Monday, October 30, 2017

Steven Anderson Is a False Teacher Who Believes and Preaches a False Gospel

For various reasons, Steven Anderson has risen to national prominence over the last five or ten years from his home in Tempe, Arizona.  I understand his popularity.  He is very good at self-promotion and in these postmodern times, Anderson speaks with absolute certainty.  I am certain too, that Anderson is a false teacher who believes and preaches a false gospel.  He does not preach a biblical, true, or historical gospel.

Steven Anderson purports to be the pastor of the Faithful Word Baptist Church.  I give zero credence or recognition to that as a church.  It is not faithful word.  It isn't faithful, nor is it based upon the Word of God.  It is built upon a false gospel.  It can't be truly Baptist or a church, because historic Baptists have preached repentance as necessary for salvation and since the church is built upon the gospel, it can't be a church either.  I feel sorry for him and his adherents.

Whatever Anderson might be known for, his holocaust denial, the pre-wrath rapture doctrine, his King James Bible position, those cower in the face of the false gospel he preaches and he encourages others to preach.  He calls this preaching, soulwinning, which is also false.  Anderson also operates the repentance blacklist online, where he lists men he knows are preaching repentance as necessary for salvation, as part of the message of the gospel.  Anderson preaches against repentance for salvation; therefore, he leads people to hell, making them twice the children of hell they once were.  Let Steven Anderson be accursed.

I'm dealing with Steven Anderson here and now, because of his growing influence in the country.  I hear about him now all the time.  Many receive offers by email from the film business associated with him, Framing the World.  The films made by Paul Wittenberger have also advanced his false teaching everywhere.  There is a unique mix to his teaching that is attractive and possesses enough truth, that looks legitimate, so it works as a counterfeit.  He understands the power of film and especially for today's audience, which grew up on television and movies.

Anderson teaches that repentance is a work and is only for people after they are already saved.  He uses many of the same bad arguments that false teacher, Jack Hyles, did, and he uses Hyles extensively on his repentance blacklist website.  There were a lot of Hyles fans while Hyles was alive.  People who liked Hyles could also like Anderson.  The Hyles movement was huge in its day and still exists in many different factions.  The old Hyles supporters might embrace Anderson, because he takes many of the same positions that Hyles did before he died.

The false gospel of Anderson has been called different names through the years, since Jack Hyles perfected it -- easy believism, easy prayerism, or 1-2-3-pray-with-me.  Once someone has prayed the prayer, Anderson counts the person as saved, and then, even if the person never shows fruit of salvation, says he has eternal security -- once saved, always saved.  He is pushing the same methodology all over the country, continuing to scorch the earth for anyone who wishes to preach a true gospel.

The hermeneutic for Anderson's false gospel could be called, exegesis for morons.  He is depending on a certain amount of simpleness and superficiality and gullibility in his listeners to swallow his garbage.  When you open up his repentance blacklist website, it greets you with two minutes of a sermon, what he might consider to be his prize argument, his most devastating point in very succinct fashion, starting and really buttressing his teaching on Jonah 3:10:
And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.
Anderson says that God saw their works, and their works were that they turned from their evil way.  He says that turning from your evil way is works, and people are saved without works.  That's major for him.

If you were just even slightly curious, you could push back against Anderson's argument there, and ask, if that's so bad, then why is God happy about it?  What?  Why is God happy that the Ninevites turned from their evil way if God doesn't find that acceptable?  God repented of the evil that he said he would do unto them, when they turned from their evil way.  Shouldn't God have been angry over their self righteousness?  If they were really working to be saved, as Anderson is saying, then why would God have averted His destruction of them?

Anderson doesn't explore this any further in his little presentation.  He just pulls out this small disjointed observation to piece together with other verses to pound into people his false gospel that tries to rid the message of repentance.  He wants that.  He doesn't want people repenting.  If you follow him out further, no one needs to ever repent to be saved.  It just doesn't work if you care at all about what the Bible says.

