Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Speaking of being both Reformed and Baptist...

I have been slowing working through an excellent book, Believer's Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ, edited by Thomas Schreiner and Shawn Wright. The contributors work through the Biblical evidence of baptism, and show quite convincingly (so far, I am only part of the way through the book) that the clearest teachings of Scripture regarding baptism consistently point to baptism, like the other ordinance of the church, the Lord's Supper, as being exclusively reserved for believers and not for the infant children of believers.

The picture of baptism is one of being buried with Him in death and raised again to newness of life. How can we celebrate that newness of life unless we are born again?

Despite what I may disagree with John McArthur about concerning the end times, he has an excellent article on the scriptural refutation of paedobaptism . I especially liked this paragraph….

Among the Calvinists—among the Reformed people—there is a very important principle which many of them like to use. It’s called the "regulative principle" and it says this, "If Scripture doesn’t command it, it is forbidden." Now, if they would just stick with that, they would be all right. If Scripture doesn’t command it, it cannot be introduced into the church as normative. The theme of the Reformation, of course, "sola fide," "sola gratia," "sola Christus"—that is faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone—also, "sola scriptura," Scripture alone. The theme, the great byword of the Reformation was "Scripture only, Scripture only, Scripture, Scripture, Scripture." And yet, if you go to Scripture, you cannot find one single solitary word about infant baptism—it’s not in the Bible.

One other line, one that likely would rile up most Calvinists…

Time has come, after all these years since the Reformation, to strip off these remnants of Catholicism that never got dealt with during the Reformation and have been perpetuated, and return to the simple New Testament design.

Quite right! With all due respect to my paedobaptist brethren, infant baptism strikes me as being sentimental eisegesis, something done out of tradition. Unlike virtually every other doctrine among Reformed folks, baptism is the one area where tradition (i.e. all of the early Reformers were paedobaptists!) trumps Scripture.
The Five Points of Reformed Baptist Churches

A nice synopsis of what it means to be a Reformed Baptist from the Reformed Baptist Fellowship, other than "We are Reformed but not Presbyterian, we are Baptist but not dispensationalist". The posts are infrequent, but the Reformed Baptist Fellowship articles are always a good read....

The five points of Reformed Baptist Churches
A brief out-line of our distinctive convictions


A. Sola Scriptura The Bible is the complete, closed and clear authority in all matters of faith.
B. Solus Christus Our confidence is in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
C. Sola Gratia Grace secured redemption without reference to works.
D. Sola Fide We are declared righteous by God through faith alone
E. Soli Deo Gloria Goal of creation and redemption is God‘s praise.


A. Total Depravity The fall of Adam affected the totality of man’s person
B. Unconditional Election Election is not based on foreseen faith or works
C. Limited Atonement Redemption was accomplished by Christ for elect
D. Irresistible Grace Regeneration by the Holy Spirit is efficacious for elect.
E. Perseverance of the Saints God will, by grace, complete what He began in regeneration.


A. Godliness in Worship Regulative Principle of Worship
[5], the Lord’s day as a Christian Sabbath.
B. Godliness in Preaching Primacy of preaching. Both exposition and application emphasized.
C. Godliness in Instruction Confessional and catholic. Publishing what we believe the Bible teaches
D. Godliness in Family Parents are to instruct (catechize) and discipline their children in the Lord.
E. Godliness in Behavior Maintaining a good conscience before God and man.


A. Unity of the Bible Many parts yet one message.
B. Christ-centered interpretation Jesus’ person, work and kingdom is the theme of the Bible.
C. Law / Gospel distinction Law
[7] commands and condemns. Gospel saves[8].
D. One way of salvation Christ has saved all the elect throughout all the ages.
E. Optimistic view of history Jesus Christ is now King ruling over all. He will soon come again.


A. Biblical Church Practice Ordinances for believers only
[9]. Church discipline lovingly exercised.
B. Biblical Church Freedom The state is not to intrude into matters of conscience.
C. Biblical Church Government Elders and deacons. The local congregation chooses its leaders
D. Biblical Church Growth Gospel proclamation to the world. Repentance and Faith demanded of all.
E. Biblical Church Ministry Priesthood of all believers


The Creation Museum is open!

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports some 4,000+ visitors went through the Creation Museum on opening day, Monday May 28th. That means that four thousand people saw God's truth presented in a fashion to rival secular museums, and presented God's truth in a way that they may never have seen it displayed before. The demonstrators on hand were, well, less than imposing:
Beyond the gates, several dozen protesters staged a "Rally for Reason," arguing that the museum's central tenets conflict with scientific dating techniques.
So much for this huge outpouring of anger. Evolutionart theory: several dozen, God's truth several thousand. I guess it is easier to sign a letter rather than have to face someone who is armed and ready to show that evolution is NOT a closed issue.
People came from all over:
The museum opened at 10 a.m. with about 500 people in line and with license plates from 31 states and two Canadian provinces in the parking lot of about 600 spaces.
How great is that! I loved the contrast here, let's see who sounds like the person engaging in reasoned, thoughtful and open debate:
"The guests were very happy with the museum experience," (spokesman Mark ) Looy said. "Of course, we had some naysayers come through and engage us in conversation, and that's fine - we want them.

"We want skeptics and non-Christians to come here - we encourage that," Looy said...

"It's really impressive - and it really gives the impression that they're talking about science at some point," said critic Lawrence Krauss, professor of physics and astronomy and director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics at Cleveland's Case Western Reserve University.

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being best, "I'd give it a 4 for technology, 5 for propaganda," Krauss said. As for content, "I'd give it a negative 5."
I would give it a negative five on a scale of one to five? This guy is a scientist? Maybe he can call Ken Ham a doodiehead, that would be an equally devastating critique. I can't wait to plan a trip to Northern Kentucky with my kids!

Monday, May 28, 2007

A little broom action!

The Tribe takes 3 from the Detroit Tigers, in what is an ugly and difficult stretch. Up next, three games against the best team in baseball, the Boston Red Sox and then back to the Tigers for a four game series. How the Tribe comes out of this stretch may go a long way to determining the end of the season. I know it is only May but if we show something now against the two biggest threats in the American League (no offense intended to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim or whatever they are called these days...) it speaks well to how we are going to be down the stretch. In the same division as the Tigers, every game counts and given the Indians incredible record at home (17-4, .809), having home field advantage will be key if we make the playoffs. So far, so good, 3-0 in this stretch!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The atheists turn ugly !

