Saturday, December 31, 2005
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Battle Stations part 1
Battle Stations part 2
Battle Stations part 3
Battle Stations part 4
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Ryken: In response to Gene Veith's short essay in defense of commercializing Christmas, I have four short observations:
First, as a notable Christmas enthusiast and fellow-Lutheran, Luther himself would have enjoyed Gene's piece.
Second, it is quite right to give gifts -- and generous ones, too -- at Christmas and at other times. When the Bible describes the grace of God as a gift, it assumes a universe in which people give and receive gifts. It is to the credit of Christianity that gift-giving has flourished most in cultures that celebrate the birth of Christ.
Third, when secular people seek to find something special in Christmas, we should not scorn them for missing its true meaning, but rather sympathize them for grasping for what their hearts are seeking.
Fourth, while something can and perhaps should be said for the commercialization of Christmas, something always needs to be said about its over-commercialization.
(Comments are taken from Reformation 21 Blog)
Monday, December 26, 2005
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Special Greeting: Merry Christmas from the Carter Family
Thursday, December 22, 2005
"And looking intently at the council, Paul said, 'Brothers, I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day."(Acts 23:1)
Closely aligned with courage is a preachers willingness to preach with a conscience, not sparing his people the truth. This is second on my wish list this Christmas. We not only need men who will have the courage to stand up for biblical, reformed theology, but we also need men who will preach with a conscience that understands that truth-pursuing, justice-demanding, peace-seeking, and truth-telling are his calling. Often times this calling will lead him to convictions of conscience that perhaps many in his church will not hold. Often times this calling will challenge him to pursue truth and demand justice where he is not comfortable. Yet we need men who will be lead by the truth of scripture and consciences duly informed to tell the truth for the glory of God and good of His people. There will be times when hot, even political issues, become necessary topics of discourse in the church. The African-American Reformed preacher must not only have courage when he is popular, but he must have courage when his conscience has been informed by God's word though the populace may not be. Such issues of abortion, racism, feminism, male-chauvinism, and homosexuality may be contentious and even highly debated political issues, but the man of God must know that these are not just political issues. In fact, they are more importantly moral issues that a man of God with a conscience must be willing and prepared to deal with truthfully and justly when called upon to do so.
We need preachers with conscience who will say, unapologetically that where the Bible calls for a conservative stance, then he will be conservative. And where the Bible calls for a more progressive stance, then he will be progressive. We need preachers who will take these stances not because they are politically expedient, but because they are biblically right. Where police brutality or human torture is evident, we need preachers who will call it what it is, and stand of the conviction of the justice demands of the Word of God. Where abortion is out of control and the slaughter of babies is common fare, then too the man of God must be willing to the call the country and his congregation into account with the just and righteous demands of God's law. When we fail to pursue righteousness, justice, and the truth of God, we fail to truly reflect the God we claim to represent (Mic. 6:8; see also Is. 30:18, 61:8; Amos 5:12).
Have we lost all of the preachers with courage and conscience? Luther was a man of courage who would not go against conscience. John Knox was a man of courage and conscience. So too were Lemuel Haynes and Francis Grimke. Where are the Reformed African-American preachers who will not go against Scripture or conscience because it is neither right nor safe? I am hoping to find a few under the Christmas tree this year.
There is a famine in the land - not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord (Amos 8:11).
Today I begin my Christmas Wish List with a plea for Pastors with Courage. More than ever we need African-American preachers who claim to hold to biblical, reformed theology to stand up, preach up, man up and say so. Often it is popular when in the company of reformed brothers and sisters to say you are reformed. However, when the time of testing comes, that is the time of preaching and teaching, there is abject failure. In too many churches where the preacher claims to be reformed, we find little to no reference to the Doctrines of Grace. We find little to know reference to the historic confessions. We find little to no emphasis upon the glories that are the sovereignty and supremacy of God. There is little mention of the depths of human sinfulness. The notion of Christ's atonement being particular and therefore truly efficacious is foreign and far from serious consideration. And though mentioning that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone would get a hearty "amen," the fact of the matter is that few would understand or articulate it biblically so that grace is sovereign grace, faith is the gift of God, and Christ is Lord.
Many would offer the excuse that they would not want to offend anyone in their congregation. They would say that while they hold to these truths privately, it would not serve them nor their church to preach them in public. While I have some sympathy for this position, after all this man is double-minded and therefore unstable, I must challenge him to believe God and stop doubting (James 1:5-8). For such men not only lack wisdom, but ultimately they lack the faith necessary to stand bold and even die for Christ. If we hold the conviction that reformed theology is the truth of the revealed Word of God, then to preach anything else would be an utter abandonment of God's calling. Understand, we all have been in positions where standing firm upon the truth of God has made us uncomfortable. We all have had times when we thought discretion in matters of theology was the better part of valor. Nevertheless, I have found that when reformed theology is presented with gracious, loving, biblical clarity very few African-American Christians flat out reject it. And those who do find it unprofitable, it is the message they reject and usually not the messenger. For if the truth of God offends, then let God be glorified. But if the truth teller is offensive, then let him be ashamed.
Brothers and sisters, "the fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trust in the Lord shall be safe" (Prov. 29:25). This hour is calling for Pastors With Courage. We need men who will not fear men, but will graciously preach the truths of Scripture and live out the implications of these truths in worship without apology. Creflo Dollar does not apologize for preaching prosperity because it his conviction both in public and in private that prosperity is the truth of Scripture. Why should we, who hold to the historical and biblical understanding of Reformed Theology, be so apologetic and apprehensive in our convictions. As Hank Hannegraf would say, "Are we willing to do for the truth, what Creflo does for a lie?"
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Monday, December 19, 2005
Friday, December 16, 2005
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Christmas undoubtedly has the best songs of all the holidays. Every year as we celebrate the Advent Season, we hear some of the most wonderful tunes, both sacred and secular. I can not recall a Christmas without repeatedly hearing Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song." My family knows that I am feeling the season when Nat's song is frequently coming through the speakers. Likewise, to hear Nat King Cole sing, "O Holy Night" is to know what God created such magnificent talent to do. I am pleased to say that not all the great songs are of years gone by. Recently I came across a song written by Stuart Townend - of "In Christ Alone" fame - entitled "From the Squalor of a Borrow Stable (Immanuel)," which has taken me by storm and has immediately been added to my favorite Songs of the Season. I am not sure if Mr. Townend meant for it to be a Christmas song, but it is on my list. The brilliant opening lines should give you some sense of why:
If you have never heard this wonderful song, do yourself the favor and find it this Christmas season. The only disappointment I have is that Nat King Cole did not get a chance to add his soulful flare to it.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Pastor for Neighborhood Outreach - North Campus,
Pastor for Neighborhood Outreach - Downtown Campus
We are a multi-campus church of 3,500+ currently meeting on two sites in the Twin Cities. Our mission is to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ. We are Calvinistic in our theology, Baptistic in polity, Charismatic in our affections, committed to racial harmony and driven by the truth that
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”
Bethlehem is looking for two Pastors for Neighborhood Outreach to serve each of our campuses. The Pastor for Neighborhood Outreach - North Campus and the Pastor for Neighborhood Outreach - Downtown Campus will seek to fulfill the mission of Bethlehem Baptist Church by mobilizing the church to love our near neighbors by means of evangelism and deeds of mercy for the glory of Christ.
Successful candidate must be a team-builder, flexible, able to champion a compelling vision, and inspire a movement. He must also meet the elder qualifications in 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Interested? To apply for the position at the North Campus, please send a current resume to:
Jen Brendsel, Bethlehem Baptist Church - North Campus, 5151 Program Avenue, Mounds View, MN 55112
or via e-mail to email@example.com
To apply for the position at the Downtown Campus, please send a current resume to:
Connie Kopischke, Bethlehem Baptist Church
720 13th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55415
or via e-mail at Connie.Kopischke@bbcmpls.org
It would be wonderful if one of these positions could be filled by an African-American brother. If you, or someone you know would be interested in one of these positions, do contact Bethlehem and make a serious inquiry.
Monday, December 12, 2005
Recently I read an informative and thought-provoking short book by Chris Marshall entitled, "The Little Book of Biblical Justice: A Fresh Approach to the Bible's Teachings on Justice." Without a doubt, justice and righteousness are essential aspects of God's revelation in the Scriptures. "...For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him" (Is. 30:18). And not only is He a God of justice, but He requires justice and equity among His people. The locus classicus for this truth is Micah 6:8: "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" The more you read and understand the Bible, the more you see just how important justice, and not only justice, but justice with equity is to God. As men and women of faith, we are unreservedly called to pursue justice and equity in our lives and in the lives of others. The recent release of Robert Clark is causing me to question, just how earnestly I pursue biblical justice and how fervently I desire to honor God by reflecting his righteousness in this world. Clearly America has a long way to go in demonstrating God-honoring justice with equity. I wonder how far I have come in my own life. How far have you gone in your understanding and pursuit of biblical justice? You may want to start with reading Marshall's book. It is short, concise, and to the point.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Monday, December 05, 2005
The Reformed Mafia.
Monday, November 28, 2005
First, we should lament and have compassion for those brothers and sisters in Christ who are so deceived by these Prosperity Preachers. Every Sunday, genuinely regenerated men and women sit under the influence of false teachers. Most of them have never been exposed to true biblical Christianity. They have been duped by the charisma, eloquence, and appearance of these teachers. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Do we have compassion for them? Are we willing to walk with them and lead them to the truth? As we blast the false teachers, wolves in sheep's clothing, let us be careful to seek to mend and help God's true sheep.
Secondly, as men of God, we must have the courage to take up the charge. Perhaps more than any part of Burns' message, this one seemed to prick the conscience. Burns reminded us that it was time to "Man up!" He reminded us that Paul, in Acts 20, as he leaves the Ephesian elders in charge of the church in Ephesus, Paul charged them to be diligent. He knew that after his departure "fierce wolves" would come in among them twisting the truth and drawing men and women way. Nevertheless, Paul was confident that this would happen after he left, because he would not let it happen while he was there. Or as Burns put it, "Not on my watch!" Are we letting the fierce wolves twist the truth because we fear speaking up and calling them out for what they are? Are we asleep both theologically and homiletically as the sheep are being lead astray by every wind of doctrine? Men, it is time to "Man up!"
Apparently, Brother Lance Lewis is seeking to heed the call and calling the rest of us to do the same. You can read his latest comments in A Call To Action.
Twenty years ago, when I was a sophomore at Yale, men spoke the name "Dr. Grimke," with respect and reverence. And they do today....Since the death of Bishop Daniel Payne in 1893 and Dr. Alexander Crammell in 1898, Dr. Grimke has remained the most potent figure in the Negro ecclesiastical world.
Unfortunately we are far too ignorant of church history. Our understanding of church history usually extends no further than our grandmother or great-grandmother's contribution to the Mother's Board and Missionary Society. Yet men like Grimke and Lemuel Haynes serve as gracious reminders that the truth of historical, reformed Christianity has been articulated by African-Americans for generations and generations. My prayer is that we would recover in our day this fire for biblical truth and be armed once again with a Christianity that exalts the glory and majesty of God, rooted in Scriptures and testified to by the saints made perfect. This was the ministry of Grimke. After he had read an address by John Calvin, Grimke wrote:
"As I laid it aside, more profoundly impressed than ever before with the character and work of John Calvin there went up from my heart the earnest prayer that when my life ends here that I too may be remembered because of some things I have said or done in bringing men face to face with life and its great and solemn responsibilities for which they must answer at the bar of God. To feel, as John Calvin felt, the sovereignty of God, and to get others to feel the same,...is a great achievement and will go on working for good long after we are gone."
May we all feel this same since of calling and duty.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
2. Sola Scriptura - The Bible is the only infallible authority for faith and conduct.
3. The people and events of the Bible are real and historically accurate .
4. The Bible is a collection of literary genres, interpreted accordingly .
5. Understanding the Bible is understanding the literary nuances ("A passage can never mean what it never meant").
The reason why hermeneutics matters is because the next reformation matters. The next reformation will glorify God because it will do in essence what the two previous ones did, reveal His glory anew to His people. Whenever the people of God get a clearer vision of God they are not only reformed, they are revived.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Is there a double standard in predominantly white denominations? This is one of the questions raised at the conference in Miami. Ricky Armstrong, host pastor of Glendale Baptist Church, made the point that within his denomination, Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), he was concerned that there may be a double standard for theological integrity (Ricky is not alone in this concerned as some blacks in the PCA are beginning to ask the same question). You see, in the past he raised a concern for the theology of some of the black preachers in the SBC with some of the white leaders. They expressed to him a lack of interest in such theological matters and suggested to him that he focus not on what they considered to be theologically divisive issues, but rather focus on issues of cooperation like evangelism. Pastor Armstrong, however, rightly discerned the hypocrisy in this response. You see, when the SBC at large was dealing with issues of theological liberalism and modernity, the conservatives pooled all their resources to battle these deviant theological and philosophical ideas. Armstrong could not help but conclude that the lack of zeal in confronting many of the same issues and ideas among the predominantly black Southern Baptist churches was due to them being black and to some in the SBC not wanted to be characterized as racist because they call black preachers into account like they call white preachers. Yet, to Armstrong's credit, he did not leave the matter unaddressed. In fact, his vision for the conference in Miami and the theme of the conference was a response to this growing malaise of deviant theology coming from too many of our predominantly African-American pulpits. Admittedly, the answer to this problem is not simple, but it does begin with re-asserting the importance of a Biblical, Historical, and Reformational Hermeneutic that is based in a uncompromising submission to the Authority of Scripture. This is why the conference was called. This is why we answered the call. This is Why Hermeneutics Matter.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Since most of you were not in attendence, over the next week or so (I must attend another conference at week's end :-) I will try to relate to you some of the highlights. I will be letting you know when the tapes and cds from the conference are available.
The theme of the conference was: "The Authority of Scripture: Why Hermeneutics Matter." The speaking schedule consisted of:
Ricky Armstrong - "The Authority of Scripture: Why Hermeneutics Matter"
Ken Jones - "Safeguarding Your Hermeneutic"
Robert Godfrey - "The Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic, Pt. 1"
Ken Jones - "The Dangers in Failing to Safeguard Your Hermeneutic"
Sherard Burns - "The Hermeneutic of Prosperity Preachers"
Anthony Carter - "Hermeneutics and Christian Experience"
Michael Leach - "Covenant Hermeneutic and the Church"
Ricky Armstrong -"The Hermeneutic of Church Office"
Lance Lewis - "Hermeneutics and the Essence of Biblical Worship"
Robert Godfrey - "The Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic, Pt. 2"
Stay tuned. Hermeneutics never sounded so good!
Monday, November 07, 2005
This coming weekend is the much anticipated Pastor's Conference @ Glendale Baptist Church in Miami, FL. If you have not registered or if you need more info as you make your way to Miami, you can go to the church's website (www.glendalembchurch.org) to get your trip together. The conference will focus on the need to discover and recapture a Biblical Hermeneutic - that is a biblical and historical approach to interpreting the Word of God. One of the phrases that will be consistently tossed around will be the phrase "Redemptive Historical Hermeneutics." There is a good website - Biblical Theology and Redemptive Historical Hermeneutics - that can introduce you to Redemptive Historical Hermeneutics and explain other differing approaches. If you click on the Frequently Asked Question link, you will find some worthwhile answers as well. See ya in Miami.
Monday, October 31, 2005
Two women may jump from an airplane and experience the thrilling freedom of freefalling. But there is a difference: one is encumbered by a parachute on her back, the other is free from this burden. Which person is most free? The one without the parachute feels free, even freer, since she does not feel the constraints of the parachute straps. But she is not truly free. She is in bondage to the force of gravity and to the deception that all is well because she feels unencumbered. This false sense of freedom is in fact bondage to calamity which is sure to happen after a fleeting moment of pleasure. (John Piper, What is the Difference)
Ms. Swoopes should serve as a sobering reminder to all of us, that sin is deceitful. We are all prone to exchange the truth of God for a lie, and believe that true freedom is the throwing off of the restraints of God's law. Yet it is God's law that graciously serves as our comfort and security from the freefall of sin. We can only pray that Ms. Swoopes would come to realize her awful predicament and repent and cry out for God's mercy and forgiveness before she hits the ground.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Surely it is disturbing that people can be so casual about sin and our society would applaud her for what they would call "her courage." Yet to me the most disturbing aspect Ms. Swoopes declaration is the effect it had and will have upon her mother. Interestingly, according to Ms. Swoopes, her and her mother are Christians:
I'm content with who I am and who I'm with. Whether people think that's right, whether they think it's wrong, I don't care. We shouldn't and can't judge each other. I am a Christian, and my biggest dilemma is when people start throwing in the whole religion thing: you're going to hell for this or that. I think that's the hardest thing for my mom to deal with, too. She's into the Bible and church, and I'm concerned about how she's going to deal with her church friends. What are they going to say? What are they going to do? Five years ago, when I told my mom I'm gay, her reaction wasn't any different than I expected. She just said, "I figured." I don't know exactly what that meant, but I could see the hurt and disappointment.
"Why?" she asked. "What did I do wrong?" I told her she didn't do anything wrong. This is who I am, and it's okay. I love my mom to death. I do. And I would never, ever, ever want to do anything to hurt her. I think she knows that.
You can read the entire, disturbing article at ESPN.com "Outside the Arc."
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Thursday, October 20, 2005
The current issue of TableTalk Magazine takes the via negativa approach to understanding Reformed Theology. The issue is entitled "No Strings Attached: What Reformed Theology is Not." In it you will find the following articles:
Burk Parsons (editor): "Why Not?"
RC Sproul: "The Fine Points of Calvinism"
Michael Horton: "Reformed Theology vs. Hyper-Calvinism"
D. James Kennedy: "Turning the World Right Side Up"
Phillip Graham Ryken: "Hearts Aflame: Reformed Piety"
(By the way, is it a prerequisite for the pastorate at Tenth Presbyterian Church that you use your middle name i.e. Donald Grey Barnhouse, James Montgomery Boice, Phillip Graham Ryken?)
Ken Jones: "Truly Reformed"
RC Sproul Jr.: "God in the Hands"
R. Albert Mohler: "Reforming Our Mission"
This is an excellent issue. If you have never subscribed to TableTalk, now is the time. If you have never received an issue of TableTalk, you can receive a free copy by calling 1-800-435-4343. This would be a good one to get.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Thursday, October 13, 2005
That's its greatest appeal, even for those who've never set foot inside an African-American church. But in his retelling of the story of the prodigal son, writer-director Rob Hardy ("Trois," "Pandora's Box") never gets to anything like the depths of the gospel moans and shouts he celebrates. In fact, when the music isn't pounding in sanctified syncopation, the look and the dialogue of "The Gospel" are a lot like what you might see and hear on daytime TV....Hardy has plenty of opportunities to examine the foibles of the current crop of theatrical "prosperity" preachers. But that's clearly not his purpose, as time and again he goes for easier, cliched images --- juxtaposing liquor bottles and leather-bound Bibles, hip-hop bump-and-grind and dancing in the spirit. And with all that, Hardy's sure to please his target audience, even if he's only preaching to the choir.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Friday, October 07, 2005
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Friday, September 16, 2005
Now I'm not a rap type of guy. Even though back in the day you could have found me chillin' with the fellas listenin' to a little Run DMC or even better, Eric B and Rakim, my taste for rap left me long ago. I don't particularly find it spiritually encouraging or edifying. Nonetheless, I do understand and appreciate that there are many brothers and sisters who find in rap an avenue of spiritual and intellectual stimulation. They find it not only entertaining but edifying as well. Since this is true, I am pleased that there are brothers who are see are serious about the theological content of their lyrics. If you are into rap music, and don't know Shai Linne, you should. Here is a brother who is seeking to lay down lyrics that are theologically-integrated, biblically-consistent, and intentionally reformational. If I did listen to rap, I would listen to Shai Linne. The name of the album itself, should tell you something of the genuine seriousness of this brother: The Solus Christus Project. Check it out!
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Friday, September 09, 2005
Thursday, September 08, 2005
I also want to apologize to the Infidel Guy for referring to his work as his "brain cramp." That was a comment made in jest, but admittedly it was not called for.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Friday, September 02, 2005
The half has yet to be told of the devastation that Hurricane Katrina has left in New Orleans and other parts of the Southern coast. If you are interested in supporting with prayers and donations, you can give to Desire Street Ministries. You can read about Desire Street Ministries in the latest By Faith Magazine in an article "Desire Street: Bringing the Word to Life." They have lost alot and are in need of our prayers and support. Let us be the body of Christ to them and all others to whom we can at this time of crisis. By God's sovereign mercy and justice, it could be us next time.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Monday, August 29, 2005
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Have you ever heard of William Sheppard? Well you should have. He is widely known as the "Black Livingstone." That is, like David Livingstone pioneered exploratory and missionary work in cental Africa, William Sheppard did much of the same in the congo. After graduating from Stillman College (Tuscaloosa Theological Institute at the time) in 1886, he was ordained by the Atlanta Presbytery and called to pastor Zion Church in Atlanta. Yet, he continued to hear the call to missions in Africa. Subsequently, he became the first African-American missionary commissioned by the Presbyterian Church U.S. to labor in Africa. His story is a remarkable and amazing journey. His life is the story of "how an African-American born in the South during the era of slavery emerged as one of the most distinguished Presbyterian leaders in American history." I am familiar with two books that chronicle Sheppard's life and times. One is by Pagan Kennedy entitled "Black Livingstone." The other is by William Phipps entitled "William Sheppard: Congo's African-American Livingstone." Apparently Pagan is a pagan. She makes little note of Sheppard's religious convictions and even makes light of the role his faith and theology played in his life and mission. Phipps on the other hand is an ordained minister in the PCUSA. He sees the undeniable role faith and theology played in Sheppard's life and is more insightful in that regard. I highly recommend Phipp's book, though you may want to refer to the Pagan's because she has good pictures :-) .
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
You can read the essay and other insightful musings by Carl Trueman in the book "The Wages of Spin."
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Ligon Duncan on C.J. and John
Monday, August 22, 2005
Friday, August 19, 2005
The PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) has begun to publish a new magazine titled By Faith. It is a well done publication. You would be well served in subscribing to it. In the most recent issue, there is an article on the PCA's on going struggle for racial harmony and diversity. Interestingly, in the article I am cited as a "PCA leader." While this is not true, my friend believes that statement may be proleptic. Read the article for yourself: Content With One Voice in the Choir: The PCA's Challenge for Racial Diversity.
Monday, August 15, 2005
American dream. I must admit that I was taken back when I first arrived within the city limits and saw so many black men and women driving around in luxury automobiles, coming and going from high, upscale, gated communities. The political infrastructure of Atlanta politics was black, with a black mayor and black police chief. Yet, 15 years later, Atlanta is not only the "Black Mecca", but now she is becoming known as the "Black Gay Mecca." That's right. Atlanta is the place to be if you are black, gay, and available. The growing number of Black gays in Atlanta is going to put a lot of pressure upon the predominantly black church in Atlanta, as the church must come to grips with the majority of these blacks who go to church. The debate over gay rights and gay marriage is not going to go away, no matter how many marches Eddie Long plans. As I listen to much of the rhetoric concerning gay marriage, I am compelled to say that the debate is all off base. For the record, the question is not whether or not gays should have the right to marry. The question is whether or not homosexuality is an acceptable and moral lifestyle. You see, if homosexuality is acceptable and moral then marriage is unquestionable. But if we deem homosexuality as unacceptable and immoral then marriage is out of the question. For example, the reason we do not let a man marry his daughter or a wife her son is not because they don't have the ability to, but rather because we have deemed that relationship as inherently immoral and unacceptable. Therefore, let us stop arguing whether or not gays should have the right to marry. Rather, let us engage the conversation at its logical foundations. Is homosexuality a morally legitimate and socially acceptable lifestyle? If it is not, then same-sex marriage is out of the question. If it is, then the next time you are in Atlanta look for the sign that reads "Welcome to the Rainbow Mecca."
Friday, August 12, 2005
You know, 500 years ago, the first Reformation with Luther and then Calvin, was about beliefs. I think a new reformation is going to be about behavior. The first Reformation was about creeds. I think this one will be about deeds. I think the first one was about what the church believes; I think this one will be about what the church does.I find it quite interesting that Rick Warren would suggest a distinction between belief and behavior, between orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Indeed, the Reformers (i.e. Luther and Calvin) would have never seen such a distinction. To suggest that the Reformation was about beliefs is to miss the central tenet of the Reformation: Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone be the Glory). Furthermore to suggest that there could be another Reformation of behavior apart from beliefs is to miss another tenet of the first Reformation: Coram Deo (Before the Face of God). The Reformers knew well that the right doctrine leads to right living. Do you believe Calvin was only theorizing in Geneva? If you do, you know too little about Calvin's Geneva. The problem with the church prior to the Reformation was that awful doctrine was being manifested in the awful living of the church. The glory of the Reformation is that a right doctrine of the Glory of God, lead to right living before the face of God. The Reformation's goal was not simply orthodoxy, it was also orthopraxy. No one, not even Pastor Warren, wants to see a reformation in our day more than yours truly. But I would not be so naive as to believe that it will happen apart from right doctrine. The first Reformation was not that way, and neither will be the second (if the Lord so wills to grant it to us). Belief and behavior are inseparable in the Scriptures and will always be so in God's agenda. Apparently, Rick Warren is looking for a reformation, Purpose-Driven Style (that may be his next book :-). Yet this should not surprise us, what other kind would he know?
Monday, August 08, 2005
The history of Christianity in America, and the African-American Church in particular, is that of Calvinistic distinctions. E. Brooks Holifield, in his book Theology in America, has a chapter entitled Roots of Black Theology. In it he asserts that when early African-American Christians "gave expression to theological ideas, they spoke most often as Calvinist or evangelical Arminians. Among the few surviving theological essays written by black authors, statements of Calvinist thought remain prominent." This is echoed by John Saillant in Black Puritan, Black Republican when he asserts that Calvinism was the accepted theological thought of the first generation of serious Black Christian authors (see pg. 4). From such men and women as Jupiter Hammon, Lemuel Haynes, Phyllis Wheatley, George Liele, Andrew Bryan, Andrew Marshall, and many others, we find a refreshing and viborant faith expressed in biblical Calvinism. In fact, Bryan, a Baptist, was commended by a local presbyterian minister for "giving so clear and decided a testimony to the precious though unpopular [Calvinistic] doctrines of grace" (Holifield 310).
Today we would do well to heed the voice of God saying, "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls" (Jer. 6:16). Maybe we need to find "Gimme That Ol' Time Religion" among our most requested once again.
Sunday, July 31, 2005
Sin is never less quiet than when it seems to be most quiet, and its waters are for the most part deep, when they are still. - John Owen
While the best a non-Christian can do is sin, the worst a Christian can do is sin. - John Owen
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Journalist John totally misses God and the reality that is the church. His criticism of these so-called preachers is obviously correct, however, his analysis of the church is as wrong as is his criticism of the preachers right. To say, "I feel connected to God, but not connected to the church" is a self-falsifying statement. But he can not know that, because for him church has been nothing but a heavy dose of emotional stimulation. And when the emotional high has worn off, he begins looking for work to do to make him once again feel significant. Here is a glaring and sad illustration of a man who thinks he experienced God when all he experienced was religious experience itself. Yet, he is smart enough to know that something is missing, he just is not spiritually inclined to know what that something is. He thinks its about him. But as you know, church (biblical Christianity) is not about him. It is obvious, he has no desire, or affection for God. If he loved God, as he claims, he would love the church, because the church is what God loves (His Bride). The author's self-righteous is just as bad if not worse than the self-indulgence that he accuses these pimping-preachers of. (By the way: if he had real courage he would call out Creflo Dollar, TD Jakes, Eddie Long, and his own mega church pastor. But alas, such courage wains when it is really called upon). Speaking of courage....The saddest part is the ending. The way the article ends is in an attempt to gain a sympathetic ear. Yet, for me the very converse is true. I am most disappointed and unimpressed with the cowardice he demonstrates in sending his small daughter to church and not leading her. He is teaching her that there is a relationship with the husband (Jesus Christ) while dismissing the bride (The Church). He is teacher her to be individualistic and that God is pleased not with what God wants, but with however we choose to serve Him. How pathetic it is that he who would bemoan the problem is himself the problem. If he would ever get a vision of the God of heaven and earth, of the God whose purpose is decreed from all eternity, who is not defined by the fluctuations of our emotions, nor the schemes of our social agendas, he would see that the God we worship is a God terrible, fearful, and awesome. He is not dismissed at our whims. He is glorified and is being glorified in the heavens and in His church. Those who know not Him nor His church, can not see it. How would they? These things are spiritually discerned.
Those who would criticize the church, must first love her. He who would level accusations of her unfaithfulness, must first realize and joyfully admit that they could not live without her. He who would love God, and therefore have a zeal of God that consumes him, must do so for those things that God loves, namely His bride, whom He is faithfully bringing to perfection through the cleansing of His word. Sorry John. You can not know God, nor love God, apart from the church. As Augustine so rightly said, "He who would have God as his Father, would also have the Church as his mother."