Saturday, April 30, 2011

Books Available on Kindle

Please note that Thou Shalt Keep Them: A Biblical Theology of the Perfect Preservation of Scripture, as well as Heaven Only for the Baptized? The Gospel of Christ vs. Pardon Through Baptism, have both been made into Kindle books, so you can get them for your Kindle or related device at Here are the links (you can also just search by name at Amazon):

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Abusive Parenting

The mainstream media cranks out another expose of a particular parental perversion of Christianity. Is what the Bible says now wrong, because somebody in a church abused what Scripture said? Some brakes failed so now we shuck the automobile? We feel turbulence, so we start strapping on the parachute? Living by faith requires not bailing on what God said when the world says it has some evidence against it. Victims of bad parenting hold no unique authority for good parenting. Being a victim doesn't make someone an expert on how something should be done. It doesn't qualify you as a spokesman for anything.

Many bewail the multiplication and spread of abusive parenting. They mean corporal punishment of children. I join the outcry against abusive parenting, but not against corporal punishment. Who is right? Who is wrong?

Cultural and political correctness oppose spanking as a form of child discipline. Now churches have boarded this bus for easy applause from and strategic attraction of the world, becoming the new quote machines for secular social intervention. Here's a recent example:

[S]adly, the “rod proverbs” are the main so-called biblical grounds that countless parents use to justify the unwarranted and ungodly harming of their children. . . . There is a lot of abuse that is happening and it is time that the opposition to it move from the shrill voices on the sidelines that are sometimes righteously, sometimes bitterly, calling attention to the scandal to center stage.

I believe that spanking is indeed allowed and, therefore, optional. But that is a long-shot from saying it is commanded and, therefore, freely at the disposition of parents to use whenever, however, and for whatever reason they may desire.

I read the wiggle room with ease of deniability, but do Proverbs really provide the basis for abusive parenting? Is the major issue in abuse today a skewing of the "rod proverbs"? Or could it be that we don't have enough close attention to what the Bible says about parenting? In other words, we have too many people operating by the seat of their pants, no pun intended. They are ad libbing, making it up as they go along, or even doing what ever feels right at the time. Who really is abusing children today? Is it the "rod" propagators? Or should we look somewhere else for what is the true blame for bad child development?

What God says also works. Even if it wasn't designed "to work," we should go ahead and do it, because it is what God said. When what God says then does work, God gets the glory for it. And that's why we're here---for His glory. Following our own plan glorifies us.

A theological view buttresses the rejection of corporal child discipline. Churches don't necessarily take the view, but they borrow it with their own new positions against physical punishment. Sin is bad. God hates it. Sin deserves punishment. God punishes sin. We don't understand salvation if we don't understand that sin deserves punishment.

The world's view is that kids have got problems and they need some kind of therapy or psychology to change. People are animals and there is not absolute right or wrong. If we want different behavior, we can use various means to motivate it with the view of adapting and evolving. You don't want the children to feel judged or rejected. You can reason with them to see progress and growth.

Punishment of sin says that the child has done wrong. Punishment of sin shows hatred for sin. Punishment of sin says God does not approve and rejects that behavior. The punishment is right. The sin is wrong. We deserve punishment for sin. Escape of punishment does not mean that no one gets punished. God's justice requires punishment. The understanding of substitutionary death says that Jesus is punished in our place. We deserved the punishment, but Jesus took that punishment for us. To understand substitution, children need to see they deserve punishment. Who needs salvation is there is no punishment? No one does.

Punishment shows that sin is serious. It is God's designed way to see it as serious. Today's church leaders very often see the punishment as what is serious, not the sin. If punishment was not serious, then why would God the Father expose His own Son to the punishment for our sins?God the Father takes our sin and its punishment very seriously. We are not more loving than God the Father, just because we will not punish. God is love.

Sin needs to be punished. The "rod" in Proverbs is about punishment of sin. It reveals the righteousness and holiness of God. It reproves and corrects. Sin is of greater harm than punishment. Sin is to be hated, not the punishment. We are not better for our lighter view of punishment. We can show mercy, but not a lesser view of punishment, if we want our children to understand God's hatred of sin and the seriousness of that sin.

God is going to punish sin. God is True. God Is Wise. God Is All in All.

Many Christian leaders today are more concerned about punishment of sin than they are about sin itself. They are more fine with sinning than punishment for sinning. Sin offends God. Punishment offends them. They are more willing to allow sin than to allow punishment.

The conscience is guided by the law written in our hearts. The conscience is less trained when we will not punish sin. Sin becomes acceptable. The law is diminished in the heart and the conscience is less effective. The person becomes more a candidate for shipwreck. Little to no warning will sound because the conscience has been salved into a non-working or inefficient state. Without that warning device at full operation a person is less prepared for moral catastrophe. Damaging the conscience as such is unloving. The lack of punishment of sin is unloving.

The Bible gives two parental responses to sin---rod and reproof. It is not rod or reproof. It is rod and reproof. Both are needed. Only reproof is not enough. Scripture does not offer to parents other treatment of sin than rod and reproof. It does not offer "time-out," for instance. God's Word is sufficient. It furnishes us to every good work, even every good parenting work. What is not in the Bible is not better. We are bound to failure when we follow our own way and not God's and God is not glorified by our way. Rod is required because rod is the only prescribed way in inclusion with reproof. Scripture does not teach another way.

Many church leaders have painted corporal punishment of children as some kind of wild-eyed, raging beating. The parents who do so are often out of control. They strike their children in a deranged way. That representation reflects poorly on the work of Proverbs in the life of these parents and even upon God Himself. God is the One who revealed that to mankind. No one knows better about parenting than God.

