- The Reformed Pastor
- My real name is Charlie Albright. I am the pinnacle of evil who God has flooded with His mercy. Declaring my sinful self righteous and holy in His sight! Lavishing His grace upon me by the blood Jesus shed on the cross! Carrying me through this life and giving me satiatfing joy! Anything good about me is only because of His grace!
Friday, November 30, 2007
The topic that was on a new generation of evangelicals (the group was labeled "emergent." However, the church in the interview was far more "emerging.") and what this means to politics. The new generation of Christians are less likely to pledge their allegiance to the Republican party. Thus, the question was, how is this new movement of evangelicals shaping the political scene?
They interviewed and focused on one young pastor Tadd Grandstaff of Pine Ridge Church who was suppose to represent this growing tide of evangelicals. He used the most modern lighting, screens, podcast, and blogs. He made the point that declaring his church "Republican" and bring the politics in the pulpit would turn away all the non-republicans they are trying to reach.
That was one part of the topic. Wanting to say that younger evangelicals, those that will inherit the church, vote other than Republican.
Then the interview got on the topic of homosexuality. It was said that the young group was not as "doctrinaire" as old evangelicals. Though, Pastor Tadd says that homosexuality is a sin, they want to talk about the good of true marriage, not the sin of homosexuality. He does not have to bash or speak against homosexuality. Now, this is where I have to back off because I distrust NBC's interviewing. I do not know what the preacher believes in full. For NBC will use what parts of an interview they want to. This was just a clip with no context, or time for the pastor to clarify. So, I cannot say yea or nay about the pastor.
Then, to back up the pastor's position, NBC interviewed a member of the church on this matter. Now, once again, there is no room for a definite say on what the pastor believes and teaches. Is this a member since the founding of the church? Did the person just become a member? Is this one of those members that only comes to church every three months? We do not know. But, the member said that homosexuality is a private matter and should not be an issue in the church. (even the fact she was talking about homosexuality can be questioned) scary! But, like I mentioned, no way to tell what the pastor teaches.
Then comes the interview with Dr. Mohler. Of course, this is the context which within he is put on! All that this interview consisted of was Dr. Mohler saying that The Christian faith sets
boundaries that believers must live in. End of interview.
Then the the interview goes back to Pastor Tadd and the question of if rules set down by older members of the church were to strict. (a.k.a Albert Mohler) Once again, the interview was just clips from pastor Tadd and no way to tell if he knew the question was sprung from what Dr. Mohler said. I don't believe that pastor Tadd would disagree at all with what Dr. Mohler said (as briefly as it was said at that) and affirm it completely.
my response to all fo that was, "That's it!"
Sad in my opinion. The only thing that I came away knowing was that news service's interviews cannot be trusted. Clips taken form here, there, this person, that person. No way to tell what each party truly believes. In fact, I'd say that Dr. Mohler and Pastor Tadd would agree on a lot of things.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
In an article in the Tennesee Baptist Newsjournal, Baptist & Reflector, a messenger at the Tennessee Baptist Convention raised a motions calling for prospective trustees and committee members to not be required to affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. He said that the question should be, “Do you affirm God’s Holy Word, the Bible, as his perfect and complete revelation.” This was for the purpose of unity in the Body of Christ and not making the standard a document written by men.
This got me thinking about Christianity, unity and creeds.
I have had to deal with this issue before. Having gone to a Christian Church college for a semester. The Christian Church believes that denominationalism is wrong and we should not be known as Baptist, Methodists, and such, but just as Christians. Thus, the issue of denominations was raised frequently.
First off lets look at unity. What does the Bible say in regard to unity and Believers. Psalm 133 goes like this,
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the Lord has commanded the blessing,
So unity among believers is good and desirable. This passage compares unity with the anointing of Aaron. This harkens the reader back to Leviticus 8:12 where Aaron is consecrated to the Lord by anointing. Thus, unity among brothers is compared to an act of consecration to the Lord. Then it is likened to the dew from Hermon falling on the mountains of Zion. Wind from the Mediterranean Sea would blow the dew from Hermon, which was in the north, on the mountains of Zion. The goods of one mountain would be given to another. So, those that are unified are an aid to each other. Unity is pleasant, good, sanctifying, and providing. Unity is not something to be thought of lightly. Unified should be a place that is sought after.
I will say that to many times unity is not taken seriously. People will argue and divide over things that should not be divisive. Yet, because our eyes are on others things beside the things that are from above and our hearts are not overwhelmed in gratitude of the Savior’s love and His blood spilled in our behalf we divide. We will not take the time to be humble and gentle in our discussions and disagreements. Unity is to much a vision amongst believers as it should be a reality.
The Bible has more to say about unity. Yes, as Christians, unity is to be pursued in our local churches and amongst every body that confess the Lord Jesus Christ. But listen to Paul’s words to the Philippians,
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether
I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in
one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,
A goal is set for unity attain. We are to stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side. Yet that is not the end of what Paul wants of the Philippians. The unity has a purpose; it is for something. They are side by side for the gospel! Unity is not an end itself.
The church is unified for the spread of the glory of Jesus Christ among every tribe and tongue to the glory of His name. We live with one another to treasure, keep, and proclaim the gospel. For this purpose we are unified!
Taken together, Unity is good, pleasant, sanctifying, and providing if it is used in keeping the faith of the gospel. If it does not complete the goal then unity of the body is a failure. For it does not ultimate profit people. If unity becomes the focus instead of the gospel then the only message that can satisfy man and redeem him from the wrath of God is not preached. Lies start to over take truth so that no one is offended.
On this point, I will say that most attempts to unify the church today break away from the purpose Christ intended unity to have. What is called unifying today is usually people selling away truth for the approval of man. Satisfying the division between men has become more of a priority than satisfying the division between one and God. Offending man has become far greater a crime than offending God. These actions are completely contrary to what God had in mind when He called His church to be unified. What is happening in the church today, under the mask of unity, grieves the Holy Spirit and eclipses the gospel from a lost and dying world.
Unity is to glorify Christ by being for the faith of the gospel. Unity is pleasant and good if it accomplishes this. And that is the unity the church must strive for. Not rebellion masquerading as unity.
From what the Bible tells us about unity, should Christians use Creeds or just say, “we use the Bible.”
If unity is about the gospel, then our question of membership should be about the gospel not about one’s views of the Bible. (I am not saying that one’s views of the Bible will not affect the gospel, I believe that in the end it will. I am just saying that it is not the first and only question.) If the church is to be unified with whoever just says, “I affirm God’s Holy Word, the Bible, as his perfect and complete revelation.” then we show that we have no concern for what they believe the Bible to teach. The Christian faith is not about the book, it is about the message of the book. It is because we cherish the message that we cherish the book. The message is what distinguishes between who truly believes.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you
received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast
to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. (1 Cor 15:1-2)
The message (gospel) is what we received. It is what we are standing on. It is the means by which we are being saved.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ
died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he
was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he
appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five
hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have
fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all,
as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. (1 Cor 15:3-7)
Our unity is founded on the gospel that we have received.
The test of unity must be that of the person’s belief of the message. Thus, to simply ask, “Do you believe that the Bible is the only Word of God?” is to miss the test of true unity amongst Christians. We must ask the person what they believe the Bible to teach.
This is where Creeds and statements of faith become an essential. For they are means to test if one holds to the message we believe. If it is a good creed or statement, then it will lay out the message by which we see who accepts and who does not.
What about the fact that they are written by men? I really do not understand this problem. If a Creed contains the message that we have received then how in the world does the message lose its authority? How does clarification and translation diminish or remove the message? If that is the case, then one’s translation of the Bible is the same level as a creed. It was printed by men and written in a different language of all things. It did not come directly form the mouth of God. Also, what is the difference between what is written by men and what is spoken by men? Any clarification of a verse during a conversation with a lost person immediately means that the verse has lost its authority? Or not even clarification, just saying it puts it in the words of men. Especially if it is not in the original Greek or Hebrew. So, I am not bought with the “words of men” argument.
Unity is to guard and spread the glory of Jesus found in the gospel to the world. This is why we seek to be unified with the brethren. When we seek the unity as a means for the dispersion of the gospel then unity is good, pleasant, sanctifying, providing, and well pleasing to God. Thus we unify ourselves on this message. Anybody that does not agree with is message is reach out to with hope that they will receive the message. Anybody that believes it and cherishes it is embraced. And Creeds and statements of faith help us in make this distinction.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Preaching Select Attributes of God and the Effect of that with the Practice of Denying Penal Substitution.
Choosing to see and worship select attributes of God’s character can lead to truths of the Bible being denied. It is costly to preach only the attributes of God that you and your hearers want to believe and hear about. An example of this tendency is the denial of penal substitution because the doctrines if sin and God’s wrath are ignored.
An evangelical pastor made this statement about the doctrine of penal substitution (Jesus completely satisfying the wrath of God by His death for those who believe on Him) not to long ago,
"The fact is that the cross isn't a form of cosmic child abuse—a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offence he has not even committed…If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his Son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus' own teaching to love your enemies and to refuse to repay evil with evil." (Steve Chalke and Alan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus, [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003], pp. 182-183)
Such was the statement made by this pastor, the belief that Jesus took the wrath of God upon Himself at the cross is equated with “cosmic child abuse.” The rejection of this truth, however, is not only coming from him. If one keeps an ear tuned to theological circles, he will come across more and more people who count penal substitution as a worthless or a offensive doctrine. Why is this happening?
Stand under most gospel presentations today and you will here a reduced gospel message about humanity. D. A. Carson sums up this gospel message preached today very well,
"In recent years it has become popular to sketch the Bible's story-line something like this: Ever since the fall, God has been active to reverse the effects of sin. He takes action to limit sin's damage; he calls out a new nation, the Israelites, to mediate his teaching and his grace to others; he promises that one day he will come as the promised Davidic king to overthrow sin and death and all their wretched effects. This is what Jesus does: he conquers death, inaugurates the kingdom of righteousness, and calls his followers to live out that righteousness now in prospect of the consummation still to come."(Why Is the Doctrine of Penal Substitution Again Coming Under Attack? by: D. A. Carson.)
Notice that missing from most gospel presentations is any mention of the offense that sin is to God and the wrath that He has against it. Sin has been reduced to pain and sorrow in this world. It is the troubles and grief that is brought on a person because of their bad choices. God’s response is simply to remove it from humanity. Sin is not a abominable act that insults the character of God. God’s view of sin is ignored or seen only in terms of it effect on humanity.
Added to this is the removal of the wrath of God upon sin. God is presented these days as a fixer of problems. No indignation from the rebellion that goes on before Him is even spoken of. No floods of anger and vengeance being stored up to be unleashed on God’s enemies is acknowledge. The infinite offense to God’s holiness that is caused by sin is a total stranger to the stereotypical evangelistic message.
So, what we get from this message is a reduced gospel. The problem is not that the story line is completely wrong. It is the fact that only half of God’s character is revealed. God’s justice and wrath are completely eclipsed by the intensification of God’s more acceptable, enjoyable, and delightful attributes. In essence, then, what we get from this selective message is no teaching on God’s wrath and justice. Thus, when the wrath of God is brought before people, it is a foreign and sometimes offense subject.
When one brings these facts to the penal substitution debate, puzzle pieces start falling into place as to why this doctrine is being denied. If the wrath of God is an unknown subject, no one would know that it must be removed? It would seem very odd that Christ would absorb the anger of God if God has not been angry at sinners. It would seem that Christ was given unnecessary affliction in His death. Thus, by the removal of the consideration of God’s wrath, the atmosphere for this doctrine to be denied has been made.
God’s attributes are not decorations of God that can be picked and chosen according to one’s preferences. God is all that He is. All his attributes make up His glorious character. This doctrinal debate is just an example of the consequences of only looking at the attributes of God that we like.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Give me abhorrence of all evil,
As a vile monster that
Defiles thy law, casts off thy yoke,
Defiles my nature, spreads misery.
Teach me to look to Jesus on his cross
And so to know sin’s loathsomeness in thy sight.
There is no pardon but through thy Son’s death,
No cleansing but in his precious blood,
No atonement but his to expiate evil.
May I discern the deadly viper in its real malignity,
Tear it with holy indignation from my breast,
Resolutely turn from its every snare,
Refuse to hold polluting dalliance with it.
Blessed Lord Jesus, at thy cross
May I be taught the awful miseries from which
I am saved,
Ponder what the word ‘lost’ implies,
See the fires of eternal destruction;
Then may I cling more closely to thy broken self,
Adhere to thee with firmer faith,
Be devoted to thee with total being,
Detest sin as strongly as thy love to me is strong
And may holiness be the atmosphere
In which I live
(The Valley of Vision. Page 182-183)
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Friday, November 2, 2007
If thou but suffer God to guide thee
And hope in Him through all thy ways,
He’ll give thee strength, whate’er betide thee,
And bear thee through the evil days.
Who trust in God’s unchanging love
Builds on the rock that naught can move.
Be patient and await His leisure
In cheerful hope, with heart content
To take whatever thy Father’s pleasure
And His discerning love hath sent,
Nor doubt our inmost want are known
To Him who chose us for His own.
God knows full well when time of gladness
Shall be the needful thing for thee.
When He has tried thy soul with sadness
And from all guile has found thee free,
He comes to thee all unaware
And makes thee own His loving care.
Nor think amid the fiery trial
That God hath cast thee off unheard,
That he whose hopes meet no denial
Must surely be of God preferred.
Time passes and much change doth bring
And set a bound to everything.
Sing, pray, and keep His ways unswerving,
Perform thy duties faithfully,
And trust His Word: though undeserving,
Thou yet shalt find it true for thee.
God never yet forsook in need
The soul that trusted Him indeed.
(If thou but suffer God to guide thee. Words: Georg Neumark, 1641. Information from Cyber Hymnal.)