Thursday, December 18, 2014

Words Are Not Stones

Far too often, those who proclaim the law of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this culture of death encounter attempts to silence their voices. One of the single most prominent versions of what amounts to this kind of public shaming relies on the pericope of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery for its backing.

"Jesus did not condemn. He did not throw stones. Are you perfect? Jesus said 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,' didn't He?" they tell us.

Let us examine whether followers of Jesus are indeed sinning and violating the example of Jesus as we live in such a way as to provoke repentance in our culture.

First, let all of this be tempered with the understanding that John 7:53-8:11 is a textual variant of questionable authenticity. It is far from certain that this was part of the original text that the apostle John wrote when he first sat down to write his Gospel. Given that, let us remember that it is best to base doctrines and rebukes on a sure and certain foundation.

Having said all that, John 8:1-11 -
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
Every human being is to desire to follow and imitate Jesus in all things (1 Cor 11:1, Eph 5:1). Notice first of all the final sentence Jesus says - go, and sin no more. The woman was caught in adultery! She violated God's Law. She was guilty. Jesus told her that she had sinned, and told her to stop sinning.

That is one of the main things Christians ought to be doing in this culture, as we ask ourselves "What does Christianity look like in a culture that practices child sacrifice?" - while we obey Jesus' command to be salt and light, we are calling people to stop disobeying Jesus, start obeying Jesus, and thus stop sinning by the power of the Holy Spirit who gives people grace to obey when they repent and place their trust in Jesus. We are speaking authoritative words, whose authority is straight from God the Creator, as in 2 Tim 2:19 - "Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, 'The Lord knows those who are His,' and, 'Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.'"

What does it look like to follow Jesus? According to this story where Jesus says "let him who is without sin cast the first stone," it looks like calling sin sin, speaking with love but also with honesty and plainness.

But that's not all. You see, those who brought the woman to Jesus were doing so on the basis of Old Testament law.
Leviticus 20:10 - If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
Deuteronomy 22:22 - If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.
What is missing from John 8? We have the woman, the adulteress, and we have the accusers... but the man is not present! Notice that the Law says that both partners committing adultery shall die, both shall be put to death.

Jesus also said things like this:
Matthew 5:17 - "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill."
Luke 16:17 - "But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail."
So, hear the rebukes of Jesus, for there are two that are relevant to our discussion here.

1) When Jesus said "let he who is without sin cast the first stone," He was very probably alluding to the fact that the men who had brought the woman before Him for no other purpose than to test and catch Him in a trap were engaging in hypocrisy. They claimed to follow the Law but had not brought the adulterer, the man, with them.
There is also no mention of a second or third witness to the crime, which is also a requirement in the Law. Jesus subtly points out that they themselves are guilty of twisting the Law to suit their own agendas. He came not to abolish but to fulfill.

2) In the mere act of stating "let he who is without sin cast the first stone," Jesus is charging these men with sin. Yet those who challenge the follower of Jesus today with this passage do so because they want to do away with all talk of sin and accusation on the basis of holy law. They want to silence the voice of holiness and conviction over sin. Yet Jesus charges both the men who brought the woman and also the woman with sin, not neither. Thus Jesus' rebuke is for the one who refuses to countenance the obvious fact that Jesus talked about sin very frequently.

Why did Jesus talk about sin frequently?
Romans 3:19-26 - Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
If He didn't talk about sin much, nobody would know they need a cure for sin! And as the Redeemer of sinful souls, He wouldn't have anyone to redeem if everyone remained ignorant of their sin. He loves too much not to talk about sin when sin exists. But the person who says "don't throw stones" doesn't want to repent of their sin. They want anything else besides repentance, even if it means self-destruction, serving the devil their whole lives, and Hell in the afterlife. It's what they desire, since they don't desire God.

And we see the will of God, that none of His sheep perish (John 10:3-4, 27; 2 Peter 3:8-9) but that all come to repentance, accomplished in the life of this woman. You see, she lived in a culture where rampant and open sin was not gloried in and celebrated as it is in our modern society. Commit adultery in modern America, and a lot of the time you'll get a pat on the back and reassurance. Portray an adulterous affair on TV or in a movie and you can probably increase your ratings, especially if you show a lot of skin. It's just taken for granted anymore. Not so in 1st-century Israel. It was very risky behavior to commit adultery back in that day. It could get you stoned to death, and indeed this woman was right there, on the precipice of death.

Yet this woman escapes not only physical death but spiritual death. She goes, in a very short span of time, from directly defying the Law of God ("thou shalt not commit adultery") to near-death, to repentance and an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice it:
Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
It's one thing to acknowledge Jesus as your Savior. The majority of Americans do that! And anyone can see from the decay around us, by the blood of 58 million dead children flowing through the streets of our cities, that the faith of most of those professors is a false, dead faith. To them, Jesus is merely Savior and not Lord. Yet this woman, fresh off being caught in the act of an adulterous affair (which probably means she was incautious, which may indicate her pre-existing lack of shame, due to a seared conscience), calls Jesus Lord. Jesus has just saved her life, so directly before her eyes was a clear illustration of His status as Savior. Now she confesses He is Lord. Her sins are forgiven. She is now a daughter of the kingdom. Jesus commands her: Go and sin no more. Live in obedience, be a doer of the word and not a hearer only, take up your cross and follow Me. Her salvation story is startling, in its brevity and simplicity as well as in its abruptness.

Let's refocus on the objection here - if I call you to repent of your sin and you reply with "Jesus said 'let he who is without sin cast the first stone,'" you have in fact acted hypocritically. I attempted to identify something you have done or are doing wrong (and I want to help you by showing you the way to have forgiveness of that and all your sin). You then did the exact same thing, but simultaneously chided me for doing what you then did to me. You said I was wrong for saying you were wrong. That is hypocrisy, and hypocrisy is sin.

Further, it entirely ignores the surrounding context of Jesus' statement. The stones in the hands of those men were real stones. Why were they holding stones? Because they were going to throw them at the adulteress to kill her! The stones were instruments of execution, no less than a gallows or a firearm or a lethal injection.

Why is it, then, that we hear "don't throw stones" when we level a criticism that is composed of words expressing thoughts? Words do not kill, not directly. A thrown stone can kill directly. Words are not stones. Don't act like they are. If you are accused of sin, obey the Word of God. Examine yourself, your heart, your motivations; check for a speck in your eye. Don't do as the hypocrites do, criticising someone who criticises because they criticised. If you have sinned, repent of it and claim your forgiveness from the hand of Jesus Christ. If you have not sinned, try to persuade your brother. If your brother has something in his eye, remove the log from your own eye and then help your brother remove the speck from his (rather than leaving him with a speck in his eye. Specks hurt).

Let all be done with love and to the glory of God. Amen.

Monday, November 24, 2014

So many atheists are ruled by emotion

It's amazing how easy it is to reduce atheists to a miserable mass of quivering feeling, devoid of reason or common sense.

All I did was tweet this:

And got a firestorm!
My favorite tweet in the ruckus was this one:
And then it got even better:

I had to bow out after somewhere around 50 attempts on my part to get these atheists to reason consistently. Canard after canard after canard... I don't think a single one of them had ever even thought about my challenge before. I didn't have time to keep up with all of the shambling inanity, so this combox is an open invitation to anyone who would question me on the matter.

Monday, November 17, 2014

In which my tweet about the Herald Society is vindicated

On my "to listen to occasionally" list of podcasts is Tony Miano's "Cross Encounters". I can't remember which episode it was, but some time before the November 2014 Herald Society conference, he spent some time hyping the conference and encouraging listeners to attend. My interest was piqued when he specifically stated that this year's HS conference would not feature very much street evangelism or open air preaching (OAP), but would rather focus on sermons wherein the conference attendees would sit and listen to someone talk from the stage.

This struck me as a bizarre waste of time and energy - could not sermons like these be recorded beforehand, or preached lectured at one's own church or something in some sort of collaborative effort, and later made available for download to whoever wanted them? The whole point of calling your conference the Herald Society would seem to be to get heralds together. You get however many dozens of people interested in OAP, doesn't it make a ton of sense to actually go out and herald the Gospel all over the place?

If an OAPreacher is a candle illuminating darkness within our culture, what happens when you get 50 of those candles together in one place? That much more brightness and illumination, right? So when we read things like Matthew 5...

14“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

...wouldn't it be a good idea to go ahead and shine that bright light to those who are in darkness? How is it a good idea to take that light, all those OAPreachers, and hide them behind the walls of a building, using all their time to preach around 20 (probably pretty lengthy) sermons in 2 1/2 days?

CR, are you around?

CR, if you see this, please email me.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Discernment and Hypocrisy

Let us read the Scriptures together. Luke 12:1-2
Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.”
Romans 12:9
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
James 3:17
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.
1 Peter 2:1-3
Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
I think we can all agree that the Bible teaches that hypocrisy is bad. Nevertheless it is possible to speak hypocritically both intentionally and unintentionally. Without making any judgment about intention, let’s take a look at some things I’ve seen said recently of relevance to the Pulpit & Pen that fall firmly into the category of blatant hypocrisy. These complaints are generally applicable to “discernment ministry” in general.

1) I don’t like “discernment ministry” or criticising other Christians; I just do apologetics and preach the Gospel to the lost.

The unstated meaning behind this statement can be understood with the implied addendum: “…and you should be like me, eschewing this ‘discernment ministry’ and focusing on preaching to the lost.”

However, the very fact that the objecting individual singled out “discernment ministry” and criticism of other professing Christians for his statement invokes hypocrisy by the very fact of stating it. Why not say “I don’t do hospitality; I just preach the Gospel”, or “I don’t clean bathrooms; I just preach the Gospel”, or give any number of other denials, or list other things that the individual does not do?

You see, the very moment in which it is discerned that “discernment ministry” is not the best use of one’s time, one has already engaged in discernment. “Discernment ministry” is nothing other than analysis of ministries, ministers, lectures, sermons, books, articles, etc, performed out loud and (these days, anyway) posted on the Internet. When you examine and assess something that purports to be helpful to the soul, you are engaging in discernment. When you post your thoughts about that thing on the public Internet, it becomes an exercise in “discernment ministry”, no less than the “discernment ministry” whose value you are deriding.

In addition, when you post your thoughts about the comparative value of doing this or that thing vs the value of preaching the Gospel to the lost and doing apologetic work, you are engaging in public online discernment ministry, the same as, say, the Pulpit & Pen does. The difference between us is that we admit what we are doing, thanking God that He has gifted His church with the gifts of discernment and of prophecy (as it were), and the objector does the same thing without admitting that is what he is doing.

Finally, this type of statement smacks, without making it explicit, of the ill-founded idea of “special callings” to this or that ministry, which the Pulpit & Pen has already dismissed as an unbiblical idea.

2) Pastors, not “discernment ministries”, are the ones charged with protecting the flock.

This objection, when posted to the public Internet, also becomes its own refutation, and is thus also hypocritical and a case of special pleading.
First, though, it misses the mark pretty entirely. If pastors were fulfilling their responsibilities, we wouldn’t need “discernment ministries”, and so even if, in this hypothetical alternate universe, we blogged about the same subject matter, nobody would read it. It amazes me that the objector fails to see the obvious here. The problem there is that both the pastors and the flock in user-friendly churches symbiotically feed off each other, synergistically creating a much more powerful movement of falsehood than would otherwise be possible. But if we love the people caught up in deception, we will go to them with loving truth and truthful love. We will not be silent while souls are being perverted and while false teaching goes forth into all the world. Even if other pastors are silent, we will not be, because we love both them and the people who listen and enable them. One wonders how loving the objector can be towards such people, when he would prefer we abandon them to their fate without intervention from those who know and love the truth.

The objector’s hypocrisy is displayed in the fact that he is rebuking another professing Christian publicly for rebuking a professing Christian publicly.
Little more be said than what was said above, really; the hypocrisy is readily apparent. The objector is doing the very thing he says ought not to be done.
Further, if pastors are the ones charged with protecting the flock, then they don’t need the help of the objector, do they? They are perfectly capable of protecting the flock from the wicked and dangerous scourge of the discernment ministry to which he objects. Also, the pastor(s) of the Christian(s) engaging in the discernment ministry activities is/are capable of calling the discernment minister to repentance of engaging in discernment ministry, without the help of the objector. So while the objector discerns out loud that we ought not to discern out loud because pastors can discern without our help, he usurps the place and role that he thinks the pastor ought to take in our own lives.

What is more, he assumes that the pastor in his right mind wants to be the only one to help the people in his church discern right from wrong and light from darkness. When a voice is biblical, measured, and truth-loving, why wouldn’t a pastor warmly welcome the help? Why did many pastors join in the voices of love and appreciation for, say, Ken Silva when he passed on to his heavenly reward recently? Even if the objector himself is a pastor, he doesn’t speak for other pastors, does he? Why does he act like pastors want to, or that pastors should want to, go it alone and center all responsibility for research and calling out dangerous trends on himself? Is part of the charism of pastoral leadership the addition of hours in the day? Do pastors get 29 hours per day while the rest of us lowly mortals get 24?

Special pleading is hypocrisy. It has no place among those who bear the name of Jesus. Let us throw off the sin that so easily entangles, let us think biblically and charitably, and let us pursue Jesus, who is the Truth.

Thursday, November 06, 2014


It's not often that the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1), is so obviously displayed as it was here recently.
Thankfully, abolitionists' attendance of Bellevue Baptist Church on Sunday caused something of a stir, which is one of the things we were hoping for. That the hearts of Pharisees revealed themselves afterward is a bonus.

Even through the cold, cruel screen through which you view these words, you can feel the flow of love and warmth, the Christian charity.

Forget all the times we have repeatedly rejected the word "protest" with respect to the Church Repent project. Forget the fact that all we did was attend the service quietly and then afterwards offer pamphlets to people, then when security stepped in and, in a break from their normal pattern, pushed everyone out of the auditorium and called the cops to make us leave even though a simple request would have sufficed, we merely sang "Amazing Grace" and then left. Forget that if we had been there to protest, there would have been zero doubt that we were there to protest! Forget the fact that abolitionists specifically and explicitly reject violence, whereas John Brown didn't. And forget the fact that OR wasn't violent either, and yet Butler's and Miano's pastor looked the other way while a member of his church sent sheriff's deputies to beat the tar out of and break bones of OR volunteers.

Fred Butler did us all the favor of stripping the niceties from this debate. Tony Miano and his acolytes love to talk about "unity in the Gospel", and Butler and others will say the same when they don't dislike you enough. They'll even reach across denominational lines and make sure everyone knows that Presbyterians, Lutherans, Arminians, and such are their brothers in Christ, because we all hold to the same Gospel. But poke at one of their sacred cows - the institutional church structure - and suddenly the false veneer vanishes.

Apparently to them, location matters. You can criticise Bellevue Baptist pastor Steve Gaines all you want for his arch-anti-Calvinism and his crazy support for altar calls and sinner's prayers, as long as you do it from afar. Dare to defile the sacred ground of the church building and suggest that maybe there are false converts inside its walls and that maybe something ought to be done about that, and these Gatekeepers of Evangelical Purity will make sure your backside is smarting.

The Gospel we preach is not fundamentally different. Miano professes faith in the Gospel, and I believe the Gospel. I think there's more unity in the Gospel than these men do. Butler thinks there was no unity to begin with.

