Sex Changes: It’s Fundamental

“The debates about homosexuality, in part because they often involve public policy and legal issues, tend to be sharply polarized…

Yet as the foregoing also clearly shows, the policy and legal debates surrounding homosexuality involve fundamental issues of morality and justice. Perhaps most centrally of all, they cut to issues of personal identity and self-definition. Hence there is another, and even deeper, set of reasons for the polarization that marks these debates.”

There is a reason that conservatives are mooring their dinghies on the shores of pro-homosexuality. They’re conservatives. But, as the article concludes, the debates actually have a genesis rooted much more deeply. Though at other times it was one form of cultural morality versus another, as Christians we can see that it is Christian morality versus all other moralities that is at the heart of the current controversy. Historically not much has changed. The social milieu depends upon who is ruling. As long as there is a civil magistrate, civil religion will prevail. It can be asked, then, what is morality? Or better, which morality is the best paradigm to address is the question, since it has always been a struggle for the religious control of the civil state. It can also be stated, what is justice in the civil state since it is ideologically driven, and not by any historical measure a question of absolutes?

For Christians there can be only one response. But, let me be as blunt as possible by contemplating Paul’s response to Peter: “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” The church must confront its own when errors creep seeking to take captive the weak. And we are all weak. It does no good for anyone for ministers of the Gospel to remain chained to their pulpits, unwilling out of a faux respect for boundaries, as ashamed, or afraid, to not confront their cross-town rivals in the faith. The great Peter was not beyond the reach of the perfection demanded by Scripture. He was not beyond the reach of his fellow elder. What Scripture demands, it demands of all mankind everywhere- nothing less than perfect righteousness, as Peter would say later, “Be holy.” Scripture demands a perfect knowledge of doctrine, the mature stature of the Son of God, Ephesians 4. Peter’s actions, not even his verbal teaching, was blurring sound doctrine, and Paul condemned him for it. Perfection is impossible for any, and yet, to that standard even the “hypocritical” elder, Peter, had to be held accountable. In today’s church, we barely tolerate in-church discipline, let alone nailing a condemnation order to the backside of other churches elders. In many ways, we have become nothing more than a civic organization.

The issue of civil acceptance or rejection of Biblical morality is not the cause celeb of the Christian faith, any more than a restoration of an Edenic society is. The church is charged with the faithful preaching of the Gospel of repentance regardless of the outcome, regardless of the civil magistrates’ moral orientations. What kind of repentance is it which allows for sin in the church hierarchy by silent neutrality, but calls laymen and those outside to reject sin and confess the truth? Peter, by his actions, endangered even the highest of servants of the ministry: ‘For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all…” Even Barnabas, who stood with the apostle Paul as a co-worker, proved weak. So what should we say? Word, words, words… and actions, actions, actions, are the weapons of our spiritual warfare. They must be consistent with one another. Peter had laid down the sword, and Paul slapped him with it.

Here is the gist: Though no one is perfect, all are expected to be so.

Barnabas, Peter, even James’ men ran afoul of the ideal and stood condemned. As the historical review reveals, society has remained fickle in its moralities, always in flux, subject to the changes of the civil wind, no matter the influence of the church. What does change is the church, unfortunately. And once the church begins to embrace civilian moralities and doctrines by not confronting its Peter’s, Jame’s, Barnabas’, Hymenaeus’, Philetus’, Diotrephes’, Phygelus’, Hermogenes’, or the believer in the pew living in open defiance of the morality of Scripture, it soon becomes the leader of the crowd by default.

What separates the church from the world is not its “saltiness”. That is the common attribute of all men. Scripture has concluded all men sinful.When once the church begins to think of leaders as better than the world and not worth the same condemnation of sin, is when it loses its flavor. When it once begins to think it can give a pass to those claiming its name, is when it loses it flavor. When it covers the light of truth so that not all are held to the accountability of the light, elder and layman alike, is when its light becomes darkness. No one lighting a lamp shelters any from the message that of Lot’s wife, or that of wicked Lot. What matters is the direction we are facing and whether we will come into the light or not. What separates the church is it love of truth and its love for one another in that truth. In that, we at once recognize our weakness as having come out of the salty world. What separates us is that we do not deny it. The world tries to justify itself as just another morality. Scripture holds mankind all alike accountable to perfection. We condemn our weaknesses as a rejection of the moral perfection which is defined by Scripture, and by that condemn all others who reject it, also. What we offer is repentance and faith in the One True Light.

