Contend Earnestly: January 2009

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Faith Based Super Bowl Parties

I got this small article from Christianity Today. Thought I would post it here and see what everyone thinks of these happenings. Do you like them? Do you hate them? Why? What would do different or the same if you had one at your church? Talk amongst yourselves.

Here is the article:

A pastor explains why his church likes to be host for football's biggest event.
Interview by Jeremy Weber posted 1/30/2009 10:03AM

John Newland, the senior pastor at Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis, received the "cease-and-desist" letter from the NFL that led to many churches canceling Super Bowl outreach events in 2007. The NFL has announced it will allow church viewings.

How did you feel when the NFL reversed its call?

We were gratified because common sense prevailed. The NFL flagged us because our website asked members to donate money for food for the event. They were not prohibiting us from sharing our faith; they were prohibiting us from showing their product in the way we wanted to show it. So we met in homes in smaller groups.

We learned two things. One, God clarified for our country an event that churches all across the country were doing and what the purpose of it was. And two, our church was challenged to be more aware of copyright law.

What are you doing this year?

Our Super Sunday outreach event will have a lot of free food, giveaways, and games, and will have a gospel presentation and personal testimony at halftime. We have scrutinized the NFL's policy change and will make sure we are in full compliance. For example, the NFL has taken away the restriction on the size of the screen, but it has to be in your normal place of worship.

What makes the Super Bowl a better outreach event than, say, the season premiere of Lost?

It crosses so many lines of community and brings us together in a way that has mass appeal. We try to take advantage of things that draw people's attention across socioeconomic, political, and cultural lines — the things that divide us in this country.

Any advice for other churches hosting Super Bowl outreaches?

First, define your purpose. Second, find out what's legal and what's not legal. Free is the key. And be careful with your use of the words Super Bowl. Understand that if you are using somebody else's product, you have to follow their rules. Churches cannot cut corners. We must be above reproach.

Copyright © 2009 Christianity Today

Here is also a video from Perry Noble's church, New Spring Church, on what is going on for their church on Super Bowl Sunday. Note this is only for the 6pm service, not the whole day.

Super Bowl Promo 2009 from NewSpring Media on Vimeo.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

How Do You Define the Term Pastor? Part II

In the first post on this topic I tried to pack in as much as possible to show why the terms elder/shepherd/pastor/overseer/bishop are all synonymous when speaking of the New Testament church. I will also say that I believe in the plurality of elders/pastors in a church as well. I grew up in SBC churches where there was a Pastor/Elder and then the rest were deacons, which I do not believe is the biblical standard set by Paul to Titus (Titus 1:5) and also in regards to seeing the church's council led by James and the other elders (Acts 21:18).

To continue with this post I wanted to draw on the understanding of what deacons do in the church and then answer the question of whether I would attend a specific church that was brought up by Melissa here. To understand what a deacon is supposed to do, it would seem that we need to understand what the elders are to do. We find that in the descriptions that we laid out in the last post, the elders/pastors are to watch over the church, this is why they are also called overseers. They are to be the leaders of the church and Paul says that they are to be able to teach sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. Explicitly, in 1 Timothy 3:2, they are said to be able to teach. So, we see that elders are to be sound teachers of doctrine and also able to contradict the crazy people who come through the doors trying to parade around like a sheep with their wolf tail sticking out the back of their suit.

So, then, what does a deacon do? The first time that we see what is probably deacons, is found in Acts 6. What was happening is that the apostles and other disciples were so busy that they weren't able to keep up with the demand of growth in the church. So, they said that they needed some people to step up and help. The apostles needed this to happen so that they could perform the duty of an elder, namely, to pray and teach. The first deacons were merely distributors of goods to the congregation. They did this so that the apostles could stay on task of teaching and praying.

The term deacon is a tricky word in the Greek. It seems the closest we can get to the term is someone who is a waiter. What we can then derive from the term is that a deacon is a servant of the church that does the things to make sure that the pastors/elders are focused on the ministry of the word and prayer. What one finds when they look to 1 Timothy is that the only differences found between elders and deacons is that a deacon doesn't have to be able to teach and the deacon can also be a woman. Whereas, elders are only men and must be able to teach. If you would like to read more on this topic from my other posts, click here.

So, deacons have the same moral qualifications that elders have and are chosen by the congregation or elders to aid the church in whatever capacity is needed.

One might now ask, "What is a director?" Some churches have the term "director" in their titles. So, you might have a Music Director, Youth Director or Children's Director. The only time we see the term used in the Bible is in the Old Testament, and most of the time we find it in the Psalms when referring to the choir director. The term is also translated as supervisor, overseer or to lead. My guess is that churches aren't using the term because of it's biblical understanding but more because of traditional usage of the term within the church.

Is the usage of the term a sin? I don't believe so, but I just don't believe it is as accurate as it should be. I believe that if the church were to stay in line with Scripture for the New Testament church, it would be better to turn all the "directors" into deacons or deaconesses. There is really no need to use the term director and when using an ambiguous term it is hard to have restrictions on conduct and moral qualifications. But, when you turn the term director into deacon, now you have qualifications listed in the Bible that pertain to all leaders in the church. Now you have Scripture to go to for qualifications for those positions that are filled with the leaders of the church. If you think about this, this is actually a very good thing. What I have seen in the past is that someone is chosen because they can breathe, to lead a ministry. That can be very dangerous. If one is held to the standard of deacon, it should actually keep the position more pure and keep from making a careless, quick decision.

Tradition is probably the only thing that holds us back from doing this. We are used to deacons being the guys that take out the garbage and clean the gutters. That's not the complexity of the way that deacons were used in the New Testament. The complexity of the deacon in the Bible, are those chosen to do whatever is needed to keep the elders praying and teaching. Think of everything that has someone as a lead in your church that isn't done by an elder. Those in leadership and ministry positions should be held to a high standard.

Now for the last question. Would I attend a church that had a woman pastor? The quick answer is no. The longer answer is that if I felt compelled to attend this church, I would gather with the leadership to ask them about their titles and have them biblically define them. If in the end they were still not convinced that women cannot be pastors or that they still defined pastors and elders differently, I would have to abstain from attending. Does this mean that I don't consider them Christian brothers and sisters? Not at all. But my conviction to Scripture would withhold me from joining them for weekly worship as a community of believers.

As far as the specific church that Melissa asked about, it would seem that I would need them to give me reason why this woman was called a pastor. Is she teaching or preaching adult males? If so, then I wouldn't attend. If not, I would simply challenge them in their definition of terms and show why they are in error with making a distinction between pastors from elders. I would tell them that to get back in line with the Scriptures, they need to simply name her as a deaconess. If this were to happen, I would have no problem attending the church based on that information.

I hope this discussion has helped. If you have any questions or need clarification, please comment or email.

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John Stott and The Way of the Master

I am currently reading Christian Mission in the Modern World by John Stott and have come across something that makes me wonder what Stott thinks of such forms of evangelism as "The Way of the Master." I used to really like The Way of the Master, but have turned to questions its methods. I wasn't sure why, and I know that most of those who are using it do love Jesus and want to do the will of Him. But, I think Stott nailed it on the head. He wrote this book in 1975 but InterVarsity Press has an updated version, and when I am done this book will get a very positive review as it is needed to be read by both the Emergent streams and IFB streams of what some call "Christianity." To give you some context, Stott is walking the reader through true Christian dialogue with non-Christians and what we should refrain from and what we should also purport. Here is the quote, which is the fourth point that Stott makes about true dialogue:

Fourth, true dialogue is a mark of sensitivity. Christian evangelism falls into disrepute when it degenerates into stereotypes. It is impossible to evangelize by fixed formulae. To force a conversation along predetermined lines in order to reach a predetermined destination is to show oneself grievously lacking in sensitivity both to the actual needs of our friend and to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Such insensitivity is therefore a failure in both faith and love. Dialogue, however, to quote from Canon Max Warren "is in its very essence an attempt at mutual 'listening,' listening in order to understand. Understanding is its reward" (from unpublished paper entitled "Presence and Proclamation," read at a European Consultation on Mission Studies in April 1968). It is at this point which was picked up in the Lausanne Covenant, which contains two references to dialogue. On the one hand it says firmly that we "reject as derogatory to Christ and the gospel every kind of syncretism and dialogue which implies that Christ speaks equally through all religions and ideologies (para. 3). But on the other it says with equal firmness that "that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand" is actually "indispensable to evangelism" (para. 4). The principle was stated centuries ago in the book of Proverbs: "If one gives answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame" (Proverbs 18:13)

John Stott, Christian Mission in the Modern World, pp. 110-111

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blogging, Books and Excitement

I like to read. I never thought that would come out of my mouth when I was a high schooler trying to score "Cliffs Notes" like a celebrity trying to score cake while in a weight loss compound. I did anything I could to skate by without reading. One time I was caught as I stood up trying to give a "book report" on The Call of the Wild as the teacher asked who a certain name was in the book. As I tried to give a detailed description of the person, she then let me know that the name of the "person" was actually the name of one of the dogs. Oops. Anyways. Since discovering what some call "theology" and "doctrine" and "orthodoxy" over 5 years ago, I haven't been able to stop reading. I just hope that what I read transcribes to orthopraxy, or right living.

I have now found a way to make two of my worlds collide even closer: blogging and books. I have been in contact with a couple of publishers and it looks like I will be receiving books from each of them to read and review on this site, my book review site and also my amazon review profile. I figured it was well worth it being I spend a lot of money on books. You know what they say, "Why pay for something you can get for free?" I won't tell you the context I first heard that in.

It looks like though that I will be partnering with InterVarsity Press and Crossway to review books for them. The hope of course is that you will be so astounded with my amazing reviews that you will then click through to their site and buy the books. Don't let me down. Also, if you go to these sites and see something that you would like me to review, let me know and I will do so. Unless you are trying to play a joke on me and want me to read something on being an excellent wife.

I have already received my first shipment from InterVarsity Press and am excited about the titles that they are allowing me to review. So far I have received the following:

Can God Be Trusted? by John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

Christian Leadership Bible Study by John Stott

Christian Mission in the Modern World by John Stott

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer

The Dawkins Delusion? by Alistair McGrath and Joanna Collicutt McGrath

I look forward to this new partnership and hope it is one that glorifies God in spreading the glory of the Gospel. Yeah, that's right, I got my Piper language down and ready to continue my reading of him.

I also want to thank Bob from Fundamentally Reformed for helping me find these outlets.

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Pants and Basketball? Modesty Taken to a Whole New Level

I found this story on and had to share it. This is a story on a school that requires it's boys basketball teams to wear long pants in the name of modesty. I found it very interesting that when the reporter asked if there was a verse in Scripture that addresses wearing long pants, this was the principals response:

There is, but I'd have to look it up -- I don't have it handy, but it's definitely in Scripture. And I don't know if you know this, but our girls' basketball team dresses in skirts. [And the school's cheerleading squad wears long skirts.]

Seems like if you were the principal you would be prepared to answer a question like that. But, I am guessing that the real problem is that this prohibition is found in the Bible right next to the laws of riding a unicorn and how to evangelize a leprechaun.

You have to read this post, I just don't get it.

We all know basketball pants have gotten longer and longer in recent years. But you probably have never seen them as long as this.

The team in the long pants is Gate City Christian, a tiny Pentecostal high school in southwestern Virginia. No, the players didn't forget their game shorts, and they aren't wearing their warm-up pants -- the Warriors, as the team is called, always wear long pants, due to the school's religious tenets. (You can see video footage of the Gate City Christian uniforms at the top of this page.)

This isn't the first time religion has influenced athletic attire. Girls at Orthodox Jewish schools sometimes wear skirts, for example (there's even a Connecticut school whose girls' hoops team is called the Skirts; additional info and photos here), and Muslim women often compete in unconventional gear.

But those examples involve female athletes conforming to traditional notions of feminine modesty. It's much more uncommon to see male players following a faith-based dress code. In an effort to learn more, Uni Watch tracked down Gate City Christian's principal, Wayne Elliott, who was happy to talk about the team's unusual uniforms.

Uni Watch

Uni Watch: A basketball team wearing long pants is new to me. What's it all about?

Wayne Elliott: We're a small Christian school, about 52 kids, and it's just a school dress code that we have, based on our Biblical beliefs and standards. It goes back to dressing in modest apparel -- that's the dress code we set, and the kids abide by it here at the school and at all school functions.

UW: And that code would be "no short pants."

WE: Correct.

UW: Please forgive my ignorance on this point, but is there a specific verse of the Bible that addresses this?

WE: There is, but I'd have to look it up -- I don't have it handy, but it's definitely in Scripture. And I don't know if you know this, but our girls' basketball team dresses in skirts. [And the school's cheerleading squad wears long skirts.]

UW: From a layman's standpoint, it seems like maybe you'd want the girls to wear pants as well, so they wouldn't show any skin. But I'm guessing you don't want the girls wearing pants or dressing the same as the boys, right?

WE: Yeah, because the Bible says there should be a separate distinction between a man and a woman in terms of their apparel, so that's what it's all about.

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Gate City Christian

Allen Greene Photography

No, that isn't a scrimmage in warm-up pants. Those are the official game uniforms for Gate City Christian and Maryville Christian.

UW: I see your kids also wear T-shirts under their tanktop jerseys. Is that also about modesty?

WE: Yes, that's part of the same thing.

UW: How long have you been doing this?

WE: We started our boys' basketball program in 2002. We now have varsity, JV, girls' basketball, girls' volleyball -- it's really grown.

UW: Wow, that's pretty impressive for a school with only 52 kids! And have your boys always worn the long pants since the team's inception?

WE: Yes sir, they've always worn the long pants. We've had people say that it puts our team at a competitive disadvantage, but we don't see it that way. It's just a way of life for us, it's all we know, so we don't feel it hinders us. We've really got some really good, respectful kids, and they're willing to give up wearing shorts in order to follow the rules.

UW: Are there other schools that have similar dress codes?

WE: Yes. We play in the East Tennessee Christian School Conference, and all four schools in the conference wear the long pants. [The team also plays nonconference opponents -- some Christian, some not.]

UW: So that means you probably have a lot of pants versus pants games.

WE: Yes, that's right. But it's not a conference rule -- it's just that all schools in the conference happen to dress that way.

UW: Did your school start that trend?

WE: No sir, we didn't. I'm 44 years old, and this is something schools around here have been doing as long as I can remember. So it was already established by the time we started our athletics program in 2002.

UW: Do any of the kids ever complain or roll their eyes and ask why they can't wear shorts like the other team?

WE: No, they know our guidelines and are willing to abide by that.

UW: What about when you play an opposing team wearing conventional shorts -- do they ever give your kids the business or make fun of their outfits?

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Gate City Christian

Allen Greene Photography

Gate City Christian's long pants don't seem to have impeded this drive to the basket.

WE: Nope, they're really respectful. I can't recall anything like that. There are some schools in our conference that require visiting teams to wear modest apparel too, although we don't do that at our gym, because I feel it wouldn't be fair to be pushing our preferences on people.

UW: So in those instances, a team that normally wears shorts would have to wear long pants when visiting one of these other schools?

