With the destruction caused by hurricane Katrina and the not to distant effects of the tsunami in Indonesia and the surrounding areas the issue of evil comes to the forefront again and how God is involved. It seems that many try and distance God from the acts of evil in this world because they somehow feel God needs protection. The end result is for some to formulate a theology such a with Open Theism that on the surface answers some peoples emotional questions but leaves an even bigger void than it tried to somehow fill. At the crux of this is the idea that people want a certain type of God as evidenced by the ever popular statement, “if that is how God is then he is not the God I would like” , or some form of that statement. I totally agree that there is no evil in God but the issue is much deeper than that as we do need to reconcile God’s sovereignty with the existence of evil in the world instead of making ways to ignore the complexity of the issue. The Goodness of God and the Reality of Evil by Albert Mohler and Is God Less Glorious Because He Ordained that Evil Be? and Tsunami, Sovereignty, and Mercy by John Piper are good articles on this subject and I would also recommend the book Still Sovereign by Thomas R. Schreiner & Bruce Ware.
Steve Camp wrote a good article on Worship and what biblical worship is. All too often we take worship too lightly. We need to stop and really look at what we do and call worship and see if it is truly biblical. It is a challenge we should all take so that we make sure that we are not offering the same strange fire that Nadab and Adihu offered (whatever they offered it was not what God called for) in Lev 10:1 as the consequence may be quite severe.
I just got done with a joyful day of traffic school and boy was it fun. But as I thought about what I had done wrong, not paying attention and making a right turn on red when it was not allowed, and listening to the other offences, with speeding being the flavor of the day, I thought how this related to how we all too often view sin.
While this is by far an imperfect picture it does relate how sin is sin and enough to convict us. As I heard some people who had multiple tickets and did not seem to be concerned and how others had much higher fines and more serious tickets I thought how I did not deserve to be there as they did. Is this not how people view sin, in that we rank ourselves with others and use them as our benchmark. The other side of this is that I was there with multiple offenders and first timers but the common thread was that we all broke some law and that breaking that law put us all in the same position, guilty.
So how does this relate to God? Well it is not the particular sin that sentences us but simply that it was a sin. It is not the quantity of sin but that it was a sin. Just as we had all broke a law in the court we have all sinned ( Rom 3:23 ) and we all deserve the penalty/sentence. Now this is where the picture begins to deteriorate as God’s penalty is an eternal sentence in Hell (Rom 6:23) and our penalties for breaking the traffic laws vary. I am grateful that God offers and provides the Faith to be saved and to not be the one that is penalized for our sin personally but Jesus Christ does so for those that believe (John 3:16).
I probably have to work on this picture but I do think it does say much about how we view sin and how we do not see that sin is sin and all sin leads to death.
I was reading a blogg by Joe Thorn on “Experimental Theology” and do see this as a big issue. The issue is not simply having the knowledge of God or the experience of God but having both and that both are so intimately intertwined. I think one of the things I enjoy about reading John Piper’s works is that the two elements work together and that it is easy to see that if one area is lacking both will suffer and be insufficient in and of themselves.
We need to make sure that we do not see either the experience or the theology as an end in and of themselves but that both happen together. As we learn we can experience God more fully since we understand more of who God is. As we experience what we have learned our understanding grows and should even move us to want to know more. So you can see that the Christian life is not just about knowing and not just about doing but both. We need to not only need to be Orthodox in understanding but that needs to be coupled with Orthopraxy which will incorporate the experimental side of things.
Too often the movements the church goes through seem to side with one end or the other of the equations (knowledge or experience) as a reaction to the previous movements over emphasis of one over the other. We as a church need to stop this and begin to make sure we meld the two and not over emphasize either of them. True theology will change us but mere knowledge will just stagnate and lead to a cold and dead experience.
John MacArthur was on Larry King Live yesterday (8/23) on the subject of creation and more specifically Intelligent Design. He was on with a Senator from Kansas who supports the teaching of ID, a scientist who wants nothing to do with anything that refutes her god of evolution and that bastion of deep thought (just kidding) Deepak Chopra. While I did not get to see the panel I did read the transcripts and John MacArthur was not only firm on his Biblical stance, knew the others postion but also showed how to lovingly correct and get ones point across. I am grateful that God moves those that deny the truth so display the truth among the deceit that exist.
Phil Johnson posted an article on the influence of godly people on Charles Spurgeon life. What is interesting is that this is not simply a case of one influencing a child to run forward to “accept” salvation but his story is so much more. The influence on his life led him to sincerely look at his life in light of God’s glory and thus lead him to true repentance. We today either are too quick to seek the conversion of children or are too shallow to help them see why they need to be converted. This lack of teaching as to what salvation really is may be why there are so many youth lost out there today who not many years before were considered saved.
We can say that Spurgeon was unusual, and it is today, but how much of what we see as unusual is a product of our lowering of the bar to make such a conversion unusual. There is a book called (Here is one of the good long old titles) A Token for Children: Being an Exact Account of the Conversion, Holy and Exemplary Lives, and Joyful Deaths of Several Young Children in Two Parts to Which Is Added a token by James Janeway and Cotton Mather that tells of the conversion of a number of children and the stories are amazing in that I am not sure many adults see their conversion in such light. It is an interesting read in that it does seem to say that while God is the one that revealed the truth to these children the instruments used were people that shared the whole Gospel and not a watered down children’s version. Children understand much more than we give them credit for and often it is our lack of trust that they can grasp harder truths that leads to a shallow understanding by them as children and later as youth and adults.
Recently I have been thinking quite a bit about the church and what God expects from it since it is His and not ours, we are just stewards. All too often we take church too lightly and thus our decisions are driven by everything but what God desires. The maxim of the church today seems to be if it works it must be good and God must be blessing the action. I was listening to a radio program and the person was talking about the Mormons and how they use the same argument for the validity of them being a true church and they point to Acts 5:34 and following where Gamaliel basically said to let the apostles do what they do because if it is a success God must be in it. So using this single verse which simply relates a Jewish leader’s opinion we can do anything and if it works it must be from God.
That said, the question I would like to ask is are we communers or consumers when it comes to church. This is a vital question because by the looks of most church growth plans the church looks at prospective members as consumers as we constantly are seeking things to supply to the people. That is, we supply the right commodity and people come we must be successful if we take a “the people are consumers” mentality.
I think the question is vitally important since it drives how we “do” church. If we are intent on supplying the needs of the consumer, then we will supply consumables which by their very name are not lasting. But, if we desire to provide a place to commune with God through prayer, the proclamation of His word, serving and community then we can work at providing a more lasting, even eternal, aspect to church.
A focus on communing does not negate the church meeting needs but instead focuses on a right relationship with God and the needs will be met. By having a mentality that seeks to commune with God through seeking joy in Him in all we do then serving others, thus meeting needs should be a natural result of the overflow of our joy. This is easier said than done since taken in a wrong manner we can easily become so entrenched in some system that while we think we are communing we are actually simply engaging in empty and dry practices that no more commune with God than those that simply consume since we begin to consume what we call spiritual things but miss the communing aspect altogether.
So, my challenge to you is to ask yourself if you are a communer or consumer and be honest. We can fool others and often ourselves but we cannot fool God. So seek to be a communer with God and not simply one of the thousands that spend inordinate amounts to time and money simply consuming and in the end just where they started, no closer to God. I pray this is as convicting for you as it is for me since it takes this conviction to change from one mindset to the other because consuming is so natural for us.
Well I decided to change the name of this blogg, even though I initially thought I would blogg on more than theology it seems the time it takes to do this has led me to only write on theologically oriented topics. That said I felt that “For His Glory” should cover everything since we are to do all to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31) and thus I pray that what ever it is I write is ultimately seeking His glory. More to come.
Phil Johnson's blogg wites on the move towards Open Thesism. I think the move is a natural step in the minimalizing of who God really is to making God what we would like Him to be. Once people start this move it is hard to stop and those trying to stem the tide are then labeled as backward traditionalist or worse.
In a day and age when the Gospel is forever being manipualted to so called reach a chaging culture Steve Camp writes on how Paul reached a pagan culture. All too often the the comment is made that we must make the message relvant but not water down the Gospel. But how often is this just the start to not simply a watering down but a flood.
A good blogg on the issue of Reforming Evangelism & Preparation. Evangelism incorrectly grounded will eventually lead to Evangelism that is ineffective, maybe not in numbers but in actual conversions. We forget that the cost of being a believer in the US is so low, that is a topic all to itself, that anyone may decide to "join" but when you look at many third world countries the cost is so high that those not truly believing will rarely profess faith.
The Blogg at Founders Minsitry speaks to whether we should have a controversy of conversion, speaking to seeking a regenerate membership. The fear to question ones salvation leads many to not make people deal with their standing before God. Edward's "Sinner's in the Hands of an Angry God" made his congregation truly look at themselves in relationship to God.
New blogg site, SharperIron, that I came across through Steve Camp's blogg. Good articles to ponder, well at least read.
Boy it can be difficult to find the time to write ones thoughts on a daily basis.
