Friday, December 28, 2012

Were the Reformers Heretics? Appendix Part 1

Please note that the entire series entitled "Were the Reformers Heretics"? can now be viewed by clicking here as one complete essay.

The post below originally went from the sentence "Apart from their connection of baptism and salvation, the Reformers adopted many other heresies." to the sentence: "  “Idolaters . . . shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8)."

Monday, December 24, 2012

2 Corinthians 2:12-17: An Imperative Passage for a Right View of Ministry Success

The Apostle Paul had spent long and valuable time to establish the church at Corinth, left there, and then the church turned off the right path in numerous ways that you can read in 1 and 2 Corinthians.  It was a wreck.  The latest and greatest travesty was a mutiny against Paul by false teachers who would take over and destroy the church.

Paul had sent Titus to find out the church's reaction to a letter that he had sent actually between 1 and 2 Corinthians, what some call the "severe letter," a non-inspired epistle meant to help them again with problems.  He had not heard word of how the people had responded to the correction.  Between his health, the terrible persecution in Ephesus, his concern to hear from Titus, and his desire to preach elsewhere, Paul left Ephesus to Troas.  The plan was to rendezvous with Titus in Troas, so while there, Paul preached the gospel and we can see from 2 Corinthians 2:12 that he was seeing results there, a door was open unto him.  However, because of his discouragement over Corinth, he didn't stay with the new converts in Troas, but ditched them to go meet up with Titus somewhere between Corinth and Troas.  I can visualize Paul standing on the pier of some sea port madly jumping and waving as Titus's ship neared port.

Paul was seeing himself as a loser in the ministry.  He had not given up, but he had taken the step of forsaking an open door to preach and make disciples.  He "had no rest in his spirit" (v. 13).  Why keep preaching if the result is going to be another group that just goes down the tubes again?  How would that be worth it?  But Paul didn't stay down, and he elaborates on what got him out of his condition before he ever even saw Titus.  He did see Titus and we read the results of that reunion in 2 Corinthians 7.  His letters had their desired effect and that did bring Paul great happiness.  However, in this intermediate time, he had to get himself out of this poor state of mind.  He did that by turning his attention upward toward God and thanking God for certain realities, certain truths.

In Philippians 4, Paul writes about how he remains content despite bad conditions.  A major solution was maintaining the right thinking and focus.  Here in 2 Corinthians 2, Paul ticks off the thoughts that carried him out of the duldrums.  They do represent a philosophy of ministry for him.   Paul's thinking and thanking revolve around an event the people in Corinth would have understood:  the Roman Triumph.  When a victorious Roman army returned from battle, the celebrants would let loose a victory fragrance, women would throw down cut flowers at the feet of the returning soldiers, that crushed under their feet would also release a sweet smelling savour.  That smell would follow the victory train everywhere it went for the enjoyment of everyone in its path, and finally would waft into the nostrils of the emporer himself at the end of the procession.  Paul uses this picture to communicate what delivered him from discouragement.

Paul's attitude changes when he thinks of the reality of the triumph God had given him in Christ that he could bring to every place when he preached.  Paul's horizontal circumstances were not his reality.  He wasn't a loser.  He was a winner.   And how was he a winner?  He not only brought the fragrance of Christ's Triumph to all those he met in his work for God, but he was sending it to God Himself (v. 15), who in the metaphor would be the emporer.  That fragrance of Christ's triumph would rise to the nostrils of God with both those who were saved and with those who would perish.

Success in ministry for Paul did not depend on people being saved.  He would also succeed when people were not saved. In the procession were the victorious soldiers and then the captured prisoners.   Both would carry the fragrance of Christ's triumph to the nose of the heavenly Father.  If you know that you have succeeded no matter what the reaction to your gospel preaching, as long as you preached a true gospel, then you are a success no matter what.  And Paul is communicating that here in 2 Corinthians 2.

The prophet in Isaiah 55 said that God's message will always fulfill its intended purpose.  God is glorified by the savor of death or of life.  Both are part of the triumph in Christ.  Those who receive and those who reject are both part of the success.  That means that even if Corinth did collapse and not make it (which it wouldn't), Paul would still triumph.  He would always be a winner.

This passage does not guide the modern church growth movement where the only success is reception.  If the only triumph is life (and not death), then strategies and techniques will be utilized to insure victory.  Instead of being satisfied with Christ's triumph, measures are taken to guarantee numeric success so to alleviate the savor unto death that God also enjoys.

(to be continued)

Friday, December 21, 2012

New resources at "Theological Compositions"

There are a variety of relatively recently posted resources at my “Theological Compositions” website that I thought you might find of interest.  These include:

1.) In the Bibliology section, a work entitled “Texts Where the Deity of Christ is Attacked or Denied in Modern Bible Versions Because of Corruptions in the Greek Critical Text, with a Brief Defense of the Textus Receptus in These Passages,” the significance of which is self-explanatory.  Another new self-explanatory study in the Bibliology section is:  “Daniel 3:25: ‘the Son of God’ or ‘a son of the gods’?”

2.) In the Theology Proper, Christology, and Pneumatology section, I have added about 47 pages of material to the “Objections to the Trinity Answered” work.  Now not just the objections of Arians/the Watchtower Society are detailed and refuted, but a careful study of and refutation of the modalist/Sabellian/“Jesus only” doctrine of the Oneness Pentecostals—who are, by the way, more numerous than the Watchtower Society—has been added.  It is one of the most, if not the most, detailed study refuting “Jesus only” Christology that is available free online.  I have also updated the work of the same name at the evangelistic “What Must I Do to be Saved?” website.

I have also linked to E. W. Hengstenberg’s 4 volume Christology of the Old Testament. Although a Lutheran, for a scholarly and Hebrew-text based OT Christology, his work is very valuable.

3.) In the Soteriology section, the study:  “‘The just shall live by faith’— A Study of Faith’s Connection with Salvation in All Its Justifying, Sanctifying, and Glorifying Fullness” has been added.  It is a portion of my (in progress) Ph. D. dissertation on the doctrine of sanctification in historic Baptist perspective.  The study took me a number of months to complete.  I believe it will strengthen your knowledge of God intellectually and refresh your soul also.  I am likely, Lord willing, to post material associated with this study on “What is Truth?” in the relatively near future.

I have also linked to David Cloud’s refutation of John Piper’s “Christian Hedonism,” and posted links to two great devotionals, Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening and the lesser known but still Christologically rich The Poor Man’s Morning and Evening Portions by Robert Hawker.  The book received its name because it was originally published in cheap editions so that the poor could purchase them.  Hawker is great at seeing Christ in the Scriptures, although sometimes he waxes a little allegorical and I don’t agree with his Calvinism.

4.) In the “Politics” section, I have linked to Randy Alcorn’s work Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions?  Scripture teaches that children are a reward from God and a blessing (Psalm 127:3), and believers should seek to have as many blessings and rewards from the Lord as possible rather than preventing God from rewarding them by limiting their family size.  Today, many believers would be horrified to receive the blessing Rebekah received, instead of rejoicing in it:  “And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them” (Genesis 24:60).  If believers in the USA had generally maintained a Biblical perspective on family size, instead of adopting the mentality of our contraceptive, anti-child culture, Obama would not be sitting in the gate now—someone far, far more righteous would be.  However, if you are determined that you want God to reward you less and to raise fewer children for His kingdom, please do not do so with the birth control pill, for then you are almost surely not just preventing God’s blessing, but are actually involved in murder, as the Pill does not always prevent conception but with some frequency results in the early death of an already conceived person bearing the image of God.

5.) In the new section entitled “Family,” I have linked to some great material by Pastor Brandenburg defending a courtship/betrothal pattern for obtaining a spouse, rather than the world’s dating pattern, and added an excellent tract by Pastor David Sutton on the Biblical basis for and practice of spanking.

6.) In the “Our Other Websites” section, on the “Literary Compositions” page, a number of well-written plays by my wife Heather, appropriate for performance by Christian schools and in a variety of other settings, have been added.  If you need a play, you can use one of them as written, tweak one of them, etc. instead of having to start all over from scratch.

7.) In the “Material for College and Seminary Courses” section, a goodly number of new resources have been recently added, including a link so that you can learn 1st year Greek online from Dr. D. A. Waite.  If you do know Greek, you might salivate at the fact that you can download free copies of the Liddell-Scott Greek Lexicon, A. T. Robertson’s massive Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, and Alford’s 4 volume Greek Testament Commentary, along with other valuable original-language based commentaries.


Monday, December 17, 2012

How To Keep Children Safe

I wish the twenty children and six adults in Connecticut had not been murdered last week and I hope the best for the families of the victims.  Proceeding from such an incident should arise a discussion about how to keep children safe.  But no.  The media and politicians spawn a debate about gun control.  Isn't the issue the safety of our children?  Does more gun control actually make our children safer?  What if gun control in fact made our children less safe?  Could we support that?

The sheriff's department where we live has informed us that there is nothing that it can do to stop our church and school from being robbed and vandalized.  We have been vandalized or robbed 15-20 times in the years I have been pastor here.  Law enforcement here cannot stop crimes from being committed against us and can only prosecute crimes already perpetrated against us.  We were informed that they could not even really prosecute criminals who commit them against us unless we were willing to purchase video surveillance equipment to catch the criminals in the act.   And then we have caught at least three different people in the act through the years --- one parent voluntarily paid for the damage and the other two did nothing even with the coercion of law enforcement.  We sat together with the criminals in a victim reconciliation program, where we talked together about what they did, but we received zero remuneration.  This seems to be about par for the course today.

Like you, this incident has got me thinking about the safety of our school.  What would happen if a killer came on our campus with a rifle or handgun and began firing at our teachers and students?  I can tell you what would happen right now.  We would have a massacre on our hands.  I wouldn't allow him to keep killing people without trying to do something about it, so I would likely be dead.  Our teachers would be left with doing about the same thing that the teachers in Newtown did:  hide, lock, and barricade the children into a bathroom or closet, throw their bodies over children as a human shield, or charge the killer to distract him and hope that he misses.

Let me present to you a different scenario.  It's not happening right now because it is illegal as far as I know.  I'm going to be investigating how far we can go here to protect ourselves.  As I mentioned, law enforcement has told us that they cannot and will not protect us.   Instead of being unarmed, imagine that every one of our teachers carried a concealed handgun.  As soon as a man like this started open firing at our people, three or four of us would be firing back at him.  What would that do?  It could stop him while he had shot only a few, before he shot many.  Knowing we are armed could deter him in the first place.  If we shot at him, it could make him leave or look for cover, where he was no longer on the offensive, but on the defensive until more law enforcement could arrive.  Those all sound like a safer situation for children.

Let me play the devil's advocate.  We ban semi-automatic weapons.  Some of these terms are foreign to many people, if not most.  Many city folks don't know much about guns.  Most hunting rifles are semi-automatic.  Handguns are semi-automatic.  Semi-automatic means you can keep successively firing bullets one at a time.  None of the recent mass murders occurred with automatic weapons, even though you'll hear media persons saying semi-automatic and automatic together like they are the same thing.  An "assault rifle" is usually nothing different than a semi-automatic rifle that looks like a military weapon.  Looks like.

If we ban semi-automatic weapons, we are banning almost all guns.  And then criminals, people who commit horrendous crimes, law-breakers, surprisingly don't mind violating the law.  They are going to murder numerous people, which is worse than owning a gun without a permit.  If you ask them if they have a gun, they will lie, because people who will murder numerous people don't mind lying to people.  If you would kill a person, then you would easily lie.  Does anyone really need to go through this with me?  I guess so.  This is how simple it all is.

So criminals, who don't submit to gun laws, go with murderous intent to kill unarmed people, people who don't have guns because the law says they can't.

This all reminds me of what happens when a drunk driver hits a van full of children.  What do they do?  They make new laws for van safety.  I can't say that I understand the thinking.  It is the kind of thinking, I believe, however, that goes along with a culture that has become deluded and reprobate.  Or we could just call it NOT thinking.  People have a feeling and act on that feeling. The feeling says that criminals  or insane or murderous thugs shouldn't have an "assault rifle," so we should ban semi-automatic weapons.  If the man didn't have the gun, he wouldn't have murdered the people.  It's true.  But it was illegal for him to shoot people, and that law didn't stop him.  Why would a gun law stop him?  It wouldn't.  No one wants him to have the gun.  Like the sheriff said, we can't stop them.  It's only a feeling that will do nothing to protect children, actually leave them more vulnerable.

So what would stop him?  If we both had a gun, he could be stopped from doing the damage.  The data, actual facts, proves this out.  The children would be safer if those watching over them could be or were armed with guns.  If we wanted to keep children safe, if that was the issue, then we would have the adults in charge carrying guns.  In a perfect world, no criminal would murder anyone, but we're talking about the world we live in.

If someone wants to get to the root of the murdering, it isn't the guns.  It is the culture of death we live in.  All abortion and especially late term abortion is murder.  A life is snuffed out with no good reason, the life of the most helpless person in our society.  Murderers murder and keep murdering without receiving the appropriate punishment.  We have a president who, while a state representative in Illinois, fought for murdering babies who survived a botched abortion.  It was hard for me to sympathize with his crocodile tears.  He supports the murder of the most innocent, so please stop the act, I say.

On top of all this is the possible motive of the government to disarm it's people.  People are more pliable when they can't fight.  They'll have to go along with whatever right or freedom is taken away and without recourse.  The government will never say there's a motive to disarm people.  The War for Independence started when the British marched to Concord, Massachusetts to confiscate a storage of weapons.  This was prominent in the minds of the founding fathers when they penned the second amendment.

Let's say that both sides of the gun debate said that they really cared about the safety of the children.  If that was the case, then we wouldn't care about whether our position was enacted, just that we did what was best to protect our children.  More guns, not less would better and more likely keep our children safe.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Were the Reformers Heretics? part 11

Please note that the entire series entitled "Were the Reformers Heretics"? can now be viewed by clicking here as one complete essay.

The post below originally went from the sentence "Baptists stand for the necessity of conscious, personal and evangelical conversion as a prerequisite to baptism. ." to the sentence: "Saints associated with the Romish whore (Revelation 17:1ff.) or her Protestant daughter churches (17:5) should take heed to the inspired command:  “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4)."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cult-Like Tendency in Modern Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism, part three

I think the word "cult" gets thrown around too easily, but I'm still using it in this series (part one, part two).   I'm not saying "cult," but "cult-like tendency."  Cults don't have history on their side.   They find a new teaching and practice that contradicts historical doctrine and application.  If there is to be a change in what Christians believe and do, it should be accompanied first, if not alone, with serious exegesis of Scripture.   When I say that fundamentalism and evangelicalism have a cult-like tendency, I'm suggesting this feature, the neglect or ignorance orthodox, historical theology.  I'm not saying, however, that fundamentalists and evangelicals don't consider historical doctrine and practice at all.  They do, but they are selective in this, which is also what one witnesses in cults.

Biblical, spiritual matters should be considering first whether it is what God wants, what He said, not what will be popular, "help" with the size of the church or the organization.  The world will clash with the church in a greater, more severe way on certain doctrines and practices, highlighting the difference, the contrast between the church and the world.  A major teaching in the Bible is the suffering of the church.  Jesus said the world would hate His people, like the world hated Him.  1 Peter is a book that teaches the calling to suffer.  A tendency of churches, however, and professing believers, is to try to avoid suffering.  It's natural, but it must be resisted.  A church should just keep walking the right path in doctrine and practice, despite the hostility of the world.  Pragmatic compromises with the world will not help.  They might look like they help in the short term, but they are not honoring to God when they move away from God.  Again, this is all about God, so His honor must stay in the forefront.

Little suffering will occur for a church because they use the King James Version with its underlying received text.  Some will happen, mainly in the nature of being marginalized as kooks or quacks with no proof from the accusers.  There will be those who will not attend a church if a modern version is not used.  It's been programmed in now after years of propaganda.  I know modern version advocates will say the opposite occurs too with people who reject modern versions for the King James, especially in certain areas of the country.  That tide is turning or has turned now.  The point I've made on this is that the church has believed in the perfect preservation of Scripture and that has been forsaken by fundamentalism and evangelicalism, ignoring historical doctrine to do so.  That is a cult-like tendency, to leave the historical doctrine of the preservation of Scripture because of science.  We are seeing the same trend with 6 day literal creationism for views compatible with evolution.  Leaving the orthodox understanding of Genesis based upon worldly thinking is cult-like.  Fundamentalists have not taken this turn on Genesis, but they have moved on the text of Scripture based upon similar "scientific" principles.

A major turn in fundamentalism and evangelicalism away from historical application of Scripture, the practice of God's Word, has been on the so-called cultural issues.  The historical understanding of Deuteronomy 22:5 among Christians has been practiced as men wearing pants and women wearing skirts or dresses.  Historically, true believers have believed that the disobedience of this passage in this way made the violators an abomination to God.  That was the position that Christians took, all of them.   As the culture of the world began to move away from this Christian influence, Christians stood against the world, but over a longer period of time, Christians too have shifted on it, until there is little to no difference between the church and the world in this practice.  In fact, now professing Christians actually attack, mock, and ridicule the historical Christian position and practice on gender distinctiveness in dress as much as or more than the world itself does.

The change in practice on dress did not start with study of the Bible or exegesis.  It started with accommodation to the world and then acceptance of the world's practice.  Christians were no longer obeying Deuteronomy 22:5.  Some interpretational differences came later as fundamentalists and evangelicals attempted to justify their lack of practice.

Understand that accompanying the disobedience of Deuteronomy 22:5 has come the variation in the roles of men and women and the rise of homosexuality.  They are related issues.  First came the God-ordained symbolism of men wearing pants and women wearing skirts and dresses, and then once the symbol was rejected, the roles themselves have moved to the worldly thinking as well.  New arguments arose against male headship and female submission, changing the historical beliefs of Christians.  And this is related to the creation issue, since God created the roles of men and women, and He wanted those differences designed into the external symbolism of dress.  This is clear in Deuteronomy 22:5 and 1 Corinthians 11:3-16.

From my perspective, the arguments against the man wearing pants and the woman wearing skirts and dresses, are weak and ridiculous.  They are not trying to follow what the Bible says, just looking for a way out in order to fit in with the world.  The issue has become political more than exegetical.  You take a position that will allow you to fit in with more people.  There is no history with it.  The people will not refer to positions Christians have taken.  They will not talk about how Christians have interpreted the passages.  They don't want to do that.  They know what it means.  Instead, they  just take pot shots at those who continue believing and practicing the biblical and historical way.  This is a cult-like tendency.  It is illustrated with the rebellion on the dress issue, but it is happening in many of the cultural issues.   The world is turning the church upside down.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Were the Reformers Heretics? part 10

Please note that the entire series entitled "Were the Reformers Heretics"? can now be viewed by clicking here as one complete essay.

The post below originally went from the sentence "William Tyndale, translator and promulgator (with Coverdale and Rodgers) of the immensely influential Tyndale Bible, held Baptist views on baptism." to the sentence: " The Regulative Principle was an important component of the Baptist doctrine of baptism."

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Applying Biblical Texts to Ecclesiastical Separation?

Recently Dave Doran, pastor and seminary president, wrote on his blog about a post by Lance Ketchum on ecclesiastical separation.  Ketchum had named Doran in a negative way in his article, and then Doran riffed on it with a very short essay with a link to an article he had written about a related passage.  Ketchum says that Doran isn't practicing biblical separation and Doran says that Ketchum isn't essentially interpreting and then applying the passage in Romans 16 correctly.  So what's going on here?

I had read the Ketchum post and didn't have any trouble with it.  I read the Doran post and thought it was unusual for him.  I like Doran in so many ways.  It seemed to be something little less than a pot shot, a hatchet job (to mix my metaphors) on Ketchum.  And Doran's name was mentioned by Ketchum.

Ketchum quotes our book on ecclesiastical separation, A Pure Church, in his article, but this has nothing to do with my post right now.  Doran really didn't touch what we were quoted on.  There wasn't enough of a context to the quotes to know what positions we would be taking exactly on the text.

Doran's post was so short, let me just quote the entire thing right here:

FWIW, I was reminded of this previous post when I read this article.

The genuine cause of biblical separatism is not helped by applying biblical texts about false teachers to brothers with whom we disagree. It may work to create controversy and generate heat, but my observation over the past 30 years is that it only works for the short term and then blows up. People who makes claims like this lose their credibility and their following, properly, grows smaller and smaller. Sadly, they interpret that as some kind of proof that they are right, but in reality it is simply a sign that they are unbiblically divisive. Even more sadly, because they wave a Bible verse and drape their false accusation in biblical garb, good people and assemblies are hurt by the confusion it causes.

Succinctness can be good....and bad.  I judge the latter here, because there isn't enough explanation for Doran to avoid failing.  I quoted the whole thing, so I could refer to it in this post.

The post to which Doran links, which you can pick up by clicking on the link I provide in my first line, deals with a misinterpretation or misapplication of Romans 16:17-18, that I have to say, I've never heard in my life, making it seem like nothing more than strawman.  He bashes a position I've never heard taken and doesn't tell us who he heard taking it.  Ketchum doesn't take it, so it doesn't even apply to Ketchum, even though Doran links to it like he does.  So we're bad there right off the bat.  Problem #1.

Then the major point of Doran is that Ketchum's article misapplies Romans 16:17-18 (and I think Doran may be saying, misapplies to me).  He uses the words "brothers with whom we disagree."  That is at least misleading.  Ketchum isn't talking about "disagreements," like non-biblical issues (Rom 14 ones).  Ketchum is talking about false teachers and false teaching.  Problem #2.

I wrote Doran about this, so I know now what he thought was the misapplication.  Ketchum applies Romans 16:17-18 to false teachers who are professing believers and Doran thinks that it should apply only to lost false teachers.  That's it.   Doran treats this like it is some egregious issue of interpretation or application.  I don't see Doran going after this kind of situation normally, but obviously his name and some of his closer friends were mentioned in the article.  He and they were involved with Mark Dever at a conference a few years back, and this got some hubbbub.

Is Doran right?  Does Romans 16:17-18 apply only to unbelieving false teachers?  If there are false teachers teaching something that is against scripture, we don't mark and avoid them, at least according to Romans 16:17-18?  I don't think Doran can prove his point.  He doesn't even try in the article.  Actually I think it applies to any kind of false teacher, and we're not always able to instantly determine whether the one doing the false teaching is saved or not.  Usually saved people, when confronted about false teaching, will repent, so you don't have to mark and avoid them.  The terms aren't a dead give-away to say that these are surely all unsaved people.  Problem #3.

The way Doran reads is that Ketchum was attempting to "create controversy and generate heat."  So this comes across like he is assigning that motive to Ketchum.  I don't think so.  I think Ketchum is concerned about the Bible being followed and obeyed.  He sees fundamentalism changing and he doesn't think in a good way, and he wants to do something about it, so he uses a lot of exegesis to do so.  Doran says bad exegesis with no proof, but Ketchum does in fact refer to scripture in a serious way to make his point, unlike ironically what Doran does.  Doran just blasts Ketchum without providing proof, except for a link that is a bridge to nowhere.  And I think the plain reading has Doran judging Ketchum's motives.  Problem #4.

In the exactly previous post to this one by Doran, he writes about what bothers him about blog debates, and #2 is:  "when a written text is defended or attacked by arguments that assume the ability to read the author’s mind."  So in his next post, he attempts to read Ketchum's mind in a blog debate.  Bravo!  His number one was treating arguments like they are an attack on a person, when they are an attack on a text.  What text did Doran really deal with?  Voila.  Nothing.  All he did was smack down Ketchum.  Problem #5.

Doran says that Ketchum makes a false accusation.  What is the false accusation?  Please, if there is confusion, let's clear that up!  No clearing up available with this essay.  Ironically, more confusion with this post than with what Ketchum offered.  I got what Ketchum was talking about.  Doran serves up ambiguity that then comes across as a smear job.  It is a smear job.  So, it is a false accusation against Ketchum about Ketchum making a false accusation.  If you are going to say someone is making a false accusation, you've got to do better than this, or you yourself are making one.  He says that Ketchum is losing credibility, being unbiblically divisive, and then being a con man by putting biblical garb over his sinful actions.  That's all very serious.  Doran seems to think that the sheer weight of his personality or self-perceived gravitas is enough authority here, all very much like the fundamentalism that I witnessed when I was in it.  Problem #6.

Ketchum is supposed to be concerned that his "following is growing smaller and smaller."  Ouch.  This is big with fundamentalists, their following.  They will lose a following.  I could riff on several posts on that.  That idea makes me sick.  Is Ketchum really concerned about his "following," so he writes an article to make sure he keeps it?  That sounds dastardly.  I would hope not.  I don't think so.  Problem #7.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Separation and Sectarianism, An Article Review

In the interest of understanding biblical separation, I offer some criticism of an article by Rick Flanders at the Revival Focus blog.  I have a narrow focus in my review, dealing only with the separation topic, and not with revival, soteriology, discipleship, nor sanctification.  Just because I don't touch on those doesn't mean that I believe Flanders is correct on those.  With our having just published a book on ecclesiastical separation, A Pure Church, I continue to have an interest in related articles.

Flanders uses Luke 9:49-50 to make a point about separation, a generally good point.  We shouldn't separate from people unnecessarily.  The men not following Jesus and yet casting out demons were not opposing Jesus.  There was no reason to stop them from casting out demons.  Having demons leave people is a good thing.  Flanders goes from there to say that we should not separate from other people just because they are not in our particular group.

Maybe some base their fellowship on whoever is in their group or circle or network.  He describes this as casting "out like-minded Christians just because they don’t know them very well."  So Flanders is confronting a problem.  The only people I have ever seen, who operate like Flanders describes, are fundamentalists.  The typical situation is that you don't send your students to a particular Bible college or university, so you diminish in your favor with that school.   In certain instances, only by attending a particular conference or supporting certain missionaries will you people held in enough esteem to include in cooperation.  These are fundamentalist politics, wielding influence within fundamentalism by playing these types of games.  Flanders is dealing with something he sees and I don't know if this is it.  It's the place where I see what he's talking about.

Flanders defines a fundamentalist as someone who "thinks of himself as standing faithfully for the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel."  That statement is loaded with so many qualifiers that make it unhelpful.  Are you a fundamentalist if you merely think of yourself as standing faithful to certain doctrines?  It would seem that thinking alone wouldn't cut it.  And he narrows it down to the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel, not fundamental doctrines of Scripture, only the doctrines that are fundamental to the Gospel.  That really wouldn't make you any different than a conservative evangelical.  He provides no basis for this definition of fundamentalism.  The only fundamentals I had every heard, were the ones in the pamphlets, The Fundamentals, and then called "the fundamentals of the faith."  It didn't dawn on me until I was pastoring for awhile that the reason for having fundamentals was to create a unity that was less than biblical unity.  For instance, you could be unified with people who sprinkled babies as long as they believed the fundamentals.  Every movement that provides for a unity that reduces the basis of fellowship to arbitrarily chosen fundamentals is a movement to reject.   Let God be true and every man a liar.

OK, what motivated me to write this began in about the 8th paragraph, when Flanders wrote:  "The truth we mutually understand and follow can be the basis of some Christian cooperation, although disagreements on other things must limit the extent of it."  This is where he takes an application of Luke 9:49-50 too far, if that is in fact the basis of this statement.  He doesn't supply any support for it.  He is saying that we can cooperate with one another, that is, fellowship based upon truth we mutually understand.  The fellowship, however, is limited by disagreement "on other things."  What other things?  Are these the truths we don't mutually understand and follow?  In other words, fellowship can still occur with a degree of false doctrine and practice.  The Bible not only doesn't teach this, but it teaches against it in all the major separation passages.

Let me use Flanders himself as an example.  I don't oppose him in those doctrines and practices that are right.  I don't go out of my way even to deal with those areas.  However, different doctrine and practice doesn't just bring a different degree of fellowship, but it results in not fellowshiping at all.   I like Flanders a lot.  I would enjoy getting together with him, talking about doctrine, sitting for a cup of coffee.  However, I won't fellowship with him.  Why?  I don't believe the same as him.  I know this to be true from reading what he is written.  I can't ignore those doctrinal differences to cooperate with him. That doesn't mean that I don't appreciate where he is right.  I do.  I rejoice in it.  I would even defend him when he is attacked on the truth.   We are not fellowship with those who have a wrong doctrine and practice.  We're talking about a doctrine the Bible teaches.  Romans 14 is a passage that relates to those doctrines and practices the Bible doesn't either forbid or teach, that is, liberty issues.  We should not relegate doctrines and practices the Bible teaches to matters of liberty.

A primary thought behind fundamentalism, represented by Flanders' article, is that we have varying degrees of fellowship based upon varying degrees of doctrinal disagreement.  The Bible does not teach that at all.  He doesn't prove it either.  Fellowship is cooperation in ministry or worship (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).  The basis for cooperation is the truth (1-3 John).  It's true that we don't break fellowship just because someone hasn't "been in our group."  However, we do break fellowship for more than "fundamentals to the Gospel."  We don't start fellowshiping based upon a percentage of mutually agreed truths, and fellowship to the degree that we agree.  Something the Bible teaches will be left out in that equation, purposefully dismissed solely for getting together.

We fellowship based on everything the Bible teaches, all its doctrines and practices.  We break fellowship for unrepentant violations of biblical teachings and deeds.  Once we know someone does believe and practice according to God's Word, we welcome fellowship.  This is what John talks about in 2-3 John.  It's not based on camps, on networks, or groups.

It might look like churches that believe and practice the same are a group.  It might look like churches that will not fellowship outside of that group are not doing so because they won't welcome anyone who isn't in their group.  I know that this isn't true.  The churches our church fellowships with today we didn't even know about until doctrine and practice became our basis of fellowship.  When those churches found we believed and practiced like them, they gladly welcomed us.  They didn't shun us just because we weren't in their "group."

Doctrines and practices should not be ignored in order to fellowship.  We should not be reducing doctrines to mutually agreed upon ones or to those merely fundamentals of the gospel as a criteria of our fellowship.  There is no fellowship that is worth ignoring doctrine and practice in order to keep it.   If it is called fellowship, and it isn't based upon all of the truth, then it isn't fellowship anyway, just a facade of fellowship, a counterfeit.  God doesn't require any group, but that one He started Himself, the church.  No group outside of the church is worth cooperating with in order to try to gain some kind of "influence."  It's not a necessary influence.  Purity and truth are necessary, not these influences.

Now I'm going to do something a little different.  I'm going to anticipate the biggest disagreements with this post.  People will disagree with me and their basis will be my own practice of what I'm writing about there.  If they can find me inconsistent, then they have liberty to practice differently than what I'm teaching.  They don't even have to find an inconsistency.  Of course, the real basis for disagreement will be ecclesiology.  Flanders likely believes in a universal church, so that we must have unity with all believers in some way---that's how he gets his fundamentals of the gospel idea.  If that's the case, then he will need to find a way to fellowship with all believers, including evangelicals.  Others will just call it divisive and heretical, that is, just call it names.  I can see Flanders complaining that I misrepresented him or wondering why it is that we can't just be an encouragement, because he really only wants to help people.  Others will just ignore it.  If they ignore it, then they are not unifying with me, a believer, and therefore being divisive.  Oops.  But that will be OK, because no one that believes the way they do can practice either biblical unity or separation and be obedient to God anyway.  Ignoring me won't change that.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Were the Reformers Heretics? part 9

Please note that the entire series entitled "Were the Reformers Heretics"? can now be viewed by clicking here as one complete essay.

The post below originally went from the sentence "The Wesley brothers and the Methodist denomination retained the Anglican belief in salvation through baptism, as taught in the 39 Articles, when they left the English state-church to start their own religion." to the sentence: "The Wyclifites, though obliged to keep concealed, had not been exterminated by one hundred and fifty years of persecution” (Mosheim, Institutes of Ecclesiastical History, III. 49)."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Preparing to Write on this Blog Post

I can't take the time to write today, my regular day.  I like writing and miss it when I don't.  It is an opportunity to get down what I think about something we should understand.  However, when I do write again, I will be writing about this by Rick Flanders, because it represents unbiblical ideas in a few different important ways.  People think this way and it is just wrong.  So stay tuned.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Worship and the Ark Narrative of 1 Chronicles, pt. 5

After release from captivity in Babylon, the Chronicles provided hope for the future, very much wrapped up in the Davidic covenant.  1 Chronicles starts with David, David, and more David.  And what set David apart from other kings, besides the covenant, was worship.  Worship sits at the apex of 1 Chronicles with the ark narrative in 1 Chronicles 13-16.  In chapter 15 (v. 2), David gets back on the right track by following Scripture in the worship of God.  He failed out of the box with innovation in transporting the ark.  The correction tells a tale.  Worship must be sanctified.

We know sanctified at least means according to God's Word.  Jesus said that we're sanctified by the Word of God.  That provides a barrier to separate an activity from the mundane.  David says that they should have sought out God first, and this is rule number one in worship.  What does God want?  In evangelicalism and fundamentalism, it starts, it seems, with creativity.  That might seem right, but creativity is subjective rather than imitative.  Worship should look to God, not to what sounds good to us.  God is the Creator and we should look to Him for what is beautiful, since He defines it.

Worship must have sanctified people operating in a sanctified manner.   It wasn't a matter of taste or opinion or feeling.  "[T]he priests and the Levites sanctified themselves to bring up the ark of the Lord God of Israel" (15:14).   Peculiar people sanctified themselves for a God ordained task.   What all did that entail?   They kept themselves from what was common and profane to be distinguished for unique use of God.   It was akin to pulling out the best silverware for a special occasion.  The regular, everyday stuff wasn't good enough.  Extra time was put into even physical purification and cleansing to make this as much about God and as little about us as possible.

The worship was sacred.  It was different.  It was special.  You didn't go about it in whatever way met your fancy.  It wasn't poll tested.  God must be revered with what is separate from what is ordinary.  When a culture stops having anything that can do this, it has stopped thinking about God.  When it doesn't matter, it is even worse.  It was at the least scriptural, but there was something to sanctification that met a test of excellence assumed to be understood by the Word of God.

I mentioned in the last edition of this series that the musicians were skillful.  A definition of art is "skill in doing anything as a result of knowledge and practice."  Verse 22 doesn't tell us what skillful is.  It says just that Chenaniah, chief of the Levites for song, instructed about the song because he was skillful.  It is assumed that we know what skillful is.  It is at least, but more than, hitting the right notes.  Harps were played to excel.  To excel, one must understand also what doesn't excel.  There is again an assumption that we can know, that standards of judgment exist in God's world.

Instrumentation was a given.  Musical instruments of various types were crafted and played.  Technology is acceptable to God as long as it is fashioned according to God's nature and will.  Some of them were even percussion, such as "cymbals of brass."  Instruments are first for worship and not for comfort against the harmful effects of the curse.

Certain dress was sanctified, extraordinary clothing for the occasion.  It is described as "fine linen."  As a participant, David wore something fitting of the occasion, and the passage makes purposeful note of that.  He considered less about personal comfort and more about what would please God.

(more to come)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Were the Reformers Heretics? part 8

Please note that the entire series entitled "Were the Reformers Heretics"? can now be viewed by clicking here as one complete essay.

The post below originally went from the sentence "The pioneers of the English Reformation were under a mix of Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, and Baptist influences that contributed to the various positions on baptismal salvation among them." to the sentence: "While a great variety of issues were debated within the Anglican communion, the communication of saving grace through baptism was a point of general agreement."

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Is Conscience the Guide for Goodness?

Paul said that even the Gentiles have the law written in their hearts (Rom 2:15a) and their conscience bears witness of this by accusing or excusing them.  The conscience itself is not the standard of behavior, but the law written in the heart.  Despite a depraved, sinful nature, every human starts out with a default law that informs his conscience.  The law is the standard and the conscience is the warning device.  Over a period of time, layers of new laws, standards, and requirements will be added to the default position.  God's law will be diminished and ignored.  With some the law of God will be strengthened by reading it, memorizing it, meditating upon it, and by hearing it preached.  God's law is objective goodness.

The conscience is an internal alarm system that goes off according to a soul's highest perceived standard.  The default standard is God's law written in the heart, but that will change, depending upon   the influences upon a person.  The alarm might sound for a Moslem when he misses one of his five required prayer sessions or for an Amish man when he shaves his beard, because those are their perceived standards.   The prayer and beard requirements are not scriptural, but they are people's highest perceived standards, so that's what also informs their consciences.

The nature of depravity sends someone away from the law of God to his own way.  Many times God's standards are lowered when someone is following his own path away from God's law.  Sure, some might add to God's law, but they also will take away from it as well.

Let's say that you have a young lady wearing a pair of shorts about mid thigh, and her conscience does not sound any kind of warning to her.  Why?  There could be a number of reasons, but one is that her standard has changed.  She is not being guided by her conscience, but by a perceived standard.  If the perceived standard is wrong, and her conscience says nothing, it doesn't mean that she is doing right.  Her conscience is misinformed.  That's how the conscience works.  It could be that it does violate her highest perceived standard, but she has already damaged her conscience.  Her conscience isn't working correctly, because she has damaged it in some way, which usually occurs by not paying attention to it when it is sounding its alarm.  The conscience can become almost useless to the one who has stopped listening to it.

In other words, the conscience is not our guide.  The law of God is the radar that tells the warning system that the airplane is flying into a mountain, and the audible warning siren is the conscience that tells the pilots to pull up.  The conscience is guided by its perceived standard.  The default standard is the law of God, but that gets effected by harmful godless and worldly influences.   The standard itself is the guide and the conscience reacts to the standard.  The conscience never operates on its own, but always in conjunction with the information it is being sent.

Someone recently wrote these following two statements.


Can a Christian be good on someone else's nickel? Can he hitch his virtue to someone else's conscience? If Jesus wore a mustache, would an Amish man have accused him of pride?


Standards of modesty do change. How they change is worth some serious thought. And any external constraint on the life of faith, according to the Apostle Paul at least, involves a consideration of the individual conscience.

The guy who wrote this was arguing for an absence of dress standards, so that individual consciences would choose the path of goodness relating to modest dress.  You can see he doesn't understand the conscience.  A new Corinthian believer may have a conscience that warns him against eating meat offered unto idols, because he has a standard that tells him that's wrong.  Scripture wasn't informing him that it was wrong, but it was the perceived standard he possessed about idolatry.  Someone else may not have that standard, so his conscience remains silent.  However, if it was wrong to eat meat offered unto idols, and your conscience was silent when you ate, that doesn't mean you should follow your conscience in that instance.

