Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Another Hank Review

I know I have some dear readers who stop by here who adhere to preterism. I believe as an hermeneutical system preterism is utterly untenable, and even within the pale of what is considered orthodox, partial-preterism of the Gary Demar/Gene Cook /Dee Dee Warren garden variety, weedy errors can grow up. Listen, for example, to this interview from Demar's March 29th radio program where a preterism framework is used to re-write Genesis in support of an old earth and progressive creationism, and make the claim the young earth view is dispensational and should be abandoned. Their Beyond Creation Science website can be viewed here.

My problems with preterism aside (I do plan to address eschatology in a series of posts sometimes in the future - but feel free to leave snarky comments now if you must), Hank Hanegraaff is by far one of the most well-known popularizers of the system. However, the arguments he makes defending preterism and attacking dispensationalism, usually defined narrowly around the personalities of John Hagee and Tim LaHaye, are embarrassingly irresponsible and out right absurd. What Dave Hunt has become as a shrill advocate of anti-Calvinism, Hank is becoming in regards to preterism.

So I have been collecting Apocalypse Code reviews as a much needed remedy. (The first one can be read here). Dr. Michael Vlach of Master's Seminary has written out a helpful review of Hank's work,

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Monday, April 28, 2008

God Knows

A dear friend of ours just learned recently she has cancer. She goes in this week for a battery of tests to determine how bad the cancer is and if it is treatable. Her doctor says it looks to be in advance stages.

My wife and I have known her and her husband for years. We all attended the same singles group 10 years ago before any of us were married. Her and her husband have four young children. Our kids are in Awana together with their kids and she is an integral part of the pre-school program at our church.

A glum spirit of melancholy has descended upon her immediate friends because of the thought of what all this could mean for her and her family. She is young, a loving wife and mother of four small children, and a devoted Christian.

Yesterday while driving home after church, my wife recounted a conversation she had with another gal who is a mutual friend. My wife came out of the nursing room and saw this gal sitting alone on a bench weeping over the plight of their friend. they start talking about her situation, what will happen if she dies, who will raise the children, that sort of thing. However, during the course of the conversation, this gal says to my wife in passing, "God knows."

My wife asked, "What do you mean when you say, 'God knows?'" Her friend replied, "What do you mean?"

My wife continued, "Do you mean that God knows, like He knows about gas prices being too high, or that He knows, because He is intimately involved in her situation?"

This gal comes from a charismatic background where the idea is taught that any sin, suffering, sickness, and trial, is the doing of the devil. In this theology, God would never do anything bad to His children. Her and her husband have been at our church for a few years and they are slowly retraining their minds to think biblically in this area.

She responded to my wife's question by asking, "Are you saying God gave her this cancer?"

My wife, who never ceases to amaze me with her ability to counsel theologically, replies,

"Yes, and not only that, it is good."

I only wish I could capture the infection of her voice when she said this to me.

Her friend, taken aback just a bit, responds, "How is cancer good?"

"It is good," my wife replied, "Just like when it pleased the Lord to crush His son for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:10). He was glorified in the crushing of Jesus."

"But she could die and leave 4 children without a mother and a young man without a wife," her friend stated.

"Of course we don't know that; we have no idea what God will do," My wife replied. "But we will see God's character put on display, and your personal faith is already being stretched and forced to grow as you see God at work in her life."

As my wife re-told her interchange with her friend, it caused me to think on practical terms, especially when we dialog with each other on matters of personal faith and the daily ins-and-outs of the Christian walk. There have been many times I have said in passing, "God knows," as I contemplated a trial of a friend or some other serious situation. I am sure many of us have. We will say "God is in control," "God is sovereign," etc., but have we honestly thought through the theology of these oft repeated Christian platitudes?

There is a lot packed into those two words, "God knows." The question is, do we genuinely believe and live out what those two words imply?

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Friday, April 25, 2008

Debunking Gay Christian Apologetics [pt. 2]

Slouching Toward Gomorrah

I wanted to return to my response to an email I received from "Christian" gay apologist, Rick Bretlinger. You may recall in my first article on this subject I noted how both Rick and myself have utterly different presuppositions when dealing with human sexuality as proclaimed in scripture.

Rick believes the Bible no where condemns consensual, lovingly committed homosexual relationships. The sort of relationships we often see played out on made-for-TV movies between two preppy, sweater wearing men or flannel wearing women. He would further argue that anti-gay Christians have erroneously placed upon their reading of scripture the faulty philosophy of complementarity, or the idea that only a male/female model is blessed of God for marriage.

In fact, Rick points out that the complementarity model isn't reasonable and if a person really studied about marriage in the Bible, he or she will discover that it was hardly the hearts and flowers, white dresses and tuxedos type portrayed on Focus on the Family. There were slave marriages, concubines, and even polygamy, and in the OT culture, those things were accepted as being "family values." Homosexual marriages should be culturally accepted now in the same way slave marriages, concubines, and polygamous marriages were in biblical times. What needs to be done, argues Rick, is to abandon the bad, complementarity presuppositions and re-read the Bible in light of true, God centered homosexual relationships.

I, on the other hand, start my presupposition where Jesus directed us: back to Genesis. God originally created marriage to be complimentary between one man and one woman. The Bible could not be any clearer as to who the participants are to be in divinely ordained marriage. The man and the woman become one flesh in marriage, engaging in the sexual intimacy God designed for the marital relationship. This is not only stated by Jesus our Lord, who as the sovereign creator of the universe directly created Adam and Eve, but also re-stated by His apostles, especially the Apostle Paul in his epistles.

There is no doubt that the entrance of sin into the world drew men and women away from the ordained standard for marriage. Slave marriages, polygamy, and concubines are a product of sinful men warping God's created order. But contrary to homosexual apologists, the mention of these sinful deviations in scripture does not offer an affirmation for their beliefs. In fact, in all of the passages where these sins are discussed, never does God condone them as being acceptable. Furthermore, God's establishment of laws regulating these sins does not support the homosexual's position, either, because those laws were given to keep man's sin in check. As one reader commented under the first post, in all the instances in scripture where homosexual behavior is mentioned, it is always negative. That is quite a telling picture.

So, these distinctions do reveal for us there is certainly two fundamental presuppositional starting points that shapes how we understand human sexuality as defined in scripture. I believe my position is the one supported by scripture, and when we consider the passages dealing with homosexuality, I believe my presuppositions adequately explain how we are to understand them.

Rick provides for me his next challenge by writing,

You assume that the Sodom story is about homosexuality when homosexuality is never the issue in any of the 48 passages where Sodom is mentioned in the Bible. I deal with Sodom on multiple pages of my website. ... Anti-gay evangelicals, including the former Assistant Director of Exodus International (Bob Davis) and Dr. Rob Gagnon, THE MOST vociferous anti-gay evangelical alive today, also admit that the story of Sodom is not dealing with consensual homosexual relationships. ... Our ancient spiritual ancestors, including authors of scripture like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel never linked Sodom to homosexuality. Instead, if they mentioned Sodom's sin, they mentioned inhospitality. Don't you find it odd that none of the 48 Biblical references to Sodom identifies the sin of Sodom as homosexuality.

Interspersed with his claims, Rick provides me links to three articles to consider. One on the issue of inhospitality and the Sodom story of Genesis 19, a second one that states how anti-gay evangelicals (of which I am one, I guess) say the real story of Sodom has nothing to do with homosexuality, and then a third one that appeals to the Babylonian Talmud as teaching that the sin of Sodom had nothing to do with homosexuality, but was general sins of inhospitality and heterosexual immorality.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah has been a classic illustration of how God dramatically judges gross, immoral sin. Genesis 19 tells of God's two angels coming into the city of Sodom. Lot sees them and convinces them to stay the night at his home. Sometime during the evening, a great crowd of men from the city press around Lot's house demanding he bring out the two angels so that may rape them.

In spite of Lot's rebukes and his sickening offer of his virgin daughters to satiate their perverse lusts, the men are only stirred up to acts of greater violence so that even after they are supernaturally struck blind by the angels, they still grope for the door of Lot's house in pursuit of their sexual sin. The angels literally have to drag Lot, his wife (who is still destroyed with the city), and two of his daughters, out of Sodom before God consumes the city and the surrounding suburbs with fire out of heaven.

The emphasis of the story is clear: the men of Sodom were so given over to sin that they had no fear to publicly join together in openly brutalizing two men in a homosexual gang rape. Yet, as clear as the details are in this text, gay "Christian" apologists attempt to minimalize the severity of this passage. The arguments they put forth to revise the events tend to fall into a handful of categories.

The more extreme liberal minded will say the events never happened or the story is an exaggerated retelling of Judges 19. Others who want to maintain some integrity of the account will say the sin attempted by the men was not a homosexual gang rape but an unrestrained act of inhospitality. They merely wanted Lot to bring out the men so the could get "to know" them; to have a friendly chat so as to determine what their business was in Sodom. When Lot refused them, they over-reacted with violent anger. Thus God's judgment was directed at their overall inhospitality and not homosexual sin.

Still another revisionistic approach is a modification of the inhospitality argument. The gay apologists acknowledge the facts of the text: The men of Sodom wanted to gang rape the angels. However, their behavior was an extreme aberration of a much larger attitude of inhospitality prevalent throughout the city. In order to bolster their arguments along this line, gay apologists point out that in all the other references to Sodom in the Bible, never is homosexuality mentioned. It is only sins of severe inhospitality. Thus it is concluded that it is inappropriate for modern day evangelicals to use the Sodom story as an example of God's condemnation of loving, consensual, homosexual relationships.

Rick's position seems to fall into the camp of this last approach, but is it tenable?

Let me consider his questions and challenges.

What about those other 48 passages that mention Sodom? Well, in a manner of speaking Rick is correct. Other passages describing the sins of Sodom do not mention anything about homosexuality, particularly consensual homosexual relationships. However, if we check those passages, we find they don't mention any of the sins of Sodom and Gommorah for which they were judged. The vast majority of them speak of Sodom and Gomorrah in metaphorical/ prophetic terms when describing the severity of judgment God will bring upon humanity, particularly the nation of Israel. For example, a good portion of those passages speak to how the land of Israel and the city of Jerusalem will be made like unto Sodom and Gomorrah in that after God judges the land it will be uninhabited, or that Jerusalem will be utterly overturned and destroyed. Hardly any of those passages speak to inhospitality, let alone homosexuality as a sin.

Is the homosexual apologetic vindicated, then? Let's see. The prophets Isaiah (Isaiah 1:7-17) and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 16:48-50) speak to the "sins" of Sodom and Gomorrah in some detail. Ezekiel is the one specific text that many gay "Christian" apologists use to make their case that the sins were not homosexuality, but inhospitality, so let me turn to it.

When first considered, Ezekiel's words in 16:49 seem to focus upon social injustice. Just like Sodom and Gomorrah, the people of Israel were guilty of excessive pride, fullness of food, idleness, neglect of the poor and needy. This sounds like our current day life here in these fine United States: We are prideful, have plenty to eat, have way too much free time on our hands that we pursue sinful things, and forget those who genuinely have need. But, note verse 50. There was one extra sin that is often overlooked in the polemics of gay apologists.

The people were haughty and committed abominations.

The word "abominations" describes unique sins that utterly disgust God and for which He will greatly judge. In the holiness codes of Leviticus 18 and 20 where God speaks against the various sexual perversions the people were not to engage, same-sex intercourse is singled out as being called an abomination. The people's lack of want, pridefulness, and idleness led them to not only being hardhearted against those in need, but brought them to the place where they pursued sexual sin, including homosexual activity. So while it may be true that the broader sin is a lack of inhospitality on the part of the people of Sodom, a more specific sin that resulted from the attitudes of inhospitality was homosexual sex sin; a departure from God's intended design for the expression of sex as being one man and one woman. (I'll consider the gay apologist's rebuttal that this is homosexual sin in the context of idol worship in a later post).

Now what about these leading anti-gay apologists saying Genesis 19 is not a story about God condemning consensual homosexual relationships? I personally do not believe Genesis 19 is God condemning consensual homosexual relationships, either, but it is condemning homosexual activity in general, in this instance, in the form of a gang rape of two males. Rob Gagnon[1], who is singled out by Rick as being the most vociferous anti-gay evangelical living today, does say this passage is not addressing consensual gay relationships, but that is not entirely all of what he did say. Gagnon writes,

Traditionally, Gen. 19:4-11 has been regarded as the classic Bible story about homosexuality. However, to the extent that the story does not deal directly with consensual homosexual relationships, it is not an "ideal" text to guide contemporary Christian sexual ethics. Nevertheless, many go too far when they argue that the story has little or nothing to do with homosexual practice; that instead, the story is only about inhospitality and rape. ... the inherently degrading quality of same-sex intercourse plays a key role in the narrator's intent to elicit feelings of revulsion on the part of the reader/hearer. [The Bible and Homosexual Practice, p. 71. emphasis mine].

Gagnon makes it clear that the inhospitality is the degrading quality of same-sex intercourse. This is recorded for the purpose of giving a glimpse of perversion talking place in Sodom and why God had to justly judge the town. What I see here from Rick when he says Gagnon doesn't believe the passage has anything to do with consensual homosexual relationships is selectively citing from him while ignoring the entire argument he makes against homosexual practice in the 10 pages that follow. Though it is true consensual gay relationships of the upper Manhattan/West Hollywood variety are not under consideration in Genesis 19, that does not mean homosexuality as a practice isn't in view, or that only mean spirited, inhospitality to strangers is the main concern.

So what about Sodom being mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud? Rick attempts to argue that even the Babylonian Talmud, the collection of oral tradition among the Jews, does not mention that homosexuality was the motivating cause of why God destroyed Sodom. The references in the section of the Talmud speaking to the "men of Sodom," Sanhedrin 109, and about how they "pervert their bodies," and then Rick argues that the phrase "pervert their bodies" is a euphemism for heterosexual adultery.

I certainly believe that is a clever dodge, but is his conclusion suggesting the Jews thought homosexuality between consenting adults to be proper behavior? That same-sex intercourse is as blessed and honored of the LORD as sexuality expressed between one man and one woman? I believe he would be extremely hard-pressed to find any positive affirmation in any Jewish literature of antiquity.

As much as Rick wants to revise not only scripture, but also other historical documents, the biblical record is clear: The sin of Sodom was an attempted rape of two men by a gang of men. Later NT revelation only affirms this in 2 Peter and Jude. It goes beyond just general inhospitality and it is the sin of homosexuality that makes the judgment of Sodom so unique. Also, and most importantly, Rick's revisionist apologetic ignores the vast body of teaching from God's people through out redemptive history proclaiming the sinfulness and perversion of homosexual behavior. It is why homosexual behavior has historically be termed "sodomy" and why those who practice homosexual behavior have classically been described as "sodomites." This idea that God approves of homosexuality in the context of benign, lovingly consensual adults is foreign to what has been historical believed by Jews and Christians.

[1] Just a note about Dr. Gagnon. I have found him to be something of an interesting enigma. He is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian U.S.A. denomination, probably one of the most liberal denominations in our current day. He maintains a website that hosts his scholarly articles answering gay apologists in his denomination, along with email exchanges he posts between himself and his detractors, and audio lectures and debates. In fact, I am surprised he hasn't been dismissed from his denomination.

At any rate, he operates his apologetics against gay "Christian" apologists from a position of higher criticism. So for example, he adheres to the J, E, P, D theory of the OT, speaks about Q for the NT, and even distinguishes between the epistles of the Apostle Paul and Deutero-Paul. Yet in spite of his higher critical panderings, he is one of the most lucid, clear thinking defenders of the biblical sexual ethic against the on-slaught of pro-gay, "Christian" revisionists of scripture. If a person can wade through his passing comments on higher criticism, his book The Bible and Homosexual Practice, though a little pricey, is hands down probably the best written treatment on the subject a person will find anywhere.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Basic Idiot

Paul Verhoeven, acclaimed director of such cinema "masterpieces" as Basic Instinct, Robocop, and that abomination, Starship Troopers, that still causes sci-fi writer Robert A. Heilein to spin in his grave, is taking a break from making pornographic, ultra-violent films to write a new biography on Jesus.

The working title is called Jesus of Nazareth: A Realistic Portrait. To be published in September.

What is Verhoeven's working thesis that will send many weak faithed church goers into a spiral of doubt? Get this: Mary was raped by a Roman solider! No way! I have never heard that one before! That sure is a different take than what Dan Brown offered, for sure.

And because he is a working scholar of that outstanding club of academics, The Jesus Seminar, I am sure he will interact in scrutinizing detail with all the evangelical apologetics supporting the orthodox, biblical picture of Jesus.

For some reason, I sense a film coming along sometime later next year.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why the AARP Sells Insurance

One of my volunteers sent this along to me. A lesson on aging gracefully.

(by the way, beware of that "theYNC.com" link on the video. I went over there looking for more fun stuff and they host porn links in the side bar).

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Monday, April 21, 2008

More Reactions for Expelled

The last post from Friday highlighted Ben Stein's interview on Dennis Prager's radio program regarding his documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. I didn't get to see it opening weekend (four little kids tend to cramp the movie going style) though I hope to see it soon with a friend. Besides, I wanted to attend a lecture on Saturday night by a prominent geneticist, which I will talk about in a moment. More than likely I will have to wait for the DVD. I understand it is going to be a substantial production on the level of the extended editions for the Lord of the Rings.

I did, however, entertain myself with reading the reactions of folks from around the blog-o-sphere. Pretty much as I can tell, people really loved the film or they hated it with a severe, pathological hatred.

Those who loved it were generally supporters of ID; those who hated it were frothing at the mouth Darwinian atheists. The more laughable were the reviews by movie critics. These are people who make their living watching movies and yet some of them pontificate on the merits of evolution against ID as if they graduated with honors in biology.

The hostile reaction from opponents of this film reveal to me the significance of the origins debate. It is clear this film strikes at the heart of the fundamental axiom shaping the worldview of many folks. People don't like to have their worlviews attacked. You know arguments are becoming desperate when one of the key criticisms is phony charges of copyright abuse.

Some positive reviews from sources I frequent:

Mark Looy's lengthy review: Dr. Dawkins, Tear Down This Wall!

Dustin Segers's, brief movie review, and Patrick Chan's impressions of the film.

Dave Coppedge's round-up of evolutionary critics of the film. (Scroll down to read his links and comments smattered throughout his evolutionary news blog).

The most negative reactions are posted at Expelled Exposed, a website maintained by the National Center for Science Education.

The NCSE is a consortium of "dinosaur" atheists who advocate a philosophy of science straight from the Communist play book of 1955. Headed by the high inquisitor of the Darwinian thought police, Eugenie Scott, who makes it her life's passion to ferret out any apostates from the evolutionary fold and burn them alive at the stake, the NCSE lives in a time wormhole where it is 1923, pre-Scopes' trial America. Their cry is evolutionary science is being censored through out our schools, and they'll find one, obscure teacher who was let go in a town in Texas to illustrate their cause. I find their charge of censorship absolutely ridiculous seeing that I was immersed in evolutionary indoctrination at school from as early as I can remember, even having creationist beliefs mocked by a bitter high school biology teacher, and that was in rural Arkansas.

Surprising for some people are the harsh criticisms from what would otherwise be considered conservative circles. For instance, Charles Johnson, curator of Little Green Footballs, one of the more important blogs on the Internet, linked to the NCSE website against Expelled. The 2,000 plus comments (as of this writing) mainly by people who are angry with Stein for his documentary, only tells me that a) conservatism as a movement is not necessarily friendly with Bible-believing evangelicals like myself, merely just tolerating them for the sake of some faked "unity" when they need to use them, b) again shows the significance of the evolution/creation presuppositions of a person's fundamental worldview, and c) shows the willingness by even conservatives to compromise their views of free inquiry, and this from a large group of folks who grouse against radical liberals suppression of thought at universities and Islamic intolerance in Europe.

Now I had mentioned above about a lecture I attended. I went to the monthly meeting of the San Fernando Bible-Science Association to hear Dr. John Sanford speak on genetic entropy. Dr. Sanford was a professor at Cornell University for 27 years and the primary inventor for the gene gun.

The subject he was discussing Saturday night was on genetic entropy. His thesis is that the human genome is decaying, according to the law of entropy, way too fast for Darwinian evolution to be a fact. And this is not something speculative, but a factual reality backed by observable evidence. For instance, he shows how the human genome contains much more mutations than what natural selection can handle. In a sense, it is like a boat with thousands of tiny leaks and all you have is one bucket to bail out the water. The leaks are the mutations and natural selection the bucket. You can pick up his book on the subject if you have the wear-with-all to wade through the technical stuff.

At any rate, before he began his talk, Dr. Sanford spoke a bit about Expelled and testified that the main point of the film is true. That being, good scientific men are being black listed from the circles of academia for daring to challenge the primary tenets of Darwinianism. Dr. Sanford began his scientific career as an evolutionary believing atheist, then moved to a theistic evolutionary viewpoint, then progressive creationism, and then biblical creationism when he and his family started attending a strong, Bible teaching church that challenged the core presuppositions of his governing scientific authorities. Even as a theistic evolutionist he learned quickly not to invoke God or the discussion of ID at great risk of being tarred and feathered by his academic peers.

In spite of the merit of his scientific accomplishments, because he is a biblical, young earth creationist, he receives lots of shrill criticism. One example he gave was an guy reviewing his book on the subject of genomic entropy. Dr. Sanford said, "Here's a guy telling me, a person who has spent 30 years of his life studying this subject in detail, that I should be ashamed of myself for publishing a book like this that debunks Darwinianism." He went on, "This guy has absolutely no training in genetics and he thinks I should be ashamed of something I have devoted my life to studying and coming to the conclusions I have?"

His story is an example of why I have always stated that the creation-evolution-origins debate is not one centered around hard, factual evidence, but foundational, philosophical presuppositions.

It is a spiritual problem, not an evidence problem.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Whom Do You See?

Who Do You See?

A) Country Star, Travis Tritt?

B) Our Lord Jesus Christ?

C) X-man, Wolverine?

D) Ming, The Merciless?

E) Rosie O'Donnell?

If you guessed B) Our Lord Jesus Christ, you are correct.

Image of Jesus appears at hospital

"There was just a whole bunch of people putting their cell phones to the window, so I went over there and I saw a glow," witness Joel Cruzada said. "When you are standing there and there is a flurry of people talking about it, you are like, 'Wow, I'm actually here.'"


You Ain't It

I saw this article linked at Drudge yesterday:

Tag Banned at School

In case the WaPo article slips into their subscription archives, just Google "School Bans Tag" and you will get a ton of hits.

Before I even read the article I would had bet a slice of Costco cheese pizza that the brainiac behind this prohibition was one of this hand-wringing women supervisors who wants to protect all children from the pain suffered by the trials and hardships of life. And guess what? As soon as I clicked the link I read about principal Robyn Hooker. Unless this is one of those rare instances in which "Robyn" is a guy's name.

All of her sycophantic supporters in the administration are hysterical women, too. There's a Geri and a Stephanie both enthusiastically applauding the bold actions taken by Ms. Robyn.

The reason for outlawing tag, "it had become a game of intense aggression." People were getting hurt.

Where were these folks when I was in grade school? I can still recall with vivid memory the time Matt Wentz, at least a 90 pound second grader, plowed into me when we were playing tag. I was hit so hard I lunged to the ground and scrapped my face across the freshly paved asphalt. The searing pain. I sported a runny scab on the right side of my face for at least 3 weeks. Yet in spite of having come close to enduring skin grafts, I think I was outside playing tag the very next day. The same with dodge ball, which is systematically being eliminated from schools every new year. Sure I was covered with stinging, red welts all afternoon, but dodge ball was and still is in my opinion, one of the greatest games imaginable. See here for example.

If you hit the WaPo link above, make sure to read the comments. They're great. Though there is one person who supports Ms. Robyn who suggests tag is a gateway activity for gang violence, spousal abuse, and killing. It is a playground full of mini-O.J.s. I bet President Bush played tag when he was a kid, too.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Gleanings from Job #11

Continuing in my devotional series on Job...

High Crimes and Misdemeanors (22-24)

After Job's terrible trial directed by the providence of God and played out by the hand of the devil, Job had to endure a severe berating from his friends. They accused him of wickedness. If he weren't wicked in a variety of areas in his life, well then nothing would have happened to him. The reason he suffers: He is being punished for unconfessed sin. This we know is not true, and his friends were falsely accusing him.

So far Job has had to endure two sets of three speeches from his friends. Chapter 22 begins the third and final set. With this last set, only Eliphaz and Bildad speak; Zophar no longer participates. Once these next two speeches conclude, a fourth, currently unnamed friend, Elihu, offers his rebukes toward Job, and then finally we hear from God Himself as he breaks His silence.

Before Eliphaz ends his dialogs, he charges Job with more acts of wickedness. Perhaps in his mind he is thinking a third time will beat it out of him.

I. Eliphaz's Accusation (22:2-4)

Eliphaz opens his final words to Job by reminding him that God doesn't punish "innocent" people. His words are in a sense sarcastic:

"Does the Almighty take pleasure in your righteousness? Is that why He is punishing you? What about the fear you have for God, Job? I am guessing he is entering into judgment with you because you really fear the Lord? Right, Job?"

Instead, Eliphaz argues, "You are being troubled for your sin."

II. Eliphaz's List (22:6-20)

Eliphaz accuses Job of at least three major sins: Oppression, injustice, and outright atheism.

There are significant reasons why Job is surrounded with snares and fear troubles him (10, 11):

- Cruel to the poor (6). He has "taken pledges" or interest or down-payment he did not have to take from individuals who could not pay it. Such an action reveals that Job wants to enrich himself off the poor.

- Uncharitable to the weary traveler (7). Job lived in a land that could be arid and hostile at times and travelers depended upon the hospitality of others. Job apparently turned needy travelers away.

- Taken advantage of land owners (8). Some how, Job had worked deals that robbed landowners of their land. In a sense, Eliphaz was saying that one of the reasons Job is wealthy was because he arranged bargains to his advantage.

- Oppressed widows and orphans (9). Individuals who were the most helpless, unable to care for themselves, Job had used and abused for his own purposes.

- He is a scornful atheist (12-15). Even more shameful than these previous sins, Eliphaz says Job engages in them because he doesn't believe God cares. In other words, Job, rather than being a man who truly fears God (1:1), lived his life as if God never noticed his wickedness. God is too far up in the heavens - too transcendent - that the clouds covers Him.

Elpihaz reminds Job that this was the way the inhabitants of the pre-flood world lived. It was this sort of wickedness that brought God's judgment upon them. Because of such sinfulness, they were cut down before their time with the flood (16). Rather than gaining sympathy from righteous people, they laugh at such calamity when it is brought justly by the Lord against the cruel scorners like Job.

III.Eliphaz's Call (22:21-30)

The remainder of the chapter has Eliphaz calling Job to repentance. He tells Job to make peace with God by confessing his sin, to turn from his ill gotten gain of gold and silver, and he will be delivered from his pit of despair.

IV. Job Declares His Innocence (23-24)

Chapters 23 and 24 repeat a lot of the arguments Job has been making with his friends. His ultimate appeal is to God. It is the Lord who is the only one who can vindicate him. Though it is true he has appeared to have abandoned him (23:3), Job still holds his complaint for Him alone. He doesn't care to justify himself in front of his friends; they are unable to truly rescue him from his demise. Instead, Job knows it is God who can really test him in order to determine if he is telling the truth (23:10), and it is his confidence that when God does, he will be shown to be genuine gold.

Job concludes his response to Eliphaz in chapter 24 by reminding him of truths he had just told Zophar (22): God does not always judge the wicked in this life.

In fact, wicked people often get away with their wickedness and the just and innocent suffer for it. Sinners will steal, take advantage of people, oppress the helpless, even to the point of killing, and live their lives out as if God doesn't exist. Pretty much all of the things Eliphaz accuses Job of doing he sees happening often and none of those people are troubled by the trials that Job is suffering. This retribution theology advocated by Job's friends is not a law, because it doesn't happen all the time to everyone in the same way.

What Job does rest his confidence in, however, is God's vindication of him in eternity. Even though the wicked my get away with their sin here in this world, they will be held accountable for it in the next (22-25). Every man, regardless of his station in life, will die and once he does, there is judgment. That is where the wicked are really dealt with.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Uber Geek

If I wasn't married, had children that occupied my time, a general like for people and ministry, and living a normal life, then I could see myself attempting to build one of these in my apartment.

The Star Destroyer Project

Sure we snicker, but I bet there are a bunch of you out there thinking "That's so cool."

Check out his 24 inch one.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Useful Websites

My friend Gregg Hanke links us to the 101 Most Useful Websites.

I have already bookmarked about 10 of them.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Stupid Irony Story of the Day

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Onward Calvin's Soliders...

Occasionally I like to drop by David Cloud's Way of Strife,...I mean, Way of Life website to catch up on his Daily Article Listings. The Daily Articles are sort of like his blog except people can't leave comments to poke holes in his cockamamie criticisms of non-IFB Christianity.

I scroll down read the headline,


It screams at you doesn't it? The title rings of those WW2 news reels that played in front of the Bing Crosby and Bob Hope main feature. The staccato style narrator describes all the countries where the Nazis had taken over while a dramatic Bernard Hermann soundtrack plays behind the voice over.

The article is really a reprint from October 18th, 2006, but with a few updates that includes the emails of IFB pastors to Bro. Cloud offering their hand-wringing expose' as to why young fundamentalists are succumbing to the onslaught of Calvinism. Their sentiments are similar to the garment rending lament of Hughie Seaborn I reported sometime ago.

The consensus offered by the pastors as to why Calvinism has "crept in unawares" into IFB churches and has gained popularity among many young, IFBs, is due in part to their objection to the shallow evangelistic techniques taught in IFB Bible schools, the influence of Irish Presbyterian minister, Ian Paisley, and the uncritical exposure to contraband books written by men like John Piper, John MacArthur, and R.C. Sproul.

Perhaps some of these things are true, but if I may offer my suggestions as to the upsurge of Calvinism among young IFBs:

- The utter nonsense of conspiratorial driven, tin-foil hat theology that shapes the worldview of a lot of these churches. This Jack Chick philosophy posits a satanically led "they-vs-us" spirituality where the Roman Catholic Church, U.N., and the Illuminati, border on being divinely omnipotent and wield power to undermine God's purposes. Instead, I believe many of these young IFBers see in scripture a sovereign God who is in control over the direction of our world and the unfolding of human history.

- The rejection of man-made, draconian holiness codes imposed upon church members so they are forced to toil throughout their Christian lives under a burden of choking legalism. Rather than caring whether or not they have sinned against God by wearing short pants or liking CCM, these young fundamentalists have experienced God's liberating grace that instills a deep, abiding love in their hearts so that personal holiness is a joyful desire, not a burdensome dread.

- The doctrinally devoid, finger-wagging sermons, yelled out by shrill, loud shouting preachers who more than often mangle the meaning of the text during their presentations. Calvinists have historically delighted in sound, biblical preaching; the kind where the preacher handles the text with respect and unfolds the passage before his audience with careful exposition. MacArthur, Piper, and even Sproul, certainly do this and hence the reason why young IFBers who are raised in churches with the yelling style preaching that mishandles the Bible will gravitate to Calvinism.

- The buffoonish methods and manipulative gimmicks that are falsely called "evangelical outreach" and "soul-winning" which are merely performed to inflate church numbers rather than convert sinners. Calvinists are wrongly accused of being lazy or uncaring when it comes to evangelism and missions. But is tricking people into attending a church service with the promise of a free pizza dinner, or manipulating them to walk an aisle at the end of an emotionally charged "revival" service just to get them to pray a quick prayer of inviting Jesus in their hearts with no thought of discipling the people, really any more lazy and uncaring? The up-and-coming IFBs recognize the folly of the traditional "soul-winning" methods. More importantly, sinners evangelized by Calvinists have a higher retention rate than those who walked the aisle at a fundamentalist "revival" service.

- The mean-spirited, ungracious separatism that is lifted up in the guise of "keeping the church pure." Certainly Calvinists can be ungracious separatists, but IFB churches are masters. This is especially true when it comes to condemning a pastor who may have let his deacons go to a conference where one of the speakers has been declared "under the ban" by the IFB community at large. Never mind the fact the banned speaker may had been one out of 7 others at the conference who aren't considered banned. And God have mercy upon the IFB school or church if they were the ones who held the conference to let the banned speaker speak!

I happen to welcome this Calvinistic renewal among young Independent, Fundamental Baptists. May their numbers and influence increase! For I believe it will be these young, Calvinistic IFBers who will deliver Christian fundamentalism from the reputation of being a haven for militant crazy people. If David Cloud and his supporters are serious about standing against the defection toward Calvinism by the younger generations, not only will they have to honestly address these issues in their ranks, but they well also have to reform their mindset in response.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Debunking Gay Christian Apologetics

Toward A Biblical View of Sexuality

By way of an introduction....

Rick Bretlinger is an up and coming apologist for the gay "Christian" evangelical life-style. He operates an extensive website called Gay Christian 101. I first heard of him early in 2007 when he was interviewed by Gene Cook on the Narrow Mind webcast program. At the time, Rick was preparing the publication of his new book, Gay Christian Apologetics 101: A Spiritual Self-Defense for Gay Christians, a massive 400 page tome designed to provide answer to all the so-called "clobber" passages used by anti-gay evangelicals who say the Bible does not endorse consensual, homosexual relationships. The next day, after his interview, the Fide-O blog linked to the mp3 of the program and Rick engaged in debate with folks in the combox. They hammered him pretty good, but I had to admire his courage and the tenacity of his convictions as wrong-headed as they are.

Well, a few weeks ago I received an email from Rick challenging my views against homosexuality. I have written some articles on the subject of gay "Christian" apologetics, including one specifically answering a claim made by Rick on Gene's program, and their attempts to revise the plain teaching of God's revelation to fit this new agenda of redefining marriage in light of "healthy," same-sex relationships. He basically said my arguments are unconvincing and lack any historical vindication. He then provided me with a plug for his website that is suppose to contain withering and unanswerable argumentation to straighten me out.

I responded to Rick by merely pointing out that much of his argumentation is the twisting around of scripture and the misuse of authors, historical works, commentaries, and the like, to build his paper house he calls gay "Christian" apologetics. He responded by linking me to 11 separate web pages posted on his site that are meant to be answers to my anti-gay bias.

Rick began his second email in response to me by stating,

We disagree on some basic presuppositions when we approach the Bible.

Do you think? Nothing could be more true. Perhaps Rick meant to tell me this fact in order to chide me as a hill billy, Bible thumpin' Fundamentalist rube. I, however, unashamedly and with a firm conviction, agree that I have a presuppositional bias against homosexuality and apologists like Rick advocating for a "Christian" gay lifestyle.

The reason I have that presuppositional bias is because the whole of scripture, understood in its grammatical-historical context, condemns same-sex practices as against God's created purpose for human relationships of any kind. The only way to deny this patently obvious truth is to twist and manipulate God's Word to fit into a pre-constructed box. The point under consideration, then, is to see whose presuppositions are justified by the textual evidence. If we are to read the Bible with any seriousness, and Rick says he believes the Bible is God's Word, then I believe "Christian" gay apologetics will be shown to be fraudulent.

Originally, I was going to answer Rick with another email, but since he linked me to 11 pages or so of rebuttal posted on his website for anyone to read, I thought I would write out a short series critiquing and answering his arguments.

Now, with that introduction in mind,

I believe it would be wise to start with establishing a foundation for my presuppositional bias by considering what the Bible teaches on human sexuality. God has a lot to say about humans and sex, sex and relationships, and sexual behavior. Good portions of both the OT and the NT provide revelation laying down regulations as to how God expects people to behave sexually.

For example, two of the Ten Commandments warn God's people to not commit adultery (sex with another married individual) and not to covet another man's wife (coveting being the heart root that can lead to adultery). Proverbs 5 exhorts men to cultivate their sexual satisfaction from their wives, and not harlot women, and Proverbs 7 warns heavily against coming under the influence of an immoral woman who wishes to cheat on her traveling husband. Second Samuel 11 is the terrible story of David's sin with Bathsheba and the wretched consequences of that sin are played out throughout the remainder of 2 Samuel.

Coming to the NT, Jesus told His audience in the Sermon on the Mount that just looking on a woman in sexual lust is as if you committed the act physically with her. In John 4, Jesus confronted the sexually immoral life of a Samaritan woman who had lived openly in sin with 6 men. Paul rebuked the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 5 for not dealing with a man who was fornicating with his step-mother. In 1 Corinthians 7 he gives authoritative, apostolic revelation as to how singles and married folks were to conduct themselves in relationships. And then in Ephesians 5, Paul outlines how spirit-filled couples were to conduct themselves in their marriages.

What is unique and important to note in all of these references is how the regulations governing relationships applies to men and women functioning in those relationships. In other words, marriage, adultery, divorce, and fornication for the most part, is always defined along the lines of happening between men and women. I believe the reason for this is because biblically, God has limited the boundaries of holy, God honoring sexuality to be between only one man and one woman. Thus divorce, adultery, and fornication are sinful because they destroy that holy boundary decreed by God at man's initial creation.

Genesis chapter 2 is the clear record of God establishing that created decree of how marriage is to be defined. It is the cornerstone passage, because in the NT, Jesus references Genesis 2 when confronting the Pharisees on divorce, as does Paul when he teaches on marriage. Without reproducing the text in its entirety, there are some points to consider:

- First, it was the LORD who declares that it is not good for man to be alone and says He will create a helper comparable for him (Gen. 2:18). The idea of the word comparable is "one who is his counterpart."

- After God created the animals, He brought them to Adam to name. God uses them as an illustration to Adam that there isn't a helper like him found among the animals (Gen. 2:20).

- After God created woman and brought her to the man, Adam breaks out in praise of her creation proclaiming her to be "flesh of his flesh" and "bone of his bone" (Gen. 2:23).

- It is at this point that the writer of Genesis declares, Therefore (on account of God's creation of man and woman) a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:24).

Here in this passage we have the creation of human marriage and the participants of marriage, as God has originally decreed, are one man and one woman. This is the pattern repeated throughout all of scripture and affirmed by our Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles. It is so patently clear this is the pattern God has established that it seems to be an exercise in the foolish to even defend it. Yet gay "Christian" apologists insist marital relationships can be extended to include either man-and-man or woman-and-woman.

Rick argues as such in two articles on his website: Adam and Eve: Are We Reading too much into the Genesis Account? and Biblical Complementarity.

Gay "Christian" apologists first attempt to argue that God's silence in affirming consensual same-sex relationships in the creation narrative of Genesis 2 does not mean God is against same-sex marriages. "God doesn't mention grandparents in Genesis 2," proclaims Rick, "so God must be against grandparents," and then he mentions several other illustrations of things God didn't mention like wedding rings, wedding gifts, and adopting children, and says that to take the heterosexual interpretation of Genesis 2, we would have to conclude God is against those things, too. Dear reader, this is facile, childish reasoning that doesn't even approach interaction with the text of Genesis and how sexuality and human relationships are discussed in the rest of the Bible.

Next, Rick does what many gay "Christian" apologists do and that is confuse general love and affection shared between people as human beings in committed friendships, with the intimate, sexual love specifically designed by God. Thus, if two men or two women have this wonderful loving affection for one another, in the thinking of these gay apologists, it is cruel to prevent them from expressing that love in marriage by artificially condemning it in scripture.

However, marriage, as God designed it originally, has a deeper dimension to it than just loving commitment to another person. That being the component of sexual intercourse. See for example Hebrews 13:4 where the scriptures say, Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. The notion of an "undefiled bed" is a tasteful way of saying marital, sexual relationships. The fact that the picture is contrasted with a condemnation against fornicators and adulterers only affirms this conclusion. Believe me, there are many individuals in my life with whom I share a strong, loving affection, but I don't want to have sex with them.

Yet, Rick is under the delusion that any persons who have a loving commitment to each other can some how enjoy this marital union. He even goes as far as to suggest because God doesn't specifically condemn polygamy in some of the instances among God's people as recorded in the the OT, it too is also sanctioned by God as long as the participants are loving and consensual. He then says the idea of limiting marriage only to one man and one woman is the false teaching of biblical complementarity which means only men and women can compliment each other. God nowhere limits marriage to the idea of biblical complementarity, states Rick, and to say He does places a false interpretation on the scriptures. But this is what Genesis 2 clearer establishes as a pattern for marriage relationships, a pattern that is affirmed by all of God's prophets and apostles, including the Lord Jesus Himself.

Marriage, as I noted above with Hebrews 13:4, involves sexual union between the partners as an expression of the intended intimacy God wants in the human marriage relationship. Now, just as a warning, some readers may find my following comments to be unnecessarily crude or sensationally inappropriate, but it is imperative we grasp this truth. When the Lord created man and woman, He created them with specific sexual parts that serve the purpose of not only reproducing, but to function as a means in which to develop that intimacy. Two men or two women in a marital relationship cannot fulfill this functionality as God intended. Certainly they can achieve a sexual release together, but a person can do that by him or her self. That even begs a question: If same-sex marriage is a normal and healthy part of God's created order, He could have very well created another man to be a helper for Adam. But how could Adam be complimented with a clone of himself? He couldn't reproduce and he certainly could not enjoy sexual union with another man.

A lot of Rick's arguments - and I would imagine this can be said about a lot of gay "Christian" apologists as well - are based upon what he thinks is true to him, or what is reasonable to him. His authority, I hate to say, is not being defined by scripture properly interpreted, but by what he wants it to teach. He charges that heterosexual Christians like those mean-spirited Focus on the Family style evangelicals, read the Bible with heterosexual presuppositions. However, he fails to realize he reads the Bible with homosexual revisionist presuppositions. He wants the Bible to affirm his sinful desires and the rebellion lived out by many of his well-intentioned, and certainly, super nice gay friends. But, our presuppositions must be justified by the whole of scripture, not selected portions wrestled out of context and spun to yield an opposite conclusion than what they original say so as to please the whims of the person. The Bible's silence on a matter does not affirm that it is true. The Bible so repeatedly affirms what God intended in the matters of human marital relationships, that silence on the subject of same-sex marriage most certainly condemns it.

More to come...


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Fine Local Eatery

Bill Fickett, one of my fellow ministry managers, introduces us to the more unusual culinary dining experiences one may encounter here in the greater Los Angeles area.

That One Important Job


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Book Review

I really don't have any strong opinion one way or another about Seattle pastor, Mark Driscoll, simply because I have never really followed his ministry. What I knew of him and his ministry came from folks whose discernment and concerns about Driscoll's ministry I respected. My first exposure to him was an 80-minute message he gave at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary last fall (linked in the review below) and after hearing it, I appreciated his candor and criticism of the emergent church movement where he was once a prominent personality.

Though I think there is real validity to some of the concerns raised by thoughtful critics, there are those who are in my opinion rather extreme and ungracious with their words against him. What I have witnessed of Driscoll since listening to his SEBTS message is a young guy who seems to be teachable and is desirous to learn from older, solid men like John Piper. I see this as a good thing on Driscoll's part, not a failure of wisdom on Piper's part, or any other pastor who appears to have come along side him and his efforts. I hope I am right, and not proven wrong.

With that in mind, I appreciated Hayden's review of one of Driscoll's books.

- editor

Confessions of a Reformission Rev. :
Hard Lessons from an Emerging Missional Church

Mark Driscoll

A book review by Hayden Norris

There is probably no other Pastor that ignites such a firestorm among evangelicals as Mark Driscoll. He even jokes about this fact with comments like, “I am a uniter. I unite feminists, homosexuals, liberals and cultural fundamentalists together in dislike of me.” Mention his name in the blogosphere and you are sure to get comments from detractors and devotees alike. (See HERE or HERE or just "Google" his name for examples of how heated it can get)

I always thought that Mark Driscoll was a crude, rude, and theologically liberal pastor. I mean, he is the guy that is commonly called "the cussing pastor," isn’t he? Because of this impression, I never really thought too much more about him or his ministry in Seattle. I knew that he pastored a church called Mars Hill and I thought it was just an outgrowth of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is close to me. I knew I didn’t like much that was going on at Rob Bell’s church so I figured that the same kind of stuff was going on in Mark’s church in Seattle. Aren’t all those Emergent’s alike?

My impression of Mark Driscoll was about to change in October 2007. That was when I heard of a sermon that he preached at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (go to the chapel schedule page. The sermon was preached on Friday September 21st as part of the Convergent Conference). I thought to myself, “Southeastern is no liberal seminary, why did they invite him to preach there?” So, I downloaded the sermon and listened to it as I mowed my lawn. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. To make a long story short, I decided to listen to his series on the book of Philippians and I was blessed by much of what he said in that series as well.

Why had I formed such a dim view of Mark Driscoll? Honestly, it was because I never bothered to listen to any of his sermons and took the word of some men that I admire and didn’t do my own ‘homework’. After listening to Mark preach, I decided to enter the fray in the blogosphere because I had some concerns and questions that I wanted to interact with others on. This endeavor was ultimately fruitless because it seemed that both sides had made up their minds about Mark Driscoll. Either he was the spawn of Satan who was going to wreck the church with his methodology or he was the savior of the church that was going to make the church more hip to the culture. I could see the arguments on both sides as having some validity, and because I didn’t fit into either side I was accused of being "wishy-washy." Was it really that important to be on a side in this debate? Isn’t Mark Driscoll a brother in Christ?

Anyway, I decided to read a book by Mark Driscoll to try and understand his ministry better. The book I chose Confessions of a Reformission Rev. is really a biography of how Mars Hill Church, Seattle, came to be. Overall, I enjoyed reading of God working in and through Mark Driscoll and the people of Mars Hill Church. The chapter titles were funny and they set the tone for the book. It was clear to see from the start that Mark is passionate about two things: Christ’s Church (and in particular Mars Hill Church) and evangelizing the lost in Seattle. This was refreshing and I really think that it is through these two passions that Mark approaches ministry.

There were other positives about the book that I found like:

- Chapter 0 was a well written chapter. It really set up the author’s view of the church today.

- Chapter 1 had some great insights of how Christ must be the priority in everything we do.

- I loved his desire to continue to teach doctrine even when at times it would have been easier to compromise.

- I enjoyed his transparency in dealing with his own sin.

- I really enjoyed hearing of his many failures and how he dealt with them.

- I enjoyed his Gospel centered-ness throughout the whole book. He, and his wife, gave up much blood, sweat, and tears to build Christ’s church in Seattle.

Ultimately, this was not a theology book but a biography, and when viewed that way it was an interesting read.

Here are some quotes that I appreciated from the book:

“I decided that being cool, having good music, understanding postmodern epistemology, and welcoming all kinds of strange people into the church is essentially worthless if at the bedrock of the church anything other than a rigorous Jesus-centered biblical theology guides the mission of the church. And I needed to labor to continually improve as a Bible preacher because there is enough power in the preaching of God’s Word alone to build a church from nothing. It seemed that we were in a spiritual war and that if light was going to spread throughout our dark city, it would have to emanate from the pulpit.” (pg. 78)--- This was said after a very difficult time in the church’s history.

“Larry’s [a pastor of a large church] simple questions struck at the core of who I am. I am a Christian first. Husband second. Daddy third. And pastor fourth. I enjoy ministry, but I live for Christ and my family… I have learned over the years not to shelter my kids from work but instead to take them with me on hospital visits and such to learn to share the gospel and pray for people, because my kids are my first disciples and I enjoy them.” (pg. 165)

“… it is my deepest wish that Jesus keep pruning me, because I love him, want to be with him, want to be like him, and enjoy being on mission with him more than anything. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done. Amen.” (pg. 184)

I wish that I could say this is where this book review ends though. I also found some areas where I didn’t agree with Mark. His language usage is one of the areas that causes great concern among many people, and in this book he brought that same flaw. He uses many sexual references that are unnecessary to make the point he is trying to make. Here is a short list of some of the ‘over the top’ comments.

“…and looking around at the equivalent of a Viagra before-photo of lifeless geriatrics, I truly could not discern why that church existed.” (pg. 48)

“A naked lady is good to look at, so get a job, get a wife, ask her to get naked, and look at her instead….” (pg. 60) --- As he counseled a College Student on the phone at 3 AM who was struggling with pornography. It seems to have worked because the young man followed his advice

“… because you can’t charge hell with your pants around your ankles, a bottle of lotion in one hand, and a Kleenex in the other.” (pg. 129) --- As he challenged the men of the church to be men.

While Mark probably did say these things, they really didn’t add to the narrative of the story. They seemed a little out of place and detracted from some of the good points he was making. Some other concerns I had with the book are:

- Mark makes some major decisions based on ‘prophetic dreams’ which gets my cessationist dander up. He deals with cessationism as a quack heresy, which it is not, and in my mind places too much emphasis on dreams.

- He seems to equate maleness with a Type A, Rambo, UFC Champion personality. It comes across as, "If you aren’t like this, you aren’t a male." He even uses this definition in his preaching which causes me to ask, "where is the balance of 1 Thessalonians 2:7?" What about the humble servanthood of Jesus?

- Also he counsels a lot like a "bull in a china shop." If others try this in their ministry it may not come across the same way. We should all remember 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. I enjoyed reading about Mars Hill Church in Seattle and it encouraged me to press on in the ministry the Lord has given me. I am a pastor in a church outside of Flint Michigan which was just named the 3rd most unlivable city in the country. While Mark has some rough edges that need to be smoothed, I trust that the Lord will continue to work in him. It is encouraging to see godly men like John Piper, D.A. Carson, CJ Mahaney, and Mark Dever having input in this young pastor’s life.

I learned through this whole ordeal to make sure that I do my ‘homework’ before I jump on the denunciation bandwagon. I am definitely a conservative, expositional, Christ-centered preacher, but I can appreciate the ministry of Mark Driscoll because of his dogged adherence to teaching doctrine to the people of Mars Hill Church. I enjoy his candor and ideas. I particularly like his definition of being doctrinally conservative and culturally liberal. (See this video for a good explanation).

While I do not buy into this definition fully, it does make me think. Sometimes, Mark crosses the line, but I will leave it to the elder’s of the church he pastors to correct him. (Also the above men as well because they will influence him in a way I cannot). If you want to get a glimpse of Mark Driscoll’s heart read Confessions of a Reformission Rev. I think this book will help you to understand his ministry, and then make an informed decision on which "side you are on."

Hayden Norris is an associate pastor at Mt. Morris Community Church in Mt. Morris, Michigan.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Happy Atheist Day!

Today is April 1st. Good ole' April Fools' Day.

In order to be kept from being led astray by media April Fool's day pranks, Slate magazine has an article for you to consider concerning one of many favorite subjects: Hoaxes.

The April Fools' Day Defense Kit

Remember Psalm 14:1