From Babylon and Back Again: Jeremiah 29:11 And Your Best Life Now

Jeremiah 45 contains one of the single greatest denunciations of prosperity teaching that one could imagine:

The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he wrote these words in a book at the dictation of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch: You said, ‘Woe is me! For the Lord has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.’ Thus shall you say to him, Thus says the Lord: Behold, what I have built I am breaking down, and what I have planted I am plucking up—that is, the whole land. And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not, for behold, I am bringing disaster upon all flesh, declares the Lord. But I will give you your life as a prize of war in all places to which you may go.”

Baruch, the faithful scribe of Jeremiah, thought that he would be spared the terrible consequences of national sin. The Lord had split his punishment between the sword for those who would not submit to his discipline, and captivity for those who would. Baruch had thought that he would be spared both because of his faithful duty to the Word of God and to God’s faithful prophet. Alas, what the Lord determined was that Baruch, despite his patience and “upright” heart would suffer right along with the rest of Israel. This tells us two things, there is collateral damage when the Lord carries out his vengeance. And that, it is not really undeserved, for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

Accordingly though, God’s promises cannot be thwarted, even by our grievous sins.

“Now therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine, and by pestilence’: Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.

“For thus says the LORD: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them.(Jeremiah 32:36-42 ESV)

Jer 17:9-10 tells us we don’t have an upright heart to be able to follow him and offers a foreboding declaration. We do not deserve whatever grace he might bestow, but only his indignation.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

On the other hand Jeremiah 24:7 says,

I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.

Before we can ever get to 29:11 we have to go through chapters one through twenty-eight. Of course 29:11 isn’t about a person, nor is Jeremiah at large about individuals. It is about Israel, her turning to international might for protection from God’s wrath, and the Babylonian captivity. Still, it holds out a hope of the future Kingdom and the Church glorified, prophetically. There are numerous messianic overtones in Jeremiah. Those overtones of a future glory, should not, as was Baruch mistake, become the expectation of one’s best life now.

Jeremiah must have read the same books Ezekiel and Isaiah were reading, for both tell us that God causes his children to walk in his statutes. Not only that, but if evil comes upon a city, is it not the Lord who has done it? Do we not read that it was God who sent Satan to tempt David? It is God who builds up and tears down. He doesn’t wait for us to do what we will, grounding his blessing in our patience, then he chimes in. We, like Israel are alway turning away from the Lord. Prone to wander, yes I feel it.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

Instead, he takes the initiative, turns our heart towards him, washes and sanctifies, puts his Spirit in us, writes his statutes upon our hearts and causes us to walk in them. How I will sing of his sovereign grace. The temptations and trials of life are God’s work, and that for the future glorification of his church, not necessarily evident in the life of the believer, today.

Thank God, he doesn’t leave it up to us, for when he searches our hearts he finds nothing but dead men’s bones, corruption, evil, a constant proness to wander. Jeremiah knew that, and that is why the inferred question that since God knows man’s heart is evil, how will he bless man? “I will do it for my own name’s sake,” has always been God’s response. Jeremiah has this confirmation throughout it, he puts to death his sons for his name’s sake and for his glory. He was following the Lord, and yet God didn’t make all things beautiful in his time. He went into slavery and died there. It wouldn’t be until the future kingdom that a Daniel’s generation would be set free. It would be a new generation, a new man was to be set free. In other words, in the future, after Jeremiah was dead, in the resurrection, when old things have passed away, all things will be renewed, then he would have life, in realms of endless day.

In some cases, like David, life starts out pretty cushy- lands, servants- and ends up ugly. From his entry in to the service of the king, until the day he died he had nothing but trouble. A man after God’s own heart, he was fully following God, then bad Sheba happened. He died still married to a past that haunted even his bed in old age. Yet, his lips did not cease to sing God’s praise.

True enough, God knows the plans he has for us. It is not always the best life now. In fact, if in this life is our hope we are the most miserable of people. Never the less, God works all things for good for those who are called according to his grace. In the end, that is in the resurrection, we know we shall be like him, when the true heart of the Father, the Son, comes again into his possession to bless it for his glory.

I would like to say that I follow God with an upright heart, but that would be a lie. I would like to say I know some who do, but that would be a lie, also. If the heart has to be upright for God to act on its behalf, it would not be written that God shows his love as that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. It is a strange thing to say, “I am a repentant sinner.” But, then, Christ did not come to call the righteous to repentance.

We are not like a butterfly struggling to get out of our cocoon and by that struggle prepared for life and made beautiful in it. To the contrary, we are made vessels for his use such that having been fashioned as vessels of mercy, he casts us upon the heap of this life among all the other refuse, that broken we might be for him a testimony to his death, his burial, and his resurrection. For now, we count it all loss that in hope, by his good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.

It may seem that we have come along way since the days of our conversion. The reality is, that what we are is hidden in Christ and we are still who we are when he found us, how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be.

