A Brief Response to a friend concerning Christian Liberty and Evangelism

You wrote:

You did not respond to my conjecture that you are referring merely to the abuse of something as an excuse for avoiding it. If someone was falsely assured, it is the preacher who is in condemnation as a teacher (James 3:1).

First, you have now and before misquoted the statement. It goes as follows: “The abuse of something is not an argument against its proper use.” By the way, I am not the originator of that quote. It was written by someone (perhaps Luther) who certainly understood the extremes taken by some in order to avoid certain freedoms that we have in Christ.
Let me give you an example as to how that quote plays well with certain situations. One clear example is the often pulpit cry that drinking is associated with pagans therefore, as Christians we should not drink. This concept was also coincidentally an essential message of Charles Finney and other revivalists of the early 19th century. In this case, I plug in that quote immediately and say that since the Scriptures many times endorses or even demands the people of God to drink, then for the sake of Scriptures, drink (Psalm 104:15; Ecclesiastes 9:7). The abuse of some is not an argument against its proper use. In the case you used, I suggest that the quote cannot be used in that context. It contradicts its purpose. In other words, the abuse of something that is found in the Scriptures is not an argument against its proper use. However, I do not believe whether it be the invitational system, raising hands, walking down the aisle, or any of these Finneistic novelties in American evangelicalism are Scriptural, but rather are used to lead many to a false profession of faith and furthermore to guilt-bound “christianity.”

You went on to say:

Oh yeah, and my Dad was saved in an ice cream shop by a man who used the simple gospel via the four spiritual laws. Even though I have a pastor at my local body, he has been my pastor for almost 23 years. Indeed the four spiritual laws are the Truth and the gospel is simple, but it’s not merely an action one can claim to have taken, and we agree.

To this I would simply reply that I am not in any position to judge anyone’s conversion experience. The Four Spiritual Laws from my perspective do not contain an accurate representation of the gospel (though I am convinced it has been used for good, after all there are Scriptural quotations in them). It misleads the Christian to think wrongly of the concept of the Lordship of Christ by confusing categories of Christian experience (the false idea of “carnal Christianity is one o them). Thus, my contention is that this approach completely distorts Paul’s meaning in I Corinthians 3.

Finally, just a few corrections in order to help further dialogue. You mentioned a few strongly Reformed categories and distinctive such as Family Worship and Home Education. I deeply admire your parents for a strong emphasis on family and education. As I have come to know you and your family, it is evident that all of you have a strong passion for our Lord. However, family and education devoid of Reformed confessions and a strongly covenantal view of family denies the Reformed faith. As you may know Mennonites, the Amish, and others, also have a strong view of courting, family and so on; but yet they clearly deny the Reformed perspective on God’s sovereignty and Covenant Theology.
I hope this helps our future interaction…
Your brother in Christ.

Should Christians vote for Bush?

This may be an easy question for Christians to answer, but should it be that easy?
In this article which appeared on intellectualconservative.com a few months ago, the writer analyzes the Bush administration and brings to the surface facts that are not very well known nor heard of in your conservative talk-show program. Perhaps it’s time to start thinking Biblically about these issues. Well, read for yourself!

ARTICLE LINK: http://www.intellectualconservative.com/article3114.html

Charles Finney: Revivalism and False Assurance

It is generally agreed among scholars that Charles Finney brought into the American culture the definitive catechism of revivalism. Its affects are lasting and still endure in evangelicalism. Not only was there a denial of the monergistic work of the Spirit but also an emphasis upon the sinner to ask, cry, repent, receive, walk down the aisle, raise his hand, pray a prayer, and all the meticulous and intricate steps to finally arrive at a place where you can feel secure in your salvation. After all, John says, “these things I have written that you may know that you have eternal life,” (I John 5:13) and whatever “knowing” requires that is what I will do. Of course, after this series of sentimental experiences comes the guilt years, which usually occur during the teenage years if you grow up in a typical evangelical home.

It may seem odd to think that such series of decisions would be equivalent to the gospel. The reality is that this list of necessary occurrences in order to experience true salvation is foreign to the Biblical text. It belittles the message of the cross and further enhances the confusion in the already confused and troubled evangelical mind.

