Monday, July 30, 2007

Fallen Man's Ideas Over Against God's Word: A Response to a Common Method of Critiquing Christianity

In other words: The parts of the Bible I don't like I just throw out.What I am going to address in this post is a typical example of the responses to Biblical Christianity in our culture by many who bear the title "Minister", "Reverend", "Pastor" or even "Priest" for that matter. This message really could come from any city's daily newspaper, it is an example of the ubiquitous feel good god that our culture likes over against the God who orders and reigns over the universe to whom we must give an account which our culture (or rather natural man) hates.

I will put the authors words in BLUE. This article comes from "The Westerly Sun" Newspaper and is by a man named Harry Rix, it is entitled "Bush's Dangerous Literalism-and How it Hurts the True Christian Spirit". He begins with the text of Matt 7:21 where Christ says: "Not everyone who says to Me 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven...[ellipses his]".

The author's goal from the outset is to diffuse this bomb of a statement by Christ, to defend a sort of universalism (everybody is just fine with hell). I see him like the bomb squad arriving on the scene after a call to the station, using his tools of unbelieving presuppositions, exegetical gymnastics, hand waving, and holding verses hostage out of context at gunpoint.

His response focuses on George Bush's belief that this passage shows that not everybody will be saved, and Billy Graham's advice to the Bush family not to worry too much and just leave it up to God. (A rather sad situation hey? G.W. more evangelical than Billy Graham?!)

The author writes:

"This conversation is revealing [The contrast of Bush and Graham's reaction to Matt 7:21]. Bush insists on a literal interpretation of the Bible: he points to particular words of scripture and ignores their context. Using the dubious method of prooftexting, he draws the conclusion that only Christians gain God's favor. After all, it's 'what the New Testament says.'"

It has become popular to dismissively refer to "literalism, literalists etc" as if it is something that is matter of factly agreed upon that this is just NOT what you do when you come to the Bible. A couple of things to say on that note:

1.) If By "literalist" someone is really implying actually true, well then I am definitely a "literalist". However, if it is confined to exegesis then no, not on every passage is a literal interpretation sensible. When the Bible says things like "Our God is a rock" (Ps 18:31) there is an obvious meaning apart from the notion that God is an inanimate object. Comparing God to a rock is saying that He is trustworthy and sure. The passages that one doesn't take literally but figuratively are pretty obvious, just as obvious as the message they are conveying.

So unlike our misguided friend (pictured above) it simply is not at all sensible to interpret every passage alike, some passages are metaphors others are to be taken literally. I remember someone on College campus yelling at these Christians with signs saying homosexuality was a sinful practice, the person shouted "You can't take the Bible literally! The passages about homosexuality are metaphors!"

My response was "Metaphor of what?". She of course hadn't ever thought of that, this was just supposed to be a one-liner to shut up the fundies and diffuse a scripture bomb. In reality saying "metaphor" in this case was just hand waving.

2) For this author to say that Matt 7:21 is not to be taken literally is to imply that there is some meaning shrouded in the literalism that is lost if the passage is taken literally. So what meaning is that Mr. Rix? When Jesus says "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord,'Lord', will enter the kingdom of heaven..." what DOES Jesus mean apart from the rather obvious message that not everyone will enter heavenly rest?

The author never ventures to answer this question. He can't.

As for the "prooftexting" the author refers to, I agree that can be dangerous. That is why if we are going to say Matt 7:21 teaches that there is a hell, and that people will be there we should have numerous passages to show that this is what Christ taught. WE DO. In the end it will be Mr.Rix who will be guilty of proof texting to try to justify his belief in a wrothless God when relying on the Bible. Your going to have to do some serious cherry picking to arrive at that conclusion Biblically.

The author continues:

"Such literalism is dangerous. Instead of studying Scriptures, this method confirms one's own prejudices. In this case, Bush determines that all but Christians are excluded from God's Kingdom. This demonstrates a fundamentalist mindset with extraordinary implications for public policy- and explains the genesis of many of Bush's disastrous policies."

I don't know how many fallacies are rolled up in this statement, trying to sort this out is like shoving your hand in a box with a porcupine in it giving the box a good shake, removing your hand and counting the quills painfully embedded in your hand. I mean he is using the F-word and everything!

Ultimately, I don't think it is possible for Mr. Rix's own criticism to not backfire and in the end accuse him. Mr. Rix wants to accuse all Bible believing Christians of just coming to the Bible and "confirming their own prejudices" in their interpretations of it. It is fairly obvious that that is precisely what Rix is doing with Matt 7:21. All of a sudden Matt 7:21 doesn't implicate an exclusion of people from the kingdom of God.

How does Rix arrive at this conclusion? Is it by exegeting and setting the passage in context? That is doubtful because nowhere in the article does he venture to explain what Matt 7:21 DOES mean if it does not in fact mean what it seemingly is stating. I would say that Mr. Rix is the one who comes to the Bible and strangles it's teachings to fit HIS prejudices. His prejudices and rejection of a God that is wrathful (John 3:36), a God that is angry at sinners (Ps 5:5), and a God who has a narrow path where few are saved (Matt 7:13-14).

It is this God, the God of the Bible that Rix is prejudiced against. I know this because I was as well until I was born again. I hated Christianity, and I hated God. I naturally much more preferred my god that I fashioned who didn't care who I slept with, would never judge me and was always there for a big warm hug... But by His grace He has brought me to Himself. And that is in fact what the Bible says, that natural man is prejudiced against the true God and will always erect idols in the place of the true God (1 Cor 2:14).

On the side, I really could care less about defending Bush here, that is not the issue for me at all. The issue for me is how this man approaches theology and God's word. That is why I won't give a complete blow by blow analysis here but just the more theological unctions made by Mr. Rix.

"What does it mean to be a Christian? Is it enough to love the Bible? Proclaim you are born again? Have good doctrine? Pray daily? Despite all these external signs of faith, I want to suggest that being a Christian is impossible when a person refuses to follow Jesus. If we pursue Jesus' path, his teachings must be central to our worldview; as with Graham, the Spirit of Christ is our guide; and the honesty and compassion, principles and peacemaking of Jesus transform us."

Well, there is some good in there from Mr.Rix and words we should heed as Bible believing Christians. Professions, don't make anybody a Christian. It truly is a life that is brought to it's knees and acknowledges one's complete lack and Christ's sufficiency. However, one must see there is something missing in Rix's definition of what it means to be a Christian. The Cross.

He is right it is impossible to live up to all of the teachings of Jesus, and until we are abased and by God's grace see that we need a saviour the teachings of Jesus only condemn us. Yes we are to love our neighbors, but who really does? Ultimately we are to look to Christ's death in our place, and it is a forsaking of our righteousness and putting His that makes us Christians.

The acid test for whether that has happened will be a changed life, one that earnestly hungers to live up to the standard He has given out of gratefulness and worship of our Lord and saviour, not to store up merit or anything like that. Mr.Rix in his definition of what a Christian is just seems to offer up a steaming cup of Law Light for us to drink.

"Contrary to Jesus' teachings, Gnosticism prides itself on secret knowledge; Fundamentalism idolizes an us-gainst-them ideology that rejects science when it challenges Biblical literalism; and Dominionsim-the most deadly dogmatism-advocates a Christian theocracy that rivals imposition of Sharia law among Muslims in its pursuit of a 'Christian Nation.'"

Well there is a lot wrapped up in that burrito, we have again the F-word, the L-word, the D-word. These are all buzz words that are tossed around so much that they are just supposed to automatically conjure up negative associations, they are the dirty words in dialogues with the Liberal theologians.

I of course do not disagree with Mr. Rix in much of what is said here, us against them is bad news and is not Christian. I am not down with Sharia laws (I don't know what Christians are for that matter, I think it is just becoming popular to say Christians are just as nutty as the terrorists...thank you Richard Dawkins). As for the science issue I am all for science, I do have a problem with how Atheists twist science to make it fit their anti theistic presuppositions.

The thing is I am sure that to a fellow like Mr.Rix I am the Fundamentalist nutcase who is supposed to be foaming at the mouth and hating everybody who doesn't believe in the God of the Bible. That of course is a straw man, but that really is all we see in the last quotation from Mr.Rix.

All of that aside, I do have to press Mr.Rix on one thing in this last paragraph. Why would "Dominionism" be a bad thing and on what basis? Who are YOU to judge?

"Members of the United Methodist Church are preparing petitions for the May General Conference to request President Bush's resignation from the church. A movement for church expulsion is emerging.

I am exploring these questions of church discipline in a book proposal with the provocative title, 'George W. Bush is not a Christian: The case for Church Expulsion.' Is Bush following Jesus? Consider the evidence."

Now if this isn't hypocrisy on the part of Mr.Rix I simply don't know what is. From the outset of the article Mr.Rix has been complaining about Fundies making lines and saying some people are "OUT", he has said that is for god to decide and we have no place to make these kinds of declarations.

Well what do you know, the whole time Mr. Rix is saying that out of one side of his mouth he is spewing all over George Bush and even has a book coming out saying that he is not a Christian. This article really serves as nothing but a definition of what it means to have a double standard.

On a side note, these petitions really show how ravaged the United Methodist denomination is by Liberal Theology. I want to wrap up by pointing to the teachings of Christ. Christ spoke more about hell then anybody else in the Bible. Yet many folks who want to toss the phrases like "true Christian spirit" just turn Jesus into this vague esoteric figure who had a perm, wore a hemp dress, spoke with a lisp, talked about making love not war in a very sublime manner, wore bio-diesel sandals, and eventually got beat up by the Republican Fundies of his day.

This is a far cry from the Jesus of the New Testement. He (capital H) is Lord of heaven and earth, at His name every knee will one day bow, and there is a coming Day where He will judge men and punish His enemies (those who would not have Him as Lord but rebelled).

"He said therefore, "A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, 'Engage in business until I come.' But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.' [...]

'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.'" (Luke 19:12-27)

"When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades." (Rev 1:17-18)

I would like to conclude with what is becoming one of my favorite passages from Christ in the New testament:

"Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?" (Mar 12:24)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Pyromaniacs Emergent "Church" Posters

I think these posters are witty and are pointing out the obvious deterioration of theology in the "emerging" movement. At team pyro each poster had a link to an Emergent article or blogsite to go with the label. You can see them all by clicking here.

Monday, July 23, 2007

John Piper on True Conversion

Presuppositional Apologetics and Evidences

'Brilliance' based on unbelieving presuppositionsI have been thinking about the use of evidence in regards to apologetics a bit lately. After listening to Kim Riddlberger's lectures on the life of Francis Schaeffer the question of evidences has come up to me afresh. I of course would readily identify myself as a presuppositionalist when it comes to apologetic methodology. For any who don't know what in the world it is I am talking about let me fill you in so you will understand my train of thought in regards to evidences.

A presuppositional apologetic is a distinctly Reformed or Calvinistic approach to the defense of the Christian faith. Unlike classical apologetics it holds that there is no "neutral ground" between the believer and unbeliever, there is not a pile of worldview facts that we agree upon at all. To give you a picture say you meet Mr.Unbeliever and he says "Why yes I believe in God, but I don't think we need to believe in Jesus to be saved." Now a classical approach would come alongside Mr.Unbeliever and say: "Well now this is great, we already have so much in common, let me give you some reasons why you should add Jesus to you belief system that is already there."

So basically the classical apologetic sees this person who claims to believe in God but not Christ as being a good deal "right" he or she merely needs to add belief in Jesus to what is already there. Now a presuppositional approach sees this is all wrong, for the simple fact that the presuppositionalist sees the Bible and Christ alone as the revelation of God to man. Also the presuppositionalist sees all truth as God's truth and to deny this God is to cut yourself off from the foundation of truth. With that said the presuppositionalist sees that there are NO NEUTRAL FACTS. All facts are either interpreted through a regenerate eyes or fallen eyes.

With all of that said let us come back to Mr. Unbeliever this time he meets a presuppositionalist, their encounter is a bit different from the one he had with the classical evidentialist, it goes something like this:

Mr unbeliever "So yes I do believe in god but I don' believe I need Jesus."

Presup: "What do you mean by "god"?"

Unb: "god (little g in the presuppositional view) I see as more of a force that is in everything, no need for a saviour because we are all part of god."

The presuppositionalist will say, "Actually the god you are talking about is an idol and you are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. And if we do assume your worldview that god is only an impersonal force then you have no foundation for ethics, laws of logic, human rationality, human dignity...yet you believe in these things and in doing so really are borrowing from the Christian worldview."

The difference between the evidentialist and the presuppositionalist is tremendous. In the one case the unbelievers fallen idol of "god" is merely absorbed in the other it is toppled over. (Now to be fair to the evidentialists this isn't the best picture but it is just that a picture) Unbelief from the presuppositional perspective is challenged at every corner, even to the point where as Van Til states that when a Christian and an unbeliever both look at a rose they don't see the same thing. The one sees a creation testifying to the glory and majesty of God the other sees a pretty red flower. I agree.

What I like most about presuppositionalism is that it meets the challenges against Christianity head on. Rather then dealing with every bullet the unbeliever fires in challenge of the Christian faith, it slaps the gun out of the unbelievers hands by showing that if you reject the Christian revelation you can not consistently make the challenges (bullets) you are making.

One of my favorites is the charge that "Science has disproved God." (Some Atheist actually has a book out now with that in it's title, I believe it is on the NY Times bestseller list. The worst books usually are.) At anyrate the problem with such a preposterous charge is that really without God there is no foundation for science. Science proceeds upon the assumption that the future laws of nature will be like the past laws of nature, this is fine in the Christian worldview because God upholds and provides the regularities we see in nature.

Without the Christian foundation science's foundation is upon a leap into non-reason. There is no reason apart from God to believe the future will be like the past but we need to assume that in order for the scientific method to proceed at all so we just make an irrational leap (and borrow from the Christian worldview).

This is what Schaeffer called "taking the roof off" basically you are for the sake of argument assuming the unbeliever's presuppositions and showing where they lead. In the above case we assumed like many scientists that there is no God, well when you do that the scientific method is based upon an irrational leap.

So What About Evidences?

This brings me to the actual point of this post. Given the presuppositional method what role do evidences actually play? Now in Riddleberger's lectures on Schaeffer he pointed out that Schaeffer really combined a presuppositional Van Tillian approach with and evidentialist approach. I honestly think there is wisdom here on Schaeffer's part.

One of the things Schaeffer was adamant about in his work at L'abri was that there is no question that is off limits, because if Christianity is the truth it can answer all objections. What Riddleberger pointed out is that at some point you need to answer people's questions, you can't just keep pointing out how without a Christian base their very questions are irrational. That is true I think, however when people ask why we believe certain things like the resurrection we should be able to give sensible answers.

This does not mean we need to compromise sola scriptura and say after long arguments Christianity is probably true like the evidentialist. However, we should be able to give reasons for what we believe and answer people's questions. This will require some degree of evidences.

I think the difference and what we want to avoid is how the classical and Arminian approaches use evidences, the only conclusion that can be reached in that method of apologetics is not one of certainty that demands the unbeliever to submit or keep rebelling to the truth. All that can be said in the classical approach is that Christianity after looking at the evidences is "probably" true.

That seems a tad dishonoring to the Triune God. To lean on a Van Tillian illustration, I wouldn't dare say to my wife when she asked if I loved her "I probably do." How much more when we are giving a defense of the faith given to us by God Almighty.

That said what I am at the moment trying to work out is a synthesis of presuppositionalism and evidences to answer people's questions. This seems rather sensible to me. To sum up: the type of evidentialism I would reject is the kind that takes neutral ground with the unbeliever and gives evidences in a vacuum. This is where the believer stops being a believer for the sake of argument and says things like "ok IF God exists...Let's pretend God exists...God is the most likely explanation for X" etc.

Apologetics can't be done in a vacuum like that, chiefly for the reason that I don't think it is honoring to God. Not only that it compromises sola scriptura. On the flip side a presuppositional Reformed approach doesn't do apologetics in a vacuum but on the basis of the God who is there and His revelation to man, these are the presuppositions without which all reasoning becomes self contradictory and relativisitic. However, I don't know if that is all we should say. I am inclined to think that the use of evidences is perfectly sound within the framework of the presuppositions we already have.

In other words, we can use evidences as a tool in answering questions, however we must be clear that they are not the foundation the house of Christian theism rests upon, they are more or less aesthetics that are there to attract the unbeliever. Well that is where I am right now on this, I hope it was understandable and helpful to my presuppositionalist freinds.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Original Sin/Human Depravity and Moral Accountability

Well I have been meaning to get this post up for a little while now it has been about a week since I promised it (sorry Edgar). The issue which was raised which I want to try to explain is how if we are born with a nature bent toward sin how are we responsible before God for acting on what we "naturally" desire? This is a great question and one we should have an adequate response to. Whether or not we are born with a fallen nature isn't even at issue in this post, it is assumed so the Pelagian error isn't on the radar screen. Rather, the issue at hand is: given the fact that through Adam's sin all his progeny inherit a fallen nature how are we responsible to God given the fact that we are born with a corrupt nature?

I will again lean on A.W. Pink because I find his writings to have great theological depth yet to be accessible to most readers. Before I turn it over to Pink I would like to give my own reply to this issue. I think that we are responsible to God for acting on our inherited sin nature the same way a man who was born into a family with a long history of alcoholism is responsible to the local law for driving his vehicle through multiple red lights injuring dozens of pedestrians and in the end plunging into the front of a convenient store while completely inebriated behind the wheel. The same way that this lecherous drunk driver will find no loopholes in the human court of law by saying: "How can you blame me for what happened? It is just part of my genetic makeup to act this way, I didn't ask to be born into a family with a history of alcoholism." in like manner no sinner will be able to excuse himself before the heavenly tribunal by saying: "Hey I was just acting on my fallen desires, I really couldn't help it, I after all didn't ask to be born a sinner." In neither case will the offender be excused.

This is fairly obvious because the alcoholic in our analogy knew he had a problem and knew he should probably stay clear of the local tavern. He knew this and acted contrary to his better judgement. Likewise the fallen sinner knows that those who practice a life style of sin deserve death (Rom 1:32) yet the fallen sinner acts contrary to this better judgement and lives in sin.

I also think our thinking on human responsibility changes as our perspective shifts. We are prone to look at these issues from a man centered vantage point and bring accusations against God, I say we are prone to this because it isn't new to bring charges of unfairness before a sovereign God (Rom 9:14). When we see this issue as best we can from God's vantage point the question isn't how is it fair for God to punish people for sinning when they were born with a sinful nature predisposing them to sin. The issue for God is how can God let people who were born in sin and hating Him into a reconciled fellowship with Him and still be holy? It would seem the most upright thing for a holy God to do to a race of beings that hate Him and are polluted with sin's effects from birth is to wipe out the whole race. Yet God does not do this, He is merciful and longsuffering. The issue for Him is how can He do that and NOT compromise His holiness? The answer of course is the Lamb of God slain from before the foundation of the world.

Moving on to what AW Pink has to say on this issue, these excerpts come from Pink's excellent book "The Sovereignty of God". I highly recommend its reading to all Christians who would like a deep yet succinct exposition of the sovereignty of God. The question Pink is responding to in this portion of the book is: "2. How can the sinner be held responsible FOR the doing of what he is UNABLE to do? And how can he be justly condemned for NOT DOING what he COULD NOT do?" [emphasis his] He writes:

As a creature the natural man is responsible to love, obey, and serve God; as a sinner he is responsible to repent and believe the Gospel. But at the outset we are confronted with the fact that natural man is unable to love and serve God, and that the sinner, of himself, cannot repent and believe. First, let us prove what we have just said. We begin by quoting and considering John 6:44, "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him." The heart of the natural man (every man) is so "desperately wicked" that if he is left to himself he will never 'come to Christ.' This statement would not be questioned if the full force of the words "coming to Christ" were properly apprehended." (p.149)


Now let it be clearly understood that when we speak of the sinner's inability, we do not mean that if men desired to come to Christ they lack the necessary power to carry out their desire. No; the fact is that the sinner's inability or absence of power is itself due to lack of willingness to come to Christ, and this lack of willingness is the fruit of a depraved heart. It is of first importance that we distinguish between natural inability and moral and spiritual inability. For example, we read, "But Ahijah could not see; for his eyes were set by reason of his age" (1 Kings 14:4); and again, "The men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them" (Jonah 1:13).

In both of these passages the words "could not" refer to natural inability. But when we read, "And when his brethren saw that their father loved him (Joseph) more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him" (Gen. 37:4), it is clearly moral inability that is in view. They did not lack the natural ability to "speak peaceably unto him" for they were not dumb. Why then was it that they "could not speak peaceably unto him"? The answer is given in the same verse: it was because "they hated him." Again; in 2 Peter 2:14 we read of a certain class of wicked men "having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin." Here again it is moral inability that is in view. Why is it that these men "cannot cease from sin"? The answer is, Because their eyes were full of adultery.

So of Romans 8:8-"They that are in the flesh cannot please God": here is spiritual inability. Why is it that the natural man "cannot please God"? Because he is "alienated from the life of God" (Eph. 4:18). No man can choose that from which his heart is averse-"O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things?" (Matt. 12:34). "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him" (John 6:44). Here again it is moral and spiritual inability which is before us. Why is it the sinner cannot come to Christ unless he is "drawn"? The answer is, Because his wicked heart loves sin and hates Christ. (p.152-153)

Should some sinner here object, I cannot help being born into this world with a depraved heart and therefore I am not responsible for my moral and spiritual inability which accrue from it, the reply would be, Responsibility and Culpability He in the indulgence of the depraved propensities, the free indulgence, for God does not force any to sin. Men might pity me but they certainly would not excuse me if I gave vent to a fiery temper and then sought to extenuate myself on the ground of having inherited that temper from my parents. Their own common sense is sufficient to guide their judgment in such a case as this. They would argue I was responsible to restrain my temper.

Why then cavil against this same principle in the case supposed above? "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee thou wicked servant" surely applies here! What would the reader say to a man who had robbed him and who later argued in defense, "I cannot help being a thief, that is my nature"? Surely the reply would be, Then the penitentiary is the proper place for that man. What then shall be said to the one who argues that he cannot help following the bent of his sinful heart? Surely, that the Lake of Fire is where such an one must go. Did ever a murderer plead that he hated his victim so much that he could not go near him without slaying him. Would not that only magnify the enormity of his crime! Then what of the one who loves sin so much that he is at "enmity against God"! (p.153)


Suppose a man owed me $100 and could find plenty of money for his own pleasures but none for me, yet pleaded that he was unable to pay me. What would I say? I would say that the only ability that was lacking was an honest heart. But would it not be an unfair construction of my words if a friend of my dishonest debtor should say I had stated that an honest heart was that which constituted the ability to pay the debt? No; I would reply: the ability of my debtor lies in the power of his hand to write me a check, and this he has, but what is lacking is an honest principle. It is his power to write me a check which makes him responsible to do so, and the fact that he lacks an honest heart does not destroy his accountability.

Now, in like manner, the sinner while altogether lacking in moral and spiritual ability does, nevertheless, possess natural ability, and this it is which renders him accountable unto God. Men have the same natural faculties to love God with as they have to hate Him with, the same hearts to believe with as to disbelieve, and it is their failure to love and believe which constitutes their guilt. An idiot or an infant is not personally responsible to God, because lacking in natural ability. But the normal man who is endowed with rationality, who is gifted with a conscience that is capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, who is able to weigh eternal issues IS a responsible being, and it is because he does possess these very faculties that he will yet have to "give an account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:12)." (p.153-154)

That is a lot to chew on and truly thought provoking. For myself I think Pink's distinction between natural ability and moral/spiritual ability is VERY helpful in understanding responsibility. What I also find interesting (and this pertains to a different avenue of debate in the same arena) is the death of infants. As you can see I put in bold Pink's view which he mentions in passing that infants are not accountable due to a lack of ability to discern and thus choose the wrong over the good. Oh and by the way "idiots" in older parlance referred to the mentally disabled, sorry people weren't as PC then as they are now (then again "idiots" probably didn't have the negative connotation then as it does now...kind of like how kids call one another retards). I am not sure I fully agree (I am agnostic on that matter right now), but I think that it is a logical outcome given the argument he just put forward.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

An Exposition of The Grace of God

The following is a few excerpts from A.W. Pink's "The Attributes of God" from the chapter on the grace of God, Pinks exposition is very telling of the natural man's tendencies toward theologies of glory (theologies that exalt man) and hatred of the theologies that exalt God and Christ and abase man:

"Eternal life is a gift, therefore it can neither be earned by good works, nor claimed as a right. Seeing that salvation is a "gift," who has any right to tell God on whom He ought to bestow it? It is not that the Giver ever refuses this gift to any who seek it wholeheartedly, and according to the rules which He has prescribed. No! He refuses none who come to Him empty-handed and in the way of His appointing. But if out of a world of impenitent and unbelieving, God is determined to exercise His sovereign right by choosing a limited number to be saved, who is wronged? Is God obliged to force His gift on those who value it not? Is God compelled to save those who are determined to go their own way?

But nothing more riles the natural man and brings to the surface his innate and inveterate enmity against God than to press upon him the eternality, the freeness, and the absolute sovereignty of Divine grace. That God should have formed His purpose from everlasting without in anywise consulting the creature, is too abasing for the unbroken heart. That grace cannot be earned or won by any efforts of man is too self-emptying for self-righteousness. And that grace singles out whom it pleases to be its favored objects, arouses hot protests from haughty rebels. The clay rises up against the Potter and asks, "Why hast Thou made me thus?" A lawless insurrectionist dares to call into question the justice of Divine sovereignty.
The grace of God is proclaimed in the Gospel (Acts 20:24), which is to the self-righteous Jew a "stumbling block," and to the conceited and philosophizing Greek "foolishness." And why so? Because there is nothing whatever in it that is adapted to gratify the pride of man. It announces that unless we are saved by grace, we cannot be saved at all. It declares that apart from Christ, the unspeakable Gift of God’s grace, the state of every man is desperate, irremediable, hopeless. The Gospel addresses men as guilty, condemned, perishing criminals. It declares that the chastest moralist is in the same terrible plight as is the most voluptuous profligate; that the zealous professor, with all his religious performances, is no better off than the most profane infidel.

The Gospel contemplates every descendant of Adam as a fallen, polluted, hell-deserving and helpless sinner. The grace which the Gospel publishes is his only hope. All stand before God convicted as transgressors of His holy law, as guilty and condemned criminals; awaiting not sentence, but the execution of sentence already passed on them (John 3:18; Rom. 3:19). To complain against the partiality of grace is suicidal. If the sinner insists upon bare justice, then the Lake of Fire must be his eternal portion. His only hope lies in bowing to the sentence which Divine justice has passed upon him, owning the absolute righteousness of it, casting himself on the mercy of God, and stretching forth empty hands to avail himself of the grace of God now made known to him in the Gospel." (Pg67-70 The Attributes of God)

The Biblical reality that salvation is from the beginning to end all of God is in reality detestable to the natural man. Unfortunately for the Church we are simultaneously sinners and saints, so the theologies that currently dominate American evangelicalism are those that exalt man. We really think far too highly of ourselves and rather lowly of God. The predominate view of God's grace is one that puts the sinner in the neutral decision land where he can say "yes" or "no" to accepting Jesus in his or her heart. So we have "seeker friendly" services and all sorts of gimmicks to nudge the "seeker" toward a decision.

The reality of scripture is that no one seeks after God, and that the things of God are complete foolishness to the natural man. The only way God becomes desirable or the things of God no longer seem to be foolishness is that we have been born again and are no longer slaves of sin. This is done by the Sovereign God who is Himself the seeker who seeks and saves the lost by grace alone.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Wow...This is The Best Sermon I have Heard in a Long Time

It is rare that you find men of God who preach with such blood earnestness in this fuzzy feel good I'm ok your ok and don't you dare rebuke me evangelicalism. The blood earnestness of Edwards who was eventually fired from his pastorate for fighting for the holiness of those under his care, unfortunately there were some who didn't appreciate his efforts. If Edwards were to preach today I think he would sound a LOT like Paul Washer. What Washer says in this message is so reminiscent of Edwards and his earnest calls to holiness and warnings of false conversion. This is an absolute must to listen to.

Here is the link

ps: Thanks to Michael for the link

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Calvinism and Young Evangelicals, Why Reformed Theology is Winning the Next Generation

This post comes out of hearing that yet another of my good friends from the christian school I used to work at has come to embrace Reformed theology. Basically the school I was a part of was very much like Schaeffer's L'Abri, we were not Reformed but taught basic Bible classes and were very evangelistic. At any rate I myself out of love for the word became a Calvinist. I was pretty evangelisitic with Calvinism for a while, out of love for the truths that so many Christians just dismiss out of hand in the love of "free will".

At anyrate over time I have come to find that many of the students (particularly those who feel called to ministry) are embracing Reformed theology. I just want to play off of a theme which Christianity Today (CT) had on this subject a few months ago. CT said that there basically were two streams of thought that really are fighting for the hearts of the younger evangelicals: Calvinism and Emergent theology. Now I know that is probably over simplistic, but it makes for a good contrast.

What we have in Emergent theology is basically a new mysticism, God is no longer transcendent but is almost wholly immanent. This is not the God that will judge and send sinners to hell but rather the god (little g) that is there to affirm and to bring about unity. This god didn't send his son to die for you (that would be child abuse), that just kind of happened to him but it gives us an example to live by. This god has no authoritative word, all readings of the Bible are just interpretations, all that matters is that you are inspired to live well. Man is not so depraved as to deserve hell, but is probably 6 parts good to 4 parts bad. Salvation therefore isn't so much an event but a process we join and participate in.

I know this description is not applicable to all emergents but it is made up of what many emergents have been saying.

Reformed theology on the other hand has God as Lord of His creation, He is the King of Kings and Lord of lords. All will give an account of their lives before Him, there will be a real and final judgement and there will be damnation for those who have hated their God and eternal life for those who have loved Him and willingly and joyfully accepted Him as their Lord. This is the God who sent His Son Jesus to die in the place of sinners and it is His wounds and punishment in their place that effects their salvation.

This view of Christianity in contrast to it's high view of God has a low view of man. Man is as Paul said "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph2:1). Man is not willing to come to God as Lord nor ever will be apart from God opening sinners eyes. God would be completely just in damning the whole lot of the human race for their rebellion and hatred of their rightful King. But God in His mercy reaches down and saves sinners, salvation is a gift of God, completely.

This is a brief picture of I think the two competing theologies for the younger generation of evangelicals. I think many are coming to Reformed theology tired of the pop theology of the God who is there to affirm you make you feel good about yourself and is there to help balance the check book. The younger Christians either want to take this sort of Cotton candy theology further and go emergent or they are rejecting it and becoming Reformed.

Those who have gone Reformed are tired of the soft peddled theologies that dominate evangelicalism. They want a robust theology with all of the truths that natural man hates, truths of election, God's sovereignty, man's depravity, and a grace that actually does save rebels. They want a Jesus who is more then a hippie wearing sandals with a perm, limp wristed, wearing a dress, walking around talking about his feelings and making people feel good about themselves and eventually gets beat up by people who don't like him. That's not a Jesus that invokes worship, perhaps sympathy.

We want the Jesus of the Bible who came to seek and save the lost, the Jesus who died for sinners and rose victorious GUARANTEEING the salvation of ALL who He died for. The Jesus who is the Lord of all men but humbled Himself and took punishment knowing that his executioners had no power over Him at all. We want the Jesus who sits at the right hand of God and will return to judge the living and the dead, the Jesus who will exact judgement on those who rejected His Lordship and persecuted His servants. This is the Biblical Jesus.

It is the God who is the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, that Reformed theology offers. It is the God who drops the ball and says oops that emergent theology offers. What we have is two different pulls one is from the City of Man and it's theology which is palatable to the natural man. Over against this is the theology of the City of God in all it's robustness and the natural man can not stand it. I think this is the picture.