Every Time Every Human Speaks

The times I’ve been charged with “teaching Christianity in a public school” make me laugh a little bit.

It’s as though administrators, principals, parents, and students think that Christians have some sort of other belief system, apart from their own, that is worthy of alienation. Of course, we know this is simply the world loving the darkness more than the light, because their deeds are evil (John 1). And we were once in the darkness, too.

IMG_7399 (1)

But the whole “stop talking about religion in public” is nonsense for another reason: every time every human being speaks, we are speaking our own belief system. For one person to tell another, “Don’t talk about your beliefs,” is to act like the speaker has no beliefs. But the truth is that we all speak our beliefs, every moment of every day.

To tell a Christian to drop the Bible is like telling a postmodern to stop speaking about scientism, neo-Marxism, or relativism. The postmodern literally cannot stop. It’s what she believes in.

We can talk about “separation of church and state” nonsense all day long, but it will never happen because it is a false dichotomy. Every time every human speaks, he speaks his worldview. Just be honest with each other, and lay those beliefs on the table.

Each of us has a belief system. None of them, on the basis of our own faith, is more or less true than another. In other words, nothing is absolutely true just because I believe it. Instead, all beliefs, and their systems, stand or fall based on their historical, internal, and supernatural veracity. And the Bible is the only one that passes any of the three (and all three at that!).

Thus, biblical faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the only worldview that has full historical, internal, and supernatural truth. It stands beneath no other worldview, but it supreme above them all – because Jesus is supreme.

When we talk to those in the kingdom of the darkness, we must love them enough to care for their very souls. The first step is laying our beliefs on the table, explaining them, and asking the unbeliever to do the same. Only then can we have honest conversation that is out of the darkness and into the light.

Jesus Speaks

Of Scripture, Evangelism, and Unbelief

It was a sunny January Tuesday as I worked at my public cubicle in a nearby coffee shop. I noticed two men discussing (false) theology behind me, but I had chatted with one before and thought I’d leave well enough alone.

As their conversation, and the general noise level, rose, I popped on my headphones. The tunes help me focus. They blocked out the noise for a time, but then, cutting through the chatter, I heard the words, “All roads lead to God.”

IMG_7398 (1)

 

And maybe, by the power of Holy Spirit, came a holy zeal. A zeal for the glory of God. Or maybe I just wanted to be right. Either way, it was an open statement in a public place that slaps the Savior in the face. It was time to speak.

Here’s how it began:

Britt: You believe that’s true?
John: Well, I was just quoting someone.
B: But you believe it, too.
J: Well, yeah. I’m a Muslim, and I married a Christian woman! We get along just fine, as long as we talk about what we agree on.
B: I’m glad you are able to get along well with your wife, but Christ and Islam have nothing to agree on. Jesus says He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Him.
J: Why are you judging me, telling me I’m wrong?
B: I’m not telling you. Jesus is. I’m just repeating what He said.
J: But I don’t believe that book you are quoting.
B: It doesn’t matter. He still said it.
J: I believe those gospel writers changed things he said.
B: Really? Were you there? Because I wasn’t and neither was Mohammed. I trust the first-person sources.

The world wants us to lay down our swords, as Voddie Baucham so eloquently puts it, and play their game on their terms. We must say, “No. Jesus has spoken.”

Regardless of what hell-bent lost people like John and so many others think, Jesus has spoken. And we are His ambassadors, His messengers, His missionaries, His servants. We are not allowed to change the message. If we do, Proverbs calls this kind of failed messenger a “fool” (Prov. 26:6).

So don’t be a fool and try to maim God’s Word. Jesus still speaks: to us, in us, and through us by the Holy Spirit with the Word. We know what He says. Just say it to other humans because you love them, you love God’s glory, and you fear for their souls apart from Jesus Christ.

Shearing a Wolf’s Wool

Lots of writers do lots of write-y things with words. Some of them are good, some are bad, and some are just plain evil. The ones that are hard to detect are what the Bible calls “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” These are leaders, thinkers, and wordsmiths who cloak lies in truth-y language. However, once we learn the rules of solid biblical interpretation, the wolves lose their wool.

Once such wolf is Morgan (MA) Guyton. He writes at various places on liberal “Christian” issues, often twisting text after text to suit an agenda. In other pieces, he denounces the importance of a theological faith and decries belief in penal substitution. He also likes to twist the Bible to defend homosexuality.

