Saturday, February 28, 2009


So I'm awake at midnight, I have to get up for church in the morning, yet I'm awake blogging. I will admit it's because I am troubled and even grieved over what I see, especially in the last new months. There is a reaction and backlash, at least around me, against theological thought or study. Here is what is disturbing to me. Every Protestant denomination in the US uses approximately the same bible, slight variations due to translations, but everyone accepts the KJV. Catholics use it with the apocrypha. Everyone reads the same Bible. Every Christian denomination prays in the name of Jesus. Most Christian denominations pray for help from the Holy Spirit. Most pastors I know believe they are inspired by the Holy Spirit, yet many of them are preaching contradictory messages.

I think about John Piper, Rick Warren, Joel Olsteen, Benny Hinn, Brian McLaren, Rob Bell, Erwin McMannis, Bill Hybels, John McArther. All of these men pray, and feel they are inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit. These men have all had success, which could be interpreted blessing, but they cover the spectrum of theology, beliefs, practices and ideals. They read the same passages out of the same bibles. Many of them are educated and study the scriptures regularly.

So back to my troubles. Admits all this turmoil, we need anchors. I believe we need 2 things. First is a strong and solid theology. I say that because this idea of "well let's just read the Bible and let the spirit guide us" has led to the aforementioned situation. Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Reformed, Emergent, Calvary Chapel, 4 Square all just read the Bible and have completely different ideas on many of the foundational tenets like salvation, baptism, communion, ecclesiology, eschatology and the like. It doesn't work, chances are you will read with your sinful nature and ignore the spirit (or are you a more spiritual person than all of these men?)

We need heroes of the faith to cling too, we need to study and read and do hermetical studies. God gave us a brain and the ability to learn and understand, and He expects us to put some effort into it. If you don't like the argument, at some point you will have to get over it, or begin a life of Monasticism, because the argument is all around us. We are battling for the souls of the lost, and if you don't believe me, turn on TBN for a while. Makes you wonder how many will miss Heaven because Joel told them that God just wants them to be empowered, and they believe it. McClaren told them there is no hell, and they believe it. Someone told them they don't need to do anything, God will predestine them to heaven, and they believed it. Someone told them if they make an intellectual and verbal assertion of Christ as real, they will go to Heaven, and they believed it. All of these people will taste Hell because they never submitted to the Lordship of Christ, because they just read the Bible, and they didn't get it. They didn't understand, and WE DIDN'T HELP THEM. Why? Because we didn't know. We told them some passages, led them in a spirited rendition of the "sinners prayer" and assumed it would stick. When they walked away, we questioned eternal security.

So I'm awake at 12:18 a.m. blogging. I don't know how to solve it. When I bring it up, I am shot down. Labeled because I wrestled with and found a theology that was embarrassed by strong and spiritual men, that brought the cannon together and made sense of my trials and sufferings. Somehow it became that I am a monster who doesn't care about people's souls. I have been called a trouble maker and divisive. I have been told that having a theological viewpoint will cause me to read scripture only so I have ammunition for my next onslaught. No one has really stopped to ask me why. Only once, and I was told to stop talking, my post was too long. Is this how we will treat the lost and unsaved when they come with spiritual questions? Will we tell them "just read your Bible"? Have we turned the Great Commission into "go into all the world and make them say the prayer". God save us, because we have tried so long and hard to save ourselves, and it doesn't seem to be working.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Greater Things.

Around our church, we have been talking about the great things that Jesus did,and the promise of greater things.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
John 14:12-14 (ESV)

I heard something that someone said that I am not sure they meant to say, but it got me thinking. I think we often think of these greater things as miracles. We want to see healing and the dead rise and the mountains moved into the sea. Those are great works, but even greater I believe is Salvation. You see, a man being healed of a disease is a great thing, but that man will still someday die. A man being set right with God, being cleansed of sin and being made right with God, that is a greater thing. His body will one day die, but that fellowship with God will never be broken. That person won't spend an eternity separated from God, they will be healed and made whole for eternity. When Jesus spoke of greater works, I believe we see them every time a person accepts Christ as Savior.

New Blog

Greg and I started a new join venture blog.