And a good thing that. As Isaiah says:

Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities. But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Be not so terribly angry, O Lord, and remember not iniquity forever. Behold, please look, we are all your people. Your holy cities have become a wilderness; Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and beautiful house, where our fathers praised you, has been burned by fire, and all our pleasant places have become ruins. Will you restrain yourself at these things, O Lord? Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly

The crushing and reforming of the children of God is not one that is accomplished in this life. But he binds our hearts to him through it all. Sorrowing I shall be in spirit, till released from flesh and sin. Though now we are left in the middle of enemies, we are grace by a feast, settled and at peace, even though the shadow of death is over us.

Truly, there are some who do not ever in this life become butterflies. For most, their trials begin and do not ever cease. The Teacher knew this very well. The righteous perish and none take it to heart. In many cases troubles only increase with time. That there are blessings manifold in the Christian life, they should never supplant the reality that as vessels, we are God’s work not our own. It is not our faithfulness, not our patience, not anything in us, but the work of Christ on our behalf. For all that is in us is only worthy of condemnation. All the riches are found in him. The real blessing comes in the ever-growing awareness of our depravity and the ever-growing awareness of his holiness, Isaiah 6. Like Baruch, we should not seek good things for ourselves, but as a first priority, we should seek his righteousness, not our own, his kingdom, and not our own, for we are all men of unclean lips, completely undone.

For many, coming through trials may be much like struggling as a butterfly to emerge, I suppose. Even at that, the understanding should be, that having once emerged, we are fodder for the birds, or targets for the pins of a collector, or we fall prey to a neighbor’s bug zapper. We need to remember, that Israel was in the Potters hand to do with him as God would before the captivity in Egypt, and after. Jacob and Joseph died in Egypt, never again seeing the promised land. Moses was taken from the waters a wonderful child, a chosen one, lived like a prince as a freeman among captives, despised Egypt’s sins, yet he too, died in the wilderness, the chosen of God prone in his heart to wander. Abraham came from Babylon, and went down to Egypt, and when he returned, spiritually speaking, in the persons of his great grand-children, it was only to return Babylon, again. All the wanderings of the children of God are God’s doing. Such is the walk of faith, such are the children of Abraham. It is for his name’s sake and nothing in us that he does it.

O Lord, why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage.

We fear, then, and work out our salvation with trembling, knowing it is not we, but God, who works in us the will and the power to do whatever he pleases with us. If he should leave us to the whim of our own sin, we have this promise, that he will let us escape with our life as a prize of war where ever we may go. For he will not abandon his own, he will not lose any, for we are his people, the sheep of his pastor, instruments of his use, whether we will to be, or not.

Osteen’s Duplicity Displayed

To Morgan, making any moral judgment amounts to judgmentalism. Of course, this leads logically to total moral insanity, since the only way to avoid being identified with judgmentalism is to make no moral judgments whatsoever — which no sane person can do…

…Joel Osteen found himself forced to answer a question that every Christian — and certainly every Christian leader — will be forced to answer. When that moment comes, and come it will, those who express confidence in the Bible’s teaching that homosexuality is a sin will find themselves facing the same shock and censure from the very same quarters.

What happened last night on Piers Morgan Tonight is a sign of things to come. After this interview, Joel Osteen will never be seen in the same way by the secular media and a good segment of the public. His efforts to avoid talking about sin failed him, and he ran out of options. Thankfully, he did not deny that homosexuality is a sin. We can only have hoped that he would have given a more bold answer, followed by an equal boldness in the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In any event, Joel Osteen had his moment last night. Most Christians will not face that question on national television, but on a college campus, in a family discussion, in the workplace, or in the heat of debate. But, whatever the circumstances, that moment will soon come.

via AlbertMohler.com – The Osteen Moment — Your Own Moment Will Come Soon Enough.

Exonerated Ergun Caner’s Co-creator Elmer Towns To Execute Caner’s Punishment? For What?

LU co-founder Towns named seminary dean | The News & Advance.

Turretinfan writes:

According to the News & Advance:

“The punishment was commensurate with the problem, so we’re ready to move on,” Towns said about Caner. “I really don’t want to talk about him. I want to look toward the future.”

(source)
Those who were previously touting the way Liberty handled the Caner situation as “exonerating” Caner – are they going to stick with that?

Some times you just want to scream.

What I cannot figure out is why LU cannot find a more suitable replacement. My guess is that they weren’t looking. My guess also is that the officials included Elmer Towns in appointing Elmer Towns and most likely the Board was directed by Elmer Towns to appoint Elmer Towns. I have a feeling that there was no candidate search and Elmer’s large frame is merely meant to hold the seat open until Caner is fully restored to it. Otherwise, why not someone from LU’s teaching staff? Was there no assistant dean? No one in the wings? No one else qualified? Then why not go outside? The whole thing stinks.

Yes, the slip of the tongue is telling. It was punishment, at least that is what it appears to be, plain and simple, for lying. But they never thought he would get caught in the first place. As a supposed erudite scholar, are we to believe that Towns knew nothing of the falsehoods? He had no knowledge of Islam, none? He could not discern the discrepancies? By what fiat did he hire Ergun, then? The proponents of exoneration will remain silent, because to comment on the decision as punishment would expose their sycophantic support of Ergun as fact.

Elmer Towns has been for decades one of the leaders in the Church Growth Movement, allied with everything that is abhorrent in it, e.g., his friend and partner in crime in that realm, C. Peter Wagner, et cetera. His dabbling in the mysticism of that movement is well documented, by Towns’ own publications. He even published his own spiritual gifts survey to be used in relationship to it. Of his necessary compliments to growth is the visionary leader, ergo, Ergun. Charismatic leadership, not necessarily qualified leadership, is foundational to the CGM. Accountability is secondary, growth is the main thing, to parrot a title by Elmer.

What most characterizes Elmer is his methodological pragmatism, certainly not his exegetical expertise. Which accounts for his own form of Methodism’s perfectionism. But judging the size of Caner, Falwell and even Towns, his books on fasting weren’t their favorite reads. Manipulation of God through techniques for personal gain has been Elmer’s calling card all along. The reality, profits from books and publications has been his meal ticket. All this accounts for Ergun’s appearance as a revivalist and the compromise of Scripture in pursuit of the value in increasing the numbers of givers and buyers. There is no way that Elmer is going to sacrifice his child, LU, for his step-child Ergun. It pays too well. But the fact remains, Ergun is a large factor in the center-ring antics of the exploitive methods championed by Towns and Falwell. To turn Ergun out without at least the appearance of some form of reconciliation would be an admission that the whole scheme behind LU is a fraud. We can look for one of two outcomes: the silent slipping out the back door in a voluntary change of career venue, which is highly unlikely since Ergun was hand-picked by his mentor Jerry Sr., and because Caner holds the goods on LU’s knowledge of his history and methods- nothing more vengeful than a lover scorned; or, we will eventually see the concocted story that Caner has been through a restorative reconciliation process and upon its completion was fully forgiven. Then “punishment” will take on the a new nuance in the by-line as restoration. Caner will be presented as remorseful, contrite, repentant and even more humble than before. And the peeps will eat the cotton candy with relish without regard to the previous rot caused by it.

I think Dr. White puts it well… let the punishment fit the…

Just imagine if Caner came out and told the whole truth…

Or, as natallmc intimates, what if he was to make things up about LU’s complicity in the same vein as he represented himself or Islam, whoa… unholy jihad, Liberty Man. How might they defend conversations that took place off record, behind closed doors? I mean, he said, she said, and Caner’s the top draw, not Falwell Jr., or Towns. His currency, as we noticed with his defenders, far exceeds theirs. That’s the problem when you create a monster, he might just destroy the lab.

In other words, they better not pull the choke chain too tight.

Rick Warren, LaVerne And Surely You Too Can Be The Me-Boss

The Word of God tells us in Proverbs that

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. “ (16:1) and “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” (16:9).

You may certainly buy the book and scheme and plan your “destiny” all you desire, but the sovereign ruler of the universe, who holds all things together will determine by His own free volition whether He gives to or takes from you.

Rick Warren, by writing the forward and lending his name to this man-centered garbage, is putting his stamp of approval on the doctrines taught within the book itself.

It is the doctrines Warren is lending credence to which I so strongly object. The potential influence of Warren’s stamp of approval on such mystical, anti-biblical, unchristian teachings is frightening and his involvement is shameful to say the least. It is worse, it is promoting idolatry.

So what’s it going to be readers? Will you take the leap of fate and buy into this man-centered gospel of lies or stick with the only sure guide for life and godliness, the Bible alone?


via Rick Warren Promoting More Me-Centered Mysticism « 5 Point Salt.

I have in the past blasted Jeff Maness and his occult techniques for getting God to do the will of man. (Jeff Maness runs and Emergent styled Wesleyan Holiness self-perfectionistic Methodist church thingy here in Cheyenne.) Rick Warren is no different.

As I have said before, it is the heart of Arminianism to manipulate spiritual things to get. Rick Warren and his yuppie liberal social gosplely sounding organization of compromise and political action, is famous for teaching that one has to reach down and grab the shoe strings of God, flip him on his back and drag him where you want him to go. So, I find this no new news, just another descent into the muck of self-centered Christless Christianity.

Mysticism and the magical art of manipulation of God is what separates the Arminian and Calvinist camps. One only needs to look at Liberty University’s founders and Jerry Falwell’s politicization of Christianity and its restorationist plank and its promise of how the U.S. can secure God’s blessing, or Elmer Towns’ self-help literature. In the SBC you only have to look to the Blackabyisms and the majoritarian faction of the SBC, or the Richard Lands, whose suggestion of quantum prayers is a matching pair to new age harmonic convergence, to figure out that the problem is endemic and a very pop-cult-ure, biting into every faddish movement disease. Trying so hard to be hip, to be relevant, has only served to enslave to self-effort, not to liberate by the Spirit as God has intended. It produces pop-figures, super-spiritualists, the likes of which we have as an example, Ergun Caner.

