Sunday, April 30, 2017

Evangelicals Arguing about Pink Hair Dye on Male Church Members

One of the websites I visit most days is Douglas Wilson's blog, which he calls Blog and Mablog, to see what he has to say about various issues.  I read some.  He writes something about every day.   In the last week or so, he has written a series of posts (here, here, here, and here) commenting on posts of another blog (here and here) related to judging worldliness in the church, particularly issues scripture says nothing about.  What drew my attention is the mention of the recent fad of odd, unnatural coloration of hair, even on men.

Evangelicals have stuck separatists, including fundamentalists, in the legalist category for their prohibitions of worldliness. They find themselves with the uncomfortable task of judging areas now that they may not have envisioned coming to their own churches in part because they have kicked this can down the road.  As a simple way of putting it, they want to disallow men (actual male gender) from their church who dye their hair pink.  Pink is not a natural hair color for anyone, but for men it adds another untoward element.  Scripture says nothing about pink hair on men, so evangelicals are scrambling to outlaw such behavior while not looking like separatists or fundamentalists.  They can't say they've been wrong all these years, but they also see the iceberg in front of their Titanic.  It's a tricky tightrope they find themselves on.

Because Wilson must stay in the evangelical worldly club, as I see it, because it is an important aspect of maintaining evangelical numbers, clout, and coalitions, he must write in a very opaque manner to say something is wrong without saying that something is wrong.  If you say that he said something is wrong, he maintains deniability.  "I didn't say anything was wrong!"  He wants you to read the tea leaves in his writing.  This is how evangelicals write to maintain their liberty.  They've been pushing this wrong view of liberty all these years.  Now they are the frog in the kettle and the water is boiling.  They know they should jump out.

Let's just say it.  Wilson thinks men in his church shouldn't be coloring their hair pink.  If they do, they can't stay in his church.  However, that's a tough one to add to your doctrinal statement or church covenant.  You'll seem legalistic by your own former definition of legalism.  The coloring crayon is now marking up the old definition.  Maybe it doesn't work anymore.  Evangelicals can always change what they said and then act like it's historic.  But how can separatists and fundamentalists still be legalistic and Wilson not, while his still ejecting pink haired men?  Tough, tough one, but it's of his and the evangelicals own doing.  They've made this cake, so now they get to eat it, even if it isn't for a wedding reception.

Is a male not wearing pink hair an essential?  Is it a gospel issue?  Do you have to have regular colored hair to be saved?If it isn't an essential, a non-tertiary practice, how do you kick somebody out of the church for wearing pink hair?  It seems to be moving a non-essential to an essential, a non-gospel issue to a gospel issue.  If whatever someone believes is true, it will work in ten or twenty or fifty years.  Evangelicals have been lying for awhile about worldliness and separation, and their new treatment will likely continue with a different lie that will need changing in years to come. It's a regular edit and tweak and rewrite.

Pink hair on men was an easy call at one time.  Everyone would say it was bad.  Everyone.  The folks said the same about rock music.  Wilson is someone that will quote "the Stones" in his writing.  They aren't the Rolling Stones.  They're the Stones.  Someone such as himself with his kind of knowledge can use the shorthand.  He's on a shorthand basis with the Stones.  The Stones are bad.  Evangelicals like Wilson listen to the Stones and Dylan and won't judge you for that, but you can't have pink hair in church. It's a tough one. Really, really tough. Who woulda thunk it?

When a pink haired male church member shows up one Sunday, or one of the deacons' boys shows up with the pink hair, can Wilson do anything about it? Is it allowed? The Stones are allowed as a backdrop to this, just as an example.  You've got to justify the Stones.  That's a non-essential.  How can pink hair rise to an essential?  Beard is being stroked with one hand.  Church doctrine and practice takes on the nature of a Rubik's Cube.

Could part of the answer lie in some sort of a don't-push-the-envelope principle? 
Here's​ an analogy: My typical weekday attire of late has been jeans, a T-shirt, a denim jacket, big earrings, eye makeup, lipstick. No problem for just about anybody in northern Idaho. But if I stepped through a time portal to a century ago, I would absolutely be in sin to continue dressing this way. Respectable women of that day did not wear trousers and did not paint their faces. Doing so would be an affront to my neighbor; it would be arrogant of me to insist on it. 
Technicolor hair is perhaps in that same category. Maybe in another hundred years it will fall into the same category as cosmetics or pants, but right now it doesn't seem to be there. 
Women should certainly be taking dominion in the realms of personal beauty and adornment, but perhaps the way to do that is by pushing as far upward as we can from within the boundaries of societal norms rather than pushing as far outward as we can from the center. 
I'm trying to get my head around Toby's and Doug's arguments, too. I know this is not an area where I'm overly discerning, though my faults and failings tend in other directions. So this is all me throwing out questions, not pretending to have clear answers.
How can we judge between jeans and a t-shirt on women and pink hair on men?  Aha.  What. do. we. do?  What principle can we evoke, since we've already forsaken the biblical ones?  She makes up the "don't-push-the-envelope principle," which is pretty funny.  What verse states that principle?  What's constructive in this world is asking questions.  "Just asking questions."  Not telling anyone that anyone is wrong.  Asking questions doesn't count as doing anything about it.  At the same time, when you are reaching for the life raft, you can say that you were asking questions.  They'll thank you as they go under for the last time.

The women, who at one time frowned on the t-shirt and jeans, were right.  They had reasons.  Those reasons were in scripture.  With their counsel being forsaken, there is in principle nothing left for the pink hair.  It's got to stay.

I printed the comment of Doug's female reader because it is so rich on what evangelicals have brought the church on cultural issues.  They have really nothing to offer that will slow down the slide to Gomorrha.   Fundamentalists now have bought into the evangelical arguments.  They have capitulated already for the most part.

If you have already started down the path where Doug finds himself, you've got really one option as a church.  You've got to say you had it wrong.  You have to repent.  That's the only option that will please God.  Count on losing people.  They won't stay if you start practicing consistently.

What I think most will do is just put their head in the sand.  It's not going to disappear. It's going to get worse out there.  Ignoring it will not work.  You were supposed to be giving guidance to a lost world.  You were supposed to be telling the truth to everyone, especially to the professing believers of your church.  Now it's something about a bed that somebody's made that he has to lie in.

What Doug does on pink hair is very evangelical of him.  He writes a flurry of blog posts. If you want people to stop, you hope that people will read you.  In the meantime, get accustomed to pink hair on men.

To Be Continued

Friday, April 28, 2017

Dan Barker / Thomas Ross Debate, "Prophecy and Archaeology Validate the Bible as the Word of God."

I am very pleased to announce that my debate with Dan Barker, President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, on the topic:  "Prophecy and Archaeology Validate the Bible as the Word of God" is now available online on my website and also on Youtube.  (Of course, in this second debate Mr. Barker was in the negative and I was in the affirmative.)  Mr. Barker and his organization are very well-known, and I trust that God will use the debate to lead many atheists, agnostics, and others to reconsider whether they ought to continue to rebel against God and His Word.  The debate was held at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, where my church has a campus ministry.  The debate was sponsored by our campus group, the campus Philosophy Club, and the campus Secular Student Alliance.

I believe that the very positive way in which the debate went was an answer to the prayers (and fasting) of God's people. The mythicist nonsense that Dan Barker borrowed from Dorothy Murdock as his basis for rejecting the Bible in our previous debate, "The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, Not Fact" available on my website and on Youtube, was also thoroughly debunked, while prophetic and archaeological evidence for the Bible was set forth for which this most prominent of atheists--despite c. 125 other public debates to this point--had no answer.

I was also pleased that Mr. Barker essentially renounced his entire argument in the previous debate, as well as consistency in his anti-Biblical, anti-absolute situational ethics, by his passionate claims that what he himself has regularly taught was not something that he, or sometimes, even any other atheist of his stripe, has ever believed.  (A few examples are at the bottom of this post).

If you believe that the content of either or both of the debates is good, please link to the webpage on my website or embed the videos from YouTube.  Also, please feel free to "like" the videos on YouTube and to post comments, not only on this blog post, but also on the YouTube pages for the Old Testament Fiction / Fact Debate and the Prophecy / Archaeology Debate.  I opened up the comment sections on both debates on YouTube not that long ago because I believe it helps more people to end up watching them, and the first debate is already filled with comments from angry atheists who I am delighted are watching the debates--as otherwise they would very likely never, ever listen to anything said by a Christian--but their comments, like saying I am a "Timothy McVeigh wannabe," or making various intellectually ridiculous and blasphemous affirmations, often evidence such blind anti-God fanaticism that it would be good to have some Christians mixing in something rational.  Furthermore, I don't want a lot of atheists to "dislike" the second debate on Youtube and drive its rating down if they are honest enough to admit that it was very clear that Dan Barker's arguments were very poor, as it is highly likely that the large majority of people who will watch the debates are militant atheists who adore Mr. Barker (something for which I am glad).

Finally, if you have a university in your area, I would encourage you to consider starting a campus ministry.  Surveys of evangelicals indicate that only c. 2% of Christians are converted after their 30th birthday in the USA, while 34% are converted between the age of 15 and 29.  While it is certainly true that the large majority of evangelical congregations do very little to get the gospel out to every person in their area, and so such statistics are not necessarily true for Biblical, separatist Baptist churches, it is still very highly probable that people in college or in high school are not yet as hardened as people who have passed that point in life without receiving Christ. 

In addition to making the Dan Barker - Thomas Ross debate, "Prophecy and Archaeology Validate the Bible as the Word of God" available on my website and on Youtube, I have also embedded the debate below for your viewing edification.

(Note:  the original sources for all of the following paragraphs can be examined at the debate review website here.)

