Friday, June 23, 2006

Presbyterians Rival Episcopalians for Heresy

The liberal Presbyterian Church USA had a difficult time recently, staying orthodox to clear scriptural teaching. Like the Episcopal Church, this denomination is in virtual full-speed retreat from scripture’s mandates.

The Presbyterians voted this past week to “receive” a policy paper laden with gender inclusive idolatry to change the language of the Trinity. This will allow individual churches to alter their worship liturgy away from Biblical language of “Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. Presbyterians can now refer to the Trinity as "Mother, Child and Womb" and "Rock, Redeemer, Friend". Other options include "Lover, Beloved, Love", "Creator, Savior, Sanctifier" and "King of Glory, Prince of Peace, Spirit of Love."

The paper was nearly referred back to the committee who proposed it for further study, a parliamentary technique for defeating a proposal. But liberals prevailed with a vote of 282-212, with committee members arguing that Presbyterians should seek "fresh ways to speak of the mystery of the triune God" to "expand the church's vocabulary of praise and wonder."

It's another example that helps put our recent Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in perspective.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

SBC Debate Tame Compared to Others

I am a part of the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s the nation’s largest Protestant denomination and it’s not without its problems. Last week, some 11,000 messengers gathered in Greensboro to discuss and debate issues relating to our denomination’s future.

First and foremost, we disagreed as to who should be our President. In the past, a small group of influential and esteemed pastors would confer and forward a nomination to the convention. No one knows exactly how many of them confer or who they all are. It is widely perceived they are our denomination’s mega-church pastors of the South. At the forefront would be Dr. Jerry Vines, newly retired pastor of First Baptist, Jacksonville, Florida. The proposed candidate has usually been introduced or announced at his annual Bible conference. We could also surmise the group includes Jack Graham, Steve Gaines, Paige Patterson, Johnny Hunt and a few others. In any event, the group presumed upon the graces of Southern Baptist footsoldiers and nominated Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist, Springdale, Arkansas. Some hawkish eyes noticed that the church gives only 0.27% to the Cooperative Program and a war was on. An informal coalition of the non-establishment sect and the CP loyalists and the younger leaders launched a counter nomination of Frank Page, pastor of First Baptist, Taylors, South Carolina. Some of those sects, however, became suspicious of innuendos regarding Page’s affiliations with some moderates during the theological battle of the 1980s and launched a third nomination of Jerry Sutton, pastor of Twin Rivers Baptist, Nashville, Tennessee. When the smoke cleared, Page had been surprisingly elected on the first ballot, receiving more votes than the other two candidates combined—a clear majority.

Messengers debated a reinsertion of “10%” as a goal into the Cooperative Program Task Force’s report; we differed on a resolution on alcohol consumption; we had a slight tiff over whether to refer a motion by embattled IMB trustee Wade Burleson to the IMB; and I could list a few others.

However, we did not debate the issue of homosexuality as did the Episcopal Church or the doctrine of the Trinity as did the Presbyterian Church. In spite of our differences, we Southern Baptists share a commitment to the clear truths of God’s Word.

The Episcopal Church (America) is a part of the world-wide Anglican Communion and is (rightly so) in hot water for their unbiblical stance regarding homosexuality. In August of 2003, they ordained Gene Robinson as bishop, an open homosexual who abandoned his family for his lover. The broader and more Biblically insightful Anglican church reprimanded the American branch through the Windsor Report.

This past weekend, Episcopalians were embroiled in whether to honor the broader Anglican call to conform to a more scriptural understanding of homosexuality. They refused to honor that request and elected Katharine Jefferts Schori, a bishop from Nevada, to their denomination’s top spot of presiding bishop. She responded to a question in an interview with CNN whether it was a sin to be homosexual:

"I don't believe so. I believe that God creates us with different gifts. Each of us comes into the world with a different collection of things that challenge us and things that give us joy and allow us to bless the world around us. "Some people come into this world with affections ordered toward other people, and some people come into this world with affections directed at people of their own gender."
Upon her election, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the Anglican Church, Rowan Williams, sent his greetings and wrote: “We are continuing to pray for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church as it confronts a series of exceptionally difficult choices.” But how “exceptionally difficult” is it to embrace the clear Biblical teaching regarding the sin of homosexuality?

What happened in Greensboro among Southern Baptists was a struggle. But the struggle was over methodology, not heresy. I too pray for the Episcopal Church, but not as Archbishop Williams does. I pray for their repentance and return to Biblical fidelity.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Miscellaneous Stuff

I've never really cared for blogs that give a two-sentenced entry. But when you're tired, overworked and have so many thoughts swimming through your head you can't sort them out, those two-sentenced entries aren't so bad. They do have the effect of making your blog look current and/or significant. So, to all my loyal readers who faithfully and regularly stop by (Uncle Henry, are you there?), I hope to get back on the blogging trail tomorrow.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

SBC Pastor's Conference--Session One

Call me cynical, but Bible preaching was noticeably absent from Session One of the Pastor's Conference (is this what the conservative resurgence was all about?). The old time Bible preaching like Dr. Rogers and Dr. Vines used to give is definitely old time. Dick Lincoln gave a chat on being open to having a contemporary worship service for lost people. Rick Warren couldn't be here for some reason, but sent in a video. He never even cracked open a Bible, though he gave a few quotes, usually from (you guessed it) the Message "Bible". Johnny Hunt did read from Acts 17, but I never really understood his point (the electricity did go out at the beginning of his sermon).

With Lincoln and Hunt throwing out a couple of barbs against Calvinism, it was a pretty non-inspiring night for this Southern Baptist.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Boundaries between Contending for our Faith & Contextualizing our Faith

I attended a seminar at the Missouri Baptist Convention this past Tuesday. It was led by Southern Baptist missiologist (mission/church growth guru) Ed Stetzer. I’ve read some of Stetzer’s articles (too cheap to buy his books) and he makes some good points. He certainly made some good points Tuesday.

He isn’t your normal church growth guy. Usually, the mantra is “anything goes” with these kinds of gatherings. “Whatever it takes to win the lost” is the theme and conservative guys like me leave feeling really gross. The classic proof text is 1 Corinthians 9: 19-23 (used Tuesday, but hey, it is scripture); “ I have become all things to all men that I might win some.” But Stetzer acknowledged the need to “contend” for the truth. He advocated there are boundaries. That was refreshing to hear from a church growth expert. But the $100,000 question is: “What are the boundaries?”

That’s the rub for cooperative mission work. Most of us would agree the picture above is of a person who’s more than a bit excessive with piercings and tattoos. But how many are too many? At what point did she cross the line? Do I have to have piercings to reach pierced people? This “contextualization” stuff isn’t very easy to figure out. It seems there is an inherent “attack” upon the sufficiency of scripture whenever we go down the “contextualization” path. Language barriers I understand. Beyond that, I get really confused.

Stetzer made a very compelling statement. I’m paraphrasing, but he said the extremes to avoid are “obscurantism and syncretism.” We will either be so irrelevant to culture, we’ll become obscure or we’ll blend in so well we will become one with the world. The gospel is worth considering. And Christians need to consider how it will be presented.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Marriage Amendment Fails

The Advocate, the premiere magazine of homosexuals in America, boldly declares in their current edition where gay marriage is headed. Family advocates had predicted for years polygamy would be the next step. Now, the Advocate agrees.

Today’s vote in the US Senate was particularly disheartening. Senators failed to break a filibuster by a vote of 49-48. Liberal senators opined, lectured and obfuscated. Conservative senators made compelling arguments. At the end of the day, activist judges were given the green light to thwart America’s constitutional government vested in her people.

Clearly, gay marriage and polygamy are on a fast track to become a norm in our country. May God curse America.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Why I Am A Calvinist (part 4)

I am not a fan of Christian “rock music” but in the 80s the band Petra caught my ear. One of the songs they sang was “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits upon the throne…” It took me awhile to realize the song was from Revelation 7:10. The teaching of that verse and other multiple texts is simple. Salvation is God’s business. Without His initiative, mankind would be left to his rebellion.

The text that really grabbed me on this point was Romans 3:10-12. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good. no, not so much as one. “ The statement “there is none that seeks after God” was haunting. So if man was to seek after God, it would be because God did something to cause his seeking.

There are some other texts of scripture that have convinced me, God must intervene with man’s spiritual rebellion. God takes the initiative to seek after sinful man. And I am so glad He does!

I Cor. 2:14: The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged.

Gen. 2:17: But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Rom.5:12: Therefore, as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin; and so death passed unto all men, for that all sinned.

2 Cor. 1:9: Yea, we ourselves had the sentence of death within ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raiseth the dead.

Eph. 2:1-3: And you did He make alive, when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins, wherein ye once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience; among whom ye also all once lived in the lusts of your flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.

Eph. 2:12: Ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise having no hope and without God in the world.

Jer. 13:23: Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

Ps. 51:5: Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity; And in sin did my mother conceive me.
John 3:3: Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Job 14:4: Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.

I Cor. 1:18: For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God.

Acts 13:41: Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish; For I work a work in your days, A work which ye shall in no wise believe, if one declare it unto you.

Prov. 30:12: There is a generation that are pure in their own eye, And yet are not washed from their filthiness.

John 5:21: For as the Father raiseth the dead and giveth them life, even so the Son also giveth life to whom He will.

John 6:53: Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, ye have not life in yourselves.

John 8:19: They said therefore unto Him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye know neither me, nor my Father; if ye knew me, ye would know my Father also.

Malt. 11:25: I thank thee, 0 Father Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes.

2 Cor. 5:17: If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature.

John 14:16: (And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may be with you forever,) even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth Him not, neither knoweth Him; ye know Him; for He abideth with you, and shall be in you.

John 3:19: And this is the judgment, that light is come unto the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil.