Time For Truth

A place to grow in the Grace & Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ

What must I do to inherit eternal life?

Many months back I received a request to complete a Presbyterian Church USA survey.  Not being a person who likes doing surveys, I ignored it.  But as I was hounded to complete the survey, I finally gave in and completed it.  You can find the results of the survey here.

The results of one question is quite revealing, especially given the severe decline in the denomination

The question asked if you strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree with the statement that “only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved”. 

39% of members either agreed or strongly agreed.

45% of elders either agreed or strongly agreed.

35% of clergy agreed or strongly agreed.

22% of specialized clergy (clergy not working in a church) either strongly agreed or agreed.

Yet, in response to the severe decline, no one has connected these two statistics?  Why?  I would speculate that those who are in leadership on these issues are either in agreement with the majority or do not want to face the fact that most of the denomination has abandoned clear biblical revelation on this issue. 

Slightly above one third of clergy agreed or strongly agreed (they do not make available a detailed breakdown on this statistic) that only followers of Jesus can be saved and less than one fourth of specialized clergy (who often have the strongest voice in national leadership) strongly agreed or agreed.  Considering the strong possibility that those who only agree and did not strongly agree still hold out at least a strong possibility for salvation outside of Jesus Christ or hold a soft inclusivist position, this should be held up as the strongest evidence for severe decline.  For what is the impetus for evangelism when you believe that salvation is available outside of Jesus Christ?  For clergy and specialized clergy the strongest incentive for “church growth or maintenance of numbers” is job security.  My hunch is that once you have discarded eternal destination, the incentive for conversion shifts to self-preservation.

Augustine once wrote that,”…God provides the means and arranges circumstances that will lead the elect to convert to Christ.” Conversion is an absolute foundational aspect of a basic Christian faith. Since we are born with a sinful nature and deserve eternal judgment we must receive a new spiritual nature (we must be born again) and be united with Christ to receive eternal life. We must be born again, repenting and receiving by faith, the grace of God in Jesus Christ, trusting in his saving work on the cross and in the historical reality of the physical resurrection. Paul clearly and firmly proclaims to the church at Rome, that our justification (being proclaimed righteous in God’s eyes) is only possible if we have an inner belief in Christ’s resurrection (Rom 10:9-10; 3:23-25).  This basic understanding of the scriptures has been severely undermined by the entrance of pluralism and inclusivism, which have no scriptural basis whatsoever.  Without a recovery of the gospel of salvation, whatever “growth” occurs will in reality be no growth at all.

August 21, 2009 Posted by | Mainline Heresy, Theology | 8 Comments

Let’s return to a classical view of tolerance

We live in a very confused and intolerant world today.  Civility in our postmodern so-called tolerant world has become non-existent, but not necessarily where we might expect to find it. 

It has recently been reported that MSNBC and others have made a big show of pointing out a particular man at a protest who was carrying weapons linking him to racism.  What they did not tell people, and was clearly avoided by the video camera was the fact that this man was black.  Not only does this show media bias bordering on negligence and malpractice, but it also highlights the modern views of tolerance.  It has not only become acceptable, but even fashionable to attack and demean individuals for not holding the same views as the attacker.  We require tolerance of all ideas, which gives license to be intolerant toward people.  This is an entire reversal of the traditional view of tolerance.

Gregory Koukl has written an incisive and important article on the topic of tolerance, available online here.

Here is a portion of that article:

Escaping the Trap. “Would you like to know how to get out of this dilemma?” I asked. They nodded. “You must reject this modern distortion of tolerance and return to the classic view.” Then I wrote these two principles on the board:

Be egalitarian regarding persons.
Be elitist regarding ideas.1

“Egalitarian” was a new word for them. “Think equal,” I said. “Treat others as having equal standing in value or worth.” They knew what an elitist was, though, someone who thought he or she was better than others. “Right,” I said. “When you are elitist regarding ideas, you are acknowledging that some ideas are better than others; and they are. We don’t treat all ideas as if they have the same merit, lest we run into contradiction. Some ideas are good. Some are bad. Some are true. Some are false. Some are brilliant. Others are just plain foolish.”