Take a moment to imagine my motive. You'll do that if you want an easy way, albeit lacking in integrity and moral scruples, to analyze this essay. You'll say that here we've got the arguments of someone who enjoys child beating. He wants to justify his child abuse. He wants to protect child abusers. Three words: judge righteous judgment. Also, stop your self-deluded excuses for parental delinquency. Cease from your madness. Read the Bible. Listen to what God says therein.

Not following biblical teaching on child discipline is abusive. When parents don't use the God-directed means, they rely on their own means. The children will be more disobedient and parents become more on edge. The parents often use non-scriptural means as yelling, threatening, badgering, comparisons, sarcasm, and other verbal techniques. Building anger in the parent could more likely result in sudden, impulsive violence to the child. Or they are just allowed to get away with sin, and so view sin in a more positive way. Sin is a light thing, only a trifle, like it was with King Ahab. And the child does more sinning and gets away with more. Or the child builds up damaging guilt from the lack of punishment. Punishment provides a type of cleansing of guilt. A child has paid for his wrong doing and can move on without the guilt. The guilt causes an internal pain worse than the pain of the physical punishment. That is abusive parenting.

And then because of a lack of corporal punishment, bad behaving children are all over. They don't take their sin seriously, so they keep sinning. They don't see sin to be wrong, even sins like stealing and murder. Someone may say they' re wrong, but the child hasn't been disciplined. So easily there is more thievery and murders. The out of control behavior often characteristic of young people leads to criminal activity, resulting many times in the death of a well-trained, disciplined child at the hands of the undisciplined one. Now the disciplined child and his parents are victims. Will the news media do a special on behalf of these victims? Will pastors of churches stand up for the victims of the crimes committed by men who did not receive corporal punishment for their childhood sins?

Children are abused by other children, bullies, who aren't stopped in their behavior by caring, corporal punishment. This kind of victimization is occurring every day all over. Men and women are robbed by these children who weren't disciplined. People are murdered by these criminals who were not spanked for their childhood transgressions. Will there be an outcry against this kind of abusive parenting?

Parents will be cowered into giving speeches instead using a thin tree branch on the bottom of their child. They will be afraid of being branded by anti-spanking advocates, who often view children as animals in need of psychological treatment. When they look for help, they'll also get the same from these preachers, who like the support they get from the world. Shame on them. Shame on their faithlessness.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Birth Certificate: Why It Remains an Issue

The United States has been a country of conspiracy theories. I've taught United States History and Government for over 20 years and the conspiracy theories can spice up a history or government class---they get people's attention. If you are a conspiracy theorist, you are also considered to be a bit of a nut, and conspiracy theorist and loony are even treated as synonyms. Conspiracy theories are not relegated to only right wingers---there are left wing and right wing theories and even whole chicken theories as in the case of unidentified flying objects (UFO). Many left wingers believe President Bush orchestrated the destruction of the the two World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001.

Enter the Obama birth certificate issue. Was our President a natural-born citizen of the United States as required by Article Two of the Constitution of the U. S.? The issue has peaked and valleyed, but it will not go away, and right now percolates about as strong as ever, in light of the incessant questioning of Donald Trump by television news reporters. They question and he answers. He won't say no-comment. So why doesn't this issue or non-issue go away?

Obama supporters, which also happen to be most of the main-stream media, insist that people who question Obama's birthplace do so because of several possibilities, and only these: they are crazy, they are stupid, they are racist, or they are partisan. So if you question the birthplace of our president, you are doing it for only those reasons, and it could only be one or more of those reasons. And that kind of tactic is enough to keep most people from saying that they question where President Obama was born. The other big reason, I believe, that many others won't say anything about this is because they think this is an intricate, complicated, three-level-chess kind of strategy being used by Obama, stringing along the debate, so that around election time, he could play the victim by showing everyone his birth certificate. "What if he really has one? I would feel and look really stupid being one of the ones who questioned it." That kind of thing.

When Donald Trump first started answering this question, he would start the answer by saying he was really smart, went to elite academic institutions, and got good grades, in order to prevent the "you're stupid" charge from the media. I've also noticed that the media, even at those moments, won't necessarily say you're stupid, but they will roll their eyes, sigh, laugh, look at each other like they know you're crazy, and generally treat you like you're likely insane if you don't agree that President Obama was born in Hawaii. They put pressure on those they interview to comply with the politically correct position, that is, he is a natural born citizen.

And the issue persists. Why? My contention is that the "birther" issue won't stop precisely because we are not stupid; in other words, just the opposite reason than what the main-stream media wants people to think. My intelligence will not allow me to dismiss the issue of the president's birthplace. Everything about how the issue is being dealt with sends up red flags to any thinking person. I believe that the people who don't have questions are the ones who are drinking the koolaid, in other words.

When I sit in judgment upon any issue, I have a bias toward wanting to believe a person. Last night I was talking to a Buddhist and I wanted to believe Buddhism. I wanted someone to give me his best shot for Buddhism, so I can understand why someone would believe it. I've asked that type of question thousands and thousands of times. When people cannot give satisfying evidence to a seeking, believing person, it shows it to be false to me. I want to believe, but I'm not going to be naive. That's what media people and others are asking for us to do on this birthplace issue. Just be a dupe, is what I get.

Do I think that President Obama was born in the United States? Yes. I do. I think that. Why? Because I want to believe that. Has he proven that he was born here? No. He hasn't. He hasn't proven that. No one has proven that to the people of the United States. I think he was born here because of certain circumstances, ones however that do not prove that he was born here. Could he prove it? Yes, he could. But he hasn't yet. Which is the reason why I do think and I do believe that he has something else he doesn't want people to see, perhaps on that birth certificate. Should he have to show that? Yes. He should. The president of the United States should have to show his birth certificate. He hasn't, but he should have to.

A couple of years ago I went with the rest of my family to get a passport. I went without my birth certificate. Some of my family members had theirs. I didn't have mine with me. I went with the kind of certificate that Obama has been showing people of the United States online to prove he was born in Hawaii. It is called a Certificate of Live Birth or something like that. It's something that is typed up later and could easily be forged by someone who wanted to fool people into thinking that he was born in this country. It is much more difficult to fake a birth certificate. You've got a combination of signatures and a look that is very authentic as it relates to a birth. I didn't have that one with me when I went to get a passport, and they would not give me a passport. The birth certificate was required. I still don't have a passport. I did get my birth certificate. It took some effort to do it, but I got it, so I could get a passport now, but I couldn't then with that which President Obama is showing the world to prove he was born here.

So people like Trump are saying that the piece of paper Obama is showing everyone is not enough, and people are treating him with ridicule. They say that the certificate he has produced is enough. That certificate was not enough for me to get a passport. I couldn't visit a foreign country with what he produced. But I could and did get my actual birth certificate. It can be done, even with someone with limited resources such as myself.

Is this Obama birthplace issue only a conspiracy theory? No. It's a real issue for any thinking person. And this becomes even clearer the more I hear his defenders. Every time I hear an Obama defender or even President Obama himself, I await the solid evidence necessary to eradicate this issue. I want it to be gone. But it only raises more questions. It answers nothing. Which only makes it a bigger issue with me and obviously others.

What am I talking about?

To start, I'm talking about the fact that the President will not show us his birth certificate. He won't produce the certificate. That is a simple thing to do if someone has one, especially with his resources, and yet he won't show it. That would clear up the matter completely in a matter of seconds. But he does not show the birth certificate.

Second, the main stream media will not ask Obama why he does not show the birth certificate or let everyone see it in some way. They don't ask why he doesn't show the certificate. They are complicit with this issue. I don't know why they don't ask. But they don't. They would ask other candidates, but they don't ask him, even though it should be an easy question to ask. I don't know why they don't ask, but there are several reasonable possibilities. They don't want to be branded a racist---too humiliating. They don't want to lose interview possibilities, a career damager.

Third, the president has fought in court, and spent millions of dollars, to keep people from being able to see the birth certificate. Why spend a few million dollars in court costs in order to keep people from seeing something that you say you have or that has nothing on it that is bad? Showing the actual, real certificate would be the easiest couple million dollars you ever saved yourself. The willingness to lose that money, which is difficult to raise in a campaign appearance, should make any intelligent person wonder about this.

Fourth, the media says that the investigation has already been done and it has already been proven, which is why it isn't an issue any more. OK. Alright. That sounds good. And what is the result of that investigation? Where are those results? Where is the program that has cleared it all up? Nothing. Nothing that shows the certificate. What we think is that there were birth announcements in the newspaper. Yes. A week after the supposed birthdate. I couldn't get a passport with birth announcements from the newspaper. That isn't a legal document. Could a mother, who wanted her son to be a natural born citizen of the United States, send in a birth announcement to the newspaper? Just asking. But she wouldn't know that he would be our future president? Who cares? There are many other very good reasons why she would want people to think he was born in Hawaii without those prophetic abilities. An investigation that does not provide a certificate is not complete. So go back to the drawing board Mr. or Ms. Investigators.

Fifth, the governor of Hawaii is outraged that Trump is questioning the birthplace of Obama. OK. This should be good. Proof forthcoming. Oh goodie. Ready to clear this up. Yes!

"So you say that you were 'there' at his birth, Governor Abercrombie?"
"Yes. I was in Hawaii."
"So when you said you were 'there,' you meant there in Hawaii?"
"Yes. And later I saw little Barack at various functions, because I knew his parents and grandparents. And he was introduced to all of us at those get togethers."
"But Donald Trump is asking why the president won't show the birth certificate."
"How dare he ask that question, someone who has had some bankruptcies and taken people's investment money? He's not credible to me to even ask the question. And the question is an offensive question to his parents and family."

Alright. Does that answer it for you? If it does, you, my friend, are not using your brain.

Sixth, the news media behaves strangely stupid about it. Trump, for instance, will say, "He isn't showing the certificate!" And the media will ignore the statement. They show little to no curiosity. They should say, "Wow, that's true. He hasn't done that." And then, these investigative reporters, whose job it is to investigate and uncover these types of issues, ask Trump how his investigation is going. What information has he gathered? Shouldn't they just do the investigation themselves? Some might say, well, they have. OK, so where is the birth certificate? If they have done that, where is the birth certificate?

I believe there are many other reasons than these six, but you've got to park your brain at the door to conclude that anything on this has been proven yet. It hasn't, not only based on standards for a normal thinking person, but based upon what is expected by the U. S. government itself for me to get a passport.

Monday, April 18, 2011

God's Evaluation of the Judgment of an Individual Church

The world places a low value on the judgment of a church. Even churches today, or professing Christians, do not consider the decisions of a church to be worthwhile. But what does God think? Can we know what He thinks? We have a passage of scripture in which we receive the Divine point of view: 1 Corinthians 6:1-4.

1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?
2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.

The church of Corinth was thinking like the world (1 Corinthians 1:11-2:16). The members had allowed the world's leaven, the old, unconverted lifestyle, to leaven their lump, when God wanted them to be a new lump (1 Corinthians 5:6-7). They were operating in various worldly ways that reflected their former way of doing things.

Greek culture was litigation mad, much like the United States today. Everyone was his own lawyer. Rich tradition in Greek logic and rhetoric is due their responsibility to argue for themselves in court. Their whole society was built upon arbitration of disputes before various assemblies. The converted Corinthian church was no longer to continue this practice.

Paul makes strong statements about it in chapter 6. He starts with "How dare you?" and later in v. 5, he continues with "Shame on you!" He's clear that he doesn't want church members to take other church members to secular court. Why? His first overall reason in vv. 1-6 is because of the authority of the church itself. If you read vv. 2-4, you see that he asks rhetorical questions to make the point, and in so doing he reveals God's evaluation of the authority of a New Testament church. Our evaluation of the authority of a church, an assembly, should be the same as God's. Are we more wise than God in our evaluation? (see vv. 5-6) Of course not.

The rhetorical questions of Paul in those three verses (2-4) offer four separate arguments. First, God will have saints judge the world later because God sees saints as having greater judging ability and capacity than the secular world (v. 2a). Second, God will have saints later judging even greater matters than the ones that churches are dealing with now that God wants them to judge, so they are certainly able, in God's eyes, to judge the lesser matters now (v. 2b). Third, God will even have saved people to judge angels, who are superior beings to people, so if these saved people can judge angels, they can judge these church matters (v. 3). Fourth, God considers even the least esteemed church members can judge matters pertaining to this present life in comparison to their future responsibilities in the whole world (v. 4).

These four arguments are devastating on the overall point Paul (on behalf of God) is making. The typical contention against church judgment relates to disrespect of the individual church. Paul is saying that even the least esteemed in a church, the least respected, and we are talking here about the Corinthian church, can make a better decision than the world. Why do you think? Because a church will rely on the Bible, God's Word, for decisions. Believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, God Himself.

We can see in the verses that this is the judgment in a church between church members, solving a dispute, even a legal one, between church members. In v. 4, he says "the least esteemed in the church." Members of a church are who he is talking about. God respects the least esteemed members of the church of Corinth to make a better decision in matters than the secular world.

Let's say that, even though God says what He says here, it is actually true that those least esteemed members couldn't make a better decision than the world, because the world has been trained in law and with advanced degrees and with a lot of respect from the world. Should we go ahead and go outside of the church into the world? V. 4 is a command, an imperative---"set them to judge." God wants church members to sit in judgment over church members. He commands it. He doesn't want the perceived quality of the judges in the church to stop the church from doing this. This is a matter of trusting God, trusting God's authority.

God respects the judgment of a church. He evaluates it higher than the world. I've been writing about this recently here at What Is Truth. The biggest argument against accepting the discipline of an individual church, according to opponents of what I wrote, was that we can't respect the judgment of an individual church. The only scriptural exegesis given for this, the only Bible referred to as a basis for disrespecting a church, was the example of the trumped up witnesses of Jezebel in the case of Naboth in 1 Kings 21. This man (who goes by the anonymous handle of "Anvil") said that we can't accept the judgment of a church because a church could have false witnesses against a disciplined member, like that in the case of Naboth with Ahab and Jezebel. Later I'm going to show how that this example is really the point for leaving it in the hands of believers in the church. It is a bogus argument, a total twisting of the Bible to overturn what we see is a biblical mandate in 1 Corinthians 6.

How can we know which church could get a judgment right, so should be trusted? Paul is speaking to the church at Corinth, which most would say was a "bad church" at the time, certainly not the best with all its problems. But God wants trust in this church's judgment. The one criteria seems to be that the members were saints, that they were true worshipers of God, that they had believed a true gospel. What is dismissed here are the other problems. When I talked about this before, a few opponents intimated that the judgment of our church should be rejected because we used the King James Version and that the women of our church wore clothing with designed gender distinction. Our church does not add those two items to the gospel. We don't believe that in order to be saved, one must use the KJV and have these kinds of dress standards. But that is irrelevant anyway. The question should be, "Are the people in the church saved?" Do they demonstrate Christian testimony of salvation? I wouldn't question the authority of a church, unless I believed that church taught a false gospel, so that there weren't saints to do judgment in that church. That is the case with some churches, so I think it is a legitimate concern, but it isn't one with our church, unless someone could demonstrate that. I, for one, would be happy to hear how it is that we preach a false gospel, if that were the case. We are very careful in our soteriology.

If a church is truly a church of saints, with a regenerate membership, its authority should be trusted by other churches. God trusts it. God demands it. How dare you not trust church authority? Shame on you if you don't trust authority. And I mean the opposition to our church when I say that. Shame on you!

That lack of a trust in a church, which is required by scripture, I see as coming out of fundamentalist and evangelical politics. Fundamentalist and evangelicalism are willing to disrespect the church discipline, the judgment of an individual church of regenerate members, for sheer political reasons that relate to a larger, unscriptural group think. Jesus loves His church. These outside factions do not love the church. They love their own opinions, which contradict the Bible. They truly think of themselves more highly than they ought to think.

Let God be true and every man a liar.

Addendum on 1 Kings 21 and the Witnesses for Jezebel

1 Kings 21 represents two world views, a biblical world view and a secular world view. The biblical view of the world comes from Naboth and Elijah. The secular one comes from Jezebel, her sycophantic supporters, and her compliant husband, Ahab.

Ahab wanted Naboth's land. Naboth would not give it up because (vv. 2-3) God's law would not allow it. It was not his inheritance to give away, based on laws in Numbers and Deuteronomy. He said (v. 2), "The LORD forbid it me." God wouldn't let him make the deal with Ahab.

Of course, Ahab does not take the correction of God's Word very well. I find this with fundamentalists and evangelicals. They love their opinions so much that they think you're being "mean" when you point out what the Bible says about their views. He went home and sulked. Jezebel noticed and she asked him what the problem was.

Jezebel didn't see kings as "under the law" as the Bible taught. Deuteronomy 17 says that the Israelite king needed to write out by hand his own copy of the law. He was to rule under the law of God and he was to subject himself to those laws. That is foundational to Judeo-Christian ethics. Jezebel, a pagan, a secularist, saw kings in her tradition as just taking what they wanted. They didn't have to ask. They didn't have to sell. So she brought her Phoenecian world view into this matter.

