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.