Wednesday, April 29, 2015

An Honest Basic Assessment of Independent Baptists, pt. 2

The first post in what is a series of undetermined length laid out some of the setting for this analysis. Who are we talking about when we say, "independent Baptists"?  I did somewhat differentiate myself from independent Baptists by calling myself unaffiliated, but based on the most conservative definition, I'm still an independent Baptist.  I call myself one, because unaffiliated doesn't mean anything to most people.  With that being said, I think among the independent Baptists we find New Testament Christianity.

I wouldn't be a part of anything but an independent Baptist church.  The three words, independent and Baptist and church, represent crucial concepts for obedience to God's Word.  The true church is independent and, rightly understood, Baptist.  Since the church represents God in this age, then we are talking about what is most important on earth.

Even if independent Baptist churches are not in good shape overall, it still is the only place to be, if you want to be obedient to God.  True churches were and are independent.  They are autonomous, self-governing, and independent of a hierarchy, secular or religious.  Therefore, as well, they can obey biblical purity by keeping separated from false doctrine and practice.

By Baptist, I mean historic Baptist and characterized by New Testament distinctives, chiefly the Bible as sole rule.  I believe that only with Baptist churches is there divine authority.  The true church traces its history through the Baptists, so if you are not Baptist, your trajectory does not point to Jerusalem, but Rome.  The trend towards leaving out "Baptist" in a church name is a horrible one.

My honest basic assessment of independent Baptist churches is that for a multitude of various reasons there are very few that I would even recommend.  They are all that I would recommend, but even among them, there are few that I could.  You should look for an independent Baptist church, you should be in one, but most of them aren't very good.  Things are worse than ever, and when I say worse, I mean two or three times or more worse right now than at any time in my lifetime.  This also explains why things are so bad in the United States.

Is there any good news?  Even the good news is bad, because the good news is that things could be even worse.  We should all be happy that things aren't worse and they could easily be.  If I'm wrong in my assessment, I don't think it is in judging how bad things are, but that they're really worse than what I'm even saying.

The seeds for the major problems among independent Baptists go back a ways.  I'm going to talk about what I think they are and how we got into the trouble we're in.

More to Come

Monday, April 27, 2015

An Honest Basic Assessment of Independent Baptists, pt. 1

The best shortest designation of me, that would distinguish me more clearly than any other short description with words that the most people could understand, is probably "independent Baptist" (I noticed Wikipedia uses this terminology).  However, even as I say that, I prefer to be called an "unaffiliated Baptist," because I don't think "independent Baptist" still identifies well enough, primarily because I don't think that most independent Baptist churches are really independent.  They just say they are, but they function within a system that is almost as denominational as the Southern Baptist Convention, and that is most independent Baptists.  It wasn't until recently that I had heard the label, unaffiliated Baptist, and maybe it won't last.  If "independent Baptist" can't work anymore, then we might just be running out of words to use, or maybe add a really, "really unaffiliated Baptist."

Most independent Baptists are probably also fundamentalists, so the typical acronym is IFB, independent fundamental Baptist.  I reject being called an IFB, since I don't think I'm a fundamentalist, but I think there are those who don't mind that label, and will even still put it on their sign or in their advertisements.  I don't think there is a need to add the "F," because if you're independent Baptist, most people will think you're a fundamentalist anyway, even if, like me, you don't wish to be known as one.

Among those who might claim to be independent Baptist, you've got the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC), who are a part of an organized association that says each member retains independency.  Most of the other independent Baptists don't think the GARBC is independent.  I've never thought of GARBC churches as being independent. They joined an association and those two terms -- independent and association -- contradict each other in my mind. You can't be both, so I will leave the GARBC out of the discussion.

Baptist Bible Fellowship (BBF) churches also consider themselves to be independent, but I would direct you to the previous paragraph.  Many others in addition to me consider these "Fellowship" churches not to be independent.  Similar to the BBF, but different, is the ABA, the American Baptist Association that is ditto on thinking they're independent churches, and yet not being truly independent.

In my mind, there are two general types of independent Baptist churches:  the revivalist and Bob Jones.  Almost all independent Baptist churches are either revivalist or Bob Jones.  I know that there is overlap or blurred edges sometimes between the two groups.  Some churches are both revivalist and Bob Jones.  Maybe those could make up a whole other third category, but still you can slot into the two general categories as to what primarily characterizes those independent Baptist churches.

The Bob Jones wing of independent Baptists probably wants to be known as historic fundamentalists, instead of the Bob Jones wing.  This group has several splinters mainly associated with colleges and seminaries.  For instance, you have the actual Bob Jones University graduates and then you have those who graduated from what I call orbiting schools, like Maranatha, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, the former Calvary Baptist in Lansdale, International Baptist College, Clearwater Christian College, Virginia Beach Theological Seminary, and Central Baptist Theological Seminary.  Parallel to the aforementioned institutions is the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship (FBF), which declares itself to be only a fellowship of pastors and not churches.

Among the revivalist independent Baptists, there are several divisions too.  You have what many call the "Hyles churches."  That is still a very large group.  There is the "Sword of the Lord" crowd.  Today you have those strongly affiliated with Clarence Sexton, Crown College, and the Baptist Friends network.  You've got those now most closely tied to Paul Chappell and West Coast Baptist College.  You have some most characterized by their association with Pensacola Christian College.  Baptist College of Ministry and Falls Baptist Church has its own group, as are those churches most closely united to Fairhaven Baptist Church and College.  You have some that are very unique, like the Ruckmanites, who identify with the teachings of Peter Ruckman.  

Some FBF men are also revivalists.  The type of folks who represent an overlap or the edges of the revivalists and the Bob Jones folks are those like the graduates of Ambassador Baptist College.   They are revivalists who operate within the orbit of the Bob Jones crowd. There may be others, whom I haven't met and don't know about, who are a bit of hybrid of the two above groups, and yet still call themselves independent Baptists.  Someone who isn't an unaffiliated, but I don't see him as either of the above categories is Lance Ketchum and his Midwest Independent Baptist Pastors' Fellowship.  Those pastors might send their young people to independent Baptist fundamentalist colleges, either revivalist or Bob Jones, but not endorse the college.

What stands out as qualifying unaffiliated Baptists most from independent ones is the lack of the former in involvement with mission boards.  The most denominational aspect of the independent Baptists is their cooperation within the boards.  Unaffiliated Baptists don't use mission boards.

More to Come

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Is It Scriptural To Stereotype Certain Cultures or Ethnicities?

Almost anyone reading this knows at least the left in the United States says it's wrong to profile or stereotype.  I wrote, "says," because they don't practice it themselves.  The left stereotypes and profiles "fly-over country" and President Obama is famous for profiling small town Pennsylvanians who "cling to their guns and religion."  Now almost the entire national police force is categorized as racist.

Former New York Times columnist, African American Bob Herbert, wrote the following in 1993:

Jesse Jackson is traveling the country with a tough anti-crime message that he is delivering to inner-city youngsters. In Chicago he said, "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved."

One of the most famous stereotyping rants of all time, I recalled, was in 1998 when the late pro football player, Reggie White, said the following:

When you look at the black race, black people are very gifted in what we call worship and celebration. A lot of us like to dance, and if you go to a black church, you see people jumping up and down because they really get into it. . . . White people were blessed with the gift of structure and organization. You guys do a good job with building businesses and things of that nature. And you know how to tap into money pretty much better than a lot of people around the world . . . . Hispanics were gifted in family structure. You see a Hispanic person, and they can put 20 or 30 people in one home . . . . When you look at the Asian, the Asian is very gifted in creativity and invention. If you go to Japan or any Asian country, they can turn a television set into a watch. They are very creative.

Perhaps you remember the uproar about said speech by White about which many laughed and laughed at these comments.  Should someone do this?  Or maybe better, can someone do this?  Is it even possible to be right about this type of information?  Is it helpful?  In the first chapter of Titus, the Apostle Paul was instructing Titus, whom he left on the island of Crete, on how to deal with his audience there in that culture, and listen to what he wrote in verses 10 to 13 (bold print mine):

For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake.  One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.

Paul quotes a well known Cretian, Epimenides, who stereotypes the Cretians, his own people, and Paul, having been there, says in essence that he concurs -- "This witness is true."  Epimenides was a poet and teacher in the sixth century B.C., ranked as one of the seven wise men of Greece, and originally this particular poem, a known one, characterized his people in hexameter.  Paul says this respected man is dead on, exactly right.

Epimenides and the Apostle Paul engage in some pretty serious profiling that makes Reggie White look angelic:  "alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies."  Ohhhkaay.   It's obviously helpful to do this, because Paul does it.  It's in the Bible, God's Word.  It's inspired by God. And it is written to help the people.  The world today would warn against what Paul does here, but proper profiling and stereotyping can aid in successful spiritual warfare.  He buttresses his entire strategy for dealing with them upon pegging them in an accurate way.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Scan of 100,000 Galaxies and No Alien Life: What's That Supposed to Mean?

A news source that culls the internet for the kind of articles I like to read directed me to "A Scan Of 100,000 Galaxies Shows No Sign Of Alien Mega-Civilizations."  Ouchie for that particular worldview -- not saying that it had an iota of hope ever anyway.

I ask you to think about all the things that occur by accident here.  It's not just the individual detail, but the composite complexity of each item that makes up other composite complexities that are part of other composite ones upon other ones upon other ones.  Just one of them is more than what you see in those 100,000 other galaxies and we're supposed to believe, according to them, that every one of ours occurred by accident.   That's the prevailing view of all the state and almost all the private school and university systems, so much so that it's the only position they allow.  You get fitted for the dunce cap right when you walk through the door.  Take your stupid pill at matriculation and then keep taking them all the way up to the wizard giving you the diploma.

People are planning a trip to Mars.  Why?  These are supposed to be the smart people.

Founder and owner of Tesla, Elon Musk, spends three days a week at his SpaceX company, and in a recent article, "The Elon Musk Interview on Mars" in Aeon (if you follow this link, careful with the beginning, and the foul language), Russ Andersen reports:

Musk told me he often thinks about the mysterious absence of intelligent life in the observable Universe. Humans have yet to undertake an exhaustive, or even vigorous, search for extraterrestrial intelligence, of course. But we have gone a great deal further than a casual glance skyward. For more than 50 years, we have trained radio telescopes on nearby stars, hoping to detect an electromagnetic signal, a beacon beamed across the abyss. We have searched for sentry probes in our solar system, and we have examined local stars for evidence of alien engineering. Soon, we will begin looking for synthetic pollutants in the atmospheres of distant planets, and asteroid belts with missing metals, which might suggest mining activity. 
The failure of these searches is mysterious, because human intelligence should not be special. Ever since the age of Copernicus, we have been told that we occupy a uniform Universe, a weblike structure stretching for tens of billions of light years, its every strand studded with starry discs, rich with planets and moons made from the same material as us. If nature obeys identical laws everywhere, then surely these vast reaches contain many cauldrons where energy is stirred into water and rock, until the three mix magically into life. And surely some of these places nurture those first fragile cells, until they evolve into intelligent creatures that band together to form civilisations, with the foresight and staying power to build starships.

"Human intelligence should not be special"(I'm laughing out loud).  Perhaps Musk or Andersen, because the Penn State 'scientists' had honed the 100,000 qualifying galaxies down from 100 million galaxies in their search, should restate their statement that humans have yet to undertake an exhaustive search for extraterrestrial intelligence.  This seems to be the equivalent of googling space and the search coming up with nothing.

Human intelligence isn't special -- ya know -- compared to God, but, trust me, it's special in the sense that there isn't anything matching anywhere to the furthest reaches of space.  However, the theory of evolution would assume that this should be occurring very regularly.  With everything that we have on earth, as many times as it has happened, there is either a very intelligent and powerful designer, or we should have found something else out there.  If you don't want to believe in the former, you're left with the latter, and it doesn't make any sense at all not to have found anything else.  At.  All.

