Archive for the ‘Cultural Issues’ Category

I’ll Be Over Here:

So coming back to this particular blog doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. However, the other blogs to which I’ve been contributing have been revamped and that’s where I’ll be spending most of my blogging time. Hope to see you over there!

Re: Fundamentals KJV Only Debate Blog

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Taking a Stand: A Rant

standPlease excuse the incoherency and lack of flow in this post, but I’ve got a few things to say.

I’ve been slacking a bit in blogging, but I think that’s ok. In the meantime, I have posted a few things on the King James Only blog, and, as a result, posts about that topic will be exclusive to that website, for the most part. This will allow me to focus on other topics. I’ve also been lurking around other blogs recently, and a few things have come to my attention. So I’ll make some comments. After all, small-fry bloggers like me have opinions that really matter, right?

The concern over the “YF Reformation” (if I can coin the term) is not diminishing at all. The demographic of 18-35 year old Christians who are tied to fundamentalism in some way (the Young Fundamentalists, “YFs”) is undergoing a major facelift in recent years.

And we YFs haven’t been silent about it. Those who are against the shift haven’t been either. The blogosphere has added significant volume to all our insignificant voices, as well as popularized diatribes and analyses by influential leaders of both camps. Currently, there’s much ado over Dan Sweatt and the FBFI. John MacArthur and Mark Driscoll. Peter Masters’ assessment of this movement. Colin Hansen’s Young, Restless, and Reformed is still being discussed. And of course, commentary on all of these issues abound from pastors and lay leaders alike.

Certainly, a reformation of sorts is underway. It’s both a privilege and a scary thing to be living in these times. I don’t know how this all will conclude, but God does. He is still in control. And we must remember, reformation is never easy.

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Let’s Get this Show on the Road

It’s true – once you stop, it’s hard to start again. Blogging is supposed to be fun, and I believe it is, but it can be labor-some as well. It’s hard to imagine I’d feel that way knowing that this little blog isn’t that popular, but I guess once you’re on the web you heap to yourself an obligation to keep it up. Though it’s a personal blog, I’ve had the promise of an after-new-years-relaunch looming over my head since December. So I think it’s about time I update a bit.

First, thank you to those who read. I started this thing in November of 2007 (“No More Decaf Theology!”), then TJ joined me in May 2008 and it became Return to Biblicism. Since it started, we’ve had about 140 posts, 330 comments, and 23,000 total views. I realize that’s nothing. But it’s something. So thank you.

As you can tell, the blog is solely mine again. (I might add more contributers in the future. Tony from Free From the Box and I have become good friends, and I considered a merge. But neither “Return to the Box” nor “Free from Biblicism” sound too good.) I’ve dropped my anonymity since I really have nothing to hide. Of course, I didn’t have anything to hide when I went under the name DT (couldn’t I be more clever?), but since we were saying some things that we know ruffled the feathers of fundamentalists, and both still involved in the IFB movement, it was probably better for us to go a bit incognito. Whether that was right or not, I really don’t know. But I have personally left the IFB world, never to return, and have no problem letting the world (those 5 people who read this blog) know who I am. It should also keep me from saying stupid things. I’m sure I will anyway, and it will be held against me. But I could always legally change my name.

My perspectives on some things have changed a bit over the last few months. Well, they’ve been fine tuned I guess. More on that later. Just realize that some of the things I’ve written in 2007 and early 2008 may not be how I feel now. Not much difference really – back then I was hesitant about Calvinism, still TR/KJV preferred, and defended the wearing of suits to church. Now I can confidently say I am a Calvinist, prefer the Critical Text over the TR, and, praise the Lord, haven’t worn a suit to church in two months! (Just for the record – I really don’t care what you do.) And I think the main difference between then and now is this: I no longer feel the need to rescue fundamentalism from its errors. I couldn’t do it if I tried.

So I am in the process of updating some links, the About and Gospel sections, and other stuff. I should have the first real blog post on Monday. (random thought: I find it weird that the WordPress spell check underlines the word “blog.”) Until then, here’s a quick topic on which I hope to get some feedback.

Most of us saw Rick Warren’s prayer at the Inauguration. I know we all had mixed feelings. I personally am not a big fan of Warren. I find his theology to be watered down, and the acceptance of him by the media (donning him “America’s Pastor) is a telltale sign of his compromise. He’s been under some fire, though, lately because of his stand on gay marriage as well as whether or not he’d pray in Jesus’ name at the Inauguration. He did, thankfully. But it came not without its critics.

Now I love Todd Friel, Way of the Master Radio, and the show Wretched. But I can’t help but think he went a little too far picking apart Warren’s prayer. What do you think?

The prayer: 

The criticism

Keep Staying Tuned

Boy, time surely does fly! It’s almost February and I’m still not ready for the re-launch. But I’m close. So, in the meantime, I’ve got a semi-re-launch here, with a a bit of a new look and the riddance of some dead weight (TJ). Don’t worry, TJ and I are still friends! This was a mutual agreement and he’ll be back periodically as a contributor. 

Here’s a video that’s probably already made its rounds in the blogosphere, but provides some strong commentary by John Piper:

Encouraging Sunday Video, 12.14.08

Although I have argued that the War on Christmas is a distraction from the main battle, I want to make clear that I also think Christmas time is a wonderful time of heightened spiritual interest. A friend referred me to this video, an encouragement to which we can all take heed this holiday Christmas season.

Keeping Christ in Christmas: Another Worldly Distraction

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A couple of years ago, I went to K-Mart during the Christmas season to see for myself just how anti-Christian things have become. As I stood back looking at the Christmas trees, I was amazed. I was angry. Every single box that contained a tree that would be used for nothing other than celebrating Christmas was labelled a “holiday tree.”

How dare K-Mart refuse to acknowledge my faith! How dare other secular companies change “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings!” This is all an example of secular society being so. . .so. . .so. . secular! And we Christians must stand up and do something about it. We must “Keep Christ in Christmas!” Right?

well. . .

That’s what I used to think. And that’s what many Christians seem to be devoting their time and energy to this time of year. Just recently I was invited to join a Facebook group called “Keep Christ in Christmas.” On the opposing side, groups like the ACLU somehow seemed concerned with not giving Christ the preeminence during this holiday or any other time. 

It’s obvious there’s a war going on. In particular, some have called this the War on Christmas. At large, we can classify this under the Culture Wars. But as with Proposition 8, I am prone to wonder: is this a battle in which Christians ought to fight? Or is this a worldly distraction? A soldier of Jesus Christ is not to be entangled with the affairs of this world (II Timothy 2:4). I’m afraid that’s exactly what the “Keeping Christ in Christmas” outrage is all about.

Before we choose to exhaust our God-given time and energy to any cause, we must consider if it is worthy. I pray that you would consider the following questions concerning this particular case.

Questions about Keeping Christ in Christmas:

1. Is there any biblical warrant for Christians to demand that society pay homage to Christianity?

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Islam, the Religion of Peace. . .and Charity!

muslimsI read an article in the paper this morning concerning a Muslim charity. It appears that one of the largest of these charities in the United States was funding terrorism. Surprised?

We obviously should not be. Muslim charities aren’t all that charitable after all. 

But what about all that “religion of peace” talk? Doesn’t Islam mean “peace”? And what about your Muslim neighbor and my Muslim friend who appear to be peace-loving citizens?

Well, I’m not going to delve into why Islam is violent and not peaceful. You can see that for yourself with a just a few minutes of research. From the violent admonitions in the Koran to modern day terrorism, Islam is filled with hate, violence, and intolerance of the ugliest sort. Our dear friends who love peace yet consider themselves Muslims just aren’t following their religion faithfully. 

A professor of mine was able to communicate all of this in a very short lesson: he pointed to a world map and asked us to find one country, just one country, that has a dominating Islamic influence in which there is any sort of peace at all. What Muslim country has not been riddled with violence?

This rant serves no purpose other than to expose true Islam to Christians. I’m not worried about what anyone else thinks of it. But if you’re a Christian, I urge you to not buy into the lie that Islam has anything to do with peace.

Fighting the Real Battle

II Timothy 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

There’s a battle raging in America today. While some seek to “unite” the country, many are becoming increasingly polarized from one another. The battle of the worldviews is culminating in a head-on collision. Debates about abortion, stem-cell research, and especially gay marriage are bringing out the fight in everyone from all sides. 