Check it out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Purpose of Theological study

So I was reading some blogs, looking at some things from my immediate elders (those in the 45 to 60 age range) and some from my contemporaries (25-45) I noticed a sharp contrast. Those who are the older men, in ministry pre-retired look at theology as a weapon. They study to sharpen their swords, to grind the axe to sharp, to fill their quiver with arrows in order to defeat the onslaught. Theology for that generation is public, to be shared and debated. You fall into one of the camps, you are here or there. Many of this group (most of them are Trailing Edge Baby Boomers, or TREBS, born between 56 and 64) have become frustrated and turned off to theological thought or study.

Those of us who are Busters, 1965-1981 (65-76 is the X-ers, which I am a part) have a more individual mindset than the Boomers (for the most part, I know these are broad generalization). This has changed the way we see the world, and why Trebs and X-ers have so much conflict. Theology is very different for me, it's not a weapon, it's a shield. While those in the older generations wield theology to vanquish a foe, I use theology to extinguish arrows from those who would hold a view that is not compatible. There are many in my convention who would to beliefs that I don't agree with. There are many Landmarkests in my denomination. There are many non-Calvinists in my denomination. There are those who do not champion the Sovereignty of God like I believe the Bible does.

For those of you who have turned from Theology because you are tired of the attacks, I apologize to you for the part I played. Let me urge you to learn and study and wrestle. Biblical truth requires us to study and to learn. To understand God is outside the confines of the sinful mind to comprehend. We have to learn to think different, to see different, and that takes struggle. Wrestle with your own flesh to try to reconcile all the truths in the scripture, not just those verses you are comfortable with. Reconcile Romans, Hebrews, James and 1 Peter together in one view of God, salvation, Christ and eternity. It won't be as simple as you'd like, but your faith will emerge so much deeper.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

To be, or not to be: that is the question

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

I am pretty sure that Shakespeare was talking about being a Calvinist. I have suffered no greater attack than I have since moving to Iowa and having the audacity to call myself a Calvinist. In the SBC, I have discovered there are Calvinists and Non-Calvinists in the SBC. The alternative is Arminianism, which is Semi-Pelagianism which has already been condemned as a heresy. So we have the advent of the 2, 3 and 4 point Calvinist.

I agree with Piper. In one of his messages he makes the statement that Calvinism is a system and goes on to say "I give a hoot about systems". I don't care if you call in Calvinism, Augustinianism, Paulinism, whatever. I need a doctrinal system of Theology that can reconcile the full cannon of scripture, Peter, Paul, John, James and the writers of Hebrews, and both extremes of High Calvinism and Arminiamism (low Calvinism?) don't cover it. I need a system that can answer the questions about God's love, His sovereignty, how sin and grace and suffering all happen.

I struggle with those who would say that evangelism is based upon my ability to talk someone into heaven. Dr Reid said something about pleading for people to get saved. If I am responsible for pleading people into Heaven and I fail, what does that mean? How do I carry around the weight of my own deficiency? How do I rectify the fact that I am responsible for doing something that I can't seem to do. I have tried to plead, argue, fight, coerce, and manipulate people into the kingdom, and it is an unsuccessful venture. So, my non-Calvinist friends, what does that mean? Is God responsible for salvation? If so, at what point did He decide when you bring someone to faith? How does this happen? Do we make a choice that God is unaware of, and then they are brought to Salvation?

So, after these years, I am no longer going to call myself a Calvinist. I am tried of the attacking. I'll just settle on Christian. Most people don't have the desire to really try to understand anything past that level anyway.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Slowing Down

Have you ever met someone who would work themselves into the ground? I know someone like that. Ok, I am someone like that. Here is something that I was told by a very wise person today. That sometimes God gives us problems to make us rest. My back has been hashed all weekend. I've had to be in best for a big part of it. The times I did get out of bed to do stuff, it make things worse. So now, much to my dismay, I am back in bed. I have things I would like to do, but I can't really do them. Here I will stay, learning that being still often has greater value than being in motion. Doesn't mean I have to like it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The poisenous human tounge

I have been insulted by lots of people in lots of places. Mostly in High School, some in college. Occasionally by those who hold a political belief that is in opposition to what I think. I think the most disturbing or helpful is when I am criticized, teased or mocked by those who claim to be Christians. When you try to share with them a life lesson, open your life and you get met with ridicule.

I have been known to be rude myself, and I am doing to do my best to stop this process. Ephesians 4:29 tell us to speak in a way to build up one another. Why do we spend so much time tearing each other down? Lack of self-esteem maybe, which so often we get from the world. Insecurities perhaps. Whatever the reason is, I am going to work at being a Barnabas, to be an encourager and not a stumbling block.