Christian Issues

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This has been rattling around in my head for a while, and it’s time for me to put it all in one place...into words.  As of May 19, the song "Reckless Love" (by Cory Ashbury) is #1 on the Christian Music Song Chart.  This song is controversial (at best) and worshiping a false god (at worst, and is what I have become convicted of.)

Singing can be an important way of learning...and what we sing when we worship "sticks" - if you don't believe that, try saying the ABC's without singing.

Discerning the difference between right worship and wrong worship is as life-saving as discerning the difference between food and manure.

I'm organized this into these sections:

  • Reckless Leaven - how much falsehood is "too much" when we're singing about a sovereign and holy God?
  • Reckless Theology - Can God be divorced from His love?
  • Reckless History - are all of these examples in the song "reckless?"
  • Reckless "Bibling" - do we dare use a word to describe God that God uses to describe evil?
  • Reckless Portrayal of God - If God's love is reckless, then God is not sovereign.

 

1. Reckless leaven

I had somebody say (not address me *directly* but a sort of side swipe) that it was sad that people “get hung up on” that one word (reckless.)

How much dog s&#t does it take in a batch of brownies to make the whole batch inedible?

Or (using a Bible metaphor) How much leaven does it take to leaven the whole lump?

This persuasion is not from him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. ~~Galatians 5:8-9

The Bible also says to

“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16 ESV)

- closely means...pay attention to the little things - because even one word can lead you to false worship.

Getting "hung up" on one word is the difference between "close watch" and "sloppy."

2. Reckless Theology

Below are the words of the writer of “Reckless Love.”

"When I used the phrase, 'the reckless love of God,' when we say it, we're not saying that God Himself is reckless, He's not crazy. We are, however, saying that the way He loves, is in many regards, quite so. But what I mean is this: He's utterly unconcerned with the consequences of His own actions with regard to His own safety, comfort and well-being. He doesn't wonder what He'll gain or lose by putting Himself on the line, He simply puts Himself out there on the off-chance that you and I might look back at Him and give Him that love in return." - Cory Asbury.

 

Definition of reckless (merriam-webster)
1: marked by lack of proper caution : careless of consequences

Question:  Can a perfect and holy God lack caution?  Can a righteous God be irresponsible?  Is God careless - of consequences or anything else?

If your answer is “no” - then this one word indicates a wrong-headed idea of the nature of God.

2. Can we divorce God from His attributes?

God is love.  To call His love reckless is to call *HIM* reckless, since it is impossible to separate God from His attributes.

Could I say, “it’s not me that reckless, it’s only my driving?”  or...”it’s not me that’s reckless, only my drug use?”

If your answer is no, then if God’s love is reckless...God is reckless.

3. Reckless History

Let’s imagine that you are alone in the house and have a 1 year old and a 3 year old that are playing in the back yard.  The 3-year-old wanders off.  Would it be “reckless” to leave the one at home go look for the other?   Yes.

But...if you had a sister in the house to watch over the one, while you go look for the other...not reckless.  Ask yourself...on the night of Christ’s birth...did the angels appear to one shepherd, or more than one?

If your answer is “more than one,” then the word “reckless” does not apply to "leave the ninety-nine".

4. Reckless "Bibling"

Does the Bible use the word “reckless?”  How?

(ESV)

Proverbs 14:16 One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.

Luke 13:15 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living.

2 Timothy 5 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God

(CEV)

2 Peter 2:10 The Lord is especially hard on people who disobey him and don’t think of anything except their own filthy desires. They are reckless and proud and are not afraid of cursing the glorious beings in heaven.

(NIV)

1 Peter 4:4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you.

Even Bible translators understand that to be “reckless” is not a good thing.

HOW DARE WE DESCRIBE GOD WITH A WORD THAT GOD USES TO DESCRIBE EVIL?

5. Reckless Portrayal of God

Let’s look at the song-writer’s explanation (perhaps the most important piece.)  This takes a bit of “connect the dots” but they’re important dots, in order to get what is being said about the nature of God.

Specifically: He doesn't wonder what He'll gain or lose by putting Himself on the line, He simply puts Himself out there on the off-chance that you and I might look back at Him and give Him that love in return."

Question 1: Does an omniscient (all-knowing) God “wonder” (to think or speculate curiously)  about anything?

