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Christianity & Religion

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Bath or Baptism?

As lamented in a previous blog, the daughter unit is persisting upon being re-baptized on Sunday. Frankly, I just don’t get it. To me it’s just more snowflake B.S. from a generation that is hell-bent on putting decorum, tradition, and once common sense in the rearview mirror.

The daughter was baptized in the Methodist Church, confirmed in an Anglican Church, and has regularly taken Communion in these and several other Presbyterian and/or Reformed Churches. She left a Presbyterian church last year with much fanfare and a send-off ceremony by the pastor and began attending a dispensational congregation. She has been regarded as a communicant member in good standing in every Church she has attended for the better part of 20 years.  A minimum prerequisite to receiving Communion in any Church is baptism—although they may require confirmation or other conditions.

The daughter decided to be re-baptized in the new congregation not due to any spiritual change in her life or theology but simply to be a part of the group. My wife is calling this farce of a ceremony an initiation.


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Baptism: Covenant symbol of Church membership


Lest you need proof, just ask her, my wife did. The daughter was asked if she had remained at the Presbyterian Church where she was taking Communion weekly would she feel the necessity to be baptized and she replied, “No.”

Knowing that she was a communicant member in other churches, why is the pastor of this new church persisting in letting this go forward? It would be proper for them to accept a letter of transfer from the previous congregation and/or require the daughter to attend a new member class just so she learns the distinctives of their church but re-baptizing is unbiblical—not that they seem to care.

Baptism is a binary thing, either you have been baptized in the Trinitarian formula of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit or you have not.  As stated in my previous post on the subject, there is no such thing in the Bible as being re-baptized—the only exception being those in the New Testament that received John’s baptism and later that of the Apostles.

The chasm of logic required to justify re-baptism in this case cannot be bridged with any amount of verbal and semantic gymnastics. Nothing short of disdain and willful repudiation of the Holy Scriptures and Historic Church justifies this act.

Had someone left the faith in rebellion and subsequently repented and desired return to the Church, I would still think it wrong but at least understandable due to a change in heart. However, in this case no change of heart is alleged thus the act is one of initiation not into the Body of Christ but to be accepted into the Sunday clubhouse.

This act is one of excommunicating the vast majority of the Church on earth and the Church Militant. It also begs the question of what other theology is defective in this group which daughter thinks is so wonderful that she can chuck her birthright for a cup of water.

Oh, her pastor will tell you that baptism doesn’t save you; so again, what purpose does it serve in this case? Nobody can answer that question. What’s more disturbing is that no one thinks to even ask it.

Posted by william on 06/23 at 01:37 AM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Monday, May 07, 2018

Church Discipline: Good in Theory But…

Disclaimer #1 Generally speaking, this blog is about what I think and feel. It allows me to work out issues in my life and vent to the ether about things that I see going on around me. I do think that from time-to-time, other folks will agree with me.

Disclaimer #2 The topic that I’m addressing today is one of the minefields that Protestants tend to inflict on each other much more often than they should; I never hear of these conflicts in Roman Catholic or Orthodox circles. On balance, it seems that Protestants do this way too much and the other two branches of the Church not often enough.


This topic came up at the monthly men’s meeting at my church yesterday. The topic was a most unsatisfying discussion on church membership. As one of my MBA professors used to say, “Quit circling the airport and land the plane.” The discussion was meandering all over without much point.

The conversation tried first to talk about becoming a member of a church. The kneejerk reaction was baptism makes you a member. Then I threw the bomb on the table and said, “What about a person that was already baptized ‘in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost’ and then is told that they must be baptized again because the other baptism is not valid”?

Then one guy piped up, “As an adult”?

I replied, “Why does it matter? The Bible only knows one baptism. There is no biblical warrant for rebaptism.”

Without dealing honestly with my question which is very much something that my wife and I are actively dealing with (see my previous blog on When Baptism Doesn’t Count/ ) the pastor just shut the discussion down and went to another subject.


Soon the discussion was about Church Discipline. Again, the kneejerk reaction was that we should recognize the discipline of other churches. The default position was that someone disciplined by another body would not be welcomed to membership in our church or allowed to Communion. (More on this in a minute.)

The next question that was raised was does another body in another church or denomination have the right to discipline someone in our church? Again, the kneejerk reaction was “NO”.

I then cited one of the most well-known examples in Church history. St. Patrick once had to deal with this very issue. A man that the English Church refused to discipline was sailing to Ireland, murdering men, and kidnapping women and children and selling them into slavery.  Oh these men, women, and children were Patrick’s Christian converts. Since the English Church refused to act, Patrick wrote a letter of excommunication for someone that was technically outside of his jurisdiction and not part of his flock. This letter survives to this day. It is the Epistola.

Per Cahill and “How the Irish Saved Civilization” , Patrick’s goal was to isolate Coroticus, hopefully having his Bishop even excommunicate him, until his captives were free. Serving an excommunicated leader would cause his soldiers to fear serving him as they would believe they too would be damned.

Download: Coroticus

I was promptly cut-off with a derogatory comment about Catholics. However, I did retort that the Church in this part of the world was not controlled by the Roman Church until much later. Casting pearls gets me nowhere with this group.

I tried to point to an historical incident because first it is true and second it should not have the emotional response that may be attached to a contemporary example.


It was at this point that everyone started piling on about the problem with the church being that we don’t recognize each other’s discipline and a member can simply move to the church down the street without fear of repercussions. I understand their initial response but if these guys would do an honest examination of how churches use discipline then they might be more charitable.

I can say straight-out that half of the excommunications that I have been in, under, and around were completely unbiblical. Let me cite a few instances.

Disclaimer #3 If you are offended with me mentioning real situations then please stop reading now. Any names mentioned are fictitious, but the events are true.

#1 Gentleman and Lady

Jay was attending a conservative Protestant church. He was a college student (or had just recently graduated). He met a young lady at school and fell in love. He was serious about this girl. She was a Christian but went to the wrong church. Upon finding out that Jay was in a serious relationship with this girl, apparently, he was ordered by the pastor to breakoff the relationship. Jay refused and was excommunicated. Later, Jay and the young lady were wed.

#2 Rogue and Wench

Chris was the pastor of a local church. It was his first assignment out of seminary. One day, as part of the service he pronounced the excommunication of a young girl that to my knowledge had never once attended a service at our church. I know that she certainly was never a member of our congregation. Apparently, she had gone to him for counseling and not heeded his advice. She wanted to keep cohabitating with her boyfriend even after being told that it was sinful.

#3 Damned if you do

Pastor Bob had a small mission church. Over time, Pastor Bob’s study of the Scriptures began to lead him toward different doctrinal positions than his current denomination. Bob was an honest and forthright guy. He went to his church’s leadership and told them that his views on some things were changing and asked to leave the denomination. In response the current church excommunicated him. As a result, the church that he was wanting to associate with refused to take him since he was under discipline in his current denomination.


#4 Damned if you don’t

As a seminary student, Nate was an all-star. His church’s leadership really liked the guy. They told him that in time he would be a great leader in the church. The first church assignment that he had was going very well. The Mission plant was up to about 80 members. Nate had been there for about seven years and was in his early thirties. Nate became the West Coast representative for his denomination. But he had grown restless.

He began associating with clergy from another group. Nate’s doctrine and what he taught in his sermons began changing. As word reached his superiors, they decided to investigate. Nate was removed from the pulpit by his boss—under the bylaws this was allowed because it was a still a mission.

Ten days later, Nate sent a letter to all members of his local church stating that he was now a clergy member in good standing with another church and that we should join him. He took half the local church and three or four other churches on the West Coast with him.


As always, I could list a few more but I think the above covers enough ground for me to make my point.

The Bible knows that humans by nature are all the same, but it also allows for the possibility of change. Unfortunately, we humans like our rote categories so we don’t have to use real discernment as we go through life. We tend to be just like the Pharisees, make a checklist and then follow that. It is much easier than judging righteously.

Everybody says they follow the biblical model of Matthew but do they really?

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

Matthew 18: 15 – 22


Let’s breakdown a few parts of this passage.

Greek word translated “trespass” or “sin” Strong’s #264
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The “trespass” or “sin” is a moral violation or breaking of God’s Law.

Greek word translated “tell him” Strong’s #1651
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Tell him in the sense of reprove, rebuke, or convince



The person that was sinned against is to go to the offender and point it out in hopes of reconciliation.

To escalate the matter further requires two or three witnesses. This is directly from Old Testament Law.

The next level requires bringing the matter before the church. What this looks like is not defined in this passage.

When all else fails treat the person as a heathen.

This sounds simple enough but is it really?


The next stop on the excommunication train then travels to Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. In I Corinthians, we meet a man that is sleeping with his father’s wife. Paul tells them to eject the guy and turn him over to Satan.

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.

And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

I Corinthians 5: 1-5

The above passage is supposed to be the end result of the excommunication train. My only problem with this is that the process outlined in Matthew was not followed. It is assumed that either the Matthew passage was followed or that Paul pulled rank or some combination of both. Unfortunately, there is no proof of this contention.

The second part of the problem of applying the passage in Matthew is what happens next.

But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.

Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.

So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.

Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.

For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.

To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;

2 Corinthians 2:5-10



Paul tells the Corinthian church to let the guy back in. While the last part of this passage seems to echo Matthew, I don’t see in Matthew anything about reversing the decision. In fact, the next part of Matthew is about forgiving your brother. Then there is the whole issue of turning the other cheek. This isn’t as neat and tidy as some people want us to believe.

In the New Testament, I think you could count everyone kicked out of the Church on one hand and still have a finger or two left. It was rare.


I think it reasonable to narrow the scope of what is an offense worthy of excommunication. The Church has recognized two authorities that have direct bearing on this issue; God’s Law as found in the Ten Commandments and the Historic Creeds. Sorry but breaking the rules of a denomination is an intramural struggle that does not rise to that level. It should be possible to leave a denomination for another without being proclaimed outside of the Catholic Church.

The Creeds are the fence that defines the pastures of God’s People, as long as we stay within their boundaries we can wander into various aspects of Christendom.

God’s Law is the moral and ethical framework in which we live. Excommunication is the most extreme of all possible outcomes, but many lesser remedies are available as well. A careful reading of Old Testament Laws illustrates this principle, but it complicates the Pharisee’s checklist mentality so other remedies are typically ignored.

In example #1, the college student and his girlfriend were behaving in harmony with the Scriptures. Premarital sexual relations were never alleged much less proven. Both belong to churches that say they affirm the Historic Creeds. Thus, excommunication was wrong in this case.

In example #2, the woman being counseled by the Pastor was not a member of his flock, so even though she persisted in living in a sinful arrangement, excommunication was wrong. Why a young, single man is meeting with a sexually active woman for counseling is an issue no one raised at the time.

In example #3, the young Pastor was trying to be honest and open with his denominational leaders and he was blackballed for being truthful. He never went outside the limits set by the Creeds, he was just moving to a different part of God’s pasture.

In example #4, the Pastor never stuck around to see if he would be charged, counselled, or whatever; he just bolted. Even if he had been disciplined, the new church didn’t recognize the validity of the old so, no harm no foul was his viewpoint. It is not that he tried to go to a different denomination that was his problem but how he went about doing it. He snuck around and tried to do it without the notice of his elders. His intention was to take as many of his flock as he could to the new group. Subterfuge and deception are not the hallmarks of a man that deserves to be in the pulpit.


Conclusion
Denominations should not just rubberstamp the results of excommunication by other groups. They should deal with them on a case by case basis. I think until resolved, it is prudent to have a person voluntarily refrain from Communion until his case has been examined or a person has gone through some type of doctrinal instruction or whatever. If the guy in 2 Corinthians can be allowed back in the church as a member in good standing then excommunication should not be viewed as a one-way ticket or an immutable declaration.

Posted by william on 05/07 at 05:32 PM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Monday, April 30, 2018

Universal Trouble in American Churches

Folks we have a problem of biblical proportions in our midst and most people haven’t noticed.

Let me give you a few examples. All are true because I know the people personally. My complaint is that these examples are not the exception but the rule (or breaking thereof).

#1
At about age 12, a young girl goes to a church camp and makes a profession of faith. She raises her hand, walks the aisle, prays the sinner’s prayer, and the whole deal. She later gets baptized again—because her new church doesn’t recognize her infant baptism. She begins attending the church on a regular basis—Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Towards the end of high school, she becomes sexually active and is four months pregnant when she graduates. She marries the young man who has no history of church attendance.

After the baby is born, she and her husband move from where they are to a major city so her husband can pursue better career options. A few years later, another child comes along. When the second child is very young, she finds it too difficult to manage both children on Sunday mornings and quits going to church.

#2
Boy and girl grow up in the church. After college, they marry and have two children. The family regularly attends church. The children grow up thru the ranks, nursery, children’s church, profession of faith, baptism, youth groups, etc. Then they go off to college. By the end of college, neither child goes to church or has any part in the church.

#3
Five siblings are adopted by a young Christian couple. The family has no electronic devices for entertainment. They watch no live television; only VHS or DVD recordings that are screened by their parents. They are homeschooled and only associate with other homeschool families. The family is wary of sending their children to college. They strongly believe in courtship and oppose dating. My point is this is a very different paradigm than either of the churches described in examples 1 & 2.

When oldest child is 19 or 20, he renounces God and is excommunicated from the church. At the same time, he enlists in the Marine Corp and burns every bridge in his life on the way out of town.

#4
Child is born into family with three sisters. His dad is a minister. He is raised in the church. When he is about seven, dad has a stroke and nearly dies. Dad takes about two years to be able to walk and talk. Others in the denomination, remove all pastoral duties from dad. When dad tries to resume his duties, the new minister that was tending his church won’t let him. As a result, the family can’t even attend services at their own church. After a period of time, dad is transferred to a church in another state. Dad struggles with fledgling mission church for many years. Finally, it folds and he takes a church in yet another state. About two years into his duties at the new church, dad dies of a heart attack. Two years later, the son—barely into his 20’s—is living with his girlfriend, campaigning for Bernie Sanders, and advocating for abortion on demand.

I could go on listing many more that have fallen. Irrespective of denomination or upbringing or socioeconomic circumstances, the Church in America is hemorrhaging members, especially its youth. No surprise in a statistical way but it is in the sense that no orthodox Christian group has a solution.
Is the church model broken? Is the message lost? Why has Christianity fallen out of favor?

Never has the Bible been so available to the masses. The Gideon’s International, Wycliffe Bible Translators, and of course the Internet have made the Bible available to virtually every tribe, tongue, and nation in the world. Within the next few years, everyone in the world will have the Bible available in both print and digital formats.

In parts of Asia and Africa, Christianity is flourishing like never before but Secularism in the West has opened the floodgates to Islam and Atheism.

In the past, it has been tempting for some within the church in America to dismiss the declining numbers as the exodus of those that are really not believers—I have heard some people making this exact claim—but my experience and those of others prove this is a false claim. No, what is occurring is actually worse than that.

Whether you believer in a profession of faith (age of accountability and all that stuff) or a covenantal view (with paedo-baptism and paedo-communion) or something in between, the youth in our churches are not making the faith of their fathers their own.

As I ponder this subject, the words of Keith Green are rattling around in my head. Below are excerpts of a two part article that he wrote many years ago called What’s Wrong With the Gospel? I beg you to read these articles and be mad; not at Mr. Green but with a righteous indignation.


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Keith Green—October 21, 1953 – July 28, 1982

Unless people are truly convicted of sin, if they do not fully see that they are totally condemned by the requirements of God’s Law, then it is virtually impossible to show them the need for a savior. Why, what would they need to be saved from? Fun?

Another stranger-than-truth doctrine is that blessed refuge of backsliders called “the carnal Christian.” In this example of pretzel-logic, we are led to believe that any “believer” who isn’t really “walking with the Lord” at the present time, and is indulging in the things of the world and the lusts of the flesh, can still be considered a “Christian,” but not a Christian of the 1st class, no, a Christian of the 2nd class… a “carnal Christian.” Here we have a case of the “believer” who doesn’t believe. Oh, he still “believes” that God is God, and that there is a heaven and hell, and so on (but don’t forget, the devil believes all these things too!-James 2:19). He knows all the right things to say to convince granny, the pastor, and his Christian friends that he’s still hanging in there. He even sort of believes it himself. Seems he’s got everybody fooled - everybody that is, except God! The Bible is clear that “If we say we’ have fellowship with Him, and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. ” (I John 1:6)

One of the most well-known phrases of modern evangelism is “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” But the sober, biblical truth that needs to be presented to the sinner’s mind is “You have made yourself an enemy of God, and in your present state of rebellion there is absolutely no hope for you.” In fact, God’s “plan” for the sinner at this point in his life is to separate him from His presence forever, in hell. However unpopular or unlovely that may sound, it is the only truth and reality about anyone who is an enemy of God through sin.

If people come to Jesus mainly to get a blessing, or only to get forgiveness, they will ultimately be disappointed. But if they come to give Him their lives in honor and worship, then they will truly have forgiveness and joy - more than they could ever imagine! (I Cor. 2:9)

But there is a great danger when man (or even God) designs a tool to be used for God’s glory, and then as time passes, people’s attention starts to be fixed on the tool itself, rather than on the glory of God (which it was originally designed to promote).

The greatest reason I believe that God can be grieved with the current use of such tools as the “altar call” and “sinner’s prayer” is because they can take away the conviction of the Holy Spirit prematurely, before the Spirit has time to work repentance leading to salvation. With an emotional splash that usually doesn’t last more than a few weeks, we believe we’re leading people into the Kingdom, when really we’re leading many to hell - by interfering with what the Spirit of God is trying to do in a person’s life. Do you hear? Do you understand that this constitutes “spiritual abortion”? Can’t you see the eternal consequences of jumping the gun, trying to bring to birth a baby that isn’t ready?

It pains me to see the beautiful truths of Scripture being plastered about like beer advertisements. Many think it is wise to “get the word out” in this way but, believe that we are really just inoculating the world with bits and pieces of truth - giving them their “gospel shots.” (And we’re making it hard for them to “catch” the real thing!)

In my studies of the life of Jesus, it has amazed me that He never had “a follow-up program.” It was usually His habit to let people “follow Him up.” He never had to go door to door, looking for that fellow who He healed last week, wanting to share another parable or two. He always seemed to have the attitude of, “If they want life, then they’ll have to come and follow Me.”

Can’t you see what fools we are? We preach a man-made, plastic gospel. We get people to come forward to “the altar” by bringing psychological pressures that have nothing to do with God. We “lead them” in a prayer that they are not yet convinced they need to say. And then to top it all off, we give them “counseling,” telling them it is a sin to doubt that they’re really saved!

Beloved family, the world around us is going to hell. Not because of communism, not because of television, not because of drugs, or sex, or alcohol, or the devil himself. It is because of the Church! We are to blame! We alone have the commission, the power, and the truth of God at our constant disposal to deliver sinner after sinner from eternal death. And even though some are willing to go… into the streets, the prisons, foreign lands, or even next door, they are taking a watered-down, distorted version of God’s message which He has not promised to anoint. That is why we are failing. And unless we admit that we are failing, then I’m afraid there is no hope for us or the world around us. We have the choice between causing eternal tragedy for our whole generation, or bringing our beloved God a whole family full of “good and faithful servants.”


What’s Wrong With the Gospel?

What’s Wrong With the Gospel?: Part I

What’s Wrong With the Gospel?: Part II

Mark Twain is credited with saying, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics” but that young people are fleeing the organized church cannot be disputed. Here are a few sources to explore but please be aware as you read that some numbers are teens raised in the church and others are all teens.

At an unusual series of leadership meetings in 44 cities this fall, more than 6,000 pastors are hearing dire forecasts from some of the biggest names in the conservative evangelical movement.

Their alarm has been stoked by a highly suspect claim that if current trends continue, only 4 percent of teenagers will be “Bible-believing Christians” as adults. That would be a sharp decline compared with 35 percent of the current generation of baby boomers, and before that, 65 percent of the World War II generation.

While some critics say the statistics are greatly exaggerated (one evangelical magazine for youth ministers dubbed it “the 4 percent panic attack”), there is widespread consensus among evangelical leaders that they risk losing their teenagers.

Evangelicals Fear the Loss of Their Teenagers

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These are the most recent and most cited studies that I could find:

88%:  The Southern Baptist Convention’s Family Life Council study in 2002 (unfortunately, I can’t find the actual study and methodology)
URL SBC Annual Meeting

70%:  LifeWay Research study in 2007 (LifeWay also found only 35% eventually return)

66%:  Assembly of God study (again, I can’t find the actual study, only references here and there)
URL AOG

61%:  “Barna study in 2006—“Most Twentysomethings Put Christianity on the Shelf…”

Source
How Many Youth are Leaving the Church?

On the other end of the spectrum, here is an article about children that stay in church.

Link: 3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church


I feel strongly about this issue but I am happy to give credit to others that have come before me in taking the time to write about it. My prayer is that I will do better with my teenage son.

 

Posted by william on 04/30 at 09:29 AM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Monday, March 05, 2018

Creation: Open or Closed System

My question is this, is the world that we live in an open or closed system. This sounds outside of the type of categories that we normally use to define or discuss reality; however, I think it has some significant implications. For those philosophy nerds out there, the discussion below uses generalizations to move the discussion forward without pursuing every conceivable rabbit trail that one may encounter on this topic.

Closed System
This idea is that the world around us is mechanistic. The nature of the mechanism is much debated. At one extreme are the Darwinists that think Chaos, Randomness, and Time are the only real rules of the Universe. Any honest observers can see that there is Oder and Purpose to much of what we observe, so the other extreme of the closed system is the clockmaker of Deism. If there is a god, he made the system and we can debate whether he occasionally tinkers with it or not. In this group you will also find Eastern ideas of pantheism, cyclical rebirth, and Yen & Yang.

Open System
This view is found in Jewish and Christian tradition. God is Personal, Loving, and Knowable. He governs the Universe in regular, knowable ways (Natural Laws) but God is not a mere observer, He tends His Creation as one might tend a garden.  Nothing happens outside of God’s will. The debate within this view is does God allow things to happen or actively cause them to happen? Within an open system, people believe that they can genuinely pray and ask God to change the direction of an event—large or small—and if it is His will, He will respond to our petitions to make alterations.

A closed system is without hope. Nihilism and helplessness are the lot of men. The law of tooth and talon reigns supreme. Some folks in the East even think we get to do it all over again until we achieve perfect nothingness. What a dismal prospect.

An open system explains the things that have no basis in a closed system. Love, joy, compassion, purpose, intelligence, and design are all aspects of our Creator and since man is made in His image, we also share in a small way in His nature. Man is imperfect but still retains the marks of our Creator, his fingerprints on the clay so to speak.

The Problem of Sin
Because of sin, we are not in a right relationship with God. Furthermore, we are powerless to correct the problem. The Bible speaks of our attempts at good works to earn God’s merit as “filthy rags”. Folks this phrase is loaded with much content that doesn’t come thru even in King James English. The “filthy rags” are the unclean rags that result from a woman’s monthly cycle. The Bible is stating that your best efforts are rubbish only fit for the fire.

Man’s natural state is one of rebellion and separation from God. Only God can repair the separation of this relationship. It cost the life of His Son, Jesus. Only thru His death and sacrifice—dying in our place—was the penalty of sin paid. Only God’s remedy can restore our relationship. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, the Life. No man comes to the Father but by me.”

Some folks might ask why God—whom Christians claim is all knowing and all powerful—doesn’t just do away with evil, suffering, death, etc.? There are many ways to answer the question, but Jesus directly addressed the issue in this way:

The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Matthew 13: 24 – 30.

Simply put, to root out evil by force will adversely affect the righteous. While all men are tainted by sin, not all will be redeemed. It is better that both continue to grow side by side until the harvest. As they mature, it will be apparent which are weeds and which are good grain. C.S. Lewis spoke of this as over time each will become consistent in its nature, the bad becoming more evil and the good becoming more righteous.

God is not evil but is able to use evil and rebellion against Him to bring His will to fruition. We are not told how He does this just that He does. Some questions about the “why” and “how” are beyond the scope of what has been revealed to us. At some point, we must trust. Some things can be called a “mystery” while others are just not revealed to us. As Lewis states in his Narnia books, they are not part of your story (and the clear implication of this statement also carries with it the idea that thus they are none of your business). Lewis believed that God’s revelation was on a need to know basis, if we don’t need it to know Him then it is not revealed to us.

The bottom line is that the prayers of His children will be answered but only to the extent that our petitions are in accordance with His will. The good news is that God is always active in his creation and incrementally redeeming it as we move closer to the promised harvest.

 

Posted by william on 03/05 at 03:10 AM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Thursday, December 14, 2017

When Baptism Doesn’t Count

Today’s blog is one of several that I’ve been intending to write over the last several weeks but now that my finals are behind me, I have time to get caught-up.

There’s an old tale about some folks dying and upon arriving in Heaven, they are given the introductory tour of their new home by none other than Saint Peter. They visit the Catholic section, the Methodist area, the Pentecostal borough and so forth until at last they get to this one neighborhood and St Peter begins whispering. Sensing this sudden change, one of the tourists softly asks, “Why are we whispering?” Peter responds, “We must be quiet because this is the Baptist section and they think they’re the only ones up here.”

Sadly, this is truer than many folks would like to admit.


My topic today is one that has been hitting close to home because the daughter unit has ventured out into the world to spread her wings and for some reason she has decided to worship at a Baptist church. A majority of Protestants in the United States are Baptists in their theology even if they call themselves something else. If your church teaches “The Sinner’s Prayer”, walking the aisle, “making a decision for Christ”, likes singing Just As I Am, or “every head bowed and eye closed” then you are Baptists or the theological offspring of Baptists. Typically these folks will only recognize baptism by immersion and use grape juice for Communion. A corollary is that these guys unchurch everyone else in the body of Christ because we practice infant Baptism.

Before proceeding, let me say a few words about my own experience with this topic in the hopes that I can be granted some credibility by my readers.

I was baptized as an infant in the Roman Catholic Church. I attended Catholic School K – 6. After seventh grade, I walked the aisle at a Baptist Church Camp and “gave my life to Jesus Christ”. A few months later I was baptized again in a local Baptist church. I spent many years in the Baptist world and then after wandering for a few more, I trekked thru Charismania until I came at last to a Reformed understanding of Christianity. I understand the arguments on both sides because I literally have been in each camp at some point or another in my life.


Believer’s Baptism
The Baptist argument is that the Bible says Belief and then Baptism. Hence the name, Believer’s Baptism.

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Mark 16: 16

For someone coming from outside the Church, belief and then baptism is normal. Where we have a difference is when talking about children born into a Christian home.  The moral high ground that people think that Believer’s Baptism gives them dissolves quickly in this area.

Essentially, the paradigm that Baptists appear to embrace is that nobody is regarded as a believer until they make a profession of faith and then they can be baptized. This position would include their young children. Such a position would be consistent if somewhat harsh; especially in light of these verses:

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 
Acts 2: 38 & 39

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”  Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.  At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 
Acts 16: 31-33

How can God’s promise be “for you and your children” if children born to Christian parents are just young pagans?


Age of Accountability
Baptists are squeamish about this situation too but their answer is sentimentality not Scripture. You see, they say that they believe that the only way to the Father is faith in Christ but those not professing faith go to Hell. So what happens when a parent has a miscarriage or their child drowns in the neighbor’s pool or said child dies of cancer at three years of age? Surely such innocent children go to Heaven right?

It is at this point that Baptist folks introduce the doctrine of an “age of accountability.” They say that until a child can know the difference between right and wrong that they are in a state of innocence. Thus if a child dies in this state, they will go to Heaven if they die.

I once held this view until “the baby shower.” “The baby shower” was held at Gibson Ranch, here in the Sacramento area. It was in fact an event sponsored by Operation Rescue to crash a company picnic being held by a local abortion clinic. Like others at the event, I got toe-to-toe with some people on the other side. The lady that I got into a discussion with took this concept of an age of accountability and hit me right between the eyes with it. Her argument was simple and effective. “If an unborn child cannot know the difference between right and wrong, where does the child go when it dies?”

I instinctively replied, “To Heaven.”

She continued, “But if that child were born and was old enough to know right from wrong then they could go to Hell for rejecting Jesus, right?”

I answered, “Yes”  and knew that she had me painted into a corner that I couldn’t escape from.

Under this doctrine of an age of accountability, the only way to insure someone would go to Heaven was not by placing their faith in Jesus but being aborted!

Think about it, universal salvation is free to all that are murdered before knowing right and wrong. This principle also allows that the mentally handicapped can be literally put down for their own good and as a bonus we have assurance that we are sending them to Heaven. Could this apply to elderly with dementia too? Lastly, wasn’t this view all the rage in Europe about 80 years ago?

Even though Baptists reject infant baptism, they have a substitute that they practice; baby dedication. They bring an infant before the congregation and make a promise that is very similar to infant baptism to raise their children in the faith in hopes that they will one day believe and make the faith of their parents their own.

Unfortunately, these Baptists that think they are attending “Bible believing” churches are building parts of their faith on the sands of their own creation and not Biblical teaching. Biblically speaking, I could make a better case for Purgatory than for an age of accountability.

Again, what do Baptists do with their children? Are they little pagans or children of the promises of Christ?



Rebaptism
The other situation that you encounter in the Baptist Church (and from their fellow theological travelers) is the kneejerk reaction to unchurch everyone else by saying their baptism is invalid.

However, the Bible only knows one Christian Baptism and one formula for the baptism.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3: 26 – 29

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism;  one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Ephesians 4: 4–6

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Matthew 28: 19

Again, there is one baptism in the Church and one formula, baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Baptists try to argue two things, you must believe before being baptized and that the method must be immersion. Why is it that Baptists take the Greek word for baptism literally while the Greek word for wine is figurative?

Baptists are not alone in arguing about methodology as it relates to baptism, the Orthodox Church argues that only infant baptism that includes Chrismation is valid.

Since most don’t know what I’m referring to, here is Wikipedia version of Chrismation

Typically, one becomes a member of the Church by baptism and chrismation performed by a priest as a single service, or subsequent to baptism performed by a layman. While chrismation is often performed without baptism, baptism is never performed without chrismation; hence the term “baptism” is construed as referring to the administration of both sacraments (or mysteries), one after the other.
Wikipedia: Chrismation

Why can’t Christians talk about such things as our preference is better than yours instead of unchurching everyone with a different view?


Alternative Interpretation
There is a different paradigm that can be used to look at this question, one that includes a consistent theological view that treats children as Christian children and deals with the biblical teaching that there is one baptism in the Church. 

The Bible only knows one baptism. It does not attach an age or belief to performing it. Only the parents (or head of the household depending on how you read it) must believe in order for all to be baptized.

Look at Acts 16: 31-33 or other similar verses.

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”  Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.  At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.

The pattern is clear, parents believe and all –including children are baptized. Such verses don’t list exceptions or weasel words. For those that know the Ten Commandments, you might notice this principle is similar to Exodus 20: 8-11

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

The Sabbath was for the entire household not just Jewish members.

The historic Christian position is not one of individualism and Arminianism, but Covenantalism. Baptism is the New Testament covenant symbol in the same way as circumcision was in the Old. Thus children are baptized as infants because God’s promise really extends to the next generation just as He promised in both the Old and New Testaments.

So what happens if a child grows up and rejects the faith? The same thing that happened in the Old Testament; the child is treated as a Covenant member until such time as they bear fruit that says otherwise. There is an expectation that as a child matures that he will make the faith of his fathers into his own. The Jews have bar mitzvah (or bat mitzvah) while Christians in many parts of the Church have Confirmation. Confirmation is a reaffirming of the vows made at the infant baptism of a child.  This is where the child makes the faith of their parents into their own.

Confirmation also serves another use which biblically solves the rebaptism dilemma. Let me illustrate.

Teddy Texan lives in Houston and is attending the local mega-church run by Joel Osteen. Joel baptizes Teddy in front of thousands of people. For purposes of this illustration, Joel uses the correct formula and baptizes Teddy in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Later, Teddy takes a job in Sweetwater Oklahoma and starts attending the Park Avenue Anglican Assembly. Park Avenue is in a very different theological place than Joel Osteen but Teddy wants to join their church. What should they do? Should they require Teddy to be baptized again? Park Avenue knows that Teddy was baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit but Joel’s theology is heretical so what should be done? Knowing church history, Park Avenue’s Pastor—because he did have formal biblical training unlike Osteen—knows that this very question was faced by the early church. The answer of the early church was Confirmation. Teddy attends classes to be sure that he believes the historic doctrines of the Creeds and then is welcomed into the church via a Confirmation ceremony.

This has been the historic answer to the rebaptism question, not another baptism but a confirmation of faith. Thus the New Testament position of one faith and one baptism is honored and the doctrine of the Church is defended.


Conclusion

The Bible says, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”   
Acts 2: 39

The truth is that the Baptists are the ones that are building their theological house on the sands of their own making. There no biblical warrant for children to wait until they can experience “Believer’s Baptism”. There is no such thing as an “age of accountability” in Scripture. There is no such concept as a “sinner’s prayer” or “Alter Call” in the Bible. The Bible does not know a baby dedication ceremony apart from receiving the sign of the Covenant. The only rebaptism you can find is when someone was baptized by John the Baptist and then again by receiving Christian baptism.

While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples   and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”  So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied.  Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”  On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 
Acts 18: 1-5

Christians being baptized again by another group of Christian believers is not found in the Bible and in fact is contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Ephesians 4:4-6

I don’t unchurch my Baptist brothers just because they are wrong about one of the core tenants of their theology. I walked in their shoes for the better part of two decades before I was able to set aside their traditions of men and rely on the Bible. I just wish they would grant the rest of Christ’s Church the same grace that we are willing to extend to them.

As for the daughter unit, if she goes forward with joining the Baptists by being rebaptized, she is squandering her inheritance and simultaneously excommunicating her mother and brother. In fact, the practical ramification of rebaptism would be a declaration that she believes her mother and brother are damned and going to spend eternity in Hell. Child, ideas have consequences. I’d like to think you were raised better than that.

Posted by william on 12/14 at 11:15 AM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

A Prayer for the Election

Last Sunday, I was tasked with doing the congregational prayer. Below is a prayer that I wrote and used concerning the upcoming election. I think that Dave Ramsey would approve this message.  wink

Proverbs 21: 1
The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turns it wherever he will.

A Prayer for the Election

Oh Lord who has foreordained all according to your will, we ask that as our country prepares to cast ballots that the outcome would be to move our nation to repentance and restoration to fellowship with you. Help voters to see through myriad of disinformation and empty promises made to them and not choose to burden future generations with debt and slavery in exchange for our leisure today.  Instead help us to choose the path of thrift and honest labor that we may have an inheritance to give to our children’s children. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

Posted by william on 11/01 at 09:07 PM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

On Friday, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, had his opinion piece published in the religion column of the Elk Grove Citizen newspaper. This article was titled “Is abortion sin?”

In it, this alleged minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ wrote about a women that came to him in a crisis pregnancy situation. Here is a portion of the column.

She, too, had a good reputation or I wouldn’t have let her babysit my kids. She didn’t want the embarrassment of a child born out of wedlock.

“You don’t want to keep this child, do you?”

She shook her head. Not even for adoption.

She raised her head, knowing that my wife and I had an adopted sibling group of three.

“No,” she said, tears soaking her blouse.

“Is abortion a sin?” she asked.

Some would give a quick answer, but I couldn’t. This was the woman I trusted with my children. I knew her heart.

She continued her worry list. She wanted to go to school. She wanted to date without having a baby in tow. She couldn’t handle the perceived embarrassment to her family.

I could’ve spouted Bible verses, but so could she. Instead, we talked pros and cons. I told her that abortions are never easy on anyone, pro-life or pro-choice. I told her that the spirit of Christianity is on the side of life and redemption and that I’d known women to suffer from abortion trauma for years.

After an hour, Sandy stood to leave. As she did, I reminded her that God had room for both mom and baby on this earth. However, no matter what she decided, nothing would separate her from the love of God.

Sandy had her abortion the next week. While she eventually finished school, married and had children, her decision to still a beating heart still troubles mine. That’s because there’s no easy answer to Sandy’s sin question. There never is.
Link: EG Citizen: Is abortion sin?

This case of spiritual malpractice really makes me angry. Did you get that “I knew her heart” and “her decision to still a beating heart still troubles mine”? He also says that he could have “spouted Bible verses” I wonder which ones?

Romans chapter 6 immediately comes to mind. Paul writes,

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.

What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.

The real situation was this. The woman in this article liked to practice fornication (sex outside of marriage) but after repeatedly practicing that behavior she became pregnant. Her pregnancy was the direct consequence of sin in her life. She was following the lust of her flesh not the biblical standards of righteous living. She knew what God’s standard is in this situation; namely, bear the responsibility of her actions, have the child and give the child up for adoption or raise the child.

Killing her baby is a second sin, not a corrective to her disobedient lifestyle.  Going to this pastor was her attempt at taking the weasel way out of this situation. She wanted absolution for killing her child. The pastor knows that he gave bad council or he wouldn’t be haunted by “her decision to still a beating heart”.

There is a reason that I used to carry the sign “Abortion: One dead, one wounded, one rich” in front of the local abortion clinic. Abortion is an evil and violent act that has lifelong consequences. The premise that justifies abortion is a lie.

This lady and her pastor have both refused to acknowledge their sin. They conspired to sin so that grace may abound. They have cheapened the blood of Christ and made it to no affect.


Suppose there were two brothers. One brother decided to kill the other because that brother seems more loved by his parents. Well he knows that God wouldn’t like him to commit murder. He needs an out, a loophole if you will, to justify the crime in his own mind. So the brother seeks the advice of Reverend Scratch. Rev. Scratch says,

I could’ve spouted Bible verses, but so could he. Instead, we talked pros and cons. I told him that murders are never easy on anyone, pro-life or pro-choice. I told him that the spirit of Christianity is on the side of life and redemption and that I’d known men to suffer from murder trauma for years.

After an hour, he stood to leave. As he did, I reminded him that God had room for both him and his brother on this earth. However, no matter what he decided, nothing would separate him from the love of God.

He murdered his brother the next week.

Oh, and God’s response to this exercise of “choice” can be found in Genesis 4:8-11

  And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper? And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;

The Christian counselor wrote, quote
“Who is the only humane choice ahead
If you can’t support it
Why don’t you abort it instead?”

You say you pray to the sky
Why? When you’re afraid to take a stand down here
‘Cause while the holy talk reads like a bad ad lib
Silence screams you were robbing the crib

Say it ain’t none of my business, huh?
A woman’s got a right to choose
Now a grave digger, next you pull the trigger what then?
Whatever happened to sin?

—Steve Taylor
Whatever happened to sin? 1983

Posted by william on 06/26 at 11:07 PM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Friday, June 24, 2016

Verity Baptist get booted

The Huffington Post and other outlets are reporting that Verity Baptist is getting booted by their property management company.

A Baptist preacher who made headlines last week after praising the June 12 mass shooting at the LGBT nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida, might be out of a church soon.

The property owner of the Sacramento, California, business park where the Verity Baptist Church presides has opted not to renew the church’s lease, The Los Angeles Times reports. Although Verity’s lease doesn’t end until March 31, 2017, officials for Harsch Investment Properties have asked the church to leave without any penalty for breaking the contract.
Link: Huffington Post story

Looks like Mrs. Jimenez will be having services in her house again.

Posted by william on 06/24 at 01:52 AM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Jesus the Only Way to God Under Attack Yet Again

I have several articles in various stages of being written for the blog but this story just seems to be the most important in its own way.

Once again, it touches on Calvin’s Five Points which is really ironic considering it’s about a Baptist church. Just for context please remember that Portland Oregon is regarded as the most atheist city in America. The website—World Net Daily—where I found this article is also based in Oregon.

The sign below hinges on a key claim of Jesus.

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 14:6


image


This doctrine is under constant attack by our culture (and many so-called Christians). It is nice to see someone standing for the truth of Scripture instead of itching the ears of sinful men.

“I’m not politically correct. I’ve never been politically correct, but I think I’m biblically correct, and that’s what matters to me”— Rev. Michael Harrington
Tiny Church in Holy War with Islam

Posted by william on 06/08 at 11:55 AM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Monday, June 06, 2016

The Compassion of the Wicked is Cruelty

Did you marvel when you saw these news stories last week?

U.S. President Barack Obama has cited the biblical Golden Rule to defend the controversial “federal guidance” he issued instructing all public schools to allow transgender students to use the restrooms of the opposite biological sex or risk losing federal funding.
Obama Cites Golden Rule to allow boys into girl’s bathrooms

Rescuers are scouring bear-infested woods in northern Japan for a little boy who was abandoned by his parents as punishment.
Japanese boy left in woods as punishment

• Ever wonder how Liberals can claim that abortion is a good moral choice?

• Ever wonder why Peter Singer can be hailed as a champion of ethics when he advocates animal rights, abortion, euthanasia, and the killing for children under the age of two that are deemed defective?

• In short, have you ever wondered about a world where wrong is right, up is down, perverted is normal, and criminals are virtuous?


We here at ReallyRight.com are here to help. The answer has probably been in your hands all along, it’s just that no one pointed this out to you. Let us introduce you to Proverbs 12:10.

I’m sure this verse has been one that had you read it, you would just sail bye it, but let’s take a closer look. In particular, the second part of Proverbs 12:10 has not been rendered correctly into English in many popular translations.

New King James
A righteous man regards the life of his animal, But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

King James Version
A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

American Standard Version
A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast; But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

The following versions are closer to the mark:

New American Standard Version
A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel.

God’s Word Translation
A righteous person cares [even] about the life of his animals, but the compassion of wicked people is [nothing but] cruelty.

In short, the second part of Proverbs 12:10 should be rendered, “The compassion of the wicked is cruelty.”

I have to give credit for this to David Chilton, although I don’t know if he ever put it in writing anywhere.

Here are some commentaries that I felt helped to understand the passage.

But the tender mercies ; literally, the bowels, regarded as the seat of feeling. The wicked cannot be supposed to have “tender mercies;” hence it is best to take the word in the sense of “feelings,” “affections.” What should be mercy and love are in an evil man only hard-heartedness and cruelty.
Pulpit Commentary on Proverbs 12

In 10b most interpreters find an oxymoron: the compassion of the godless is compassionless, the direct opposite of compassion; i.e., he possesses either altogether no compassion, or he shows such as in its principle, its expression, and in its effects is the opposite of what it ought to be (Fl.). Bertheau believes that in the sing. of the predicate אכזרי he is justified in translating: the compassion of the wicked is a tyranny. And as one may speak of a loveless love, i.e., of a love which in its principle is nothing else than selfishness, so also of a compassionless compassion, such as consists only in gesture and speech without truth of feeling and of active results. But how such a compassionless compassion toward the cattle, and one which is really cruel, is possible, it may be difficult to show. Hitzig’s conjecture, רחמי, sprang from this thought: the most merciful among sinners are cruel - the sinner is as such not רחוּם. The lxx is right in the rendering, τὰ δὲ σπλάγχνα τῶν ἀσεβῶν ἀνελεήμονα. The noun רחמים means here not compassion, but, as in Genesis 43:30 (lxx ἔντερα or ἔγκατα) and 1 Kings 3:26 (lxx μήτρα), has the meaning the bowels (properly tender parts, cf. Arab. rakhuma, to be soft, tender, with rḥm), and thus the interior of the body, in which deep emotions, and especially strong sympathy, are wont to be reflected (cf. Hosea 10:8). The singular of the predicate אכזרי arises here from the unity of the subject-conception: the inwards, as Jeremiah 50:12, from the reference of the expression to each individual of the many.  Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary on Proverbs 12

This rendering of Proverbs 12:10 also happens to fit into Calvinism’s idea of Total Depravity. (For a detailed discussion you can refer to site such as this: Five Points of Calvinism Chapter 1)

So next time you want to quote Romans chapter one to someone but they won’t sit still long enough to let you, just remember this passage.  Solomon distilled much into one succinct phrase, “The compassion of the wicked is cruelty”. Almost a thousand years later, Paul built upon this in his letter to the Romans.

So in our world of soundbites and bumper stickers, add this to your mental toolbox; then next time you see the wicked acting according to their nature, you’ll understand that the compassion of the wicked is cruelty.

Posted by william on 06/06 at 01:30 PM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Friday, February 12, 2016

Glen Beck Attacks Trump

Two very different articles today have appeared about discrimination and Christianity.

First, Glen Beck has launched a full-on attack of Donald Trump as a fraud who has never opened a Bible and is a fake Christian.

image

“too many people are looking at Trump and believing that man has ever opened a Bible…that’s the biggest crock of bullcrap I’ve ever heard”
– Glen Beck 02-11-2016

Glenn Beck On Trump’s Christian Faith: ‘Biggest Crock Of Bullcrap I’ve Ever Heard’

Glenn Beck floats Trump’s Christian faith as fake

Mr. Beck’s personal beliefs on religion are rather out of the mainstream so I find it interesting that this is the area that he has chosen to attack Trump. Beck is a Mormon that likes to borrow ideas from Evangelical Christianity. There is no clear record that Beck could rightly be called a Christian—as defined by the Historical Creeds.

Beck was campaigning for Ted Cruz when he made his comments. Cruz has lifted the banner of Christ as his rallying point. This is curious to me when Cruz is unwilling to model public policy after Biblical Law.

I have reluctantly come to agree with Gary North’s assertion that Christians are not ready to lead. I have been in, under, and around Christians in politics for over thirty years, and this is long enough to follow several movements from start to finish, everything that Christians touch in the political arena, they screw-up. The latter state is worse than the former.

In the 1990’s, Evangelicals took over the Republican Party in California and made a huge mess out of it. Look at the Moral Majority, Christian Coalition, Capital Resource Institute, and a host of similar groups. They all end-up not bringing their faith and applying it to the political landscape but copying the power politic tactics of their enemies—they know no other paradigm—and adopting them as their own. Baptizing Power Religion does not make it Christian.

I don’t know where Trump’s heart is; only God does. I am not aware of any “fruit” to which I could point that says, “There’s your proof” but so what? I think of him as a typical American Roman Catholic. He has some incomplete knowledge of God and likely lacks a personal relationship with him. Trump needs your prayers—whether or not he is elected.

For Beck, Cruz, and Trump, I think of verses like this:

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.  But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Philippians 1:15-18



The second story which I will only mention briefly is about a BBC news anchor (presenter) Dan Walker. Walker is under fire for believing that Genesis is true and refusing to work on Sundays. (Chariots of Fire anyone?)

The bulk of the article is an attack on Walker by London Telegraph columnist Rupert Myers. Myers’ real problem is with God. Myers appears to be a typical humanist who is openly hostile to Christianity.

The gist of the matter is that because Walker is a Christian, he cannot be trusted when interviewing people on issues of science, education or technology.

If it weren’t for Christianity and the belief that God is knowable and his Creation is orderly and not random, we would have no basis for science but why let history get in the way of prejudice? Education in the West was the product of a Christian worldview.

Clearly Myers sees his chance to become the next Christopher Hitchens.


New BBC anchor takes heat for Christian faith

Posted by william on 02/12 at 02:31 PM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Friday, January 15, 2016

ECUSA Gets a Timeout

The Anglican Communion has suspended the Episcopal Church of the United States. In a move that should have happened when the 1928 Prayer Book was dumped in favor of a watered-down, modern language one (i.e. the 1970’s), nevertheless, the worldwide group has finally acted.

For the first time, the global organizing body of Anglicans has punished the Episcopal Church, following years of heated debate with the American church over homosexuality, same-sex marriage and the role of women.

The Anglican Communion’s announcement Thursday that it would suspend its U.S. branch for three years from key voting positions was seen as a blow to the Episcopal Church, which allows its clergy to perform same-sex marriages and this summer voted to include the rite in its church laws.

It was also seen as a victory for conservative Anglicans, especially those in Africa,, who for years have been pressing the Anglican Communion to discipline the U.S. body.

“The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union,” the leaders of the Anglican Communion, which represents 44 national churches, said in a statement during a meeting in Canterbury. “The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.”

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/01/14/anglican-communion-suspends-the-episcopal-church-for-3-years-from-committees/

The article goes on to report that since 2003, ECUSA

“has lost more than 20 percent of its members since it consecrated Robinson, and new statistics suggest that membership continues to fall, dropping 2.7 percent from 2013 to about 1.8 million U.S. members in 2014.”

What is happening is that the faithful part of the church—which is showing exponential growth—has isolated the malignant tumor that is the American Church. Were it not for hundreds of millions in trust funds and endowments, ECUSA would be extinct. This large cache of money has insulated them from having to hold to biblical orthodoxy in order to survive.

It’s sad when wolves like Gene Robinson are the Shepherds of the flock. When lay people need to pray for the repentance and salvation of their church leaders, in my world it’s time to go elsewhere. No wonder today’s youth are so pagan. Many people are in hell today because of Robinson and his fellow liberals but they’re ok with that because they don’t believe in hell anyway.

Since believing the words of Jesus is not necessary to be a Christian as Robinson defines it, I’m not sure why he would even call himself a Christian. Gene, if you don’t believe in the Bible, be honest enough to get out of the church. Heretics, heathen, and hypocrites are leading ECUSA beyond apostasy. Scripture promises that leaders like you should be fitted with a millstone and put out to sea.

Instead of repenting, look for the ECUSA leadership to double-down on their rebellion.

 

Posted by william on 01/15 at 03:26 AM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Friday, January 08, 2016

Cartoon Network: Leaven in Your Living Room

It is the belief of some fringe protestant group—possible the Amish—that claim that “Satan travels true wires” so if you don’t have electricity, he can’t target you. I’m starting to think they might have a point.

Earlier this week I was reading articles on Blastr.com. I often visit this website to see what movies are in the works; one article caught my eye.
Cartoon Network UK censoring Steven Universe’s sexuality misses the entire point of the show

Until recently, I would not be interested in what is happening in the U.K. but since Obama took office, I have found England’s U.S. news coverage more comprehensive than I usually get from American journalists. The media here is so in love with our dictator-in-chief that they are rarely objective. Often they either praise his rule by Executive Order or just ignore what he is doing—whichever they think will further his administration more.

When a website dedicated to the genre of science fiction entertainment is talking about Cartoon Network, censorship in England, and sexuality; clearly something is amiss.

Before I get into this article I want you to understand who owns and operates this website. This website is run by the SyFy Channel. SyFy is owned by NBC-Universal which is owned by Comcast. This is not some fringe place on the internet. No, this website is part of one of the largest entertainment companies in the world.

The article is an opinion piece that defends a particular cartoon and castigates the censorship by English broadcasters. The edit being complained about is rather mild in my opinion. What shocked me most was the high praise of Steven Universe for being the most openly gay cartoon ever made. Steven is gay; not just the side-kick or some peripheral character.

Steven Universe is gaaaaaaaay. It is easily the gayest kids’ cartoon in the history of western animation. And we’re not just talking about subtext, either. While Steven Universe may be innocent and cutesy, there’s no denying certain facts:

- Garnet is a gem fusion that resulted from Sapphire and Ruby being in romantic love

- Pearl is in love with Rose Quartz (as confirmed by the show’s creators), often to the detriment of her own self worth

- Amethyst shape-shifts into all sorts of forms, many of them male-presenting

- Steven and Connie have fuzed to form a genderqueer person, Stevonnie, who is, let’s be real, attracted and attractive to both men and women

- Background characters often feature same-sex couples

In short, Steven Universe is a rainbow show, kids. And everyone loves it for that.

Well, almost everyone ...



image
Steven Universe


I’m like dang! I had no idea that there was such a thing. To me this cartoon is totally out of bounds. I know that most programming on Cartoon Network is not Thomas and Friends but really! This is propaganda and recruiting in its most blatant form.

The fact that this is shown on Cartoon Network means to me that it will fly under the radar of most parents. When I think Boomerang or Cartoon Network I think of children’s programming and I likely wouldn’t give much thought to the title Steven Universe. I thought it was Jimmie Neutron for the next generation.

It’s hard to have worse programming than the pre-teen crap on the Disney Channel but apparently NBC found a way. Too bad they can’t keep homosexuals confined to their Bravo channel.

This also means Steven Universe will eventually find its way to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Parents, it might be a simplification that Satan travels true wires but he certainly is trying really hard to get through your television to desensitized your children to evil.

This is another reason to “cut the cord”.

Posted by william on 01/08 at 07:07 PM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Monday, December 14, 2015

Islam or Christ

image
Pastor James McConnell

I saw this headline today, “Evangelical preacher on trial after branding Islam ‘satanic’”

LONDON (AP)—An evangelical preacher from Northern Ireland who branded Islam satanic has been charged with spreading a “grossly offensive” message.

In a May 2014 sermon, James McConnell told worshippers at the Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle in Belfast: “Islam is heathen. Islam is satanic.”

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/E/EU_NIRELAND_PREACHER_CHARGED?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2015-12-14-10-21-20

Let’s look at the facts, Islam denies the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

Here is a sample of Biblical quotes:

Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 1 John 2:22

Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. 2 John 1:7

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1


OK so should I believe the testimony of 1,600 years of prophecy and its fulfillment with a promise of life or a cult of death stuck in the seventh century?

If the Bible is from God then Islam is from something not God and therefore has its origin in Satan. The followers of Islam are deceived and without intervention will end-up in hell. Sounds like the preacher is preaching the Gospel to me.

 

Posted by william on 12/14 at 05:36 PM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink

Friday, July 24, 2015

Carl Baugh and His Book

Last night I finished reading “Why Do Men Believe Evolution Against All Odds?” By Carl Baugh. We were given a copy by Mr. Baugh when we visited the Creation Evidence Museum in Glenrose Texas. I think when he heard that we were from California; he had mercy on us and figured that we needed the help.

The book was a quick read. It was well documented and logically organized. I have seen similar works in the past but this one seemed more “modern” since it incorporated a section on biochemistry and the function of cells; something that literally didn’t exist too many years ago. See Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe if you want the full explanation of why cellular function disproves evolutionary theory.

My one complaint is that there are several blatant typographical errors in the book. Baugh could use a proofreader before going to press again.


image

As I prepared to write this blog I took a look at the book on Amazon.com. While Baugh has much praise on the customer reviews of the book, he also has his detractors. The attacks by one reviewer were not on the contents of the book but on the academic credentials claimed by Baugh. On Amazon the author biography reads

Dr. Carl Edward Baugh is founder and director of Creation Evidence Museum, Glen Rose, Texas; scientific research director for world’s first hyperbaric biosphere; scientific research director for water reclamation and energized plant systems; and the discoverer and excavation director of two major dinosaurs: Acrocanthosaurus in Texas and Stegosaurus stenops in Colorado. He holds a degree in theology from Baptist Bible College, a Masters in archaeology, and a Ph.D. in education, both from Pacific College of Graduate Studies.

I tried “Pacific College of Graduate Studies” on both Bing and Google. Surprisingly, this school does not seem to exist. However, I did get a hit on Carl Baugh.

A Matter of Degree: An Examination of Carl Baugh’s Alleged Credentials http://paleo.cc/paluxy/degrees.htm

This article by Glen Kuban eviscerates Baugh’s claims of holding a doctorate from an accredited institution of higher learning. Interestingly, Baugh’s biography on the Creation Evidence Museum makes no claims that he is a doctor. Accreditation is not the be all and end all of higher learning but it does limit where and how the claim of a degree can be used.

I know from personal experience that Texas has an extremely high bar for any college to be accredited. The library requirement alone is ridiculous. (At least 70,000 volumes and fulltime librarian) A decade or so ago, my church moved their Seminary from Louisiana to Texas. To get accredited in Texas would have bankrupted the denomination. Instead they made an arrangement with a college in England to grant some type of degree for theological studies.

I can see that Baugh or any other creationist might have trouble getting a scientific degree from a typical college. Even Baylor—to their shame—will run you off if you believe in a literal six-day creation…at least from their faculty.

Kuban, however, accuses Baugh of granting himself his degree. It’s an interesting read. What caught my attention was the footnote #40. According to the footnote, Answers in Genesis has tried to put some distance between themselves and Baugh. The URL in Kuban’s article was no good but I went to Ken Ham’s website and found this:
AIG discounts the claims that human footprints were found with dinosaurs at Glenrose. They say that it might be true but …

Given the ambiguity of the evidence and the fact that much of what may have once been present is no longer available for study, we do not believe those claims of coexisting human and dinosaur prints are wholly supportable. Dr. John Morris in 1986 reported similar conclusions, deciding “it would now be improper for creationists to continue to use the Paluxy data as evidence against evolution” unless further research brings new facts to light.
paluxy-river-tracks-in-texas-spotlight

I know that these claims pre-date Carl Baugh by several decades. Morris and Whitcomb cite them in Genesis Flood (1961).

While not on AIG website, I did a search on the article mentioned in footnote #40 and found this:

CSF does not defend Carl Baugh or his claims in regard to his qualifications. We do not regard Baugh as representative in any way of the mainstream creation movement.
plimer-book-our-point-by-point-rebuttal p. 145

My conclusion is that Carl Baugh does seem to have overstated his resume. I don’t rely on him for validating my beliefs in creation.

The artifacts that he has at his museum are persuasive. However, I think the Torah display and model of Noah’s Ark are unnecessary. The movie on how The Flood occurred and what brought it about is speculative and I would like more information before I’m ready to support Baugh’s whole framework.

As for his book on “Why Do Men Believe Evolution Against All Odds?” I think he nailed it. All Baugh does is introduce quotes from evolutionists that point out flaws in their theory.

The only thing Baugh lacks is Ben Stein’s interview of Richard Dawkins in Expelled, where Dawkins says life on earth came from extraterrestrials that seeded the planet.

Evolution is not a science issue, it’s a spiritual one.

 

Posted by william on 07/24 at 02:21 PM
Christianity & ReligionPermalink
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