The first principle, what might be called “civility,” is at the heart of the classical view of tolerance. It can be loosely equated with the word “respect.” Tolerance applies to how we treat people we disagree with, not how we treat ideas we think are false. We respect those who hold different beliefs from our own by treating such people courteously and allowing their views a place in the public discourse. We may strongly disagree with their ideas and vigorously contend against them in the public square, but we still show respect to their persons despite our differences. Classic tolerance requires that every person be treated courteously with the freedom to express his or her ideas without fear of reprisal no matter what the view, not that all views have equal worth, merit, or truth.

These two categories are frequently conflated in the muddled thinking created by the myth of tolerance. The view that one person’s ideas are no better or truer than another’s is simply absurd and inescapably self-contradictory. To argue that some views are false, immoral, or just plain silly does not violate any meaningful definition or standard of tolerance.

Topsy-Turvy. The modern definition of tolerance turns the classical formula for tolerance on its head:

Be egalitarian regarding ideas.

Be elitist regarding persons.

If you reject another’s ideas, you’re automatically accused of disrespecting the person (as the coed did with me). In this new view of tolerance, no idea or behavior can be opposed — even if done graciously — without inviting the charge of incivility.

To say I’m intolerant of the person because I disagree with his or her ideas is confused; ironically, it results in elitism regarding persons. If I think my ideas are better than another’s, I can be ill-treated as a person, publicly marginalized, and verbally abused as bigoted, disrespectful, ignorant, indecent, and (can you believe it?) intolerant. Sometimes I can even be sued, punished by law, or forced to attend re-education programs.2

In this way, tolerance has gone topsy-turvy: Tolerate most beliefs, but don’t tolerate (show respect for) those who take exception with those beliefs. Contrary opinions are labeled as “imposing your view on others” and quickly silenced.

This is nonsense and should be abandoned. The myth of tolerance forces everyone into an inevitable “Catch-22,” because each person in any debate has a point of view he or she thinks is correct.

Catch-22. Classical tolerance involves three elements: (1) permitting or allowing (2) a conduct or point of view one disagrees with (3) while respecting the person in the process. Notice that we can’t truly tolerate someone unless we disagree with him or her. This is critical. We don’t “tolerate” people who share our views. They’re on our side. There’s nothing with which we need to put up. Tolerance is reserved for those we think are wrong, yet we still choose to treat decently and with respect.

This essential element of classical tolerance — disagreement (elitism regarding ideas) — has been completely lost in the modern distortion of the concept. Nowadays if you think someone is wrong, you’re called intolerant no matter how you treat the person.

This presents a curious problem. In order to exercise true tolerance, one must first think another is wrong, yet saying so brings the accusation of intolerance. It’s a “Catch-22.” According to this approach, true tolerance becomes impossible.

Intellectual Cowardice. Most of what passes for tolerance today is little more than intellectual cowardice — a fear of intelligent engagement. Those who brandish the word “intolerant” are unwilling to be challenged by other views or grapple with contrary opinions, or even to consider them. It’s easier to hurl an insult — “you intolerant bigot” — than to confront an idea and either refute it or be changed by it. In the modern era, “tolerance” has become intolerance.

As ambassadors for Christ, we choose the more courageous path, “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5; NASB). Whenever you’re charged with intolerance, always ask for a definition. When tolerance means neutrality, that all views are equally valid and true, then no one is ever tolerant because no one is ever neutral about his or her own views. Point out the contradiction built into the new definition. Point out that this kind of tolerance is a myth.

— Gregory Koukl

August 20, 2009 Posted by | Christian Living, politics, Theology | 2 Comments

Birth Announcement!

No…Lynne and I are not having more children.
Our little Pomeranian girl Itty-bitty has had 4 (3 boys and 1 girl) beautiful little puppies. It looks like two of them will be a rare blue merle color, while the other two are looking to be tri-colored (party colored). They are amazingly entertaining and absolutely precious. 

There is something quite satisfying about holding a new life.

August 17, 2009 Posted by | Family, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

What is success in the church?

I have always been concerned with efficiency and effectiveness in the church.  My undergraduate degree was in organizational management and I often look at the church through those eyes.  It has been exceedingly popular to mimic the business/management world within the church setting, and there is some wisdom that we can glean from there.  But we must never lose sight of the centrality of the cross.  I truly appreciate all of the works of D.A. Carson that I have read, and this book is a must read.  It is a refreshing prophetic reminder that all the wonderful sociological tools that are available to us today can never replace the work of the Holy Spirit through God’s inerrant word. 

Western evangelicalism tends to run through cycles of fads. At the moment, books are pouring off the presses telling us how to plan for success, how "vision" consists in clearly articulated "ministry goals," how the knowledge of detailed profiles of our communities constitutes the key to successful outreach. I am not for a moment suggesting that there is nothing to be learned from such studies. But after a while one may perhaps be excused for marveling how many churches were planted by Paul and Whitefield and Wesley and Stanway and Judson without enjoying these advantages. Of course all of us need to understand the people to whom we minister, and all of us can benefit from small doses of such literature. But massive doses sooner or later dilute the gospel. Ever so subtly, we start to think that success more critically depends on thoughtful sociological analysis than on the gospel; Barna becomes more important than the Bible. We depend on plans, programs, vision statements–but somewhere along the way we have succumbed to the temptation to displace the foolishness of the cross with the wisdom of strategic planning. Again, I insist, my position is not a thinly veiled plea for obscurantism, for seat-of-the-pants ministry that plans nothing. Rather, I fear that the cross, without ever being disowned, is constantly in danger of being dismissed from the central place it must enjoy, by relatively peripheral insights that take on far too much weight. Whenever the periphery is in danger of displacing the center, we are not far removed from idolatry. (pp.25- 26) D.A. Carson The Cross and  Christian Ministry

August 12, 2009 Posted by | Presbyterian, Theology | Leave a comment

Are We There Yet?

A dear friend and brother in the Lord recently made the following comment on my blog, which should receive a broader reading.  Thank you Rob:

My wife and I made a round trip journey of just under 700 miles yesterday to take our oldest daughter to church camp for a week. As is always the case when a family makes a journey of this nature, the most common refrain is “Are we there yet?”

Alexis De Tocqueville wrote in “Democracy in America”, “I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerc – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it vas not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

I sorrowfully ask “Are we there yet?”

July 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thoughts on what it means for me to be an American

The impetus for the American Revolution was George III initiating a tea tax, the stamp act and the Townshend Act.  Taxes as an impetus for revolution?  This seems almost beyond belief to me as one who lives with modern Western sensibilities.  Yet in the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson called George III a tyrant for having “erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.”  All because of taxes that were erected to pay for the growing costs of British government.  Today, those who object to rising taxes are excoriated as bigoted selfish tyrants.  Is something wrong with this scenario?  Is there something incongruous about the founding principles of this country and the sensibilities of recent decades?

As an almost first generation immigrant (I was 5 years old) and naturalized citizen, I know what it means for my parents to work very hard to provide for the basic needs of their children.  I look at my wife’s parents and the amazing sacrifices they made for their family, which included two special needs children.  They refused any offer of government assistance, which was often pushed on them.  I look at myself and my family, and I see some of that disappearing.  I do not want it to.  I do not want to sear my conscience and my sensibilities.  How about you?  Who is your model?  I now look to the model of my father-in-law (currently suffering at the end stages of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases).  He models true faith in Jesus Christ and his inerrant Word.  He modeled true commitment and sacrifice to his family.  He even accepted a foolish and often weak son-in-law, marrying his oldest daughter (that would be me).  And he modeled a reliance on God’s strength, not government.

July 17, 2009 Posted by | Family, Important Quotes, politics | 1 Comment

Celebrating Calvin with panentheistic heresy?

The gathering of Presbyterian women, began with a presentation of a panentheist.  Cynthia Rigby wrote an article in 1996 in Theology Today titled, Free to Be Human: Limits, Possibilities and the Sovereignty of God.  In that article she even claimed that “God cannot choose to become human” in reference to the freedom of God, denying the virgin birth of Christ and the incarnation.  She also writes “in the panentheistic model proposed here, God is related to the world not because God chose to be but because to be related to the world is who God is, and the sovereign God is perfectly free to be who God is.”  So it is with continued sadness that we find Dr. Rigby “kicking off” this major gathering of Presbyterian Women, and doing so “celebrating Calvin’s birthday.”  Here is a revealing portion of this report on the presentation:  

For Calvin, there were two major truths that are irreconcilable: how does God hold the all of creation in God’s hand while also being the shepherd who goes after the lone sheep?

