Thursday, January 31, 2008
Mitt Romney is jumping all over McCain for not being a genuine conservative, but the facts speak loud and clear. These clips of Romney trying to out-liberal Ted Kennedy show that Romney is nothing but a weathervane. When the wind blows left, he shouts out the liberal party line. When the wind blows right, he is the second coming of Ronald Reagan. He tells us he is the real conservative in the race, but who knows which Mitt Romney will show up after the inauguration, Ronald Reagan Jr. or Ted Kennedy Light?
Monday, January 28, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
For some reason, this item made the news...
Cheney, a State Department principal deputy assistant secretary who was responsible for Middle East and North Africa initiatives, could help blunt charges by John McCain that Romney is weak on foreign policy issues.
“I am proud to support Governor Romney. Throughout this campaign, he has distinguished himself as a leader who can guide our country with a clear vision for overcoming the threats we face today,” Cheney said in a statement released by the campaign on Sunday.
Among the items stolen from Bishop Metropolitan Isaiah's car was a jeweled crown of gold and silver, which Isaiah estimated to be worth between $6,000 and $10,000.
Isaiah, who is based in Denver and is bishop for the Northwest region of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, said he was dining with others at a restaurant when the break-in occurred. He said the car was parked in a well-lit spot.
"We came out at 10 o'clock, and the window was smashed," he said.
The burglar also made off with a copy of the New Testament, a veil, a cell phone and a black fabric bag. The bag had special meaning to the ex-Marine because it was given to him years ago by the widow of a fellow Marine.
Isaiah offered a reward of at least $1,000 if the crown is returned without damage.
"That was the first gift I received as a bishop 22 years ago," he said. "I feel lost without it."
At a vespers service Saturday night, he was the only priest with no head covering. "I just hope and pray that those who took it will have a change of heart," he said.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
What has happened to the church in America? How did we get here, when we can’t even talk about the cross because we refuse to talk about sin? The White Horse Inn is continuing it's discussion of the state of the church in America "Crossless Christianity 2008", and their show last week focused on the poster boy for the "here and now, health & wealth, psychobabble gospel" peddled in churches today, Joel Osteen. I know I take shots at Osteen on a regular basis, and believe me it is not jealousy because I would not want to be in his shoes explaining his teachings standing before his Lord. I am terrified of answering for my own substantial failings, much less his! The words of James are pretty sobering for any who teach in the church: "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness." (James 3:1 ESV)
The discussion on the White Horse Inn raises a number of questions. We know that what Osteen teaches is a watered down (at best) message that misses key points of Christian doctrine. What is the focus of the church? Should it be on how to live the Christian life, how to be a better father /mother /husband /wife / neighbor etc.? How to make a generally moral person even more moral? To make the people in the pews feel better about themselves and reach their potential? Perhaps worst of all, to be prosperous and wealthy thanks to a groveling God who is obligated to give you money in this life to earn your worship? As if being saved from hell is an inadequate amount of grace? What is, or what should, be the message received for both Christian and non-Christian alike when in a church? Shouldn't it be that God created man, man fell willingly into a state of sin, that man failed again and again to live up to God's standards by our own efforts so God sent His only begotten Son to live a perfect, sinless life, be unjustly condemned and crucified, only to rise on the third day and in doing so redeeming His elect sheep and that He is coming to gather those who are given to Him by the Father some day? If you aren't hearing that message from the church, where are you going to hear it?
For far too many churches and Christians, all of the attention is on the immediate, not what has God done for me and what will He do in the future. If your focus is on the here and now, your focus is in the wrong place. There is no way that you can read the Bible and get the impression that God promises or even intends to make this earthly existence trouble free. Those days are coming, but not until Christ comes for His people. The life of Christians for 2000 years has been hard, full of persecution and hate, hard times and suffering. Read the letters of Paul, do you think he was living his best life in those days?
One of the best lines was this one: "Osteen’s ministry is so void of doctrine that it is not even worthy of being labeled heresy!" You can't even go line by line and refute what he is teaching because it is so shallow. You are better off interacting with a Veggietales DVD, the doctrine is far deeper!
