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Category Archives: Theology

He fenced the nations

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Missionaries and the impulse to bash one’s own tradition

Interesting:

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.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2018 in churchianity, religion, Theology

 

Evangelism and personality

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.

Matthew Cochran

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2018 in religion, spirituality, Theology

 

God with us

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!

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2017 in religion, Theology

 

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.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2017 in religion, Sex, Sin, The Kulturkampf, Theology

 

Where Rosaria Butterfield goes wrong; why Carl Trueman is wrong

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.

 
 

Babel and 21st century progressivism

Spot on.

there are a few lessons from Babel that we ought to consider:

  1. Diversity is not a strength. At least, it’s not a strength in the granular sense that the left proclaims today (i.e. that America’s or any other singular nation’s strength correlates positively with its internal diversity.) God gave us different languages (and consequently cultures) specifically to curb sinful humanity, make us weaker, and break us apart.It’s not hard to observe precisely that happening in America today. Mass migration has done what it has always done throughout history and put the different interests of native & migrant (and migrant & migrant) at odds with one another. Our exponentially growing list of identities has fractured us into a mess of special interests who cannot agree on how we want to live together, how we want to be governed, or how we want to be educated.The Biblical and the empirical reality is that diversity divides rather than unites precisely because we are less capable when a mish-mash of different cultures and ideologies are forced together into the same mold.
  2. Having different nations in the world is a good thing. Diversity is a weakness for a nation, but a strength for humanity as a whole. As has already been mentioned, when one nation succumbs to evil, others can defend themselves against it. Even in the worst cases, there’s at least somewhere to run.But even apart from the times when tyrants arise, not everybody in the world wants to live the same way—and that’s ok. There are a multitude of ways to restrain wickedness and form a civilization, but some work better than others—and some work better in different circumstances and for different people. Having many different nations means that we have many different attempts at exploring these possibilities and different options for different people.And this is the work of generations, not just the work of a few social programs and orientation classes.  One cannot simply take a people who have trained themselves in one way and expect them to immediately adopt another. Neither can one expect a mishmash of people trained in radically different ways of life to effectively live together.  There are certainly moral values and shared characteristics that are universal to humanity, but they are expressed and pursued in different ways. Some do so well, some do so poorly, but having different ways of doing so is a blessing in a fallen world.Globalism, in contrast, proclaims that humans are fungible—that an American can be replaced by a Mexican, a Swede by an Arab, etc. Though it wears the happy face of peace & unity, it is an anti-human ideology that attempts to expunge all of the particulars—heritage, culture, identity, religion, and family–that make us who we are. Because a truly diverse assortment of people cannot effectively join together at one, globalism has no choice but to attempt to dissolve those differences and undo Babel.  You see this same dynamic at work on a large scale in communism and fascism and on a small scale every time multiculturalists celebrate diversity by annihilating culture.
  3. We should be thankful for the resurgence of nationalism taking place in the West. If having different nations is a good thing in this world, then we should welcome the preservation of those differences.Nationalism’s reputation is tainted mainly due to our endless history of war between nations. When different nations have conflicting interests, then these conflicts will sometimes erupt into violence. The naive progressive will compare this sorry state of affairs with an imagined nationless world in which there are no remaining differences over which to fight—and they will then wonder why anyone would want to preserve the nations at all. The wise man, however, will not compare gritty reality with ephemeral utopia—he will compare one gritty reality with another.When it comes to violence and human misery, wars between nations pale in comparison to what utopians have done to their own people in the past century or so. Progressive unity movements ruthlessly slaughtered tens of millions of people for the sake of annihilating humans distinctions like race, class, and culture that prevented the kind of human cooperation they sought. Progressivism was and remains an attempt to undo God’s work at Babel and rebuild Nimrod’s Tower out of corpses in the hopes of finally reaching the heavens.Nationalism is by no means perfect, but it is the golden mean between tribalism and globalism. It allows for the unity of some portion of compatible tribes to work together for the sake of civilization without demanding the conquest of the incompatible tribes.
  4. Pentecost is for the Church, not the World. On the first day of Pentecost after the Resurrection, the Holy Spirit came upon Christ’s Apostles and everyone heard them in their own language. God Himself undid the confusion of Babel so that the Gospel would be proclaimed to all nations. Paul likewise tells us that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek. The book of Revelation describes a great multitude from every tribe and nation who stand together before the throne of God. The division of humanity for the sake of restraining our sinfulness is the middle of the story, but not the end. In the end, it is God who unites us all through Jesus Christ, for he died for the sins of the whole world.But although the Church transcends the nations, she does not replace them. Jesus told us in no uncertain terms that his Kingdom not of this world and that this is why his followers did not fight to save him. The Church’s task is to deliver the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation to the entire world, not to exert temporal authority over it. In contrast, the task of temporal authority is that of civilization—to punish wrongdoing and commend right-doing so that we can live in relative peace with one another instead of living in constant fear of being raped, robbed, or murdered. These are two different missions, and Christians need to take care not to confuse them.It is therefore not our job to try and dissolve national boundaries anymore than its the job of civil authorities to dissolve the boundaries between different religions. We should not be insisting that our nation open its borders to the world anymore than our nation should insist that Muslims, Hindus, and Satanists have equal representation in our various organizations. When we conflate these two kingdoms, we do nothing but increase human misery and deprive people of God’s gifts to us.

By Christian reckoning, God, like any father, disciplines those whom he loves for their own good. Babel is one example of such discipline, and it is a gift. Discipline comes to an end when it has run its course, and so God has promised an end to war, conflict, and division when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead. In the meantime, however, we ought not try to bring a premature end to God’s discipline. And whether one believes in God or not, one can still look at history and easily observe the consequences of progressivism and ponder the blood that has been spilled for utopian ideals. One can still observe the utility of nations and the dangers of globalism.

It’s time we stop trying “fix” Babel.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2017 in Linklove, religion, The Kulturkampf, Theology