Steven Anderson says, as if his salvation teaching is some elevated position with the exclusion of repentance, that he sees it as faith alone and not works.  I say faith alone too, if it is in fact faith.  True faith would include repentance, which is not a work.  Faith means something, or, believe means something.  It is not mere acquiescence to facts, for instance.  It is more than just "trust" too, although trust is included.  As well, it must be faith in Christ, belief in Christ (Jn 20:30-31).  Christ is the Messiah, He is King, He is Lord, the Lord of Psalm 2.  Anderson removes that from the identity of Jesus so that Jesus is not Lord, and he replaces it with the strawman, "making Jesus Lord," as if he's quoting someone who thinks that, so that believing in Lordship is a work.  Jesus is Lord, but believing in Jesus Christ, must be Christ.  Anderson has a different Jesus, because He removes the Lordship (Messiahship) of Jesus so someone can have Jesus as Savior without His being Lord.  He will find a lot of sympathy unfortunately in that major omission and perversion among those who claim to be independent Baptist.  What I'm saying is that Anderson doesn't really actually preach belief in Jesus, because his Jesus is another Jesus and his belief isn't belief.

This post is not intended to deal with everything bad about what Anderson preaches on repentance.  There is plenty on that.  It's really to be clear about who this man is and what he teaches.  He is wrong and he should not be heeded or followed.  Run away from him as fast as possible.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Bridal Shower

Today my oldest daughter had a surprise bridal shower and this photo was taken there with my mother, wife, and three daughters, or the Brandenburg ladies.  From left to right, you see Natalie, Karen, Julia (the bride), Bridget, and Gabi.

Unrelated, Christian News Network quoted me in a very recent article, entitled, "Beer Enthusiast’s New ‘Calvinist’ Film Brews Concern for Blending in ‘Young, Restless & Reformed’ Speakers."

Friday, October 27, 2017

Abiding in Christ: What Does it Mean? part 2 of 9, Word Study Continued

Joh 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
Lord willing, this series of blog posts will examine John 15 after looking at each instance of the word meno in the New Testament. Expect detailed comments on John 15 later.
 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Joh 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Joh 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Joh 15:9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
Joh 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
Joh 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
Joh 15:16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
Your fruit, your good works, will continue; they will pass through the judgment. All truly converted individuals are changed by God and will bring forth good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). The fruit remaining for all the regenerate is a certain consequence of their election by God.
Joh 19:31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.
The bodies were not to remain or stay on the cross.
Joh 21:22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.
The question is if the disciple will continue, remain, or stay on earth until Christ returns.
Joh 21:23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
Would that disciple continue, remain, or stay until Christ returns?
Ac 5:4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
“While it remained, was it not remaining to you?”
Ac 9:43 And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon a tanner.
Paul remained or stayed with Simon the tanner. Note that, although he was with him for many days, the aorist tense is used for his time with him.
Ac 16:15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.
Here again the abiding, remaining, or staying is a aorist tense, yet it represents a stay of what was likely a significant period of time.
Ac 18:3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
Here Paul’s abiding with these people is expressed with an imperfect form, unlike in the previous instances, where an aorist is used.
Ac 18:20 When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not;
Here again abiding is remaining/staying with people. It is aorist again.
Ac 20:5 These going before tarried for us at Troas.
The brethren in Acts 20:4 were remaining or staying (imperfect tense) for Paul, Luke, and the rest of those coming from Troas.
Ac 20:15 And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus.
Luke, Paul, and the rest of their missionary band remained or stayed at Trygyllium for one day.
Ac 20:23 Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me.
Bonds and afflictions are remaining, staying, or continuing yet for the Apostle.
Ac 21:7 And when we had finished our course from Tyre, we came to Ptolemais, and saluted the brethren, and abode with them one day.
The aorist tense expression means, “They remained or stayed with them for one day.”
Ac 21:8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.
Paul’s company remained or stayed with Philip the evangelist.
Ac 27:31 Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.
Those trying to flee needed to remain in the ship.
Ac 27:41 And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves.
The forepart of the ship remained or stayed in the place where it had run aground.
Ac 28:16 And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.
Paul was allowed to remain or stay by himself.
Ac 28:30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,
Paul remained or stayed at his own hired house for two years.
Ro 9:11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)
God’s elective purpose is to remain, continue, or abide unshaken.
1Co 3:14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
The works remain, stay, or continue, that is, they pass through the fire of judgment.
1Co 7:8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.
It is good for the widows and unmarried to remain or stay in their single state.
1Co 7:11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
“Let her,” says Paul, “remain or stay in an unmarried state.”
1Co 7:20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.
Let that man continue, remain, or stay in the same state in which he was when he was designated an heir of everlasting life.
1Co 7:24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.
In whatever state one finds himself, whether circumcised or not, in whatever job station, let him remain or stay in that position.
1Co 7:40 But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.
The widow under consideration is happier if she remains or stays unmarried after the death of her first husband.
1Co 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
These three things continue, remain, or stay—faith, hope, and charity. While it has not been specifically mentioned in the previous verses, the nature of the meno itself does not require any sort of fellowship aspect to it. If one states that abide in John 15 includes fellowship, this conclusion must be made because of the nature of being in Christ and of true Christianity (and these things do require fellowship), not because of the anything inherent in the word meno.
1Co 15:6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
The greatest part remain, abide, or continue alive to the point in time indicated.
2Co 3:11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
Here the New Covenant, which remains, continues, or stays, is glorious.
2Co 3:14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
The blinding still continues or abides.
2Co 9:9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
God’s righteousness continues or stays.

 
See the complete study on meno or "abiding," which includes the passages not only in the KJV but also in the Greek NT (not present in this series of blog posts), by clicking here.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Correcting False Doctrine Outside of Your Church: Permissible or Encouraged in Scripture?

The major criticism of this blog from what I'll call, 'my own,' is what it might do to 'our churches.'  Pastors might have to deal with the can of worms I open, not when they want to deal with it.  For the record, I don't care what biblical issue someone brings up, that our church might be doing wrong.  I've always thought, the worst thing that could happen is that my church grows or learns or aligns with the truth that is declared.  In other words, I'm not afraid of the truth.

The argument has several parts.  I'm not going to include verses, not because I couldn't, but because I'm judging that you know them or could find them.  One, the church is the pillar and ground of the truth, and that's obviously local, because it has pastor and deacons.  Two, each church is autonomous.  Three, an individual pastor has authority in his church to reprove and rebuke, not outside of that.  Four, hierarchicalism is wrong -- no state, regional, worldwide earthly authority.  Five, writing this blog attempts to bring the truth beyond the church, undermines individual church and pastoral authority, and sets me up as a kind of Baptist pope.  I'm not trying to misrepresent the argument.  I think this is what it is.  If I were to add anything, it would be perhaps to cause schisms in the body, when there are to be none.

I think I understand numbers one to five, I just don't think I'm violating them.  I think there are other teachings that should be brought to this mix, that don't contradict their teaching.  What I'm saying is that the conclusion does not follow the premises, and rather than an example in scripture to show that conclusion or application, it goes the opposite direction. I can show how that these premises don't help the argument.

For three, a pastor has authority to reprove and rebuke his own members.  That doesn't mean he can't outside of his church.  He doesn't have the same authority, because he can't follow through with discipline outside of his church.  Jesus was concerned about the seven churches of Asia enough to warn them.  We should warn other churches.  Later I'll show that other churches, other than our own, should be a concern still.

You start with the truth.  The truth is what's important.  The other points fall in line with the truth.  The Bible is the sole authority.  Yes, that's in the context of a church, the church is the pillar and ground of the truth, but it isn't the truth.  If the church is wrong, the wrong doesn't become the truth, just because the church protects the wrong and propagates it.  The truth is the truth whether that church ever existed.

What happens here is that autonomy and pastoral authority and "church unity" (actually just church agreement) take priority over all other truth.  Those are the three that must be kept at all costs.  No, it starts with the truth.  Autonomy is about the truth, pastoral authority about the truth, and church unity about the truth.  If it's not the truth, then those three are not really those three, but counterfeits or fabrications.  I can see how pastors could become more concerned with their teaching and their church, than they are the truth.

Let's say it's a timing issue.  Other church leaders want their people to know the truth, just not when I write about it, thus causing them to have to deal with it.  I see that as an extra-scriptural consideration, because the Bible doesn't talk about it.  It's a personal preference at the most.  With this, the church is held together by something other than the truth, and the truth is less preeminent than church autonomy and pastoral authority.  The idea, the pastor must be in charge, and that could lose its effectiveness if he is questioned.  The key in this is not being questioned in this situation, so that a pastor can keep it going as long as he wants in the direction that he wants and how he wants.

The church is the pillar and ground, being that it protects and propagates.  I'm propagating.  I'm propagating in my Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.  This is coming from a church.  My church approves.  Our church people like our doctrine being published everywhere.  It is the truth.  I have no authority in another church.  We don't discipline people in other churches, who don't believe like us.  I have no hierarchical authority.  I can't kick people out of a big club or league or convention.  This is like saying that I'm brainwashing or that I'm forcing this on people, the types of charges often used by the world.  They aren't true.

I don't see Jesus or the apostles, ever, holding back on the truth.  There are no biblical grounds for making pastors more comfortable in their retaining of error.  Error should be refuted.  Works of darkness should be reproved.  I don't reveal the names of men and their private errors here.  Everything is public teaching.  If I reveal something public, it has gone through biblical channels already.

In addition to everything I've written so far in dealing with the arguments at hand, I believe there are actual biblical arguments for doing what I do here.  Paul visited Jerusalem four times in his life.  The first time was three years after his conversion (Galatians 1).  The next time was over ten years later when he brought a gift (Acts 11), a short time later with the reconciliation of the Antioch and Jerusalem church (Acts 15), and then his final arrest and so on (Acts 21-28).  In two of his visits, he clashes with leaders of other churches.  Paul had no apostolic authority over Peter or the other apostles in Jerusalem.  Yet, he confronts them in Acts 11 and 15, because they were wrong on the truth.  He reports it in Galatians.

When you read Galatians 2, you can see there that Paul was concerned about the partnership he had with other churches.  That partnership for the gospel would be ruined by false doctrine.  This was not partnership in the church, but outside of the church.  That is also my concern as I write here.

I want the truth believed and practiced.  Sanctification comes through the truth.  We don't want good churches to be ruined through capitulation to error, and thus becoming ineffective in the gospel.  We want churches in other places where even our family members and family members of our church members can worship God and practice the New Testament.  We could spend a grueling and extensive effort in the start of a new church, only to have five churches destroyed with false doctrine.

If our church is strong, because I keep all this truth within the confines of our membership, good for our church.  If I get the truth to other churches, that will help preserve those churches.  The truth doesn't hurt a church.   It helps.  The Apostle Paul was working in Troas and became discouraged in his work there, walking away from an open door, because he was so concerned about the degradation of the church at Corinth.  We support evangelism abroad and the start of new churches.  A church like Antioch could go down to Jerusalem for the preservation of that church.  We can see that Paul saw this as related to partnership in the gospel and the beginning of new churches.  If one church is destroyed because of error, that could have been stopped by the intervention of another church, that is also the preservation of future propagation of that existing church.  This is worth it and can be argued from all over the New Testament.

Since what I'm doing here is scriptural, then the opposition is unscriptural.  Why?  It's not scriptural, so what is it?  It can be protection of turf, keeping buddies, and being lazy.  A pastor wants capitulation to what he says.  That's fine if it's the truth.  Heresy or schism is about error, not the truth.  Someone is not causing disunity by bringing the truth.  Disunity comes from error.  I write here.  Someone questions his pastor.  A pastor is angry, this guy heard something that disagrees with him.  If it's simple to swat away, just do it.  It gives strength to a biblical argument, if I'm wrong.  If it's about dealing with a situation when it is convenient, there is no basis for that.  Deal with it when it must be dealt with.  Kicking that can down the road never helps.  Never. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Smiracles

This post ties into three recent ones on continuationism and making normative the Macedonian call (parts one and two).  I've written on this in the past too (here).  I've also written on the leading of the Spirit [here] (and that might not be all; it was a quick look).  Here are six parts on a related subject.  Here is the seventh part after the six on the related subject.  And here's something on what's normative in Acts.  I've also written on this issue as related to prayer.