Can  the God who can number the hairs on my head fail to *know* without any doubt...what He will gain or lose by anything?

If your answer is no...then you do not worship the god of Reckless Love.

Question 2: What does “off-chance” mean?

If I were to ask any person reading “I’m writing this on the off-chance that somebody will read this with an open mind”...

Off-chance = hoping that something may be possible, although it is not likely:

This meaning is vital to understanding Ashbury's god.

  • the god of Reckless Love, died on the cross - on the off-chance that somebody *might* look back and return his love.
  • This  god of Reckless Love does not know the future.
  • The god of Reckless Love does not *hold* the future.
  • This god of Reckless Love hopes that some will come to salvation, but does not hold it likely.

(by the way, this idea that God cannot/does not/will not know the future is a belief called "open theism" - "Decisions not yet made do not exist anywhere to be known even by God. They are potential–yet to be realized but not yet actual." ~~Clark Pinnock)

If God's love is reckless, then God cannot be sovereign.

Does God know the future, including who will turn to Him?

If your answer is yes, then you do not worship Ashbury's god.

The next point is an “internal debate” between Reformed Theology and others.

The God I worship does not *need* to “wonder” about *ANYTHING.*

He does not “wonder” if anybody will love Him back...because He sovereignty elects those who will.

  • It is God who opens the eyes of our hearts.  
  • God who wills us to believe.
  • The God I worship knows the future, holds the future, *makes* the future.

Scripture convicts me...as well as my conscience and the song-writer's own words...that for me to sing “Reckless Love” is to worship a false god.  Here I stand.

 

 

 

I've rolled this around in my brain for a couple of weeks...and today I'm putting it in writing.  How and why do we give?

Our church spent the month of December looking at "The Advent Conspiracy" and something was said that I need to respond to.  I'm putting this in my own words and expanding on it.

What can we give God?

...that He has not already given us?  Answer - nothing.  God has given us creation, we have our life, we have our time, we have our talent, and we have our treasure.

In him we live and move and have our being ~ Acts 17:28\

God, in His infinite mercy, gave us His Son, Jesus.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ~~ John 3:16

We recognize that there is nothing that we can give God.  When we see this, we begin to see the pattern.  What He has given to us, we pass on to others.

God blesses us, so we bless others.

We receive from God our blessings and we open our hands to let those good gifts bless others.

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. ~~ Hebrews 13:16

give with open hands and open hearts

It should be in our nature to give...because that's God's nature.  When giving to others becomes part of our "new creature" - then giving becomes an act of worship.

The more we give, the more freely we give, the more giving becomes our nature.

When giving is truly an act of worship - we give with a smile on our face, and joy in our hearts.\

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.~~James 1:17

 

 

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layers

I've read on this for a while (years) and I remain a creationist.  I believe that God created - not evolved.  I don't think that God-directed evolution is correct.  God created.

I'm just not sure that the "day" of Genesis 1 represents a literal 24-hour period.

Then Justin Taylor wrote "Biblical Reasons to Doubt the Creation Days Were 24-Hour Periods"

One of his points I've heard before.

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Okay...are we reading a prelude, a heading title, or a summary of what follows?

Taylor writes:

Genesis 1:1 tells us that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

This is not a title or a summary of the narrative that follows. Rather, it is a background statement that describes how the universe came to be.

In other words.

At some point in the past, God created the universe.

Then (starting in Genesis 1:2) He formed our planet into our place.

At some point, the universe came into existence, then some time later,

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:2-3)

In this case, even the six days of creation took place inside of a larger history.

 

The Measure You Use

Most of the article I agree with.  The way that it's put into action is (at this point) one-sided.  Thus, a couple of different posts.

First:

“Don’t assume the worst about me because I don’t look like you. Don’t size me up based on how I dress, where I live, who my parents were, or if I ever knew my parents. Don’t speak before you listen. Don’t rush to judgment before you’ve heard from all sides.” Isn’t that what we all want?

Here's the thing.  Or "things" - I call them "uniforms" and whether we like it or not, we are likely to wear a "uniform" that portrays who we are.

We believe this person is a ________________________ because of ____________________

This person is likely to be _______________________ because of _________________.

This person looks like a ___________________________ because of ________________.

This person might be a _______________________ because of _______________________________.

 

Which person would you cross the street to avoid meeting on a narrow side walk?  Why?

I have learned that great articles disappear off the web.  So, with a clear disclaimer that if the author wishes, I'll make it private (so only I can read it,) and with a clear link to the article and appropriate credit, here is the text of

~~~

By Colin J. Smothers

In Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, John Piper speaks about two methods that can be used to commend a vision for biblical complementarity—the teaching that God has created men and women with distinct differences for His glory and our good.

The first method is careful, exegetical argument that demonstrates the plain teachings of the Bible on complementarity. We need people who do this, and we should be thankful for people like John Piper and Wayne Grudem for doing just this.

But the second method is just as important. This method is a robust portrayal of the vision of complementarity, and we are in need of people who do this, too. We need people who are able to show that God’s ways are good, that God’s ways are most satisfying.

Complementarianism is true not just because it is right, but also because it is beautiful.

And so I have excerpted below the introduction to John Piper’s chapter in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood because of the way he portrays his faithful parents living out complementarianism. Piper’s reflection on manhood and womanhood through the lens of his childhood is not only beautiful, it is compelling. It is compelling because it is God’s truth, and God’s truth resonates with us. It is what we were created for.

When I was a boy growing up in Greenville, South Carolina, my father was away from home about two-thirds of every year. And while he preached across the country, we prayed–my mother and my older sister and I. What I learned in those days was that my mother was omni-competent.

She handled the finances, paying all the bills and dealing with the bank and creditors. She once ran a little laundry business on the side. She was active on the park board, served as the superintendent of the Intermediate Department of our Southern Baptist church, and managed some real estate holdings.

She taught me how to cut the grass and splice electric cord and pull Bermuda grass by the roots and paint the eaves and shine the dining-room table with a shammy and drive a car and keep French fries from getting soggy in the cooking oil. She helped me with the maps in geography and showed me how to do a bibliography and work up a science project on static electricity and believe that Algebra II was possible. She dealt with the contractors when we added a basement and, more than once, put her hand to the shovel. It never occurred to me that there was anything she couldn’t do.

I heard one time that women don’t sweat, they glow. Not true. My mother sweated. It would drip off the end of her long, sharp nose. Sometimes she would blow it off when her hands were pushing the wheelbarrow full of peat moss. Or she would wipe it with her sleeve between the strokes of a swingblade. Mother was strong. I can remember her arms even today thirty years later. They were big, and in the summertime they were bronze.

But it never occurred to me to think of my mother and my father in the same category. Both were strong. Both were bright. Both were kind. Both would kiss me and both would spank me. Both were good with words. Both prayed with fervor and loved the Bible. But unmistakably my father was a man and my mother was a woman. They knew it and I knew it. And it was not mainly a biological fact. It was mainly a matter of personhood and relational dynamics.

When my father came home he was clearly the head of the house. He led in prayer at the table. He called the family together for devotions. He got us to Sunday School and worship. He drove the car. He guided the family to where we would sit. He made the decision to go to Howard Johnson’s for lunch. He led us to the table. He called for the waitress. He paid the check. He was the one we knew we would reckon with if we broke a family rule or were disrespectful to Mother. These were the happiest times for Mother. Oh, how she rejoiced to have Daddy home! She loved his leadership. Later I learned that the Bible calls this “submission.”

But since my father was gone most of the time, Mother used to do most of those leadership things too. So it never occurred to me that leadership and submission had anything to do with superiority and inferiority. And it didn’t have to do with muscles and skills either. It was not a matter of capabilities and competencies. It had to do with something I could never have explained as a child. And I have been a long time in coming to understand it as part of God’s great goodness in creating us male and female. It had to do with something very deep. I know that the specific rhythm of life that was in our home is not the only good one. But there were dimensions of reality and goodness in it that ought to be there in every home. Indeed they ought to be there in varying ways in all mature relationships between men and women.

I say “ought to be there” because I now see that they were rooted in God. Over the years I have come to see from Scripture and from life that manhood and womanhood are the beautiful handiwork of a good and loving God. He designed our differences and they are profound. They are not mere physiological prerequisites for sexual union. They go to the root of our personhood.

Excerpted from John Piper, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (Wheaton: Crossway, 1991), 31–32.

May God enable our churches and our homes to reflect His glory in living out His design for manhood and womanhood. Let’s not just know that God’s truth is true, let’s demonstrate that God’s truth is true.

 

slaves
Yes and Yes. No and No. Yes and no, No and Yes.

I need to explain, yes?

Before reading, take a second to rest your eyes on both images...what feelings do they bring forth?  Are the feelings different or the same?

 

IF one image makes you feel different than the other, how so?  Why do you think this is?

Let's take 9-11 first.

Never Forget.

People died.  We were attacked.  Never forget those who died, never forget that  a minority of people who want us dead.  Use this teachable moment to illustrate honor, memory, the difference between right and wrong.  The difference between tolerating peaceful difference, vs. trying to destroy those who disagree with you.

The fact that a belief system can drive a person, or a group of people to violence, and that we, as human beings, cannot exempt from the possibility...never forget...

But...

Get over it.

We must also remember how easily we blur the line between remembering and holding grudges.   To blur the line between honoring a death or hardship, and wanting to exact a pound of flesh.  In order to fully honor those who suffered, we must resist wanting to profit from their suffering, even if that profit is emotional.

Also vital, to keep in mind that "they" are NOT all our enemy.  I remember a story shortly after 9-11 where a Sikh was killed because the murderer was confused by the head covering.

When we eye every person who is different than we are with suspicion, we lose part of our own humanity.  If we view every Muslim as a terrorist, we miss something.

Get over it.

And never forget.

The first image appears fresher in our collective mind, but you don't see the suffering up close - we can think not about the people throwing themselves to the ground and just think about the attack.

The second image burns through our brain.  Man's inhumanity to man.

The evil that was slavery in the United States should not have happened.  But it did happen.

Never forget.

We need to remember the time of slavery in our country, lest it happen again.

We need to remember chattel slavery in our country's history, and remember those - even today - who are kidnapped and made slaves.

We need to remember that many people react to unjust treatment through the lens of history.

We need to remember that we all (no matter what the color of our skin) harbor some sort of "feeling" toward some group, whether it's race, class, religion, sex.  It may be a tiny seed, but it's there.

We need to remember that we have all felt that "feeling" aimed at us, by another person.

Never forget...but...

Racism and bigotry dog us through history, and seldom is it the result of slavery.  We need to deal with racism and bigotry today as it happens today, as we see it all too often...but...

If "you" (general "you") think that you are owed money because you have ancestors who were made slaves, get over it

If you look at people who look different than you with suspicion simply because of the color of their skin, get over it.

If your "go to" assumption for everything is rooted in slavery...get over it.

Bottom line:

What's the heart motive?

Honor or greed?

self-centered or other-centered?

That's the heart of it.

Never forget...for all the right reasons...

Get over it...for all the right reasons.

I use the tag quite a bit, and will be using it quite a bit more.

Visualize the point where either faith directly impacts politics, or where politics directly impacts faith.

In the past, faith has informed our politics; our faith has a direct affect on how we see politics, how we vote, how we discuss the state of our country.  More and more, I see politics, or politicians, or the government itself having a direct affect on how people of faith are allowed to live out their faith.

Where people of of faith are forced by law to violate their conscience, visualize that point. Where people of faith are forced to act, or are prevented from acting.

Dictionary.com  defines "persecution as the state or act of being persecuted."

Persecute:

to pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, especially because of religious or political beliefs, ethnic or racial origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

With this in mind, I suspect that there will be more stories where faith and politics intersect.

 

from Aish.com by Dr. Gerald Schroeder

How did I get to this site?  My thought process was something like

  1. How old is the world?
  2. How old is the world according to Scripture?
  3. How can we best understand what Scripture means (answer: find out what the people who wrote it and originally read it thought it meant.)
  4. Who would know better what the ancient Jews thought...than ancient Jews?
  5. What is the closest we can get to that?

A lot of this made my head hurt.

Dr. Gerald Schroeder earned his BSc, MSc and double-Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics and Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...

So...he's a smart guy  😉

Now...add to that, the Bible commentary he uses is all pre-1300 (so, no modern science has affected the reading of Scripture.)

In 1959, a survey was taken of leading American scientists. (...)Two-thirds of the scientists gave the same answer: "Beginning? There was no beginning. Aristotle and Plato taught us 2400 years ago that the universe is eternal. Oh, we know the Bible says 'In the beginning.' That's a nice story, but we sophisticates know better. There was no beginning."

That was 1959. In 1965, Penzias and Wilson discovered the echo of the Big Bang in the black of the sky at night, and the world paradigm changed from a universe that was eternal to a universe that had a beginning. After 3000 years of arguing, science has come to agree with the Torah.

Okay - when do the Jews say the universe began?  They start with Rosh Hoshana - the Jewish New Year.

"Hayom Harat Olam ― today is the birthday of the world."

Does it mean that (about)5,700 years ago, the universe came into existence?  According to this article, the "birthday of the world" celebrates, not the cosmos, but rather the creation of the human soul.

So (to use the article's wording) the Bible has two clocks.  The first "clock" is the time leading up to Adam, the second clock begins with the soul of Adam.

One of the reasons for seeing this concept is the language.  Is there anywhere else in the Bible where a "day" is described as "morning and evening?"  This bizarre word usage is used until Adam; after Adam "normal" human time is always used.

Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations;(Deut 32:7 ESV)

Nachmanides (died 1270 AD) saw this verse as "split time" - "days of old" = pre-Adam; "many generations" = post Adam.

1 Comment

Phil and I have been discussing this exact topic - how Christian should respond to the state's newly revised definition of "marriage" and what to do when pastors can no longer, with good conscience, act as state administrators

In many jurisdictions, including many of the United States, civil authorities have adopted a definition of marriage that explicitly rejects the age-old requirement of male-female pairing. In a few short years or even months, it is very likely that this new definition will become the law of the land, and in all jurisdictions the rights, privileges, and duties of marriage will be granted to men in partnership with men, and women with women.

As Christian ministers we must bear clear witness. This is a perilous time. Divorce and co-­habitation have weakened marriage. We have been too complacent in our responses to these trends. Now marriage is being fundamentally redefined, and we are ­being tested yet again. If we fail to take clear action, we risk falsifying God’s Word.

The new definition of marriage no longer coincides with the Christian understanding of marriage between a man and woman. Our biblical faith is committed to upholding, celebrating, and furthering this understanding, which is stated many times within the Scriptures and has been repeatedly restated in our wedding ceremonies, church laws, and doctrinal standards for centuries. To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.

Therefore, in our roles as Christian ministers, we, the undersigned, commit ourselves to disengaging civil and Christian marriage in the performance of our pastoral duties. We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage. We will no longer sign government-provided marriage certificates. We will ask couples to seek civil marriage separately from their church-related vows and blessings. We will preside only at those weddings that seek to establish a Christian marriage in accord with the principles ­articulated and lived out from the beginning of the Church’s life.

Please join us in this pledge to separate civil marriage from Christian marriage by adding your name.

Drafted by:

The Reverend Ephraim Radner

The Reverend Christopher Seitz

Link here

1) Remember "Palin Derangement Syndrome?" It happens with other people also.

When you are so determined to see bad in all things that even tangentially touch a person, you've got DS (Derangement Syndrome)

2) I am in NO WAY supporting or agreeing with the sins that Mark Driscoll as committed in his time at Mars Hill. I hope that he, his family, his church, and all those who have been injured by Driscoll's leadership find healing, repentance and forgiveness.

