Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Artifically Manufactured "Major-Minor" Controversy pt. 2

There is one God and He teaches one thing. There is one Truth. He doesn't deny Himself. For instance, He doesn't teach both amillennialism and premillennialism. We don't see Him anywhere in His Word permit more than one position on anything. God doesn't allow for the "Agag lives" practice, even if a Saul thinks He is too ambiguous. And the Word of God is always still operating, even if it doesn't "seem" like it to us. He doesn't like the golden calves at Dan and Bethel. He'll kill that elder son if you try to rebuild Jericho after His curse.

We arrive at today. Now two teachings are OK. In a sense, that's a superior idea in today's Christianity, the more than one position doctrine. It gives God this faux largesse that He doesn't even give Himself. It isn't big, but still it is the new big, like bald is the new hair. The reason for the new several possible belief doctrine has not been finding it in the Bible. This didn't come about through study. It doesn't jump out at you from any text. And it is in reality a denial of several historic and biblical teachings.

The main reasons for the several doctrines position are completely pragmatic: a coalition and significance. That's what I hear when I'm reading a defense of it. You can't keep a big enough group around if you take one position and, therefore, you'll be insignificant. Significance requires the numbers of a large coalition. You can't draw enough people with one doctrine, so you open it up to the extent that you can cobble together the crowd that will bring you suitable attention. "You must be doing something right if so many people think so."

There we go. That's what this is all about.

The Anecdotal Hypotheticals Buttressing Major-Minor Dogma

Advocates commonly argue with what I'll call anecdotal hypotheticals. They are nothing from which anyone should derive doctrine or practice. To understand what God wants, we should look at what God did say, the black part of a page of Scripture. The popular thing is to go with the white part on this, the stuff between the lines. The theological category is speculative theology. But we don't get authority from nor are we sanctified by opinion.

The coment section of part one of this series provided enough examples of these. One.

He argues as if there are no discernible way to differentiate doctrines in levels of importance. He wants to equate Pre-Trib vs Mid -Trib with the same degree of importance as the Deity of Christ.

I don't attempt to equate degrees of importance to particular doctrines. Certain doctrines are more foundational than others, but this does not prove anything relative to ranking doctrines for the purposes of separation or fellowship. Two.

Am I really minimizing what I really have conviction about if I don't push for full compliance to my personal conviction? If I fellowship with a pastor who believes Romans 6;1 is talking about water baptism and I believe its talking about spiritual baptism, would that negate my creditability as to what I believe the text is saying?

The Bible either teaches it or it doesn't. If the Bible teaches it, then we want "compliance," fellowship, unity, on that truth. There isn't such a thing really as a "personal conviction" in the Bible. We shouldn't expect people to believe the same as us on non-scriptural positions. Three.

Does the view that the sons of God are demonic angels in Genesis 6 constitute doctrine? Can two members of [a church] come to different interpretations? If so they surely are not speaking "the same thing" under your truncated definitions. If you want to interpret all the passages on separation this way then you must be consistent the whole way! You cannot cherry pick the doctrine of baptism as worth separating over and then reject separation of the doctrine of Angelology!

There is only one interpretation. The Genesis 6 passage teaches one thing, even if it doesn't inform us of any particular, unique belief about angels. But this is argument by hypothetical or by possible exception (gotcha!). We should be looking to find what the Bible says about unity, fellowship, and separation over doctrine, not garnering our doctrine from whether we think it is possible to be consistent. We should think it is possible by the grace of God to believe what God told us. Of course people won't be consistent, but the inconsistency doesn't become the new doctrine or position. All that does is provide an excuse for believing how you want in almost every doctrine except for what you deem personally the very few major doctrines or one major doctrine. We then become the standard of faith and practice, not God. It is a recipe for going your own way, rebelling against the truth. Four.

If Aquila and Priscilla had separated from Apollos the early church would have been without one of it's most influential men. He only knew the Baptism of John at the time. I think there's gotta be a balance somehow.

This is a straw man. Every genuine believer is growing. Apollos was willing to change when he heard or saw the truth. If he wasn't willing, that wouldn't have been tolerable for Aquila and Priscilla. If darkness is all doctrinal or practical error, we are are not to accept that, but rather reprove it (Eph 5:11).

How We Got Here

The several acceptable doctrines position starts by noticing that professing Christians believe in many different ways and give Bible passages many different explanations. So people are going to do that. We've seen that they do. Now how do we react to that?

The wrong reaction was the following. Since people have so many different beliefs in so many different areas, that must mean that the Bible is difficult to understand. Scripture doesn't teach that, but that must be what it means anyway. And other professing Christians don't like hearing they're wrong. That bit of criticism is hard to take. And they think it is unloving. And how can we all get along if we aren't willing to ignore a certain number of differences. What will we do?

Something was figured out to deal with the contradictions and conflicts. Rank doctrines! Certain ones will be minor and certain ones major. The degree of unity you have will be based upon the number of doctrines you will be willing to shift over to the minor category. Minor ones do not affect unity or fellowship. That's the rule. Only major doctrines could affect fellowship, and even then, probably not. Now all we've got to do is find that in the Bible and we'll be all set. So a brand new doctrine of majors and minors and unity is born. We now can get bigger and, therefore, more significant. We can be big enough to matter.

