Monday, November 24, 2014

Predictable Deterioration

For today's post, I must give a hat tip to Dan Phillips over at the Pyromaniacs blog for making me aware of Doug Wilson excellent post examining some recent writings by Greg Boyd. If you remember, Boyd is known for embracing what is called "Open Theism," which is basically a denial of God's omniscience.

I've commented on Open Theism before, along with "Moral Government of God" theology, which pretty much embraces the same idea. As Doug's sharp rebuke shows, once you embrace such theology, the rest of your theology eventually travels on a downward spiral. It is amazing that Boyd could come up with the conclusion that Jesus believed that the Old Testament prophets' actions were evil. Simply amazing.

But that is what taking on a low view of Scripture does to you. A low view of Scripture leads to a low view of God, and a low view of God leads to worse heresy over time. Sad stuff. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Holiness and Biblical Tension

Today, I want to throw a hat tip to Frank Turk over at the Pyromaniacs blog. Today, he posted this short article on holiness, which I think is worth reading and pondering.

There is something holiness is, and something it is not. Biblically, those who belong to Christ are holy (set apart), and we are to be holy in our behavior. But the process of sanctification is just that—a process. And in evangelical Christian circles, these terms tend to get mixed and jumbled around. A lot. We are NOT saved by works. Period. Most of us say that in affirmation of what the Bible teaches. But in practicum, we act—and what often comes out of our mouths—indicates that we may harbor another belief in our hearts. And that is somehow our works must contribute to our salvation, and if we fail to do them, or do them enough, that will "keep us out of heaven."

For the redeemed, our good works are a PRODUCT of our salvation and faith in Christ, not the cause of it. If we claim to be redeemed and live like unbelievers, it's safe to say that our salvation is probably not genuine, as no one truly born again and indwelt by the Holy Spirit would WANT to live life like that, in a way to grieve the Lord who purchased us with His own precious blood. But many seem unable to make the distinction in their understanding of salvation, grace, sanctification, imputed righteousness, etc.

Frank's article does a great job in helping to draw clear lines. I may add to it more here later on, as it's a very important subject to me in relating to my own loved ones who grew up in "holiness" circles. They say "saved by grace" but they're so focused on works that they cross the line into Pelagianism in practice. It's sad and it grieves the Lord. It diminishes the finished work of Christ on the cross. WE MUST get it right!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Beyond Tiresome: Official Napalm Throwers

If I wasn't saddened enough tonight at the state of the country, the issue of Ferguson, Missouri, had to come up again in the news since the decision of the grand jury is near over whether to indict a white police officer in the disputed shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown. The incident resulted in several nights of violence, looting, and rampaging. Before even all the facts were known, the usual suspects in the modern "civil rights "establishment were baying for the officer's head, despite evidence that Brown may have at the very least contributed to the escalation of the situation. That's why we have grand juries. To take testimony and get to the TRUTH.

But as they've been wont to do, the Administration of Barack Obama, most notably outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder, seem bound and determined to throw gasoline on the fire instead of urging people to peace and calm. Yesterday, Holder compared the situation to the horrible lynch murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till back in the mid-1950s at the hands of a white mob. Very irresponsible, and there is no comparison to the two incidents that I can see. But let's wait for the grand jury to render its decision.

If there is enough evidence against the officer, let him be duly indicted and tried by a jury of his peers in a court of law. If there is not enough evidence, then he must be released. Our system DEMANDS that a person is considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Sadly, the Administration appears to want reverse lynchings to take place.

I am used to bomb and napalm throwers like "Reverends" Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. And of the two, Al's the worst. Maybe they might consider recalling their clergymen status and head into the situation preaching the Gospel, which might actually help CONVERT people to Christ and bring peace and reconciliation. But that doesn't draw the TV cameras and isn't quite as lucrative.

Dr. Martin Luther King would not be pleased with the situation today. He would be calling for calm, for peace, for healing, etc. He would be leading in prayer. Dr. Alveda King, his niece, seems to be to me more in the spirit of her late uncle than anyone else. I feel badly that Holder had to use Emmett Till as an example, because it diminishes what happened to that poor, innocent boy. There is no doubt whatsoever of Emmett's innocence or of the guilt of his murderers. In today's situation over Michael Brown, there is legitimate question.

All would do well to stop throwing gasoline on the fire, calm down, and let the justice system work as intended. And all of us need to pray for peace and healing. There are two grieving, hurting families here. And interested individuals/activist groups need to quit exploiting them for their own cynical gain.

Tiresome "Protests"

Before I comment, please read this news article from the Daily Caller about a group of young enviro-activists upset about the controversial Keystone Pipeline.

You'll note that I used the term "tiresome" in today's post title, and yesterday's post title. (And yes, before some wiseacre says it, you can call my blog tiresome if you like. Change the channel (smile). It seems like most things are tiresome to me these days. I am getting more cynical in age, and that may or may not be a good thing.

I've said it before, but I'll restate it. I am an environmentalist, although I hope and pray a rational one. I have to care about the environment because it's God's creation, and He charged mankind with being stewards of His creation. And we've done a pretty bad job of it in many cases. The pollution began with the Fall of Man, and creation will not be restored to its pre-Fall condition until the Millennial Reign. After that, we get a new Heaven and a new Earth. In the meantime, we try.

Having said that, I draw a distinction between true environmental stewardship, and faux-environmental activists who use concern over the environment to mask their real objective—larger and more intrusive, controlling government demanding more and more of your hard-earned money. There are also young skulls full of mush who find protesting something to be "cool," so they do it, without really understanding the issues about which they're carrying those signs and staging those sit ins.

All of this hoo-hah about the consequences of the Keystone Pipeline is just that. Hoo-hah. The Alaska Pipeline was just as controversial in its day, and rather than be a detriment to wildlife, its impact was negligible. But that seems to be a forgotten matter.

We say we want to get off dependency on Middle East oil. But we throw every roadblock in the way that we can to get off Middle-East oil. Never mind energy independence. Never mind thousands of new, good paying jobs for people who urgently need them. It would be interesting to me to conduct an experiment with the protesters, and see how long they'd put up with having to ride a bicycle or walk everywhere they go. We can let them use the railroad, but let's require them to use the old pump handle railcar. Elbow grease, not petroleum. Take away their phones, iPads, iPods, and other devices. No airplanes. (That includes Al Gore and his expensive jets, and the limousines that the high-profile, outspoken enviro-celebrities like to use in traveling around). Take away their televisions and everything else. Let 'em get back to nature and wear fig leaves. But no, they want that for us. I doubt if they want to change their lifestyle all that much except for a bit of recycling.

I am being a bit mocking and tongue-in-cheek, admittedly. But some of my annoyance has been ginned up through the years by some of the extremists (yes, extremists) on the wacko fringe who would prefer that more people die so "Mother Earth" can survive. Most of them on that fringe won't come out and say it that bluntly, but read between the lines and you can see they think that too many people are the problem. God told us to "be fruitful and multiply." I think the Creator knows what His planet can sustain better than they do. And I'll pass over the global warming nonsense, which I think has been pretty credibly shredded as time goes on. But never fear. It doesn't matter. When global warming/climate change is no longer a sustainable (pun intended) enterprise, they'll come up with another crisis that demands crisis action at the expense of our freedom and way of life.

Have industries and individuals polluted? Sure they have. When industries and individuals are caught truly polluting the environment, hold them accountable by all means. But a lot of progress has been made cleaning things up. More remains to be done, but I'm encouraged rather than discouraged. People who run industries and businesses have to breathe and eat too. Do you really think the people who run industries, farms, and businesses want to breathe poisoned air, eat poisoned food, and drink poisoned water? I think I can tell you that the majority do not. Yes, there will always be the thoughtless exceptions and "evil" corporations. They will be held accountable here on earth hopefully, and certainly in the higher court of Heaven.

In the end, let's be good stewards and protect the environment. But make abundantly sure that's REALLY what is happening, and that you're not supporting a Trojan Horse with another agenda in mind.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tiresome Theological Arguments

Jacob Arminius and John Calvin. Arminianism vs. Calvinism. In one form or another, it's debate that has raged for centuries, even going back to Luther and Augustine if you like. Really, these issues were already being argued in Bible times when the Apostles still walked the earth, as the New Testament shows.

The debate has yet to be settled, and we will not settle it here. It is little secret where my own viewpoints lie. I am on the Reformed side of the fence - a Calvinist if you will. Because of the never-ending arguing, I don't even like to use the terms "Calvinism" or "Arminianism." The reason is that as soon as you use the term, the presuppositions and barriers to communication get thrown up immediately, and discussion is fruitless. I forget who said it, but a wise person once said along the lines of "I dislike labels. All too often, labels are an excuse to avoid thinking." But we have to use language to communicate, and terms must be used to communicate ideas. So we're stuck with labels, and prayers we can make ourselves understood.

This post is brief, and not at all intended to begin a large treatise on defending Calvinism. Enough books have been written on this, and I don't need to add another. I'm writing to vent some frustration with what I think is an unfair distortion of the Calvinist point, "Perseverance of the saints." In some circles, this is called "Once Saved, Always Saved." While an accurate statement in and of itself, the caricatured interpretation given to it is irritating. Anyone who really bothers to study the position and the Scriptures that back it up ought to be able to see that it does NOT mean what its opponents often fling out there.

When perseverance of the saints is mentioned, the knee-jerk statement that gets tossed in our faces is "Well, I guess you think you can just go out and sin it up and it doesn't matter." That is ridiculous, and no one that I know in the Reformed camp believes such a thing. The point is—if someone IS truly saved and born again, having the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in them, such a person would not even WANT to live in such a fashion. That doesn't mean we will live in perfect obedience while we walk in these bodies of flesh. We can, will, and do stumble. And that did not take the Lord by surprise at all. Remember, He knows our lives from beginning to end. Nothing we do takes him by surprise. He knows every event in our lives even before we get there "under this sun." God dwells outside time. When He paid the price for the sins of His children, He paid for ALL of them. The Apostle John makes our status very plain. "Little children, I write these things that you may not sin. Yet if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Christ Jesus the righteous."

The Apostle Paul makes it plain what our attitude toward sin should be as believers. "Shall we sin that grace may abound? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?"

Let's be clear. If someone professing Jesus as their Savior blows off the Bible and insists that they can live in sin with impunity, their salvation is NOT genuine. Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep my commandments." Obedience to commands does not save. Faith in Jesus Christ is what saves. We are justified by grace through faith, AND THAT NOT OF OURSELVES. IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD, NOT OF WORKS, SO THAT NO MAN MAY BOAST. (That's in Romans if you want to read it).

We live in an age of resurgent antinomianism, a serious error fought and refuted by the Apostles. Antinomianism is unbiblical. We as the children of the King are expected to live lives pleasing to Him because we love Him, and we are ambassadors of His in a fallen world.

Once saved, always saved. Yes. Saved by His power, kept by His power, and by His promise to "complete the work He began" in me. It is His work, and He gets all the glory. And I am forever thankful. If it depended on me to keep me saved, I might as well cash in the chips and head to the Lake of Fire now. But I depend on Him. And He never fails.

And I have absolutely NO desire to live a life that is displeasing to him. A holy life is the hallmark of a true, born again, saved believer. It is the goal. We grow in faith and holiness through the process of sanctification. The desire is there. If there is no desire for holiness and godly living, then we need to "examine ourselves to see if we're in the faith." There's another one of those pesky Scriptures by the Apostle Paul to deflate the caricature.

As tiresome as this particular subject gets, I am under no illusions. It will not end until Jesus returns. But tonight, I've gotten it off my chest.