Shorts might fit a girl's standard of modesty, so when she wears them, her conscience warns of nothing.  Does that mean she is right in wearing them?  Is the conscience a standard of virtue?  We judge, not based upon the conscience, but based upon whether it is good for the girl to wear shorts or not.  If we allow conscience to guide, we are depending on mere perception, that is, subjectivity, whatever the girl thinks or feels is right.  If the girl is disobeying God, if she is sinning, and her conscience doesn't warn her, are we harming her by giving her the scriptural standard?  Of course not. She is being helped, because she is being given the true standard of goodness.

So what about the guy whose conscience is offended by our eating meat offered to idols?  If his standard is wrong, shouldn't we tell him?  Sure.  We let him know.   Until he knows, we don't eat.  But that's because it's not wrong not to eat!  We're fine not eating.  And even once he knows, that doesn't mean we go ahead and eat, because it could still be a stumbling block to others.  Paul writes other principles as well to guide these types of situations and decision making.

When people's consciences are being given the wrong standard, we tell those people the right standard.  We inform them from scripture.   If someone wears a higher standard of clothing, that will not affect the conscience of the person wearing a lower standard.  Why?   His or her conscience will only sound if the highest perceived standard is violated.  The higher standard is not breaking her lower standard.  I think you understand this.

Biblical standards are good.  They give right information to a conscience.  The properly operating conscience can then warn if the standard is being violated, to save a person from a moral disaster, to help him to be good.

The idea that we have no rules of modesty because we'll keep someone from using his conscience is all wrong.  The guy I quoted above didn't and doesn't know what he's talking about, and he's leading people astray.  A conscience is not harmed and can only be helped by being given the correct and biblical standard.  Standards of modesty change in the world and in cultures.  They do.  They get worse.  They go overboard.  The Bible doesn't change though.  There is objective modesty, objective goodness, even as there is objective truth and beauty.  We can observe how Christians have interpreted and applied Biblical teaching of modesty through history.  That's what should inform our conscience.  It should be our virtue, our standard, by which our conscience will warn.  If someone is immodest, we criticize and challenge.  That helps someone, even if he won't believe it, and even if his conscience says otherwise.

An Addendum

Why would someone, like the man who wrote the quotes above, be upset about asking questions about standards of modesty?   Based on what he wrote, it seems that he doesn't like standards of goodness being imposed on others.  From other things I've read from him, sometime in his past, he was placed under standards on similar campuses as Maranatha.  Even though they were "strict" in their dress code at the time, they also had a low standard for beauty.   He reacts to the cultural deprivation with a scorched earth criticism of all fundamentalists.  He attacks all the standards.  We don't combat a low standard of beauty with a low standard of goodness. We should look for a biblical standard for both.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Peace of Mind

by David J. Warner (member of Bethel Baptist Church)

My peace of mind is buried deep
Inside the arms of Jesus' keep.
My blessed heart relaxes in
The vows God gives again, again.

My peace of mind is like a stream,
A quiet flow, not much extreme,
Because the Lord is sure enough
To bring me through the rough and tough.

My peace of mind will question not,
Nor want to feel a grave distraught,
Nor do what others will do with ease,
For what the Lord will do I please.

Yea, questions none, For God is good;
Enough for me is Jesus' blood.
One piece of grace is peace of mind,
Much more all earth can me assign.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Were the Reformers Heretics? part 7

Please note that the entire series entitled "Were the Reformers Heretics"? can now be viewed by clicking here as one complete essay.

The post below originally went from the sentence "The Westminster Confession, which was prepared by the Westminster Assembly in 1647 ..." to the sentence: "As a Reformed document, following John Calvin ... salvation sealed to them through the sacrament."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Coherent or Incoherent Imagination, Depending

First, a little office cleaning.  I'll be continuing my unpopular series on the ark narrative.  Doing doctrinal or exegetical pieces like that indicates that controversy does in fact sell.  Notice the feeding frenzy on the Petraeus story now that the affair is involved.  This is not say, however, that I write controversy for audience.    I don't, or else I'd never write things like the ark narrative.  I'm just stating the fact that I have less readership when I write those.  And then we will be getting up the audio of this year's Word of Truth Conference that finished on Sunday.  It was a good conference with good sessions.  We have some on video right now at youtube.


There is one God and He is one.  The one God is true, good, and beautiful.  God is right in doctrine, practice, and aesthetics.  An imagination that reflects who God is, a theocentric one, will recognize and accede, therefore, to what is true and good and beautiful.

Since God is one, you cannot separate any one attribute or quality of God from another.  A particular imagination might be nourished or developed in the beauty of God, as testified by the aesthetics of that person.  He loves the beautiful---beautiful art, beautiful music, and beautiful literature.  That same person, however, does not manifest the same love for the true and the good.

Whatever God says is good is indeed good.  A dress standard taught by God in His Word is good.  If you reject modesty in dress, for instance, and yet profess to embrace beauty, you possess an incoherent imagination.  Your view of God's beauty could not be coming from a moral imagination when that view contradicts God's goodness.  A right view of God, a moral imagination, a Biblical worldview, a theocentric one, is coherent.  You cannot separate God's goodness from his beauty.

You can read men online who are critics of an evangelical and fundamentalist imagination of beauty.  They see an impoverished imagination almost indifferent to a theocentric aesthetic, as witnessed by deficient art, music, and literature.   There aren't many of these critics.   Most don't understand or care.  And yet of these critics, some of the most ornery don't do good.  They are hyper about beauty and dismissive about good.

Beauty is objective, that is, real beauty is found in the object, not just in the perception of it from the point of view of the subject.  It is beautiful in itself.  The same is found in goodness.

When someone forsakes goodness and truth, he forsakes beauty.  If someone abandons one, he does the others too.  God is one.  Since He is one, His truth, goodness, and beauty are coherent.  An imagination that deserts one for the others, in fact renounces them all.  His world view is incoherent.  It can't be coming from God.  In a sense, it only borrows from a theocentric imagination for one aspect of morality.

If you hear someone tout beauty and deny goodness, he can't be believed or trusted.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Separation Confusion in So-Called Classic , Historical, or Traditional Fundamentalism

I feel sorry for fundamentalists.  Let me explain.

The Bible teaches separation.  It is clear.  If you want to know what the Bible teaches on separation, read A Pure Church, a 300 plus page volume with a full scripture index, and excellent exegesis of the appropriate and pertinent passages.  The teaching in the book does not deny itself.  It is consistent.  And it is being practiced by churches right now.  What the Bible teaches is always consistent.  God is one God and He doesn't deny Himself.  His teaching in His Word could not deny itself, because He doesn't deny Himself.  He couldn't, because He is one God.

There is a big branch of fundamentalism that calls itself historic fundamentalism, the true fundamentalism, with the other stuff false, what these self-professing 'historic fundamentalists' would contend is 'not fundamentalism.'  However, what these self-professing historic fundamentalists say is separation has always contradicted itself and the Bible itself.  I give them some credit for saying that separation is a biblical teaching and defend them for that, but they do not get it right, and I'm going to highlight a few contemporary, recent examples to make this plain.

Some might say "leave well enough alone."  Why write about it?  I would like for fundamentalists to think about what they are doing and change, submit to the truth for the glory of God.  I'm hoping that giving these examples will help them.  There are some, most likely, that it won't help.  They are bound to be non-separatists and were never separatists by conviction in the first place.

Before I get into my examples, I'm not saying that I don't think that some of these men have done good things.  I like a lot about what they do.  That's not the point.  The point is:  are they practicing Biblical separation?  Are they consistent in their practice of separation?

Example One

Independent Baptists, those who call themselves separatists, separated from the Southern Baptist Convention.   They remained separate from Southern Baptists.  They taught to separate from Southern Baptists.  Recently, independent Baptists have begun to fellowship with Southern Baptists.  You saw this with Calvary Baptist Church of Lansdale and its seminary fellowship with Mark Dever, Southern Baptist leader, by having him speak at their conference.  Calvary in Lansdale is moving away from this separation position as seen by a lot of decisions it has made, but there are many to whom this action is no consequence, other fundamentalists.