While Christians are called to stand for the truth at all times, it seems we sometimes get too carried away with fighting the wrong battle. I sympathize for the churches that have been attacked and mocked. I am for this moment even on Rick Warren’s side. As a matter of fact, the Mormons have my pity at this time as well.

But, Christians – this is not the real battle! A friend pointed this out to me recently: there’s nothing wrong with taking a stand in society or voting for a referendum that would promote morality. But many of the Christians who are pouring their energy into these social issues have never personally shared the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation.

While it seems this “fight” is noble and godly, it is really the social gospel repackaged, and an outward expression of worldliness.

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Various Thoughts on the Election from Around the Web

Some encouraging, some not so much, but all challenging thoughts given to us concerning this historic election:

James White posted a video with a sharp but biblically discerning view of society, and a challenge for Christians, including the exhortation to pray for Obama’s conversion.

Al Mohler writes that this election is indeed a hallmark for America, but reminds us of some of the issues as stake.

Dan Burrell gives us two lists: Ten Things to Expect from an Obama Administration and Don’t Worry, Be Happy.

Bob Bixby’s post about why Evangelicals trust in Obama is worth a read.

Voddie Bachman says of the racial issues involved – It’s not over.

Ligon Duncan offers suggestions about praying for Obama.

Between Two Worlds has an incredible guest post by Eric Redmond, “Living Soli Deo Gloria Under Obama” in which he describes his struggle to choose between voting Christocentrically or Afrocentrically.

Finally, the first hour transcript of Rush Limbaugh’s program is available, and he rightfully criticizes the Republican party and beckons them back to true conservatism.

Cherishing America

After the historic election of Barack Obama to the presidency, I’m sure most of the Christian blogs will be reminding the conservative-minded that God is in control and urging us all to obey the Bible’s commands to render unto Caesar, obey the authority in the name of God, and pray for our leaders. I hope we will take heed to those things.

That kind of reaction is still too melancholy for me. Sure, the liberal one won. Actually, I should say the more liberal one won. But does that mean we should all collectively sigh and mumble, “well at least God is still in control?” God is in control no matter what! So why should this change anything?

Instead of dwelling on the negative, why not remind ourselves of the tremendous country that is the United States of America? I think it’s an amazing thing to have an African American president. It’s great that the voice of the people was actually heard. It’s thrilling to know that there is no caste system in America. Obama’s story is a true American success story, and although I strongly disagree with his political positions, it is such a wonderful tribute to our great country to see his story reach this climax. May God bless him, and God bless America.

Vote!

Man, I waited too long to post this.

Good, honest Christians debate about whether or not we should vote. I’ve heard both sides, and think both have good arguments based on scripture. While I agree with some principles espoused by the side abstaining from voting, such as not being entangled with this world’s affairs, I am more persuaded that we ought to exercise our right.

Question: if you lived in a country that treated a certain ethnic group with cruelty, keeping them as slaves, taking away their rights, even killing them for not complying, and an opportunity presented itself to you, in the form of legislation, for you to vote in order to liberate such a group, would you vote, knowing that you as a Christian are the salt and light of this world?

If yes, then why not take part in liberating the unborn from the creulty of abortion? It doesn’t mean our vote will necessarily change things, but I’d hate to know that Christians, of all people, didn’t even try.

Please vote today.

Encouraging Sunday Video, 11.2.08

This is the last Encouraging Sunday Video before this historic election. Let not your heart be troubled. Here, Piper reminds us of our priority as Christians in this world:

Halloween Poll

Halloween is here again. This weekend, millions of dollars will be spent on candy in order to appropriately celebrate. For Christians of any stripe, however, Halloween poses a loaded dilemma – to ‘trick-or-treat’ or not to ‘trick-or-treat’. The question is obviously multilateral and all the options are open for debate.

So you tell us. How are you dealing with Halloween this year?

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The Holy Spirit of Promise: God’s Down Payment

Ephesians 1:13-14
13
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

In our struggling economy, there’s little doubt that the housing market has been hit the hardest. Families across the nation are being forced to sell their houses at half the purchase price. Often, the financial stability of the family depends on whether or not a house will sell. In such a situation nothing is more comforting than a buyer’s promise of earnest money. This initial down payment stands as a guarantee that the deal will go through. As an added benefit, the money is given and is immediately available for the family to use.

The Christian life is often more volatile than any economic crisis. Fightings without and fears within as Paul would say. But, there is nothing more comforting than the presence of the Holy Spirit of Promise, the earnest of our inheritance, God’s down payment.

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Authentic Boldness

Acts 4:17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

If you haven’t, check out the news lately – people are afraid. We’re facing all kinds of crises, it seems. And aside from the looming threats of financial insecutiry and political unrest, American Christians today face the menaces of increasing opposition. This threat comes from many different angles. New Athesists and Muslims are on the offensive. Liberals and skeptics are subtely undermining absolute truth in this postmodern world. And many who call themselves Christians are growing increasingly apathetic. No matter who it is, let’s face it – they don’t want us to preach Christ.

And yet, we must. And we must preach Him with boldness. It’s time we take off the shelf our most valuable tool and put it to use. Let us pray with boldness so we may preach with boldness. This is what the early church did in the face of opposition:

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Evangelistic Fraud

The general consensus from conversation on this blog about Election’08 seems to be looking more towards hope for 2012 than towards next month. And now, the issue of voter fraud recently surfacing is just one more item on the long list of things that make this year’s presidential race uniquely complex. It only makes us hold tight to the passage suggested by our brother:

(Proverbs 16:33) “The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.”

Recently, I was thinking about the ramifications of fraudulent voter registration in the election, when I stumbled across a thought. Persuading people to commit to something by pretense – sounds a lot like some fundamentalists’ idea of evangelism. I realize that it’s not a perfect comparison, but hear me out.

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Self-defeating Ministries & Self-defeating Christians

During the missions conference at my church last week, I heard an interesting illustration. It came from a personal experience of the preacher who used it. Having visited a country in central Africa, the preacher had taken a tour of one of the deepest gold mines in the entire world. It reached nearly three miles below sea level. In order to reach the lowest point of the mine, the preacher and the tour guide had to use a series of elevators.

As they were transferring from one elevator to another, the preacher asked the tour guide why they had to use so many elevators. The tour guide explained that the mine shaft was far too long for only one elevator. After a certain distance, the weight of the elevator cables become too heavy for any elevator system. It becomes a self-defeating mechanism.

The preacher had a different application for his story, but before he proceeded to it, he threw in the comment, “I know a few ministries like that – so big, they’re self-defeating.”

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Encouraging Sunday Video, 9.28.08

Yeah, it will probably receive its share of criticism, but it’s good to see cinema being used to encourage people to do right, rather than what it normally does.

God, Amputees, and Love

“Why won’t evolution heal amputees?” was the question I asked the other day to counteract the new atheist ‘gotcha’ question, “why won’t God heal amputees?” I did not reverse the table in order to refute evolution so much as to demonstrate how empty a question like that is. As I have stated in that post, Christianity is a faith, and as such, many questions will go unanswered until eternity. Nonetheless, unanswered questions do not negate truth. 

My argument is, if there’s a worldview that must account for the pain and suffering in the world, and lack of healing for amputees, it has to be the one that teaches progression and greater complexity. That system is evolution. Christianity has consistently taught that we live in a fallen state, and sin is the cause of all the world’s ills. Regenerating limbs would be great evidence for evolution, wouldn’t it?

So it is demonstrable that the question at hand is not good for either side. It does not prove nor disprove Christianity or evolution. But as pointed out in the comments, it may have a more stinging effect on certain types of Christianity. Perhaps charismatic faith-healers would benefit from pondering such a question. In fact, as I pointed out, I believe this is the kind of argumentation that conservative Christians have been throwing their way for years.

But there’s another problem that must be addressed. The question might not disprove the existence of God, but does it do harm to the concept of a loving God?

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God, Amputees, and Evolution

Continuing in the discussion about amputees and God, I’d like to posit the question toward those who believe in a naturalistic world view. One definition of evolution says that it is a “process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state.” Biologically, socially, and individually, we use the term “evolution” to denote this sort of change – a progressive, better change.

The Bible, on the contrary, teaches us a worldview that is consistent with what we see. It is well known that the Bible speaks of a curse that came upon all the world as a result of sin. The sin nature that is inherit in every individual plays out in society with effects such as rebellion and disease. All around us is suffering of the worst sort – and for the Christian, this is all coincides with what is read in the Word of God. The Bible teaches the exact opposite of evolution: de-evolution, or degeneration.

So what’s the problem?
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God, Prayer, and Amputees

Recently, there have been charges brought against Christianity based on the supposed failure of God to respond to a given request. The challenge usually begins with an attempt to pray for something that is supposedly a good thing to pray for, such as the healing of amputees or the curing of cancer. When the prayer is not answered, it is assumed that no answer came because either God is weak or apathetic to the needs of people, or because no God existed to have heard the prayer. Some even go so far as to say that this is “scientific proof” that God does not exist. A good example is a more popular video which features the question “Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?”.

Many Christians have responded to these challenges by quickly pointing out the malicious spirit in which they are given and have simply dismissed them on that basis. Many of these charges are, in fact, superficial challenges. Be that as it may, we are still obligated to give an answer. There may be ulterior motives and logical shortcomings throughout these challenges. However, at the root of it all, I believe it is a deep misunderstanding about the nature of prayer which produces such a challenge.

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Encouraging Sunday Video, 9.7.08

It’s sad that Christianity’s opponents continue to decry the Bible as being supportive of racism when, in fact, the Bible is the very reason why cultures today eschew that very thing. This is proven historically, as cultures which have been reached with the gospel got a hold of such stark teachings as “men being made in the image of God”, “in Christ all are one – neither Jew nor Gentile”; “being a debtor both to Greeks and Barbarians”; “being made of one blood”; “sharing a common ancestor in Adam”; “esteeming others better than yourselves”; so on and so forth. According to the Bible, there is only one race, the human race. 

What’s more sad is when Christians feed the fire of skepticism. There are undeniable blemishes on the saga of Christianity. But these circumstances are obviously not in accordance with the Bible. Even today, there are still those who will not permit what they see as an “interracial” marriage. May God help us to tear down these unbiblical presuppositions. Let’s be encouraged with this short clip of Thabiti Anaybwile at this year’s T4G conference:

Doubting Hearts Trusting God

Matthew 11:2-4
“Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? Jesus answered and said unto them….”

After all that had been said and done by the Lord up to this point, the scene was not so victorious from the perspective of John the Baptist. Being imprisoned by Herod, the voice of one crying in the wilderness was now swarmed by discouragement and loneliness. We don’t know his actual thoughts, but as John received word of all the miracles and wondrous works preformed by Jesus, it is no stretch to assume that John wondered why he remained in prison. So, he sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus a simple question. “Are you the Messiah, or should we look for someone else?”

By many, this question is said to be a “lapse of faith” on the part of John. However, there is no reprimanding in Jesus’ response. In His loving grace, He answers. What a comfort this is for all of us hard headed, high minded children of God. When we have questions our Lord answers.

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Celebrating America

This year’s presidential race has, perhaps as much as any in our nation’s history, greatly stirred the emotions of a variety of groups. Everyone declaring their opinion as to who should be whose running mate, lifelong democrats declaring their support for the republican candidate, and Protesters marching on Invesco Field all remind us of a wonderful catchphrase – only in America!

So many people say so many things about what they disagree with and even hate about America. Nevertheless, at the end of the day they must recognize the fact that the only reason they are able to say what they say is because they are in America.

Even though it was written a whole presidential term ago, an article written by Dinesh D’Souza titled “10 things to celebrate: Why I’m an anti-anti-American” is as relevant as it was four years ago.
D’Souza candidly admits:

“As an immigrant who has chosen to become an American citizen, I feel especially qualified to say what is special about America. Having grown up in a different society — in my case, Bombay, India — I am not only able to identify aspects of America that are invisible to the natives, but I am acutely conscious of the daily blessings that I enjoy in America.”

This article is something we “natives” need to hear.

Agnosticism: The Impossible Belief

In the onset of the New Atheism there is a contingency of people who have reservations about the militancy of the followers of Richard Dawkins and the other champions of modern atheism. Rather than jumping wholeheartedly into the ‘Dawkinite’ camp, many direct their allegiance to a different line of thought – agnosticism.

The following is not intended to be a thorough examination of agnosticism and all it has to offer. However, I think a careful consideration of how agnostic ideas relate to Biblical thinking is needed.

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