It is not news that atheists have long hated the very notion of faith, but now are starting to turn that hate directly at people of faith. Yahoo news reports on the sudden surge of atheistic/humanistic books that speak out against faith in incredibly vitriolic language. Book titles like Christopher Hitchens' God is not great: How religion poisons everything show the level of disgust atheists have and really have always had towards Christians. Hatred directed at Christians has become a big business in the book world...

The time for polite debate is over. Militant, atheist writers are making an all-out assault on religious faith and reaching the top of the best-seller list, a sign of widespread resentment over the influence of religion in the world among nonbelievers...

"There is something like a change in the Zeitgeist," Hitchens said, noting that sales of his latest book far outnumber those for his earlier work that had challenged faith. "There are a lot of people, in this country in particular, who are fed up with endless lectures by bogus clerics and endless bullying."

Facing people of faith must be scary to atheists. What is really going on is a growing fear among atheists that as Christians in large numbers are turning back to Biblical truths, and more importantly focusing on their children's education and realizing that secular teachings are not compatible with the raising of Christian children.

They need to cling to the hope that Christianity is false because the contrary is to frightening t0o contemplate: The God they have mocked and derided all their lives is alive indeed and will one day sit in judgment on them. For a person who denies God that is a scary thought indeed. Later in the same article is this excellent point:

The Rev. Douglas Wilson, senior fellow in theology at New Saint Andrews College, a Christian school in Moscow, Idaho, sees the books as a sign of secular panic. He says nonbelievers are finally realizing that, contrary to what they were taught in college, faith is not dead. Signs of believers' political and cultural might abound.

Religious challenges to teaching evolution are still having an impact, 80 years after the infamous Scopes "Monkey" trial. The dramatic growth in homeschooling and private Christian schools is raising questions about the future of public education...

"It sort of dawned on the secular establishment that they might lose here," said Wilson, who is debating Hitchens on and has written the book "Letter from a Christian Citizen" in response to Harris. "All of this is happening precisely because there's a significant force that they have to deal with."

Quite right, I especially liked that he pointed out the rise of homeschooling and Christian education to counter the flood of secular, God-denying teaching in public schools.

Dr. Mohler featured a discussion and response to Christopher Hitchens on his radio program on May 22, it is worth listening to!

"Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! (Luke 6:22 ESV)
I'll see your deviancy and raise you a perversion!

The United Methodist Church seeks to one-up the Episcopalians

The first few paragraphs of this news article kind of say it all...

WASHINGTON - A United Methodist minister who has changed gender since being chosen to lead a congregation in Baltimore will be reappointed there, church officials announced Thursday at a regional convocation.

The Rev. Drew Phoenix told the church's Baltimore-Washington conference that he had gone through "spiritual transformation" in the past year, since changing his name from Ann Gordon and receiving medical treatment to become a man.

The denomination bans sexually active gay clergy but does not have any rules about transgender pastors.

That we should even need to have rules regarding "transgender pastors" speaks volumes about the state of the church and American society. I can't imagine what sort of person would sit under the teachings of a person who is so clearly disturbed. The secondary issue here is that the UMC, in direct defiance of Scripture, initially installed Ann Gordon as a "pastor". If you can have a woman as a pastor, why not a sexual deviant? I pray that God will intervene in the life of this confused person, one so confused and disturbed that they would mutilate the body given them by God in a vain attempt to become a man. Ann Gordon's actions are not to be celebrated, but mourned and the lack of Biblical leadership and leadership in the UMC ought not be commended, but condemned.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Response of the "Scientific" Community to opposing views?



Nope! Protests!

As the Creation Musuem approachs it's opening on Memorial Day, the
Cincinnati Enquirer reports that a number of groups will be on hand to protest:

When the gates of the new Creation Museum in Petersburg open Memorial Day, several groups will be inside - and outside - waiting to see what all the fuss is about.

Many of those people will be followers of the creationist faith, believing in the literal
Bible. They think the world is about 6,000 years old, that dinosaurs and man
co-existed and Noah built an ark to save God's creatures from a massive flood.

Others will be there to protest the museum and its ministry, Answers in
Genesis. Some will have religious and political agendas, while others do not
believe in God at all. Some are concerned the museum's teachings will warp children, while others say the ministry uses bad science.

Some quotes from these self-appointed high priests of evolution:

The Campaign to Defend the Constitution, a national group that opposes the religious right, drafted petitions against the museum. (note: The Campaign to Defend the Consitution? By protesting people excercising their constitutional rights to practice their religious beliefs?)

They claim Answers in Genesis markets its unscientific ideas to children, much in the same way R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. used its "Joe Camel" cartoon character to promote Camel cigarettes. The group says so far 3,000 people have signed its petitions.

"We agree they can build this museum and believe what they wish," said Clark Stevens, co-director of the Washington-based group, which claims 125,000 members nationwide and 7,000 members in the region. "But we feel they can't try to convince children that this is true." (note: I am glad that we have your permission to believe what we want, thank you Mr. Stevens!)

Atheists and those Christians who are not creationists could be standing side-by-side Monday, and for once they will believe the same thing: that the Creation Museum is bad for the area.

Edwin Kagin, a Union lawyer and the national legal director of American Atheists, is urging members of his group to walk through the museum.

"We want to let the world know that most rational people do not share the primitive world view of creationists that the Earth is only a few thousand years old, and that humans and dinosaurs existed at the same time," he said. "Various groups, representing both religious and secular orientations, will join together to protest this destructive world view."

Note the use of scare langauge: "most rational people", "primitive world view", "destructive world view". The message: we think we are smart and if you disagree with us you are a fool, so join in lockstep with us or face our derision. The irony is so rich, that those who complain the loudest about the closed mindedness of creationists are responding with protests, in an attempt to shout down or intimidate those who hold to a Biblical view of creation. Perhaps they will sneak into the museum and try to lure away children who are being led astray by their awful parents. Perhaps these groups will demonstrate their rejection of fundamentalism by burning Ken Ham's books and AiG brochures, or perhaps even appointing a Grand Inquisitor. After all, we certainly need the evolutionist community to save us from ourselves, or at least save our children from us!

One way or the other, I am going to get down to Northern Kentucky with my kids, and whatever other families I can, to help instill in them an appreciation of the Biblical doctrine of creationism, and help them to truly appreciate the creation and, more importantly, the Creator.

(here is an ABC News clip about the Creation Museum, pretty fair and it cited an interesting stat, that despite years of public education, 60% of Americans believe in a literal six days creation)

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile."(1Co 3:18-20 ESV)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Is God cruel?


