Category Archives: Pragmatism

The Negation Of Reason By Sensuous Minds

49575-before2bthe2bcrossThrough a variety of circumstances, I’ve recently been exposed to young women in the Millennial generation. With one notable exception, I don’t really like what I see. The irresponsibility and self-centeredness appalls and saddens me. This generation, from what I see, exchanges reason for experience and pragmatism, paying little attention to long-term ramifications of their decisions. They pay even less attention to how their behaviors affect others.

In short, they possess poor reasoning skills. As a result, they exercise poor judgment, and then cast themselves as innocent victims when they face the consequences of that poor judgment. Between the immediacy of social media and the indoctrination of liberal colleges and Hollywood, Millennials have never learned to think for themselves.

To be fair, those attitudes have definite roots in my generation: the Baby Boomers. We set the example of selfishness and exaltation of feelings over facts. We implicitly taught them to use their emotions and desires as standards, insisting that moral absolutes depend on what their personal experience tells them.

Interestingly, after dealing with some of these women over the past couple weeks, my personal study of Colossians today brought me to a passage that, in part, applies to the deterioration of reasoning skills that I see in these women.

18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. ~~Colossians 2:18-19 (ESV)

In context, these two verses warn against false teachers who claim special revelation from spiritual experiences they supposedly have. In future posts, maybe we can discuss these verses in that light. But today it occurred to me that a sensuous mind (whether or not it leads to a person becoming a false teacher) invariably leads someone away from clear reason.

A sensuous mind celebrates feelings over truth. It depends on personal experience and desires to direct its course, making truth dependent on the person’s subjective impressions rather than on God’s Word. It certainly rejects Christ as the Source of wisdom.

As I said earlier, Millennials don’t have a corner on living in response to sensuous minds; Boomers and Gen Xers taught them that life revolves around what they feel and want. They simply believe what we’ve modeled for them.

Naturally, those who don’t know Christ first need to hear the Gospel. They need to understand that truth exists apart from them instead of being determined by their feelings and desires. And even those who profess to know Him require guidance back to Scripture, learning to reason from its truths. We owe these young ladies nothing less.

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Saturday Sampler: July 30 — August 5

Extruded FunsiesVisit Growing 4 Life to see how Leslie A has revived her series on discernment with Learn to Discern: How Do You Determine What is True, Right, and Good? All of us need to think seriously about the way we make these determinations.

In her article for 9Marks, Carrie Russell writes about Ministry to Women When There’s No “Women’s Ministry”. Her thoughts on the topic go against popular ideas, but she successfully substantiates them with Scripture.

Speaking from her personal experience, Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day offers Turnstile Salvation as evidence that nobody can claim a relationship with the Lord simply because Christian parents raised her. Maybe Jennifer states the obvious. Then again, maybe not.

In his mid-teens, my Catholic-turned-agnostic husband decided to see what the Bible said about the origins of life, so he picked up a Catholic New Testament. The Holy Spirit used it to bring him to salvation. Tom’s article, Sketchy Catholic versions of the Bible were stepping stones to salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone in excatholic4christ, reminds me of John’s testimony. Even better, it reminds me of the power off God’s Word!

Denny Burk outlines Four stages of “evangelical” affirmation of gay marriage as a warning to us all.

In her blog, Renewed In Truth Discipleship, Lara d’Entremont uncovers The Real Reason to Remain Sexually Pure. She directs her teaching to women waiting to be married, single women and women who teach younger women.

Guiding us through Psalm 19, Lisa Morris of Conforming To The Truth lists 6 Reasons  to Glory in the Sufficiency of Scripture. Honestly, professing Christians often forget (or at least ignore) the marvelous provision God has made for us by His Word. Lisa’s blog post serves as a helpful refresher on this essential point of faith.

How about a double dose of Leslie A this week? Her candor in Grace That Changes convicts me of my own self-righteousness, which I appreciate. So often, we lose sight of God’s gentleness with us, and consequently get impatient with less mature believers. Leslie’s article encourages us as we endeavor to overcome that sin. Yet she offers an important balance.

Coming to Christ as an adult, Jennifer of One Hired Late In The Day has experienced both the world’s view of womanhood and the Lord’s. From this rare vantage point, she unveils the contrast between  Biblical vs. Secular Womanhood. Ladies, we can’t hear these things too often.

As I’ve been saying for two years, Obergefell vs Hodges opened a door for a full assault on traditional values. John Ellis’ article in PJ Media, Transgender Student Sues Private School in California, sadly confirms my warnings, but it also encourages us to stand firm.

Those who see no harm in the ordination of women will want to read The Slippery Slope and the Jesus Box by Richard D. Philips on the Reformation 21 blog. Philips’ assertion doesn’t at all surprise me, but it may help you to understand the dangers of compromising Scripture in this seemingly minor area. Obedience to Scripture matters!

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Saturday Sampler: July 23 — July 29

Swatches 01

For those who wonder why people object so strongly to The Message paraphrase of the Bible, I beg you to read Eugene Peterson by Justin Peters. He compares selected passages with more standard Bible translations to show why this paraphrase cannot be trusted.

One of the things I like best about Michelle Lesley is her unwillingness to compromise God’s Word. Her post, The Mailbag: Female Pastors – False Teachers or Just Sinning?, looks at the issue fairly while raising important questions based on both Scripture and Michelle’s observation. I do wish she would have also commented on women who, although they don’t hold the office of pastor, teach men.

Discernment ministry isn’t the path to popularity, as Leslie A of Growing 4 Life tells us in Don’t Expect a Crowd.

The problem with hip humility by Jennifer at One Hired Late In The Day hits the nail on the head. Is it really cool to cuss a little if we profess to love Jesus? Jennifer causes us to think seriously about such casual attitudes.

What can I say about Erin Benziger’s essay, On the Dangers of Distorting God’s Grace, which you’ll find on Do Not Surprised? She gives a healthy balance on responding to the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. I love her passion for His truth!

It bothers me that evangelicals teach people to expect God to speak to them apart from Scripture. So Elizabeth Prata’s pointed essay, How did they ever hear God without a how-to manual? in The End Time, both amuses and encourages me. She stands firm on the Word of God, as we all should.

Sunny Shell of Abandoned to Christ writes a heartfelt blog entry called Content in Christ Alone that, to be honest, addresses a malaise common to all women. Although she doesn’t say anything particularly novel, she certainly reminds us of basic Biblical truth. Sometimes we need such reminders.

Are you in that heartwrenching season of praying earnestly for someone, only to see them harden themselves against the Gospel? If so, Even If He Doesn’t by Staci Eastin of Out of the Ordinary will most assuredly minister to you.

On her blog, Unified in Truth, Nikki Campbell educates us on The Downgrade Controversy that dogged the ministry of C.H. Spurgeon and relates it to the downgrade in evangelical churches today. She features a short, but compelling video with John MacArthur explaining how history is sadly repeating itself, as well as how pastors and congregations can resist this unbiblical trend.

Let’s add a second article by Leslie A., if only to validate my pet peeve regarding smart phones. Every Three Seconds looks at our addiction to these devices as well as suggesting ways to use them more responsibly and in ways that honor God.

Visiting an Embassy by Jesse Johnson is a slight departure from the sort of writing that usually appears in The Cripplegate. It also makes a powerful point about seeker-sensitive churches.

Please don’t miss Amy Spreeman’s article, When women’s ministries abandon the Bible, on the Naomi’s Table website. It perplexes me that any Bible Study group would choose to study a book when they can study the very Word of God.

If you feel left out because you don’t hear God speak personally to you, check out God Doesn’t Talk to Me on Rachel’s danielthree 18 blog. She guides us on making right decisions. I’ll offer no hints on how she advises us to seek God’s will; I want you to read her counsel for yourselves.

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“The Bible Says So” Really IS Enough

Shadow BibleAndy Stanley claims to accept the inerrancy of Scripture in his article, Why “The Bible Says So” Is Not Enough Anymore, but he clearly indicates that he rejects its sufficiency. He contends that people with college or post-graduate educations require more sophisticated evidence in order to embrace Christianity. To make this point, he writes:

Appealing to post-Christian people on the basis of the authority of Scripture has essentially the same effect as a Muslim imam appealing to you on the basis of the authority of the Quran. You may or may not already know what it says. But it doesn’t matter. The Quran doesn’t carry any weight with you. You don’t view the Quran as authoritative.

Close to half our population does not view the Bible as authoritative either. If you’re trying to reach people with an undergraduate degree or greater, over half your target audience will not be moved by the Bible says, the Bible teaches, God’s Word is clear or anything along those lines. If that’s the approach to preaching and teaching you grew up with and are most comfortable with, you’re no doubt having a good ol’ throw-down debate with me in your head about now—a debate I’m sure you’re winning. But before you chapter and verse me against the wall and put me in a sovereignty-of-God headlock, would you stop and ask yourself: Why does this bother me so much? Why does this bother me so much—really?

Since when, I would ask Andy Stanley, do non-Christians determine whether or not Christians can appeal to the Bible? I agree that non-Christians regard the Bible as being on par with Islam’s Quran, but their false perceptions don’t negate the reality that God’s Word has inherent power that no other book (including the Quran) can rightfully claim.

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)

If the Word of God is really that powerful, how can the skepticism of non-Christians limit its power?  Sure, without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, non-Christians will reject the Bible’s authority, but that rejection doesn’t mean that God’s Word suffers from impotence. The truth of God’s Word merely exposes the lies of human reasoning (see Romans 3:4).

The rejection of God’s Word doesn’t mean, in other words, that God’s Word has failed. In the limitations of our human thinking we simply don’t know if the Holy Spirit wants to use Scripture to bring a person to faith, plant a seed that will result in conversations years down the line or confirm a unbeliever in judgment. But we can rest assured that the Lord never wastes His Word.

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. ~~Isaiah 55:10-11 (ESV)

The denigration of God’s Word is not a postmodern phenomenon, and Christians don’t meed to supplement it any more in the 21st Century than they did in the First. Evangelism depends on God’s Spirit ministering through His Word, not on intellectual cleverness or pragmatism. We can quote the Bible with confidence, resting in its authority regardless of whether or not others accept that authority.

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Saturday Sampler: September 18- September 24

raggedy-ann-samplerWriting for The Federalist, Hans Fiene tells us (tongue in cheek, of course) How To Make The Bible Support Any Sexual Practice In 3 Easy Steps. Dear sisters in Christ, we desperately need to understand Scripture properly exactly because people really do twist verses in the ways Hans describes in order to justify sin.

Along those lines, Rachel of danielthree18 shows us several Consequences of Mishandling Scripture in our conversations, or even on our social media posts. Ladies, we really must be careful to quote God’s Word correctly and with reverence.

In her article, Pastoral Propriety with Church Ladies and 7 Ways Women Can Help, Michelle Lesley offers practical tips for maintaining purity in interactions with your pastors. Most of her points reflect sheer commonsense, which really isn’t as common as it should be.

You might want to read Misconceptions of Grace by Sarah Bubar on the Biblical Woman blog, especially if you view grace as  something that God gives us freely. Sarah takes us back to God’s Word to remind us what Jesus paid in order that we might benefit from His grace. She also encourages us that grace empowers us to respond to the Lord’s generosity.

Glen Chatfield of The Watchman’s Bagpipes shares an interesting quotation from Lloyd-Jones on How to Preach the Gospel that is decidedly more relevant today than it was  when Lloyd-Jones first wrote it. How thankful John and I are to belong to a church that relies on the simple proclamation of God’s Word rather than than pragmatic gimmicks and worldly entertainment!

Superstitions permeate our culture, and even Bible-believing Christians struggle with them. Jessica Pickowicz of Beautiful Thing kicks off a new series on this seldom discussed topic with Portraits of Superstition: The Obnoxious Knocker. I like her gentle way of bringing us back to trusting the Lord.

Kim Shay has a wonderful article in Out of the Ordinary entitled Theological Objections that challenges the aversion to theology that floods evangelical circles today. She reminds us what theology is and why we need it.

I’m strongly recommending that you read Glen Chatfield’s Open Letter to “Worship” Leaders and share it on social media.  Yeah — it’s that important!

I absolutely love Does God speak in unidentified promptings? by Elizabeth Prata of The End Time. She approaches the matter differently than people usually do, which makes her point all the more effective. Please read this exceptional essay and consider its Biblical perspective.

 

 

 

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Autobiography With Purpose: The Breaking Point

Twisting ScriptureOur gratitude to Brookville Baptist Church for supporting us through John’s two-and-a-half month hospitalization encouraged us to overlook our disagreements with the many changes that we’d noticed since the 40 Days of Purpose campaign six years earlier.  But by the summer of 2013 (just a year  after John returned home), the tension had again grown, and I felt ready to leave.

John, on the other hand, believed that he could be a good influence on the church once his breathing improved enough for him to teach Adult Sunday School again. In submission to him and because of all the church had done for us, I continued going to services with him, though I couldn’t share his optimism.

In writing this post, I am praying for the ability to write with sensitivity and grace, remembering that several people there are genuine Christians. Hopefully this autobiographical series has demonstrated that God has been merciful to me though times when I lacked discernment, and yet my involvement in poor teaching didn’t negate my salvation. In recording the problems that John and I had with Brookville, therefore, I want to be as careful as possible. In keeping with my desire to honor the Lord as I write this very difficult chapter,  I want to avoid as many specific details as I can, while still explaining the way things affected me and John.

For instance, the removal of Pastor Larry must be mentioned because of the disunity in the church that resulted. John and I were unable to attend the meetings regarding his removal, so I don’t really understand what led up to it other than financial considerations. My opinion of Larry is best left unspoken except to say that I miss his friendship (he was exceptionally good to me and John). Yet his departure must be noted, as I already remarked, for its impact on Brookville.

That summer, Brookville changed its name from Brookville Baptist Church to Brookville Bible Church. They believed that the word “Baptist” carried negative connotations, particularly in New England, where most professing Christians identify as lapsed Catholics. Dropping “Baptist” from the name, reasoned the elders,  would attract more people (with their tithes) to the church.

I never understood why others objected to the name change, and I believe it’s probably just as well. John and I, in contrast to others who opposed it, simply considered it disingenuous because both the sermons and the Adult Sunday School classes grew less and less reliant on Scripture each week. Both venues used Bible verses to advance an agenda of structural change, meant to attract young families to the church.

By October of 2013, Pastor Dennis had retired,  leaving us with an “intentional interim pastor,” whose job it was to restructure the church. By his own admission, preaching was neither his primary gift nor his primary purpose in  becoming our interim pastor (even though  he preached every Sunday) . Instead, he would help us work through our factions, caused by Larry’s removal and the name change) so that we could be “healthy enough” for a permanent pastor.

To our disappointment,  Pastor Dave turned Adult Sunday School into the study of a book about resolving church conflicts. The  book was peppered with Bible verses, which the author used merely to substantiate psychological principles. After a while, John decided that we’d sit out Sunday School because the facilitators scarcely used the Bible.

In late February of 2014, Pastor Dave forced the passage of Scripture to conform to his agenda for change so violently that even a teenager in the congregation later agreed with us that Dave had abused God’s Word. Angry from the sermon, I sat in the coffee area afterwards,  where I overheard the head elder mention a New Age technique he used to alleviate some joint pain. At that point I exploded.

I spent the next hour with the women’s ministry leader, venting about years of frustration with Brookville.  Some of her responses revealed her lack of discernment, increasing my rage. I wanted out of Brookville, keenly aware that it no longer faithfully preached the Word of God. As John listened, he knew that we needed to leave the church. I drove my wheelchair down the ramp, shaking the dust off my feet.

Our meeting with Pastor Dave,Pastor Dennis and the elders a month later confirmed that our doctrinal differences with Brookville couldn’t be resolved.  The letter of dismissal they sent cited my “unwillingness to negotiate” as their reason to terminate our membership.  But sound doctrine is never up for negotiation. With that letter, the Lord assured us that we’d made the right decision.

 
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America At 240

ConstitutionSome of America’s Founding Fathers may have been genuine Christians, but I haven’t studied enough of their biographies and writings to determine how many of them actually demonstrated signs of true conversion. I’ve read some of David Barton‘s materials, which warrant great skepticism, so I seriously question his assertion that 52 of the 55 Declaration of Independence signers were “orthodox, evangelical Christians.” (Actually, Barton’s orthodoxy might well be questioned also…but that’s another blog post.) So let’s agree that we really don’t know how many of the Founding Fathers really knew the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our ignorance of the true spiritual condition of these men means that we probably shouldn’t insist on believing that the United States of America began as a Christian country. Our Constitution certainly drew on very broad Biblical principles, however, as evidenced by this quote by John Adams:

Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

So one could make the case that the Founding Fathers intended our country to operate under some level of Scriptural influence. In that respect, I believe that Christians indeed have every reason to mourn over the moral and spiritual decline of our country. Most Americans used to at least publicly respect Christian values.  But now, and especially since Obergefell vs Hodges, public sentiment runs decidedly against anything that promotes godly attitudes and behavior.

The fact that our presidential primaries have given us Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as the presumptive nominees indicts us as a culture that prefers pragmatism over personal integrity.  As these two candidates raise defiant fists at God’s laws against lying and sexual immorality (among other things), those who support them also openly defy the Lord and His teachings.  We want a  government that gives us “free” stuff and celebrates sexual deviance. We want to regulate every industry except the one that kills our unborn babies, and we want to coerce Christian colleges to jettison their  convictions.

Unless God shows mercy at the GOP convention later this month, either Clinton or Trump will destroy America become the next president.  God’s judgment on America?  Perhaps. Definitely a chilling prospect, either way.

But as a Bible-believing Christian, I don’t entirely despair. Our 240-year-old country most likely won’t reach its 250th birthday, and the freedoms that John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and the 53 others who risked being hung for treason gave us may be snatched from us soon. Yet Bible-believing Christians hope in a sovereign Ruler Who will one day establish His perfect Kingdom. America,  along with the rest of the world, will come to an end (presumably by moral suicide), but God’s Kingdom will never end.

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