Combating Theological Indifference

I remember one particular Sunday morning at a church I no longer attend.  I was asked to fill in as the teacher in a senior adult class whose teacher was not able to be there that day.  There was 12-15 people in the class and I knew them all.  Most had been faithful member of the church for many years (some as long as 30 or 40 years).  I don’t remember what the text was that day but I do remember that the subject of the passage was spiritual gifts.  About 1/2 through the lesson I noticed that the people seemed lost.  When that happens the cause is usually either that I have done a very poor job of teaching that day or it was a topic the people were not familiar with.  At one point I stopped the lesson and asked how many of them had heard of spiritual gifts or knew what they were.  The answer:  blank stares.  The response still stuns me.  I don’t say that to disparage or condemn anyone present in the class that day.  It is however an indictment of the church (in general).  Many churches are guilty of not teaching theology or worse, teaching that theology doesn’t matter.  My point here is not limited to the topic of spiritual gifts.  I think there are many theological topics which would have elicited the same response by a large portion of the church going population.  It was an indication of the theological indifference we see among believers today.

This theological indifference is a result of many complex issues all working together.  My purpose today is to offer one suggestion that will help to alleviate this problem.  My suggestion is not a quick fix or an immediate answer.  It is however very likely to work…given enough time.  So what is my suggestion?  I suggest that churches begin to teach systematic theology, in age appropriate ways, to children at the earliest possible opportunity.  There are curriculums available to help with this or the church can develop its own way of doing it.  How (method, material) it is done is less important than why it is done.  The purpose of teaching theology to kids is 1) to glorify God, 2) help them to develop a biblical worldview, and 3) help God be real to them as they learn more about Him.  A side benefit to this is that as the kids learn theology so will the adults.

So, basically I am saying that the children are our future (I could not resist that) and we should follow the biblical teaching to train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.  I have not suggested anything new or profound here.  I am only getting back to the biblical model.  Do you agree of disagree?  Have I left something out that you think should be added?  Leave a comment and we will discuss it.

 

 

God-Centered Salvation and Man-Centered Salvation Explained Briefly

Here is a brief article by Alan Kurschner explaining God-centered salvation vs. man-centered salvation.  These two concepts of salvation are diametrically opposed to each other.  I think the article makes this clear even though it is short.  Take a minute to read the article and then examine what you believe about salvation.

Which category does your belief fall into?  Is your belief consistent with what is taught in the Bible?  If not, are you motivated to do some more study and possibly change your belief?  Share your thoughts in the comments here.

Open Discussion: Seeking Knowledge of God vs. Worshipping the Unknown and Unknowable

In another post the comments have taken a turn into an interesting discussion that has nothing to do with the original post.  I am starting this post in order to continue that discussion.  I am not going to move those comments to this post because I don’t know an easy way to do it and I am not going to do each one individually.  You can go to that post to see how the discussion progressed to this point.

I hope you enjoy the discussion and if you have something to add, feel free to do so.

Is Matthew 1:21 A Valid “Proof text” For The Reformed Believer Or Not?

One of the verses that I often cite when explaining my transition to a reformed theological position is Matthew 1:21.  The context of his verse is an angel telling Joseph that Mary has not been unfaithful to him and that the child she is carrying is of the Holy Spirit.  The angel tells Joseph what to name the child and for what reason the Holy Spirit has supernaturally impregnated her.  See for yourself:

Matthew 1:18-25 (18) Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.  (19)  And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.  (20)  But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  (21)  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  (22)  All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:  (23)  “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).  (24)  When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife,  (25)  but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Verse 21 conveys a very specific message.  It says that “He will save His people”.  Note that it does not say that” He will make them savable” or “He will make salvation possible”.  I need to make this distinction because of an article recently posted over at Society of Evangelical Arminians under the title of “Matthew 1:21:  How Calvinists Blind Side A Text“.  As you can imagine, the title caught my eye so I read it.  It is a short article but it gives a good understanding of what the Arminian postition is.  The Article starts with the following paragraph:

One of the more inane prooftexts for Calvinism is Matt 1:21, “…for he will save his people from their sins.” Calvinists argue that this is a statement of definiteness, that it does not say that Jesus will merely provide the opportunity of salvation for “his people,” but instead, that Jesus will definitely save his people. They claim that this flies in the face of Arminian assertions that through Jesus, God provides a way for everyone to be saved.

The quick Arminian retort is simple: “What!? Do you Calvinists think that Arminians deny that Jesus will definitely save his people??? Of course, we Arminians affirm that Jesus will definitely save his people, just as the text says.”

The author correctly and briefly begins by stating the Calvinist position on this verse.  (For those who might be wondering the word inane means:  lacking significance, meaning, or point, i.e. silly).  He also addresses a common objection Calvinists present to Arminianism:  that in Arminian theology Christ’s death only makes salvation possible, it does not directly save anyone.

In my own personal experience, which includes believing in this way myself and then, once I accepted Reformed Theology,  discussing this topic with others who still hold this view, most will say the same thing the author does.  They will quickly and easily affirm that Jesus’ death will save His people.  But, when questioned on specifics of how, most actually come to the position that Jesus’ death only makes salvation possible.  At which point most who believe this way no longer want to continue the discussion because they see the hole in their theology but are unwilling to address it.

The author continues

The ultimate question is a matter of defining “his people.” Indeed, in Matthew’s Gospel, the issue which is pounded is whether “his people” consists of Abraham’s descendants only, or whether “his people” is actually the community of faith, consisting of both Jew and Gentile believers; obviously, Matthew favours the latter position.

I agree with him here that the ultimate question is who makes up His people.  This brings us to the point of Election.  Who gets to define who His people are?  Do we or does He?  It is my contention that only God, as Creator, has that right.  The Creator is always greater than the creation.

If you say that His people are defined by us, then that brings up several questions that must be answered.  How can God be truly sovereign if we have the power to decide who make up His people?  Why would Jesus choose to bear, on the cross,  the sins of those whom He knew would never choose Him?  If Jesus did bear, on the cross, the sins of those who would not choose Him then on what basis does God punish them (because the penalty has already been paid by Jesus)?

In conclusion, Matthew 1:21 is a Calvinist proof text.  The author of the post has missed the point of what is being proven though.  It proves that there is a definite group of people who are known as His people.  We must then move on to find out who these people are and how they become and stay His people.

Do you agree with my assessment?  If not, why?  What is your understanding?

John MacArthur On The Gay Agenda And God’s Plan For It

In this article over at Pulpit Magazine John MacArthur addresses the issue from a biblical perspective.  Should there be any other way?  Here are a couple quotes:

How should you respond to the success of the gay agenda? Should you accept the recent trend toward tolerance? Or should you side with those who exclude homosexuals with hostility and disdain?

In reality, the Bible calls for a balance between what some people think are two opposing reactions—condemnation and compassion. Really, the two together are essential elements of biblical love, and that’s something the homosexual sinner desperately needs.

And

Why does God condemn homosexuality? Because it overturns God’s fundamental design for human relationships—a design that pictures the complementary relationship between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:18-25; Matthew 19:4-6; Ephesians 5:22-33).

And

As a Christian, you must not compromise what the Bible says about homosexuality—ever. No matter how much you desire to be compassionate to the homosexual, your first sympathies belong to the Lord and to the exaltation of His righteousness. Homosexuals stand in defiant rebellion against the will of their Creator who from the beginning “made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4).

There are more very good quotes I could add.  Go and read the article.  It is worth your time.

John MacArthur On Genesis

I’m convinced the opening chapters of Genesis are not optional. They establish the vital foundation for everything we believe as Christians.

This is how he opened his latest post at Pulpit Magazine.  Without a solid foundation everything built on top of the foundation will eventually fall.  This applies to the Bible as well.  Genesis 1-11 is the foundation upon which the remainder of the doctrines taught in the Bible are based.  If the foundation is not solid neither are the subsequent doctrines.

Are Evolution and Christianity Compatible?

To put it simply, evolution was invented in order to eliminate the God of Genesis and thereby to oust the Lawgiver and obliterate the inviolability of His law. Evolution is simply the latest means our fallen race has devised in order to suppress our innate knowledge and the biblical testimony that there is a God and that we are accountable to Him (cf. Romans 1:28).

Pulpit Magazine published this article answering this question. The short answer is Christianity is not compatible with evolution. Anyone who tries to put the two together is misinformed. If we allow Genesis 1-11 to be redefined or evolution to be worked into it, then we destroy the foundation on which the Bible is based. Once the foundation is destroyed the remainder of the Bible will quickly fall. Do not get sucked into the false teaching of evolution or theistic evolution.

Do Creationists Think That Various Scientific Disciplines Represent A Vast Conspiracy?

Let’s be honest here, shall we? As a young earth creationist, I think it’s fair to assume that you think that geology, biology, and astronomy, among other fields, all represent a vast conspiracy.  (posted by Dan in the comment section of this post)

Dan and I are discussing whether evolution should be classified as a science or a religion.  Dan made the above comment as part of our discussion.  I now come to you…do you think that young earth creationists look at the various fields of scientific study that Dan listed represent a conspiracy against creation and creationists?  I don’t and you will see my response to Dan if you read the all comments.

Basically I told Dan the creationists and evolutionists have the same data and the we just interpret it differently.  This difference arises due to our different presuppositions.  Do you agree with my thoughts here?  If not, how would you answer Dan’s comment?

I am looking forward to your responses as I they will be very enlightening.

Is Evolution Science Or Religion?

Belief in evolutionary theory is a matter of sheer faith. And dogmatic belief in any naturalistic theory is no more “scientific” than any other kind of religious faith.

This quote is from a short article published by Pulpit Magazine. Click here to read the article. It makes a strong case for the fact that evolution is, in fact, a religion. This is a case I have seen others make for some time. It is still a relevant point though because of the damage this religion of evolution has done to our world.

What do you think? Agree or disagree?

Jehovah’s Witness At The Door

Yesterday I was visited by a couple Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They were older men, probably in their late 50’s or early 60’s.  They were very nice and well dressed (both were in suits).

They were out in my neighborhood passing out literature and inviting people to a special event that were having were they could “share what they believe about Jesus“.  They did not tell me they were JW’s but the literature was printed by the Watch Tower Society.  I thanked them for the invitation and told them that I was a member of First Baptist and served as a deacon there.  They asked me to read the material anyway to see what they believed.  I told them that I had some knowledge of what they believed and did not need to read their literature to find out.  At this point their attitudes changed, they were not rude but clearly did not want to discuss anything.  I was hoping for an opportunity to discuss some things with them.  They politely asked me for their literature back so they could “give it to someone else” and they left.

This is the first time I have been visited by JW’s.  I wonder if they will come back and take time to discuss some things with me.  It has been sometime since I studied the specifics of what they teach so I may take so time to review a few things just in case.

Have any of you has the opportunity to discuss your faith with JW’s?  If so, how did it go.  Was it something you would do again?

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