Category Archives: BIBLE AND FAITH

Stop it! That has nothing to do with gluttony! re: In Praise of Fat Pastors.

In Praise of Fat Pastors was a great post at the Gospel Coalition. But then Jared Wilson had to go and ruin it for me. Last paragraph:

So no, I am not advocating gluttony here, just a Christward self-disregard, a godly un-self-consciousness…

No, you’re not advocating gluttony because nothing you are writing about has anything remotely to do with gluttony. The Bible never associates gluttony with fat but with profligate spending and thus the temptation to crime as a way to support oneself. It associates gluttony with the laziness of refusing to work for a living, not a refusal to use the gym.

Here is the data. Tell me where I’m wrong.

Since I’m posting on this anyway, I’ll make another comment about Jared’s post: It is simply a fact that fat or otherwise unattractive pastors are rarely going to be hired. If you want to get into ministry and are not young or hip or skinny or handsome you need to go into a denomination where you get assigned to a congregation by a bishop or some other authority. If you are relying on a congregation to call you, you are up against bad odds. Jared’s anecdote about the pastor who wore his pants too high is nice, but that’s an anomaly.

The people who cultivate the godly attitude, which Jared rightly commends, are people who don’t have calls and are working odd jobs to pay off money borrowed to pay for a useless seminary degree.

Nothing Jared said is wrong; but I’m telling you the way it is.

I suppose my advice would be to cultivate self-disregard and then cover it with a layer of savviness about acquiring gainful employment. I guess that means your example will be somewhat distorted. So you’ll have to decide what you think about the trade-offs in your quest for a church ministry.

And now I realize I am blogging again!

 

“Transformationalism” Is A Derogatory Term for The Great Commission

crosscrownOne of the ways that Dispensationalists pretend their position is not only right, but the standard for orthodoxy, is to give a novel name to traditional Christian theology. Rather than admit that the Church throughout the ages, outside of their own recent sect, has understood the Church as the new Israel, the label such a view “Replacement Theology.”

Within the Reformed Tradition, the attempt to import Dispensational ideas about the difference between law and gospel is using a similar tactic. People who believe, as Christians have always believed until recently, that Jesus is Lord of all of life, are being called “Transformationalists.”

READ THE REST: “Transformationalism” Is A Derogatory Term for The Great Commission.

Surprised by John Calvin

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I picked up John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion some years back. Dipping into it, I anticipated a dry, grim, and doctrinaire treatise. Perhaps because I came to it with such low expectations, the books surprised me. I found the Institutes surprisingly accessible, written by a lively, engaged mind. I anticipated the argument of the books to be tightly wound around the theme of God’s sovereignty—with the focus on God’s glory coming at the expense of humanity’s abasement. Instead, as in Martin Luther’s treatment of predestination, I found that God’s sovereignty and the doctrine of predestination played a manifestly pastoral role in Calvin’s theology. The focus was not on obliterating the human, but rather underscoring God’s great love for his people in rescuing humanity from death, darkness, and despair. The upshot of the doctrine as I read Calvin was “This is a God you can trust.”

READ THE REST Credit the Calvinists | First Things.

Since the FV disinformation campaign hasn’t stopped yet

super-calvinSimilarly, although the PCA issued a fevered condemnation of Federal-Vision theology at the national level, she hasn’t been able to find any local individual who holds to what she condemned. Men tried for Federal-Vision leanings are always exonerated.

via Christian Medical and Dental Association doesn’t want abortion to divide Christians… | BaylyBlog.

In this post, on a different topic, a denomination (The Presbyterian Church in America) that makes a general statement about an alleged movement is compared to WalMart having a national return policy that individual stores won’t uphold.

The analogy is breathtaking. Rather than criticize it, I will simply point out a couple of other analogies that are more apt.

One is the child-abuse hysteria of the nineties where we would see huge media stories about satanic covens, ritual abuse, and all sort of other even weirder allegations. Then when it came time to prosecute in a court of law, it was all revealed to be a tissue of insane falsehoods. Naturally, the prosecutors never backed down even after being humiliated, and kept braying about he guilt of the people whose lives had been ruined by their own gossip production.

But there is another element. It is really like a law that bans violence against homosexuals where the law is vague enough that, if they can get the jury to cooperate, it will actually be possible to prosecute people not for real violence, but rather for Christian ministers preaching against homosexuality from their pulpits on the basis of the Bible. Then, when the juries refuse to convict these ministers, the prosecutors loudly complain about lawless judges and/or juries who refuse to uphold the law.

The fact is the PCA acknowledges on Bible and one group of doctrinal standards (Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms). When a man is tried by a presbytery it is according to Scripture and the secondary standards. There is a process for reforming those standards, but it can’t be done by one General Assembly voting to approve one study committee (even if that study committee hadn’t been stacked to get the “right verdict” beforehand). So when it comes to trial, you actually have to prove a case. The GA can’t send out a drone to assassinate your target for you.

How American Christians Get Fooled Into Being Pro-War: A Few Ways

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  1. God is a warrior; therefore war is good. But warriors don’t think all war is good. When Joab was ordered to get Uriah the Hittite killed in war, he followed orders but he didn’t like it. When Saul tried to get Jonathan executed for violating orders in a war their fellow warriors got in the way and told Saul to back off and back down. The fact that God is a warrior no more makes him pro-war than the fact that God commands capital punishment makes him approve of Charles Manson. The question is always: Which war are you talking about? In the US other than a rare Teddy Roosevelt or a veteran, many wars are promoted by people who have not only never seen military action, but who were careful to avoid it.
  2. War is good because we have to defend America. When? Mostly that has been done adequately by the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. One noticeable exception was Pearl Harbor. But in response to a few thousand people in a military target, we laid waste to all of Japan, indiscriminately killing both civilians and soldiers together, bombing major cities. (This is all in addition to the nukes we used when they were asking for surrender terms.) The fact is Japan had no resources to seriously invade us. War as a reprisal and demand for satisfaction was amply justified. War as a crusade refusing to give terms of surrender was not defense. The War wasn’t in self-defense; it was the excuse everyone acknowledges that FDR was looking for in order to re-make the world. One other time we got attacked from overseas, on 9/11/2001, we decided to invade and occupy a country that had nothing to do with it, and left it much worse off than it was before (Really. Just do some basic research). So, in theory, a war could be justified on the grounds of defense, but when has that ever actually happened to us?
  3. War is right because pacifism is wrong. Other than to recruit enough weirdos to continue the movement, pacifism exists to legitimize imperialism and murder in warfare. Think about it. If all war is equally and always immoral, then killing civilians, murdering children in mass numbers with fire from the sky, etc is the same as killing soldiers (thus, again, our response to Pearl Harbor, as one example). By being pulled into this stupid dichotomy Christians end up supporting all sorts of homicidal atrocities because they are not pacifism and we all know pacifism is wrong.
  4. Without war there would be no civilization. Civilization merely survives war; it is war that depends on civilization. It is production and trade that provides the food and tools and men that war requires. War relies on civilization; civilization never relies on war. Yes, specific groups need defense from other specific groups. But that doesn’t mean that war gets the credit. When someone uses this argument they are typically doing so because they want to justify aggression and conquest. For an argument the supports national self-defense, it is overkill.
  5. War is right because God wants the government to defend the people. Sure, but God also specifically prohibited any king from building up a standing army or assembling a war machine (remember horses are tanks and F-16s). Yes, the people were supposed to defend themselves, and the government could lead and help in that process, but the people themselves were supposed to fight. No one was supposed to rely on a standing army and a peacetime arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Nor were they supposed to be transported to the other side of the planet in the name of an infinitely elastic definition of “the national interest.”
  6. I should defend my neighbor when he is attacked; so our country should go to war to right wrongs. First of all, if your neighbor is being attacked by an enemy you can do something about, then yes, you should help. But I don’t think you are obligated to go on a suicide mission that will only get your whole family killed. Secondly, the whole point of modern war is that it is far away from any personal knowledge or influence. You are told that they were killing preemie babies by taking away their life support units to leave them gasping and dying. You are told they have weapons of mass destruction they can bring to our Eastern seaboard by unmanned aircraft. When you can’t see for yourself what is going on the people who want your money and your blood are able to lie to you and make you think the country is facing a simple situation akin to seeing a neighbor attacked. Don’t let your real duty to love your neighbor be baited and switched into support mass slaughter overseas.
  7. We must go to war to prevent the use of WMD. Say citizens of the only country on earth to use the worst of them. (Perhaps I’ll make this its own post some time soon. Obviously, there is more that could be said).

 This is only the beginning. What would you add to the list?

Dr. Robert L. Reymond, R. I. P.

robertreymondMy first seminary course was at Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I got to participate with Dr. Reymond in a radio program he hosted in which he taught Habakkuk and promoted the seminary (I had a very small role in the program but I got to listen to him). However, my main memory of Dr. Reymond was the first sermon he preached at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church where I was a member.

Jennifer and I were not dating yet, but I seem to remember sitting near her that Sunday. Maybe that’s an impression left over from us discussing it at work (she was my immediate supervisor at Coral Ridge Ministries; let the wisecracks begin). Whatever: I remember we both really were transfixed and enthusiastic about his preaching.

I found another version of the sermon on Sermon Audio: “Our Man On Top of the Hill.”
He preached this version when he was 43, which I think means it was done earlier than the version I heard at Coral Ridge.

I listened to it and really appreciated his words. I don’t remember some of the things he mentioned, either because this version is different or because remembering a sermon from 1991 is probably above my pay grade. But it was good and edifying.

I don’t know if I ever told him how much I appreciated the sermon. But that doesn’t matter now. He’s hearing about what a great job he did from someone a lot more important than me.

Rest in peace, Dr. Reymond.

 

Worship: The Time & Place of Personal Integration – Kuyperian Commentary

One of the Apostle Paul’s most famous descriptions of the church involves an individual human body:

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27, ESV)

One could easily think that Paul is arguing from the premise that every human person is a unified body. In a biological sense that seems self-evident. But the Bible can speak of people as driven or controlled by various body parts. Paul must be arguing here from the ideal human person–the one who has matured. Paul himself is a large part of the Scriptural witness that affirms that human beings are often bodies in which the parts are at war with one another.

READ THE REST: Worship: The Time & Place of Personal Integration – Kuyperian Commentary.

Jesus is coming soon if, by “soon,” you mean no sooner than 100,000 years in the future – Kuyperian Commentary

I was getting my hair cut the other day by someone other than my wife, for a change. As a result I got exposed to Christian culture outside my own personal sociological safe room. I am ashamed to say how seldom this happens. Of course, by not “getting out more” I help other Christians form their own little bubbles of idiosyncratic belief and theological naivete.

But not this time. The barber learned, as he cut my hair, that I was a seminary graduate and had pastored in a number of places around the country. So, as he finished up shaving the back of my neck, he let loose with his camaraderie question: “Before I let you go, I have to ask you: Do you think the Lord is coming back soon!”

The sound of his voice alerted me this was, in his mind, a rhetorical question. We were supposed to share in the joy of the soon return of Jesus to earth.

READ THE REST: Jesus is coming soon if, by “soon,” you mean no sooner than 100,000 years in the future – Kuyperian Commentary.