Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Quest for the Timeless

Why is it that some are interested in transcending the age in which they live in quest for the "transcendant"? I have always been curious about those with such a concern. It may be a legitimate concern at times. It may also be a concern of one with their head stuck in the sand.

But whenever I hear this complaint/concern/wish/observation, I never fail to remember a stanza from one of the few transcendant hymns ever written:

To serve this present age,
My calling to fulfill,
O may it all my powers engage
To do my Master's will.

Would we not all do well to quit thinking about what might survive in the church in 2105 and worry about serving the age that God as called us to live in? Worse things could be said then that we ministered to the people that live around us.

Would to God that this generation would focus all our powers on serving the age in which God has called us to live.

Monday, December 19, 2005

God In A Box

"Human hunches do not give us right answers about God. Neither can we learn how God would behave by looking at the way nice people do things" (Dowsett in God, That's Not Fair! cited in Ajith Fernando, Sharing the Truth in Love).
Far too much of modern theology is made up of people deciding God's attributes and actions based on their ability to conceive of such a God in their own mind. The age old problem of theology has been man's attempt to make God fit in his box. We compare God to how people do things.

Perhaps in no discussion is this more evident than in discussion about God's sovereignty in salvation. I heard one lady say that it was impossible that she could love her children more than God loves her children. For her, this was one of the bases on which she discounted unconditional election. The kind of love she inferred from such a teaching was incompatible with "the way nice people do things." I have heard others complain that unconditional election is "not fair." This is nothing but an appeal to human fairness, and the conceptions of the human mind. Interestingly enough, I never hear these same people complain about the unfairness of sending an innocent man to die for the sins of guilty people. I never hear them complain that God's love for people is far greater than a mother's love for her children because God's love is effectual—it accomplishes its ends.

I have had people tell me that I deny that God loves the world. I correct them by quoting John 3:16 where God says he loves the world. They reply that unconditional election is incompatible with that. "Says who?" I respond. The fact that something my not fit in my theological box means my box is wrongly shaped. I didn't come up with either teaching. God did, and I am fully convinced that he means both with no contradiction. The fact that my mind is too small to get my arms around something is my problem, not God's.

The task of Christianity is to find out what God says about himself and then sell our souls out to believe it with great passion and confidence. Don't try to make God fit in your box.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Disney in Church Planting

A recent article in World Magazine touts the work of Al Weiss, a top-ranking Disney executive, in raising $300 million for church planting. They have formed a group called VisionUSA, led by a former staff member of Bethlehem Baptist Church where John Piper is the pastor. On board is the theologically conservative emerging pastor Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill Church in Seattle. (He calls himself a Bible thumper.) Driscoll founded the Acts 29 Network with a goal to plant one thousand churches in ten years.

It appears to be relatively conservative theologically. The article states, "Though affiliated with the Baptist General Conference (BGC), Vision USA has partnered with a range of denominations willing to affirm the Lausanne Covenant, male eldership, and Reformed theology—most recently aligning with Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City."

Each church planted out of VisionUSA must give 5% of its offerings back to the cause of church planting. Acts 29 churches require 10% last I heard. It is designed to ensure a missions emphasis from the beginning of the church.

It will be interesting to see where this goes. It certainly won't be fundamentalist group, but if the gospel is preached, we should rejoice in that.

I would love to see fundamentalists think bigger about church planting or church revitalization, particularly in urban, big city areas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Two For One

Wintertime brings out the worst in mice. For some reason, each year when the weather turns cold we have a run on mice in the house. It is rather unsettling, but so far, I have not found a solution to the problem that doesn’t involve D-Con and mouse traps or big fires to burn the house down. So, I dutifully put out mousetraps and check them several times a day. Yesterday was a banner day. I managed to get six.

But it was actually only five occasions. One was a two for one special. When I saw them, I wondered which one got there first and which one tripped the spring.

And it reminded me yet again, be careful who your friends are. The people you let “eat at your table” may be the ones that cause the most damage in your life.

He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Proverbs 13:20

Monday, December 12, 2005

Can You Spell Irony?

Perhaps you saw the headline, Pope says materialism pollutes Christmas spirit. It was unquestionably a well-intentioned statement, rooted in an obvious truth about Christmas in contemporary society.

But I think my brother found a line that captured the image well with a slightly satirical bent :
Pope denounces materialism from balcony of marble, gold-domed building in midst of jewel-encrusted religious icons while wearing giant gold cross.
Addition: After talking to my brother, he told me the line wasn't original with him. He had seen it on a discussion board from some "Joe in cyberspace."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Christianity Today has long been on a shining example of weak theology, weaker discernment, and "strange bedfellows." Now they are singing the praises of the "return" of novelist Anne Rice to "renewed faith in Christ." I wish I could say I was surprised, but I am not.

Rice is the author of some best selling novels about vampires, as well as erotica and pornography. Her "spiritual journey" began in 1993 and culminated in 2002 in a return to the faith in which she grew up.

I rejoice in the testimony of one leaving the sinfulness of the world and coming to Christ. It reminds us that the gospel still works, and makes me long to see more of it.

But to what "faith" did she return? To the Catholic faith. You, dear reader, should remember a little historical issue called The Reformation. The Reformation took place precisely over the issue of "faith." including the biblical call of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The reformers could see this doctrine taught very plainly in Scripture. The Catholic Church, steeped in years of tradition and extra-biblical authority could not. The "faith" (doctrine) that the reformers saw in Scripture is not the faith of the Catholic church.

Now, more than five hundred years later, the main issues of the reformation have not changed. The Catholic church still believes what it believed then, even though their communication of it has clouded under pressures of ecumenism. The Bible still teaches what it taught then, and what the reformers took their stand on, namely, salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

What isn't surprising to me is that Christianity Today does not see the issue. They have no qualms promoting the Christianity of one who has embraced the doctrines of the Catholic church. How can this magazine, ostensibly purporting themselves to represent "Christianity today" be so simple minded as to not recognize the differences? Is simple biblical discernment about the nature of the gospel so foreign? After all, we aren't talking about some deep issues of theology. We are talking about the very essence of Christianity—the gospel. And Christianity Today seems to be oblivious to the fact that one who has returned to Catholicism has not returned to faith in the Christ of the Bible.

As an aside, Rice has proclaimed herself to be
"an advocate for Christian and Jewish gays and their right to worship and to take the sacraments." You probably think I am going to comment on homosexuals and worship. But I won't. I am actually curious as to why a Jewish person would take the sacraments? They reject the Christ of the sacraments (issues with sacramentalism aside).

Christianity today is doing a great disservice to the Christian community with articles like this. It is sad to see a magazine with so much potential for influence waste it in such a grand manner. Of course, the impetus behind the magazine in the beginning was not to be a spokesmen for biblical Christianity, but rather for a softer, gentler kind of truth—a truth that knows few boundaries.

In this age of theological confusion, it is imperative for the church to teach biblical discernment. It was the church's job all along. Let's not abandon that job to magazines.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Fundamentalism and the Environment??

I have previously blogged about what fundamentalism is. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with me, and that is unfortunate for a number of reasons, but perhaps most of all because I (and those like me) end up as the defendants to some extremely absurd accusations.

The BBC is reporting that fundamentalists are responsible for the global climate problems. This assertion is troubling on several counts. First, the "global climate problems" are not universally recognized. There are many who doubt the validity of the claims of global warming and the like. I am no scientist, but it seems to me that on a planet assumed (by them) to be billions of years old, a hundred years of data about temperatures and climates is way too small of a sample to determine anything meaningful. It would be like judging the quality of your day by examining the last 1/10000th of a second. Except that 1/10000th of a second of your twenty-four hour day is a much greater sample of your day than one hundred years is of the four billion years that the earth is suggested to have been in existence. If the global warming advocates believed in a young earth, their reasoning would be much more convincing because the statistical sample would be greater. As it now stands, we have no way of knowing what a two hundred year cycle of weather is like, or a three hundred year cycle. But that is really a side issue to my main concern.

The bigger point is this: Why am I being blamed for it? The fact that this
Lord May of Oxford is not aware of what a fundamentalist actually is does not mean that I am guilty of his charges. It would be better for him not to make wild-eyed accusations in hopes of reflecting negatively on people he doesn't agree with. It would further help for him not to label fundamentalists as a "denial lobby," whatever that means.

Fundamentalism was, is, and will continue to be a Christian theological movement. What is the fundamentalists position on the environment? All fundamentalists agree that Christ will destroy this world when he returns. One well-known pastor said if you think it is messed up now, just wait until you see what Jesus does to it when he comes. We should not abuse it, nor should it be our god. God has created man to live in it, to use it, and to care for it.
Beyond that, there is no fundamentalist position on the environment.

But as fundamentalists, we are first and foremost Christian (not Jewish, Muslim, Republican, Green, etc.) and theological (not political, enviromental, economic, etc.) in nature. Don't be confused with people who try to accuse fundamentalists of being something else.