Contend Earnestly: August 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Kill Morality or it Will Be Killing You

The continuation of this post title could really include, "...and you will kill others." This quote is a play off of John Owens famous words from "Mortality of Sin" when he states to "kill sin or it will be killing you" and has a real bent on daily sins that need to be dealt with. What I have noticed, and what many of our contemporaries have noticed, is that there is a real bad case of Pharisaical Gospel boxed up and disguised within a moralistic good doer mentality. The gospel means "good news" not "good men." But what happens is that instead of there being any good news within the gospel one is just taken from being trapped in sin to being trapped in rules and regulations for those who want to be called sanctified and mature.

The more I find out the clarity of the cross, the more I realize that it isn't the man that proves sanctification, but the God/man. He is the one who proves everything that has to do with redemption and sanctification. Some love to call people to Lordship salvation, but are really disguising what they deem to be under Lordship through their daily rules that their followers must adhere to (not saying I don't believe in Lordship salvation, just saying people don't understand what it truly means). The problem within this is that this discredits our Lord in heaven and his work that he accomplished while he was here on this earth. What this discredits is every aspect of the redemptive plan and it is one that continually needs to be poked at, prodded at, made fun of and completely discredited. If not, your moralism will kill you and then kill others.

Moralism Kills, The Gospel Resuscitates

If you are a Christian, do you realize that you have been saved from your works, not to your works? You have been saved to realize that your works are crap and worthless, but the work of our Christ was, is and will be perfect. Once you start making rules of when you should study the bible, how much church you should attend, how many worship songs you should sing, how long you should pray, which movies you shouldn't watch, which people you should protest, which political party you should relate to, and you base these off of the thought that this is what any good Christian ought to do, you have failed redemption. You have just aligned yourself with the Pharisees. You have just put forth what one must adhere to that isn't found in the bible. You are no different than a Jew who made many rules to adhere to the fake, hate filled Israelite god of the Old Testament Jews. Now...I am not being a heretic here. The true God is found in the Old Testament, but usually only in the mouths of the prophets and rarely found in the practice of the Jewish people. Their acts are what made people think that the Jewish, Old Testament Yahweh was hateful and required good works for salvation. This wasn't the case. The God of the OT is the same God found in the face of Christ in the New Testament, who didn't call the righteous, but the sinner to his side.

The question isn't "is this true" but the question is "why don't you believe this true with your crappy works that you have set up for yourself?" Paul said the same thing to the Galatians:

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Galatians 3:1-3

Same thing with us. If you believe in Sola Gratia and Sola Fide, why do you go back to your works for salvific proof or sanctification purposes? You begun with faith in the Christ, do you now leave him behind and do everything yourself? How about you start living like the Christ actually died on the cross and rose again for your sins? Our works should only be driven by our love for the Christ, not the love of our flesh and self gratifying crappy ideals. Stop with your lists of labor thinking it gains you anything. Start living for the risen Christ, understanding that he paid it all and nothing you do can gain you anything, besides more love for Christ. If your works start feeling like a painful experience of unwanted slavery, you probably aren't working for the right reasons:

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
1 John 5:3

Moralism Kills You, Then Those You "Love"

This is why I write this post. If you want to live some burdensome crappy life where you can't be loved by Christ unless you read the Bible and pray at 5am, that's cool for you. The reason I care is because your stupid thoughts and actions will then end up killing someone else. You will try to win people to your stupid "gospel." I still don't know how it is good news to anyone where they now have to quit everything, wear a suit in public and only drink kool aid...but whatever...Maybe Jesus actually meant it when he said he came to bring the good news of salvation.

He said the same thing to your kin, the Pharisees:

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
Matthew 23:13-15

You see, it was bad enough that Jesus came and tried to just stay near sinners, but the Pharisees wouldn't leave him alone and followed him around trying to get him to trip, trying to lure away his followers and find Christ in sin. Sounds a lot like some other pastors these days...always trying to find fault in other brothers who preach the gospel trying to win people to Jesus, instead of their morals.

Jesus put it bluntly, he could have just said, literally, "leave me the hell alone" but he said in another way that was far worse:

And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Mark 2:17

Jesus says, if you can do it yourself through your works, you don't need me. Leave me alone, I came to save those who know they are sinners in total need for a Saviour for the rest of their lives, not just a one time penance prayer.

Jesus preached, loved and redeemed the sinner to his side so many times it cost him his life. Morality kills you first, then it kills others...and it killed our Christ. No doubt did God bring about good from his predestined plan of the cross, but moralism is what drove him there. The Pharisees thought themselves the highest morally and wanted to drive other people to their side and their morals instead of to God and to his redemption. The Pharisees couldn't handle someone else coming and releasing the sinner of the chains of slavery to moralism, so they wanted him dead.

If you notice, anyone who calls people to the grace of God continually, will be called someone who is an antinomian and believes one can sin all they want to without care. Not true. We preach that the works of Christ are enough, and all my works earn me jack, they only are done for the love of the redemption that was given to us in spite of ourselves, not because of ourselves.

So, ask yourself, "why do I do the works that I do?" If they are not done solely out of the love of your Saviour, you are doing them for the wrong reasons. You should preach this, practice this and teach this so much that people think you believe one can sin all they want to so that grace can abound. If people are asking this question, they also do not understand the life that has been transformed by the gospel. Know that your works will never gain you anything besides a smile on your face and maybe on the face of the ones you help.

Love Jesus more, love your works less and know that you are just as despicable as you were when you were saved, but because of the righteousness that you have been clothed with because of Christ, you are seen as perfect. Now, live like you care.

When you do this, this verse actually makes sense:

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men"
Colossians 3:23

The term "men" includes you...stop working for yourself and for others and start working because of the deep gratitude of the cross.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Collision Trailer: Hitchens vs Wilson

I found this at Desiring God. The movie Collision is a documentary coming out that follows around Christopher Hitchens (he has written many books including God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything) and Doug Wilson (Reformed Pastor and author of many titles, including, God Is. How Christianity Explains Everything) as they debate "Is Christianity Good for the World?"

Here is a trailor for the upcoming 80 minute documentary:

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How Do I Know If My Child is Saved?

Because of the discussion of communion, many usually start asking, "if we don't allow people to come to the table unless they are saved, how do we know if they are saved?" Usually this has more to do with our children than adults, even though I do not believe there to be much difference in repentance and faith. Do they look different? Sometimes, but the same ideals should be seen and put forth. This isn't a dumb question and one that should be asked by parents and sought to be answered. The problem with the answer, like many things in practical Christianity is there is no hard and fast rule. If you would like to read my thoughts on infants and heaven, you can read that here: Where do babies go when they die?

But, for those God has allowed to grace us with their presence, even though we as parents don't always see it that way, how do we know when they are saved and ready to be baptized and partake in communion? I am more liberal than some on this thought and desire that my sons be included into the New Covenant sooner upon profession than a continual questioning of their salvation. I just want to share how I am going to "test" whether or not my children are saved.

Confession and Repentance

When looking throughout Acts and the Gospels two things are clear: a disciple of Christ is a person who confesses Christ and repents of sins.

Martin Luther's first of his 95 theses states:

Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite (or "repent ye"), willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

Both of these terms, confession and repentance, are in the present tense. Meaning, just as Luther points out, we should continually confess and repent as Christians. This does not mean that your child needs to then say a prayer of confession and repentance, fill out a card, check a box and walk down the aisle and consider himself saved from that nasty place called hell with that ugly beast called Satan. This isn't what the New Testament is trying to get across, although we will be saved from hell and the wrath of God.

Confession of Christ means just what the Bible continually points to. Confession, or faith in Christ, means that you believe that you are a grave sinner in need of a Saviour to save you. One must believe that their Saviour is found in Christ Jesus alone, on his works alone and that he rose from death, conquering our sin altogether. Can a child understand this fully? I would rather beg the question, "Can ANYONE understand this fully?" The depths of the cross and resurrection are so overwhelming that if anyone says they understand it, they are deceiving themselves. I would rather give the cross and resurrection liberally to the lost, including my children.

