Archives For Evangelicalism

This past Sunday I spoke to the congregation at my church about the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling. Above is the 7-minute video, and below are the comments edited and formatted reading.

A few years ago the elders at my church asked the pastors to focus on equipping the congregation to deal with persecution. As part of our strategic plan, the elders wanted the members of Immanuel Bible to have a larger understanding of what persecution looks like globally, with an eye toward preparing our church for future persecution here in the United States.   Continue Reading…

I’ve been checking my Facebook newsfeed more in the past few days than I have in the last couple months combined, and I’m filled with sadness over the response of some people I thought were Christians, but have obviously departed from the Gospel. I’m super thankful for my old pastor and his thoughts, as well as my current pastor and his video. But I’ve also been concerned about the response of other Christians.

As I was watching people’s responses and examining my own angry thoughts about the SCOTUS decision, I couldn’t help but think what is the purpose in what we are posting and saying? What is our goal? Are we trying to avoid persecution? Are we trying to convince people that we are being mistreated? Are we trying to evangelize? Can anyone come to faith by our giving crafty arguments against same-sex marriage?  Continue Reading…

flagWhat the Supreme Court of the United States did last week was simply play catch-up with the many other countries that were ahead of it in the headlong pursuit of institutionalized ungodliness. South Africa’s constitution, for one sad example, protects not only same-sex marriage but also polygamy and late-term abortion.

Many other “enlightened” nations have come full circle. Having previously embraced Christian morality, and enjoyed centuries of resultant civil, educational, and legal progress, they have now begun to pine for the leeks and onions of their Egyptian slave masters who at least didn’t tell them who they could marry.

Denmark, the Netherlands, and other post-reformation societies have shrugged off the fuddy-duddy conservatisms of their puritanical forefathers and have lapped up regurgitated libertarianism artificially flavored as avant-garde progressiveness.

The USA is like a body guard of the Church. The problem is that when America shows up at the party, that means there is no one left outside to guard the door.

I can’t improve on the insight of John Piper’s jeremiad when he laments,

My sense is that we do not realize what a calamity is happening around us. The new thing — new for America, and new for history — is not homosexuality. … What’s new is not even the celebration and approval of homosexual sin. Homosexual behavior has been exploited, and revelled in, and celebrated in art, for millennia. What’s new is normalization and institutionalization. This is the new calamity.”

It isn’t easy for Christians to identify a silver lining to Friday’s ruling that is worth celebration; unless you’re a premillennialist.

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gay white-house-rainbow

Michael S. Williamson—The Washington Post/Getty Images http://time.com/3938935/white-house-rainbow-gay-marriage-decision/

For many decades the LGBT movement has worked tirelessly in effort to fundamentally transform America’s conscience with regards to sexuality and gender.  This has been achieved, in large part, with direct assistance from Hollywood.  In a Hollywood Reporter article from 9/25/14 Natalie Jarvey wrote, “Gay couples? Gay kisses? Yawn. New sexual boundaries are being broken as Amazon’s ‘Transparent’ is the latest to tackle a once-taboo topic.”  Long before Bruce Jenner decided to go public with his transgender decision the path had already been paved for him.  In my judgment, a ‘team effort’ strategy during a sweeping “moral revolution” is what helped advance the LGBT cause so rapidly.

Our LGBT friends need to remember that not too long ago many/most “Liberal/Progressive” politicians actually campaigned in favor of traditional marriage (take Bill and Hillary Clinton for example).  The night before his presidential election victory in 2008, then candidate Obama said, “Marriage is between a man and a woman.” I do not support same sex same weddings though I do oppose California Proposition 8.  Much has changed in seven short years (and much has not).

If I were to summarize the LGBT strategy I would highlight six simple words: Desensitize, Normalize, Demonize, Legalize, Idolizeand for some, Victimize (or you could say Penalize)!  It is remarkable in some ways that less than 4% of the population has effectively influenced the Supreme Court into changing the “legal definition” of marriage (ultimately no human court has the authority to redefine what God designed).

Bruce Jenner

Photo credit: Annie Leibovitz: Vanity Fair

Now before you dismiss this article outright as coming from one of those “angry Baptist preachers” I would encourage you to at least consider the real life examples that are listed below.

The goal of this post is not to call on Christians everywhere to boycott Hollywood and Starbucks.  Every Spirit-filled believer has to make their own Biblically informed decisions as to what they are going to watch, listen to, and read.  Unlike some pastors, I do not believe that Christian liberty should not be taken away from believers just because it is regularly abused (for more on what the Bible teaches concerning grey area decisions consider this, this, and this). I for one take my wife to a restaurant owned by a gay chief, have gay friends, still enjoy Starbucks, hope to take my children to Disneyland one day, and occasionally go to the movie theater- but now I digress.

How did we get here?  Contrary to popular opinion, TV shows and movies are almost never “agenda-less” entertainment.  People write books and movie scripts with a certain worldview and with specific goals in mind.  My blog is no different.  I have a Christian worldview.  As such I believe that the Bible is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice.  I try and convince my small “audience” to follow the clear teachings of Scripture as an expression of love for Christ (John 14:15).

Back to the widespread influence of Hollywood.  Neal Postman observed correctly long ago that many Americans are simply “amusing themselves to death.”  This means that most church kids know far more about the entertainment world then the world of the Bible.  They know the lyrics of secular songs far better then they know lyrics of most sacred songs. They spend more time watching TV/movies then just about anything else.  In view of this, as my Greek professor often said, “We need to be aware so we can beware.”

Suffice it to say, the amount of TV shows that promote the LGBT agenda are too numerous to count.  Here is a VERY small sampling: Continue Reading…

scotus_marriage-blog480In a historic, Romans 1-esque move today, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the 14th Amendment requires all 50 states to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples and recognize those marriages performed in other states.

Among professing Christendom, there has been everything from shock, outrage, fear, and indifference. Whatever our response, surprise must not be one of them and anchoring in God’s word must be all of them. In addition to what the Cripplegate has previously said on this issue, here are a few things for us to keep in mind in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling:

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Any time a pastor falls my heart sinks. It is gut wrenching. Especially when it is someone that is loved by many people I admire. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent listening to people write onwrite on, or preach on the new-antinomianism debate. While I bet the temptation is strong for some people to say I told you so, (and I think it might be helpful for us to go back and listen to their warnings) whenever things like these happen, it is always a huge reminder about my own sinfulness and my need to re-examine my own qualifications for ministry. In Scripture, we are taught that when elders fall that they should be rebuked publicly for all to learn from and while I do not want to rebuke Tullian publicly (nor should I), I do take situations like this to examine my own heart and to remind myself that I am capable of incredible evil. This is a reminder that when I went to seminary, I decided to do something that is dangerous. To be preachers of God’s word is the greatest calling on earth but it is also dangerous. So here are ten personal lessons/reminders from this incredibly sad situation.

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Ten years ago, my life was a mess.  My parents had separated.  I had just graduated high school and didn’t know what was next for me.  I didn’t have any purpose or plan for my life.

But something changed all that.

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racetrackIn November 2012, 530 runners were poised on the starting line for the Heaton Harriers 10km race through Newcastle, England. As is customary a cyclist familiar with the route—or “rabbit” as it is quaintly known—was employed to ride just ahead of the frontrunners to lead them. The rabbit, wearing a conspicuously fluorescent yellow top, pedalled ahead moments before the starting pistol sounded.

At the bang the racers charged off enthusiastically. However, shortly after the rabbit and a small pack of frontrunners crested a blind rise and turned left, a local cyclist who perchance was donned in a fluorescent yellow cycling top pedalled briefly onto the route and then turned right.

The obliging runners dutifully followed him on a meandering, seemingly random route through Newcastle until the biker serendipitously crossed the actual route again, having taken what was in effect a substantial shortcut.

The man who thought he was winning the race, one Ian Hudspith, suddenly found himself being bested by a straggling group of bemused slowcoaches.

The organizers soon realized what had happened and promptly called everyone back to restart the race.

Les Venmore, one of the organizers, confessed it “wouldn’t have looked particularly good” if the race had been won by someone who had never won a race before because of an unintentional shortcut. It appears most of the runners took the incident in good cheer and there was much jocularity about the mistake.

And laughter is the appropriate response to something as inconsequential as a foot race. But imagine at the end of your life you appeared before the judgment seat of Christ and instead of hearing the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant,” you heard the words “Well tried my misguided and silly servant, you ran aimlessly for a good eighty years, pouring your time and energy into some pretty insubstantial pursuits.”

Paul warns against this disconcerting eventuality in a letter he addressed to the somewhat misguided church in Corinth.

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AugustineSome time ago, I received the following question by email:

I was wondering what your thoughts are on Augustine’s “City of God”, book 22, chapter 8 where he records many miracles taking place in Carthage. Some sound doubtful — making the symbol of a cross over the malady. I’ve always found Augustine trustworthy but am sensing some overtones of superstition. Are there other sources that might shed some light on his testimony?

I’ve been asked similar questions before, regarding miracle and healing accounts throughout different eras of church history. Though each instance is different, Augustine’s testimony in The City of God provides an interesting case study.

From a cessationist perspective, here are a few thoughts in response to Augustine’s healing accounts:

1. In everything, the Word of God is our authority. Human experiences, whether contemporary or historical, must be evaluated against the teaching of Scripture. Augustine is one of the most well-known church fathers. Yet, he is neither inspired nor authoritative. Thus, his teachings must be measured against the truth of Scripture. (cf. 1 Thess. 5:21–22)

2. Unlike the record of miracles in the Bible – which are absolutely true – the report of supernatural phenomena throughout church history is impossible to verify and subject to human error. Augustine was undoubtedly sincere when he claimed that various miracles occurred in Carthage during his lifetime. But that does not mean his interpretation of what happened was correct. Being centuries removed from the situation makes it impossible for us to fully investigate all that he describes; but we can still evaluate his conclusions against the truth of God’s Word. Continue Reading…

Gnostics were a first-century cult that taught that matter didn’t matter. More precisely, they held that our physical bodies were vulgar and thus lacked value, while our inner spiritual state represented true reality. They taught that because Jesus was the perfect spiritual being, he wouldn’t have even had a physical body. If he would have walked on the beach, he wouldn’t have left foot-prints (which, if true, would radically change many Christian posters).

I think this was meant as a LGBT-rights poster, but it it can also be read as an argument against the T part of that acronym.

 

Gnostics are still around today, only the best place to find them is inside the transgender movement. The modern transgender movement seeks to differentiate between one’s biological sex and the concept of gender. Your sex is what you are born with, while gender is a social construct foisted upon you at birth by a society that (wrongly) assumes that your sex is related to your gender.   Continue Reading…