An absolutely vital read on the Reformed Baptist Fellowship blog. Any Christian who has spent a decent amount of time in the Word has had to deal with the passages where God commands the Israelites to annihilate the Canaanites. Bob Gonzales rightly points out that while some things in the Bible are descriptive, these are prescriptive. In other words God is explicitly commanding these actions, rather than merely recording something that the Israelites did on their own. Many try to explain the issue away, but any explanation other than one which recognizes that God commanded this directly and did so within His divine nature diminishes God and replaces Him with a man made idol. This statement was especially pertinent:
The context of the command is a sinful world under God’s curse (Gen 3:8ff). If we remember this fact, then the real question is not, “Why would God exterminate the Canaanites?” but rather “Why has God withheld judgment from so many other sinful nations?” Furthermore, God’s promise to redeem the world necessitates the destruction and removal of evil (Gen 3:15; Matt. 6:10; 2 Pet 3:13).

I appreciate Bob for his humble and accurate posting on this issue. There are a million things that are easier to write about, it took a lot of courage and deep conviction to write this and I highly recommend it for your edification.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Training young mormons to duck tough questions

Robert Millet is a respected (in LDS circles) apologist for mormonism, shown here teaching apparently mormon youth preparing for their missions....

A couple of interesting things Millet says:

- Young mormons already know more about God and Jesus than the people who might question them.

- He doesn't respond to questions posed by hypothetical people, he responds instead to the questions they should have asked.

- "We never provide meat when milk will do"

I.e. we avoid the tough questions by dancing around them. It is instructive to watch, as anyone who has tried to witness to mormons will attest, it is a tough thing to pin down, in large part because they have ingrained in them that anyone who questions mormonism is either ignorant or out to get them...

(HT: Mormon Home Evening )

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What Kind of Evangelical Are You?

The Noldorin Calvinist provided a fun link, what kind of Evangelical are you?

I scored, no shock here, as a Baptist...

You scored as Baptist. If you've landed here, then you are probably a well-informed Baptist. You know what separates you from other Evangelicals and why it is important to divide at certain points. You see the church as a missionary organization whose job it is to preach the gospel to a lost world.



Reformed Baptist


Conservative Evangelical


Fightin' Fundy


Presby - Old School


Evangelical Presbyterian


High Church Nomad


Moderate Evangelical


What Kind of Evangelical Are You
created with

( I am a little embarrassed that I scored as a moderate evangelical at all, even if at only 20%)

In the beginning...

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31 ESV)

One week from now the Creation Museum opens in Northern Kentucky, the brain-child of Ken Ham of the Answers in Genesis ministry. AiG is dedicated to recovering the Biblical doctrine of creationism, in the literal six day sense rather than the man-pleasing doctrines of the framework hypothesis, allegory or any number of other explanations other than what God has laid down in His Holy Word. This has been years in the making, and I am planning on a trip to Northern Kentucky this fall to visit our old stompin' grounds and show our kids this exhibit. The Cincinnati Enquirer has a large section in today's edition focusing on the impending opening of the Creation Museum, which is expected to draw enormous crowds of Christians from the Midwest and all over the country and the world. It is causing quite a stir and drawing a great deal of attention:

Just a week from opening, a new museum on 42 rural acres just off Interstate 275 has drawn the interest of residents, tourism officials and the international media. Already, NBC's Brian Williams, CNN's Anderson Cooper, PBS' Jim Lehrer and journalists from the BBC, Newsweek, the New York Times and the Washington Post have made trips here to Petersburg, Ky.

It is also drawing opposition of the nastiest sort, from all manner of "open-minded" people:

In an emotionally charged negative article against the Creation Museum, a scientist who has not visited the Museum, has not read any of the teaching signs, nor seen any of the videos, wrote an opinion piece for the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper, in which he used the following terms regarding the Creation Museum exhibits: “scientific fraud,” “lies,” “a travesty,” “false,” “misguided,” “misinformation,” “colossal unreason,” “hypocritical,” “misrepresent,” “bad science,” “manifestly false,” and “religiously motivated fraud.”

The evolutionist who wrote this vitriolic piece was Lawrence M. Krauss, Director of the Center for Education and Research in Cosmology and Astrophysics at Case Western Reserve University, as well as the Chair of the Forum on Physics and Society of the American Physical Society.

As is typical of many professors at secular universities, he tries to scare the public against creation scientists by using emotionally charged language. This shows clearly the bias of such scientists against the Bible. They don’t care what scientific research/facts AiG’s PhD scientists have included in the Museum exhibits—because the Creation Museum is set up to tell people the Bible’s history in Genesis is true, Krauss, because he only allows naturalistic explanations in science for the origin of life, will not even consider anything creation scientists say or write. Maybe the students Krauss is in charge of at the university should write their research papers the same way Krauss has researched the Creation Museum teaching exhibits! Of course, if they did that, they would fail! But their professors can get away with such
an unscientific approach when used against Christians.
So much for the high minded intellectual purity of the academy.

Here is another "wellreasoned" response from an evolutionary disciple:

"Fact is, that for a long time, this museum will be a severe detriment (to) our region's reputation. It will be mentioned in the same breath with the Cincinnati race riots of 2001," says Hubert Kirchgaessner of Hebron. "If anything, this museum is a monument to human gullibility. As a Christian, I take offense at people who are belittling the role of God in the creation of the universe by rejecting reality and compartmentalizing the miracle of evolution into a few Disneyesque episodes that they claim to derive out of the Bible."
This from a man who claims to be a Christian, just one who doesn't believe in God's Word unless he likes what it says, and one who claims that this will be "a severe detriment to our regions reputation" A man who compares this museum to race riots! I wonder what miracles in the Bible Mr. Kirchgaessner finds palatable? Water into wine? Red Sea parting? Jesus being resurrected? Any of that? Does he even believe in Christ rising from the dead? Or is believing that "gullible"?

Ken Ham's response? No doubt something crazed, frothing at the mouth, because that is the kind of people we are! Or not...

"We invite those who don't agree with us to come to the museum and see what we are saying," says Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis and the museum. "We welcome everyone here."
Those tricky Christian fundamentalists, being friendly and open! Curses!
Answers in Genesis has a slogan, and it is a great one: "Prepare to believe."

Amen to that!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Methinks they doth protest too much...

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12: 2 ESV)

Kim at Life in a Shoe has posted again on the subject of homeschool, and was very gracious in my opinion.

What I find interesting is the comment section of her post. It gets a little heated, but the defensiveness of Christian parents who send their children to public school seems a bit over the top. (I addressed a number of the arguments regarding those who oppose homeschooling in a previous post here. ) The arguments in these comments that bother me the most are those that claim because the Bible does not specifically say that we should homeschool our kids, then we therefore should send our children to public school, as if that is the default position. That is always an intellectually dishonest position, like saying that because the Bible does not say that we shouldn't baptize infants, we ought to automatically assume that we do. The Bible is replete with admonitions to raise up our children in the fear and knowledge of the Lord, and yet many seem perfectly content to subcontract that to a secular, God denying organization and hope that a couple of hours of church on Sunday and whatever activities we can squeeze in will offset the secularization that they are forced fed 40 hours a week. Public school is not the default position, and trying to argue from silence in the Bible is silly and deceptive.

Public schools seek to mold children to be conformed to this world, and that is strictly contrary to the Word of God.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Irony Alert!

Greenpeace is building a replica of Noah's Ark on Mount Ararat to warn people about global warming. My question is, where did they get the wood to build their stunt? How many innocent trees had to die so that they could get some publicity!?

If you aren't part of the solution, you are part of the problem!
On a lighter note!

Mike Huckabee says in this clip from last nights Fox News GOP debate that Congress spends money like Jonathan Edwards in a beauty shop. That is just flat out funny stuff! (National Review online has a number of scorecards from the debate, my favorite is from John Derbyshire who is properly cranky like a good conservative should be. He didn't like Huckabees shot at Edwards tho. I am finally starting to think more seriously about the election, rather than throwing my hands up in disgust)

Putting political expediency above the Gospel

While milling around the internet, I came across a posting on the Evangelicals for Mitt webpage by a gentleman named David French. Mr. French seems like a solid guy, a Christian who is a Harvard Law educated lawyer, and a Calvinist to boot! However...

With a due respect for David French and his service for our country, when he writes this:

As for me, I'm proud to stand with Mormons as we confront the cultural rot that is destroying our country from within, and I'm proud to serve with Mormons as fellow soldiers facing a hideous evil overseas. I appreciate them more than they could know. I'm grateful for their presence in my life and in the life of this nation. So, I leave the question of "cult, denomination, or religion" to the Judge of all things. I'm content with a fourth category -- one not on that list -- the category of "friends."

...I have to speak up. Friends don't send missionaries out to try to convince Christians to leave Christianity for a heretical belief. The history of mormonism in America, if you go back more than a few years, is one of near open rebellion, of borderline sedition, of introducing polygamy into the American landscape in a major way. The institution of the mormon church is directed at convincing people that the Bible is unreliable, all Christian churches are apostate (including the church that David French and his wife attend, Zion Presbyterian in Columbia, TN which appears to be a solid church) and God is not eternally God but instead a created personage of flesh, a man who progressed to become one of many gods.

Mr. French is putting political pragmatism above the Gospel. My reasons for not voting for Romney have little to do with his faith, and a lot more to do with his waffling on positions, but let's not forget the tens of thousands of missionary "friends" knocking on Christian doors today and every day. The Gospel is more precious than the GOP. As important as the 2008 election is, it is not going to make or break the proclamation of the Gospel if a Republican is in the White House. The Gospel must not be compromised. I would expect a Calvinist to know better.

Ministering in the (other) heart of Mormonism

I came across the webpage for the Nauvoo Christian Visitors Center. The folks out there, Rocky and Helen Hulse, are doing an important but difficult work in one of the most sacred places of mormonism outside of Utah, Nauvoo. Much like Palmyra and Kirtland, Nauvoo holds a special place in mormon history and has seen a recent surge in mormons moving to the area. Rocky is, like me, a former mormon saved by God with a burden to witness to mormons and educate fellow Christians.

Their work was featured in a story in the Chicago Tribune, picked up by the mormon church owned Deseret News. Right off the bat the article shows where it is going, with the headline: "Anti-LDS evangelists rile Nauvoo faithful". So clearly the implication right from the title in the Deseret News is that the poor mormons are faithful and the Christians are mean anti-LDSers. It goes downhill from there.

"NAUVOO, Ill. — Nauvoo is a hallowed place for Mormons, who settled the town in 1839. And the arrival of two Christian evangelists from the Chicago area, proclaiming an anti-Mormonism message to the world, recalls the troubled history of those early Mormons with neighbors of other faiths."

Geez, what next? Rocky and Helen tar and feathering the local mormon "bishop", David Wright? I guess since Nauvoo is special for mormons, they ought to be given free rein over the town, perhaps even raising their own army and printing their own money, just to add some flavor to the area? The local "bishop" reacts in a predictable fashion (remember that these are the same people who freak out whenever anyone else suggest that they aren't Christians):

"It ought to be called a non-Christian center or anti-Mormon center," said Bishop David Wright, a top LDS Church leader in Nauvoo. "I don't see anything Christian about it."

Two points here that I made on the blog for the Nauvoo Christian Visitors Center...

A. As a non-Christian himself, Wright seems unqualified to determine what being Christian looks like. Isn't that what Christians talking about mormon beliefs hear all the time, don't tell us what we believe?

B. The depth of the hypocrisy is incredible, that witnessing to mormons is hateful and mean, but mormon missionaries spreading a false gospel to Christians is merely "sharing".

The Hulses have received death threats emanating from Utah.

It's no wonder, locals say, the Hulses are facing blowback.

The couple reported they had received two veiled written threats late last year. Then, two days before Christmas, the couple received an e-mail that was traced to an address in Utah. "id love to watch you all die," it read, "then witness the looks on your faces when you realize how stupid and counterproductive your fight really was."

Shaken, the Hulses installed deadbolts on their doors and floodlights around their storefront. They began checking their car's gas cap for any sign of tampering. And they called police, triggering an investigation from Nauvoo to Utah.

I love the comment "no wonder" they are receiving death threats, almost like they had it coming! Looking at the picture of Rocky and Helen, they sure look nefarious and dangerous! Mormons are conditioned to react strongly against anyone questioning their faith, but confronting the lies of mormonism in the heart of Nauvoo really gets their dander up! Pray for Rocky and Helen Hulse, that God will protect and provide for their ministry, sharing the truth of the Gospel in Nauvoo, Illinois.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

This is good stuff too!

Whenever an Arminian is confronted with the plain truth of Scripture regarding the sovereignity of God in salvation, they always fall back on a few verses like 2 Peter 3:9, give them an almost universalist spin and chant "all means all". This video is a great example of how looking at these verses in context does not prove Arminianis at all, in fact does just the opposite.
Good stuff from Fred Thompson!

A very brief smackdown of ignoramous Michael Moore...

Moore apparently challenged former Senator Thompson to a debate, and Fred gives him about all the time he deserves in response, a little over 30 seconds. Moore is a buffoon and like so many leftists seems to think that Cuba is a paradise. Much like Sean Penn being made a patsy by Saddam Hussein, these liberal celebs seem to think that the sanitized version of Cuba they see is the real deal, when the reality is that Cuba is one of the world's leading human rights violators. I am intrigued by Thompson's possible Presidential run, if they would let him smoke a cigar during the debates, he would maul Obama or Hillary...

(even more exciting, I finally figured out how to post videos to my blog!)

Jerry Falwell, going home at age 73

Dr. Falwell was a polarizing figure, you either liked him a lot or you flat out hated him. Despite doctrinal differences, Dr. Falwell was clearly a man who was passionate, passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, passionate about America, passionate about Liberty University. Much of what Dr. Falwell said caused a ruckus, from parties as diverse as homosexuals to Calvinists. But overall he was a man with a heart for God and his work on behalf of the Kingdom are manifold. My prayers go out to Dr. Falwell's family and all those who loved him and had their lives touched by him. Enjoy your rest Dr. Falwell.

Dr. Mohler wrote a piece on the life and legacy of Dr. Falwell on the Newsweek On Faith forum. As expected, every crackpot liberal is out taking cheap shots at Dr. Falwell, never recognizing the irony of speaking in such an intolerant way about a man that they accuse of lacking tolerance.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

More on Mitt

Mitt Romney is quoted in an article on Yahoo! News titled Romney says being Mormon won't hurt him. The article is pretty uninteresting until more than half way through...

Mitt on polygamy:

"Look, the polygamy, which was outlawed in our church in the 1800s, that's troubling to me," he said. "I have a great-great grandfather. They were trying to build a generation out there in the desert. And so he took additional wives as he was told to do. And I must admit, I can't imagine anything more awful than polygamy."

This is either intentionally deceptive or lacking any sort of understanding of the history of his own church. I have a hard time believing that Romney, coming from the family he does and being a former bishop and stake president, is unfamiliar with the doctrines and history of the mormon church. True that polygamy was no longer practiced, openly, at the end of the 1800's but it was certainly practiced in secret and in foreign lands after it was "outlawed" in Utah.

The repopulating argument is a common one when mormons get pressed on polygamy, making it out to be this terrible burden that mormon men were forced to endure for the good of the church. But the truth is somewhere else I think. Joseph Smith selected young girls because they struck his fancy. The reality is that having extra wives was a privilege for Smith's cronies, who were rewarded for their loyalty with extra wives. It certainly wasn't awful for the men involved, although it likely was for the women. Doctrine & Covenants 132 declares the doctrine of polygamy, which Smith had been practicing for some time prior to publicly announcing it, and it has never been revoked. Polygamy is still a valid doctrine in mormonism, one that is not currently practiced openly. I still cringe when I read the portion of revelation directed at Joseph Smith's wife Emma, who was being chastised in this "revelation" for objecting to her husband's adulterous behavior...

54 And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law.

55 But if she will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will bless him and multiply him and give unto him an hundredfold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds.

56 And again, verily I say, let mine handmaid forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses; and then shall she be forgiven her trespasses, wherein she has trespassed against me; and I, the Lord thy God, will bless her, and multiply her, and make her heart to rejoice.

Polygamy is often laughed about in mormon circles today. But in those days it was nothing to sneer at, and Joseph Smith is a man who was willing to cheat on his wife and then threaten her with his fake revelations to shut her up when she complained. I hardly think Mitt Romney is ignorant of his own past.
Time on Mormonism

Time ran a pretty decent article about mormonism a number of years ago. Now they are back again, this time looking at Mitt Romney. The article has a subsection on mormon teachings, but it is pretty basic and really focuses on whether or not it is proper to ask questions about a candidates beliefs at all. Here is a sample:

Many Evangelicals have been taught that Mormonism is a cult with a heretical understanding of Scripture and doctrine. Mormons reject the unified Trinity and teach that God has a body of flesh and blood. Though Mormons revere Christ as Saviour and certainly call themselves Christians, the church is rooted in a rebuke to traditional Christianity. Joseph Smith presented himself as a prophet whom God had instructed to restore his true church, since "all their creeds were an abomination in his sight." He described how an angel named Moroni provided him with golden tablets that told the story (written in what Smith called "reformed Egyptian" hieroglyphics, never seen before) of an ancient civilization of Israelites sent by God to America. The tablets included lessons Jesus taught during a visit to America after his Resurrection. Smith was able to read and translate the tablets with the help of special transparent stones he used as spectacles. He published them as the Book of Mormon in 1830.

Twelve years later, Smith explained to a Chicago newspaper that "ignorant translators, careless transcribers or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors" in the Bible, which he revised according to God's revelations. Mormons were subject to persecutions, and in 1844, as he was running for President, Smith was murdered by an angry mob. His successor, Brigham Young, led followers to Utah, the church proceeded to grow rapidly, and Mormon leaders were identified by the church as God's prophets on earth.

The biggest issue I have with Romney is not his mormonism but they way he has changed his stances on key driver issues for Republicans. His stance on gun control and abortion, my two big issues. His willingness to morph into new positions in response to the demands of the conservative GOP base doesn't speak well to the strength of his convictions. The other issues is the way that so many Christians seem willing to gloss over differences, and embrace Romney's mormonism, because he seems to be an attractive candidate. His social stances may (or may not) be genuine and in line with conservative values but let's not mistake them for Christian beliefs.

(HT: The Reformed Baptist Thinker)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Integrity in the Membership Rolls

Tom Ascol of Founders Ministries is reintroducing a resoution at the Southern Baptist Convention, calling for us as a Convention to do better, much better, at making sure that we are only adding to the church and keeping on the rolls, those who are faithful, regenerate members of our church body. The resolution is well worth reading, I hope that this resolution gets a fair hearing from the delegates as it is a vital issue if we are to maintain a healthy and Biblical church membership.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Where to school and why?