But many Pharisees can profess the Gospel quite well. That's part of their charm. It's by their fruits you will know them. Though it may hurt a bit to see people we may admire reveal the sin in their hearts, let it be a helpful reminder that we are not to put our trust in men.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Preaching at the University of Memphis

At the University of Memphis five days ago.
130 abolitionists converged on the campus to expose the evil of abortion and call students to repent and believe the Gospel and obey the law of Jesus Christ. In the afternoon the conversations continued, and a good opportunity to preach presented itself.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Long back and forth with a Satanist

Someone claiming to be a Satanist wrote in to the Abolish Human Abortion contact page. I reproduce our conversation here for your edification:

His first email:

I beg a pardon, but I couldn't help but notice what seems to me to be a slight hypocrisy in the reasoning that backs the opinions stated on this site. As a Christian organization (or at least a predominantly Christian organization) your holy book of choice is obviously the Bible---a collection of texts that boast astonishingly little concern for the welfare of children, even for a series of writings jotted down in the Bronze Age. The book of Proverbs, for example, recommends beating one's offspring with rods (staves) in response to defiance (Proverbs 19:18, Proverbs 22:15, Proverbs 23:13-14) and tells parents not to allow themselves to feel pity for their child's crying. This book supposedly being written by king Solomon---the wisest person ever to live and a godly man, by the Bible's account. King David, Solomon's father, and someone Yahweh describes as "...a man after mine own heart..." sung songs by harp about his hope that soldiers would someday invade the enemy country of Babylon and that the citizens of that place would be made to witness their children---presumably innocent, just like the unborn---crushed to death against stones by the invaders (Psalms 137:9). His predecessor Saul performed a complete genocide of the Amalekites, slaughtering men, women, children, and "sucklings" all on Yahweh's explicit command. (He even forbids Israel from sparing any of the Amalekites' pets or livestock.---1 Samuel 15:3)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

User-Friendly Churches

I’m sure that most of you are familiar with the terms “seeker-sensitive” or “seeker-friendly” to designate a certain category of church. The term is ubiquitous in circles like those in which the Pulpit & Pen runs. It is used of a gamut of churches, from entirely heretical Lakewood Church in Houston and milquetoast Six Flags Over Jesus-type experiences like and Relevance Church to blood-and-guts guns-and-profanity-and-sexual-innuendo get-a-DWI-then-step-down-then-wait-four-weeks-then-just-start-“preachin'”-again Heath Mooneyham’s Ignite Church.

Many trees have given their lives and many pixels been darkened discussing the nature of seeker-friendly churches, their motivations, their attempts at biblically justifying their existence and modus operandi, the ways in which they blow through millions of dollars in valiant attempts to entertain people who hate God and stay only a few years behind the world’s trends. One of the main voices in this venture has just gone to his reward in the arms of the Redeemer, but the Lord has raised up others to speak truth to itching ears, such as Chris Rosebrough and, if we may be so bold, the Pulpit & Pen program as well, among many.

Because of their visibility, the discerning Christian is well-served to spend time calling out the sins of the false teachers and false prophets that lead these churches. The Word of God also sets a significant priority on exposing and warning of them, so it is a commendable practice, to be sure. To expose the evil of these false teachers is to (if you do it right) proclaim truth from a public stage, illuminate darkness, and set in starkest contrast the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets did it. We should probably go ahead and follow their example.

However, partly because the false teacher at the head is such an obvious target and partly because of the relative vagueness and inaccessibility of the congregants, the criticism and call to repentance usually begins and ends at the Head Wolf, rather than extending to any significant extent to the wolflets, without whom the Wolf can’t survive.

This leads into a crucial point – nobody chooses false teaching in the stead of the adherent. The adherent may be manipulated, may be lied to, may be love-bombed; any number of influences may play a part in the person selecting his worldview. But the person chooses what he will believe. Notice who is the subject in such passages as 1 Tim 4:1, 2 Tim 4:3, and Prov 1:20-31. It is the person who believes the false doctrine, rather than the false teacher himself.
Notice the language of choice and of willful deviation from the commands of the Lord. The lost have no one to blame but themselves for their choices and self-reinforcing depravity. False teachers derive their power from the consent of the deceived. They have no power that their followers don’t give them. How many false teachers have come and gone, having made no mark on history? They weren’t able to gather a large enough following to enrich themselves significantly, so instead of becoming rich and powerful like a TD Jakes or Joyce Meyer, or forming their own identifiable religion like a Joseph Smith, they scraped by. They needed to be enabled by disciples, and the disciples didn’t stick around in sufficient number.

Thus, what we have here is exactly what 2 Tim 4:3 tells us – the wolflets seek to get their itching ears scratched. Someone who has paid to sit in the floor section at Lakewood is using JoelO to get his spiritual high and/or his standing in the community. JoelO, of course, is only too happy to take his money, show his rear end in a seat on TV, and use him right back. It’s a mutually parasitic relationship. We don’t recognise the name of the guy occupying the paid floor seat at Lakewood, because his face doesn’t get on TV or the covers of books in Mardel, but he himself bears plenty of guilt for using the religio-social apparatus that Lakewood or whatever other church provides to get what he is looking for.

If he were looking for Jesus, he would seek out a group of believers who are walking with Jesus and who actually love the Scripture, because “the sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3).
Allow me to let you in on a little secret. We who love the Scripture have allowed these wolves and wolflets to subvert the language of Scripture. It’s happened plenty of times.
  • Papists have stolen the word “catholic”, which means “universal Christian”, though the Roman Catholic Church is far from universal.
  • Eastern conciliarists have stolen the word “orthodox”, which means “correct doctrine”, though the Eastern Orthodox Church’s doctrine contains many fundamental errors.
  • Mormons have stolen the words “church” and “of Jesus Christ” and “saints”, though they do not constitute a church, do not follow Jesus, and are not saints.
  • And now, in that same line of thinking, we have “seeker-sensitive” or “seeker-friendly”.
Yet what does the Scripture say about who seeks whom in the man-God relationship?

John 4:23 – But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.

So, the lost man does not seek God. God seeks the lost man. But these wolves and wolflets use the word “seeker-friendly” because they want to pander to the wants and felt needs of people who hate God, whom they call “seekers”. Yet there are no seekers. There is only one Seeker: the Creator of the universe. Thus a true seeker-friendly church would actually be that which devotes itself carefully and entirely to the Word of God in order to attempt to be friendly to and please God, the Seeker, in every way.

Let’s take back the terms “seeker-friendly” and “seeker-sensitive”. Instead, since these churches are merely amusement parks for the rebellious who are at enmity with God and who are seeking to leverage the experience, the status, and the visibility for their own personal pleasures and gains, I propose this much more accurate appellation: User-Friendly Churches.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

On Holding on Viola, Part 2

Continuing with Holding's review from last time...

This is just more of the same errors Viola makes throughout: Blaming the "institutions" instead of the people

People institute and maintain institutions.

ailing to credential this alleged "functioning headship" of Christ (Mormons and others say they have it too)

What is Holding's obsession with these comparisons to Mormonism? Of course they CLAIM those things. But those claims are empty. This is like doubting real US dollars exist because counterfeiters have gotten very good at their craft.

For Viola to describe himself and others as "daring" just because, e.g., they got bored with church and left,is offensive.

1) I don't recall any self-ascribing of martyrdom on Viola's part. So Holding is being unnecessarily shrill.
2) If it's not daring to follow one's convictions in the face of a great deal of traditions and peer pressure to the contrary, what word would Holding prefer? I'm not saying it's the best thing anyone could ever do, but why isn't it daring?
3) What is really offensive is Holding's strawman - "they got bored with church".
"With church and left" - but Viola specifically tells certain readers NOT to leave their institutional churches, and for the rest he recommends... church! He's not calling people to walk away from church, least of all b/c they're "bored". He is calling them to embrace a more biblical form of church.

House church for Viola's purpose is idividuals trying to satisfy THEMSELVES.

1) Not house church. Organic church.
2) What is Holding's evidence for this assertion? Shouldn't he have proof of this sinful attitude before making the accusation?

(Org)anic unity can be achieved anywhere by people willing to give up themselves as a priority. A house church may seem to succeed in this regard (as may a Sunday School class or church sub-group) because you're gathering together a group of people who disagree on the same issues; and so the illusion of being an "organic entity" can be perpetrated.

Viola makes this exact point in his book. Did Holding read it carefully enough to note it?