“God is all in all, and calls us one by one,” Rigby said.
That gap of God being everything and caring for the individual creates a tension, and that tension is where Calvin often worked, Rigby said. In looking at God’s sovereignty, we are both challenged and assured. We realize that we are not God, and that God has to do with everything.

Ms. Rigby answers her own question in her 1996 Theology Today article.  She believes that the solution is that all of the universe is ‘in God” or part of God.  And in a fascinating twisting of Paul’s statement that comes from 1Corinthians 15, she alludes to her panentheistic worldview.  She takes a verse out of the chapter that defends the physical bodily resurrection, the sovereignty of the God the Father, and Christ’s subordination at the end, and twists it to mean that creation is a part of God.  This kind of nonsense is reprehensible, for a teacher of theology.  Instead of taking the opportunity to celebrate Calvin’s birthday with a speaker whose worldview resembles Calvin’s, rather Presbyterian Women begin their gathering by twisting Calvin’s biblical views of the sovereignty of God into panentheistic, heretical nonsense.   Is anyone surprised?

July 14, 2009 Posted by | Mainline Heresy, Presbyterian, Theology | Leave a comment

Choosing nonsense not choosing life

Believe it or not, I look forward to reading email notices from the Presbyterian News Service.  It usually gives me good fodder to address the political foolishness and nonsense that masquerades as Presbyterianism.  Just this evening I received a story called Choosing Life, written by Carol Gruber, reporting on Barbara Rossing’s presentation at  the gathering of the Presbyterian Women.   I was intrigued by the title of this article as I did not expect the topic of abortion to be addressed, let alone for a presenter to take a pro-life stance.  I quickly realized that this had nothing to do with abortion, but with more nonsense regarding global climate change.

Barbara Rossing spoke of the enchantment of waking to the song of a bird, gazing at a waterfall or watching a child discover a new creature.  But is all well with the world we cherish? As Rossing described the failing health of the earth, she reminded the audience, “The cruelest injustice of climate change is that it hurts the poor – those who have done the least to cause the problem – the hardest … As Christians, we should be concerned about that.”

I wonder if Ms. Rossing is aware of the rising worldwide skepticism of human-caused global warming? 

I wonder if she is aware that more and more scientists are rejecting human-caused global warming, and more and more empirical evidence is showing no global warming at all?

I wonder if she is aware that “the poor” are more likely to suffer because of draconian efforts, like cap and trade that impacts the poor quite dramatically with increased costs for everything

Her comment on watching a child discover a new creature saddens me.  The title of this article could have easily been associated with a report on pro-life efforts.  Seeing that instead it is a report about a Presbyterian leader pushing a progressive agenda, despite growing scientific evidence, it could have been about saving millions of lives.  It breaks my heart.

Recalling Deuteronomy 30:19, Rossing challenged the listeners with the urgency of choice. God says to the people, “(C)hoose life so that you and your descendents may live.” Rossing reminded the crowd that “choosing life” means living in a more sustainable way. She also reflected that the time to choose life is now.

Wow!  Talk about taking a biblical text way out of context!  Moses’ speech is clear and unambiguous.  He calls on the Israelites to obediently and exclusively grasp onto Yahweh and his revealed law.  For the Lord is Life and his Word brings life.  Moses warns them to not let their hearts and wills to stray from exclusive love and obedience to the Lord, or they will be destroyed.

“We are living in an urgent moment … a ‘kairos moment,’” Rossing said, defining a kairos moment as “when your whole life comes to a focus, an urgent moment in time.” She pointed out that even in this week, those at the Gathering are at a kairos moment — a turning point. In fact, Rossing said that the whole world is standing at a turning point, an “urgent kairos moment for God’s creation.”

Wow!  You would think that a Christian speaker might be referring to a massive renewal or evangelism, where thousands of people are repenting and coming to Christ, finding salvation.  Instead it looks like she is referring to a green theology.

As people consider how to work for renewable energy, sustainable food economies and the revitalization of local communities, Rossing asked, “How will we, our churches and our world, lead? How will we face this moment … and how will our church inspire the world to take action, choosing the path of life?”  Rossing credited the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) with “what is probably the most visionary statement on energy use and climate change of any U.S. church, a statement called The Power to Change, that commits your church to ambitious goals for climate change advocacy and reductions in carbon emissions, for the sake of the healing of the world.” As we work to correct the wrongs of the past, the climate crisis can be an opportunity for evangelism, Rossing said. A church in Delaware put 180 solar panels on its roof, and because of this, new people were drawn to the church. A Seattle church brought hybrid cars to its energy fair. Many other churches are drinking fair-trade coffee and advocating for stronger clean energy and green jobs legislation in Congress.  Rossing, author of the 2010–11 Horizons Bible study on the book of Revelation said she believes “the book of Revelation can help us find the healing we need … Revelation’s images of renewal and healing — the river of life, the tree of life, the shepherding Lamb who wipes away our tears — these beautiful images can give us vision and courage today, as we stand ready to cross over into a new future. “We stand at a crossing point, a kairos moment for our world. In little and big ways, each day, we are called to make choices that affect the whole creation,” she said. “This moment really matters. Therefore ‘choose life,’ God tells us, ‘so that you and your descendents may live.’”

So to reduce global warming, by putting solar panels on your church is a wonderful way to evangelize.  Reading this you get the idea that we are “saving” the world.  She amazingly connects a prophetic apocalyptic message from Revelation of John, to adding solar panels.

July 13, 2009 Posted by | politics, Presbyterian | 1 Comment

Happy Independence day!

Erma Bombeck once said that, “You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

July 3, 2009 Posted by | Family, Important Quotes | 3 Comments

A Spirituality from Below: An Introduction

“Biblical spirituality and our contemporary spirituality are not two variations on the same theme.  They are stark alternatives to each other.  In the one, God reaches down in grace; in the other the sinner reaches up (or in) in self-sufficiency.  These spiritualities belong in different worlds, one moral in its fabric and the other psychological.  One thinks in terms of salvation, the other in healing.  One results in holiness, the other looks for wholeness.  In the one, God’s sovereignty is seen in the establishment of what is spiritual; in the other, a human-seized sovereignty is at work to create its own spirituality.  Between these two kinds of spirituality there can be no accord, no peace, no cooperation.  The one excludes the other.  This is the message we have heard from the apostles.  This is the message that was recovered at the time of the Reformation.  And this is the message that should be resounding in the church today.” David Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World, pp.177-178

I am beginning a new series on the different religion that is growing and becoming more vocal throughout much of the church today.  It might be because of the increase in internet use, but today most Christians are exposed to a greater level to alternative views of “spirituality” that sounds Christian, but is opposed to Christianity at every point.  It is what David Wells refers to as a spirituality from below.  In subsequent blog entries I will be addressing issues of leadership in my own denomination that is really a spirituality from below and the stark difference this is to historic Reformed Protestantism.

The great “myth” of this spirituality is the story of Indian origin of the blind men and the elephant. The basic idea of the story is that reality can be viewed differently depending on one’s perspective and what seems to be absolute truth is really only part of the greater “truth”.  No one has a complete picture of reality, and so we must be “tolerant” of all views of reality, because they probably have some understanding that we need to hear.

There are certain assumptions of the myth and the view of spirituality from below that must be addressed initially.  First, there is a presumption that there is no one that is greater than we are (humans) that reveals anything about reality that we need to know, and if there is, that person is so different from us that we cannot understand.  If there were a revelation from God, then the spirituality from below would disintegrate.  Secondly, there is an assumption that we “know” that reality is really an elephant and that we are all just hunting around.  This is ultimately self-refuting.  For the story requires a narrator who knows more than all the blind men that there is more to reality than they can conceive.  So too, in a spirituality from below.

June 29, 2009 Posted by | Christian Living, Mainline Heresy, Presbyterian, Theology | 4 Comments

No truth in advertising

Just today I received an email from the PCUSA news organization about a “Bible Study” at the National Elders conference which is a part of the “Big Tent” event happening just down the road from me in Atlanta (my invitation must have been lost in the mail).  The title of the report is: Study hall Elders’ task is to help others get into the Bible, Gardner says

The title made me think it was going to be about how to help people realize that they need to spend more time in God’s infallible Word.  I thought maybe it would be an encouraging story about the importance of being grounded in God’s infallible Truth.  But sadly it was just another bait and switch.