Another great line summarizes Osteen's ministry, his view of what the Gospel is all about: “Salvation from unhappiness by doing your best” Guess what, your best isn’t good enough! But His is. He didn't die on a cross so you can have a Mercedes, He died as a propitiation for sin for His elect, dying for them while we were still sinners to reconcile us to God and save us from Hell.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Christianity Today has put out some decent articles on the reawakening of Calvinism among Evangelicals, including Young, Restless and Reformed, a great look at the trend toward Reformed theology among younger Christians. Their latest article is not one of them. Titled TULIP Blooming, the focus is on the growing concern among many old school, Arminian Southern Baptist leaders about the rise of Calvinism in the SBC, especially in our seminaries. The article is too short and very shallow. If you can't do justice to a subject, you ought not bring it up. The opening story is priceless:
The pastor of First Baptist Church in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, for 27 years, Joe Elam only encountered Calvinism once during his ministry—and it left a bitter taste in his mouth.
Though forbidden to do so, a former youth pastor at his church secretly taught predestination to teens, Elam said, sowing seeds of lingering division among several families.
"It was a wake-up call for us," said Elam, who recently led the Arbuckle Baptist Association to adopt a motion calling on the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma to rebuke Reformed theology. It sent copies of the motion to all members of the Southern Baptist Convention's executive committee.
"We would like to see Southern Baptists become aware that [their] money is being used to teach Calvinism in our seminaries," Elam said.
I love the tone, secretly teaching predestination as if the unnamed youth pastor were starting some cabal of young Calvinists, meeting in secret in the dark of the night, wearing black robes and chanting in dungeons lit with candles. Talk about overreaction! (I especially like that he was "forbidden" to teach predestination. Imagine forbidding someone in a pastoral role from teaching a Biblical doctrine!)
Timmy Brister responded to this assertion in the article by Southern Baptist President Frank Page:
"The totality of history shows the vast majority of Baptists have not been [Calvinists], so why go back to the founders?" Page said. "I think we need to go back to the Bible."
Clearly that is not accurate. Those who insist that Calvinism is derived strictly from R.C. Sproul books and John Piper sermons, rather than the Bible, are either painfully ignorant or willfully and maliciously misrepresenting Calvinism. I am not sure which possibility is more disturbing in Frank Page's case. Brister makes a great point in this statement:
Of course, with Page’s argument, we are led to believe that what the Founders of the SBC believed and taught was something contrary to the Bible. As a president of the SBC, I find it remarkable that our top figure would state that our convention adhered to doctrines not founded in Scripture. Now it is apparent to all that Dr. Page has had trouble with TULIP, and that is fine if he disagrees or has differences (though I think his arguments are presumptuous and problematic). However, having trouble with TULIP should not thereby constitute trouble with Baptist history.
Precisely! To suggest that Calvinism is not based on Biblical theology (you may disagree with the conclusions, but you can't deny it's basis in Scripture), or denying that the founding fathers of the SBC were largely Reformed (as demonstrated in airtight citation by Founders Ministry) or that it leads to anti-missionary fervor (tell that to the father of modern missions and Calvinist William Carey) is ignorant. The biggest obstacle to honest discussions among Evangelicals about soteriology is the refusal by Arminians to move past empty assertions and strawmen and get down to Scripture. For Page to suggest we get back to the Bible is great advice, but not if you are dealing with presumptions that leave no room for dialogue. I came to Reformed theology not because I was brainwashed by Al Mohler and John MacArthur, but in reading the Word of God. Through the Bible my stubborn insistence on my own autonomy in salvation was shattered by the overwhelming weight of Scripture that God is Sovereign, and I am not.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Sunday, January 20, 2008
We have been discussing heresy in Sunday school at Indian River Baptist Church and it raised the question in my mind: what makes one a heretic? I mean besides the obvious things, when is it OK to call someone a heretic?
