Does the Bible Speak to Every Area?

The following was sent to me from a friend.  I was trying to figure out what I saw as a somewhat odd view of “Two Kingdom Theology” by Michael Horton.  It was very helpful so I thought I would share.  Another prove that it is good to ask questions and research the statements.  Line up everything with scripture.  Even “intelligent theologians” can make mistakes.

This post title is “Some People In The URC Are Waking Up To R2Kt Danger In Their Denomination”

This ran in a recent Christian publication and I am publishing it here for broader readership. Though I would like to credit for authorship, you’ll notice at the end of the article that it was written by Mark Van Der Molen, an Elder in a URC church

Review of the WSC Evangelium on Christian education: The Good, the Bad, and the Missing.

Westminster Seminary California recently published the fall 2009 edition of its pamphlet Evangelium, which is devoted to the topic of Christian education. As with any publication, this tract arises out of a particular context. On Reformed internet discussion boards and here in Christian Renewal, there has been increasing examination of the Neo-Lutheran/Natural Law/Two Kingdom Theology {NL2k} being promoted by certain WSC professors. One of the many concerns raised is that this NL2k theory undercuts the Reformed theological foundations of Christian education.

This edition of the Evangelium carries the theme “Learning to Love God with All Our Minds”. It contains short articles by various WSC faculty members who profess a commitment to Christian education. The unwary reader may thus feel reassured that NL2k is no threat to the Reformed foundations for Christian education. Such reassurance would be seriously mistaken.

NL2K: some representative samples

Before we begin the review of the Evangelium, let’s be reminded that the scrutiny has arisen in response to increasingly bold NL2k formulations such as these:

“{Guided by} the Lutheran two-kingdom perspective on scholarship, scholars at Christian institutions will not feel the need to introduce questions of faith in literature or chemistry classes, or to require theological precision from every new hire in sociology. Indeed, only in the Bible and theology departments, where faith and theological convictions make the most difference, is close scrutiny of a professor’s profession of faith immediately relevant to academic work”. D.G. Hart, WSC professor

“… the Bible doesn’t speak to all the arts and sciences, let alone whether incoming freshmen should receive a laptop or whether it should be an Apple or an IBM machine. In fact, the one place where Christ is revealed, the Bible, has very little to say about the curriculum of an undergraduate education. If we say that it does, we are in danger of putting the imaginations of men above the Word of God — that is, making the Bible say what we want it to say.” D.G. Hart.

“From a penultimate perspective, it’s hard to see how a history prof teaching the survey of the United States at Cow College U. is doing the job any worse than the prof at Consistently Calvinist College. The standards for that evaluation are not Scripture or the creeds; they are set by the American Historical Association and the leading graduate departments of history.” D.G. Hart.

“…the human race is not divided at the present time between those who are blessed and those who are cursed. That time is coming, of course, but in this present age, believers and unbelievers alike share in the pains of childbirth, the burdens of labor, the temporal effects of their own sins, and the eventual surrender of their decaying bodies to death…there is in this present age a category for that which is neither holy nor unholy but simply common.” Michael Horton, WSC professor

“… there is no difference between Christians and non-Christians with respect to their vocations.” Michael Horton.

“So what is the relationship of Christians to culture in this time between the times? Is Jesus Christ Lord over secular powers and principalities? At least in Reformed theology, the answer is yes, though he is Lord in different ways over the world and the church. God presently rules the world through providence and common grace, while he rules the church through Word, sacrament, and covenantal nurture.” Michael Horton.

“His revelation speaks to everything but not in the same way. The cultural or civil sphere is normed by God’s general or natural revelation. Special revelation wasn’t given to norm cultural or civil life.” R. Scott Clark.

“…I recognize problems in CVT’s {Cornelius Van Til} rhetoric, indeed in the rhetoric of all the neo-Kuyperians when they talk about distinctly Christian approaches to this and that. Yes, there is Christian education INASMUCH AS (please note this qualifier) education must address and emerges from beliefs that are properly basic (to borrow from Plantinga). When it comes to baking, plowing, or math(s), however, adding the adjective “Christian” remains as problematic as it has always been.” R. Scott Clark.

With these quotes in mind, let’s review the Evangelium itself.

THE GOOD: an initial embrace of Calvin, Kuyper, and the necessity of Christian education:

Dr. Dennis Johnson’s article begins well: “Christian parents’ responsibility to the Lord and to our children, born into his covenant community, is to strive with all the resources available to us to introduce them to this gracious, glorious God, and to form their minds to engage the world as his loving children and loyal subjects.” This statement echoes Kuyperian mission statements found in most CSI Christian schools, i.e., the equipping of covenant children for their faithful engagement with the world. And this engagement is not limited to the spiritual or churchly realm. Johnson writes, “[t]he education of Christians in every subject—philosophy, literature, history, music, sociology, political science, economics, architecture, engineering, chemistry, physics—belongs in the context of the biblical worldview that traces all things to the sovereign Creator.” Johnson then lays out his fundamental convictions:

1.Parents are responsible to oversee their children’s whole education—both “religious” and otherwise.

2.Parents are not alone in their responsibility to nurture their children in God’s wisdom. (Here Johnson affirms the complementary role played by the church in nurture and training of covenant children through the means of grace.)

3.The wisdom that our children need centers in the fear of the Lord, and then reaches out to embrace all of life.

4.No educational enterprise is religiously neutral.

5.Our children’s education should enable them not only to investigate God’s world, but also to engage confidently and winsomely those who do not see that “this is our Father’s world”.

Dr. Robert Godfrey’s article describes Calvin’s understanding of the kingdom of God. Godfrey also cites approvingly Kuyper’s “sphere sovereignty” refinement of Calvin’s theology in relation to education: “[Kuyper] believed that recognizing the family as a distinct kingdom was crucial to breaking the tyrannical tendencies of the state (and of the church). Since education is not neutral at any point, but either glorifies God or rejects him, Christian parents must seek a Christian education for their children.”

Dr. Julius Kim most clearly affirms the necessity of Christian education for our covenant children: “I began to see that all knowledge must be framed within the reality of the Creator and all that he has created. All disciplines, not only science and math but also the humanities and the arts, must be seen within the framework of a Creator who created all things for his own glory. All of life, then, is interpreted through the lens of God and the coherence he brings to all reality. That is why we decided to send our children to a Christian school and why I serve on the board of Covenant College….We firmly believe that God has given us as parents the responsibility to raise and educate our children ‘in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.’”

Standing alone, these affirmations would have been good beginnings to embrace the necessity of Reformed Christian education.

THE BAD: contextualized qualifiers

Unfortunately, what is extended with the right hand by affirmation of the necessity of Christian education is often undermined with the left hand by contextualized qualifiers.

As noted above, Dr. Johnson argues that biblical wisdom is “not restricted to a narrowly circumscribed ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious’ sphere. He cites Solomon’s vast learning in literature, song, botany, zoology and human relationships to support his conviction that full orbed education begins with the fear of the Lord and from that starting point moves out to explore all that He has made.

Johnson then cites Daniel’s experience in Babylonian exile, where Daniel received a pagan education in a pagan institution and yet maintained his faith in God and served the nation. Johnson recognizes that this pagan education was not religiously neutral. He lauds the fact that Daniel was able to maintain his faith in God, and then suggests that by God’s common grace, aspects of truth could be found in those pagan institutions. Thus, Johnson says: “As Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah managed to master Chaldean learning without compromising their loyalty to the Lord, so this is our purpose for our children’s education, whatever its venue.” [emphasis added]. So Daniel’s mastery of pagan education while maintaining his godly faith serves as an example for the education of our covenant youth. Translation for our time: as long as your child maintains his spiritual faith, education in a non-Christian school may be a legitimate venue of choice.

Dr. Michael Horton’s mostly anecdotal piece continues that troubling theme. Horton recounts that when he was growing up, he had attended non-Reformed Christian schools and public schools. He states that in his judgment, the Christian schools were “more dangerous to my faith” than the public schools. He recalls that as a student, after he had read Reformed writers, the teachers in one such Christian school “became hostile to my honest questions” [We might suspect that the unnamed teachers would have a different account of their interaction with Horton]. Horton then tells us this Christian school was closed due a sex abuse scandal. [Why is he telling us this sordid detail?] When he transferred to the public school, he found he “had something to say to unbelieving friends and they, in turn, put my arguments to the test.” He warns this should not be interpreted as some general endorsement of public education, but rather, that “as with every decision as believers, we need to weigh things in the light of godly wisdom, the input of our elders, and the concrete circumstances of each local context.” So secular schools get Horton’s qualified endorsement; an acceptable option for Christians, provided they “weigh things.”

Let’s pause here to note that foundational principles of Christian education do not vanish due to someone’s bad experience at a non-Reformed Christian school, or one’s favorable memory of “witnessing” to unbelievers at a public school. Rather, the issue is our principled commitment to a full-orbed, Reformed-shaped, Christian education.

Horton continues: “Wherever we choose to send our children to school, it is crucial that we inculcate early on the conviction that precisely because this is our Father’s world, it is intelligible, full of goodness, truth, and beauty. Their faith is not something that we have to keep from contaminating (or being contaminated by) responsible reasoning, questioning, and probing, but the best resource for their flourishing in the world” [emphasis added]. Yes, faith is a resource. But by whose standard will a teacher judge what is “responsible reasoning” in a school where the curriculum is built on presuppositions hostile to that very faith? Here again, we see the undercutting qualifier: hold to your faith, but the setting and content of education in the “common realm” is situationally variable.

