Biblical Evaluation of “church” in America, pt. 1

Dozens of authors and bloggers have already weighed in their opinions on “what’s wrong with the American church,” and it really seems that any further additions will be superfluous. Last week, however, I happened to see this video parody, and it made me curious.

25 years ago, I began attending a local church which, at the time, had about 150 people. Today, it is a full-blown megachurch, boasting 14,000 members (though in actuality, those numbers probably take into account anyone who has ever been there, not those who currently attend – IMO).

Since it’s been about 16 years since I attended this church, and I have since been in very small, and very conservative  assemblies, I thought I would check out their “young people’s group” on Friday night. Even though I felt like I could have probably scripted the entire meeting just from having attended there for 9 years, and from seeing  the volumes of videos on the Internet, there were 2 reasons compelling me to attend. One reason was for my own personal amusement. I wanted to see how closely this group’s meeting aligned with the parody video I referenced above. The other reason was to be able to speak intelligently to any young person, especially my own 6 children, about what I think is good and what is wrong with such a meeting. Or, to put it more correctly, what I see that is biblical, and what I see that is not biblical. It didn’t seem right to be confronted by someone saying, “Oh, well you’ve never been there, so you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Wrong. Been there.

Admittedly, I have not been there consistently, and I don’t plan to be a regular attender, so there is the potential that what I observed could be “out of context,” but, I’m pretty confident that what happened there last Friday was representative of a typical Friday night’s meeting. All in all, though, I hope to engage young people on a scriptural basis. Hopefully, there may be some young people out there who are willing to sift through scripture to see if their meeting lines up with what pleases God and with what He has established as a pattern for us in our worship and service of Him. This should, in theory, avoid the accusation, “You don’t like it because you’re old,” or “It’s not part of your generation, so you won’t be able to relate.” Since the Word of God transcends generations, and concepts of young and old, we should be able to evaluate a meeting like this, or any other meeting, for that matter, even a very small, very conservative one.

To be continued in “Biblical Evaluation of ‘church’ in America, Part 2.”

Thanks for reading.

-Tracy

A Prime Minister with guts

jamaicaPMThis story is reported on CrossTalk blog.

It’s pretty rare that any leader of any country would take a stand like this. I’m not sure why he is doing so, but I applaud his stance.

Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding said the country’s parliament would not recognize same-sex marriage while he was in power.

“I make no apology in saying decisively and emphatically that the government of Jamaica remains irrevocably opposed to the recognition, legitimization or acceptance of same-sex marriages or same-sex unions,” Golding said on Tuesday.

“There is the possibility that sometime in the future parliament could pass a law that says same-sex unions are legal but it won’t be done in this parliament. Not as long as I sit here.”

But he stressed “I will not accept it that homosexuality must be accepted as a legitimate form of behavior or the equivalent of marriage.”

Thanks for reading.

-Tracy

Do you need a swift kick in the backside?

“Our young men are going into the professional fields because they don’t ‘feel called’ to the mission field. We don’t need a call; we need a kick in the pants.

We must begin thinking in terms of ‘going out,’ and stop our weeping because ‘they won’t come in.’”

-Jim Eliot

(Quote provided by Missions Mandate blog for August 11, 2009)

How NOT to preach to Muslims…

…or Mormons, or JW’s, or anyone else for that matter. Having said that, I do very much appreciate the knowledge demonstrated of the Koran by Mr. Nabeel Qureshi, and his ability to enter into the mind of the Muslim. Nevertheless, I think their approach is self-serving and gospel-defeating.

You can see all 5 videos over at Defending Contending.

-Tracy

Everyone’s not right

Paul Washer

Paul Washer

We live in an age of Pluralism – a belief system that puts an end to truth by declaring everything to be true, especially with regard to religion. It may be difficult for the contemporary Christian to comprehend, but the Christians living in the first few centuries of the faith were actually marked and persecuted as atheists. The culture surrounding them was immersed in theism. The world was filled with images of deities, and religion was a booming business. Men not only tolerated one another’s deities but also swapped and shared them. The entire religious world was going along just fine until the Christians showed up and declared that, “gods made with hands are no gods at all.” They denied the Caesars the homage they demanded, refused to bend the knee to all other so-called gods, and confessed Jesus alone as Lord of all. The entire world looked on such jaw-dropping arrogance and reacted with fury against the Christian’s intolerable intolerance to tolerance.

This same scenario abounds in our world today. Against all logic, we are told that all views regarding religion and morality are true, no matter how radically different and contradictory they may be. The most overwhelming aspect of all this is that through the tireless efforts of the media and the academic world, this has
quickly become the majority view. Nevertheless, pluralism does not address the issue or cure the malady. It only anesthetizes the patient so that he no longer feels or thinks. The Gospel is a scandal because it awakens man from his slumber and refuses to let him rest on such an illogical footing. It forces him to come to some conclusion – “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is
God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” The true Gospel is radically exclusive. Jesus is not “a” way, but “the” way, and all other ways are no way at all. If Christianity would only move one small step toward a more tolerant ecumenicalism and change the definite article “the” for the indefinite article “a”, the scandal would be removed, and the world and Christianity could become friends. However,
whenever this occurs, Christianity ceases to be Christianity, Christ is denied, and the world is without a Savior.

An excerpt of an article by Paul Washer in the Nov. – Dec. issue of HeartCry Magazine, published by HeartCry Missionary Society.

Open Theology under the microscope of God’s Word

Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards

In the 18th century, Jonathan Edwards wrote the following:

“First, I am to prove, that God has an absolute and certain foreknowledge of the free actions of moral agents. One would think it should be wholly needless to enter on such an argument with any that profess themselves Christians: but so it is, God’s certain foreknowledge of the free acts of moral agents is denied by some that pretend to believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God; especially of late.”

There is a contemporary system of “theology” (if you can dare to call it that) known as Open Theology which has as its core tenets, the notion that God does not know the future and that he simply has to react to the free will decisions of man. So, in short, the future is “open” and not even God knows what will happen in it.

There is a book – I don’t know if it was ever popular or not – called, “God of the Possible,” by Greg Boyd, which lays the groundwork for many of the “doctrines” of

Greg Boyd, author of "God of the Possible"

Greg Boyd, author of "God of the Possible"

Open Theology. As I read the book a few years ago, it was very interesting to find out that the main proof-text that the author cites as beginning his odyssey into Open Theism is the one where King Hezekiah prayed after receiving word that he was going to die and, supposedly, God, affected by Hezekiah’s prayer, changed His mind, and gave Hezekiah 15 more years to live. What was interesting about Boyd’s use of that as a proof of the “openness” of the future is that about 250 years before Hezekiah was born, it was prophesied that God would raise up a king of Judah in the lineage of David named Josiah. Josiah was Hezekiah’s grandson, born to Hezekiah’s son who was born after Hezekiah’s life was spared. So, if Hezekiah had died, there would have been no Josiah.

But, as I am not really qualified to critique Boyd’s book, I thought I would post a helpful link to an examination of it and the system of Open Theology. Following is a brief excerpt.

In his latest book, Dr. Boyd states his position this way: “God determines whatever he sees fit and leaves as much of the future open to possibilities as he sees fit. The God of the possible creates the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ structure of world history and of our lives within which the possibilities of human free choice are actualized.”7 He states this position again in another section of his book: “God predestines and foreknows as settled whatever he sees fit to predestine and foreknow as settled.”8 In this view, some of the future is predetermined and some of it is not.  I, for one, cannot understand how God can decide what aspect of the future to choose to foreknow unless the future is already laid open before His eyes, in which case it is foreknown. I will leave that conundrum for others to grapple with. According to the “open” view, future choices of free moral agents are in the category of being unknowable to God and not determined by God.9 The rest of this article will examine some of the texts that are used to support the open view of God.

Thanks for reading, and I hope this post is helpful.

-Tracy

The New Calvinism… I don’t like it

One of the neo-Calvinist preachers wearing his appropriately-themed pulpit attire

One of the neo-Calvinist preachers wearing his appropriately-themed pulpit attire

The Metropolitan Tabernacle in London was once the pastoral home of C. H. Spurgeon, one of the last in the line of exceptional English preachers/pastors. Spurgeon published a periodical called The Sword & The Trowel. Today, that publication is once again carried on by those at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, and it appears that they are striving to retain some of the spirit and zeal of their famous predecesor, Mr. Spurgeon.

Though I would not categorize myself as a Calvinist, I do consider this to be a worthwhile article. There are many who do not accept the label of Calvinist because we do not adhere to many of the other tenets of Calvin’s teachings, however those things which are typically considered to be the Doctrines of Grace are believed to be scriptural, and therefore, we usually get labeled as Calvinists.

Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Master’s article.

When I was a youngster and newly saved, it seemed as if the chief goal of all zealous Christians, whether Calvinistic or Arminian, was consecration. Sermons, books and conferences stressed this in the spirit of Romans 12.1-2, where the beseeching apostle calls believers to present their bodies a living sacrifice, and not to be conformed to this world. The heart was challenged and stirred. Christ was to be Lord of one’s life, and self must be surrendered on the altar of service for him.

But now, it appears, there is a new Calvinism, with new Calvinists, which has swept the old objectives aside…

You cannot have Puritan soteriology without Puritan sanctification. You should not entice people to Calvinistic (or any) preaching by using worldly bait. We hope that young people in this movement will grasp the implications of the doctrines better than their teachers, and come away from the compromises. But there is a looming disaster in promoting this new form of Calvinism.

I could not agree more with Dr. Masters and hope that this new “breed” of Calvinists soon pass away in the graveyard of “relevance.”

You cannot have Puritan soteriology without Puritan sanctification. You should not entice people to Calvinistic (or any) preaching by using worldly bait. We hope that young people in this movement will grasp the implications of the doctrines better than their teachers, and come away from the compromises. But there is a looming disaster in promoting this new form of Calvinism.