Where we are found to be loving one another is in our willingness to call one another to accountability through repentance, and our willingness to stand near to help one another despite the moral failings of our flesh. By this, the common salt of the earth knows that we are disciples. We are mankind, just as they are, calling them to join us in the new life offered. It is not by our perfections that we receive. That is, our good works merit us no favor with God. That was Peter’s and circumcision’s problem. It is by grace through faith, a faith grounded in the Truth.  It is not by compromise, not by permissions, either, but through discipline, each part doing its part until we all come the unity of the faith, to maturity of the knowledge of the Son of God, reforming our minds day by day, that makes us different. That is the big part that is missing is the leadership in the church and why they have unwittingly become the leaders of civil rather than Biblical morality. We don’t, for the most part have men like Paul, who are willing to execute the office of ministers of the Gospel, and confront equals who by word or action teach false doctrine. What is missing today are faithful ministers of the word, as in Paul’s charge to Timothy, willing stand in public and denounce, the public embarrassment that some show forth for the Gospel of Jesus Christ while they blasphemously take upon themselves the name. The former make themselves partakers with the latter if they do not confront the error within. It is the least loving of all to leave a brother, yes, even a fellow elder, dying in the ditch, beaten and bloody, and do nothing.

We cannot cleanse the world, we cannot preserve it, but we can point it toward the Perfection which is coming to judge the world. To those being saved He is the sweet savor of life, to others, the stench of death. To one he is coming in respect to salvation, the other to the judgement of eternal damnation. There is only one answer we can give to the world, only one response to falsehood and every lofty argument which exalts itself against the knowledge of God: Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!

If judgement is to begin, let it begin with the household of God. Paul’s love for Peter could not have been expressed better than his publicly humiliating his brother in the presence of all so that all would fear the demands of a righteous Savior from heaven. And, so that all might wonder at the grace provided through Him alone. Peter obviously learned his woodshed lessons in holiness and the necessity of the blood of Christ and His resurrection to attain the holiness we all woefully lack. He learned it well enough that it became his theme of warning to the church and to those beyond of the coming destruction of all who oppose God.

The SBC Presidential Race

I cannot overstate how excited I am about what’s going to happen in New Orleans in June. It has been a long time coming, and I am eager to raise my ballot for the first ever African American President of our denomination. -Denny Burk

Honesty And Sincerity Cannot Win The Presidency?

Finally, Rick Santorum attracts protests on college campuses because people believe him when he speaks. William McGurn of The Wall Street Journal pointed out recently that, even as Rick Santorum opposes same-sex marriage, so did Barack Obama when he ran for the White House in 2008 (and, at least in terms of official statements, even now). But Santorum gets jeered and Obama gets a pass. Why? McGurn understands: “There’s no mystery why. Mr. Santorum is attacked because everyone understands that he means what he says.”

That may be the real bottom line when it comes to the Santorum predicament. Saying such things might not be a problem, but saying them when everyone understands that you mean them . . . that is another thing altogether.

via – The Santorum Predicament: A Sign of the Times.

Obama: Heretic In Chief

President Obama’s Christianity | Denny Burk.

Yes, I know, some will say that calling Obama a heretic is an absurd statement. Yet, the fact is, you can’t be a Christian at all, even a liberal one, if you deny the essentials of the Christian faith. To do so makes you a heretic.

Now, we shouldn’t be surprised that Franklin Graham cannot tell the difference. After all, the fruit in that family hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

What is a Christian? | Denny Burk.

But that brings up another point. Billy Graham has said essentially just what Obama has said, just what Franklin said (which strangely enough, son of another former Southern Baptist, Joel Osteen said. It makes one think that there is something in the baptismal waters of the SBC). But, you won’t find Denny Burk padding the deck in reference to the heretic idolized by the SBC by saying his universalism is merely liberal Christianity. It isn’t merely liberal Christianity, BG is a heretic. On the other hand, he is SBC, so it doesn’t matter what he believes, they have autonomous soul competency, and no one can tell them what they must believe, after all, the Scripture is wide open for personal interpretation. So, Billy Graham is well within his rights as a Southern Baptist to deny the faith, but not within the bounds of Christianity to do so.

Michael Horton, though, brings some necessary balance. It simply doesn’t matter that there is or is not a Christian in the White House. There has rarely, and perhaps has not ever, been one there. It does matter what one’s world view is. For that is what will dictate the President’s leadership for the common good:

Yet believers also must stop expecting politicians to double as high priests of a false religion, an idolatrous religion, that substitutes real confessional communities for a generic moralism. Even where a candidate’s confession differs from our own, we have to ask what we’re looking for in our political leaders. Are we seeking an icon who will reassure us that even in a wildly pluralistic and relativistic society we are the ones in the right, safely ensconced in the walls of absolute truth? Or do we have the more modest goal of electing presidents who will eschew any messianic mantle and pursue policies that we believe are more likely to do more good than harm to the republic’s common good and the Constitution that they swear to uphold?

On Electing a Shepherd of the National Soul – White Horse Inn Blog.

On all points Obama fails. He won’t take a stand one way or the other, really. And in that he is postmodern, without any foundation for decision-making. That is why he fails in the pursuit of good and right for the republic. He has no right, nor any good, that is inviolable.

We, in a republic, elect not a person who will do the will of the people, or even his own will, that is either a bare democracy or a dictatorship. We elect those who will, hopefully, govern in such a way that what is in view is the right and good of the people despite what they think is in their best interests, or what is in the best interests of the office holder. The reason that we have disagreements as to the best course our country can take is based upon this very thing, that not all people agree as to what is the right and good. It is far easier to determine when the candidate is patronizing or self-aggrandizing, than to know that they are pursuing the right and good. Regardless, we elect, though blindly with such hopes, based upon what can be known about the absolute unwillingness of the candidate to compromise his own ethos.

Pigeon-holing a President by applying a religious test is the furthest thing from the considerations of those who established the free exercise clause and exempted the faith of the individuals for public office from any religious qualifications for office. And as Michael says, it is simply idolatry. Still, we must consider what they believe, and establish as far as is possible that they are sincere in those beliefs.

Too often, as Horton explains, Christians fall for the trap that a person’s particular belief system is the qualifier. And while all Christians would like it if a Christian was elected, those who would run for office on their faith are usually the furthest from it. Obama needs to be tested in other ways. One of those is his claim to be a Christian. That is a lie. But it is not the fact that he is not, but the fact that he lies about it. The same can be said of Romney. He is a liar, and that is the liability that disqualifies him. Indeed, it is the integrity of the individual, his “best” effort to toe the line on his world view’s out working in policy making that is what we should look for in a candidate. When a candidate cannot hold consistently in their testimony before the people about what they believe, then we have every reason to suspect they will be untrustworthy in discharging the duties of the office.

Examine what a person believes. But let it evaluate itself. If it is self-contradictory, then that person is a contradiction of truth and not the person who can be trusted to carry out the mandates of the pursuit of what is the right and the good for we the people.

No And Yes But Carl Trueman

Do You Beat Your Wife? – Reformation21 Blog.

Of course, some will respond and say that this is to make Christianity elitist. Do we really have to have read extensively in the literature of the third and fourth centuries to be Christians? Not at all. Romans 10 sets the bar nice and low for credible Christian profession. But we are not dealing here with men who are simply making a credible Christian profession as church members; we are dealing with pastors who lead churches and hold terrible and awesome responsibility for protecting their flocks and making sure the truth is taught. We are also dealing with men who, through the use of conferences and internet, aspire to influence your congregation and mine – not that that is necessarily wrong (e.g., what Christian does not read books written by others?); but it does give us all `a dog in the fight’, to use the American phrase. If they give Jakes a clean bill of health, then that has much wider implications than simply for the participants in the ER.

Of course not everyone will read, nor need read all that the early controversies contain. But, yes, even the common run-of-the-mill guy in the pew needs to be conversant about the substance. And of course, Trueman believes that, or he would not be a teacher in the OPC. He is not standing in the pulpit/lectern beating the air without purpose. Rather, his charge is to inculcate the congregations or audiences under the persuasion of his words into the facts of the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. Saints- that’s all of us. Of course he says as much. And it is what gives his words their force. The Elephant Room is not an isolated college colloquium gathered around a couple of burgers and beers discussing their pet views out of sight of the church at large. As he says, these are men supposedly called to ministry, supposedly called to the same truth, to teach it and nothing else. They are there to sharpen themselves and others, not about what is in dispute, hopefully, but about what is surely known. Either that, or they have never read Timothy and are defacto illegitimate authorities.

I am still at a loss as to how real life accountability is carried out in such venues. I guess walking away from a mess is one way, but it doesn’t seem to be the biblical way. If I was to advocate, even by association a heretic like Jakes, even as a layman, I might be fenced off. How is James MacDonald accountable, or for that matter D. A. Carson? It seems to me that the inherent flaw in these kinds of associations goes is the very integrity of what it means to be the church. Sure enough, we can form whatever associations we want, but as an adherent to the inter-church disciplinary clauses of the 1689 and the WCF, I find it quite difficult to just allow for the existence of non-accountable para-church ministry even if formed and functioning under the guidance of “orthodox” men if there isn’t a third-party mechanism to keep them accountable.

Now you may not agree, but both confessions actually extend authority beyond the local church, and even beyond denominational boundaries, the call to account. Especially seen is the need to curtail the activities of certain “notorious and obstinate offenders.” Or, …cases of difficulties or differences, either in point of doctrine or administration, wherein either the churches in general are concerned, or any one church, in their peace, union, and edification; or any member or members of any church are injured…”

While we may agree that there are limits as to what one church, or an association of churches, may do to discipline the troublers, the fact remains that with so-called extra-church organizations there is no functioning mechanism to carry out such a charge.

I would think that anyone holding to such confessions, or at least the idea of visible church accountability would think twice about joining a non-accountable group. The question is, just where could the members of such go to have their day in court, or just where could any single individual who is a member of a church who has been offended by some other member(s) go to have their case heard?

The conditions now do not exist and until there is a council, a synod, or whatever one wants to call it, that can make a determination about the disposition of the individual(s) troubling the church, I think it best to refrain from any such affiliations.

The internet is a great public square, but it lacks any authority and settles no disputes. Carl Trueman is accountable to his own presbytery even for the associations he makes for they can affect all other relations within and without the OPC. But what of others? How, or who, takes them to the woodshed? That is in part what Trueman says others call elitist Christianity. So be it, it is necessary to have the final words proclaimed and a requirement that they be the words taught lest we collapse the Gospel to meaningless rubble.

This request that we ask hard questions in the right venue, and consider the ER to have signally failed in this regard, will no doubt evince cries of `Hey, hater!’ from some quarters. That is apparently the standard reaction now when anyone questions the actions of a successful pastor of a large church. If, however, we take true doctrine seriously, then surely we will see false teaching for what it is: soul destroying. Reflect on a parallel situation for a moment: let us say that, week after week, I see a congregant’s wife with a black eye and an arm covered in cuts and bruises; eventually I ask her husband, `Did you do that?’ to which he says `No, I abhor violence and despise the sort of people who beat their wives’; in such circumstances, is it unloving, Pharisaical or hateful of me to press the question a little further? I think not. Indeed, failure so to do would be moral delinquency of the highest order. To press the matter is actually responsible pastoring. The same thing applies with those whose public teaching seems to be deviant. It is not hateful to press the hard questions, and to do so with appropriate competence and in a suitable context; rather, it is right and necessary.

Now the questions are, where’s the woodshed? And who has the right to the disobedient child’s rear end? If false doctrine is soul destroying, then it seem that the most extreme measures should be taken. But who is up to that in this day and age? The sad state of affairs is that there isn’t a woodshed, nor a whip, nor men man enough to wield it. James McDonald entertained a heretic, and so did the Elephant room, so who is man of the our times? It surely isn’t Trevin Wax. Today one can be involved in an affair and wash their hands and walk away. Curious though that sounds.

Warming Banality

Now, let’s turn the wheels of time ahead 10 years, to January 10, 2012. Just published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters is a paper with this provocative title: “Improved constraints in 21st century warming derived using 160 years of temperature observations” by Nathan Gillett and colleagues from the Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis of Environment Canada (not a group that anyone would confuse with the usual skeptics). An excerpt from the paper’s abstract provides the gist of the analysis:

Projections of 21st century warming may be derived by using regression-based methods to scale a model’s projected warming up or down according to whether it under- or over-predicts the response to anthropogenic forcings over the historical period. Here we apply such a method using near surface air temperature observations over the 1851–2010 period, historical simulations of the response to changing greenhouse gases, aerosols and natural forcings, and simulations of future climate change under the Representative Concentration Pathways from the second generation Canadian Earth System Model (CanESM2).

Or, to put it another way, Gillett et al. used the observed character of global temperature increase—an integrator of all processes acting upon it—to guide an adjustment to the temperature projections produced by a climate model. Sounds familiar!!

And what did they find?

via World Climate Report.

Obama Collectively Making Rich Liberals Rich: Bastard Funds Of Riches

The tax code, government’s favourite instrument for distributing wealth to favoured factions, has been tweaked about 4,500 times in 10 years. Generally, the beneficiaries of these changes are interests sufficiently strong and sophisticated to practice rent-seeking. Not only does redistributionist government direct wealth upward; in asserting a right to do so it siphons power into itself. A puzzling aspect of our politically contentious era is how little contention there is about the ethics of coercive redistribution by progressive taxation and other government “corrections” of social outcomes it considers unethical or unaesthetic.

via The liberal paradox.