WE: Yes, that's right. They'll even have a sign on the door that says, "All visiting teams must wear this apparel," and of course the coaches are told beforehand. To be honest with you, we did that during our first year, and I did have complaints from some people who felt it was a disadvantage to their teams, because they weren't used to wearing the pants like our team was used to it. But that's not why we changed it -- we changed it because I didn't want to force our beliefs on others.

Fair enough. But what's it like for the kids who wear the long pants? As Elliott noted, most of them have always dressed this way when playing sports, but one of the few exceptions is Travis Mullins, a 17-year-old senior who transferred to Gate City Christian in fifth grade. Prior to that, he attended a local public school, where he wore shorts in gym class and intramural athletics. Was it hard to get used to wearing pants when he began attending Gate City Christian?

"A little bit, but it wasn't that big of an adjustment," Mullins said. "I don't think it makes much difference in terms of hindering us or anything like that."

OK, but when Mullins sees a team dressed in conventional basketball uniforms, is there some little part of him that wishes his team could wear shorts, just once?

"In some ways, yes, you do want that, because I guess it would be lighter and not as hot," he said. "But aside from that, it doesn't bother me."

And there you have it. So the next time you see something like this and think to yourself, "Boy, those are pretty long," just remember that everything's relative.

(Special thanks to Cory Wright for his research assistance and to Allen Greene for his photographs and behind-the-scenes help.)

Paul Lukas thinks it would be fair to say that when the ESPN cameras showed up in Gate City last week, the school was ready for its Uni Watch moment. His Uni Watch blog, which is updated daily, is here. Want to learn about his Uni Watch membership program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.

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Mark Driscoll on Nightline

Below is the video clip from Nightline on Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church. Overall, I enjoyed the clip. Stacy and I watched it and we, like usual, laughed at some of Driscoll's comments because he is hilarious.

The only thing that bothered me was that they portrayed Mark as seemingly only speaking of two things: Sex and Jesus. I would say that his haters want to paint that picture and paint it in a negative light, but I would say that Driscoll's main topic is simply Jesus. I did like that Nightline gave Driscoll some time to speak on the Jesus of the Bible, instead of the Jesus of the Victorian era. Driscoll states that the truth about Jesus, is the following:

He was a construction worker, who was very controversial, and got murdered

People don't like hearing those parts, or they simply glaze over them for the sake of their own sin.

As far as Driscoll speaking on sex, it is a shame that a pastor gets criticized or ostracized because he speaks so frankly on it. The reason is because other pastors won't speak about it. Pretty sad overall.

You will see when you watch the video the reasons why people love Driscoll and the ministry that God has given him. He is upfront, funny and captivating: all for the glory of Christ. I just wish when a pastor is like this that the media wouldn't say that he is good at "selling the message." That makes me cringe.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How Do You Define the Term Pastor?

So, yesterday Melissa asked a question about a church in my area that has a woman as a pastor. Melissa’s question was simply,

How would you define “pastor”? and…Would you then not attend this church because of this female pastor?

As I went to the church’s site, what I found was a conglomerate of positions that needed to be defined. They had elders, pastors and then directors. It seems as though they have the terms confused and very poorly defined within the confines of the local church.

What I will try to do in this series is to simply give the definitions as seen in the Bible and then give the correct definitions of what the roles should be for their church and then answer the question of “Would I attend this church?” This is not meant to be exhaustive, so if you have comments or further discussions please ask away.

You will see right off the bat that I define the terms pastor, elder, shepherd, overseer and bishop in the same breath. They are equivalents and defined in the Bible as such. Let me just give you the quick Greek definitions of each of these:

Elder: This is either an elderly person in regards to age, or one who is a leader in the church. Because Paul tells Titus (Titus 1:5) to “appoint elders” one would seem to think that the latter is the better usage as a whole. The Jewish elder was one who had authority and was usually old. Because Timothy and Titus were elders or shepherds we can see that to be older doesn't necessarily mean in age, but probably more in that of wisdom and knowledge. If we translate that into NT usage, an elder would then be an appointed man to be in authority of the local church, both physically and spiritually.

Pastor: this means to be a herdsman or a shepherd and is only translated as pastor in Ephesians 4:11 .

Shepherd: One who has authority, watches over and entrusted with a flock

Overseer/Bishop: One who has authority over something and is in charge

Now that we have laid out some very quick definitions let’s take a look at how this plays out. In the Scriptures the OT would define those who led God’s people as the elders or shepherds of God’s people. The imagery in the OT refers to God’s people as his sheep and the leaders over them as his shepherds:

For the shepherds have become stupid
And have not sought the Lord;
Therefore they have not prospered,
And all their flock is scattered.
Jeremiah 10:21

You can also take a look at (Nm 27:17; 1 Kgs 22:17; Jer 12:10; 22:22; 23:1, 2)

What we soon find out is that the transition from the rulers of Israel being called the Shepherd to the coming Messiah being called shepherd:

Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
And declare in the coastlands afar off,
And say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him
And keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.”
Jeremiah 31:10

Not only will God give us the Messiah as our Chief Shepherd, but he will also give us mere men as shepherds who will watch over our souls:

Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.
Jeremiah 3:15

As Jesus then comes as the Messiah he takes on this name of the great Shepherd as was promised:

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,
Hebrews 13:20

So, we can definitely see this picture from the Old Testament to the New Testament, in that, the rulers were a picture of Christ and Israel was a picture of the true flock of God, those in Christ.

A couple of verses will help us with this understanding of how overseers and elders are also referred to as shepherds or pastors. One must also know that the only time that the term “pastor” is used is found in Ephesians 4:11 and all other times the term is found to be synonymous with the term “shepherd”. Because a shepherd and elder have the exact same function, which is to be the one that is in authority over the church and oversee it we can see that all elders are pastors, and all pastors are elders. There is no difference. They both are to teach, they both are to lead the congregation, they are both to shepherd the flock of God. To separate the two would seem to confuse the terms and how it was used in the OT imagery for the NT. Further, they are used synonymously in the NT:

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
Acts 20:28

The term “overseer” in this verse is given the same definition of an elder or bishop of a church. They are to watch over the church, they are to shepherd the flock of God that has been entrusted to them. You can also see the same usage of terms when you read the qualifications and interchangeability of each in Titus 1:5-9. The point being though is that they have been entrusted with the flock of God and should point to the greatest Shepherd and his leadership as found in 1 Peter 2:25

For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
1 Peter 2:25

This puts shepherd/pastor, guardian/overseer and elder in the same breath, making them synonymous. So, there is really no difference between an overseer, elder, shepherd or pastor.

We do the same thing to show that Christ is God.

…by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:
2 Peter 1:1

We use this verse to show that the person who is both God and Saviour is Jesus Christ. So, when we see that shepherd and overseer are used in the same fashion, we can see that
they are just different words to complete the picture of the one that is leading the church of Christ.

Another example. If one were to describe myself, they could say that I am a father, son, husband, brother and friend. These all give more insight to who I am as a person on this earth, but I remain the same person. With the Scriptures, it gives different names to describe the same person so one can know more clearly what this person of the church is called to do.

I don’t see any reason to separate the office of overseer, elder, pastor or shepherd. This is a very short argument, so it is really to open up the study of the positions, not convince those in opposition.

If you want to see why I do not believe a woman should be in any of these positions, you can read the following post on that topic. Tomorrow we’ll continue with this and we will define what a deacon is and also try and answer what a church means by “director” when they use it for the term “Youth Director” or “Mission’s Director” and such. Then, in the end I will answer the question, “Would I attend a church who had a woman pastor on staff?”

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What a Stupid Comment by Our President...

