new way. It became real, and it changed me.
I began preaching differently from that time forward, as if the Bible was real history about real people. My preaching disturbed some of the people in various liberal churches that I served. Others in those same churches came to life, much as I had. I decided to preserve my preaching for later reflection and evaluation. That effort turned into a two-volume book, The Work at Zion — A Reckoning, which provides a kind of record of my changing theological perspective.
At the same time, the simple-minded, pie-in-the-sky, other-worldly, wishful-thinking of some of my new conservative friends disturbed me. It seemed to me that people from both ends of the political spectrum had misunderstood the Bible, albeit in different ways. So, I set out to see if the kind of biblical misunderstanding that I observed among various people I knew was new. Were the contemporary churches involved in something new? I discovered that they were not. There is a long history of misunderstanding the Bible.
I turned to the book of James which provided a corrective to the early church. Already in the First Century the church had veered from the truth of the gospel. James saw it and spoke to it. I brought James’ corrective to light in Practically Christian—Applying James Today.
Looking for the original source of the problem of biblical misunderstanding, I began studying the story of Jesus’ ministry. If the doctrines of grace were true, then Jesus would have preached them. He did. And sure enough, almost everyone had misunderstood Jesus during his earthly ministry. So I detailed this story about Jesus and His friends in Marking God’s Word—Understanding Jesus.
I then picked up the continuing story of the gospel in the Book of Acts, only to find that people misunderstood Paul in the same ways that they had misunderstood Jesus — until the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Paul took up the gospel of Jesus Christ, teaching and preaching as Jesus did, and all hell was rallied against him. That story is found in Acts of Faith—Kingdom Advancement.
Seeking some practical advice about the right way to live as a Christian, I then turned to a study of the Book of Proverbs for some practical advice. The difficulty for many Christians is that Proverbs predates the ministry of Jesus. But it does not predate the reality of Christ. Historic theology teaches that the Christian faith is founded on the eternal consistency of God. God does not change, nor does God’s wisdom. So I began looking for Christ in Proverbs and found Him on every page. That study became The Wisdom of Jesus Christ in the Book of Proverbs.
Arsy Varsy — Reclaiming the Gospel in First Corinthians was begun at Covenant PCA in Vienna, WV (now defunct), in order to provide a deeper understanding of the American church situation and its current similarity with the ancient church at Corinth, and the reality of contemporary backwardness. Covenant was a PCA new church start, and was struggling with how to be a successful church. Paul spoke to these same concerns in the large, influential and successful church at Corinth.
Varsy Arsy — Proclaiming the Gospel in Second Corinthians followed as Covenant PCA in Vienna, WV, dissolved and/or morphed into the Mid-Ohio Valley Reformed Fellowship (also defunct). The issues that Paul spoke to in Second Corinthians have proven to be as applicable as those in First Corinthians. Many of the Corinthians had difficulty understanding Paul. Will we never learn?!
In 2009 I decided to revisit an earlier, unfinished work then titled, Nothing But Christ—Another Look at Colossians. This book had been a test case for Wipf & Stock to sample the quality of their publishing. The manuscript needed to be finished, so I completed it in 2009 it and published it in 2010 under the title: Colossians — Christos Singularis. Rock Mountain Creed–Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount followed.
Once Pilgrim Platform Books was up and running, I decided to resurrect some of my sermon series from Putnam Congregational Church in Marietta. It’s About Time, Engagement and The Big Ten are sermon series preached in the late 1990s, but dusted off and reworked for a broader audience.
Along the way I discovered John Williamson Nevin, and in my enthusiasm to understand him I republished his 1846 book, The Mystical Presence–A Vindication of the Reformed and Calvinistic Doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, as The True Mystery of the Mystical Presence.
In my research of the history of Marietta, Ohio (The Religious History of Marietta in the Nineteenth Century), I discovered the first recipient of an honorary degree by Marietta College–Edward Beecher, son of Lyman Beecher and brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe. I was so enthralled by his treatment of Christian history, and his maltreatment by his peers, that I republished his main works from the mid-1800s: Conflict Of Ages–The Great Debate of the Moral Relations of God and Man and Concord of Ages–The Individual And Organic Harmony Of God And Man.
In response to a friend who had a question about the end times references in the book of 2nd Peter, came Peter’s Vision of Christ’s Purpose in First Peter and Peter’s Vision of The End in Second Peter. Several books are currently in process, and others envisioned.
I have labored to teach people how to read Scripture with the eyes of faith, to see the richness and depth of the biblical perspective. And it often involves disabusing people of some wrong (unbiblical) assumptions and expectations about the Bible, about ministry, about the church, about the world, etc. I’m convinced that those wrong assumptions and expectations are the very things that have gutted the churches, bled into the larger society and continue wreaking havoc. Thus, the condition of the Christian church is at the center of our the world’s problems.
The solution is not to bring more lost people into the pews. As needed as that is, it won’t help until the churches get faithfulness right. People are to be saved into the churches, but the culture of the churches is no different than the culture of the world. Few churches have any idea of what a biblically faithful Christian life would look like. Most churches just slap Bible study and prayer onto their existing worldly lifestyles and call it Christian. Consequently, the need of the hour is not evangelism, but sanctification—growth and maturity in the faith.
The churches are, in part, institutions of religious education. But they are failing to adequately educate people. So, given this failure, they don’t need more students to reproduce their faulty understanding. They need to get the Story right. It doesn’t help to get the wrong story out. More students learning poor theology will only make things worse.
What Can You Do?
If you appreciate what this ministry is about, you can help. If you “see” the concern, if you “get it,” you not only can help but you must. This sin-soaked world needs you to help.
The first thing to do is to grow stronger yourself. If you understand what I’m talking about, please buy and read my books. Get some people together and read them as a study group. Talk about the issues, you won’t be disappointed. There is much grist for the mill in my work. Even if (when) people disagree — and they will! — it will only make the conversation more valuable.
The perspective that is reflected in this ministry, which is really nothing other than the historic, Protestant, Reformed, born again perspective, needs to be more widely promoted. It has been and is being eclipsed by the dominant marketing perspective that has captured Western Christianity. Promotion takes resources — time, talent and treasure. So, link to this ministry as a way to promote it. Link to various individual pages and the articles/essays. That will help the website.
Then share the links to this site with your family members and friends. Help get it into circulation. Interact with me on my blog. Quote my articles in other blogs. Help spread the word.
Donations are always welcome. They are not tax deductible. All donations will be used for advertising and marketing for this ministry and books. Thank you in advance.
If you have skills that might be of help, please contact me. This website and books are not currently making any money, they cost me to produce them. This is a labor of love on my part.
That could change, if you have the business skills and/or resources to help make it happen. Producing these materials is more than a full-time job for me. I need help. However, it is very important that the purpose of this ministry not be the making of money. That cannot be the guiding principle, but without some support and resources nothing will happen. Our guiding principle must always be the promotion of Christ. If you understand this and can help, please contact me.
Interview on Principled Policy Blog – 9/21/2013