She forged signatures and recruited trumped up witnesses in order to testify against Naboth, and they killed Naboth and, we know from later, also his sons. Ahab took what he wanted with Jezebel's guidance. The secular, pagan view of the world was that king's were not under the law. Ahab could take the property of Naboth without repercussions. Of course, this act led to the death of Naboth and all his sons, so it wasn't true. God's law was still operating, which is a major them in 1 Kings itself if you work your way through there.

Enter our opponent, Anvil, from the comment section. He doesn't respect the authority of our church because our witnesses could be the very type that Jezebel, the pagan queen, recruited to offer her talking points. Unsaved witnesses. Not saints. Offering secular judgment. Of course, in this picture, I am Jezebel. And our church are these two witnesses. This is Anvil's view of our church. And this is a view that is supported by a chunk of fundamentalism. They accede to this view in order to operate how they want, for their own convenience. We are railroading a church member out of the church with trumped up charges for what reason? The analogy doesn't work very well here, but who cares? We needed to take something from him? We needed something he had? We wanted to get rid of him? Actually no to all that. It doesn't work in any way in parallel with what Jezebel did. We just wanted to obey 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 and 1 Timothy 5:8, among other places. And God tells our church to make those types of judgments as saints who will some day judge the world and angels, even the least of our members should be able to judge.

How dare you?!? Shame on you who view the regenerate membership of a church like the secular, pagan view of the world! Woe unto you who call good evil and evil good!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Somebody Did Something Bad So I'll Do Something Just as Bad or Worse

Years ago a Jewish rabbi wrote a bestselling book entitled "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People." Maybe someone has already written it, but a better and more scriptural title would be, "Why Good Things Happen to Bad People." Much more realistic.

People do bad things. They have done and they will do too. And they'll do them to you. Sometimes they do them to children, who, of course, don't deserve it. Or do we all deserve worse than any bad thing that was done to anyone of us? Actually we all deserve worse than the worst that has been done to us. That particular truth does not excuse a person who did a bad thing to someone. Yet, doing something just as bad or worse doesn't help anyone or anything.

There are bad marriages, but that doesn't make marriage bad. Some have decided that a bad marriage, maybe their own parents', means that they've got to give up on marriage itself. This is an example, a case, of somebody doing something just as bad or worse because someone did something bad.

Here's an extreme example of a bad thing. A man drives up on the curb to kill little children playing in the front lawn. Two kids die. But here's another example of a bad thing. Someone spreads false doctrine that deceives a whole family, and that entire family, who has believed the false doctrine, rejects the Jesus of the Bible and is damned to Hell. Which is worse? The first gets treated worse. It is short term and emotional. The latter is forever. The latter is far worse on any scale. Not excusing the first, but we can't let temporal issues cloud our view of eternal ones.

People get treated badly at a church. Mistakes are made. So they decide that a right way to respond to that is to head some place worse or just give up on church all the way. This kind of reaction is wrong. I eat a bad tomato, I don't give up on all tomatoes. I buy a lemon car, and I don't stop driving. Satan knows he can have his way in these situations.

My physical education teacher screamed at me, so I give up exercise? Do I? No. But a father mistreats his daughter and now patriarchy is wrong? Now we've got to be egalitarian because we got abused by a man? People injure their children, so now corporal punishment is wrong? No, no, and no.

If someone misinterprets the Bible or even uses the Bible as a reason to do an unscriptural thing, do we give up on the Bible? No. The Bible is still true. A church, where the women dress modestly and the congregation and choir sing reverent worship to God, does some and allows some wrong things. Are modest dress and reverent worship now wrong? Does immodest dress and irreverent worship correct the wrongs? Are we more likely to receive godly treatment with less modest clothes on?

Is Buddhism now true because we haven't heard of a Buddhist child abuser? If the math teacher who told me 2 + 2 = 4 is later convicted of child porno, should I still think 2 + 2 =4? Because Mussolini got the Italian trains to run on time, should I be against prompt, timely public transportation?

I was recently reading a blog operated for people who have been abused by churches. The chief credential of the owner and operator is that she was abused by someone from a church. Someone came on to say she too was abused by a church and so she became a Buddhist. The moderator said she characterized her own Christian living as conforming to a pattern of Buddhism. She mainly followed Buddhism as a practical model for her life, she said. She didn't expose Buddhism as a damning lie. She promoted it as an acceptable lifestyle.

If we've been abused, do we now have a more valuable evaluation of abuse and abusers than those not abused? Does my having been abused make me more trustworthy in my interpretation of Scripture? Does a victim of a gunshot become better prepared to treat gunshot wounds?

Why should someone attend an independent Baptist church? Is the Bible true? Are Baptist beliefs and practices biblical? Is the scriptural model for churches autonomy or independence? If you were abused by an independent and Baptist church, is that because it's wrong to be either independent, Baptist, or a church? Is moving to something unscriptural the right response to something unscriptural? No, it isn't. If somebody does something bad, the wrong reaction is to do something as bad or worse. Don't do that.

Should we approve of Buddhism, because we've always been treated nicely by Buddhists? We're all offended by child pornography, and perhaps there is less of that in Sikhism? Should we become Sikhs? People who called themselves Christians murdered 100,000 Protestants in France. Does that make Christianity false?

If someone who has been abused in some way in the past, not by me, and I criticize his or her unscriptural statement or evaluation or reaction, am I supporting his or her abuse or even all abuse? What kind of authority does someone have who can't be criticized? Let's say several abused organize into a group, who can't be criticized, because criticism can only be interpreted as support of abuse or abusers. Aren't cults characterized as groups with this kind of unquestioned authority?

Lot thought he was getting something when he left an abusive situation with his uncle Abraham and so pitched his tent toward Sodom.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 31 of P90x

I take a break from the regularly scheduled programming for a mid-term evaluation of P90x. I've been working out since I was a boy in various ways, starting to lift in a consistent way at about 22 and continuing that up until now (49 today). Weights, like me, have gotten old. I kept hearing P90x from the ESPN radio guys here and there, so I looked into it. I don't like to spend much. Two other guys in our church had been thinking about it too---they are 25 and 23, something like that. I like it. I might be through with weights for the rest of my life. This is more like it for someone reaching a more mature status ;-) .

Well, today is day 31, which happens to be at the beginning of phase two. The first three weeks are phase one, then what P90x (Tony Horton) calls a rest week (it's not). And then to phase two, which shifts things all around---what P90x calls "muscle confusion."

If you are looking to get into shape with a set period of time dedicated to it every day, P90x will get that done. It is intense, brutal in fact, but manageable. Again as the regime says, "Do your best and forget the rest." If there was a part of fitness I ignored for a few decades, it is what is called "core work." P90x emphasizes the core with several of its work-outs, including one you will do twice in your first "rest week" entitled "core synergistics."

Three days a week are the big strength times. And immediately after that hour, you will do 16 minutes of what is called "ab ripper x." You will massacre your abdominal muscles with 11 different exercises that employ over 300 repetitions. It's ouchy. For someone as myself, I am not to ab ripper level yet, but again, do your best; you get the drill.

P90x has a diet too, and I'm not doing that. One of the guys made the purchase and each of the other two are chipping in. He's doing the diet and it looks like it is working for him. I'm just watching what I'm eating and that is resulting in weight loss in addition to the fitness.

If you've never done P90x, I would guess that you have never done the variety of push-ups and chin-ups that you will do. People have dreamed of some interesting exercises. And overall what P90x does is work about every possible muscle in every possible way, pulling and pushing and jumping. It also works the stretching, bringing to much, much greater flexibility. The flexibility may be a new experience for me.

Any disclaimers? You don't have to listen to the music, just Tony Horton talking. He says a few things I wish he didn't, but I don't expect him to live like a Christian. It's an exercise routine. Women aren't dressed modestly---that's bad---but you don't have to look at them. Most of the attention focuses on what the men are doing, particularly Horton. They are trying to give women participating someone to look at. 15 days of P90x are yoga. I didn't know much about it. You don't have to do anything related to anything religious. Just saying "yoga" sounds like a problem for people. If you called it "very difficult physical maneuvers," you wouldn't think anything of it. Yoga is about balance, flexibility, control, and strength. In my opinion, it is the hardest workout. You have to hold yourself in postures and poses that you have never in your life, and it isn't easy. The sweat pours off of you. When you are done, you are worn out.

I'll tell you how it is going again at day 60 or so.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

When I Left Fundamentalism Part Six

Fundamentalism and evangelicalism struggle with the same doctrinal conundrum---if the body of Christ is all believers, and there is to be no schism in the body, then how do individuals and churches deal with false doctrine and practice? People claim to be saved and churches claim to preach a true gospel, but they differ in doctrine and practice. How do they unify when they don't agree? Should they unify when they don't agree?

Evangelicalism tries to get along with everyone---no schism in the body. Fundamentalism tries to have both---no schism in the body and separation from false doctrine and practice. The latter is not possible. You can't unify with everyone and separate from some. The difficulty for evangelicals is figuring out when someone doesn't believe the evangel. Someone has to go to the length of Rob Bell rank universalism to get a farewell from evangelicalism. But not really. Many evangelicals still associate with Rob Bell. And those who say farewell to Rob Bell still get along with those who associate with him. Through his methods and many contradicting statements to the gospel, John Piper still cooperates with Rick Warren, and John MacArthur fellowships with John Piper. John Piper also gets together with Mark Dever, and Mark Dever fellowships with fundamentalists.

Fundamentalism tries to draw the line somewhere, usually to protect fundamentalism itself, not doctrinal or practical error, but from some constantly morphing form of fundamentalist tradition. Evangelicalism is more consistent with the same above doctrinal conundrum. They just disregard separation. Fundamentalism thinks the body is all believers, so they disobey "no schism in the body." For many decades, they've been arguing about putting the square peg of separation into the round hole of unity between all believers.

Neither fundamentalism or evangelicalism encourage obedience to all of God's Word. If you try to obey it all, you're going to come into conflict with evangelicalism and fundamentalism. To evangelicalism and fundamentalism, God and the Bible are less important than evangelicalism and fundamentalism. Truth can't help but be cast by the wayside with either of these movements. I found that out as I remained a fundamentalist.

But I left fundamentalism, and I continue my story.

The Matter of "Letting It Go"

Fundamentalism would say, "let it go," to our situation with the mission board that took in our disciplined member. "Just let it go, there is nothing you can do about it, so just let it go." I can let things go. There are things to let go, personal offenses. Sometimes it is the right thing to do. Somebody bangs into your bumper in the church parking lot, and you have a little scratch. You let it go. But should we have just let go another church and a mission board, when they have received one of our disciplined members? We shouldn't. Why?

First, we were in fellowship with that church and we were supporting five missionaries from that mission board, so we were in fellowship with the board too. By continuing our relationship with that church and that board, we were ignoring the unrepentant sin of the disciplined member and treating his disobedience to God Almighty, our Loving Savior, like it never occurred, disrespecting God.

Second, by continuing our fellowship with those two organizations, the disciplined member would "get away with" his sin. The discipline would be nothing. We would still be in fellowship with him by means of our fellowship with the two organizations he was a part of, the church and the board. When under discipline, he could just "take off," and face no repercussions. Think of an Old Testament example. When Achan sinned, what if someone helped him escape and live, instead of receiving God's just punishment? Would that have been acceptable to God?

Third, the disciplined member was leaven in our lump (see 1 Cor 5). We got rid of the leaven, but we would still be in fellowship with the leaven by fellowshipping with the two leaven-receiving institutions. The leaven would still be leavening our lump. The leaven is a problem. We can't ignore it. That does effect purity in principle with our church.

Fourth, if I were not to lead toward separation from these two institutions, the members of our church would be confused about what fellowship was or even how we could fellowship with organizations who received our disciplined members. God is not a God of confusion, because God does not deny Himself. All truth is consistent with itself. It will not deny itself, even as God is Truth. Certainly organizations can be given time and opportunity to grow, but they don't get to disobey without repentance. And in this situation, they didn't care if they got things settled with us at all. They required us to ignore what they did, to treat it like nothing happened. Something did happen, and it must be dealt with according to scripture.

Fifth, if a church does not do anything when this happens, then what is going to stop it from happening again? A church or a board will not understand how serious this is if churches just ignore it or forget about it when it occurs. I think of the famous quote from Edmund Burke on this: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." That represents this situation well, but it reminds me of another quote from James D. Miles: "You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him." What would those do for whom we could do nothing but tell the truth? Telling the truth isn't often enough for fundamentalism, but also what can you do for me? The short-term benefits were weighed, and the truth became a casualty.

What We Did With the Mission Board

Our church and I wanted to act in the most ethical, most loving way in our relationship to the missionaries. However, I believe today we often see issues twisted around regarding missionaries and their supporting churches. Many see the most important consideration to be the church's relationship to the missionary. Churches have authority, not missionaries sent. Missionaries have responsibility to the church too. The church supports the missionary, but the missionary should also support the church. I find the latter to be mainly missing in fundamentalism. It's as if the missionary holds almost zero responsibility to his supporting churches.

I understand that the missionary is mainly responsible to the sending church, so that's how we dealt with this situation. We wrote the five sending churches and told them about the situation we had. Yes, we were looking for some sympathy. What if it was one of those sending churches that was having this happen to it? Four of the five churches were a little sympathetic. One was very nasty, almost as nasty as one could be. All we had done was support its missionary for a few years. The pastor there, who is now the president of my alma mater, insulted us for the amount we were supporting the missionary, which was $50, and told me that it wouldn't be missed. He scoffed at us expecting others to trust our church discipline---"everyone knows churches don't do right." But do mission boards and sending churches or missionaries do right? This seems to be a common attitude about the church today. Then one of the churches was a church of which I had been a member for thirteen years.

We asked those churches if they would have their missionary leave the board. We understood that the missionaries could lose support, so we promised that we would at least double their support and then help the missionaries find other support. I also figured that none of them would leave the board. I saw how things were going, especially when no missionary would interact with my case study, even though we were a supporting church.

We dropped the five missionaries. I liked those missionaries. Two of them I knew very well, but we weren't going to be connected to Baptist World Mission any more and their sending churches weren't going to change on their board situation. None of the missionaries or their churches would support what we were doing. They were too tied into the board in order to change. The board itself was bigger than the situation to them.

The whole situation opened my eyes to board missions. Now we support only missionaries sent by the church---no board affiliation. I found that many other churches operate the same way. It has been an incredible breathe of fresh air. We support churches with whom we fellowship in their sending out of their missionaries. A board isn't in the Bible, and a board isn't necessary for missions to take place. Boards are the invention of men, based upon man's reasoning. When you support a board missionary, you also support what that board does, just like you would a convention or an association.

Something I Read in that Letter

I told you that the pastor had threatened me with sending all over the country a slanderous letter with baseless accusations. I mentioned that there was one part of the letter that was true. Here's that part of the story.

We had a church member whose job was moving him to another area, and he was going to join an independent, Baptist church there. About the time he was making that decision, we had an evangelist in our church. That was only a little time before I concluded that the "evangelist" in scripture was nothing like that particular role or task. This same evangelist shortly was to become the next president of my alma mater. It was the second time he had come to our church for a week of meetings. I told this "evangelist" the church where this future former member was looking to join.

The "evangelist" knew of the church and its pastor. He told me that the family should not join that church. I asked why. He said that pastor of that church had committed adultery with one of his relatives. I thought, "Wow, that sounds very trustworthy. It's his own relative." I asked him if he would pass along that information to this church member while he was with us. He did so and in my presence. This is where the slanderous letter came into play.

The slanderous letter said that I had told this former church member that pastor had committed adultery with the "evangelist's" relative. That wasn't exactly true. I told our former church member that the evangelist had something to tell him about the pastor of that church. And he told the church member. The pastor who wrote the slanderous letter had later seen that former member and asked why he had not joined that particular church. The former member said that I had told him that information. Then the pastor called the "evangelist," who was now a president of a college. The "evangelist" said that I had indeed been the one to have given that information to that former member. And that it was not true. And as far as the evangelist, now president, knew, I had never checked that out with the pastor about whom the accusation had been made.

This sounds like it must be fiction, I know. These situations convinced me that indeed truth is more often stranger than fiction. Well, as soon as I read that accusation in that letter, the very day, I called the pastor about whom the accusation had been made. I repeated to him the exact story I'm telling you and I apologized, said I was wrong, and that I was very sorry. He forgave me. I had only facilitated the evangelist talking to our former church member, but I was wrong to both listen to that accusation and then be involved with the telling of it to the church member. Then I asked him if the evangelist, who was the one who had made the accusation to me and to the member, had ever called him to apologize or to make right this accusation he had made. I thought surely he must have done that, or he would not have said what he said to the pastor who wrote the slanderous letter about me. He said, "No." He had never said anything to him about it.

I proceeded to communicate with the now college president (and now part-time evangelist) about this incident. He told me that indeed he had never talked to the pastor about which he had made the accusation, but that he would talk to him. I don't know if he ever did. The college president never apologized to me for saying what he said to the pastor who made the accusation. And that pastor, of course, never checked to see if those false details were true. He was still willing to send the false accusation about me all over the country, however, if I didn't do what he wanted me to do. None of his letter needed to be true; it just needed to be scary and effective.

How could that evangelist/president make that statement about me to that pastor (slanderous letter writing one), included in his slanderous letter, when he was the one who told me anything I knew about that "adulterous" pastor? There are likely more than two points to this, but think of two with me. First, he didn't think I would ever hear about it, when he told him. Second, he considered what the consequences would be if he told him the truth. He was the one that spread the rumor. He made me the guilty one and then was able to remain in favor with the pastor of a church that was sending several students to his school. Those two pragmatic reasons would provide a suitable basis for doing what he did. Is this like fundamentalism? It is.


As I've written this whole story, some have commented that just because there are these kinds of problems all over fundamentalism, one doesn't have to leave fundamentalism to avoid them. I don't agree with that particular comment, because I believe that it is fundamentalism itself that in part causes these situations to occur. More can be said about that point and will be later.

Second, men want to portray this all an axe to grind. That is not truthful, to say it in a nice way. It all occurred well over ten years ago. I truly have never been happier than I have been since I left fundamentalism. What men meant for evil, God meant for good. The people of our church know the story, but I've written over 500 posts here without every telling about it. It's true that I left fundamentalism for principled, theological reasons, but this story is what helped me realize or recognize those principles and doctrines. I believe others will have experienced something similar in fundamentalism. This story helps expose it for what it is. Men can and will be better off outside of fundamentalism.

More to Come

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Observations about Church Discipline from 1 Corinthians 5

Part five of my story about how I left fundamentalism engendered some controversy in the comment section of the post about a few points therein. The most contention came with the attack on a case of discipline practiced by our church. At least two readers questioned the veracity, integrity, or credibility of our church. They argued that they could ignore the discipline of our church with impunity, rightfully rejecting it and then accepting the excommunicated member. One of the key ideas is that one church does not have authority over another one, so a church cannot stop another church from taking in its former, disciplined member. Another thought is that to be able accept witnesses, one had to be present to be sure that everything was done right. People are sinful and can do wrong things, so it would be easy for someone to receive discipline who really didn't deserve it.

Paul writes about church discipline in 1 Corinthians 5. The church at Corinth had not practiced discipline against one of its sinning members, so Paul admonishes them to do so. I want us to consider some truth in the first five verses of that chapter that relate to the discussion about the discipline as reported in part five of my story. First, here are the first five verses of 1 Corinthians 5:

1It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.

2And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

3For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,

4In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

5To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

First, Paul wasn't in Corinth to witness the sin in Corinth himself. You can see in v. 1 that it was reported to him by others. We can and should believe reports from others. If several people are saying that they are seeing the same thing, that report can be believed. And Paul believed. An unwillingness to believe a report is just that, an unwillingness to believe it. It should be believed.

Second, according to v. 3, Paul believed that he could unilaterally decide, based upon that report, without even being present, that discipline should have been enacted. And we are talking about the church at Corinth here, who was harboring a man in the state of committing incest without repentance. Could anyone there be trustworthy to give an accurate report when no one had stepped up to the discipline of this man? Paul had already decided that this man should have been removed from the church.

Third, in v. 4, Paul calls upon the vertical authority of Jesus Himself in the case of discipline. Jesus is acting in church discipline. The "power of our Lord Jesus Christ" goes back to Jesus' teaching on discipline in Matthew 18. What is bound or loosed on earth is bound or loosed in heaven. Heaven is acting in a case of church discipline, even if it were the church at Corinth. And then when two or three witnesses speak in a case of church discipline, Jesus' presence is there in their witness.

Why would there need to be so much of an introduction to the method of church discipline, calling upon the authority of Jesus Christ in it? Because men are going to question and attack church discipline. They will have their "reasons" to do so, moving into the credibility and the veracity of the church. But they are crossing Jesus when they do so, because Paul said that Jesus' power was involved as well. Paul calls upon the "name of Jesus Christ" because church discipline is exactly what Jesus would have done if He were there. We get a taste of that from Revelation 2:18ff when Jesus speaks to the church at Thyatira for harboring a Jezebel in its midst.

Fourth, Paul relates the authority of the church in this matter, when he writes, "when ye are gathered together" in v. 4. There was no authority over the church of Corinth in its discipline of this member. Paul says "ye." That church was operating with the power of Jesus Christ when it gathered together. A person or other church which ignores the discipline by a church, when the issue is witnessed by two, three, or even commonly reported, they disrespect Jesus. It's His power by which this is done. Surely the credibility of the church of Corinth could be questioned, but even with that church, it was the power of Jesus at work in discipline.

A separate church, gathered together, has the authority to discipline a member. That is the kind of authority God gives a church. And God trusts a church in doing that. It is a shame when other professing Christians or churches will not do that. Really it is more than a shame, it is a repudiation of Jesus Christ Himself, because the act of discipline was done by His authority. The discipline of a single church is the act of Jesus. His authority rests with a church.

Some might judge Bethel Baptist Church in El Sobrante, CA to be illegitimate simply because it believes in one text of Scripture, which English translation is only the King James Version, or because it believes God expects men and women to wear clothes with designed distinctions between genders. Or they might judge that Bethel Baptist Church should be ignored in its discipline because its pastor, like other pastors, makes strong, dogmatic statements about belief as if scripture is perspicuous. They might feel justified in disbelieving a violation which is commonly reported by that church. I would ask anyone like that to consider the problems of the church of Corinth, and that Paul believed that church could and should practice discipline of its members even without his presence. And then understand that you do not just oppose Bethel Baptist Church, but also the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, when you disrespect its discipline.