As they start to show this understanding as they continually seek its power, I will quickly affirm their belief, not belittle them.

Repentance is something that we as parents like to forget about. It really comes in the understanding of life change as well. Being that we are new creatures in Christ, we have to remember that this does not mean that we made ourselves new creatures because of our works, neither will we work out our sanctification solely on our works either. We must see this with our children.

Too many parents hold the sins over the heads of their children. Saying that they do not see the life change expected from a Christian, all while denying their own struggles with sin. Acting as if their life is holy and undefiled because they read and pray every morning before going to work while their child plays with Legos.

If we really want to get to the crux of the life of the Christian it is one where we desire Christ and his cross so much more because we see how clearly we, in our flesh, continually sin. We seek to understand how a God, infinite and holy, can love and die for a wretched sinner as I.

We don't then try and understand this and hold it over our child's head on why their life doesn't look "Christian". This sounds a lot like the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18, whose debt was paid and then strangled someone who owed him so much less. Do our children sin? Yes. Will they continue to sin and disappoint us? Yes. Do we forgive them for this? Yes. But we must remember that they didn't sin against us, but against God. We have to remember that we don't sin against others, but against God. If God can forgive us for sinning against a holy and infinite One, why can he not forgive our children of the same thing?

So, How Do I Know if My Child Is Saved?

I will seek to see when my child is repentant and loves the cross more than his sin. My sons currently, at the ages of 6 and 3, know the facts of the cross, but are showing little signs of repentance. Although I see other signs in my kids that make my heart cry out in joy, I don't see sons that desire forgiveness through the cross. They do not need to know all the facts of the Bible, they don't need to know how to debate the substitutionary theory of the atonement or prove that Christ was born of a virgin. What they need to know though is that Christ died for them (which is in fact substitutionary) and that they will continually sin in this life, but forgiveness waits for those who are repentant. This doesn't mean that they will desire to sin, but will desire to live for Jesus. This doesn't mean that they will be sinless, but will know who to go to for forgiveness when they don't share, fight, lie or call their siblings dumb.

As soon as I see this in my child's life, I will baptize them and allow them to partake of the table. I pray that this life starts sooner than later, but I will not wait for my child to be close to sinless for this to happen, but will seek out sons who love Jesus and love that he did all the work and they are helpless without him.

Parents, be careful that you don't become a heretic in waiting for a sinless child to kill themselves on the altar. Christ paid for their sins, just as he paid for yours. Don't be the unmerciful servant, but be the servant that tells the wonders of the great and merciful one who waits and desires for your child to be welcomed into the family of God.

Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Matthew 19:13-14

The principal difficulty of children in coming to Christ frequently lies in their friends. Their parents or their other relatives think they are too young, and discourage them. Oh, that we all had a right idea of the possibility of the conversion of little children; nay, not only of the possibility, but that we looked for it, watched for it, and encouraged young children to come to Christ! You know that, in the parable I am going to read presently, we are told that the householder “went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard.” What a privilege it is to be Brought to Christ early in the morning,—that is, while we are yet children.

Spurgeon, Charles H.: Spurgeon's Sermons: Volume 43. electronic ed. Albany, OR : Ages Software, 1998 (Logos Library System; Spurgeon's Sermons 43)

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Brothers...Preach More Grace

I was listening to some John Piper and he said something pretty striking that I had never thought of. He told the preachers in the audience that if people were not asking them the question posed in Romans 6:1 that they were not preaching the gospel. This is quite the claim by Piper, but as I think about it and read more into the epistle to the Romans, I believe he is completely correct. Romans is called the gospel according to Paul and it is not light in theology. What one will continually find through Romans, is grace. So much so, that it caused Luther to see the light of his sin and the fallacies of the Papacy. From that, Romans drew Luther to the conclusion that the Epistle of James was an "Epistle of Straw" where he ended up taking it out of his Bible. Now, this was definitely an overcorrection in Luther, but if you follow his life of being hammered on working for his salvation, one can see why he loved the book of Romans and James left a bad taste in his mouth.

