Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Answering "Conservative Christianity and the Authorized Version," part three

Part One     Part Two

In the third post in his series (one, two, three), Michael Riley at Religious Affections Ministries (RAM) argues that the degradation of the English language at its present state does not stop the modern versions from being conservative in consistency with being a conservative church with conservative worship like RAM teaches.  It seems that pastors in the UK when Scott Aniol visited there brought this as an argument against, that a translation into modern English conflicted with conservatism, unlike the King James Version.  Riley to his credit sympathizes with the argument and shows understanding of it for the first five and a half paragraphs before disavowing it.

I don't know what arguments the UK conservative pastors bring about the inability of the present English language to represent the original text of the Bible.  I have my own thoughts about it that are not what I would consider to be akin to very poor and even false KJV only style arguments.  I've written a lot about it recently because of the new book by Mark Ward, where he argues that the English of the KJV is unable to communicate sufficiently to a contemporary English audience -- they won't get most of it because of various reasons, especially what Ward calls "false friends," words or phrases that people do not understand anymore, yet that they think they do understand.

Riley agrees that English has degraded.  The almost entirely English audience that reads English has also taken a major decline with a steep trajectory downward.  Linguists with no skin in the issue of the translation of scripture have agreed that modern English has lost the ability of past English to communicate a formal social standard -- a particular structure, seriousness, and governing of rules of discourse.  Is the English of today a craft that can transmit adequately or appropriately the content of scripture?  Is there an interchange in priority from God to man, a diminishing of divine character by a casualness and commonality past suitability?  Even if the modern English hasn't become incongruous with the Word of God, is it so close to being so, should the godly of the culture put on the brakes to further erosion?

The new translations have not arisen from church agreement to the degree that a standard, single Bible could come from the unified effort, proceeding with reverence, respect, and holy motives.  In the opinion of many, they have reeked of pragmatism and pandering.  Do those doing the work not see the damage done by producing multitudinous translations?  Is all the variation and the plausible subjectivity of it an even worse friend than the apparent false friends?

Lawyers still understand the need for the precision of formality, that functions according to certain codes that do seem to proceed from natural or moral law.  We still follow the same Constitution of the United States without calls of updates.  We don't modernize the Declaration of Independence.  If we do change the Constitution, add an amendment, it is very difficult and so also very seldom.  Amendments read like the original, keeping it in the same spirit with a similar tone.

The Bible is a document of exponentially greater value than any other book or literature.  It deserves the veneration of scarce change.  Modern versions don't give it that.  Modern translators fiddle and fiddle as if they were Nero and Rome burned.  They scamper through the graveyard across the burial plots of sorts.  It contributes to lack of respect like we see in almost every institution.  If we can't take scripture seriously, when God is of highest value, then everything else will be lost as well.  This all flies in the face of conservatism.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Answering "Conservative Christianity and the Authorized Version," part two

Part One

I agree with almost all of what Religious Affections Ministries (RAM) and Scott Aniol, its general director, write and then say about worship.  I'm also very sympathetic with the concept of "conservative churches."  However, to be conservative, it's important to be consistent in that position.

A few weeks ago, one of the writers at RAM, a pastor of a Baptist church in Michigan, Michael Riley, started a series in which he defends the critical text and modern versions (CT/MV) as consistent with conservatism (now three parts:  one, two, three).  I'm glad Riley is giving it a shot, because it says that inconsistency is on the radar of RAM.  As I pointed out in my part one, Riley reports that Aniol heard from conservative evangelical churches in the UK, while he was there on a sabbatical, that his conservative position on worship clashed with his support of CT/MV (I had already written about that point, linked in part one).

In my part one of a rebuttal to Riley, I introduced four principles or propositions that especially show why a critical text/modern version belief and practice clashes with conservatism.  I will be referring to that list as I analyze and expose his presentation, maybe also bringing others to those four.

Riley starts his part two by asserting that a critical text position on the preservation of scripture doesn't conflict with conservatism.  Even though he is a critical text advocate and uses a modern version in his church, he understands the textual receptus (ecclesiastical text, ET) position is a good argument and defensible.  He's not arguing against the ET, just that it doesn't mean that holding CT/MV negates conservatism.  His first argument is that CT/MV better reflects apostolic writing, which I'm assuming he means, the New Testament.  He begins his next paragraph stating his "core argument":
My core argument is this: our chief task in textual criticism is to discern (by whatever methods we believe best) what the text of Scripture said when originally penned under the inspiration of the Spirit.
Riley then parallels for several paragraphs an advocacy of ET with one of paedobaptism.  He says that both might fit better in church history, but they clash with scripture, and a truly conservative position will proceed from the Bible.  He concludes:
[T]he goal of textual criticism is to discern what the text of Scripture originally said. That is a flatly conservative position: to discard innovations that have accumulated in the church, to hold to that which was handed down in the beginning.
I applaud Riley for admitting that CT/MV is not historical.  Although he doesn't write this, it would also be to say that the ET position arises from a totally apostate bibliology.  The church for centuries strayed from scripture, only to be returned by CT/MV.  Is that true?  In addition, does scripture show that a true doctrine could be ahistorical?  On biblical grounds, I reject ahistorical doctrine.  The true church has never been in the majority, but it continued, the gates of hell not prevailing against it (Matthew 16:18).

The Bible is still and always sole or final authority, so I agree that to overturn historical doctrine, someone better show some excellent exegetical basis.  I don't see that at all with CT/MV.  It doesn't proceed from history or exegesis.  A tell-tale part of Riley's core argument is in the parenthesis, " by whatever methods we believe best."  ET contends that the method itself must proceed from biblical grounds.  The methods themselves matter and this stands at the root too of conservatism.

Let's say that someone believed that to find the correct text, he should use dowsing, also known as the divining rod, a superstitious means of finding ground water, which arose, it seems, in the 16th century.  That was a method people believed for finding water, but not an acceptable one.  Methods matter, and "whatever methods we believe best" isn't the standard.

The actual means God gives for recognizing His Words is the church, the accepted means also of the canonization of the twenty seven books of the New Testament.   Just like God uses a confluence of divine and human for inspiration and even sanctification, He uses the same in canonization.  This is not human authority standing over scripture, but a divine means of recognition of what God inspired.  The rejection of a multiplicity of non-canonical books occurred by means of the church.  Canonicity of books follows from a biblical teaching of a canonicity of words -- the lesser, books, surely following from the greater, words.

The biblical means of preservation also should follow a biblical expectation.  Paedobaptism isn't biblical.  We know how this unscriptural practice arose in history.  Infant sprinkling always had those rejecting it in the true church.  CT/MV parallel more with paedobaptism, because neither comes from that "excellent exegetical basis" that I mentioned above, when it arose in church history as an innovation.  CT/MV is truly the innovation, because it relies on a naturalistic and unreliable means for the recognition of scripture.  Its results do not match a biblical expectation of a settled, authoritative, and available text.

CT/MV assumes neutrality to modern textual criticism, not a conservative assumption.  The method of identifying the true text springs from God, just like moral law and transcendent beauty.  It bypasses man's lying eyes and trampled crime scene for faith, which emerges from the pure mother's milk (1 Peter 2:2) of God's Word.  CT/MV is a leap from the dark.  It is the apostle Paul's, "wisdom of this world" and of "the wise men of the flesh" and the "noble" (1 Corinthians 1).  The "foolishness of God is wiser than men," so that "no flesh should glory in his presence" (also 1 Corinthians 1).  A temporal, humanistic, naturalistic means should be rejected in light of a scriptural method.

If no method were given, as is very often asserted falsely by CT/MV, I would consider the "whatever methods we believe best" as a kind of Christian liberty or adiaphora.  Those "reformed" people of whom Riley speaks were not holding their position in a vacuum though, like they were on paedobaptism.  They were standing, immersed in scripture.  Their grounds for their method were scriptural.  The work of God toward an authoritative text didn't end with inspiration.  The Bible also teaches a work of the Holy Spirit in canonicity and in preservation.

A striking characteristic of CT/MV is its paucity of biblical underpinning.  In essence, it's founders are unbelievers, who reject orthodox bibliology.  Not until recently have CT/MV advocates gone searching in hindsight for some biblical basis for what they do.  It's the wrong order.  Most of the same advocates for CT support a translation philosophy (MV) that contradicts scriptural principles.  Like with the text, its proponents have only recently began digging to find their "presuppositions" in the Bible, inventing new doctrines in the history of the church.  I read this as a transparent attempt to persuade those who needed scriptural grounds for change and then to bludgeon opponents for sinning if they won't change in response to first-time scriptural arguments.

The presuppositions for CT/MV versus ET especially distinguish the conservative ET position from the non-conservative CT/MV.  The same category of presuppositions spoils most worship of CT/MV churches.  Both lack in transcendence.  The same debased foundation produces their bibliology and their worship.  This is why RAM is such an outlier with the contradiction between and bifurcation of the two.  RAM attempts to straddle the unstraddlable.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Jessie Penn-Lewis: Warfare Prayer and the 1914 partial Rapture (part 13 of 22)

The content of this post is now available in the study of:

1.) Evan Roberts

2.) The Welsh Revival of 1904-1905

3.) Jessie Penn-Lewis

on the website. Please click on the people above to view the study.  On the FaithSaves website the PDF files may be easiest to read.


You are also encouraged to learn more about Keswick theology and its errors, as well as the Biblical doctrine of salvation, at the soteriology page at Faithsaves.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Extremely Helpful in Life: Thinking Right about Authority

Our church operates a traditional Christian school with several fine, godly teachers, who are members of our church.  They are all different, so much so that none of them are even similar, except that they believe and practice the Bible -- different personalities and different styles.  At the same time, different children do better with a certain style of person, leader, or boss.  A particular child gets along with a teacher, moves to a different class and that teacher is just. not. the. same.  Is it a problem with the teacher?  Some parents will complain.  Their child isn't doing as well because of the teacher.

What I've always told parents is that having different types of teachers and authority is good for your child, because that is the way it will be in the real world, when the child grows up and has varied bosses or people in charge of them.  It's not just that.  They'll have a wife, children, neighbors, so many different types of people to get along with.

Parents shouldn't "deliver" a child every time he's having the difficulty I'm describing.  It would be good to help a child learn to deal with the varied types of leader and learn this valuable life lesson.  I've seen adults, those former children, who wouldn't learn this, continue with difficulty with most of the bosses they have, and they almost never think it's them.  They just. can't. find. the. right. boss. and they blame it on everyone else.  It is pathetic.

I'm not writing about a leader who is sinning in his leadership, but even if he does, which he (or she) will (he or she is human), he's still in authority.  Enter what the Bible says about authority, and the classic passage, Romans 13:1-3:
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.
Authority in scripture, so authority period, since there is no power, authority, but of God, is hierarchical.  This point can be made from all over the Bible, but obedience to authority is obedience to God, and it does start with obedience to parents, to begin the second table of the law.  It is always right to obey authority, except in one instance, that is, if it means disobeying God, even as Acts 5:29 says, "We ought to obey God rather than men."

I'm going to address this to you.  Since authority is of God, you obey authority.  You don't have liberty to disobey authority, unless it means disobeying God.  There ought to be the fear of God (actually it says "terror" and "be afraid") as Romans 13:1-3 reveals.  "Be subject" means to place yourself under the authority.  God is at the top so that disobedience to anything under Him is also disobedient to Him.  If you are thinking otherwise, just because you don't like that person, get that out of your mind.

Ephesians 5 and 6 help with the understanding of the hierarchy with phrases such as "as unto the Lord," related to the submission of the wife to the husband, "in the Lord" with children to parents, "of the Lord" with the authority of the Father over the children, and "as unto Christ," "as servants of Christ," and "as unto the Lord" as it relates to the employee to the employer.  Work your way through that section, because it relates all obedience to authority in every area to obedience to God.  As long as it is permissible to do, obedience should take place.  When it doesn't, it is against God, because all lack of submission to and disobedience to authority is against God.

Someone might think, this leader has done wrong things, or I don't like his style, the way he talks, or how he looked at me, or he just wasn't nice, didn't spend quality or quantity time, or didn't accept what I like to do, my preferences -- ad infinitum.  Usually it's somebody, who wants his or her way, and it's not being accepted.

You are not in the will of God when you disobey authority.  You are not justified disobeying authority.  You are not better off disobeying authority.  You are in trouble disobeying authority.

Someone disobedient to God isn't right with God.  That's not a success.  The Old Testament calls that not dealing prudently.  It's the opposite of how Jesus lived, Who was always obedient to authority.  It's not following Christ.

On the positive side, and this is how it has been for me.  First, I want to know what's right.  Doing what I'm told is right.  It's also a simple thing.  I just do it.  I can have a good attitude.  How can I?  I know it is "as unto the Lord," since the powers that be are ordained of God.  I don't have to be worried at that moment that I'm doing wrong.  It's what God wants me to do.

Here's another example.  Let's say that you don't think it's wrong as a woman to wear pants.  You don't like it when someone tells you to wear a dress or a skirt, because you don't believe it.  It's not wrong to wear a modest skirt or dress.  If authority says, wear a dress, you wear it.  You don't have liberty not to wear it, because wearing a modest dress or skirt is not disobedient to God.  It's not even out of left field for a woman to wear.  It's feminine.

If your teacher gives you homework, do it.  Your dad gives you a chore, do it.  Your parents tell you that you can't go and you've got to stay, you do what they say.  The church says, "No."  That's a no.  Unless it is disobedience to scripture, the one exception.

If you get in trouble, you get a bad tone, even terror, you deserved it, if you didn't obey authority.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Ye Shall Know: The Expectation or Assumption of Knowing in the Bible

Forms of "know" in the Bible occur 1,580 times.  Knowing is expected or assumed.  Knowing something implies certainty.  Men can and should and do know.  Scripture says it.

The first time the English word "know" appears in the New Testament is Matthew 6:3 in the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus says:
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.
A rudimentary truth of the verse is that the left hand can know.  Jesus commands for the left hand not to know with the implication that it will know.  Next, and in the same sermon, Jesus says in Matthew 7:11:
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
People, even being evil, know how to give good gifts.  They do know.  It's not in the Bible and they still know it.  There is not a list of good gifts to give to children and yet Jesus says "ye know how."  Further in the same sermon, Jesus says in Matthew 7:16,
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Ye shall know.  We should assume that we will know things, because God, Who created us, knows we can know.  Christianity is based upon certainty, surety, represented by either the words, often used by the New Testament writers, "we know" or "I know."
Romans 7:14, For we know that the law is spiritual
Romans 8:22, For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God
1 Corinthians 8:1, Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge.
2 Corinthians 5:1, For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
1 John 3:14, We know that we have passed from death unto life
1 John 3:24, And hereby we know that he abideth in us
1 John 5:2, By this we know that we love the children of God
1 John 5:18, We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not
1 John 5:19, And we know that we are of God
1 John 5:20, And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding
The expectation is knowledge.  Salvation is itself called knowledge.
John 17:3, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
2 Corinthians 4:6, For God,, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:8, Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
2 Peter 1:3, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
So what is it?  Can we know or can we not know?  Jesus said, "Ye shall know.”  Bible believers should assume knowledge.  Much of what the Bible says we can know, the world denies.  Now even Christians deny knowledge.  It is very much like a child who doesn’t do what he is supposed to do.  He says, he doesn’t know, if he doesn’t want to be accountable for not doing what he should have done or what he was told to do.  If no one can know, then no one is responsible; hence, everyone is free to do what he wants.  A foundational truth of the Bible is that God created man to know.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:19-21:
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
"They knew God."  The problem is not knowledge, but rebellion.  If scripture says something, then we can know it.  For instance, when Peter commands in 1 Peter 2:11, "abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul," one should assume that he knows what fleshly lusts are.  When Paul commands in Romans 13:14, "make not provision for the flesh," he assumes that the reader knows what that is.  Believers would know and do know.  When they act or live like they don't know, that doesn't mean they don't know.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The King James Bible Research Council Defends a False Gospel

In 2015 I wrote a blog post entitled "The Dean Burgon Society and the King James Bible Research Council:  Would I Join Them?"  Despite their commendable and Biblical defense of the Received Text and the King James Bible, I had to answer the question "no" for a number of reasons which can be examined by reading my earlier post.  The clearest reason not to join--although the others were also enough--was that neither organization defended a pure gospel.  I illustrated that with the fact that in 2015 the King James Bible Research Council met on the premises of Quentin Road "Baptist" Church, home of Dayspring Bible College, two affiliated religious organizations that boldly, blatantly, and unashamedly reject Biblical repentance and even call it a counterfeit of Satan.  The statement below, from the doctrinal statement of Dayspring/Quentin Road, explains what Quentin Road and Dayspring Bible College believe about repentance:

Repent (metanoeo) means a change of mind. Repentance in salvation means a change of mind from any idea of religion that man may have and to accept God’s way of salvation. Repentance does not in any sense include a demand for a change of conduct before or after salvation. Matthew 21:32, Acts 20:21, II Corinthians 7:8-10. One of the counterfeits Satan is using today is the misuse of the word repent. To insist upon repentance that in any sense includes a demand for a change of conduct either toward God or man is to add an element of works or human merit to faith. Penance is payment for sin. Penitence is sorrow for sin. Works add something of self in turning from sin. But repent (metanoeo) means a change of mind. Repentance in salvation means a change of mind from any idea of religion that man might have and accepting God’s way of salvation. Nowhere does Scripture use the phrase, “repent of sin to be saved.”
Such a statement greatly corrupts Biblical repentance, and is neither Biblical nor Baptist (learn Biblical truth on repentance by clicking here).  Sadly, the King James Bible Research Council is meeting again this year--2019--at the Quentin Road religious organization's meeting place.  Furthermore, people advocating the anti-repentance false gospel taught at Dayspring Bible College and Quentin Road "Baptist" Church are on the board of directors of the King James Bible Research Council:  Phil Stringer, Vice President of the King James Bible Research Council, is also Vice President of Dayspring Bible College.  Thus, the KJBRC did not meet at Quentin Road by mistake.  (I personally contacted the president, Dr. David Brown, before the 2015 meeting--he is fully aware of what Quentin Road stands for.) 

The King James Bible Research Council, in addition to acceptance of an accursed false gospel, should by no means call itself a separatist or fundamentalist organization.  When people who believe exactly opposite things on the gospel itself can sit on its board of directors, it is plainly committed to anti-separatism, and to a rejection of Biblical separation of a kind that even many conservative evangelicals would not hold to--for the KJBRC is unwilling to separate over even the gospel itself.

It does not do much good if you hold to the King James Bible but go to hell because you believe a false gospel.  Do not support, associate with, or commend the King James Bible Research Council, but reprove it as an unfruitful work of darkness. If you run across one of the men who holds to a false gospel on its board of directors, preach the true gospel to him so that he can be saved, and warn those people on the board of directors who profess a true gospel to separate from the KJBRC.  Hear and obey the risen Christ's command:  "[H]ave no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Ephesians 5:11).


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

It Seems Like It Would Be Much Easier For Me

I see the world headed for disaster inescapably or precipitately.  Why would I want to jump on the handbasket and ride with it?  I wouldn't, but I understand why people take that handcart.  The expression comes from a Hieronymous Bosch painting, The Haywain (c. 1515, below) in the middle of which is a large cart of hay heading to Hell, drawn by beings, whose business is to drag everyone to Hell.
It seems like it would be much easier for me to capitulate on several beliefs and practices that I, and our church, believe and do.  I don't mean stop believing and practicing them myself, but allowing for a variation in belief and practice, so that a number of diverse positions can be taken without consequence.  Several different positions on a wide variety of issues would be welcome.  But would it be easier?

What I'm describing so far would be categorizing a number of beliefs and practices as questionable.  These matters have received a title, adiaphora.  The Latin word means, "not differentiable."  A well-known issue that some call "adiaphora" is mode of baptism, whether immersion or sprinkling, or recipient of baptism, paedobaptism or credobaptism.  Perhaps someone sprinkled as an infant or as an adult could join our church along with those immersed as adults, everybody together in one big happy family.

Latitude might be given on eschatology by welcoming amillennialists or premillennialists, pre, mid, or post tribulation rapture for those who even believe in a rapture.  Some women cover their thighs and others wear Daisy Dukes, some wear pants and other exclusively skirts, dresses, or culottes. Some watch Game of Thrones and others do not.  Some refrain from foul language and others use it.  Genesis 1-2 are a literal, grammatical historical account or just symbolic, either view acceptable and not differentiable. All types of music can be used or played on a personal basis or in church:  rock, country, classical, or what formerly was called sacred.  Would this be easier?

As I think about whether it's easier to concede in a number of different matters that I, or our church, presently do not, I see it from a financial standpoint.  The church would grow in numbers and the offerings would rise, even if there was a smaller number tithing, because that would be optional.  I would have less to think about in the realm of pastoral qualifications, because it would be difficult not to qualify.  It would be hard to discern when someone has violated something, because so much of what was a problem is no longer a problem.  I guess I could call all that easy.

Furthermore, many, many people I know would be much, much happier if I capitulated in the way I've described.  They would celebrate, probably with a party with alcohol and dancing.  We would now "get along."  We would be "unified."  We could start having fun together, otherwise known as being nice and loving.  I wouldn't be confronting anyone for anything, so I would receive credit for being gracious.  No one would feel guilty around me, and so their psyche would apparently improve.  What a world that sounds like.

Now, one more thing.  When I say, it seems like it would be much easier for me, I want you to know that I mean me.  The emphasis is on meMyself.  What I want for myself.  I have to consider, yes, whether that's what life is about, but for purposes of self-interest, I've got to think about me first when it comes to things being much, much easier.  The main criteria here is me.  That's the highest value for many who take the direction I'm explaining in this short post.  Me is on the pedestal, highest possible purpose.  Me.

However, what might seem easier for me wouldn't be easy for me.  I couldn't continue, knowing the violation of scripture.  I would think God is being disobeyed.  The church would change.  The distinction between the church and the world would shrink, if not disappear.  It wouldn't be easy for me to join in that.  I couldn't lead a church in that way.  I couldn't live that way.  I'm not claiming sinless perfection, but I believe scripture is perspicuous and that God expects us to believe, practice, and enforce it.  I would quit before I or our church started acting like I'm describing.  It wouldn't be easy for me, because I would be in a sort of anguish, mental and emotional pain for several reasons.

I would know God isn't being pleased, which is why I do what I do.  I would know that people are being hurt spiritually, even damned to eternal punishment because of conduct not becoming the gospel.  I couldn't look at myself in the mirror believing and practicing with such indifference to the truth in so many different areas.  I would know that I was helping send the world to hell in that handbasket I mentioned earlier.  That shouldn't be easy for anyone.  It would be insane or a kind of spiritual violence.

I believe in Christian liberty.  Christians should be given or allowed liberty in non-scriptural issues.  Certain practices have some latitude.  No Christian has the liberty to false belief and wrong behavior.  Ignoring what's around me is easier.  Not impeding anyone from anything is easier.  These are easier only in a certain sense, in a certain deceptive sense, like enjoying the pleasures of sin.  It's but for a season.  Eternity is a lot longer.  Even though it seems like it would be much easier, it really wouldn't be.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Answering "Conservative Christianity and the Authorized Version: Introduction"

Is the recommendation of, usage of, or belief in modern versions of the Bible, which translate the modern critical text, compatible with or representative of conservative Christianity?   Religious Affections Ministries (RAM) board member Michael Riley writes at their blog site in essence an answer to that question in a series entitled, "Conservative Christianity and the Authorized Version," of which he completed the introduction in a post on October 8, 2019.

Riley explains that a primary motivation for starting the series was a consequence of a sabbatical that RAM executive director, Scott Aniol, took in the UK and found that the conservative pastors with which he found the greatest unanimity also use the King James Version.  These British conservative evangelical church leaders see modern versions clashing or contradicting with conservative Christianity.  RAM uses modern versions.

I have already written here that the modern versions are at variance with true conservatism.  In the most fundamental way modern versions undermine a conservative view.  Riley represents the criticism:
The argument that conservatives should also embrace the AV is not one that is entirely new to us; others have poked at the apparent inconsistency between using old hymns and new translations. 
That sentence, I contend, misses the point.  I can't imagine that the conservative pastors of Britain think this is the issue.  I will explain.

I've linked to the post above, but Riley lists what he sees as three different positions of criticism.  The first he says comes from contemporary worship advocates who criticize RAM for conservative music inconsistent with their modern version usage.  The second he says comes from those who say that RAM loses their natural audience that overlaps on the authorized version and traditional worship.  The third he says are the TR/AV proponents, who also believe in traditional worship and see the RAM position as inconsistent.  Riley is targeting this last group, even as that represents the British conservative pastors Aniol met.

Riley introduces the series by telling us where he will head.  He's going to deal with the argument of the ecclesiastical text view and its relationship then to worship out of a high view of God, apparently showing a disconnection between those two things.  The second aspect hearkens to the sentence at the beginning of his piece, regarding the clash of modern language with conservatism.  Third, he'll address the proposition that the Authorized Version is more reverent.   All of these are interesting, but they do not lay at the foundation of the clash between modern versions and conservative Christianity.  The first one comes the closet, but it still doesn't get it.  Maybe these are what Aniol heard.  I can't imagine that, but I haven't talked to pastors in the UK about their support of the KJV.

The essay ends with this sentence:
I want to make the case that there is no necessary connection between conservative principles of worship and the use of the TR/AV as one’s Bible.
And I'm going to follow along with this series and give it a critique and analysis.  I want to start now though, because I've written that I don't see these as the fundamental arguments.  I agree with the parallel between the AV and traditional worship that Aniol and Riley propose, but they miss the connection to conservatism.  I could incorporate the three they gave to an overall presentation, but they don't buttress the point.  What does?  Not necessarily in this order, at least these do:
First, both the text of scripture and true worship of God proceed from objective truth or beauty, which are inseparably related.
Two, how we know what we know must be presuppositional, assuming that we can apply and are to apply scripture.  Since no one is neutral, knowledge comes from the pure mother's milk of God's Word, where there is neither variableness nor shadow of turning.
Three, there is one God, one truth, and one beauty.
Four, the Holy Spirit guides to truth and beauty, so neither will or should change.  This relates to no total apostasy.
As Riley moves along, I'll deal with what he writes, Lord-willing, but I'll also bring in those four and more.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Careless Virtue Signaling

I'm intrigued by some of the new terms invented to describe iterations of bad behavior arising from new media:  armchair warrior, call-out culture, concern troll, hashtag activism, social desirability bias, and social justice warrior, among others.  I'm focusing though on virtue signaling, which I contend exists since the fall of man, but exponentially grew out of the rise of media and especially social media.

The terminology, "virtue signaling," is a pejorative, but it I've noticed that is almost uniformly used to describe something really happening.  The dictionary definition is:
the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one's good character or the moral correctness of one's position on a particular issue
It's history started with the concept of "signaling," which is to convey credentials through implicit means, like building an impressive, giant stone bank building to "signal" security to depositors.  The style of building doesn't mean there is security at the bank, so in its root meaning, to signal carries with it a modicum of deceit.

Virtue was added to "signaling," it seems, by James Bartholomew on April 18, 2015 in The Spectator, and means "public, empty gestures intended to convey socially approved attitudes without any associated risk or sacrifice."  I tried to find the combination of words earlier than Bartholomew, seeing that the activity has existed longer, but it took until his essay to give it an official title.

Virtue signaling isn't doing good.  It isn't even promoting good.  It's about looking "politically or socially correct," also new terminology in this day and age.  It's what Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, and Lebron James do on a regular basis in the NBA, which Tucker Carlson nicely just exposed (also read here). The China and Hong Kong issue is a real test of sincerity on political and social matters that they flunked royally.  When they have risk involved, money from China, they shut up and dribble.  China says, we'll cut you off from audience here, and they capitulate (see this video).  No actual virtue.  Real virtue would require monetary sacrifice, but the NBA exists for monetary gain, so free speech goes and the people suffering in China won't get an advocate.  The NBA elites provide a standard answer of 'it's just too difficult to decipher the political situation,' which is a lie.

When the Apostle Paul commanded, "Be not conformed to this world" (Rom 12:2), which belies presenting one's body a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1), that applies today to virtue signaling.  The tendency, habit, or culture of virtue signaling in the world has spread to the the church or professing believers.  It reminds me of how the church took up marketing in the church growth movement.  This might be worse than that.

The Lord Jesus Christ commanded, preach the gospel, but people don't like the gospel.  The preaching of the cross is foolishness to the lost.  It's embarrassing.  Please stop, they say -- don't want to hear it.  So this makes the professing believer look bad to a favored group of people, which shouldn't be favored.

Then if the professing Christian won't preach the gospel, unless maybe it's very, very convenient and laid out on a silver platter, which it almost never is, then neither will he make disciples, the command of Jesus in the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20).  He rarely to never preaches the gospel and makes no disciples.  He's disobedient to Christ, but he calls himself a Christian.  Preaching the gospel and making disciples also clashes with a worldly life, one in which the professing Christian dresses immodestly, doesn't want give up his ungodly or pagan entertainment, or lost friends.  Here's a person that won't show practical righteousness that necessarily proceeds from justification by faith, maybe because there isn't salvation.  Instead he takes his cue from the world, and virtue signals.

I called virtue signaling "careless," because it doesn't really care.  This professing believer doesn't care.  If he cared, he would care about the eternal soul of others.  He would talk about a loving, majestic God instead of almost incessant worldly things.  He cares about looking like he cares without actually caring.  If there is an earthly issue that should provoke care, it would be to care enough to oppose abortion, the way over 860,000 defenseless human beings who were murdered last year in the United States.  That won't be mentioned, because that isn't popular either among those it's important to impress.

Someone who says he is a Christian supposedly understands eternal matters.  He knows why the earth was created by God.  The world itself isn't going to last.  Bring up Jesus Christ in a biblical way!  I say biblical, because sometimes Jesus is mentioned, but more as an afterword for what makes someone feel good when he's down.  The world would never know that Jesus is in his life.  The rest of his life doesn't conform to Jesus Christ.  He doesn't live like Jesus is His Lord.  Instead of saying, "Jesus," he says something like "my faith."

How is virtue signaled?  Evangelicals signal with race, same sex, and other social issues.  I'm not saying that whatever reality is there in those issues, that they don't matter.  They don't matter if someone who calls himself a Christian mentions almost only those issues.  Virtue signaling is self-promotion.  No one will suffer for being against racism, prejudice, suicide, PTSD, and sexual harassment.   Both the lost and the saved are against those things.  What about opposing homosexuality?  He might suffer for that and he wouldn't want anyone to know he's against it.  He really isn't for what God is for and against what God is against.  He's for himself, and when I say he, I mean he or she in the traditional, grammatical way.

In 1 Corinthians 15:33, Paul warned the Corinthian believers, "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners."  He commands, be not deceived, because it's easy to be deceived.  "Communications" is the Greek word, homoleia, which is about speeches.  The vibe of the world through social media, its speeches, corrupts good behavior.  It leads to an imitation of what the world does to look good.  The world doesn't have righteousness, except self-righteousness, which there is none.

The spirit of this age through social media is a test to the professing believer.  Will he concede to the world or will he take his stand to be a true Christian?  This is the trying of the faith that James talks about in chapter one (James 1:3).  It's not a difficult trial.  Apostates are allured by fleshly things (2 Peter 2).  It's not a credible test, just an alluring one.  It's enough to draw away someone, who just professes to be a Christian, but isn't one.  A difficult trial is mockery for preaching the gospel.  A difficult trial is the opposition to holy living, where a young lady dresses in a modest, feminine fashion that clashes with the world.  It marks her as a Christian.

It isn't even a trial to give up virtue signaling.  Virtue signaling is the replacement for trials that would come through real virtue.  Someone is not better when he virtue signals and doesn't obey the actual Bible.   Peter commands in 2 Peter 1, add to your faith virtue.  He isn't saying, add to your faith, virtue signaling.  No.  Those are different.  If you are going to be morally excellent as a practice, you have to do what Paul taught in Philippians 4:8, when he commanded, think on these things, one of which was, "if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things."  Virtue signaling doesn't effect virtuous thoughts and then actions, just the opposite.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Jessie Penn-Lewis: Christians Demon Possessed (part 12 of 22)

The content of this post is now available in the study of:

1.) Evan Roberts

2.) The Welsh Revival of 1904-1905

3.) Jessie Penn-Lewis

on the website. Please click on the people above to view the study.  On the FaithSaves website the PDF files may be easiest to read.


You are also encouraged to learn more about Keswick theology and its errors, as well as the Biblical doctrine of salvation, at the soteriology page at Faithsaves.

Monday, October 07, 2019

Brothers and Their Sisters

Scripture says a lot about the relationship with or responsibility of parents to children and children to parents.  Much instruction exists for the husband and wife relationship.  The Bible says less about siblings.  Overall, the Lord Jesus Christ taught something to siblings in Matthew 12:
46 While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
That is akin to Jesus' teaching in Matthew 19:29:
And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
Brothers and sisters should meditate on this, when they put their so-called relationships ahead of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Their relationship is headed for disaster when they do so -- the worst possible disaster.

I don't see anything unique about a sister and sister relationship in God's Word that is any different than a relationship with anyone else.  They feel a natural commitment to one another, which I understand through observation and reading.  It must be natural or else Proverbs 7:4 wouldn't say:
Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman.
That's about it though, besides several verses in the Old Testament that prohibit sisters from seeing each other in their nakedness.

As little as there is about sisters and sisters, there is little to nothing about brothers with brothers.  Like the sister, brothers have a natural closeness.  Proverbs 18:24 reads:
A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
I have a brother, and I understand this.  Brothers might fight with each other, especially as seen with Cain and Abel.  Mine was a little brother (although he became bigger than me), and we fought, but if someone threatened him, I was there for him.  I still am.  I want the absolute best for my brother.  What we do have is the example of Jesus with His brothers, and what did He do with them?

In the beginning of John 7, we see Jesus with his brothers.  They weren't aligned with each other in the truth.  They didn't believe in Him.  He told them the truth in verses 6-7:
My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready.  The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil.
The world could not hate them, because they were compatible with the world.  The world hated Him.  Jesus told them the truth, a general no-no, it seems, for families with different beliefs today.  It's what Jesus did though, whom we are to follow.  He didn't try to get along with them -- again, told them the truth, as a basis for whatever unity they would have.

However, the Bible has instruction for brothers and their sisters, all of it directed toward the brothers.  Brothers have a responsibility to their sisters.  When one considers everything being said in the Bible about this subject, it really is one responsibility of a brother to a sister:  protection -- and in particular protection of her purity.  A brother isn't there to entertain his sister, he's not there to give her a fun time, and he is not there for her to cheer him up or validate him.  We can point to Miriam saving her very, very little brother Moses, but that isn't laid out as a responsibility for a sister with her brother.

The brother to the sister shows up all over the Bible and all the same type of lesson.  I'm going to start with Song of Solomon 8.  In the context, the virginity of the Shulamite woman, Solomon's potential mate, is compared to a beautiful garden.  She is to protect it like disallowing a garden to be trampled by defrauders, but not just her.  Her brothers are also responsible by what we read in verses 8-9:
8 We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for? 9 If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.
They will be happy if she will take responsibility, but they also will be a part of it, by enclosing her with boards of cedar.  Are you doing this brother?  Are you allowing laxity to your sister?  Are you a window or a screen door, not paying attention to the ways your sister is being or might be defrauded?  Are you helping her spiritually to be submissive to her father (1 Corinthians 7:36-38), because that's what you would do if you were obedient to God?  What I'm writing is that there isn't just the physical protection, but the spiritual guidance that a real man, a biblical, godly man would provide.

This job of protection of a sister by brothers or a brother is seen in the example of Laban with Rebekah in Genesis 24:29-30:
And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well.  And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister's hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well.
Later she got permission from the brother to go and marry Isaac.  Of course, there was no father alive there, but this indicates the responsibility of the brother.  The worst example of this is Amnon with his sister Tamar in 2 Samuel 13.  I'm not going to get into the details of the story, but the brothers did not protect Tamar in the worst possible way.  All brothers should make sure that the reputation of their sisters are kept pure in the most complete way.  At one time in our culture, this meant a lot.  If that's not happening, that correction should be made, because in scripture that is the most important task of the brother.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

The Unambiguousness of the Standard or Definition of Nakedness in the Bible

In the comment section of a post about music, someone commented:
Is there any place in the Bible where God condemns Daisy Dukes? Being a dishwasher at a strip club?
Someone else made an earlier comment in answer to another person:
But until we can agree that God's Word is sufficient to give us the tools to evaluate all aspects of human behavior using the discernment that Paul prayed for on our behalf - even if not specifically addressed in Scripture - there is no point of pursuing this further.   If God provided us specific instruction in the Scriptures regarding every little detail of life, what would be the purpose of having discernment?
Later, someone wrote in answer to the first two questions:
Daisy Dukes - not sure - but I think that's tiny pants. The Bible does condemn indecent exposure. It speaks of women who come "dressed as a prostitute." Now, it doesn't address how tiny pants have to be to be indecent. But it does teach a category of illicit dress, even if today we don't know what exactly was illicit about it. And Jesus taught that looking with the purpose of lust is sin.
Later, the author of the first comment above responded:
So I assume by your response then that you care nothing about discernment, that the only things you don't do are those things specifically spelled out in the Bible? I can't see how a Christian could possibly live in that manner.
Regarding Daisy Dukes, you've got the (Leviticus 18, the prophets) question of exactly how much nakedness one can uncover before one is being seen as "available for a Biblically unlawful relationship", to put an idiom around it.  Regarding "being a dishwasher at a strip club", that's pretty straightforward as well; you're enabling the degradation of the women "performing" there, not to mention destroying the minds and morals of the men who watch.
These are fundamentalists or at least at a professing fundamentalist site in part discussing modesty or nakedness in the context of another conversation.  What you read is an inability or at least unwillingness to decide or say what immodesty or nakedness are.  This is new in Christian history.  It hasn't been a problem in the past, not just for fundamentalism or practitioners of personal separation in the church, but for all of professing Christianity.  The morality of "Daisy Dukes" wouldn't have needed discussion -- they would be universally condemned by all Christians.  Relativism has invaded and captivated Christianity, including fundamentalism.  Men won't judge what is nakedness anymore.  They either don't know, they're lying, or they're afraid.

Can we judge without ambiguity what nakedness or nudity is?  In the past everyone could.  Even the world knew.  After the world rejected objective modesty, Christians hung on, and now they have capitulated.  Modesty itself as a concept is taught by some, but unambiguous modesty, that can be practiced or even enforced if needs be, has been abdicated.  Can it be judged?

First, there is such a thing as nakedness.  The word and the varied related words are used 114 times (naked--47, nakedness--57).  Something is happening that someone is supposed to know.  And it's bad.  It starts right at the beginning of the Bible, when Adam and Eve know they are naked and that it's bad (Genesis 3:7).  When they make clothes out of fig leaves, the most rudimentary understanding of scripture knows that God finds what they made insufficient, so He made something more and better (Genesis 3:21).  Something less than what God made is unacceptable. 

When Thomas Jefferson argued for a Declaration of Independence, he mentioned "the Laws of Nature and Nature's God" and "truths to be self-evident."  Are there self-evident truths revealed by the Laws of Nature and Nature's God?  The founding fathers believed so and argued to people they thought would respect that as an argument, men with a similar culture, what could be called a premodern one.

The Apostle Paul makes reference to the same legitimate authority in 1 Corinthians 11:14:  "Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?"  Self-evident truths are taught by nature, even as also seen from Paul in Romans 2:14, "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves."  God reveals His will through scripture, but also through nature, making Gentiles guilty before God for breaking God's law.  They couldn't be guilty if these things couldn't be known.  They can be known.  They are self-evident.  Even nature teaches certain things.

Is the standard for modesty, an objective, unambiguous one taught by nature?  I believe there is evidence to say that it is, like a lot of other beliefs and practices.  Christians, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, for millennia agreed that certain body parts must be covered for everyone in even more so for women.  Only recently has there been a repudiation of that idea, and by going only along with the world system, conforming to the spirit of the age.  This unanimity itself is self-evident.

Scripture speaks about modesty and the antithetical nakedness in objective, unambiguous terms.  I'm going to speak of one standard in particular that relate to the "Daisy Dukes" that started this post.  Isaiah 47:1-3 read:
1 Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate. 2 Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers. 3 Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.
"Uncover[ing] the thigh" equals "thy nakedness shall be uncovered" and "shame shall be seen."  Nakedness is a shame as seen in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.  These female prisoners being forcibly marched into captivity are shamed by the exposure of their thighs, when crossing a river.

The only controversy language-wise is whether the Hebrew word for thigh is the upper leg or the whole leg.  It's at least the upper leg.  That's what thigh means, and that starts with the knee.  "Daisy Dukes" show the thigh.  Any showing of the woman's thigh is nakedness.   Scripture says it.

A reason why Christian women are showing their thighs is that church leaders aren't providing an unambiguous standard or definition of nakedness.  A second is the lack of shame.  This relates to the word "shamefacedness" in 1 Timothy 2:9, which is the concept of modesty in the New Testament.  A Christian is to dress in a way that she will not be ashamed, which is to be modest or not naked.  A third reason is wordliness, conforming to the world and fashioning one's self according to the former lust (Rom 12:2, 1 Pet 1:14).  Especially young professing Christian women don't want to stick out in a world that is bereft of modesty.   This is fear of man that is a snare.

When Christian women show their thighs, they are inviting lust from men.  They are causing a temptation to sin.  The fathers and brothers are leaving these young women unprotected and objects of male desire.  This isn't safe.  It's also defrauding a future husband.  It's for his eyes only, but she is exhibiting herself for anyone who wants to look.  Much more could be said, but this is not Christian behavior, not conduct becoming the gospel of Christ.  For someone, who professes light, it is walking as a child of darkness.  Stop it.  Please stop it.

One more thing.  As the definition relates to religious movements, a cult is a social group with  deviant or novel beliefs and practices.  A novel belief or practice is new, something that hasn't been practiced before.  In cult-like fashion, people have been convinced that a cult must be very, very devoted, so it would be "strict," adding that to their own personalized definition. World-loving people like to throw the "cult" word around, but in fact, the people using the word "cult" are cult-like, because they have tossed out biblical belief and practice for something novel.  Yes, the new thing is alluring to the flesh, but it is not biblical.  It's also got devotion, because it's devotion to self and the flesh, that is cult-like.  In the end, it's not going to be who called someone a cult that's the problem, but who left behind biblical belief and practice for something novel to have the temporal thing coveted in the world.

Friday, October 04, 2019

Clear Gospel Tracts

At various times people have asked me about clear gospel tracts that they can use in their ministries. I have a number that can be downloaded and used by Bible-believing Baptist churches at the "All Content" link on my website.  There are many Independent Baptist printing ministries that will publish gospel tracts and pamphlets as well as printing the Bible, and you can compare what they would charge to print gospel tracts with what a local publisher would charge to see if it is better to print tracts with a church-run work or whether the shipping costs involved make a local publisher superior.  The tracts below can all fit on one 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper, and can be printed professionally as bi-folds or tri-folds, or even have many copies made on a simple copy machine.  I have passed out large numbers of tracts with the content below, and numbers of other churches and brethren have done likewise.  An example of what they can look like as tri-folds is below:

1.) The tract the "Most Important Message" can be downloaded as a Microsoft Word file here.  I like the "Most Important Message" tract because it has a clear gospel presentation and links at the back for common questions people have; you can personalize that information to fit your church's ministries.

2.) The "Do You Know You Have Eternal Life?" is a careful standard gospel tract; the MS Word file can be dowloaded here.

3.) "Prepare for Judgment" contains a clear presentation of the positive side of the gospel, but it is mainly designed to awaken the lost, which is very worthwhile.  Today the vast majority of the lost are unawakened and careless, and they need to hear strong warnings on the coming judgment of God.  "Prepare for Judgment" is available for MS Word here.

4.) The "God and Science" is a simple overview of why God and science are friends, not enemies; it is not specifically a gospel tract, but it deals with a very common reason people reject the gospel. It is available in MS Word also.

The tracts above can also all be downloaded at the "All Content" link as well.

If your Bible-believing and practicing church wishes to use any of the tracts above, I would be happy for that to happen.  If you translate them into other languages, please let me know and I will be happy to make the translations available as well.  I do not mind if minor changes are made to these tracts, but if your church denies the Biblical doctrine of repentance or holds to other corruptions of the gospel, such as the false teaching that justification can be lost, annihilationism, etc., please do not use my gospel tracts.  Write your own.  But if your church is sound, please feel free to use them if they help your proclamation of Christ's glorious gospel.


Tuesday, October 01, 2019

The Incongruity of Country and Jesus

Country music arose in the 1920s from the American South, also the so-called Bible belt, beginning with the first family of country music, The Carter Family.  The Carters were raised under the influence of gospel music, an earlier iteration than even country.  However, their "gospel" also influenced country.  "Gospel,"  which was a distortion, and increasingly so, of the actual saving gospel, originated from late nineteenth century revivalism, even as did the Charismatic movement in the United States.  Revivalism, Gospel, Charismaticism, and Country dovetail at the Carters.  One of the original three Carters, Maybelle, had a daughter, June, who married Johnny Cash, her second husband and his second wife.

One of the most notable of the Carter songs remains one of the most famous ever country songs, Will the Circle Be Unbroken.  The song is sung every year at the induction ceremony of the Country Music Hall of Fame.  Its lyrics concern the death, funeral, and mourning of the narrator's mother, the hope being that she went to heaven.

Some of the earliest country "hits" were explicitly religious in nature.  The Grand Old Opry, the longest running radio broadcast in United States history, was held at Union Gospel Auditorium in Nashville, TN from 1943 to 1974, with its peaked, stained glass windows and wooden church pews.  The Johnny Cash Show ran 58 episodes from 1979 to 1981, each ending with a "gospel song" in honor to a promise he made his mother.

For education purposes, I watched the just produced Ken Burns's documentary on PBS, Country Music.  Maybe he misrepresents country.  For the most part, I don't think so.  Nothing in country is a true gospel.  Country isn't reverent at all.  I don't see any indications of biblical sanctification in a single country singer in the history of country music.  Many of the stories are alcohol, fornication, foul language, divorce, drugs, and partying.  For some, church follows on a Sunday morning after a Saturday night of lasciviousness.  It is not a gospel of actual repentance or a true, scriptural Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus is a placebo.

Many country stars and heroes learned music in religious homes and honed in revivalist churches, only to use it for sin and self-gratification.  I don't know every history, but it would break my heart as a parent.  No Christian, country western star or legend, Kenny Chesney, recorded the song, Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, that matches the philosophy of country.  Nancy Pearcy in her book, Total Truth, writes, "Artists are often the barometers of society, and by analyzing the worldviews embedded in their works we can learn a great deal about how to address the modern mind more effectively."  Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven is a song about a man explaining his life to a preacher, one of alcohol and immorality, and Chesney sings first as the preacher:
"Don’t you wanna hear him call your name
When you’re standin’ at the pearly gates?"
I told the preacher, "Yes I do
But I hope he don’t call today."
Chesney knows of what he speaks.  That sounds like country to me.  Just keep kicking that can down the road, or even better, conform your view of the grace of God and even God Himself to your licentious desires or tastes.  Michael Ray sings a song, titled, Real Men Love Jesus, with this chorus:
They like Saturday nights out on the town,
Sunday morning coming down,
A pretty girl out on the dance floor spinnin’,
Round and round and round,
Cold beer and a dirty hand,
Calling home every chance they can,
To say, ‘I love you’,
They don’t need a reason,
Real men love Jesus.
The conclusion of the chorus reflects nothing that is sung before it.  Real men dance and drink beer and call home, and, oh, love Jesus -- not the Jesus of the Bible.  Trace Adkins in his song, Jesus and Jones, ends with the words:
I need to find a little middle ground
Between ‘let ’er rip’ and settlin’ down
Christianity is not a pursuit of middle ground, although this is what I witness of the professing Christians who are also country music fans.  The faith of the Bible is not a resolution between one side and the other.  It is the choice of just the one and the rejection of the other.

Country music always has been and especially today is an attempt at validating a selfish lifestyle that is in no way biblical or honoring to God.  It cheapens faith and distorts the gospel, leaving its adherents twice the children of hell they once were.