When contending for the faith, it is important to understand that there are various ways people interpret Scripture. The correct method, called the grammatical-historical approach, seeks to use the grammar of the text to indicate what the original author intended for us to know. In other words, the author used actual words with meaning to indicate a message to us. The authors didn’t write the words of Scripture simply to put ideas on paper, but they were trying to tell us about God.
Professor Stephen Hawking is telling us his world view in this meme: “There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, and science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win. Because it works.” Hawking is a theoretical physicist and known to be an atheist. He has declared that God does not exist, nor does the afterlife, and that those who believe in a heaven are “afraid of the dark.” (We are. But that is another post).
What I would like to do is to think through his quote above. Since this meme floats around Twitter and Facebook, it deserves a tad bit of attention. The first thing that we must recognize is that Professor Hawking is right on the basis of religion, all religions are based upon authority of some nature. Now, we as Christians know, that there is only one religion that is based on the Triune God’s authority, and that is Christianity. The rest of the religions of the world, are based upon authority, but not the authority of the Triune God.
A couple of weeks ago, I had a short skirmish with an atheist on Twitter concerning my post: Ten Reasons Christianity is Far Superior to Other Religions. You can’t really debate on Twitter since you are limited to 140 characters. This leads to short attacks, without any reasoning, proof, or clarification.
The first observation is that Critical Thinker, isn’t. He states that Christianity has no proof, and comes from the imagination of the writers of the New Testament. This leads to Atheistic Assumption Number 1. Atheists always assume that they have the intellectual upper hand when it comes to Christianity because THEY don’t believe the claims made by Christians. Christianity has multitudes of great intellectual thinkers, men like John Calvin, Augustine, Luther, Jonathan Edwards, and Cornelius Van Til, just to name a few. The religion’s simplicity does not mean that it is only for the simple-minded.
When it comes to debating with atheists, we must recognize that for atheists, their arguments against God are of the upmost of importance. Their entire lives and eternal future (or lack thereof) depend upon them being right. It is vital for mankind to be nothing more than a globule of chemical reactions. It is absolutely essential that Christians are wrong in their worldview and declaration of a holy God.
Originally published November 21, 2010.
No, I’m not asking you if you have some sort of parasite in your ears, but do you have ears that “itch” to be affirmed in your sin? This was the warning that the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy about what would take place in the Last Days (we are in the Last Days). Men would set up for themselves preachers that would affirm them in their sin instead of preaching the truth of the gospel showing the need for repentance from sin.
Here are the Apostle’s words:
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
Paul is telling us that men will turn away from the soundness and truth of the gospel.
Often times we hear objections from non-believers that we cannot trust the Bible because it was written by men. The implication is that the Bible is fallible because men wrote it, men who were simply giving their opinion, or worse, conspiring to say something that God never said. It is the quickest way to stifle conversation or thought among non-believers. Never mind the fact that men are making this judgment that we cannot trust the Bible. Which means if men are so fallible that we cannot trust the Bible, then how can we trust their opinion that we cannot trust the Bible because men made it, and they are men, and men are making opinion statements… wow, that was confusing. But you get the idea.
Yes, Fred Luter, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention, made an impassioned plea at the recent convention to quit arguing over theology and seek the lost, showing his hand and laziness.
“Because of our love for the Scripture we’ve had some differences of opinion, but the problem is that while we are arguing about these topics, lost men, women, boys, and girls are dying and going to hell every single day,” said Luter on the first night of the denomination’s 2013 annual meeting.
“While we are arguing about these topics and debating about these topics, America is going to hell every day,” he continued. “Time is running out. We do not have time for debate. We do not have time for arguing. The world needs to know that Jesus saves … for the sake of those who are lost.”
Read more here.
His comments are supposed to be the ultimate trump card in any argument. The problem is that it shows his hand. Luter doesn’t believe in God’s election, God’s sovereignty, God’s greater purpose of His glory. This shows us that Luter thinks he is the one that will be saving people. He is straight from the Charles G. Finney school of manipulation, which has done more to damage to the church than anything the government could do.
This is the same as the pastor I had a dialog who recently made the claim:
I will readily admit, even after graduating from Dallas, that I am a theological novice in many arenas, including John Calvin and Calvinism. I simply love Jesus, desire to be in His presence and am trying to bring as many people as I can one step closer to Him.
There is no excuse for this kind of laziness in the pastorate. For one, the man is not being honest. He says he wants to bring them closer to Jesus, but how is he to do this if He is not willing to dive deeper in the word and grow in his Christology (a branch of theology that focuses on the person and work of Christ). What does he intend to do, give them fuzzy feelings so that they too have fuzzy feeling about Jesus? The Bible never calls us to such slop. (Calvinism is at the heart of the SBC’s arguing by the way.)
