Archives For Evangelicalism

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…

We begin today’s post with a question: In New Testament times, did the gift of tongues produce authentic foreign languages only, or did it also result in non-cognitive speech (like the private prayer languages of modern charismatics)? The answer is of critical importance to the contemporary continuationist/cessationist debate regarding the gift of tongues.

Agnes_Ozman_Tongues

From the outset, it is important to note that the gift of tongues was, in reality, the gift of languages. I agree with continuationist author Wayne Grudem when he writes:

It should be said at the outset that the Greek word glossa, translated “tongue,” is not used only to mean the physical tongue in a person’s mouth, but also to mean “language.” In the New Testament passages where speaking in tongues is discussed, the meaning “languages” is certainly in view. It is unfortunate, therefore, that English translations have continued to use the phrase “speaking in tongues,” which is an expression not otherwise used in ordinary English and which gives the impression of a strange experience, something completely foreign to ordinary human life. But if English translations were to use the expression “speaking in languages,” it would not seem nearly as strange, and would give the reader a sense much closer to what first century Greek speaking readers would have heard in the phrase when they read it in Acts or 1 Corinthians. (Systematic Theology, 1069).

But what are we to think about the gift of languages?

If we consider the history of the church, we find that the gift of languages was universally considered to be the supernatural ability to speak authentic foreign languages that the speaker had not learned. Continue Reading…

Having decreed that God did not invent marriage, our culture has moved on to a new cause célèbre: the claim that neither did God invent gender.

Last week Fairfax County Schools (where I live) considered a measure to no longer teach that there are two genders, but rather that gender exists on a spectrum, as well as to move the curriculum out of the science department and into the health department so that parents can no longer opt their students out. This all follows their vote a few weeks ago to allow cross-dressing teachers and essentially end gender segregated bathrooms.

By the way, Fairfax is one of the ten largest public school districts in the US.   Continue Reading…

Today’s post comes from a Grace Community Church “Pastoral Perspective” on illegal immigration:

According to recent estimates, there are over 21 million people living in the United States illegally. On a political level, much controversy centers around how illegal immigration might be better regulated, and how the government should respond to the immigrants who are already here. On an economic level, experts debate how the influx of immigrants has affected the American economy.

But our primary concern is neither political or economic. Rather it is theological and pastoral. From a biblical and practical perspective, how should pastors and church leaders respond to this issue? As those who minister in Los Angeles, this question is not hypothetical for us. Nor is it hypothetical for a growing number of churches across our nation.

Though not an exhaustive response, below are ten considerations (organized under four headings) which outline Grace Church’s pastoral perspective on this issue.

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473725556This past weekend pope Francis canonized four new saints in a ceremony which received extra attention as two of the four were of Palestinian origin. One of the new Palestinian saints, Sister Mariam Baouardy (1846-1878), was a mystic and stigmatic also known as “Mary Jesus Crucified.” She was a Palestinian and foundress of the Discalced Carmelites of Bethlehem in the late 1800’s. The other new Palestinian saint, Sister Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas (1843-1927), was a co-founder of the Congregation of the Rosary Sisters, who spent much of her life in Bethlehem founding schools and orphanages.

Despite the interesting politics of the situation, we will stick to commenting on the theological issues. What is a saint? How does one become a saint? And what is Rome doing when they canonize someone?

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