Traveling to Mars is the ultimate leap of faith for those signing up for the trip to Mars.  They can't trust God or the Bible, and they really are true believers in their myth, likely aided by a few too many science fiction films.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Save Money on the Large Majority of Internet Purchases

It is possible to save money on the large majority of Internet purchases by signing up for Ebates.  Then, whenever you want to purchase something online, simply go to their website, click on the merchant you wish to buy items at, and you will get back a certain percentage of what you spent in cash back!  Signing up is free, and Ebates will never take a penny from you as a customer, ever--the company makes money from the advertisers on its website, not from customers who sign up for its service.  In fact, there is a way to get c. 4% back on all purchases you make, whether on the Internet or not, using Ebates:  click here to find out how.  Furthermore, if you sign up with the button below, you will get a $10 gift card just for joining.  I have had a positive experience with Ebates for a number of years and have received a large amount of cash back simply for clicking through their website and purchasing what I would have purchased anyway.  You can get cash back at stores such as, Walmart, Macy's, Barnes and Noble, and hundreds and hundreds of other major merchants.  They also keep track of coupon codes for the merchants so you can easily find out if, say, your favorite store has a special 50% off deal that you would not know about otherwise.  Ebates is also a high quality business;  they have treated me well personally as a customer and they have been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 6/2000 and earned an A+ rating.  Start saving with Ebates today by clicking on the icon below and then clicking on the "join" button on the top right of the page:
Ebates Coupons and Cash Back
Another company that does the same thing as Ebates is Main Street Shares (Big Crumbs until early 2015), a competitor of Ebates.  Main Street Shares often has slightly higher cash back amounts than Ebates, but not as many companies are part of its network (although one can still get cash back on popular companies from Ebay to Best Buy to Walmart.)  It is also entirely free to you as a customer, since its business model is similar to that of Ebates.  However, it also offers special profit-sharing potential that creates the possibility for significantly higher cash back with the company than with Ebates (find out how by clicking on the banner below.)  You can save the most money by joining both companies and then comparing the two to see which gives you a better deal when you want to purchase something online.  Main Street Shares (formerly Big Crumbs) is not BBB rated.  I have had no problems with them and have received lots of cash back, but if lack of a BBB rating is an issue for you, I definitely understand.  You can join Main Street Shares using the button here:
I asked Main Street Shares (formerly Big Crumbs) about the BBB issue, since I was concerned about what the BBB website said about their company.  I received a reply, most of which I have reproduced below, from Big Crumbs customer support.  It somewhat alleviates my concern about the matter, although I cannot say I am on board with their view of the BBB.  I personally have used Big Crumbs (and am now a Main Street Shares member) since June of 2013, have received large amounts of cash back, and have not had problems with getting cash back or with their customer service, which has been prompt and helpful.  However, I obviously cannot speak for all customers, and if someone does not find their explanation below convincing, I certainly understand; I would recommend that such a person save money with Ebates but pass on Main Street Shares.
Thanks for your interest and for your very astute question [about the lack of a BBB rating]! In fact, the mismatch between your experience with BigCrumbs and our BBB rating is precisely the reason we don't "cooperate" with the BBB! The explanation requires a bit of detail/background, but please bear with me...
Contrary to popular belief, the BBB has no ability or authority to regulate or rate businesses. Many people think that the BBB is affiliated with the federal or local government, however, this is not the case. In fact, their "rating" system is self-serving and we find that the BBB's practices border on extortionate. If you search the Internet, you will find many businesses that have made similar observations, as well as 20/20 and other investigations into their practices.
Essentially, it comes down to this: Consumers complain to the BBB, frequently believing that the BBB wields some type of regulatory or arbitration authority. But, the BBB simply demands that businesses respond to these consumers using the BBB's own system, or face a negative rating, thus further contributing to the BBB's perceived value in consumers' eyes. Yet, the BBB has no knowledge of how the business functions and is not in a position to make a judgment as to whether the customer was treated fairly.
So, the BBB's rating system has absolutely nothing to do with whether the business has earnestly attempted to satisfy customers or treated them fairly. Instead, it frequently rates primarily whether the business allowed itself to be coerced into replying to the BBB and increasing the BBB's value. Any business that does not cooperate with the BBB's demands, thus risks earning an "F" rating. That's exactly what happened to BigCrumbs.
Worse, the BBB has a "Reliability" or "Accreditation" program in which the business can pay to be considered reliable by the BBB and, further, for the honor of participating in the BBB's scheme to cooperate in increasing the BBB's perceived value. The 20/20 investigation found very strong evidence that low-rated companies suddenly received high ratings upon paying to be members of their "Reliability program". Of course, that makes sense. How can any company that is being paid to "rate" other companies possibly be objective?
And, when we received our first complaints (along with threats by the BBB to respond via their system or face a negative rating from them), we earnestly responded and attempted to resolve the matter. However, we later realized how naive we were and that the BBB had no idea how our business operated. So, when a member attempted to use the BBB's system to place unreasonable demands on our business, we decided that we would no longer cooperate in the BBB's scheme as a matter of principle.
Still, in over nine years in business and millions of dollars in cash back paid across millions of purchases, BigCrumbs has received only ten or so complaints to the BBB, with five of these coming over the past three years. So, the overwhelming majority of members have had the same positive experience that you have. Yet, in spite of all of this, there we stand with an "F" rating from the BBB! This, when we never agreed to be rated by them or have them act as an intermediary between BigCrumbs and our valued members.
That  in itself shows that the BBB has virtually no value as an objective rating authority. In our estimation (and that of many others), it serves to promote its own interests, using the notion of assisting consumers as a thinly veiled tool to coerce businesses into participating in, and paying for, their programs.
I hope this long-winded explanation helps! It's really a story that all consumers should know[.]

This study can be accessed here.

Note: After being a happy member of both companies and getting thousands of dollars in cash back by simply clicking in the right place, I decided to become an affiliate of both Ebates and Big Crumbs. If you use the buttons on this webpage, I will receive financial compensation for helping you to save money.  I can in good conscience say that there is nothing on this website that I would not have said were I not an affiliate of the companies, and I believe that it is appropriate that we both benefit from the information I have put together for your benefit here (1 Timothy 5:18).  However, if you are bothered by the fact that I will be compensated if you use these buttons to sign up, you can sign up on the webpage of either or both companies without clicking on these buttons, and I will get nothing.  If you choose to use the buttons on this webpage, I offer you my sincere thanks.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A One Stop Shop of Recent Religious Freedom Articles (and a Short One by Me)

Is religious freedom a biblical issue?  It is in one sense, that is, God hasn't rescinded the cultural mandate, to subdue and have dominion.  Christians are salt and light, so it's not just all about evangelism.  This does not mean that the ultimate answer is in politics or even government.  Empires will fall, as seen in Daniel 2 and 7.  It isn't the priority, but I believe it is still a biblical issue, because religious freedom is of God.  Taking away religious freedom is bad.  We should stand for it as much as we can.  We should have an answer to the world about it.

Religious freedom is tied to private property rights.  If someone won't participate in a same-gender mirage by baking a cake or taking pictures or providing the flowers, he should not have to lose his business and his personal belongings.  That is not just anti-American, but it is unbiblical.  We should stand for righteousness in the nation, and that is unrighteous.  Evangelism and practiced righteousness do not contradict one another.

I'm going to provide several links to allow you to get up to speed and comment on a few articles others have written.  Before I do, you should know that you are being lied to about this issue especially in the following way.  When the media publishes these so-called poll results, they are lying about them.  I've looked at most of them, and what they are saying is that a majority of Americans support anti-discrimination about religious freedom laws, but here's the lie, folks.  They are talking about whether a business will serve homosexual customers, not participation in a same-gender event. They know that too.

The media says that a majority is against religious freedom that discriminates against same gender activity, but that's not what the religious freedom laws are about.  They are about a person's constitutional right of free exercise of his religion, his freedom of conscience.  That's what the laws are about, not about denying a table at a restaurant.  Again, they know that.  They are counting on a large percentage of people not understanding that.  They are lying, people (an example of the lie at Politico, finding the 'good' company of Al Jazeera).

Here's how the confusion works for the media, which opposes religious freedom, and, therefore, rejects the first amendment.  The media wants to make the news, not report on it.  They speculate that if people think the majority support anti-discrimination, that more other people will be swayed that direction, so they are counting on people's ignorance in this.  They also know that they won't suffer much for their lies, because they've seen obvious examples, for instance, with the Clintons.  It's the fairly new adage that it's easier to say you're sorry than to ask for permission.  If they get caught in the lie, they'll just say they're sorry.  Or maybe not.  They don't expect to be held accountable, and even if they were blamed, they can call it a sort of civil disobedience that is at the bedrock of the progressive movement.  Lying is a form of progressive "righteousness," this coming from people who have cast their lot with chance in denial of their Creator.

All I did to get the following links was to plug in "religious freedom" for the last week and then see what people are writing about.  A lot of the states are talking about religious freedom right now, and they are afraid.  For instance, Governors Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin are capitulating to a degree for obvious political reasons.  On the other hand, Bobby Jindal of Lousiana is supporting a religious freedom bill.   Ricketts of Nebraska seems to be trying to create some momentum by declaring a religious freedom day in the state on April 13.  Maine is discussing a religious freedom bill in its state (and here).  The lies of the media have buttressed killing a Nevada religious freedom law.  Alabama is being called upon to support religious freedomKasich and Walker have measured the value right now after having viewed the carnage in Indiana, and have decided not to go there.  If you live in those states, you should let them know.  Indiana and Arkansas both already caved under the pressure.  What many states are saying is that the laws already on the books are sufficient to protect religious freedom.  We all know that isn't true by what we have seen in devastating court cases in Washington, Colorado, and New Mexico.

The progressive states, liberal ones, where Democrats have the majority, see an advantage right now to standing against religious freedom laws.  Massachusetts is slamming religious freedom bills.   Florida right now is attempting to protect religious families, who want to adopt children, keeping the state from denying an adoption just because they believe in God.  

On April 11 at, Ken Blackwell writes: "Religious Freedom: What About the Florist and the Baker?"  A predominant paper of West Virginia writes a pro religious freedom article, charting some history, on April 13.  On April 13, Michael Brown explains what's really behind the attack on religious freedoms.  The Christian Post reports of an interview of Focus on the Family with Jeb Bush on religious freedom (April 13).  Wayne Root at The Blaze explains "Why Obama, Democrats and Apple CEO are Hypocrites About Indiana Religious Freedom Law" (April 8).   On April 10, Joe Carter at the Acton Institute blog writes, "What Exactly Is 'Religious Freedom'?"  Religious colleges are already rejecting their ability to receive student loans and grants in order to ensure future religious freedom.  Tim McMurty was published on April 10 in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel with "Religious Freedom:  to be or not to be."  Matt Barber in Western Journalism on April 14 gives "A Message to Liberals" about baking their own cake.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Kooky Alternatives to the Truth, Spontaneous Inventions, That Lead to Same Gender Abomination and Egalitarianism

If you ask for a square and I give you a triangle, you aren't going to accept it because it's close. "Hey, it's only missing one corner!" That's just the way it is in the real world.  Blue can't be the new orange just because it's what you want or perhaps what you feel.  Different rules seem to apply though to what the Bible says, and everyone is supposed to play along and very often they do -- squares can be circles and triangles can be rectangles -- just bring along your etch-a-sketch.  So much that has been clear has been rendered unclear, very convenient to make passages mean what someone wants, especially those that set apart a believer from the lost.

God created male and female and designed them to be different, but men would blur the edges and finally leave confusion either to have it their own way or fit into the world.  The designs are obvious, which is why in a proposed gender change, you find men attempting to add certain proportions that were once not there.  In His Word, God also built in regulations to support the differences in physical design and in role.  He doesn't want His special creation taking this into its own hands and transforming it into its own "creation."

In a country that respected natural law, designed gender distinction was a given, going almost unquestioned, even among unbelievers.  No one, no one -- and without doubt no Christians -- would see it any differently.  It didn't occur to people otherwise:  the symbol of male headship was pants, and women wore dresses.  This arrangement arose out of distinctions already existent in the days of simpler body covering.  As people have turned from this teaching and practice, new excuses have arisen, really cop-outs.  Even the "Christians" want God's plan to disappear, the same people who are to pray, "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." The omnipresent, omnipotent, holy God is still in His heaven.  He watches.  He judges.  People will not get away with this and they can't escape it.

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship and supposedly intellectual bastion for the Southern Baptist Convention, since 1993 has had as its president, Albert Mohler.  I knew little to nothing about his family until I bumped into the above public offering of Mary, his wife, and her recruitment to answer the question, "Should women wear head coverings in church services?"

My two general takeaways from watching her imaginative, Edisonian shot  from the hip was, one, its complete lack of tether to the mooring of scripture, and, two, its contiguity to the lipservice of a politician.  Some sort of deconstruction of 1 Corinthians 11, akin to the meanderings of modern art, passes for her as an answer to what should be understanding and application of the passage.  Nothing can be a joke anymore, because it's always possible someone is serious (read Bindlestiff's take).

To break down Mrs. Mohler's presentation, she started by relating the 'head-covering issue' to what people apparently see as a "gotcha" moment against inerrancy, thus requiring a defense.  'Is Paul talking about lace on the head, hair, or an attitude?' she asks.  She says that men and women in that culture wore clothing that was similar to each other -- they were "head to toe toga-like things" -- but 1 Corinthians 11 doesn't make a point of the similarity of the dress, as neither do the related passages. People use similar robes to divert from the actual point of dissimilarity to be designed into appearance.