Scott Aniol, the head of Religious Affections Ministries, a historic fundamentalist parachurch organization, is also a professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He is fellowshiping with that Southern Baptist institution under the cooperative program of the Southern Baptist Convention.  He joins in the ranks of Billy Graham and Rick Warren, the many liberals still in the convention, and the high percentage of unconverted membership in its churches.  The Southern Baptist Aniol will join FBF and BJU board member Mike Harding for his Preserving the Truth Conference.

Example Two

Chuck Swindoll is neither a separatist or fundamentalist.  He wrote the sine qua non anti-fundamentalist book, The Grace Awakening, in which he said that we ought to think of God in sweats, cut-offs, or a swim suit (p. 53).   But he is big and he is famous and he is a kind of Christian celebrity.  Fundamentalist Chris Anderson brags about his fellowship with Swindoll in their collaboration with some of the music that he wrote, being sung at Swindoll's church, Stonebriar Community Church.

Example Three

A group of fundamentalists, independent Baptists in Minnesota announce their fellowship with Phil Johnson for a men's meeting.

Example Four

John Vaughn, the president of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship preached with Clarence Sexton and Jack Schaap at the Baptist Friends Conference.

Example Five

Matt Olson, president of the fundamentalist Northland International University, revels in his fellowship between him and a Sovereign Grace, continuationist church.

Alright, enough.  This is becoming typical of what is called historic fundamentalism.  It isn't consistent with fundamental Baptist separation of the past.  Their practice seems to be going by the wayside.  And it is no wonder with the confusing position that these self-proclaiming historic fundamentalists take.

If someone holds to false doctrine or disobeys God's Word and doesn't turn from that, do we separate?

Friday, November 09, 2012

Were the Reformers Heretics? part 6

Please note that the entire series entitled "Were the Reformers Heretics"? can now be viewed by clicking here as one complete essay.

The post below originally went from the sentence "Reformed confessional statements ..." to the sentence: "God already performed the work of regeneration on them in their infancy, and this salvation was sealed to them in baptism."

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

A Tipping Point and a New America

I believe that the 2012 election is a symptom of a new America.  Even if there are some minor shifts in ebb and flow, where economic reality smacks enough people in the face that Republicans could in the future eek out victories with a more talented politician than Mitt Romney, the tide has still turned.

What we have today, which is a different country, relates to years of erosion of this society and culture.  I'm saddened about it, but the answer never was in government or a particular political philosophy.  I would like a different government and political philosophy, but that would come only with people who thought the same way as I do.  That change will not occur without conversion.  The problem, as I see it, is that more conversions relate very much to the condition of the soil (Matthew 13---men's hearts), and we don't have the cultural infrastructure for that to improve.  All signs say that's only going to get worse.  People are listening less than ever.

A cross section of the Obama voter will help understand what has happened.  It's not hard to see.  Women voted for Obama by about 10% and men voted for Romney by about 10%.  There are quite a few more women in the country.  Then married women support Romney and single women Obama.  Again, you can see that single women put Obama in office.  The gullible and vulnerable to deceit are now a huge voting bloc in the country.  They are not swayed by substance.  We're talking about people who use "like" every other sentence getting their President.  These are the people swayed by the dog-on-the-car-top kind of arguments.  They are convinced by the picture of the President with his cool jacket walking on the New Jersey shore.  These are the voters with free contraception as a major policy point.

To understand the big picture, let me mention a little picture.  I don't live there, but the city of San Jose voted for a 2 dollar an hour increase in the minimum wage, from 8 to 10 dollars.  A very large number of people will receive a pay raise, and then a smaller but still large number of people will lose their job.  Prices will go up for everyone.  Two things here.  First, the people who voted for this are too shallow and superficial to comprehend that simple reality.  Second, people don't care so much about freedom and private property, as they do what they want only for themselves.  In the long run, more rampant poverty and then shorter lifespans.  Poverty is the greatest determiner of longevity in a country.  Less average annual income, smaller life.

It's easy to see how that a big number of Obama voters chose him with predominately an immoral reason.  Homosexuals want their way---he gives it to them.  Hispanics want little to no prosecution of immigration law---he gives it to them.  Union workers want to keep their job when their company cannot make a profit---he gives it to them.  People who don't want to pay for healthcare until they get really sick, want to get "insurance" after they get really sick---he gives it to them.  Environmentalists want to get paid for making solar panels that cost more to make than they do to buy---he gives it to them.  Men and women want to terminate a pregnancy, because the child is inconvenient---he gives it to them.  College students want their college paid for by someone else---he gives it to them.  Teachers want to keep working even if they can't do the job---he gives it to them.  I'm not saying that all of these people will actually get what they want.  It's not possible.  But with him, they're convinced they have a better shot at it.  So they bet on him.

We have government entitlements.  We have government education.  We have government housing.  We have government food stamps.  We have government jobs.  Now we have government health care. People will become even more dependent on the government and we have seen how that people cannot wean themselves off of this dependence.  When there aren't enough productive tax payers to fund it anymore, and so government service must be cut, you have riots.  That, among other reasons, is why in the next three months, gun and ammunition sales will be higher than at any time in American history.

We believe in the depravity of man, but the depravity has increased and the nation has sunk.  You know that when you hear this President talking that his words mean something different than what they sound like they do.  You can't believe what he says.  When he says he wants to work with you, he means he wants his way and he wants to take advantage of you.  He doesn't see the world like you do.

Churches have failed.  They have tried to get along with the world, and most will take this as a cue to do it even more.  You're hearing it all around.  Belief has diminished.  Pragmatism reigns.  Methods have become more important than God's Word.

Here's how to adjust to it.  Don't consider yourself to be in America anymore.  What you thought was America is not.  Think of yourself as living in a foreign country and you're a missionary.  Missionaries don't think they're going to change the government where they live.  They are working at seeing the people change.  That's our only hope.  Be a missionary in your own country.

Monday, November 05, 2012

We're Going to Get What We Deserve

The Constitution of the United States starts with "We the people."  We live in a country of the people, by the people, and for the people, so whoever wins tomorrow in the presidential election will be by the people of the United States.  I wish I could report differently to you that the people of the United States abhor abortion and homosexuality and class warfare that they without doubt will not vote for President Barack Obama tomorrow, but I don't know.  I think Romney is going to win, but that I'm not sure indicates something very bad on its own.

Late in the campaign, Mother Jones's David Corn revealed a talk that Governor Mitt Romney gave to some donors in a fundraiser, covertly recorded on a cell phone, in which he said that 47% of Americans cannot be persuaded by his lower tax argument because they are not paying federal income tax.  His words were used by the major networks and Democrats to smear Romney as not caring about 47% of the people, as you know.  It wasn't a surprise that they demogogued the issues.  However, what Romney said, I believe, was true, and it is something I've been saying for awhile.  The nature of politics today is that you get into the most trouble when you say what you really think out loud and in public, like with Obama with his "you didn't build that" comment.  The Democrats begin every election with a coalition of special interests that almost guarantees a certain number of votes at least somewhat close to that 47%.  I think that it is possible in almost perfect conditions for an anti-abortion Republican to make that around 45% that Democrats are guaranteed.  I don't know that it could get any lower unless there was a very popular, liberal third party candidate that took some of the 45% away from the Democrat.

What am I talking about?

The Democrats by nature get the homosexual vote, which Gallup tells us is 3.6% of the country, but you also have the pro-homosexual vote, which includes Hollywood types that will make this their priority issue.  

The Democrats get 95% of the black vote (not because of race, because that can't be true, as you know).   Only 40% of blacks support homosexual marriage, when 65% of Democrats support it, but as Van Jones said during this election season, "if President Obama came out as gay, he wouldn't lose the black vote."  That will help you understand the litmus test there.