Example one where I was perfectly accurate in pointing out Mr. Barker’s statements, but he claimed that he never said them and that I was misrepresenting him, was his denial that he ever taught that the Bible was copied from pagan myths (note that he did not retreat from this at the start of the debate—only when pressed on how ridiculous Murdock was did he do it).  You will have to hear for yourself by listening to the debate what he claimed he has always taught instead—it is almost too ridiculous to believe anyone would argue this way without hearing it yourself—but when you are trying to argue that people in Iceland in the 10th century A. D. somehow influenced the Biblical accounts of Moses, written c. 2,000 years earlier, you will probably come up with some ridiculous stuff.  Furthermore, in our first debate he said that “the Israelites were copying and mimicking [pagan] stories,” but now he denied that he ever taught that, and admitted that this would be a ridiculous thing to claim.  On the Freedom From Religion Foundation website, the “non-tract” that they have distributed since 1992—that is, for 25 years as of this year—has as its very first sentence: “The story of Jesus was copied from earlier mythologies,” such as stories about the Mexican god Quetzalcoatl that somehow managed to cross the Atlantic Ocean to influence the writers of the Bible.  I think Mr. Barker knew that the game was up with Ms. Murdock, so he just lied about what he taught (and continues to teach, for that matter—the “nontract” is still up on the FFRF website now, and still for sale to convert people to atheism, even though now it is a long time after our debate in which he claimed he never made the “copied” claim), and trusted that his adoring followers would never take the time to check up on his claims—as indeed the large majority of them will not, so he will continue to make money selling them books.

Example two is where I quoted Mr. Barker’s exact words about Dr. Israel Finkelstein, and Barker claimed that his exact words were a misrepresentation.  One wonders what I was supposed to do instead of quoting his exact words—quote something less accurate than them?  The point, though—and Mr. Barker has done c. 125 debates, so he knows exactly what he is doing—was to convince people by angrily making a denial and a claim of misrepresentation and hope that nobody will check up on his claim.

Example three of a perfectly accurate pointing out of Mr. Barker’s statements, which he brazenly claimed he never said, was his affirmations that in certain circumstances, because of his non-absolute, situational ethics, mass-rape would be justifiable.  He actually has made this argument in multiple previous debates, not just one.  For example, in his debate with Kyle Butt, Mr. Barker affirmed that he would have a moral obligation in certain circumstances to commit rape and joked about raping two million girls. Mr. Barker’s interaction with Kyle Butt was as follows:

Mr. Butt: “When would rape be acceptable?” . . . [In your debate with Peter Payne, Mr. Barker, you said] [“]Yes, it would be morally acceptable to rape that girl [for a greater good] . . . Do you still believe that?

Mr. Barker: It would be horrible. It would be regrettable. I would hate myself. . . . But I would have the courage, if that was the only option—if that were the only option, then I would go through with it. I would pity that woman. I would pity myself. But morality would require me to take th[at] course of action[.] . . .

Mr. Butt: Now, let me ask you this next question. Could you rape two girls [for a particular greater good]?

Mr. Barker: Well, we’re getting into computational.

Mr. Butt: Sure.

Mr. Barker: Yeah.

Mr. Butt: Two thousand?

Mr. Barker: I don’t know if I’m up to it. I don’t know if you are?

Mr. Butt: I am certainly not. And, if you did notice, that is pretty appalling to make a joke about something that is the most brutal crime that humanity can think of. So continue. Two million? . . .Would it be permissible to rape two million girls?

Mr. Barker: [For a greater good?] Yes. Yes, it would be. . . You can’t get through life without some harm.

Mr. Barker has also affirmed this alleged moral imperative to rape, that “raping women . . . would be the moral choice,” in other public debates.

I am very glad that Dan Barker had to retreat from his atheistic claims, and the best that he could do was to claim that he never said what the record makes perfectly clear that he did indeed say.  Don’t hold your breath on him ceasing to make the “Bible is copied from pagan myths” claim, either—while I am not a a prophet, I expect that the “non-tract” on the FFRF website is not going away any time soon, but Barker and his organization will continue to make money selling things like this, and continue to make the claim in speeches to adoring crowds of atheists, while claiming when pressed on it by Christians that he has never, and no atheist has ever, made such claims.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Real Unity, Biblical Unity, Which Is Required, Versus Fake Unity, The Overwhelmingly Most Common Today -- pt. 3

Part One   Part Two

God requires unity.  His Word says it is to and can occur in each individual, true church.  It is total, complete unity, described several times in the New Testament, and based upon the truth.  We looked at this in part one.  Then I began and continued exploring reasons why no biblical unity and, therefore, fake unity, which isn't unity at all.  I've covered two of my originals so far.

  • It requires biblical and doctrinal clarity, which takes preparation, study, and effort, and people aren't sure or they have too many doubts about the Bible.
  • It requires a lot of work and conflict, because you have to deal with people who don't want to unify and will cause division.
  • It requires accepting biblical unity and not a fake kind.
A very good bit of advice I received when I was in college that the most important quality of a good teacher is that he wants his students to learn.  If you are going to get unity, you've got to want unity. You can't settle for the fake.

A church that accepts something less than biblical unity isn't obeying scripture, because scripture teaches it.  You've got to want it.  If you want it, then you'll use the tools given to church leadership and the church to have it.  Since the Bible teaches it, it is God's will.  Every believer should be praying for God's will.  If you are praying for God's will, then you are praying for unity in the church.

If you want unity, you'll talk about it as a leader.  A good time to do this is the Lord's Table.  It is, after all, communion.  A church should have communion at communion.  Unity comes from purity, so the desire for unity starts with purity.

Last Sunday night at our church, I preached on spiritual gifts.  The body is one.  Oneness also requires diversity, which isn't division but compatibility.  People need to accept their God-ordained role in the church.  That can be taught -- fitting together.  Paul emphasized love in 1 Corinthians 13, the proper use of the gifts, not the gifts themselves.  The Holy Spirit divides the gifts as He wills, but the church employs those gifts with love, to the benefit of the whole body.
  • It might shrink the size of the assembly or, put another way, restrict numerical growth, which is considered to be a primary indicator of success and other future desired opportunities.
Churches trade unity for size today.  They don't think they can have unity and a church large enough to be self-supporting.  Or, they don't think they will be big and, therefore, successful.  They turn true unity into fake unity, because numerical growth is more important.

It works like the following.  Someone doesn't want to fit in.  He says he won't unless he is allowed to be divide.  The church accepts the division to keep him.  You have to keep people to get bigger.  The church changes the definition of unity in order to keep more people and also stay together on lesser terms.  The toleration of false doctrine and practice becomes the new standard.
  • It brings attack from those who accept and practice fake unity and treat it like it is biblical, when it is not.
There isn't a biblical teaching of the fake unity.  Scripture teaches against it.  Since it can't be defended with the Bible, a typical defense is an attack on those holding to true unity alone.  It is equal to "calling good evil, and evil good."  They call division unity and unity division.  They say toleration of division is unity and intolerance of division is division.  Divisive people are intolerant of division.  Intolerance isn't allowed. Those who accept division encourage unity, except that it is fake unity.  It isn't real or true unity.

Another attack is that it is unloving to expect people to get along.  It's unloving not to accept a wide diversity of faith and practice.  I'm saying that opponents of true unity will attack it for being too narrow and unloving.

The idea you'll see today are core values and those values are a short list.  It's not based on all of scripture, because that won't be possible if they want to get big.  If you expect more than "core values," you'll be attacked as too strict or intolerant.

The church isn't a big tent that accepts many diverse beliefs and practices.  It is a very narrow tent that accepts only what God says in His Word.  Where scripture is silent, church members have liberty, but obedient churches won't settle for anything less that true, biblical unity.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Statement Carefully Crafted to Leave Out the Parts of the Gospel Most Disagreeable to Sinners, pt. 2

Part One

If Lancaster Baptist Church stood alone sort of minding its own business, then I probably wouldn't be writing these posts on its salvation doctrinal statement.  I wouldn't like it, but there are many churches in the United States preaching something less than a true gospel.  However, it is one of the most influential churches in America, churches all over America sending thousands of students to West Coast Baptist College and hundreds of pastors imitating the Lancaster way of doing things.

Here is the aforementioned salvation statement again:
We believe all men were born with an inherited sin nature received from our common ancestor, Adam. We believe that because of his nature, man is a sinner by choice, and he is totally incapable of reforming himself or ceasing from his sin by his own power. We believe the only hope of deliverance for man is a total change of mind concerning his sinful condition and inability to change it, and a turning to Jesus Christ as the only Saviour. We believe that only through the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross can a man be delivered from his sin. We believe that all those who reject Jesus Christ as their Saviour are already condemned to an eternity in the lake of fire. (Genesis 5:1-5; Acts 4:19; Acts 16:31; Romans 3:10-23; Romans 5:6-12; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-6; Revelation 20:11-14)
To be even more complete, here is the fourth part of the Lancaster gospel presentation on its website:
In order to have a relationship with God and an eternal home in Heaven, we must stop trusting ourselves, our works, and our religions, and place our full trust in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of our sin and eternal life. In Roman 10:13 the Bible says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is a promise directly from God that if you will pray to Him, confess that you are a sinner, ask Him to forgive your sins, and turn to Him alone to be your Saviour; He promises to save you and give you the free gift of eternal life. You can make that decision today by praying from your heart, something like this: 
Dear God, I know that I am separated from you because of sin. I confess that in my sin, I cannot save myself. Right now, I turn to you alone to be my Saviour. I ask you to save me from the penalty of my sin, and I trust you to provide eternal life to me.—Amen
What's missing here?

It seems amazing, not having the words "believe in Jesus Christ" or "believe on Jesus Christ."  LBC says "trust in Jesus Christ," which is part of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ, but it is not believing in Jesus Christ.  It involves knowledge, assent, and trust.  You've got to know the facts of salvation, which scripture mentions again and again, the knowledge of Jesus Christ used as synonym with salvation (2 Pet 1:2,3,8).  You must assent to those facts, which is an emotional aspect, where the sinner is drawn to what he knows.  They get this wrong too, because they don't reveal sufficiently the identity of Jesus Christ.  It is obvious the importance of this when you go through the book of John.  The book is convincing us that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.

Most importantly is the commitment.  Commitment is found in saving faith, even as seen in the terminology, "obey the gospel" (2 Thess 1:8, 1 Pet 4:17).  When John the Baptist says, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (Jn 3:36), the second "believeth not" is the Greek word that literally means, "obeys not" or "disobeys." Trusting in Christ in the sense of depending on Christ for salvation is part of the volitional aspect, but not all of it.

In part one, I wrote that repentance is missing.  There are three primary ways today that repentance is abused or corrupted.  One is to reduce it to merely a change of mind.  This turns salvation to only head knowledge.  The word means more than head knowledge.  A second is to say that it is repenting of unbelief, so someone who was not believing is now believing, and that is repentance.  Nowhere is repentance portrayed like this in scripture.  Third, someone says repentance is a work, so it isn't required for salvation, but comes after salvation.  Scripture shows clearly that biblical repentance isn't a work (Acts 11:18, 2 Tim 2:25) anymore than faith is (Philip 1:29, Eph 2:8-9).  We're not saved by works.

Related to the exclusion of actual belief in Jesus Christ and repentance is omission of Jesus as Lord. Believing in Jesus Christ is to believe in the Jesus Christ, Who is God and Lord and Savior. Confessing Jesus is Lord is not just saying words.  It is relinquishing the control of your life.  This is part of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ.  If you believe that He is Lord, then you want to and are committed to do what He wants.  If you believe that He is Lord, you are prepared to or planning on going His way and not your own.

When I preach the gospel, I have found the gospel breaks down for people mainly in three ways, One, people think they are good.  They know they are sinners, but they still think they are good people. They very often won't admit that they aren't good. Two, they won't admit they deserve Hell.  They know they are sinners, but they don't think they are bad sinners, so they don't deserve Hell either. Where the plan of salvation breaks down the most is when you bring up Lordship and repentance. People want to be saved, but even more so they want to keep going their own way.  They don't want a boss.  This is what we read about the apostates of 2 Peter.  They have a problem with being told what to do, so they reject Jesus.

When I say someone can't be saved and remain in rebellion against Christ, I'm saying that a person must believe in Jesus Christ, and Jesus is Lord.  Someone is not saved if He will not commit to Jesus as Lord.  People have the biggest problem with that because they want to be saved and yet still hang on to their lives.  They need to know that they have to give up their lives.  This is repentance.  This is faith.

You can read for yourself that what Lancaster expects.  It expects that people will confess that they are sinners, they will ask for forgiveness of sins (something not once said in the Bible for salvation), and then turn to Jesus as Savior.  Scripture teaches to believe in or on Jesus Christ, but nowhere to turn to Jesus as Savior.  Nowhere.

Lancaster either just doesn't believe in or has eliminated crucial teaching or preaching of the gospel. People are making a decision, but without everything they need to know to be saved.  I'm not saying that everyone there is lost.  Lancaster is, however, corrupting the gospel and preaching a false gospel when it leaves out what it does.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Andrew Murray, Mystical Quietist and Higher Life / Keswick Writer, part 2 of 7

The content of this post has now been moved to:
Please click on the link above to read the complete form of parts 1-7 that used to be in the posts here at What is Truth?.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Statement Carefully Crafted to Leave Out the Parts of the Gospel Most Disagreeable to Sinners

If you go to the Lancaster Baptist Church website, you can read its doctrinal statement and the following paragraph on sin and salvation:
Sin and Salvation 
We believe all men were born with an inherited sin nature received from our common ancestor, Adam. We believe that because of his nature, man is a sinner by choice, and he is totally incapable of reforming himself or ceasing from his sin by his own power. We believe the only hope of deliverance for man is a total change of mind concerning his sinful condition and inability to change it, and a turning to Jesus Christ as the only Saviour. We believe that only through the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross can a man be delivered from his sin. We believe that all those who reject Jesus Christ as their Saviour are already condemned to an eternity in the lake of fire. (Genesis 5:1-5; Acts 4:19; Acts 16:31; Romans 3:10-23; Romans 5:6-12; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-6; Revelation 20:11-14)
Lancaster Baptist Church, its pastor, Paul Chappell, and its resident West Coast Baptist College, have a big (maybe the biggest) influence on a large swath of independent, fundamental Baptists  I want to look at this statement on salvation, talk about what it says and what it misses that corrupts the gospel, and then consider what should be done about it.

Even though they are stated in awkward fashion, the first two sentences are fine in their stated content.  The third then reads,
We believe the only hope of deliverance for man is a total change of mind concerning his sinful condition and inability to change it, and a turning to Jesus Christ as the only Saviour.
One, the statement never uses the necessary word, either "repent" or "repentance."  It is obviously purposefully leaving out repentance.  From reading this statement, someone would not know it was necessary to repent in order to be saved.  This distorts the gospel enough to call the statement a "false gospel."  When Jesus told His disciples what to preach, providing the only account of the message of salvation in the Great Commission, He said in Luke 24:47,
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
At the same time, someone might ask, "It says, 'change of mind,' and isn't that the meaning of repentance?"  "Change of mind" isn't what repentance means.  You don't know what a word means by its etymology, but how it is used.  Repentance is more than intellectual.  It is intellectual, but even more so volitional as seen in its usage.  The Lancaster statement won't even use the word repent or repentance in a statement on salvation, and then uses "change of mind" instead for obvious reasons.

As insufficient as "change of mind" is, it is even worse in the Lancaster statement, because it is only a "change of mind concerning his sinful condition and inability to change it."  The idea expressed is that man's only hope of deliverance is for him to change his mind about his sinful condition and his inability to change it.  I've talked to only three people in my life that would not admit they were sinners, and they may have been kidding me.  All but those three had changed their mind about their sinful condition.  The thought here is that someone was thinking that he did not have a sinful condition, but now he is thinking that he does have one.  Again, I've found that almost all people already know they are in a sinful condition, as ambiguous as the word "condition" is.

Furthermore, the Lancaster statement says someone must also change his mind about his inability to change his sinful condition -- his condition, not his sinful or rebellious or ungodly activity or way. This though relates to the last part of the sentence, "a turning to Jesus Christ as the only Savior."  For anyone who is familiar with revivalist salvation statements, this is just another way of saying, "turning from unbelief to belief."  Lancaster uses the word "turn" as an impression of repentance.  However, it's a very narrow, specific turning, which is not the meaning of repentance.  This is a person who thought he could change his condition on his own from a sinner to a saint, but only Jesus could change that condition, and instead he started thinking that.

I said that the first two sentences were fine in their stated content, however, they are lacking and even strange.  Somebody can't reform himself or cease from his sin in his own power.  Is salvation someone being reformed or ceasing from sin?   The statement itself is true, but it doesn't get at the root of the problem of sin.  It isn't representing biblical doctrine.  I don't recall reading anything like that in a doctrinal statement.

What one is reading when he reads the Lancaster salvation statement is that a sinner need just change his mind about his condition and his inability to change his condition, essentially thinking that he can't change his condition, and then turning to Jesus Christ simply as Savior.  The assumption here is that Jesus will save the person who does that.  He doesn't have to repent, but that's not all.  Strangely enough, he doesn't even have to believe in Jesus Christ. What is salvation if it is neither believing or faith either?  How does this happen?  When a group minimizes salvation, carefully reduces it based on conforming to its methodology, it ends up with something that isn't salvation at all.  Perhaps the assumption is that a statement about salvation doesn't even matter, because what really matters is how big your church will get.  You don't want your salvation statement to get in the way of that, so minimize it to something that is very easy to accept, even though it is less than and different than what the Bible teaches.

More to Come

Monday, April 17, 2017

Planning a Revival

I don't get the mail everyday at the church property.  I look in the mailbox about four out of the seven days.  If there is something important for me, or that interests me, I pull it out.  Once or twice a week, I take everything out and throw most of it away.  I kept the brochure from First Baptist Church of Hammond, titled, "The Great Summer Revival."  A big Billy Sunday in traditional pose silhouettes the background.  It is the 2017 youth conference, occurring July 18-20.

So, revival will occur.  It is planned for July 18-20, not July 16 or June 17.  I saved the brochure because this is a common idea.  Is it a delineating factor for revivalists?  I think so.  Revivalists plan revivals.  You can make that call, revival will occur, because there is a formula to cause it to occur.

You suggest revival will occur, use upbeat music, pack people into a room to polarize the audience, have a certain style of speaking with a particular kind of invitation, and you can guarantee "revival." Revivalism is a set of practices that produce an atmosphere conducive to professions of faith and decisions of dedication.  You can count on revivals to occur with necessary conditions being met.

One of the reasons that the professions and decisions are called "revival" is because they are just professions and decisions.  They aren't actual salvation and sanctification.  They are experiences primed by manufactured, external stimuli, and labeled some type of work of God.  Actual, real results are not expected.  This point is built into their plans of salvation and doctrinal statement.  No real repentance must occur for the revival of revivalism.

You can plan on something that you can make happen.  Since it is you making it happen, know then that it isn't God making it happen.  God will do things that are of Him, characterized by Him.  The planned revivals of revivalism are made by men, using human techniques.  They are not revival.

Revival can occur, but it won't have anything to do with our planning of it.  If it does occur, those with whom it does occur will be fully cognizant, clear thinking people.  They will hear plain, thorough biblical exposition.  They will be good soil, with hearts ready to hear.  If the soil on which the seed is cast isn't good, no other factor will change the result.

Friday, April 14, 2017

God does NOT speak through the Bible

Have you heard--perhaps very frequently--people praying that God would speak to them through the Bible?  Did you know that God actually does not speak through the Bible?  And no--this statement is not false because atheism is true--the Bible is the infallible, inerrant record sent from heaven, and verbal, plenary inspiration is the true doctrine of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16; Matthew 4:4; etc.)  (If you are an atheist or skeptic of Scripture who has happened upon this post, please consider the resources available by clicking here that prove the Bible is God's Word.)  God does not speak through the Bible because that is not the teaching of Scripture, of the Son of God, of His Apostles, or of the first century churches.

False, Neo-Orthodox Position:  God speaks THROUGH the Word

Do you know who teaches that God speaks "through" the Word?  The neo-orthodox heretic and adulterer Karl Barth:  "The Bible is God’s Word to the extent that God causes it to be His Word, to the extent that He speaks through it” (Karl Barth, trans. Geoffrey William Bromiley, and Thomas F. Torrance, Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of the Word of God, Part 1, vol. 1 [London; New York: T&T Clark, 2004], 109).  God does not speak through the Bible because the Bible is His Word--He is always speaking in it, not only some of the time.  Asking God to speak through the Bible is a denial that every single Word of the Bible is His speech, all of the time.

True, Biblical position:  The Bible IS God's Word, His Speech, All the Time

The reason nobody from Moses to Isaiah to Peter ever asked God to speak through His Word is because they knew that the entire Book was His Word.  Every single Word in the Bible is as much God speaking as if one were to hear His audible voice from heaven (2 Peter 1:16-21).

So, what should you do?

Stop Asking God to Speak Through the Bible and Help Others to Stop Asking Him to Do This

When you--or someone else--asks God to speak "through" the Bible, you are really denying that the entire Bible is Him speaking, His speech.  This is a grave insult to God, however unintended it may be.

Instead of Asking God to Speak Through the Word, Pray: "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wonderous things out of thy law" (Psalm 119:18).

The problem if you hear very little when you read the Bible, or hear it preached, is not with the Bible or with God failing to speak.  The problem is not Him failing to speak through His Word.  The problem is with you.  The Father, through the Son, must enable you by His Spirit to understand, apply, and obey His Word.  Instead of copying Karl Barth, you would do well to heed the advice (in this matter) of Wilhelmus a Brakel:

For the reading of Scripture to be profitable, there must be preparation, practice, and reflection. . . . Each time when one engages himself to read:(1) He must, with mental concentration, place himself in the presence of God. He must promote a reverent, spiritual frame, being conscious that the Lord shall speak to him. The consciousness of that reality should cause us to tremble with holy reverence. To promote such reverence, reflect upon Isaiah 1:2, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken.”(2) He must lift up his heart to the Lord, beseeching Him who is the Author of this Word for His Spirit, that He may cause us to perceive the truth expressed in God’s Word and apply it to the heart. Our prayer ought to be with Ps 119:18, “Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law.”(3) He must also attentively incline the heart to obedience in order to exercise faith, be receptive to comfort, and comply with all that which the Lord shall proclaim, promise, and command, saying, “speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth” (1 Samuel 3:9). . . .As you read, it is essential to do so calmly and attentively rather than to do it hastily with the objective of bringing the exercise of this duty to a conclusion. . . . [W]ith a humble, hungry, and submissive spiritual frame, one places himself before the Lord while reading slowly and thoughtfully as if hearing the voice of God, and subjecting himself to the Holy Spirit to operate upon the heart as he reads. . . . Whenever there is a passage which has a special power upon the heart, such a person pauses in order that this Scripture might have its effect in the heart. Then he prays, gives thanks, rejoices, and is filled with amazement—all of which revive the soul and stimulate it to obedience. Upon concluding these exercises he will continue reading. After having read a chapter, he will meditate upon it, time permitting. When he encounters a remarkable text, he will mark or memorize it. In such a fashion both the learned and the unlearned should read the Word of God. In so doing, one will understand its spiritual meaning with increasing clarity and God’s Word will increasingly become more precious to us. “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God” (John 7:17); “If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). . . .[R]eflection upon reading Scripture consists in[:]
(1) joyfully giving thanks that the Lord has permitted His Word to be recorded, that we may have it in our homes, that we can and were privileged to read it, and that it was applied to our heart;(2) painstakingly striving to preserve this good spiritual frame which is obtained by reading God’s Word;(3) meditating while engaged in one’s occupation upon that which one has read, repeatedly seeking to focus his thoughts upon it;(4) sharing with others what was read, whenever possible, and discussing it;(5) especially striving to comply with what was read by bringing it into practice.If the Holy Scriptures were used in such a fashion, what wondrous progress we would make in both knowledge and godliness! Children would soon become young men, and young men would soon become men in Christ Jesus. (Pgs. 72-81, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, by Wilhelmus á Brakel, Vol. 1.)

In so doing, you would greatly honor and please the holy Triune God whose Word the Bible is, rather than displeasing Him by an implicit denial of His revelation by asking God to speak "through" the Scriptures.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Real Unity, Biblical Unity, Which Is Required, Versus Fake Unity, The Overwhelmingly Most Common Today -- pt. 2

Like a lot of other biblical words or concepts or doctrines, unity is changed, perverted, morphed, or dumbed down to something it isn't.  What I see is that people in general are completely fine with that. They think it is a good trend.  Thumbs up to having unity mean what they want.

Love is another word that is twisted to something a long ways away from what it actually is.  If you say someone's "love" isn't love, that is a worse violation then corrupting love itself.  Ironically, it is unloving to say someone's love isn't love.  I know this to be true. God, however, is still going to judge us for love based on what He says it is -- the same with unity.

A few years ago, I was asked to preach at a church, which was without a pastor, for all day Sunday and then Wednesday, about four or so times.  The church was far from unified.  It had at least two or three factions in it, that had got along because the church had settled on something less than unity.  To get along, not unify, the former leadership had obviously tolerated the differences, treated them like they were allowable.  He probably said, "For unity's sake," which in fact was "for division's sake." Men don't want to lose anybody, even if the people aren't believing or doing right.  Losing people is the worst thing for them and for varied reasons, I'm going to continue discussing.  The former pastor just kept kicking that can down the road until he either got tired or decided not to put up with it anymore.  Let someone else deal with it.

Anyway, my first sermon was an exposition of 1 Corinthians 1:10 on biblical unity in a church.  That church was frozen in utter amazement on just going word by word through that verse in its context. The church was not, never, no way, going to do that.  It's like the Bible at that point was a book for a different species, a different planet, or a different dimension of space and time.  Some people hearing the sermon were all in -- that was obvious.  They wanted it.  Others wanted their present form, where they got to keep believing like and doing like they wanted, just disobeying that verse and all other verses in the Bible that taught the same thing.  They would never have a pastor come, who would promise to enforce such a verse.  Any pastor, who wanted that job, would not and could not mention that he believed that, which is very often how pastors get new pastorates -- by not stepping on that kind of land mine.  Someone might call it more of an art than a science.

To believe 1 Corinthians 1:10 at the church where I preached on unity would have required a split.  A split doesn't sound like unity, but to get to unity, often a split must take place.  Some think the split is worse than not having unity, so they put up with false doctrine and practice.

In part one of this, I started talking about why churches don't get the unity the Bible teaches, reaching only the first of the list I gave.  I move to the second one with this post.

  • It requires biblical and doctrinal clarity, which takes preparation, study, and effort, and people aren't sure or they have too many doubts about the Bible.
I want to say just a little more there.  Liberty issues are non-scriptural issues.  The doubtful disputations are concerning issues that the Bible is silent about, or has at least judged to be a liberty issue, like the dietary examples given in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8.  Doctrinal issues are becoming liberty issues now for the sake of getting along.  There is only one teaching in scripture, but churches allow for more than one teaching on various doctrines and practices.  If you don't do that in a church, now you are considered to be violating some definition of love, which is closer to toleration.

So-called "unity" today is often guided by giving liberty to believe and practice differently within the same assembly.  Men are doing that by making doctrinal and practical issues now issues of liberty.  That is a historic change.  In evangelicalism, this means in the same church, premillennial or amillennial, or in other words, 30% different in doctrine right off the bat is unity.  It isn't, but this is by making that a liberty issue.  It isn't, but it is treated as such.
  • It requires a lot of work and conflict, because you have to deal with people who don't want to unify and will cause division.
This number two I mentioned in my introduction above.  You have people challenge unity.  They don't like a particular doctrine or practice and they will challenge it through the various steps of church discipline to have their way.  This is where the Titus 3:9-11 section comes in.  The "heretic" is a factious person, who won't unify with the body, which is based upon the truth, agreed upon, believed by, and practiced by the whole rest of the church.  It might be that he just doesn't like submitting to authority.  There are  many of those out there, and you don't help them by allowing them to continue this way.

Very often pastors will defer to a faction.  The whole church sees it one way except for a small faction, and the small faction gets its way.  There are some who think this is some type of humility, to do this.  Humility isn't giving in to a faction, who is wrong.  Humility is dealing with the faction and requiring that it come along with the other church, or be gone.  We humble ourselves before God, not before factions.

Our church takes divisive people to church discipline (see Romans 16:17).  Story.  We had a man in our church, who believed that he was the window czar.  No one could open or close windows on his watch.  He was a self-appointed usher.  We didn't have an office of usher, but he gave himself that label.  He was also mentally slow in a disabled kind of way.  He could function in society, but anyone would know he was slow.

We had another man who really liked to open windows whenever he wanted.  Personally, I didn't mind if he opened a window, when he needed air.  It's not a separating issue (hopefully you smile). He opened a window. The window czar closed.  He opened.  Czar closed.  He opened.  Fight ensues. Neither side gives in.  Several times I sat down with both factions, and a few times with 2 or 3 witnesses.  Each time they resolved, something similar to having second graders shake hands after a fight at recess.

I would lecture the man, who was not intellectually challenged, that he could easily solve it by understanding the mental disability of the one he dealt with.  Perhaps he was socially challenged, which I don't think is a separate category in reality.  However, in the end the window czar wouldn't forgive and we finally disciplined him out of the church.  Both men died at a pretty early age not long after that.  It's hard not to see it as related to what I'm writing about here.

Churches don't have biblical unity, because they are unwilling to do what it takes to have it.  They don't work at it or face the conflict necessary.  Instead, they settle for something that isn't unity, and yet they call it unity.  Whatever isn't biblical unity still isn't unity.  Churches settle for the placebo, when God wants the real thing.
  • It requires accepting biblical unity and not a fake kind.
  • It might shrink the size of the assembly or, put another way, restrict numerical growth, which is considered to be a primary indicator of success and other future desired opportunities.
  • It brings attack from those who accept and practice fake unity and treat it like it is biblical, when it is not.