Category Archives: Theology
I couldn’t help but notice that his every reference to Lutheranism was derogatory or derisive. And yes, I mean that literally. He consistently treated our denomination, our traditions, and our theology as some kind of shackle from which we need to be released. There was definitely a strong note of that “Oh, if only we were more like Baptists, then an omnipotent and omniscient God could maybe finally find some way to use us to proclaim His Word” nonsense from the previous point.It’s not as though I think Lutherans or the Synod are beyond criticism—a quick review of this blog will tell you that. At the same time, our heritage of theology, hymnody, and history is a precious treasure won through hard-fought spiritual warfare against the Devil and this world. There are certainly things we need to change—mainly having to do with our embrace of modern worldliness and rejection of God’s word and our theological heritage—but one should not broadly treat precious things in such a manner, nor encourage others to do the same.
Oh yes. Have encountered this among the tradCalvs; a pastor I know whose previous two charges were missionary church plants in other cultures, now preaching in a regular North American congregation, who still seems to be on a ‘mission’, that of criticizing how his tradition has ‘always’ done certain things certain ways, and emphasizing his opinion on the need of the church to change, sounding like businesses saying ‘innovate or die’… Said congregation wants to embrace a more ‘evangelical’ church model of outreach to the local community, so they lap all this self-derogatory stuff up, and go along with his ‘call me by my first name’ informality when off the pulpit, his gimmickry-for-the-kids when on the pulpit, some liturgy changes, etc. Sad…
I get it. You’ve been elsewhere and found that you’ve had to adapt to local conditions, and have found some success in doing so, more than you did doing things the usual way. Good for you. But that doesn’t mean that what works elsewhere will automatically work back at home, and that change must occur. Stop with the missionary zeal, and remember your regular pastoral calling, would be what I would not so humbly suggest.
We all have different gifts and callings, and we shouldn’t be in the business of forcing everyone into the same mold or declaring that some gifts put their bearers in a higher tier of godliness.
And here, I need to give special attention to my fellow introverts. The people who go through the conference circuit, have a billion personal evangelism stories, or visit 1700 churches to give talks about missionary work are usually raging extroverts. They genuinely fail to understand that introverts aren’t constantly talking with our neighbors and coworkers, that we don’t have a huge social circle, and that we don’t strike up conversations with strangers. They ask the congregation when they last invited their neighbors to church, and we’re all sitting there trying to remember the last time we even spoke with our neighbors and what their names are. The natural consequence of this is that the shape of personal evangelism is very very different for us. Super-spiritual extroverts tend to dismiss that difference as shyness, cowardice, laziness, ungodliness, and so forth, but they do so in great ignorance.
Remember the Widow’s Mite. Though she offered only a small coin, Jesus said that out of her poverty she gave more than anyone else. The same holds true when it comes to the introverted, the autistic, and all those who live in some manner of social poverty. Popular speakers who are socially wealthy may not know what personal evangelism costs you, but God does.
Isaiah 7:14 King James Version (KJV)
14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, all!
Why unmarried couples that fall into sexual sin should not be broken up by the church, but instead encouraged to repentance and marriage
As with my last post, this post was also inspired by re-reading an old post of mine; the one about the misguided approach of some families and churches who discover that a boyfriend and girlfriend have been sexually active, choosing to split them up rather than encouraging repentance and marriage.
The story of David and Bathsheba from 2 Samuel 11 is well known. David sees Uriah’s wife Bathsheba from his palace rooftop while she’s bathing, lusts after her, arranges an encounter, she ends up pregnant, and after unsuccessfully trying to cover it up by attempting but failing to get her soldier husband to sleep with her after bringing him home from the war, sends Uriah into the front lines, resulting in his death, then David marries Bathsheba, and she bears him the son of their affair. 2 Samuel 12 details how David is brought to see the sinfulness of his actions, and as punishment, God kills the son.
My point in bringing this up? Despite the wrongfulness of their actions, God didn’t prevent the marriage from coming to pass, and notwithstanding exacting the price of the death of the son of their adultery, God nevertheless blessed their marriage afterwards, and Bathsheba bore him Solomon, who became king of Israel, and through whose line ultimately, Christ was descended, as regards His human ancestry.
God can bring good out of evil. He has often done so. It is absurd and insane that many ostensible Christians in our time would prefer to take an unfortunate situation, and make it far worse, rather than following the ‘shotgun wedding’ instinct of our ancestors, putting things right by having couples do right ultimately, even if not initially.
I was re-reading this old post of mine, and thinking about Carl Trueman’s quote from Rosaria Butterfield’s autobiography:
What good Christians don’t realize is that sexual sin is not recreational sin gone overboard. Sexual sin is predatory. It won’t be ‘healed’ by redeeming the context or the genders. Sexual sin must simply be killed. What is left of your sexuality after this annihilation is up to God. But healing, to the sexual sinner, is death: nothing more and nothing less.
which Trueman used to back up his contention that the problem of porn is deeper than sexual sin, which strikes me as absurd. (See my previous post.)
Anyway, I wondered how Butterfield could arrive at this notion that sexual sin warps one’s sexuality so much that it may need to be annihilated and then reconstructed by God, if He pleases.
Well, as I mentioned in one of the comments (read through them to find the link to the wiki about her), Butterfield was a practising lesbian. By God’s grace, she was removed from that lifestyle, and is now a married mother, the wife of a Reformed pastor.
Which is wonderful; I praise God for that. She has been most greatly blessed.
But I believe that Butterfield errs in thinking that because it was necessary in her case for God to annihilate her homosexuality, in order to then grant her heterosexuality (as certainly seems to be the case), that all who struggle with sexual sin can expect, if they repent and turn away from their sexual sin, to experience something God doing similar with their own sexuality.
Because, after all, for those of us who aren’t homosexual in orientation, our sexuality, however sin-stained, is at least pointing in the right direction, if you will, in terms of opposite-sex attraction. Obviously that was not the case for her, so a more radical transformation, a complete deconstruction and then radical reconstruction, was necessary for her to have a normal, healthy, God-honouring sexuality.
Therefore she is wrong to assume the general from the specific and personal anecdotal; to take her personal experience, and see what God had to do with her, as normative for all Christians. I’m not by any means trying to minimize the radical lifestyle changes that those of us who have gone astray in such matters may need to undergo; the radical change of spirit, of mindset, of lifestyle, in order to be in compliance with God’s revealed will for us, to live our lives in God-honouring ways in the sexual sphere as in all others.
But at least those of us who are straight don’t need to be turned in our orientation.
We are blessed to have it a bit easier than she did.
Her advice, therefore, on that point, is misguided and not especially helpful to straight Christians.
She’s wrong. That’s all.
And Trueman remains wrong in citing her perspective to back up his own misguided views about male sexuality.
The Law of God, or the Ten Commandments, have two separate commandments that deal with sexual sin; one is primarily about the actions (though also including thoughts) – ‘Do not commit adultery’, while the other is about the desire behind the actions (and thoughts) – “Do not covet”.
And Paul encourages, for those not inclined to lifelong celibacy, marriage, to avoid fornication; see 1 Corinthians 7.
Ideally, if both spouses are striving to satisfy each other’s desires and needs, neither of them will covet anyone else’s spouse (or someone not married), and therefore won’t fall into the breaking of the other commandment, either, in that regard. (Of course, we may still have to deal with stray thoughts / memories, etc., and can’t expect that we can or will obey perfectly, but Paul surely would tell us it’s still better for us to go through that than falling into fornication itself; hence why he recommends it.)
Surely the same applies to pornography; pornography is surely akin to a virtual form of fornication, since lust is equally involved, and lust can be in the heart and mind even if not committed in the body; Christ warned us, after all, that if we so much as think about adultery that we have committed it in our hearts, in God’s eye.
And so, if Paul advises marriage with regular sexual intercourse to avoid fornication, as we read in 1 Corinthians 7, surely marriage with regular sexual intercourse helps one avoid the sexual sin of pornography. So Trueman was wrong to criticize the other pastor for positing marriage as a solution to the man’s pornography problem, as outlined in the previous post. Marriage is the best solution to avoiding sexual sin, which is why God’s Holy Word recommends it, to that very end. QED.