I have a friend, whose brother-in-law on regular occasions, when something nice happens in his life, exclaims, "smiracle," short for "it's a miracle."  Smiracle.  His package arrived a day early.  Smiracle.  An old friend shows up at his door.  Smiracle.  He remembers an address.  Smiracle.  It was supposed to rain, and it didn't.  Smiracle.

Smiracle reminds me of the overuse of "awesome."  Maybe ten years ago or so, almost everyone was using awesome to describe some of the most mundane.  Snow day at school.  Awesome.  Sticking a skate board move.  Awesome.  Grandparents picked up and grandpa gives his grandson a high five with an accompanying, "Awesome!"  Awe was no longer reserved for God.  Evangelical congregations used it for God, but with little to no sense of awe.

It's not theologically correct now to reject a use of the word miracle.  You can't justify denying someone his miracle.  You should just be happy.  It means, here's someone who thinks God has done something.  Accept it.  He's giving God credit.  In the contemporary system, it's far worse to repudiate a miracle than it is to pervert the usage.  It's, you know, OK that people don't know what it means.  There's a lot they don't know.  This one isn't a big deal.

If anything can be a miracle, then nothing is a miracle.  When something is a miracle and when it is not then become indistinguishable.  The classification of a circumstance as a miracle becomes completely subjective.  The experience authenticates a person's spirituality as evidence of God's working in his life.  The problem is, it's not a miracle.  It's called one and then depended upon as spiritual confirmation.

What is the beef about smiracles?  Two words are translated miracle in the New Testament (Thomas Ross has written on this), dunamis some and usually semeion.   Someone can just look this up.  It's no great expertise on my part.  The latter is also translated, "sign."  In the English (KJV), miracle or miracles is found 37 times.  Five are Old Testament.  Of the 32 in the New Testament, 9 are dunamis and 23 are semeion.  A miracle is a sign.  Sometimes the word miracle refers to a type of sign and other times, it is a sign.  In the New Testament I would differentiate walking on water or feeding the 5,000 from speaking in tongues and the gift of healing.

Salvation is never called a miracle in scripture. Never.  You may say, I'll call it one anyway.  OK, but the Bible doesn't call it one.  No matter.  You call it one.  The reason.  It is!!  Why?   It is!!  One of the better arguments I've ever heard for salvation being a miracle is, "So you're saying that salvation isn't a miracle?"  If you say, "No," that means you think that salvation is a work or something that is just natural, not of God.  It's argument by insult.  I said it's one of the better arguments though.  You can't argue from scripture.

Everything that happens on earth in one sense is supernatural.  By Jesus all things consist.  God holds everything together.  So that means everything in that sense is supernatural.  Even on the natural and supernatural, we have designated only certain events or circumstances as supernatural, operating outside of natural laws.  If I fall from a cliff and go down, that's natural, but if I go up, that's supernatural.

Miracle is an English word.  It translates mainly semeion, which is also translated, "sign."  When "sign" is translated "miracle," it is still a "sign."  Semeion occurs 77 times in the New Testament.  "Sign" is found 30 times in the New Testament (KJV) and "signs," 23.  If you add the times semeion is translated "miracle," that about covers the translation of the word in the English (KJV).

Tell-tale in the usage of semeion is one in Hebrews 2:3-4:
3  How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; 4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?
Also interesting in these two verses is that you can see "signs" and "miracles."  According to Greek grammar, these two verses tell us that "signs" and "miracles" have ceased or ended.  They are no more.  "Was confirmed" is an aorist passive verb.  The aorist says that the confirmation of signs, wonders, and miracles was completed in the past.  The confirmation of the words of the Lord and those who heard him is completed.

1 Corinthians was written around AD50 and Hebrews around AD63-64, thirteen or fourteen years later.  You can read that signs were wrapping up in 1 Corinthians.  They were done by the time Hebrews rolled around.  Between 1 Corinthians and Hebrews the confirmation process of the words of Jesus and the Apostles was completed.

So someone says, salvation is a miracle.  That means that miracles were not done by the time Hebrews was written, therefore, contradicting Hebrews, or countering the Word of God.  What Hebrews says then according to this claim would be wrong, saying, "No, miracles are still today, as seen in salvation."  Hebrews 2:3-4 say they are done, so how do I know or why do I say miracles continue today?  Basically because I say so or because I want them to, as part of my wish fulfillment.