I sense a persecution complex when Barna says people cry out "heretic" when suggestions are made to change practices

Ironically, Holding contributes to the justification of a persecution complex with this accusation, which is based on nothing more or less than his "sense".
Also ironically, Holding has already several times poked fun in this review at what he thinks is Viola's centering on his emotions and sensations, whereas here he does the same thing. Maybe I could insert a comparison to Mormons to make it fair and square.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

On Holding on Viola, Part 1

My attention was recently directed to JP Holding's review of Viola & Barna's Pagan Christianity, a book that I read recently and which edified me significantly.

I'd like to write a full review of it. I don't have time to go through the monstrous article in its entirety at the moment, but I would like to offer the following review of the introduction, leading up to the subtitle Preface in the review article.

He portrays himself as an advocate of "natural and spontaneous expression" that allegedly comes from "the divine life that indwelt the early Christians" [xix]. Really? Mormons call that a "burning in the bosom," and it is epistemically a disaster area.

I honestly do think this statement misunderstands Viola.
Mormons cite "burning in the bosom" for proof that the Book of Mormon is true. I see no comparative claim in the book.

"Natural and spontaneous expression" looks far too much like a rationalization to turn a church meeting into a widespread counseling and storytelling session

I don't think this is fair. Yes, Viola is a bit charismatic for my tastes, maybe a bit goofy, but nothing he says in the book **necessarily** leads to this characterisation.

in which it is only imagined that Jesus is the "functional head"

But why is it "only imagined"? No, the Bible doesn't lay out a specific set of do-this and don't-do-thats... that's how Jesus is indeed the functional head, for everyone plays a part in fulfilling NT commands and love.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Interested in discussing vaccines

I come from a family that is pro-vaccine as far as I can tell, and I have participated in vaccines in the past to a pretty thorough extent. I find myself strongly questioning the wisdom and propriety of vaccines in the modern West, but I would like to sharpen my understanding by talking to someone or more than one person who is pro-vaccine. I consider myself at this point just to the right of neutral on the question, just a shade more anti-vaccine than pro-.

A few questions I'm asking follow. Please pardon my ignorance. I learn best when talking to people, so I'd appreciate a modicum of respect in answering, though of course there is no requirement:

1) Why is it that reports continually emerge that vaccines contain ingredients that are poisonous, such as formaldehyde, mercury, aluminum, and the like?

2) Is there a good reason for parents of vaccinated children to be concerned if unvaccinated children attend the same government school as their vaccinated children? If so, why?

3) How is it justifiable to inject children with the body parts of other children who were murdered?

4) Why wouldn't the slow response of the medical community to things like the Gardasil debacle give a parent pause?

5) Why is it important to inoculate against minor maladies like measles?

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Trinity as three-leaf clover

Recently a friend posted a video of street evangelism in which she was sharing the Gospel with a Muslim. This Muslim young man didn't know much about the Bible and in the course of the convo asked "What is the Holy Spirit?"

My friend used the words "it is..." in her response and went on to try to explain the Trinity as three-leaf clover. Here's the comment I left under her video:
Thanks for the video! Just a few thoughts:

1) Don't refer to the Holy Spirit as "it". He is a person.
2) You used the three leaf clover analogy for the Trinity. I would recommend against using such an analogy.
Here is a small tongue-in-cheek reason not to use that analogy.

It's sarcastic humor. But it illustrates the underlying reason not to use that kind of analogy - the Holy Spirit is fully God, just as the Father and the Son are. They are distinct and yet co-equal, all sharing the essence of divinity equally and fully. The clover analogy does not express the godhead well enough. Of course any analogy fails, but where they fail in a really fundamental way, we should abandon them.

I much prefer to explain the Trinity to a Muslim like this - "The Bible is God's Word. The Qur'an affirms that it is. The Bible teaches that there is one God and only one. It also teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and that they are all distinct and yet there is only one God. This is a great mystery. We accept what the Bible teaches b/c it's what God told us." and kind of go from there, showing them in the Bible why we think that is true, if they ask.

A better analogy if you must use one is this: Imagine three balloons of equal size and shape. Each balloon is filled with the same air. Not the same AMOUNT of air. Literally the same air.
How is that possible? It's not, not in this physical universe. That's part of the point. The Trinity doesn't map all that well onto our physical, material experiences.

(HT: SyeTenB for the balloon analogy)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Don't Make Vows

…But if you do make ’em, you might want to think about keeping ’em.

Let’s explore this topic together with the help of an obscure passage referring to an event that didn’t exactly get recorded in the Scripture, a cocktail mixed in my mind while I was pondering a related matter, the worms of which can I will not expose to air at this time.

First, let’s examine a few passages, conveniently located in the fifth chapters of a few books each:

Ecclesiastes 5:5 – It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.

Matthew 5:33-37 – “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.

James 5:12 – But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.

It would seem that the main reason why we should not swear or make vows is that it implies one’s regular word is insufficient on a given matter. So one calls something (or Someone) greater as a witness, as it were, to testify of the truth of what the maker of the vow is saying. (Or, if you’re Allah in the Qur’an, feel free to swear all the time by created things.) Which would mean that the listener, or vow-ee, might well have reason to distrust that which the vow-er says in most cases. Obviously, that’s not a good situation to be in. Our speech should always be truthful and reliable.

Proverbs 22:1 – A good name is to be more desired than great wealth; favor is better than silver and gold.

But, as Ecclesiastes said, it is better, if you made a vow, to go ahead and fulfill it (or seek release via mutual consent) rather than to let the thing slide when you come to the conviction later that you shouldn’t have made the vow. Probably the reader who is more astute than I (which is not a difficult task) can think of a few exceptions, but this would appear to be a general rule.

Why? Let’s examine the aforementioned obscure passage. First, the setup and the background.

Joshua 9:
3When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua had done to Jericho and to Ai, 4they also acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended, 5and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled. 6They went to Joshua to the camp at Gilgal and said to him and to the men of Israel, “We have come from a far country; now therefore, make a covenant with us.” 7The men of Israel said to the Hivites, “Perhaps you are living within our land; how then shall we make a covenant with you?” 8But they said to Joshua, “We are your servants.” Then Joshua said to them, “Who are you and where do you come from?” 9They said to him, “Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the LORD your God; for we have heard the report of Him and all that He did in Egypt, 10and all that He did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon king of Heshbon and to Og king of Bashan who was at Ashtaroth. 11“So our elders and all the inhabitants of our country spoke to us, saying, ‘Take provisions in your hand for the journey, and go to meet them and say to them, “We are your servants; now then, make a covenant with us.”’ 12“This our bread was warm when we took it for our provisions out of our houses on the day that we left to come to you; but now behold, it is dry and has become crumbled. 13“These wineskins which we filled were new, and behold, they are torn; and these our clothes and our sandals are worn out because of the very long journey.” 14So the men of Israel took some of their provisions, and did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. 15Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them.
As we can see, these Gibeonites were seized with a fear that did not lead to salvation or repentance. If they had been truly repentant over their idolatry and sin, would they not have fallen on their knees before God’s people and begged them not to destroy them, and pled to become worshipers of the one true living God? Would they have deceived the people of Yahweh?

Notice also the barb in verse 14. The embarrassing, and pointed, reminder that neither the people nor Joshua consulted Yahweh before swearing their oath. A modern analogy to this situation would be hastily making an oath before consulting the Word of God (after which examination, one would know not to make the oath, but I digress).

Joshua 9 continues:
16It came about at the end of three days after they had made a covenant with them, that they heard that they were neighbors and that they were living within their land. 17Then the sons of Israel set out and came to their cities on the third day. Now their cities were Gibeon and Chephirah and Beeroth and Kiriath-jearim. 18The sons of Israel did not strike them because the leaders of the congregation had sworn to them by the LORD the God of Israel. And the whole congregation grumbled against the leaders. 19But all the leaders said to the whole congregation, “We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them. 20“This we will do to them, even let them live, so that wrath will not be upon us for the oath which we swore to them.” 21The leaders said to them, “Let them live.” So they became hewers of wood and drawers of water for the whole congregation, just as the leaders had spoken to them.
Joshua later pronounces a curse on the people, but you can almost hear the Gibeonites fake-quaking in their boots while wiping the sweat from their brows, breathing a sigh of relief, and smirking at the trick they pulled. Now they’re safe from the destruction that their Canaanite neighbors underwent, and found safety, at least for this life.

Obviously it was a mistake for the Israelites to swear the oath that guaranteed the Gibeonites their lives, as it directly disobeyed what Yahweh had told them to do. But for years I thought they’d made a second mistake, a sin of ommision, for not going ahead and obeying the first command and going back on the oath because it had been made under false pretenses. However, the obscure aftermath, a few hundred years later, seems to indicate that my original conclusion was mistaken:

2 Samuel 21:
1During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.”
2The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.) 3David asked the Gibeonites, “What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the Lord’s inheritance?”

5They answered the king, “As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel, 6let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul—the Lord’s chosen one.” So the king said, “I will give them to you.”
I don’t think that the incident referred to in verse 1 is recorded directly, and obviously the Lord’s timing can appear strange to our eyes as this was well into David’s reign and Saul had been dead for decades, but His ways aren’t ours, as I’m continually reminded. The really important thing to see here is that the famine came from God. This disciplinary action was initiated by the Lord, and why? That oath that Joshua and the people swore, under false pretenses, had been violated by subsequent generations of Israelites, and now the Lord had decided to teach a lesson in response to its breaking.

The account is actually pretty disturbing, grieving to read, really. Yet at the end we see verse 14: “…after that God was moved by prayer for the land.”

The situation is pretty alien to anything we’re used to seeing. However, just as we can’t imagine the nastiness of temple or tabernacle worship (for example, notice how the priests are continually spraying blood all over the place and yet there are no provisions for cleaning the altar, and no flypaper back in the day. Use your imagination) and how it graphically portrayed the filth of sin, and just as we can’t imagine the sounds and sights, let alone the smells, of Calvary, in the same way we are insulated in our air conditioning and high-speed Internet from many of the gritty realities in which our forebears grew and died.

All that to say, for the love of God, just let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’. Anything beyond that truly does come from the evil one, and his fingerprints are all over the alternative.

The convoluted Resurrection accounts

Gary said:
This story is more convoluted that a Mexican tele-novela!

I agree it's not the most straightforward account I've ever seen.
1) Truth is often stranger than fiction.
2) It's hard to empathise since I've never given up everything to follow a guy around for 3+ years, watched Him silence the most learned people of His day with a word, cast out demons and heal people by the hundreds, teach me with crazy authority I've never heard, predict His own death, then get tortured, die in the most humiliating way possible, get buried, and then start to understand that He may well have risen from the dead. I have no idea how I'd react, how logically, how many times I'd go back to the tomb to check again, just to make sure I wasn't dreaming.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Oklahoma City Satanic Black Mass

So this past Sunday in downtown OKC a group of Satanists rented a small event hall in the Civic Center to do a Black Mass. They had even somehow purloined a consecrated Eucharistic host but the threat of legal action made 'em give it back. Both of which events are really funny to me.

As I had expected, out in front of the Civic Center in the plaza, it was a chaotic, noisy madhouse. Pelagian street preachers (those who I've been told sometimes call themselves the "Pervert Patrol" from Tulsa) (see here what I think of them) with their bullhorns preaching a bunch of not particularly persuasive hate-filled screeds, Black Israelites bellowing at the top of their lungs, hundreds of Roman Catholics praying responsive prayers (mostly to Mary) (who else, right?) with their own amps and holding idols and large pictures of Mary, mainline Protestant groups singing milquetoast "worship" songs, some other Roman Catholics playing bagpipes, people blowing shofars...

Notice how the "My" is capitalised. This is supposedly Mary speaking, and she gets the divinised reference to a nomina sacra, as it were. And where is Jesus in the photo? Nowhere. Tell me this isn't idolatry so that I may have a good laugh.

Anyway, as I expected, virtually nobody actually attending the Black Mass hung around outside and talked to anyone. Like last time, all the paying attendees slunk in the side to enter and skulked out the side to exit.

Really, in a vacuum this event was not a big deal. According to press who observed the Black Mass on the inside, about 40 people attended. Seriously, who cares? The only reason this attracted so much media attention is because the Satanists played the Media Whore game and the local Roman Catholic archdiocese played their willing dance partner. Thus the Roman Catholics' efforts entirely backfired in my opinion. They were mad about this event.

But, happily, it attracted such a large crowd that some servants of the Lord Jesus were able to take advantage to outreach to them.

I prepared a tract centering around the Roman Mass. I was thinking I'd probably do some street preaching too. 

When we arrived, though, it was chaotic. The noise and clamor was astonishing. And then just as the Roman prayers were reaching their climax, a rainbow appeared in the sky. Not particularly surprising, since the sun was at a convenient angle for such and it had rained on us a little when we were a mile from the Civic Center. But many of the RCs took it for a sign from heaven. Probably the most interesting moment of the evening was when, right after I had turned to find what everyone was staring at and then spotted the rainbow, this lady materialised at my side and gushed about how we're winning and God is on our side and we have nothing to fear and isn't it awesome? I had no idea what to say and so just kinda smiled and nodded like a doofus. I belatedly offered her a tract and she smiled and shook her head as she walked away and I was just standing there like what just happened? What a weird environment!

The attitude of many of the RCs was best summed up in: "why are you talking to us when the real enemy is inside?" At which point I tried to remind them that they're the ones who are members of the religion that anathematised the gospel and perverts the Lord's Table.

My friend gave out a lot of the aforementioned tracts about the Mass; I had less success with that. I had some good conversations. I rebuked the Pelagian street preachers, who then rebuked me for wasting time rebuking them when there were hundreds of lost people just over yonder. I told one of them (this guy) I can do both and this is worthwhile, and he rudely told me to get on with it, like a schoolboy double-dog-daring me to preach, to show him how it's done.
There's only so much childishness a man can take before you just don't know what to say anymore. It's like it's hard to talk intelligently, like the dumb creeps into your own brain by osmosis.
But I figured I'd rather not waste the opportunity or let my 'yes' be 'no', so I fired up my brand new amp and preached about the Mass for a while at that point. The Pelagian guy had a camera on me pretty much the whole time as if to intimidate me or prove a point. The preach went well, and when I was done he came over, almost apologetic, and said "hey that was good stuff, solid preaching."
I wasn't sure I wanted his affirmation, but I smiled and said thanks before turning to talk to some Romanists who wanted to comment.

Aaaaaannnndddd also my camera malfunctioned and didn't record any audio. Disappointing, as there were numerous interesting incidents.

But at least I praise God that the Gospel went out to many. I am left dumbfounded at how few Christians were there to witness of the Gospel, in a place where hundreds of people are gathered in a place in order to publicly discuss a spiritual matter. Where are you, church of God?

Friday, September 19, 2014

More self-defeating hypocrisy from Babies Are Murdered Here and Marcus Pittman

Earlier this week a significant hubbub resulted from a confrontation between abolitionist Chris Rush from Minnesota and pro-life big-shot celebrity heroine Abby Johnson. Rush apparently attended an Abby J event with the intent of speaking to her about something related to abolition. He carried a GoPro in his hand to record part of it. When Abby J noticed the camera she tried to grab it and then, as he pulled away, told her some half-dozen friends standing around to grab it. Thus she did nothing less than inciting mob violence against an individual, attempting robbery of his property.

Since then she has lied about Rush and refused to claim any guilt for instigating a violent encounter.

Anyway, to substantiate his account of the incident, Rush put out the unedited video of the encounter. He lost his cool and self-control and did not regain it in what I would call a timely manner, and a few times used profanity a few minutes after the attempted robbery.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Grab-Bag of Roman Catholic Mistakes

Roman Catholic: Hmm, guess I won't be joining. By the way y'all, there would be no bible without Catholics. Who do you think put the table of contents in there? Look it up folks!

Me: there would be no bible without Catholics.

All this time I thought God wrote the Bible.

Who do you think put the table of contents in there?

1) The people of God. Not Rome and not Roman Catholics.
2) Rome doesn't have a closed Old Testament Canon. See the book of 2 Esdras - the Council of Trent passed over that book in silence.
3) Rome doesn't have a canon of infallible teachings.

Rome is actually in a much worse position than Sola Scripturists on that question. MUCH worse.

The bible is a collection of books inspired by God and written by men. Catholics also hold the bible to be the inerrant word of God and the canon of the bible was established at the Council of Nicea in the 4th century. The OT consisted of the canon established by the Jews and would have been known by the Apostles. The NT canon needed to be established because there were many "gospels" at the time and some had to be excluded, such as the Gospel of Thomas, Peter, and numerous others. The Church Fathers met in a council to codify the canon of scripture until Martin Luther thought he knew better almost a thousand years later.

Me: Catholics also hold the bible to be the inerrant word of God

The RCC thinks that evolution is true. Thus your statement is false.

the canon of the bible was established at the Council of Nicea in the 4th century

That is untrue. Nicea did not deal with the canon at all. Show your evidence.

The OT consisted of the canon established by the Jews and would have been known by the Apostles

RCC claims to have apostolic succession. So is 2 Esdras canonical or not? Just answer the question.

The NT canon needed to be established because there were many "gospels" at the time and some had to be excluded, such as the Gospel of Thomas, Peter, and numerous others.

You're mistaken again. Those other "gospels" were written much later than the canonical Gospels.

The Church Fathers met in a council to codify the canon of scripture

No, they didn't. This is fiction.

until Martin Luther thought he knew better almost a thousand years later.

Pope Gregory the Great, Athanasius, and Cardinal Cajetan all held to DIFFERENT canons of the Old Testament than that which Rome affirmed at the Council of Trent.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hosting a Debate

Friend of the blog Truth Unites...and Divides has asked me to host a debate between him and another individual. I have to go away from blog for a day or two but I can give a better name to this post when I get back if the two individuals would like to carry on debating in this combox.

No links to pr0n is pretty much all I ask.

Pericope Harmonisation in the Qur'an

Recently I was sharing the Gospel outside a local mosque, and one of the men who talked with me mentioned that since the New Testament tells the same story a few different ways in different books, the New Testament can't be from God. In essence he was making a clumsy and unsophisticated appeal to what some call "the Synoptic problem". It isn't really a problem at all but the meme is perpetuated by the many ignorant heathens in the West who have Internet access, as well as by pretty much any Muslim with the least desire to talk to a Christian about such matters. Yet even such a luminary as Bart Ehrman once told me in private email that he considered it an insuperable task to harmonise the four accounts of Jesus' Resurrection. When I told him I was way ahead of him, he didn't reply.

Anyway, I told my Muslim friend that the Qur'an does the exact same thing and though I didn't remember the exact references, I remembered that the pericope where Allah tells Satan (Iblis) to prostrate before Adam and Satan refuses was "guilty" of the same thing that my friend was saying proves the human origin of the New Testament. He didn't believe me and I couldn't prove it at the moment, but I went back and doublechecked, and this is what I found.

Also of interest to anyone who is familiar with the biblical account of creation is the way the Qur'anic author seems to try to follow the pattern of the fall laid out in Genesis, but messes up in numerous details. Nowhere in Genesis does Satan say anything about the nakedness of the first couple. Obviously nowhere is there any angelic interaction, much less does Adam name the angels or become the object of a worshipful posture. 

Acts 10:25-26 - When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.”
Revelation 19:10 - Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Revelation 22:8-9 - I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.”

If two or more authors or witnesses recount what they saw in ways that complement but do not contradict each other, why not consider that they are merely adding to the story from their own perspective? This Muslim argument against the divine origin of the New Testament fails, for it disproves the divine origin of the Qur'an as well.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Since I apparently can't say this...

I'll just point out someone else who is saying what needs to be said about the exploitation of Braxton Caner's suicide by Ergun Caner and various others of his enablers.

I mean, this post was fine but didn't go nearly far enough in my humble opinion.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Preaching About Depo-Provera at the Gates of Hell

September 11 - A Good Day to Repent

More human beings will die today from abortion in the USA than died on Sept 11.

Chances are, you're not doing anything about that.

Moreover, while virtually nobody will ever have the opportunity to help stop a terrorist attack, virtually everyone has the opportunity on a daily basis to help stop the systematic butchery of children. Yet the abortionists continue their daily work and almost nobody stands in their way.

Repent, America.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Leaven of the Pharisees - "authority" "sending you out"

A faithful abolitionist and his family sacrificed of his time and energy to warn and preach the truth and the Gospel to attendees of a recent event in his area put on by a Word of Faith heretic.

He then posted some pictures and stories about his experience on Facebook. The following conversation ensued.

Pharisee Disciple: Hmmmm. Still trying to discern the motive here. Are y'all sent out there by a local pastor or any church government or authority?
September 7 at 9:23am

The Abolitionist In Question: The motive is love for God's Church. There are probably some sheep that are going in there that have ears to hear. We are there for them.
As far as being sent: we have King Jesus and all of His commands as authority enough as our dispatch orders.
September 7 at 9:51am

A Former Abolitionist Who Has Ingested the Leaven of the Pharisees: His commands are to love one another assuming we are part of a governing body that He established.
Yesterday at 1:26am

Me: All believers are sent out by the authority of Jesus Christ. No other authority or sending is necessary.
A better question is: Why weren't other Christians and churches out there doing the same?
23 hours ago

Me: Where does the NT say anything about a GOVERNING body?
23 hours ago

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Calls to Repentance Are Not Attacks

As if the presence of such books as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Haggai, Malachi, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, James, 1-3 John, and Revelation in the canon of Scripture were insufficient, I find it necessary to remind you, my dear reader, that an “attack”, or “going after” someone, or “slander”, is not the same thing as calling someone to repentance.

That is, unless you think that God desires evil and hurtful outcomes for people.
You see, a highly visible and consistent theme throughout not only those books but many other passages in the Scripture is the call to forsake sin and, having left it, to pursue holiness.
Hebrews 12:14- Pursue peace with all men, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
Romans 6:17-18 – But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.
What is the outcome of a life lived in the pursuit of holiness and Christ-likeness?
Romans 2:5-8 – But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.
Romans 6:22 – But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.
But how does one get from Point A, lost in sin, guilt, and slavery to sin, to Point C, on the road to eternal life, living in holiness and seeking the Lord’s face? Repentance! It is a change of heart, a turning away, a change, a major modification in trajectory, an overthrow. It, along with trusting faith in Jesus, is the necessary precondition for that life, for the departure from the dark path that leads to death to the light-drenched path that leads to life.
Eph 5:6-13 – Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.
Similarly, how does one get from Point D, a regenerate believer who is saying or doing sinful things, walking in darkness, living contrary to his profession, to Point F, once again in obedience, walking in the light, living a blameless life? You got it – repentance! And that’s a good thing!
Now, as someone to whom God has given a love for my neighbor and my enemy, a love for everyone in the world, I want what is best for everyone. Love is a commitment to the best for the beloved. And allow me to restate the obvious here – when someone sins, that’s bad. When someone repents, it’s good! When someone faithfully walks with Jesus, it’s yet better. But if they’re not walking with Jesus, I want them to do it. How can that happen? Repentance! They have to turn around before they can walk the other direction.

So, the loving thing to desire, when you see someone in sin, is their repentance. Ignoring their sin so that they continue in darkness and harm to themselves and others is not love; it’s more like hatred, and it is ungodly and unChristlike. If you don’t desire their repentance, then how can you desire their walking in holiness, and if you don’t desire their walking in holiness, how can you desire them to end up in eternal life with Jesus? And if you don’t want them in heaven, you have a serious heart problem.

Since nobody, not even longtime Christians, are perfect, there may come a time and opportunity when you see your brother or sister walking in darkness by their sin, and you’ll be faced with a choice? Do you do the godly thing engage in what some call “friendly fire”? Or do you take action consistent with their perpetuating ungodliness in their lives, that is to say, no action?
Jesus engaged in “friendly fire” a few times.
Matthew 16:23 – But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
Revelation 2:4-5 – “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.”
So did the Apostle Paul. The entire book of Galatians is that way, including the confrontation (in front of everyone, by the way – Galatians 2:15) of Peter. He criticises the Judaisers, who were members of the church, by the way, in Galatians and 2 Corinthians, and the congregation for tolerating them. So did James, so did Peter; the list goes on.

Let’s consider a great example, however, in the life of King David. He commits adultery with Bathsheba despite having numerous wives, arranges for the murder of her husband, then continues like nothing happened. The prophet Nathan then engages in “friendly fire” toward this otherwise godly king. Now, was that wise of him? The threats around Israel remained strong. The Philistine threat never disappeared. The prospect of Moab or Edom revolting never permanently disappeared. Who knew whether Aram or Egypt would start making trouble? The Israelites had still not made a clean break from the idolatry they’d been practicing for hundreds of years! Surely, there were concerns enough to occupy a man’s mind.

This is worldly wisdom – “let’s focus on the external threat while leaving the heart alone.” Godly wisdom compels us to repent of sin so that we can do what is right, with clear vision and clean heart to see the right thing and to be able to do it, unencumbered by sin.
Hebrews 12:1 – …Let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
So Nathan engaged in friendly fire, did the hard thing… and the payoff was repentance and a return to holiness. What Nathan did was good and helpful to David. David needed Nathan’s intervention.

Consider again Jesus’ rebuke of Peter, when there were Pharisees that needed reprimanding. There were more people that needed healing, Samaritans left without Gospel ministry, etc. Jesus spends some of His valuable time engaging in “friendly fire”. Why? Because Peter did not have in mind the things of God, but rather the things of men.

Here are some other thoughts in rapid succession:
–It goes without saying that any rebuke must be done in love, at all times. The motivations must be loving, and so must the manner of rebuke.
–Love and lovingness are defined by Scripture, not modern American mores. How did Jesus deal with people? Do what He did, how He did it.
1 Corinthians 11:1 – Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
–Those who complain about the rebuke of sin or about “friendly fire” should be more concerned with the validity of the critique and the heart of the person in question rather than the person who perceived the alleged sin, unless the one calling for repentance has himself displayed an ungodly attitude or something. But the bare fact of calling sin sin is not sinful. It is, in fact, Christlike and godly.
–It takes humility to receive criticism and repent. Guard your heart against pride, dear reader.
–To complain about friendly fire from one Christian to another is itself friendly fire by that yardstick, so it is hypocritical, and of course hypocrisy is never commendable.
Romans 12:9 – Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
Don’t be afraid to detect sin and to talk about it, and don’t hypocritically use the words “attack” or “go after” when a call to repentance is in view. Attacking or going after someone means you wish them ill or harm, but a call to repentance is an invitation to the best thing, to good and godliness. The two are diametrically opposed, so reform your speech on this issue so that you do not add to the problem rather than to the solution.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Repent of calling to repentance!

If you despise calls to repentance, that's because repentance is that which you most need.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

When Unitarian Universalists "Debate"

AJ: Yo Matt, before you and your AHAer friends go condemning everyone else view on God, you ought to REALLY examine your own.
16 hrs

Me: We examine it all the time, and pro-abortion people are only too happy to help. We condemn falsehoods and deception, and we hope that your souls will be saved. Repent of your sin and idolatry. Place your faith in Jesus Christ, Him alone, to save you from your sin. Holding to the nonsense of UUism is not worth your soul.
16 hrs

AJ: No doubt you. Examine it a little bit more in depth Rhology. As I look back on my years as a Christian, I find it very refreshing that I am no longer tied to a belief system I did not invent or join because of upbringing.
16 hrs

Me: I didn't join it b/c of upbringing. I joined it b/c Jesus transformed me, brought me to repentance, forgave my sin, and told me to follow Him.
Why don't you follow Jesus?
8 hrs

Angel: Rhology, if Jesus told you to jump off a cliff would you?
7 hrs

Me: Sure. But that of course brings up a couple of questions, specifically how I would know it was Jesus talking.
Since the devil tempted Jesus to do that very thing and Jesus told him that one should not put the Lord to the test, there is every reason to think you have proposed an impossible and therefore empty hypothetical.
How about this, though? If He told me to love UUs so much that I would not pass up an opportunity to be seen as a fool and a crazy person in the eyes of my own culture if I may offer them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I would obey.
3 hrs

AJ: Simple, Jesus isn't for me. I came from a denomination where Jesus was all it.
When I was still a Christian,
other Christians would usually expect me to show
how a certain belief was based in the Bible. Not a problem usually, I know the Bible backwards and forwards. Now I have developed my own spirituality. I prefer spiritual progress, not digression and stagnation.
3 hrs

Angel: Rhology, You claim Jesus told you to follow him, your own words, how do you know it is not the devil? You claim my sentence is an empty hypothetical, and since yours is just the same then yours must be an empty hypothetical, in which case Jesus did not tell you to follow him but you claim he did ... Kind of crazy of you make all that up no?
3 hrs · Edited

Me: Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Him. What flaw do you find in Jesus that you don't follow Him?

\\You claim Jesus told you to follow him, your own words, how do you know it is not the devil? \\

Because the devil wouldn't tell me to serve his mortal enemy.

Angel, could you be wrong about everything you claim to know?
3 hrs

Monday, July 28, 2014

Some Bad Advice From Tony Miano

UPDATE: Tony Miano is on a downward slide into a very dangerous spiritual position and is leading his family down that path as well. As I said in my review of his book, "I sometimes honestly fear for him at the time when (not if) the elder(s) of his church fail him."
Well, now I fear for him even more. See here and then more importantly here. Lord have mercy. He who has presumed to lecture so many, block them on social media, and sow division between them and other believers on the basis of ecclesiology, "pastoral authority", "the authority of the local church", and whether one has been "sent" to do evangelism has shown himself to be an immature nomad, tossed about by winds and waves of doctrine.
Psalm 9:15 - The nations have sunk down in the pit which they have made; In the net which they hid, their own foot has been caught.
Proverbs 29:6 - By transgression an evil man is ensnared, But the righteous sings and rejoices.

And yet...
Proverbs 24:17-18 - Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; or the LORD will see it and be displeased, and turn His anger away from him.

Pray for the man. Pray he will repent of all his bombastic rhetoric and realise the massive piles of hypocrisy in which he has engaged the last few years.


Tony Miano, well-known street preacher, had this to say on Facebook recently:
Can't find a solid church that supports open-air preaching?
Then go to a solid church that doesn't support open-air preaching, and submit to the authority of the pastors/elders of the church. It is more important that you are a serving member of a local church than it is for you to open-air preach.
Christian Brother: God has certainly called you to be a hand, or foot, or arm, or leg in His Body. But He may NOT have called you to open-air preach. The fact that you want to open-air preach doesn't mean God has called you to open-air preach. You may not be finding a church that supports open-air preaching because that may not be the role the Lord has for you in His body.
So, get plugged into a local church; live in submission to the elders and in love with the rest of the congregation. Be willing to work the nursery, or scrub a toilet, or teach a Sunday school class (if you're qualified). Be willing to serve for no other reason than it is a fulfillment of the two greatest commandments--to love God and to love people.
The Lord may yet call you to open-air preach (if you are a man), and you will know that because your pastors/elders will affirm your call to preach the gospel in the open-air. And they will likely affirm that call once they see you are willing to submit to authority, serve the Body, can rightly handle the Scriptures, and once they see that the gospel of Jesus Christ is more important to you than hearing your own voice preaching it.
Give it some thought.
I gave it some thought, and I'd like to share a few.
Notice that Miano didn't frame the issue in terms of whether the church thinks the individual reader ought to open-air preach (OAP). It is plausible a church might not want a particular individual to OAP. For example, if the aspiring preacher is not very good at explaining the Gospel, or he hasn't mastered his temper yet and easily gets mad and challenges people to fistfights. But Miano is talking about OAP in general.
On the other hand, Miano seems to be referring to a situation where an aspiring OA preacher is not a member of a church because he can't find one that supports OAP. It is a pitifully sad commentary on the state of Reformedigelical churches in the West that this is a plausible scenario. I would at least agree with Miano on this - if you're not a member of a church, there had better be a really really good reason. Ie, you live in a location where despite faithful searching you have not been able to connect with anybody who actually loves Jesus.

On the other other hand (which I guess gets us back to the original hand), one might decide that until the Lord provides something better, he should probably just join the best church he can find and try to influence it toward following the Scripture. This may in some cases result in conflict between the person wanting to be faithful to Jesus and the leadership and/or the rest of the congregation who are all too happy doing their own thing, following their own autonomous desires and preferences, and ignoring major portions of the Scripture in so doing. What then?
Before we get into that, I'd like to ask this: What makes Miano so sure that a church that doesn't support open-air preaching is indeed solid? Evangelism and the Great Commission are kind of a big deal when it comes to properly obeying Jesus and fulfilling the two greatest commandments, and if a church is not interested in obeying Jesus, that's not a solid church. It doesn't matter what they confess, what they say with their lips. The Scripture is full of rebukes of false professors who say one thing and do another. Like the Pharisees. Like the Jerusalemites who said "the temple of YHWH! The temple of YHWH! The temple of YHWH!" Like the false prophets who said "peace, peace" when there was no peace.
Perhaps the church thinks open-air preaching is mean and nasty in and of itself. I would suggest in that case the OA preacher invite people from the church to come out with him, to show them how it's done and to demonstrate that, while of course someone can be mean and nasty in virtually any situation, OAP can be done in a way that is loving, kind, and understanding.
What if no one from the church is willing to go watch, and yet they continue to insist that OAP, a ministry that Jesus and Paul and Peter did a whole lot, is not good? Well, then, those people need to be called to repentance. Or I suppose you could leave and be a "nomad", but then that would leave the people in the church in unchallenged deception, which is not good for the church he leaves behind. It is actually the opposite of love for those people.
On the other hand, what if a few people go out with the OA preacher and everything goes well, and yet they continue to oppose OAP in and of itself? Would not the conversation then have to shift to their biblical reasons to justify their opposition? It may be that the leadership of the church would in that case lord it over the OA preacher, citing some imaginary "authority" to tell him that OAP is not OK, with no other reason than that they say so. Such person(s) would be deep in sin and rebellion against the role they're supposed to be playing in their local church. The OA preacher, being a part of that local church himself, would be obligated (not permitted, by the way, obligated) to get one or two other witnesses and rebuke that person, initiating church discipline for unrepentantly sinning against the OA preacher and against the rest of the congregation for refusing to teach the whole counsel of God.
1 Timothy 5:19-21 - Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.
Miano later says this:
The Lord may yet call you to open-air preach (if you are a man), and you will know that because your pastors/elders will affirm your call to preach the gospel in the open-air.
There's a reason why he didn't include any Bible citations along with this statement. Nothing in God's Word would lead us to believe this is true. It also exhibits a puzzling naïveté. Does Miano really think that the most common reason why a pastor might oppose OAP would be that the OA preacher in question has a history of "rebelling" against the pastor's "authority"? What does "pastoral authority" even mean, in a situation where the pastor is not following the Word of God?
Let's continue with another statement from Miano:
Christian Brother: God has certainly called you to be a hand, or foot, or arm, or leg in His Body. But He may NOT have called you to open-air preach. The fact that you want to open-air preach doesn't mean God has called you to open-air preach. You may not be finding a church that supports open-air preaching because that may not be the role the Lord has for you in His body.
Miano is equivocating on the uses of the word "calling" in this paragraph. The first occurrence is fine - it is indeed true that God has called every individual Christian to be some body part in His Body. Miano seems to be assuming that 1 Corinthians 12's discussion of body parts refers to a given local church, which I would dispute, but let's leave that aside for now. How do we know that God has called us to be a body part in the Body of Christ? The Scripture says so.
So how does Miano propose that an individual can know that he is "called" to do OAP? I have asked this question many times and never received an answer. It is a major weakness in his book "Should She Preach?", which I documented in my review thereof. Which Scripture passage leads us to expect that God would continually send individual people specific callings to specific tasks or ministries, going forward throughout the ages during which the church would subsist? I have argued that no such Scripture exists. This is where the equivocation comes in - the first time Miano says "calling", he is correctly referring to biblical command. The second and third times, he is trading on a mistaken tradition of man that is sadly common in Reformedigelicalism.
Miano is doubtless aware of the Modern-Day Downgrade at work in the Reformedigelical churches of the West. Part of the Downgrade is the trend toward that which is easy and adds to the comfort level of the partakers. As an experienced street preacher myself, I know well that OAP incurs a very high level of discomfort, and Miano of course knows this too. Since it is uncomfortable, people don't want to do it, and this leads to their making excuses, twisting the Scripture so they can justify their apathy toward the lost. This is a far more plausible explanation for why someone might not be able to find a church that supports OAP.
So, get plugged into a local church; live in submission to the elders and in love with the rest of the congregation. Be willing to work the nursery, or scrub a toilet, or teach a Sunday school class (if you're qualified). Be willing to serve for no other reason than it is a fulfillment of the two greatest commandments--to love God and to love people.
Of course, Christians should be members of a local church; I don't dispute that. I would take issue with verbiage like "live in submission to the elders", however. If the elders tell you not to do a biblical thing, or to do an unbiblical thing, it is no virtue to obey. It is actually sin to obey these lesser voices in that case. Sin because you ought to be doing the right thing, and also sin because you are acting in a cowardly way, following the "overlord"'s orders rather than standing against evil and exposing it (Jeremiah 7, Ephesians 5:11) out of love for the deceived elder(s) as well as love for the congregation.
You can't actually love your congregation if you are sinning by knowingly withholding from them that which they need, that of which you know you ought to help them take hold.
James 4:17 - Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Taken in the context of the situation he is laying out, Miano is actually indirectly recommending a sinful course of action.
Also, because of the discomfort involved in OAP, there are precious few people willing to do it. Yet I challenge you to show me another ministry in which the Gospel can be spread so widely to so many people in such an efficient manner as OAP. I'm not criticising other methods of evangelism. I'm saying that OAP has its place, and Jesus chose it for a reason.
Mark 1:14-15 - Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Matthew 4:23 - Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.
Matthew 9:35 - Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.
Luke 20:1 - On one of the days while He was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him...
If your church meets in a separate building, far be it from me to suggest you not scrub a toilet. If y'all meet in a house, scrub the toilet there. Go for it! Doing that sort of thing and OAP are hardly mutually exclusive. I mean, unless your nursery duties are late on Friday night or something, which is often a really good time of week to do OAP.
The problem here is not whether an OA preacher in a church should say, "OAP is all I do within my local church." That would be foolish and wrong. But Miano is not only acting like it is better to do something that most anyone can and is probably willing to do (since scrubbing toilets is, let's face it, not too hard) than to do something that is hard but that results in tons of people hearing the Gospel proclaimed with boldness and power, for no other reason than that the OA preacher's church is in sin and thinks that OAP is bad.
It would be far better to say this: Be willing to OAP for no other reason than it is a fulfillment of the two greatest commandments--to love God and to love people. And it is love not only to the lost who hear it, but also to the church members who probably have an unbiblical worldview undergirding their unbiblical objection to OAP; the OA preacher has the chance to set them free from these wrong views. This is pleasing to God.
Two more notes:
The Lord may yet call you to open-air preach (if you are a man)
Please, again, see my review of Miano's book on the issue of whether only men are biblically warranted to OAP.
once they see that the gospel of Jesus Christ is more important to you than hearing your own voice preaching it.
True, the OA preacher must guard against pride in his heart. But when fewer than thousands of Christians are doing OAP in one's area and there is opportunity, it should be done in a biblical manner, no matter whether the elders of your church are sinfully suppressing it.
Speaking for myself, it matters not whether it's my voice. I want many voices proclaiming the Good News of the risen Savior. And if there are none, I want at least one. If that's me, so be it.
Philippians 1:15-18 - Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.