The real problem behind both pastor’s is that they fostering anti-intellectualism under the guise of loving Jesus. This really is part of Satan’s attack on the church. He doesn’t want us growing in our understanding but resting in our feelings.
The Bible stands against this false philosophy in several places. The first is found in 2 Corinthians 10:2-6 But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.
In their noble attempts to “love Jesus” and “win the lost,” the two men are fighting Satan’s battle for him, instead of bring every thought into captivity and being willing to give an answer when ready to do so. Paul doesn’t want us to play stupid, but study in order to present ourselves approved and to be able to take on every stronghold that exalts itself against the word of God. This means we have to think and use our brains. We are never to stop studying God’s word in order to take on the spiritual battle we face. We must constantly be refining our beliefs and arguments so as to be used by God.
If you want a better exposition of this thought here, listen to Simon Brace on the following mp3. He is using 2 Corinthians 10:6ff to really drive home the point that we must be ready to argue for the faith. He shows that we are to argue, defend, embrace it, understand it and use it to advance the kingdom. There is no room for anti-intellectualism or sloppy Jesus love in the body of Christ. To make those things out as somehow noble, is truly deceptive, which comes from the great deceiver.
Plus, Wintery Knight has some on it as well.
The point is that we are never to stop diving into the word. We always need to be growing in our understanding and, as the above passage shows us, make arguments for the faith, taking every thought captive. We are to be ready to fight for what the Scriptures say and defend the faith on every front.
Both pastors above, who seem to be so noble in their sloppy doctrine, are actually doing more damage than good. Hopefully, they will repent of such laziness.
A friend wrote me this past week and asked me to listen to a recent sermon by her pastor. I typically only go to one place to listen to sermons, SermonAudio.com* because most sermons today are more inspirational chats from a qualified life coach and rarely resemble the preaching of God’s word. (Just the fact that pastors are referred to as life coaches and team members at all, shows us the desperate state of the church).
The reason my friend wanted me to listen is because at about minute 43, the man complained about suffering from making the Bible an idol. I know what he meant, but it really disturbed my friend. There are some times when we revere the Bible so much that we exalt it above the God it exalts. I have no reason to believe that this is a major sin in the church, given that most don’t even open their Bibles. But that is another post.
For Phoebe and Joseph.
Phoebe has made the claim that the RCC is a cult. Joseph responded that it was not. Phoebe’s response is below. So that both don’t take over the comments section of the Top 10 Hymns, I’m posting Phoebe’s comments here, so they can respond on this post.
I welcome both of their input to the topic. However, I don’t wish to engage right now. This is not my battle.
Here recently in the gay union debate, those who have held to God’s word in this debate have been labelled Bible Thumpers by those… actually on the right. It was started on Bill O’Reilly’s show with one of his guest and even Rush Limbaugh picked up on it. It shows again why I can’t stand Bill O’Reilly. He is conservative on about three percent on all things that are important to conservative Christians, and then he is moderate on everything else, yet so many treat him as if he is holding the flag for us. He is not. He is not one of us. He never was.
Yesterday on Foxnews, they ran a story about a school in Alabama where the principal was trying to ban the term “Easter Bunny” from the vocabulary of the students in an attempt to keep anyone from being offended. Yes, this is political correctness run amok.
As Christians, I don’t think we should be the least bit offended at all. Especially given the fact that the Easter Bunny has nothing to do with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let the loon ban the term, and we should join her in doing so, given that the bunny is man’s tradition, not anything biblical.
I know that many people are waiting with baited and stinky breath on the United States Supreme Court to tell us what the definition of marriage is according to the Constitution, but the Supreme Being of all eternity has already defined it for the Christian. In other words, it matters not what the Supreme Court says, as Christians, Jesus has done so for us.
Matthew 19:4-6 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
The sign of the covenant does not save us. However, the Covenant Keeper does.
Don’t know much about the theology: reminds me of a premature daughter many years ago. She was in dire straits and the neonatal staff offered: “If a chaplain is not available, or if death is imminent, a nurse or physician may baptize the child. A small amount of water should be placed on the child’s head with these words: “I baptize you (give the child’s full name) in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.” An entry should be made in the chart.” ..this little girl did not last the day and I’m glad we did the emergency baptism. What are the ramifications of ‘original sin’, premature birth & death and the place of baptism (by a medical practioner) in this not uncommon circumstance?
BB, I’m sorry for your loss and that you had to go through this. I hope the following is helpful and will strengthen your faith in our LORD.
I guess I do need to write this post, given the fact that so many of my friends and acquaintances on Facebook had to rush and tell everyone that “we have a new pope.” I immediately responded with this:
BTW, “WE” did not just choose a new pope. Remember brothers and sisters in the LORD, “We” are not Catholic. We are protestants. The pope is AN anti-christ and is seated as the head of the church, whereas we believe that only Christ is the head of the church (Read Colossians). So please, fellow protestants and Christians, quit lauding this as something special. It’s just another move of the apostate Roman Catholic Church.
Let the Timothy bashing begin. How dare I say anything against our newest celebrity, or should I say, our celebrity du jour? How dare I infer that there might be some truth that is actually confrontational? How dare I stand on some convictions?
I know this might strike you as odd, but I have no intentions of watching the The Bible on the History Channel. Besides the fact that I’m a stick in the mud and I hate going with the crowd on such things, I do have reasons for not doing so. Here are my reasons:
1. First, this show is going to be someone’s interpretation of the Bible and what it means. Most of those on the list behind the series are not those I would give a lot of credibility. There are a few that I might have lunch with, but Joel Osteen is not one of them. As one member of my church put it, “Joel Osteen is a step in the right direction, considering that these programs typically quote John Dominic Crossan and Bart Ehrman, but you are still much closer to Egypt than you are to Jerusalem.“
Jody, a member of my church, mentioned to me today a conversation he had with a woman about sharing the gospel. Like many Christians, she was under the impression that she needed to live the gospel, be the gospel, and love as the gospel before she could actually get around to sharing the gospel.
She, like many others, has been duped because this is a lie straight from the devil himself that actually prevents the gospel from being shared. If we could live the gospel and be the gospel and love as the gospel, then we wouldn’t need Christ now would we?
OK brothers and sisters in the LORD, Jerry Johnson had done it now. He’s gone too far! He went so far as to say that the First and Second Commandments keep us from paying homage to the First and Second Amendments. In other words, the First and Second Amendment, are in the end, idolatrous.
How dare Jerry do such a thing! Doesn’t he know that the Bill of Rights were carved out of the rock at Mount Vernon? Doesn’t he know that the Constitution is the inspired word of God for America? We are, after all, God’s chosen people for the 21st Century? Doesn’t he know that?
In working on my sermon this week, I’ve come across one of the most abused verses in Scripture. It’s not as abused today as it was some 70 years ago, but it is still one of the most abused passages of Scripture. The passage is John 8:31-32 “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Only in it’s abuse, those using it only quote verse 32, without the first part of the conditional clause.
A conditional clause means that there is a condition to knowing the truth. Knowing the truth means that we are His disciples. Being His disciples mean that we follow Him and His word. Yet countless people use the old King James Version, Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free, in a manner to indicate that the truth is just floating about for anyone to find it. It is not, for truth to be know, we must know it in the light of Christ.
I’m reminded of my childhood growing up in the cult of Christian Science and see that portion of the passage on the inside cover to Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (Please note: she has no keys to Scripture. Her book is filled with senseless drivel. She doesn’t know Christ, God or the truth). The passage is used in such a way that it suggests that objective truth is just floating about and all we need to do is look for it. It’s not. The only true way to know real Truth is to know Christ and be known by Him (Matthew 7:21ff). Truth is not disconnected from Christ.
We also see this passage on the building of countless universities across the land. There too, it’s put forth as if truth is out there for anyone looking for it apart from Christ. I know the arch-rival of my own university, texas university, has the scripture emblazoned on one of the buildings. However I don’t think that school, or any other state-run school that has the passage emblazoned on campus is advocating their students become disciples and followers of Christ.
The point is that when Christ uttered those words, He was in a heated debate with the Jews about His identity and their need to be freed from sin. He wasn’t throwing up the idea that truth was to be known apart from Him. Knowing the truth means we must be “in Christ,” and by being “in Christ” we will know truth about who He is and who we are. We are sinners in need of a Savior, and the Truth is that He is that Savior. Being in Him means we are freed from one of our greatest foes: sin. We cannot be truly free unless sin is dealt with, and only through Christ is that sin dealt with. Otherwise we will die in our sins, as Jesus warned the Jews (John 8:21).
This is why this verse makes my Top 5 list of the most abused passages in history. People have abused it in an attempt to make themselves seem erudite in the pursuit of truth. Yet, truth pursued apart from Christ does us no good at all.
4. Number 4 on the list is Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. The reason this one makes the list is that far too many people use it as a quick fix to someone else’s problems. Your cousin just died in a car wreck? Romans 8:28. You have cancer? Romans 8:28. You just lost your home to foreclosure? Romans 8:28. Your cat had puppies? Romans 8:28.
It is abused because of the way that it is used in Christian circles. People use it in an attempt to belittle the struggles of others and this is unconscionable. It is thoughtless, and mean. Paul writes that we are to weep with those who weep in Romans 12:15, not throw Romans 8:28 in their faces.