Your salvation is supernatural.  It is of God.  It isn't a miracle.  It isn't a sign.  God worked for you to be saved, if you are saved.  There may have been some amazing circumstances.  You could call those the providence of God.  None of it was a miracle.  When we blur these terms, we don't help.  We hurt.  We should stop and be more precise or accurate.  There are bad consequences for not doing so.

Signs have a very narrow purpose.  They authenticate, confirm, or validate the words of God or the prophets or apostles who speaks those words.  Since the canon is complete, we don't need more validation or confirmation or authentication.  Miracles -- signs -- have ceased.  My friend, Pastor Dave Mallinak, disagrees:
Our world is a miracle, and a continual sign to unbelievers of the glory of God (Psalm 19:1-3; Romans 1:20). We miss some of the miracles of the created world because it is a miracle on a large scale.
Dave is saying that our world is a miracle and a sign. This abuses the meaning of signs in the New Testament, rendering them meaningless.  God reveals Himself through creation, no doubt, but His creation isn't a sign.  This is a blatant corruption of signs.  With all due respect, it's not his only problem in only those two sentences (there are too many for me to deal with in his whole post at this time).  Unbelievers don't need signs to understand God through creation.  Creation isn't a sign.  It is itself the revelation of God Himself.

Psalm 19 and Romans 1 say that what God reveals through creation, He reveals to everyone.  No one misses, as Dave says above, what God reveals through creation, which is why the revelation is general revelation, general in its audience.  Everyone understands it.  No one misses it.

Turning such things as the whole world itself or creation into a sign doesn't mark anything.  It doesn't mark anything.  It's not a sign of anything.  It's putting black against a black backdrop, white against a white backdrop, sprinkling dirt on top of dirt.  There isn't anything unique enough to it to call it a sign, that is, a miracle.

I've already laid out in my previous posts the issues that come with continuationism of whatever variety.  We really do need to confine ourselves to scripture for our doctrine.  More could be said there.  Smiracle is no exception.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Islam: Modernist or Rationalist Critique

Islam is on the way to being the largest world religion, as husbands and wives in Christendom disobey the Biblical pattern to have as many children as possible (Psalm 127:5) while Muslims have many children.  Are you equipped to evangelize Muslims?  How much do you know about the history of Islam?  I believe the content in the pamphlet The Testimony of the Quran to the Bible (also available in Arabic here) is very useful, and would commend it for use in Biblical Baptist churches (see the Word document here.)  I also thought it was worth mentioning what the results of rationalistic, modernistic, or higher critical theory to the Quran leads to.  Tom Holland has an easy to understand video with useful information:
The video approaches the Quran from a secular, rationalistic perspective and contains some (unjustified) digs at the Bible, but it demonstrates that the sources for Islam are late and unreliable.  Indeed, the sources are weak enough that a rational person can even make the case the Muhammad did not exist.  While I am not convinced that he did not exist--I think he definitely did for reasons such as those explicated by David Wood below--the Quranic and other Islamic material has serious problems with reliability.  The debates below demonstrate these facts (of course, the music in the debates is not endorsed, nor are the authors, etc.):
(Note: Robert Spenser in this video convincingly wins this debate with the Muslims over whether Muhammad existed or not, but that does not mean that his conclusion is correct.)  Better reasons, for those who do not accept the god of Islam as the real God, to conclude that Muhammad did exist, while still demonstrating the unreliability of the Islamic sources, can be found in this debate between Robert Spenser and David Wood:
Christians should be aware of what the application of rationalistic skepticism to the Quran leads to in terms of history, because:
1.) Unlike with the Bible, the Quran was not a product of Divine intervention, so there are much better reasons for higher critical analysis to be correct.
2.) Muslims argue against Christianity by borrowing from higher criticism, but were they to apply the same sort of criticism to their own religion they would find theirs melts away in a way that Biblical Christianity does not do so in fact.
Thus, I commend the videos above to you, to assist you in proclaiming the gospel and tearing down spiritual strongholds with Muslims.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Is the Macedonian Call Normative for Missions Today? Part Two

Part One

Before I begin part two, I want to draw your attention to a series on the call that two others and myself did at Jackhammer several years ago (my parts one, two, three, and four).  Those will be helpful to get some more scriptural thinking than in these two posts.