As if there is not enough intramural controversy among the Reformed, a few blogs have raised the question of homeschool vs. Christian schools vs. public schools, and in most cases the strawmen are being lashed at the expense of the homeschooling familes.

I am not sure why it is that some Christians, especially it seems Reformed Christians, get their noses so out of joint about homeschooling. I doubt it really is a response to intemperate remarks by some fervent homeschool advocates as Tim Challies suggest. Are there militant homeschoolers who castigate public school parents? Oh yes, but they do so generally because they sincerely believe that what God has commanded us to do regarding the education of our kids is best carried out in homeschooling. Some I am sure do so in arrogance and pride, I am a better Christian parent than thou, sending thine progeny to yonder Babylon known as public school. But for the most part, those I know who are homeschoolers do so out of a sense of duty as Christians to raise our children up in the knowledge and fear of the Lord first and foremost, and believe that the right way to do that is in the home.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I went to public school. My wife went to public school. We turned out OK, although I would say that was in spite of, not because of, our public school experience. Our kids attended public school until the last few years. My oldest sister is a public school teacher at the high school I and all of my siblings attended.

Now on to the offending blog post…

Tim Challies is generally a guy I appreciate, a sound Reformed theological guy, with a decent sense of humor (for a Canadian). But recently he wrote a blog entry on education, specifically homeschooling, that I took umbrage at and given who I am and to what family I belong, I cannot permit a slight, intentional or not, to go unanswered.

Challies addresses four points about homeschooling that he suggests are “potential” dangers of homeschooling.

The church division argument

“it can breed division in the church either through what is said or through how it is said (and in the case of Kim's article, I'd suggest both). Homeschooling can be and too often is a negative and divisive force in the church. Please hear me when I say that this is not always the case. But I feel that homeschoolers need to be very careful with this issue. I have written before about how a greater ideology lies behind the decision to homeschool and I stand by that belief. In far too many cases that ideology leads to division. Homeschoolers can take what is clearly a disputable matter and elevate it to the status of something far greater. This always leads to disunity!”

This is a real one, but it runs both ways. Our choices of education for our children reveal pretty deep seated beliefs, and people get heated when they are told they are doing a poor job raising their kids. But it seems disingenuous to say that issues like this are always the fault of homeschoolers, beating up on poor innocent public school parents. In my experience, it is far more often the case that the public school parents look askance at homeschoolers, and while I have never questioned a public school parent unsolicited, I have been given more than my fair share of unasked for and unwanted opinions about our choice to homeschool our kids. It strikes me as unlikely that I am the only one who has suffered the indignation of being grilled about homeschooling by a public school parent. I have never suggested from my pulpit that it is wrong to send kids to public school, but I have heard it suggested from a pulpit that it was wrong to homeschool. Who causes more dissension? Notice that Tim says it is exclusively the homeschoolers who must "be careful". There is probably room for blame on both sides. But to use homeschoolers as a fall guy for church division is unfair. Churches face division over all sorts of issues, some trivial and some not. This is not a trivial issue and Challies is painting an inaccurate picture of the offending parties.

The superiority complex argument

“A second danger, which is related to the first, is in the possibility of feeling a sense of superiority over those who choose to put their children in public schools or a sense of superiority in the education homeschooled children will receive. I have addressed in the past the fact that, for my family and for countless others, the choice to put our children in public school is made on the basis of biblical conviction.”

This is basically the same argument, but now not only do we cause division but we are smug about it. Now the strawman wears a smirk. Again, as a homeschooler and as one who knows other homeschoolers, I have found us to be a generally humble lot, because little is more humbling than trying to keep seven kids in line, getting chores done along with school and not killing one another.

As a side note, Tim says that his is a “biblical conviction” to send his kids to public school, but he makes this claim without a lick of Scripture. Scripture speaks often of the need to raise up children properly in the fear of the Lord, with the parent as the teacher, but one will look in vain for a Scripture that argues for a public school education.

The fortress mentality argument

“A third great danger is that it may breed fear of what is outside and security in what is inside. Sometimes explicitly but more commonly implicitly, children can be taught that worldliness is a force that exists outside of themselves and something they can be sheltered from. Defenses of homeschooling are absolutely filled with this viewpoint. They are taught to fear what the world can do to them and how it may corrupt them.”

Uh Tim, there is plenty of ugliness in the world, and if I am to be condemned for seeking to shelter my kids rather than throwing them to the wolves, so be it. If you don’t read the news and see just how ugly the world can be, you are deluding yourself.

One of the things I have found is that homeschooling our kids, along with ditching the TV and cable, is that our kids are allowed to grow up at their pace, not the forced pace of pop culture. It amazes me to see the difference between my soon to be 14 year old daughter and other girls her age. My daughter is still a little girl, and acts like one. Many 14 year olds at our local public school act like Paris Hilton. That may be an unfair statement, or come across as a superiority complex (see point two above) but it is true. Why force feed our children adulthood, when they have so much childhood yet to live?

The sheltered from sin argument

"A fourth danger is that it may insulate children from a world they must learn to live in. The greatest reason that my wife and I send our children to public school is that we feel this is where they can best learn how to exist as believers in an unbelieving world. It is our conviction that we could not as easily teach them this if we were to keep them at home."

Perhaps we should take our kids to crack houses or strip clubs, now boys see that is what sin looks like! That is a bit of hyperbole I know. See the socializing argument below. I would say that the best place to learn how to deal with a sinful world is to teach them God's Word, so that they learn how to discern truth, and recognize sin.

Two arguments that are implied by Tim and that I hear a lot are these…

The socializing argument

This argument goes something like this, usually in the form of this question: "Aren't you worried about your kids not getting enough socialization?" This is the silliest. What sort of socialization do kids get in public school? Let's be realistic about what happens on a daily basis in public schools. Brutal teasing. Forced conformity. A pack mentality. A constant diet of disrespect towards adults in general and parents in particular. A sexualized environment where kids are pressured by peers into risky sexual behavior an increaingly young ages. And on top of that, Tim and others like him assume that our kids never see the light of day (“What is that shiny orb in yonder firmament? It burns us precious!”) My kids see lots of other kids, play with other kids, interact with non-Christian kids in 4-H. This is true of virtually every homeschooler I know. Our kids interact with other kids and get “socialization”. The difference is that it occurs under our supervision, not some overwhelmed 23 year old public school teacher.

The “kids as missionaries” argument

The argument that our children are little missionaries to the heathen at school sounds chock full of Biblical truth, but the reality is somewhat different. Would we send a 17 year old son to Thailand as a missionary? Probably not. Tim’s kids may be more adept at witnessing than mine are, but I have a hard time believing that.

A few more points…..

In the beginning of his posting, Tim responds to a home school advocate named Kim C.

"Kim suddenly goes on the defensive for a moment, saying "I would love to hear about the 'negatives' of homeschooling…I will take up this challenge, though I will not speak of the "negatives" of homeschooling. "

Oddly, despite this assertion, Tim spends the entire post speaking of the “potential” negatives of homeschooling. Kim does a very able job of defending homeschooling on her blog here.

Tim also brings up the Deuteronomy 6 argument

Deuteronomy 6 is a hot button text as it applies to is worth reading and pondering.

Does this Scripture explicitly command homeschooling? Not at all. The cultural context is so different that to say it does it silly. But does it make a strong case for us today that we should homeschool our kids? AB-SO-LUTE-LY! A text does not have to say "Thou shalt educate thy children in thy home and eschew the public schools" to recognize that if we send our kids to public schools, they are getting not a neutral view of Scripture but a hostile one.

Something else Tim wrote:

“At the very least we allow that education is a decision of conscience and that parents must make what can be a long and difficult decision. If you disagree with this, please turn to Scripture and defend this viewpoint. And do realize that such an understanding will necessarily be divisive within the church. If you can prove it from Scripture it will be necessary division. If you cannot, it is unnecessary and must be avoided.”

Notice the burden here. It is by inference directed at homeschool parents. If you think that sending our kids to public school is wrong, prove it from Scripture. What of proving that sending our kids to public schools is the right way to go from Scripture?

Do we tell our kids to listen to their teachers and then contradict them when they get home? "Well Johnny, Ms. Darwin said that we descended from apes, but that is not true. See the Bible says we are made in the image of God. But when the test comes around, make sure you parrott back the 'correct' answer so you don't get a poor grade."

If we are supposed to "undo" what the kids have learned at school and give them the proper Christian response, why not just skip the middle man and give them the Biblical truth first and foremost?

As a conservative, I also have to say that by and large our public schools are an abject failure. That is not an indictment of many fine public school teachers, but rather of the system and the NEA that seeks to create and protect as many union education positions as possible. In essence we are shackling our kids to a sinking ship in the hope that they will make it float.

In 2005 Dr. Albert Mohler wrote of the need for an "exit strategy" for Christians. His words resound with soberness and wisdom on this issue...

I believe that now is the time for responsible Southern Baptists to develop an exit strategy from the public schools. This strategy would affirm the basic and ultimate responsibility of Christian parents to take charge of the education of their own children. The strategy would also affirm the responsibility of churches to equip parents, support families, and offer alternatives. At the same time, this strategy must acknowledge that Southern Baptist churches, families, and parents do not yet see the same realities, the same threats, and the same challenges in every context. Sadly, this is almost certainly just a matter of time.

The day is not yet when Christians are uniform in this stance, but at some point the homosexual agenda, evolutionist, postmodern tolerance, hyper-sexualized nature of the public school system may accomplish what homeschool advocates have not: convincing Christian parents that the time for raising up our kids and educating them at home is now.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sacré bleu!

(definition: an exclamation of complete surprise)

The French elected a "pro-American" guy as their new President, Nicolas Sarkozy. First off, I didn't know there was such a beast as a pro-American Frenchmen, at least not without the presence of German troops in Paris. Sounds like this guy realizes that things need to change in France before it degenerates any further into economic depression and general lawlessness. I will admit that I will miss old Jacque Chirac and his mindless anti-Americanism. Maybe there is hope for Europe after all...

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Spiderman 3
Just got back from the movie. Overall, my reaction was it was OK. Not great, not good. Just OK. Some effects were pretty cool (most of the Sandman effects) some were pretty cheesy (most scenes with the Goblin Jr.). Way too many slow scenes that dragged on and hurt the pace of the movie. The part where Peter Parker takes on the persona of the black suit are pretty funny, but even that dragged on too long. Too many new characters, too many plotlines. Will I watch it again? Not in a theater. But we will probably get the DVD when it comes out. Now the new Harry Potter movie trailer, that was cool and probably kept my attention more than the Spidey movie itself did.
Monkeying around with human rights

Animal "rights" kooks in Austria are trying to get a chimpanzee declared a person...

In a case that could set a global legal precedent for granting basic rights to apes, animal rights advocates are seeking to get the 26-year-old male chimpanzee legally declared a "person."

Hiasl's supporters argue he needs that status to become a legal entity that can receive donations and get a guardian to look out for his interests.

"Our main argument is that Hiasl is a person and has basic legal rights," said Eberhart Theuer, a lawyer leading the challenge on behalf of the Association Against Animal Factories, a Vienna animal rights group.

The arguments are all very innocent sounding, arguing that by making him a person he can receive property and that would make it easier to provide for his care. But the name of the organization, Association Against Animal Factories, belies the innocence of their request. These radical people want to remove all distinctions between humans and animals, and no doubt eliminate all use of animals for food and medical research. So much for the unique status of humans, made in the image of God and given dominion over the earth.

Something else interesting. The care of this chimp is $6,800 a month or almost $82,000 per year. That would certainly provide more than adequate food and shelter for a couple of families of people, that instead is being spent on the care of a chimp. But to these "compassionate" people, money spent on feeding a chimp pastries and providing him with a TV is a perfectly rational use of $82,000 a year.

I assume that even in Europe this will go nowhere, but it is a sign of things to come, as radicalized fringe groups go mainstream. This is the proverbial camel's nose under the tent, and as soon as they can get one chimp declared a person, they will seek the same rights for every animal. It is no different here with seeking to chip away at hunting and trapping rights by emotional, uneducated appeals to suburbanites who think that steaks magically appear in the grocery store. It also serves as a warning to the U.S. to not get too entangled with European legal precedent that could some day be used to overturn U.S. laws because of crazy legal rulings in Europe.

This is the impact of abandoning God's Word. When you cast out the literal six days of creation in favor of an evolutionary framework, it only makes sense to grant animals rights. After all, humans are just an evolutionary by-product and not unique at all. Why shouldn't they have fundamentally equal rights with animals?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Mohler on mormonism

Dr. Albert Mohler is one of my favorite Christians, an unapologetic Southern Baptist, a clear thinking man who is not ashamed of the Gospel and a Calvinist to boot! So it was with interest that I read his latest posting on Newsweek's On Faith section. The title is Evangelicals, Mormons on Same Side of Cultural Divide. The gist is that mormons are on the "right side" culturally, but before he gets to that issue, he lays it out regarding the fact that mormonism is not another Christian denomination or sect but an entirely aberrant faith.

I must answer the Mormon question first, and from two perspectives. As an evangelical Christian theologian, I must clarify that Mormonism is in no way consistent with orthodox Christianity. It borrows Christian themes and texts, but its most basic beliefs directly contradict the central teachings of Christianity.

Mormonism holds that God is an exalted man, with a physical body. Christianity teaches that God is Spirit. Mormonism denies the historic Christian understandings of the Trinity, the person and work of Christ, and the doctrine of salvation. Christianity promises salvation through Christ's atonement and the sinner's justification by faith. Mormonism promises deification. Christianity calls for personal faith in Jesus Christ. Mormonism calls for obedience to its own teachings as the path to exaltation. Mormonism replaces belief in the sole authority of the Bible with other writings, including the Book of Mormon. This list is only a brief summary of the vast chasm that separates Christianity from Mormonism. Put simply, Mormonism is not just another form of Christianity. It is a rejection of historic Christianity.

The discussion board has a heated argument going on, championed for the mormons by "Rene", who has mastered the mormon tactics of throwing out volumes of information, all unrelated to the issue by the way, in the hopes of drowning her (his?) opponents and then falling back on the "Don't tell me what I believe" tactic. It is an interesting discussion, but this one, like virtually every discussion board, is not likely to change any minds.
The growing influence of Pentecostalism in Brazil

Yahoo! has a Reuters story on the rising tide of Pentecostalism that is replacing Catholicism in Brazil. On the one hand, it is good that these people are evangelizing Brazil, but what exactly are they evangelizing them to?

Pentecostalism is especially strong in poor urban areas, where the precariousness of daily life -- blackouts, violent crime, high unemployment -- can make people seek divine intervention. Many converts are also attracted to the pop-style music and dynamic liturgies, which resonate with contemporary tastes more than the traditional Catholic Mass.

At the Universal Church in Carapicuiba, the weekly Saturday night service at times looks more like a dance hall than a religious temple, with worshippers flailing their arms in the air and singing in unison. Some, like the former alcoholic da Silva, frequently break into tears as they look to the sky and thank God for their good fortune.

"The language of evangelicals is simple, direct, with minimal theology, making it easily understood by the masses," said Silvia Fernandes, a sociologist at the Center of Religious Statistics and Social Research in Rio de Janeiro.

No theology and a focus on the here and now. If these poor people are being told that the Gospel is all about helping them overcome this life, they are being fed a false gospel.

The reaction of the Catholic church in Brazil is interesting...

The Catholic Church, which is also losing followers to secularism, has responded to the Pentecostal boom by borrowing some evangelical thunder. In a movement that has come to be known as the Charismatic Renewal, some Catholic churches in Brazil have adopted animated worship styles and Pentecostal practices like speaking in tongues and divine healing.

The best-known proponent of renewalist Catholicism is Padre Marcelo Rossi, a former aerobics instructor turned pop-star preacher from Sao Paulo who sells millions of CD's and even starred in a movie in which he played the Archangel Gabriel.

A former aerobics instructor, pop-star preacher. I am guessing that is not making the problem go away!

One leader has an interesting statement...

"I'm not going to say that it pleases us when believers leave the church," Odilo Scherer, Sao Paulo's new archbishop, said in a recent interview with the newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo. "Maybe our methods are inadequate."

It isn't the method that is inadequate, it is the message. A works based philosophy is not one that is going to change lives. Neither the message of Rome or the message of Pentecostalism is adequate for what the people of Brazil and the developing nations need. They need to hear the truth of God, of man's sin and God's holiness, and of the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep.

What is really troubling is that the reason that these style of churches, along with cults like the mormons and JWs, are so successful is that we have a vacuum in these lands because Gospel believing churches are doing an inadequate job of sending and supporting missionaries to the world. I pray that God changes the hearts of His people, that we would shed our self-centeredness and focus on the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Brazil and other areas where He is not proclaimed.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Who do you say that I am?

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14 And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 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 16:13-17 ESV)

Lots of people claim to be Christians based on the confession "I believe in Jesus". But what is often forgotten is just who is that Jesus that they claim to believe in?

Dr. Albert Mohler referenced an article ('Lord" is fading at some churches) in the Arizona Daily Star about the removal of "Lord" references in "church" services and hymns. A sampling of the statements made...

"The way our service reads, the theology is that God is love, period," St. Philip's deacon Thomas Lindell added. "Our service has done everything it can to get rid of power imagery. We do not pray as though we expect the big guy in the sky to come and fix everything."

"We do still use the word 'Lord' on occasion, but we are suspicious of it," First Congregational pastor Briget Nicholson said. "Inclusive language is important. Our United Church of Christ hymnal does have hymns that will say 'Father' and 'God.' but the next verse will always then say 'Mother' and 'God.' It's gender-balanced."

A lifelong Episcopalian, retired middle school teacher Jane Chilcott calls the reduction of "Lord" usage she's heard at the Come & See service "refreshing." She also likes the references to a genderless God, because that's how she's always viewed the divine. "I'm a great advocate of change, but not just for change's sake," said Chilcott, 78. "A lot of people are turned off by traditional liturgy because it sounds like they have to literally believe these credal statements. I don't think that's necessarily true. Faith is very personal."

"We don't stress the blood and gore of the crucifixion and the so-called sacrifice of the Mass," he said. "I think that calls attention to Jesus' death but it doesn't call attention to why we are Christians. It seems to me, being a Christian isn't just about the birth and death of Jesus. It's about living in the world with his life as an example."

Jesus is apparently a mix of hippie peace activist, wise teacher, an example to follow in these churches. Anything but who He truly is.

What these all point to are churches that have no Lord and no room for Christ as He is revealed in His Word, as the Sovereign, omnipotent Lord and Creator of the heavens and the earth, as the Good Shepherd, as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. These churches have no more recognition of the truth of Christ than cult groups like Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses.

How you respond to the question set before Peter "Who do you say that I am?" tells it all. A Jesus who is not Lord is a Jesus not worth believing in, because all that sort of Jesus can do is set forth an example of how to live in this life. As for me, I follow the Christ of the Bible, and gladly and joyfully bend my knee and call Him Lord, because He has done for me what no one else could, redeemed me and claimed me for His own.