Thursday, September 16, 2010

Accepting Christ

Must we "accept Christ as our personal savior" in order to be saved?

If so, why doesn't the Bible just say that?

If not, then why do Christians assert it?

I have no tolerance for Christian jargon being passed off as doctrine.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Leading Others To Christ

What do people mean by "leading others to Christ"? Is this a Scriptural directive, command or principle? Does the Bible allude to such a concept? Anywhere?

But it sounds good. Sounds sort of "spiritual" doesn't it?


It is best to read the Bible without any preconceived notions about what it should be saying. I like how Doug Phillips says it in his Publisher's Introduction to How God Wants Us to Worship Him by Joe Moorecraft, III:

"Suppose you lived on a desert island, had never had contact with modern culture, and the only thing to guide you in your decision making or in formulating your worldview was the Bible. How would you live?"

In other words, lay aside everything you've been taught, disassemble the incorrect framework you've built on which you hang Bible teachings and just let the Bible speak for itself. Or, more correctly, let the Bible speak for God.

I agree with this. But I also believe that it isn't possible to entirely jettison doctrine, once it is acquired, and that proper doctrine can be an aid to understanding the Bible.

In terms of culture, Christian lingo, popular movements, yes, discard them all and start from scratch. But when it comes to doctrine, hold fast to the truth. Which brings me to my point. Reading the Psalms is so much more enjoyable, not to mention edifying, when read with proper understanding of the Kingdom. Not just the Psalms, of course, but that is what I was reading this morning when I had my "ah-ha" moment.

Before I embraced Reformed theology, before I was a Calvinist, back when I was a rabid dispensationalist, I could never get a grasp on the Psalms. As a matter of fact, so many things I read did not fit into my dispensations, as I had been taught to understand them. Some things in the Bible seem to transcend the dispensations, and this was very confusing for me. But now, I see that God has been at work since the beginning of time, building a Kingdom, choosing his people, preparing a bride. Of course! Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Christian Liberty?

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Galations 5:13

Recently I questioned a fellow believer about an activity in which she had engaged. In defense of her behavior she stated that her husband said they could do it because of "Christian f&#*!ing liberty."
His vulgarity in describing his position seems appropriate, considering his argument. There was no attempt to convince me that the activity was not prohibited by either command or principle in the Scripture. There was no attempt to convince me that the activity was edifying or loving or involved serving others. There was no attempt to convince me that the activity was done for any reason other than gratifying the flesh.
But, since they weren't going to hell for doing it, it was fine. Never mind any consideration of whether it might be inappropriate. Or as Paul put it, All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (I Corinthians 6:12) and again, All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. (I Corinthians 10:23) So, shouldn't the question have been, not "is it lawful?" for we know that it is, but more like "Is it expedient?" "Is it edifying?" Perhaps even "What is my purpose in doing this?"
I have noticed that when someone is engaging in an activity which may be construed as "good works" and is asked why, he NEVER answers, "Christian liberty." People only say that when they don't want to address the fleshliness, worldliness or even sinfulness of their behavior.

Nowhere in the Bible, that I can find, are we encouraged to do things solely because of our liberty to do so. But in at least 3 places we are expressly urged NOT to do things just because we have that liberty and also NOT to offer "liberty" as an excuse.

So, if you find yourself in the position of having to justify your behavior and the only possible argument you can imagine is "Christian liberty", do us all a favor and keep it to yourself. You don't sound spiritual or enlightened, you just sound stupid and ignorant of God's Word. I know you can do better.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The 5 Points of Calvinism

Sometimes the acronym "TULIP" is used as an aid in remembering the 5 points of Calvinism.

T - Total Inability (or Total Depravity)
U - Unconditional Election
L - Limited Atonement
I - Irresistible (Efficacious) Grace
P - Perseverance of the Saints

For more information and a comparison to Arminianism see:

The Reformed Faith

Monday, September 6, 2010

The 5 Points of Arminianism

The 5 Points of Arminianism

1. Free Will or Human Ability

2. Conditional Election

3. Universal Redemption or General Atonement

4. The Holy Spirit Can Be Effectually Resisted

5. Falling From Grace

For an explanation of the above and a contrast with Calvinism see this:

The Reformed Faith

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I Kissed Courtship Goodbye

While I don't espouse the theory of evolution when it comes to origins, I must admit that "evolving" is the best word I can find to explain my understanding of marriage and the process used when a man takes a woman to wife. And honestly, I hope I'm close to arriving at some sort of truth on the matter, because the journey has been painful and exhausting. It is my sincerest hope that my youngest children will be able to have a simple and joyful understanding of this long before they are ready to use it and that it will be substantially unchanged throughout their lives and the lives of their children. In other words, I hope it will be something that transcends cultural practice and becomes a part of their biblical worldview.

This blog post cannot even begin to operate as some sort of tutorial on the subject. It will be more like a brief summation of where I'm at right now, with some glimpses into where I've been. I once purchased a book covering the topic of children in the worship service. I bought it because I desired for my own children to remain with me during the service and I was having a disagreement about it with the pastor. While I understood my reasoning, I'd hoped the book would offer some more scriptural backing for my position. As it turned out, the book contained many more reasons for keeping children in worship than I could even understand, and most of those reasons were based upon covenant theology. The problem was, it was a small book and it was presuming the reader already had a basic understanding of covenant theology, which I did not.

And so it is with betrothal. Without a truly biblical understanding of betrothal and how God went about choosing a bride for His Son, much of what I'm going to say about betrothal for us humans will seem foreign. At the same time, rejecting betrothal as being God designed, and failing to study it in the Bible results in bad theology, primarily the rejecting of reformed theology. (Loosely defined by the 5 main points outlined by Calvin.) In modern marriage we have the woman choosing the man as much as the man chooses the woman and so modern theology teaches that man chooses God as much as God chooses man. And we wonder why our churches and families are in shambles.

Let's look for a minute at modern coupling, starting with dating. Dating is a recreational activity, started as young as age 12. Assuming 12 year-olds are not looking for life partners, there can be no other purpose in dating for those not yet ready to marry. Of course, it turns out that dating is actually good preparation for modern marriage, which could be described as "serial monogamy." Dating consists of two people getting to know each other until they know enough to realize that they don't really like each other. Or until someone better comes along for one of the parties. This goes on, swapping one partner for another until getting to a partner who, after a reasonable amount of time, doesn't make a person want to puke, so he/she marries him/her. Or some people just go on dating different people because they enjoy the recreation and lack of commitment and never choose to marry at all.

Many in the Christian community have rejected dating as a means to finding a spouse and have substituted in its place "courtship". Like dating, courtship consists of a man and a woman spending time together for the purpose of getting to know one another, and, if it works out right, they get married. I have heard it said that the express purpose of a courtship relationship is marriage rather than just having fun. But, like dating, courtship can end at any time with either party declaring that they don't think the other is "the one God has for me." In other words, just like dating, they break up and move on to someone else. To me it seems exactly the same as dating with all the same pitfalls and dangers. The ONLY difference is that the parents of the man and woman are supposed to be guiding the couple and the couple is supposed to be avoiding hanky panky and keeping themselves "pure".

Both dating and courtship make the same fundamental mistake in relying on emotions and feelings to be the main determining factor in marriage. In other words, even if the couple are an otherwise perfect match, if she doesn't "like" him, there will be no marriage. And for some reason, whether or not she likes him can only be determined by her spending lots of time with him? As if we tend to like people more after we have spent lots and lots of time with them? Generally the opposite is true, people that we liked very much at first tend to lose their shine when we really get to know them.

Besides, if spending time together is the best way to know whether a couple will be compatible in marriage, then why not just shack up? Then each can be absolutely certain that the other isn't concealing anything. If you say that shacking up is off limits for Christians, then where should the arbitrary line be drawn? Is it ok to be alone together? To hold hands? To kiss? To be affectionate and talk mushy? How can it be determined that they know each other well enough to make a decision?

I can already hear the questions now. "But, but, but, if they don't get to know each other, then how can they decide whether they should marry?" That is the wrong question. The question should be, "How do we know if a couple should marry?" Should it be based at all on "getting to know each other"? I think not. At least not in the personality, do I like him, sort of way. Instead, let the father discover for himself whether the man is qualified to be a husband to his daughter. The man looking for a wife should have a pretty good idea that this young lady will work for him before he ever approaches her father, and a few pointed questions to the father can probably clear up any ambiguities.

And the young lady, what part does she play in this? Not much. The father comes to her and says, "So and so wants to marry you. I think he would be a good husband for you. What do you say?" She says either "yes" or "no". If she agrees, the father enters into a betrothal agreement with the man, which includes a recitation of the bride price, which goes to the bride whether they marry or not.

A transition to this system as "normal" will be difficult. It will require teaching our children from infancy that Daddy will take care of getting a husband for the girls and that the boys must not ever speak with a woman about marriage, but are to restrict themselves to speaking ONLY with the father of a women whom they are ready to marry. Maybe I'll even evolve to the point that the man's father should pick out a prospective bride for his son, too.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Pro Choice Christians

What is wrong with the Church? Why is it that the children of the chosen go the way of the world nearly as frequently as the children of those not chosen? I would assert that it is because dispensationalists are Pro-Choice.

By "dispensationalist" I am referring to those whose theology is not reformed. Those who are not Calvinists. Primarily these folks believe that God saved his Old Testament people in one way, and his New Testament people in a different way. They believe that the Old Testament is useful, but not really authoritative in terms of God's justice or God's commands and that the New Testament somehow supersedes the Old. It's as if God suddenly did something completely different, disregarding everything He had said previously. The term itself comes from the idea that God has acted differently during different "dispensations" of time. I know and love the dispensationalists, for I, myself, was one of them. Thank God He delivered me from dispensationalism.

But my beef with dispensationalists is not so much their nonsensical beliefs about time but with their wrong-headed insistence that man chooses Christ rather than Christ choosing man. When it comes to salvation, they believe man is Pro-Choice.

I don't have the time or the theological training to launch into a full-blown defense of Calvinism here. If you are truly interested there are plenty of websites and books available on the subject. What I want to point out is one of the practical consequences of being Pro-Choice which is that their children leave the Church in droves. According to Barna Research Group, somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of teens who claim to be born again will not be practicing Christianity by their twenties.

What I can't find, is a statistic that compares the teens of evangelical reformed families versus those of evangelical non-reformed families. But from what I've seen personally, I'm pretty sure it's the non-reformed that are responsible for most of the 80% who fall away. The reason is simple, reformed families teach their children that they are chosen by God and have no choice about whether or not they want to follow Christ. Only God gets to choose and His choice is binding on the rest of us. The non-reformed, on the other hand, are hoping their children will see the benefits of being a Christian and choose to be saved, and then, hopefully, choose to obey God in order to get all the goodies that go to the obedient. Since when does a teen or young adult choose what is best for himself? Mostly they choose whatever is fun right now. These parents would never be so lax with the running of their households as they teach that God is about running His Kingdom! "Ok now Susie, it might be dangerous for you to be out all night, plus you'll feel so much better after a good night's sleep, but you just choose for yourself." I don't think so. And yet these same people believe and teach their children that God would REALLY, REALLY appreciate it if they would choose to serve Him, but if not, hey, that's their choice?

What kind of a God builds a Kingdom only with those having nothing better to do? The sovereign God of the universe chooses each one to add to the bride for His Son, He doesn't limit Himself to those who want to come. And once a person is chosen, obedience is required, it isn't an option. To disobey is to be chastened, as we know the Bible says that God chastens those whom He loves.

Let's teach this truth to our children and see if they don't fare better when we stop telling them they have a choice and instead start teaching them the commands of God. Stop telling them that Jesus is softly and gently begging them to come to Him. Stop telling them that God will be so grateful if they would grace the Kingdom with their souls. Stop telling them that they can choose to reject God now and change their minds at any time, God will never reject them. Nonsense!

Be like the parents who brought their children to Jesus so He could bless them. They didn't ask the children if they wanted to go to Jesus, they just took them. You say, "Here is the King. Love Him. Obey Him. Serve Him."