As I said previously there are some good characteristics in the Emerging Church Conversation/Movement. The hard part in defining them is defining who is truly in this movement and who claims to be in it. So much of what I say is a generalization as that how the whole thing seems to sit now. For this segment I will one of the positives, at least in direction, I see.
A good thing about this movement is that it is reacting against the CEO mentality of many of the mega churches. Encased in this mentality is that to be large and successful, you must be large to be successful, one needs to simply find out what people need, supply it and grow. The issue that arises from this is that ones surface needs may not be what is truly needed and by focusing on individual needs so much the narcissistic tendency in all of us seems to blossom. For a large church this may remain somewhat unnoticed as people are still in the fold that will serve and get things done. The larger problem comes when the goal of success is portrayed as the mega church model and smaller churches get sucked into this vortex. What happens once everyone is seeking his or her own needs is that you get a small church of narcissists. A church that will only do what it sees as benefiting them and that does not ask them to sacrifice. This is a far cry from the concept of Christian Hedonists (see his book Desiring God by John Piper for more on this as well as this article) that does seek their individual joy but in God not self. When a small church becomes exceedingly inward focused on their own personal needs they will eventually die or they will become simply a stagnant non-missional (the word for the month) church.
This said there are large churches in this movement and they seem to be large because they are meeting a need, again not a bad thing. These churches will realize, if they have not already, that whatever it was they used to draw the people is what will have to be used to keep them. If God’s word, and thus God, draws them then that is what will keep them. But, if people are drawn because of comfort and feeling accepted, with God's word being secondary, then the tendency will be to do whatever it takes to keep them, often at the expense of skipping those scriptures that speak of sin and such. Personally I believe that by relying on the only unchanging thing in the world, the word of God, we can know that those that are drawn to church are there because of the word of God and not necessarily because we have good music, comfy chairs or other such items. The items mentioned are not bad in and of themselves but it is when they become central that problems arise.
As I was browsing the web I was led to an article on Rob Bell:Repainting Faith: Dynamic pastor publishes book, who is the Pastor of the 10,000 person Mars Hill Church outside Grand Rapids Michigan. I do not know if Rob Bell considers himself Emergent, see CT article, or not but he does appear to reflect the end of the Emergent church that is worrisome.
What sounds very much like the reader response view of interpretation, there is nothing new under the sun, is his seeming fluid interpretation of scripture which would mean scripture holds no timeless truth if it can be interpreted based on culture, and other surround elements. Below is from the article:
Unfortunately it is the ability of the reader to interpret based on his personal context that leads to this. Thus just how he would like to see scripture leads to the abuse that makes him want to vomit. So a KKK member can read scripture as he likes in the context of his time, place and people and end up with decidedly perverse results.
While Rob does not, as far as I have seen, speak for the Emerging church his understanding of scripture seems to reflect the thoughts of the various articles and bloggs of a segment of the Emerging church conversation that I heave read lately.
The move to somehow seem more loving by not declaring that absolute truth exists leads to a myriad of errors. The least of which is the exclusivity of Christ as savior. When dealing with this issue Rob seems uncertain:
We do need to wrestle with scripture but that does not mean it needs to change but we need to change to its meaning, even if the truth found is uncomfortable. His wrestling with the issue of the cross is something he needs to do, we all do, but what does that mean for those he preaches too. It is not a matter of us all coming to our own conclusions but we need to come to God’s conclusion.
I did not mean this to be a Rob Bell bashing but it was just that in one article I see reflected so much of the wrong side of the “conversation.” There is a side that is asking questions that need to be asked and answered and I will focus on that next time.
Well after a weekend of seeing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Orange County, California and the United States lose two games they should have won to the Yankees one has to wonder, if one cares, what they have to or will do to win. This is the "N-Stuff" stuff.
I continue to contemplate how a professor at New Orleans seminary could so misrepresent the Doctrines of Grace, "The Future of Southern Baptists as Evangelicals"(section 4 page 12), and be in the position he is in. I am use to seeing many misunderstanding the issues at hand but a professor should be more accountable for errors. My initial feeling is to either think they are naive, uninformed or are being deceptive and for a professor none of these alternatives is very commendable. Tom Ascol at the Founders Ministry has responded quite well to the paper and to the comments from Bobby Welch; Pt.1, Pt.2, Pt.3 with an added reply by Dr. Ray Van Neste on the Founders Blog Site.
Steve Camp always has a thoughtful comment on the melding of politics with Faith and how easily politics seems to take the center stage. All to often we, for the apparent sake of a cause, will throw doctrine under the bus. I am not sure where I stand on all of the issues but Steve makes me think of much more than simply the issue of a cause.
If you have not gone there before here are a couple sites dedicated to two men of God I admire: