Archives For Evangelicalism

Syrian refugee camp

Relevant Magazine recently ran a post called “What the Bible says about how to treat refugees.” To help you understand where they are coming from, remember that Relevant seems to exist primarily to tie Christian ethics to whatever cause célèbre has captured the kids these days. The list was frustrating to read not because of what it said, but what it omitted (to spare you the click, the gist is that Christians should open their borders to refugees).

But the actual refugee problem runs deeper than that, and it is yet further evidence of the juvenilization of evangelical thought that actual theologians think the issue of Syrian refugees should be settled by pointing to Levitical law about letting foreigners reap in your grain field.

At risk of sounding pedantic, this is a complex issue with competing interests and ethics. Namely:   Continue Reading…

10_Questions_2Last week, I posted an article (with an embedded video) about Seventh-day Adventism. As might be expected, not everyone was pleased with my perspective, and some of the responses were quite heated.

In the comments on Facebook, I was called a “counterfeit preacher,” a “Jesuit infiltrator,” an “antichrist,” “one of Satan’s forerunners,” and a “liar and the truth of God is not in him.”

While unfounded name-calling doesn’t bother me, especially on Facebook, a few of the critics complained that I had misrepresented Seventh-day Adventist beliefs. Some accused me of violating the ninth commandment, and intentionally bearing false witness about what Seventh-day Adventists believe.

Since my desire is not to bear false witness, I decided to write one more article regarding SDA doctrine. While I doubt it will appease my critics, I hope it will bring additional clarity to my previous post. Continue Reading…

One of my favorite events that we get to experience in the church age is Baptism. To watch someone courageously declare the Lordship of Jesus in their life is an awesome blessing to witness. It is a declaration of freedom. It is the symbol of being dead to sin and alive to Christ. (Rom 6:11) It is the announcement that it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me (Gal 2:20). That’s why we believe in believer’s baptism. That is someone who knows the difference between good and evil and can declare their commitment to Christ.

Sometimes in our circles (those who do not believe baptism saves) we are tempted to minimize the importance of baptism, but it is of vast importance. Baptism is the way a person declares their commitment not only to Christ but to a local body of believers as well (Acts 2:41). This declaration of commitment is why churches require baptism before membership. I believe that for the sake of obedience to Jesus and for the sake of conscience we should take the practice of baptism seriously.  So, in light of the importance that Scripture places on baptism, here are three reasons which might lead a person to consider getting “re-baptized.”

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Red_Coffee_CupFacebook has been abuzz lately about angry reactions (particularly from a self-proclaimed evangelical named Joshua Feuerstein) to the new Starbucks holiday cup design. In case you’ve missed the controversy, in years past, Starbucks’ festive cups have featured vibrant images of reindeer, snowflakes, Christmas trees, and the like. But this year, the cup is just plain red.

Some concerned folks, particularly in Christian circles, have insisted the lack of Christmas-themed doodles represents a war on Christmas. So is Starbucks playing Scrooge? Or are the naysayers overreacting?

Yesterday, I was asked to give my opinion on the issue. While I generally try to steer clear of seemingly trivial issues (like the design of a disposable coffee cup), I think the hubbub created over this current controversy warrants a response. Continue Reading…

I recently stumbled across a video where a guy who looked like he was possibly preaching, claimed to have had a real vision of Jesus. In the video he claims that, get this, Jesus asks him for forgiveness! It was just an incredible reminder of the times we are living in. We live in a day where the Church has become completely man-centered. to the point where now Jesus needs to ask us for forgiveness.

Man-centered theology is natural. We are born worshipping ourselves. It is in our veins because of original sin. We think the world revolves around us, and ultimately we think God exists for us. Man-centered theology can show up many different ways, but ultimately it is the exaltation of man and the belittling of God.

Your theology matters. It affects the way you think, the way you live, the way you approach others around you, and ultimately it affects your truman showrelationship with God.

As we were preaching through Ephesians in our Young Adult Sunday school class, it was pretty evident that a right understanding of scripture does not allow for any boasting in the Christian life. The more you read the Bible the more you realize that the Bible is God-centered, and eternity in heaven will be a celebration of the Glory of God. In fact I believe that the a major purpose of our salvation is for the angels to watch us in heaven worshipping God, and scratching their heads in utter amazement that sinful people like me will be able to be in God’s presence worshipping him. They’ve seen us sin, they’ve seen how hypocritical we are, and seeing us in heaven worshipping God will be yet another reason for the angels to worship the Trinity.

And yet despite the fact that scripture is so clear that salvation is not about us, we are always tempted to make it all about us. Have you noticed how many preachers talk about the worth of man, and seem to neglect speaking about God’s glory and His worth?

Our flesh is always telling us to think highly of ourselves. But I think we need to resist this urge to exalt ourselves. Here are some reasons to put away man-centered theology and to embrace a God-centered mindset.

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This year, as with every other one, Halloween came and went. And again, the unholy holiday did nothing more and nothing less for the cause of Christ than any other day of the year.

Some Christians may have revelled in their liberty to let their kids dress up as Anna, Elsa, and Olaf. (Incidentally, except for the snow man the other characters in Frozen would, like their creator Hans Christian Andersen, have been Lutheran; apropos costumes for Reformation month!). They may even have carved toothy grins into a pumpkin or two.Jesus pumpkin

Other Christians may have railed against the nefarious worldliness and ghoulishness inherent in the Catholic-turned-pagan carousing. Some probably contributed to the collective national insulin spike by dolling out assorted nutrition-free candies, while others likely distributed gospel tracts and toothbrushes to the dismay of their crestfallen trick-or-treaters.

So what? (Or in the ESV “What then?”)

It seems that every year this perennial discussion of liberty’s limits pops up like a whack-a-mole, only to reoccur eight weeks later with the flavor of controversy  having something to do with Christmas trees and mistletoe. I’ve contributed to this in the past and probably will again in December. But my 2c will be the same every time because the holly wreath withers, the polyester costume fades, but the word of the Lord stands forever. And Scripture is not silent on these issues.

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About 10 years ago I was walking around the Duomo of Milan and these ladies captured my attention as they were staring at this stained glass picture of Mary. Being spotted by one of the ladies she quickly came to me to hand me a rosary. As she tried to convince me to take it, I said that I only needed to pray to God and that I would not pray to Mary, her shock quickly turned to anger and she said “may Mary whip you with the seven whips of Satan!” As I booked it out of there I was wondering to myself first of all, why is Mary working with Satan? But second of all and more importantly, how in the world do you get to that point where one talks to Mary more than God? How do you get to the point where you pray 10 prayers to Mary for every prayer to God? Well in honor of the lady who cursed me that fateful day, here are 7 problems with the Roman Catholic Mary.

She’s the mother of God

495 Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus”, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before
the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord”.144 In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. imagesHence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).145

In order to refute certain heresies that taught against the Hypostatic Union, the early Church named Mary the Theotokos (wrongly translated the mother of God, it actually means the God-bearer), not in order to raise Mary to a God-like level but rather to correct the heresy about Jesus.  Over time this developed into this strange idea that Mary was the spiritual mother of Human beings. As time went on, Mary received more and more honor to the point where the following statements about her began to appear. It’s fascinating how in order to protect the church from heresies about Christ, the Church unknowingly ended up creating one about Mary. Some say that when Constantine made all of Rome “Christian” the pagans now forced to be “christians” brought in several idols. One of these idols was the mother goddess. They say that they replaced the worship of the mother goddess with the worship of the Roman Catholic Mary.

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This Saturday, October 31, commemorates nearly 500 years since one of the greatest movements of God in church history; the Protestant Reformation. Up to the time of the Reformation, much of Europe had been dominated by the reign of Roman Catholicism. To the populace was propagated the idea that salvation was found under Rome and her system alone.

But as the cultural and theological fog cleared in Europe and beyond, God’s people gained a clarity that had been mostly absent for centuries. The Reformers gained this clarity from keeping with a simple principle: sola scritpura, or, Scripture alone. As they searched the word of God, they discovered that Rome deviated radically on the most critical points of biblical Christianity. With one mind, God’s people discerned from Scripture that, tragically, Roman Catholicism was a desecration to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Today, nothing has changed. To my evangelical and Catholic friends, it’s important that we no longer erroneously say that Roman Catholicism differs from Scripture only on minor points of doctrine and history. As the Reformers saw clearly, and will be demonstrated here, the differences could not be greater.

In keeping with that movement of God by the word of God, here are a few reminders of how Rome is a desecration to Christ:

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Martin_LutherWith Reformation Day just around the corner, I thought it might be fun to give our readers an opportunity to take a quick Reformation-related quiz. It’s pretty simple. (Just don’t peek at the answers until after you’ve completed the entire quiz.)

For each of the following 10 quotes, identify whether the statement was written by someone during the Reformation or prior to the Reformation:

1. When was this written?

It is well known that You [O Lord] give to all freely and ungrudgingly. As for Your righteousness, so great is the fragrance it diffuses that You are called not only righteous but even righteousness itself, the righteousness that makes men righteous. Your power to make men righteous is measured by Your generosity in forgiving. Therefore the man who through sorrow for sin hungers and thirsts for righteousness, he will let him trust in the One who changes the sinner into a just man, and, judged righteous in terms of faith alone, have peace with God.

2. When was this written?

And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

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Today’s post is intended to answer an important question from a historical standpoint. However, it ought to be stated at the outset that Scripture must be our final authority in the determination of sound doctrine and right practice.last_supper

The word “eucharist” means “thanksgiving” and was an early Christian way of referring to the celebration of the Lord’s Table. Believers in the early centuries of church history regularly celebrated the Lord’s Table as a way to commemorate the death of Christ. The Lord Himself commanded this observance on the night before His death. As the apostle Paul recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:23–26:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

In discussing the Lord’s Table from the perspective of church history, at least two important questions arise. First, did the early church believe that the elements (the bread and the cup) were actually and literally transformed into the physical body and blood of Christ? In other words, did they articulate the doctrine of transubstantiation as modern Roman Catholics do? Second, did early Christians view the eucharist as a propitiatory sacrifice? Or put another way, did they view it in the terms articulated by the sixteenth-century Council of Trent?

In today’s post, we will address the first of those two questions. Continue Reading…