The question posed in Romans 6:1 is stated as such:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?

This question, like Paul's other questions that he poses and answers, are ones that the Holy Spirit guided Paul to answer because his teaching would naturally lead to them. So, what causes one to ask this question of being able to keep sinning as much as they want?

Paul's preaching of the gospel. Specifically the grace found in the Son's death and resurrection where we gain our complete righteousness.

Throughout the epistle Paul focuses in on the finished work of Christ and righteousness found through faith in Him alone and on Christ's work alone. So much so that people simply will ask, "So can we just sin all we want because Christ will forgive and has done all the work for us?"

This comes off the heals of Chapter 5 in Romans where Paul shows that we have done nothing besides inherit and increase our sin debt, yet Christ has paid it all. He has just gone through such things as:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul keeps nailing this and just when one gets this impression of working and struggling with the faith in Romans 7, Paul brings it back again in Romans 8:1

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Paul continued to preach grace always, so much so, that people would come to the question of, "If it is finished and grace is poured out on me instead of wrath, why not just sin all the more."

The question then comes, "Is this the question you get when you preach?" "Is this the question you get when you speak to others about the gospel?" If not, you are not preaching the gospel but something else. By my gathering of hearing people preach, they preach more like a Pharisee or a Jewish Rabbi. They preach more on what you need to do throughout your week, and leaving the finished work of Christ out of the conversation. So many are worried about Lordship Salvation, which I agree with, that they refuse to preach the depth of grace and its abundance found on the cross and through the resurrection. I am not saying to leave out the idea of "a faith that works" as James so poignantly puts forth, but if grace is not on the tip of your tongue right afterwards, you are missing the point of the Gospel.

Preachers, brothers, sisters, please remember that Christ gives water that never runs dry. It is this grace that is the water, it is the knowledge that he is sufficient and like Jesus told the woman at the well, this water is given by the Father, through the Christ. The water is not the Law, the law only makes one thirsty, the water, the quenching of the thirst of the law is the grace of the gospel.

Do you only preach the dry tongue in the desert? Or do you preach the water found at the cross?
Never did a man sincerely seek but what he found the Lord willing to give. Go to your chamber, look at your past life, survey your mistakes and your sins, and confess them; and then lift up your eyes to the cross, and say, “O Jesus, given for sinners, have mercy upon a guilty one - have mercy upon me!” He cannot refuse you. As I read in an old Puritan this week, he says, “Come to Jesus, sinner; and if you are lame, come lame; and if you say you have no feet, come on your stumps. Come as you can, for he cannot reject you till he denies himself. He must cease to be faithful before he can reject any sinner that comes humbly to rest upon him.” Try him to-day, you aged people! Seek him, and he will be found of you. You young people, turn not your backs upon him! and you in middle life, O close in with him this day, and may he give you the water of life! Did not he say to that woman, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee,, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water”? Ask, and he will give. What! not ask when it is to be had for the asking? Ah! Lord, we ask. Grant it now for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Charles H. Spurgeon: Spurgeon's Sermons: Volume 15. electronic ed. Albany, OR : Ages Software, 1998 (Logos Library System; Spurgeon's Sermons 15)

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Why Paedocommunion is Dumb

Okay, so I put a title to make you read the post. I figured I needed to do something to get people to read about communion. I actually respect my brothers and sisters who practice paedocommunion, so you can now take pot shots at me and we can be even.

I purposely put this post after I showed my thoughts on what communion is and what our responsibility should be as we partake. The fight for centuries has been, "Who should participate?" Many say that only Christians should participate while others contend that any in the covenant community should also be participating, which would include, not only believers, but also believer's children. As I have stated before, I am not a history expert, so I'll leave that part to those who know more about our traditional thoughts on this matter.

I first want to start with paedocommunion, or communion that involves children of believers. The question really comes, "Why do these believers allow unprofessing Christians to partake of communion?" Besides the fact that they allow the Old Testament to testify more about the New Covenant than the New Testament, here is a succinct quote from

Paedocommunion was the universal practice of the Church until the late medieval period (c. 1200). It is attested at least as far back as Cyprian (c. 250), and is witnessed throughout the centuries following (e.g. in Augustine, Leo the Great, etc.).

Nonetheless, the practice dropped off in the Western Church. This was due to a combination of factors (such as superstition regarding the sacramental elements, and the view of the bishop as the conveyer of the Holy Spirit, so that confirmation could not be conducted by a mere priest at baptism, but had to be accomplished by the bishop). (For more, see Lee's article, linked at right.)

Biblically, paedocommunion is supported by the status of children within the covenant. Even as God counted Abraham's offspring as His own, and therefore required that they be circumcised (Gen. 17), so too Jesus assumes a priestly role in relation to the children of new covenant believers, and calls them the heirs of the kingdom (Matt. 19:13-14).

What is perhaps most surprising is that many (indeed most) who hold to infant baptism nonetheless reject paedocommunion. They suggest a cleavage between the two sacraments. Biblically speaking, however, the two sacraments are tied together very closely. Baptism incorporates one into Christ and His Church (1 Cor. 12:13). Meanwhile, the Lord's Supper is precisely the meal of the Church. The Church is the one body together precisely because it partakes of the one bread together (1 Cor. 10:16-17).

Consequently, just as the children of the old covenant were admitted to the sacramental communal meals of the OT (such as Passover), so too the children of the new covenant belong at the table of the Lord. This is the position of a growing number of Presbyterian and Reformed scholars and pastors, who are recognizing the profound biblical foundation that underlay the historic practice of paedocommunion.

Although that sounds like a great reason to believe that the children of believers should partake of the table, and is one reason that those who believe in paedobaptism should be paedocommunionists as well, it leaves out a major part of the call of Paul for those who are to partake of the table. Like I said, historically, anyone will whip me on explaining what has happened, but that is not my argument. My argument is going to come from the New Testament on who should be partaking.

Here is what Paul states about the table:

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.
1 Corinthians 11:26-29

It seems as though Paul also makes a point in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8

Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
1 Corinthians 5:7-8

So, do the paedocommunion guys have some points concerning the fact of Passover being a shadow of Christ and the fact that covenant children participated within those feasts? Yes, they have a point. The problem with this, as a whole, is that the New Testament always is our guide for the Old Testament (This is why I am progressively leaving my dispensational roots for covenant theology). When we look through the Scriptures we find some things that draw our attention. One of those is a new term that is used, which is "church". This term is used in a historical sense for those we know as the visible church and the invisible church. The visible church are those around us that we believe are saved, the invisible being those that God has elected from eternity past and has put the seal of the Holy Spirit on. One can be part of the visible church, and really not a part of the invisible, but all those who are part of the invisible are part of the visible church. This new term is only used of those who profess Christ. This is the Lord's church. The term literally means the gathering of called out one's. How does one join a church? How does one become a member of local churches? How does one "prove" they are part of the church? Professing Christ is the first prerequisite.

This extension of profession is found in 1 Corinthians 11 when Paul states that when the visible church partakes in communion, they proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. This same idea is shown when Christ is speaking specifically to his disciples when he says,

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:13-16

The idea is for the church to be doing the Lord's work so everyone will glorify God. The church is the light, the church is the salt and they are the ones who give God glory. Now, does this excuse the children of the professed church to then give way to do whatever they desire? No. They are a part of their family and should honor their parents. But, for a specific work, like communion, it is not for those who have not professed Christ.

Further Paul uses terminology such as remembrance, which I showed the significance of in the last post. This term is a very spiritual understanding of being united with Christ through belief and Holy Spirit baptism so that one can remember the great exchange that happened for them. This is also one reason why I believe the ordinance baptism is extended only to believers as well, but I won't go there for this post. Not only do we have the ideas of proclaiming and remembrance, but then we come to the clincher: the understanding of examination.

Again, Paul states this:

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.

This verse has caused some to think about their works and ask themselves if they have measured up to some sort of self righteous perfection on the day of communion. This isn't what this is speaking about.

But if we are elected in him, we cannot find the certainty of our election in ourselves; and not even in God the Father, if we look at him apart from the Son. Christ, then, is the mirror in which we ought, and in which, without deception, we may contemplate our election...He who believes in him is said to have passed from death unto life (Joh_5:24). In this sense he calls himself the bread of life, of which if a man eat, he shall never die (Joh_6:35). He, I say, was our witness, that all by whom he is received in faith will be regarded by our heavenly Father as sons. If we long for more than to be regarded as sons of God and heirs, we must ascend above Christ. But if this is our final goal, how infatuated is it to seek out of him what we have already obtained in him, and can only find in him?
John Calvin; Institutes 3.24.5

The idea of examination is to understand and see how filthy your sin is, then to look to the great exchange that happened on the cross. This isn't a time for you to look at your works and grade yourself to see if you are in the faith. The examination is to point you to the finished work on the cross and the exchange that happened because of the faith given to you by God. The reason one would be drinking judgment upon themselves is not because you are sinful, but because you believe yourself to be righteous enough to prove your faithfulness. The same thing happens in 2 Cor 13:5,6

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test? But I trust that you will realize that we ourselves do not fail the test.

Paul says that the Corinthians are to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith. Remember who he is speaking to. He is speaking to the Corinthians! Probably the worst church, outwardly speaking, in the New Testament. If the Corinthians were to examine their works, they would have failed miserably, yet Paul states, with confidence, "...that Jesus Christ is in you."

This examination, like the one Paul points to for those during communion, is an examination of the great exchange that was done at the cross, through faith. This can only happen with those who have professed Christ and have been sealed by Holy Spirit through inward baptism.

Although we see the Passover meal shared by the whole of the family, including the children, we find in the New Testament that Paul re-interprets the Old Testament call for the New Passover found in Christ to only be shared and proclaimed through those who have examined themselves and have found themselves a part of the invisible church and bride of Christ. If anyone partakes in the Supper who is not found to be of the faith, who has not received the righteousness of Christ, they drink judgment upon themself.

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Review of the Movie, "Milk"

I will have to admit, watching this movie was one thing I didn't think I would ever do. I decided to watch it though to try and seek out a major "win" for the homosexual community and to try and see how the movie would portray what went on that significant time in the 1970's. I have already received some pretty funny comments from some of my buddies after they heard that I watched the film and I am sure I will receive many more. But, the fact is, this is a part of history in the U.S. that I was, and still am, very ignorant about. I will tell you that if you are new to this blog, I am a Christian. I believe that homosexuality is a sin. I will also say that if you want my full thoughts on the sin of homosexuality you might want to check out some of these posts:

Is Homosexuality a Sin?

You Are the Homosexual

As far as the actual movie. The movie is about the rise of Harvey Milk as the first openly gay person to hold a political office in the United States. He was a man that moved to the Castro District in San Francisco and desired to see civil rights be extended to the openly gay people of San Francisco, California and the rest of the United States. The movie shows the hardships of trying to rise to be a politician and openly gay and also shows the fight Milk had to fight once he was elected to office.

Like the movie Ali, I went away from this movie thinking that Harvey Milk did some great things for the homosexual community, as Ali did for African Americans, but morally he was very corrupt. Not only because he was a homosexual, but he was a very corrupt man within that arena. From hitting on young men, using drugs, being overly sexually active, to fighting for the legalization of marijuana. So, the man Harvey Milk, and this film, definitely didn't help the image of the homosexual community. What it did show is a place in the Castro district, that I wouldn't want in my community no matter their sexual orientation. At one point, Harvey Milk is trying to convince a major gay publication to back him for office and this openly gay businessman told Milk concerning him and those in the Castro district:

You guys are all about sex, drugs and more sex.