In contrast to Johnson, Dr. David Van Drunen shifts some of the educational sphere from the family such “that the church has primary responsibility for biblical and theological education.” Van Drunen also draws lessons from his educational experience. His early education was “typical of the Dutch Reformed tradition”. Later he studied at a Christian college, and also at “a Roman Catholic institution”. Surveying the impact of his education, Van Drunen says he can “recognize how valuable this educational background—especially Reformed but also in non-Reformed settings—was to prepare me to teach and write about theology, ethics, and culture.” So by his lights, the non-Reformed education was one among the different “valuable” types of education that he received. Indeed, such non-Reformed training apparently has shaped Van Drunen as seen elsewhere in his ongoing quest to harmonize elements of Roman Catholic Natural Law theory and Reformed theology/ethics.

Dr. R. Scott Clark provides a brief history of different types of schooling in different historical periods. During the modern period, Clark suggests that in the Netherlands and in North America, “one response to this aggressive post-Christian ideology was to form distinctively Christian schools. This movement took root among Reformed folk in North America with the formation of the Christian Reformed Church in 1857.” Clark reminds the reader that this movement coincided with the Industrial Revolution where private tutoring was replaced by mass education. Why the history lesson? Clark reveals a clue:“Despite the intentional antithesis between belief and unbelief on which it was founded, the Christian school movement was unavoidably a child of its time.” Yes, but so what? Does Clark think the Christian school movement is now past its time? Shouldn’t schools still teach the Reformed antithesis? Does he believe that the antithesis no longer exists, or is the only antithesis in the common realm between natural law teaching vs. non-natural law teaching? Clark does not answer these questions, but what he does say demands we ask. Because if we accept Clark’s NL2k where God’s Word does not norm the so-called common realm, the rationale for continuing the Christian school movement is dubious at best.

Dr. Godfrey tries to calm the waters over NL2k, but only clouds things further. Regarding Calvin’s “two kingdom” theology, Godfrey states that Calvin’s position was: “The spiritual kingdom as the church was directly accountable to Christ alone who was King of the church and completely regulated the life of the church (its doctrine, worship, and offices) by the Bible. The temporal kingdom as the state owed obedience to Christ, but not through or under the church. The state had its own constitution adopted largely according to human wisdom. The Bible should guide the state, but did not exhaustively reveal the answers to all political decisions.” [emphasis added]. Human wisdom according to whose standard? If the State was run by abortionists and radical Marxists, would Calvin have us find such “human wisdom” acceptable and properly assigned to the temporal kingdom? Hardly. In his commentary on Daniel 6, Calvin reflects on the command found in 1 Peter 2:17: “Fear God, honor the king”:

The two commands are connected together, and cannot be separated from one another. The fear of God ought to precede, that kings may obtain their authority. For if any one begins his reverence of an earthly prince by rejecting that of God, he will act preposterously, since this is a complete perversion of the order of nature. Then let God be feared in the first place and earthly princes will obtain their authority, if only God shines forth, as I have already said. Daniel, therefore, here defends himself with justice, since he had not committed any crime against the king; for he was compelled to obey the command of God, and he neglected what the king had ordered in opposition to it. For earthly princes lay aside all their power when they rise up against God, and are unworthy of being reckoned in the number of mankind. We ought rather utterly to defy than to obey them whenever they are so restive and wish to spoil God of his rights, and, as it were, to seize upon his throne and draw him down from heaven. [emphasis added]

Thus, Calvin grounds the legitimacy of the magistrate’s authority on its conformity to the revealed will of God, a principle clearly codified in Belgic Confession Article 36.

Godfrey summarily states that through history, the Reformed have “spoken about one kingdom, two kingdoms, and many kingdoms of Christ. These ways of speaking may sometimes seem a little confusing, but when we understand the different problems they are addressing it is easy to understand them.” However, Godfrey misses the source of the confusion. There is no confusion over Calvin’s or the Reformed’s understanding of “two kingdoms”. It is easy enough to read in our Reformed confessions that the King’s Word is authoritative and normative in the civil realm which includes the education of our covenant youth. The confusion arises from NL2k obfuscation of “kingdom” categories which cloud that clear confession.

THE MISSING: an unqualified rejection of errors:

We can readily applaud the general affirmations of basic Reformed principles for Christian education expressed by certain professors in this Evangelium. However, these affirmations lose their weight when juxtaposed with the contextualized qualifiers, sounding far less than clarion calls to grateful duty. We’re left with the impression that Christian education is a good choice, but not a necessary one. So if special revelation does not norm the so-called “common realm”, then we should just trust God’s common grace that little Johnny’s experience at a Catholic or public school will yet yield “valuable” results. Christian parents can be like a customer deciding between a Cadillac and a Ford. One choice may be better and cost more, but either one will get you to your destination. Such a consumerist “common realm” approach to education certainly strikes a discordant note from our historic Reformed ethic.

What’s at stake is the role of the Bible—special revelation—in life outside the ecclesiastical walls of the church. As some articles of this Evangelium acknowledge, the Christian faith is not compartmentalized into a spiritual realm. But neither is God’s Word cut off from His normative claims over all peoples and all of life. By His Word, we go out from our churches as “salt and light”, testifying to God’s normative Word and bringing every thought in captivity to Christ whether in our culture, our vocations, or in our children’s education.
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What’s missing in this Evangelium is the approach seen in Reformed church history when faced with theological disturbances— a clear and unequivocal rejection of errors. Stating principled objections to a “common-realm” approach to education could bring some much-needed clarity. Read again the representative NL2k quotations cited in the introduction to this review and ask whether these be can reconciled to our Reformed worldview. If you find they cannot, then until such errors are rejected, general affirmations coupled with contextualized qualifiers will not stem the concern over the effect NL2k could have in the Reformed churches and in our Christian schools.

Mark Van Der Molen is an elder in the United Reformed Churches, has served on Christian school boards, and is a legal/policy advisor to Christian schools.

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State Tresurer, Ken Miller or the Democrat

From Charlie Meadows of OCPAC:

STATE TREASURER, KEN MILLER OR THE DEMOCRAT

In “Charlie’s Picks” which went out last Friday morning, I didn’t make
a recommendation, as I expressed some of my disappointments with
Republican Ken Miller. My indication was that I would either leave my
ballot blank or vote for the Democrat in that race.

A little later that morning, I received a call from Ken with a very
valid question. Charlie, would you be willing to trust the handling of
billions of state tax dollars to a person who has a long history of
financial mismanagement, especially since the office of Treasurer
requires financial competence and a high degree of public trust? I
asked Ken to send me his opposition research and asked him why he
hadn’t made that information public. He said he didn’t have the money
to run, what is often referred to as negative ads. The following is
what he sent me.

Tulsa County records show Mr. Covert had state tax liens filed in
1981, 84, 85, 86 and in 87 he defaulted on his mortgage and the
property was ordered to be sold in a Sheriff’s sale for repayment to
debtors. He had 12 more claims, liens or judgments filed from 1987
through 2008. Also, his CPA certificate was revoked in September of
1989 until August of 1993 and it was again suspended from October 1997
to August 2001.

In addition, Mr. Covert lost a Wisconsin home to foreclosure in 2003.
Also, he delivered a letter to members of the Capitol press office in
which he admitted that he once stole $15,000 from an insurance company
and that he chose not to repay $14,000 in credit card debt, believing
his action to be justified because he felt the company had harassed
him.

This kind of information is why what is sometimes called “negative
campaigning” or “mud slinging” is actually the most positively
important information needed by voters. Therefore, not only could I
not vote for the Democrat, I can’t even leave my ballot blank and
allow Mr. Covert to slither into office. I will be casting my vote for
KEN MILLER for treasurer with my nose firmly pinched. Oklahoma
Republicans chose poorly when they chose Ken Miller over Owen Laughlin
in the primaries, but I will take Ken any day over Mr. Covert.

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For those that asked……

For those that asked for recommendations for the November 2nd election….The Tulsa Beacon is a Conservative Christian Newspaper in the Tulsa:

Tulsa Beacon voting endorsements for the Nov. 2 Election

U.S. Senate – Tom Coburn
Coburn is a fiscal lion in the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Congress District 1 – Angelia O’Dell
Governor – Mary Fallin
Fallin is a pro-life conservative that can provide leadership that was lacking with Brad Henry.
Lt. Gov. – Sen. Todd Lamb
A champion for the pro-life movement, Lamb will push for economic development.
Attorney General – Scott Pruitt
Pruitt will bring honor and expertise to this state office.
State School Superintendent – Janet Barresi
Barresi, a proven educator, will fight for much-needed reform in public education.
State Auditor and Inspector – Gary Jones
Insurance Commissioner – John Doak
Doak has valuable years of experience in the insurance industry and will fight Obamacare.
State Labor Commissioner – Mark Costello
Costello is a proven business leader that understands companies and workers.
House District 29 – Skye McNiel
House District 39 – Mark McCullough
Rep. McCullough is one of the brightest and hardest working conservatives in the Legislature.
House District 66 – Jadine Nollan
House District 68 – Glen Mulready
Mulready will take over for House Speaker Chris Benge who is term limited.
House District 71 – Dan Sullivan
Sullivan fought for tort reform and the rights of the unborn.
House District 72 – Randall Reese
House District 78 – Molly McKay
McKay is a pro-life conservative who is more in touch with her district than the incumbent.
House District 98 – John Trebilcock
Tulsa County Assessor – Ken Yazel
Yazel is an advocate for the people and has saved the county hundreds of thousands of dollars in administrative costs.
Tulsa County Commissioner District 1 – John Smaligo
It would be a tragic error to put Democrat Wilbert Collins back in office.
State Questions
SQ 744 – Vote no.
This ties the education budget to other states’ averages.
SQ 746 – Vote yes.
Requires voters to show a photo ID to cast a ballot.
SQ 747 – Vote yes.
This places sensible term limits on state-wide offices.
SQ 748 – Vote yes.
Enlarges the redistricting commission to seven members.
SQ 750 – Vote yes.
It lowers the number of signatures for referendum and initiative petitions.
SQ 751 – Vote yes.
This makes English the official language of Oklahoma.
SQ 752 – Vote yes.
This decreases the number of members of the judges’ selection commission.
SQ 754 – Vote no.
This prevents a predetermined formula for appropriations.
SQ 755 – Vote yes.
It forbids the use of international or Sharia (Muslim) law.
SQ 756 – Vote yes.
This would nullify Obamacare in Oklahoma.
SQ 757 – Vote yes.
This increases the Rainy Day Fund cap from 10 to 15 percent of the budget.
City of Tulsa Propositions
Proposition No. 1 – Creation of a “rainy day” fund.
Vote no.
Proposition No. 2 – Municipal primary elections to be held in September in odd-numbered years and in August in even-numbered years (in alignment with state election laws).
Vote yes.
District Judges
We are not making recommendations on the district judge races due to a lack of information. By judicial canon, candidates are not allowed to reveal their party affiliation.
District No. 14 – Office No. 9
Councilor John Eagleton (R) vs. Judge Linda Morrissey (I)
District No. 14 – Office No. 13
Judge Bill Musseman (R) vs. Judge Carl Funderbunk (D)
District No. 14 – Office No. 14
Attorney Jon Patton (R) vs. Judge Kurt Glassco (D)
Oklahoma Supreme Court
Retention – Steven W. Taylor – Undecided
Retention – James R. Winchester – Yes
Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals
Retention – Deborah Barnes – Undecided
Retention – Doug Gabbard – Undecided
Retention – John F. Fischer – Undecided
Retention – Larry E. Joplin – Undecided
This entry was posted on Thursday, October 28th, 2010 and is filed under Editorials.

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Some thoughts on the burning of the Koran

While I understand the anger over the issue of Islam, I think that thought needs to be put into why we want to burn the Koran. What will it accomplish? Would not it be better to suffer and die for calling Muslims to repentance and faith in Christ then suffer attack because of an insult? The examples listed before of Stephen, John the Baptist and any other martyr that sits at the feet of Christ and cries for HIM to take vengeance (Revelation 6:10-11) men dying for calling other men to repentance, not because of insults. We are called to love our enemies, do good to those that hate us and pray for those that use us (Matthew 5:43-44).

Might I suggest that if you want to show you have no fear or that Christ is powerful then go share the Gospel with a Muslim. Better yet go to Mecca and open air preach the full Gospel of God in the public square. We have to remember that absent Christ justifying us we are just as dirty in the sight of God as a Jihadist. God is just as powerful to save them as He was to save me. I think of those asking about why the tower of Siloam fell and killed a large number. His response? “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:2-5. The problem with doing this is we place ourselves in the same camp as “christians” (lowercase is intentional) that preach hate alongside repentance and a turn to Christ (i.e. Westboro Baptist folks, etc.). That’s just some of my thoughts.

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God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck by Russell Moore

I have fielded a number of calls from friends and family concerned and wanting a take on the Glenn Beck factor.  I think the following article by Russell Moore probably sums most of it up.

God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck

— Sunday, August 29th, 2010 —

A Mormon television star stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial and calls American Christians to revival. He assembles some evangelical celebrities to give testimonies, and then preaches a God and country revivalism that leaves the evangelicals cheering that they’ve heard the gospel, right there in the nation’s capital.

The news media pronounces him the new leader of America’s Christian conservative movement, and a flock of America’s Christian conservatives have no problem with that.

If you’d told me that ten years ago, I would have assumed it was from the pages of an evangelical apocalyptic novel about the end-times. But it’s not. It’s from this week’s headlines. And it is a scandal.

Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, of course, is that Mormon at the center of all this. Beck isn’t the problem. He’s an entrepreneur, he’s brilliant, and, hats off to him, he knows his market. Latter-day Saints have every right to speak, with full religious liberty, in the public square. I’m quite willing to work with Mormons on various issues, as citizens working for the common good. What concerns me here is not what this says about Beck or the “Tea Party” or any other entertainment or political figure. What concerns me is about what this says about the Christian churches in the United States.

It’s taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck. In order to be this gullible, American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined “revival” and “turning America back to God” that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.

Rather than cultivating a Christian vision of justice and the common good (which would have, by necessity, been nuanced enough to put us sometimes at odds with our political allies), we’ve relied on populist God-and-country sloganeering and outrage-generating talking heads. We’ve tolerated heresy and buffoonery in our leadership as long as with it there is sufficient political “conservatism” and a sufficient commercial venue to sell our books and products.

Too often, and for too long, American “Christianity” has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it. There is a liberation theology of the Left, and there is also a liberation theology of the Right, and both are at heart mammon worship. The liberation theology of the Left often wants a Barabbas, to fight off the oppressors as though our ultimate problem were the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf, to represent religion and to remind us of all the economic security we had in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah.

Leaders will always be tempted to bypass the problem behind the problems: captivity to sin, bondage to the accusations of the demonic powers, the sentence of death. That’s why so many of our Christian superstars smile at crowds of thousands, reassuring them that they don’t like to talk about sin. That’s why other Christian celebrities are seen to be courageous for fighting their culture wars, while they carefully leave out the sins most likely to be endemic to the people paying the bills in their movements.

Where there is no gospel, something else will fill the void: therapy, consumerism, racial or class resentment, utopian politics, crazy conspiracy theories of the left, crazy conspiracy theories of the right; anything will do. The prophet Isaiah warned us of such conspiracies replacing the Word of God centuries ago (Is. 8:12–20). As long as the Serpent’s voice is heard, “You shall not surely die,” the powers are comfortable.

This is, of course, not new. Our Lord Jesus faced this test when Satan took him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth, and their glory. Satan did not mind surrendering his authority to Jesus. He didn’t mind a universe without pornography or Islam or abortion or nuclear weaponry. Satan did not mind Judeo-Christian values. He wasn’t worried about “revival” or “getting back to God.” What he opposes was the gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected for the sins of the world.

We used to sing that old gospel song, “I will cling to an old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.”  The scandalous scene at the Lincoln Memorial indicates that many of us want to exchange it in too soon. To Jesus, Satan offered power and glory. To us, all he needs offer is celebrity and attention.

Mormonism and Mammonism are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They offer another Lord Jesus than the One offered in the Scriptures and Christian tradition, and another way to approach him. An embrace of these tragic new vehicles for the old Gnostic heresy is unloving to our Mormon friends and secularist neighbors, and to the rest of the watching world. Any “revival” that is possible without the Lord Jesus Christ is a “revival” of a different kind of spirit than the Spirit of Christ (1 Jn. 4:1-3).

The answer to this scandal isn’t a retreat, as some would have it, to an allegedly apolitical isolation. Such attempts lead us right back here, in spades, to a hyper-political wasteland. If the churches are not forming consciences, consciences will be formed by the status quo, including whatever demagogues can yell the loudest or cry the hardest. The answer isn’t a narrowing sectarianism, retreating further and further into our enclaves. The answer includes local churches that preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and disciple their congregations to know the difference between the kingdom of God and the latest political whim.

It’s sad to see so many Christians confusing Mormon politics or American nationalism with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, don’t get me wrong, I’m not pessimistic. Jesus will build his church, and he will build it on the gospel. He doesn’t need American Christianity to do it. Vibrant, loving, orthodox Christianity will flourish, perhaps among the poor of Haiti or the persecuted of Sudan or the outlawed of China, but it will flourish.

And there will be a new generation, in America and elsewhere, who will be ready for a gospel that is more than just Fox News at prayer.

(Image Credit)

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God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck by Russell Moore

I have fielded a number of calls from friends and family concerned and wanting a take on the Glenn Beck factor.  I think the following article by Russell Moore probably sums most of it up.

God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck

— Sunday, August 29th, 2010 —

A Mormon television star stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial and calls American Christians to revival. He assembles some evangelical celebrities to give testimonies, and then preaches a God and country revivalism that leaves the evangelicals cheering that they’ve heard the gospel, right there in the nation’s capital.

The news media pronounces him the new leader of America’s Christian conservative movement, and a flock of America’s Christian conservatives have no problem with that.

If you’d told me that ten years ago, I would have assumed it was from the pages of an evangelical apocalyptic novel about the end-times. But it’s not. It’s from this week’s headlines. And it is a scandal.

Fox News commentator Glenn Beck, of course, is that Mormon at the center of all this. Beck isn’t the problem. He’s an entrepreneur, he’s brilliant, and, hats off to him, he knows his market. Latter-day Saints have every right to speak, with full religious liberty, in the public square. I’m quite willing to work with Mormons on various issues, as citizens working for the common good. What concerns me here is not what this says about Beck or the “Tea Party” or any other entertainment or political figure. What concerns me is about what this says about the Christian churches in the United States.

It’s taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck. In order to be this gullible, American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined “revival” and “turning America back to God” that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.

Rather than cultivating a Christian vision of justice and the common good (which would have, by necessity, been nuanced enough to put us sometimes at odds with our political allies), we’ve relied on populist God-and-country sloganeering and outrage-generating talking heads. We’ve tolerated heresy and buffoonery in our leadership as long as with it there is sufficient political “conservatism” and a sufficient commercial venue to sell our books and products.

Too often, and for too long, American “Christianity” has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it. There is a liberation theology of the Left, and there is also a liberation theology of the Right, and both are at heart mammon worship. The liberation theology of the Left often wants a Barabbas, to fight off the oppressors as though our ultimate problem were the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf, to represent religion and to remind us of all the economic security we had in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah.

Leaders will always be tempted to bypass the problem behind the problems: captivity to sin, bondage to the accusations of the demonic powers, the sentence of death. That’s why so many of our Christian superstars smile at crowds of thousands, reassuring them that they don’t like to talk about sin. That’s why other Christian celebrities are seen to be courageous for fighting their culture wars, while they carefully leave out the sins most likely to be endemic to the people paying the bills in their movements.

Where there is no gospel, something else will fill the void: therapy, consumerism, racial or class resentment, utopian politics, crazy conspiracy theories of the left, crazy conspiracy theories of the right; anything will do. The prophet Isaiah warned us of such conspiracies replacing the Word of God centuries ago (Is. 8:12–20). As long as the Serpent’s voice is heard, “You shall not surely die,” the powers are comfortable.

This is, of course, not new. Our Lord Jesus faced this test when Satan took him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the earth, and their glory. Satan did not mind surrendering his authority to Jesus. He didn’t mind a universe without pornography or Islam or abortion or nuclear weaponry. Satan did not mind Judeo-Christian values. He wasn’t worried about “revival” or “getting back to God.” What he opposes was the gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected for the sins of the world.

We used to sing that old gospel song, “I will cling to an old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.”  The scandalous scene at the Lincoln Memorial indicates that many of us want to exchange it in too soon. To Jesus, Satan offered power and glory. To us, all he needs offer is celebrity and attention.

Mormonism and Mammonism are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They offer another Lord Jesus than the One offered in the Scriptures and Christian tradition, and another way to approach him. An embrace of these tragic new vehicles for the old Gnostic heresy is unloving to our Mormon friends and secularist neighbors, and to the rest of the watching world. Any “revival” that is possible without the Lord Jesus Christ is a “revival” of a different kind of spirit than the Spirit of Christ (1 Jn. 4:1-3).

The answer to this scandal isn’t a retreat, as some would have it, to an allegedly apolitical isolation. Such attempts lead us right back here, in spades, to a hyper-political wasteland. If the churches are not forming consciences, consciences will be formed by the status quo, including whatever demagogues can yell the loudest or cry the hardest. The answer isn’t a narrowing sectarianism, retreating further and further into our enclaves. The answer includes local churches that preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and disciple their congregations to know the difference between the kingdom of God and the latest political whim.

It’s sad to see so many Christians confusing Mormon politics or American nationalism with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, don’t get me wrong, I’m not pessimistic. Jesus will build his church, and he will build it on the gospel. He doesn’t need American Christianity to do it. Vibrant, loving, orthodox Christianity will flourish, perhaps among the poor of Haiti or the persecuted of Sudan or the outlawed of China, but it will flourish.

And there will be a new generation, in America and elsewhere, who will be ready for a gospel that is more than just Fox News at prayer.

(Image Credit)

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Toys, sports, and games for children

“As long as it is day, we must do the work
of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when
no one can work.” John 9:4

Some men are spending their time in making
money. That is the main object of their lives.
They would be as usefully employed probably
if they spent all their lives in collecting pins or
cherry stones!

Whether a man lives to accumulate gold coins
or rusty nails, his life will be equally groveling,
and end in the same disappointment.

Money making, or fame making, or power
getting, are mere toys, mere sports and
games for children!

I once heard of a clergyman who often went hunting,
and when he was reproved, he replied that he never
went hunting when he was on duty. But he was asked,
“When is a clergyman off duty?” And so with the
Christian, when is he off duty? He ought to be
always about his Father’s business, ready for
anything and everything that may glorify God.

We have a high calling of God in Christ Jesus,
and this must have the supremacy! Poor or rich,
healthy or sick, honored or disgraced, we must
glorify God. This is necessity; all else may be,
this must be!

Our time in which to serve the Lord on earth is very
short. If we would glorify God, we must do it now.

We resolve, sternly resolve, and desperately
determine, that we will not throw away our
lives on trifling objects, but by us God’s work
must and shall be done; each man will do his
own share, God helping him.

May the ever blessed Holy Spirit give us power
and grace to turn our resolves into acts.

“As long as it is day, we must do the work
of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when
no one can work.” John 9:4

(from Spurgeon’s, “The Spur” #943. John 9:4)

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A Lost Generation?

I have heard many arguments for National Service. None have been able to argue that mandatory National Service is either Biblical or Constitutional. Most have forgotten that we have an interesting Caesar in this country, the Constitution. I often hear people talk of this generation or that generation being the greatest. It seems in the history of this county that since the landing at Plymouth many generations have turned to human reason instead of the Bible for answers and have in turn gone into mini decline before returning under the influence of the Spirit in revival or reformation.

When I say revival I am not speaking of some weekend crusade where people are called to make a decision. I am speaking of true revival and change. That only brought about by a true, deep, and heart wrenching searching of the holy writ for answers. Answers to everything from debt to whether it is lawful to tax property to murder. Most Christians in the past several generations have been taught to worry only about “your own spiritual condition and growth” and wait for a rapture that scripture does not speak to. God says that all scripture has been given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, and instruction in righteousness. He gives a law in the beginning that is not only common sense, but he says in Deuteronomy that if we obey that law he will bless us. Most read only one half of the book forgetting (or ignoring) that the author of the first half also wrote the second half. That author said,

“Think not that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets: I have not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one not or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

Last I check all had not been fulfilled and heaven and earth had not passed. I believe that an argument could be made for a ceaseless law. Most would begin or have been yelling “LEGALISM” at this point. I am not saying that the Law is there to save us. It is not. It drives us to the cross. I am saying the law is a schoolmaster or tutor to instruct us in righteousness both inside and outside the walls of the church and home. Most who would cry legalism also would follow the government blindly claiming that the Scripture calls for blind obedience. NO! Scripture speaks against the tyranny of civil governments and gives clear instruction in resisting that government. Have we forgotten that the King of England called the War for Independence the “Presbyterian Revolt” because the Bible was actually taught by those in the reformed faith and others as applying to every area of life, including the fight against tyranny.

Many call the Biblical Law oppressive, but have no problem submitting to a government that has a tax code alone of 60,000 pages. There is great liberty in Christ and under his law. There are many laws in society that the Church by and large calls good, but that the Scripture does not speak to. This is legalism. Adding to scripture and calling that which is good, evil and evil, good. I believe the scripture says, “Woe to them.”

To be continued…..

Liberty from Tyranny,
Aaron

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Are We Looking in the Right Place?

While I do not doubt the necessity of citizen involvement in political affairs and government, I do wonder often if too much emphasis is placed solely in governmental reform to enact change.  When Benjamin Franklin left the Constitutional Convention and was asked by a female what type of government the people had been given he replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”  Later during a session of Congress we get an idea of what the non-Christian, Franklin, was speaking of.  He said on the floor of the Congress, “” I’ve lived , sir , a long time , and the longer I live , the more convincing proofs I see of this truth : That God governs in the affairs of men . If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We’ve been assured in the sacred writings that unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who built it.”

In this country we need another awakening and I don’t mean just outside the church in the general population.  There is great spiritual starvation inside the church and I dare say that it is not just a lack of having a bunch of theological anorexics in the pews.  The vast majority of those that sit in pews (or stadium seating now) are un-regenerate.  They come to church looking for a sermon on how to live life and would more than likely be repulsed if someone preached the whole un-adulterated gospel to them week after week.  Our churches lack repentance and we marvel that society is decaying at the rate it is.  Dispensationalism (the relatively new doctrine that says the Bible is split into sections and some is not applicable) not only caused the vast majority of church goers to retreat from societal involvement to wait for an imaginary rapture from their problems, but it also began to teach those in churches and their children that as long as they don’t drink, smoke, or cuss, they will be good Christians and gain the favor of God.  It began to make a new set of Commandments.  The mark of a Christian became whether someone wore the right clothes at the right length, prayed long enough, said amen loud enough, etc.

There is no repentance, no confession and no forsaking of sin.  These are gone and replaced with Sunday Christians who put on their Republican cloths during the week and talk conservative Monday through Saturday and religious only on Sunday.  THE BIBLE SPEAKS TO EVERY AREA OF LIFE!!  When those in the church begin to get involved they are more concerned about someone who violates the Fundamental Commandments (smoking, drinking, cussing, etc.) more than they are about teaching a government made up of people, that oppressive taxation is more than just a violation of Republican Principles.  It is a violation of the sixth commandment and with much abuse a violation could even be a violation of the ninth.

I have read about puritans that fell on their face in repentance when something bad happened around them.  When the crops failed, they looked for sin in their own lives and repented.  Not many repent anymore and few even recognize that they are sinners.  I still remember vividly when Katrina happened listening to some friends say, “That is an evil area, God is punishing them.” and statements similar.  When bad things would happen to these friends they would just say, “Well, God is sovereign.”  I am saying we all need to live lives of repentance.  None of us is without sin and none of us will be until death.  When Jonathan Edwards preached “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” he was not preaching at the world.  He was preaching to his church.  We (most of the visible church) are sinners in the hands of an angry God.  We need to repent, place our full faith in Christ finished work on the cross and begin preaching the gospel.  If we don’t we will never see lasting change in this country.  We need another Great Awakening in the country, but first we need a reformation in the church.  Change in government and society will never change for the better without changed people with regenerate hearts.  Only God can do that.  He tells us that we are His instruments to accomplish this.  Preach the gospel and leave the results to God.

Please note that the above was written before learning of a recent push by Glenn Beck for an Awakening.  Glenn Beck is a Mormon, not a Christian.  I will address that later this week.

Until then, be ready in season and out of season.  Preach Christ and Him crucified.  Point converts to the Bible as their sole authority in matters of societal living.

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There is no Free Speech in Oklahoma

Apparently free expression in Oklahoma does not exist. My two daughters wore their Brogdon for Governor t-shirts. Seems this is against state rules. What about the first amendment to the constitution. I was told by officials I could either take them outside the tax payer funded building or turn their t-shirts inside out. In the name of modesty I took them outside. If this is state law then it is a dumb one and should be repealed. Free expression does not apply on government property. Take back your Republic, elect a Constitutionally Conservative candidate tomorrow and November 2nd.

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