Who has bewitched the church? Typically, name a pop-you-can-do-it preacher, and you will have your answer. But, it is in reality the siren song of prosperity, the allurement of the world, that keeps it wandering in the wilderness seeking the next sign. When you look at it, it is sadly amusing that the majority of the SBC and those like it try so hard to distance themselves from the prosperity teachers and charismatic madness, when they are guilty of the same kind of manipulative magic in just another form.

When the emphasis is on what man can do to get from God, the leap off the edge into fate is already made. Try as man will, man cannot fly. And when he tries he simply falls further away. Only one has ascended. Christ alone. And when he did, he gave gifts. Gave, past tense. What he has done, and not as Warren and apparently Adams and the rest of the Arminian world of the Maness’s think they can do, is the Gospel.

We preach Christ and him crucified, and man as totally depraved and utterly unable to accomplish any thing of his own accord. As 5PS notes, it is God who determines man’s actions, every single one of them, every man’s lot is a decision from the Lord. Try as one may, each should say not that he will go here and do this or that and prosper, but instead, if the Lord wills. It is God alone who works in each the willingness to do and the doing of what pleases God. The direction that Adam’s book takes, takes man is away from dependence upon God and his Christ. Warren has been at it for a long time. But, what is not taken into consideration is that this manipulation of things spiritual has its roots in the man centered, do-it-yourself theology of Arminianism where it is man’s will that determines his future state.

Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.
Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin’d.
Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!
Round about the caldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches’ mummy; maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg’d i the dark;
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,—
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingrediants of our caldron.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Why the Ergun Caner Scandal Matters: Because Big Tent Circus Revivals Are Not About The Gospel

CRBC Pastoral Blog: Why the Ergun Caner Scandal Matters: a Plea to Pastors.

And it does really matter. Especially for the SBC which is struggling under the delusion that its failing numbers has to do with anything other than their failure of intergity. As more and more the information is available, the more and more people are aware of the grease paint and rubber noses, falsifications of history and doctrine, the more and more people are bailing out of the SBC. In a great commission resurgence one would think that the Finney center ring would have been abandoned. Instead, technique and phoney showmanship still dominate the landscape. And yes, with the recent release of Keathley’s book, heresy is still in vogue as a trap to entice the ignorant.

Finney himself was a proto-Caner in that when the truth stood in Finney’s way, his falsified experiences (his testimony), not to mention his false doctrine, became the whole filthy cloth of his fabricated ministry and his revival lectures. Scripture be damned, revival was all that matterered. How Great Commission Resurgence sounding it all is. Suck them in with fanfare, get them baptized, get them out of the way, retain only enough to keep the coffers full and panic when the donations decline and threaten the incomes of ministers and bureaucratic leaders. Forget the mandates of the GC such as teaching sound doctrine. Building a legacy, big churches and dedicating hero statues, is so much more important.

A pseudo-intellect and pseudo-theologian, a prolific writer, and a big tent carney, just like Caner, Finney’s success provided cover and legitimacy in Christian circles. If it were a secular enterprise, he would have landed in jail. Like D. L. Moody, a good salesman who could have cared less if the product crippled as long as large numbers of people bought his shoes, the SBC still exalts Finneyesques techniques over substance where showmanship such as the J316 conference and the pseudo-scholarship of Whosoeverwill, over reality and sound exegesis, permeate a docrinally polluted landscape dominated by egoistic narcissists. They do what they do because they think they have a right to get away with it. The secular authorities cannot interfere with selling fraud in religiouis garb. Caner’s benefactor Jerry Falwell loved Finney and embraced his folly fully. Is it any wonder that Caner would fit the mold? Any thing to pack them in, the larger the crowd the better, and retention of marginal numbers is all that is needed. Approach ten thousand, retain a thousand and the revenue of tithes, offerings and tuitions will pile high as mountains. Generated revenues can be large enough to start colleges and universities on which to place your name or plaster your portrait. The only question is how low do you go to maintain what has been begotten through whoredom in the first place?

We remember Billy Graham, the fraud that he turned out to be, doctrinally heretical, sickly ecumenical, and yet the SBC put up a statue in honor of the Finney of our times. Graham’s retention rate has been put at less than one percent. The SBC has lost most of those who have been on their roles since 1950. But they could care less. They care only to retain enough. Caner is just another in a long history of barkers in baptist circles selling tickets to see the sideshow with its amazing Bearded Woman. And LU is just another enterprise built upon the fanatical mirage of revivalism.

The deception is rife, as Chantry remarks, in all of evangelicalism. It is especially so among baptists. Some churches and para-church orgainzations have made an art out of dressing the part. But it is still the same old snake oil show.

Further reading on Finney: Here and here.

Taking Aim At Christian Ignorance Of History And Scripture: Not-Christian Glenn Beck’s Salvo At Not-Christians Fired By Al Mohler Hits Christless Christianity In The Bull


As I read the statements of Glenn Beck, it seems that his primary concern is political. Speaking to a national audience, he warned of “code words” that betray a leftist political agenda of big government, liberal social action, economic redistribution, and the confiscation of wealth. In that context, his loyal audience almost surely understood his point.

My concern is very different. As an evangelical Christian, my concern is the primacy of the Gospel of Christ — the Gospel that reveals the power of God in the salvation of sinners through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The church’s main message must be that Gospel. The New Testament is stunningly silent on any plan for governmental or social action. The apostles launched no social reform movement. Instead, they preached the Gospel of Christ and planted Gospel churches. Our task is to follow Christ’s command and the example of the apostles.

There is more to that story, however. The church is not to adopt a social reform platform as its message, but the faithful church, wherever it is found, is itself a social reform movement precisely because it is populated by redeemed sinners who are called to faithfulness in following Christ. The Gospel is not a message of social salvation, but it does have social implications.

Faithful Christians can debate the proper and most effective means of organizing the political structure and the economic markets. Bringing all these things into submission to Christ is no easy task, and Gospel must not be tied to any political system, regime, or platform. Justice is our concern because it is God’s concern, but it is no easy task to know how best to seek justice in this fallen world.

It is no easy task. However, Dr. Mohler already gave the answer. We seek justice in the courts of law. Or should. The problem today is that the courts no longer pursue the rule of law but political final solutions. So one wonders if Mohler is right when tolerance of 50,000,000 baby deaths has been the acceptable price for détente in the abortion war. Will détente be worth 50,000,000 more? Should the church wax militant, or march en masse on Washington and stay there? Would it? Would it have the resolve to pay the price? Well, the fact is the church is not en masse to begin with, but factious. And so it needs to be.

The law is captured in the transcendent ethos of the commandments. They are the constitution of the law, the boundaries whose violation is injustice. They establish what we know under our Constitution as liberty rights. To reword those liberty rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: freedom from murder, freedom to possess and exchange, and freedom of thought. Appealing to transcendent truth, immovable in definition, liberty rights reside inside the boundaries and boundaries are what define law. Those concepts are not difficult. We know what murder is. We know what theft is, we know what it means to defraud or to lie and that it is right to protect soul, body and mind. And it does not matter whether it is conservative or liberal, when the boundaries of these easily defined concepts are violated, everyone knows. That is the complaint of the left and the complaint of right; what they believe to be immovable boundaries have to be secured and protected.

However, most conservatives have no problem allowing the extermination of the unborn, or there would be revolution, peaceful or not. Nor do they have any problem with the wholesale theft by the Government through taxes that amounts to tithing for the support of the state-church to perform the duties of the body of Christ: charity, education, moral inculcation, senior-care, housing, health-care, et cetera, et cetera, ad hypocrisis ad infinitum. Or, they would level the treasury. State-church ministry blends with their religious concepts. And they are willing use the devils hand to feed the poor, for it is the ends that justifies the means. Beyond that, most evangelical churches engage in what Mohler correctly identifies- social reform with Christ placed on the back burner or left out of the kitchen, altogether. They have forgotten the call to accountability to the Gospel as the requisite for the benefits of Christ’s body, the church. Indeed, accountability, no worky no turkey, and the Protestant work-ethic, have become vile concepts. The vast majority of evangelical churches who consider themselves conservatives are liberal in essence and practice, if not by confession, agreeing with the state that it has the right to do what should be the churches’ domain in religious duty.

The problem, rife in Mohler’s SBC (the hotbed of social gospelism since the turn of the century even after flushing Carter), as Mohler points out, is biblical illiteracy concerning the subject. Most SBC’ers have no idea what the teaching of the Scripture is concerning charity, or mercy, or justice. Humility is a weather phenomenon. And history is the Left Behind series. For the most part, the conservatives in most evangelical churches outside the SBC embrace the bliss of the same ignorance and by that embrace the very principles of political leftists without ever knowing that they do. The Christless Christianity of good deeds over creeds has been the mantra of the SBC for over a century. Thoroughly enamored with establishing their kingdom on earth, their politicized ideology gave rise to much of the religious dissension of the liberal, modern, secular political scene. The confusion over doctrine lead to and produced the craze known as the emergent church, wackos like Jim Wallis, and which, though its form differs, dovetails with the ecumenical aims of Hegelian idealism and the Romish unification evident in the Manhattan Declaration where the Gospel becomes the post-modern phrase, wah-evh.

We must not forget fascist socialists like Coughlin or the maniacal hermeneutic of any liberationism, whether conservative or liberal. We must not forget the modern inquisition of leftists or their conservative allies. We must not forget where ignorance and flippant complacency in matters of doctrine and history leads. For that warning we can thank the not-chrisitan Glenn Beck, and for the call to a return to Scripture and the true Gospel of Christ, we can thank Albert Mohler. And let’s not forget that the German Church was the result of a century’s influence from the new paradigm of social justice, or social action, or social reform movements. We must acknowledge the ideology differs only by degree and in expression. Let us not forget the atrocities of the apparent well-meaning entity who offers the starving a change of bread into bondage and how evil it can be to serve one’s belly. Let’s not forget the Barmen Declaration that rejected the various church-state/state-church aims of the idealists whose political monster children where the product of conjugal compromises of the ecumenical spirit, left and right. The Barmen was a call to return to the very principles of the protestant reformation that once formed the heart of our once great nation. And just as Mohler has eloquently said, the Gospel contains in it the reform that is needed. Make disciples, they will form the nations in future generations.

Cries from the darkness..

More from the Red Queen of the NYTS.

Glenn Beck, biblical idiot but right-on about biblical and historical illiteracy ruins Marty’s Party.| martyduren.com.

Living In Babylon: Living Outside Paradise


Which brings us back at last to the culture war. This brief look at biblical theology should teach us a number of things about this battle. Most important of all, it teaches us that the culture war rages in Babylon, not in the Promised Land. A number of other important considerations arise from this. For one thing, it reminds us that in any of our cultural struggles we are not to set as a goal the annihilation or even the radical transformation of society. The existence of Babylon is completely legitimate. This is a particularly relevant message for Americans especially to heed. America is portrayed as the Promised Land so often—it is the hope of the world, the shining city on the hill, with liberty and justice for all. It is the refuge for the teeming masses of distant shores yearning to be free. It is a land of never before attained prosperity and military strength. America certainly is a great land, and patriotic affections are good and healthy. But it is not paradise, and never was. And neither is any other place on earth. To view any earthly land as the Promised Land is to set our sights both too high and too low at the same time: too high for our nation’s prospects and too low for what the Promised Land really is. People wage culture wars in Babylon, and to whatever extent they win or lose, Babylon continues to be just that—Babylon! It will not be annihilated, and it will not be transformed into something else…

This being true, the attitude with which the culture war is currently being waged certainly deserves some critical scrutiny. So many who are on the front lines speak as if America once was in some manner the Promised Land and that the culture war has been engaged recently to restore America to that position it once held. Such talk is not only remarkably short-sighted but also theologically untenable. America never was paradise, never will be paradise, and the culture war is not some recently begun phenomenon which will terminate anywhere short of the supernatural intervention of Christ’s coming. If we choose political tactics in fighting the culture war, then we should be prepared to keep using them indefinitely, because the political challenges to our cultural dreams will never die…

Our first hope naturally is for the peace and prosperity of our nation. But perhaps we should be secretly pleased when these turn into disorder and depression. We have noted how many Christians today yearn for the days of public virtue present years ago in our nation’s history. It seems that there is little doubt that as far as public virtue goes America has seen better days. But when we see how such memories distort the biblical understanding that we live in Babylon, when we see how they cause our hopes to seek fulfillment not in the next world, but in this, when we see how they paint a falsely idyllic picture in our minds which we ignorantly project into the future, does it not make us at least wonder how much good such relatively peaceful and prosperous days really do. If God answered our prayers and blessed our cultural efforts by bringing us days of unparalleled peace and prosperity, would that not in itself be a tremendous temptation to set our sights no higher than Babylon? Are not days such as ours good reminders of what Babylon really is—a pagan, depraved, and hopeless place over which an angel from heaven will one day shout: “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great” (Rev. 18:2)? The Israelites were apparently satisfied with the peace and prosperity of Babylon— only a tiny fraction of them returned to the Promised Land when the opportunity came. Will we as a church do any better?

Yes, let us pray for the peace and prosperity of our land for the sake of the physical well-being of ourselves and our children. But let us also be thankful for God’s often disappointing answers for the sake of the spiritual well-being of his church.

Who’s Natural Law?

Two debated hot-button issues today, homosexuality and abortion, demonstrate a widening rift and there is little hope that it will be resolved by concepts of natural law. In fact, as time goes on the natural lawyers are less and less unified in what constitutes good, goods, value, virtue, right and rights. No essential, or grounding truth, can any longer be appealed to define the highest precept of natural law, self-preservation and self-pleasure, as their meaning has been broadened to include a whole new array of possible fulfillments. And there is little consensus on a transcendent source for any constraints upon what those meanings can entail. At present there is no common Biblical grounding for natural law. There is nothing wrong with defending the unborn or heterosexuality and marriage on a natural and governmental law basis. But without a Biblical basis for the interpretation of natural law, the question is, who’s rational argument or interpretation of natural law will we use?

For Christians, especially, to embrace natural law as the answer to social decay, is to undo the testimony of a transcendent revelation. It is not that natural law is, or should be, in contradiction of it. But that the Bible no longer holds the sway of the public mind. It is only by revelation that Christians find grounding for their morality even if first informed by natural law. Appeal to natural law is at best derivative from revelation. Any strict appeal to natural law, then, can only find itself in what natural lawyers of old spoke of- certain wise men who are endowed to speak as the authority outside Scripture as its alone interpreters as it applies to matters of life in view of natural law. Though, as natural lawyers commonly hold, everyman is endowed with certain essential abilities to discern the basic ideas of good and right, (even Calvin understood this) there has never been a time in the history of natural law that certain “enlightened” ones didn’t become the sole arbitrators of what the revelations, both general and special, mean. Indeed, without such, the right interpretation finds no authoritative appeal in the governance of men. As has always been, the prevailing government, only, has had the power to enforce the wisdom of the sages, and the people have always looked to government for the prosecution of that wisdom. In any case, the determining factor is going to be a cost/benefit analysis, individual or societal, and the greater good and right will out, according to those certain vaulted priests, always with the preservation of power of the central authority maintained or expanded, for securing them. In any case the sufficiency of Scripture is overthrown.

In today’s paradigm we do not have the same presuppositions prevailing in culture as there were in previous eras. Biblical and theistical paradigms have been jettisoned. Not only that, but technologies have changed setting whole parameters into play individually and societally that were not before. There is in the undercurrent of both the issues of abortion and homosexuality the struggle, not of the transcendent morality of the issues per se, but of the utility of them. And what today has become most moral is that which produces the highest utility.

This is really no change, for even in the reality of the past, the greatest good of the individual, that is utility, was foremost. However, what prevails today is bare utility. The individual’s, and more correctly, the collective’s highest utility without reference to transcendent good, is the norm. Above anything else, utility has been the unifying mark of natural law theory, anyway, historically. Though in the past, the highest utility was always considered as that which was in accord with good and right as derived from special theistic revelation, the meaning of good and right no longer is immovable. In its stead is a transient meaning dependent upon democratic determination.

Abortion works for many societies and societies are made up of people. It has become the left’s rallying cry that it is immoral to deny abortion access on several grounds: individual privacy, individual prosperity, and any number of societal factors which produce the most good for the greatest number. The same arguments are being proffered for homosexuality. The majority, that is the democracy, rules. Gone are the days of a republic where what was right and good transcended the will of the people and was protected by those elected to office to preserve, not power to the central authority, but to the people through righteousness defended by localized authority.

The fact is natural law can only answer in the arena of outcomes in the natural realm in which it operates. It is quantifiable or it is not verifiable and if not verifiable, not natural. The quantifiable “greatest good,” has today, become only that which the majority finds most beneficial. If for the sake of society, fewer children are desired by it, that will be the utility sought under the new natural law. As is being heralded more forcefully, even the U.S. Constitution cannot establish a “transcendent” religious authority for fear of establishment. It doesn’t matter what the transcendent value of human life is, what matters is what benefit or liability that human life produces. Functionally, we are a non-theistic society. God has become only what the concensus majority determines it to be. The definition of murder, then, can modify in accordance with the individual’s highest self-goal as approved by the majority culture. Utilitarian deprivation of another’s life is negotiated upon what becomes defined as “life; good and right” and that which accomplishes it. Rights are, even though considered endowed by a theistic creator as the U.S. Declaration describes, nonetheless provided by, defined and defended by, the state for the people.

Since the highest precept of all natural law is the pursuit of individual happiness, even where our Declaration appeals to nature’s law, Life and Liberty are held in subjugation to self-determinism. The problem, as always, is who determines whose self is most important? Typically, we have had the courts enumerate first Life, then Liberty, and at last Happiness. But, in this day and age, the first two have been relegated to subordinates of the third. Happiness has become standardized as, “live and let live.” What is really meant by that is individualism versus civility, or libertarian (read libertine) freedoms trump “others'” rights.

The resulting social tension no longer ends merely at the settlement of property, i.e. liberty rights, or at the right to life, as disputes over boundaries. Instead, society’s masses, the people as orgainic collective, have interjected themselves as one of the principal parties in disputes between plaintiffs. Social utility, the greatest good for the greatest number, is this third party’s justice. It has become the majority belief that the greatest good for society will provide the greatest good for the disputants. Gone are civil rights as applicable to individuals and established are the rights of groups which then translates to whole cultures and societies.

This is the tenor of leftists. So we have what is good as that which the Courts, Congress, and the several Legislatures decide is the best for peace and security, but that grounded in the bare utility of majoritarianism and centralized redistribution. What is right is securing societal good. Individual prosperity has become redefined as everyones’ right to everyones’ property, be they life or liberty. The measures have changed. No longer is it viewed that takings of private property are forbidden. There no longer exists the commandment, “You shall not steal.” Instead, the seizure of private property for the benefit of the whole has become the standard means of attaining the most happiness for the most people. Private proprietors have become private pariahs, carriers of a threat to the centralized organism of the collective. It is therefore right for the authorities to defend the societal needs from such ones who carry the disease of inviolable boundaries. And therefore, it is everyone’s right to steal from his neighbor. From Health Care, to Jobs Creation, Affirmative Action, Abortion, et cetera, et cetera, that some may need to lose their right to property dispostition, their prosperity, their relationships, their freedom of associaiton, or their lives, is seen as the best means to the greatest equitable end.

Natural law has come to be dominated by the pseudo-sciences, Environmentalism, Evolutionism, Psychology, Penology, Pedology and so on, each with, not the individual in view, but the societal good, i.e., the value of an individual is measured by their societal productivity, not their individual well-being (security). And individual happiness is measured by how efficiently the central authority delivers the goods. Even education sees attaining individual happiness dependent on society, contingent upon how well integrated the thinking of the individual is to a holistic view of himself in society. Producing cogs is far more beneficial to society than producing free-thinkers. Free-thinkers are like free-radicals, doing no systemic good, only inflicting damage. Or, in keeping with John Dewey’s, Darwinian/Hegelian naturalistic natural law, producing cogs limits dissent, without dissent there is peace, with peace is individual contentment. Living in community as an organic whole, the individual finds happiness in its native state in a syboitic dance within petri-ed culture.

The social costs of undermining marriage, are not what they used to be. The natural law has changed, at least in the view of those in charge of administering it. The same can be said for abortion. Where there was once social tension in a religiously sectarian society, the milieu is secularly humanistic with no great consensus as to what forms right or wrong. The need for offspring is no long a natural necessity, and again the natural law has changed. Homosexuality does not impinge upon the need of society for bodies to fill the cubical, and the system has become quite adroit at simulating the parental unit without biology. With artificial insemination, whole-sale adoption, and ample social provision in child-rearing specialists and specialties, the old “morality” is simply not necessary.

That brings us to what the Gospel is about. It is not about saving nations, or cities, or states, or the world. As the Lord spoke of the Tower of Siloam, it is about individuals, and what each one must do. Sin is pervasive and the Gospel call to the individual is that he must repent and believe or likewise perish. In the world of natural law it is never that way, for the natural world can know nothing of sin, only what works and what does not. It can know nothing of the salvation of the Lord, for all things are contingent upon autosoteriological methods in natural law. The job of the Christian is to preach the wrath of God which is coming upon the whole world because of sin, and to preach faith in Christ for his imputed righteousness without which no one will be saved. Regardless of how bright man might make or think the future to be, the Lord is coming back to judge the nations. Indeed, the fact that man chooses to rely upon natural law is to fulfill Romans 1. The wrath of God is being poured out, even upon those who say they know God by natural law. For by it men do not honor God, but supress the knowledge of him. That is the only natural law that must be dealt and every hand dealt is a killer. Calvin would have us know that. That was his use of lex naturalis, to convict man of sin and leave him without excuse, not so that man might use his natural faculties to perfect humanity. Christianity offers the world a Gospel that can triumph over natural law. What people never had to lose in the first place, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the Gospel gives as Peace which surpasses any that is offered by this world. Under natural law men can only hope for the cyclic destruction of their nations, for from it comes a god in the image of natural man.

For a discussion of differentiated natural law see R. S. Clark’s “Calvin On The Lex Naturalis.” Typically what is spoken of as natural law, today, follows the tradition of the rationalists like Thomas Aquinas as is seen in Robert George. Calvin’s natural law was viewed through man’s natural inability, or as Reformers called it, man’s total depravity. Thomists’ rationalism is thoroughly semi-Pelagian as Aquinas viewed man as fully capable of obtaining true knowledge of the lex naturalis without divine revelation because according to Aquinas man was born with a natural inclination to the good. Contrarily, Reformation teaching views man as being inclined wholly to evil. R. S. Clark asks the most pertinent question, “Who’s natural law,” will prevail?

Addendum To Idealism vs. Wise Christian Pragmatism: A Problem Of The Manhattan Declaration

CAMPONTHIS: CITIZEN-KINGS AND POLITICAL ACTIVISM…by Tom Ascol

“I find much agreement with Martyn Lloyd-Jones at this point. In an interview with Carl Henry in 1980 he said, “It amazes me that evangelicals have suddenly taken such an interest in politics.” He went on to call such interest “sheer folly…. You can’t reform the world. That’s why I disagree entirely with the ‘social and cultural mandate’ teaching and its appeal to Genesis 1:28. It seems to me to forget completely the Fall. You can’t Christianize the world. The end time is going to be like the time of the Flood. The condition of the modern world proves that what we must preach more than ever is ‘Escape from the wrath to come!’ The situation is critical. I believe the Christian people–but not the church–should get involved in politics and social affairs. The kingdom task of the church is to save men from the wrath to come by bringing them to Christ. This is what I believe and emphasize. The main function of politics, culture, and all these things is to restrain evil. They can never do an ultimately positive work. Surely the history of the world demonstrates that. You can never Christianize the world.”

If you go to Steve Camp’s site can read the rest there.

Go here for Idealism vs. Wise Christian Pragmatism: A Problem Of The Manhattan Declaration