Freda Gardner…hmmm…I remember her.  She is a former GA moderator. After the Dirk Ficca (What’s the big deal about Jesus) fiasco, the issue of whether Jesus was the only way to God the Father found itself on the floor of the 2001 General Assembly.  During the discussion, she adamantly opposed making any form of exclusive statement, saying, “words can become stumbling blocks”.

Here is a portion of the Presbyterian news article:

…there are no right or wrong answers when approaching scripture. “If our attitude is that there is only one way to interpret scripture then we leave a lot of people out,” she said.

For those called to teach the Bible, as elders are charged to do, part of the task is to help people understand that their interpretations are valid, Gardner concluded. “We want believers to understand that there is a place for their gifts and their ministry in the church.”

I wonder if any interpretations are out of bounds for her?  I wonder if someone had interpreted something as excluding women from Christian leadership, if she would have objected?  I wonder if their are any interpretive boundaries?  I was not there, and I do not know if this report is leaving some things out that would clarify what she was saying, but the report leaves the impression that there are no such boundaries.

Since we as Presbyterians at a minimum are called to state that the Bible is God’s Word to us, then this must assume that God is communicating through the scriptures.  If this is so and God is quite powerful (the term omnipotent comes to mind, not to mention omniscient and omnipresent), then would God want to communicate in such a way that he should be interpreted in many ways, even conflicting ways?  Does God not want to communicate anything so clearly that nearly all of us can understand the majority of the main idea?  We might not exhaust the meaning, but can we not understand the major point?  Are there no essentials that God wants to communicate very clearly?  What exactly is the point of having our Christian leaders study biblical Hebrew, Greek, hermeneutics, and exegesis, if not so that they can rightly divide the word of Truth?  If everybody can interpret a passage however they please based upon their own experiences, then why even have biblically trained Christian leaders?

Maybe, just maybe, what she meant to say is that our culture and experiences can influence the way we read scripture, and we need other Christian believers from around the world to help us reflect on how we sometimes see certain scriptures through cultural eyes and miss out on important aspects.    Somehow though I suspect that a leader who was unwilling to support an unambiguous statement that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ, would unfortunately concur with the pluralist, wishy-washy, any interpretation goes bend of this article.

June 22, 2009 Posted by | Presbyterian | 2 Comments

A hero to some if they were late-term abortions

I just ran across this story of three dead infants that were found in the basement of a home in London, Ontario

Here is a portion of this story:

Sinn, 32, faces three counts each of concealing the body of a child and offering an indignity to a dead human body.

The information also alleges she tried to hide the fact that they had been born by keeping them in a "storage tote box".

 

As I thought about this particular story, it dawned on me that many in the pro-choice camp would consider this woman to be a hero, if these children were aborted moments before they would have been born.  In late-term abortion clinics, these children would simply have been dismantled and their bodies discarded.  Yet, this woman is being charged with “offering an indignity to a dead human body.”  Does all this seem as incongruous to you as it does to me?  In a country like Canada that has extremely progressive abortion policies, if it is shown that these children were aborted, then it is perfectly fine to kill them and discard their remains in whatever manner is most expedient.  But if the children were born and breathed for a while, then she will be charged for a felony, just for treating their bodies with indignity.  This all seems absolutely insane to me.  Eventually it seems to me, all of this is going to lead to the legalization of full infanticide.  It must, for our culture of death reach equilibrium.

June 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Church as a Learning community part 1

"As for you, son of man, your countrymen are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD.’  My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain.  Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.” (Ezekiel 33:30-32)

It is common to see the local church as a worshipping or even a caring community.  I prefer to think of the church primarily as a learning community, which includes worship and caring as experiences that lead us to deeper learning and spiritual development. 

We as leaders/teachers are called to faithfully proclaim God’s Word in a culturally clear and compelling way.   We do so with the learner’s development as our outcome, yet our dilemma is often that of Ezekiel.  The responses we get seem positive, yet have no real impact on our community of learners. 