The Democrats get the traditional feminist vote, the ladies who demand equal pay with men, who basically hate men and want to become the power in this country.

The Democrats get the illegal immigration support vote, which includes at least 70% of Hispanics, many of which who are dedicated Catholics, who couldn't care less about the abortion issue next to easy and criminal access for Latin illegals.  You could call this, "Let's turn the United States into a country as bad as where we came from."  You wonder why people left their former country to come here?  Willingness to vote on that one issue should make it clear.

The Democrats get those who watch late night talk and comedians who only tell jokes on Republicans, so they feel social pressure to go with the crowd of people.  They don't want to be a joke.  Almost everyone knows this is true.  Kids get mocked and bullied in the public school and so most know how to dress and act like the crowd requires to fit in.  There are gangs of roving metrosexuals and their girl and boyfriends, who, like, love Obama.  He's so like kewl.

If you think that Mitt Romney can persuade these above voters, then please look at the evidence that shows that blacks and Hispanics are hurting exponentially worse from the policies of the present administration, but still voting for Obama.  What can he say if people won't even vote for self-interest?  The only way Romney might be able to do better with Hispanics is if he were Hispanic, spoke half the time in Spanish, and went to the left of Obama on immigration by giving amnesty to every illegal in the country.  Would that be worth it to you?   Here in California, Geraldo Cafe' (Jerry Brown), won the governorship based on the issue of an illegal immigrant maid, who was hired by Meg Whitman unwittingly.  She fired the lady because she lied on her application with a false social security number.  If she hadn't fired the woman, Whitman would have lost for hiring an illegal immigrant, but since she fired her, she lost because she was mean to a Hispanic.  Who can win in a situation stacked like that? 

And then President Obama gets the female contraceptive vote, the pro-abortion vote, the food stamp vote, the free college grant vote, the teacher union vote,  the union vote period, the government worker vote, and the pot smoker vote.  Most Jewish Americans can't be persuaded for Romney --- 78% voted for Obama in 2008.  President Obama gets the green vote (if that doesn't go to the Green Party).  He gets the atheist vote (remember the Democrat party booing God at its convention).  This is all in addition to the dedicated Democrat, who was born into a Democrat family and is completely loyal based on that tradition.  To him, Republicans represent a form of evil.

So when Romney said 47%, he knew what he was talking about.  In the very worst conditions for a President, which are about like what we have right now for President Obama, Romney still only has a shot at best to picking up maximum 53-55% of the popular vote.  Why do you think the Democrats want Obamacare?  It represents another coalition of people dependent on government, that will move it from 47% to over 50% to seal the deal for all time.  If Obama wins, look how he won it.  He won it because he gave other people's money to the auto worker unions in Ohio and Michigan, two swing states.  He had every other state because of his coalition of special interests, and where he couldn't get those, he created another special interest, people who would be paid off, bribed by stimulus money.  These are not the sharpest tools in the drawer by the way, these single issue, selfish people (here's a sample of the people that might be continuing to run [down] the country).   Part of their brains have been deadened awhile ago, so that with their dropping IQ, they see Joe Biden's rise.  That is no guarantee that General Motors or Chrysler will keep afloat.  You would think that they still need to be able to sell cars, you know, automobiles that people want to buy, like other manufacturers have to do in what we thought was a free market.  But for a little while, as long as someone will keep redistributing wealth, he can cobble together enough with a motivation of greed in order to keep in power.

Would any Republican or conservative have a chance with the kind of mistakes that Obama has made?  Every little misstep or even just exaggerated non-misstep of Romney is highlighted and put on a loop for a week by the major networks, who are a mouthpiece of the Obama campaign.  But Obama is picked up on a hot microphone telling the Russian president that he just needs to get through this election and he can do what he wants in giving the Russians the concessions they need on missile defense.  The Obama administration sends out the U. S. ambassador to the United Nations six days after Benghazi to tell the country that it was only a demonstration that got out of hand over a youtube documentary.  It doesn't matter that known rapist and impeached President Bill Clinton has helped "save" the Obama campaign.  If Paul Ryan made only one or two of the gaffes that Joe Biden makes every two or three days?

What we see happening is the country we live in.  It's the effects of 40-50 years of exclusively evolution being taught in our public schools.  It's the effects of an attack on the Bible in American secular universities and now even Christian ones.  It's the effects of turning the church into a social club and crazy church growth methodology, leading to churches full of unconverted members.  It's the effects of hours and hours of television watching.   It's the effects of easy divorce and premarital sex and single parent families, where kids are growing up without supervision.  It's the effects of the churches almost completely abdicating on cultural issues.  We should be thankful that by the grace of God it isn't worse than it is.  It seems like it should be.  And then we've got people like Matt Olson, the president at Northland, the Christian university in Wisconsin, coming out last week and saying that things are better than ever with the young Christians that he is seeing.  He says they're more solid than the older people, because they don't care about the cultural issues, which do more to get in the way of evangelism.

Whatever happens tomorrow, we're going to get what we deserve.  It could be the date that we  all look back at as when the inmates began truly running the asylum.  There's no wonder that gun sales are going up at a very rapid pace.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Comments on Luther’s 95 Theses

Since “Reformation Day,” October 31, a celebration of Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses, has just passed, I thought it would be appropriate to post the following brief study of the Theses.

Are Luther’s 95 Theses a presentation of classic Protestant theology?  Contrary to widespread public opinion, Luther’s 95 Theses have nothing to do with justification by faith alone—which is not supported, but rejected, in them.  Nor do they utter a word of protest against the Catholic Mass, the sacramental system, Mary worship, the Pope, or numerous other Roman Catholic heresies.  They certainly say nothing against baptismal regeneration, a heresy that Luther clave to his entire life.  They do not even condemn the practice of paying money to get Papal pardons—on the contrary, they anathematize those who deny Papal indulgences, and they support the existence of Purgatory.  The idea that Luther had been born again, and consequently condemned Roman Catholicism in the 95 Theses, is pure myth.

The only thing condemned by the 95 Theses is the abuse of indulgences—and even here, Luther put his Theses on the door of the Roman Catholic “church” in Latin, so that the common people could not understand what he wrote.  He only intended to debate in Latin certain abuses of indulgences with other faithful servants of Rome.  Indeed, many of Luther’s theses would be heartily endorsed by the Catholic counter-reformation.  I give a sample of his theses below, with brief comments.

3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.

Luther affirms that without Catholic mortifications of the body there is no repentance.

7. God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.

How Protestant is this?

17. With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.

So, according to the 95 Theses, Purgatory exists, and souls there increase in love over time.

18. It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.

In Purgatory, souls are earning merit before God so that they can get into heaven.

25. The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.

The Pope has various powers over people in Purgatory.

29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.

Various Catholic legends have some authority in teaching us about who wants to get out of Purgatory and who does not.

30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.

Nobody can be certain of his own salvation.

56. The “treasures of the Church,” out of which the pope. grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.

These treasures through which the Pope grants indulgences should be better known.

58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outward man.

Both the merit of Jesus Christ and of dead Catholic “saints” are a means through which saving grace is received.  Note that salvation is by sanctification, rather than through justification by faith alone.

69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all reverence.

Bishops and curates are to have all reverence for pardons given by the Pope to people, and admit those who are carrying them to the territory of their bishoprics in the Catholic State-Church.

71. He who speaks against the truth of apostolic pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!

If you deny the ability of the Pope to grant indulgences, you will be eternally damned in hell.

73. The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.

The Pope should thunder against those who deny, by any means, that one can purchase with money remission of various penalties.

91. If, therefore, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.

Indulgences should be preached in accordance with the mind of the Pope—then all would be well.

Thesis 94

94. Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;

Thesis 95

95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.

Christians should be diligent to do good works and follow Christ in order to be saved, since by such means they enter into heaven, rather than by having assurance of salvation, for assurance of salvation is bad.

Are these 95 Theses really something to be excited about?