Thursday, February 28, 2008

Image of the Beast

Listening to Obama’s campaign commercial on the Rush Limbaugh show (I know it is satire) makes wonder a few things. As Rush says, “Do you believe that Obama believes what you believe?” Even Hillary has commented that Obama doesn’t actually say anything.

For the last 16 years, the Clintons have been painting a picture of America as wonderful while they were in power and full of soup lines while Bush is in office. Now obviously this is really due to the Drive-by Media’s ability to give an impression by deluging Americans with bad news for 8 straight years. Image! That’s it. Produce an image that people will believe, even if that image has no substance what-so-ever.

The kicker, though, is that now the Clintons are surprised. Hillary is getting her clock cleaned by a rookie…a nobody rookie! Yet he is nothing but image. Have the Clintons and the DNC created a Frankenstein. This is just like every bad horror monster movie I have ever watched (Godzilla anyone?). It is what liberal Hollywood has been telling us for years. Some mad scientist creates something he ought not to create. The creature becomes uncontrollable. It comes back to kill the so-called master. The master dies. Chaos follows. Someone else has to fix the problem. I truly love watching all of this.

It gets even better, though. Today it is being reported that McCain borrowed money “by the promise of federal matching money” as security for the loan. This basically could put McCain under the Public Funds, which would severely limit his funds. I absolutely find this to good to be true. By making the McCain/Feingold Act (the Destruction of the First Amendment Act), McCain has possibly limited himself severely in his ability to campaign against Obama until September. Imagine that! Basically 8 weeks to spend money and beat Obama. He hasn’t even tried to articulate a vision to persuade conservatives to vote for him.

The irony in all of this is too much. The DNC creates a Frankenstein that is killing them. The RNC’s do-nothing strategy and McCain’s nonleadership (I have no ideas, just get in line you conservatives!) is literally going to be forced to watch and see what this creature will do since they will be able to do nothing. Just toooo much.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Saved With, Saved To

I believe "Theology Matters" and being consistent is important. I have written in response to Evangelicals who see man's need as social problems and just want to sit around asking "What do you think?" while having a beer with Jesus. Now I am not against interacting with people in order to gain an audience, but man's need is not to become a better you or to be great in 2008. It is about Christ and Christ Alone saving wicked dead rebellious sinners to the glory of God.

I have also written about the doctrines of grace and Sola Scriptura in response to Roman Catholic claims. Yet quite often RCs misunderstand mainly due to terminology that is shared but radically redefined. I was listening to Kim Riddlebarger's lecture on the Reformation Then and now. This lecture may be of great assistance for those wishing to truly understand what the Reformation was all about, and I would argue still is.

As Don Fry says, "What we save them with is what we save them to."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Space 1999

Here is an episode of a TV show from back in the mid-seventies. I remember watching this and being totally creeped out. As did all good sci-fi boys, I loved it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Inconsistent Pro-Lifers?

So Billy argues in this video that Pro-Lifers are inconsistent and also have no ability to gain political support if they were. Notice his argument is that if Pro-Lifers were consistent, then they would see Doctors and women that have abortions as being guilty of murder. He then proceeds to argue that under his policy the number of abortion were reduced. Therefore he concludes that being Pro-Choice is the superior position.

What I find interesting is two-fold. Yes, Pro-Lifers are being inconsistent, but not necessarily so. Many Pro-Lifers would like to throw Abortionists in jail for committing murder. Abortionists are the ones taking advantage of young girls who are in desperate situations. Yet is this really being inconsistent since Pro-Lifers are working in the political realm and doing the best they can? I don’t find his argumentation overly compelling but surely full of emotional tripe.

The other thing that is even more interesting is the real contradiction and inconsistency. Why is it important to reduce Abortions? Why does Bill even need a policy to reduce abortions? I would think Pro-Choicers would want to help as many young girls as possible from ruining their lives? Is this not a confession that abortions are wrong? If so, why are they wrong? Why do they need to be reduced?

Another problem with Billy’s argument is that what real reduction is there? Going from 1.3 million babies being murdered to 1.1 million (per year and I am just guessing about the stat) babies being murdered is reduction in the sense that Hitler reduced the final tally in a particular year that had the end result of the Holocaust reduced in mere numbers. However, we are not talking numbers. We are talking about people! This isn’t some kind of cigarette commercial for lung cancer. These are people!

Shallow thinking is just that. If Billy is truly confident of his position, then let’s see a real moderated public debate on the subject. Oh that’s right. Pro-Choicers don’t do moderated public debates. They always lose! The true inconsistency lies with Billy.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Christian Therapist

An interesting paragraph from Robert Reymond’s A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith:

“The presuppositional apologist believes that his propagation and defense of the faith should be worked out then in a way which is consistent with his most fundamental commitment lest it become incoherent and ineffective. Accordingly, he does not believe that he can improve upon the total message that God has commissioned him to give to fallen men. Taking very seriously all that the Scriptures say about the inability of fallen man to understand the things of the Spirit, he speaks God’s message, not to the so-called rational, neutral man who claims to be standing before him (this is fallen man’s erroneous presupposition about himself), but to the spiritually blind, spiritually hostile, and spiritually dead person who God says is standing before him. And he does this with the confidence that God’s Spirit, working by and with God’s Word, will regenerate the elect and call them to Himself. Should the Evidentialist object that the Presuppositionalist is only ‘throwing gospel rocks at the unbeliever’s head’ when he insists that the unbeliever must accept his biblical criteria for truth verification, the presuppositionalist, undaunted, will respond that he must continue to follow this approach just as the psychiatrist must continue to reason with a mental patient even though the latter lives in his own dreamworld and believes that it is the therapist who is out of his mind.”

How often do Christians forget that we are not dealing with morally neutral sinners, but SINNERS! Dead, blind, deaf, lame and ignorant sinners. As a pastor friend of mine reminded me, we do not need to “seal the deal” every time we evangelize. Instead we must believe that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes. We do not need to help God. We simply need to be faithful.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Must Be an Election Year

Government hands out cash, goes after evil men like Roger Clemens. Now the AP reports:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Bill Belichick has been illegally taping opponents' defensive signals since he became the New England Patriots' coach in 2000, according to Sen. Arlen Specter, who said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told him that during a meeting Wednesday.

Again, what does Specter have to do with the NFL and whether or not Belichick has violated some NFL rule? Nothing! Just another example of your tax dollars empowering government officials to violate the Constitution and the American way of life.

Specter said, "'We have a right to have honest football games,' he said."

That's right. We do have this right. It says it somewhere in that silly document. I think it was the 11th is in the 2nd. It is mixed in with the Right to Bear Arms against opposing football teams.

Because of this Specter discovery, perhaps we need a new government bureaucracy that oversees football. Then we could have a new branch of MPs guarding each team's practice from those who might cheat. I also think this bureaucracy could be expanded since some cheating occurred here in the Scott City men's softball league. One of the teams was clearly stacked. That simply wasn't fair.

The possibilities are just endless.

Congressional Bullys Going After Citizens

Kim Riddlebarger wrote a post on the Roger Clemens testimony to congress. I couldn't agree more with his post. He writes one paragraph saying:

Enter Congress. When Roger Clemens raised his hand and testified under oath before that congressional committee, everything changed. If Clemens lies to Congress, he is apt to be slapped with a perjury charge in which he could do serious time in a federal pen. The crime, mind you, was not taking HGH. The crime is lying to Congress. This is a process crime, plain and simple. This is what happened to Scooter Libby, and a host of others (whose names escape me) all because Congress uses its power to create a potential crime when no underlying crime was even present. This is political "gotcha" with horrific consequences to the victim. Both political parties do it, and it is absolutely shameful when they use these committees to conduct vendettas and create crimes that were not there before the committee called for hearings.

This is spot on. It should be a crime for Congress to be allowed to do such a thing. What does Congress have to do with Baseball? Why do they need to be spending all of this money on nothing? This is none of their business and no crime has been committed. They are trying to create a crime that doesn't exist and then prosecute someone on a technicality. Those of you who vote against conservatism (in either party) deserve the government you get. These guys should be voted out of office tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

So What Do These Guys Stand For?

Ok, it looks like Obama has taken the lead in this story. What I find interesting is the Republican strategy. McCain is quoted as saying:

"We know where either of their candidates will lead this country, and we dare not let them," he told supporters in Alexandria, Va. "They will paint a picture of the world in which America's mistakes are a greater threat to our security than the malevolent intentions of an enemy that despises us and our ideals."

I have still yet to know what is the Republican vision? When McCain has his democratic congress, what is he going to do? Where is he planning to lead us? The guy who loves to compromise with the Left is supposed to do what? Am I just supposed to get on the back of the bus because McCain says so? Maybe other conservatives will. Unless McCain starts leading a movement, I have no reason to get on. The only thing I have heard is that he'll get conservative endorsements? That was actually his reason to persuade me. Don't tell me your own vision. Just get some conservative like Falwell to say, "Hey, let's vote for McCain." Silly. Just silly.

Is there any conservative that wants to be President! Please!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Robert Reymond and the Existence of God

For my Systematic Theology Class I am reading Robert Reymond’s A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith. For years I have read many of the “evidentialists” argumentation for the existence of God. Some are quite complicated and others not quite so. All use human reason to prove God’s existence. What I have discovered over the years is that the evidentialists at some point will go against their own “evidentialist” position and argue presuppositionally. For example, in Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (I am also reading for the class) he writes:

“Thus, for those who are correctly evaluating the evidence, everything in Scripture and everything in nature proves clearly that God exists and that he is the powerful and wise Creator that Scripture describes him to be. Therefore, when we believe that God exists, we are basing our belief not on some blind hope apart from any evidence, but on an overwhelming amount of reliable evidence from God’s words and God’s works. It is a characteristic of true faith that it is a confidence based on reliable evidence, and faith in the existence of God shares this characteristic.”

Please notice the probability argument. We can believe in God because the evidence is overwhelming. Therefore we might conclude that the Christian belief is better than others or at least more reasonable. Yet this is not convincing to the man who may see things differently. To those who would disagree he says sin causes people to not evaluate the evidence correctly. Although I agree, this is not how the Reymond would argue. As a presuppositionalist he states:

"In conclusion, the presuppositionalist wishes the evidentialist would recognize that he too has his presuppositions as do all other people, and that he too reasons circularly. For instance, though the evidentialist will not permit the Bible to be self-authenticating, he presupposes (wrongly) that sensory data (cosmic, historical, archaeological, ect.) are self-authenticating, and thus he is as much a 'dogmatist' on sensory experience as the presuppositionalist is on revelation. Hence the objection of circularity that the evidentialist levels against the presuppositionalist applies to himself with equal force."

Reymond concludes his arguments about evidential apologetics:

"I must conclude that their use is the employment of shabby tools as means to win men to Christ. The defects in the arguments are many and apparent. Is not the apologist, then, leaving himself open to being humiliated should his auditor have the ability to point out the defects in them?"

I agree. Every argument to prove the existence of God will always find an opponent. Even the Evidentialist understands this and appeals to the idea that unbelievers are just blinded by their sin. Reymond concludes the chapter:

“Accordingly, we will not begin our study of the doctrine of God with the question, “Does God exist?” Of course God exists. As Gordon H. Clark has argued repeatedly, anything that has any faint meaning at all “exists”. But it makes a great deal of difference whether God is a dream, a mirage, the square root of minus one, or the infinite personal God of sacred Scripture...Apologetically speaking, it is the existence of this God—the Triune God of Holy Scripture—that provides the only viable answers to the most perplexing questions respecting the origin and nature of the world and mankind and the titanic issues of life and death.”

So how should the Christian witness to the Gospel? The same as that of the Apostles in their proclamation. Just because unbelievers are unbelievers does not mean they are allowed by God to remain in their unbelief. On the Day of Judgment, this excuse will not be allowed. Why do we allow it now? As Reymond says,

“When they debate, they draw their arguments from the Scriptures. They never imply that their hearers may legitimately question the existence of the Christian God, the truth of Scripture, or the historicity of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ prior to personal commitment. Never do they suggest by their appeal to the evidence for God’s presence and benevolence that they are endeavoring to erect a ‘probability construct.’ They went forth into the world not as professional logicians and philosophical theologians but as preachers and witnesses, insisting that repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ are the sinner’s only proper responses to the Apostolic witness.”

Let us as Christians learn to have complete confidence of God’s revelation of Himself and His Gospel and proclaim to a lost and sinful world that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Soli Deo Gloria

Friday, February 08, 2008

Dobson Now Supports a Candidate?

Now my intelligence is being insulted by Dr. Dobson. At 10 PM last night I received an e-mail saying:

"I am endorsing Gov. Mike Huckabee for President of the United States today. My decision comes in the wake of my statement on Super Tuesday that I could not vote for Sen. John McCain..."

Why is he just now endorsing Huckabee?

"That left two pro-family candidates whom I could support, but I was reluctant to choose between them. However, the decision by Gov. Mitt Romney to put his campaign "on hold" changes the political landscape. The remaining candidate for whom I could vote is Gov. Huckabee. His unwavering positions on the social issues, notably the institution of marriage, the importance of faith and the sanctity of human life, resonate deeply with me and with many others."

First of all, it is nearly impossible for Romney to "run the table" in order to beat McCain. His decision to suspend his campaign is a financial one. Huckabee is not going to be able to win either. So why is Huckabee still campaigning? Many have speculated because he wants to be VP.

Here is my problem. Huckabee is not a conservative. Romney more than sufficiently pointed this out in the debates. Huckabee says what is needed to be said to get the Evangelical vote. So why is Dobson supporting him now? I have the sneaking suspicion that Dobson never really wanted to be put in the position of supporting a Mormon. Perhaps he was hoping Romney or Thompson would break out of the pack on their own. Neither of them did. So perhaps by endorsing Huckabee now, with the hopes of him being on the ticket in November, may get the Christian Right a seat at that proverbial table.

Politics is a strange world, but I need not be insulted by voting for a guy who has already lost. The math is simple. If Huckabee was in third place, and it is nearly mathematically impossible for Romney to win, then there must be other motivations. Whatever they are, asking me to support a ticket that is not conservative seems insulting. Conservatism is more than religious issues. It is a way of American life. This, I think, is the problem when people confuse the issues of the roles of church and state.

Nominating a Loser Is Smart?

President Bush said at the Conservative Political Action Conference according to Fox News:

“The stakes in November are high. This is an important election. Prosperity and peace are in the balance,” Bush told about 2,000 people attending the Conservative Political Action Conference. “So with confidence in our vision and faith in our values, let us go forward, fight for victory and keep the White House in 2008.”

The story leads by saying Bush "marshaled the conservative wing of the Republican Party on Friday to back the presumed GOP presidential nominee." I'd like to know when this occurred. Here is a President I have very much liked. He is a likable guy. But he is not leading a Conservative movement though. I personally think he will go down in history as a President that unwittingly injured the Conservative movement.

If you think back, how often has Bush articulated Conservatism? How often has he had the opportunity to destroy the Democratic Party and failed to follow through at every turn? Now the Democrats are enjoying their upswing while Conservatives are feeling abandoned once again.

Bush went on to say,

“I’m absolutely confident that with your help, we will elect a person who shares our principles."

I am not sure who Bush is talking about. I must say this is Bush's character shining through assuming he is speaking of McCain. He is a kind man to be giving such lofty descriptions of the "Maverick" who alienates Conservatives at every turn. Such rhetoric may work if Hillary is the Democratic nominee, but it will fail if Obama wins the ticket.

GOP moderates better wake up to their poor reasoning skills. To think McCain can beat Hillary is one thing. To think McCain can beat Obama is quite another. Their tactics will fail. McCain is not articulating a vision for the future. We are back to the it's Bob Dole's turn mentality. He lost. So will McCain.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Sproul, The Holiness of God

I have recently finished The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. I simply could not say enough about this book. If you are looking for a book with substance, yet very easy reading, this book is for you. My 8-year-old daughter read the first chapter, and we had great discussions about it.

I will share just a couple of quotes.

Page 68:

Holiness provokes hatred. The greater the holiness, the greater the human hostility toward it. It seems insane. No man was ever more loving than Jesus Christ. Yet even His love made people angry. His love was a perfect love, a transcendent and holy love, but His very love brought trauma to people. This kind of love is so majestic we can’t stand it.

Sproul describes Jacob’s being in the presence of a Holy God in a place that is set apart for His glory at Bethel on page 137:

“'How awesome is this place!’ This was Jacob’s response to being in the house of God. People do not normally feel that way in church. There is no sense of awe, no sense of being in the presence of One who makes us tremble. People in awe never complain that church is boring.”

All I can really say is go and get this book…now. If you’re a close friend of mine, don’t bother. You’ll be getting a copy for Christmas or birthday or Valentine's Day or National Pancake Day or any excuse I can think of to send you a copy.

Romney Quits

Well, I guess it is official. Romney has bowed out of the race leaving McCain to get the GOP Nomination. I have to agree with James Dobson. I can not in good conscience vote for that man. McCain may be calling for unity, but where was his loyalty to Party Unity when Bush could not get his judicial nominees to the senate floor for a vote? McCain thinks we conservatives have short memories. He is dead wrong. I think I will need to find another party or candidate.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Disdain For McCain

A commenter on this Fox News story complains about conservatives disdain for McCain. Kris writes:

I can’t quite understand the degree to which some people hate John McCain. For over 10 years, the political landscape in this country has been bitter partisan and polarized. I, like many other Americans, am sick of it. I want the Congress to get back to doing the business of the people, and if that means politicians don’t always toe the party line, then GOOD FOR THEM.

This kind of thinking is very popular. It is natural for us to desire that we all get along. Hey, we are all Americans. We should get along. But the truth and historical facts keep this thinking from ever being reality. America has always been divided. The reason is simple. Different people hold to different ideas. We don't all agree as to how this country should be run.

My response to Kris is simple. Grid lock is a great thing. Believe me when I say that if Clinton gets into the White house with a Democrat Congress, I pray to God that Republicans leave no stone unturned to stop all legislation.

I am a Home-schooler. My wife and I teach our children. We believe this is not only a fundamental right but also a command by God to personally oversee their education. Mrs. Clinton will send the Home-schooling movement back 20 years. This is just one example. It is simply impossible to "get along" with the Left. They do not want to get along with Conservatives. They want to destroy us. Why do we act as if that is not the case.

If McCain is elected, I have absolutely no confidence that McCain's compromising with the Left will bring any future freedom. McCain is not an idealist. He has never articulated a vision that is clear except one that tries to work with the enemies of freedom. To be honest, I have no idea why anyone likes him. Kris laments this. Perhaps he has been asleep during the past 8 years?

Whose Ideas should govern this country? Thinking Ideology has nothing to do with how we approach government, or thinking government is just a business like Walmart is naive at best.

Even Dr. James Dobson finally made a statement opposing McCain. You may be reminded about McCain's shenanigans here.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Boyce vs. Caner

I am taking a class this semester with a Pastor friend of mine on Systematic Theology. I just received one of my textbooks today by James P. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology. Whenever I receive a new Hard Cover book, I always break it in. I happened to turn to chapter 30, which deals with Reprobation. Note the first page:

THE doctrine of Election is intimately associated with and involves that of Reprobation. The latter has met with even greater opposition, and misconstructions of what the orthodox teach on this subject have been even more numerous.

The Scriptural statements as to Reprobation are that God, in eternity, when he elected some, did likewise not elect others; that as resulting from this non-election, but not as efficiently caused by it, he passes by these in the bestowment of the special favours shown to the Elect, and, as in like manner yet further resulting, condemns men, because of sin to everlasting destruction, and while they are in the state of sin and condemnation, he effects or permits the hardening of their heart, so that his truth is not appreciated, but actually rejected.

According to this statement there are four points involved in the decrees as to Reprobation:

1. The decree not to elect.

2. The decree to pass by in bestowing divine grace.

3. To condemn for sins committed.

4. To harden against the truth all or some persons, already sinners, and to confirm them in sin.

In considering this doctrine we are met by the difficulty arising from the want of knowledge of God's purpose in action. It may he questioned whether we can arrive at this at all; yet to understand this subject fully, we must know that purpose. If, therefore, we cannot learn it, we see with what propriety we must submit simply to accept what God says.

There is simply no way for non-Calvinists to agree to such things. Yet, within the walls of the SBC, there seems to be the idea that the original Southern Baptists were not Calvinists. For instance, Ergun Caner has had Liberty Seminary’s name changed back to Liberty Baptist Seminary. You may be saying, “So what?” Well, read this quote from this post on his site:

“Too many schools have Baptist in their name but not in their doctrine. Some have drifted into liberalism and cultural relativism; still others remain orthodox, but have drifted toward non-Baptist reformed doctrine and cultural isolationism. For us, this was our line in the sand.”

Apparently, Caner thinks Reformed Theology is akin to Liberalism and “non-Baptist”.

Now the above quote by Boyce should cause one to ponder this claim by Caner. Is James P. Boyce just some individual Baptist that we may all ignore? Hardly! The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) uses a confession called The Abstract of Principles. This confession was written by…guess who? Here is the opening paragraph:

When the original charter of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was adopted in 1858 it contained the following statement which constitutes as a part of the "fundamental laws." "Every professor of the institution shall be a member of a regular Baptist Church; and all persons accepting professorships in this Seminary shall be considered, by such acceptance, as engaging to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles hereinafter laid down, a departure from which principles on his part shall be grounds for his resignation or removal by the Trustees."

SBTS was also founded by Boyce, who was, as this article states, “Like most Baptists of the south, Boyce was already a committed Calvinist when he arrived at Princeton.”

History and truth just have a way of catching up with those who live in denial.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Non-Elect Is Going to Be Saved?

A friend of mine once ask why I believe in Partial Redemption. I responded by asking if he meant Particular Redemption. He said, "no", since I believe God has sent his Son to die in behalf of only the Elect. Although his position only "partially" saves as well (he is not a universalist), it is a deeper understanding of the intention of the Father and the Son that must be grappled with.

Recently, Dr. White posted this "Vlog". Dave Hunt criticizes the usual straw men. There is a statement that I hear all the time that makes me wonder what do General Atonement people believe about who is saved.

At about the 3 minute mark Dave reads the Westminster Confession of Faith"

I. All those whom God hath predestinated unto life, and those only, He is pleased, in His appointed time, effectually to call,[1] by His Word and Spirit,[2] out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ;[3] enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God,[4] taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them an heart of flesh;[5] renewing their wills, and, by His almighty power, determining them to that which is good,[6] and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ:[7] yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by His grace.[8]

Please Notice Dave's stressing the "and those only". I have often heard this objection as if God is being unfair that Jesus doesn't actually die for every single individual ever with the intention of saving them. God seems to owe everyone a chance.

The problem for those like Dave is that they just don't think of themselves as being dead sinners. They simply think that all men have some kind of ability to freely choose of their own Libertarian free will. But even still, the Bible speaks of the Elect. Does Dave think somebody who is not of the Elect will come to Christ? Who else is going to believe? Perhaps Dave thinks everyone is of the Elect until..........?

Now the running commentary points out many of the flawed arguments Dave persists in speaking. I don't know why Dave Hunt keeps doing what he does. The power of Tradition is certainly seen throughout his presentation.

He Missed the Mark

I just couldn’t believe it. They lost. I felt surreal. Did what I see really just happen? Did the Patriots really lose the game?

Prior to the game, I really began to believe that this could be it. This could truly be the team that goes undefeated. I didn’t become over confident. I only had bet a nickel on the game. I am fully aware that anything can happen. Nevertheless, I really started to believe this team would do the impossible. Then that touchdown pass with less than a minute in the game brought me back to reality. Unless Brady and Moss performed a miraculous play, the Patriots would end their season 18-1.

What was interesting was the feeling after the game. What now? Where does one go from here? It was almost a taste of losing something that you may not get back. It brought to my mind that Scripture speaks of death in a similar fashion. I don’t mean to make light of the loss of family members or friends by comparing them to a sports game. Yet, the feeling is similar even if to a much lesser degree of course. Unlike certain other sports fans I know, I will actually get over this quickly. But there is a real connection, though. Let me explain.

What is the definition of sin? We all know it is a deliberate disobedience to God. Yet the meaning of sin is literally to “miss the mark”. The analogy is often used of a bow and arrow. The shooter aims for the center of the bull’s eye and the bow bends just enough to miss the mark. So going into the Super-Bowl the Patriots have a perfect season. If they win, they will achieve what only one other team has done…perfection. In the end, even though they have won every game, they will always be known for having “missed the mark”. This “missing the mark” leads to that feeling of death, that sense of loss. Fans know this intuitively. We all say to ourselves that, “Hey, they did what no other team has ever done. They won 18 games in a row”, but we know that we are kidding ourselves. We demand perfection. We even expect it.

When it comes to God, isn’t the situation similar? We know that Adam did not do what Adam needed to do. He needed to live perfectly. We even expect it from others around us today. We know we ought to be perfect ourselves. Yet, we miss the mark. When we sin, we feel the sense of guilt that just won’t go away.

Tom Brady asked recently in an interview:

"Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there's something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, 'Hey man, this is what is.' I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think, 'God, it's got to be more than this.' I mean this isn't, this can't be what it's all cracked up to be."

Even a winner like Brady knows that man in all his glory has missed the mark. I pray that the Lord would show Tom his true need. He doesn’t need reformation or a better program or a better work ethic or to hang out with better people or to support the United Way or even win another Super-Bowl with a perfect season. He needs to understand he has missed the mark of God’s Holiness.

There is one who truly has hit the bull’s eye. There is one whose life is perfect and whose righteousness meets the standards of God’s holiness and righteousness. There is one who has taken the sins of the world and satisfied the wrath of God for all who believe.

2Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Christ is the perfect Mediator between God and men. Look to Christ. He has hit the mark.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Less Theology?

A constant refrain that I seem to hear is that churches are too doctrinal or theological and not actively living their beliefs. In other words, it seems that the charge of "dead orthodoxy" is the problem in the church today.

Now, I have no doubt that this may be the case in many churches, but I am just not sure where. Study after study and poll after poll demonstrates that most American Christians have no real grasp of basic doctrines. So why is the charge of dead orthodoxy always being leveled at the church? Perhaps it is because we often see the culture dying and the church seems to not be able to impact our culture. Perhaps we see many churches emptying and dying in themselves. The solution must be to bring moral renewal!

For years we have seen main line Protestant churches attempting to save the world through the "social Gospel" all to fail miserably. In recent decades we have seen the opposite. Conservative Fundamentalist churches have also tried to preserve the culture by becoming legalistic. Their groups are failing as well. For they think they are preaching the Gospel in order to save people from drinking alcohol or saving them from the movie theater. This kind of gospel fails just as well.

Having become a little older in my Christian walk and having been around the theological block so to speak, you see fads come and go. Yes, they come under different disguises. For instance, we now have famous preachers going "green" with the environmental gospel (Rick Warren) or Emergent Churches trying to be cool. But in the end, they are always the same. Experience is often a good teacher when guided by Scripture.

What is interesting though is that just a little knowledge of church history makes one aware of the many many moral renewal movements that have already taken place and failed to bring about what they promised. For instance, Martin Luther once wrote that the Pope would remember him because unlike the many moralists of his day (yes, there were many reformers in Luther's day) Luther would bring real change through the preaching of the Gospel.

Now this might strike you just a bit odd, for you might be thinking, why wouldn't the gospel bring moral renewal. Yet, whenever I explain the Gospel, the most common argument I receive is "You're saying that you are saved without good works. So then you can say you are a believer and then go kill people!"

Now there will always be false professors of the faith. Yet, in the preaching of the simple Gospel, moral renewal always follows quite naturally or perhaps I should say supernaturally. Allow me to quote a great preacher of the 20th century Martin Lloyd-Jones. You will see history repeating itself even in just the last few decades:

"Take all this new interest in the social application of the Gospel, and the idea of going to live amongst the people and to talk politics and to enter into their social affairs and so on....It was then called the 'Social Gospel', but it was precisely the same thing."

"The same is true of various other agencies that are coming into the life and activity of the Church. What is advocated today as a new approach was practised by what was then called the Institutional church; and this, once more, was done with considerable thoroughness. There were all sorts of cultural clubs in the churches, and the Church became the centre of social life. There were organised games and clubs of various descriptions. All this was given a most thorough trial in the pre-1914 period.

But we are entitled to ask, surely, whether they worked, how effective they were, and what they led to. The answer is that they were failures, they were proved to be failures. I am not so aware in a detailed way of the position in the U.S.A., which I know is somewhat different from that in Great Britain, but I have no hesitation in asserting that what was largely responsible for emptying the churches in Great Britain was that 'social gospel' preaching and the institutional church. It was more responsible for doing so than anything else. The people rightly argued in this way, that if the business of the Church was really just to preach a form of political and social reform and pacifism then the Church was not really necessary, for all that could be done through the political agencies. So they left the churches and went and did it, or tried to do it, through their political parties. That was perfectly logical, but its effect upon the churches was most harmful."

As Rush says, "liberals don't want to be judged by what they produce, but only their intentions." Today we have competition with schools, Focus and other family groups, Fundy Baptists and politicians, Emergent churches and Green gospels and whatever else you could add to the list. They may have "good intentions", but unless we are willing to follow the Biblical model of preaching and forming the local church, in the end we will see conservative churches where England is now. Dead Dead Dead. They will follow Main Line Protestant churches into the grave.

It is not moral renewal that gets a church to walk in the "good works" that the Lord has prepared before hand. It is precisely the Gospel of Sovereign Grace by which a guilty sinner is declared righteous that takes out a heart of stone and puts in a heart of flesh.

Soli Deo Gloria