Why Mohler is Wrong on Immigration — Pulpit & Pen

The “Latte Mafia” (credit to Thomas Littleton for the term) of the Evangelical Intelligentsia – those elites who I have defined here – have found the recent immigration policy debate an opportune time to signal their virtue. The contrived non-crisis (the common sense policy of not incarcerating children with their criminal parents is decades-old) has provided an opportunity to yet again lobby against the rule of law, and by extension, the concept of national sovereign borders (you know, like God gave Israel). This is best explained by the money trail directly from George Soros’ Open Societies Foundation and Evangelical Immigration Table to Russell Moore, and from Clinton financier, James Riady, to Southern Seminary.

The commentary provided below is taken from Dr. Robert Gagnon’s Facebook page, and we feel he’s on the mark. We’ve written previously about the latest dust-up regarding evangelical complaints toward Attorney General Jeff Session’s citation of Romans 13 here and here.

ROBERT GAGNON

Just like Dr. Russell Moore, Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (for whom I have great respect), has (I believe, and with all due respect) misunderstood and unfairly characterized AG Jeff Sessions’ application of Rom 13:1-7. As I said with regard to Dr. Moore, Sessions was not using Romans 13:1-7 to claim that all the laws of a given country are by definition always good and must always be obeyed. That would be an idiotic position that no Christian of Sessions’ intelligence could possibly believe. It is also not substantiated by Sessions’ appeal in context.

Of course, there are instances in Scripture where government edicts are disobeyed (see the Book of Daniel, the Book of Revelation, Acts 4-5), though only in cases impinging directly on the worship of God and Christ, the proclamation of the gospel, or central moral imperatives. Of course, Christians can and should work to improve our laws within our republican system of government. Sessions wasn’t denying any of that.

Rather, Sessions first made the case that US immigration laws are on the whole just, fair, and generous. As Sessions noted, “we allow in 1.1 million legal immigrants on a path to citizenship every year. Another 700,000 come here explicitly for jobs. Another half a million come here to attend our universities and colleges.” Opposition to *illegal* immigration is not an anti-immigrant position. Therefore these laws should be upheld and those who do violate them by entering the country illegally violate Paul’s injunction in Romans 13:1-7.

Is Dr. Mohler arguing that Paul himself would have contended that Christians should enter a country illegally when that country already had a generous immigration policy in place? And, worse, put children in danger by using them as a “get out of detention and deportation free card”? Surely not. Hence, per Romans 13:1-7, Christians seeking asylum in the US must follow legal channels.

In addition, although Dr. Mohler severely criticized the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy on illegal immigration, he did not offer any solution. Whatever solution is adopted *by Congress* (for this is really the responsibility of Congress) cannot send the message that if you cross the border into the US illegally, with children, you will get to stay in the US. Such a message would encourage larger numbers of families with children to enter the US illegally, thereby putting greater numbers of children at risk, not only of short-term separation from parents but also, worse, of attack and abuse by criminal elements in zones between legal ports of entry.

Dr. Mohler seems to reject a salutary deterrent effect of a zero-tolerance policy but the stats do not support that conclusion. Obama’s lax or non-existent enforcement of immigration law has created an enormous influx of illegal immigration by families with children (a five-fold increase in five years). It is going to take a while before the message of zero tolerance gets sent across the border, a message that can only be sent after the government demonstrates repeatedly its determination to prosecute and deport all violators who are caught crossing the border illegally. Once the message is sent, it will drastically reduce the influx of illegal immigration. Giving up now on the detention of adults who violate the law will send the wrong message that immigration laws will continue to be applied laxly or not at all, which will only increase the unlawful immigration of adults with children with all its attendant risks.

One solution would be to allow children to stay with parents in detention centers for longer periods of time; in effect, extended incarceration of children. Is this advisable? As it is, if the parent(s) who have violated the law do not appeal thereafter for asylum, their case (according to Sessions) can be handled in a week or two, reuniting the family to be sent back across the border to apply for legal entry like everyone else. There are legal ways to apply for asylum that do not result in the separation of parents and children. All lawbreakers, including all American citizens, run the risk of some period of family separation during a time of detention or custody, even if only for a brief time. Eight percent of children placed in foster care in 2016 (21,000 children) resulted from parental incarceration (not limited to immigration detention). Why is there no protest over that? Is it because we do not believe that immigration law needs to be taken seriously?

Dr. Mohler’s piece does strive for balance between lawless Democratic policy and allegedly “brutal” Republican policy by the Trump administration (Dr. Mohler was a Never-Trumper in the last election, though minus the harshness of Dr. Moore toward those who saw things differently). He’s not for “open borders.” I commend him for that. However, I think in his effort to be balanced he has misrepresented to some degree Sessions and the zero-tolerance policy. Balance doesn’t require that Democrats and Republicans be viewed as equally wrong on every issue (and here he seems a bit more critical of the Trump administration). He has also criticized the policy without offering a solution. While that allows one to come across more favorably and compassionately to the political Left and even many fellow Evangelicals, it doesn’t deal with the hard short-term decisions that may have to be made in order to achieve effective long-term results.

[Editor: Jordan Hall]
[Editor’s  Note: You can read Gagnon’s comments on this subject on his FB page here]

via Why Mohler is Wrong on Immigration — Pulpit & Pen

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David Platt Repeats Stories of Muslim Dreams and Visions — Pulpit & Pen

The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans:

“So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
The Righteous Shall Live by Faith
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”
Romans 1:15-17

The Qur’an affirms that the certain parts of the Bible (the Torah, the Psalms, and the gospels) are from God.  However, Muslims are taught that the biblical texts have been corrupted.  Thus, they see a need for the Qur’an and the Jesus it portrays,  a “different” Jesus. Within the pages of the Qur’an this Jesus is referred to by his Arabic name, “Isa.” The Qur’an describes Isa as without fault, able to heal the sick, and able to deliver the afflicted from demonic possession.   It even teaches that Isa is alive in paradise. Some Christian missionaries are unwisely building their gospel witness upon what the Qur’an teaches about Isa (the false Jesus of the Koran) and using that as a tool to start conversations with Muslims.  For some, Muslims need only to be taught that Isa is Jesus and that there is more to him than what’s written in the Qu’ran.  This a dangerous tactic; by building upon the foundation of a false Jesus, these missionaries risk creating false converts.

It is a grave concern, therefore, that, International Mission Board President David Platt, reported to the messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention the testimony of a Muslim couple who had converted to Christianity via the assistance of a dream of “Isa” prior to their conversion.  Such dreams and visions of “Isa” are nothing new.  In October 2007, the blog, Catherine of Siena Institute, published the article Muslim Conversions to Christianity” written by Michael Fones. In the article, Fones answers the question, “Why Roman Catholics were not participating in a meeting on evangelization of Muslims.”  To answer that question, Fones reprinted the majority of an article written by J. Dudley Woodbury, “professor of Islamic studies at the School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, who served in the Muslim world for many years,” that had been posted online in Christianity Today.  What’s interesting about Fones article is not that it’s written by a Catholic. Roman Catholicism has practiced mysticism for hundreds of years. No, the most interesting is what compelled J. Dudley Woodbury to write his article.   What were Woodbury’s conclusions, and why is David Platt, current President of the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) perpetuating these fantastic stories?

Between the years 1997 and 2007 Fuller Theological Seminary gave 750 Muslims a comprehensive questionnaire intending to find out what had compelled them to “convert” to Christianity.  J. Dudley Woodberry’s conclusions, as Michael Fone’s explains no his blog “demonstrates” the variety of ways that Muslims “are drawn to Christ” and “it provides a glimpse into some of the key means the Spirit of God is using to open Muslim hearts to the gospel.”

1. Seeing the faith:

“First, we can look at the experiences that most influenced Muslims. For example, respondents ranked the lifestyle of Christians as the most important influence in their decision to follow Christ. A North African former Sufi mystic noted with approval that there was no gap between the moral profession and the practice of Christians he saw. An Egyptian contrasted the love of a Christian group at an American university with the unloving treatment of Muslim students and faculty he encountered at a university in Medina. An Omani woman explained that Christians treat women as equals. Others noted loving Christian marriages. Some poor people said the expatriate Christian workers they knew had adopted, contrary to their expectations, a simple lifestyle, wearing local clothes and observing local customs of not eating pork, drinking alcohol, or touching those of the opposite sex.”

2. The power of God in answered prayers and healing:

“Like most of the factors that former Muslims list, experiences of God’s supernatural intervention often increase after Muslims decide to follow Christ.
In North Africa, Muslim neighbors asked Christians to pray for a very sick daughter who then was healed. In Senegal, a Muslim marabout (spiritual leader) referred a patient to Christians when he was not able to bring healing. In Pakistan, after a pilgrimage to Mecca did not cure a disabled Shiite girl, she was healed following Christian prayer.”

3. Deliverance from demonic power:

“In northern Nigeria, a malam (what some might call a witchdoctor) used sorcery against a man who was considering following Jesus. The seeker became insane, and his extended family left him. But then he prayed that Christ would free him, and he was healed.”

It helps to note that a third of the 750-person sample consisted of folk Muslims, with a characteristic concern for power and blessings. It is also worth noting that the Jesus portrayed in the Qur’an is a prophet who heals lepers and the blind and raises the dead. Not surprisingly, many Muslims find him attractive. Of course, power and blessings do not constitute the final word for Muslims. The Bible also offers a theology of suffering, and many Muslims who follow Christ find that their faith is strengthened through trials.”

4. Dissatisfaction with the type of Islam they had experienced:

“They expressed unhappiness with the Qur’an, which they perceive as emphasizing God’s punishment more than his love (although the Qur’an says he loves those who love him [3:31]). As for Islam’s requirement that liturgical prayer should be in Arabic, a Javanese man asked, “Doesn’t an all-knowing God know Indonesian?” Others criticized folk Islam’s use of amulets and praying at the graves of dead saints.”

Some respondents decried Islamic militancy and the imposition of Islamic law, which they said is not able to transform hearts and society. This disillusionment is broad in the Muslim world.”

5. Spiritual truth in the Bible:

“Next in attraction for Muslims is the spiritual truth in the Bible. The Qur’an attests that the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospel (commonly understood as the New Testament) are from God. Even though Muslims are generally taught that these writings became corrupted, they often find them compelling reading and discover truth that they conclude must be from God. The Bible helped one Egyptian understand “the true character of God.” The Sermon on the Mount helped convince a Lebanese Muslim that he should follow the one who taught and exemplified these values.”

6. Subconscious influences:

“For the most part, respondents did not say that political or economic circumstances influenced their decisions. But it’s hard not to notice that Iranians, Pakistanis, Afghans, Bangladeshis, and Algerians became more responsive after enduring Muslim political turmoil or attempts to impose Islamic law. Christian relief and development agencies try hard to guard against spiritually misusing their position as providers of desperately needed goods and services. But natural disasters in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Sahel region inevitably put Muslims in contact with Christians trying to follow Jesus. It is no surprise that some of these Muslims also choose to follow Christ.

The magical, mystical, desire to live “like Christians, false notions of how prayer was answered, healings, deliverance from demons, answer to disillusionment with Islam, “scriptural” truths, and/or influenced by vain imaginations does not “convert” anyone to Christ. Salvation does not come by any means possible. In God’s great love, he declared his love through the offering of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the God-man. The Son of God, Jesus Christ bore the full weight of the Wrath of God.  Those who repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ receive the imputed righteousness of Christ.

via David Platt Repeats Stories of Muslim Dreams and Visions — Pulpit & Pen

Why Weren’t Liberals Furious About These Photos Of Illegal Immigrant Detentions Under Obama? – The Daily Caller

Much of the media coverage over the last few weeks has focused on the policy of separating illegal immigrant children from their parents on the US border.

The Trump administration has come under fire for enforcing the policy, which calls for criminal prosecution of would-be immigrants who cross the border illegally, therefore separating them from their children.

The outrage has struck some reporters as peculiar, particularly since there was abject silence and a lack of outrage when the Obama administration treated illegal immigrants in a similar fashion.

Barack Obama deported more people than any president in history and reached a record number — 97,000 — of criminal prosecutions in 2013 for illegal border crossings. Breitbart Texas reporter Brandon Darby toured detention facilities under the Obama administration.

“’Cages’ — The chainlink partitions in the holding facilities at border are the exact same ones we showed you during the Obama Admin. Why didn’t you care then?” Darby tweeted this weekend as the outrage raged over Trump’s use of detention facilities. Darby followed up with a series of photos of the facilities that he published in 2014:

— Read on amp.dailycaller.com/2018/06/18/liberals-obama-illegal-immigrant-detention/

Spurgeon for Plumbers | For The Church

They read from the book, from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they understood the reading.—Nehemiah 8:8

“Muddy water is no sign the spring is deep.”—W.T. Conner

Education was not highly valued in rural Cooke County, Texas, in 1970. To make matters worse, Phil Young needed to help his father on the family farm. So he decided to drop out of high school after his sophomore year. He became a Master Plumber later in life—a career he pursued for just over 40 years. In May 1984, Phil married Angie—a single mother with two young sons.

And that is how I came to be raised by a plumber—a plumber who insisted I pursued formal education.

When I was in high school, similar in age to my step-father when he decided to discontinue his education, he took me to work one day. We dug ditches for hours that day in the hot Texas sun. My back was sore; callouses were forming on my hands. As I stopped to rest, leaning against my shovel, I looked at him, and he grinned.

“Are you having fun?” he asked.

I was honest in my reply. “Not really,” I said.

“Good,” he shot back, “then get your education.”

So I did.

I majored in Bible as an undergraduate at Hardin-Simmons University—a small but strong Baptist school on the edge of the West Texas plains. There I learned terms like “Heilsgeschichte” and “demythologization.” I learned more about the Scriptures than I knew possible. Soon I found myself able to carry on theological debates and conversations with students I respected. It was exhilarating.

I recognize now that my theological education did me great good, but it also uncovered a deep darkness in my heart. It led me to a place of spiritual snobbery. I found myself able to hold forth on a great number of theological topics, but I had no fruit of the Spirit in my ministry. In doing so, however, I found my sermons became confusing. In attempting to avail myself of theological headiness, I was losing the power of the gospel.

I soon realized—and repented of—my problem. I realized I must take the deep truths of the faith and the education I had received, and I must communicate them in a simple way.

I needed to preach to plumbers.

And so I made a resolution. Early in my ministry—and again once I had completed graduate school—I resolved to make certain every one of my sermons could be understood by blue collar workers like my father.

I found inspiration in Spurgeon.

At the height of his popularity, Spurgeon’s star shone brightly over London. His influence was rivaled perhaps only by the Queen—on both sides of the Atlantic. Thousands crowded Metropolitan Tabernacle to hear him preach—those of the highest education and those who were of the lowest status within Industrial Age England. Factory workers and farmers sought to hear the great preacher, along with the most well-heeled individuals of the Empire.

What was it that drew those less fortunate souls to his pulpit? Was it the expansive social work done in the poorest neighborhoods by Metropolitan Tabernacle? Perhaps. But by all historical accounts, it appears to have been crowds flocking to hear Spurgeon’s preaching that drove the work of Metropolitan in the city, not the converse.

His preaching, it seems, was a direct assail upon class division. In fact, in his collected Lectures to My Students, Spurgeon lands repeated verbal blows against any pastoral approach attempting to raise the minister higher than the people of the city. One lecture in particular—“Lecture 12: The Minister’s Ordinary Conversation”—is a haymaker against any pastor who would believe his position or his education make him superior to his congregation.

His opening jab is direct: “First and foremost, let me say, let him give himself no ministerial airs, but avoid everything which is stilted, official, fussy and pretentious.” In Spurgeon’s day—as in ours—pastors faced the temptation to become something more than a man. Pastors might feel the need to act more righteous than their neighbors, or they may think that in acting in such a way, others would think more highly of them. Spurgeon categorically rejects such thinking, stating, “There is such a thing as trying to be too much a minister, and becoming too little a man.”

In fact, Spurgeon argues, to attempt to become more than a man is, in essence, an act of idolatry, for it attempts to place the minister above the station Jesus himself chose—that of humanity. Spurgeon explains, “Let not the ambassador of heaven be other than a son of man.”

How serious was Spurgeon about attacking pretentiousness among the clergy he trained at his Pastor’s College? Each of these withering critiques come in the opening paragraph of the lecture. He pounces on the topic with gusto, pummeling any perceived pride away.

With such passion on this topic, one can only assume he strove to embody a democratic ideal with regard to this neighbors and congregants. He strove to accept the plainest of people, and he strove to make pastors who would do the same.

In conjunction with such an attitude towards pride, he also worked tirelessly to make certain that his preaching was faithful to his audience. Spurgeon’s secret? He insisted on sticking to the Scripture, and making certain that those who heard it understoodwhat was said.

Like Chrysostom and Calvin before him, Spurgeon knew that if the Scripture became formative in the language and thought of the preacher, people would come to know Jesus, for the Bible would be on continual display to the congregation. He explained:

We might preach ’til our tongue rotted, ’til we exhaust our lungs and die—but never a soul would be converted unless the Holy Spirit uses the Word to convert that soul. So it is blessed to eat into the very heart of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in scriptural language and your spirit is flavored with the words of the Lord, so that your blood is Bibline and the very essence of the Bible flows form you.

Baptists, like Spurgeon, have long been populists. We have ministered and preached to the masses, and, for most of our history, they have been the uneducated masses. The Southern Baptist Convention started churches throughout the Western frontier of the United States from a conviction that the gospel must be preached in the furthest flung geographic regions. While many of those fledgling congregations had formally educated pastors, the demographics of the region were far more rural, far less educated, and much more impoverished. Along with area physicians and judges, pastors were often the most educated individuals in frontier communities. In true Spurgeon spirit, those pastors could not afford to put on pretense in their community. Instead, they worked faithfully in their communities. In doing so, they practiced the Incarnation.

Today, Baptists in the United States have buildings and institutions. They have publishing houses and conferences.

But there is no substitute for being present. There is no greater gift than helping another understand the Bible.

Jesus told stories about seeds and trees and fields. He ate and drank with his friends and his followers. He participated in the cultural events of his time. He did this so that he could help the masses understand the grace of God.

This ought to be the model of the pastor.

Both the plumbers and the professionals in your congregation are hungry for the bread of Scripture. If you faithfully read it, study it, memorize it, and teach it, they will be encouraged.

If you, like Spurgeon, speak its truth plainly, the Spirit can work. Spurgeon’s preaching was a work of removing confusion. Just as Ezra read the Law before the people so that they might understand it (Nehemiah 8:8), Spurgeon was a master of making complex concepts clear.

W.T. Conner, long-time professor of Systematic Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was once asked why he wrote in such clear language while other academics seemed to opt for more dense prose.

His reply is fitting for preachers today who may be tempted to use unnecessary language: “Muddy water is no sign the spring is deep.”

May we preach and live clearly—as Spurgeon did—so that all might understand His Word.
— Read on ftc.co/resource-library/1/3728

June 19 Integrity Never Stands Alone

“Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astounded and stood up in haste; he responded and said to his high officials, ‘Was it not three men we cast bound into the midst of the fire?’ They answered and said to the king, ‘Certainly, O king.’ He answered and said, ‘Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!’ ”

Daniel 3:24–25

✧✧✧

God will never leave His children alone.

King Nebuchadnezzar was livid with rage when he had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed–nego bound and cast into the fiery furnace. But his rage quickly turned to astonishment when he saw four men loosed and walking around unharmed by the flames. Clearly something supernatural and beyond his control was occurring.

Although he described the fourth person as being “like a son of the gods,” he did not have the Son of God in mind. As a pagan he would not have understood an Old Testament appearance of Christ, such as occurred to Abraham in Genesis 18. But he understood enough to believe that God had “sent His angel and delivered His servants who put their trust in Him” (v. 28).

I believe Nebuchadnezzar was correct. God sent an angelic messenger to comfort those young men and to explain that they would not be harmed by the fire. God would turn their darkest hour into their greatest triumph. Others in Scripture have been similarly encouraged by special angels from the Lord. God honored Elijah, for example, by having angels personally serve him food at an especially discouraging time in his life (1 Kings 19:4–7).

If you are a Christian, God has promised never to leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13:5). He will be with you in every circumstance. When necessary, He will dispatch His angels to minister to you in special ways (Heb. 1:14). Let that truth encourage you today, especially if you are undergoing a trial.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Praise the Lord for the protection and encouragement He has given you in the past and for His promise of similar blessings in the future.

For Further Study: According to 1 Peter 2:18–23 and 4:12–16, how should Christians respond to persecution?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Too Wretched For Radio 06/18/2018 — Wretched

 TWFR2018-0618

•Racial discussion part 2: Corporate guilt and reparations

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via Too Wretched For Radio 06/18/2018 — Wretched

06/18/2018 — Wretched

WR2018-0618

•Poking fun at false teachers; Should we do more than pray for them?
•The Methodists are refusing to use God’s preferred pronoun
•Selling your soul for a tank of propane
•Did Todd cast doubt on Beth Moore’s accusations?
•Where does the SBC draw the line for a “cooperating church”
•Addressing immigration and child-separation
•California Universities encouraging preschool children to watch porn
•Church sued for not hosting LGBT event
•British shoe sizes are up, and Todd is too tall for Malaysia
•Lies used to promote abortion
•Gospel Preaching at Hyde park

Download Now (right click and save)

via 06/18/2018 — Wretched

Pew: Most Americans Can’t Tell Fact From Opinion — National Review

A Pew Research Center study published Monday found that Americans have difficulty distinguishing between statements of fact and statements of opinion. The adults polled were…

via Pew: Most Americans Can’t Tell Fact From Opinion — National Review

Stupid Pastor Tricks-How You’re Getting Fooled — Messed Up Church – Pirate Christian Media

 

The Juvenilization Category of Tricks:

  • The “Turn to your neighbor and say…” trick. Mr. Mega Pastor, we are no longer in the second grade, and we shouldn’t be treated as such. This is just a way to force people to agree with you.
  • The “end every other sentence with AMEN?!” trick. Amen is not a question. You are putting that word at the end of your sentence because it forces people to agree with you, as they shut down any critical thinking.
  • The “make your church look like a children’s TV Show” trick. Mr. Mega Pastor wants his followers to revert back to adolescence in order to instill obedience. But just how far will he go as he belittles his audience? How about this far:

Stay_Positive_Part_1_Optimistic_with_Craig_Groeschel_LifeChurch_tv (1).gif

Or how about this far:

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Or how about this far:

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  • The “my expectations of you are so low that I’ll repeatedly insult your intelligence in order to hold your gnat-like attention” trick. Mr. Mega Pastor thinks most people are pretty stupid and need to be treated as gullible spectators. Worse than that, he thinks God needs the church service to be an adult pre-school in order to accomplish His will on earth.
  • The “listen to me repeat a catchphrase as if it were a Bible verse” trick. Because he needs these people to remember something, but he just can’t seem to fit an actual Bible passage into his frantic yet meandering 45-minute speech…

The Cult of Personality Category of Tricks:

  • The “we started this church in our living room 6 years ago and look at what God has done!” trick. You bought a mailing list, hired a graphic artist and a web designer, you mailed out a slick postcard to 10,000 people that made promises & claims that your church can never deliver, but you’re giving all the credit to God? Don’t blame this thing on God.
  • The “aw shucks, can I just talk about myself for a while longer?” trick. You are trying to act humble but it’s only working on the truly gullible.
  • The “our church is really great, and just in case you don’t know how great it is, I’m gonna talk about it some more” trick. Why is it so important to continually prop up your church? You’re not a pastor, you’re a salesman making a pitch.
  • The “I don’t have time to read the Bible, but I’ve got time to talk about sports/TV shows/personal stories/jokes/useless drivel…” trick. Everything that happens in your sermon is by your design, and you’re deciding to cut out God’s Word to make more room for yourself.
  • The “here’s a really catchy name for my new sermon series that I’ll keep repeating (I hope it gets me a book deal)” trick. We get it: without a new book you’ve got nothing to sell at the merchandise table when you go on the speaking circuit.
  • The “we are just so blessed and honored to have Pastor Whoever He Is with us today!” trick. And if you suck up to him enough, you’ll get a speaking invitation at his (much larger) church.
  • The “watch me do that dramatic… pause… just like Rob Bell or Andy Stanley” trick. This is just cheap theatrics, and you’ve cheapened the house of God by pretending to be profound.
  • The “let me show you how cool and relevant I am while I pretend that I’m not trying to be cool and relevant” trick. Again, this only works on the truly gullible. You’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel, aren’t you Mr. Mega Pastor? (And Mr. Cool Music Guy on the worship team, maybe you should look into joining a cover band to satisfy your need for attention.)
  • The “let me brag about my luxurious lifestyle in front of the struggling people who paid for it” trick. You’re not setting an example of success, you’re taking money from people who will never live out the fantasies you sell them in the name of God.

 

The Super Spiritual Category of Tricks:

  • The “I hope you don’t notice that I’m just making up this prophetic utterance” trick. If you want people to believe that God is speaking through you, shouldn’t you construct sentences that actually mean something? How ridiculous can these “prophetic words” get? This ridiculous:
  • The “this is gonna be the year of acceleration! (or breakthrough, or increase, or visitation, or whatever…)” trick. Don’t worry, after you make your New Year’s proclamation you’ve got 11 months of useless blathering to distract everyone from your vague, yet false prediction.
  • The “I can make outlandish claims without any authentication” trick. Why does every supernatural event that you mention occur in some remote country… without cameras?
  • The “my Bible fell open and this is the verse that God showed me” trick. Wait a minute, is this a Christian church service or a tarot card reading??
  • The “I had my sermon all planned out but God gave me something different at the last minute” trick. Wow, we’ve never heard that before…
  • The “something REALLY big is coming… (eventually)” trick. How many decades have to pass before you finally cancel this ambiguous, confusing and useless “word from the Lord?”
  • The “healing service that’s actually just a guy telling stories about all the healings he supposedly did somewhere else” trick. Lucky for this guy, the people who come to get healed are usually so desperate and confused they stay the whole time anyway. When they don’t get healed they often blame themselves, too.
  • The “watch me talk very very fast, as if the sheer quantity of my words equated to Godly wisdom” trick. I suppose if you slowed down everyone could see that you’re not really saying anything.
  • The “shift in the atmosphere” trick. Is this the Christian Church or an episode of Ghost Hunters?
  • The “Holy Spirit Tourette Syndrome” trick. Really? That’s supposed to be the result of the Holy Spirit??

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  • The “don’t put God in a box” trick. This is how you turn the sovereign God of the Universe who has revealed Himself in His Holy Word into your own weird little creation.
  • The “Law of Attraction” trick. Well, if you don’t want to preach the Gospel from the Bible, I guess you might as well steal ideas from Oprah…
  • The “God spoke to me, so you pretty much have to believe whatever I say” trick. Don’t worry, hardly anyone will notice that this is exactly how all cults get started.

Stay tuned for more Stupid Pastor Tricks!

via Stupid Pastor Tricks-How You’re Getting Fooled — Messed Up Church – Pirate Christian Media

I’m not Saved by Faith, I’m Saved by This — The Aquila Report

In Ephesians 1:7, Paul puts it this way, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…” Then in verse 13, he says, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit…” Notice anything here? How do we have redemption, forgiveness, and the promised Holy Spirit?

Let me guess: you clicked on this post to see if I had gone off the heretical deep end. Am I right? I mean, to say that I’m not saved by faith…

…them’s burning at the stake words.

After all, Sola Fide (faith alone) is a pillar of Reformed doctrine.

Your heresy hackles are raised and you’re currently at DEFCON 4.

To quote today’s hip, cool, totally modern youth, of which I am totally a part, “Slow your roll.” (Side note: I don’t actually understand what that phrase means. I think I’m using it correctly.)

I’ve used the phrase, “Saved by faith,” hundreds of times, and I’m not against it, per se. It’s shorthand for saying I’m not saved by works. By grace, through faith, etc.

But lately, I’ve started to realize that saying that I’m saved by faith somewhat shortchanges the staggering, glorious reality of what Christ has accomplished on my behalf.

Not Saved By Faith, Saved By Christ

Yes, I realize that I sound like that guy. The “technically” guy. Every church has at least one.

You’re in small group, and you make a theological statement that isn’t 100% precise. It’s not exactly wrong, but it’s not as biblically sharp as it could be.

Technically guy clears his throat, pushes up his glasses (which I do frequently because I am a nerd), and says, “Wellllll, technically that’s not quite right.”

Then, to the great dismay of the group, he takes the next 45 minutes to explain that you shouldn’t use the word “resurrection” when referring to Lazarus being raised from the dead.

Is he right? Yes (that’s for another post). Should he monopolize the group to dissect this point? Probably not. He probably should write a 10,000 word blog post about it.

I have been Technically Guy. I don’t like Technically Guy. We have met the enemy, and the enemy is us. Or something like that.

But in this case, I’ve realized that the stakes are much higher, at least for me.

Here’s why: when I say that I’m saved by faith, I’m unintentionally driving a wedge between the saving work of Christ and Christ himself. I am speaking as if things like justification and forgiveness and adoption are separate from Jesus himself.

See, here’s the thing…

…I’m NOT saved by faith, I’m saved by being united to Christ.

This may seem like splitting hairs, but it’s huge. Gigantic. Enormous. The more I understand what it means to be united to Christ, the more staggered I am by the person and work of Christ.

The Glory of Being In Christ

In Ephesians 1:7, Paul puts it this way, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…”

Then in verse 13, he says, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit…”

Notice anything here?

How do we have redemption, forgiveness, and the promised Holy Spirit?

In Christ.

If I am not joined to Christ, I can’t have redemption, forgiveness, adoption, the promised Holy Spirit, or any other glorious gospel treasures.

I am not saved by my faith. I am saved because God has joined me to his Son in a beautifully mysterious way.

When I believed the promises of the gospel, God united me to Jesus so closely and organically that his life, death, and resurrection became my life, death, and resurrection.

No, I’m not somehow absorbed into Christ to the point where I disappear. But I am joined to Jesus so closely that God sees Christ’s accomplishments as mine.

I can say with Paul that I have been crucified with Christ, and that it is no longer I who live, but Christ living in me.

Christ. In. Me.

What a knee-buckling thought.

John Calvin puts it this way in his Institutes of Christian Religion:

First, we must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us, and we are separated from him, all that he has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value to us.

Frankly, I’m still wrestling with what this all means. Union with Christ is a such a glorious, mysterious truth that it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around it.

But what I do know is that the overwhelming blessings of salvation are mine, not because of faith, but because I am IN JESUS and Jesus is IN ME.

I can’t separate the blessings of the gospel from Jesus himself. It’s not like God somehow gives me forgiveness apart from Jesus. My body can’t be a temple of the Holy Spirit unless I am first connected to Christ, who gives the Spirit freely to all.

In some ways, I feel like I’m rambling at this point. But that’s how it should be. I’m flailing in the deep end of divine mystery. And it’s a beautiful mystery indeed.

No, I’m not saved by faith. Faith is what allows me to be connected to Jesus, and every bit of my salvation comes through Jesus.

Is it wrong for me to say that I’m saved by faith? No. But when I use that phrase, I always want to remember that faith is just the connector. Jesus is the Savior.

This article  first appeared on Stephen Altrogge’s website, The Blazing Center, and is used with permission.

via I’m not Saved by Faith, I’m Saved by This — The Aquila Report

The Rise of Victimhood Culture | Blog | Think Theology

“People in a victimhood culture are like the honorable in having a high sensitivity to slight. They’re quite touchy, and always vigilant for offenses. Insults are serious business, and even unintentional slights might provoke a severe conflict. But, as in a dignity culture, people generally eschew violent vengeance in favor of relying on some authority figure or other third party.”

There are three types of moral culture, argue sociology professors Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning: dignity culture, honour culture, and victimhood culture. (By “honour culture,” they obviously mean something quite different from a “culture of Califhonour.”) Increasingly, modern life in the West is being shaped by victimhood culture, and this has important implications for all of us. Here is a fascinating section of an interview with them on their recent book, The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars:

The three moral cultures are different clusters of traits having to do with what people find offensive and how they handle their grievances.

In dignity cultures, there is a low sensitivity to slight. People are more tolerant of insult and disagreement. Children might be taught some variant of “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” It’s good to have “thick skin,” and people might be criticized for being too touchy and overreacting to slights. If the issue in the conflict is something more than a slight or insult — say, a violent assault — you’re to handle the matter through appeal to authorities such as the legal system. Taking the law into your own hands with violent vengeance is itself a serious crime and generally looked down upon.

In honor cultures, there’s a much greater sensitivity to slight. Insults demand a serious response, and even accidental slights might provoke severe conflict. Having a low tolerance for offense is more likely to be seen as a virtue than a vice. Letting yourself be slighted without seeking justice is shameful. And seeking justice is more likely to take the form of violent vengeance. Appealing to authorities is more stigmatized than taking matters into your own hands.

Read More
— Read on thinktheology.co.uk/blog/article/the_rise_of_victimhood_culture

Video: “A Call to Battle” by Alistair Begg — Truth For Life Blog

At the end of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul called his readers to arms against the devil. This conclusion isn’t an afterthought, but the logical consequence of God’s purposes worked out among His people. Alistair Begg addresses the reality that Satan is a personal and powerful being who, though defeated, continues to act with his agents to oppose God. When men and women are united to Christ, they become Satan’s enemies and the objects of his opposition to God’s plan to unite all things together in Christ Jesus.

via Video: “A Call to Battle” by Alistair Begg — Truth For Life Blog