George Bush was always good for some laughs when he made weird comments. And the only reason that I wanted McCain to win is so that we could have some real fun with Palin's absurd comments and winks into the camera. But, Obama said something that seems to take the cake on this one. I mean this has to go down as one of the worst comments I have heard in a while. Here it is from the New York Times:

President Barack Obama reaffirmed his commitment to protecting abortion rights on Wednesday, the 36th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, and said that it “stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters.”

So, my comment would be:
Please don't put any parents who rape and beat their children in prison either, for isn't murder worse than these? If you want to keep these family matters private, how can we use that same logic with those who decide that raping and beating their children are "private family matters?"

Just a question I have been pondering.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

:::UPDATED:::Who Would You NOT Worship With?

So, here is a question for you...when is enough, enough? I wonder how much someone can differ from us in theological convictions before we would decide not to worship with them. Some people are a little more liberal in their thoughts on this than I would. But some comments made by people, would make it seem that they wouldn't worship at churches over minor issues. Maybe the first one to be considered is simply, what must one believe to be saved? One must repent from sin and turn to Christ and trust in Him alone for salvation, but this would leave many heretics and cult leaders throwing parties with grape juice thinking that they were fine and needed no correction. But, what are the minimum points that one must believe to be saved?

Here is what I would personally put forth:

1. The Trinity: One must believe in the full understanding that our God is One, existing in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit
2. The full humanity/divinity of Jesus Christ: notice the term full...I believe this would entail the virgin birth. Go away Arians and Jehovah Witnesses
3. Salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone: The Pope needs to repent...

This explains quickly what one must believe to be saved, but what would cause me to be divided with another brother or sister so that I wouldn't attend a church that had the same convictions as myself? Notice I said the church, not a singular person. I am sure that there are some in my church that might believe some things below, but what I am speaking of is me actually attending a church who had the following convictions:

1. The Arminian Church or Semi Arminian Church. It would be very hard to worship in a church who doubts the sovereignty of God in salvation. Are they brothers or sisters? Yes. Would I join them outside the church in serving our community? Yes. But, would I be comfortable in their church? About as much as a KKK member spelling "intelligence."

2. The Crazy Charismatic. Notice I didn't say the "controlled Charismatic." But I couldn't worship along side someone who kept whipping out their prayer cloth while speaking in a language I couldn't understand. It would be very hard to listen to someone give forth prophecies each week on some vague promise of God that my dog could speak of. Wait, I don't have a dog.

3. Hyper Calvinist Tendencies. It would be hard for me to go where God was said to have no desire for the salvation of all men. It would be hard to hear the gospel have so many restrictions on it. It would be difficult to stand by and hear someone say that God doesn't love all men. As far as full blown hyper churches? I have a desire for all of them to repent in their ways...I wonder how they will take the words desire and all there? I will leave it up to them. I am sure in the end the sentence will be unintelligible.

4. The Practical Hyper Calvinist Churches. These are the churches who say that God loves all, desires for the salvation of all and preaches that we should all go out and speak the gospel to all, but in the end just comes each week to gather like a social club listening to the "speaker" of the week. I can't stand the churches who say it and never do it. Most of these churches put way too much emphasis on the Sunday gatherings and forget the other six days of the week. What they should really do is get a neon "open" sign, so we'll know when they are doing God's mission and when they aren't.

5. Those with women elders or preachers. The reason? Because they obviously haven't read the Bible. If you want to know more of my reasons on this check out these posts.

6. Any church that loves Israel more than Jesus. I know that some of you would put on this list, any dispensational church, but there are some very well balanced dispensational churches. But, when you have the Jewish flag up in your church and your potlucks must be Kosher, you might want to get some counseling. In reality, there are way too many churches that seem to care too much for Israel and not enough for Christ. They preach on the end times every week and preach it like Christ forgot to come.

7. Check my Posts on the 10 Steps to Become a Legalist. Click here for those posts. If the church fits any of these categories, I would definitely not attend there. Again, remember that I don't mind convictions, but when those become preaching points against sin, instead of convictions, that goes across the line. So you IFB crazies, sorry but you will never see me walking through your doors, unless you are having a garage sale to get rid of some of your old suits. Then, I could wear one while I mock you. Which would just be fun.

I could go on and on for quite some time, but these are some of my biggies. I will say that some aren't listed because I don't feel that the preachers who preach there are Christians. These would include, the health and wealth preachers, the Catholic leaders and the church of Christ. But, enough of what I would put up, what are some of yours and which one of the above am I being too crazy against?

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Obama Video: Any Thoughts?

Any thoughts on the video put out by a Catholic group?

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Friday, January 23, 2009

If You're Racist, You're an Idiot

I was reading Dr. Mike Kear's blog titled "Yesterday and Today" and was surprised to see how many deletions he had to make based on racist remarks. It really saddens me. It also looks like from Dr. Kear's remarks that some of them might have even considered themselves Christians. Which is like saying Ozzy Osbourne and the Jonas Brothers have the same sound.

With a new President in the office, and if you didn't notice or didn't get the memo, he is black, the talk of race and its history is in high demand. We know that the KKK is polishing their guns, brushing their tooth and filling up the air on the tires of their home to make it to Washington D.C. for a road trip. We know these guys are whack jobs and we also know that the leaders of the Mormon church can't believe that the mark of Cain is in the Whitehouse. But what really has me irked is the person who is still a racist who doesn't own a confederate flag or sing worship songs to Satan's cousin in Joseph Smith. These people need to wake up and realize some very important things about Christianity.

1. Jesus wasn't white. I know this is crazy. I know that you are used to seeing Jesus, like Mark Driscoll says, with rosie cheeks, feathered hair, in a dress while prancing around like a bad Nickelodeon after school special. But this was a fragment of the imagination of the Victorian era. The men of the Victorian era were pansies and so was their Jesus. Jesus was a carpenter and looked more like Osama bin Laden than he does a white hippie. So, if you're a racist in any way, put Jesus on your hit list.

2. Jesus destroyed the race card. Jesus didn't start including people of color into His fold, but he came and started to include WHITES into the fold. Crazy. If it wasn't for Jesus, whites would for the most part, still be outside of the fold. So, if you are historically accurate and white, you might want to rethink who you include and exclude from Christianity, because before Christ, you were out, not in.

3. Jesus destroyed any distinctions. Jesus loved all men of every tribe, nation and tongue. He also loved every woman as well. This is what is great about the salvation of Christ. All are welcome.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:28

a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
Colossians 3:11

even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;
Romans 3:22

If Jesus makes no distinctions within Christianity, and you do. You are not of Christ. We are to love all, we are to pray for all and we are to be like Christ and make no distinction in race or gender. I would love to hear why anyone believes they can hate a race or gender and still love Jesus. If you hate any color, or us with no color, you do not have the love of Christ within you and you are a complete idiot. In case you can't read, ask your wife/cousin to read it for you.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jon Stewart, George Bush and Barack Obama

I saw this over at Riverwood Church's blog posted by Clay Staggs, thought it was hilarious on so many fronts. Enjoy

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A Christian Response to the Freedom of Choice Act

It looks as though the Freedom of Choice Act is gaining ground now that our new President has taken office. I guess it should be no surprise and this was one of the reasons I didn't vote for him (I actually didn't vote at all, read this post on why I didn't). Here are some specifics, that I believe to be accurate, but if I am wrong please let me know:

If FOCA passes, pro-abortion principles will be codified into federal law. It would sweep away common sense regulations states have imposed, such as parental notification when minors seek abortions, waiting periods and counseling, or restrictions on state funding for abortions. It would also win the 'battle in the courts' by winning in the legislative venue.
American Issues Project (I don't agree with the whole article, because I think protesting with signs and marches is a little odd)

But, now that it is coming, what should the Christian do in response to this? Does this mean that I must pray for the demise of our President? Does this mean that I should not pay taxes? Below are some quick things I believe we should be doing as Christians.

We must still rely on our God that he is in control. We don't know why God would allow such a thing to be passed, but we do know that God works out all things for good for those who trust in Him. At this time we don't know how this could be, and we might never know. But if the FOCA passes, it does not negate the fact that God is in control of all things. Sometimes he allows evil to be done to work out his final will and his final purposes.

We must pray for our President. This does not mean that we pray that this passes, but we must pray that Obama comes to faith in Jesus Christ. We must pray for those Christians that come in direct contact with President Obama, like Pastor Rick Warren. We must pray that God would give our President knowledge and insight on what is right as our leader. We must pray that he would see the error in this legislation and change his mind. We must also pray that if this does go through that God's glory would be seen through this. Can God's glory be shown through evil? Yes, of course it can, sometimes we just can't see it right away.

We must still pay our taxes. This really stinks to be honest. I don't like the idea of my tax money to be paying for abortions, even though it has been for quite awhile since my taxes support Planned Parenthood. But, my taxes are also sent off to give Iraq by the millions every month too. My taxes help pay for overspending by our government, wars that I don't agree with and many other things that make me cringe. Not only this but Christ and Paul both said to pay taxes even while the governments they were involved with were highly scandalous. We know that the Holy Spirit inspired all of Scripture. Christ and Paul spoke of paying our taxes and afterwards, Christ was crucified and Nero burnt Christians at the stake to light up his gardens, all with tax money paid in part by Christians themselves. Think of this. Christ paid, in part, for his own crucifixion with the money that was found in the mouth of the fish. No doubt, we still have to pay our taxes. No doubt God's plan also came to fruition because of it.

Be careful how you speak to others about this. We need to be careful how we talk to others about this bill and about abortion in general. Do I believe that all abortion is sin? Yes, I do. Do I believe that it is murder? Yes, I do. But, the fact still remains that when I am speaking to others, I do not know their walk of life or what their past entails. I would hope that we would all be careful with how we speak to people who have had abortions in the past. Was it wrong? Yes. But, should we be gentle on how we broach the subject with them and show them their error? Yes. Too many times I have seen or found people to be very upfront with their thoughts on this that although their words are truth, the way that they go about it makes it sound like they should have a pitch fork and torch so that they can burn their enemies. This is why I am not a big proponent of picketing with signs and screaming. I just don't know how this helps. I believe how we can help is to speak to the individuals who are going through these decisions and tough times, but that would take some personal time from watching TV and finding all the verses in the Bible that shows you're right and they are wrong.

In the end, do I disagree with the FOCA? Yes. It really gives me a sick feeling of what it entails. Does this give me the right to pray for my President's demise or failure? I do not believe so. Does this make me long for the days of Christ's coming? Yes. Does this make me want to live more for Christ now, and proclaim his mercies and goodness to others? Yes.

I pray that we, as Christians, can be the salt of the earth and cities on the hill through this. I also pray that we wouldn't' be cities on the hill with high walls around us where we attack all those who come to our gates.

Soli Deo Gloria.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Spurgeon Answering Why God's Desires Aren't Always Fulfilled

This is an answer that Spurgeon used when people spoke of God's unfulfilled desires:

'But if he wishes it to be so, why does he not make it so?' Beloved friend, have you never heard that a fool may ask a question which a wise man cannot answer, and, if that be so, I am sure a wise person, like yourself, can ask me a great many questions which, fool as I am, I am yet not foolish enough to try to answer. Your question is only one form of the great debate of all the ages, - 'If God be infinitely good and powerful, why does not his power carry out to the full all his benevolence?' It is God's wish that the oppressed should go free, yet there are many oppressed who are not free. It is God's wish that the sick should not suffer. Do you doubt it? Is it not your own wish? And yet the Lord does not work a miracle to heal every sick person. It is God's wish that his creatures should be happy. Do you deny that? He does not interpose by any miraculous agency to make us all happy, and yet it would be wicked to suppose that he does not wish the happiness of all the creatures that he has made. He has an infinite benevolence which, nevertheless, is not in all points worked out by his infinite omnipotence; and if anybody asked me why it is not, I cannot tell. I have never set up to be an explainer of all difficulties, and I have no desire to do so.
Charles Spurgeon, MPT, vol. 26, pp 49-52

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Holy Hip Hop

I love stealing from John Piper's Desiring God ministry. It wouldn't be hard to convict me of these crimes against them. So, why stop now. I saw the below video over there and I liked it, so in good total depravity form, I stole it. Enjoy.

Desiring God's Description of video:

In this interview, Thabiti Anyabwile reflects on what he calls "holy hip hop" and its connection to the resurgence of Reformed Theology in African-American and urban churches.

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Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism

This small book by Iain Murray is one that puts forth a history of Charles Spurgeon's preaching ministry in the midst of great fire against him by other churches in England that were Hyper-Calvinistic in their doctrines.

Iain Murray gives a quick biography on Spurgeon to give the reader a better understanding of where he came from and to catch the reader up to why this conflict was of a serious nature to the Baptist faith at the time. I found it amazing how much Spurgeon was having to fight off from guys that he deeply respected and found to be friends of some sort. The main quibbles that these men, James Wells in particular, had with Spurgeon was that Spurgeon believed in the following:

1. That the gospel should be preached to all men, not just those whom were the elect or had some sort of experience to tell them that they were being drawn by the Spirit

2. What we would call duty faith. Meaning Spurgeon believed in telling his hearers that they should repent, that it was their duty to believe in Christ, etc. Wells and others believed Spurgeon was charging men with something that they could not do.

3. Duty faith tied into human responsibility. Spurgeon believed that human responsibility was real and that it was their responsibility to turn from their sin and to love Jesus. Again, Wells and others believed that this responsibility was not for every man, only those who were "heavy-laden" and felt the Holy Spirit's working within them.

4. The last problem they had with Spurgeon was his belief that God desires for all men, not just the elect, to repent and be saved. This is still a huge discussion with many in the Reformed faith. Some siding with Spurgeon (myself included) and others still siding with Gill and Wells.

The book sets up to show the arguments against Spurgeon and the many writings against him in the various publications around England. There were many claims against Spurgeon because of the above stated beliefs. Because of this, many claimed that Spurgeon was an Arminian and did not believe in God's elected love or in total depravity.

After the charges are shown, the arguments are then put forth to show Spurgeon's responses to these charges, which mostly come from his sermons. I found this to be of great help in the understanding of God's desire for all and also a return to the days of old when verses that included the term "all" were not twisted to mean "some sorts" or "some sorts of different classes of men" etc. Throughout the book Spurgeon shows his honesty in the difficulty of putting all these doctrines together and that there is a good middle ground between the Arminian and the Hyper-Calvinist.

Spurgeon also shows great respect for both the Arminians and the Hyper-Calvinist. Where James Wells said that John Wesley went to hell, Spurgeon gives praise for the gospel preaching of Wesley. Also, John Gill is referred many times as the teacher for the Hypers and at one time called the proverbial head of Hyper-Calvinism, yet Spurgeon still shows much respect for him and also his contemporaries that held to Gill's positions.

The sub-heading for this book is "The Battle for Gospel Preaching" and I found it to be a very appropriate title. If anyone is interested in what historic Calvinism teaches, this is a great primer on the understanding. I would disagree with Spurgeon and Murray's thoughts on the extent of the atonement, but because of their graciousness and admittance that they didn't/don't understand how it could fit with the universal call, I can still recommend this book. They, Murray and Spurgeon, are very honest with their confusion of how limited atonement works within God's universal call for all to repent.

This book deals openly and honestly about the hard doctrines of the faith. It deals honestly with passages like John 3:16, Matthew 23:37; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3,4 and the hoops one has to jump through to make this fit within their theology if they don't take 'all' to simply mean, 'all.'

If you have been approached by a Hyper-Calvinist, want a defense against a Hyper-Calvinist, or you just want to understand more of the heart of true Calvinism, I would highly recommend this book. Spurgeon is very gracious in his defenses, yet puts forth the truth. Link to Buy.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Spurgeon vs. James White

I am basically done with the book Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism, as I only have the last part of Spurgeon's exegesis on 1 Timothy 2:3,4. The book is written by Iain Murray and I have found that if I merely started with this book it would have made more sense the fallacies that James White has been putting forth for some time. I am basically continuing something that I read from Kevin Williams in his post "Calvin disagrees with James White on John 3:16." This post could very well be Spurgeon, Iain Murray and T.J. Crawford disagree with James White on the desire of God, the well meant offer, John Gill and the exegesis on John 3:16, Matthew 23:37; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3,4 and any other verses on God's desire. But that would be a very long post heading. What is interesting is that what I, and others, have been saying is exactly what Spurgeon said of Gill in trying to explain his position on God's desire and love for the reprobate. Here is Spurgeon explaining some of Gill, whom Spurgeon and Murray both declare to be a Hyper-Calvinist (Gill is someone who White leans on and defends)

Very seldom does he allow himself to be run away with by imagination, except now and then when he tries to open up a parable, and finds a meaning in every circumstance and minute detail; or when he falls upon a text which is not congenial with his creed, and hacks and hews terribly to bring the word of God into a more systematic shape
Charles Spurgeon; Commenting and Commentaries, P. 9

Spurgeon basically says that instead of allowing Scripture to speak for what it says, Gill has to hack away at it so badly to fit into his creeds, that it makes no sense at all anymore. This is what we have seen when dealing with others as we try to look at John 3:16; Matthew 23:37; 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:3,4. It is laughable, except they don't seem to get the joke.

T.J. Crawford (1812-1875), Professor of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh speaks of the desire of God in this way:

It may be alleged, however, that the invitations of the Gospel, besides being expressive of the undisputed fact that whosoever complies with them shall obtain the offered blessings, are also indicative of a desire on the part of God that all sinners to whom they are held out should comply with them; and how, it may be asked, can such a desire be sincere, if it be the purpose of God to confer only on some sinners that grace by which their compliance will be secured?

Now, without pretending that we are able to give a satisfactory answer to this question, we are not prepared to admit, what the question evidently assumes, that God can have no sincere desire with reference to the conduct of all His creatures, if it be His purpose to secure on the part of this desire. For how does the case stand in this respect with His commandments? These, no less than His invitations, are addressed to all. Both are alike to be considered as indications of what He desires and requires to be done by all. Nor are there wanting, with reference to His commandments, testimonies quite as significant as any which are to be found with reference to His invitations, of the earnestness and intensity of His desire that the course which they prescribe should be adopted by all who hear them. Take, for example, these tender expostulations: 'O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!' 'Oh that my people had harkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!' 'O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments; then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea!'

But while the commandments of God are thus indicative of what God desires, approves of, and delights in, as congenial to the goodness and holiness of His moral nature, they are certainly not declarative, at the same time, of what He has fixedly purposed or determined in His government of the universe to carry into effect. For if they were so, it is certain that they would be unfailingly and universally obeyed by all His creatures; whereas they are frequently violated, without any interference on His part to secure their observance. Doubtless it is an inscrutable mystery that things should thus be done under the government of the Almighty which are in the highest degree displeasing and offensive to Him. It is just the old mystery of the existence of moral evil, which no one has ever been able to explain.

It is clear through the reading of this book that Spurgeon, Murray and others believed that God has a true inner desire for the reprobate and that those who oppose this idea are those believing in a tenant of hyperism. Murray quotes many men in this respect and labors to make the point clear. What I also found interesting is that when Spurgeon continued to make the point of God's desire and duty faith that he was called an Arminian, or at least one with some sort of Arminian leanings. This is exactly what I find every time I bring up these points. That if I believe that God has a true desire for something that does not come to pass, then I am an Arminian. I would rather stand on the Scriptures with Spurgeon on this, than what was historically labeled as Hyper-Calvinism.

One last note, and we'll be done. When speaking on 1 Timothy 2:3,4 Spurgeon makes this comment:

What then? Shall we try to put another meaning into the text than that which is fairly bears? I trow not. You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends (he is speaking of James Wells, Gill and other hyper-Calvinists) deal with this text. 'All men,' say they, - 'that is, some men': as if the Holy Ghost could not have said 'some men' if he had meant some men. 'All men,' they say; 'that is, some sorts of men': as if the Lord could not have said 'All sorts of men' if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written 'all men,' and unquestionably he means all men. I know how to get rid of the force of the 'alls' according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how it can be applied here with due regard to truth...I never thought it to be any very great crime to be so inconsistent with myself, for who am I that I should everlastingly be consistent? But I do think it is a great crime to seem to be inconsistent with the word of God that I should want to lop away a bough or even a twig from so much as a single tree of the forest of Scripture. God forbid that I should cut or shape, even in the least degree, any divine expression. So runs the text, and so we must read it, 'God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.'

Does not the text mean that it is the wish of God that men should be saved? The word 'wish' gives as much force to the original as it really requires, and the passage should run thus - 'whose wish it is that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.' As it is my wish that it should be so, as it is your wish that it might be so, so it is God's wish that all men should be saved; for, assuredly, he is not less benevolent than we are.

Charles Spurgeon, MTP, vol. 26, pp. 49-52

It is undeniable what Spurgeon thought on the desire and love of God and also his thought that Gill was a Hyper-Calvinist. He would disagree with James White on this understanding and would also say, as I have said, if you do not believe in the fact that God desires the salvation of all men, including the reprobate, that is a tenant of Hyper-Calvinism. Not only this, but he would also exegete all the major passages of the love of God differently than James White and would say that White is hacking away the word of God to fit his creeds.

Again, I pray that James White would see his error in this and turn from it. I thank God that White believes in the preaching of the Gospel to the reprobate (and he does so mightily) and I also thank God that James White believes in duty-faith (which he also faithfully proclaims). I just pray that he could see the love that God has for all people and the true desire that He has for their salvation.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

For the Sins of My Father

I found this book while searching around on and for some reason, probably because of the "biblical" title, it caught my eye. As I picked up the book and started to read, the first thing I noticed was the fact that the author, Albert DeMeo, was trying to convey something that I figured was going to be a theme throughout the book, which was family is everything.

Albert DeMeo, the author, is the son of notorious killer Roy DeMeo from the Gambino Crime Family in New York City. The story starts by showing the author in his naive youthfulness around the ages of 5 and 6 years old. But then he started to notice that he was different when he got odd stares and glances from other cousins as they watched a mob movie. It seemed as he was the butt of a joke without knowing it. DeMeo tells of his early life learning that he had a lot of "uncles" that weren't kin to him and that were spread throughout the city, as he watched his dad collect envelopes and given much respect wherever they went. Not a normal respect, but a suspicious one.

As the story unfolds, DeMeo tells of his life of becoming a young wiseguy and the rise of his father as he becomes a capo in the Gambino Crime Family. The story mainly takes place in the 70's and early 80's and is very detailed on many accounts of the day to day life of his father "passing down the business." It feels like a confession of sorts in story form. I will say that DeMeo does not seem to hold anything back about his dad. He tells of his dad's car theft ring that was the largest in New York City, loan sharking, filthy prostitution and sex shop business and the impact that it had on Albert as he watched this filthy business unfold. I was surprised at how even one that had witnessed many things in his life, still found the sex shops and theatres that his dad owned and did business with as polluted filth.

Behind all this, the reader finds a deep relationship between father and son. It was actually one that was very well described and one that was also very troubling. Although Roy DeMeo took care of his family in one sense, he put them in harms way with the work that he did and the absent nights away as he went on killing sprees and took care of other business. Yet, I found myself fond of the relationship that Roy DeMeo had with his family and especially his only son.

What I find most sad is the deep impact that this played on Albert throughout his life. Although he was never deeply involved within the crime family, the parts he knew and lived made much of an impact until even now. Through all this, even in the deepest despair, he never goes to where he should have gone a long time ago. To Christ. Albert speaks of his mom sending him to confirmation classes in the Catholic church because she wanted him to have good morals and learn about God. But, this saddens me to think that the reason to send someone to church was merely to learn to be "good" instead of going to find Christ. This was obvious as Albert continued to look to himself in despair, without hope and even using Scriptures in the book as quotes that were obviously meaningless as he uses these alongside quotes from Machiavelli and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

The only Scripture that he uses that speaks volumes is the one that adorns the front of the book as the title.

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
Exodus 20:5

The book is actually very well done and speaks volume to the insides of the mob and the families that are affected. I pray for Albert DeMeo and hope that the verses that he uses in his book would have more of an impact than mere recitations for chapter headings. Albert seems to be very honest with his life and his father's life that he lead. I pray that Albert can forgive himself and look to the cross of Christ and know that his sins have truly been paid for. In the end, if one wants an honest description of mob life, I would highly recommend this read as it shows all parts, not just the glamorized ones. Highly Recommended (with caution, adult material in parts)

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Is Drinking Alcohol a Sin?

I have been having a little discussion with James in my post on the 10 Steps to Become a Legalist. He is doing well with the 10th point of becoming a legalist. He is following it well and even trying to state his case on why he is allowed to be a legalist in this area. Instead of answering his questions in the combox, I decided to make a post answering his last questions. You can check that post to see our discussion, but I wanted to get these answers to these common objections to drinking alcohol in post form. Again, I want to stress that if you have a conviction to not drink yourself, more power to you, I respect your decision. My problem comes when someone calls it sin or then tries to put that yoke on others. Below is the Q and A that we have been discussing. Sounds like a lot of my readers will be reading it while drinking and smoking a good cigar. Hope they both go down well.

James: Ok, here we go Seth:

I start with this verse.
Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: Whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise
Proverbs 20:1

Seth: This verse is one that is not that difficult when you look at its intent. The reason is that the first part of the verse gives the conclusion to what happens in the first part. Wine can become a mocker and strong drink is raging if someone is "deceived" or better put in what the original Hebrew is getting across, the NASB states that these things happen, when you are "intoxicated" by it. Here is how the NASB reads: Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, And whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise. Which I agree with, don't get drunk with wine or strong drink because then you become mocked and beyond angry.

James: There was a day & time when it was commonplace for Christians of all denominations to abide by the Biblical conviction that no person should drink alcohol. In recent years, the radical grace movement, with it's extreme teachings concerning Christian liberty, has spread across America. With this self-centered view of Christianity many Christians have left behind their convictions concerning intoxicating drinks. The sale of Alcoholic beverages has risen by 40 percent, in the last 25 years, which is an epidemic problem that has made it's way into our churches.

Seth: This is almost a completely made up statement. History tells us that most Christians, for 2000 years, have always drank wine, beer, etc. It is only since the prohibition where people started to go against it, which they should have not taken drinks when it was illegal.

James: Leaders should avoid alcohol.
Proverbs 23:31 says,Look thou not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth it's color in the cup, When it moveth itself aright. (fermenting) It says NOT to.

Seth: I wonder if you read context. The reason that it says to stay away from it, is because of the previous verses of those who misuse alcohol. Who get drunk with it. He just got done talking about those who "linger" over it. And then afterwards talks about wine making people see strange things, uttering perverse things, etc. Meaning that the person is drunk, not merely drinking some wine. The term "do not look at it when it is red" is speaking of it being inticing to a drunk that can't wait to get his hands on the drink. This comes from the most respected Hebrew scholars in Keil and Delitzsch. It could be this or just the use of hyperbole, because the context is clearly speaking of a drunk. Think of when Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:13 that he would never eat meat again if it were to make his brother stumble.

James: There are many spiritual leaders who abstained from drink.
1. Nazarines (Nazarite vow) Numbers 6:1-4
2. John The Baptist (He followed the Nazarite vowel.) Luke 1:15

Seth: Are you going to also never cut your hair, pledge not to touch a dead animal or eat locusts and wear camel hair? Or can we be more knowledgeable and try and understand that the Nazarite vow is no longer a vow to be followed and John the Baptist was a special prophet among God's people? If not, can I be the first to buy a ticket to your circus in the desert while you wear camel hair, eat bugs and drink grape juice?

James: 3. Deacons/I Timothy 3:8

Seth: This verse says that deacons shouldn't be addicted to wine. What is your point? You can drink wine without being addicted.

James: Leaders should not encourage others to drink. (Habakkuk 2:15-16)

Seth: Did you read this verse? It is speaking of drunkenness. I don't remember the last time I saw someone sip on some wine at dinner and then get naked. Maybe our experiences have been different.

James also lists off Isaiah 5:11 & Proverbs 31:4,5


1. Isaiah 5:11
Again, this is speaking of pursuing strong drink and being inflamed with wine, both showing an uncontrollable urge with drinking instead of fearing the Lord. Again, context. Look at verse 12...these people cared more about getting drunk than keeping the deeds of the Lord.

2. Proverbs 31:4-5

Again, keep reading. I never have known people to forget what they have said, when drinking in moderation. This again, is speaking of the dangers of getting drunk. Verse 5 speaks of someone forgetting what is decreed and perverting the rights of the afflicted. Again, drunk, not simply drinking.

James: * in ancient times, wine (as we would call it) was mixed with water in an eight-to-one mixture for purification purposes. The Bibles word wine does not have the same connotation as alcoholic beverages. When water purification was a problem, people would add crushed composites of a grape-type syrup called wine for the purpose of purifying water from parasites. When the Bible talks about wine it is not talking about intoxicating substance at all; it is speaking of treated water in some instances.

Seth: Where did you find this material? I have heard this to try and be explained, but just read the Bible to find it to be false. Because I find it interesting that you keep saying that the wine was not intoxicating, yet you just listed off many verses that speak of wine being intoxicating, making one forget, perverting justice, being a mockery, etc. So, which is it? Intoxicating or not?

James: In reference to spiritual leaders read I Timothy 3:3- Not given to wine...

Seth: Do you know what "given" means? It is the Greek word "paroinos" which means addicted or drunk. So, this isn't speaking of abstinence either.

James: More of what scripture says:
1. Condemns drunkenness/Eph. 5:18

Seth: We are speaking of drinking alcohol at all, not getting drunk. I agree that to get drunk is wrong.

James: 2. Warning/Pro. 23:19-21

Seth: Be consistant. It also speaks of gluttons here. So, are you going to abstain from food too? Just because some abuse it doesn't mean that you MUST abstain. Your logic is very flawed at this point.

James: 3. Recommended to go ahead and drink wine. Don't think this is a loop-hole. I Timothy 5:23- In this verse where wine is mentioned it is commended for medicinal use. Because of the condition of the water in that day, it is believed that Timothy suffered from infirmities relating to his stomach and intestines. so Paul told Timothy to use a little wine for his stomachs sake. Again, this instruction was related to the syrupy grape juice mixed in with water for purification and medicinal purposes.

Seth: This does nothing for your point. This same term of "oinos" which is the same term that people could get drunk on in Ephesians 5:18. Again, I will trust the original Greek instead of your thoughts on the matter.

James: Scripture warns of Alcohols dangers.
1. It hastens ruin/Pro. 23:31-32
2. It enflames lust/Pro. 23:33
3. Destroys families/Genesis 9:20-25

Seth: Correction. This isn't the dangers of alcohol, this is the dangers of the abuse of alcohol. There are also dangers of eating too much and overindulging in money as well (greed) are we supposed to abstain from these as well? How do you get around this?

James: Is today's wine the same as Bible times?
1. No it is not. The majority of the O.T. usages of the word wine comes from a Hebrew word that means "boiling up". Does that sound like intoxicating beverages, yes it does. But that is not what it means. "Boiling up" comes from the idea of boiling grape juice into heavy syrup to use as a mixture in water.

Seth: According to actual scholars in this area, which I quoted to you before, you are not correct here. The Hebrew word that is used speaks of being drunk with wine...again, how do you get drunk from grape juice? I mean, you just quoted a lot of OT verses where people get drunk, is this supposed to be people overindulging in grape juice? Just wondering. Also, for your information, the noun used in the Septuigant for the Hebrew word for "wine" was translated into the Greek as...yep...oinos. The same that is used throughout the NT.

James: Proverbs 23:30- They that tarry long at the wine; they go to seek mixed wine.

According to this verse, some people would drink to much of this mixture deliberately seeking to become intoxicated; but the original intent was for water purification. The second Greek word used for wine simply means "nonintoxicating syrup". We often read about wine in the Bible. When Jesus turned the water into wine, I do not believe that he turned the water into rotten grape juice(fermented wine)that would intoxicate any who drank it. He turned the water into a safe, purified, and refreshing beverage that was non alcoholic. I believe in John 2 when the scripture speaks of Jesus' good wine, it speaks of the drinks mildness as a water like substance. In ancient times the process of fermentation may have begun because of lack of refrigeration. Today's wines, beers, and mixed drinks are highly intoxicating and very dangerous for families, and they are processed to be such. This is definitely different from what the Bible refers to when it teaches about wine.

I hope this enough scripture and evidence for you Seth.

Seth: This is completely unfounded with what we find in the Scriptures. The original Greek could not be more clear in this area. Context and the many usages of wine speak of us enjoying wine in heaven (Isaiah 25:6-9; Jeremiah 31:12-14), that wine was given to us for our joy (Judges 9:13; Zechariah 10:7; Ecc 10:19) and that Christ drank this wine at the Last Supper and turned the water into wine at Cana. The warning is that this same wine, this same "oinos", if overindulged is a sin and is very dangerous. We see this in many other ways in the Bible with food, sex, money, anger and the tongue. But we are not told to abstain from eating, sex, making money, righteous anger or talking. Why do you think it is okay to present a double standard where your logic is completely fallacious? If you think it is wrong to drink because it leads to drunkenness, which is exactly what all of the verses you listed are saying, you then better live consistantly and stop having sex with your wife, stop eating, making money or talking.

At least be consistant.

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The Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy

Since there is a certain reader that I have confused, which wasn't that difficult, I figured I would put up the articles of the Chicago Statement here. If one needs further clarification, click here, to see some other remarks as they considered these articles.

Articles of Affirmation and Denial

Article I.

WE AFFIRM that the Holy Scriptures are to be received as the authoritative Word of God.

WE DENY that the Scriptures receive their authority from the Church, tradition, or any other human source.

Article II.
WE AFFIRM that the Scriptures are the supreme written norm by which God binds the conscience, and that the authority of the Church is subordinate to that of Scripture.

WE DENY that Church creeds, councils, or declarations have authority greater than or equal to the authority of the Bible.

Article III.
WE AFFIRM that the written Word in its entirety is revelation given by God.

WE DENY that the Bible is merely a witness to revelation, or only becomes revelation in encounter, or depends on the responses of men for its validity.

Article IV.
WE AFFIRM that God who made mankind in His image has used language as a means of revelation.

WE DENY that human language is so limited by our creatureliness that it is rendered inadequate as a vehicle for divine revelation. We further deny that the corruption of human culture and language through sin has thwarted God's work of inspiration.

Article V.
WE AFFIRM that God's revelation within the Holy Scriptures was progressive.

WE DENY that later revelation, which may fulfill earlier revelation, ever corrects or contradicts it. We further deny that any normative revelation has been given since the completion of the New Testament writings.

Article VI.
WE AFFIRM that the whole of Scripture and all its parts, down to the very words of the original, were given by divine inspiration.

WE DENY that the inspiration of Scripture can rightly be affirmed of the whole without the parts, or of some parts but not the whole.

Article VII.
WE AFFIRM that inspiration was the work in which God by His Spirit, through human writers, gave us His Word. The origin of Scripture is divine. The mode of divine inspiration remains largely a mystery to us.

WE DENY that inspiration can be reduced to human insight, or to heightened states of consciousness of any kind.

Article VIII.
WE AFFIRM that God in His work of inspiration utilized the distinctive personalities and literary styles of the writers whom He had chosen and prepared.

WE DENY that God, in causing these writers to use the very words that He chose, overrode their personalities.

Article IX.
WE AFFIRM that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience, guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the Biblical authors were moved to speak and write.

WE DENY that the finitude or fallenness of these writers, by necessity or otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God's Word.

Article X.
WE AFFIRM that inspiration, strictly speaking, applies only to the autographic text of Scripture, which in the providence of God can be ascertained from available manuscripts with great accuracy. We further affirm that copies and translations of Scripture are the Word of God to the extent that they faithfully represent the original.

WE DENY that any essential element of the Christian faith is affected by the absence of the autographs. We further deny that this absence renders the assertion of Biblical inerrancy invalid or irrelevant.

Article XI.
WE AFFIRM that Scripture, having been given by divine inspiration, is infallible, so that, far from misleading us, it is true and reliable in all the matters it addresses.

WE DENY that it is possible for the Bible to be at the same time infallible and errant in its assertions. Infallibility and inerrancy may be distinguished, but not separated.

Article XII.
WE AFFIRM that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

WE DENY that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.

Article XIII.
WE AFFIRM the propriety of using inerrancy as a theological term with reference to the complete truthfulness of Scripture.

WE DENY that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage or purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations.

Article XIV.
WE AFFIRM the unity and internal consistency of Scripture.

WE DENY that alleged errors and discrepancies that have not yet been resolved vitiate the truth claims of the Bible.

Article XV.
WE AFFIRM that the doctrine of inerrancy is grounded in the teaching of the Bible about inspiration.

WE DENY that Jesus' teaching about Scripture may be dismissed by appeals to accommodation or to any natural limitation of His humanity.

Article XVI.
WE AFFIRM that the doctrine of inerrancy has been integral to the Church's faith throughout its history.

WE DENY that inerrancy is a doctrine invented by scholastic Protestantism, or is a reactionary position postulated in response to negative higher criticism.

Article XVII.
WE AFFIRM that the Holy Spirit bears witness to the Scriptures, assuring believers of the truthfulness of God's written Word.

WE DENY that this witness of the Holy Spirit operates in isolation from or against Scripture.

Article XVIII.
WE AFFIRM that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.

WE DENY the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizing, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.

Article XIX.
WE AFFIRM that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead to increasing conformity to the image of Christ.

WE DENY that such confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences, both to the individual and to the Church.

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