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9Marks Explained : A Letter From Mark Dever

Biblical Theology: Guardian and Guide of the Church

Summer 2014

In The Beautiful Struggle, Ta-Nehisi Coates tells his own story of growing up as the son of a former Black Panther in West Baltimore in the 1980s and 90s. It was the era in which crack cocaine swallowed whole neighborhoods of Black men, while Black boys got shot over sneakers. Coates looked everywhere for identity—from middle school gangs, to Public Enemy, to the djembe, to waving the red, black, and green of a transcendent African mythology. He writes, “We searched our history for any way out.”    This, in fact, is what biblical theology provides. It is a...

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The Church Singing

May-June 2014

Singing is not one of the nine marks, a point which, not surprisingly, has come up once or twice with my minister-of-music father. That said, okay, yes, 9Marks does have a few opinions on music. Our understanding of the local church pushes us toward a slightly different perspective on church singing than some of our evangelical brothers and sisters. The difference comes down to the question of performance. Who is performing? The congregation or the people on stage? Dimming the lights and turning up the volume of instruments and leaders doesn’t necessarily mean you have turned the...

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Prosperity Gospel

January-February 2014

Here’s a prediction: as Western culture increasingly turns against Christianity, the prosperity gospel will keep growing, at least for a time.    It won’t be the only false teaching whose stock rises in a spiritually bearish market. Theological liberalism in some fangled form will always lurk in the shadows, ready to mug anyone who lets down their guard. But the prosperity gospel is a uniquely attractive stock in a materially acquisitive and entitlement-driven age, so expect its share price to keep rising on exchanges around the globe. This trade is hot! God wants...

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Evangelism - Part 2

Nov-Dec 2013

Christians in the West today face growing social and political opposition. And this makes many of us nervous about evangelism. One member of my church explained how, in a prior job, he hit a glass ceiling while his evangelical friends in the firm kept being promoted. The difference? They kept quiet about their faith, while he evangelized. Now, in the new job, he was confessing his fear and asking me to pray for boldness. In such a time as ours, we might learn from historian Samuel Hugh Moffett, who narrates the dramatic diminution of Christianity under Muslim persecution in Asia in the Middle...

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Evangelism - Part 1

Sep-Oct 2013

What does it mean to think about the Christian life in a church-centered sort of way? Answering that question is one of our goals at 9Marks. So we take different practices and doctrines and try to think about them from an ecclesial perspective. For instance, what should individual discipleship and growth look like in the context of a church? Or, how should we understand the doctrine of conversion relative to the universal and local church?    Evangelism, of course, is one such topic that deserves such treatment. What does it mean to think through evangelism in a church-...

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