To abuse this passage is to ignore the fact that Christians have been called to suffer just as Christ suffered. I know, suffering is one of those things that polite Christians do not talk about. But it is a reality of the Christian life. To deny it, is to deny the calling every Christian has in life. So when someone suffers, don’t throw up a quick passage so you can sooth your conscience and be on your way. Sit down with them, and be with them and weep with them.
3. Number 3 on the list is Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. This verse is abused because it is ripped out of context. The context is that Paul is saying he has learned to be content whether he has plenty or he is abased, both to abound and suffer need. He does not say that he can conquer the world because he has Philippians 4:13.
This verse should not be the foundation of every motivational speaker to come down the pike. That is not what Paul is saying. In fact, he would probably be aghast at the idea that so many are using this passage in such a manner, given that Jesus Christ conquers the world and our worlds, we do not. We are mere servants, not tiny gods out to conquer all that is before us.
2. Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.” This passage is abused among the haters of Christianity. It’s not used to teach us to guard against being hypocritical, as Jesus intended it to be used, but used to silence anyone who would espouse any godly standard above that of being a dog. Jesus isn’t giving a blanket statement for not judging, but given a lesson on how to judge rightly.
I like what Paul Washer is reported to have said concerning this verse: “People always tell me, ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged.’ I reply, ‘Twist not Scripture, lest ye be like Satan.'”
1. John 3:16 For God so loved the world… You know my hatred of the abuse of this passage. Far too many use it to justify their ungodly behavior and lack of holiness because of God’s love. In other words, “For God so love the world, I can live and believe as I please, and Jesus is there to take care of everything for me.”
This passage is also the foundation of so much bad theology that I think we should stop quoting it, and quote all of John 3 to bring it back into light. Anything less than this is to abuse the fulness of what Christ was saying in John 3.
There you have it, my Top-5 abused passages of Scripture. What are yours?
Of course, I’ve been saying it for years, but it’s good to have scientific evidence on my side. What have I been saying? The reason non-Christians don’t attend church is because they are not Christians. They, and I’m using a reliable source here, don’t seek God and never have (see Romans 3:9-18 for a better explanation).
This study, put about by Pira, or the Pirate Christian Radio, shows that 100 percent of the verses in the Bible that describe non-believers, speaks of them in a non-favorable sense. Chris Rosebrough, who helped put the study together, says the following:
“For decades the conventional wisdom in the broader church growth and missional movements has told us that the reason why unchurched people don’t attend church is because they think church is boring and irrelevant. Although true, the conventional wisdom has not been able to satisfactorily explain why unchurched people feel that way. Our survey, of the Biblical texts, strove to dig down and uncover the real reasons why our pagan non-Christian friends and neighbors feel that way about church. What we discovered was shocking and its implications regarding the newly adopted church methodologies in seeker-driven churches will challenge the core assumptions of the entire church growth industry!”
What they found was that the Bible doesn’t support anything the church-growth gurus have been telling us for years. Wow! Imagine that. The Bible contradicts conventional wisdom born out of a business model? My jaw is metaphorically dropped!
Here is the chart:
Looks pretty conclusive to me. Non-Christians don’t like church because they don’t like God. They don’t like the Bible. They don’t like anything having to do with the faith. I think Jesus said something about this if I’m not mistaken: “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”
This is why I’ve always thought that the Seeker-Sensitive churches were getting it wrong, along with the Emergent churches. We don’t need to reinvent the church, but let the church become what it is supposed to be: the people of God gathering together for the purpose of worshipping God. The church doesn’t come together to evangelize the lost or make the lost feel more comfortable. The church is to proclaim the truth, which is not comfortable. The church is to edify the saints, not seduce the lost, so that the saints can do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11ff). The church is here for the people of God and for God’s glory, not to make non-believers feel more comfortable.
Hopefully more in the church will realize that and we will start doing what we are supposed to do instead of doing what those with MBA’s are telling us we should do. After all, God’s word about what the church is and how it is set up predates any MBA program by a good 1,900 years. You would think that God had it already figured out.
Another round of arguments is being made for the King James version of the Bible by a man named Sam Gipps. I won’t post his message here, but give you Dr. James White’s response to the claims of Gipps.
The King James only people are quite interesting. What they are trying to claim is that the 1611 King James version of the Bible is the only “true” Bible we have left. What they mean to say is that the only true Bible is this particular translation into English. It’s not the Greek text that the translation was based upon, but the translation itself. This means that the only people who have the true Bible are English-speaking fundamentalist. I’m sure the appeal is made within these circles that the only true Christians left on the entire planet earth are those who have the King James Bible. In a sense, it makes these people almost cult like in their beliefs. I’ve also written about KJV only people here.
Here is Dr. White’s first response:
Here is Part 2:
Also Part 3: