Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Innkeeper by John Piper

John Piper's advent you a different perspective on the ramifications of the coming of Christ.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Whatever Happened to the Relics?

Um, mam please keep that baby from drooling on St.John the baptist's camel hair togaI was watching a video called "Cathedral" in which the building a Gothic Cathedral was explained architecturally this morning. The video did a imitation historical context in which the church being built (Which was one of the many Notre Dame's) was the proud home of the veil the blessed Virgin wore. The veil like all relics had mystical powers, in this case healing. I suddenly remembered how superstitious Catholicism really was/is. A friend of mine who is from Mexico upon finding that I was a Christian asked "So do you believe in saints and virgins?" I really was dumbfounded, when I tell people I am a Christian I don't generally get this kind of follow up question, I am more ready for the "You believe that Bible stuff! HA!" My response to my friends question was "Yeah, I suppose" (I was thinking: There exists persons who are saints...True. And there exists persons who are virgins...true.)

Of course what he really meant was in reference to the multiple Latin American appearances of "Mary", and maybe by "saints" he meant these mystical beings we pray to in order to help us out of jams. Anyway, I guess in light of the video I realized afresh just how bizarre Catholicism really is. I think one of the best example of this is the relics.

Why inanimate body parts from dead Christians became prized tokens really is beyond me, I mean who wants a dead guys' head sitting behind the altar? Well I guess when you begin to superstitiously attribute every good fortune that besets you to your kissing St.Clifford's back hair you begin to be dependant on these things to some degree. I really vary in my reaction to all of this from laughing my head off to being grieved that people have been so duped into idolatry.

Yuck! I'll take the 500 years in Purgatory over having to kiss this thing!That's really what this is, idolatry. When we don't look to God alone for deliverance we are idolaters. Whether it be looking to St.John the Baptists camel hair briefs or looking to our bank accounts to make our problems go away we are guilty the sin of idolatry. So Protestants, don't think that we are free from the deceitfulness of superstitious idolatry...

Anyway, what I was wondering is "What happened to the relics?" I occasionally listen to the local Catholic channel and I honestly heard last week that there such and such relics on their way to a Milwaukee diocese. I really thought that all this relic junk died out after the reformation, with the exception of a few possibly authentic relics (I prefer artifacts) I thought this was pretty much given up on. I guess not. One would hope that these things would be once and for all laid to rest and no longer treated as go betweens between man and God, but it seems the natural man likes his magic "sacred" items.

So the relics are still popular among the Catholics it seems, I just don't understand how you can't see this as idolatry. This really is a manageable God though, and I think that's why these things have such appeal to people. We can control God through these magical objects and make Him bless us whether the issue is health, finances, or purgatory, these magic objects cover all the areas and insure blessing on those that reverence (shudder) these objects. These seem akin to the Charismatic junk on the Protestant end ofThis is not actually a bone from a saint but a bone from a ham eaten by a saint...j/k it really is supposedly a saint the spectrum, prosperity hankies, Benny Hinn's anointing oil etc. These are all forms of superstition, and attempts to manage God through objects.

So the point I want to close on is not a pick on the Catholics and their creepy superstition (I mean come on face it, it's kinda creepy to want to go kiss that "Mary Magedalene" skull in that manikin head!). I want to give us all a general warning to beware trying to manage God. Whether by inanimate object idolatry, or by theological idolatry. Both acknowledge God but rob Him of His power.

Calvin writes:
"Thus, although they are forced to acknowledge that there is some God they however, rob Him of His glory by denying His power.[...] In this way the vain pretext which many employ to clothe their superstition is overthrown. They deem it enough that they have some kind of zeal for religion, how preposterous soever it may be, not observing that true religion must be conformable to the will of God as its unerring standard; that He can never deny Himself, and is no spectre or phantom, to be metamorphosed at each individual's caprice."

That is a stinging indictment on idolatry of all kinds. Whether attributing power to dead men's bones, or treating God as a relativistic/pluralistic truth. The "God's different for everyone" Liberal theology is a form of idolatry...

Calvin continues:
"It is easy to see how superstition , with its false glosses, mocks God, while it tries to please Him. Usually fastening merely on things on which He has declared He sets no value, it either contemptuously overlooks, or even undisguisedly rejects, the things which He expressly enjoins, or in which we are assure that He takes pleasure. Those, therefore, who set up fictitious worship, merely worship and adore their own delirious fancies; indeed, they would never dare so to trifle with God, had they not previously fashioned Him after their own childish conceits." (Institutes of the Christian Religion)

God is only acceptable to the idolater if he can manage Him. Whether through magic objects or by shaving off attributes, only then is God palatable.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christianity and Liberalism

I am becomming more of a MacArthur fan the more I see him be bold with the Gospel in the face of the pluralist rhetoric. The most significant part of this I thought was the exchange between MacArthur and "Bishop" Talbert. This is a perfect example of Christianity and Liberalism.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Secular Humanist Deaconess Rosie O'Donnell Speaks Out...

What gets me the most is that this ridiculous statement was met with a round of applause.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Some Things are So Ridiculous, Yet They are Real...

"Dance Praise is the interactive dance game that turns your PC into a dance arcade with top Christian hits. The game includes over 50 songs from Sanctus Real, ZOEgirl, Audio Adrenaline, and more. Each song offers 3 levels of challenging dance steps."

If you don't think there's anything wrong with this nothing I can add will either.

(I found this at PURGATORIO an excellent blog)

Monday, November 20, 2006

When Religion Looses its Credibility (An examination of "Christian" arguments in favor of Homosexuality)

Where news is fun Yesterday I ran into an article entitled "When Religion Looses Its credibility" by a pastor in the Baptist church named Oliver "Buzz" Thomas. The article was in the online version of USA Today for Monday November 19th. In it Buzz argues that Christianity really may have been wrong all along about its stance against Homosexuality, now I am not going to post the article word for word but just answer the key highlights throughout the article. I encourage anyone reading to read his article in its entirety first by clicking here. I will deal with Thomas' arguments from here on out by responding to key passages, his words will be in blue.

Thomas begins the article with this statement/comparison:

"Galileo was persecuted for revealing what we now know to be the truth regarding Earth's place in our solar system. Today, the issue is homosexuality, and the persecution is not of one man but of millions. Will Christian leaders once again be on the wrong side of history?"

First of all these issues are totally different categories, the earth being the center of the solar system is a scientific matter, whether homosexuality is immoral is well a moral matter. Both relate to the Christian world view but my point is that the analogy is sloppy from the start. Second, whether or not the earth was the center of the universe was not debated based upon scripture, The Roman Catholic church held this view because that is what Aristotle taught...NOT the Bible. Now Homosexuality on the other hand is certainly mentioned in the Bible and certainly described as an immoral practice. Am I entitled to say this is a faulty comparison fallacy on Thomas' behalf?

"Despite what you might have read, heard or been taught throughout your churchgoing life, homosexuality is, in fact, determined at birth and is not to be condemned by God's followers."

Hold the phone here. Thomas assumes that if some behavior is genetically linked to individuals by birth that then that behavior is not to be frowned upon. Where did he get that conclusion from? The Bible? No, this is the touted line of the secular culture. Is Homosexuality a behavior that is linked to genes? I don't know. But you know what it doesn't matter one lick whether the behavior is linked to the genes when we are determining whether a behavior is moral or not. From what I understand similar gene links are found in serial killers, do we then make the conclusion that serial killers are not doing immoral acts because their genes predispose them to commit these acts? No, therefore the assumption Thomas makes here is faulty, we don't base morality on would think Thomas would know that being a pastor.

Now this next statement is what I really found to be the most disappointing:

"All this brings me back to the question: What if we're wrong?
Religion's only real commodity, after all, is its moral authority. Lose that, and we lose our credibility. Lose credibility, and we might as well close up shop."

"Religions ONLY REAL commodity"?! All that religion has to offer is a moral outlook on the world and if we get that wrong we're done says Thomas. I am sorry but those aren't the words of somebody who believes that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world...I don't think you can be a Christian and say that all religion has to offer the world is a moral outlook. As a Christian yes my religion gives me a moral foundation/outlook but much more I have the gospel of God, the message that though man is fallen and rebellious through faith in Jesus Christ people can be made right before this holy God and have life everlasting and joy ever increasing. The apostle Paul said to the Corinthian believers:

"For I decided to know (teach) nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Cor 2:2)

According to Paul his commodity that he gave to the Corinthians was not a nice moral outlook but Christ crucified. Why? Because Christ crucified is the gospel, Christ crucified is the good news, this is the message that saves souls from hell and the wrath of God almighty. If we as CHRISTIANS are asked: "What is the one thing you have to offer the world?" the answer will be some form of CHRIST and HIM CRUCIFIED. Because there is No other Name Under Heaven By Which Men May Be Saved Except the Name of Christ Jesus. (Acts 4:12)

"This time, [He just gave another Galileo analogy] Christianity is in danger of squandering its moral authority by continuing its pattern of discrimination against gays and lesbians in the face of mounting scientific evidence that sexual orientation has little or nothing to do with choice. To the contrary, whether sexual orientation arises as a result of the mother's hormones or the child's brain structure or DNA, it is almost certainly an accident of birth. The point is this: Without choice, there can be no moral culpability."

I will come back to the discrimination rhetoric later, but here he makes his point which he stated earlier again "Without choice, there can be no moral culpability." Sure, from the throne of the pontiff. Unfortunately, for Thomas that's not how God sees it. In Romans chapter 9 we see the sovereignty of God in His election of people to Himself and His sovereignty of man's free will. Oh, yes people make choices but God governs those choices without mitigating their moral responsibility to Him, it is funny the apostle Paul deals with this sort of a notion as it reads:

"You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?"
But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?"
(Rom 9:20-22)

Now this is in reference to the sovereignty of God I cite it because it is a form of determinism that God governs our wills yet Paul rejects the argument that goes:

1) if God is sovereign over men's actions then He can not hold them accountable for their actions
2) God is sovereign
.:3) Therefore men are not accountable. (MP 1,2)

This sort of thinking leads to all sorts of rash doctrinal denials for instance:

1) if God is sovereign over men's actions then He can not hold them accountable for their actions
2) Men are accountable before God
.:3) God is not sovereign (MT 1,2)

Anyway, the point is that Paul dealt with this issue of moral responsibility and God's sovereignty, which, according to Paul governed man's action in a way that did NOT mitigate his moral accountability to God for those actions. Likewise with Thomas' example, just because a behavior is linked to genes does not absolve man of accountability for that behavior. (Just substitute genes for God in the above proofs to see this in logical form) Thomas assumes that determined behavior=absolution of accountability for that behavior which simply is an unwarranted assertion.

Ultimately, as a Christian who believes in the sovereignty of God genetic links to homosexuality don't bother me at all, because morality is not dependent on free choices. Men in their fallen state are "slaves of sin" ,"dead in sin" and "hate the light" says the New Testament so how free are our choices? Morality is objective outside of our ability to fulfill it or not...God doesn't grade on the curve because we are fallen (That would be to compromise His holiness). AND God is sovereign over our genetics. If Thomas had not struck out earlier as to what Christianity has to offer the world he would have a message that breaks the power of a fallen corrupt nature and sets free slaves of sin.

"Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,
nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
(1 Cor 6:9-11)

Next Thomas "turns" to scripture:

"So, why are so many church leaders (not to mention Orthodox Jewish and Muslim leaders) persisting in their view that homosexuality is wrong despite a growing stream of scientific evidence that is likely to become a torrent in the coming years? The answer is found in Leviticus 18. "You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination."

I just wonder how naturalistic science can give us rulings on whether actions are moral or not. How can science test morality?

"As a former "the Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it" kind of guy, I am sympathetic with any Christian who accepts the Bible at face value. But here's the catch. Leviticus is filled with laws imposing the death penalty for everything from eating catfish to sassing your parents. If you accept one as the absolute, unequivocal word of God, you must accept them all."

Has this man been to Seminary? I mean good night this is a basic concept of transition from Old to New Covenant. What he said above sounds more like unbelief in the authority of the Bible than an honest scholarly investigation into the meaning and how to apply it today. Well in a nutshell there are different types of law in the OT moral and ceremonial, homosexuality being sin is moral like don't steal, ceremonial for example would be regulations on the garments, what foods were to be eaten etc. In Christ both are fulfilled. Yes sassing your parents DOES deserve death but Christ took our death. These are basic concepts which somebody who is a pastor should know.

"For many of gay America's loudest critics, the results are unthinkable. First, no more football. At least not without gloves. Handling a pig skin is an abomination. Second, no more Saturday games even if you can get a new ball. Violating the Sabbath is a capital offense according to Leviticus. For the over-40 crowd, approaching the altar of God with a defect in your sight is taboo, but you'll have plenty of company because those menstruating or with disabilities are also barred."
Tearing books out of the Bible sure gets tiring
Again we see his inability to transition from Old Covenant to the New, liberal theologians have done this silly rhetoric so much I really don't bother to respond anymore...Frankly because Christians don't say things like this. All he is trying to do is say Leviticus needs to be thrown out/it doesn't apply anymore which is a gross over simplification of the matter.

"The truth is that mainstream religion has moved beyond animal sacrifice, slavery and the host of primitive rituals described in Leviticus centuries ago. Selectively hanging onto these ancient proscriptions for gays and lesbians exclusively is unfair according to anybody's standard of ethics. We lawyers call it "selective enforcement," and in civil affairs it's illegal."

Um not at all, this is not a selective hanging on. These passages DO apply today, ALL of them. The difference is that we are in a New Covenant and Christ became our sacrifice Thomas coincidentally can't make that link which I think every evangelical can in basic terms. Christ is our sacrifice, Christ is our substitute for the punishment required in breaking these Levitical laws, and Christ is our ceremonial cleanness (kosher laws).

"A better reading of Scripture starts with the book of Genesis and the grand pronouncement about the world God created and all those who dwelled in it. "And, the Lord saw that it was good." If God created us and if everything he created is good, how can a gay person be guilty of being anything more than what God created him or her to be?"

I can't read things like this from a PASTOR and not reach the conclusion that this man is either purposely trying to mislead people or willfully ignorant. Thomas' question: "How when God created everything and said it was good can we say homosexuality is wrong?"

Basic sunday school answer to the question is that there was a fall Thomas, you know Genesis chapter 3 the book you just referenced. This is BASIC Christian doctrine and I don't know how Thomas can HONESTLY act ignorant of the fall of man theologically when he is a pastor. I think this is simply disingenuous.

"Turning to the New Testament, the writings of the Apostle Paul at first lend credence to the notion that homosexuality is a sin, until you consider that Paul most likely is referring to the Roman practice of pederasty, a form of pedophilia common in the ancient world. Successful older men often took boys into their homes as concubines, lovers or sexual slaves."

Um, really?

"For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;
and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. " (Rom 1)

Thomas is simply going on the liberal theology line in which their "research" found that when Paul speaks against men sleeping with men he REALLY means men with boy sex slaves....oh ok.

So far Thomas has tried to discredit the passages/books of the Bible that condemn homosexuality as sin with frankly pretty sloppy "research" and disingenuous exegesis of Genesis and Leviticus. Now he uses the worn out Jesus never said anything about homosexuality line:

"For those who have lingering doubts, dust off your Bibles and take a few hours to reacquaint yourself with the teachings of Jesus. You won't find a single reference to homosexuality. There are teachings on money, lust, revenge, divorce, fasting and a thousand other subjects, but there is nothing on homosexuality. Strange, don't you think, if being gay were such a moral threat?"

Let's apply this reasoning, Jesus never mentioned homosexuality so homosexuality must have been a ok in Christ's mind. Well lets substitute some things in for homosexuality to show how ridiculous this reasoning is.

Jesus never said anything about child molestation therefore it must not have been a big deal to Him.
Jesus never said anything about smoking methamphetamine therefore it must not have been a big deal to Him.
Jesus never said anything about black slavery therefore it must not have been a big deal to Him.
Jesus never said anything about smoking pot therefore it must not have been a big deal to Him.
Jesus never said anything about abortion therefore it must not have been a big deal to Him.
Jesus never said anything about NASCAR therefore it must not have been a big deal to Him.

Well I think the point is clear that the standard Jesus never a poor one. And anyone who studies the Bible will know that Christ the Spirit and the Father constitute One God eternally existent, thus it was Christ who inspired the book of Leviticus so Jesus DID say stuff about homosexuality.

Also Jesus' purpose much to the chagrin of the liberal theologians was NOT to give us a nice moral code or example to live by that was NOT the mission of Christ. Christ came "to seek and to save the lost" and by His finished work on the cross we are made right with at holy God. I also think the statement of Christ on marriage is pretty explicit as to what He thought it should look like:

"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,
and they shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh."
(Mar 10:7-8)

"On the other hand, Jesus spent a lot of time talking about how we should treat others. First, he made clear it is not our role to judge. It is God's. ("Judge not lest you be judged." Matthew 7:1) And, second, he commanded us to love other people as we love ourselves. "

This is ridiculous, I refer you to my "Hey it says judge Not!" article if you don't know what is wrong with the way this guy is interpreting Matt 7:1.

"So, I ask you. Would you want to be discriminated against? Would you want to lose your job, housing or benefits because of something over which you had no control? Better yet, would you like it if society told you that you couldn't visit your lifelong partner in the hospital or file a claim on his behalf if he were murdered?
The suffering that gay and lesbian people have endured at the hands of religion is incalculable, but they can look expectantly to the future for vindication."

Jesus never said anything about discrimination, must not have bee a big deal to Him.
As for gays not being able to visit their partner or risk loosing houses because they can't get married is ridiculous, it's called a living will get one if you want to give your possessions to specific people when you die. And I don't think any hospital will turn someone's partner away because they don't have a marriage license. These arguments are just smokescreen.

"Scientific facts, after all, are a stubborn thing. Even our religious beliefs must finally yield to them as the church in its battle with Galileo ultimately realized. But for religion, the future might be ominous. Watching the growing conflict between medical science and religion over homosexuality is like watching a train wreck from a distance. You can see it coming for miles and sense the inevitable conclusion, but you're powerless to stop it. The more church leaders dig in their heels, the worse it's likely to be."

How is whether or not homosexuality a moral practice a scientific issue? Also for the numerous times Thomas has referenced this "growing pile" of facts he doesn't reference any studies at all. Not that it would matter to me because I don't think that has any bearing on whether or not an action is wrong.

Oliver "Buzz" Thomas is a Baptist minister and author of an upcoming book, 10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (But Can't Because He Needs the Job).

Well I think the whole article was ridiculous and full of disingenuous exegesis at best and purposely deceptive at worse. I go back to Thomas' quote which reads:

"Religion's only real commodity, after all, is its moral authority. Lose that, and we lose our credibility. Lose credibility, and we might as well close up shop."

I think that if all you think Christianity has to offer is a moral vision you need to close up shop. Stop calling your liberal church a church and deceiving your members into thinking they are Christians when they never heard the gospel, never repented of their sins, and never submitted themselves to Christ as Lord . This is when religion looses is credibility, when we have disingenuous "pastors" telling people who are going to hell that they are ok because hey it says "Judge not."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Secular Humanist Clergy Speak Out

From: WhirledNotDaley

The religious world is in an uproar over a recent statement given by a high ranking secular humanist clergyman. Former pop star, song writer and now an Arch Bishop in the Secular Humanist Congregational Assembly Elton John has recently said some very controversial things about the religious community. The controversial quote reads as follows:

"I think religion has always tried to turn hatred towards gay people. Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays...From my point of view I would ban religion completely, even though there are some wonderful things about it... But the reality is that organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate." (For fuller article click here)

The quote has received criticism from those on both sides of the fence, Arch Bishop John while attempting to enter a Humanist Assembly Meeting house was met by a barrage of "Faithful" protestors chanting:

"We're here
God's Feared
Get used to it"

The crowd had many doing vulgar acts such men embracing and even kissing Bibles, some were singing songs while others prayed. The Humanist Assembly which Bishop John was scheduled to speak had to be postponed as the "Faithful" crowds presence put a damper on an otherwise cheery assembly. This statement by Arch Bishop John comes just weeks after the controversial outburst delivered by Secular Humanist Assembly Deaconess O'Donnell which reads:

"Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have a separation of church and state. We're a democracy here." (For link to whole article click here)

Many within the Assembly have distanced themselves from the above comments delivered by John and O'Donnell.

"Charles Darwin's ideas were so immense and deep it is almost insulting to him to take the 'Origin of the Species' literally. I simply can not hold to the narrow minded interpretation of the OOS, I mean who are we to say whether or not that first single celled organism just popped into existence or some God created it...we need to get back the heart of Secular Humanism and Darwin's message which is interspecies love and above all tolerance."
Said Terrance Hightower a secular humanist clergyman who wants to remain anonymous.

This has left many devout Secular's waiting for a formal statement from the Pope of the Secular Humanist Assembly Richard Dawkins, who in the past has said that Christians raising their children in the faith is synonymous with child abuse. Most expect the papal decree to side with the more "Fundamentalist" Secular Humanist camp which would give the official approval to the recent statements.

A pro-God Christians has responded to the statements by Bishop John and Deaconess O'Donnell stating:

"For a group of people who want to criticize us calling us intolerant bigots, they sure seem pretty intolerant of us. Am I crazy or am I the only one who sees a blatant double standard in all their Secular rhetoric? They want to make laws so that no one can speak against their lifestyle but they at the same time want to criticize and support banning the Christian lifestyle if they could!"

So says know nothing right wing reactionary fundamentalist radical narrow minded intolerant bigot Christian jerk face Clark Parker from Detroit Christian Church.

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Brief Defense Of the Doctrine of Original Sin From Its Modern Opposition (Part I)

Defending orthodoxy from error isn't always easyIt seems more and more in my conversations with fellow Christians on theology and the Bible I find that much of the doctrines held are not extrapolated from the Bible so much as they are reflection of cultural values. No one can really escape this, there will be to varying degrees a cultural influence in our study of God's word. However, particularly around issues of predestination, God's sovereignty, and the effects of the Fall do I see gross cultural influences in many views on these issues. These are the hot button issues within evangelicalism, and frankly many Christians get more upset when someone starts talking about Limited Atonement then when someone blasphemes Christ and uses His name interchangeably with swear words.

Here I want to address the issue of Original Sin (from here on I will refer to it as OS), not just the Original Sin of Adam but the effect today on his descendents. This is weighty and realistically an entire book alone would do this issue justice (I recommend Jonathan Edwards') however, my treatment will be brief. My question which I will attempt to answer simply is this: What Did the fall do to mankind?

Objections to OS

As I have said this is a hot issue, and there are many God loving Christians who will deny the doctrine of OS. OS in doctrine is this in a nutshell: every descendant of Adam is born fallen and corrupt in need of redemption. This really irks a lot of people, more and more it seems.

(Objection 1)It isn't fair is often a cry, why should people be punished for the sin of someone else? In fact how can a loving and just God do such a thing? This seems so contrary to His nature thus this doctrine of OS really is not true. This seems to be the backbone of the objections and is woven throughout the following.

(Objection 2)Another objection raised (this was brought up in a discussion of this very issue at the Mass Theology blog) is that sin/guilt by its very nature is not something which can be transferred. God does not put Adam's sin in a bucket and put them into the souls of his descendents. Guilt/sin by their nature are not transferable, Adam's sin and guilt stopped with Adam, his descendents are not paying for his blunder by having his sin placed upon them.

(Objection 3) The final objection I will deal with goes something like this:
1.If OS is true then that means babies are born sinful
2.If babies are born sinfull that means babies that die will go to hell.
3. God simply would not do that (This leans upon the fairness of objection 1)
4. /:. Therefore babies are not born sinful.

Objections Answered:

(Objection 1) This really is the undercurrent throughout all the objections to OS, it simply isn't fair and a just God would not do this. Well this assertion ultimately commits the fallacy of begging the question as to what is fair for God to do. It misses the mark in that it really, if I am correct, imposes a human notion of justice upon God and puts God in "time out" if He acts out of this perceived notion of justice we have (thus my cultural influence preamble). He who believes in the orthodox doctrine of OS says "the Bible teaches....(proof text)" yet the denier of OS simply says "No, that simply is out of step with the justice of God." But that is to beg the very question. If the Bible teaches that the sin of Adam effects all of his progeny and there was a curse decreed BY GOD upon mankind because of Adam's sin then obviously it is NOT out of step with God's justice.

(Objection 2) Now I honestly had not heard this objection until I dialogued with Henry M Imler at Mass theology on this issue. (Check out Mass Theology by clicking here)Now I really do respect Henry and I love their blog, however I think he strikes out bad on this. As I said I had not heard this type of objection to OS until Henry raised it, the assertion that sin/guilt are non transferable by nature therefore OS is not a tenable doctrine. As I thought about it and carried the assertion throughout you really run into many problems. The most immediate in the forefront is this: Were our sins/guilt transferred to Christ?

Logically if the one is an impossibility so is the other, if Adam's sin/guilt were not transferred to us because sin/guilt are by nature not transferable, then equally nor can our sins/guilt have been transferred to Christ because sin/guilt by nature is not transferable. This is just if we assume Henry's position. Now I have not heard anyone say this stuff but I have read it, it comes strait from Pelagius the original popular OS denier. Pelagius saw this and saw the death of Christ not as substitutionary (in our place for our sin/guilt) but rather as an example of self sacrifice to emulate. Pelagius was consistent (a consistent heretic). When I pressed Henry he (being a genuine Christian I think) did not want to abandon the substitutionary atonement, but I say he does so inconsistently.

Furthermore, this also begs the question as to whether sin/guilt can be transferred. The above response is merely the logical outcome if we assume the assertion. Are there any texts which teach that sin/guilt are non-transferable by nature? No. On the contrary we can see particularly with the death of Christ that indeed the sin of His people was transferred to Him.

(Objection 3) What are we to make of the third objection then? Well this of course strongly appeals to sentiment and commits the fallacy of an appeal to emotion. Saying if you believe in OS then you believe that babies that die go to hell which of course arouses disdain. This argument on a presupposed Arminian view of election. (We are elected because we selected, we are elect b/c we chose Jesus) The reason why babies going to hell is the consequent of holding to OS in these people's minds is because they presuppose that conscious choice on the part of the sinner is what saves. Thus, babies, who are we will say too immature to make that conscious choice, when they die have no hope.

Well, apart from the strong sentemental appeal there is a problem here, one for the Arminian. The problem is this question: "What about people who are too mentally immature to make the choice to accept Jesus as their lord and personal savior?" The Arminian gets around it by denying OS and/or making up things like "Age of accountability" (a doctrine that says Children all reach an age when they are now accountable for their sin, children under that age all go to heaven if they die) One problem with this "Age of accountability" stuff: This simply is not found anywhere in the Bible. Arminians just make it up to deal with this problem that arises due to their view of election.

I am sorry but I don't think just making up doctrines to protect God from looking unjust is the way to do theology. When we come to the Bible we can see that the reason why children die to begin with is because of sin.

"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned"--(Rom 5:12)

Here logically the reason why people die is because they are fallen sinners. If a young child dies it is because that child was a sinner, I think that's the only honest way to interpret this passage. Now I will go into texts shortly but suffice it to here to say that the only reason why people have to deal with the question of dying babies is because babies are sinful (Or OS is true).

So do I believe in hell for babies? Well, ultimately I put that in God's hands, because that is where salvation is. In my view of election salvation is not dependent upon some sort of human conscious choice, rather God sovereignly converts sinners. So in my view of election God saves babies who die and can not even say "Mom" or "Dad", because salvation is a work of God. Rather than something that occurs when we wise up and decide to apply it to ourselves.

What Did the Fall do?
(A Scriptural Defense of OS)

What DID the fall do to man?
The main thing that really gets me when I dialogue with people who reject the doctrine of OS is their utter lack of scripture to support their assertions. They are very ready to jump on the scriptures that do teach OS and do hermuenutical gymnastics with them, but when it comes to giving a text that shows that babies are born sinless they are really speechless. The question I pose to OS deniars is simply: "What DID the fall do then?"

Firstly, I want to address the notion that sin is something by its nature that is non-transferable. Again this assertion is made in order to rule out the notion that Adam's sin effects all of mankind, thus some assert sin to be something which in its very nature can not be transferred from one person to another. As I stated already if this is the case the question naturally arises "Were our sins then placed upon Christ?"

Also, on the flip side is righteousness something that is transferable, one would think that both righteousness and its negation sin would have the same metaphysical properties, thus if sin is non-transferable neither would righteousness be transferable. Well I will cite some passages on this very issue which should help clarify for us whether BIBLICALLY the assertion that sin by its very nature is not transferable has any merit.

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. " (2 Cor 5:21)

I think here in this passage there is a twofold problem with the above assertion for not only is Christ made sin "For our sake" but also we are made righteous "in Him". There seems to be a clear exchange here, He bears our guilt and we receive His righteousness. Are sin/righteousness non-transferable in the Apostle's mind here?

"And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God," (Heb 10:11-12)

Here we see that the repeated sacrifices could never take away sins, put in direct contrast with the sacrifice of Christ which only needed to be done once and upon being offered He sat down for it was finished. Now the contrast appears to be between a sacrifice that can NOT take away sins and one that can and has.

"As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us." (Psa 103:12)

Is sin something transferable here? If it can be removed it would certainly seem to be the case.

"For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Rom 8:3-4)

"It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification." (Rom 4:24-25)

"He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption." (1 Cor 1:30)

Again in the above three passages the basics seem clear Christ died for OUR sin and we are made right in the eyes of God on the basis of HIS righteousness given to us. Now I want to get to more pertinent passages on the OS issue so I will not continue addressing the transferability of sin here. Suffice it to say that our very salvation rests on the fact that our sins were transferable by nature.

The key passages surrounding OS:

Anyone who has done any study at all into the matter of OS will know that Romans 5 is the chapter where the doctrine of OS stands or falls. I will give a brief exegetical examination of some of the passages in Romans 5 and elsewhere in Scripture.

"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned"-- (Rom 5:12)

There certainly appears to be a direct link between Adam's sin and death spreading to all men. Paul's logic seems as follows:
1) Death is consequence of sin.
2) All men die.
3) /:.Therefore all men are sinners.

Now, death (physically) only comes upon those tainted with sin. However, it is an obvious fact that infants do die physically, thus they must in some way be tainted with sin. The connector is Adam. Adam is the one who brought sin into the world, and upon sinning his nature was corrupted (Gen 3) and all of his descendents inherit his corruption.

"Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. " (Rom 5:14)

Now here Paul is working on the basis of law, saying that even though men did not have commands from God which they were guilty of willfully breaking like Adam death reigned. So sin is something larger then what we just do, we do not just do sin. Also Paul is beginning to connect his analogy to Christ. Just like how through Adam sin entered the world and death here comes Christ the second Adam bringing something different into the world.

"But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin.

For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ."
(Rom 5:15-17)

Here the analogy comes to its peak and its clarity. I think Romans 5:15 is probably the most crucial single verse showing our connection to Adam. " Many died through one man's trespass" people are perishing for Adam's guilt/sin. To which the natural man cries: "That's NOT FAIR!"

Nevertheless, that is blatantly what Paul has just declared, people die through Adam's trespass. There is a connection between Adam's trespass and his progeny says Paul. If the OS deniars are right this analogy shouldn't be in the Bible. There is no connection between Adam's sin and me if they are correct. Paul says that there is a connection between me and Adam's sin.

Paul here displays 2 humanities 1)Those in Adam and 2)Those in Christ.
Humanity 1) is those who are connected to Adam simply by being a descendent of Adam through physical birth thus inheriting his nature, his fallen sinful nature. Those who have a fallen sinful nature (those in Adam) die physically and spiritually. Those with this fallen nature naturally are averse to the things of God (Rom 8:6-7) and really want nothing to do with God (At least on His terms) and prefer sin over God.

Humanity 2) is those who are connected to Christ by being one of His offspring through spiritual birth (John 3) thus they have a new nature being born again. These die physically but will live spiritually. Being born again is being given a nature that is not at enmity with God and desires God over the fleeting pleasures of sin.

I just wonder why the gospel and new birth are even necessary if you deny OS. Seriously, why wouldn't a moral code be sufficient if we have no natural inclination toward sinning? If everybody can know what is right and wrong and choose one or the other and we have no natural inclination toward one over the other why is regeneration needed at all or the gospel for that matter? You violated the law that's YOUR bad and everybody deals with God on this sort of playing field. That's what Pelagius suggested, grace in Pelagius' mind was Christ coming not as a redeemer but an example to imitate and be saved via imitation. Seems "FAIR" right?

Well here's where the "Fair" notion by evangelical OS deniers seems hypocritical. Evangelical OS deniers want to say that it is unfair for Adam's sin to be placed upon his descendents, yet they have no qualms whatsoever to celebrate that their sins were placed on Christ!

Aside from the arrogance of man to have the gall to stand before God almighty and declare His decrees to be unfair we can see the absurdity of their charges. It isn't fair of God when Adam's is transferred to his descendents yet it is quite alright on God's behalf when Christ is the recipient of our sins. Not only is this arrogant but it is an inconsistent charge.

It would be consistent if the OS deniers rejected the evangelical faith and became like Pelagius and saw the law to be sufficient to save and Christ's work not as a sin bearer but example to imitate. Pelagius was at least a consistent heretic, not only did he deny that we are connected to Adam via OS but also he denied that our sins were imputed to Christ.

To conclude, based upon Romans 5 we really have 2 options (I don't think this is a false dilemma) there really are 2 options if we are going to be consistent logically.
That is a highly illogical objection
1)We can deny that humanity has any connection with Adam and his sin and that we are born neutral to sin (On the basis of God being "Fair" or that sin is nontransferrable by nature), but on the same token we would need to deny an evangelical view of Christ's work as well. Christ could not have born our sins (If sin is non transferable) nor would it have been "Fair" for God to have punished Him for our sins. Either way it would simply be inconsistent with Romans 5 to deny OS but affirm substitutionary atonement.
(**the latter "NOT FAIR!" view is actually growing in popularity particularly among Emergent authors who declare the substitutionary atonement view to be "Divine Child Abuse"**)

2)Or we can affirm both like Paul. We are born sinners who by nature are at enmity with God, we are not neutral observers, our will is a lackey to our nature which is corrupt. We need a new nature, a righteousness and our sin to be absolved. Christ gives us these. Christ is our sin bearer, our righteousness, and He bestows grace via regeneration that men might have a new nature, one that is not at enmity with God.

In the next post on this topic I will further address precisely the effects of the fall on humanity, in this post I have mainly been defending the position that the fall did have an effect on us. I have touched on some effects already but I realize this deserves a greater treatment than I have given it here.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Reformation Day and Its Modern Significance

Rather than bewail and rant about how demonic and anti-Christian Halloween is I think our attention as Christians is best focused upon the historic event that took place on October 31st, in the year of our Lord 1517 as Martin Luther nailed the Ninety Five Thesis to the church door in Wittenberg Germany. This event is what sparked the Protestant Reformation though it was never Luther's intention to break with Rome.

The main distinctives of the Reformed faith as opposed to that of Rome is summed up in the 5 Solas of the Reformation which are as follows:

1) Sola Fide- Or Faith alone, man is justified before God by Faith in what Christ has done on his behalf alone. (it's the alone that Rome has a hang up with)

2) Sola Scriptura- Or Scripture alone, Reformed Christians hold that the word of God alone is the authority to which we look in matters of doctrine and truth. The Bible alone is sufficient for the health of the church in matters of doctrine and practice. (Again it's the alone that chaps Rome)

3) Sola Christos- Or Christ Alone, Protestants hold that Christ alone is our grounds for righteousness and hope, not any works of our hands shall commend us to God only the worked of Jesus Christ alone. Also, this refers to the authority/mediation of Christ, Christ alone is the ruler over the church not Popes, and Christ alone is our mediator between us and the Father, not any saints or even Mary, so we pray to God/Christ alone. (again its the alone Rome has beef with)

4) Sola Gratia- Or Grace alone, Reformed Christians hold that we are not only saved by faith alone but by grace alone. This meaning that even our faith is not something WE do, it is a gift given by the free grace of God alone.

5) Sola Deo Gloria- To God Alone be the Glory, this is the aim of all of God's works whether creation, His works of Providence, or our salvation it is all for the His glory alone. This is truly breathtaking. God does everything, absolutely everything for the exaltation of His glory, to do otherwise would be unjust of God, because God is the most precious reality there is and it is good to exalt things that are precious, and bad to exalt a lesser glory over a greater.

(I have posted on each one if the reader wants a more in depth treatment of these topics)

Modern "Protestant" Departures From The Reformation:

Today I listened to a wonderful program on this very subject done by Ingrid Schlueter, the truths of the Reformation were heralded and defined. What was most interesting was the the application of these truths today. The guest was commenting on the popular trends in evangelicalism such as "The Prayer of Jabez" and showing how we have really abandoned these truths about a glorious God and His work of salvation and replaced them with man centered self help 12 step "Christian" books. We are a people that love methods, whether steps to approaching God through prayer, or steps to discover one's Purpose we gravitate towards these sorts of literature. (You can listen to the program by clicking here)

Other examples of how these truths are being abandoned are seen throughout many of the television preachers. For example the pastor of the 30,000+ member Lakewood church in Houston Texas begins each message by holding up the bible and have the people recited with him: "This is my bible I am what it says I am I can do what is says I can do...[paraphrase]" yet when the message begins its contents are bereft of any truly biblical content. I literally heard an entire message by Mr. Osteen that did have one bible verse or one reference to the person of Jesus, the topic was dieting.

Still more can be seen through the gross pragmatism that is often employed under the name of "bringing the unchurched in/winning the lost". Many honestly think that the main things that keep people from Christ are buildings, church music, funniness of the pastor etc. So we will create a consumer centered atmosphere to draw people in, whether that means having church in an old movie theater and serving communion in pop corn buckets or changing the message to be culturally relevant (this usually means eliminating words like sin, or cross, or hell and just preaching a pop-psychobabel/self-esteem message).

Some Good News:

All of these examples represent in some way a departure from these truths of the reformation which I outlined above. Now praise God, because there is good news in the midst of all this. I was reading the new Time magazine today and it has an article on the popularity of Jesus among younger people entitled "In Touch With Jesus". What's encouraging to me is that these are not youth who are bouncing basketballs while wearing Jesus rocks T-shirts and calling that a youth group. Rather, these are youth who detest that and want good teaching. These are youth that are tired of having the Christian message marketed to them in some silly package and want the real deal. The article reads:

"But in recent years churches have begun offering their young people a style of religious instruction grounded in Bible study and teachings about the doctrines of their denomination. Their conversion has been sparked by the recognition that sugarcoated Christianity, popular in the 80's and early 90's, has caused a number of kids to turn away not just from attending youth fellowship activities but also from practicing their faith at the exodus has increased churches are trying to reverse the flowby focusing less on amusement and more on Scripture."

Now although the article is written very pragmatically treating this turning to a biblical emphasis in Youth ministries as just another technique to "convert" young people, there is good news here. Well, bad news if you are trying to grow a church based upon amusing people because people will see through it. The good news is that the youth (at least in So Cal where this article focuses) have warmly received the serious bible/doctrine classes proving the pragmatic marketeers wrong. Maybe it takes a certain breed but I just don't know how you can be a Christian and not find studying the bible and doctrines of the Christian faith exciting, more exciting then those stupid TV shows that constantly have stuff blowing up. But hey that might just be me.

Anyway, so I tie it all together on this note: Truth matters. We see many in evangelicalism saying that we need to adapt our message or risk never saving the post-moderns (this is based on an assumed denial of Sola Gratia), and thus many are turning to slick marketing techniques to "win" people. However, there is another voice saying: "Away with all the junk and world imitating cotton candy theology! GIVE ME MEAT AND STRONG DRINK!...Give me the Christ of the Bible!"

It was not long ago that Christianity Today featured the topic of the growing popularity of Reformed Theology particularly among young people. This is happening because people are tired of all the un-authentic representations of Christianity out there, theologically and practically. This is really what drove me to read the dead guys. I heard so much bad theology and teaching that I had to turn somewhere and I found men like Spurgeon, Luther, Edwards, and Calvin to be wonderful guides.

My prayer for the American church this reformation day is just that, a modern reformation, one where we abandon all our man-centered pragmatic attempts to manage salvation, and market the gospel. That we would turn to the sovereign God who is the author and finisher of our faith.
It seems fitting to end this by quoting a part of Martin Luther's hymn "A MightyFortress"

"That Word above all earthly powers
no thanks to them abideth
the Spirit and the gifts are ours
through Him who with us sideth
Let goods and kindred go
this mortal life also
the body they may kill
God's truth abideth still
His kingdom is forever."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The "Fight" For Christmas Trees

What's left of Christmas without a tree?!I have been mulling this issue over the past few years now and since the Christian lawyers are now gearing up for battle for another Christmas protection campaign I just want to get some thoughts out there before things start getting more coverage. This came today as I listened to a snippet from Matt Staver the president of "Liberty Council" (Which is a group of Christian lawyers who actively defend the rights of Christians from groups like the ACLU, such as in public schools, job place etc) now I really respect and appreciate the work that these guys are doing to in reality protect my freedom of religion from frankly atheists who would like to make proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ illegal. Anyway Staver was on today talking about the "success" of the 2005 campaign in which they were able to get numerous retailers and public displays to call the tree a "Christmas tree" instead of a "Holiday tree".

As I have thought about this I just think, who cares if the secular godless society doesn't want to call the tree a "Christmas tree" why should that be an issue for us to fight for? We're going to make people who hate Christ call a tree by His name when they in no way want anything to do with Him. I frankly would prefer that they do call it a "Holiday tree" and just admit their secularism. I just don't see this as a battle we need to be fighting, forcing God rejecters to call a tree by the name of Christ when they in no way honor Him.

Another more fundamental issue in why I don't think this is a battle worth fighting is simply this: "Why do WE call it a CHRISTmas tree?" Really where did that come from? I don't recall learning that the early Christians were having evergreen trees cut down and put in their homes to coincide with the celebration of the birth of their Savior. So from where did the Christmas tree spring forth? Well gang to be honest the whole "Christmas" tree notion is pagan in its origins (*GASP*) this is why the Puritans never did these things. The trees were originally put into homes as a sort of goodluck charm to ward off evil spirits by pagans. A good report on the origins of the Christmas tree can be found at the History channels write up on this issue.

(Note: the HC link depicts the Puritans as not wanting people to celebrate Christmas joyfully as their reason for being against the numerous practices such as caroling Christmas trees, Yule logs, etc. This is to feed into a fabricated stereotype that the Puritans were so ultra-religious that they were without joy and wanted to make sure that nobody had fun, because God is not a fun God. In reality the Puritans opposed these because they were syncristic with pagan practices and detracted from the worship of Christ alone. They were so serious about joy in Christ that anything that would detract from the true meaning of Christmas should be done away with. The HC puts a bit of a spin on the Puritan attitudes towards Christmas.)

So my point again is this why do WE call it a Christmas tree? There is really nothing Christian about it at all, it's just 300 year old American tradition that we for some reason think is a sacred relic to be defended from the unbelievers. So this brings me back to my initial objection to the "Fight" for Christmas trees which is: "Who cares?" I am all for Christian lawyers defending Church's and City Hall's rights to have manger scenes or signs that say "Merry Christmas" but the tree? Who cares it's not Christian to begin with.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Calvin On The Knowledge of God's existence

I have been reading through Calvin's Institutes with the aid of the "Still Waters Revival Books" audio. I highly recommend having the audio book to go with the reading, not only does it go faster but at least for me I comprehend it more, for instance I read through Jonathan Edwards' "Treatise On the Religious Affections" in a little over 2 weeks with the audio. Anyway enough praise for the SWRB goodies. Calvin's Institutes begins where all true philosophy should, the existence of God. Calvin employs a strong presuppositional apologetic against atheism, arguing that men are atheists NOT on any rational grounds but because they suppress the truth in unrighteousness. The existence of God is not some speculative concept but rather reality inscribed upon the very mind of man:

"That there exists in the human mind, and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of Deity, we hold to be beyond dispute, since God Himself, to prevent any man from pretending ignorance, has indued all men with some idea of His Godhead, the memory of which He constantly renews and occasionally enlarges, that all to a man, being aware that there is a God, and that He is their maker, may be condemned by their own conscience when they neither worship Him nor consecrate their lives in His service." (Institutes Book 1 ch 3 section 1)

That statement goes against what every single atheist will say. Calvin (in line with Paul) says that the atheist knows God, they have a sense of the knowledge of God stamped upon them. The fact that every single culture has fashioned gods Calvin says is a manifestation of this fact. Although they create false gods they are created out of a sense of Deity and creatureliness. All the false religions and gods simply never could have succeeded had there not been in the mind of man a sense of Deity.

If I may interject a bit here, in all my conversations with atheists the words of the apostle Paul apply with perfection as he states: "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools," (Rom 1:21-22)

Fool here is not name calling, but an accurate description of where their thinking leads...foolishness/absurdity. For example a very simple question, "Where does morality come from?" becomes impossible to answer for the atheist. (Well not just the atheist but all who do not have their thinking centered around God) It is really grievous to me as I dialogue with atheists and they flat out say: "Well I really can't say that molesting children is wrong objectively..." Molesting children is wrong ONLY because that is what our society says.

With such a hollow moral foundation, how in the world can we be surprised when a young man wearing a T-Shirt that says "Natural Selection" on it comes into a High School and begins shooting fellow students. Atheism can not definitively say that raping women is wrong, it has no grounds to say such. All that you can say on morality in an atheistic worldview is that right and wrong is just what we decide as a society. If that is true where did we get off trying Nazi war criminals? If we don't think that not having the ability to say "Torturing babies for fun is wrong" is a reduction to foolishness then perhaps the word fool should be abandoned altogether.

You see even though the atheist says there is no God he does not live that way. He does not live as though there is no such thing as right and wrong, he really does believe torturing babies for fun IS IN FACT wrong. This is because, whether or not he admits it, he is made in the image of God. And, as Calvin is saying, he (the atheist) knows this God, the knowledge of God is embedded on his very nature. By suppressing this knowledge his thinking becomes foolish.

Now lest we think that it is only the atheist that is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness Calvin goes on to talk of how "Religious" man suppresses the truth of God's existence. Man by nature knows of the existence of God, yet some in their suppression do not deny His existence in whole but will deny parts of His existence. This is manifested in numerous forms today as men shave off attributes of God at will and thus make God in their image. To quote Calvin:

"Thus although they are forced to acknowledge that there is some God, they however, rob Him of His glory by denying His power...In this way, the vain pretext which many employ to clothe their superstition is overthrown. They deem it enough that they have some kind of zeal for religion, how preposterous soever it may be, not observing that true religion must be conformable to the will of God as its unerring standard, that He can never deny Himself, and is no spectre or phantom, to be metamorphosed at each individuals caprice. It is easy to see how superstition, with its false glosses mocks God, while it tries to please Him" (Instit bk 1 ch 4 sect 2-3)

What Calvin is saying is that there is a very "religious" way of denying God, this is probably the most prevalent form of denial. This sort of denial of the true God comes when man begins to shape and form God as he sees fit. The phrase "That's true for you but not for me" in reference to God/Christianity is a rank manifestation of this fact. We so often treat God like ice cream and think that we can pick and choose what toppings and flavors we will have and decide what kind of God we will worship. O, the arrogance of man! That we think we can pick and choose what kind of God we will have rule over us!

I have talked with quite a few "Gay Christians" it is fairly obvious that they are making God into an image that they can stomach rather than submitting to God as their Lord and fleeing from sin. Men will accept God on THEIR terms, but what is this but the same as rejecting Him?! To be a "Gay Christian" is the same thing as a "Womanizing Christian"...hey that's just who they are they like to sleep with numerous different women and make no commitment to one...that's just who they are God accepts them...after all if He didn't that would be intolerant, right?

This is just ONE way in which this form of suppression takes place, but all have in common the fact that man fashions a god that is acceptable to him. A god that has a moral standard that he (man) sees to be good, a god who is never really angry, nor has a place reserved where those who reject him will be punished eternally. Calvin states again:

"Those, therefore, who set up a fictitious worship, merely worship and adore their own delirious fancies; indeed, they would never dare so trifle with God, had they not previously fashioned him after their own childish conceits." (Instit bk 1 ch 4 sect 3)

God only becomes worshipable to the natural man AFTER God has been shaped by the natural man. God would never seem in the least bit desirable to man had man not first fashioned a sort of "God" that he in himself found to be desirable (like choosing ice cream flavors/toppings). Thus this sort of worship is nothing but idolatry.

"It makes little difference at least in this respect, whether you hold the existence of one God, or a plurality of gods, sins, in both cases alike, by departing from the true God, you have nothing left but an execrable idol." (Instit bk 1 ch 4 sect 3)

I would also add or hold to there being no God. Atheism too is a form of idolatry. An idolator forms a god that is acceptable to him, as does the atheist. The atheist will have no God to rule over him so he says there is no God.

With such a description of idolatry it seems impossible to come to a knowledge of the true God in all this mess of human idolatry to which we all are naturally inclined. But, God by His grace reveals Himself to man by opening man's eyes and turning him to Himself. Christ spoke of this as being "born again" which must happen or we will continue to fashion a god in our own minds. Glory to God that He reaches down and opens the eyes of idolators like us that we might turn and worship Him and make Him our all!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Why I Removed The "Slice of Laodecia" Link

Well, the issue has actually been brewing for a good bit with me and the Slice of Laodecia page. I really do like a good bit of what they put up on the blog and personally like Ingrid Schluetter's radio program that is on daily out here. Much of what is talked about really is bringing compromises to the forefront of evangelicalism and calling for integrity in the church, that I am wholly in support of. However, what has seemed to be a trend on Slice has been a "guilt by association" kind of argument posited against many of those of a more "emergent" persuasion. The guilt by association argument was actually used today by Ingrid on her radio show, in reference to Donald Miller. She said (paraphrase) "Donald Miller's has said his favorite author is Mrs.X (some very questionable "Christian") so that should tell you right there the kinda person we are dealing with." Stuff like that bothers me.

It is actually a fallacy of guilt by association, in which the conclusion that Donald Miller is basically a corrupt teacher simply does not follow based upon the fact that he may like some non-Christian author. Some bloggers actually were trying to nail John Piper on a similar charge because he quoted Dallas Willard in one of his books...the same Dallas Willard who hangs out with all these liberal theologians and new agers! To be blunt SO WHAT?! At the Pyromaniacs blog Phil Johnson written on this quite well on this very issue with Slice and in the end he has continued to support Slice, and I agree with him completely.

However, for me the straw that broke the camels back is when one of my blog buddies Tim who is a bit "emergent" leaning was on Slice and was disagreeing with Ken Silva on some issues. Tim did it very respectfully and in the end he was banned from the page. Now my problem is that if Slice is going to continue to crusade against emergents and not dialogue with them, that simply is not responsible. I compare it to me making a page dedicated to shredding Mormon theology and then ban Mormons who have the gall to try and correct me. That's just not healthy. Now I like Slice and many of its contributors, as well as a lot of what has been said there, and I agree with their stance against a lot of emergent trends. However, when you refuse to respectfully dialogue with those who you disagree with I don't think you have any right to disagree with them.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Some Insight From the Prince of Preachers

The Noble C.H. SpurgeonAs always I look forward to Phil Johnson's weekly quotes from Spurgeon on the Pyromaniacs blog page. As Spurgeon fought with the "Down Grade" in the Baptist churches near the end of his life, he was able to write very clearly on the common trends that besiege the Church in decline from Orthodoxy, particularly with Liberalism. Here's what Spurgeon had to say in his day:

"What marvel if, under some men's shifty talk, people grow into love of both truth and falsehood! People will say, "We like this form of doctrine, and we like the other also." The fact is, they would like anything if only a clever deceiver would put it plausibly before them. They admire Moses and Aaron, but they would not say a word against Jannes and Jambres. We shall not join in the confederacy which seems to aim at such a comprehension.

We must preach the gospel so distinctly that our people know what we are preaching. "If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for the battle?" Don't puzzle your people with doubtful speeches."Well", said one, "I had a new idea the other day. I did not enlarge upon it; but I just threw it out."That is a very good thing to do with most of your new ideas. Throw them out, by all means; but mind where you are when you do it; for if you throw them out from the pulpit they may strike somebody, and inflict a wound upon faith.

Throw out your fancies, but first go alone in a boat a mile out to sea. When you have once thrown out your unconsidered trifles, leave them to the fishes.We have nowadays around us a class of men who preach Christ, and even preach the gospel; but then they preach a great deal else which is not true, and thus they destroy the good of all that they deliver, and lure men to error. They would be styled "evangelical" and yet be of the school which is really anti-evangelical."
(End Spurgeon Excerpt)

This is good meat for modern Christians (or rather, post-modern)! In our time there are all sorts of "fancies" or calls to "rethink" doctrines. Now I in a Berean spirit am all for analyzing doctrines holding them up to the truth of God's word to see whether they are true or no. Yet there is a type of whimsical questioning (or fancy) which really is anti-evangelical. These are the fancies which must be thrown aside. I have in mind notions of "rethinking" (which is a soft way of saying rejecting) cardinal doctrines of Christian faith, such as biblical inerrancy, salvation by faith in Christ alone etc. These doctrines in the name of "rethinking" are being challenged by many who think they do evangelicalism a favor in our "post-modern age" in which we need to adapt to.

For example, the other day I heard of Brian McLaren calling for a 5 year evangelical summit to "rethink" the issue of homosexuality. This I think will only end in an acceptance of homosexuality in the mind of McLaren. The connection to Spurgeon's words is that in his day men were calling for similar notions of "rethinking" doctrines (which resulted in their denial) we now look back at the rise of theological liberalism and can see strong parallels between that movement and modern immitations. Just like Theological Liberalism, its postmodern counterpart is making pleas to be culturally relevant, and adapt to the culture. This usually includes dark ominous prophetic utterances saying that "Unless the Church adapts it will fade into oblivion!"

In short, we are not to adapt the gospel to the spirit of the age and fancies of men and conform to the world, rather, it is the culture (which is made up of sinners) which need to conform to the truth of Christ's word. We are so prone to have it backwards, Christianity (I speak in the scope of doctrinal matter) is not to be shaped by fallen man's likes and dislikes as though there were some defect in the Christian message. Rather, it is fallen man's likes and dislikes which must be brought into subjection to Him who is Lord of all, Christ.

Friday, September 22, 2006

John Piper wrote an excellent brief article on how Christians should respond to this situation of the pope's statement, Islam, etc. Click here to read it.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Muslim Outrage Over Pope's Statement

I wouldn't even have known about this had not the other day an Atheist Richard Dawkins comment asking for my feedback on what the pope said which has the Muslims infuriated. After reading the offensive excerpt I really found that I agree with what was said by the pope (even though I am strongly protestant), Islam is without question an extremely violent religion it was founded upon violence and in its holy books it positively preaches violence particularly against the Jewish people (For a good write up on the pope's comments check out What James White at Alpha and Omega wrote). Now I was commenting to my wife about this situation and how many were calling for the pope to apologize for his "offensive statement", and I said you know why they are calling for the pope to apologize right? It's because the Muslims are going to get violent (and only validate the pope's charge)." Sadly, what I said has already come to pass, a nun was killed in retaliation to the pope's statements about Islam's violence for a BBC article on her death click here. I found out about this through Centurion's blog, I don't want to note this woman's death as a mere "Yep that's what I said was gonna happen..." but rather to just ask: what would be a responsible way of handling the rising problem of Islamic violence not only as western citizens but as Christians? I really don't have any answers.

The ABC news reports:
"In Iran, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used the comments to call for protests against the United States. He argued that while the pope may have been deceived into making his remarks, the words give the West an "excuse for suppressing Muslims" by depicting them as terrorists.
[Now note the double speak as he goes on to say...]
"Those who benefit from the pope's comments and drive their own arrogant policies should be targeted with attacks and protests," he said, referring to the United States."

When I read statements like this one thing is clear, we are not dealing with rational people who are sincerely interested in peace, that's just the PC talk guys like Ayatola have adopted. So how do we as westerners react to this growing situation?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

God's Passion For His Glory: (Treasuring Sola Deo Gloria)

Piper's Wonderful Book on the God centeredness of GodI end the posts on the five solas with the one that has in recent years been the most revolutionary, and precious to me, Sola Deo Gloria. To be brief we live in a consumeristic culture and this mindset really is an integral part of our thinking. We analyze products with the mindset of how they will make us feel and what benefit they will bestow upon us in contrast with the cost (Time, money etc). Our philosophical views as well as theological will contain elements of this cultural influence. In the area of theology it is clearly seen in the most popular books over the past decade in the Christian market:
"Your Best Life Now, 7 Steps to Living At Your Full Potential"
"40 Days to Purpose"
"Discovering Your Destiny"
"The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through To the Blessed Life" etc.

Do we see a trend here? There are products being sold to consumers in each of these titles, purpose, the best life possible, power unleashed, destiny. This is natural and to be expected in a consumeristic culture, and I would argue that the consumer culture is not the root of our man-centeredness but a fruit. Our man-centeredness is ultimately birthed from the fall in Eden where Adam our federal head chose autonomy rather than submission to God.

To cut to the chase we as 21st century evangelicals have adopted a thinking about God which elevates man and his will over God, man will be his own predestinator, man will be reached on his terms, and man will worship God as seems right in his own eyes (now I am not just talking about Arminianism for that is only a part of the picture, albeit a big part). We really think God's reason for existence is to serve and comfort us, He is a sort of Grandpa in the sky who gives us a boost (purpose, good life) and is there when we want and to be met how we want.

This is in stark contrast to the vision of God in the Bible, a God who is jealous for His name, and does all things for His own glory. It has been this truth that has shaped my vision of God as no other doctrine, I think this is the very center of all other doctrines. Sola Deo Gloria is like a gushing mountain spring from which flow numerous streams of truth (justification, redemption, election, the incarnation etc) all finding their fount and source in the truth that God does all things for the sake of His glory. In the following post I will lean heavily on Jonathan Edwards' Treatise: "The End For Which God Created the World, it has been Edwards' book that has pointed me to this truth that has shaped everything I do.

The first half of this will be philosophical, and here I will lean most heavily on Edwards, the second will be a scriptural testimony of this truth, this is how Edwards divides his book. In the second half will be scripture after scripture that supports this thesis so if you aren't into philosophical treatise just skip down to the second half.

I) The Chief End of God...(Philo)

Firstly, a distinction needs to be made between "ultimate" ends and "subordinate" ends. Edwards writes: "A subordinate end is what an agent aims at, not at all upon its own account, but wholly on the account of a further end of which it is considered as a means."(1)

The point here is that there are acts done by any agent really that are not the end in themselves but carried out to accomplish an end. An example would be going to work, going to work is not an end in itself (generally) but a means to an end such as providing for one's family. Thus the ultimate end is that which is sought for its own sake, what is valued of its own account and not in itself a means to another end. Based upon this Edwards maps out the following line of thought:

a.) "A subordinate end is never valued (as a chief end) above its own ultimate end."(2) Based upon the above definition of subordinate and ultimate ends it is absurd to say that the means is more valued than the end itself.
b) "When there is only one ultimate end it is chief above all other ends."(3) If there be any one ultimate end every other end is only a means to that ultimate end. This is so in the operations of God.
c) "The 'original' and ultimate end of all creation governs all of God's works"(4)

d) "In the 'highest sense' of God's ultimate end in creation, this end is also the end of all His works of providence."(5) What Edwards is saying here is that the end for which God created the world is the same end aimed at by God in all His works in interacting with mankind throughout history.
e) "There is only one ultimate end of creation if only one end is agreeable in itself"(6) If there is one sole reason by itself as to the motive of God in creation then that same motive (end) is what is aimed at in all of God's works.

This is a logical argument and I have left out some of the scrupulous steps for spaces sake but the point we arrive at is e) that if there is but one end which motivated God to create that same end is what is aimed at in all His works, and is most prized by God. Now Edwards moves to defining what original end for which God created the world is.

"Whatever that be which is in itself most valuable, and was so originally, prior to the creation of the world, and which is attainable by creation, if there be any thing which was superior in value to all others, that must be God's last end in the creation; and also worthy to be his highest end." (7)

"And, Therefore, if God has respect to things according to their nature and proportions, He must necessarily have the greatest respect to Himself."(8) What has been said in these last statements is that if God is values things appropriately the most valuable must be God Himself. This must be so for God to be upright, for God to be upright is for Him to value that which is most good (Himself).
Jonathan Edwards, the greatest theologian American soil has produced.
"Hence it will follow that the moral rectitude of the disposition, inclination, or affection of God CHIEFLY consists in regard to HIMSELF, infinitely above His regard to all other beings; in other words, His holiness consists in this."(9)

This statement is extremely profound, Edwards is arguing that God's holiness demands that God value that which is most valuable, namely HIMSELF, for God to do otherwise would be to compromise His holiness. God would be unrighteous in fact if he failed to delight fully in what is most beautiful, and worthy , namely Himself. So how do we as creatures fit into this picture? To quote Edwards:

"If the perfection itself be excellent, the knowledge of it is excellent and the esteem of it is excellent. And as it is fit that God should love and esteem His own excellence, it is also fit that He should value and esteem the love of his excellency. And if it becomes a being to highly value Himself, it is fit that He should love to have Himself valued and esteemed."(10)

This is amazing, if Edwards is right the popular bookstore view of God that is so often presented (having man chief in His affections) is way off the mark. Yet through philosophic reasoning we are begining to see the God-centeredness of God, howeverm ultimately scripture is where we must turn to see what is chief in God's affections.

II) The Chief End of God... (Scripture)

From the arguments above the conclusion is reached that God has His own glory chief in His affections, this is the end sought in all that He does. We now turn to the bible because ultimately this is where this truth shines most brightly, through creation, providence and redemption. I will just put up the passages and comment here and there the point should become fairly evident that God in His acting has His glory (Himself) chiefly in mind.

First and Last:
"Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: "I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god." (Isa 44:6)

"Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last." (Isa 48:12)

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, " (Rev 1:8)

"And he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment." (Rev 21:6)

The point here is that God is the first and the last, He authored creation and He is the end to which creation moves. This is how the Lord's prayer ends as well.

The Duty of Man: Scripture settles this firmly
"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (1 Cor 10:31)

"whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Per 4:11)

Here we see man is to seek the glory of God above all, and ascribe glory to God. Many more scriptures can be cited but I wish to focus on the issues of redemption.

Christ's Ultimate End In His Ministry:
It would probably be casually stated by most believers that the ultimate end of Christ's ministry on earth was the redemption of men. However, if Edwards is right and I understand the bible correctly, the salvation of sinners is not an ultimate end but rather a "subordinant". The ultimate aim in Christ's work was the glory of God. Thus, it is because God is passionate about His glory that sinners have hope, God will be glorified through saving and forgiving sinners. The fact that Christ sought God's glory first and foremost is evident through the following passages:

"The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but the One who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood." (John 7:18)

"Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven: "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." (John 12:28) [this passage comes as Christ is praying about His coming death which would save many]

"Then Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you," (John 17:1)

"(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.)" (John 21:19)

The End of The Work of Redemption is the Glory of God:
In addition to the passages already mentioned surrounding Christ seeking first the glory of God in His work there are many others surrounding issue of redemption in general describing the redemption of sinners as chiefly for the glory of God.

"He predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved." (Eph 1:5-6)

"[Our salvation is] to the praise of his glory." (Eph 1:12,14)

"knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God." (2 Cor 4:14-15)

Likewise in the Old Testament:
"Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name's sake!" (Psalm 79:9)

"For my name's sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another." (Isa 48:9-11)

A note must be said that when God is said to "act for His name's sake" it is synonymous with acting for the sake of His glory. The picture is becoming clear, the glory of God is the chief end sought in the redemption of man.

Other Passages Supporting This (The basis on which we can approach God):
"For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for Himself." (1 Sam 11:22)

"He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." (Psalm 23:3)

"For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me;" (Ps 31:3)

"For your name's sake, O LORD, pardon my guilt, for it is great." (Ps 25:11)

"Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name's sake!" (Ps 79:9)

"Though our iniquities testify against us, act, O LORD, for your name's sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against you." (Jer 14:7)

"who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name" (Isa 63:12)

"Yet he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make known his mighty power." (Psa 106:8)

"But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt"(Ezek 20:9)

"But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out." (Ezek 20:14)

"But I withheld my hand and acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations, in whose sight I had brought them out."(Ezek 20:22)

Now by now I think it is clear that the glory of God is what God seeks in all that He does. The passages cited are in truth but the tip of the iceberg of what is in scripture about the God-centeredness of God. But oh the application of such a truth! Spurgeon said that we should when we pray approach God in prayer like lawyers pleading with Him for the sake of His name/glory to act on our behalf. Indeed this is the biblical precedent of how the men in scripture approached God. To realize the Godcenteredness of God has probably been (outside of coming to faith in Christ) the most revolutionary truth about God that has shaped my life. The power this truth has to deliver us from the spirit of the age which is so grossly man centered and makes God into a sort of life enhancing add-on is of inestimable worth.

(Citations are all from "The End For Which God Created the World" are found in John Piper's "God's Passion for His Glory" [GPFG] in which the full text of Edwards' work can be found.)

(1) pg.125 GPFG
(2) pg. 128 GPFG
(3)pg. 130 GPFG
(4) pg.134 GPFG
(5) pg.134 GPFG
(6) pg.135 GPFG
(7) pg.140 GPFG
(8) pg.140 GPFG
(9) pg.141 GPFG
(10) pg.149 GPFG