~~~

Warren Throckmorton has been making much hay over Mark Driscoll.

Some of the posts have been right on target. Others miss the mark.

Still others are full on "MDDS" (Mark Driscoll Derangement Syndrome)

When you go on the attack, aimed at John Piper, because he didn't say everything that you think he should have said in an ELEVEN MINUTE podcast, you've got MDDS

When you question the integrity of other authors, based on the fact that they use the same publicist as Driscoll, you've got MDDS.

When (this was a commenter) you suggest that Christian authors should not sell their work, but give it away as a PDF and wait for folks to "donate" what they think the work is worth---forgetting that the HOST of the blog you're commenting on is an author who (wait for it...) SELLS HIS WORK, you've got MDDS.

I've been following Throckmorton for a while, and his encouragement of the haters is disturbing and disheartening.

The information he puts out there is (perhaps) necessary, for those who have sat under Mark Driscoll, and want to keep tabs on the information in one place.

BUT...in order to keep the true haters (and MDDS) under a little more control, I'd suggest closing comments on all new posts concerning Mark Driscoll. If readership continues, Throckmorton will know that his information is still getting through to the right places.

If readership falls if commenters cannot continue ranting - that's a clue that Throckmorton's most common function has been to provide a venue for MDDS.

that should be worth thinking about.