Heresy is a word we toss about, and I especially do, fairly cavalierly. Phil Johnson has a whole section on his webpage of famous heretics throughout the ages. It seems the easy thing to do, when faced with something we disagree with strongly, to throw down the heresy card to end discussion.
Some things are fairly easy to diagnose as heresy. Mormonism is clearly a heresy. The same with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Both cult groups deny such fundamental doctrines of the Bible that they stand clearly outside the pale of orthodox Christianity. The list of obvious heretics is pretty lengthy and easy to identify. What is far more difficult, and far more dangerous, is when we point the finger of heresy at someone within the church. On the one hand we don’t have the option to ignore or brush over false teaching and false teachers in our midst. Yet we also must be careful to not label genuine brothers and sisters in Christ as heretics without justification.
Just disagreeing with someone on a point of doctrine is not a sign of heresy. I feel baptizing infants is un-Biblical and constitutes an inaccurate way of administering the sacrament of baptism. I would not be a member of a church where infant baptism was performed. Yet some of my closest and dearest friends are paedobaptists. I would feel perfectly justified in telling them, cheerfully and in Christian love, that I think that baptizing their infant is improper, but to call them a heretic? Hardly. I would no sooner call R.C. Sproul a heretic than I would label John MacArthur the same. Both hold very different views on baptism and ecclesiology, but that doesn’t mean that one is right and one is a heretic.
Doing something differently is not a sure sign of heresy. The sign of orthodoxy is not that a church follows the traditions set forth over the last hundred years. Granted, a lot of heretical movements have very obvious oddities in their worship services, and the excessive exuberance can be a warning sign. But many heretical churches have very sober, somber services with a seriousness that would please the most starched shirt Baptist. But seriousness is not a marker of orthodoxy anymore than casual services are a sign of unorthodoxy.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
- First that the elite in the conservative movement have poisoned people against Huckabee to the point that they parrot back "facts" about him with no real knowledge of what he has or does stand for. A substantial number of conservatives think that Huckabee is not a genuine conservative, falsely but perhaps fatally.
- Second that it is time to start looking soberly at what the future holds with Super Duper Tuesday coming up, money no doubt dwindling fast and the really expensive advertising states on the horizon.
- Huckabee may no longer be viable for the top spot, but could be a king-maker and a solid VP candidate (which is what I have thought for some time given his kid gloves approach to McCain)
Viva la mormon solidarity!
No doubt Mitt will crow over his virtually unopposed win in Nevada. What is getting some attention is that the sizable mormon population in Nevada went for Mitt in a huge way.
On the Republican side, Mormons comprised a quarter of those attending Nevada's GOP caucuses, and more than nine in 10 were voting for Romney. Romney is a Mormon, and his religion has been cited as a problem by some Republican voters.
About half of Romney's overall vote in Nevada came from Mormons.With Huckabee, McCain and Thomson fighting it out in South Carolina, Romney had Nevada to himself with Ron Paul. The real horse race has nothing to do with the state where betting on it is legal. It is all about South Carolina and the upcoming Florida race. But like everything else about Mitt, the Nevada win is all show and no substance.
Ergun Caner, sole arbiter of being a "real" Baptist
Dr. Caner posted a blog entry about Liberty University reinserting the name "Baptist" into the seminary name. I am an on again, off again student in the Distance Learning program of the seminary and I didn't know the name had been dropped...
In an era when denominational identification is anathema, the Liberty Theological Seminary has retrofitted its name to the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. The irony is the man who lead the seminary to take Baptist out of the name is also the one who lobbied to reinsert it, the President of the Seminary, Dr. Ergun Mehmet Caner.
But as is normal with Dr. Caner, he can't avoid taking shots at the evil Calvinist hordes pretending to be Baptists!
“However, since 2004, much as changed, both here at Liberty University and in the Southern Baptist Convention. Too many schools have Baptist in their name but not in their doctrine. Some have drifted into liberalism and cultural relativism; still others remain orthodox, but have drifted toward non-Baptist reformed doctrine and cultural isolationism. For us, this was our line in the sand. We want to build bridges to a lost world without burning the bridges of our doctrinal heritage. We are putting Baptist back in our name, and taking back a term that has been misused.“We want to train students from across the evangelical spectrum, in the classic Baptistic stance of our Anabaptist tradition and Sandy Creek revivalistic heritage. These doctrines include:
• The inerrancy of Scripture
• General atonement
• Free church polity and pastoral authority
• Missions obsession
• Imminent return of Christ
It just made sense, following the vision of our founder and the new chancellor, to proudly state that we are Baptist with a capital “B.” Since 1525, the word Baptist has meant something and it still does at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.”
I guess what "it means" is that anyone who doesn't hold to Arminian general atonement just isn't Baptist enough for Dr. Caner. It should have been clear from the title of the blog post "Liberty Baptist Seminary and “Building Bridges” that Caner was freaked out by the recent Building Bridges Conference and the idea, the horror!, that good, authentic Arminian Baptists would speak civilly and attempt to build bridges with the unwashed hordes of Calvinist pseudo-Baptists! I imagine he wrote each of the Arminian speakers and suspended their status as real Baptists for six months.I would ask if that means that Dr. Caner doesn't believe that Charles Spurgeon was an authentic Calvinist, but having listened to his lectures in a History of Baptists course I realize that like Michael Pearl and so many others, Dr. Caner refuses to recognize that Spurgeon even was a Calvinist. Dr. Caner's quest has so infected his thinking that he refuses to even consider Reformed Baptists to be "real" baptists.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
2) You can’t talk about the Gospel without talking about sin.
Osteen's book carries the title: Your best life now. Joel, this is not our best life now, or at least I hope it is not. Our best life is to come. If this is as good as it gets, you are setting your sights too low. If we have nowhere to go but down, where does that lead?
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Congrats to Romney and his supporters for their win yesterday.
What is sad is the way Romney positioned himself and that people ate it up. The whole auto jobs not coming back to Michigan kerfuffle by McCain was dead on. Instead of lamenting the loss of high paying auto industry jobs for low skilled workers, we better as a state start to figure out how to replace those jobs. Otherwise we can wallow in our 7%+ unemployment indefinitely. Those jobs really are gone and aren't coming back. The UAW and weak-kneed auto executives have made sure of that by pricing the auto industry out of competitiveness through ridiculous salaries for relatively low skilled workers, untenable promises of pensions and health care and union rules that make auto plant jobs into entitlements.
Promising to fight to bring those jobs back is shameless pandering. Recognizing that the world has changed and so must Michigan is the honest approach, but apparently honesty is not what people want to hear.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
He seems pretty smart, very honest, unafraid to say what he thinks. His supporters are more like disciples, a rabid following who would go to the wall to fight for Ron. He openly supports homeschoolers. He is strongly pro-life.
Quite frankly, while Ron Paul seems like a good guy, and someone we need in Congress, his quest to be President is quixotic.
- He is unelectable. He barely registers in state and national polls. He is at 3.7% national among Republicans according to the latest Real Clear Politics average. He may be a swell guy but he is never going to be President. I think I would be a great President but I have about the same chance of winning the election as Representative Paul.
- He supports doing away with the Federal Reserve. While the system has it's faults, it also keeps inflation in check and prevents us from having the enormous swings in interest rates of the past. Want to go back to 18% mortgages?
- His foreign policy borders on isolationism. Guess what, hiding in America will not make Muslim terrorists hate us less. We didn't force them to attack the World Trade Center, and a head in the sand foreign policy will not make America more secure, but less.
- His greatest strength is his biggest weakness. His supporters are rabid to the point of being almost cultish. They tend to be arrogant and condescending to those who have not sipped the Ron Paul Kool-Aid. Maybe they aren't all that way, but the ones I have met in person, around town and on the internet always are. They seem personally offended if you don't support Paul. I recognize that Mike Huckabee has faults, as we all do. But to hear Ron Paul supporters tell it, the man is the greatest American politician to ever live.
For all of those reasons and more, Paul is just not the guy. There are candidates who are a serious part of the debate, but Paul is not one of them and is probably a few primaries away from not getting invited to further televised debates. It was amusing and refreshing while it lasted, but it is time to let go. Paul is not the answer, unless the question is "Name the most unelectable man in the Primaries"
A great response to a pointed question in a Fox News debate on gender roles in marriage. The question hit at the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message's call for wives to sumbit to their husbands leadership: A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.
I doubt any other candidate could or would answer that question (or be asked it) in a humble, humorous and Christ-honoring way.
Why again do evangelical leaders not like Mike?
Saturday, January 12, 2008
One of the most misrepresented figures in Christian history is Charles Spurgeon. Everyone wants to claim him for their camp, and often at the expense of truth. The latest, and perhaps one of the most mind-boggling claims that Spurgeon was not a Calvinist comes from the pen of self-described homeschool pioneer Michael Pearl of No Great Joy ministries (Note the bearded guy on the left is Michael Pearl, the bearded guy on the right is Charles Spurgeon). My wife owns their flagship book, , and we get their newsletter on a regular basis. I noticed some time ago that in their "bible study" books is one with this dandy title: The Other Side of Calvinism. Guess what that other side is. That's right: Mike Pearl states, "This is the best book exposing the heresies of Calvinism. If you are a Bible believer concerned about TRUTH, this is a "must-read." . That of course set me off, rabid Calvinist heretic that I am. Calvinism must really be bad, after all he spelled truth in all capital letters! So imagine my, and apparently a few other peoples surprise when Michael Pearl put an article in his magazine that quoted Spurgeon, quite positively in fact. Apparently someone else did, and sent in this question to the Pearls:
And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 17:17 ESV)
Now there are reports that the Episcopal Church has suspended one of their Bishops, preventing him from giving sermons or officiating any religious ceremonies. Finally, some church discipline in the Episcopal Church right!
The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, the "Presiding Bishop" of the Episcopal Church at least should get some credit for showing some spine, even though she stands on the wrong side of Biblical Christianity on this issues, as is true with so many others.
"It is the primary duty of bishops to guard the faith and Bishop Schofield has been continually discriminated against for having done so," the statement read. "How is it that over 60 million Anglicans worldwide can be wrong and a few hundred thousand in the American Church can claim to be right?"
Thursday, January 10, 2008
I came across this post kind of after the fact (originally posted 12/17/07), so the commenting has died down. But Tim has in the past been a pretty vocal opponent of Christian parents homeschooling their kids. When I ran across this, I felt it deserved a look and a response. Tim posted the blog in response to the upcoming book by Dr. Albert Mohler, Culture Shift (which is already in my cart on Amazon!). In the book, which Tim has read and I have not yet, Dr. Mohler uses his essay Needed: An Exit Strategy to argue for Christians to leave the secular public school system behind and explore homeschooling/Christian schools for their children. Tim doesn't seem to agree.
There is something about conservative Christians who choose to send their kids to public schools that makes them especially sensitive. I am hoping that there is not a sense that they are looked down upon or ostracized by homeschool parents, although I suspect that is true in some cases. Every discussion becomes a heated battle as if their fitness as parents is being questioned.
Tim makes this statement:
If the time comes that we feel it would be right to take our children out of the public education system, I will be left with two great and related concerns I would need to reconcile.
Just when will that time be? How much more hostile must public schools be towards Christianity to trigger that time of removal? Short of burning Bibles and requiring all children to swear allegiance to the state on a copy of God is not great: How religion poisons everything, I can't see how much more hostile the public school system can be to children who's parents seek to raise their children in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. From advocacy of sexual promiscuity and homosexuality to dogmatic insistence on Darwinism as the only acceptable explanation of the world, the schools have turned into an overtly hostile climate to Christian children.
Schools are increasingly no longer merely ambivalent about faith, but openly hostile towards it. Everything that is taught is taught from a secular viewpoint. Religious expression is rapidly being stamped out, even in silly ways like refusing to call Christmas by it's name, instead making up drivel like winter break or the generic "holiday season". We all know what is being celebrated on December 25th, but we are forbidden to speak it's name.
Tim's concern is that by removing our children from public schools, we lose our voice in the school system and create a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a sense he is right. If we remove our children we are in a sense abandoning the remaining children to secularism. But if we don't, we throw our children to the secular wolves and hope they survive. For every great school system which advocates of sending Christian kids to public schools seems to live in, there are dozens of other schools that are broken beyond repair. Even in the best schools, God is not spoken of, He is not revered, He is nothing more than a cultural fairy tale. Is that how we wish our God to be portrayed to our children 40 hours a week?
As I have mentioned before, the Christian parent who sends their child to public schools for their education runs a very real risk of unintentionally creating a divide between faith and learning. Faith becomes something we just do, especially on Sundays. Learning is completely separated from faith, and the two become mutually incompatible or outright hostile. I barely trust the government to deliver the mail, much less be responsible for watching, protecting and educating my children for the better part of 40 hours a week, plus homework.
We send kids to school because that is where they go to learn. But what they learn stands in stark contrast to what they are raised to believe. So that begs the question: which is correct? If we believe that what kids are taught to believe is so important, why then do we permit a government agency to mandate that we send our kids to their schools, to learn what they choose, and in turn learn to reject what they hear in Sunday school, camp, Vacation Bible school and (hopefully) from the pulpit? Our children get a mixed message, and when it comes to God there is but one message that is acceptable, and that is not the message they get when they are interred in public schools. We can't have it both ways, so every parent must look honestly at what they are doing for their children's education and ask if it honors God or exalts man. I think we all know what the answer is.
Looks like the coiffed one is really scared that he is going to lose Michigan. According to the Detroit Free Press, he is pulling ads in other states to focus on Michigan where he is losing ground to McCain and Huckabee....
A relaxed Romney, the Bloomfield Hills native and former Massachusetts governor, made several stops Wednesday in Grand Rapids, following his disappointing second-place finish in New Hampshire. His campaign announced it was adding emphasis to the Michigan campaign, pulling television ads in South Carolina and Florida to beef up Michigan. He also added an appearance Monday before the Detroit Economic Club.
That doesn't sound good for Romney, and he is waaaay behind in the polls in South Carolina and Florida. If he fails to do better than second in Michigan, and distant thirds in Florida and South Carolina the question becomes how much more of his own money does he pour into a losing cause?
A new ad is running in Michigan. Not sure I care for the shots at Romney for coming from a wealthy family, but it should play well in Michigan. Romney is going to be in serious trouble if he loses in Michigan and the latest polls show him trailing McCain badly, with McCain at 29%, Romnet at 20% and Huckabee at 18%. If Huckabee passes Romney and he ends up with a bronze (to use his annoying olympic analogy), Romney is in serious trouble.
Only five days until the Michigan primary!
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
One of my favorite writers for National Review online is Jay Nordlinger. Unfailingly clever, staunchly anti-communist, a music critic and free Cuba advocate, his columns are always entertaining, educational and thought provoking. But his recent column takes a shot at Huckabee that is both a cheap shot and an ignorant one
One more word about politics, while I’m fulminating: In early days, when Huckabee was a fringe candidate, he was kind of entertaining and endearing — a charming goober, adorning the campaign. Now that he is a major candidate, he is positively unnerving — with his incredibly naïve views about foreign policy. Views not so different from Barack Obama’s.
And we’re in the middle of a war, both the shooting kind and the “cold” kind (if you consider the war against Islamofascism another long, twilight struggle, as I do).
If the two major-party nominees are Obama and Huckabee: What differences will they stress? Their skin color?
That was ugly and inaccurate on a number of levels. Obama is a fanatic about being pro-abortion, as evidenced by this Townhall.com editorial by Terence Jeffrey that I linked to from the NRO website! Now you may not like some stuff about Huckabee but he is the most consistent pro-life candidate out there. Jay, do you really think that the only difference between Huckabee and Obama is their skin color? Huckabee is a solid Second Amendment supporter, an advocate of radical changes to the tax code, of school choice and home schooling. Other than failing to march the party line on President Bush's Iraq policy, where is the similarity between Obama and Huckabee? That is like suggesting that Romney and Ted Kennedy are one and the same because they both were elected to political positions in Mass. Truly a disappointing comment from a man who normally is sober minded and clear thinking, but in this case has been drinking the National Review anti-Huckabee Kool-Aid.
Monday, January 07, 2008
What would Jesus do or what has Jesus done? You really can’t understand what Jesus would do unless you read His Word, and His Word is all about what He has done.
Unfortunately few people seem interested in hearing about what was accomplished on the cross and why. God may be used, but He is not worshipped. Church is about making moral people better. Relevance trumps orthodoxy. The precious combination of worshipping God in spirit and in truth has tilted to the spirit side so heavily that truth has become almost irrelevant. The Christian life supersedes becoming a Christian. Programs have replaced Gospel evangelism (i.e. not "walking an aisle" but recognizing the sin in your life and throwing yourself on the mercy of God through the sacrifice of His Son). Assuming that the audience, that he person you are speaking or preaching to is already a Christian, is a dangerous thing but that is what happens too often by those who seek fellowship and political gain over the saving of souls.
What Jesus would do in a given situation is an important question, but it pales in comparison to proclaiming what Jesus has done. His work, finished, complete and perfect on the cross and demonstrated in the empty tomb is the pinnacle, the focus of Christianity. Christ did not come to make good people better, He came to redeem His people, to gather His sheep, and His people are a motley group of depraved sinners, dead in their trespasses and naturally enemies of God. His work is a work of reconciliation, not morality. The Gospel is not an instruction manual to address specific situations, although it does do that. The Gospel is a stark contrast between the holiness of God and the sin of man, that through one man, all men fell and that by one Man, Christ Jesus, those who believe may be reconciled and saved.
The boys on The White Horse Inn have started a new theme for 2008, the theme of a Christ-less Christianity. It is a theme with an almost endless supply of examples, examples of churches that reject the Gospel, dumb down the Word or more likely kill their witness through indifference. The bold yet humble proclamation of the Gospel has become an object of disdain, it is bad form and rude to tell people that they are sinners. Far easier to rail against abortion, gay marriage, Harry Potter or any other of a myriad of superficial issues. But to look a man or woman in the eye, and tell them that they are a sinner bound inexorably for hell unless they place their faith in Christ is uncomfortable for all involved, especially when you recognize that as a Christian you are not inherently worthy of heaven but are saved from eternal hell by, and only by, the sovereign election and grace of Jesus Christ. Telling sweet Mabel, the 90 year old church stalwart and prayer warrior, that she is saved from hell in spite of her own righteousness rather than because of her righteousness is a hard thing to do. But it is necessary to be honest about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What is most disturbing is that not many churches openly and intentionally set Christ aside. I would daresay that most churches think they are being faithful followers of Christ, but somehow have managed to not proclaim the Word. They call themselves conservative, Bible believing, evangelical, all the buzz words. But being ultra-conservative does not mean one is proclaiming the Gospel.
If you are not a Christian, the end of time or the end of your life, one or the other, will come some day and you will stand before a holy God and all of your sins exposed. There will be no cross-examination, no legal trickery, no procedural claims. Your life will stand as a testimony, and your condemnation will be sure and will be just. Eternity will await, and that eternity will be spent in hell.
If you are a Christian, never forget. NEVER forget that Jesus Christ died on a cross for you. His hands and feet were nailed to a cross, His side was pierced by a spear, He was raised up on that hill and mocked by sinners for not saving Himself.
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Huh, more people carrying guns legally equals lower gun violence?
From the Detroit Free Press:Six years after new rules made it much easier to get a license to carry concealed weapons, the number of Michiganders legally packing heat has increased more than six-fold.
But dire predictions about increased violence and bloodshed have largely gone unfulfilled, according to law enforcement officials and, to the extent they can be measured, crime statistics.