In part one, I said, no, to the question of the title, among other things.

Maybe you're thinking, and I hope not, that it doesn't make any difference that someone hears a voice in his head and says it's God talking to him.  Your thought could be, as long as the stuff he hears doesn't change any doctrine and he wants to do something good, what difference should it make?  That seems about par for the course in Christianity today, where close and even much further away than close, actually does count.

Could you consider that Paul and the apostles and the era in which they operated were unique?  That's fine.  We are not ripped off today.  We have completed scripture and a long time of having sorted through it.  We don't need apostles.  We don't have apostles.  We are not operating in apostolic fashion any more.  It isn't lesser that we are.

Making the Macedonian call normative for today in missions does change doctrine, several doctrines in fact, and it is very dangerous in a number of different ways.

Not in any order of significance, one, the one with the "call" receives further and new revelation from God.  This isn't scripture, but it is being counted as having that authority.  This corrupts the doctrine of scripture.  Scripture, special revelation from God, is complete and sufficient.  We don't need any more and we're not getting any more.  The canon closed with the book of Revelation.  We call that the last book of the Bible.

Two, the signs of the Holy Spirit validated the apostles and scripture.  The Holy Spirit is finished confirming the Word of God.  This attributes something to the Holy Spirit that He isn't still doing.  Another common addition to the revelation from God is some sort of validation of a softer variety than what the apostles received.  Men point to these authenticating events or phenomena as how they know the voice is from God.  They would deny them as signs, but they very often still are (if not always) relied upon as signs.

True spirituality should be judged by scripture.  This "call" and its authentication have become faux evidence of the unique spirituality.  A person hearing from God is very connected to God, and this is a major way, albeit unscriptural, that folks are now judging spirituality.

Three, it messes up the biblical understanding of call.  Almost exclusively, call relates to salvation.  If you are called, you are saved.  Instead of being called meaning salvation, it has become in a wide swath of evangelicalism more associated with the voice in the head.

Four, it replaces the actual means by which someone knows what to do in the realms of the unwritten will of God or the individual will of God.  Men rely on these ways of conceiving of the will of God. Five, it undermines Christian liberty, because someone has the liberty to go somewhere as a missionary without having this extra-scriptural experience.  Six, it can be used to excuse man's will as God's will.  Even if it is permissible, it is said to be God's will, when it really is man's will.

Other problems ensue with the application of the call to missions.

One, unqualified men often become qualified by a call.  Two, men wish to go somewhere they shouldn't go, but they get to go now, because the call can't be refused.  I understand that for one, some churches expect qualifications too, but I've seen this work very often to qualify the unqualified.  For two, churches also will refuse, but again I've seen many instances where they are not.  A Filipino wants to move back to the Philippines except with full support and American money will go a long ways in Manila.

I don't want you to get me wrong.  Many who are "called" are also qualified and going somewhere they should.  They get there and do a good job for the most part.  The gospel is preached, new converts trained, churches started.  When they succeed in biblical fashion, the call isn't the reason.  It shouldn't get any of the credit.

On the other hand, I've met men, very well meaning, who should stay and help in their church.  They don't need to be out on their own.  They need direct supervision from a pastor.  They are so eager, but they are not equipped to do it.  Spurred by some combination of emotionalism, false doctrine, and wish fulfillment, they hear the voice, and say, yes, to it.  They spend years writing bad to mediocre to good mission letters, take photos, and embrace their call.  I'm not saying they're not trying.  Some are.  They just weren't cut out for it.

Three, men waiting for the call don't do missions.  They haven't received it.  It's like waiting to speak in tongues.  There are people out there who try to and want to, and can't.  No one actually is speaking in tongues, actual languages, and they are honest about it.  A lot of men could be evangelizing somewhere full time, sent out by a church, but they still haven't been called.  As much as some shouldn't be out there as a missionary, some should be, but they haven't heard the voice in the head.  Or, they hear voices in their head and are willing to admit they are just voices in their head.  They still haven't been called, so they are not somewhere evangelizing, when they are very qualified to do so.

All of us need to sort through the relationship of the Old Testament to the New, the Gospels to Acts,  and the Epistles to the Gospels and Acts.  There is a fundamental hermeneutical error that arises from a departure from historical, biblical theology, that provides the basis for making the Macedonian call normative for today.  I ask that you take this into full consideration.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Reflecting on My White Privilege

I am planning to writing further in the related series, "Making the Macedonian Call Normative in Missions Today" and "You Know You're a Continuationist When...," so stay tuned for those.  Meanwhile, there's this.

Out of accession to popular culture, I want to take a moment to reflect on my white privilege. I can encourage other people by admitting that my life has been easier because of my skin color.  I have to start with my father, who grew up in the rural upper midwest without electricity or indoor plumbing.  All the heat and cooking for the house was in a black pot belly stove in their kitchen.  Neither of his parents had a college degree.  He was limited in school activities by the requirements of living on the family farm, including milking the cows every day before daybreak.  He was placed in special education class while in junior high.

In another cold midwestern state, my mother was the oldest child and grew up in an apartment above a bar.  Her dad was a drunk and her mother died of cancer when she was eight years old, at which time she started to keep the house and raise her younger brother.  Her father remarried a woman, a heavily medicated chainsmoker, adding three more children to my mom's responsibilities.

My father and mother married at eighteen while my dad worked graveyard shift at a local factory.  He worked that same shift for 17 years, my entire early childhood until 12 years of age, at which time my  family moved for my dad to go to Bible college.  There he was a full time student, his working two minimum wage jobs and my mom at a lunch counter downtown.  We lived in government subsidized housing.  We bought a Chevy Vega for eighty dollars, which had a hole in the floor through which we could see the road and exhaust blew into the car.  The next vehicle was a Volkswagon with five adults and no heat.  We took turns scraping ice and frost off the inside of the windshield.

Our family moved from government subsidized housing to something a little more than a shack besides the railroad tracks, literally on the other side of the tracks.  We had a dug out basement with crumbling walls, where was our shower, a pipe sticking out of the wall, with a floor of deteriorating concrete.

White privilege.  I understand, it's a weightless knapsack of assets and resources I was given when I was born white.  Actually, no.

A key to my childhood is that I didn't think about privilege at all.  I never knew I didn't have it good.  I did have it good. No one told me I didn't.  I thought I did.  I was breathing. I lived in a free country.  I believed in Jesus Christ.  I had a home in heaven.  I owned a Bible in English.  We made ends meet.  We survived.   Whatever the stuff we had or didn't have wasn't important.

Everyone today is privileged if he grows up in the United States -- red and yellow, black and white.  It is still a land of opportunity.  Giving people even another impression is one of the worst things you could do to him. Even though some have it better than others, it doesn't have to stay that way.  Even if it is true, you can be happy that someone has it better than you.  That person is not holding you back -- be happy for him.

Everyone will still have trials and tribulations, face opposition.  Even if the playing field is slanted in some way, it doesn't help anyone to tell him that.  That's just the way it is in a sin-cursed world.  Some are born on third base and others have to touch all four bases.  What someone needs to hear is, you can do it.  You can make it.  You can succeed.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself.  Take all of the energy dedicated to self-pity, wrap it in a ball, and send in the direction of a solution.

What should be required reading for schools is Up From Slavery, the autobiography of Booker T. Washington (the kindle edition is 60 cents).  If I gave it a sub title it could be, Build a Better Brick, which is what Washington drilled into the students at Tuskegee.  He didn't invoke white privilege.  He said, you build a better brick.  If you do, people will buy it.  That's still what people need to hear, and not the alternative message of W. E. B DuBuois that sent crowds flooding to congregate around Washington D.C.

God created a world of potential and of exponential growth.  In a few generations, one seed results in stalks of corn covering the face of the planet. It's not a zero sum game.  Somebody else's gain is not my loss.  There's more than enough for all of us.  Most important is the grace of God.  Psalm 37:25, "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."