Tuesday, Guyton posted “Six scriptures I would use to address Kevin DeYoung’s 40 questions for rainbow flag-waving Christians,” a sort of response to the aforementioned first piece by Rev. DeYoung. He first lauds other pro-sodomy responders (leaving out this excellent response by Douglas Wilson) before launching into his torturing of six biblical texts. 

This is the Word of God, let me remind you, that Guyton is handling. Let all the beasts of the field be silent before Him. We’ll take them in Guyton’s ordering, but with a more open Bible and a less “open” mind:

1.  Matthew 9:13: “Go and find out what this means: ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice’”

As will become a theme in our examination of these texts, Guyton has conveniently taken this one out of context. In Jesus’ quote of Hosea 6:6, He addresses the Pharisees’ fear of contamination around obvious sinners. True enough, and Guyton is right to call for association with and around sinners:

If Jesus’ interpretation of Hosea 6:6 summarizes God’s basic demand for humanity, which I think it does, then what God most wants from us is our radical hospitality for other people, not our willingness to make sacrifices to show how much we “glorify” him.

But this is what makes wolves so hard to spot: Guyton implies that this “mercy” removes the naming of sin as sin. But Jesus doesn’t shy away from naming these obvious sins; He never does. This is part of His “mercy.” A quick trip back to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) or ahead to His diatribe against divorce (Matthew 19) shows us just how serious sexual immorality is to Jesus, and how seriously He loves us out of those sins.

Homosex is no less than, but is equal to and worse than, other forms of sexual immorality. It is serious enough that Jesus gave His own blood to save us from (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Hosea 6-7 has a more colorful explanation in the near context, one which Guyton conveniently forgets. In 6:5, God says He has already “hewn them [Ephraim and Judah] by the prophets… slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light.” God has already delivered the law to His disobedient Israel, and judged them for it. How did they disobey? He calls their temple a place of “whoredom..defiled” in 6:10, and names them all “adulterers” in 7:4. Clearly, sexual immorality is in view.

What Jesus means then, in desiring mercy to sinners and not sacrifice, is that we are wrong when we think removing ourselves from others’ pain and sin looks good to God. This sinful arrogance is no holiness. What He doesn’t mean is that holiness is of no issue, or that there are no more sins. “Mercy,” Mr. Guyton, does not mean the removal of law or of repentance.

Jesus is the most supremely merciful human being (and God) to ever live, and he both ate with these sinners and called them to repentance from their very real, very present sins (parallel in Luke 5:32). In other words, sodomy is still wrong under this text.

2. Genesis 2:18: “It is not good that the man should be alone.”

Here Guyton begins more subtle appeals to the prima facie position that homosexuality is natural, normal, and allowable. He picks a doozy of a text to work from, the very place where God gives the man a woman for special companionship. After quickly tossing aside the creation account as “allegorical story” rather than “historical event,” Guyton is free to interpret as he pleases. He sees the main point of the text not as God giving himself glory, but rather “to provide the man with companionship.” Conveniently, to Guyton, the gender of said companion matters not. He then clarifies his meaning:

Now it’s true that our culture’s idolatry of marriage and the nuclear family (largely orchestrated by evangelical Christianity) has left us with a very diminished imagination for how companionship and community can occur between people, but if we’re using Genesis 2:18 as a moral guide for us, then it’s not good for gay people to be alone just so that fundamentalists can have an easier time interpreting their Bibles.

Notice the lengthy ad hominem against evangelicals. In other words, it is a bad historical tradition, not this text, that teaches one man-one woman marriage. But to say that this passage even allows for Adam-to-Adam companionship in marriage is to make an argument against the text. 

And talk about out of context! Guyton doesn’t even finish the verse, let alone the rest of the chapter. This is deception of a supreme grade. What the text says next (!!!) is that God “makes” a “helper fit for him [Adam].” None of those words are accidental.

What actually happens in the biblical text is that God gives the man a companion, who is specifically and importantly a woman. God even fits her for him. This is no accidental connection in the text. One man-one woman marriage is the precise application of this text according to verse 24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

“Man, his, his, his wife, one flesh.” These are all words Guyton has excised from his “bible” in lieu of a more palatable interpretation. This is precisely what wolves do.