The incidence of violent crime in Michigan in the six years since the law went into effect has been, on average, below the rate of the previous six years. The overall incidence of death from firearms, including suicide and accidents, also has declined.
Isn't that the opposite of what we are always warned? The breathless warnings that concealed carry permits will lead to blood running in the streets? Wild west style shootouts in the streets over every little slight or insult? The reality is that allowing law abiding citizens to legally be trained, registered and carry firearms (which are still legal in this country) does not in any way increase gun violence.
This is the illogical argument of gun control advocates boils down to this: making something illegal does not discourage criminals! They are already committing crimes. That is why we call them criminals! Someone inclined to commit a crime is not going to be dissuaded from using a gun by making it illegal. Someone inclined to steal a car is not discouraged because stealing cars is illegal. They are discouraged by harsh penalties for breaking the law. The focus should be on punishing those who commit crimes, not those who follow the legal process for owning and carrying a legal firearm.
In a related note, Mike Huckabee has the exact right attitude about gun rights in America. It is not about hunting or self-defense in the home. From his position paper on the 2nd Amendment:
They knew that a government facing an armed populace was less likely to take away our rights, while a disarmed population wouldn't have much hope. As Ronald Reagan reminded us, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction." Without our Second Amendment rights, all of our other rights aren't inalienable, they're just "on loan" from the government.
Other candidates say gun control doesn't affect hunting. Now I'm a very avid hunter, but the Second Amendment isn't really about hunting. It's about tyranny and self-defense. The Founding Fathers weren't worried about our being able to bag a duck or a deer, they were worried about our keeping our fundamental freedoms.
Quite right! Every right we have as citizens is dependent on the 2nd Amendment, on the ability of an armed populace to keep the government in check. It is only the 2nd Amendment that keeps our other freedoms secure.
Saturday, January 05, 2008
US doomed if creationist president elected: scientists
Oh no, what will we do if someone who believes the same way that tens of millions of Americans do (and Western civilization as a whole for centuries) gets elected president!? It will "doom" the U.S.!
How can we ignore the advice of the high priest of secularism? Since they are "scientists", those of us who are in the ignorant masses are duty bound to kiss their rings and accept what they say without question. The arrogance of the academy is grotesque to say the least...
"The logic that convinces us that evolution is a fact is the same logic we use to say smoking is hazardous to your health or we have serious energy policy issues because of global warming," University of Michigan professor Gilbert Omenn told reporters at the launch of a book on evolution by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
"I would worry that a president who didn't believe in the evolution arguments wouldn't believe in those other arguments either. This is a way of leading our country to ruin," added Omenn, who was part of a panel of experts at the launch of "Science, Evolution and Creationism."
Yet another example of American believers being told to keep their mouths shut and keep their faith confined to the shadows and maybe Sunday, as long as they don't really believe what they are saying. We are to accept without question what "scientists" tell us, which is precisely what they accuse us of doing. Again I say, does anyone else see the irony in that?
From a cinematic standpoint, the movie was decent. Some of the acting is a bit overwrought, the love plot was cheesy and some of the dialogue was over the top. But what the movie managed to capture is life under the theocratic reign of Brigham Young, a man who I think was utterly convinced of his divine appointment as God's prophet. I still am unsure whether Joseph Smith was really deluded into thinking he was a prophet or if he was just a cheap con man who used the story of the Book of Mormon to gain power and women (it is probably a combination of both). But Young was an honest-to-goodness believer in himself and his divine appointment.
The temple ceremony scenes were creepy, but accurate. I am less convinced by the absolutes, the scenes of the kindly Christian preacher with a beautiful sunset behind him contrasted with Jon Voight calling down the curses of Jehovah upon the gentile invaders. But any serious look at the incident indicates that Brigham Young was complicit in the events, either by overtly calling for the attack or at least giving tacit approval. Regardless, the movie is thought provoking. I doubt many mormons will watch it given the "anti-mormon" stamp it has received, but they certainly should.