Woe is Calvinists

This is a response to a post at Provocations and Pantings. While you’re at P&P check out this great site. Good stuff. Listen to the sessions on Building Bridges, they go along with the following:

I understand what Piper is saying though I do not agree with everything he has said.

First of all, it has been my experience that it is those who reject Calvinistic doctrine who make it appear that the Calvinist is argumentative. They engage in pyric polemics, irenics, and neither as Scriptural or exegetical exchange. And when the discussion becomes impassioned, they then blame the Calvinism of the Calvinist or his unspiritual sensuality for the “unloving” dialogue. I do not think that I am alone in this and from all the condemnatory rhetoric that comes from the likes of Page, Graham, Vines, and the late Falwell who throw fire bombs and blame those who defend themselves, I would say that the problem is not primarily with the Calvinist.

It is not just the Calvinism that inpassions the debate. The doctrines held by those who oppose it, when drawn out to their logical conclusion are often unorthodox and sometimes, even heretical. When they hide themselves behind a misshapened soul competency and liberty of conscience, claiming that everyone has a right to their own beliefs, they have effectively overthrown the entirety of the corpus of Scripture that would correct them. It is the refusal of those who hold them, to repent and be silent, that causes the sparks to fly.

I wonder how Piper would deal with Paul’s admonitions to Timothy. When a person’s doctrine conveys meanings, even unintended to the hearer, or even misunderstood by the speaker, what then is to be done? This charge that Paul gives, is a charge under the judgement of God, and binding. It is in other words, a commandment to tell the false teacher to shut his mouth and teach no more. And, it goes along with this.  How unkind, and contradictory to 2 Timothy 2: 22-26, if what is meant by those is genteelness, rather than gentleness, which is first in reference to God, and then toward others. Verses 24 and 25 may just as easily be rendered: “And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,  correcting his opponents with gentleness, if God perhaps grants them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth…”

But, what if they don’t repent? Then is gentleness still admonished, or should a big stick be used as Paul threatened to bring when he revisited Corinth?

What Makes Us Any Different

rs0v1cab3yf2ncaodvohjca17gmbgcam95cbxca6tuyy5caol4v1rcamd8ykaca5td1y8cafj1urbcaplwavxcaiwvukmcarw7r4ncakrwijjcazl6cracaofrsbgca5wswgvca4w09pfca5g9sm1cafb8ac9.jpgThe Mafia is discussing tolerance and the crossover in religio/philosophical movements with religio/political movements. If you want, go there and read Nathan P. Gilmour’s Post with or without reading Locke’s letter then come back here and comment. This is a freelance commentary, no scholar’s needed, any commenter will do. I am not a scholar, and what follows shows it. It does, however come from past acquaintances.

Separation of religion and state can never be. States, can not tolerate being anything other than gods, to paraphrase Nathan. Fascism, when it all boils down is said to be anarchist. The final assessment of anarchism is that it is a government of ones own faith against all others. Anarchism is nihilistic and atheistic, recognizing no other gods before it, above it or beyond it. The road to purity in fascist doctrine has always been through the state. In the minds of the Nationalist Socialist People’s Party, the state was the final arbiter of truth, because it is made up of people who believe in it. Since the state is the people, the state itself is god since the gods of the people are products of their beliefs, and they make up the state. In one collective mind then, the state, gives authority to its representative head, a dictator, who is now the realized ideal of the the collective. All fascisms operate this way. Indeed, all governments act this way (1 Samuel 8, God shows what manner of government it is when man chooses his own head). The fascism of the Soviet Union, was no different. It is the people, the collective, that is its god. It had for its head, many heads that were one. Still, it spoke as the voice of the believers.

We like to think that we are somehow different. We vest the power in the the electorate. But, it is the consensus belief that this government of the people, for the people, and by the people, is the providential supplier of peace, safety, and prosperity. What we fail to realize is that governments are not bound by the beliefs of the people. Once the head is empowered, it wills to subjugate the will of the people for its perpetuity. It is only a matter of time, either by acquisition or forces beyond its control, and the balance of powers tips, and we become our own enemy.

Sounds cynical, yes? It is as Solomon might say the way that it is. All things remain the same as they were in the beginning. A woman walks a balcony at night and dooms a nation. Man throws off the yoke of his master, and slays his brother, because he is not his brother’s keeper, but his own and has no ruler. The fool says in his heart, “Their is no God, He will not see.” Mankind is the anarchist.

We are coming upon a new cycle of elections. Want to bet that morals will be central? And, when has it been any different? In a 1689 England, with a state church, it was a necessity, to ward off the threat of civil uprising, to placate and prevent, through civil means, legitimate governmental forces, any threat to the existing state. For England, it did not matter what religion ruled as long as the state continued. So it was for Hitler, but his aim was to eliminate the source of contention: personal beliefs. For Dewey, it was the dissent of the masses so he preached that the common man should not learn to read. In any case, the definition of the god called state, must be defined by the state, for the people are too unstable to believe on their own. There are too many opinions at odds. For the PC it is tolerance, which means to silence dissent, to disallow personal beliefs that trump others. For the right it is to exalt the freedom of the will of the people. For the Christian, to exalt the will of God above all gods. The Bible defines the state, and unseats the pretender. For religious pluralitistic state to exist, it(tolerance) must be eliminated, and that means no tolerance for a transcendent source of its own definition and no tolerance for any belief other than that which is defined by the state. Pluralism then becomes a religious dictatorship, where all beliefs must be tolerated by order of the state. Exclusivism is excluded by definition of the collective, state.

As we enter the contest, we find ourselves fighting an ideological war to see just which religion will rule. Neither side plots the demise of the state. Perhaps a change of Colors, but the state in perpetuity and strength is the aim of the oppositional forces. We will see the left try to force by the rule of law the sacrifice of private property, freedom of movement, freedom of thought, freedom even of life. The other side will try to preserve, or conserve, for that it where we get the name conservative, the system that has served well. Neither side though really desires anything more than the perpetuation of the state. It is not for the righteousness of the cause, but the cause itself that becomes the reason for the struggle.

We pride ourselves on thinking that we have achieved what the earlier civilizations have not: reason. We think that we are smarter, that we have learned our lessons, all the while, there is looming over the horizon the uncontrollable factor. When the lights go out, when food is survival and not so easily thrown away, will there be faith?

We have blindly gone down this path again. When the system collapsed and the sureness of the foundation of the Faith had been buried under a mound of criticism, when the inerrancy of the Word had become unfashionable, when the people believed that a new paradigm was needed to insure the perpetuation of us, the churches were burned, the bibles too, crosses disappeared and new symbols and new meanings to old words emerged, then the holocaust came.

When we say tolerance, it must never be that we stop warning the people that the end is coming. Throughout the NT, and Old, the Day is central to the preaching of the Gospel. How can we as believers live in this present world in which the spirit of disobedience rules with arrogance and confidence in it own perpetuation? Shouldn’t it be that we go to work, as it was said, to serve Caesar with our lives as unto the Lord, with our vocation, our life, meant to be to the benefit of our neighbor? What is the greatest love: that a man lay down his life for his friend, and then we have this statement, that Christ gave his life for his enemies…for the sake of our vocation as Christ’s people on earth…? Or is it: let us go to this town and buy and sell, for tomorrow will be the same as today?

Pursue peace with all men as far as it is within you to do so, pray for rulers and all who are in authority, that we might live peaceable lives, and be instant in and out of season to give everyman an answer for the hope that is within, because there is no hope for this world, just a fateful expectation of judgement.  And know this, that we will all give an accounting, for every man will stand accountable for every idle word.

Dissing Discernment: Opinions are Us

One of my favorite blogs is FIDE-O. I’d like you to go there and then join me in a discussion of discernment. Check out the postings from November 9th through the 18th. There is much talk about the emergent church movement. It is a broad movement and can include seeker type churches that are fairly “Christian” to out and out heretical organizations. My last criticism was directed toward an EMC style church that has recently rooted itself in Cheyenne.

 How can we know whether or not a church by any other name still smells as sweet? Discernment takes study. Primarily that study has to be done in the word. Discernment is a process of investigation. And, Scripture promises that after we have done all that we can, we will be able to prove what is good.

 If you have time and you would like to understand more of the concerns many have about the EMC look here, and from there you can navigate and smell the roses.

 For a decent over view of the EMC, and a man who is about half a U-turn short of coming around check this out:

 For a look at Pagitt and to hear him, if you can stomach it:

 For another discussion of emergent:

The Times and Seasons

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 Where ever you find love it feels like Christmas…It is the season of the Spirit, the message if you hear it is make it last all year….

 Ah yes, it is that time of the year again. Feel the strain? Rushed, and just can’t really realize what it is all about? Me too.

 I thought that it might be interesting to play charades. To do that we will need to open our Bibles and search for answers to the mystery of the advent. The question in the main is when was Jesus born? I will give you one clue, it could not have been during the Feast of Tabernacles. At least, it is highly unlikely. Care to guess? Then come closer, and know me better, man.  

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 Hohoho!

On the Periodic Table What Number is Element Church?

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Jeff Maness is the “Lead Pastor” of an ECM style church arising in Cheyenne. It should come as no surprise that people are enamoured, smitten, taken captive, by the allurement of this burgeoning genre of pop Christianity. Disenchantment with the historic Christian Faith in expression just is “kuul”, and being there, is all that it is about.

 I am going to start out this first post by daring to be critical, which you will find as time goes on to be the thrust of much that gets posted here, because, as my family knows, I am not a positive confessionalist, neither optimist nor pessimist, but a realist who sees the glass for what it is, either full, or not.

Lead Pastor Maness wrote in his November 11, blog (also navigated from here and here)

— The most important # is that 8 people raised their hand, acknowledging that had prayed to cross the line of faith and become followers of Jesus today. To have their sins forgiven, and Christ to dwell in their hearts. What a moment! That is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing we do. We try to offer some kind of invitation each week. It is amazing (as Adam says) that we just invite, and people are ready to come running. I think God is faithful to bring us ripe souls just ready to be harvested each week.

 It is an amazing thing to be sure, that Cheyenne has not seen this kind of revival, well, forever. The question is, is this even Christian?

 First to be noted,

prayed to cross the line of faith and become followers of Jesus today

is not the way that a person is saved. This is known as decisional regeneration. It is a semi-Pelagian heresy. Salvation is never man’s decision, John 1:12-13. Some of the other things that have been blogged at the Element site are equally disturbing. More on that latter if there are questions. For now let’s look at part of their confession of faith.
 Much of the Element Church’s confession is fairly sound. It is what is not sound that undermines the rest:

We believe…that man was created by and made for God;  that through Adams initial disobedience man has inherited a sinful nature that leads to acts of disobedience.  These acts result in spiritual death, which is separation from God and physical death as a consequence;  and that, because of this separation, man is in need of divine intervention and salvation.

At first this is quite familiar territory, the SBC BFM 2000 says the same essential thing, and that is not as good as it sounds:

Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation.

If you noticed this is the flip side of decisional regeneration. To be separated from God, takes a decision, just as salvation does. This is semi-Pelagianism come full circle, but this is even more serious than denying God’s sovereignty in salvation, this denies a fundamental doctrine of the faith known as original sin. Orthodox Protestantism has always held contrary to the Roman Catholic church that man is dead in sin at conception and separated from God. According to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, the original confession of the Southern Baptists, similar to the Westminster Confession of Faith.

If it is upsetting to you that the SBC changed, in 1963, its confession to more closely follow the semi-Pelagianism of the Catholic Church, it shouldn’t. This was the doctrine of Herschel Hobbs, who held that even Eve was created morally neutral with also a tendency in her to sin. But, he is an issue for another time.

What should strike anyone reading the Element Church’s confession, which is every bit the same as the SBC’s except that it is more explicit, is: How do they explain that a person is conceived with a sin nature but is not separated from God at conception? Doesn’t the Scripture teach that sin cannot dwell in the presence of God? Does the Word not say:

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

One must wonder, if it is the case that a child is not separated from God at conception, then why not abort them?

I am going to leave this for now:

We believe…in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit, who indwells all believers thus enabling and empowering them to live their new life in Christ.  That God is able and does fill entirely the believer who seeks the fullness of His Holy Spirit.

This church is an unsafe environment for believers, and deadly for the unsaved.