3. Mark 2:27: “The Sabbath was made for humanity, not humanity for the Sabbath.”

The context of Mark 2 shows that Jesus is discussing what is good and lawful for the Sabbath. The Pharisees (to Guyton, these are often Bible-believing evangelicals, as we will see) charge Jesus with law-breaking. So he jumps to proof-texting:

This is precisely where the fault-line is between Christians like me and the fundamentalists. They need for there to be some Biblical laws that have no other explanation than “because God said so” or “for the sake of God’s glory.” If every law has an explanation in terms of its benefits for humanity, they think it takes away God’s sovereignty and leaves us with nothing more than secular humanism.

This seems like quite a leap. To Gutyon, if Jesus says the Sabbath is for humanity, then all of our understandings of God’s laws are also thrown out the window! 

The problem is that the author again “forgets” the second half of even one thought: “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” The point isn’t that Jesus is a LGBTQ-approving humanist; the point is that He rules and reorients everything to Himself. This has always been the point of marriage (see Genesis 2 in Ephesians 5, for instance), Mosaic law (the “tutor to Christ” in Galatians 3), and our bodies in general (Genesis 1:27f referenced in 1 Corinthains 6:20).

Apparently Guyton is uncomfortable here with translating the word anthropos as “man,” but that’s a separate – though related – line of questioning.

4. Romans 14:14: “I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.”

It’s hard to get more ridiculous than #2, but this one sure does try. The text speaks of church members arguing over food (14:2) and day-observance (14:5f). The “nothing in itself is unclean” doesn’t refer to sexual license, because Paul summarizes it as “eating and drinking” in verse 17. 

Guyton doesn’t think so: 

Nothing is unclean in itself, but many things are unclean because of how our mind covets idols instead of God.

In Guyton’s terms, as long as we can maintain “our attentiveness to the presence of God in our lives and our ability to experience the bliss of union with Christ,” anything is permissible. Christian experience (Theme alert!) is the new rule of faith, not Scripture. If you can say you still love and experience God, Guyton teaches, go lay with anyone – man, woman, child, relative, animal – you please.

That might sound overstated, but it’s exactly the outcome of Guyton’s teaching.

5. 1 Corinthians 7:32, 35: “I want you to be free from anxieties… I say this for your own benefit not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.”

The soft wool of a wolf is when he says he follows sheep-flavored rules of interpretation. So Guyton nods along, “The best way to build a sexual ethic from the apostle Paul’s teachings is to look at Paul’s explicit rationale when he is directly offering prescriptive teaching about sexuality (1 Corinthians 7).” The problem is that this text isn’t the chair text; Ephesians 5 is. Ephesians 5 is gives the highest and clearest meaning to marriage: the glory of Jesus Christ in the church, His bride, a whore made a glorious woman. This text is driven by questions from the Corinthian church (7:1), but that still doesn’t allow it to be queerly twisted.

Guyton disagrees: “I believe that any Christian conversation about sexuality should use 1 Corinthians 7 as a foundation.” Thus, the author’s willful inattention to Ephesians 5 is why he can write things like: 

When Paul talks to the Corinthians directly about sex, he doesn’t say that marriage is the way that they will show the world how Christ loves the church or anything like that. He offers marriage as a “concession, not a command” (1 Corinthians 7:6) “because of cases of sexual immorality” (v. 2). In 1 Corinthians 7, marriage is fundamentally a question of social pragmatism.

with a straight face. Paul doesn’t teach that marriage is the paradigm for Christ’s love for the church?!? Have you lost Ezekiel 16, Hosea 1-3, Ephesians 5, and Revelation 19 from your “bible,” Mr. Guyton? What utter nonsense.

In a separate post on the same text, Guyton elaborates: 

So to me, the burden of proof for a Christian who wants to maintain an opposition to homosexuality is to demonstrate why and how monogamous same-gendered sexual intimacy clutters people with anxiety, contradicts good community order, or hinders devotion to God. These are not just proof-texts; they are more than speculative translations of obscure Greek words or mentions in passing of what Paul thinks is “unnatural.” They are reliable ethical principles for a community’s sexuality that Paul presents as such.

There is no “burden of proof for a Christian who wants to maintain an opposition to homosexuality,” and, even if there were one, it certainly isn’t demonstrating how sodomy is bad for our minds, communities, or personal faith experience. The place to look, Mr. Guyton, is in Scripture. Lots of texts, omitted from your false exposition, speak clearly.

Furthermore, say this text, however, even allows homo-practice is to make yet another argument from silence, and a particularly obvious one. Paul covers the gamut of known, lawful situations for marriage and for singleness. He nowhere covers sodomy, because it isn’t in his purview of Christian marital or singleness arrangements. In this text, that might sound like an argument from silence, except that he makes it quite plain in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 6. 1 Corinthians, in case he lost his place, is in the chapter immediately before. 

6. Matthew 25:40 “Just as you have done to the least of my brethren, you have done for me.”

Here comes an appeal to pity. Guyton calls this verse an extension of Hosea 6:6 (dealt with in #1 above), summarizing with, “The way that we honor God’s sovereignty insofar as queer people are concerned is by treating the queer people in our lives as though they are Jesus and asking them to pray that Jesus would live in our hearts also.” He again conveniently “forgets” the context.

The context of Matthew 25:31-48, the famed “Sheep and Goats” passage, is the professing church. Note that the kingdom is prepared for the sheep “from the foundation of the world” (25:34) and that the sheep loving, feeding, and housing the poor is done to “My brothers” (25:40). “Queer” people, to use Guyton’s term, are excluded until they repent (1 Cor. 6:9-11). So this text doesn’t work for that purpose.

Secondly, the goats are the ones who refuse to love Christians (25:41-48) and go to “eternal punishment” (25:46). Unrepentant homosexuals hate the Word of God, and, if they do come to a “Christian” “church”, either hate Him actively, or hate Him implicitly by remaking Him in their own image.

It is a lie, a dirty, dirty trick, to use this text to promote loving homosexuals apart from repentance, when their very lack of repentance is the warning for which this passage was written. In other words, unloving, unrepentant LGBTQ men and women, whether they attend “church” or not, are goats. They are not sheep, not brothers; the unrepentant are goats.

Concluding Questions for Mr. Guyton…

  1. What does “call sinners to repentance” mean in Luke 5:32? Did Jesus call sexually immoral sinners, like the prostitute, to turn away from sexual immorality, or not?
  2. What bearing do Genesis 2:18b (which you forgot in your exposition) and the end of the passage (2:24-25) have on your interpretation of Genesis 2:18a?
  3. Does the Sabbath being made for man mean that sodomy was made for man? If so, how does sodomy picture Christ and His church, as taught plainly in Ephesians 5?
  4. Does Romans 14:14 also teach that bestiality is permissible for Christians, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their experience of God and the bliss of union with Christ?
  5. If a believing community were to approve of consensual incest, would this be permissible under your interpretation of Paul’s sexual ethics from 1 Corinthians 7?
  6. What does the phrase “My brothers” mean in Matthew 25:40? What about in places like Matthew 12:50 and Matthew 18:21f? Could it possibly mean “everyone” in any of those passages?
  7. What place does the word “repentance” have in any of these texts? How exactly is sodomy not a sin to be repented of?

…and a Charge

Mr. Guyton, if you can write things like, “When I use these criteria [1 Cor. 7], I find pedophilia, incest, polygamy, bestiality, promiscuity, pornography, and adultery to be out of bounds, while monogamous straight and gay companionship are legitimate,” then you are a wolf without question. I am praying for your very soul as I write this, and these words are surely harsh. I pray the Lord waken you from death in your sins. He is life, He is truth, He is good. Repent of your unbelief in His Word, the person of His Son, and turn to Him.

But if you will not repent, please at least be honest with your family, church, ministry, and writing audience that you do not believe the Bible on its own terms. Resign from whatever posts you have that are associated with Christ, and stop trampling His name to advance your unbelieving interpretations.

You are tearing at the body of Jesus, for whom He gave His life. He will not take it lightly on the last day.

Dear Pastor, Do Your Job

What do I do with this?

What do I do with this?

According to a multiplicity of biblical texts like Mark 1:15, Ephesians 4:10-15, 2 Timothy 4:1-5, and Hebrews 13:7, the pastor’s job is to preach the Bible for the glory of God:

  • His job is not to be a community organizer; his job is to preach the gospel that might get him stoned.
  • His job is not to meet with other pastors and become well-known; his job is to teach the Bible so well that every man under his charge might well become a pastor.
  • His job is not to counsel the hurting sheep but to feed all the hungry sheep, including the hurting. Counseling may follow preaching, but it must not precede it.
  • His job is not to attract unbelievers; his job is to preach the gospel and believe that God will bring whomever He may will.
  • His job is not to manage services, though the preaching ought to well flow in congregational worship. His job is to preach the gospel as an act of worship both to the God who spoke His Word and to bring the people to worship this same God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • His job is not to manage the church like a business; His job is to lead her by speaking the Word of God to her.

Often when we see churches going astray and becoming diseased, it is simply because her pastors have forgotten these basic principles. God’s Word never changes, dear pastor, so there’s no need to innovate with bells, whistles, and rock-and-roll show tactics. As Andrew Peterson sings to his son, just “stick to the old roads.”

Free Will and Free Reading

How Autonomous Free-Will Ruins Theology

Once in conversation, I noticed a connection between our (wrong, evil, disastrous) idea of “free will” and how we read the Bible. It works like this: once the door of “free-will” is open to ourselves, we apply it to everything we read, too. Once we are free to “choose” God, we think we are free to “choose” whatever other “truth” fits our selfish hearts.

The alternative, should we not yet see, is to submit ourselves wholly to the Word of God  in personal decisions, in interpreting the Scripture itself, and in interpreting the world around us. Either the Word rules you, or you think you rule. It really is that simple.

But what most (though not all) bad interpretations come down to is simply an amplified sense of self. In all bad theologies, we become divinized versions of ourselves, able to contort and invent the Scriptures as we see fit. We don’t submit to the rules of Scripture (context, context, context; theological principles and reading the whole as a unit) because we have better rules.

Indeed, out of this false sense of righteous self, we reject the rules and make God’s Word (should we actually be able to “make” it) say what we say. Instead of speaking the Scripture, we force the Scripture to speak us.

Dear Pastor, Why Not Preach the Word?

One of my favorite radio hosts is always reviewing sermons, and I love it. So it made me wonder: why don’t you, dear pastor, preach the Word?

  1. Do you think that your ideas are wiser than God’s? No? Then preach the Word.
  2. Do you fancy your stories to be more entertaining than God’s Word? No? Then preach the Word.
  3. Do you find your topical sermons to be more directly applicable to people’s lives? Never! It canot be that you are a better exegete than the Holy Spirit! Preach the Word.
  4. Do you think your pop culture references are better connections than those inspired of the Spirit? No? Then preach the Word.
  5. Do you long to see souls saved from sin, death, and hell? God promises only one means, so preach the Word.
  6. Do you want to see Jesus Christ exalted over your own means, methods, and mole-hills? If not, leave the ministry. If so, preach the Word.
  7. Do you want to see Christ’s church upbuilt? Then preach the Word.
  8. Do you want to see your wife and children saved, strengthened, and sustained until the end? Your family vacation stories won’t do it. Preach the Word.
  9. Do you struggle with pride in your ministry? Only one means slays pride, so preach that Word.
  10. Do you care about the gospel ministry more than anything else you could give your life to? You’d better, so preach the Word.

On Christian (Un)Citizens

1 Peter 2:11-17  Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.  Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.  Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme,  or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.  Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.  Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Nearly caught in the kind of teaching trap those of us educators are familiar with, Jesus tells the Jews in Luke 20:25 to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s,” and He leaves it at that. He doesn’t elaborate much, because the situation didn’t call for it. It was meant to be a crafty ploy (20:23) to get Him to slip up.

But it got me thinking: what does it mean to be a Christian (un)citizen?

God teaches us plainly that “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 3:20). So what does it mean to be a citizen of heaven while living on earth?

Without the time to go into all the details, Christians recently have struggled with two gross extremes: militant escapism and foolish assimilation. Or, more directly, being citizens of heaven that don’t live on earth vs. being citizens of earth that aren’t bound for heaven.

This is where Peter helps us immensely. Recall the context of 1 Peter: Peter was writing to suffering Christians to encourage them to hold on to Jesus in the midst of terrifying troubles.  So it might seem odd that he writes a section on honoring the government and its officers.

Notice that verse 11 has the encouragement to avoid “passions of the flesh which wage war against the soul,” then moves right into a discussion about . . . obeying authorities? This must be a bigger deal than we realize.

Verse 12 says that this conduct outlined in verses 13-17 is what will glorify God in front of the Gentiles, that is, in front of the unbelieving but watching world. Living under the authority of emperors and governors as “servants of God” is what shows the watching world that we are, in fact, not citizens of this world. What a strange concept?

Who would have thought that neither escapism nor assimilation was our calling?! So what is our calling, brothers and sisters? To fear God and honor everyone as He calls, including our (ever-so-often failing) government.

As to how exactly this ought to work with other callings (like standing up for the unborn, clarifying the meaning of marriage, voting regularly, etc.), we will work out in a future post.

Hiding Behind Conservatism

On “Christian” Cowardice, the Lukewarm “Church,” and False Converts

In my state, we’re in the midst of a popular vote on whether or not we should exclusively define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Several professing “Christians” have posted statements like this:

  • “Love is love is love.”
  • “Doesn’t Jesus tell us to love each other?”
  • “Legal marriage and spiritual marriage are two different, unrelated things.”
  • “I’m not sure this law should be in the state constitution.”

What troubles me more than the muddled thought processes behind such statements is the fact that they reveal an ignorance of the whole of Scripture. Such words have yanked passages out of context, used them in ways God never intended, and thrown them aside.

Such issues shine spotlights on our supposedly converted Christians and evangelical churches. If someone has no concern for God’s Word as He wrote it, is that person converted at all? Has he truly been transferred from the domain of darkness and into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son? Wouldn’t it show in the way he looks at the world?

A converted man would he care more for people’s souls than for the supposed pillars of conservatism. A converted man would stand up against evil, even when everyone else stood against him. A converted man would preach this gospel, live this gospel, and die for this gospel.

“Hold on, that seems harsh.” Is it? When professing Christians cajole, contort, and apologize to get around God’s Word, do they really love God?

The way that Christians respond publicly to abortion and marriage will be one true test of our faith. Do we believe God’s Word or do we care more for other man-centered issues? Do we fear God or man? Indeed, who is our God?

T4G Panel #1: Complementarianism

Below are some highlights from the first panel discussion at Together for the Gospel 2012.

John Piper:

  • “[Complementarianism] a vision that steers a path between the nullification or minimization of differences as they are played out in society and the abuse of those differences.”
  • “We want to call women to full personhood and men to initiative and leadership in a Christlike demeanor.”
  • “I fought battle after battle with college students in the late 70’s and early 80’s over these things, but now we have thousands of young men and women who are receiving this [complementarianism] and flourishing.”
  • “The question that egalitarians can never answer for me is, ‘What do you do with a little 8-year-old boy that asks, “Daddy, what does it mean to grow up and be a man, and not a woman?” Or a girl who asks, “Mommy, what does it mean to grow up and be a woman, and not a man?” ‘ “
  • “Carefully walk through Ephesians 5 about marriage. It’s what every woman wants in her marriage.”
  • “Walk through the eight or nine evidences from Genesis 1 and 2 [sic, he included 3 in his explanation] that show that role reversal is what wrecked the world.”

Russell Moore:

  • “I fear that we have many people within evangelicalism who ‘check off’ complementarianism but live functionally egalitarian lives and marriages.”
  • “I recently spoke with a woman who told me her husband wants to get a sex-change operation. He didn’t want to leave her. They were going to stay together. Now, Martin Luther never had to deal with that.”
  • “When a wife submits herself to her own husband, when a young woman submits herself to a future husband she does not yet know, she refuses to submit to other men and the culture’s idea of women being defined by how men see them.”
  • “We as the church need to stop mimicking the outside culture in the way women are portrayed.”
  • “[You have to pay attention to complementarianism because] you have to deal with specifically complementarian texts: Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3, 1 Timothy 2, and others. And you have personal sanctification issues to deal with.”
  • “Complementarianism bears the cross.”
  • “When Jesus washes the feet of the Church, she refuses Him. . . When He is going to die for her, Peter tries to stop him.”
  • “Jesus always gently and lovingly, but decisively, leads His bride.”

Greg Gilbert:

  • “We have men who think that complementarianism really has no feet on it until you come to a disagreement, that they have no role in leading in the home, in establishing an environment in the relationship, in taking initiative.”
  • “To get to an egalitarian position, you have to bring in some bad DNA, some bad principles and ideas, into your interpretation of Scripture. And eventually you will bring that to other texts as well.”
  • “As a pastor of a local church, you can’t ‘back-burner’ the issue [gender relations, complementarianism, etc.], because it’s so practical.”
  • “Too often, we let the discussion [about gender roles] be about negatives rather than positives.”
  • “God-given role does not speak to God-given dignity.”
  • “God has every right to give out roles to His created people.”

For more resources, go to CBMW.org . Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and other resources, are available as free pdfs.

No Other Message

Thomas Jones, from a 1976 lecture, “Preaching the Cross of Christ”:

True Christian preaching must center on the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is the central doctrine of the Holy Scriptures. All other revealed truths either find their fulfillment in the cross or are necessarily founded upon it. Therefore, no doctrine of Scripture may faithfully be set before men unless it is displayed in its relationship to the cross. The one who is called to preach, therefore, must preach Christ because there is no other message from God.

[Quoted in Bryan Chappell, Christ-centered Preaching, p.271]

The Proof is in the Preaching

Lots of us (sinfully) enjoy moralistic sermons (“do good,” “be a better person,” “take care of your finances,” etc.), but Bryan Chappell warns that no preacher accidentally omits the gospel:

A message that merely advocates morality and compassion remains sub-Christian even if the preacher can prove that the Bible demands such behaviors.

(From Christ-Centered Preaching, p.268)

So give your favorite works-preacher a close listen, and see if he gives weight to the weighty gospel or to the weak man.

The Redeemer > The Redeemed

In his recent post,”What Does It Mean to be Biblically Balanced?” Tullian Tchividjian explains how the Bible places a premium on the gospel:

The emphasis of the Bible is on the work of the Redeemer, not on the work of the redeemed.

“Our Religion is What We Do”

An Investigation into the Ethos of One Mainline Liberal Protestant Non-Profit

Mainline liberal Protestantism has a lot of ills, which are better chronicled and dissected elsewhere; but, in a recent conversation, one came to the forefront. This is how it went:

  • Mainline liberal Protestant leader: We want you to understand that we are a Christian organization, but we’re not religious.
  • Me: What does that mean?
  • MLPL: Well, we believe in the teachings of Jesus, and we teach our children about a relationship with God and a belief in a ‘higher power.’
  • Me: So what is this relationship with God based on?
  • MLPL: Our religion is who we are, it’s what we do, it’s how we live.

Now, to understand the context, we need to back up. This organization for which the MLP leader spoke does present itself as a Christian operation, even taking their name from one of Christ’s miracles. As with many Christian social aid organizations, they receive donations from both individuals and Christian organizations, including (in all likelihood) several local churches.

So, at the very least, churches that are supposed to beacon the gospel are support this organization instead. But, someone might read this and say, what’s so bad about that?

Deceptive and Disorienting
From the first statement, I knew where we were headed: this leader meant to confuse and mislead people by her use of terms. To say “we are Christian, but not religious,” in her own usage, means that Christ is a personal tiny-idol who has no bearing on their operation but to be a prayer cuckhold.

Now, this is surely worth another post, but only in the Bible belt could we countenance such Christ-hating lies (see below) with a smile. Only in the South could such a leader raise money under the name of Jesus, then turn around and spit on His name. And to have the gaul to say that this is the essence of “Progressive Christianity.”

“We’re a Christian organization, but we’re not religious,” only means, “We want everyone outside to think we’re Christian, but our program will refuse to follow Him so as to remain acceptable to all the unbelievers involved. We are dry water, living death, holy idolatry.”

Anti-Truth and Anti-Theology
The second statement, that this organization holds to the teachings of Jesus and teaches students about a persona dei non descripta and their relationship with him (her? it?), is a clarifying summary of many MLP’s approach to truth and theology. This is to say, that in any biblically recognizable way, many don’t believe in truth or theology.

“Whoa! That’s a big blanket statement! Aren’t you being unfair?” Well, with respect to this one conversation’s context and intent, no. To this particular leader of this particular organization, the Bible’s truth had no bearing on her leadership, the program’s goals, and the lives of their students. Worse, this truth had long been divorced from the Christ who is its depth of meaning and rich fountain of life:

  • Jesus is the Truth: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” (John 14:6).
  • Christ is the Storehouse of wisdom and knowledge: “In whom [Christ] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” (Colossians 2:3).
  • Christ is the personal revelation of God’s truth: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ,” (John 1:17).
  • Truth leads back to Christ: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,” (Ephesians 4:15).

In other words, an organization who cares not to describe God according to the Bible cares not for the real Jesus Christ, who is the personal fulfillment and embodiment of that truth.

God-less, Christ-less Religion
This all brings us to the last statement, which now is particularly revealing. When pressed on the basis for her beliefs, all this leader could answer was: “The religion I’m talking is all about me! Me! Not God! Me! It’s how I live, not who He is!” To her, following Jesus had nothing to do with faith, but everything to do with works.

To put it another way, she had all cart and no horse. The cart could be hitched to anything; here it is hitched to a vague deity of your own choosing, who happens to look a lot like you. Such a statement is me-magnifying idolatry of the lowest order.

Me-centered religion is no religion in the old sense of the term at all. It is no face-to-face-ness with God, no worship of Him at all. It excludes God and His Christ for an image made in the likeness of man. This leader’s god was found in the mirror, not the Scriptures.

Stop the Charade; Warn the Wicked
Because of these things, I’ll be writing the board of this particular organization to notify them of the God-hating things that they have authorized in the name of Jesus. No organization should take Christ’s name and spit on His face in the Word, and we must rebuke the wicked. “But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul,” (Ezekiel 33:9).

Enstasy vs. Ecstasy

How often have you heard lines like these?

  • Well, I hope you enjoy yourself.
  • You just need to learn to be okay with yourself.
  • I can be happy all by myself.
  • When I look at myself, I’m happy with me.

Sentiments such as these seem to permeate American, me-centered culture. Indeed, they must, since our atheology is built on self. We espouse enstasy, which is the state of standing inside one’s self.

America loves self-esteem, self-confidence, enstasy; therefore, we know nothing of ecstasy. Enstasy robs us of ecstasy, which is literally the standing outside of one’s self. Enstasy and ecstasy cannot coexist.

Isn’t the etymology interesting? “En-” always means “inside, into;” and “ec-/ex-” always means “outside, out from.” These two words give us a window into the dichotomy of desiring delight in ourselves versus pursuing pleasure in another.

One verse (of many) that helps us see this in the Scriptures is 2 Timothy 3:4, where God tells us to avoid such people of the last days (our days) that are “lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant . . . not loving good . . . swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

Notice here that the source of this false appearance of godliness is a love of self and pleasure rather than God. This is different than saying that God is not pleasurable. Paul is speaking here of a selfish pleasure, an enstatic pleasure rather than an ecstatic one found in God. How wildly, maniacally egocentric we are, to believe that loving our ugly selves can produce more pleasure than loving God!

The truth is that there is no real pleasure to be found in loving ourselves, because we are finite, sinful, and not worth gazing at for long. We were made for something more, something for which Jesus redeemed all who will believe: to be happy in God alone. This is true ecstasy.

The Fact that You Even Ask That Question . . .

It seems that American evangelicalism is afraid to talk about judgment, hell, repentance, and God’s wrath in general. It’s been well-documented recently, but here’s another angle: why is it that we feel we must shrug off the facts of judgment? Why do we always feel the need to say things like, “Well, God could save everyone, but He doesn’t”? What are we saying?

Of course, the question that always follows is, “Well, why doesn’t He?” as though God is somehow bound to our pea-sized (at best) ideas of how sin, wrath, redemption, and glory are meant to work on a cosmic scale. But the fact that we even ask or entertain that question is evil for a number of reasons:

  1. God doesn’t have to save anyone. He is unbound by anything but His own promise to do so. Those who care not for the promise have no right to question the Potter.
  2. God doesn’t accidentally save less than we think. God means to save all whom He wills. This is the message of countless passages, promises, and teachings. God is not a bumbling TV father who can’t remember how many kids He has. He’s God.
  3. God’s wrath is glorious. God intends to exercise wrath, punishment, righteous anger upon sin. He must do it because it glorifies Him and His glory is His ultimate goal.
  4. God’s wrath promotes His grace (Romans 9:22-23). Saddest of all, the fact that we even ask the question means we don’t really understand God’s grace. His grace is a bloody grace, sending and punishing His Lamb-Son in the sheep’s place. His grace is a painful grace, taking on our pain that we might be in His pleasure. His grace is a wrath-built grace; through the cross God builds on and deals with the fact of wrath rather than ignoring it.
  5. Our questions reveal our pride. The fact that we even ask such a question also reveals that we assume lies. We assume that God won’t judge. We assume that we’re entitled to forgiveness. We assume that we’ve earned better than God’s forever-hot wrath. We haven’t.

The next time we think about entertaining the arrogant question, let’s think again and be humbled beneath His mighty hand. God’s glory deserves more.

%d bloggers like this: