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      The Protestant Reformation DID NOT
      Start with Luther and Calvin.
      (A Celebration of the 490th Anniversay of the Protestant Reformation from Rome)

      Wednesday, October 31, 2007


      Before you start to think, "What is Lane doing?! It's Reformation Day! This is what we're celebrating!", I want you to know that I am wholeheartedly grateful for what God did through Luther and Calvin and the reformation of the 1500's away from the errors of Rome. It is what needed to happen, and I am thankful God did so. The reason I am posting this with this heading is because I want everyone who reads this and who are celebrating Reformation Day to be reminded as to what exactly we are celebrating.

      Luther and Calvin did not seek to start a new religion, and I'm not saying that because there are different ones that came about because of them but rather to shed light on exactly what the Reformation set out to do. Instead, what Luther, Calvin, and the other Reformers sought was to have a reformation back to the original apostolic church. There were many that came before them that sought reform from other establishments other than the Roman Catholic Church and held that the only way was to have a reformation back to what the true Church is built upon. This is what Luther and Calvin wanted. They were not seeking to have religions based on them and true Lutherans and Calvinists realize this. A reformation back to the apostolic church is exactly what true Lutheranism and Calvinism is. Spurgeon, who even wrote A Defense of Calvinism, said, "I would propose that the subject of the ministry in this house, as long as this platform shall stand, and as long as this house shall be frequented by worshipers, shall be the person of Jesus Christ. I am never ashamed to avow myself a Calvinist; I do not hesitate to take the name of Baptist; but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply - 'It is Jesus Christ'." Even Spurgeon was not ashamed to proclaim to be a Calvinist, but he knew the reason for reformation was "my creed... Jesus Christ". I believe that Martin Luther would be a bit dismayed if he were alive today and saw that there was a branch of protestantism that calls itself Lutheran because he did not want his name to be exalted, but rather the believers themselves to be reformed to the teachings of the early apostolic church. I'm not saying Lutherans do this, but it is the same as if you sought something unselfishly and later you found out that what you tried to reform people to put your name upon it. What I am talking of is an issue of humility which I believe Luther had according to his writings, and a person of humility does not wish to see their name to be exalted over others but instead, says things like, "I am least of all the apostles. I'm not even worthy to be called an apostle." (1Cor 15:9) One of humility does not seek his own glory, and Luther possessed great humility which is why I believe that he would be a bit bothered if he were alive to see a branch bearing his name the same as I believe Calvin would. The sole reason the reformation of the 1500's started was the sole reason Paul the Apostle was knocked off his horse: Jesus Christ. As we celebrate Reformation Day, let us not forget what Reformation is.

      In summary, I am entirely grateful for what God did in the Protestant Reformation from Rome in the 1500's, but at the same, I believe even Calvin and Luther themselves would not want us to celebrate this day without realizing that the protest-ant attitude "against all spiritual wickedness in high places" did not start with Luther and Calvin originally. (Eph 6:12) Keeping this in perspective is the right way to celebrate Reformation Day today and everyday.




      (The following is where I got the idea of the title of this post. It is a sermon by W.J. Mencarow that celebrates not only the Reformation from Rome in the 1500's, but also reminds us what exactly "reformation" is and why we should always be celebrating it. Take care, everyone.)




      Along with this sermon, here is a lecture by John MacArthur called "Unmasking the Pope" to celebrate this day.



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      Empiricism: Unbelief's Calling Card
      (Gordon Haddon Clark)

      Tuesday, October 30, 2007


      empiricism


      Main Entry:
      em·pir·i·cism Listen to the pronunciation of empiricism
      Pronunciation:
      \im-ˈpir-ə-ˌsi-zəm, em-\
      Function:
      noun
      Date: 1657

      1) The view that experience, especially of the senses, is the only source of knowledge.
      2) the acceptance of sense experience as the source and test of truth.
      3) In its strong form, the thesis that there is no knowable reality behind appearances. Thus, it is the job of science to catalog the formal relations which hold between appearances without claims of describing reality.
      4)
      a theory that all knowledge originates in experience



      Here is a lecture by the late Gordon Haddon Clark that describes the fallacies of this type of humanistic philosophy. If you notice, this is one of the choice philosophies adhered to by antichrist atheists (1 John 2:22) and some in the "seeker-sensitive" church growth movement who condemn things like "going deep" or seek to redefine what "going deep" actually is. (ie "If you can't see it, feel it, or the results of it, you can't prove it so it's not true and thus not important or 'relevant'.")



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      The Myth of Neutrality
      (Greg Bahnsen)


      This is a must hear lecture by the late Greg Bahnsen on the myth of neutrality. Here, he specifically addresses the myth of neutrality in the university setting.



      Part 1



      Part 2



      Part 3



      Part 4



      Part 5





      This is another video with several pastors who shed light on the myth of neutrality.


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      The Danger in Calling Unbelievers "Christians"
      (B.B. Warfield)

      Sunday, October 28, 2007


      Not only is it a breaking of God's 9th commandment to call people who are unrepentant unbelievers led by their own lusts "Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ and lovers of Him", but it also leads to much confusion. Here B.B. Warfield shares why, warns strongly against it, shares the consequences of letting the true meaning of words be tarnished, and the glory of affirming the true definitions of words:

      ...[Now days, unfortunately,] men who have ceased to think of the work of Christ in terms of purchasing, and to whom the whole conception of His giving His life for us as a ransom, or of His pouring out His blood as a price paid for our sins,...feel little difficulty...in still speaking of Him as our Redeemer, and of His work as a Redemption, and of the Christianity which He founded as a Redemptive Religion. The ideas connected with purchase are not so inseparably attached to these terms in their instinctive thought that the linguistic feeling is intolerably shocked by the employment of them with no implication of this set of ideas. Such an evacuation of these great words, the vehicles thus far of the fundamental Christian confession, of their whole content as such, is now actually going on about us. And the time may be looked forward to in the near future when the words "Redeemer," "redemption," and "redeem" shall have ceased altogether to convey the ideas which it has been thus far their whole function in our religious terminology to convey.

      ...You see, that what we are doing today as we look out upon our current religious modes of speech, is assisting at the death bed of a word. It is sad to witness the death of any worthy thing, even of a worthy word. And worthy words do die, like any other worthy thing--if we do not take good care of them. How many worthy words have already died under our very eyes, because we did not take care of them! Tennyson calls our attention to one of them. "The grand old name of gentleman," he sings, "defamed by every charlatan, and soil'd with all ignoble use." If you persist in calling people who are not gentlemen by the name of gentleman, you do not make them gentlemen by so calling them, but you end by making the word gentleman mean that kind of people. The religious terrain is full of the graves of good words which have died from lack of care--they stand as close in it as do the graves today in the flats of Flanders or among the hills of northern France. And these good words are still dying all around us. There is that good word "Evangelical." It is certainly moribund, if not already dead. Nobody any longer seems to know what it means. Even our Dictionaries no longer know. Certainly there never was a more blundering, floundering attempt ever made to define a word than The Standard Dictionary's attempt to define this word; and the Century's Dictionary does little better. Adolf Harnack begins one of his essays with some paragraphs animadverting on the varied and confused senses in which the word "Evangelical" is used in Germany. But he betrays no understanding whatever of the real source of a great part of this confusion. It is that the official name of the Protestant Church in a large part of Germany is "The Evangelical Church." When this name was first acquired by that church it had a perfectly defined meaning, and described the church as that kind of a church. But having been once identified with that church, it has drifted with it into the bog. The habit of calling "Evangelical" everything which was from time to time characteristic of that church or which any strong party in that church wished to make characteristic of it--has ended in robbing the term of all meaning. Along a somewhat different pathway we have arrived at the same state of affairs in America. Does anybody in the world know what "Evangelical" means, in our current religious speech?

      The other day, a professedly evangelical pastor, serving a church which is certainly committed by its formularies to an evangelical confession, having occasion to report in one of our newspapers on a religious meeting composed practically entirely of Unitarians and Jews, remarked with enthusiasm upon the deeply "evangelical" character of its spirit and utterances.

      But we need not stop with "Evangelical." Take an even greater word. Does the word "Christianity" any longer bear a definite meaning? Men are debating on all sides of us what Christianity really is. Auguste Sabatier makes it out to be just altruism; Josiah Royce identifies it with the sentiment of loyalty; D. C. Macintosh explains it as nothing but morality. We hear of Christianity without dogma, Christianity without miracle, Christianity without Christ. Since, however, Christianity is a historical religion, an undogmatic Christianity would be an absurdity; since it is through and through a supernatural religion, a non-miraculous Christianity would be a contradiction;...Christless Christianity would be--well, let us say lamely (but with a lameness which has perhaps its own emphasis), a misnomer. People who set upon calling unchristian things Christian are simply washing all meaning out of the name. If everything that is called Christianity in these days is Christianity, then there is no such thing as Christianity. A name applied indiscriminately to everything, designates nothing.

      The words "Redeem," "Redemption," "Redeemer" are going the same way. When we use these terms in so comprehensive a sense--we are following Kaftan's phraseology--that we understand by "Redemption" whatever benefit we suppose ourselves to receive through Christ,--no matter what we happen to think that benefit is--and call Him "Redeemer" merely in order to express the fact that we somehow or other relate this benefit to Him--no matter how loosely or unessentially--we have simply evacuated the terms of all meaning, and would do better to wipe them out of our vocabulary. Yet this is precisely how modern Liberalism uses these terms. Sabatier, who reduces Christianity to mere altruism, Royce who explains it in terms of loyalty, Macintosh who sees in it only morality--all still speak of it as a "Redemptive Religion," and all are perfectly willing to call Jesus still by the title of "Redeemer,"--although some of them at least are quite free to allow that He seems to them quite unessential to Christianity, and Christianity would remain all that it is, and just as truly a "Redemptive Religion," even though He had never existed.

      I think you will agree with me that it is a sad thing to see words like these die like this. And I hope you will determine that, God helping you, you will not let them die thus, if any care on your part can preserve them in life and vigor. But the dying of the words is not the saddest thing which we see here. The saddest thing is the dying out of the hearts of men of the things for which the words stand. As ministers of Christ it will be your function to keep the things alive. If you can do that, the words which express the things will take care of themselves. Either they will abide in vigor; or other good words and true will press in to take the place left vacant by them. The real thing for you to settle in your minds, therefore, is whether Christ is truly a Redeemer to you, and whether you find an actual Redemption in Him,--or are you ready to deny the Master that bought you, and to count His blood an unholy thing? Do you realize that Christ is your Ransomer and has actually shed His blood for you as your ransom? Do you realize that your salvation has been bought, bought at a tremendous price, at the price of nothing less precious than blood, and that the blood of Christ, the Holy One of God? Or, go a step further: do you realize that this Christ who has thus shed His blood for you is Himself your God? So the Scriptures teach:

      The blood of God outpoured upon the tree!

      So reads the Book. O mind, receive the thought,

      Nor helpless murmur thou hast vainly sought

      Thought-room within thee for such mystery.

      Thou foolish mindling! Do'st thou hope to see

      Undazed, untottering, all that God hath wrought?

      Before His mighty "shall," thy little "ought"

      Be shamed to silence and humility!

      Come mindling, I will show thee what 'twere meet

      That thou shouldst shrink from marvelling, and flee

      As unbelievable,--nay, wonderingly,

      With dazed, but still with faithful praises, greet:

      Draw near and listen to this sweetest sweet,--

      Thy God, O mindling, shed His blood for thee!

      - B.B. Warfield

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      The Attack Upon the Intellect
      (J. Gresham Machen)

      Saturday, October 27, 2007


      pragmatism:

      Main Entry:
      prag·ma·tism Listen to the pronunciation of pragmatism
      Pronunciation:
      \ˈprag-mə-ˌti-zəm\
      Function:
      noun
      Date:
      circa 1864
      1 : A method in philosophy where value or worth is determined by results.
      2 : an American movement in philosophy founded by C. South Peirce and William James and marked by the doctrines that the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief


      (from What is Faith? by Machen):
      What is true in the case of Paul is also true in the
      case of Jesus. Modern writers have abandoned the historical
      method of approach. They persist in confusing
      the question what they could have wished that Jesus
      had been with the question what Jesus actually was.
      In reading one of the most popular recent books on the
      subject of ,religion, I came upon the following amazng
      assertion. "Jesus," the author says, "concerned
      himself but little with the question of existence after
      death." In the presence of such assertions any student
      of history may well stand aghast. It may be that we
      do not make much of the doctrine of a future life, but
      the question whether Jesus did so is not a matter of
      taste but an historical question, which can be answered
      only on the basis of an examination of the sources of
      historical information that we call the Gospels.
      And the result of such examination is perfectly plain.
      As a matter of fact, not only the thought of heaven but
      also the thought of hell runs all through the teaching 'of Jesus.
      It appears in all four of the Gospels; it appears
      in the sources, supposed to underly the Gospels,
      which have been reconstructed, rightly or wrongly, by
      modern criticism. It imparts to the ethical teaching
      its peculiar earnestness. It is not an element which can
      be removed by any critical process, but simply suffuses
      the whole of Jesus' teaching and Jesus* life. "And
      fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to
      kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to
      destroy both soul and body in hell." "It is better for
      thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having
      two eyes to be cast into hell fire" these words are
      not an excrescence in Jesus' teaching but are quite at
      the center of the whole.

      At any rate, if you are going to remove the thought
      of a future life from the teaching of Jesus, if at this
      point you are going to reject the prima facie evidence,
      surely you should do so only by a critical grounding of
      your procedure. And my point is that that critical
      grounding is now thought to be quite unnecessary.
      Modern American writers simply attribute their own
      predilections to Jesus without, apparently, the slightest
      scrutiny of the facts.

      As over against this anti-intellectual tendency in the
      modern world, it will be one chief purpose of the present
      little book to defend the primacy of the intellect,
      and in particular to try to break down the false and
      disastrous opposition which has been set up between
      knowledge and faith.
      No doubt it is unfortunate, if our theme be the intellect,
      that the writer has so very limited an experimental
      acquaintance with the subject that he is undertaking
      to discuss. But in these days the intellect cannot
      afford to be too critical of her defenders, since her
      defenders are few enough. Time was when reason sat
      in regal state upon her throne, and crowds of obsequious
      courtiers did her reverence. But now the queen
      has been deposed, and pragmatism the usurper occupies
      the throne. Some humble retainers still follow the exile
      of the fallen queen; some men still hope for the day of
      restoration when the useful will be relegated to its
      proper place and truth will again rule the world. But
      such retainers are few so few that even the very
      humblest of them may perhaps out of chafcity be
      granted a hearing which in reason's better days he
      could not have claimed.

      The attack upon the intellect has assumed many
      forms, and has received an elaborate philosophical
      grounding. With that philosophical grounding I am
      not so presumptuous as to attempt to deal. I am not
      altogether unaware of the difficulties that beset what
      may be called the common-sense view of truth; epistemology
      presents many interesting problems and some
      puzzling antinomies. But the antinomies of epistemology
      are like other antinomies which puzzle .the human
      mind; they indicate the limitations of our intellect,
      but they do not prove that the intellect is not reliable
      so far as it goes. I for my part at least am not ready
      to give up the struggle; I am not ready to rest in a pragmatist
      skepticism; I am not ready to say that truth can
      never be attained.

      But what are some of the ways in which the intellect,
      in the modern religious world, has been dethroned, or
      at least has been debarred from the sphere of ultimate
      reality?

      In the first place, and most obviously, there is the
      distinction between religion and theology. Theology,
      it is said, is merely the necessarily changing expression
      of a unitary experience; doctrine can never be permanent,
      but is simply the clothing of religious experience
      in the forms of thought suitable to any particular generation.
      Those who speak in this way protest, indeed,
      that they are not seeking to do without theology, but
      are merely endeavoring to keep theology in its proper
      place. Theology, it is admitted, is necessary to religion;
      there can never be religion without some theology;
      but what particular theology it shall be, they
      hold, depends upon the habits of thought that prevail
      in the age in which the theology is produced.
      In accordance with this principle, various creeds have
      recently been produced to take the place of the great
      historic confessions of faith various creeds intended
      to "interpret" Christianity in the "thought-forms" of
      the twentieth century and to provide -a basis for Christian
      unity. It is perfectly obvious that these modern
      formulations differ from those that they are intended
      to supplant in many important ways. But the most
      important difference of all has sometimes escaped
      notice. The most important difference is not that these
      modern creeds differ from the historic creeds in this
      point or that; but it is that the historic creeds, unlike
      the modern creeds, were intended hy their authors or
      compilers to he true. And I for my part believe that
      that is the most necessary qualification of a creed. I
      cannot, therefore, accept the protestations of those pragmatists
      who maintain that they are not hostile to theology.

      For if theology is not even intended to be permanently
      and objectively true, if it is merely a convenient
      symbol in which in this generation a mystic
      experience is clothed, then theologizing, it seems to me,
      is the most useless form of trifling in which a man
      could possibly engage.


      Certainly this theologizing of the pragmatist is as
      far as possible removed from the kind of progress that
      is found in the advance of science. The scientist does
      indeed modify his opinions; one hypothesis often gives
      place to another which is intended to be a better explanation
      of the facts. But the point is that the new hypothesis,
      like the old, is intended at least to be permanently
      correct: it may have to give way to a better
      understanding of the facts, but there is nothing in the
      very nature of the case to show that it must give way.
      Science, in other words, though it may not in any
      generation attain truth, is at any rate aiming at truth.
      Very different is ,the activity of the pragmatist theologian.
      The pragmatist theologian, unlike the scientist,
      does not even intend his own formulations to be
      permanent, but regards them as merely symbolic expressions,
      in the thought-forms of one particular generation,
      of an ineffable experience. According to the
      pragmatist it is not merely inevitable that the theology
      of one generation should differ from the theology of another,
      but it is desirable that it should do so.
      That
      theology, according to the pragmatist, is the best which
      most perfectly expresses the experience of religion in the
      "thought-forms" of any particular age.
      Thus the
      Nicene Creed, it is said, was admirable in the fourth
      century of our era, and the Westminster Confession
      was admirable in the seventeenth century, but these formulations
      must of course now give place to twentieth century
      statements which so far as the literal or intellectual
      meaning is concerned are contradictory to them.

      Theology in other words is not to be judged in accordance
      with the degree of approximation which it attains
      to an eternally persisting norm of truth, but it is to be
      regarded as good or bad according as it serves the purposes
      of mankind and promotes an abundance of life.


      Indeed this pragmatist attitude toward difference in
      theology is applied not only to successive generations,
      but also to simultaneously existing nations and races.
      It is unreasonable, some advocates of missions are accustomed
      to say, for missionaries to ask Eastern races to accept
      Western creeds; the Eastern mind cannot be forced
      into a Western mould; on the contrary, the East must
      be allowed to give its own expression to the Christian
      faith. And so sometimes we read more or less formal
      expositions of belief that have come from the native
      churches of the East. What an interesting thing the
      formation of such expositions is, to be sure! A fresh,
      new expression of the Christian religion independent
      of all the conventions of the West! Unfortunately such
      expectations are often sadly disappointed when one reads
      the new formulations for himself; the vaunted freshness
      and originality is often not to be seen, and
      what we actually have is a most unoriginal repetition
      of the vague naturalism of the contemporary Western
      world. The Eastern mind has turned out to he as like
      as two peas to the mind of the South Side of Chicago;
      all the stock phrases of modern agnosticism seem to be
      thoroughly acceptable to the Oriental students to whom
      they have been taught.

      But if the results of these little experiments of the
      Eastern mind hardly seem to bear out the contention
      of the pragmatist hardly seem to bear out the contention
      that the Eastern mind and the Western mind
      are so distinct that the thought-forms that suit one
      will not suit the other the contention itself is thoroughly
      typical of our age; it is only one manifestation
      of a pragmatism that is all-pervasive. And that pragmatism
      involves the most bottomless skepticism which
      could possibly be conceived. According to the logic
      of the pragmatist position two contradictory doctrines
      may be equally good; for doctrine, in the opinion of the
      pragmatists, is merely the symbolic expression of an
      experience really inexpressible, and must necessarily
      change as the generations pass. There is, in other words,
      according to that view, no possibility that anything in
      the sphere of doctrine can be permanently and universally
      true.


      Such a view of doctrinal changes is sometimes compared,
      as we have already hinted, to the progress of
      science; it is unreasonable, the pragmatist theologian
      says, to reject the physics and chemistry of the first century
      or the seventeenth century and yet maintain
      unchanged the theology of those past ages; why should
      theology be exempt from the universal law of progress?

      But this comparison, as indeed should be plain from
      what has already been said, really involves a very
      strange misconception; far from advocating progress in
      theology, the current pragmatism really destroys the
      very possibility of progress. For progress involves
      something to progress to as well something to progress
      from. And in the intellectual sphere the current pragmatism
      can find no goal of progress in an objective norm
      of truth; one doctrine, according to the pragmatist
      view, may be just as good as an exactly contradictory
      doctrine, provided it suits a particular generation
      or a particular group of persons.
      The changes in
      scientific hypotheses represent true progress because they
      are increasingly close approximations to an objectively
      and externally existent body of facts; while the changes
      advocated by pragmatist theologians are not progress at
      all but the meaningless changes of a kaleidoscope.

      As over against this pragmatist attitude, we believers
      in historic Christianity maintain the objectivity of
      truth; and in doing so we and not the Modernists become
      advocates of progress.
      Theology, we hold, is
      not an attempt to express in merely symbolic terms an
      inner experience which must be expressed in different
      terms in subsequent generations; but It is a setting forth
      of those facts upon which experience is based.
      It is
      not indeed a complete setting forth of those facts, and
      therefore progress in theology become possible; but it
      may be true so far as it goes; and only because there
      is that possibility of attaining truth and of setting it
      forth ever more completely can there be progress. Theology,
      in other words, is just as much a science as is
      chemistry; and like the science of chemistry it is capable
      of advance. The two sciences, it is true, differ widely
      in their subject matter; they differ widely in the character
      of the evidence upon which their conclusions are
      based; in particular they differ widely in the qualifications
      required of the investigator: but they are both
      sciences, because they are both concerned with the acquisition
      and orderly arrangement of a body of truth.

      At this point, then, we find the really important
      divergence of opinion in the religious world at the
      present day; the difference of attitude toward theology
      or toward doctrine goes far deeper than any mere divergence
      in detail. The modern depreciation of theology
      results logically in the most complete skepticism.

      It is not merely that the ancient creeds, and the Bible
      upon which they are based, are criticized indeed we
      ourselves certainly think that they ought constantly to
      be criticized in order that it may be seen that they will
      stand the test but the really serious trouble is that the
      modern pragmatist, on account of the very nature of
      his philosophy, has nothing to put in their place.
      Theology,
      according to him, may be useful; but it can never
      by any possibility be true.
      As Dr. Fosdick observes,
      the liberalism of today must necessarily produce an intellectual
      formulation which will become the orthodoxy
      of tomorrow, and which will then in turn have to
      give place to a new liberalism; and so on (we suppose)
      ad infinitum. This is what the plain man in
      the Church has difficulty in understanding; he does not
      yet appreciate the real gravity of the issue.
      He does
      not see that it makes very little difference how much
      or how little of the creeds of the Church the Modernist
      preacher affirms, or how much or how little of the
      Biblical teaching from which the creeds are derived.

      He might affirm every jot and tittle of the Westminster
      Confession, for example, and yet be separated by a
      great gulf from the Reformed Faith. It is not that part
      is denied and the rest affirmed; but all is denied, because
      all is affirmed merely as useful or symbolic and not as
      true.

      Thus it comes about that to the believer in historic
      Christianity the Modernist preacher is often most distressing
      just when he desires to be most concessive.
      He
      has no desire, he says, to combat the faith of simple
      people in the Church; indeed the older "interpretations,**
      he says, may be best for some people even now.

      Such assertions are perhaps intended to be concessive;
      but in reality they are to the believer in historic Christianity
      the most radically destructive assertions that
      could possibly be made.
      It would from our point of
      view be better if the preacher, convinced of the falsity
      of supernatural religion in the sense of the New Testament
      and of the creeds, became an apostle with the
      courage of his convictions, and sought to root out of
      every one's' mind convictions that he holds to be false.

      In that case we should indeed differ from him radically,
      but there would be at least a common ground for discussion.

      But the assertion that the historic creeds may
      still be best for some people and the modern interpretations
      better for others, or the provision in plans of
      Church union that the constituent churches should
      recognize each the other's creed as valid for the other
      church's members this, we think, involves a sin
      against the light of reason itself;
      and if the light that
      is in us be darkness, how great is that darkness! A
      thing that is useful may be useful for some and not for
      others, but a thing that is true remains true for all
      people and beyond the end of time.









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      Answering an Atheist Honestly


      Here's the scenario:

      You're a Christian. You've come out from among the "Honorary-Altar-Call Society" and the mentality of the "Get-Your-Ticket-to-Heaven-Punched" prayer and are truly professing and believing in Jesus Christ. You're starting to believe and what happens? Of course. An unbeliever comes along and tries to dissuade you from "growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." What do you do? Well, if you ask much of the modern church, they would either tell you to "avoid confrontation all together because the Christian religion means that everyone gets along" or simply not care at all because College football is coming on soon. Since they're no help, where do you go when you're confronted by someone with an atheistic-gun pointed at you alone in a dark alley? The answer is clear: The Scriptures.

      Recently, a friend of mine posted a response to the atheist/theist debate that aired on ABC with Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort and the (ir)Rational Repsonse Squad that she just got around to watching recently. Less than 24 hours later, a member of the "WOTM Watch-Dog" team was posting on her site trying to refute claims about the Bible. Notice what I just said, "trying to refute CLAIMS about the Bible." He was not trying to refute what the Bible actually says, but caricatures he has made by comparing an incomparable book to other religions. I wanted to post this so you can see how these people work and why it is vitally important to not only know the Scriptures, but to believe them as being true and use them accordingly. The atheist goes by the name of "morsecode". (If you ever go on great sites like Truth Matters or Extreme Theology, you'll notice that the people that are usually in objection to the truth never use their real names, but some username like bigguns2437 or godseeker972 or something of the sort. Saul, later renamed Paul, stood up for the truth with giving his own real life, and these people won't even share their own real names, but this is an aside...)

      This is a quick story that will help you immensely before I share the dialog. R.C. Sproul spoke of a lecture he was involved in when he was a student. His teacher was the late John Gerstner. The subject was "If a Mormon comes up to you and tries to tell you that God has a body, how would you refute that?" Gerstner said, "I'll play the Mormon. You all refute me." So he went to a few then came to Sproul. Sproul immediately took him to (John 4:24) where it says that "God is a Spirit." Sproul said, "There is NO WAY that God can have a body because here it is clearly stated that God is a Spirit!" Gerstner said, "Oh, no, no... I don't believe that.", and he went on asking others. The entire class went by focused on the same question. Sproul says facetiously that he was considering converting to Mormonism because Gerstner just wouldn't give up. So finally just before the bell, Sproul said, "We give up. What is it!? What do we do!?" "Well," Gerstner said, "You take them to John 4:24." "I DID THAT!" said Sproul. "Then", Gerstner continued, "you tell them that there is no possible way that God could have a body because God is a Spirit." "I DID THAT, TOO!" said Sproul. "What else could I have possibly done?" Gerstner said, "Yes, you had me. The problem is, you let me get away. The debate was over when you said John 4:24, but you let me persist."

      Even though a person doesn't believe what the Scripture says, it isn't necessary for you to believe it as being true and stick to that truth. Here, Sproul's debate was over, but he acted in such a way that he needed the unbeliever to agree with him. That's not what needs to be the case because truth stands on its own. The argument is over when Scripture is presented regardless if the person you're conversing with believes it. There were unbelievers from way before Christ came in the flesh as there will be to the time he will come back. The object of a Christian's faith is not involved in needing unbelievers to believe in sound doctrine in order for it to be true because it is true whether they believe in it or not.

      With that said, here are the comments shared on the recent blog post. What I want you to notice is not only how he evades direct questions, but tries to direct me into agreeing with a characterization of Christianity which is nothing but fallen man's "logic". Also, I want you to notice the subjectivity of his arguments versus the objectivity of the Bible. His arguments were trying to lure me away into a subjective form of reason which is opposite of objective truth as revealed in the Bible. (ie If I said, "Well, to me, the earth is square." It would be my subjective opinion instead of the objective truth that the earth is round. Notice how holding onto objective truth defeats a subjective argument always without fail.) Finally, I want you to notice how he doesn't answer the direct question because when he does, well, he has to come to the light in order to do so, and what does an unbeliever not want to do? Come to the light lest their deeds be exposed. (John 3:19-21)

      (Below, I will comment further. You can click on these posts to increase their size.)












      In his second comment, notice what he does. He tries to get me to agree to something I do not agree with. He says, "So to you, it is rational to prove a book because the book says the book what the book says is true? If that is so, then the koran has just as much validity as the bible." This is not what I believe at all. I believe the Bible because it is true, and its claims are valid. There is a difference there. If I believed everything that claims itself as being true, I would be one naive person, but the reason I believe the Bible is because it is true. Me believing the Bible does not make it true, and anything that claims itself to be true, must have evidence of it being true. Some evidence that the Bible is true is shown in the latter part of the comments when our screennamed "truth-bearer" is confronted as being himself evidence that the Bible is true as it will speak directly about him.


      In his third comment, after I talked of martyrs, he tried to make my argument into another subjective reason. He said, "I once believed, and then changed my mind when I realized what I believed was irrational and not based on evidence. (Subjective) If being a martyr means that your belief is true, then isn't every suicide bomber who thinks he will get his heavenly reward proving Islam true?" Again, I did not say that I believed that the Bible is true because of martyrs, I believe it is true because it is true, which is what he could not and would not consider. Only the grace of God can reveal this to an infidel.

      Notice what happened when he was asked a direct question. The entire conversation turned from one of subjective interpretation to one of objective truth. I asked an objective question: "Do you agree that the only people that are going to agree that the record of the Bible is false is you, your unbelieving friends, and every unbeliever in the world and the only people that are going to agree that it is true is me, my believing friends, and every believer scattered throughout the world?" What did he do? Well, three consecutive responses he avoids the question until the end of the last when, after much rambling, he says, "No. (I do not agree with that statement.)"

      The objective truth was then brought into full light. Him, an unbeliever and me, a believer, cannot have any agreement. What does the Bible say? "What agreement does he that believes have with an unbeliever? " (2Cor 6:15)

      That is why I believe the Bible. It is objectively true. It is not left for the subjective opinion of anyone to verify its validity. With this verse, I added a command made by our Lord Jesus: "Let your conversation be "Yes, yes" or "No, no" for whatever is more than that comes from evil." (Matt. 5:37) The atheist proved our Lord to be true by his actions.

      What did our subjective inquisitor say after he realized the objective point was made?
      "It should probably read more accurately "Never think about your answers, only say yes or no...thought only leads to evil."

      Again, he attempted to change what the Bible objectively says and give yet one more subjective interpretation to an objective command of truth. It's completely irrational to deal with people if one won't even consider what the text has to say and take it at that.

      Finally, look at his last sentence:
      "You believe that. I hope it makes you happy, I really do."

      So much for a "rational response". He wouldn't even deal with the text honestly and rationally in the end.


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      The Theology of the Repentant Thief on the Cross

      Wednesday, October 24, 2007


      They gave him (Jesus) vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink. And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing did they cast lots. And sitting down they watched him there; And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS. Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left. And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, You that destroy the temple, and build it in three days, save yourself. If you be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, saying, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, who were crucified with him, reviled him the same way.
      (Mat 27:34-44)


      And with him (Jesus)they crucified two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which said, And he was numbered with the transgressors. And they that passed by derided him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, you that destroy the temple, and build it in three days, Save yourself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.
      (Mar 15:27-32)




      Notice first here in both of these descriptions what the Scripture says. After the record is given of the horrible ridicule, reviling, and mocking that Christ endured from the unbelievers who crucified him, we are told that, not one, but both of the theives crucified with him reviled him in the same way. Notice that.


      And there were also two others, malefactors, led with him (Jesus)to be put to death. And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his clothing, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he is Christ, the chosen of God. And the soldiers also mocked him, coming to him, and offering him vinegar, And saying, If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself. And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew, THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. And one of the malefactors who were hanged railed at him, saying, If you are Christ, save yourself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Do you not fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man has done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto you, Today shall you be with me in paradise.
      (Luk 23:32-43)



      Notice here what happened. I'm not sure when, but I'm assuming (and this is only speculation) that sometime after Jesus uttered the words, "Forgive them for they know not what they do." the one thief was convicted of his unbelief and, because of his conviction, led to repentance. Notice in the first two accounts, the repentant thief is actually taking part in the ridicule and reviling. What changed? It was grace and mercy producing conviction and repentance, plain and simple. Notice what he said after the unrepentant thief railed Jesus saying "IF YOU be the Christ..." The repentant thief said, "Do you not fear GOD?... We deserve condemnation for our sins, but this man has never sinned. Then he said to Jesus, LORD, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

      The repentant thief at the beginning of the crucifixion was reviling the Lord, definitely not believing in him. Before the end of the account, HE WAS CALLING HIM LORD. What did Jesus say because of the Lord's grace and the thief's belief and repentance? "Today you will be with me in paradise."

      There is much talk today, as there has always been, about the importance of sound theology. There are some who take it to the extreme saying that "every 't' must be crossed and every 'i' dotted" before you are saved at all. There are others who are what have been historically called "liars and heretics" who say things like "We don't need to believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ in order to be saved." I prefer siding with using the historical terms to classify these people, and it seems like these people are the only ones who object to anyone doing so. Knowing these two things, however, let's examine the doctrine of the saved thief in detail:


      1) He was an ungodly, reviling, repulsive, sinner. He was dead in sins and trespasses. There was nothing in him that could win him any favor with the Lord. If the Lord "looked in him for goodness" what would he have found, but hatred for his very Name?

      2) We're not told exactly how, but by the grace of God, the thief was convicted of his ungodliness. At the beginning of our account, he is joining in with the unrepentant sinner in reviling the Lord. At the end of our account, he's rebuking the unrepentant sinner for his unbelief of Jesus being the Lord and his self-righteousness.

      3) The thief believed in Jesus Christ. His faith was counted unto him for righteousness. What righteousness did the thief have on the cross of his own? The righteousness he was given from Christ was the only reason Christ told him, "Today you will be with me in paradise."

      4) He confessed with his mouth that Jesus is Lord.

      5) The only way that this or any God-hating, God blaspheming, reviling, ungodly sinner can enter heaven is by no other thing than God's sovereign grace. Was it up to the thief's free-will to repent and believe or was it God's mercy that opened up the thief's heart to understand the truth of the Lord and believe? It certainly wasn't because of any works that the thief had done from the time he was carrying his cross mocking the Lord to the time he was hanging on the cross that "helped him come around".



      The point is, sound doctrine is necessary. Not only is it necessary, but it is not trivial to a saved person. The thief reviled Jesus then later "had sound doctrine" when he called him 'Lord'. He also had the doctrine of repentance down, but why? Was it because the man used "his keen intellect just in the nick of time" that he was saved or was it because of God's grace and mercy? Many people become saved by the grace of God and years later they learn exactly how and why. What does this mean? This means that sound doctrine tells what the Lord does and has done. Once a sinner has been saved by grace, the process starts and the person realizes their fault, repents, and believes. Not by works of righteousness we've done are we saved, but because of God's mercy and his purpose. If the thief would have lived beyond the cross, this is sure: He would have sought the Lord because he had the desire to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (sound theology). While the person is not saved by an intellectual assent to doctrine, once they are saved, they want to know all of the sound doctrine possible because they love the Lord and seek to honor Him. They give up their ungodly way and seek Him alone because they love Him. They have a hate for false doctrine because it is not of the Him. If someone comes and says, "You're saved by works.", one who loves the Lord and loves sound doctrine is offended and rebukes the heresy because the heresy is a direct slander against the Lord. Our Lord saved the thief even though the thief didn't have "every 'i' dotted and every 't' crossed". The Lord was merciful to him and opened his heart to believe and repent. If the repentant thief would have lived longer, you can be assured he would have strived to make sure that the "i's were dotted and t's were crossed", though, because the Lord gave him the grace to want to honor Him. Keep this in mind if you consider people who want to learn sound theology "legalistic" or "only fit to be in an ivory tower": The unrepentant thief who the Lord didn't save never cared about learning the truth of the Lord at all. To him, it was just considered "trivial" and may have even been deemed "doctrinal matter that divides him and his friends", and he is now in hell forevermore.

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      LINK (AOMin.Org) "But I chose you out of the world, and because of this, the world hates you."; Our Lord, John 15:19 - Pros Apologian

      Monday, October 22, 2007

      (This is one of those must read posts you just don't get a lot of these days.)

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      Why Is Justification by Faith Alone So Hard to Grasp?:
      The Fundamental Problem.

      Sunday, October 21, 2007


      Why is justification by faith alone, by believing in Christ alone such a hard concept to grasp? The fundamental problem of it is this:

      Everyone who is reading this post has done something with the law to bring the wrath of God upon themselves. In this case, everyone has transgressed the law. (1John 3:4) In our fallen states, we think that the God's approved way to fix our transgression is to go back to where it got broken and do the reverse of what we did to break the law to make it look like it never got broken in the first place; in other words, "put the law back together that we broke". In all, it's entirely something that we do. The Gospel isn't that. The Gospel is that God sent his only begotten Son that everyone who believes on him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) This is an objective truth. It is not left to our subjective opinions as to what the Gospel is. Two thousand and seven years ago, Jesus Christ came in the flesh, lived a perfect, non-law-transgressing life, and went to a tree to be hung to become a curse for the elect (those that believe on him). (Gal 3:13) The Gospel is not, "Well, I believe..." or "I think..." The Gospel is "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh." (1John 4:1-3) That is why justification by faith alone is so hard to grasp. Our sinful nature wants it to be "All about me! Look, what I've done! Look, what I do! Let's get away from this whole 'heady/arrogant' use of facts which is only used by 'people in ivory towers; not the 'true' peeps on the streets' and talk about me... oh yeah, and us, what we do!" That's also why the seeker-sensitive movement makes me sick. It's because the message of the seeker-sensitive movement is "How does this make you feel?" or "You're special in whatever you do, just try and do better... that's all." That's not the Gospel. That's "Go back to the beginning. I know you've done wrong, but go back and build up what you once destroyed." That doesn't make someone righteous before God, that makes them a transgressor. (Gal 2:18) Self-righteousness will never make up for the righteousness of God, the righteousness that comes by faith in Christ (Php 3:9) , and it is utter blasphemy to say that it does and is the spreading of heresy to lead others to believe that as well.


      So in conclusion, we have broken the law. It is a work that we've done. As fallen human beings who can not possibly conceive of something outside of ourselves apart from the grace of God in allowing us to know that He sent his only Son to justify those that believe on Him not because of our works but because of His grace that His purpose of election might stand (Rom. 9:11), we try to make the Gospel into another work that we've done to justify ourselves. That is not grace because if grace is by works then it is no longer grace. (Rom. 11:6) For those of you who like outlines:

      1) We transgressed the law. [Work]

      2) We realize we transgressed the law by the law (Rom. 3:20) and seek to justify ourselves by "not breaking the law quite as much anymore." or "Just being 'good' people now." [Work]

      3) The Gospel declares: "Jesus Christ has come in the flesh 2007 years ago. It's an objective historical fact. He was raised from the dead. Another historical objective fact. Believe on Him. You didn't send Him. You didn't die on a tree. You didn't even make it possible for you to hear about what He did." Well, if that's true... who can boast themselves? (Eph. 2:8-9) [Grace]


      Salvation doesn't come by 1) and 2), it comes by 3). Cast out the bondwoman and her child because the child of the bond shall not share the inheritance of the child of the free. (Gen. 21:10, Gal 4:30)

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      "South Carolina is the Capital of Cultural Christianity."
      ...And That's Not Good.

      Saturday, October 20, 2007


      Cultural Christianity: A phrase that has been coined in recent years to describe the "phenomenon" where people who have never truly been born of God's Spirit, who have never had their souls divinely converted, or "born again" as Jesus describes, nevertheless refer to themselves as Christians and take upon themselves all of the promises and blessings and advantages of being a Christian, but simply because they have grown up in or participated in a "Church culture", of sorts, that does many of the things that genuine converted Christians do. These things include go to church, serve in various ministries, lead outwardly moral and socially acceptable lives, pray, read their Bibles, even evangelize, and yet at the core, they remain fundamentally unchanged in their spiritual condition. Their souls remain unconverted. They call themselves "Christians" and believe they are simply because its part of their culture but not because God has supernaturally transformed their souls and lives.



      This is a recent interview given by Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist
      Theological Seminary, with Dr. Frank Page, President of the Southern Baptist Convention and Pastor of First Baptist Church of Taylors, South Carolina. Hear what these two men say.


      Mohler: You (Page) are in South Carolina, a very interesting part of the country. How do you deal with the "culture and Gospel" issue? Do you find that a challenge in South Carolina?

      Page: I see South Carolina as the capital of Cultural Christianity which has lead many people straight to hell. It is an issue which most every one, almost every one is connected to some kind of church. We're the heaviest, highest churched area in the United States, and it has left people bereft of the Gospel of Christ; the power of the Gospel. It is something I battle everyday, Dr. Mohler.

      Mohler: Well, I ask that not to pick at South Carolina because it's basically true of the entire South. Those who travel around the country as we do, we know it is a very different place. If you're up in the northwest of the United States, you're in Oregon or Washington state, you're talking to people who basically know they're not Christians, and yet so often when we come down to what has been called "The Bible Belt", we find people who think they're Christians because they're Grandmother was.

      Page: That's correct.

      Mohler: ...Or (they think) they're Christians because they've basically gone to church all of their lives, or they go twice a year, and I think that is a particular challenge to the Southern Baptist Convention to be very clear that we are a Gospel Church that is about seeing people converted by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ believing that no one is born a Christian that everyone is born a sinner and all who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus shall be saved.



      All of you who know me know that I have lived in South Carolina all my life. I have had no other place of residence as long as I've been alive, and yet surrounded by this Cultural Christianity all my life, surrounded by many, many merely professing Christians and even being one myself for a time, I knew something wasn't right even when I gave into the temptation to live like a pagan, serve myself, and consider myself to be "loving the Lord with all my heart." I fell into the trap, too. The description offered by these two men is serious. The two men in the quotes above are men who understand the situation. They understand the problem. As much as the modern/post-modern generation does not want to hear this, they have identified the problem with definition. They are not the type that will get up in front of a youth group and tell you all about how they "really felt Jesus while they drank Starbucks last night" or how they "challenged Jesus to show himself to them and he showed up in their room one night when they were seventeen." No, these guys are telling what the problem is and the problem is lies. Jesus Christ said that unless a man is born again or born from above, he cannot see the Kingdom of God let alone enter it. Is your soul truly changed? Do you hate the things that God hates and love the things that he loves or do you use the name Christian because all of the sociably acceptable guys and girls identify themselves with this title? This is of the utmost importance.

      The sermon below is where these clips and the definition for Cultural Christianity came from. It's about an hour long, but after these clips, Kielar describes exactly what true repentance is. Please take the time to listen to it all the way through. It would be best to get away by yourself for an hour to listen to it and not be distracted. The message is hard, but I would much rather people that I care about hate me here for a while and then come to the truth, then for them to never come to the truth at all and be forever damned because I was more concerned with their carnal acceptance than their soul. I've been there. I know what it's like to search the land for truth and find nothing but water balloon fights and talk about who's winning the Masters when, instead, there should be genuine conviction and repentance. If you feel like no one else in the world desires that, remember, "God has not cast away his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah? how he makes intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed your prophets, and dug down your altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what says the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." (Rom 11:2-5)




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      The Cost of Forgiveness is Precious.

      Friday, October 19, 2007


      Over the course of my life so far, I've done many things that I now regret and am ashamed of. They profited me nothing. Those things lead to death. (Rom. 6:21) All during that time, though, I had had enough upbringing around a church to know what sin was, in some respect. I also had enough instruction from Sunday school to know that the Bible's message is forgiveness, so in my unregenerate, narcissistic, and cynical way, I concluded that I could "go ahead and sin just this one time" and I would be forgiven because "Hey, nobody's perfect." I had very little regard for the truth of God's justice or His holiness so why would I possibly care about the true definition of His mercy? Since I didn't have a true definition of His wrath, holiness, and judgment, I regarded forgiveness to be just as trivial as I regarded God Himself regardless of my profession, church attendance, or what others believed was true of me.

      ...Then after much chastening and rebuking from the Lord...

      I came across this verse: "...without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin." (Heb. 9:22) Take a second and ponder what that is saying. Without the shedding of blood, apart from the shedding of blood, there is no pardon of sin for anyone. I grew up thinking that all I had to do was rely on my own ability to ask God to forgive me every time I fell into sin, and, because of my ability to pray and the quality of my prayers, I could say, "Hey, all I have to do is 'say the prayer' and everything is back to normal." Since I "prayed the prayer", I deemed myself justified whether I believed in the One who shed His blood or not. It occurred to me after learning this, however, that there is a price for forgiveness far more precious than the offering of a nonchalant prayer offered by a self-righteous, sinful self.

      Many people say that they believe Jesus Christ died on a cross to pay for their sins, but I don't believe many people actually have faith that He came in the flesh and did just that. I don't have faith that many people who profess to be Christians really have been forgiven much for sins because "he who is forgiven much will love much." (Luke 7:47) To him that is forgiven little, though, he will only love little. When one realizes that it is not our own righteousness which is of the law that we are to be putting our trust in, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith (Php 3:9), it makes forgiveness and the entire Gospel message not only clear but also relevant to every culture that has ever existed since 2007 years ago and before.

      By the shedding of blood is the remission of sins. I know that I didn't shed my own blood for my sins. I know that my Mom, Dad, or my younger brother hasn't. I know that yours haven't either. I know that Charles Spurgeon didn't. I know that Paul the Apostle didn't. I know that people who are saying they evangelize but are hell-bent on "being conformed to this world instead of being transformed by the renewing of their minds"... ahem... "relevant" haven't and won't shed theirs either, but even if these people would have or would, their blood is or was not sinless, spotless, and perfect as is required by God. No, "Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow." Jesus paid it all. It's only by the shedding of Christ's blood is there a remission of sins.

      During Christ's ministry, Peter came to Jesus and tried to "encourage him to think positive about his situation". "No, Lord, you don't have to die. Stay with us. Don't die!" Jesus said, "Get behind me, Satan. You savor, you relish, you esteem very highly, the things that are of men; not the things that are of God." (Matt 16:23) Does that verse make any more sense now? It should because "without the shedding of Christ's blood, there is no forgiveness of sins." That is what God savors. That is why anyone that has the same mentality as Peter had is not working for God, but actually working against Him. That is why God sent Jesus Christ in the flesh. When people try to make the Gospel into anything other than this, it must be proclaimed loudly that they "savor the things of men and not the things of God." Maybe they've never heard the Gospel themselves. It wouldn't hurt to preach it to everyone, even to those who we believe may already have faith in it. If they do believe already, all they would do is agree. If not, well, we know where their heart is. It's where their treasure lies, and our Lord Jesus Christ assures us that it's not in the things that God savors. Use discernment. When we go before the judgment seat, I assure you that God will not be basing His judgment on how well we did in a temporal popularity contest or how many material things we accumulated during this time on earth. It will be based on belief in the only begotten Son of God who came in the flesh, shed His blood for the forgiveness of sin, and who was raised from the dead 2007 years ago. The cost of forgiveness is precious. Don't treat it as trivial. If you do, don't count on my approval. I'm not forsaking the gift or frustrating the grace of God to come along for a temporal ride. A true believer doesn't want this for any of God's children, and God certainly doesn't want the sheep He shed His blood for lead astray.

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      The Evil, Soul-Killing Practice of Uniformity
      (J. Gresham Machen)

      Thursday, October 18, 2007


      (This is commentary on why the secular view of uniformity and equal opportunity to all actually causes people to become more concerned about the methodology in how a person is educated rather than actually educating the person. As a result, this causes people to loose interest in education (now that they deem education to be what is merely the study of methodolgy) and causes them to be more concerned about the trivial things of life rather than the things that are good and pleasing to God. You have to read the entire article to understand exactly what Machen is saying, but it is dead on. The first paragraph is addressing the Federal Institution. What really bothers me about Machen's observation is not only how much this reflects the condition of the secular education system today even though this was written in 1933, but also how much this reflects the shallow, man-centered "Christian teaching" that permeates the land today as well. Keep that in mind while you read this article. The names are different, but the emphasis is the same. You can read this entire essay of Machen's here.)




      ...The commission on the subject which President Hoover appointed, for example, was composed hardly at all of teachers, but almost exclusively of "educators". It had within its membership professors of "education", superintendents of schools and the like; but in the entire roll of its membership there was found, if I remember aright, hardly a single man eminent in any branch of literary studies or of natural science. The composition of that commission was typical of one of the fundamental vices in education in America at the present time -- namely, the absurd over-emphasis upon methodology in the sphere of education at the expense of content. When a man fits himself in America to teach history or chemistry, it scarcely seems to occur to him, or rather it scarcely seems to occur to those who prescribe his studies for him, that he ought to study history or chemistry. Instead, he studies merely "education". The study of education seems to be regarded as absolving a teacher from obtaining any knowledge of the subjects that he is undertaking to teach. And the pupils are being told, in effect, that the simple storing up in the mind of facts concerning the universe and human life is a drudgery from which they have now been emancipated; they are being told, in other words, that the great discovery has been made in modern times that it is possible to learn how to "think" with a completely empty mind. It cannot be said that the result is impressive. In fact the untrammeled operation of the effects of this great American pedagogic (style of instruction) discovery is placing American schools far behind the schools of the rest of the civilized world.

      But that is perhaps something like a digression. Let us return to the "educators" and their general demand either for a Federal department of education or for Federal aid to the states. Such demands are in the interests of uniformity in the sphere of education. There should be, it is said, a powerful coordinating agency in education, to set up standards and encourage the production of something like a system. But what shall we say of such an aim? I have no hesitation, for my part, in saying that I am dead opposed to it. Uniformity in education, it seems to me, is one of the worst calamities into which any people can fall.

      There are, it is true, some spheres in which uniformity is a good thing. It is a good thing, for example, in the making of Ford cars. In the making of a Ford car, uniformity is the great end of the activity. That end is, indeed, not always fully attained. Sometimes a Ford car possesses entirely too much individuality. My observation was, in the heroic days before the invention of self-starters, when a Ford was still a Ford, that sometimes a Ford car would start and sometimes it would not start; and if it would not start there was no use whatever in giving it any encouraging advice. But although uniformity was not always perfectly attained, the aim, at least, was to attain it; the purpose of the whole activity was that one Ford car should be just as much like every other Ford car as it could possibly be made.

      But what is good for a Ford car is not always good for a human being, for the simple reason that a Ford car is a machine while a human being is a person. Our modern pedagogic (style of instruction) experts seem to deny the distinction, and that is one place where our quarrel with them comes in. When you are dealing with human beings, standardization is the last thing you ought to seek. Uniformity of education under one central governmental department would be a very great calamity indeed.

      We are constantly told, it is true, that there ought to be an equal opportunity for all the children in the United States; therefore, it is said, Federal aid ought to be given to backward states. But what shall we say about this business of "equal opportunity?" I will tell you what I say about it; I am entirely opposed to it. One thing is perfectly clear -- if all the children in the United States have equal opportunity, no child will have an opportunity that is worth very much. If parents cannot have the great incentives of providing high and special educational advantages for their own children, then we shall in this country a drab and soul-killing uniformity, and there will be scarcely any opportunity for anyone to get out of the miserable rut.

      The thing is really quite clear. Every lover of human freedom ought to oppose with all his might the giving of Federal aid to the schools of this country; for Federal aid in the long run inevitably means Federal control, and Federal control means control by a centralized and irresponsible bureaucracy, and control by such a bureaucracy means the death of everything that might make this country great.

      Against this soul-killing collectivism in education, the Christian school, like the private school, stands as an emphatic protest. In doing so, it is no real enemy of the public schools. On the contrary, the only way in which a state-controlled school can be kept even relatively healthy is through the absolutely free possibility of competition by private schools and church schools; if it (the state controlled school which stresses uniformity in education) once becomes monopolistic, it is the most effective engine of tyranny and intellectual stagnation that has yet been devised.

      That is one reason why I favor the Christian school. I favor it in the interests of American liberty. But the other reason is vastly more important. I favor it, in the second place, because it is necessary to the propagation of the Christian Faith.

      Thoughtful people, even many who are not Christians, have become impressed with the shortcomings of our secularized schools. We have provided technical education, which may make the youth of our country better able to make use of the advances of natural science; but natural science, with its command over the physical world, is not all that there is in human life. There are also the moral interests of mankind; and without cultivation of these moral interests a technically trained man is only given more power to do harm. By this purely secular, non-moral and non-religious, training we produce not a real human being but a horrible Frankenstein, and we are beginning to shrink back from the product of our own hands.

      The educational experts, in their conduct of their state-controlled schools, are trying to repair this defect and in doing so are seeking the cooperation of Christian people. I want to show you -- and I do not think I shall have much difficulty in showing this particular audience -- why such cooperation cannot be given.

      In the first place, we find proposed to us today what is called "character education" or "character-building". Character, we are told, is one thing about which men of all faiths are agreed. Let us, therefore, build character in common, as good citizens, and then welcome from the various religious faiths whatever additional aid they can severally bring. Let us first appeal to the children on a "civilization basis" -- to use what I believe is the most recent terminology -- and then let the various faiths appeal to whatever additional motives they may be able to adduce.

      What surprises me about this program is not that its advocates propose it; for it is only too well in accord with the spirit of the age. But what really surprises me about it is that the advocates of it seem to think that a Christian can support it without ceasing at that point to be Christian.

      In the first place, when this program of character-education is examined, it will be found, I think, to base character upon human experience; it will be found to represent maxims of conduct as being based upon the collective experience of the race. But how can they be based upon the collective experience of the race and at the same time, as the Christian must hold, be based upon the law of God? By this experiential morality the reverence for the law of God is being broken down. It cannot be said that the results -- even judged by "civilization" standards (if I may borrow the terminology of my opponents for a moment) -- is impressive. The raging tides of passion cannot successfully be kept back by the flimsy mud-embankments of an appeal to human experience. It is a feeble morality that can say nothing better for itself than that it works well.

      For that reason, character-building, as practiced in our public schools, may well prove to be character-destruction. But suppose it were free from the defect that I have just mentioned. I do not see how it can possibly be free from it, if it remains, as it must necessarily remain, secular; but just suppose it were free from it. Just suppose we could have moral instruction in our public schools that should be based not upon human experience but upon something that might be conceived of as a law of God. Could a Christian consistently support even such a program as that?

      We answer that question in the negative, but we do not want to answer it in the negative in any hasty way. It is perfectly true that the law of God is over all. There is not one law of God for the Christian and another law of God for the non-Christian. May not, therefore the law be proclaimed to men of all faiths; and may it not, if it is so proclaimed, serve as a restraint against the most blatant forms of evil through the common grace of God; may it not even become a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ?

      The answer is that if the law of God is proclaimed in public schools, to people of different faiths, it is bound, in the very nature of the case, to be proclaimed with optimism; and if it is proclaimed with optimism it is proclaimed in a way radically opposed to the Christian doctrine of sin. By hypothesis it is regarded as all that good citizens imperatively need to know; they may perhaps profitably know other things, but the fundamental notion is that if they know this they know all that is absolutely essential. But is not a law that is proclaimed to unredeemed persons with such optimism at best only an imperfect, garbled law? Is it not very different from the true and majestic law of God with its awful pronouncements of eternal death upon sinful man?

      The answer to these questions is only too plain. A proclamation of morality which regards itself as all that is necessary -- which regards itself as being capable at the most of non-essential supplementation by additional motives to be provided by Christianity or other faiths -- is very different from that true proclamation of the law of God which may be a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ. It is not merely insufficient, but it is false; and I do not see how a consistent Christian can possibly regard it as providing any part of that nurture and admonition of the Lord which it is the duty of every Christian parent to give to his children. ...

      The True Solution

      But what miserable makeshifts all such measures, even at the best, are! Underlying them is the notion that religion embraces only one particular part of human life. Let the public schools take care of the rest of life -- such seems to be the notion -- and one or two hours during the week will be sufficient to fill the gap which they leave. But as a matter of fact the religion of the Christian man embraces the whole of his life. Without Christ he was dead in trespasses and sins, but he has now been made alive by the Spirit of God; he was formerly alien from the household of God, but has now been made a member of God's covenant people. Can this new relationship to God be regarded as concerning only one part, and apparently a small part, of his life? No, it concerns all his life; and everything that he does he should do now as a child of God.

      It is this profound Christian permeation of every human activity, no matter how secular the world may regard it as being, which is brought about by the Christian school and the Christian school alone. I do not want to be guilty of exaggerations at this point. A Christian boy or girl can learn mathematics, for example, from a teacher who is not a Christian; and truth is truth however learned. But while truth is truth however learned, the bearings of truth, the meaning of truth, the purpose of truth, even in the sphere of mathematics, seem entirely different to the Christian from that which they seem to the non-Christian; and that is why a truly Christian education is possible only when Christian conviction underlies not a part, but all, of the curriculum of the school. True learning and true piety go hand in hand, and Christianity embraces the whole of life -- those are great central convictions that underlie the Christian school.

      I believe that the Christian school deserves to have a good report from those who are without; I believe that even those of our fellow citizens who are not Christians may, if they really love human freedom and the noble traditions of our people, be induced to defend the Christian school against the assaults of its adversaries and to cherish it as a true bulwark of the State. But for Christian people its appeal is far deeper. I can see little consistency in a type of Christian activity which preaches the gospel on the street corners and at the ends of the earth, but neglects the children of the covenant by abandoning them to a cold and unbelieving secularism. If, indeed, the Christian school were in any sort of competition with the Christian family, if it were trying to do what the home ought to do, then I could never favor it. But one of its marked characteristics, in sharp distinction from the secular education of today, is that it exalts the family as a blessed divine institution and treats the scholars in its classes as children of the covenant to be brought up above all things in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.



      - J. Gresham Machen from The Necessity of the Christian School (1933)



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