Pride, Arrogance And The Seduction Of Western Culture

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Approaching the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, Americans unabashedly celebrate Gay Pride Month. Boston has Rainbow flags everywhere; somehow I doubt its display is very different from most major cities. The way that Western culture champions the LBGTQ movement now makes it hard to believe that homosexuality was illegal just 50 years ago.

Although I don’t believe homosexuality should still incur criminal penalties, I do grieve that even professing Christians now embrace it. Bowing to public pressure, even evangelicals have begun compromising their convictions that the Word of God condemns all forms of sexual deviation. After all, merely saying that Continue reading

If I Don’t Take A Break, My Bones Might

Flourishes03Apparently, the cardinal rule for successful blogging is consistency. Establish a schedule, blogging experts advise, and stick to it. That shows your readers that they can depend on you. And, for the most part, I agree with this advice. Bloggers do have a responsibility to deliver consistent content when readers expect to receive it, if only as a matter of courtesy.

Although I ignore a lot of blogging rules (and do so without apology), I do try to blog daily. Additionally, I try to always post Saturday Samplers and Sunday Hymns. I know my little blog will never generate a large following, and I don’t believe any Christian blogger ought to judge his or her success by numbers,  but I definitely believe Continue reading

Do You Use Thomas Jefferson’s Scissors?

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Photo taken at Dreamland Wax Museum in Boston

Legend has that Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States of America, would use scissors to cut out portions of the Bible that he didn’t like. I’m not sure he literally did so, but almost no one believes he held to orthodox Christian theology. According to this article on The Jefferson Foundation website, he certainly made himself a judge over how much of Scripture we should believe.

Yes, I wrote an article on this topic only last Friday. But l didn’t get to really address the underlying problem with the attitude that we can determine which parts of Scripture to embrace and which parts to reject.

Humans have elevated themselves over the Word of God since the beginning of creation. Look again at Satan’s tactic in seducing Eve:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “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.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. ~~Genesis 3:1-7 (ESV)

“C’mon, Eve, God didn’t really say that! Oh He did? Well, surely you know He just wanted to keep you down! You can stand up to His oppression.  As a matter of fact, eating this delectable fruit (doesn’t it look yummy?) will make you as intelligent as He is. I mean, you can already outwit Him just by ignoring His ridiculous little command.”

Pride always assures us that we know better than to believe that the Bible is actually God’s Word. When something in its pages doesn’t square with our theology, we play with the original language, decide it’s no longer applicable or we ignore it altogether. Like Thomas Jefferson and Eve, we declare our ability to decide what parts of Scripture to believe and what parts to cut out.

Such pride exalts self over God.

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What Are You Looking Forward To?

Many years ago, a friend asked me, “What are you looking forward to?”

Immediately I answered, “Heaven.”

“Well yeah,” he responded with a hint of impatience in his voice, “that’s a given. I meant, what are you looking forward to in the next few weeks?”

Isn’t his attitude indicative of our culture? As the movie title says, heaven can wait — we prefer to invest our thoughts and dreams in the here and now. We envision marriage, careers, children and retirement as fulfilling events that give life joy and meaning, rarely giving attention to eternal matters. Even as Christians, we get more excited about upcoming women’s conferences or our child’s baptism than about being face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Perhaps we need to stop for a moment and remind ourselves of our ultimate vision. That conference and our child’s baptism should point us to Jesus. He must remain as our vision as we submit everything in our lives to Him. Of all that we look forward to, Jesus must be first and foremost.

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Saturday Sampler: June 2 — June 8

Tulips01Sometimes a Biblical answer surprises us. Read The Mailbag: Stay at Home Dads? by Michelle Lesley and see if she responds according to your expectations.

Enjoy Faith Sits — a pithy insight that Douglas Wilson shares on Blog & Mablog.

Elizabeth Prata is at least a decade younger than I am, but on The End Time she expresses thoughts that have flitted through my mind lately. So late so soon? puts my thoughts in Biblical perspective. Even if you’re still on the happier side of 50, you will benefit from this essay.

As much as we resist the idea, Spiritual growth comes through humility under the lash. Mike Ratliff supports this thesis in Possessing the Treasure by quoting both William Tyndale and the Word of God.

Check out Jared Olivetti’s How to disagree with your spiritual leaders on the Gentle Reformation blog. His tips could actually give you a better relationship with your pastor and/or elders as you show respect in expressing your concerns.

You’ve seen the memes: Moses Was a Murderer (and other things the Bible doesn’t say). Stephen McAlpine examines what the Bible says  about Moses, and explains the difficulties with memes of this nature.

Kim Shay, writing for Out of the Ordinary, answers the question, Do I Need to Change the World? I appreciate the way she looks to Romans 12 for the answer.

Over at Reformation 21, Lisa Robinson Spencer contributes her thoughts On Platt and Priorities. Whether or not you agree with her political positions, I hope you’ll recognize that she adheres to the Word of God in respect to praying for those in positions of secular authority. Her article displays both grace and spiritual maturity.

For an in-depth look at how the Lord blesses us through suffering, read Michael Coughlan’s Psalm 119:65-68 — Afflicted by God in Things Above Us. It may challenge your theology. Actually, it most likely will challenge your theology. But it will also assure you of God’s love and goodness when He calls you to go through difficulties.

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Who Gives Us Permission To Edit God’s Word?

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Yesterday I wrote an article using Scripture to substantiate the doctrine of hell. As painful as it is to think about people going to hell, we cannot dismiss the Bible’s many warnings about it simply because they offend our sensibilities. More broadly, we cannot interpret Scripture through the grid of human philosophies.

As we discuss hell, women preaching, Charismatic teaching or any other topic of debate, we need to look to the Word of God as the arbiter of truth. Not to C.S. Lewis or John Calvin. Not to sermons or YouTube videos. Not even to blog posts on The Outspoken TULIP. These resources may or may not be helpful if they point us to Scripture, but we must be careful not to let them have equal authority to God’s Word.

Furthermore, we must never allow ourselves to edit God’s Word to suit Continue reading