As the movie went on it was clear who was the opposition. It was definitely the conservative Christian. This was who the movie's, and really Milk's, fight was against. I know this was the 70's and there isn't much that a lot of people can be proud of, but to see how the homosexual community was treated and how the homosexual community saw itself were both pretty discouraging. The conservative Christian community was shown through the lense of state senator John Briggs played by Denis O'Hare and also Anita Bryant (which all her parts were archived footage and not surprisingly, she is a part of the SBC). These two did their best to dehumanize and take away the Imago Dei from the homosexual community as a whole. They desired to pass in all states an initiative called Proposition 6 or more popularly known as the Briggs Initiative. It was put forth to make sure that no homosexual or anyone who supported gay rights could work within the public schools. Briggs said that homosexual teachers desired to work as teachers so that they could abuse and recruit children. The comments throughout the movie, attributed to Briggs were disgusting to watch. Not only did you have Briggs but you also had archived footage of Southern Baptist Anita Bryant who said so many things that were against what the word of God says, it was hard to watch. She painted, like many conservatives, homosexuality as a crime that should be outlawed, but forgot to mention all the other "Christians" who have sex outside of marriage, have affairs, lie and deceive, etc. So, we as Christians, looked very dumb, but the problem is, we brought it on ourselves.

As far as the gay community, I didn't feel like they put forth too many positive points to their thoughts either. Although, I do agree with them that they should have civil rights just like any other human in the United States, I don't agree with the facts that they tried to put forth. They continually tried to point to the African American as someone that they could align with. Although the homosexual community is one that can sympathize with some of the things that the African American community went through (such as beatings, murders, etc.), to say that they can relate completely is quite the overstatement. They went as far as to put themselves next to those Jews in Germany who went through the atrocities seen at the feet of the Nazi's. I know that Christians have made some odd claims in the past, but to see yourself, as you freely march the streets of San Francisco, as one with those in concentration camps needs to be quickly renounced.

The movie as a whole was well done, although graphic sexually in some parts. If I wasn't watching for a specific purpose, it would have been turned off within the first 20 minutes. This was one of those movies I had my finger very close to the fast forward button. Sean Penn was excellent as an actor, although the things he had to do in the movie were repulsive to someone like myself who believes that homosexuality is a sin. I cannot give anyone insight to whether or not the movie was historically accurate as I had never even heard of Harvey Milk before the movie opened. I actually saw the movie title and was thinking, "great, now the SBC and the AFA are going to have to put milk on their list of boycotted items." The movie did make me think though. It made me think through my personal thoughts on homosexuality (it didn't make me think through my biblical convictions on the subject, but my personal interactions) and those who commit other sexual acts outside of marriage. It made me sad to see the vicious fight against one sin and not others. It made me sad to see Christians doing a lot of hating, instead of a lot of seeking to talk to those who were not of their same conviction. It made me sad, because those of us who desire to speak Christ into the lives of others, have the 70's, and now this film, as another example of how we have lived more like Atheists than Jesus.

Do I support the film? That's kind of hard to say. It honestly was a lot like the movie Ali. I felt the film was well done, very good acting, very good cinematography, but the content and those involved were so corrupt in their living it is hard to say, "yeah, go see it." Like I would tell those who asked me about Ali, I would say to watch it for history's sake, but not for "enjoyment."

I pray that the homosexual community can forgive us Christians for the things that were said in this context and I pray that we, as Christians, can search out everyone for the sake of Christ knowing that they have the Imago Dei, that Christ died for them and their sin, as he did us and our sin. We might like to label certain sins as big or small, but if we saw our sin in the same light that Christ did maybe we would actually believe James when he states:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all

If the homosexual isn't part of your missional outreach to the community, maybe you've missed the point of Christ and who he came to save.

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