She added, "So if they were bowing down in prayer in some type of church gathering, it is possible that from a distance, you could not tell the men from the women, unless one had a head covering on." 1 Corinthians 11 says about head gear that enabled onlookers to ascertain a man from a woman.   The headcovering was not for the purpose of telling the difference between men and women, so this is just another smokescreen.

Mohler proceeded, "So I understand that, but we clearly don't wear togas anymore." We don't wear togas anymore?  Suddenly grinning, she continued:

Until recently we wore dresses versus suits and ties, but that's another whole issue.  You could tell from a distance who a man was and who a woman was.  So there's that debate.

Why isn't that debate the actual subject?  Women wore dresses and men wore suits and ties in complete distinction from one another, the point of the headcovering.  And everyone knows that pants were a symbol of male authority.  Then she said:

So if I were to a headcovering in 2014 in this society, I would run the risk of being confused with being a Muslim because Muslim women cover their heads.  And I certainly don't want to be confused with a Muslim woman who's wearing the headcovering in a subservient, degrading manner in which she is being treated in her culture.

This is a red herring.  This is an utter distraction from the real issue, playing on women's disgust with treatment of Muslim women by Muslim society and equating that with this distinction in dress.

Looking clever, Mrs. Mohler then mentioned that women wear hats in Kentucky at Derby time, relegating the headcovering to seeming insignificance.  She said that the hat at the Derby doesn't say that women are under the authority of their husbands, which introduced a whole new topic and direction to the previous idea that headcoverings were supposed to mark the gender of a woman who is bowing in prayer.  Where did that thought disappear?  Out of the blue, she says the headcoverings were intended to signify the submission of the woman to male authority.

So what does Mrs. Mohler do to practice 1 Corinthians 11 and the teaching on headcoverings?  She says she wears a wedding ring, but, alas, her husband wears one as well, so that won't work.  False alarm.  Is this a filibuster?  Then she asked:

What about this?  What about the fact that I take his name?  I was very proudly my father's daughter until the day I got married and then there was no question that I would be taking my husband's name. . . . Now that is counter-cultural in 2014, because there are many feminist women who would not think of taking their husband's name or they'll hyphenate it perhaps.

She concludes that "taking his name does fulfill the intention of this passage."  How does wearing a last name distinguish a woman from a man while praying?  How can someone see from that her submission to authority?  Nonetheless, according to Mary Mohler, today's best application of the head-covering is the woman changing her last name to her husband's, which is nothing like what 1 Corinthians 11 or any parallel passage even teaches.

But Mohler quickly and wisely pushed an eject button from her own point of view, very unlikely discouraging future attacks on inerrancy with her answer:
I could be completely wrong.  It could be that Paul intended for me to wear a headcovering, but you know what?  (Grin again)  On judgment day, I will not be responsible for that, because of this:  my husband, whose authority I stand under, has never once asked me to wear a headcovering . . . . if I am wrong on this, it will be his responsibility and not mine.

Her comments would lead me to believe that perplexity offers the best argument for inerrancy. Anything to which you can apply whatever meaning you wish must be inerrant.  And then, could passing off final judgment on your husband for your own decisions be less degrading than Muslim female subservience?   "I'm not responsible for my decisions -- the man which thou gavest me, is."

Women who disobey scripture will not get a pass for disobeying the Bible, excused by male headship.  Husbands have responsibility, but not to the extent that wives are not responsible.  She can't throw down the husband card on judgment day.

Evangelicals and fundamentalists so obscure the truth about the symbolism of male headship and designed gender distinction, that no one could anymore think he has the ability to understand what God expects in these things.  Society was once very clear.  The new uncertainty mitigates any disobedience, shrouded in ambiguity.

How would someone explain the expected acceptance of a man wearing a dress?  This culture does understand the symbols of gender distinction, as evinced by the following from the linked article, surrounding Jaden Smith, son of the actor Will Smith, choosing to wear a dress, while his sister, Willow, cut her hair:

Whether or not he was intentionally doing it, he expertly put on blast fashion’s biggest lingering double standard. The menswear trend for women has been vibrant for decades, evolving to the point of mainstream acceptability. So why can Ellen DeGeneres sport a tuxedo, but the moment a male celebrity wears something traditionally labeled as “girly,” the fashion choice is instantly controversial? More, Smith’s youth and style influence makes the move all the more progressive, and hopefully resonant. Facing a chorus of expected backlash, could we even call it brave?

Is there really menswear?  Really?  Evangelicals, fundamentalists -- you tell me.  Evangelicalism and fundamentalism have capitulated on menswear.  If there is no male garment, nothing remainging to distinguish a man as a man, in this present climate, why would there be any female symbol either?

Mary Mohler represents the most conservative of evangelicalism and the best she can manage is the sharing of her husband's last name as an interpretation and application of 1 Corinthians 11, relating nothing to the subject of dress and doing nothing for the eye of a beholder.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Luke 14:15-24: What It Doesn't Mean (part two, as an example of false teaching)

Make sure you read part one first.  The text of Luke 14:15-24 is there too, to which you can refer.

Origen, third century patristic, developed a system of allegorical interpretation of scripture, and is called the father of it.  Without relying on his writings, many today still follow his methods by spiritualizing God's Word.  Roman Catholicism took advantage by using the same tactic to read into the Bible many new doctrines, using certain passages especially as proof texts.

A subjective approach, allegorization allows someone to make a text mean what he wants.  He might start with what he'd like the Bible to say or perhaps defend his own thinking by finding a passage to say it. This changes God's Word as much as adding or taking away from the Words, maybe worse. Sometimes you have men teach a right interpretation from slightly varied words and their preaching is exponentially better than men who have all the correct words, but treat them like play-doh.

Many who allegorize also practice a position on continuationism, where the Holy Spirit "gave" that interpretation to him -- told him what it said -- so that it can't be questioned either.  If someone questions it, he is challenging "Holy Spirit preaching" or Holy Spirit enduement.  This is worse in damage than believing that sign gifts are for today.  On top of this often exists a view of pastoral authority that says the critic is "touching God's anointed" or usurping authority.  This has it's parallels with Roman Catholicism too, because the preacher becomes a little pope in his given situation.  All this lends itself toward the worst kind of preaching.

Very often, people think twisting scripture like above is better than accurate exegesis, because of the fervor or style in which it was delivered.  Unction is perceived by the yelling and then affected emotions of his audience.  Someone present might say he manipulated people, but the crowd has been trained to judge this as the Holy Spirit, again characteristic of this continuationist belief.  If it's Bible and what the passage says, it's said to be dead, but if it is filled with stories while slaughtering the text, it's alive.  At the end of the mess, many say, "That was good."  Can anything be more evil?

People in the pew who hear these perversions judge it to be good preaching.  Then they hear exactly what a passage says and they think it isn't any good.  This shows where discernment goes, and why unbiblical teachings and practices will easily get past these people.  When they go to study their Bible, and find it says something different, they reject it for the party line of the group.  The leadership doesn't help them learn how to understand the Bible, but helps them learn a tradition that is backed by fallacies that can't really be called exegetical ones, because little exegesis was attempted. They wouldn't know exegesis if it bit them on the nose.

Then when you question the wrong preaching, you're also causing division and maybe even trying to split the church.  If you question it from afar, you are intervening in matters that are solely for that church, undermining its authority and preacher.  Surely you've got sinister motives too -- you couldn't be doing it because you love them, even though nothing is more dastardly than what is happening to them.  Your love is called hatred, so love too a casualty.

I still want you to know.  I'm not going to play the game.  I am not going to sit by, while people who pose as though they respect the Word of God, more than anyone, "especially more than those Bible corruptors who want to take away your King James."  If someone really loves the King James, then he should be careful with it and preach what it says, instead of perverting it.

People who preach like this as a practice shouldn't be preaching, and yet there are colleges where it is standard fare, what is heard on a regular basis.  The power is in the message of a passage, not in the formulation of a sermon that doesn't communicate what a passage says.

You might attend a conference today where someone preaches a passage, and most people "amen" often and loudly, and then someone else stands up and preaches something from the same passage entirely different, and the people "amen" that too, as if two contradictory meanings were completely acceptable.  That defines a concept of unity in most places today.  Very often the thinking is that God gave the first man his message and gave the second man his, so who are we to question it?  It's no wonder the world often thinks churches are a joke whose doctrine is silly.  They often don't believe it themselves enough for others to see it as worthwhile to believe.  They see the right meaning as optional, not anything to sweat over.  Imagine if brain surgeons or pilots performed that same way.

An important principle for right interpretation of scripture is understanding a passage like those hearing it in that day.  Jesus wasn't talking to you and me in Luke 14.  He was talking to Pharisees. His story there could apply to us, but it can't mean something different to us than it meant to them. That story shouldn't be preached like Jesus was talking to us.  He wasn't.

What Luke 14:15-24 Doesn't Say

Just a week ago, I read a publication with the following viewpoint of Luke 14:15-24.  I think there are many others who believe the same way, so we should consider it a sample.  The author wrote that the Lord in Jesus' story was God -- so far so good.  He goes downhill from there. He says that the servant was you and me.  That's not correct, because you and I didn't invite Israel's leaders into the kingdom and salvation like the Old Testament prophets.   You and I couldn't invite the nation Israel in general up to the time that Jesus was telling that parable.  He says that the supper is salvation, and that would be good too, if that's what he really believed.

Jesus' story is illustrating truth.  The poor and the maimed and the halt and the blind picture something.  They aren't physically poor and maimed and halt and blind.  A literal interpretation requires understanding figurative speech.  Parables use symbolism.  That's the point of them being a story.  Remember, the supper is salvation.  I agreed with that.  That is figurative.  You don't say, the supper is salvation, but the poor are the poor.  They are both figurative.

Jesus had been invited to the occasion where He told this story, because the Pharisees wanted to trap Him (14:1-2).  Jesus exposed their pride, because they prioritized an ox fallen in a ditch more than the man made in the image of God, Jesus would heal (14:4), who had dropsy.  They were hypocrites. They said they loved God's law, but they didn't love their neighbors, the second table of the law.   This is also seen in a story Jesus tells about a wedding (14:6-14).  Their positions were for money, oxen, and relationships, popularity and power, which was sitting in the best seats of a wedding.   They weren't humble.  They weren't poor in spirit, even as seen in the implication of one of them in v. 15.  They would not deny themselves in order to follow the Messiah, Jesus their King.

Jesus refers back to his earlier illustrations (14:4 and 14:6-14) in the excuses of vv. 18-20.  Their lack of humility would keep them out of the kingdom, but there were people who did see their poverty in Israel, a Jewish remnant.  This is not Jesus saying, direct your evangelistic efforts to poor neighborhoods and poor people on a socio-economic level.  Jesus would be contradicting His own commission, that ended every gospel account, to preach the gospel to everyone.

The author of the article focuses on the word "bring" from v. 21.  Even though he says the supper is salvation, he targets "bring" as very instructive.  If the slave is "bringing" someone to salvation, then "bring" is not a literal bringing, as in, picked up physically from one place and taken to some other location.   He makes a point that the poor and maim, etc., didn't have the monetary means of the first group, who rejected the invitation, so that they could have gotten there on their own.   Meanwhile, he says the maim and the halt and the blind would need to be brought, given a ride, because they didn't have the means of getting there.

Jesus wasn't telling someone they needed to physically pick someone up and bring them somewhere. This isn't anything that Jesus or the apostles did.  If that's what someone was supposed to do, they all missed it.  Jesus obeyed everything the Father told Him to do, and Jesus didn't do anything like it.  He went to everyone and preached.  If they rejected it, like an entire Samaritan city, it wasn't because they didn't have the money to listen.  He went from Galilee to Judea to Samaria to Perea and to Caesaria-Philippi.  He went to them and preached to them.

The idea of Jesus' teaching wasn't, let's see if the banquet hall could be filled up with rich people first, and if they don't want that, go to maimed people, and if there aren't enough of those, then get the out-of-towners. The idea is that anyone who would come, could come.   The audience of Jesus' story was the first group, the ones who didn't want it.  Most Jews didn't want it, not because of their socio-economic level, but because they were too proud -- they were not poor in spirit.  Neither is it that the latter two would need to be brought in physically, because they don't have the monetary means to do so.  The supper is salvation, the kingdom.  We agreed on that, remember. How does someone "bring" someone to salvation, to the kingdom?  He does it by preaching the gospel.  The invitation into the kingdom is the gospel, because someone gets into the kingdom, is saved, by believing in Jesus Christ.  When you get that wrong, because you make "bring" mean something other than that, you have encouraged people to disobey the Bible.

The essay said that the church tried to get people who could drive themselves to church in their own cars, and that group said "no," so, like in Luke 14:21, the church instead went out and picked up poor people, who couldn't make it on their own (many of them actually can come on their own, but they send their children instead).  The meaning of the supper shifted from "salvation" to the gathering of a church.  And then the author said that "compel" was to use high pressure or to do anything that is right in order to see people saved, which would include offering food at a rescue mission, medicine by a missionary doctor, or hot chocolate or a trinket to persuade children to get into a vehicle.  The story, however, doesn't mean any of that, and it can't, because none of that too was what we see Jesus actually do.

Very commonly in fundamentalism, among independent Baptists, basically revivalists, the banquet has become the meeting of the church, "bring" is give someone a ride in a vehicle, the maimed and blind are poor children, and compel is a bribe, a fleshly allurement that especially children like better than the gospel itself.  This now includes a certain type of music, puppet shows, prizes, and big promotions.  None of those are what Luke 14:15-24 mean.  The author of the article then portrayed those who said something different than this physically bringing and compelling interpretation -- the high pressure of hot chocolate and trinkets -- as straight from the devil and that people needed to stop listening to Satan and get out there and use this tactic.  He also called this described strategy, the Great Commission.  It wasn't.  It isn't.  He also said almost anyone can do it, and then equated the numbers who come with positive responses to the invitation with the benefits of the "high pressure."

No, the supper is salvation.  Salvation is of eternal value, and it is the motive.  Someone comes to the banquet because he thinks the banquet is better than whatever else is out there to distract him.  No one has to travel by bus or be offered medicine or a meal to get it.  It's free.  The lord wasn't charging for someone to come. If someone knows its value, he doesn't need something of lesser value to talk him into it. "Bring" is preaching the gospel.  The invitation is not to church, but to Christ, to the kingdom, to heaven.  Can anyone do it?  I've found that only saved people will do it, and because churches have a lot of unsaved people, they invent methods that anyone can do, even unsaved people.  It's true that almost anyone can make invitations and give out enticements.

Consider the irony.  A person is invited to church and he says he will not come.  He doesn't like church.  He likes television or a football game or his sleep better.  If this was what Jesus was talking about, which He wasn't, then we should just go to the next person, who really would like church.  That would take this false interpretation to its rightful application, but no.  No, if he says, I will not come, with all the modern-day excuses, the slave, supposedly you and I, just offers him something other than the banquet, the supper, to entice him.  "I know you don't like church enough to come just for church, so how about a kite or a sno-cone or a rodeo or a trip?"  I've bought me five yoke of oxen.  "OK, well how about I offer you six yoke, then will you come?"  What I'm saying is that not only is this not what Jesus was teaching, but it is encouraging the opposite.

I recognize that people see these types of perversion of scripture as sort of harmless or even worse, helpful, because they can be used then to get people to do something "good."  Instead of preaching the gospel to everyone, people invite people to church, so instead of obeying the Bible, they practice a man-invented thing, not only not seen in scripture anywhere, but taught against (cf. 1 Cor 1-3, etc.). It results in thousands and thousands of false professions, the watering down of the gospel, and the gospel itself not getting to everyone, because they've replaced preaching it with this alternative method, spawned from a perversion of God's Word.  People start counting false professions as real and then adjusting their gospel message to fit the method.  All of this is occurring all over and justified with this kind of perversion of scripture.

Wake up.  This is serious.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Luke 14:15-24: What It Means (part one)

Luke 14:15-24 reads:

15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. 16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

The Pharisees believed in resurrection, which they saw like a huge, lavish banquet where they would be invited along with all their big shot friends, the best social event any of them experienced in their own lifetimes and to what the Old Testament compared to the kingdom anyway (cf. Isaiah 25:6-9). Implied by the beatitude of one of them as a toast in v. 15, they assumed they'd be there.  Jesus intends His story in vv. 16-23 to correct that assumption.

First, an important lord prepares a giant banquet and when it's ready, he sends out a slave to invite many to attend (vv. 16-17).   Second, none of them came, but instead made ridiculous excuses (vv. 18-20).  Third, when the slave reports back that none of them are coming, the lord turns angry and dispatches him to fill the seats with implausible people, because this feast will go on (v. 21).   Fourth, still inadequate, the lord authorizes his slave to go further out into the country to get more and compel enough to fill up the hall (vv. 22-23).  Jesus applies the story in v. 24.

What's this about?  A man, God, sends a slave, His Old Testament prophets, to invite special guests, Israel, to His banquet, the kingdom of God or eternal life.  You notice earlier a kind of pre-invitation, before the dinner hour, "to them that were bidden."  Israel saw itself as God's chosen people, but even with that privilege, when the acceptable hour of the Lord came, Israel wouldn't receive the invitation.  Excuses relate to self-satisfaction with possessions and people -- temporal worldly stuff.  Jesus wanted to gather them into His kingdom, but they would not.  Because Israel would not respond to the offering, God turned to those who saw their spiritual poverty and would come into His kingdom.  The first wave is the Jewish remnant and the second, those outside of town, so to speak, are the Gentiles, those outside the nation.

Every usage (9 times) in the New Testament of the word translated "compel" (anagkazo) here is to urge or to press.   The Judaizers in Galatia compelled Gentiles to get circumcized and do Judaistic things (Gal 2:3, 14; 6:12).  Jesus compelled the disciples to get into a ship (Mk 6:45).  Before he was converted, Paul compelled people to blaspheme (Acts 26:11).  Paul was compelled to appeal to Caesar (Acts 28:19).  Paul was compelled to brag on himself because of the false teachers at Corinth (2 Cor 12:11).  In using the word, Jesus was emphasizing how serious God was about shifting away from Israel in His plan.

Verse 24 is explicit.  These people who thought they'd be in the kingdom, in heaven, possessors of eternal life, would not get in.  Only the Jewish remnant and receptive Gentiles would make it. Missing the kingdom comes from rejecting the gospel invitation.  This reminds me of the warning passages in Hebrews.  People can reach a point in this lifetime where it is too late for them to be saved.  How shall they escape if they neglect so great a salvation?

Compelling someone to come to the banquet is preaching the gospel.  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.  The banquet is salvation.  The gospel is the way into the kingdom.

The story Jesus told would expose the Pharisees.  It would warn them of exclusion from the kingdom. They thought they were the only possibility as God's people.  They wouldn't even be there.  Jesus was telling them he could get others -- those who understood their own spiritual poverty, the poor in spirit, and Gentiles outside the nation who would listen.  When you reject the gospel, because of pride, you are your own worst enemy.


When Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep in John 21, He wasn't telling Peter to give Jesus' sheep Peter's opinion or traditions.  The Pharisees were giving opinion and tradition.  Peter said that preaching that gives glory to God is preaching that is the Word of God (1 Pet 4:11).  You don't glorify God when you tell people a message other than what a passage means.  We live by every Word by understanding every Word. When Paul said "preach the Word" (2 Tim 4:2), he wasn't saying "use the Word," as if just using it could work instead of preaching what it actually says. Wresting the scriptures (2 Pet 3:16) is a very serious abuse of the Word of God.  The very idea of "preach" is to tell people what God says, not telling people what you are thinking and using God's Words in order to do that.

There is nothing worse for a preacher than perverting or twisting a passage for whatever reasons, which are either purposeful or careless.  When someone uses a passage to justify his own thinking, he's taking on an activity either identical to or very close to a false prophet.  Your responsibility, preacher, is to preach what the Bible says.  That starts with what it means.  If you miss that, then you've missed everything.  The Bible doesn't have power outside of what it actually means.

The only right response to missing what a passage does teach is repentance.  First, listen to what you've done wrong.  Second, admit you're wrong.  Third, get it right.  On the other hand, don't go into full court justification of false teaching.  Not getting it right is bad enough.  Don't make it worse by rabidly defending it when you're wrong.

If you hear something that isn't what the Bible is teaching, if you allow it, you're now responsible for it.  You're an accomplice to the crime.  You're now as guilty as the one doing it, when you know.  Do not go into all out defense, just because he's your guy.

Wednesday -- Luke 14:15-24:  What It Doesn't Mean -- part two

Friday, April 03, 2015

The Trinity: How Well Do You Know the true God?

Some time ago, I stated the following here at the What is Truth blog: 

 As a believer, you are to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ, and of the Triune God revealed through Christ (2 Peter 3:18, etc.)  You are to love your God with all your mind, as well as all your soul and all your strength.  How well do you know the Triune God?  The following review questions, part of the students’ preparation for the final exam in the course I (relatively) recently finished teaching on the Trinity may give you a sense of your knowledge of God the Trinity.  For answers to these questions, watch or listen to the class audio or video, and examine the linked and uploaded class materials, here.

I then asked a series of questions that believers, and in particular those who are involved in the ministry, ought to be able to answer.  The following are the rest of the questions.  Can you answer them?  If not, I encourage you to learn of the true God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, by listening to the lectures from the college course on Trinitarianism here; consider reading the textbooks also.  Your mind, your evangelism, and your devotional life just might be changed for the better.

27.) Exposit the New Testament passages (other than the texts corrupted by the Greek critical text) where Jesus Christ is called “God.”  Explain and refute Arian attempts to escape the significance of these passages.  Give significant detail on each of these passages.

28.) Refute both Arianism and modalism and prove Trinitarianism from Matthew 28:18-20.

29.) Explain the pervasive character of the NT witness to the Deity of Christ.  Give examples.

30.) Give at least five examples of texts that deal with Christ’s attributes, that deal with Christ’s works, and that deal with descriptions of Christ, that prove His Deity.

31.) State the major Arian categories of argument against the Deity of Christ, and refute their arguments.

32.) Explain in detail why each of the key Arian proof-texts against the Deity of Christ fail to establish Arianism.

33.) Prove, with at least seven lines of evidence, the Personality of the Holy Spirit, against Unitarianism.  Then prove, with multiple lines of evidence, His Deity.  Refute Arian objections and attempts to escape the validity of these conclusions.  Include texts that deal with His attributes, texts that deal with His works, and texts that deal with descriptions of Him.  Passages that prove both His Personality and Deity can be employed in relation to the proof of both truths.  Do not use texts employed in other related questions of similar character.

34.) “Since the Holy Spirit can be ‘poured out,’ the Spirit is not a Person.”  Refute this argument with at least one specific counter-example.

35.) How do modern Arians argue against the Personality and Deity of the Spirit?  Why are their arguments invalid?  Give and refute specific examples of anti-Trinitarian argumentation.  Do not include the immediately preceding argument as an example for this question.

36.) Reproduce Owen’s definition of communion with God.

37.) Is prayer addressed directly to the Person of the Holy Spirit the model for prayer in Scripture?  Is it lawful?  In answering this question, explain Owen’s position and argument.

38.) What is Luke 11:13 talking about in relation to the believer’s fellowship with the Holy Spirit?  How is this passage misused—including by Owen?

39.) Explain why a non-Trinitarian piety is sub-Christian.  How close should the Trinity be to the center of a believer’s devotional life?  How does a Trinitarian piety protect the believer from dry rationalism and fanatical or pantheistic mysticism?

40.) Explain the connection between the revelation of Trinitarian ontology in Scripture and the revelation of Trinitarian economy in Scripture for Christian piety.

41.) Prove from Scripture that the believer has distinct communion with all three Persons of the Trinity.

42.) What is the classical doctrine of Appropriations? How do the distinct roles of the Persons in the economic Trinity relate to distinct communion?

43.) What is the difference between affirming that the believer has distinct communion with the Trinitarian Persons and affirming that the believer has exclusive communion with any one of the Three?  Which position is true, and why?

44.) How does the believer hold distinct communion with the Father?  Explain both the distinct ways in which the Father reveals Himself to the believer and the believer’s distinct return to Him.  Prove your position from Scripture.

45.) What are four distinguishing qualities in the attribute wherein Owen affirms the believer has distinct communion with the Father?  What are the specific ways in which Owen breaks down the believer’s return to the Father of what the Father holds out to him?

46.) How does the believer hold distinct communion with the Son? Explain both the distinct ways in which the Son reveals Himself to the believer and the believer’s distinct return to Him. Prove your position from Scripture.

47.) What are the two main divisions into which Owen divides the way the believer holds distinct communion with the Son?  What two things in Christ are focused upon in these two main divisions?  Break down, within these two main divisions, what the Son distinctly holds out to the believer and what the believer returns to the Son.

48.) What type of unity is unveiled, according to Owen, in John 17:20-23?  What significance does this have for Christian living?

49.) How does the believer hold distinct communion with the Holy Ghost?  Explain both the distinct ways in which the Holy Spirit reveals Himself to the believer and the believer’s distinct return to Him.  Prove your position from Scripture.