Ultimately, our call as leaders is faithfulness and not results.  This does not diminish our responsibility to be both faithful to God’s Word and culturally compelling, addressing the needs of our people.  But ultimately the outcomes and results are accomplished by the Holy Spirit, who is at work through His Word.  

June 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

on politics and race

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Shelby Steele, a very incisive and perceptive writer and researcher on race issues, has written a very important assessment of the Sotomayor nomination.  Whatever your political ideology, I think you will find his in-depth assessment instructive.

 

 

 

Consider this comment:

Judge Sotomayor is the archetypal challenger. Challengers see the moral authority that comes from their group’s historic grievance as an entitlement to immediate parity with whites — whether or not their group has actually earned this parity through development. If their group is not yet competitive with whites, the moral authority that comes from their grievance should be allowed to compensate for what they lack in development. This creates a terrible corruption in which the group’s historic grievance is allowed to count as individual merit. And so a perverse incentive is created: Weakness and victimization are rewarded over development. Better to be a troublemaker than to pursue excellence.

Sonia Sotomayor is of the generation of minorities that came of age under the hegemony of this perverse incentive. For this generation, challenging and protesting were careerism itself. This is why middle- and upper middle-class minorities are often more militant than poor and working-class minorities. America’s institutions — universities, government agencies, the media and even corporations — reward their grievance. Minority intellectuals, especially, have been rewarded for theories that justify grievance.

His book titled, White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era is a very important book.

Consider also his assessment of the Ricci case in New Hampshire, in which she supported the city’s decision:

And here we come to Judge Sotomayor’s favorite such ingenuity: disparate impact. In the now celebrated Ricci case the city of New Haven, Conn., threw out a paper and pencil test that firefighters were required to take for promotion because so few minorities passed it. In other words, the test had a disparate and negative impact on minorities, so the lead plaintiff, Frank Ricci — a white male with dyslexia who worked 10 hours a day to pass the test at a high level — was effectively denied promotion because he was white. Judge Sotomayor supported the city’s decision to throw out the test undoubtedly because of her commitment to disparate impact — a concept that invariably makes whites accountable for minority mediocrity.

Challengers are essentially team players. Their deepest atavistic connection is to their aggrieved race, ethnicity or gender. Toward the larger society that now often elevates and privileges them, they carry a lingering bad faith — and sometimes a cavalier disregard where whites are concerned, as with Judge Sotomayor in the Ricci case.

June 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Weightless God

“It is one of the defining marks of Our Time that God is now weightless. I do not mean by this that he is ethereal, but rather that he has become unimportant. He rests upon the world so inconsequentially as not to be noticeable. He has lost his saliency for human life…. [And] when God becomes weightless as I believe he is so often today, we lose the doctrinal signals that might otherwise warn us that some profound change has taken place – the sorts of signals that once warned us of the threat of heresy. Too often in Our Time there is only peace and quiet. The traditional doctrine of God remains entirely intact whilst its saliency vanishes. The doctrine is believed, defended and affirmed liturgically and in every other way held to be absolutely inviolable but it no longer has the power to shape and to summon that it has had in previous ages…. God has not disappeared in the sense that he has been abducted or overwhelmed. He is not like a child snatched away while its parents were momentarily distracted. No, God is more like a child that has been abandoned within a family, still accorded a place in the house, but not in the home. Because the doctrine is professed, perhaps even routinely in creed or confession, it seems as if all is well. But it is like a house that gives no outward signs of decay even though termites have rendered it structurally unsound” – fractured foundations! And he continues by saying “The consequence of all of this is that what was once transcendent in the doctrine of God has either faded or been relocated to the category of immanent, and then this diminished God has been further reinterpreted to accommodate modern needs. These alterations have drastically changed the whole meaning of Christian faith. They have affected the way we view God in relation to our selves, to life, and to history. They affect the way we think of his love, his goodness, his saving intentions, what his salvation means, how he reveals himself, how his revelation is received, why Christ was incarnate, and what significance this has for other religions. All of this and much more follows the moment that the formal categories of transcendence and immanence within the traditional doctrine of God are unsettled.”David Well’s book God in the Wasteland and No Place for Truth.

June 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments