My Guilt-Induced Post About Baptists I Appreciate

•September 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This post is my attempt to assuage any hurt feelings over my last one, and to clarify that my previous post was not meant to advocate further division between Baptists and Presbyterians (or any other denomination).  Where division exists it will continue to exist, because we feel those matters are important enough.  That said, we should not constantly focus on what divides us, but what binds us under the same banner—the Gospel, the glory of God, and the desire for others to hear about Jesus and to worship Him.  In that light I have chosen a list of individuals who have either been extremely helpful in my own spiritual life or to the Christian faith at large.

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1. Henry Jacob (1563-1624) – One might consider Jacob the forefather of the “Particular Baptists,” thus making him the forefather of modern-day Baptists in America (despite the rejection by many in the Baptist denomination of most Particular Baptist doctrines, they do draw their heritage through them).  If for nothing else, I like the guy because of who he associated with, including William Ames and John Robinson.  Reform of the Church of England was necessary, and Henry Jacob was one piece in the defense against the errors of the church.  In 1616, he found the “JLJ” church which began the practice of baptizing believers.

2. John Bunyan (1628-1688) – Bunyan is typically known for his allegory Pilgrim’s Progress, the story of Christian on his journey from the City of Destruction, to the cross, through trials, and on to the Celestial City.  This book is, of course, an amazing one; in fact, my wife and I are currently reading through it again.  The allegory is truly a work of genius, down to the smallest detail.  But it is another work of his that I remind people to read because of the importance it has had in my life, and it is a subject that is so often neglected: The Fear of God — What it is, and what it is not (1679).

The hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend;
For I perceive the way to life lies here;
Come, pluck up, heart, let’s neither faint nor fear.
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe. 

-Christian at hill Difficulty-

3. John Gill (1697-1771) – Gill was pastor of his church for over 50 years, a supporter of George Whitefield and the Awakening in America, and a staunch defender of the orthodox faith in England.  He was committed to the defense of johngillCalvinism, the Trinity, and Baptist convictions—I can respect the force and persuasiveness of his defenses of Baptist beliefs, and I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to debate him.  Gill possessed an amazing intellect; he could read and speak Latin, Greek, and Hebrew—and is considered by many as the greatest Hebraists in Reformed history.

His most monumental contribution to the Christian world was a complete exposition of the Old and New Testaments (something even Calvin and Henry did not accomplish, nor any one since Gill’s time).  His exposition of the New Testament has been particularly useful to me.  Admittedly, I would like to know more about him and read more of his works in the future.

If any one man can be supposed to have trod the whole circle of human learning, it was Dr. Gill. ― It would, perhaps, try the constitutions of half the literati in England only to read, with care and attention, the whole of what Gill wrote.

-Augustus Toplady 

76287-004-83DD31444. Isaac Backus (1724-1806) –  Isaac Backus was an important figure in the years building up to the Revolution.  In his sermon, Government and Liberty Described; and Ecclesiastical Tyranny Exposed, he rightfully exposed the hypocrisy of the standing party in New England.   The Congregationalists of New England complained about the taxes of Great Britain, many of which were used for the support of the Church of England, while levying taxes against Baptists in New England to support a Congregational church they did not belong to or support (the complaint of many a separatist at the time).  Backus’s A History of New England: With particular reference to the denomination of Christians called Baptists, is a recommended resource for Baptists who have an interest in their American heritage.  He was also a founding member of Brown University.

Andrew_Fuller5. Andrew Fuller (1754-1815) – By the early 1700s Particular Baptist beliefs had drifted toward a Hyper-Calvinistic understanding of grace.  Fuller wrote in defense of the necessity for the Gospel proclamation, and was one individual who reinvigorated the desire for missions among Baptists, and with his leadership in the Baptist Missionary Society (founded in 1792) and the support of those advancing the gospel (i.e. William Carey), he was a forerunner of modern-day missions.

Let not the sleight of wicked men, who lie in wait to deceive, nor even the pious character of good men (who yet may be under great mistakes), draw me aside. Nor do thou suffer my own fancy to guide me. Lord, thou hast given me a determination to take up no principle at second hand; but to search for everything at the pure fountain of thy word.

-Andrew Fuller

6. William Carey (1761-1834) – How could one not include the individual often described as “The Father of Modern Missions”?  Having taken interest in missionary accounts by John Eliot and the journal of David Brainerd, Carey was struck with a great concern to advance the Gospel to the remote parts of the world.  As a friend of Murray he became associated with the Baptist Missionary Society and was involved in defense against the Hyper-Calvinism of the time, writing his work An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens in response to their claims that God did not need the efforts of men to convert souls.  Later he went on to become a missionary to India, translating the New Testament into the local language and establishing schools there.  Despite numerous hardships, including the mental breakdown and death of his wife, Carey laid the groundwork for Christianity in India (through translations, schools, and social reform) and for missions around the world.

Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God. 

-William Carey

Spurgeon7. Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) – I don’t know where to begin (or end) with Spurgeon, I think most will know why he is on the list without me even having to explain.  Spurgeon is one of those guys that Calvinists, Arminians, Baptist, and Presbyterians like; I’m sure you could find his Morning & Evening devotional on a Roman Catholic’s nightstand somewhere; this guy was that good.  I’ve enjoyed his devotional, his Treasury of David (Psalms), and listening to his sermons read out of his collections.  The man had a way of taking complex doctrine and spelling it out for a dullard like me to understand.  I would easily recommend him to a new Christian and not think twice about the fact that he was Baptist (we could get into the areas I disagreed later…but for his thoughts on the Gospel, and the passion with which he preached, he’s pure gold).

If any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him, for you are worse than he thinks you to be.

-Charles Spurgeon      

8. Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952) – As I proceed through this list I am reminded that many great scholars have arisen from the downloadBaptist ranks.  Pink is no exception.  His tome on Hebrews is probably one of the most thorough and useful commentaries on a difficult book of the Bible.  Like his American contemporary, J. Grasham Machen, Pink was an intellectual force to be reckoned with, and stood firmly against the encroaching liberalism of his time.  His expository approach to preaching and the treatment he gave to the Word of God was partially responsible for a renewed emphasis on those things in America and Great Britain.  Recommended works by Pink: Exposition of Hebrews (all of his expositions/gleanings really), The Divine Inspiration of the Bible, The Patience of God, Practical Christianity, and The Sovereignty of God.

John-Piper29. John Piper (1946-Present) – Piper has always seemed like a Spurgeon reborn to me.  Like my explanation of Spurgeon, just about every denomination has something about Piper they can like.  The man has passion.  He thinks deeply about the Scriptures.  And he explains them in a way that most can appreciate.  He is certainly a model for any preacher to emulate no matter the denomination.  Piper’s podcasts through DesiringGod were some of the first I ever listened to, and he helped me greatly in understanding the doctrines of grace and the joy of knowing Jesus.  Pick a book by him and I would likely recommend it, especially: Let the Nations be Glad, Don’t Waste Your Life, The Justification of God, Desiring God, or When I Don’t Desire God.  Furthermore, to my mind, no one has preached better through the whole book of Romans, especially Romans 6-8 (listen as soon as possible if you haven’t; notwithstanding any disagreement I might have with his interpretation of 6:1-4).

The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.

-John Piper

mohler-about-image10. Al Mohler (1959-Present) – Mohler may not be someone as high up on my list of favorites, but he certainly has valuable insights.  He has also been a faithful leader of Southern seminary.  His podcast, The Briefing, is a great way to start the day; it not only gives you some important headlines, but some ways to think about them Biblically.  I also appreciate many of his blog posts about current events.

BewareofPaulWasherLutheranLCMSLordshipSalvationAssurance_zps0a87d75a11. Paul Washer (1961- Present) – The best way to describe Washer is as a preacher with a purpose to awaken.  the man has a way of blowing up comfort bubbles and easy-believism.  If you’ve listened to his sermons for any amount of time, you know what I’m talking about.  He certainly preaches with passion and zeal, and he seems to truly desire a revival in true, sold-out Christianity.  For these qualities he is to be admired, even if I am not 100% on where he stands on all issues; his preaching is enough for me to know that I agree with his Gospel call, and the effects of a changed life.  I’ve also benefited from many of his videos, and think them very convicting and useful.  I’ll link a few of my favorites: Shocking Youth Message (probably one he is best known for); Come to Christ, He is Mighty to Save; and A Call to Wonder.

People tell me judge not lest ye be judged. I always tell them, twist not scripture lest ye be like satan.

-Paul Washer

jrw_200912. James White (1962-Present) – White is an elder at a Reformed Baptist Church.  His biweekly podcast, The Dividing Line, is the only one I really listen to regularly.  And his ministry, AOMin, has been helpful to me throughout my Christian life.  He provides great analysis and apologetic tools for dealing with Islam, Mormonism, JWs, Roman Catholics, attacks on the Biblical record, synergism/Arminiamism, atheism, homosexuality, and several other miscellaneous topics.  Like so many on this list, the man is a scholar, and is always a good reminder of the contributions of my Baptist brethren.

 Theology matters. 

-James White

Honorable Mentions:

Adoniram and Ann Judson: Congregationalist turned Baptist (Adoniram), became a missionary from North America to Burma with his wife.

Lottie Moon: American missionary.  She was a Southern Baptist who spent 40 years educating and evangelizing in China.

Ken Ham: President of Answers in Genesis, a great resource for creation science.

John MacArthur, Jr: Preacher at Grace Community Church.  He’s an author and heads the popular radio show/podcast Grace to You.  I would’ve put MacArthur in my list, because of the benefit I derived from him early on (especially reading his book Hard to Believe), but with his rather dispensationalist and premillennial views I have not given as much attention to his ministry in recent years.

 

SDG,

Jon

Correcting Some Rah-Rah Baptist Arguments

•September 4, 2014 • Leave a Comment

76287-004-83DD3144Dr. Dan Nelson recently wrote a post on sbctoday.com called “Baptist Dissenters from Error—Champions of Truth.”  Because I don’t want to copy/paste the whole blog post, I recommend giving it a once over before reading this response.

I have no idea who Dan Nelson is, nor do I know anything he’s written on sbctoday, I am simply using his blog post as an example of the type of arguments I frequently see from Baptists on sbctoday (and elsewhere).  I’d like to correct some common misconceptions, misuses of history, and purposeful misrepresentation of opposing views.

**Note: Not all Baptists will agree with all of the arguments Nelson makes, so I don’t mean to generalize “Baptists,” as though they all agree with every jot and tittle of Nelson’s blog post.**

Nelson’s words = White; Mine = Gray

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“The right to express dissent was what our country was founded on in the American Revolution. This is why the recent trend to quell dissenting opinions to the immorality being celebrated by the government has been disturbing and dangerous.”

I’d like to start this off by saying I agree with this statement.  Perhaps you will be convinced that I can show some semblance of objectivity…but probably not…

“Although Baptists were given a colony in Rhode Island they dissented against the Congregational/Puritan church in Massachusetts and were harassed and oppressed for not having infants sprinkled and wanting to start another church rather than the State church.”

It is always interesting to see who these Baptists will align themselves with in history, and on sbctoday it tends to be anyone who supports their cause and challenges the “mean old Calvinists.”  In this case, it is the founder of Rhode Island, Roger Williams.  At least that is the assumption I make by connecting “Baptists” with “given a colony in Rhode Island.”

First, Roger Williams was not charged for credobaptism.  In fact, he was accepted for a time in both Salem and Plymouth (both places more accepting of credobaptism than many of the officials in Massachusetts), but his Baptist views were developed later.  I will not say that I fully disagree with Williams’s objection to the close union of state and church, but to say that only Williams held such a view is a bit naive, and makes it appear that only those who appear more Baptist will be used in the argument (I would like to submit just about every church in Plymouth Colony prior to incorporation in 1691 for my support).

Second, Williams is a strange champion for Baptists to use.  Especially because he rejected Baptist beliefs by the end, did away with the ordinances and clergy, and advanced an extreme view of religious pluralism that completely secularized civil government.  But I’ve seen the use of Anabaptist as champions for their cause too, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

“The distinguishing mark of believer’s baptism by immersion was most notable to us because we baptized like John the Baptist and the way Jesus and the early church were baptized and did baptize.”

This is akin to saying, “if the KJV was good enough for Paul, it’s good enough for me!”  Maybe not as extreme, but why use John the Baptist, unless you mean to say John was a Baptist?  Is Dr. Nelson ready to defend the argument that John baptized with the same baptism the Apostles did?  What about Acts 19:3-4?  Does it matter?  It should…

Not to mention the use of examples (where one must suppose they know what happened) rather than understanding the argument of Scripture.  The question of how the “early church was baptized and did baptize” is the question at hand; this is merely assuming the conclusion by its premises (see: circular reasoning).

Nelson then goes on into subheadings of what Baptists stand for; I wanted to address each:

We are not for mixing tradition and present cultural trends with the Bible. (Col. 2:7)”

“We go back to the historic faith of the Bible. Baptism, church structure, salvation, etc. must be rooted in God’s word and not in what we have always believed. We do not subscribe to creeds or traditions as equal to scripture. We have a common statement of faith that is a consensus of what fellow churches believe.”

I agree with this if there is no ulterior meaning.  If talking about Romanists: good.  If talking about Presbyterians: we do the same.  But it is important to understand ones presuppositions and traditions, and to admit them, otherwise this amounts to a creedal statement declaring that they hold to no creed or tradition.

“We are not for government controlling religion. We are for a free church in a free society. (Matthew 22:21)”

“Baptists have always been forerunners of religious liberty. They have never insisted on special favoritism. They only want freedom.”

This section is loaded with assumption and “rah-rah Baptist” sentiment.

Baptists have always been forerunners of religious liberty?  Hmm.  I feel like a Lutheran could as easily point to Luther and say, “Lutheranism has always been forerunners for religious liberty;” a secularist could point to Paine and say, “deists/atheists have always been forerunners for religious liberty.”  But okay..

The popular spread of Baptist beliefs in America is usually considered an effect of the Great Awakening.  So really the idea that a free church should exist in a free society was not an idea spawned directly from the Baptists in America, but they borrowed the idea from an increasingly individualized religious society (or even earlier from the Separating Pilgrims in Plymouth).  Really one could make a case that it was the New Light ministers across New England that led the charge (especially George Whitefield: a Calvinist and Anglican; or Jonathan Edwards: a Calvinist and Congregationalist); if one wants to make a case that the Congregational churches were basically Baptist churches minus the infant baptism part, by all means (they had the same ecclesiology).  But Baptists were really just New Light supporters who ultimately rejected paedobaptism and formed new consociations.

Also, it might help to keep in mind that many of the Baptists of those days would more closely align themselves with the Reformed Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Anglicans of today than many in the Southern Baptist Convention (I can’t imagine what they would have to say about the rabid Arminianism/Synergism within the SBC).

We are not for accepting an invisible church or denominations called the church—the church is a local assembly of baptized believers. (Ephesians 5:29)”

I’m going to cautiously agree with this section…maybe?  I’m not entirely sure what his point is.  In other words, why is this a Baptist dinstinctive?  Someone elaborate…

We are not for any human mediator between God and man—every believer has complete access to God and the priesthood of believers. (I Timothy 2:5)”

Agree with most of this section as well.  But…

“The congregational form of church government is the Baptist way and has led to revolutionary cooperation with churches unparalleled in their participation.”

The congregational form of church government is the way of many outside of the Baptist camp as well, but I’ll leave that alone.  Dr. Nelson really doesn’t say much here about Baptist governance, nor put forth any kind of scriptural argument, so it amounts to an assertion and I can only answer back with: well, that’s one view of it..

We are not for keeping anyone from coming to Christ—the gospel call is for everyone. (I Timothy 2:4, 6)”

“I don’t have time to try to figure out who the elect are and who aren’t. Traditional Baptists and non-Reformed believe we have a free will to come to Christ.”

I have to figure out what a “traditional baptist” is, because to my mind the traditional baptists were Reformed.  Including just about everyone he named in a section above: i.e. Isaac Backus, Obadiah Holmes, and Shubal Stearns.

I doubt any of them were “trying to figure out who the elect are and who aren’t.”  This ignorant canard against Calvinism needs to die; if one is talking about Hyper-Calvinism, fine, but I doubt that’s the intention.

“To think that God would restrict anyone from salvation is unthinkable to me.”

Me too.  He doesn’t have to restrict anyone, they do it of their own will…but He does have to give them life.

“This either intentionally or unintentionally removes a sense of urgency to lead people to faith in Christ.”

Prove it.  Did we not just finish reading about the great work Backus, Holmes, and Stearns did?  All Calvinist.  Whitefield?  Calvinist.  Even Roger Williams was a Calvinist…at first.

The rest of this section devolves back into his previously fallacious arguments; but if it supports the Baptist side then “rah-rah!”

We are not for any other form of baptism. Baptism is by immersion of believers in Christ. (Romans 6:3-4)”

“There is not one shred of evidence for infant sprinkling in the Bible whereas we have much evidence for immersion in the scripture.”

And, of course, this isn’t the argument.  There is not one shred of evidence for Baptizing 5-year-olds who have been told what to say by their parents, but they do it…why?  Because it has to do with who is in the covenant and who isn’t—and how they enter in—not so much the age or intellectual capacities.

“Each instance in the New Testament of believer’s baptism is a clear teaching immersion [sic], if for no other reason than it proclaiming the gospel and your faith in Christ. Sprinkling can never do that.”

Huh?  Where is immersion clear?  “Well they did it in rivers!”  That ends it I suppose…

I’d actually argue that dunking 3,000 individuals on one day would be a crazy waste of clean water in a time and place where that was a scarce resource, so rivers and sprinkling kind of make sense…but what do I know…

Baptists (when it comes to baptism) have a tendency to place emphasis where none is found in the scriptures, and this is the result: invented rules around the modes (make sure you get the whole body under, or I’m considering it illegitimate).

“Much of the history of the switch in baptism is centered in Constantine joining church and state together after he came to power in Rome. The practice of baptism seems to have changed with the entire population “going Christian”.”

This—like much on sbctoday—is the naivety surrounding church history.  I’ll cite Schaff’s writing on this, because he actually cites sources, and makes logical inferences (I’ve highlighted and italicized key points):

Sec. 73. v.II   On Infant Baptism. 

On INFANT BAPTISM comp. Just. M.: Dial. c. Tryph. Jud. c. 43. IREN.: Adv. Haer. II. 22, § 4, compared with III. 17, § 1, and other passages. TERTUL.: De Baptismo, c. 18. CYPR.: Epist. LIX.ad Fidum. CLEM. ALEX.: Paedag. III. 217. ORIG.: Com. in Rom. V. Opp. IV. 565, and Homil. XIV. in Luc.

See Lit. in vol. I. 463sq., especially WALL. Comp. also W. R. POWERS: Irenaeus and Infant Baptism, in the “Am. Presb. and Theol. Rev.” N. Y. 1867, pp. 239–267. 

While the church was still a missionary institution in the midst of a heathen world, infant baptism was overshadowed by the baptism of adult proselytes; as, in the following periods, upon the union of church and state, the order was reversed. At that time, too, there could, of course, be no such thing, even on the part of Christian parents, as a compulsory baptism, which dates from Justinian’s reign, and which inevitably leads to the profanation of the sacrament. Constantine sat among the fathers at the great Council of Nicaea, and gave legal effect to its decrees, and yet put off his baptism to his deathbed. The cases of Gregory of Nazianzum, St. Chrysostom, and St. Augustin, who had mothers of exemplary piety, and yet were not baptized before early manhood, show sufficiently that considerable freedom prevailed in this respect even in the Nicene and post-Nicene ages. Gregory of Nazianzum gives the advice to put off the baptism of children, where there is no danger of death, to their third year.

At the same time it seems an almost certain fact, though by many disputed, that, with the baptism of converts, the optional baptism of the children of Christian parents in established congregations, comes down from the apostolic age.  Pious parents would naturally feel a desire to consecrate their offspring from the very beginning to the service of the Redeemer, and find a precedent in the ordinance of circumcision. This desire would be strengthened in cases of sickness by the prevailing notion of the necessity of baptism for salvation. Among the fathers, Tertullian himself not excepted—for he combats only its expediency—there is not a single voice against the lawfulness and the apostolic origin of infant baptism. No time can be fixed at which it was first introduced. Tertullian suggests, that it was usually based on the invitation of Christ: “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not.” The usage of sponsors, to which Tertullian himself bears witness, although he disapproves of it, and still more, the almost equally ancient abuse of infant communion, imply the existence of infant baptism. 

Schaff goes on to describe the lack of opposition to infant baptism in the early church—even from Tertullian, who was against it, but not, it seems, from an exegetical standpoint but a matter of prudence.  Origen, Cyprian, and probably Clement all had no objection to the practice.  So if Dr. Nelson’s assertions are to hold any weight, then he needs to show how his position fits these pre-Constantine individuals into that argument.

Not only do pre-nicene fathers show a support—or general unconcern—for infant baptism, the post-nicene fathers show no concern against not being baptized as infants (even though they should have been according to Dr. Nelson’ argument).  If evidence would be shown the opposite direction, I’m all ears.

“We are not for sponsorship salvation or ceremonial religion that leaves out a personal relationship with Christ. We believe individual accountability for our salvation. (Romans 10:12)”

“A person is not a Christian by who their parents were or what church they are in but by their faith and trust in Christ’s full-payment for their sins on the cross. I am only saying that no one can decide for someone else, in the most important decision of their life, salvation.” 

Agreed.  And I would go further than their anti-Calvinism would allow.  Salvation is also not based on where you are born, what education you have, the right choices you make, or how much faith you can conjure up…it is the will of God (John 1:13).

I agree with the remainder of his last section.

Conclusion

Few things:

1) I wouldn’t want anyone to take from this that there was no persecution of those who held to credobaptist beliefs.  It is a sad reality, like many things in the history of the church—God never promised to sustain his church by the works of man, he simply allows us to take part.  He also glorifies Himself in sovereignly bringing the church through any point in history.

That said, I think many Baptists have it in their mind that the heavy persecution of their beliefs somehow justifies their belief.  Obviously they qualify this with appeals to scripture.  But if so, why bring up something that modern-day Presbyterians, Anglican, and Congregationalists had no part in…and the suffering that you had no part in…in order to bolster your cause?

2) Sbctoday is a good example of revisionist history.  You twist the evidence, the context, the original meaning, and the actual beliefs of those involved, then you only focus on their qualities that support the argument you are about to make, therefore claiming them as your own.

Anyone who knows anything about history probably doesn’t take seriously the link these Baptists try to draw between themselves and the Anabaptists.  Unless of course they want to renounce submission to the authority, the clergy, or ascribe to inner light revelation.  It would be more convincing to pick examples of those who actually fit the bill of what you believe if that is how you want to argue the greatness of your beliefs.

3) I have a great respect for many Baptists throughout history.  Unlike Dr. Nelson I can see the value in many different positions throughout history.  I like Calvin…but not everything he’s done.  I like Backus…but not everything he said.  I like Whitefield…but not everything he preached.  And I like Ryle…but not his ecclesiology.  I draw on a wide range of sources, and compare them to the Bible, then decide what I will take from each individual, rather than trying to vilify the opposition and hold my figures up as shining lights.

Hold Christ up as the light, and compare everything by that light…

SDG,

Jon

Some Good Ole Propaganda

•August 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Walking across campus, I saw this flyer (below) from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (www.FFRF.org).  Interestingly, I had recently run across this article from Fox News: “Pizza Parlor’s Church Discount Gives Atheists Indigestion.”  Seems the FFRF is intent upon making sure all Americans fall in line with their interpretation of American freedom—even pizza joints they would likely never frequent.

This is one of those groups that would shout “government should not legislate morality!”  and then turn around and use the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in support of their side (as seen in the Fox News story).  Seems the government can only enforce what they say it can.

But that’s another matter; for this blog I wanted to look at this flyer, because it is typical of the use of history, logic, and rhetoric in the attempt to win supporters to a cause by using subtle dishonesty, reductio ad absurdum, and demonization of the opposition.  Otherwise known as propaganda.

So I’ve labeled, with the numbers, the parts of the flyer that correspond to my statements below it.

1. The use of Sanger is always interesting.  Especially by a group that claims Freethinkers have been on the front lines of social and moral progress (i.e. slavery).  Sanger certainly lived by the motto of “No gods–No masters.”  She had some other interesting mottoes as well:

“Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.” (Sanger. Woman, Morality, and Birth Control. New York: New York Publishing Company, 1922. pg. 12.)

“There is only one reply to a request for a higher birthrate among the intelligent, and that is to ask the government to first take the burden of the insane and feeble-minded from your back. [Mandatory] sterilization for these is the answer.” (Sanger. October 1926 Birth Control Review.)

Sanger was a well-known advocate of the eugenics movement, frequently partook in KKK meetings, and would have fit right in with the Nazi vanguad.  But who cares, right?  Planned Parenthood is widely hailed by most as a bastion of hope for mothers who want a career before a baby, and the innocent face posted on this flyer couldn’t be all that evil.  The logic is simple: only the pro-choice, freethinking, atheistic side really cares for the freedom and rights of women… except the conveniently ignored unborn ones.

2. “Dogma should not trump our civil liberties.”

The cliche (yet ever-unanswerable) question must be asked: why?  And then the next question: whose dogma?

Appealing to some transcendent or universal principle of freedom, liberty, and rights is quickly approaching shaky ground for those who believe in no higher authority than the self.  And to ever use the word “should,” immediately reeks of a certain dogma.  As we all well know by now: dogma, principles, beliefs, and religion are not the issue in this debate…it’s which one is correct?  The religion of skepticism? moralism? theism?

3. Let’s forget the idea that all justices who voted in favor of Roe v. Wade were men.  Along with that, let’s not remember that Brennan identified as Roman Catholic; Douglas, Powell and Burger as Presbyterian; Stewart and Marshall, Episcopalian; and Blackmun, Methodist.

Then of course, there’s the issue again of “Rights” and “Wrongs.”  Who determines these?  I think most will say they don’t care about the opinions of others, so why should they care about yours?  Is it determined by the Constitution?  Why not amend it?  Or is it dogma?  Dogma should not trump our—or the unborn’s—civil liberties!  I’m sure I’d have a better time defending that statement, because I can actually appeal to something outside of myself, and mere opinion.

4. I think Stevens’s opinion here is a bit overplayed; of course the building, the name, the abstract entity does not have a conscience, beliefs, etc.

Neither does my fist, but that doesn’t mean I can go around punching people in the face and claim no responsibility for it.  Corporations are run by people.  And as we—who believe in God—know, people have rights, beliefs, and consciences.

Here is some of that subtle doublespeak, and inability to see the futility of their own worldview.  People, according to their atheism, do not have consciences, beliefs, or rights…only what “appears” to be those things…but ultimately it’s chemical processes in the brain; perhaps we should medicate (or forcibly sterilize) those who hold to the “wrong” views.

5. Tyranny?

Wait.  Wait..  So the right for a privately held company, founded by a family with religious conviction, in a capitalistic, free market economy, cannot determine their business practice—including employee benefits?  Especially when the result is believed to be murder of the unborn?  This is tyranny?

Because the opposite would be freedom, correct?  For the state, the federal government, or the president to force a company or individual to compromise their religious beliefs for the established morality, and to conduct their practices according to legislated policies.

Newspeak..

6. Same as 5.  Not to mention the empty uses of “must” and “should” again.

If they don’t want to work there, they do not have to…  This is actually closer to the meaning of “freedom.”  But I see, they don’t want this to extend beyond Hobby Lobby:

First, I don’t think they have much to worry about in this country.

Second, start your own company.  Hire people at the FFRF, and give them whatever benefits you want.

7. I invite any to read the document they cite here.  Here’s some excerpts:

CHILD [Children's Healthcare is a Legal Duty] opposes religious exemptions in state law when they privilege religious practice above the best interests of children…we remain opposed to RFRA as applied to federal law because it compromises the welfare of children… (3).

It really isn’t a question of whether the cases cited weren’t valid concerns; but to hear a position that uses Sanger as their model concern themselves with the “interests f children” is laughable.

…the women in Hobby Lobby’s employ were hired under the protection of Title VII’s prohibition against religious discrimination…Therefore, Hobby Lobby cannot mandate that its employees share its owners religious beliefs, and, in this religious diverse society, many female employees likely will have their own, different beliefs (29).

No one is truly being discriminated against here.  Hobby Lobby certainly never “mandated” that the employees share their beliefs; but they do have the right to deny any coverage against their beliefs, especially when that health care is imposed upon them under penalty of law.  The same section of the Civil Right Act, says this:  “This subsection shall not require an employer to pay for health insurance benefits for abortion…” (Title VII; 2000e (k)).  The women of Hobby Lobby were hired under the protection of Title VII; that does not mean they dictate the coverage the company provides; it simply means they cannot be discriminated against in employment.  It’s not as if only the pro-choice, atheistic women were being denied this coverage, all of the employees are equally uninsured in this area.  They have every freedom to go out and find that coverage elsewhere…it’s a free country after all.

8. Theocracy.  I’m pretty sure no one has any idea what that term means anymore.  But it works as a rhetorical tool to elicit support…I guess.

9. Again, only the “Freethinkers” (the ones that think like them) truly understand freedom.  How one determines the “freedom” of their “thinking” is questionable; I think a decent argument could be made that the “thinking” of these Freethinkers is enslaved to their selfish desires, their darkened mind, and sin.

10. It’s only right that if you’re going to win people to your side you had better use a Founding Father for support.  For a group that advocates such strong and principled views of the separation of church and state, it would be interesting to watch them fumble all over this one:

To that kind providence [God] we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men.And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move — that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service —

(James Madison, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, Max Farrand, editor (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911), Vol. I, pp. 450-452, June 28, 1787)

The FFRF cannot simply say that they just agree with the quote, and are not fully endorsing Hamilton, for then what was their point in using Hamilton?  Was it not to convince all who read this flyer that they have the Freethinkers, Founders, and moral giants on their side?

Unfortunately this tactic will work.  America hardly knows their history, much less the use of logic or reasoning, and are subject to the demagogues and propagandists that grace the walls of our universities with their boasts of godlessness and freedom from all masters.

He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
    on Zion, my holy hill.”

-Psalm 2

SDG,

Jon

Another Response to a Disenchanted Calvinist

•August 1, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I occasionally visit the blog site of Pastor Rogers (and even SBCToday.com, where he frequently writes) because he has made it his recent mission to adamantly oppose Calvinism and any critique of his book.  Well, some of them…

Recently he reposted the comment he left on my site in response to my review of his book, found here: Response To a Critique of my Book

I’ve already responded to his “response,” here: Response to a Pastor Whose Book I Reviewed.

But I have a few further thoughts based on this recent post.

(PR: White; Me: Gray)

Pastor Rogers: I have refrained from responding to some Calvinist’s misrepresentations of my book, Reflections of a Disenchanted Calvinist because I do not have the time, they do not actually pose a serious challenge to my position, and their demeanor affords little evidence that it would be fruitful.

Me: My personal opinion is that Pastor Rogers has refrained from responding to any meaningful critique of his book.  All I have seen are responses to random comments on SBC Today; none from any acclaimed proponent of Calvinism (a good critique by James White was summarily dismissed, and a response to White from the infamous/stubborn/unthinking Peter Lumpkins was provided in lieu of his own), and none from those who have spent a great deal of time reading his book (more than the majority of his congregants) and listening to his sermons in person (i.e. me).

The content of most “responses” to Calvinists are usually devoid of scripture, and appeal strongly to the emotions and traditionalism of many Southern Baptists who already buy his presuppositions.  But notice how most opposition to his book are nothing but “misrepresentations.”  Is it possible they get it right, and he is wrong?  Pastor Rogers does not show that to be a possibility.

The latter part of the above sentence is probably most troublesome.  Why do they not pose a serious challenge?  I mean no disrespect, but it is the height of hubris to think that no one can quit touch the depth of thought, skill of rhetoric, or logical ability that you possess (especially when your own writing about the subject is exceedingly repetitive, shoddily edited, and missing any meaningful, scriptural response to the opposition; an example? Any treatment of compatibilism dodges the actual scriptures that speak to it (Isa 10? Acts 2&4? Gen 50?)).

How does he know it would not be fruitful?  Has he tried?  I know that I spent many hours reading and reviewing his book, and his response is somehow to be regarded as serious or honestly trying to interact with decent critiques of his book (no matter how inadequate or below him he may deem it to be).  Apply that type of thinking to speaking to unbelievers…or weaker Christians…

“Well, I would correct this person, or address their concerns…but it’s kind of a waste of my time and effort…and I doubt it would be fruitful.”  (Only if one believed it was through his reasoning that people came to a proper understanding of the faith–rather than the Spirit’s work–would that make sense; but I suppose that is the issue at hand).

Pastor Rogers: On one occasion I did, below is the response that I wrote to a young Calvinist who offered a critique of my book. Unfortunately, he believed he understood substantially more about Calvinism proper, and my engagement of it than he did.

Me: I refuse to consider his comment a response.  A response actually deals with what has been said in some meaningful fashion.  I am not expecting 8 blog posts in response, nor am expecting a response at all; but to write a belittling, dismissive comment is hardly a “response,” and to consider it worthy of anyone’s time is insulting to the reader.  Like I said in my previous response, this type of response means nothing to me.  I wouldn’t accept it from a Roman Catholic, Atheist, or Mormon…I would probably just write a quick blog post about how “sophomoric” it is to write an empty comment and consider it a valid response, then post it as a separate blog entry to show others how easily actual responses to his book can be dismissed.

In the past I have had a high regard for Pastor Rogers; I have enjoyed his sermons; I have respected how he has handled several difficult matters.  I suppose that is why it is so difficult for me to see him treat opposition to his book with such pompousness, to dismiss those who try, and to associate with characters like Lumpkins, Caner, and Tim Rogers.

Here’s to hoping that a more “fruitful” conversation about these topics can take place.

SDG,

Jon

Questioning Salvation as Ad Hominem

•July 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Ad Hominem, for those who don’t know, is Latin for “to the man” or “to the person,” and is a logical fallacy.

1. Person A makes claim X.

2. Person B makes attack on Person A (i.e. his education, character, social status, affiliations, past conduct, etc.).

3. Therefore, X is false.

Of course nothing about X is proven false by appeal to the character of Person A, but it distracts the person following the argument, and leads them to believe that X is invalid because the person’s credibility is undermined.  For simple-minded individuals, who lack a critical understanding/discernment, this works rather effectively; as with all fallacies it appears legitimate, but is actually nothing more than manipulation.

For a Christian, it seems obvious that the practice should be avoided, for it really is nothing more than a form of deception—if done knowingly (which is not always so; but I assume that those who claim such superior intellect over others would know what they are doing).  However, the tactic seems popular in the endeavor to gain Twitter and Facebook followers, especially when the arguments made against my position, cause, ministry, etc. are being heeded by those opposed to me…because they might actually have weight.

How to stop it?  Well, question their faith, of course!  Nothing will shut down the opposition quicker than making sure “true believers” (i.e. those who agree with my position) have nothing to do with the foolish arguments of the “world” (i.e. anything that calls into question my position).

I think at least four things should be considered:

1)  Not everyone may agree with your position.  Hyper-Calvinism is typically the poster child of this type of wrong thinking about what makes a Christian a Christian.  Adhering to all points of the Calvinist position, down to the jot and tittle of Limited Atonement, does not make one a Christian any more than having a full-orbed understanding of the Trinity, economically or ontologically.  Theological perfection as a gospel prerequisite is a pretty steep hill on top of which to put the offer of Christ’s forgiveness.  Not everyone’s understanding, practice, or even “Christian walk” are developed equally at all times; and your understanding is not the basis of whether they truly follow Christ (a Christian in China probably has a better understanding of suffering for the Gospel than your understanding of Christian liberty).  See Mark 9:38-41; Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 10:27-30; 2 Corinthians 3:18

2) You might actually be wrong.  Think of it…you?…wrong?… whoa.  Far be it from anyone to think that your far-superior intellect, reasoning abilities, powers of deduction, or witty internet rejoinders might actually be incorrect.  Rather than trying to undermine the claims of opposition by questioning their credentials, slandering them, are weaponizing their every mistake, it might be wise to consider at what points they could be right, or…at least…how you could better yourself in that area.  Humility, I know, it’s a dying virtue in Christianity; we don’t want to appear weak, or foolish to the world, so we cloak our insecurity in a facade of mental superiority.  See Proverbs 12:1; Jeremiah 5:3; Matthew 5:5; 1 Corinthians 1:18; Philippians 2:3-4

3) There is a time to ignore opposition, and a time to deal with it.  Let’s say those disagreeing are wrong, and it is biblically evident.  Maybe you’ve dealt with the same person a thousand times, and at this point it is right to plead for them to repent, believe the gospel, and then ignore them (Proverbs 26:4).  But if your first line of attack to any legitimate criticism of your position is to mock, distract, slander, libel, accuse, or cast doubt on someone’s salvation, then you betray your childish insecurities, and make your position stand on the foundations of division (a satanic foundation) rather than the firm Foundation of biblical truth.  Everyone loves the part of the verse that says, “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks…,” if only they took the latter part of the verse as seriously as the first, to do so “with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:15-16).  So perhaps the person is wrong; perhaps, instead of ostracizing them (and creating further division), you could correct them yourself, and help a weaker brother/sister to better understand the scriptures.  See Proverbs 26:5; Romans 16:7; Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 3:16; Titus 3:10

4) You’re not the Holy Spirit.  I don’t want this to sound like you can’t have a decent idea of who is a Christian and who is not.  There are of course indicators, that the Lord himself told us about, that one is not a believer, is a false prophet, or is of the devil.  However, the internet—an often faceless, nameless, contextualess, impersonal medium—does not seem like a great place to try and “discern the spirits.”  Obvious indicators might have led you to believe that a person is not a believer; but it is imprudent to cast spiritual doubt on every dissenter (especially ones you don’t know personally) for the purpose of undermining their argument, propping up your base, and turning your followers into followers of you rather than the Truth (the modus operandi of the cults).  You do not un-convert people any more than you convert them.  And when you take it upon yourself to un-convert them without addressing their concerns you start to display the indicators that you seem to find so often in others.

 

SDG,

Jon

I am young in years,
    and you are aged;
therefore I was timid and afraid
    to declare my opinion to you.
I said, ‘Let days speak,
    and many years teach wisdom.’
But it is the spirit in man,
    the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.
It is not the old who are wise,
    nor the aged who understand what is right.
Therefore I say, ‘Listen to me;
    let me also declare my opinion.'”

-Job 32:6-10

 

Note: not all ad hominem arguments are fallacious.  In relation to the topic of this blog post, it may be that a person acts inconsistent to his claims, in which case his argument would be undermined by the contradiction in what he claims and what he practices (this is purposefully vague, because I don’t want to write a blog post to a blog post.  The best case is an atheist who claims no absolutes while telling you how evil God is; his argument is undermined by his contradiction in practice vs. belief).  However, it becomes fallacious the minute an argument against a position is attacked by appealing to the character of the one making the argument.  Rather than “to the argument” the defender appeals straight “to the man” and make sure that no one can trust that individual’s arguments based on his position, education, character, or background.

 

 

The Sanctity of Life & The Elderly

•June 19, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Picture2For the past year or two, our church has been singing, praying, and interacting with the residents at a local nursing home.  The time spent there has been wonderful, the residents really seem to enjoy our presence, and one individual has been coming to our church for several weeks now–and is even planning to become a member!

This experience has given me cause to think: what other members of our society has our culture/nation denigrated for the sake of convenience, ease, or comfort?  What other members of our church have we neglected, either purposely or in our thoughts about what the church is or does?

We live in a world (not just America) where the mantra is rapidly becoming: “life is worth protecting,but especially mine; children are wonderful, so long as I don’t have to sacrifice money, jobs, success, fun, appearance, or plans for them; marriage is good, so long as I define it; all people are valuable, until they become a drain, a hindrance, a bother, or an interruption to me and my life.”  In all cases the value of life is given lip-service, but ultimately the arbiter of whether its worthy of time, investment, love, and care is the almighty I.  They all have their root in man’s selfishness, and the disregard for God’s word.

“Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?…’You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'” -Gen 3:1 & 5

Well, we know good and evil: we define it after all.  And in our knowledge we have surely died.  In fact, we have become the culture of death, not life.  Christians know this.  Most can say they speak out against abortion to coworkers, Facebook friends, and family; we pray about it; and we support crisis pregnancy centers.  And this is good, indeed it’s a must.  But we–as the Church–must likewise show love, care, and justice for all neglected groups, including: the poor (Lev 19:10), the sexually abused, the widow, the orphans (Isa 1:17; James 1:27), the elderly (Lev 19:32; 1 Tim 5:8), the diseased, and the handicapped (Lev 19:14; Matt 4:24).  All life is precious in the sight of God; if we believe that to be true, we must stand up for and protect it in all stages, for all people, in order that the world might see how we care for all of life and might glorify God (1 Peter 2:12).

For all of these groups–but the elderly specifically–it must begin with the church’s attitude toward the older generations; we must be different from the world, and express it with our treatment toward those in any stage of life (in the church or out).  If we debate the pro-life argument, but do nothing for those within our church body already, we are not honoring God–and we are hypocrites.

The “church” of America has become infected by the cultural belief that the only thing worth believing and extolling is the new and the fashionable; we don’t want anything that might make people feel like our church is old-fashioned or outdated.  Many churches have likewise sacrificed the transcendent quality of the Gospel, which speaks across cultural identities, generations, personal preferences, economic status, or educational background, for a gospel relevant and appealing to certain subgroups.  The result is a hodgepodge of people who claim membership to the same name on the church sign, but who ultimately have not much to do with each other.  Some examples: children have their own church services; worship services are split into “contemporary” and “traditional,” where music is aimed for a certain crowd; looking down on and ignoring those who do not dress in a certain fashion or have a particular appearance (i.e. tattoos, piercings); or when Christianity becomes synonymous with the American identity.  The high school clique mentality is the inevitable consequence.  We associate with certain people; we talk to certain people; we learn about the spiritual and physical needs of certain people; and we become an insulated people, careful with our comfort bubbles, and never stepping out to care for those who perhaps need the most help.

All churches can look for ways to improve.  Healthy churches are those where the young and old, the poor and rich, the well and ill, the American and the Russian, are bound together in fellowship under the blood of Christ in one fellowship with one another.  Where the young women desire the advice of the older women (Titus 2:3-5), where the young and old treat one another as family (1 Tim 5:1-2), where age is considered a blessing, and those who have it are sought out for wisdom (Prov 16:31).

“…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.” -1 John 1:3

“I…urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism,one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”  -Ephesians 4:1-6

The church is not a social club, and fellowship is not simply social time.  We have a calling to care for all of God’s people–physically and spiritually–and to be salt and light in a culture that favors death and self over and against life and God.  Look for ways to bless, encourage, pray, and step out for those less regarded or ones you may have avoided for too long.

“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'” -Matthew 25:37-40

 

SDG,

Jon

 

Slander, Libel, The 9th Commandment, and the Internet

•June 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Slander & Libel:

Slander: n., The action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.

Libel: n., A published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation; a written defamation.

The Ninth Commandment:

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” -Ex 20:16

You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness.” -Ex 23:1

There are six things that the Lord hates,seven that are an abomination to him…a false witness who breathes out lies,and one who sows discord among brothers.” -Prov 6:16 & 19

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” -Matt 15:19

The violation of the 9th Commandment is no small matter.  In fact, it is listed by Jesus among sins that people much more easily identify: Murder, Theft, Sexual Immorality, and Adultery.  Christians are often very good at “detecting”–or “deducing”–the lies of others, and perhaps recognizing their own when they are undeniable; but when the internet is fired up, and the ability to hide behind a twitter handle or a delete button presents itself, its as though some think that God will not see.  But just as the “Clear Web History” will not delete from God’s eyes what is done in secret, neither will your screen name or delete button hide you from the eyes of God.

The internet, of course, is popular–or perhaps notorious–for its ability to quickly disseminate information (true or false), to a large body of individuals, giving each their own “voice” on a matter.  But as we all know, the first to say something is often the truth-teller, because the ability to correct a lie or false report is often impossible.  Therefore it is wise to be careful how, what, and where we say what we say, for the effects can be damaging to a person, to their witness, to their family, and to their church; and if not a Christian, our words easily become a stumbling block for an individual already looking for a reason to call Christians hypocrites and liars.

So be careful when you:

…pronounce someone guilty before you have proof.

…condemn someone’s teaching without even hearing it or researching.

…believe the report of others without confirming it.

…comment as though you know the ins and outs of the whole situation.

…only hear one side.

…misrepresent the argument of another purposely, or without making effort to understand them properly.

…make private sins into public ones without Biblical due process (Matt 18).

…discredit someone in order to protect your name, argument, or cause.

…use someone’s sin as a weapon to take the moral high ground.

…black mail.

…lie.

For “on account of these the wrath of God is coming.  In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” -Colossians 3:6-10

God is not mocked, and He will hold you accountable for every tweet, post, comment, and blog post…

SDG,

Jon

 

 

 

 
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