Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hubble Humility

This is but a sampling of the amazing universe that God has created.  Take a tour here and then ask yourself the question I am asking:  What makes me think that any merit of my own would impress the God that created this?  

And yet I am hidden in the Christ of whom it is spoken, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…” 

Heresy, Error, or Truth? Mary the Mother of God

This one is two parts in which we will consider the teaching of Nestorius.  Is it heresy, error, or truth?  And why do you hold such. 

Part One: The Mother of God Syllogism

Jesus Christ is God;

Mary gave birth to Jesus;

Therefore Mary is the Mother of God.

Is that true?  Nestorius thought it was an incorrect statement.  He argued that it would be better to call Mary the bearer of Christ or bearer of humanity.  To call Mary “the bearer of God” caused problems for Nestorius.  He felt that it failed to take into account the fullness of Christ’s humanity.  Therefore, he argued…

Part Two: Nestorius’ position

Christ is indivisible in that he is Christ, but he is twofold in that he is both God and a human being.  He is one in his sonship, but is twofold in that which takes and that which is taken…For we do not acknowledge two Christs or two sons or “only-begottens” or Lords; not one son and another son, not a first “only-begotten” and a new “only-begotten,” not a first and second Christ, but one and the same.

If I am able, please allow me to simply summarize Nestorius’ teaching (or at least what he was charged with teaching).  It is believed that Nestorius taught that in Jesus there were “two natures and two persons.  The human nature was born of Mary, the divine was not.  Nestorius believed that in the person of Jesus he has a divine person/nature and a human person/nature.

Some folks thought that Nestorius was denying the divinity of Jesus Christ.  Nestorius felt his opponents were denying his humanity.  What do you think?

References: Historical Theology by Alistar McGrath and The Story of Christianity by Juston Gonzalez. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

MLB 2010 Predictions

Considering that my Insane NCAA Predictions went so well, I thought I would offer my 2010 MLB Predictions:

AL East:
  1. New York Yankees
  2. Baltimore Orioles
  3. Boston Red Sox
  4. Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Toronto Blue Jays
AL Central:
  1. Minnesota Twins
  2. Chicago White Sox
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Cleveland Indians
  5. Kansas City Royals

AL West:

  1. LA Angels
  2. Seattle Mariners
  3. Texas Rangers
  4. Oakland A’s

NL East:

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. New York Mets
  4. Florida Marlins
  5. Washington Nationals

NL Central:

  1. Chicago Cubs
  2. Cincinnati Reds
  3. St. Louis Cardinals
  4. Milwaukee Brewers
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates
  6. Houston Astros

NL West:

  1. LA Dodgers
  2. Arizona Diamondbacks
  3. San Francisco Giants
  4. Colorado Rockies
  5. San Diego Padres

ALCS: New York Yankees defeat Minnesota Twins

NLCS: Atlanta Braves defeat Philadelphia Phillies

World Series: New York Yankees defeat Atlanta Braves


Man, I hope I’m wrong!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

From the Archives: The Blood-Earnestness of Joseph Alleine

Because there are several readers that are new to this blog I thought it a good idea to pull a few select posts out of the archives that you may have missed.  This is an excellent quote by Alleine and Spurgeon that you do not want to miss.  If you have never heard of Alleine it is worth picking up some of his writings in the Puritan Paperback Series: Try this one

In the Preface to Joseph Alleine's book "Alarm to the Unconverted", he spills out his soul for the state of the beloved unbelievers he is writing to. He feels, as every minister should, the helplessness that he has to convert sinners yet the blood-earnest need for their conversion.

But from where shall I fetch my argument? With what shall I win them? O that I could tell! I would write to them in tears, I would weep out every argument, I would empty my veins for ink, I would petition them on my knees. O how thankful should I be if they would be prevailed with to repent and turn.

Do I have that type of passion for lost souls? It appears that Alleine is echoing the heart of Paul in Romans 9:1-3. Would I be willing to write in tears? To empty my veins for ink? Do I petition them on my knees? Do I even petition them at all?

Alleine knew that his only hope was in the power of God as he said, "But, O Lord, You can pierce the heart of the sinner. I can only draw the bow at a venture—but may You direct the arrow between the joints of the harness. Slay the sin, and save the soul of the sinner who casts his eyes on these pages." I long to not only pray but to live like Joseph Alleine. I am reminded of the heart-wrenching plea of Charles Spurgeon:

"If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms around their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday’s Seven: 3/27/10

1. Dr. Moore has some very insightful words in response to the recent health care vote: Don’t Be Afraid

2. Kevin DeYoung has wise words for A Generation of Bandwagon Jumpers

3. Dr. Whitney, writing for Tabletalk, offers this great article: The Sinkhole Syndrome

4. I cannot buy any books until I see what free books are offered at T4G.  I hope this book is one of the free ones:  Trials of Theology.  In the mean time check out D.A. Carson’s chapter in that book.  (HT: Andy)

5. Voice raps Dug Down Deep

6. Find out what one IMB leader said about burning churches down, here.

7. This one is circulating like crazy.  I think the HT: would go to Piper, but I’m not sure.  Get your tissues ready:

The Story of Zac Smith from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Review of Why Johnny Can’t Preach by T. David Gordon

Author: T. David Gordon

Pages: 112 pages

Publisher: P & R Publishing

Price: 5.95

Genre: Preaching/Pastoral Help

Quick Summary:

Gordon is not a preacher. He is a professor of religion and Greek at Grove City College. He has also spent time teaching in humanities and media ecology. It is this latter field, media ecology, that provides the impetus for this book. His major thesis is that preaching today is weak because preachers have been far too influenced by the media saturated culture.

This is a short book, but it packs a punch. Gordon does not hold back any critique nor is he shy in pointing in the direction we should be going. The 112 pages are divided into 5 chapters. The first of which is dedicated to outlining the problem. In the second and third chapter Gordon highlights the modern preachers lack of ability in writing and reading. The fourth chapter is a plea to preach a Christocentric gospel. The final chapter is a brief suggestion to, “cultivate those pre-homiletical sensibilities that are necessary to preach well.” (96)

What I Liked:

Gordon provides a really helpful perspective to the state of today’s pulpit. I wish I could say that he overstates his case or that such preaching was confined to Presbyterianism; sadly it is not. I have not sat under a great deal of preaching, but I am exposed to much Christian literature, content, and people. I think Gordon is correct in his assessment.

Much preaching is simply moralism, how-to, introspection, or a social gospel. The books lining the shelves of your Christian bookstore are evidence of this. Even if these are not all preachers they certainly sit under preaching; this content comes from preaching somewhere. Gordon’s points and his suggestions for changed need to be heeded.

What I Disliked:

Part of me wants to say that Gordon does not place enough emphasis on the Spirit. That may be true. Perhaps, he puts more emphasis on means instead of the source of good Christian preaching. But I have heard preaching that “relies on the Spirit” and suffers from the same things that Gordon speaks of. I think a focus on learning to read and write well may be helpful. This is not the only book on preaching and should not be viewed as such. This is a critique and one simple and pointed suggestion for change. As such I cannot say there is much that I dislike.

Should You Buy It?

I am not certain what audience needs this. If you are exposed to this book chances are you are exposed to other books out of the same stream of thought. Other authors will say much the same things that Gordon does, but they will say it in more pages. Furthermore, few have studied the effects of media as much as our author has. The book is only $5.95 it is a quick read and well worth the money.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Friday’s Follow Up: Irving’s Humanity of Christ

On Tuesday we considered the teaching of Edward Irving.  I asked the question, Heresy, Error, or Truth?  Here is Irving’s statement followed by the key question that we are considering:

The point at issue is simply this: whether Christ’s flesh had the grace of sinlessness and incorruption from its proper nature, or from the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. I say the latter. I assert, that in its proper nature it was as the flesh of His Mother, but, by virtue of the Holy Ghost’s quickening and inhabiting of it, it was preserved sinless and incorruptible.

The key question then would be:

Is Christ born with a sinless nature or is he sinless because of the power of the Holy Spirit?

So, is this teaching heretical, error, or truth?  I would not be so quick to call it heresy, though I believe it is an error.  The problem, in my opinion, is that Irving made something an “either/or” when it would have been much safer to have made it a “both/and”.  I think that his intention was to preserve the powerful working of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christ.  But by emphasizing this key doctrine he ended up neglecting (perhaps even denying) another key doctrine. 

As is often the case, this discussion has another doctrinal issue hanging on its belt: original sin.  If you deny original sin, then you can probably hold to Irving’s theology without much of a hitch.  But if you believe in original sin then Irving’s statement will be hard to swallow.  How could Christ have the “flesh of His Mother”, if she is sinful and yet still be without original sin? 

I do not desire to go into a lengthy discussion of whether or not original sin is a biblical doctrine.  The point of this follow up is to give a couple of principles we can learn from the trouble Irving got himself into.  There are two points of application:

1) Beware of overemphasizing one doctrine to the neglect of another. 

We all have our pet theologies.  Because of our own upbringing, spiritual journey, community of faith, etc. we all have different aspects of the Christian faith that we like to emphasize.  We have to be aware of this tendency.  Consider all of the things that you like to put an emphasis on and consider that which may be equally true but neglected by that which you tend to put more weight on.  Humility calls us to consider that what another person stresses might be just as significant. 

But be careful not to overemphasize this as well.  It is obvious from the emphasis that Scripture places that the work of Christ is far more significant than whether or not Adam had a belly button.  Wisdom demands that we hold in higher significance that which the Bible esteems highly.

2) Do not make something an “either/or” if it is possible to be a “both/and”

This tendency is connected with our tendency to overemphasize certain doctrines.  I think much of our arguments could be easily settled if we all had the humility to say, “you know what I think it is possible that both of these things can be true and held in tension”.  Certainly this is not talking about making truth relative.  There are some thing that are either/or.  Either you are “in Christ” or you are not.

As Jonathan Edwards wisely stated, “Do not limit God more than He has limited Himself.”

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Explosion of Pride and Popularity

It is easy for me to advise you to be humble, and for you to acknowledge the propriety of the advice; but, while human nature remains in its present state, there will be almost the same connection between popularity and pride—as between fire and gunpowder: they cannot meet without an explosion, at least not unless the gunpowder is kept very damp. So, unless the Lord is constantly moistening our hearts (if I may so speak) by the influences of his Spirit, popularity will soon set us in a blaze! You will hardly find a person, who has been exposed to this fiery trial, without suffering loss.  -John Newton

If you are a minister of the gospel then it is almost a necessity that you read this letter in full

I love reading biography.  There is one thing that I notice in the lives of many men and women that were “great” men and women of God: they fought pride.  These men and women understood, with Newton, that pride and popularity will cause a ruinous explosion if not dealt with. 

In our day and age I fear that pride is often disguised as a “healthy self-esteem”.  It is quite possible to think that Christ is being honored through the use of our gifts, when it is the gift and not the Giver that is receiving the worship.  Newton continues with his exhortation:

Beware, my friend, of mistaking the exercise of gifts for the exercise of grace. The minister may be assisted in public for the sake of his hearers; and there is something in the nature of our public work, when surrounded by a concourse of people, which is suited to draw forth the exertion of our abilities, and to engage our attention in the outward services—when the frame of the heart may be far from being right in the sight of the Lord.

May the Lord be so kind as to constantly moisten my heart.  I pray that I never confuse the exercise of gifts for the exercise of grace.  May my heart be willing to sacrifice for eternity the exercise of gifts if it means for eternity I am allowed to enjoy the exercise of grace. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Monday’s Ministry Musing: Angels and the Gospel

People are fascinated with angels.  This is not a new thing.  The church at Colossae (or at least false teachers there) had a fascination with angelic beings.  And I suppose they are quite fascinating.  But you want to know what is even more fascinating?  The gospel.

How crazy that angels long to “look into the gospel” (1 Pet. 1:12); we are bored with the gospel and long to look into angels.  What is even crazier is that this idiocy is probably part of what has the angels so baffled.  God redeems a humanity filled with idolaters, guilty of sin no less treasonous than the angels that he refuses to redeem.  The gospel indeed is precious.  If only we had the wisdom of angels to be enamored by all that Jesus Christ has done. 

I am saddened (though not surprised) that I would probably get a better hearing on a Sunday night with a series concerned with unlocking the mystery of the end times than I would a series unveiling the mystery of the gospel.  More people would probably take a class on angelology than they would on atonement. 

This is not surprising; angels are comfortable, the gospel isn’t.  You can talk to a stranger (even if he hates Christianity) about some angel named Gabriel.  Worse thing that will happen is that he will probably consider you a fruitcake and leave smiling.  But the gospel will get you killed.  I cannot remember reading of people getting persecuted to death for belief in angels.  And why would they?  Angels do not divide history.  Jesus does.  

Undoubtedly Satan, an angel himself, would be rather content with you spending your time concerned with angels instead of looking into what angels are concerned with; namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  What, then, is this thing that angels are concerned with?  “…that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”.  This is what angels long to look into, and Satan longs to distract you from. 

This is filed under a Monday Ministry Musing isn’t it?  What does this have to do with ministry?  If you are one that preaches or teaches then you will face the temptation to assume the gospel and delve into flashy things, like angels.  But heed what Richard Baxter said:

Through the whole course of ministry we must insist upon the greatest, the most certain and necessary things, and be seldom and sparing upon the rest.  If we can but teach Christ to our people, we teach them all…Other things are desirable to be known, but these must be known or else our people are undone for ever. 

Yes, angels are cool.  But Jesus is much cooler. 

Why the Bible?

I'm sometimes asked about the relevance and/or importance of the Bible. After all, it is an ancient text that many consider outdated and irrelevant. In itself, this topic is vast enough and volumes of books have been written. But for now, I give a short answer of the importance and relevance of the Bible.

"God, our Maker, knows all about us before we say anything (Psalm 139:1-4); but we can know nothing about him unless he tells us. Here, therefore, is a further reason why God speaks to us: not only to move us to do what he wants, but to enable us to know him so that we may love him." (J.I. Packer, Knowing God)

God is infinite. We are finite. His existence and being is totally incomprehensible to us unless he reveals himself to us. He gives us the revelation of his Word so that we can go to an authoritative source that he has secured so that we can know God.

The Scriptures are given to point us to God, more specifically, to point us to Jesus Christ. "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me." (John 5:39).

You see, the Bible is God's sure way of telling us who he is, revealing who Jesus is, and leading us to God through Jesus (John 14:6). And this is part of the reason why the Bible is relevant, important, and must be honored.

What a wonder it is that the Infinite, Holy, Absolutely Pure God would care enough to reveal himself to us so that we might know him!!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Heresy, Error, or Truth? Irving’s Humanity of Christ

The point at issue is simply this: whether Christ’s flesh had the grace of sinlessness and incorruption from its proper nature, or from the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. I say the latter. I assert, that in its proper nature it was as the flesh of His Mother, but, by virtue of the Holy Ghost’s quickening and inhabiting of it, it was preserved sinless and incorruptible.
The above quote is by Edward Irving concerning the humanity of Christ.  Your task is twofold.  First answer whether this is heresy, error, or truth.  Secondly, if you believe it is heresy or error tell me why.  If you believe it truth, tell me why.
For clarity sake allow me to explain what Irving is saying in a very simple question.  Is Christ born with a sinless nature or is he sinless because of the power of the Holy Spirit?  Irving believed that Christ was born with the same corruptible flesh as His Mother but was sinless because of the work of the Holy Spirit. 
Every Tuesday for awhile we are going to be doing this exercise.  Sometimes I will attempt a response…other times I may not.  None of these are meant to “trap” or to expose you as a heretic.  These are simply to exercise discernment and deepen our theology.  In all things my aim will be to magnify (as you do with a telescope not a magnifying glass) the greatness of the gospel. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Review of Your Church Is Too Small by John H. Armstrong

The name John H. Armstrong may ring a bell with a few of my readers.  He was the editor for a helpful book in the late 90’s called The Compromised Church: The Present Evangelical Crisis .  I had the wonderful opportunity to review his new book Your Church Is Too Small: Why Unity in Christ's Mission Is Vital to the Future of the Church .  I cannot at this time offer my typical full review of the book.  The reason?  This book is causing me to think far too deeply to rush into a half-way done review.  I am still working through whether I “like” or “dislike” some of the things in the book.  It is causing me to rethink aspects of my theology and practice. 

By way of review allow me to offer you a quick summary, a few helpful links, and a plea to buy the book and work through it. 

Quick Summary

  Armstrong has caught some flack in recent days.  His name was found among the McLaren’s, Bell’s, Miller’s, Warren’s, and Pagitt’s of our day in John MacArthur’s recent book The Truth War.  Armstrong has been sharply criticized for his move towards a broader ecumenism.  This book is perhaps a defense of that move. 

Armstrong’s major thesis is that our comfortable disunity with those in the body of Christ of different ecclesiology is sin.  In the first section Armstrong gives reason for such a broader unity.  He argues that the unity Christ calls for is not simply invisible unity but should be actually visible. 

In the second section Armstrong calls for a restoration of unity within the church and provides a few helpful pointers towards pursuing unity.  He identifies the enemy and begins paving a road towards a greater unity.

In the final section Armstrong outlines the “Missional-Ecumenical Church” as a new paradigm (or rather the recovery of an old one).  He gives a few comparisons to outline this new paradigm.  He closes the book by praying that the Lord may disturb us and call us toward that which he lays out in this book. 

What I cannot offer is my critique or commendation of this book.  I am still chewing on it. 

A few links:




Should You Buy It?

I would strongly suggest buying this book and thinking through some of the issues that Armstrong raises.  Whether you agree with him or not, you will learn much from what he has to say.  We do indeed need greater unity within the church.  I am not convinced of the sectarianism that is often rampant within our churches…but I am also working through whether or not I agree with that which Armstrong lays out.  I invite you to buy the book and work through this with me.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

When Remembrance of Sins is a Means for Joy

In a letter to a man that had asked whether the sins of believers shall be publicly declared at the Great Day, Newton responded in part:

I think those are the sweetest moments in this life, when we have the clearest sense of our own sins, provided the sense of our acceptance in the Beloved is proportionally clear, and we feel the consolations of his love, notwithstanding all our transgressions. When we arrive in glory, unbelief and fear will cease forever: our nearness to God, and communion with him, will be unspeakably beyond what we can now conceive. Therefore the remembrance of our sins will be no abatement of our bliss, but rather the contrary.

You can read the entire letter here

I think Newton gets this idea from the sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50.  The more we come to grips with our sinfulness, the more they too become a cause for rejoicing.  We have been forgiven much; few people understood this as deeply as John Newton.  May the Lord cause us to rejoice that even the darkest of sins cannot separate us from His love. 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Five Insane NCAA Predictions

1. East Tennessee St. will give Kentucky a run for their money in the first round.  Kentucky will still win, but this one will be surprisingly close. 

2. Oklahoma St. will knock off Ohio State in Round 2.

3. BYU will make it to the Elite Eight

4. Syracuse will play Duke for the title, with Syracuse edging Duke. 

5. Old Dominion, Utah St., and Mizzou will make the sweet 16. 

In addition I pick these, perhaps not so insane, first round upsets:

Northern Iowa over UNLV, Missouri over Clemson, Washington over Marquette, Utah St. over Texas A & M, Old Dominion over Notre Dame, Sam Houston St. over Baylor, Murray St. over Vanderbilt. 

One thing I think will actually happen, but I do not have the chutzpah to pick it---Baylor will be in the Final Four or at least Elite Eight. 

UPDATE: Apparently I'm a moron! Though my actual bracket was good enough to be not only President Obama but Pastor Jason Harris as well.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

An Appalling Parable

Imagine with me a small city.  This small city is economically strapped due to some debatable decisions.  People are losing jobs.  The townspeople are miserable.  To top it all off many of their children are being kidnapped and eventually murdered.  Worse yet, this serial killer has been murdering at least one child every day for the past 37 years. 

The really ridiculous part is that everybody knows who this serial killer is.  Then, why haven’t they caught the guy?  Well, they decided they had better focus on economics first.  The logic is that rather than worry about the future of the children that do not make it, they want to ensure a bright future for the children that are not needlessly murdered. 

Appalling right? 

That is what this is: Tea Party Avoids Divisive Social Issues.  (HT: DG)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Upcoming at Borrowed Light

I have several writing projects that I am working.  But I have limited time to write.  There are also a few issues that I am trying to figure out whether I should even bother writing about.  Here are the things I am working on; tell me if anything interests you.

1. I have about 15-20 book reviews that I need to do. 

2. I am currently working on rethinking my view of the extent of the atonement, and figuring out how to best articulate it.

3. I am very passionate about interacting with the Southern Baptist’s GPS push.  This is one I am really struggling with.  I want to interact with this program as a whole, and a good amount of what I have to say may not be positive.  I am struggling with whether that would be positive or counter-productive.  Alongside of this…

4. I want to write about my excitement of the Great Commission Resurgence.  But I also want to interact with the SBC’s “Find it Here” website.  I am excited about taking the gospel to the nations but I wonder which gospel we are taking.

5. John Newton.  I would like to start a weekly column sharing and potentially interacting with Newton.

6. I have more I want to say about Gospel Sounding Legalism

7. I have more I want to say about Christian Unity.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hump Day Humor: Top 10 Signs Your Pastor is an Arminian

I sure hope this is funny.  This is my attempt at a humorous response to the papers being disseminated throughout Tennessee.  See here for the full story.  One of those papers is a list of things that are Reformed Red Flags.  I find quite a few of them funny because they are not only true of Calvinist but Christians of various theological persuasions.  If you want to find the full humor then make sure you read this alongside my Top 10. 

Again please know, this is not meant to offend.  If anyone is offended (unless you are just being a pansy) I will take it down quickly.  Without further ado here is the Top 10 signs your pastor is an Arminian:

1.  Sometimes his invitation lasts for hours because he knows that someone is still refusing to make that decision for Christ.

2. Use of the Life in the Spirit Study Bible

3. Refusing to add any other statements or confessions to what their church believes.  Insisting that God got it right when He wrote the Baptist Faith and Message.  (Debate still lingers as to what edition was “inspired”).

4. Focused on making sure the church does not attempt to be the “true” church.  He’s not sure yet what this means but he just knows that we should not like Jeff Noblitt.

5. Look for the men they quote in their sermons: Adrian Rogers, Charles Stanley, John Wesley, and Jacobus Arminius.

6. They will call other Arminians to join them on their church staff as they purge their churches and associations of anyone that even smells like a Calvinist, e.g. wears CALVIN Klein cologne.

7. They will methodically employ a strategy of "convincing” members that the doctrines of grace are evil, against evangelism, and follow a man instead of Jesus.

8. Tendency toward a highly illogical and unsystematic theology.  He knows all of the answers except for when He doesn’t.  And then when he doesn’t know the answer he will confront you for putting God in a box. 

9. They love to use the older methods of passing out information.  Like setting up booths at annual meetings or passing around papers to your associations.  Arminians are not predestined to be good bloggers.

10. Tendency to be evasive about their theology during the pastor search process.  He just believes the Bible.  He’s not sure what he means by that, because he refuses to have any sort of systematic theology.  But he teaches the Bible as it is.

Now obviously these are ridiculous.  I know many Arminians that are great theologians.  I know some Arminians that do not like to “give an invitation”.  I know some that have a desire for biblical church discipline.  I know Arminians that use the ESV Study Bible.  I know Arminians that love John Piper and John Wesley.  I know Arminians that are great bloggers, and I know some that are passionate about stamping out Calvinism in their blogs. 

These little letters are just horrible and divisive.  What is sad is that those who pass these out may cause several unaware and uninformed people to go on a quest to stamp out really good, solid, and loving pastors that love Jesus and bleed for their congregation.  Then at the end of the day they will stand up and say, “see Calvinism divides churches”. 

Yes, Calvinists can be jerks.  And yes, Calvinists can divide churches.  But so can Arminians and all those in between. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

American Freedom is NOT Synonymous with Christian Freedom

I do not watch Glenn Beck, nor will I.  I have nothing against the guy; I just choose not to spend my time watching Fox News or CNN.  I keep up with the news but have little need for 24/7 news.  Recently this little gem from Beck came to my attention.  (HT: Christ and Pop Culture)
"I'm begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!"
There are three things that I want to address with this quote. 
1. If Beck means that you should leave a church that is more concerned with social and economic justice than with the gospel then I agree.  Partly.  I say partly because a liberal church that has forsaken the gospel but is concerned with “social justice” is not really a church it is a group of people gathered together to create social change.  That is good, that is okay, but it is not what a church is meant to do.  But I also say that I partly agree because the Church does not have the option of making social justice an “either/or”: As in, "either you preach the gospel or you are concerned with social justice".  Could it be that preaching the gospel entails a concern for social justice; not at the expense of the gospel but because of it.

2. I want to provide a caveat and say that I may be making a wrong connection with what I am about to say.  It is possible that I totally misunderstand Beck and I am making a connection that is really not there.  You decide.

I hear from certain Christian circles a lack of compassion and desire to help those in other nations under the guise of “we need to help our own first”.  (Read this article).  The problem with Beck and many pundits is they think our “right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” is granted to us by the Constitution.  It is the American right, they say.  That is the problem.  The Founding Fathers understood that these rights were given by God to all men.  They were only acknowledging that which is already true.  This is not an American right—this is a Creation right.  Therefore, it is not just the guy living in New Jersey that has this right it is also the guy living in New Zealand.

Call me a flaming liberal if you will but our concern for social and economic justice extends outside the borders of America.  Of course social and economic justice does not mean that everyone has the right to make themselves rich, but that is another topic.

3. Beck is exposed by his very first sentence, “your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them…”  This is NOT our right.  A rather unfortunate result of the Protestant Reformation is that somehow we got the ridiculous idea that we can “read the passages” and “preach the passages” of Scripture how we “want to”. 
Perhaps governmentally speaking we do have the right and should have the right to exercise our freedom in religion.  But if you transfer that belief to hermeneutics and even the judgment of God you do not have that right.  I do not have the freedom to read the Bible however I please.  Freedom is found in truth and obedience.

Okay I’ve opened up a ton of different topics…I’ll stop there.  If I have even been coherent enough to foster discussion…I would love your responses.

Showing once again why he is a million times more wise than I, Dr. Mohler weighs in

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Reason #472 Why You Should Love John Newton

He writes amazing stuff like this:  Prayer Answered By Crosses

I asked the LORD that I might grow

In faith, and love, and every grace;

Might more of his salvation know,

And seek, more earnestly, his face.

’Twas he who taught me thus to pray,

And he, I trust, has answered prayer!

But it has been in such a way,

As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour,

At once he’d answer my request;

And by his love’s constraining pow’r,

Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, he made me feel

The hidden evils of my heart;

And let the angry pow’rs of hell

Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with his own hand he seemed

Intent to aggravate my woe;

Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,

Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

LORD, why is this, I trembling cried,

Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?

“’Tis in this way, the LORD replied,

I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,

From self, and pride, to set thee free;

And break thy schemes of earthly joy,

That thou may’st find thy all in me.”


Many of his Olney Hymns still need to be set to music.  I asked Shane and Shane to do it but I’m not sure they’ll respond.  This hymn has been covered by many such as Mahalia Jackson and even Elvis Presley.  However, I like this simple rendition:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How Would You Counsel These People?

If you have eight minutes go ahead and watch this.  If not just watch the first couple minutes,  you’ll get the idea. 

(HT: Z)

Here is my question.  Let’s say that you have a friend that went to one of these meetings on Tuesday night.  They come to you on Wednesday telling you all about the movement of the Holy Spirit at this meeting.  What do you say? 


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