Theological Issues

A Reading Diary, Religion, Theology, etc.

Posted on November 9, 2015. Filed under: Book Reviews, The Walker Library, Theological Issues |

I. Religious Books
A. Theology
a. Biblical Theology
1. Vincent, Milton. A Gospel Primer for Christians. Focus Publishing, 2008 (97pp.) This is an outstanding, life-changing book. This book is at the core of the Gospel Centered movement. Read this for Care Group Leader training at Christ the Redeemer Church, Bret Rogers, Teaching Elder, White Settlement, TX. April 2014.
2. Roberts, Vaughan. God’s Big Picture, Tracing the Storyline of the Bible. IVP Books: Downers Grove, Ill. 2002 (170pp.) Read this book as part of Care Group Leader training at Christ the Redeemer Church, April-May 2014. This book is written at a fairly simple level, high school level, but is profound and exciting. Amazing! Why did I not have this stuff 30 years ago!?
3. Dever, Mark. What Does God Want of Us Anyway? Crossway: Wheaton, IL. 2010 (127pp.) Read 01-26-15 to 02-03-15. This is a fantastic, concise book that explains the main idea of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. This book tells the gospel story from Creation to the Apocalypse. Much like Vaughan’s above. Highly recommend! (Where was this stuff 40 years ago???)
b. Systematic Theology/Bible Doctrine
1. General Works-Systematic Theology Texts
(1). Concise Theology, A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs, by J.I. Packer. Tyndale House Publishers: Wheaton, IL. 1993 (267pp.) Read 12-11-14 to 05-27-15. This is an outstanding introduction to systematic theology, the doctrines the Bible teaches, done in a devotional style that can bless the average layman or minister equally. Packer packs a lot into this Concise Theology in bite sized chunks of 2-4 pages per topic (and the pages are small). I read this book over the last 6 months as a daily devotional 1-2 chapters at a time. Packer explains the big theological terms in simple ways and shows the biblical basis for each doctrine. He is gracious yet firm when he covers controversial areas such as hell and he does present some alternative views other than his own Reformed Anglican; but you always know where he stands! I highly recommend this book for those who may know Bible stories but need to know what the Bible actually teaches.
(2). Christian Beliefs, Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know, by
Wayne A. Grudem, edited by Eliot Grudem. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI.
2005 (159pp.) 06-12-15 to 07-14-15. This is an outstanding, concise, intro-
duction to Bible doctrines. This is largely a serious condensation of
Grudem’s earlier books but the editing is excellent, making this a wonderful
beginner book for a recent convert or someone just beginning to get excited
about Bible doctrine. I highly recommend!
2. Doctrine of Revelation/Inspiration/Inerrancy
(1). Scripture Alone, The Evangelical Doctrine, by R. C. Sproul. P&R: Phillipsburg, NJ 2005 (210pp.) Read 05-12-14 to 09-17-14. This is a very good book that covers the doctrine and history of Inerrancy and the doctrine of Revelation. It has its difficult parts as one chapter gets a bit into philosophy that may scare away the average reader. Highly Recommend!
(2). Truth&Power, The Place of Scripture in the Christian Life by J.I. Packer. Inter-Varsity Press: Downers Grove, IL. 1996 (191pp.) Read 09-20-14 to 10-27-14 but had begun it the first time 03-28-03. This book is a compilation of a few of Packer’s works but turns into a very strong book that covers much of what Sproul covered in Scripture Alone but from the British perspective. It too has its philosophical and historical aspects but also covers the doctrine and its practical use very thoroughly.
(3). Taking God at His Word, by Kevin DeYoung. Crossway: Wheaton, IL. 2014 (138pp.) Read 11-28-14 to 12-12-14. This is an OUTSTANDING, Concise yet thorough examination of the doctrine of the Word of God. I highly recommend!
(4). Thy Word Is Truth, by E.J. Young. The Banner of Truth Trust: Carlisle, PA; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. :Grand Rapids, MI 1957 (280pp.) Read 09-18-14 to 04-21-15 ( I read a couple of other books on this topic while reading this one- see above). This was an outstanding book, the classic in this topic of the doctrine of inspiration and inerrancy. This was not an easy read by any means. Dr. Young’s arguments are very precise with multiple biblical texts exegeted for each point. He discusses in depth the arguments from the other side and tears them apart. You could make a charge that he is somewhat repetitive but it is more likely that he is just being careful to be understood and to dissect every aspect of the topic. If you want a book that covers this topic in detail, and you have the patience for it, this is THE book. This may be a bit over the heads of many, but if you are willing to work hard, this book will be a serious blessing to you. Although it was written almost 60 years ago, it is extremely relevant to the discussion today. The arguments of the age do not change at their core, just the dressing changes.
(5). Knowing Scripture, Revised Edition. R.C. Sproul. IVP Books: Downers Grove, IL 2009, original edition 1977 (I read the original edition many years ago). (152pp.) Read 05-09-15 to 06-09-15. This is an excellent though brief introduction to both the doctrine of Scripture and to Hermeneutics for laymen. The book is really designed to instruct readers in how to interpret the Bible and Sproul does a very good job! This is a challenging read for most laymen I would think. It would be excellent if done as a part of a Bible Study group. Outstanding!
(6). God’s Inerrant Word: An International Symposium on the Trustworthiness of Scripture, John Warwick Montgomery, editor. Bethany House Publishers: Minneapolis, Minnesota 1978 (288pp.) Partially read in 1998; read again, complete, 06-18-15 to 08-07-15. This is an outstanding book, especially considering that it is an anthology with multiple authors. This very thoroughly covers the subject. Sproul’s last chapter is particularly great! Highly recommend but this is, at times, some pretty deep stuff!
3. Doctrine of the Person of Christ
(1). The Message of the Person of Christ, the Bible Speaks Today, by Robert Letham. Inter-Varsity Press: Downers Grove, IL 2013 (261pp.) Read 12-11-14 to 01-14-15. This is an Outstanding survey of many Scripture Texts from Genesis to Revelation that teach us about the Person of Christ. Sound and solid theology but highly readable. I highly recommend!
4. Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
(1). Names of the Holy Spirit by Ray Pritchard. Moody Press: Chicago, 1995 (214pp.) Read as a daily devotion 04-14-15 to 09-25-15. This is an excellent biblical study of the names of the Holy Spirit from Genesis to Revelation. Despite the fact that this is a devotional book, he covers a lot of biblical ground and thoroughly explains and applies the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. I highly recommend!
5.
c. Historical Theology
B. Christian Living/Basic Discipleship
a. Basic Christianity-Discipleship
1. Basic Christianity by John Stott. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, MI 2008 (originally 1958) (174pp.) Read for the Third time 11-13-14 to 12-15-14. Outstanding! A classic! A great beginner book.
2. The Keys To Spiritual Growth by John MacArthur. Crossway Books: Wheaton, IL 1991 (191pp.) Read 12-20-14 to 01-20-15. This is an outstanding book for the new believer or the believer who needs a heavy dose of the basics. Great tool for discipleship.
b.
C. Bible Commentaries
a. Old Testament
1. Tyndale Old Testament Commentary Vol.23B: Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, by David W. Baker. Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester, England 1988. “Habakkuk” pp.41-77. Read for the Redeemer Church sermon series by Dan Hilmer, June-July 2014.
2. The Minor Prophets, Volume 2, Micah-Malachi, by James Montgomery Boice. Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI. 1986, “Habakkuk”, pp.387-434. Read June-July, 2014.
3. The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of Zechariah, by Barry G. Webb. InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL 2003 (186pp.) Read 06-01-15 to 07-21-15. This is an outstanding, gospel centered, conservative commentary that is perfect for devotions or sermon prep. Webb really helped me understand Zechariah, which is not the easiest of the minor-prophets to grasp. Highly recommend! Read in preparation for a sermon series on Zechariah by Pastor Bret Rogers at Redeemer Church, Fort Worth, Aug. 2015.
4. Fries, Micah; Rummage, Stephen; Gallaty, Robby. Christ-Centered Exposition, Exalting Jesus in Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. Holman Reference: Nashville, TN 2015 (pp.79-195). Read July-August 2015. Outstanding! Nice, perfect, organized sermons, very good!
5. Hill, Andrew E. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. IVP Academic: Downers Grove, IL 2012 (368pp., “Zechariah”, pp.103-273). Read 08-22-15 to 10-03-15. This was an outstanding commentary!
6. Gregory, Bryan R. The Gospel According to the Old Testament series, Longing for God in an Age of Discouragement, The Gospel According to Zechariah. P&R Publishing: Phillipsburg, NJ, 2010 (264pp.) Read 10-06-15 to 11-05-15. This is an outstanding expositional commentary! Highly recommend!
b. New Testament
D. Apologetics
a. Classical
b. Evidence
c. General
d. Issues
1. Johnson, Phillip E. Darwin on Trial. Regnery Gateway: Washington D.C. 1991 (195pp.) Read 10-02 to 11-04-14. Started many times, 09-29-00, 06-17-01, 03-11-04, 09-21-07. This is a very important book, but, sadly, the cult of Darwinism still predominates our society 23 years later. The book does require a lot of knowledge of biology, but the author’s arguments are outstanding!
2. Ibid. Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education. Inter-Varsity Press: Downers Grove, IL. 1995 (245pp.) Purchased 10-02-95; read 11-12-14 to 12-10-14. Outstanding!
E.

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The Walker Library, A Reading Diary

Posted on October 17, 2015. Filed under: Book Reviews, Daily Journey, The Walker Library, Theological Issues |

Religion and Philosophy
I. ChristianTheology
A. Biblical Theology
1. Vincent, Milton. A Gospel Primer for Christians. Focus Publishing, 2008 (97pp.) This is an outstanding, life-changing book. This book is at the core of the Gospel Centered movement. Read this for Care Group Leader training at Christ the Redeemer Church, Bret Rogers, Teaching Elder, White Settlement, TX. April 2014.
2. Roberts, Vaughan. God’s Big Picture, Tracing the Storyline of the Bible. IVP Books: Downers Grove, Ill. 2002 (170pp.) Read this book as part of Care Group Leader training at Christ the Redeemer Church, April-May 2014. This book is written at a fairly simple level, high school level, but is profound and exciting. Amazing! Why did I not have this stuff 30 years ago!?
3. Dever, Mark. What Does God Want of Us Anyway? Crossway: Wheaton, IL. 2010 (127pp.) Read 01-26-15 to 02-03-15. This is a fantastic, concise book that explains the main idea of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. This book tells the gospel story from Creation to the Apocalypse. Much like Vaughan’s above. Highly recommend! (Where was this stuff 40 years ago???)
B. Systematic Theology/Bible Doctrine
1. General Works-Systematic Theology Texts
(1). Concise Theology, A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs, by J.I. Packer. Tyndale House Publishers: Wheaton, IL. 1993 (267pp.) Read 12-11-14 to 05-27-15. This is an outstanding introduction to systematic theology, the doctrines the Bible teaches, done in a devotional style that can bless the average layman or minister equally. Packer packs a lot into this Concise Theology in bite sized chunks of 2-4 pages per topic (and the pages are small). I read this book over the last 6 months as a daily devotional 1-2 chapters at a time. Packer explains the big theological terms in simple ways and shows the biblical basis for each doctrine. He is gracious yet firm when he covers controversial areas such as hell and he does present some alternative views other than his own Reformed Anglican; but you always know where he stands! I highly recommend this book for those who may know Bible stories but need to know what the Bible actually teaches.
(2). Christian Beliefs, Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know, by
Wayne A. Grudem, edited by Eliot Grudem. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI.
2005 (159pp.) 06-12-15 to 07-14-15. This is an outstanding, concise, intro-
duction to Bible doctrines. This is largely a serious condensation of
Grudem’s earlier books but the editing is excellent, making this a wonderful
beginner book for a recent convert or someone just beginning to get excited
about Bible doctrine. I highly recommend!
2. Doctrine of Revelation/Inspiration/Inerrancy
(1). Scripture Alone, The Evangelical Doctrine, by R. C. Sproul. P&R: Phillipsburg, NJ 2005 (210pp.) Read 05-12-14 to 09-17-14. This is a very good book that covers the doctrine and history of Inerrancy and the doctrine of Revelation. It has its difficult parts as one chapter gets a bit into philosophy that may scare away the average reader. Highly Recommend!
(2). Truth&Power, The Place of Scripture in the Christian Life by J.I. Packer. Inter-Varsity Press: Downers Grove, IL. 1996 (191pp.) Read 09-20-14 to 10-27-14 but had begun it the first time 03-28-03. This book is a compilation of a few of Packer’s works but turns into a very strong book that covers much of what Sproul covered in Scripture Alone but from the British perspective. It too has its philosophical and historical aspects but also covers the doctrine and its practical use very thoroughly.
(3). Taking God at His Word, by Kevin DeYoung. Crossway: Wheaton, IL. 2014 (138pp.) Read 11-28-14 to 12-12-14. This is an OUTSTANDING, Concise yet thorough examination of the doctrine of the Word of God. I highly recommend!
(4). Thy Word Is Truth, by E.J. Young. The Banner of Truth Trust: Carlisle, PA; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. :Grand Rapids, MI 1957 (280pp.) Read 09-18-14 to 04-21-15 ( I read a couple of other books on this topic while reading this one- see above). This was an outstanding book, the classic in this topic of the doctrine of inspiration and inerrancy. This was not an easy read by any means. Dr. Young’s arguments are very precise with multiple biblical texts exegeted for each point. He discusses in depth the arguments from the other side and tears them apart. You could make a charge that he is somewhat repetitive but it is more likely that he is just being careful to be understood and to dissect every aspect of the topic. If you want a book that covers this topic in detail, and you have the patience for it, this is THE book. This may be a bit over the heads of many, but if you are willing to work hard, this book will be a serious blessing to you. Although it was written almost 60 years ago, it is extremely relevant to the discussion today. The arguments of the age do not change at their core, just the dressing changes.
(5). Knowing Scripture, Revised Edition. R.C. Sproul. IVP Books: Downers Grove, IL 2009, original edition 1977 (I read the original edition many years ago). (152pp.) Read 05-09-15 to 06-09-15. This is an excellent though brief introduction to both the doctrine of Scripture and to Hermeneutics for laymen. The book is really designed to instruct readers in how to interpret the Bible and Sproul does a very good job! This is a challenging read for most laymen I would think. It would be excellent if done as a part of a Bible Study group. Outstanding!
(6). God’s Inerrant Word: An International Symposium on the Trustworthiness of Scripture, John Warwick Montgomery, editor. Bethany House Publishers: Minneapolis, Minnesota 1978 (288pp.) Partially read in 1998; read again, complete, 06-18-15 to 08-07-15. This is an outstanding book, especially considering that it is an anthology with multiple authors. This very thoroughly covers the subject. Sproul’s last chapter is particularly great! Highly recommend but this is, at times, some pretty deep stuff!
3. Doctrine of the Person of Christ
(1). The Message of the Person of Christ, the Bible Speaks Today, by Robert Letham. Inter-Varsity Press: Downers Grove, IL 2013 (261pp.) Read 12-11-14 to 01-14-15. This is an Outstanding survey of many Scripture Texts from Genesis to Revelation that teach us about the Person of Christ. Sound and solid theology but highly readable. I highly recommend!
4. Doctrine of the Holy Spirit
(1). Names of the Holy Spirit by Ray Pritchard. Moody Press: Chicago, 1995 (214pp.) Read as a daily devotion 04-14-15 to 09-25-15. This is an excellent biblical study of the names of the Holy Spirit from Genesis to Revelation. Despite the fact that this is a devotional book, he covers a lot of biblical ground and thoroughly explains and applies the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. I highly recommend!
5.
C. Historical Theology
II. Christian Living/Basic Discipleship
A. Basic Christianity-Discipleship
1. Basic Christianity by John Stott. William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, MI 2008 (originally 1958) (174pp.) Read for the Third time 11-13-14 to 12-15-14. Outstanding! A classic! A great beginner book.
2. The Keys To Spiritual Growth by John MacArthur. Crossway Books: Wheaton, IL 1991 (191pp.) Read 12-20-14 to 01-20-15. This is an outstanding book for the new believer or the believer who needs a heavy dose of the basics. Great tool for discipleship.
III. Bible Commentaries
A. Old Testament
1. Tyndale Old Testament Commentary Vol.23B: Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, by David W. Baker. Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester, England 1988. “Habakkuk” pp.41-77. Read for the Redeemer Church sermon series by Dan Hilmer, June-July 2014.
2. The Minor Prophets, Volume 2, Micah-Malachi, by James Montgomery Boice. Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI. 1986, “Habakkuk”, pp.387-434. Read June-July, 2014. Very good sermons!
3. The Bible Speaks Today, The Message of Zechariah, by Barry G. Webb. InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL 2003 (186pp.) Read 06-01-15 to 07-21-15. This is an outstanding, gospel centered, conservative commentary that is perfect for devotions or sermon prep. Webb really helped me understand Zechariah, which is not the easiest of the minor-prophets to grasp. Highly recommend! Read in preparation for a sermon series on Zechariah by Pastor Bret Rogers at Redeemer Church, Fort Worth, Aug. 2015.
4. Fries, Micah; Rummage, Stephen; Gallaty, Robby. Christ-Centered Exposition, Exalting Jesus in Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. Holman Reference: Nashville, TN 2015 (pp.79-195). Read July-August 2015. Outstanding! Nice, perfect, organized sermons, very good!
5. Hill, Andrew E. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. IVP Academic: Downers Grove, IL 2012 (368pp., “Zechariah”, pp.103-273). Read 08-22-15 to 10-03-15. This was an outstanding commentary!
B. New Testament
IV. Apologetics
A. Classical
B. Evidence
C. General
D. Issues
1. Johnson, Phillip E. Darwin on Trial. Regnery Gateway: Washington D.C. 1991 (195pp.) Read 10-02 to 11-04-14. Started many times, 09-29-00, 06-17-01, 03-11-04, 09-21-07. This is a very important book, but, sadly, the cult of Darwinism still predominates our society 23 years later. The book does require a lot of knowledge of biology, but the author’s arguments are outstanding!
2. Ibid. Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law & Education. Inter-Varsity Press: Downers Grove, IL. 1995 (245pp.) Purchased 10-02-95; read 11-12-14 to 12-10-14. Outstanding!
E.

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“Angels in Genesis”

Posted on September 25, 2011. Filed under: Doctrinal Sermons, Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions, Theological Issues |

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bryan E. Walker

Gen.28:12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth,and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!

 

Pray

 

 

Introduction: Once in a while it is good when you are preaching or teaching your way through a Bible book to stop, and do a topical or, in this case, doctrinal lesson that fits in with the part of the book you are currently studying. We have looked at the story of Jacob’s ladder for a few weeks and there is an appearance of angels that is rather prominent, so this would be an excellent time to look at the use of angels by Moses in Genesis. Who, or what, are angels and what is their purpose? What is a proper biblical understanding of angels? How can we of the 21st century believe in angels and how can we defend this belief in an atheistic world?

 

It seems as if each generation has 2-3 theological fads; in the last 20 years angels made a big comeback. The TV show “Touched By An Angel” ran from 1994-2003 and gave all kinds of wrong information about angels. Guideposts magazine frequently includes stories about people who claim to have had some kind of an experience with angels. But there are some serious dangers from an overemphasis on angels. 2Cor.11:14 “warns us that Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light”. David Jeremiah writes (p.16), “But a stronger belief in angels is no guarantee of greater understanding of God’s truth. The devil can ensnare us as much through ‘angelism’ as he can through materialism or sexual lust or power hunger. In fact he has scored some of his greatest triumphs in the disguise of angels. In the year 610 the oppressive religion of Islam was born when Muhammed received the contents of the Koran in a series of visions from someone he believed to be the angel Gabriel. Twelve centuries later, the deceptive cult of Mormonism supposedly arose when an angelic being calledMoronigot Joseph Smith connected with the Book of Mormon.”

 

Belief in the “spiritual” is not the same as believing in God. Many people believe in angels but not the biblical God. In fact, to a certain extent, angels can replace God in some people’s lives. No repentance is needed. Nothing in the Bible indicates that angels will help non-christians and Satan tried to persuade Jesus to rely on angels for protection by misquoting an OT text.

 

  1. I.                   The Use of the Word “Angel(s)” and Related Words, in Genesis
    1. A.     Texts in Genesis that use the word malak – angel(s) or texts that present some sort of spiritual being: Gen. 3:1-5, 24; 6:1-4; 16:7-14; 18:1-22; 19:1-29; 21:14-21; 22:1-19; 24:7,40; 28:10-17; 31:11; 32:1-2, 24-32; 48:14-16. Malak-angel, Strong’s #4397, to dispatch as a deputy; a messenger; specially of God, i.e. an angel (also a prophet, priest or teacher):- ambassador, angel, king, messenger.
      1. 1.      Angel of the Lord- Gen.16:7-14 The context of the story is that Sarai is barren and has fallen back to a custom of the day, giving her female servant to her husband Abram so that she, Sarai, could obtain a child through her. That sounds strange to our ears but today we practice surrogate mothering and artificial insemination. After Hagar conceived, she “looked with contempt on her mistress.” Sarai now mistreats the pregnant Hagar and she flees. In vs. 7 “The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness” and the angel has a conversation with her.
      2. 2.      “The angel of the LORD…” Francisco notes that this is the first use of the term in the Bible (BBC, Vol.1, rev. p.168). Is this an angel, is this the pre-incarnate Christ, or is this a theophany? The use of this term can be confusing as it is clearly called an angel, messenger from God, yet also referred to as God by Hagar in vs. 13. Arthur W. Pink views this as a theophany (Gleanings in Genesis, Moody, p.176). Mathews writes, “This passage is the first reference to ‘the angel of the LORD’ in the Old Testament, where it occurs fifty-eight times. In Genesis the theophanic name occurs six times, four in chap.16 (vv.7,9,10,11) and twice in the offering of Isaac (22:11,15). The precise relationship between the ‘angel of the LORD’ and God is puzzling. The angel is equated with the Lord in some texts and yet appears distinctive in others (eg. 22:15-16; Exod. 3:2-4 with Acts 7:30-32; Num.22:22,31,35,38;) ..Chap.16 illustrates the ambiguity of the angel’s identity….Traditionally, Christian interpreters ascribed to the appearance of the angel a Christophany, the preincarnate divine Son of God.” (NAC, vol.1B, pp.188f). It would be too much to be dogmatic either way as it would be common to view the King’s messenger as the king himself in that culture, but it is also clear that God does show up personally at times such as in Gen. 3, 18. My personal understanding is that this is the pre-incarnate Christ.
      3. 3.      What is the angel’s purpose in this encounter? First to get Hagar to return to Sarai, vs.9. Second, to announce a blessing to her of a multitude of offspring. Third, to comfort her in her affliction, vs.11. Fourth, to announce what kind of a man her son would grow into- “a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone”. Hagar obviously linked the angel with the LORD himself and knew she was speaking with God through this angel.
      4. 4.      The three men and two angels of 18:1-19:29. 18:1 “And the LORD appeared to him…”- notice that this phrasing is very similar to 17:1 thus linking this story with what preceded it in 17:1 “the LORD appeared to Abram and said…”  Compare with 16:7 “The Angel of the LORD found her (Hagar), and 15:1 “”the Word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision…” 13:14 “The LORD said to Abram…” 12:7 “the LORD appeared to Abram…” 12:1 “Now the LORD said to Abram…” Notice that it says, “the LORD appeared to him” and did not mention Abraham by name. This links the present story to the previous story where Abraham was the subject. This information is from Moses, the narrator of the story. As we shall see shortly, Abraham was not immediately aware of who his guests were. Gordon Wenham (p.45) writes, “…reflects the narrator’s standpoint: the identity of his visitors was not immediately apparent to Abraham. As v.2 makes clear, he at first thought they were simply men. His warm welcome and alacrity in serving them was in no way prompted by his recognizing them.”
      5. 5.      vs.33 “And the LORD went his way, when he had finished speaking…” brings the section to a definite ending.
      6. 6.      “…and behold, three men were standing in front of him.” As the story unfolds we find out that one of the three was in fact the LORD and the other two were his angels. This lets us know that angels can have the physical appearance of human beings, men specifically (there are no female angelic appearances despite the TV series). This physical appearance of what are essentially spirit beings is intriguing. More on that in ch. 19, which will have an impact on how we interpret Gen. 6:1-4.
      7. 7.      But one of the three men is the LORD! James M. Boice does not hesitate to state that this is the pre-incarnate Jesus, p.147, “…two of the three (the two that went on to Sodom and rescued Lot) were literally angels and that only the third was Deity- Jesus…These and several other references suggest that Jesus here anticipated His incarnation and was found in fashion as a man even before His later birth in Bethlehem.”
      8. 8.      “When he saw them…” indicates a sudden, even mysterious appearance, although if Abraham was taking a siesta in the shade of his tent, he may have wakened to see them suddenly. But it is interesting that he did not see them approaching from afar.
      9. 9.      What we see here in ch.18 then is the LORD himself, the pre-incarnate Christ, and two angels, show up as men. Abraham does not immediately recognize who they are. The angels in this case remain silent and are accompanying the Lord. Their primary role comes in ch.19. The switch from “men” to the LORD comes in vs. 10 but we do not know exactly when it dawned on Abraham that he was speaking to the LORD. In vs.10 the LORD makes a prophecy about Sarah’s pregnancy. But the “men” continue to be “men” until 19:1. We do not know for sure what Abraham knew nor when he knew it. But, the story would have been told orally by Abraham to Isaac and so passed down to Moses so we can assume that Abraham figured out they were angels at some point.
      10. 10.  Moses subtly makes the transition from “men” in ch.18 to “angels” in 19. Perhaps the author of Hebrews explains it best in 13:2 “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” From Lot’s perspective they were men and he was offering hospitality and protection to them. There must have been something about the men that drew attention to them in order to arouse the entire populace. As the men of the city seek to have homosexual sex with them the amazing thing is that if these were angels, spiritual beings, they also had real physical bodies. In v.10 they grab Lot and bring him inside, and they ate in vs.3, just as they did in 18:8.
      11. 11.  The significance for this is the implications relating to 6:1-4 and the “sons of God” taking wives from the daughters of men, producing the Nephilim. Is it possible that spiritual beings, angels, can take on human flesh so that they can eat and even have sexual relations? But what about Mark 12:25 “For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” This simply says that angels are not married in heaven. Presumably there is no need for sex in heaven is the implication. What does that say to Gen. 19 and 6? Not much because both of those events were not in heaven, but rather on earth and the angels (if the ‘sons of God’ were angels in Gen. 6) had physical bodies that could eat and be lusted after by the Sodomites.
      12. 12.  Herbert Lockyer, “All the Angels in the Bible” (pp.126-127) “The account of the mating of the sons of God with the daughters of men in Genesis 6:1-4 is unique in the Bible. No other passage of Scripture relates or even hints at members of the celestial world having sexual intercourse with human beings. ‘By and act of rebellion a new level in the spread of evil is attained, to which divine judgment is the only antidote…So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created’ (Genesis 6:5, 7). Noah is immediately introduced, and the story of the flood commences’ (J.R. Edwards). ‘…Some fallen angels transgressed not only by taking on human bodies- as we know fallen angels sometimes do- but by operating in all the functions of those bodies, including sex.’ (Terry Law, the Truth about Angels,p.223.) Our conviction is that sin reached its climax in the illicit intercourse between fallen angels and women.” Lockyer is the only person I have read who says this, and I came up with this several years before reading Lockyer. I would disagree with Law as cited by Lockyer, when he implies that angels sinned by taking on human bodies. We have seen in Genesis that angels take on human flesh before Abraham and Lot, and certainly Jacob when he wrestled all night and yet those were good angels.
      13. 13.  21:14-21 This is the time when Sarah protested about how Ishmael was teasing Isaac (mocking) and Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away for good. Somehow Hagar and Ishmael ran out of water and Hagar gives up and is ready to die when the “angel of God called to Hagar”. The angel speaks with Hagar and tells her to not fear, thus bringing comfort and renews the promise to make of “the boy…a great nation.” God opened Hagar’s eyes so that she saw a nearby well and they were preserved. The purposes of the angel here then, were comfort, prophecy, and provision-protection.
      14. 14.  22:1-19 The sacrifice of Isaac. In vs. 11 “the angel of the LORD” calls out to Abraham to stop the ritual slaughter of Isaac, thus protecting Isaac. Notice that in vs.12 the angel of the LORD identifies himself as God. In vss. 15-18 again “the Angel of the LORD called to Abraham” but clearly speaks of himself as the LORD. Notice that there is no physical manifestation of the angel of the LORD, only a voice is mentioned, as in ch. 21 and 16.
      15. 15.  24:7,40 we have “he will send his angel before you” in v. 7 and in v.40 Abraham’s servant quotes his master Abraham “send his angel with you”. There is no physical manifestation of an angel, nor is there a voice. But the implication is that Abraham knows that the LORD will send his angel along with or before his servant on this important trip. The implication is for guidance and protection, to help ensure a successful journey to acquire a wife for Isaac and therefore to ensure success for God’s covenant with Abraham.
      16. 16.  In 28:10-17 the angels are a part of the dream Jacob had but did not make a physical presence. The implication however is that they are present, though unseen, and will guide and protect Jacob on his journey.
      17. 17.  31:11 Jacob claims that a dream about the “angel of God” led to his breeding policy resulting in increasing his flocks at the expense of Laban. Notice, however, in vss. 12-13, the “angel of God” becomes “the God of Bethel”. The angel, or God, is telling him to leave the land of Laban and return home. The theme is protection again, and guidance as well.
      18. 18.  32:1-2, 24-32 the angels of God met him- This follows from his prior dream with the angel’s telling him to leave Laban; this is a confirmation of the protective presence of God. He is preparing to meet Esau again and is fearful, but the Lord is with him. In vss. 24-32 the man wrestling with Jacob is never identified as an angel. Vs. 30 Jacob identifies him as God. Here we have the pre-incarnate Christ wrestling with Jacob. This most unusual. The pre-incarnate Christ engaging in a martial art of wrestling with Jacob. But we see the Commander of the Army of the LORD meet Joshua in Joshua in ch.5:13-15, possibly the pre-incarnate Christ, again in a warrior mode.
      19. 19.  48:14-16 the angel who has redeemed me-again, this text identifies God with the angel.
      20. 20.  Gen.3:24 Cherubim- They guard the Lord’s glory with flaming swords, protecting the entry into the Garden from fallen man. The word for cherub is shrouded in mystery and may be related to “intercessor”, “guardian”, or “to grasp or hold”. They were a part of the Ark of the Covenant in Ex.25:20 and are described as having wings. There are cherubim woven into the curtains of the Tabernacle in Ex.261.

 

  1. II.                Doctrine of Angels
    1. A.     Angels
      1. 1.      Part of Creation- Psalm 148:2-5; Col.1:16. Angels are created by God as spiritual, heavenly creatures, who are immortal, but who can, on occasion, take on human flesh on earth. Angels are always listed as male in the Bible, there is not one instance of a female angel. God created the angels BEFORE creating the earth in Job 38:4-7; Psa.104:1-5. Angels are not recipients of salvation and are curious about it 1Pet.1:12.
      2. 2.      How many angels are there? We do not know but Jesus mentions that he could call for 12 Legions (a Roman legion, if it were full, would have about 6,000 soldiers) of angels in Matt.26:53; Heb.12:22 (thousands and thousands of angels); Rev.5:11 (ten thousand times ten thousand).
      3. 3.      Watch over children- Matt.18:10
      4. 4.      Protect God’s people- Psalm 34:7; Daniel 3- fiery furnace, Dan.6- the lions den.
      5. 5.      Involvement in international affairs- Dan.10:13,20-11:10; Acts 12:19-24. See 2Chron.32:16-23 and Isa.37:36-38.
      6. 6.      Participating in Judgments- Gen.19:13,32; Rev.15-16;
      7. 7.      Announcing Christ’s Birth- Matt.1:20-23; Lk.1:8-25, 26-38; 2:8-15
      8. 8.      Protecting Christ- Matt. 2:13; Matt.4:11; Mk.1:13.
    2. B.     Fallen Angels (demons)
      1. 1.      Lucifer’s fall- Jude 6-9; Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:1,2, 11-19.
      2. 2.      3:1-5, the serpent…said- the devil incarnate as a serpent. The devil is a fallen angel. Why a talking serpent? I believe the devil inhabited a serpent because of the snake’s beauty and slithering seductiveness. Remember that in the Garden at least, the serpents would not be dangerous, but a good part of God’s creation. The serpent would later become recognized as a sneaky, deadly, deceptive beast.