There is no denial that revivals have brought about genuine conversions, but I do deny that it has been beneficial to the body as a whole. A multitude of souls is even too expensive a price in light of faithfulness to the truth. As someone has stated:

Revivals ‘may be useful’ – or even necessary – just as violent remedies are not the proper and ordinary means of saving life, but such remedies are not the proper and ordinary means of sustaining and promoting health.

It is health we need. We have plenty of remedies, just not the right ones. As Steve Schlissel once put it, “There is too much evangelism today, just not the right kind.”

In order for the gospel of grace to be preached effectively we need to destroy the concept of self-reliance and resurrect the concept of dependence. It is God alone who brings about revivals, that is, a revival of the heart. Souls need to be resurrected from their spiritual death. The author of resurrection is said to be like the wind and you can’t tell the wind to meet you in a cold evening at a tent revival.

The shocking consequences of this mentality has led some to atheism or to a moderfinneygif.gifn form of Pelagianism. If we seek to be conformed to the standards of modern evangelicalism, we lose our Biblical identity, but if we seek to apply gospel truth to our everyday, then we destroy our fleshly instincts. This is exactly what we are called to do: to lose our lives in order that we may walk according to the Spirit. The Christian may find rest in the gospel even today.

The calamity befallen in the church is a direct result of a foundational misunderstanding of the good news; that is: you can never get over it. You need it everyday and every hour. If you want to be assured of your faith, then trust in the gospel again and again. Taste of the goodness of the vine in the table of our Lord. Abandon the hypocrisy of weekly re-commitments and embrace Christ once and for all.

Animosity for animosity’s sake…

How can we claim so fervently to believe in a gospel of peace when we are at war with members of our own covenant family? I am utterly befuddled by the animosity I have seen lately. Call it blog wars or theological disputes, the Scriptures condemn such behavior. It is antithetical to the gospel of grace and it causes even greater damage to the image we display to the watching world.

Perhaps the “iron sharpens iron” principle has been turned into “iron destroys iron.” Can we make our points and be satisfied with that alone? Or are we so desperate for attention that we prefer to add a little “flavor” so to speak to enhance our theological “brilliance?”

Blog writers, channel friends, and anyone else… how about we do a little soul searching for the sake of peace and unity? Hey, talk about being schismatic… don’t be an example of what you are trying to avoid. With that in mind, let the soul searching begin! Paul reminds us to “count others more significant than yourselves.”

Tolle Lege!

Is it just my experience or is society consumed with mental illiteracy? Either they can’t conjure up harmonious thoughts or cannot think harmoniously. If you are like me, after a few days without reading you begin to feel a sharp pain right in the middle of your forehead… well, maybe I am exaggerating a bit. Of course, the poorly trained mind can’t fathom reading at all. It prefers rather to meditate on what a 19th century scholar called the “conversation of rocks.” In other words, empty thoughts in an unproductive and non-stimulating mind.

There are two men that come to mind in establishing an impressive resume of literature consumption. The first is Rousas J. Rushdoony. He was known perhaps as the founder of the Christian Reconstructionist Movement. Rushdoony is known to have read a book a day since his teenage years until his death in 2001. Even listening to his sermons and reading his works give you a sense of experiencing someone who was far above the average reader or writer. Rushdoony was well read in politics, economics, theology, philosophy and more. He was indeed a great mind and example to model.

Secondly,  is the immortal C.S. Lewis. Who has not heard or even consumed the magic of Lewis’ works? I still recall reading through Screwtape Letters. It is almost impossible not to be drawn to Lewis’s works. His writings become art and you become an spectator of his mind. His style, charm, brilliance, all of it found in his works. Even the very last phrase leaves you imagining and even dreaming in broad daylight. Lewis is stimulating in every sense of the word. But what else can I say? Perhaps this quote by Lewis will captivate the way he thought about his great delight in life.
C.S. Lewis once wrote:

In reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself… Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.

Gender – Neutral ?

Jim Brown from Agape Press writes that:

A growing number of schools are now providing student housing in which members of the opposite sex can live together and share a private bathroom. Oberlin College in Ohio and Sara Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, are making communal bathrooms available in resident halls. And schools like the University of Chicago and Beloit College in Wisconsin are designating gender-neutral restrooms in major areas of their campuses.

Breaking all the barriers of sexual distinction is seemingly the new agenda of sexual activists and leftists in American Universities and Colleges. This is reportedly a liberating experience to those who have felt intimidated by same sex oppression. This shameful act describes the incomprehensible urge of a small, but determined group to bring cultural and educational liberation to the “suppressed” minority in campuses today.

With the recent attacks on the institution of marriage, such gender-neutral housing and bathrooms may even increase. Such dreadful display of ungodliness should be an urgent cry for parents today. A distinctly Christian education will prepare the next generation of Orthodox young Christians to challenge the false premise of neutrality in the ethical arena.

Meditations on Catechism #1

How does our chief end end up being the glory of God? For centuries prior to the Reformation, layman and clergy alike sought to glorify God through the sacred duty of worship. Whether it was on a monastic fashion or gathering at church, worship was only worship if it were in reference to spiritual activity.

The Reformation completely tore apart this isolationist rationale by demonstrating that life itself whether in private or in public is worship. True believers do not need to find shelter to worship and glorify God, they now by God’s grace are enabled to glorify Him through word and deed in or outside the church.

So, what is our chief end? Our chief end is to be converted and live for God in all areas of life enjoying every moment of it and delighting in Him for all eternity.

Michael Savage the Theologian? Correcting terminologies…

aboutmichael_savage.jpg Instead of the usual “HELLO INFIDELS” introduction, Michael Savage, host of the “Savage Nation,” began his popular talk show program by boasting in the success of his most recent book: The Enemy Within. Believe it or not, good ol’ Savage is ahead of Clinton’s Memoir in many big cities in the country. It is really no big surprise that Clinton’s 950-page self-pitying, self-congratulatory tome is not reaching all the expectations that the former president thought it would. To top it off, the New York Times wrote a scathing review denouncing Clinton’s book as ” poorly written,” and “written in a hurry.” In yesterday’s post, Matt Drudge reported at least ten different cities in which the book seems to be in dire straits. It is not that My Life has not sold copies, in fact, it has even broken some records, but these records are not what were expected.

Michael Savage dealt with a few other, uh, let’s say “touchy issues.” He denounced, without any moment’s hesitation that Saudi terrorists are “sub-human.” “They are inferior to you and I,” he screamed. Now, let me see if I can be subtly theological without spoiling my political post. While our hatred towards terrorist actions (such as the recent beheading of two Americans and a South Korean) is justifiable, there is one fundamental presupposition we must carry amidst conflict or war (such as the one we are in right now); this presupposition is that all men are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-28).

It is indeed difficult to conceive how such savages can so calmly and seemingly without any remorse cut one’s throat and still be called human, but the Scriptures still put all men in one category. Your heart and my heart cries for justice; we long to see these men punished as severely as their victims. We are infuriated with the extent of their religiosity and radical commitment to annihilate all that looks, sounds, and tastes Western. At the same time, we confuse categories by calling them “sub-human,” as if by putting them in a separate group we restore our own goodness or our innocence. To quote an unpopular verse, ” all our actions are as filthy garments.”

Of course, our actions are not as theirs, but our hearts are. It is corrupted and despicably depraved. We are still in need of cleansing, still in need of purification, we are still as wicked savages killing each other with our minds and seeking justice with our own hands.

So, should we seek justice? Yes. Are terrorists sub-human? No. But in what ways can we tie these two truths? Let me suggest that the imprecatory Psalms are one way. Yes, they are for God’s people and are to be sung, prayed, and read by God’s people. Secondly, we cishmaelite_prayer_gallery.jpgan pray that human justice will prevail and that they will be punished accordingly. And finally, we can keep bad people in the same category as “civilized society” (as some call the west). There is no such category as “sub-human.” All men are lost, whether be American or Saudi  until Christ by His Spirit conquers the hearts of men. In the end, our hope is that God’s justice, which has passed over us because of His love, may be applied to those whom He hates (Psalms 5:5).

Catholicity, Orthodoxy, and Lordship