Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Consider this quote: "First, the grace, goodness and mercy of God would support the position that God saves all infants who die. This is the strongest argument and perhaps the decisive one. God is love (1 John 4:8) and desires that all be saved (1 Timothy 2:4)."
Now I certainly do not have a problem with that reasoning but is that sound reasoning according to the Calvinistic understanding of Scripture? Many arguments center around the "all" of I Timothy and it seems here that the authors do not have a problem with the fact that God would be desirous that all would be saved. I see an inconsistency here. Does all really mean all? Does all really mean just the elect? OR Does all really mean the elect plus any un-elect infants who die in infancy? I have not written the authors directly and highly doubt that they have any clue who I am or even have the time to interact here on this blog, but the questions I raise I believe are relevant. For if it is conceded by Calvinism that God truly desires that all men(and by that all I certainly mean ALL) be saved, then much of the bickering that exists between Calvinists and Non-Calvinists is a whole lot of smoke and mirrors.
There may be more options but I came up with three.
1. ALL means all of the elect AND non-elect infants.(Non-elect infants go to heaven)
2. All means only, all of the elect.(Non-elect infants go to hell)
3. All means all.(God does not get everything He desires but He does do everything He decrees).
Wow, that last parenthesis ought to raise a few eyebrows.
Great article and I hope bringing attention to it helps you in your own studies.
And that is what I think...
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Numbers can go a long way in helping to explain things. Sometimes, too many numbers add to the confusion one may already be experiencing. And when it comes to number crunching, surely by now, we are familiar with the concept that two people can view the same data, crunch the same numbers and arrive at differing conclusions. If one likes variety, the commentary in blogland and the media concerning the SBC's LATEST NUMBERS has provided a lot of it.
The data recently released has given one the opportunity to say that the SBC is a dying soldier.(HERE comment #38) And this individual goes on to say that to refuse to acknowledge that the SBC is dying is equivalent to having one's head stuck in the sand.(HERE comment #42) While it is easy to see that the numbers in the area of membership and baptism have decreased, it is not easy to see how this implies impending death. A tree may lose a leaf or three in the winds that blow and it does not mean death to the tree. In fact, a rose will eventually shed all of its beautiful blooms and cycle through a strengthening stage before it blooms again or it may sleep for a winter waiting the God-given cycle of the seasons in which spring will come again and the rose will have opportunity to bloom. Ecclesiastes gives us this comfort that to everything there is a season and the writer of Psalm 1 records that a tree will bring forth its fruit in its season. It would be foolish to deny the fact that the numbers have fallen. It is rash to conclude that the SBC is dying. Unless of course God has given you an extra revelation.
There are some good thoughts about what is taking place in the SBC and to what end the numbers may have an interpretation. The following two quotes of individuals I have pulled from other blogs and will let you read them for yourself. A link to the original is there should you want to pursue these longer.
The following was posted HERE by Morris. Morris writes:
"I guess I have a little different take on the news. Should we not be considering the fact that maybe the Lord is pruning the SBC in accordance with John 15:2? Why does He prune? So that the vine will bear more fruit."
The following was posted HERE by Dave Miller. Dave writes:
"My point is that we need to examine the data rationally and openly. Debbie wants to use the data to support an extremist pessimism about the SBC. You have tried, I think it is fair to say, to downplay the seriousness of the data, at least to some degree.
I think the data demonstrates a problem. The sky may not be falling. We may not be at a Code Blue as Debbie would like to believe, but we do have a problem, which needs to be addressed."What I like about both of these quotes is that they encourage us to consider other options before we bury the SBC. I offer my own thoughts now as to what we should be considering as well as we digest the information that these numbers contain.
If, as a gardener, my garden begins to produce less and less there are a couple of questions I may ask myself.
1. Did I plant less seed?
2. Did I plant using Good seed?
3. Did I water what was planted?
4. Did I plant in the same field too often?
5. Did birds or insects devour part of my planting?
6. Did I have enough help to reap what I planted?
7. Did I pull up a veggie while pulling weeds or did my weed killer get blown by the wind onto
8. Did weeds choke out the plants?
These are all things that I can assess. But there are other options that stand above the rest. If God is responsible for giving the increase, then...
9. Did God give us increase but we lost more than we gained?
10. Did God just not give us much increase?
Perhaps you have other options to consider. I prefer the garden variety because so much of Scripture has an agricultural background but offer yours whether garden related or otherwise. While considering these possibilities, it is imperative that we do so with hearts interested more in God's working than our own agendas. Surely there is an explanation. It would be wise for us to see the whole picture before we declare a verdict. The Scriptures record that, "He who is first in his own cause seems just, but his neighbor comes and searches him out." Let us search the evidence and seek the Lord. And may God strengthen and mold the SBC that the lost, through the SBC, will hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
The greatest danger that any Christian, any group/church/denomination can ever face is the dilution of the Gospel. Or said in another way, any compromise regarding who Jesus is, why He came, what He accomplished while here and will accomplish when He returns is the greatest danger that we face. The greatest subtle change we face is the adoption of cultural practices and norms in an attempt to convey the Gospel. It is precisely here, the adoption of the culture, where the Gospel is diluted. Yes, Paul used Mar's Hill(Acts 17:23) as a starting point or rather as a conversation starter, but Paul did not adopt that altar of the "UNKNOWN GOD" into his practice as a Christian. And that is the subtle danger we need to be aware of in this present world. There are those who would have us believe that there is no danger in a Christian practicing Yoga. See HERE. There is certainly nothing wrong with exercise though bodily exercise profits little compared to godliness(I Tim. 4:8). But to adopt the Yoga practices of emptying one's self and the likes does begin to dilute the Gospel. The keeping of our hearts and minds comes through Jesus Christ(Phil. 4:7), not emptying one's self of negative energy or simply emptying one's self of everything. Rather, we are told to meditate(Psalm1), and we are told to think on things(Phil. 4:8). We are told to purify our hearts but this occurs not as we become nothing within but rather as we draw near to God(James 4:8) and this is not the god within but rather the God which is above(Romans 1:23).
All of this begins when God's Word ceases to mean what it says and men begin to form God's Word rather than letting God's Word TRANSFORM them(Romans 12:2). This is why Intelligent Design can be so subtly dangerous. ID says there must be a god. The Scriptures record more than the fact that there is a god who created, it reveals the true God that created. ID may offer a conversation starter but it cannot be adopted into the Christian belief of Creationism. The Scriptures offer so much more than simply that there is a design. But rather than acknowledge that God is revealed in creation, they would rather make their own god, evolution. If evolution is too bitter for some, they are offered ID rather than the Gospel. Here again, hear my point. ID may be a conversation starter, but it IS NOT THE GOSPEL.
As pertaining to Baptist Identity, we do face a two-fold problem. We do face the problem of legalism that can/will creep in if we cease to focus on Jesus as the Scriptures reveal Him to us. We also face the problem of liberalism that can/will creep in if we cease to focus on Jesus as the Scriptures reveal Him to us. In both of these cases, if either of them came at us with a full-frontal assault, we would recognize them for what they are, but our Adversary is much more subtle than that. He gently slips these seeds of discord into our fields under the guise of equal rights, academic rigor and steadfastness to tradition. He paves these inroads of turmoil with good intentions and self-pleasing methods.
These days that are upon us as Christians and Southern Baptists require a devotion and steadfastness to the revealed Word of God both Incarnate and written. We are called upon to be as wise as serpents but harmless as doves. Let us be Bereans and if we err, let us err toward the direction of grace, mercy and love when we know not how we should proceed.
And this is how I see it.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Yet, for many SBCers, this time in June will pass with no thoughts of Indy but plenty of action at VBS. For many years, that is the position I took. I was willing to swim in the pond of the SBC without much concern for the water in the pond, because after all, I am a pastor of an AUTONOMOUS church and no echelon exists to tell me what my church can or cannot do. Ah, BUT, the church I serve has chosen to associate itself with the SBC and so it becomes a matter of importance to us about that by which we can be/are identified. It becomes important then for us to let our voice be known in this ship of the SBC. We therefore seek presidents whose ideologies most reflect our own because we trust that the president will make appointments of those of like mind on our ideologies as well. In turn, then, we swim in a pond of our own making, or so we hope.
The challenge to shape the pond is a formidable task desired by many. In pursuit of this challenge, temptations will abound both visible and in stealth. Guard your hearts and your keyboards. There is no reason for any of us to be devoured by Satan if we truly are all seeking the exaltation of Christ and the decrease of ourselves. Run. Run Hard. Run Clean.
And that is how I see it.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
I view the
Specifically, in the area of the schools of theology, pastors are being trained to be pastors. Teachers are being trained to be teachers. Even in secular schools, it would not make any sense for a person unqualified to teach elementary school to be training elementary school teachers. As such, I contend that it makes no sense for a person unqualified to be a pastor to teach pastors. Is a person unqualified to be a heart doctor the person you want to be teaching how to operate on the human heart? Is a person unqualified to be an auto mechanic the person you want to be teaching future mechanics how to work? I would certainly hope not.
So we are talking about what it means to be qualified in regards to training/teaching future pastors. While gender may not be a necessary qualifier in the secular realm, it IS listed as a qualification in the religious realm. Paul's first letter to Timothy addresses this issue and make no mistake about it, Paul is addressing how we ought to behave in the house of God(I Tim. 3:15) When we look back at chapters 2-3, we see how Paul instructed that the church should be. OUR problem is that we would rather let our present culture interpret the Scripture rather than let Scripture shape our culture. If you buy into the "culture shapes Scripture" thought, then nothing that you teach as truth today can be held as truth for tomorrow. You have no foundation on which to make such a stand. But if you hold to the concept that Scripture does not change no matter how much culture changes, then you do have a foundation from which to argue. Secular cultural shifts and recedes with the tides of human capriciousness but Scripture neither shifts nor recedes on human whims but stands on God's faithfulness to all that He has spoken. Thus, Paul's words on who can teach a man, chapter 2:12, is not subject to cultural whims but is steadfast. Paul qualifies who can teach just like he qualifies who can fill the office of bishop or deacon. Your ability to accept this depends though on your philosophy of church and present culture. Make no mistake in understanding what I am saying, a woman is not qualified to teach a man regarding theology, pastoring, deaconing and the likes. This goes for Hebrew interpretation which involves exegesis as well. WHY? Because the woman herself is not qualified to be a pastor thus she is not qualified to teach pastors. Now, she may teach women all day long. That does have its foundation in Scripture. Women are to teach the women. But I think the Word of God addresses that as well. Paul clearly speaks in his letter to Titus, the second chapter and verses 3-5. Of course, many women raised by contemporary culture feel like this degrades them but it has nothing to do with the ability of a women to perform any work that a man can do, it has rather to do with the standards of the Word of God and the organization that God gave to His people. Cultures change, the Word of God changes not. The grass withers and the flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.
The place of seminary education? In regards to training men for the pastorate, the teachers need to be pastor qualified themselves.
And this is how I see it.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Jesus chose twelve MEN to be His disciples. If Jesus was going to dismiss all gender distinctions through the cross, then why did He NOT pick six women, or three women or even just one woman to be a disciple. Jesus, for certain, was not afraid to break cultural traditions that were not biblical in foundation. He spoke to a Samaritan Woman when it was not proper to address either a Samaritan or a Woman(especially an adulteress) as taught by His contemporaries. Jesus was not afraid to challenge the cultural/popular notions of Sabbath keeping. Jesus was not afraid to challenge the cultural/popular notions of piety. Certainly, He was not afraid of addressing any issue that He faced. He reminded His listeners in the Sermon on the Mount that marriage was intended by God to be a relationship between one man and one woman. Why, then would He be afraid to challenge the cultural norms/popular notions then that only men could be elders/priests/Scribes etc.?
The cross did not erase any gender distinctions, socio-cultural distinctions or governmental distinctions. What the cross did erase is the fact that salvation was not afforded to a single race and gender but rather the Gospel was freely offered to all races, genders, social levels and governmental rankings. The Mosaic Priesthood was limited to the male gender. Apostleship was limited to the male gender. Paul, in his letter to Timothy, limited the office of elder and pastor to the male gender. This does not make the modern appreciation of this truth any more sexist than it was in Moses day, Jesus' day or Paul's day. It was simply a difference of role. It makes no distinction about who had the ability, but rather to whom the office was made available. This no more makes women second class citizens than it does a man who is not able to teach. It simply is the way that God designed this portion of the ministry. Please understand reader, that holding to the view that the pastorate is reserved for male gender only does not imply that I think of women as lesser vessels. The body is made of many parts. Each has a design and each has a role. The heart is no more capable of surviving without blood than the blood is capable of surviving without the heart. Yet, each has its role and design and cannot usurp the role of the other. Women are in fact instructed to teach. The older women are to instruct the younger women. Rather than seeking to take the role of the man, perhaps the woman ought to focus on that which was given to her.
And this is how I see it.
May the SBC truly be the feet that bring Good News!