Friend and fellow-pastor Tom Spithaler discusses Christian freedom here.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The Chalcedon Foundation (a Reconstructionist concern) publishes a bimonthly magazine dealing with various issues of the Christian faith. In the most recent issue, author Martin Selbrede writes a very interesting article, The Cost Of Discipleship, in which he makes the very intriguing argument that the modern discipleship movement – indeed, the very concept of “discipleship” as much of the modern church takes it – is actually antithetical to that Christian liberty which Christ died to procure, and in reality short-circuits the sanctifying work which the Holy Spirit Himself desires to bring about in the believer’s life.
The gist of the evangelical push for accountability is horizontal accountability. This push is a major factor in many ministries in which believers are advised to hold one another accountable for various aspects of their Christian walk. An implicit distrust of the Holy Spirit’s office of sanctifying the believer lies behind this push. The Spirit may be sent to convict the world of sin and of righteousness, but evangelicals feel He needs a little help—He’s just not quite omnipotent enough, you see, and so men need to fill in what’s missing. Just as we have many new precepts of men rushing in to fill the vacuum that results when God’s commandments are tossed out, even so we have many new sanctifying agents rushing in to fill the gap when God’s Holy Spirit is judged inadequate to perfect the saints in holiness.
The pattern is all too clear: just as many evangelicals are dead-set on being lawmakers on God’s behalf, many more are committed to becoming little holy ghosts for their brothers and sisters. One’s “accountability partner” becomes a surrogate for the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit’s work is usurped. This is a way “that seemeth right to a man.”
The dominant focus in Scripture is that men and women are accountable to God. Accountability is fundamentally vertical. As David put it so directly after being implicated in the death of Uriah the Hittite, “against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned” (Ps. 51:4). This idea grates on human pride and pomposity, but it is God’s law, not man’s law, that is being broken. We are to inculcate the fear of God, the vertical relationship, in others. But we undercut this because accountability partners subconsciously act out of fear of man. Our motivation in these relationships takes an unconscious turn: “I’m doing this because I don’t want to look bad to my accountability partner.” God holds us all accountable. Nothing ought ever to pull our eyes down from heaven, from Him with Whom we have to do, to worry about our fellow man’s opinion of us. We ought to worry about what God thinks of us. “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12; see also 1 Pet. 4:5).
Accountability partnering puts man back in front of a human audience, inviting us to operate in terms of that new relational dynamic instead of in terms of the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying power and quickening of His law-word to our minds and hearts.
I can excuse the author’s compulsive jab at non-Calvinists (“We would expect this kind of thinking among Arminian believers who repose much weight in the actions of man as opposed to the operations of God, but the idea is rampant among Calvinists who have temporarily lost sight of the fact that God controls sanctification as much as any other aspect of our lives.”) given that he is a Calvinist, and as such is characteristically incapable of viewing other theologies in anything less than hubristic contempt. Don’t let that rob you of the meat of what he says.
Overall, I find myself very intrigued with his arguments…not sure if I buy them completely, but fascinating nonetheless.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Interesting view here on the decline of respect for clergy in modern America…especially how it ties said decline with a corresponding rise in “professionalism” in the ministry.
Today they are regarded as hired help.
Interesting article here by Harry Jackson:
All too often, both the press and politicians view the African-American community as a monolithic group that will go wherever the cultural winds blow them. This is not true.We want to express our concerns and be heard. The following letter is an attempt to encourage the president to consider our viewpoint on the redefinition of marriage.
Same-sex marriage is not a civil right. The laws enacted by Congress during a century of struggle for equal rights for African-Americans were intended to eliminate discrimination on the basis of race, not on the basis of an individual's sexual preferences or personal behavior.
Many of the people we speak for felt that your disparaging statements during the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot were directed at them. Some of the people with ‘worn out arguments and old attitudes' are not bigots or homophobes; they are our cultural elders, who are rightfully saying, ‘Don't tear down a fence until you understand why it's there.' Recent studies show that there is a resurgence of hope about marriage among the young people of this generation. Mr. President, let's keep hope alive.
We also stated that the California Proposition 8 votes amending the state's constitution to protect marriage marked the beginning of a new era in American politics. For the first time in recent history, black and Hispanic voters (predominately Christians) voted for President Obama and simultaneously voted against the Democratic power structure on this social issue. In light of this phenomenon occurring simultaneously within the black and Hispanic communities, we respectfully warned the president that hooking his political wagon too closely to the gay marriage bandwagon could precipitously erode public confidence in his administration.
Very interesting read.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
I subscribe to a very large variety of newsletters, e-zines, and regular dead-tree magazines, and mostly from different theological perspectives than the ones I happen to subscribe to. This is because perspective usually comes from looking at the same thing from many different angles – or, to put it like Solomon did, “Where there is not counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” [Proverbs 11:14] This applies not only in the immediate sense of determining God’s will for ourselves or growing in grace or such-like, but also in the much broader sense of hearing what the Spirit might be saying to the whole Body of Christ, and not just what my particular member of it says.
One of the newsletters I subscribe to comes from a tradition which is quite distant from my own in theological terms: American Vision. AV is a Calvinist, Postmillennial, Preterist, Reconstructionist concern – and one which produces a lot of good material, even with all that.
The latest missive from AV contained a stellar article on the state of the modern American church:
The real problem with church attendance goes far beyond being simply boring or fun. It even goes far beyond the overused catch phrase of the mega-church movement: “relevant.” Where does the Bible claim that church should be fun or relevant? Or to ask the question a different way: What is the purpose of church? Is it only supposed to be a time when believers gather together each week to drop money in the plate and listen to a self-help sermon? If this is the case we could mail our checks in and watch an episode of Dr. Phil instead. The role of the local church is an important and vital one, but the modern idea of "doing" church has gotten so far away from the biblical understanding that it is no wonder that we must resort to advertising and marketing to remind the community that we exist.
Perhaps church attendance is so low because it has become "fun." "Fun" churches have nothing to offer after the fun wears off. This country needs a good healthy dose of maturity and adulthood and the very place where it should be found is becoming more adolescent and childish. Just as the first Adam was a model of immaturity, the last Adam (Jesus Christ) was the prime example of maturity. The first Adam shirked responsibility, but the last Adam faced it head-on. Jesus should be our example, not Adam. Church attendance should not be the goal, but church faithfulness. If Christ's Church would become less concerned with how many are not sitting in the pews and actually disciple the ones who are, the empty pews will begin to fill as a natural result. The question is: Does the modern church have enough faith to actually begin doing this?
You can read the whole article (which is very much spot-on) here.
Wednesday, July 08, 2009
Amid today's orgy of adulation over Michael Jackson, we should pause and remember real heroes--men and women who paid the ultimate price for this nation, but whose lives go uncelebrated.
U.S. Army Lieutenant Brian Bradshaw was one of individuals. He died on June 25th, the same day that Michael Jackson passed away. But Lieutenant Bradshaw didn't die in a Hollywood mansion from a drug-induced heart attack. He was killed on a road in Afghanistan, when his vehicle was targeted by an improvised explosive device.
Read the whole article here.
Monday, July 06, 2009
This has floated around the interwebs for a while, but I thought it apropros considering our modern American experience:
The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome fall. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.
- Cicero - 55 BC
As has been aptly noted elsewhere: looks like the old proverb is true, that all we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.
Interesting response to the religious left here.
Liberals like Colmes believe that redistributing wealth by taking it from the rich and giving it to the poor will create an equitable society. This is the great liberal myth. Taxing policies designed to create social programs inhibit economic expansion in the business sector. Without an expanding economy, businesses can’t grow. If businesses can’t grow, they cannot hire new workers.
Liberals believe that the remedy for economically displaced workers, a condition their policies often create, is to raise more taxes and subsidize the unemployed. This is state-sponsored slavery under the guise of compassion. It has the effect of squelching the incentive to work and creates a perpetual underclass that is constantly appealed to by liberals so they can stay in power. Those dependent on the State most often vote to increase the power of the State out of self-interest.
DeMar argues that, laying aside the issue of whether or not Jesus’ teachings demand an all-powerful, confiscatory central government in order to “help the poor” via wealth redistribution and magisterial enforcement of whatever “social justice” cause du jour happens to be currently popular, such things as wage and price controls and overregulation wind up hurting the very people that those who champion them say they’re trying to help – so from a purely practical point of view, the kind of liberal utopia that the Religious Left is trying to build is the very last thing you’d actually want to establish if you really wanted to help those who are struggling.
Not that those who’ve imbibed the Left’s Kool-Aid will be swayed; they have hitched their wagon to Obama’s train and, unlike the majority of the Religious Right (and in what can only be considered the very height of irony), who unhesitatingly light into the GOP they are often (and inaccurately) lumped in with, they seem unwilling and/or unable to critically examine their presuppositions or to honestly appraise their Messiah’s positions and records.
Good article, nonetheless. Not bad for a Calvinist preterist postmiller.