Conclusion: We have seen several substantial accounts of the presence of Angels, God’s Messengers, in Genesis and have lightly touched on several accounts throughout the rest of the OT and the New. From the Patriarchs to Moses and Joshua, to the Kings and Prophets, to Jesus and the Apostles, angels were real and active. Angelology is however, a minor issue in Scripture. It is taught and we need to understand it, but if you see anyone who has an unwarranted interest in angels, or is depending more on angels than the Spirit and the Word- watch out! Angels, like miracles, are never guaranteed, but show up as directed by God. My own personal experience with angels was at the bedside of dying Christian man who very clearly saw two angels in his hospital room before he went home to be with the Lord. None of the rest of us could see them except for our dying friend, father and husband who was leaving earth and entering eternity. I think our culture, though interested in the subject, treats the subject lightly, frivolously, as they do other areas of Christian doctrine.

Bibliography:

http://bioinbrief.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=104&Itemid=107

Jeremiah, David. Angels: Who They Are and How They Help- What the Bible Reveals. Multnomah Books:Colorado Springs,CO1996 (232pp.)

Graham, Billy. Angels: God’s Secret Agents. W Publishing Group:Nashville,TN 1975 (192pp.)

Lockyer, Herbert (1886-1985). All the Angels in the Bible, ed. Herbert Lockyer, Jr.  Hendrickson Publishers:Peabody, Mass.1995.

 

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Theodicy:the Justification of God and the Problem of Evil in Light of the Destruction of Japan by the Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011” Luke 13:1-5

Posted on March 12, 2011. Filed under: News of the Day, Theological Issues |

Redeemer Church, Genesis Sunday School Class

Sunday, 03-13-2011

Bryan E. Walker

______________________________________________________________________

Read Luke 13:1-5

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Introduction: I was taught in seminary that having sermon series’ was a good idea and that we should stay closely to the texts and not allow current events to drive our preaching. In the supposed effort to keep preaching relevant we should not forget that the Scripture is relevant in every age, it will never be irrelevant. That being said, I am convinced that there are times when current events are so huge that we must deal with them in a sermon or Bible study. We must bring God’s truth to bear on current events. Folks, this past Friday the country of Japan was dealt a blow that was, if not mortal to that nation, is at least a serious blow that will forever change Japan and even the world. Therefore, today I cannot help but depart from our studies in Genesis to look at God and natural disasters, or, “Theodicy: the Justification of God and the Problem of Evil in Light of the Destruction of Japan by the Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011.”

Let me begin by reading you some dates and locations and you tell me what happened: Sept. 8, 1900, Galveston; April 18, 1906, San Francisco; Oct 29th, 1929, New York City; Dec.7th, 1941, Pearl Harbor; Nov.22, 1963, Dallas; August 17, 1969, Biloxi, Miss; April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City; 9-11-01, New York/DC/PA; August 29, 2005, New Orleans;  Nov.5, 2009, Fort Hood, TX. These dates and events are burned into the American soul because of the size and scope of the tragedies or disasters they represent. On that list are natural disasters, acts of war, financial disasters, terrorism, and crimes.

You have your own very personal dates of pain and trauma. It may be the anniversary of the death of a parent, spouse or child; perhaps it is an event of great shame or when a crime was committed against you, or maybe you simply witnessed a tragedy and it is seared into your memory. Perhaps it is the date you were divorced or some other personal tragedy.

Bad things happen, horrible things, shameful and painful things. Evil lashes out at you and it costs you something, it scares you and scars you. You are never the same.

The questions are inevitable: Why? Why me? Why now? Where is God? How can I cope with this? Will the pain ever stop? How can we go one? What is to be done? Is God really good? How can a good God allow this evil to happen?

The earthquake and tsunami in Japan is one of the top 5 worst earthquakes and top 2 tsunamis in recorded history. The island of Japan, the main island, has been moved 8’ to the east. There are large portions of the coast that have sunk below sea level and the sea has reclaimed it. Add to the natural part of the disaster the nuclear disaster that has followed- and we do not yet know how severe that is but it cannot be a good thing. Casualty totals are already over 1,000 and many thousands are just plain missing. The death toll could be several thousand, but tens of thousands have lost everything. The Japanese economy will take a devastating hit. The cost of damage will be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. On a personal note two of my friends from college ROTC are half Japanese and they have requested prayer because they have family in the stricken areas and they cannot contact them.

What are we to make of this disaster? How can we understand it? What are we to do? How does our faith relate to something this massive and evil? Though the Christian is still going to have some unanswered questions about evil, pain and suffering in this life, we do have a framework to understand these issues from God’s Word that will help us to see that God remains just and good, sovereign and merciful even in the midst of disasters like this. Our task is to worship God in the midst of our pain, trust him in the presence of evil, and proclaim the hope we have in the gospel of Jesus Christ while we warn the world of the wrath to come and minister to the hurting as much as we can. Worship, trust, preaching repentance, and ministry to others must be our motto in the face of this and any other tragedy or disaster.

I. Why Do Disasters Happen?

Any time a disaster occurs, whether personal, nationwide, or somewhere else in the world, the inevitable human question of “Why?” arises. To me, the very fact that we can ask this question reveals that we are created and not evolved, that we are created in the image of God and not descendents of the apes. This question shows us that there is a God, an omnipotent Creator who is just and holy and has a purpose for his universe and for man.

When we ask “Why?” we are challenging the rightness of the event. We look at an earthquake and instinctively feel and believe that it is not right, it is not the way it ought to be. We acknowledge that the world is not the way it Should be. Our response to disasters like tsunamis points us back to Gen.1:28 “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion…” The savage ferocity of a natural disaster is testimony of man’s original command given by God in the tranquility of Paradise and of Man’s subsequent fall, leading to impotence in the face of nature gone wild and our life in exile from Paradise. We have a creation mandate to rule the world and subdue it, but, due to our fallenness, we are unable. Our asking the question “why?” subtly points us to the fact of there being a right and wrong that is objective, outside of us, bigger than us. This objective right and wrong leads us to the Lord of Creation, God himself. We have a primal memory of Paradise and an awareness of God that causes us to look upon the world as it is and realize it is not as it once was, nor as it should be.

How did the world get in this kind of shape if God is all powerful and all good? Why would a good God allow this huge disaster? The technical, philosophical term for this question is theodicy, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theodicy the question of why and how evil exists in God’s universe if he is both all good and all powerful. Many atheistic philosophers have used this question to reinforce their atheism by reasoning that a good God would not allow evil if he was all powerful. The presence of evil for the unbeliever confirms that God is either not good or not powerful enough to stop the evil, therefore God does not exist. Since the definition of God includes his goodness and omnipotence, there cannot be a God if evil is present.

For the Christian theologian, philosopher and average believer, this is clearly faulty reasoning and we should not fear the atheist’s false theories. The Scriptures teach that God allowed Lucifer to rebel and allowed man to be tempted and fall into sin. While God is not the author of sin or evil, he allows evil and sin to exist temporarily in order to accomplish his great work of Redemption and thus maximize His own glory. We know that God has created all that is, including the Devil, Col.1:16 16 For by  him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. The single largest assumption that leads us astray in this area is the idea that the universe exists for man; that man’s welfare and pleasure is the highest good in a man-centered universe. The universe is created by God for God to display his glory and to please himself as Creator. Folks, we live in a theocentric universe and should therefore look for the meaning of natural disasters and other evils in how they may fall into God’s plans, not in how they frustrate our plans.

In Genesis 3 we have the story of man’s fall into sin. As part of God’s judgment upon man he says,

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

What we see here is that the ground is cursed, and by that I believe we can take it as the entire natural world. Thorns and thistles case pain and choke out life giving food plants. Man will survive through sweaty, hard labor now, the easy life in the Garden of Paradise is ended. At the end of the chapter man is exiled from the Garden.

Paul writes in Rom. 8 19 “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”

This passage shows us that creation was adversely affected by the Fall of Man and is waiting eagerly to be changed back into what God wants. God’s plan of redemption in Christ does not stop with the hearts of repentant, believing sinners, it will ultimately change the natural universe, set it free, into a new heaven and a new earth.

Isaiah 65-

17 “For behold, I create new heavens
and a new earth,
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
and her people to be a gladness.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem
and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
and the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not fill out his days,
for the young man shall die a hundred years old,
and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy  the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain
or bear children for calamity, 
for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord,
and their descendants with them.
24 Before they call I will answer;
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;
the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
and dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain,”
says the Lord.

What all of this means is that earthquakes are a result of man’s fall into sin which affected the entire world. Natural disasters, plagues, etc. are the results of man’s sin being worked out in nature. They are impersonal and non-specific in that they afflict the just and the unjust alike. But they are absolutely under the sovereign authority of God and do not occur without the divine permission within his eternal plan. I absolutely do not believe in any random accidental event in God’s universe. Nothing escapes God’s notice or happens outside of his decreed and ordained plan and will.

Isaiah 45:7

7 I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the Lord, who does all these things.

This verse indicates that God is sovereign over the good things and the calamities as well. And in Isaiah 46-

8 “Remember this and stand firm,
recall it to mind, you transgressors,
remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
10 declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

God declares the end from the beginning. Everything that has happened or will ever happen has been declared by God, ordained by God.

But does that then make God the author of evil? No, because of James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

What does it mean then? God created the universe, the angels and man perfect but gave the angels and man a choice. Lucifer chose to rebel and then subsequently tempted Eve who fell and gave to her husband and he fell. All had as free of a choice as was possible for a created being underneath the authority of a sovereign God. The choices of Lucifer and Adam have brought about a condition wherein the world has natural disasters, the purposes of which fall into God’s plan that will ultimately lead to Redemption for the elect and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth, all for God’s glory.

II. Is The Earthquake and Tsunami God’s Wrath Upon Japan?

            Japan is a pretty godless place. http://www.christianpost.com/news/more-people-claim-christian-faith-in-japan-1549/ Only about 2% of the Japanese are Christian. But can we say that this disaster is God’s judgment upon them?

What we see in the Bible when God judges a city is pretty much total destruction upon a specific people for a particular purpose. On Sunday nights a few years ago I was preaching a series in Exodus and we had been looking at the plagues for several weeks when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. In Exodus we see that the Hebrews were somewhat protected from the worst effects of the plagues. We see that the plagues had a specific purpose, to judge pharaoh, Egypt and their false gods and to redeem Israel from bondage.

Several months ago in our Genesis studies we saw there was the judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham pleaded with God to spare the cities if enough righteous men were found. There were no righteous men found, Lot and his family were led out by the angels and fire from heaven rained down. In Gen.6 only Noah and his family were found in God’s grace and the rest of the world was drowned in judgment. In Joshua we see God exercising judgment upon the Canaanites through the Israelite army and some supernatural events.

Would God be justified in judging Japan? New Orleans? America? Yes, and he would be justified in judging Fort Worth just as severely! Folks, while it may be possible to estimate fairly accurately the sinfulness of some cities as being above or below our own, do not fool yourself, we all continue to breath because of God’s forbearance, mercy, love, and grace. If any city or town or person in America got exactly what they deserved, we would all be destroyed slowly and agonizingly! We are all sinners and we all live in a sinful land.

That being said, I would rather not live in a city or a country known for its sinfulness. In the old days of Fort Worth wasn’t there a part of town not far from here known as hell’s half acre? But how sinful were the small towns along the coast that got blown away, washed out to sea in Japan? See, we are not able to play that game of deciding who deserves which punishment. We just don’t know and have to leave that up to God.

I believe that we could take any bad thing that happens to us and rightfully say it is God’s judgment upon us for our sins. But I also believe that we can truthfully say these things show us his mercy and grace because they are not as bad as they could be and when we deal with these events in faith God opens a whole new perspective for us. This is where our opening passage from Luke 13 comes in.

III. What Should Our Response Be To Disaster?

            Job 1:13-22; 2:9-10; Worship and humble acceptance.

            Luke 13:1-5 Repentance.

            2Chron.7:12-22 humilty, prayer, seeking, turning.

            Gen.19:17 Escape for your life, flee the city of destruction.

            Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…”

            Rom.12:17-21

IV. Be Prepared

            1. Our time is coming. Two of the  biggest earthquake zones in America are on the west coast (the infamous San Andreas Fault) and the New Madrid fault http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Madrid_Seismic_Zone If we were to have a magnitude 8 or higher earthquake it would be devastating. Japan has been building earthquake resistant buildings and we have not. We have seen what Cat. 5 hurricanes can do, earthquakes can be just as bad or worse. One of the largest dangers in the Atlantic is a volcano in the Canary Islands that is unstable and could collapse, sending a mega-tsunami that could wipe the entire Atlantic seaboard.

http://www.rense.com/general56/tsu.htm

2. We ought to be prepared spiritually. Approaching disasters and tragedies with a calm, Roman stoicism is not a godly thing. We need to approach disasters in Faith, actively trusting in God to deliver us and to use us to minister to others in His name. Disasters are emotionally devastating, even for Christians, but when we are committed to worshiping the Lord in the midst of suffering, proclaiming the gospel and helping others, then perhaps God’s purposes for the disaster will be shown.

            3. And we ought to be prepared physically for disaster to strike. As a practical matter I believe that Christians should be prepared for disasters ranging from a flat tire to a tsunami. Are you prepared?

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Church Sign Says, “Islam Is Of The Devil”

Posted on July 12, 2009. Filed under: Contemporary Religion, Islam, Theological Issues |

The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainsville, Florida, has figured out a way to bring the world to their church: post a large sign beside the road that says, “Islam is of the Devil”. Now, atheists, liberal Christians, Jews, agnostics and muslims are lining the road to protest the church’s right to free expression.

Here are the money quotes for discussion from the news article:

“It creates hate,” said Shahnaz *****, who described herself as someone who is proud to be a Muslim.

“This church is condoning what should be condemned,” said Logan ****, who described himself as a “diehard atheist” and a soon-to-be freshman at Santa Fe College.

“It’s persecution of religion and that’s why our country was founded — to get away from religious persecution,” said Barbara ****, the school nurse at Terwilliger Elementary School and member of the First Baptist Church of Alachua.

Now let’s take these quotes one by one.

“It creates hate,” said one muslim. The sign is an inanimate object that is unable to create or do anything. As an expression of faith by the Dove church it cannot create hate in anyone. According to the pastor, Terry Jones, it is actually intended to show a love for the souls of muslims by challenging their beliefs and getting them to think. Hate is not a creation of someone else, it is the emotional response, a decision even, by someone for a variety of reasons. This sign does not create hate; it may bring out the hate that is already in the hearts of a muslim or a liberal wh disagrees with the theology of the Dove church, but it is IMPOSSIBLE for the sign or even the message from the church to create hate.

This concept of free speech becoming “hate speech” is a method for liberals and muslims to slowly eradicate our 1st Amendment right to Free Speech, a Free Press, and Freedom of Religion. Already in Europe hate speech has been criminalized and used to silence Christians, ministers of the Gospel, and conservative politicians like Geert Wilder in Hollland. There is a bill in Congress that is designed to do the same thing here. Those who complain of “hate speech’ are intolerant tyrants who are going to take away our liberty. If an atheist group had placed a sign up that read, “Christians are all Fools- There Is No God” nobody would have complained.

2nd- “This church is condoning what should be condemned,” said Logan ***, who described himself as a “diehard atheist” Now I find it a bit strange that a “diehard atheist” would choose sides here. He is saying that the church’s position that Christianity is the only true religion, particularly as opposed to Islam, should be condemned. Why would an atheist defend Islam against the claims of Christianity?

But for now, ignore the fact of his atheism, notice the double standard that may be rooted in ignorance. What offends this individual is that the Church is making a truth claim that says Christianity is right, true and good and Islam is wrong, false and evil. Yet Islam ALSO claims to be THE ONLY TRUE RELIGION. Islam is notoriously intolerant, indeed, after communism and liberalism, is the most intolerant of faiths. So the statement, This church is condoning what should be condemned, is a nonsensical statement. If the atheist had said, “Both Christianity and Islam should be condemned for being exclusive in their belief systems” then the statement would make sense. It would still be value judgment by a person who, as an atheist, has no grounds for making a value judgment.

3rd statement:“It’s persecution of religion and that’s why our country was founded — to get away from religious persecution,” said Barbara ******, the school nurse at Terwilliger Elementary School and member of the First Baptist Church of Alachua.” If you want to know what is wrong with our education system today, here it is. the school nurse cannot tell the difference between a publicly stated opinion and persecution. The sign, nor the church behind the sign, cannot persecute anybody. It merely states an opinion out in the public. The persecutors would be the local authorities who might try to force the church to take down the sign, or the lawyers and judges and plaintiffs who might sue and try the Church for stating their opinion.

Notice that this particular libtard is a Baptist. I am a Baptist. I can attest to the ignorance of many a Baptist. Libtard Baptists of the Jimmy Carter variety really, really irritate me. This Baptist obviously doesn’t know her history. The first Baptist in the country was Roger Williams who was run out of Massachusettes Bay Colony because of his beliefs. Baptists were arrested and fined and jailed in many of the early colonies. Yes, the Puritans came to America to escape the persecution in England, but they in turn persecuted others. And by persecution I mean not merely expressing of harsh opinions, I mean imprisoning, fining and even executing those who disagreed.

What Dove World Outreach is doing is in no remote way persecuting muslims and anyone who thinks so is an idiot.

Here are some of the signs held by the protestors:

Several protesters carried or wore signs that hung by lightweight twine or cords from around their necks. One sign depicted a frowning face with tears falling from one eye. A few included Bible references, such as Matthew 7:1, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Another, carried by 8 1/2-year-old Talbot Elementary student *******, bore an equation “God = love.”

Without getting into a very lengthy and detailed exegesis of the Bible texts cited by the protestors, let me just say a few words. Matt.7:1 cannot possibly mean that we should just ignore the differences in all the world religions. Hello, Jesus was directly confronting the Jews with the sermon on the mount. The entire Bible confronts all other religions. What was the point of Paul and the other apostles suffering all they suffered for the gospel if they weren’t confronting the false beliefs of the Jews and the pagans? When people mis-apply Matt. 7:1 like this they are saying that the message of the Bible, the message of Christ, is to accept all religions as equal. That is devilish idiocy.

Likewise with the child holding the sign saying, “God = love” referring to 1John 4:8 “God is love”. Does the sign holder, or in this case, the 8 1/2 yr old’s mother/father, mean that God loves all people of all religions equally and that all will be saved? That is not the message of the Bible. Yes, for God so loved the world…but it also says, that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life. God loves the world, but there is a huge qualifier here, whosoever believeth on him…if you don’t believe in Jesus you will not be saved.

Guess what? Muslims do not believe in Jesus as the Son of God, the Savior of men. Therefore they are not saved and will not have everlasting life.

Now to the sign itself. “Islam is of the Devil” This is a reference to 1Corinthians 10:20 “I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God.” and 2Cor. 11:14 “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Christians not only believe in a real spiritual being called the Devil/Satan, but we believe that all false gods are in reality demons or the Devil. Islam is a false religion that worships a false god, allah, and therefore, Islam is of the Devil.

In conclusion, I absolutely agree with the message of the Church sign and even congratulate the church on its boldness in creating a conversation on this difficult but important topic. Americans have been fed pablum for way too long. If the God of the Bible is god then follow him. If Allah is God, then follow him. But you cannot have both. For the average American libtard who wants to say all religions are true equally, you need to do some serious thinking. All religions might be false, but they all cannot be true. They are logically opposed to each other and mutually contradictory.

Here are the links:

http://www.gainesville.com/article/20090709/ARTICLES/907099894/1109/SPORTS?Title=Diverse-group-gathers-to-protest-church-sign#

www.breitbart.tv/islam-is-of-the-devil-florida-church-posts-sign-that-draws-protesters/

Equality 7-2521

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John Calvin’s Birthday

Posted on July 7, 2009. Filed under: Church History, Theological Issues |

This Wednesday, July 10th, 2009, is the 500th anniversary of the birth of Jean Cauvin, the French born Swiss theologian/pastor who changed the world with his theology.The quincentenary celebration began this past Sunday at St. Pierre Cathedral in Geneva. About 500 people were in attendance as worship was led by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, a Scot, Ugandan Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi of Africa, and Dr. Bryan Chappell of St. Louis, MO. Ministers from three continents affected by Calvin’s theology!

Calvin’s theology brought a more solid structure to the thinking of the Reformers. Though a second generation Reformer, Luther being about 20 years older, his theological writings, Bible commentaries and sermons contributed bone and sinew to the work that the fiery Luther had started. If Luther was the Preacher of the Reformation, Calvin was the Theologian.

Calvin’s theology was imminently practical. One can trace our political and economic liberties to the influence of Calvinism.

While the world celebrates/mourns the death of Michael Jackson, a degenerate pop star who drugged himself to death, the celebration of one of the top 10 theologians of world history will go unnoticed except for the few Reformed folk who remain.

How has Calvinism affected me? As a youngster studying American History in the 8th grade, I learned enough about the Pilgrims and the Puritans to be draw irresistibly to them, even though they were not portrayed in an overwhelmingly positive manner. In high school I learned a bit more about them. But it was in College at the University of Oklahoma that I first studied the Calvinistic Puritans in depth under the tutelage of Dr. David Levy. In Dr. Levy’s Intellectual History of America courses I saw the heavy influence of Puritan thought upon America and loved it. Were there problems with the Puritans? Yes. They were not tolerant of diversity in theology, persecuting My Own Baptist Forefathers. But there was a genius and beauty to Puritan Thought.

At the same time, a youth minister at my home church gave me a copy of AW Pink’s book, “The Sovereignty of God”. Being raised a traditional, fundamentalist, Southern Baptist, with dispensational elements, I recoiled at the Calvinist theology of Pink and did not finish the book. But over the next few years, the doctrines I saw in Pink, leaped off page after page of the Bible at me, despite my initial abhorrence. Finally, without ever picking up the Pink book again, without ever being taught by anyone else, simply from Scripture Alone, by the time I was finished at OU I was a Calvinist.

In my years in the Army I did read more of Pink and by the time I was in Seminary at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth in 1985-89 I was one of the handful of Calvinists on campus. Out of 3000+ students there might have been 10 of us. Today there are scores.

I greatly expanded my theological reading in seminary and afterwards with Millard Erickson, Louis Berkhof, RC Sproul, John MacArthur, James P. Boyce, John L. Dagg, James Montgomery Boice, and others. As I began pastoring in 1992 my sermons definitely took on a Puritan style and my Calvinist theology was proclaimed.

The elements of Calvinism that have blessed me the most include the concept that it really is all about Him. This is a theocentric universe not a mancentered universe. This goes directly against our culture in many different ways. Specifically, the salvation that God gives me through Jesus Christ is given not just so I can escape the fires of hell. I was raised in the “fire insurance” theology of Southern Baptists. But salvation is really all about giving God the greatest glory possible. That is the BIG IDEA of the UNIVERSE. When we repent of sin and trust in Jesus we are entering into a covenant with God that existed prior to my own birth, prior to the creation of the world. Our entire purpose for being created is to live in a loving, faith based relationship with our Creator and Redeemer, enjoying and glorifying him forever.

Another aspect to Calvinism I find appealing is that it actually emphasizes that we are all natural born sinners, enemies of God, unable and unwilling to turn away from sin on our own. This explains what we see in the news everyday and what we experience in the darkness of our own hearts when we are brutally honest with ourselves. In other words, the theology of Calvin, of the Bible really, actually explains the real world as no other system does. It genuinely reflects reality.

In conclusion then, happy birthday to Jean Calvin!

www.christianpost.com/article/20090706/hundreds-kick-off-calvin-quincentenary-celebration-in-geneva/index.html

www.calvin500.com/

www.founders.org/blog/2009/07/how-are-you-celebrating-calvins-500th.html

mark12ministries.wordpress.com/2008/10/18/the-reformation-in-geneva-and-john-calvin-1509-64/

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Calvin

www.chron.com/channel/houstonbelief/commons/persona.html?newspaperUserId=kengurley&plckController=PersonaBlog&plckScript=personaScript&plckElementId=personaDest&plckPersonaPage=BlogViewPost&plckPostId=Blog%3AkengurleyPost%3Adb3b9a10-0e30-4c99-be62-7b42253e8d35

www.newadvent.org/cathen/03195b.htm

www.theopedia.com/John_Calvin

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The Differences Between a Conservative & a Liberal

Posted on May 18, 2009. Filed under: A Theology of Patriotism, Contemporary Religion, Political Issues, Theological Issues |

The long awaited and much protested commencement address at Notre Dame University by President Obama this past Saturday is a good example of the contrast between Liberals and Conservatives. Those who were protesting were usually committed Catholics opposed to the President’s being invited to speak because of his radical pro-abortion stance and his stance on stem cell research using human embryos (read: babies). By his voting records in the Illinois State Senate and in the US Senate, by his executive orders as President and by his appointing the radical pro-abortion Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama is easily the most pro-abortion President ever.

“I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away,” the President said in his address at the Notre Dame commencement, after receiving an honorary degree. “Because no matter how much we may want to fudge it — indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory — the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable.”

“Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction,” Obama added. “But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.”

President Obama called for a new, more respectful tone in the abortion debate, marked by “open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words” that are merely emotional platitudes.

He did get one thing right, the two positions on abortion are irreconcilable. And that is why this issue makes for a great way to introduce and discuss the differences between Conservatives and Liberals.

DIFFERENCE NUMBER ONE: OUR UNDERSTANDING OF GOD

It would be too simple and just flat out wrong to say that Conservatives believe in God and Liberals don’t. I know a lot of liberals who are Christians. But the difference between Conservatives and Liberals is, at its core, a theological difference. Of course there are conservatives and liberals who are atheists, so again, it is not just being a theist that makes one a conservative.

But how do we define God? Where do we get our understanding of who God is and what He is like? Granted there is much diversity in both camps here, but generally speaking, the Conservative camp is dominated by those who have a biblical, evangelical view of God. To the Conservative, God is Triune- Father, Son and Holy Spirit- and God is not just Love, he is also Sovereign, Holy, Just, Omnipotent and Immanent as well as Transcendent. To the Liberal, God is more of a vague concept but is overwhelmingly described as Loving, Accepting, non-judging. Amongst Liberal Christians, they will accept the Conservative definition of God, but stress the Love of God as the central attribute and tend to de-emphasize his holiness and justice. This is frequently done by stating they believe in the God of the New Testament, de-emphasizing the Old Testament.

As AW Tozer once wrote, (a paraphrase) “What we think about God reveals more of what we are.”

The Liberal God is a loving God who would not really send anyone to hell, unless they were really, reeally bad. Dick Cheney would perhaps merit hell, but surely Castro is among the righteous. The Liberal God is not really serious when he says, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) and Jesus surely didn’t mean what he says about hell in the parable of the Talents in Matt. 25 when he casts the man who hid his talent into the outer darkness.

Generally speaking, Liberalism is guided more by atheism than by a belief in the God of the Bible, even though many Liberals are Christians. Generally speaking, theistic Liberals are guided more by the God is Love side of theology that de-emphasizes the Justice of God. This is one of the explanations for the defense of homosexuality and the promotion of homosexual marriage within mainstream liberalism. (And yes, I know not all homosexuals are liberal, nor do all support the homosexual political agenda, but both the Liberal and Homosexual movement is dominated by those who do). God is Love, he created me as homosexual and God “don’t make junk” therefore He loves me unconditionally and my homosexuality must not be a sin, and marriage between homosexuals would be a good thing.

To stress God is Love, at the expense of his other attributes is a gross error. Yes, God is love. But also yes, God is holy and will punish sinners in a hell that is a place of torment, forever. Yes, God is accepting, but he ONLY accepts those who come to him through faith in Christ alone.

In President Obama’s pro-abortion views God is apparently much more concerned about the economic well being and the convenience of the mother than he is about the tiny unborn baby inside her womb. The overwhelming percentage of abortions are performed because of the financial situation of the single mother and the overwhelming inconvenience of an unwanted pregnancy. The fundamental reason for abortion is that women want sex without consequences. And they think there will be no consequences for abortion, but abortion is almost 100% fatal to the babies. This kind of callous thinking reveals a lot about Obama’s and other liberals’ view of God. God is more concerned with our economic well being, our convenience, than he is about life. This view actually has much more in common with the atheistic materialist worldview than anything Christian. There is no fear of God or his justice when it comes to abortion.

In a bizarre and contradictory way, Liberals also usually tend to favor the elimination of the death penalty for those criminals who have murdered innocent people and have been tried by a jury of their peers and found guilty and deserving of capital punishment. Liberals support the killing of innocent babies in the wombs of mothers for whom having a baby would be a financial burden, but oppose the killing of hardened criminals who killed innocent people and who are a continuing economic burden on the state which houses and feeds them for life. Again, the liberal view of God warps their sense of justice. Even an atheistic materialist who believes in evolution should see that it is a good thing for society to eliminate the murderers as being not fit for the survival of the fittest.

A SECOND WAY THAT LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES ARE FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT IS IN THE ISSUE OF HERMENEUTICS OR INTERPRETATION OF THE BIBLE AND THE CONSTITUTION.

I have already touched on this in my discussion of the Liberal Christian view of God vs. the Conservative Christian’s view of God. Essentially, liberals read texts not looking for what the author originally intended, not looking for eternal verities to be affirmed, but they read for what makes them feel good today. There is not one positive, affirming mention of homosexuality in the entire Bible. Yet in my readings of homosexual Christians and those who defend the homosexual lifestyle, they seek to justify their actions with Scripture. I have seen some very convoluted hermeneutical gymnastics employed to prove that as long as the homosexuals are in a committed, loving relationship they are ok with God. Again, they are basing their arguments upon their own desires or felt needs and emotions instead of the objective facts in the Bible.

So too with the Constitution. Liberal Activist Judges do not base their arguments upon the original intent of the framers using the historic-critical methods of interpreting history and literature. They make stuff up to satisfy the emotional felt needs of the here and now.

There is an inherent antipathy amongst liberals towards objective truth, logic, and historical truth. Evidence doesn’t matter, what matters is the here and now. Adjust or jettison as inconvenient any objective truth or historical evidence that hinders you from doing what you think needs doing right now.

Again let us look at the aboriton issue that Obama brought up at Notre Dame over the weekend. Throughout Europe a huge demographic change is underway. White Europeans are a dwindling ethnic group due to 2 generations of abortion and radical birth control resulting in a birth rate that is well below replacement level. In 25 -50 years many of Europe’s countries will me muslim dominated because muslims have had unlimited immigration into Europe and they have many children. White Europeans focused for too long on the economic pleasures that accompanied low birth rates and now they will be reaping what they have sown. The failure to understand and apply the biblical principle of “be fruitful and multiply” has consequences that will be very painful for European society.

In America we are preparing to have a Federal Hate Crimes law that will protect some groups more than others and will fundamentally challenge our Constitutional idea of “equal protection under the law” as well as two first amendment rights- freedom of speech and the free exercise of religion. This is the result of enacting laws based upon emotion instead of a careful reading of the Constitution.

A THIRD DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CONSERVATIVE AND LIBERAL IS IN ANTHROPOLOGY: Even though there are liberals who are Christians and do believe in a special creation of man by the God of the Bible, Liberalism is dominated by the atheistic materialist worldview of the evolutionist. Liberalism believes that man is an accident of nature, is the center of the universe, and is essentially good. Conservatives on the other hand believe that God created man in His image, that we are fallen sinners and need law and government to coerce us to do what is right and prevent us from doing wrong and that man is subject to God who is the center of the universe. Again, I realize there are many conservatives who think it is all about them and who are evolutionists, etc. But Conservatism is dominated by the biblical view of man.

Liberals believe that man is basically good and that when man misbehaves and commits a crime, there are really two victims: the person who was robbed, killed or whatever, and the criminal is also a victim. Who victimized the criminal? Society. Liberalism tends to not hold people accountable for their decisions. Liberalism likes to shift the blame on to society as a whole or other groups of people as oppressors. This is shown by taking corporal punishment away from the schools, banning spanking by parents, viewing prison as rehabilitation instead of punishment, and using the government to try to fix or control the economy instead of relying on free market principles.

Basically Liberals do not accept the biblical doctrine of original sin. This is linked with evolution as well, for if man was not created in the image of God, but simply evolved from the apes, morals are simply social constructs that can change with time and no one is either really bad or good. The terms lose their significance. There is no ultimate judgment day, justice is a temporary and imperfect thing that is all too often used by the dominant group in society to oppress the poor.

Conservative thought is greatly affected by the idea of original sin. The Founders of America understood the concept well and that is why they wanted a Republic, a rule by Law, instead of a Monarchy, a rule by men. Conservatives understand that men are sinners and will do evil things. They do not need to just be educated or rehabilitated, they need to be punished and made to make restitution. They need to be changed, born again through the Gospel.

If, as liberals are want to do, the laws are changed to meet every new desire, every new felt need, every short term need/desire, and liberal justices on the SCOTUS continue to radically change the Constitution, you in effect have a rule by men instead of a rule by law. The law becomes whatever you want it to be, whatever suits your current desire. Conservatives object to this rule of men, because we see men as sinners.

When liberals look at a murderer they see a disadvantage youth who had a bad background and was oprressed or let down by society. Conservatives tend to say, he murdererd because he is a murderer on the inside.

Consider Obama’s desire to close the Guantanomo Bay prison for the Terrorists and to release them into the general population. Never mind that they were detained on the field of battle as illegal combatants who do not wear uniforms, use civilians as human shields, and have a worldview that believes all Christians, all westerners should be killed.

Consider the liberal tendency to reduce the size of the US military. The premise is that if we talk with our enemies and understand each other there will not be a need for the military let alone nukes. Disarmament will show our enemies that we mean no harm and they will follow our lead and disarm. They cannot mean it when they say they will eliminate Israel or the West. Conservatives on the other hand, understand that some societies are murderous and are intent on destroying us out of sheer hatred and envy. We conservatives know that there is no sense in talking with terrorists, muslims or communists since their worldview calls for worldwide domination and enslavement or conversion of the whole world and lying to the west, the dhimmis, or the Christians is perfectly acceptable. We say, why waste time talking with them. Simply have the greatest military in the world, and the strongest economy. It is better to be feared/respected in the world than loved. Liberals want to be loved.

In conclusion America has been slowly, inexorably, drifting into Liberalism for a hundred or more years. Liberalism is essentially an adolescent view of the world that is based upon a wrong view of God, a wrong view of the Scriptures and our founding documents, and a wrong view of man. There are severe consequences for living the liberal life whether it is an unwanted pregnancy, abortion and guilt, financial ruin through deficit spending and higher taxes or allowing our enemies to walk free and gain the upper hand. Liberalism, when left to its own devices and allowed to become the dominant worldview brings national death, not life.

President Obama and the US Congress are in the process of destroying this country. May God have mercy on us because the Liberals surely will not.

Equality 7-2521

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The SBC: A Denomination in Decline

Posted on April 24, 2009. Filed under: Contemporary Religion, Theological Issues |

Back in the 1970’s many in the Southern Baptist Convention had grown very concerned about the drift towards liberalism within our Seminaries, Colleges, Pulpits, Agencies and Churches. Many professors and pastors seemed to have given up on the idea of the Bible being the inspired, authoritative, inerrant, infallible Book of books, the Word of God. By the mid 1970’s you could study the demographics and membership of the mainline protestant churches and see the fruit of their theological drift towards the left since the early part of the century and realize their declining attendance was directly related to their liberalism. To the conservatives in the SBC, the writing was on the wall, return to our theological roots or face rapid decline like the other denominations.

Thus was born the conservative resurgence and step by step the conservative faction took back the denomination hierachy and from there, the seminaries, and from there the pulpits and churches. Division happened, various state conventions split, a new, more liberal kind of Baptist denomiation was born. But the SBC grew more healthy, it seemed.

But today, 30+ years later, we get the word that the SBC is in fact declining. Some would say the conservative resurgence has failed. Perhaps some of the liberals are saying, “We told you so!” Here is the story about our decline, by Ed Stetzer:

blogs.lifeway.com/blog/edstetzer/2009/04/a-denomination-in-decline.html

For decades we have faced a declining rate of growth, and worse, our percentage of membership compared with the population as a whole has been in decline for decades. Our membership plateaued by 2000 and now is in real decline. For many decades our Membership vs. Active Members has been heavily skewed. When I arrived as pastor at my little church in 1992 in Fort Worth we were averaging 70 on Sunday morning yet posted a membership of over 600. In the 15 years I served as pastor I  did   3 x as many funerals as weddings, baby dedications and baptisms combined (1992-2007).

Stetzer writes:

“we need to face some facts: we face a culture turning its back toward us, a declining and aging membership, and young leaders who are choosing other partnerships.”

“But on a denominational level, I believe we need to heed the words sounding from numerous places in the convention for a Great Commission Resurgence. Our situation would be much worse if we did not have the Conservative Resurgence, but a Conservative Resurgence without a Great Commission Resurgence is an exercise in belief without action.”

Stetzer does not really blame anyone or one thing, but his choice for the cure is a renewed emphasis on the Great Commission. While this is a good thing, I think he is missing something here. Granted his column was brief and he did not want to get into pointing out where the blame lies nor did he want to go too deep in theology/philosophy/history though he does say the “culture is turning its back on us”.

I want to give my theory on our decline.  Our denomination was dominated by the Particular Baptist strain (Calvinistic) in our earliest days until the theology of EY Mullins got us drifting towards a man centered theology by the early 20th century. America was still largely a “Christian” nation until the 1960’s. The 1950’s were a post WW2 era of anti-communism, pro-family, pro-business, Leave It To Beaver mentality. The SBC grew rapidly in that era of “normalcy” and planted thousands of churches and sent thousands of missionaries. Billy Graham, a Southern Baptist, was America’s pastor.

But then the 1960’s hit. In researching the church I pastored I found that their membership and attendance peaked in 1968 and then began a steady decline, with a few years showing a growth spurt (while I was there we grew in 1997/98, then declined again due to a serious sin outbreak and some natural cycles, then grew again 2004/5 only to decline again). Worse, I realized soon after I started pastoring that none of the older members’ children would attend the church, even though they still lived in the area and attended other churches.

When I asked the older members about this disturbing trend, I got fairly evasive, vague answers. When I asked the children I got an earful about the bad leadership, bossiness and hypocrisy of their parents. They didn’t want to worship where their parents worshiped because they disagreed too much.

The broad sweeping cultural shift that happened in the 1960’s-70’s caused a huge generational divide within SBC churches. Specifically in the areas of music and clothing there were differences. I cannot begin to describe the church fights we endured over what people wear to church and what kind of music we use in worship. Those two issues were the flashpoints that allowed the younger generation to drop out of church or change churches.

But don’t be mistaken, those were only the surface issues.

At the core of my particular church’s problems was a fondness for tradition and relationships over a love for the Word of God. Though these people were very moral and upright, and quite faithful to the Church, they preferred to not confront sin with truth. There was a strong Arminian flavor that, many times, went across the line into a salvation by works. This I absolutely also linked with the heavy influence of the Masonic Lodge in my particular church. About 75 % of my church was directly involved with, or  indirectly influenced by, the Masonic Lodge which preaches another gospel.

My church was dominated by the GI generation, fully 2/3 of the church was in that age group; my parents age. Their view of what church is and should be was a view of the 1950’s. The Baby Boom generation was mostly absent except for me and my wife and 1-2 others. There were a few younger families and youth occasionally.

What happened in my church was that in the 1960’s-70’s, despite having a large youth group and lots of mission trips, choir trips, retreats,camps and pizza parties, the youth of my age were not discipled, were sucked in by the world, and turned off by our parents who would not change how church was conducted. My generation walked away. Some went to other Baptist churches that did change, some went with the charismatics, but most just quietly quit believing. How this affects the decline of the SBC today is that the GI generation is dying off in huge numbers. Whole churches are literally dying. With that older generation passing we will see a huge decline in attendance, giving and missions. The “Me first” generation and its children will not be as faithful in any category.

In looking at the sermons in the churches of my youth, and in listening to the complaints of the older members of my church about my preaching it seems to me that one reason for the decline is the lack of expository, doctrinal sermons. The congregation told me they wanted to hear less scripture and more stories and jokes. You heard me right. They really said that. Repeatedly. That was what they were used to and I came in and started preaching expository sermons through books of the Bible and sermons with strong doctrinal content. I’m surprised I lasted for 15 years.

The level of doctrinal understanding amongst the older generation I pastored was minimal. They knew Bible stories and the basics of the gospel. But not much meat. Meanwhile, the world around them changed, the matrix had shifted, and left them behind. Very subtly their worldview had also shifted in many ways. Their faith was very works based, very experiential and emotional, traditional, and not able to relate to the world at all.

Why did the children of this Greatest Generation drift away? Raised on simplistic, revivalistic, feel good sermons and moralistic Sunday School lessons, raised attending the godless public schools, raised in the 20th century entertainment culture that is hedonistic and existentialist, the kids, my generation, didn’t stand a chance.

And then those of my generation who did stay in church or come back, have now raised our kids and even fewer of them are staying in the church.

Yes, the conservative resurgence was a blessing for the SBC, the Battle for the Bible was fought and won. But while that battle was being fought, most of us trusted our kids to youth programs that were based on sand and schools that were anti-Christ.

What is to be done? The SBC MUST TAKE A SERIOUS LOOK AT STARTING A MISSIONS PROGRAM FOR OUR CHILDREN, i.e., BEGINNING A HUGE EFFORT TO GET OUR KIDS OUT OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND INTO CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS OR HOMESCHOOLING. THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE KILLING THE SOULS OF OUR KIDS. GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS ARE THE ENEMY.

For decades we emphasized missions overseas. We lost the battle for our own children. The culture won. Shame on us.

What is to be done? OUR SUNDAY SCHOOL LITERATURE IS PATHETIC, WEAK, AND IS CONTRIBUTING TO OUR DECLINE. WE SHOULD IMMEDIATELY MOVE TOWARD A CATECHISM AND DISCIPLESHIP BASED CURRICULUM THAT IS ROOTED IN THE REFORMED THEOLOGY THAT NURTURED THE SBC IN ITS FOUNDING. I HAVEN’T USED SBC SUNDAY SCHOO LITERATURE SINCE ABOUT 1994. MY CURRENT CHURCH  DOES NOT USE SBC LITERATURE.

What is to be done? We must gear up as a denomination for a long fighting withdrawal into a guerrilla insurgency. We have lost the culture war, we are surrounded and outnumbered. I am not saying surrender, I personally will fight to the death. But we need to fight smarter. We need to prepare Today for the coming wave of lawsuits over our refusal to hire or marry homosexuals. We need to prepare today for hate speech legislation that will take away our right to freely proclaim all of God’s Word. We need to prepare today for what to do when America recognizes sharia law for muslims in our own borders. We need to prepare today for the coming persecutions of Bible believing Christians and the Jews. In a pagan Amerika, we will both be persecuted. We need to prepare today for the inevitable taxes on our church and denominational properties.

What is to be done? We need a moral and theological reformation. The church too much resembles the world because we are no longer God centered in our theology. The brightest spot I see in the SBC right now is what I see in our church in Fort Worth, Redeemer Church. God centered worship, expository gospel preaching (Pastor Tim has preached through Ephesians, Ecclesiastes, and is currently going through Matthew), doctrinal teaching in our Sunday Schools, and a large number of homeschooling families. This church is very much about the Great Commission directly involved in missions in East Asia, Africa, India, Mexico, the Middle East and Utah. This church is very much about theological education with a handful of professors from SWBTS as members and dozens of students as members. And yes, we are Reformed in our theology.

In conclusion, I do not view our decline as necessarily a bad thing. It is a pruning and we needed to be pruned. We are in a similar situation to Gideon at the water. We are being tested and the weak will be sent to the house, the strong into the battle. I realize that the normal “reset button” for the SBC is the Great Commission, and I do not intend to say that needs to change. I will say that if we lose our children, if we lose a  third or fourth generation in a row, of what use will our foreign missions efforts be then? Without cutting back on foreign missions at all, we must also fight the battle at home. This is not a two front war, we are surrounded. It is time to fix bayonets and sound the bugle. The enemy is through the wire.


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SWBTS Trying to Oust Calvinist Professors?

Posted on February 5, 2009. Filed under: Theological Issues |

Thursday, February 5, 2009–There is apparently a big controversy breaking out of Southwestern Theological Seminary here in Fort Worth over the issue of whether President Paige Patterson is trying to remove certain Calvinist Professors over the doctrine of the limited atonement or particular redemption.

I am a SWBTS alum, I live in Fort Worth and attend a church that has a  few SWBTS professors as members as well as dozens of SWBTS students from the college to the MDiv program to the the PhD program. I only have  a couple of friends who might know anything about this situation and I am not close with to any of the main actors in the situation nor have I spoken with any of the main actors. I have generally positive thoughts and feelings toward Pres. Patterson and very positive thoughts and feelings towards the particular professors in my church who are of the Calvinist persuasion. I have no insider, first hand information of the controversy, but I have been reading about it on the  blogs listed below and I have spoken with a couple of  friends at the school. This posting on my blog is my personal experience, thoughts and feelings about the controversy.

According to some of the blogs and some of the second hand information I have heard which amounts to hearsay (as opposed heresy) there MAY be an effort by someone, maybe Dr. Patterson, to remove some of the Calvinist professors and to link their removal to the economic downturn.

I am optimistically skeptical of this effort being a deliberate effort by Dr. Patterson to oust the Calvinist professors. In the first blog I linked, in the comments section, is a very strongly worded denial by a seminary professor who should know what is happening because he is a 5 point Calvinist. Secondly, there were other comments made that clearly stated that Dr. Patterson has a track record of hiring professors from all points of the TULIP perspective. He hired ’em, why would he now seek to fire them?

Yet the main blogger who started the story, Wade Burleson, has stood by his story. In fact I heard of this alleged plot 2 weeks ago from one of my friends at the seminary before Burleson broke the story. Burleson maintains that his breaking of the story may now have forced Dr. Patterson to change the plan in mid stream since it got public and would be a huge embarrassment.

In situations like this there is often truth on both sides and it comes down to a matter of intent, of emphasis and even personal interpretation, when not all the facts are known.

Some professors were probably asked by Dr. Patterson about their soteriology, and possibly their views on witnessing, sharing the gospel and missions. Wade did not mention the possible questions about witnessing etc. The quote that I have seen from the transcript of a meeting Dr. Patterson had last night is,

Southwestern will not build a school in the future around anybody who could not look anybody in the world in the eyes and say, “Christ died for your sins.”

Wade Burleson made much of this quote and basically is saying that this is clearly Dr. Patterson stating that he will not allow 5 point Calvinists to continue teaching on the campus.

In my humble opinion, I believe it is possible to interpret the quote differently. Yes, strictly speaking if you draw a very tight line, he is confronting the doctrine of limited atonement. But I think something else may be going on here.

In the interviews with the professors in question, the questions asked were not merely theological, but, perhaps also about personal witnessing encounters and views of missions and evangelism. It seems to me that just maybe, Patterson asked the questions in such a way so as to elicit a response from the Calvinist professors that would confirm their individual commitment to preaching the gospel, witnessing and missions. By asking the questions in that manner, Patterson would then be able to go back to the Trustees, or whoever was putting on the pressure, and give a positive report that would basically say, “Yes I have some 5 point Calvinists as professors and they have each given me an account of how they share the gospel and I am satisfied that they fit in with our missions and evangelism emphasis.”

Now this may be pure conjecture on my part, and may be overly optimistic. But it is plausible given the evidence I have read and heard.

Until I am confronted with overwhelming evidence, I cannot agree with Wade Burleson’s accusations. That being said, I do not impugn his motives at all. I quite simply believe that there are times we can look at the same evidence, and interpret it differently. Wade may be proved right; but I hope not. I DO believe that there are SOME, not neccessarily Dr. Patterson, who do want to oust the Calvinists from SWBTS

Here are the links to the spat:

Here is the first story that broke the news and caused all sorts of charges and counter charges:

kerussocharis.blogspot.com/2009/02/forcibly-removing-all-tulips-at-swbts.html

Here is the second story:

kerussocharis.blogspot.com/2009/02/forcibly-removing-tulips-at-swbts-part.html

And here is the third story:

sbctoday.com/2009/02/05/a-brief-visit-with-dr-paige-patterson/

sbctoday.com/

And today’s story:

kerussocharis.blogspot.com/2009/02/are-southern-baptists-blind-or.html

And here is a very good piece from Founder’s Ministries about the whole mess:

www.founders.org/blog/2009/02/reflections-on-dust-up-over-calvinism.html

Over 33 years ago, when I was just getting ready to graduate from High School, Paige Patterson, Judge Paul Pressler, Dr. Adrian Rogers and others were formulating a plan to rescue the Southern Baptist Convention from the clutches of liberalism. The liberals of the old SBC controlled virtually every seminary and agency within the convention and most of the state conventions’ colleges. Just about every other large denomination had either succumbed to liberalism or divided along liberal/fundamentalist lines. To my knowledge and according to a long lost Christianity Today article from several years back, the SBC is the only major denomination in America to approach the abyss of liberalism, stop, pull back and recover without a major split. I fully supported the Conservative Resurgence and genuinely thank Pres. Patterson for his hard work in that effort.

Yes, many of the moderates have left the SBC and formed their own convention, but overall, the losses were fairly small.Yes, there were some ungodly things said and done during the whole process by both sides. Everyone involved was a sinner and so sin enters in inevitably. I think the moderates were extrememly disengenuous about calling it a Fundamentalist Takeover, which name automatically implies someone else (the moderates) was already in charge. It was a fight that we won fair and square. It was a fight well worth the risks and efforts. There are casualties in any fight. But some things are worth fighting over.

When I was a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1985-89, the school was fairly liberal in my mind, and the course work was on par with what I had at OU for my Bachelor’s degree in history. During that time I had Dr. Doyle Young for a couple of Church history classes including Baptist History. During class one day I remember him saying that after the current fight with the moderates and the fight over women’s roles in the church and seminary, the next big fight 20 years from 1986, would be a fight over Calvinism. In two classes with Dr. Young he asked the Calvinists to raise their hands. In one class of about 30 folks, I was the only Calvinist. In another class of about 50 I was one of three Calvinists.Today on campus the percentage of students who are Calvinists is much larger, perhaps up close to 20%.

Dr. Young was spot on with his prediction. In the last two years the fight has seriously begun over Calvinism, in particular the doctrine of particular redemption or Limited Atonement. This fight has been aggravated by the John 3:16 conferences among others.

mark12ministries.wordpress.com/2008/11/13/john-316-conference-nov-6-7-2008-woodstock-ga/

At the very least we should pray for SWBTS during this time, pray for Dr. Patterson and the professors involved, and refrain from some of the anger and vitriol that is in evidence on some of the blogs.

Bryan


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Should Drugs Be Made Legal?

Posted on January 14, 2009. Filed under: News of the Day, Theological Issues |

UPDATE- Thursday, January 22, 2009– Here a couple of  stories that illustrates how bad it is in Mexico, this time Tijuana. If the USMC has banned it, it’s gotta be bad!:

www.usatoday.com/news/military/2009-01-21-camp_N.h

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/mexico/4299116/Mexico-police-chiefs-head-found-in-ice-box.html

Wednesday, January 14, 2009–The situation south of our border in Mexico is growing more grave every day as they are having what amounts to a civil war between the narco-terrorist gangs and the State. The violence has become so bad that the US military and Department of Homeland Security are making plans for a “What if Mexico fails as a state” scenario. This situation is largely the result of the demand for drugs and the laws against the drugs.

As a Christian who holds  a high view of Scripture as being inerrant, infallible, inspired and sufficient, I take seriously the command to “be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit” from Ephesians 5:18. Raised as a teetotaler fundamentalist, I am now aware of the fact that the wine Jesus drank and made at Cana was real wine with some degree of alcohol content. I do not drink, but I also do not judge those who do (though in my fundamentalist days I did). However, drunkenness, whether caused by alcohol, pot, cocaine, heroin, etc., is clearly a sin and is frequently considered a crime by society.

But that is the problem. Should everything that is sinful also be illegal? Coveting is a sin, but it is not illegal; in fact, our economic system, capitalism, runs because of human greed. Lust is a sin, adultery used to be illegal along with homosexuality, but both are legal in most places now it seems. So where do we draw the line between sins and make some illegal while others remain legal? Who makes that decision and what is the basis for the decision? Some people say you cannot legislate morals, yet every law is established upon someone’s morals, the only question is whose morals?

This dilemma is played out in our political process, our courts, schools and entertainment industry. And the Church? The voice of the Church in America is divided, weak and compromised and seems to have been lost. Although issues like abortion, racism and homosexuality have been the biggest issues discussed recently, in the  early 1900’s the issue was alcohol and the 18th Amendment was put into effect on Jan.16, 1920 banning the production, distribution, and sale of alcohol. This led to a black market, the rise of the big city gangsters, speakeasys, and a general flaunting of the law. The efforts at enforcement led to extreme violence in the cities as wars between various gangs over “turf” and the police and FBI. Public shootouts and gang attacks became common.

So too now in Mexico. Instead of alcohol it is pot, cocaine, heroin and meth. Executions of police officres, judges, rival gang members are common. Kidnappings and shootouts are common. The corruption apparently reaches throughout the Mexican courts, government, military and business communities. One man I work with told that just the other day, his father, who lives in a small town in Mexico, witnessed a shoot out on a road that involved machine guns and hand grenades. Small town Mexico? Hand grenades and machine guns?

This violence is already spilling across the border into America. There have been frequent cross border excursions by the Mexican “military”. Our Border Patrol are constantly beign shot at by drug gangs. The gang members are setting up shop in our cities. They bring with them the violence and corruption of Mexico and the drug cartels.

America’s response has been to reinforce the Border Patrol and the DEA and to give millions of dollars in assistance to the Mexican government, military and law enforcement. But we are losing the war. The problem is not getting better, it is getting worse.

The Church, forever reacting instead of leading, needs to examine the problem of the legalization of drugs. Is it possible to legalize something that is inherently bad because the option of keeping it illegal is worse? In my libertarian days I thought that legalization might be a good idea. For the last 20 years I have been thinking fighting the war on drugs was the best, Christian view. I am rethinking my position. There are times when certain sins might be better fought if the sins were legal.

I hate drugs and never trust druggies. In my Army days I threw away a lot of soldiers for drugs. I have very little compassion for druggies. But a druggie who buys his dope legally, just might not be so apt to be violent. And the drug lords might behave better if they owned companies and traded stock on the NYSE. And the government could then tax the drug lords who would be corrupted and made less violent by their need to be respected and to “fit in” with the other elites. The money we could save in prisons, courts and law enforcement could possibly help with rehab for repentant druggies.

We are losing the war on drugs. We might be losing the nation of Mexico- then what? Los Angeles? San Diego? El Paso? It is time for the Church to discuss the difference between sins and crimes.

Here are some stories from today that got me thinking along these lines:

www.elpasotimes.com/newupdated/ci_11444354

www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2009/01/our_drug_war_mext_door.html

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prohibition_in_the_United_States

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