Friday, August 29, 2008

Intellectual Side of Faith

Michael Patton has a good article on the desperate need for theology in the church over at Reclaiming The's a portion:

Anchored as I am in the reality that the intellectual side of our faith is not necessarily the end, but a foundation to all that is being built, I am more confident than ever that the church today continues to face a major crisis in its philosophy of faith and education. The majority of churches simply do not stimulate serious discussion concerning matters of theology. Most people do not find the church as a safe place to ask serious questions. In fact, most people are trained to fear any doubt, reserve questions, or to put away any sinful antagonistic feeling concerning any challenge that comes to the table.

The church, unfortunately, more often than not, is in the obscuring business. No, not intentionally, but it is true. We protect ourselves and those we love from any “false doctrine” that leads away from Christ by hiding the issue or give a quick sound-bite apologetic which obscures and belittles the arguments of any opposition.

But here is the problem (and don’t miss this): one day the opponent will find an audience. Someway, somehow, whether it be in college or through a New York Times best seller, the opposition that we have dedicated ourselves so much to hide will be found. When this happens, a different tale is told, and this tale is much more convincing coming from an educated adherent than it was coming from us.

Read the rest here:

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Arminian Apostate

Yup! That's me. The concept isn't original with me, (you can visit the site by that name by clicking the link over to the right in the list of places on the web,) but I find it fitting anyway. I love being away from all the man-centeredness of Arminian theology. I love being away from the "man is god" theology of Pelagianism. I love being away from the silliness and hype of what is usually referred to as "revival." One minister actually enjoys labeling himself as "always reviving" which is an amazing admission of living in a vicious cycle of backsliding and coming back to full committment to the Lord. (Note: Only the dead need reviving.)

I also find it ironic that I, (and a few of my cohorts in this "Arminian apostasy,") are being labelled by our old peers and partners as holding to "damnable doctrines" and that we also hold to a licentious way of life and thinking. You know the old lies, Reformed doctrine is boiled down to "once saved, always saved," ie. you can live a completely wicked life, (or anyway you want to,) and still expect to be "saved." And that we don't need, or believe in, holiness or evangelism or prayer anymore, because everything is already "set in stone" anyway. And of course, our so-called "familiar faces are missing" because we only wanted to justify being "sippers" of alcoholic beverages. Yep, that's the REAL reason we left! (Actually, we were "invited to leave," but that's another story.) But it's funny how many of those who are making the assertions haven't actually asked me what I believe or think. A few have, and they are to be commended for their integrity.

So the slander and misconceptions keep going on and on by certain theologically challenged folks who really don't think things through. Someday, perhaps they will.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Christians For Barack Hussein Obama

This makes me SICK!

Now watch this one and see his "true" committment to families.

The video is self-explanatory and hardly needs any comment. But some caveats.
1. There is a dramatization of a baby being left to die. It’s not real, nor is it a gruesome depiction. But it is disturbing nonetheless.
2. There are some other personalities featured in this video, and I do not want readers to think that my posting this video means I endorse them.
3. I don’t know anything about the group that produced this video. The only reason I’m posting it is so that you can see and hear the testimony of Jill Stanek, who testified before congress with the stories you are about to hear. Her message is not for the faint of heart, but that is all the more reason that you should hear it.

A Malediction
Lyrics: Kemper Crabb
Music: Kemper Crabb & Frank Hart

The judges sat outside the Law
And in their pride no evil saw
In setting teeth to Satan’s jaw
And feeding him our children.

When viewed in terms of cost and ease
An unborn child is a disease
A holocaust seen fit to please
Our own convience.

A curse A curse the Law it cries.
A curse a curse on mankind’s pride.
A curse on him who would deny
God’s image in mankind.

Torn from out their mother’s womb
Denied the sky - denied a tomb
Conceived in lust to their own ruin
A sacrifice to pleasure.

The doctors with their blood red hands
Who love their money more than man,
With greed their god they lay their plans
The butchers of mankind.

A curse a curse the blood cries out
A curse a curse the heavens shout
A curse a curse on he who flouts
God’s image in mankind.

O rid us of this evil, Lord
And turn our hearts by cross or Sword.
Our nation cannot long afford
To live beneath your judgements.

A curse a curse upon their heads
O save them Lord or slay them dead
And fill our country with your Dread
And turn away Your anger.

Monday, August 18, 2008

If it's beyond his payscale now...

...what the heck makes him think he's qualified to be President of the United States???

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Reading the Bible For Personal Application

This is a great interview with some great answers. Take time to read the whole thing.


How would you explain the relationship between Jesus as the Word and the Word of God as scripture?

You ask a vast question, and I’ll give only the seed of an answer. The Word written is about the Word incarnate. The Word incarnate lives the Word written. He walks out the promises: of course, the overtly messianic prophecies, but also the forgiveness by blood in the sacrifices, the promise of blessing in Numbers 6:24-26, the hope that the Lord will come himself to save his people in the Psalms, the dwelling of the Lord in his tabernacle, etc., etc. He walks out the commands: e.g., Jesus loves God and neighbor; Jesus lives the wisdom of the Proverbs and so gains life and blessing. We can rightly say, no Scripture, no Jesus, and no Jesus, no Scripture. It is a serious misstep to separate Jesus (and the Spirit) from the Word, as if he were some sort of lively wildcard factor, while the written words are stodgy, stultifying and a-relational. It is an equally serious misstep to separate the Word from Jesus (and the Spirit), as if the written words are all that remains after he vacated the scene. Wildfire spiritualities and tied-up-with-a-bow religiosities both lose the living connection.

And this one:

How can Protestants balance the role of unified doctrine in the church and the role of the Holy Spirit as revealer of truth to the individual?

This question is equally penetrating when inverted: How can we balance the role of the Holy Spirit as revealer of truth in the church and the role of unified doctrine to the individual? Either way we ask it, we must hold in fruitful balance Truth-and-Spirit and individual-and-community. Tilt too far either way, and you lose something essential.

The Holy Spirit does not reveal “truths” that are not the teachings of Scripture, the revelation he inspired. And the teachings of Scripture include illumination on the person, role, and character of the Spirit.

Oh, and one more:

You warn about the tendency to make the Bible an “…omni-relevant magic book teeming with private messages and meanings.” What is lost in this all-too-common approach?

We lose many good things – including common sense! But more significantly, we lose our sense that the Bible is about God more than it is about me, and that one of God’s primary purposes in me is to free me from my all-consuming self-absorption. It is part of our redemption to read about God as God, and to read about long-ago brothers and sisters and enemies for who they actually were. You are enriched by being weaned off of yourself.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

And sure enough, it all comes crashing down

Todd Bentley announces that his marriage is ending...

Test Revival with Doctrine ---By: John Piper

Lee Grady, the editor of Charisma, one of the main charismatic magazines, has written a lament and critique of the Lakeland “revival” which is now in a tailspin over the leader's announced separation from his wife. Grady’s summons to pray for the church and our nation is right, and among his commendable questions and observations are these:

"Many of us would rather watch a noisy demonstration of miracles, signs and wonders than have a quiet Bible study. Yet we are faced today with the sad reality that our untempered zeal is a sign of immaturity. Our adolescent craving for the wild and crazy makes us do stupid things. It’s way past time for us to grow up."

"True revival will be accompanied by brokenness, humility, reverence and repentance—not the arrogance, showmanship and empty hype that often was on display in Lakeland."

"A prominent Pentecostal evangelist called me this week after Bentley’s news hit the fan. He said to me: “I’m now convinced that a large segment of the charismatic church will follow the anti-Christ when he shows up because they have no discernment.” Ouch. Hopefully we’ll learn our lesson this time and apply the necessary caution when an imposter shows up."

Charismatics will not be the only ones who follow the Antichrist when he rises. So will the mass of those who today in thousands of evangelical churches belittle the truth of biblical doctrine as God’s agent to set us free (John 8:32).

Discernment is not created in God’s people by brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance. It is created by biblical truth and the application of truth by the power of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and minds. When that happens, then the brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance will have the strong fiber of the full counsel of God in them. They will be profoundly Christian and not merely religious and emotional and psychological.

The common denominator of those who follow the Antichrist will not be “charismatic.” It will be, as Paul says, “they refused to love the truth.”

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Our test for every Lakeland that comes along should first be doctrinal and expositional. Is this awakening carried along by a “love for the truth” and a passion to hear the whole counsel of God proclaimed?

Discontent, the Worship of Self

check out this post by my friend Frank Hart,

Every generation has to live with questions like these, and a discontented heart will go to despair on every single one of these crises. God gives each of us a life to worship Him with, and through trusting Him in these situations is how we actually worship Him. We either worship God or we worship ourselves. These crises are the way we find out who we are really worshiping.

read the rest here:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

How churches can keep young adults after High School

"I have the privilege of worshiping in a small, family-integrated church. When asked about our various church programs, I explain that we are blessed with more than thirty different organizations to which our members belong — they are called families. I further explain that we have more than sixty youth directors — they are called parents. In fact, we have such a full schedule of events that there is a mandatory activity every day of the week — it is called family worship."

"Both through the preaching of the word and informal shepherding of the congregation, the church leadership aspires to equip our dozens and dozens of youth pastors to successfully minister to the diverse needs of the many individuals and special interest groups within their respective organizations. Because we don’t want to leave anybody behind, we have instructed these church organizations to reach out to the young, the old, and the infirm — the singles, the divorced, or abandoned — everybody, such that we will have a comprehensive outreach for every special interest group represented by the membership of our assembly of believers. As a result, these organizations sponsor events that include hospitality and evangelism outreach, one-room schoolhouses (usually meeting in the family den), foreign missions (to Mexico), and literally hundreds of other activities designed to meet the needs of the organizational members."

Douglas W. Phillips, Our Church Youth Group

It's called "family integrated church." or just Church.

3 steps in a Reformed Christian’s understanding of the essence of sin

---by Mark Horne

1. LAW
The Apostle John writes, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.” And the Westminster Shorter Catechism defines sin as “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.” Early in my comprehension as a Reformed believer, this criteria for determining whether or not an action was sinful was mistakenly understood as a definition of the essence of sin. Sin was wrong, in this view, because it simply violated what God commanded. And nothing else really mattered.

This was right, to a degree, of course. We must obey God and all disobedience is, by definition, sinful.

But this way of looking at God so exclusively tended to submerged all His holy character under the aspect of power. All ethics boiled down to the fact that God gave orders and He can unimaginably punish anyone who disobeys.

When the Apostle Paul spells out the apostasy of the human race, he points out that it is fundamentally ungrateful. “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.” And this new awareness in my life was helped a great deal by the Heidelberg Catechism and its dynamic of grace and gratitude. This same content is also in the Westminster Standards, but Heidelberg was used in God’s providence to help me notice it.

This, again, was right, to a degree. God is the giving God (James 1.5). He never asks anyone to obey him whom he has not already loaded down with good gifts. He makes us first, before we can obey, and establishes us as Lords of Creation before making any demands of us. Even when Moses put “life and death” before the Israelites (Deuteronomy 30), the fact is that God has already given the Israelites life both natural and supernatural by rescuing them from slavery by miracles.

But this way of looking at God so exclusively, tended to leave creatures with a “suck it up” commission. No matter what God puts us through or assigns to us, we must “suck it up” because we are getting better than we deserve. How dare we be unsatisfied with what God demands? Are we not grateful enough? John Piper talks about this as a “debtor’s ethic,” and points out some problems that it can lead to.

The Fall of the Human race occurred when our parents stopped trusting that God meant well for them. We see this over and over in the Bible. In Genesis we see the patriarch’s had to trust amazingly grand and glorious promises that they never saw come to fruition in their life times. Indeed, in many cases, unless one trusted that God’s promises were good, one would have relatively little to be thankful for. And Israel’s failure in the wilderness was, time and again, a failure to trust that God would keep his promises to them.

Paul sometimes does use grattitude to motivate Christian behavior, but in explaining why Christians must obediently endure in the face of suffering, he never tells anyone to “suck it up” because they actually deserve worse and they need to be grateful that the didn’t get what they deserve. On the contrary, he motivates believers by assuring them that God is being faithful to them even in the midst of suffering–”for those who love God all things work together for good.”

When people disobey God, it is because they don’t trust Him. Like Satan told Eve, they think God is all about power and all about making unreasonable demands rather than about loving his children and caring for them. But God assures us that he knows what is good and right for us. He cares about us. He is faithful/trustworthy. Any response to him but faith and trust is an outrageous attack on his character.

These three are one
These different ways of looking at the nature of sin, are not in competition to one another. I did not leave “law” behind to accept “gratitude” and then abandon it for “faith.” The law reveals the commands of a generous God who has done much for us and who promises us much more. Law, gratitude, and faith go together. But in terms of motivation and understanding God’s character, I do believe that faith should be given prominence among the three.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The schizophrenia of pluralism

after reading this article this morning:

i needed a shot of sanity. and if it seems to be schizophrenic to you too, do yourself a HUGE favor and go read this thread by Doug Wilson discussing Greg Boyd's book, "The Myth of a Christian Nation". (start at the bottom and work your way up)

and then do yourself another favor and read Peter Leithart's book "Against Christianity." as a few reviewers have put it:

When Leithart says he is against "Christianity" he does not mean the the Christian faith. He is not attacking God, nor is he attacking the Church. But the privatized, individualized, depoliticized, religion that turns everything into propositions and is reductionistic in its outlook. He is attacking the silliness that naturally ensues when men try to fashion the Kingdom of God in their own image.

Dr. Leithart does a great job showing the political implications for the gospel. The Church is called to be a culture of her own, and to eclipse all other cultures with hers.

Leithart argues that "Christianity" sets itself up as just one more popsicle stand within a broader culture, the "real" one we live in. He writes, for example:

"Contextualization be damned. The Church's mission is not to accomodate her language to the existing language, to disguise herself so as to slip in unnoticed and blend in with the existing culture."

Leithart argues for a belief in a Christian culture, one in which Christ is recognized and honored as the head of all things, in which worship is once again narrative, retelling the mighty acts of God, and one in which the idea of modern "Christianity" is gone from our minds. Amen, come Lord Jesus. Thy Kingdom Come!

Oh, and today's date is 8-8-8....and no rapture in sight!!!


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Oh that someone would have the guts!

someday perhaps we will be without the DOE & NEA. Oh happy day!

Monday, August 4, 2008


---by Andrew Thompson

Practical Consequences for the Worship Liturgy
The "trinitarian-ness" of our definition of worship dramatically shapes how we worship. In this section, I would like to consider just a few of the ways our definition of worship finds form in the regular service of worship.

1. The Centrality of the Eucharist - If we are trinitarian in our definition of worship, then the Eucharist must be the central focus of our worship service. It becomes the supreme expression of sharing in Christ's communion with the Father and Christ's work in the world. We remember Christ's priestly work on our behalf and we are re-membered in unity with all others whom Christ has called as we participate by the Spirit in Christ's ongoing communion with the Father. All our physical senses are involved in the act. We hear the words; we see, smell, touch and taste the elements. As we commune, we receive the elements; they are given to us. We do not take them -- just like we cannot "take" the grace of God, we can only receive it. There are other senses involved too. Don Saliers in his book, "Worship Come to Its Senses," reminds us that the sense of awe, the sense of delight, the sense of truth and the sense of hope are (or should be) integral in our worship.(10) Nowhere it is more true than in the Eucharist. As we recognize Christ's real presence among us and acknowledge that we are participating in his holy offering of worship to the Father, we are filled with awe. As we remember God's grace lavished upon us and as we experience it afresh, we are filled with delight. As we see that our standing before God has been fully assured by Christ's work on our behalf, we are grounded and secured in truth. As we look forward to and experience a foretaste of the eschatological feast of heaven, we are filled with hope. If we are unitarian in our definition of worship, then the Eucharist is still an important act (that we do), but it is not essential. It is not central. It might be practiced regularly -- but it could also not be practiced, without any great loss. It becomes one among many ways that we can respond to God.

2. The Language of Worship - If we are trinitarian in our worship then the primary focus of our language will be on God -- both God's nature and God's work. Our language will concern itself with how we participate in the life of Christ -- the Son's worship of the Father and his ongoing work in the world. If we are unitarian in our worship, then our focus will be on our own response to God. The emphasis is on the relationship between "us and God." In more extreme forms, the emphasis is on the relationship between "me" and God.

It is important to remember that there may be a difference between the theology we formally endorse and the theology we functionally practice. No matter how well formed our formal statements on worship are, it is the theology that is practiced that will be (most likely) adopted by the congregations we serve. It is not enough to preach about the Trinity once a year on Trinity Sunday -- it is not even enough to consistently preach from a trinitarian viewpoint, although that is certainly a good start. Our theology of worship is primarily communicated through the language used by the people -- not just the language heard by the people. This means that we must pay careful attention to our prayers and songs. It also means we must pay attention to the language of our church "business" and fellowship. This use of language is the most honest gauge in judging how trinitarian our functional definition of worship is. It is also the most difficult area of language to reform.

We live in a culture saturated with individualism. As such, we live under the constant gravitational pull toward self-centeredness. Even with the best of intentions, we can naturally pull toward a unitarian (me and God) theology of worship. Unless we diligently guard our use of language, we can naturally fall into the narcissistic ways of our cultural context. Although I believe that this problem is both widespread and deeply entrenched in our North American church culture, allow me to illustrate though a specific example what I mean. Paul Oakly recently wrote a song for worship that is becoming quite popular. When I first heard it at a North Park worship service, I was immediately attracted to its moving melody and phrasing. The lyrics are as follows:

It's all about you, Jesus, and all this is for you, for your glory and your fame.
It's not about me, as if you should do things my way;
You alone are God and I surrender to your ways.
Jesus, lover of my soul, all consuming fire is in your gaze.
Jesus, I want you to know I will follow you all my days.
For no one else in history is like you, and history itself belongs to you.
Alpha and Omega, you have loved me and I will share eternity with you.(11)

While I suspect that Oakley was honestly trying to express Christ-centeredness in worship, (as evidenced in the first phrase of the song) he fails to follow though with this intention almost immediately. By the second phrase (all this is for you), it is implied that his act of worship is done for Christ -- a unitarian theology of worship. This song does proclaim some very important and significant things about Christ: that Jesus is God, that Jesus is unlike any other in history, that history belongs to Christ, that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. However, these ideas are surrounded by what is essentially an egocentric world view: I do not expect Jesus to do things my way, I surrender to Jesus' way, I want Jesus to know that I will follow him. None of these sentiments are bad (actually they are quite good) but all of them flow out of a egocentric rather than Christocentric thought. This song is not "all about you, Jesus" as the author claims. Rather, it is all about the individual and Jesus. The description of Jesus' nature and work is framed by the individual's relationship to Jesus. Note the frequent use of the first person singular throughout the song. Nowhere is the first person plural used.

These comments are not written to pick on Oakley's song. Actually, I think he does better than many other contemporary hymn writers. At least this song expresses a desire to move beyond a self-centered devotional life. My hope is only that the analysis of this song might illustrate how difficult it is for our worship language to be truly trinitarian. We should expect that any efforts we make toward fuller use of trinitarian language will be an uphill battle. The pull of egocentrism is very strong.

Personal Reflections:
This discussion on worship is very challenging to me personally. Prior to reading Torrance's work, my definition of worship would be much like James McClendon's; not as well worded, mind you, but oriented around the same idea of dialogue -- worship as close personal interaction with God. However, after reading what James Torrance is saying, I realize that my previous definition, like McClendon's, failed to fully integrate the doctrine of the Trinity. It falls short of fully recognizing the risen Christ in our midst and it fails to fully recognize Christ's ongoing priesthood. In seeing the difference from what my functional definition of worship has been, to what it could be, I feel like I have blinders removed from my eyes. This trinitarian discussion challenges me to see a bigger vision of worship than I have previously known.

A trinitarian worship definition continues to see worship as dialogue with God -- but it goes further than that. To have the privilege of knowing God in close personal dialogue is awesome and incredible -- a wonder beyond words; but to participate in the triune interrelationship is all that and more! This is the theology that I want to live.

This conclusion however does not leave me without questions. Actually, it increases them. As a worship leader, how do I plan and lead services out of this understanding of worship? Where does contemporary music and expression fit into this type of understanding? It seems clear to me that much of the songwriting in current Evangelical and Charismatic circles flows out of a unitarian definition of worship. There is a lot of "me and God" language in the church right now, and the Trinity rarely enters into common thought. How can we be authentic within our culture and context and yet steer away from our culture's self-centered, market-driven mentality? Can we be culturally current and still be trinitarian in worship? The question also becomes more personal: What things must I prune from my own worship practices? What new things will grow from this awareness? How will this change the songs I write? How will this change the services I lead? How can I communicate this? I feel inarticulate. My language fails; as does my confidence. Perhaps this is good.

All this leads me to this conclusion: I need to live out of a bigger definition of worship. I need to live out of a definition that is better rooted in community, history and the biblical narrative. I need to live out of a definition that finds its focuses in the Trinity. I need to reconsider the place of the sacraments and I need to audit my worship vocabulary.

Father, thank you that by the Spirit we can participate in your risen Son's communion with you. Renew your church we pray. Give us a fresh vision for worship. Free us from our self-centered and self-serving ways that we might more fully live within the gift you have given to us. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

1. James Wm. McClendon, Jr. Doctrine: Systematic Theology, vol. 2 (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1994) 376.
2. McClendon. 242-244.
3. McClendon. 401.
4. McClendon. 402.
5. James Torrance, Worship, Community & the Triune God of Grace (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996) 20.
6. Torrance. 23.
7. Torrance. 20-41.
8. Torrance. 20.
9. Torrance. 20-21.
10. Don Saliers, Worship Come to Its Senses, (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996) 19-86.
11. From "Jesus, Lover of My Soul (It's All About You)" by Paul Oakley, © 1995 Kingsway's Thankyou Music.

Marva Dawn, A Royal Waste Of Time, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999.
_________,Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995.
James McClendon, Doctrine: Systematic Theology, Volume II, Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1994.
Don E. Saliers, Worship Come To Its Senses, Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1996.
_________, Worship and Spirituality, Akron OH: OSL Publications, 1996.
_________, Worship as Theology, Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1994.
James B. Torrance, Worship, Community and the Triune God, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.
Robert Webber, Blended Worship, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994.
_________,Signs of Wonder, Nashville, TN: Star Song Publishing, 1992.
_________,Worship Is A Verb, Waco, TX: Word Books, 1985.

Friday, August 1, 2008


check out my good friend's blog...indeed Calvin seems to be writing to today's Christian!

it seems that many moderns (esp. charismatics) have it exactly backwards....

Whereas Calvin contends (scripturally so):

...we must give diligent heed both to the reading and hearing of Scripture, if we would obtain any benefit from the Spirit of God...

today's "spiritual" christian says:

we must give diligent heed to the Spirit, if we would obtain any benefit from the Word of God.

Thus becoming Christian subjectivists...subjecting the scripture to what we feel 'the spirit' is saying.

Oh Lord help us!