Why I’d Rather Not Blog About Matt Chandler And His Online Conversations

Firstly, Matt Chandler has never been more than an occasional blip on my discernment radar. I’ve vaguely been aware that he has some questionable theology, so I’ve kept him at arm’s length. But, as I’ve said before, I no longer have time nor energy to research all the celebrity pastors and teachers who populate the evangelical landscape. So in that respect, I really don’t care about the online conversations with a woman that led to him stepping down from his ministry position. So much about that situation remains unclear at this point that I just don’t feel knowledge enough to formulate an opinion. Actually, I see no valid reason for me to formulate an opinion.

My invalid reason for formulating an opinion would be to reinstate my discernment blogger status. My article on God’s wrath didn’t attract many readers, even though such articles on Christian doctrine develop discernment much more effectively than articles exposing false teachers and evangelical celebrities. If I’d dig up some juicy dirt on Matt Chandler and add in some speculation, I’d draw attention.

This matter ties in with my ongoing examination of Titus 2:3-5:

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Flashback Friday: How Could Adding To God’s Word Subtract From Its Authority?

Originally published April 30, 2019:

God's Megaphone

Despite having an accountant for a father, I am utterly hopeless with numbers. Actually, growing old seems to make it worse; even the simplest calculations throw me into fits of confusion. Nevertheless, I still know the difference between addition and subtraction.

I also know that spiritual principles shouldn’t be reduced to mathematical formulas. Consequently, I understand that adding to God’s Word (whether with extrabiblical teaching, spiritual practices or personal experiences) ends up taking away Scripture’s authority.

As a young Christian, I learned that Scripture has power precisely because it’s God’s Word rather than a book written by fallible human beings. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the writer of Hebrews wrote:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. ~~Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)

Back then,  we applied this verse to Scripture’s effectiveness in evangelism. That’s definitely a proper application, and I firmly believe that we must rely on the Bible whenever we present the Gospel. Sure, non-Christians will reject it unless the Holy Spirit does His work of regeneration. That’s okay. We’ve still demonstrated the integrity of trusting our Master’s Word.

Trusting Scripture goes beyond our evangelism, however. The Lord gives His Word — first and foremost — to believers. Contrary to what many popular teachers say, God has completed the canon of Scripture, revealing everything He wants us to know until He comes again.

Certainly, Scripture does seem limited sometimes. When we face major decisions or suffer heart rending tragedy, we want God to whip out His megaphone and speak directly to us. After all, He spoke personally to people in the Bible. But such reasoning actually demonstrates our unwillingness to believe that God’s Word is enough.

We don’t acknowledge our disdain for the Bible (even to ourselves) when we accept revelation beyond its pages, but think seriously about it for a moment. Aren’t we in fact taking away authority from the Bible in order to invest it in an alternate authority? In so doing, don’t we therefore subtract our faith in God’s Word by transferring that faith to something else?

Rather than augmenting God’s Word, we actually diminish it whenever we add outside sources of revelation. For all intents and purposes, our additions to His Word declare that we view the Bible as being inadequate to speak to us. Shouldn’t we return to a proper estimation of Scripture?

Is God Too Loving To Display Wrath?

Many people distinguish between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament, almost as if He was two different Beings. According to their theology, the New Testament version of God has evidently reformed His wrathful ways, becoming entirely loving to the point of indulging human sins. Anyone who suggests that God still expresses wrath is, as a reader of this blog recently stated, toxic.

Certainly, we’d all prefer to focus on God’s love. I would! Nobody really takes pleasure in the idea that they anger God when they sin against Him, especially if He reserved the right to unleash His anger in a day of final judgment. So we isolate His love and mercy, convincing ourselves that He’s put all thoughts of wrath behind Him. Thus we snuggle into a nice, comfortable view of God that insulates us from all fear of judgment. As Andy Stanley famously said, we can “unhitch from the Old Testament.”

Such “unhitching” may be convenient, but it has an arrogance about it that we ought to acknowledge. Essentially, discarding the possibility of God’s wrath tacitly declares that we have authority to determine His nature and, consequently, His behavior toward us. As we shape Him into what we think He should be, we make Him manageable and keep ourselves in control of our relationship with Him.

More to the point, does the New Testament really annul the wrath of God? A thorough reading of the New Testament quickly puts that notion to rest — especially once you get to Revelation and read about the judgments that God will pour out during the Tribulation. I’ll not cover that section of the Bible right now. Instead, let me go to a passage in Romans about God’s love in saving us from His wrath.

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Yoga Mats In The Sanctuary

Why would a church that had “Bible” in its name offer a yoga class?

In the past several years, many evangelical churches have either encouraged their people to attend so-called “Christian” yoga classes or they have offered such classes themselves. Strangely, few Christians seem bothered by the historical link between yoga and Hinduism, apparently accepting the popular assumption that the physical exercises can be separated from their spiritual origins. Sadly, Hindu yoga practitioners almost universally refute this idea. Appealing to the Hindu scriptures, a writer for Yoga International explains:

According to the scriptures, hatha yoga is a complete path leading to physical health, mental clarity, and spiritual illumination. Hatha yoga practices combine asanas (physical postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), concentration, and meditation. The word hatha is itself an indication of the goals and objectives of this practice: ha means “sun,” and tha means “moon.” Thus, “hatha yoga” is the practice that enables a practitioner to balance his or her solar and lunar energies. Hatha yoga practices create a state of harmony in body and mind by balancing the solar and lunar, masculine and feminine, active and passive aspects of oneself. Unless you combine the disciplines associated with breathing and meditation with the physical postures, you cannot expect to achieve this harmonious state. And without this inner harmony, we waste a great deal of our time and energy fighting the distractions and disturbances arising from both the inner and outer worlds.

https://yogainternational.com/article/view/what-is-the-purpose-of-asana

People in so-called “Christian” yoga classes may very well use the yoga poses as nothing more than stretching exercises, but eastern yoga practitioners would argue that they don’t practice true yoga if they make this separation. On that point, we’d do well to avoid misrepresenting our exercise routines as yoga.

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As Long As It Doesn’t Contradict Scripture, Can’t These Thoughts Be God Speaking?

Modern evangelicals seem desperate to believe that God speaks to them personally. The moment anybody challenges that possibility, hackles rise, claws come out and defensive arguments commence. A mere 50 years ago, claiming to receive messages from God signaled mental illness, but today those of us who don’t believe God speaks outside of Scripture are considered unbalanced by our brothers and sisters in Christ.

How can we determine whom to marry, which job to take or what car to buy unless the Lord speaks to us? After all, He spoke to Abraham, Moses, Isaiah and Paul. We have the same Holy Spirit that they did, making it perfectly reasonable to assume that He can also speak directly to us. We can measure our thoughts, impressions, dreams and/or visions against Scripture. If they’re from God, His Word will confirm it. Right?

Before we discuss the problems with interpreting our experiences as messages from God, I’d like to relay an actual story. I personally knew the couple involved. but obviously need to hide their identities. The woman has given me permission to share their story.

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What’s The Big Deal About Hearing Personal Words From God?

Christians generally accept the premise that the book of Revelation was the final work of Scripture, and consequently that the Canon is closed. Therefore, Jesus’ warning in the last chapter applies to all of the Bible:

18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. ~~Revelation 22:18-19 (NASB95)

Most evangelicals today would verbally affirm this passage, but their claims that God speaks to them through thoughts, impressions, signs and/or visions calls their affirmations into question. We have to wonder why, if God revealed Himself in His Word and forbade any additions to it, professing Christians would entertain the notion that they need further communication from Him.

On one level, I sympathize with them. Spending my first 31 years as a Christian in Charismatic fellowships taught me that I needed to have at least a few experiences of hearing from God to gain credibility with my friends. I believed that hearing directly from the Lord established me as a mature believer. So I subconsciously conjured up a few experiences, which I embellished over the years. Sadly, I sincerely believed my own fabrications. Even after I began turning away from Charismatic theology, I retained some degree of openness to the idea of God speaking to my heart.

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Why Me?

Years ago, a member of my family suffered a serious injury. Almost immediately, she asked the rhetorical question, “What did I do to deserve this?” Her question is a typical reaction to calamity.

Over the past few years, I’ve been asking the same question, but in a completely different context. As the Holy Spirit has (finally) convinced me that I played absolutely no part in my salvation, I’ve been asking, “Why me? Why would He choose someone as stubborn and prideful as me?” As I look at myself, I simply can’t find any logical reason that He would want me.

People have suggested that my disability gives God opportunity to display His glory, which is true on one level. They point to my writing abilities as their evidence that the Lord uses me, in my disability, to compose essays that direct others to Him. They mention my faith. How remarkable, they gush, that I trust in His goodness as I sit in this wheelchair! They really believe God brought me to salvation because my cheerful attitude in the face of adversity glorifies Him.

And maybe it does — on occasion.

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Sound Love Isn’t For The Faint Of Heart

More and more, evangelicals resist any correction of sin or exhortation to holiness, condemning such things as unloving. They’ve allowed the world to redefine love as unquestioning affirmation of sinful desires and behaviors, usually twisting Scripture to accommodate a weakened stance toward sin. Don’t believe me? Just try posting “Abortion is wrong” on social media and see how many professing Christians call you unloving and intolerant. Your head will spin!

Titus 2:2 encourages older men to be sound in doctrine, love and perseverance. The following verse indicates that God would have older women emulate these qualities, which gives me reason to discuss them in a blog designed specifically for women. Last week we talked about sound doctrine, so I want to now tum our attention to the idea of having soundness in love. I want to talk about this matter precisely because secular society exerts tremendous pressure on Christians to distort Biblical love into something that panders to the flesh. If soundness in love was important in First Century Crete, how much more important is it in 21st Century America?

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Should Christians Argue Over Whether Or Not David Raped Bathsheba?

Most people know about King David’s sinful actions with Bathsheba, as well as his murder of her husband (2 Samuel 11:1-12:25). In the past few years, people from the #MeToo and #ChurchToo crowd on Twitter have been posting their belief that David didn’t merely commit adultery with Bathsheba. They contend that he used his position of power (as king of Israel) to force himself on her. This allegation resurfaced again recently fueling several heated discussions. Some conservatives countered that, by bathing in sight of David’s palace, Bathsheba intentionally seduced the king. People on both sides of the debate have been arguing passionately, largely from what Scripture doesn’t say.

Early last week, temptation got the better of me, and I threw myself into the melee. Of course, I received an attack on my education — or lack thereof — by someone who subsequently admitted to not accepting Christian scholarship on the matter. The idiocy of that attack only encouraged me to keep arguing. So I continued making my case, determined to prove that, as despicable as David’s actions were, he did not rape Bathsheba.

As I plotted strategies to further my case, however, a verse from 2 Timothy came to mind.

 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. ~~2 Timothy 2:23 (NASB95)

The arguments on Twitter, you see, depend on speculation rather than on actual Scripture. Although both sides made intelligent arguments based on what the Bible account seems to suggest, in the end all of us relied on our speculations instead of allowing the Bible to speak for itself.

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Castle Ruins And Doctrine

Conway Castle in North Wales, 1985

I sat in the restaurant, munching my fish and chips. Almost out of nowhere, my friend complained, “Our church doesn’t teach enough doctrine.”

His remark startled me. I wasn’t so much startled because he said it for no apparent reason (we had been talking about the Welsh castle we’d visited earlier that day) as I was that he considered doctrine to have any serious significance. Looking back, I find it rather pathetic that I thought such a thing only a few weeks before graduating from a three-month Bible College (which incidentally didn’t teach much doctrine either), but in 1985 I believed that spiritual experiences were more important than dry theology. Being in a Charismatic school only reinforced my attitude.

The Lord has obviously corrected my erroneous thinking since that lunch in Wales. He’s brought me to a place of valuing sound doctrine as the very basis of a vibrant relationship with Christ. If we take another look at Titus 2:2-6, we’ll see that sound doctrine (or being sound in faith) is an important element of Christian maturity.

But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine. Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so the word of God will not be dishonored.

Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. ~~Titus 2:1-8 (NASB95)

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