But alas, the minor doctrine category expanded exponentially, and the major doctrine column shrunk down to just one. The gospel. Several new coalitions formed around agreement on only that one doctrine, deemphasizing and devaluing and reducing all other doctrine but the one to near meaninglessness.

The doctrine chosen as irreducible also happens to be the one of ultimate importance to man's future well-being. Without the gospel, men would be condemned and damned. So men have got to keep that one intact for their own good. They don't want going to hell. But all the other ones that are more vital for the glory of God are deemed disposable, so much doctrinal debris.

Is this how we see God work in Scripture? No. All the doctrines still matter to God. He wasn't making suggestions. And He said He was being clear. His Word is plain and understandable. And nowhere does the Bible base unity on purposeful discount of certain teachings.

The Minor Doctrines

In no particular order, I want to consider some of the teachings our church believes and practices that are called minor doctrines and especially why I believe they are called minor doctrines today. To start, as I have been writing, ranking doctrines allows for big coalitions and craved significance. That's the biggest reasons for doing it. On an individual level, however, many of these so-called minor doctrines are unpopular. The ones that are marginalized the most are those that are not popular in the world. This, of course, does go back to size and significance, but some of these clash with the world system more than others.

The young fundamentalists in the survey of Jeremy Sweatt said:

It sometimes seems like some fundamentalists have a judgmental edge towards anyone who is not just like them in their eschatology, ecclesiology, dress standards, music philosophy and practice, etc.

Most of that type of comment is ambiguous. It means almost nothing. What is a "judgmental edge"? What they mean is that they want fundamentalists to accept them or tolerate them if they believe differently, to act like differences in doctrine and practice don't matter much. "Not just like them" are loaded words, as if the point is to have everyone a clone of you or me personally. Almost all of this is straw-man type material. I've never met anyone like who they are describing or are arguing against.

One of these minors mentioned are "dress standards." I agree that no one should separate over a non-scriptural dress standard. Is there any point that dress standards become serious? Maybe these young fundamentalists would say that nudity is serious. But why? Why are dress standards not as important as the gospel or the deity of Christ? Should it matter to anyone if the whole church was a church of nudists? Are dress standards found in the Bible? Of course they are. And that's what I'm going to talk about first. Dress standards become a minor, not because they don't matter to God, but because they were important to become a minor for the purposes of size and significance for evangelicals and now fundamentalists.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Artificially Manufactured 'Majoring on Minors' Controversy

Imagine you and I go to a department store to shop for a shirt. You pick out a nice one. We get to the check-out and while waiting in line, you notice a small hole in the back of the shirt. Very small. Very minor. You announce to me that you're going to take it back. And I answer, "Is the rest of the shirt OK?" You answer, "Yes." "So why make a big deal about such a minor, little hole, when everything else is fine?"

Why is the small hole an issue when the rest of the shirt is good? It's easy isn't it? The hole is the problem. The rest of the shirt isn't where the problem is. We major on the problem because it is a problem. And it is a problem. It's enough to take the shirt back and no one would question it. Our standard is that we won't keep a shirt that has a little hole in it.

If I spent too much of my time on the hole in the shirt, I wouldn't have almost finished preaching through the entire New Testament during my nearly twenty-five years of pastoring. I'm in my last book, Luke. My and others' emphasis is on the whole instead of the hole. However, the hole becomes an issue when others say the problem is minor. It's a hole. It isn't minor. It's a part of the whole, but it isn't anything anyone should ignore. People don't ignore it either, which is why this is a controversy.

Evangelicals have been banging the major-minor, primary-tertiary drum for a long time, until now people believe it. This reminds me of two different quotes. The first is credited to Joseph Goebbels, that if you say something big enough and then keep repeating it, even if it's not true, people will begin to believe it. People are believing this type of minimalism, not because of scripture, but because the philosophy has been repeated by its advocates for so long and so many times.

The other quote comes from Martin Luther:

If I profess with loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except that little point which the world and the Devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

The "little point" becomes major because it is being attacked or ignored, even though it is in God's Word and is historic Christian doctrine. There is a reason it is being disobeyed or opposed and that is because it is important, even though it is being relegated to something minor. In the strategy of Satan, I also believe he is an incrementalist. He wants to destroy what some might call a major doctrine, but he does it by starting with the "little point." People give in on the "little point" and then Satan and his system keep chipping away until more and more is gone. I'll explain as you continue reading.

The Manufacturers and their Impact

The major-minor propaganda that has owned evangelicalism for decades is now holding sway as well in wide swaths of fundamentalism. This is observed recently in a sermon at the national FBFI conference in Indianapolis, where a young, conservative fundamentalist, Jeremy Sweatt, discussed a survey he did of thirty FBFI type young fundamentalists, and he asked these men what they thought that the worst problems in fundamentalism were. You can see that evangelicalism has made huge headway when you read what these men wrote as answers to his survey. They sound like evangelicals. He said (at about the 28 minute mark) that they responded with these criticisms:

It seems like some fundamentalists are often majoring on the minors. It sometimes seems like some fundamentalists have a judgmental edge towards anyone who is not just like them in their eschatology, ecclesiology, dress standards, music philosophy and practice, etc. Their loudness in expressing their opinions concerning issues of secondary importance can sometimes become louder than their passion for the true work of the gospel.

I'm thinking, "These men are duped!" They are being swayed by propaganda. Think men! In the next few minutes, he gave a few more quotes along this line. Why are men saying these things? They give no biblical basis for their criticism. This sounds like men who are talking directly from the evangelical playbook and talking points. The words are even identical.

At the same time, conservative evangelicals are beginning to see the damage done (they've done, but they don't confess that), and are pulling back on minimilization. Now in this, it seems like Johnson and MacArthur have been reading my blog in certain places (I'm not saying they are, just that it sounds like it. I hope they would.). This is seen in an interview that Phil Johnson did with John MacArthur in January of this year (2011):

PHIL: So here’s my question. This may be the hardest one I have for you all night. With these issues that aren’t really necessarily fundamental gospel issues, but they’re supremely important, with so much drift on issues like that, do you think that Together For the Gospel formula is sufficient, the idea that we can unite and fellowship with anyone who simply affirms the gospel? What if they affirm the gospel but they deny Genesis, they deny that homosexuality is a sin and they deny that, you know, they suggest that it’s okay to have women preachers? What do you do with someone like that?

JOHN: It’s not enough just to be together for the gospel.

With that initial statement, then MacArthur pulls away a little, because he's not comfortable yet, it seems, making that point, so he follows:

I just think a biblical issue is enough. Sure, I’m not going to restrict fellowship with people who take a different view of eschatology, different view of baptism, mode, maybe a different view of Old Testament covenants. But when people begin to violate Scripture, I’m not talking about different views of Scripture or different interpretations of Scripture...some of them very historic. But when they begin to set the Scripture aside, that’s scary. And you’ve got these young guys who even call themselves evangelicals who are caught up in this self-exaltation movement of promoting themselves and they’re the big guru of their movement, developing their own style and their own theology...that is really scary.

Notice how MacArthur says that eschatology and baptism are not scriptural doctrines worthy of separation. Why? He never explains. Is he saying that scripture could be teaching sprinkling or infant sprinkling? Really? And he doesn't explain that ever, which sends a mixed signal that he says he doesn't want to send. MacArthur says all the time that the Bible is very clear, unambiguous on eschatology. We know how everything is going to end. And then he says that it isn't worthy of restricing fellowship. That, my friend, is contradictory. The doctrine isn't as important as his "friendships." What about the friendship with God that we're supposed to have? So he keeps fellowshipping and rewarding amillennialists because he likes them. What about the doctrine? Shouldn't it be of greater value? Of course, when does an evangelical ever teach separation anyway? MacArthur is very ambiguous about what is worth restricting fellowship for him. Why not be clear? Scripture is clear on this. Johnson and MacArthur continue:

PHIL: One more question. Because there’s a danger on the other side of that as well...what you’re saying is, well the gospel defines what’s most important, and therefore all the fundamentals are somehow related to the gospel...there are other very important issues worth fighting for that are maybe not directly related to the gospel but still worth defending. And you don’t want to give up the fight on those things and say, “The only thing that’s really important is the gospel.”


This is all Johnson with MacArthur giving the one word answer. And immediately after, Johnson attempts to make sure that everyone knows they aren't going to be too strong in this.

PHIL: And yet, on the other side of that if you look at the history of the fundamentalist movement, the twentieth century, what they did was begin to fight mainly about secondary issues. How do you avoid that pit fall?

JOHN: Yeah, we used to say about the fundamentals, it was no fun, too much damn and not enough mental. They basically made...they died on the peripheral hills. You know, you just can’t do that. So I go back to what I said before, the issue for me is what does the Bible say and what is the clear interpretation of what it says. For all of those truths, I have to be ready to take my stand...for all of those truths, not some of them, all of them.

And I think that’s why things drift the way they drift, because the people who have the ear of these young guys are too restrictive in what it is that they will fight for. Paul gave the whole counsel of God. I think...look, if you don’t know what your view is on something, then get back in the book until you do know what it teaches because you’re responsible for all of it. And I wish...well, I wish more people would take the Genesis to Revelation responsibility and stand for all that is revealed in Scripture.

Obviously there are things we can’t be dogmatic about, but we’re not talking about those. We’re talking about the things that Scripture clearly teaches.

This is all confusing, as it will be in evangelicalism. MacArthur makes a joke about fundamentalism, essentially calling them stupid, and that they died on peripheral hills. That is nice preaching for the choir, but it really doesn't say anything. It doesn't prove anything. It's just more propaganda. Where are the oracles of God from the man of God, instead of sheer ridicule? Then he moves the other direction and says stand for all of Scripture, but don't be too dogmatic on parts. Where does this come from? It isn't from the Bible. Out of one side of their mouth, they say "take a stand on all of Scripture" and then out of the other side, "some of the issues are only peripheral." Well, which ones are which? Complete ambiguity.

So MacArthur and Johnson are seeing the dangers of the minimalistic approach. I think it's because they see the young preachers following all the fads of the young and restless, following these rock star evangelicals, and they don't like it. But Johnson and MacArthur won't be clear about, are cryptic about, what they are talking about, because they don't want to shake up their present coalition and numbers and "significance" (a common Johnson word) and their own fads that they followed, that are now out-of-fashion, because they are circa the Jesus movement.

Johnson became a part of the discussion at SharperIron over the Jeremy Sweatt FBFI message and he wrote this:

To wit: the actual "gist" of my remark was NOT that John MacArthur "doesn't like the direction T4G is headed," but that he is concerned about the tendency toward doctrinal minimalism among EVANGELICALS IN GENERAL.

MacArthur is concerned now with doctrinal minimalism. This is something I've been hitting for years here and I think that MacArthur and Johnson are just now seeing the damage they have been a part of causing in evangelicalism with their own emphasis on doctrinal minimalism, an emphasis from the Sweatt message that we can see has impacted some of the most conservative young fundamentalists too. And what is at stake? Obedience to God and His Word and the authority of Scripture in the lives of believers.

What Is Really Happening?

In Romans 14 Paul writes about disputable matters and those are non-scriptural doctrines, not minor scriptural ones. The Bible doesn't present a minor-doctrine teaching. We've talked about that a lot here. My concern is that biblical doctrines and practices are being nullified in the name of this primary-tertiary scheme, invented by men. What we have happening is the incrementalism of a Satanic plan. We have an acceptable attack on biblical doctrine, given credence by evangelicals and now fundamentalists. Those who defend these doctrines are called "peripheralists" or the like, part of the propaganda---name-calling. They are also 'not enough fun and not enough mental'---they aren't nice people and they aren't very intelligent (that sounds like typical liberal attack, by the way, in our culture). There is not biblical basis for ignoring Bible doctrine and practice, so they have to attempt to humiliate these men, that is, use carnal weaponry. It's too bad.

When there is a hole in the shirt, that's a problem. We've got to fix the hole. Evangelicals and now fundamentalists say, "let it go, it's peripheral." But it is the hole. It is what needs to be fixed. And there is a reason why it happens to be the hole. When a reformed and evangelical pastor says that it's good to use salty language, corrupt communication, in preaching, then Johnson and MacArthur say that there is a hole in the shirt. That isn't acceptable. Why? Because that is their preferred "peripheral" issue. It's important. Why? Because they say so. Complete subjectivity here.

Sensual and worldly music used in worship, misrepresenting and blaspheming God, is a hole in the shirt. Detiorating obedience to biblical dress is a hole in the shirt. The disappearing doctrine of the preservation of Scripture is a hole in the shirt. Skewed eschatology is a hole in the shirt. Charismatic ecstatic worship is a hole in the shirt. These don't mean that we are ignoring the whole shirt. The whole shirt is important. But the holes are what get our attention. And they need to get our attention.

(part two to come)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Leaven of Herod, Homosexuality, and Albert Mohler

The Christian Science Monitor on March 24, 2011 quoted Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky:

We’ve lied about the nature of homosexuality and have practiced what can only be described as a form of homophobia. . . . We’ve used the ‘choice’ language when it is clear that sexual orientation is a deep inner struggle and not merely a matter of choice.

At the convention of the Southern Baptists just a few days ago in Phoenix, in answer to a public question Mohler was given the opportunity to distance himself some from his comments, but he didn't. He said (youtube of the question and answer):

We have said to people that homosexuality is just a choice. . . . It’s clear that it’s more than a choice. That doesn’t mean it’s any less sinful, but it does mean it’s not something people can just turn on and turn off. . . . We have also exhibited a certain form of homophobia of which we must, absolutely must in gospel terms, repent precisely because we believe in all the scripture teaches about homosexuality, and all that the scripture teaches about sin.

Mohler defended his statements by saying that no one should be confused by what he said because he has written over two hundred articles on homosexuality. But I believe that what Mohler says is confusing and the original confusion wasn't clarified by the later confusion.

First, he was quoted in an article to support the following point made by the author of the Christian Science Monitor article:

Retaining young people is crucial, and a more accepting generation will not tolerate business as usual when it comes to the debate over homosexuality. Pastors need not compromise their convictions, but they can expect congregants to call for a more accepting, forgiving message – a more Christian message. If Christian leaders can’t make that transition – and quickly – instead of an awakening, evangelicals may be facing an exodus.

In other words, we've got to soften on homosexuality, be more accepting, or we'll be losing the people in our churches, because they want us to be more forgiving of homosexuality. It's church growth methodology with a supporting quote from Mohler on "homophobia" in Baptist churches to buttress it. When given the opportunity in public to repudiate it, Mohler did not. In so doing, he's backing the strategy offered there.

Second, Mohler alleges that Baptists are lying about the nature of homosexuality. Do the Southern Baptists know that Mohler was calling them liars? And of all things, about lying about the nature of homosexuality? How are they lying about the nature of homosexuality? The only lie I've ever heard was that homosexuality is an alternate lifestyle and that people are born homosexuals.

Third, Mohler claims that "sexual orientation" is "not a merely a matter of choice," and clearly "more than a choice." If God created male and female, if He designed men to be with women and women with men, then someone must choose to go the other direction. People who sin do choose to sin. This is a view of depravity that I can't agree with, that says that it is more than a choice.

Fourth, Mohler declares that Baptists have "practiced what can only be described as a form of homophobia" and "exhibited a certain form of homophobia" of which they must repent.

I can understand how the reformed or Calvinist supporters of Mohler would seek to defend him here. It can be done in so many ways. God is the author of sin and He predestined these souls to destruction. That's one way. The homosexual didn't choose to be homosexuals because they were born with a sin nature of which they had no control or choice. "Choice" would impede upon the sovereignty of God. No one chooses to be a homosexual, but he is born in that sin. That's another.

On these, Romans 1 says the lifestyle is a choice. Homosexuals know God, but choose to suppress the truth, even about their design, in unrighteousness (vv. 18-19). "They glorified Him not as God" (v. 21)---that's a choice. They "changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man" (v. 23)---that's a choice. They "changed the truth of God into a lie" (v. 25)---that's a choice. The men burn "in their lust one toward another" (v. 27)---that's a choice. They "did not like to retain God in their knowledge" (v. 28)---that's a choice. If they repent, that will be a choice too. The reason God's wrath is justified against them is because they make these choices.

The last defense would need to be more clinical. These Baptists have become hysterical and unhinged, insane, in their hatred of homosexuality, beyond what is reasonable or godly. The hatred is self-centered and self-destructive. They have disobeyed God's command to evangelize everyone because of their distorted disgust with homosexuality. The latter is the homophobia, I guess. I'm just attempting to figure it out. Because they target the sin with a unique hatred, the homosexuals won't be able to be saved---something like that. And so they, according to Mohler, need to repent of this sinful phobia.

Shouldn't Mohler rather consider hatred of homosexuality to be biblical? That unique hatred is biblical? That rejection of homosexuality is important? That shaming the behavior is good? I think Christians could be more consistent in hating all sin. They could be against some of the other sins to a greater degree in comparison to homosexuality, but even that does not mean that hatred of homosexuality is the problem. The greater problem today is the acceptance and toleration of effeminate, soft men, and domineering, manly women. That's the creeping problem today. We need to be strong against that, but I see the church itself becoming more and more soft.

I don't see homophobia in the Bible. I don't see it as a sin. I don't see a particular fear of any sin to be phobic. In the Old Testament, God called for Israel to stone homosexuals. That was righteous. The homosexuality was rejected and was not made to feel welcome and that didn't clash with God's love, because God is love. Holiness and love don't conflict.

So what is going on with Mohler here, the conservative evangelical, member of Together for the Gospel, and close friend and regular associate of John MacArthur? The leaven of Herod.

Leaven symbolized influence. Jesus warned against the leaven of the Pharisees, of the Sadducees, and of Herod at different times in His ministry. The leaven of Herod was secularism, a worldly way of thinking. Paul warned the Corinthians about this, about bringing the leaven of the world from their old life into the church (1 Corinthians 5). Jesus commanded us to beware because it was a threat even to Christians. Men of God can be influenced by secular thinking, and this talk of homophobia is not biblical thinking, but secular thinking. The homosexual lobby is working. The homosexual media is making head-way. The agenda is moving forward and Albert Mohler is helping it along now too.

The new generation of reformed have also brought in their own new measures for church growth. They have grunge for the grunge. They have rock for the rocksters. It's contextualization. This one is developing a friendlier relationship with homosexuals, not being so condemnatory with them. If so, if we use this method, then they can be saved. That clashes with the Mohler, gospel centrality. If it is the gospel that saves, then we don't need to add anything to the gospel, even this Mohler homosexual evangelistic strategy.

If homosexuals are not getting saved at a fast enough clip, it isn't because we have "failed miserably" as Mohler says in building these bridges with homosexuals or tried to sympathize with their plight. If people are not getting saved, it's because we haven't been faithfully preaching the gospel. I don't run into people preaching the gospel. We've got people who are more interested in their worldly things, their games, their new methods, their worldly strategies. I would be fine with Mohler parking there. It's why our church has a few times gone to the Gay Pride Parade here and handed out tracts and done preaching. We don't walk away at the door of homosexual. I talked to one just this Wednesday, late afternoon, for awhile. Part of his rejection of the message was that he didn't believe God condemned homosexuals.

Yes, this is the leaven of Herod influencing conservative evangelicals. That leaven has long been welcome in the evangelical midst.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sundries, Including the Debt Ceiling and a P90x Update

Imagine this scenario with me. I have a credit card with a credit limit. I rack up a huge credit card bill all the way up to my debt ceiling and I don't pay it back. Not only do I not pay it back, but I incur even more debt. What do I do about this? I ask the card company or bank for the debt ceiling to be raised. I want an even bigger credit limit. The reason I want it raised is because I don't have enough money to get what I want. There are more things that I want that I can't get with the revenue that I earn or save. But that's not such a big deal to me, because instead I'm focusing on the lack of increased borrowing I could get with a ceiling increase. I'm not thinking about cutting or controlling my spending. I'm thinking about how that these guys at the card company or the bank won't allow me to borrow more money. Will I get what I'm asking for? Do we think this would be responsible?

The card company would get in trouble with the government if it let me increase my debt ceiling. The government might not bail out the bank if it is going to be so irresponsible. Well, maybe it would; after all, the borrowing and spending might stimulate the economy, even if I never pay it back.

We are hearing that we need our debt ceiling raised. If we don't raise the debt ceiling, catastrophic financial results will supposedly occur. One party, I'll let you guess, says that we need to match the elevation of the ceiling with some spending cuts. The other says that spending shouldn't relate to raising the ceiling at all. What do you think we should do? Who's got the better idea?


P90x ended last Saturday, that is, it was the 90th day, which is what the 90 is all about. p90x isn't a weight loss plan. It is a fitness/exercise plan. There is a diet that comes with the DVDs. I didn't do that diet. I did something that was simple for me. But I did start the 90 at 238 and ended at 216. So that occurred successfully. It's a good workout regimen. It works every part of your body. You don't just lose weight. It especially works the core. Most people aren't working their core, even if they do work out. I haven't done much about it at all.

There are 12 workouts. The hardest, I believe, was the core synergistics, which you do only six times. A couple of the weight workouts were rough, and those days were tough too because you do the ab ripper exercises right afterwards. It takes a lot of commitment. The best strategy is "don't give up." Just keep pushing play and keep doing it. You'll be encouraged if you do some diet during the time. What I did was a bowl of mini-wheats for breakfast, a yogurt almost every day for lunch, and then a regular supper. I didn't snack. This was all good enough for me to get fit and lose the weight too.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Presuppositionalism, the Fool, Irony, and the Perfect Preservation of Scripture

Recently I had a multi-versionist throw Proverbs 26:4 at me, implying why it is he couldn't answer some simple questions of mine. The implication was that I was a fool whom he couldn't answer. He wrote it in Hebrew so that most people at his blog wouldn't know what he wrote. Here it is in English:

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

The fool according to scripture says there is no God (Psalms 14:1; 53:1). Calling me a fool is obviously off base, maybe because the young man who used Proverbs 26:4 is ignorant of its meaning. The fool presupposes there is no God. He rejects the existence of God based upon his own presupposition. We know this from Romans 1:18. The fool "hold[s] fast the truth in unrighteousness," that is, suppresses the truth about God's existence in his own unrighteousness. The problem for the fool is not evidence, but rebellion. He knows the truth, but He suppresses it.

Presuppositionalism has two parts: "pre," which is "before," and "suppositionalism," which is an "assumption." Everyone comes to a discussion with already established assumptions about the world and the truth. Everyone is guided by his previously made assumptions.

God enables everything that is known because God created everything. Truth comes from God, so it is objective and absolute. We know because of God. What we know, we know because of Him. Even the discussion of what we know comes because of God. The answer to "how do you know?" is God.

It is ironic that this young man called me a fool because of my belief about the perfect preservation of scripture. How do we know that scripture is perfectly preserved? Multi-versionists would say that we come to the knowledge of perfect preservation of scripture through evidence, and evidence doesn't indicate the perfect preservation of scripture. But we don't know except for God and God said He would perfectly preserve scripture. Do we deny God?

We're not having this discussion without God. We can't conclude without God. Logic consists of rules or laws that are unchanging, universal, and immaterial. Logic comes from God because God is unchanging, universal, and immaterial. Logic comes from outside of man. Man did not make the rules or laws. God did. So if our view is to be logical, it must agree with God. And God said he would perfectly preserve every Word. We go to Scripture to find the truth about preservation.

To deny what God said about preservation is to deny God. Who denies God? The one who denies perfect preservation is arguing from a secular world view. Every fool must borrow from a Christian world view to argue about his evidence. He is saying that he can know something, but He only knows because of God, and God is the God of Christianity. If He says He knows, then He admits absolute truth. Absolute truth comes only from God. So He cannot know what denies what God said. So the problem of preservation is not knowledge, but rebellion. The one denying perfect preservation poses as a fool. He may not be a fool, but he is taking the fool's point of view by denying God.

I think the young man called me a fool because of his subjective guess or speculation about fools. It wasn't based upon the truth. If he was basing it upon the truth, he would have relied on a scriptural understanding, an Divinely inspired knowledge, of the fool. His view of the fool seems to be a person who rejects what he thinks is evidence.

This is the irony of a multi-versionist calling me a fool.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Palin and Paul Revere

Someone confronted former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin in a downtown Boston shop and asked her about what she learned there in Boston, and she said:

We saw where Paul Revere hung out as a teenager, which was something new to learn. And you know, he who warned the British, that they weren't going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells and making sure, as he is riding his horse through town, to send those warning shots and bells, that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free.

Immediately she was attacked all over by the main stream media for getting it wrong (among other places, here and here). Did she get it wrong? She was mocked in most places, but historians interviewed at NPR and by the Boston Herald said she got it right. Ouch. Of course, Palin was using the story to support the second amendment, highlighting why it is we need gun rights---to protect us against government. And the left-of-center don't like gun rights in this country, so they banded together in an attack against her.

You will hear even conservatives compromise on gun rights when they talk about that "automatic weapon not really needed for hunting," as if gun rights really are about sports hunting. The reason real conservatives don't want any guns banned is because they think they will need them to defend themselves against the government. That's the major point of the second amendment---not for hunting.

The big criticism of Palin was that Revere wasn't warning the British, but that all depends on whether you put a comma after British or not. I would say her ad lib grammar could be criticized, making it difficult to understand what exactly she was saying, but in hindsight, what she said was true either way. Revere was warning that the British couldn't take American arms and he also warned the British that they couldn't take American arms. Both were historically true. And the bells rang at the church too.

Here's what I think happened. She wasn't ready for the question, but she didn't want to look stupid. She knows what will happen if she does that---it will be worse. But that's not all. She wanted to take the history and turn it into a second amendment support, because that's what she took away from the Boston Revere experience. The patriots were protecting their arms from the British. If they didn't, they were doomed. And the British really were coming to take their arms among other actions. So she was answering the question and making that second amendment application of the history on the fly. The verbiage didn't come out quite right. After all, she wasn't using a teleprompter or reading from something she had written on her hand. She wasn't able to self-edit her word order fast enough. But I understood what she was saying.

That whole 'protect-the arms' part of the story isn't found in the politically correct history understanding of the state educations of the mainstream news media personalities. They don't know what the British were doing and what Paul Revere and others were warning about. They probably think that Revere was warning against British colonialism or maybe just a Big Box Store. And for many others, Revere's ride hasn't yet come out in a blockbuster movie or in cartoon version, so they don't really know.

I'm not a Palin fan. I don't want her as president. But this is typical of the criticism she receives, which is knee-jerk and biased. It makes it easier to like her.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Connection Between One's World View and the Version Issue

Several days ago I wrote a post about logic and King James Onlyism in answer to a critic at another blog. After writing that, someone a few days later wrote a whole post attacking the one I had written. Very few King James supporters wander over there because of the juvenile nature of the major contributors. But someone emailed me to give me the heads-up about the post, so I knew about it. Several thoughts resulted from my venture over to that site, which is operated by a former teacher in our school who we fired for numbers of reasons (believe me, you would have fired him too if you knew the reasons---he was no martyr), and shortly thereafter (after also departing our church) he decided he believed drastically different on about five major doctrinal categories, a reformation that conveniently moved him into a new realm of fellowship and friendship from those who before knew him and to whom he was accountable. One could easily see what benefits he might think he could derive from attacking and criticizing those in his former life in order to discredit them and elevate himself. His new associates have gone right along for the ride.

Even though the answer to my post does not point out any logical fallacies with the logic I presented, my brief interaction there reminded me of one of the major issues that I see with multi-versionism. At the root of anyone's view of the world is whether he believes there is objective truth, whether he thinks that there is some authority outside of and greater than himself that has revealed the standard by which his life is to operate. Of course, without that authority, nothing is either wrong or right and everyone can live as he wishes without any fear of retribution. In that world, every man is a law unto himself.

In the only consistent world view, there is one God with one truth, one right, and one way, all His, and He will not deny Himself. Within that view of the world, there is one revelation of truth, which is the Bible. There is only one interpretation, God's, and one way to live, also His.

Multi-versionism opens up a theological and philosophical can of worms. The multi-versionist chooses what the words are, and so is responsible for what the standard is. And in a subtle way, he also places himself in authority above the words themselves. Now several views are legitimate. Men can agree to disagree, especially since no one really knows for sure. This puts more emphasis on man, centers more on him and what he wants. If someone can't know what the words are, he also doesn't know what the words mean, since the latter is the lesser to the former, which is the greater.

The person of nuance, of several views, really of doubt, is elevated in the system that logically results from multi-versionism. The great virtue in this view is toleration. Those who believe there are several ways to believe are therefore the most virtuous.

Scripture presents one view. It's God's view. A view which contrasts with God's is to be rejected, not appreciated. In an area in which God has spoken, there is not peace between contrasting points of view.

This corresponds to versionism. The worst enemy of multi-versions is one version. You just can't say there is one Bible---that can't be for the multi-versionist---when there really is only one Bible, like there is one God and one truth.

We live in an era where truth itself is being attacked. The way to combat that is not by allowing for the idea of more than one Bible. Truth depends on one authority, and it is the Bible, the one Bible.

In a pluralistic society, like the United States, two people or two sides can take opposing points of view. We have that freedom. But in a pluralistic society, each side doesn't have to like the other view or to treat it with respect. It's possible as well that civil discourse can occur between the two sides. However, both are not true, and the error often has eternal consequences.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

When I Left Fundamentalism Part Ten

Over a year ago now, I did a series at Jackhammer on evangelicalism and fundamentalism (pt. 1, p. 2, pt. 3). You should check it out. In the third part, I wrote this:

For pastors, scripture has isolated the Lord as the one to please. Yet, you won’t likely feel that approval of the Lord. You have to accept it by faith. But sometimes that isn’t easy. So what has developed to replace the confirmation of the Lord has been a very complex system of endorsement and sanction that would rival any organization on earth. It has become its own giant entity with tentacles reaching all over the place—fellowships, boards, conferences, conventions, schools, colleges, publishers, and seminaries. I believe that this is what has, more than anything else, propped up evangelicalism and fundamentalism.

We have the church. That’s Christ’s institution. And it is sufficient. But that doesn’t satisfy the hunger that many have for approval. Fundamentalism has developed its own orbs of sanction. Evangelicalism has its too. Both of them are similar in their organizational systems. They both revolve around associations and conferences, boards and meetings. Now you’ve got the internet as a tool to spread even more notoriety. How many hits does your blog get? What kind of online presence do you have?

New Testament Christianity does not divide into two parts, so-called binary thinking, that is, either and only evangelicalism or fundamentalism. The third way is actually the first way, the church. The church is not some new discovery. It's the only Biblical way.

Men have become dependent on certain "resources" of evangelicalism and fundamentalism to reach their goals, in colleges, mission boards, camps, publishers, seminaries, and conferences. Leaving fundamentalism meant departing from these. In a way, shucking fundamentalism is eliminating the usage of and dependence on these so-called resources.

More About College

In part eight, we started talking about one of these, the Christian or Bible college or university. I understand the concerns here. We want a good education for our kids, but we don't want them ruined by the society of state college. Evil companions corrupt good behavior (1 Cor 15:33).

Our philosophy has been 'work to get the most and best opportunities possible, and when we find out what those are the senior year, we make the best decision possible for the Lord.' In fundamentalism at least, that decision has been "only Christian college," and that has kept fundamentalist young people strapped into the Christian colleges. One of the major thoughts for making this decision has been: what is worse for your kids, the bad doctrine and practice of the Christian college or the unbelieving world of secular college.

The young people will know that the secular college is secular college. They will know going in what it is they are getting in to. They will not be taught the Bible. But they will not be going to secular college to learn their doctrine. That's not where you learn doctrine. You learn that in the church. At the end of the first pastoral epistle, Paul concludes, "If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to doctrine which is according to godliness . . . . from such withdraw thyself" (1 Timothy 6:3-5). That is a command.

We have decided that the subtle bad influence of Christian college can be worse for our children than the obvious bad influence of secular college. I didn't say "will be," because this isn't cookie-cutter. Some young people can't handle learning their trade or their tent-making at a state college. The key, I believe, is to view the state or secular college as a place of ministry, just like we do our community or workplace.

And there is the question of what college is about? What is it for? What are our goals? What college teaches the doctrine and practice that your church teaches? What degree of error are we to tolerate? How does that fit into the doctrine of separation from the false teacher or the disobedient brother?

We have not landed yet on a specific solution for the college issue. What we do know is that the primary influence of young people should be their parents and their church. Is the state college a greater threat to that or the Christian college? Right now, I say the latter.

Mission Boards

I'm not going to hit the problems of mission boards. I've already discussed that in previous installments. I want to talk about the alternative. The mission boards are the actual replacement for the alternative, which is the church, alone. A church can do the mission---that's how God designed it.

The primary concern for the choice of missionaries is reproduction. Our missionaries are reproducing our church. Therefore, we should fellowship with the sending church. What kind of church is sending the missionaries we support? The sending church should believe and practice just like we do.

Our church finds out what the sending church and its missionary believe and practice. We are fellowshipping with the sending church in the cooperation of supporting its missionary. That is our chief prerequisite for missions support.

The first grid that we expose a missionary solicitation for support is, do you have a mission board? That question is at least a deal breaker. We do not support missionaries that have a board. That really limits who we will support. We do like to support good missionaries sent by churches just like ours. We have found that there are enough of them.

The churches who send missionaries, and I mean the churches alone, get that done. That has not been a problem for those churches. A good example of one of these churches is Lehigh Valley Baptist Church in Emmaus, PA. We support three of their missionaries: Jerry Wilhite, George Hammett, and Doug Hammett. These are great missionaries who we love supporting, sending the support check every month to the sending church. The money goes directly from the sending church to the missionary.

We have already had a fellowshipping church, Mid-Coast Baptist Church, fellowship with our church in our evangelism of the Sacramento, California area. That church sent our church a thousand dollars to cooperate with us. We never even requested this. They just sent it to us. I understand their enthusiasm. We are in fellowship. We put it in the bank for the future use of a potential, future church. It will be used, Lord-willing, by that church at some future date. We will keep that church updated about what is taking place.

Our church has no ties to fundamentalism or evangelicalism through the mission board. We can practice missions in a consistent, Biblical way by supporting only missionaries who are sent by a church alone. We fellowship with the sending church. We obey the Bible. We please God. And it works too. The mission board is unnecessary. Every church can do it this way. It is part of what it means to leave fundamentalism.

More to Come

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

"We're on the Verge of a Great, Great Depression"

This is something I've thought for awhile and wondered if I'm just being pessimistic. We're lying to ourselves as a country and we've been lying to ourselves for a few decades, one economic bubble popping after another. Put on your seatbelts.