Sinful Culture vs. Holy Bible

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or Why the crafty serpent is winning the argument again

Two of the most hotly contested topics in the church today are homosexuality, and the role of men and women in the church. The two issues have two things in common. Firstly, they arguably cause more disagreement and controversy than any other topic within Evangelical and wider Protestant circles. Secondly, on both of these issues, pastors, lay people and theologians are essentially reinterpreting what scripture says. It’s the second of these two that I will focus on here.

My focus is how Christians are reinterpreting scripture, though homosexuality and gender roles will be used as illustrations of how it is occurring. Readers may disagree with me on those issues, but that merely serves as an illustration of the controversy surrounding them. In attempting to make sense of the biblical texts which speak of these issues, you hear people say things like, “Oh, but that text is for that particular church at that particular time.” Scholars are translating the original Greek in entirely new ways, showing that Paul didn’t really mean that homosexual practice is sinful when he wrote Romans (see , for example). Paul also couldn’t have meant that women are not to teach the bible when he wrote to Timothy (see ). Even if he did, they might say, it doesn’t apply to us today. In other words, people are starting to say that Paul didn’t really mean what we’ve always thought. Continue reading Sinful Culture vs. Holy Bible

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips,

who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

A Review of “Father Hunger” by Douglas Wilson

father hunger

Douglas Wilson, pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, has written a much needed book on the biblical view of fatherhood, the impact of fathers on their families, and the impact of fathers on society. Father Hunger (Thomas Nelson, 2012) is the title, and the subtitle sums it up well: “Why God calls men to love and lead their families.” In an age where male headship and fatherhood is under attack from all angles, this is a timely book.

Wilson takes the reader through a number of stages. Firstly, and most importantly, the theological. Wilson explains how fatherhood is viewed in the Bible, and what fathers are for. Then he begins to unpack what the Bible has to say about the woes of contemporary fatherhood and it’s impact on society. The culture of absenteeism is analysed, and feminism Continue reading A Review of “Father Hunger” by Douglas Wilson

Civil Authority and the Christian

Civil Authority and the Christian

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. ()

Continue reading Civil Authority and the Christian

13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

How Much Should I Pray?

How Much Should We Pray?

How often should I pray for something? For how long? 7 times? 70 time 7? I like what Peter Leithart has to say about the matter over at First Things. He uses Paul’s “thorn” of the flesh example, and Jesus parable about the persistent widow, and plays them off against each other:

“Weakness was essential to [Paul’s] apostolic ministry, an enfleshment of his proclamation of the crucified Son.

“Jesus tells a parable about an importunate widow who won’t take No for an answer, but who pesters the judge until he does justice.

Which is it? Pray a few times and leave it with God? Or keep praying until God knuckles under and does what you want?”

Read the rest here. His answer is very pastoral and very biblical.

Picture credit: some rights reserved by SMB College

How can you believe in Free Will and Predestination?

How can you believe in Free Will and Predestination?

A common objection to Reformed and Calvinist theology is that it is fatalist, doesn’t allow for man to have free will. If God predestines man “before the foundation of the world” to salvation or damnation (e.g. ), then how can man have free will?

A good question. Calvin’s answer is somewhat counter intuitive. Man is not free when they are in sin. They are slaves to sin (, ). Or, as Luther would say, sinful man’s will is in bondage. Calvin says that “without the Spirit man’s will is not free, since it has been laid under by shackling and conquering desires.” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2.2.8) Calvin likewise affirms that only the regenerate man is truly free. Regeneration by the Holy Spirit makes man free, as his will is no longer in bondage and slavery to sin.

Continue reading How can you believe in Free Will and Predestination?

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love

19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.

What is the point of life?

What is the point of life?

One thing that sets different worldviews apart from one another is their conception of what is good, or what is the primary goal (or end) of life. Each worldview answers this question differently, even if some answers seem similar.

Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics, says that happiness is the “supreme good.” Indeed he says the following:

“Happiness, then, is found to be something perfect and self-sufficient, being the end to which our actions are directed.” (Ethics, 1097b, 20)

For Aristotle, happiness is the point of life. What about the Christian? What should we say is the point of life? The famous phrase from the Westminster Shorter Catechism sums the answer up well (and those of you familiar with the teaching of John Piper will be familiar with this): Continue reading What is the point of life?

The Bible is One Book

The Bible is One Book

James B. Jordan is a Reformed theologian, who has some strange things to say, and some outstanding things to say. And sometimes both occur at the same time. One thing that he did say recently in a conference lecture in London was outstanding, and something which should shape our reading and interpretation of scripture. It may be strange to some, but it’s undoubtedly true.

The Bible is one book, not two.

Sure there are multiple covenants, and things progress, change, and develop throughout the book. The story of God’s people is variegated. It is not dualistic, however. The distinction between the Old Testament and New Testament is a distinction which we (i.e. publishers, and those who read their editions of the Bible) have made. Ironically it is not a biblical distinction. Continue reading The Bible is One Book

Why does style and instrumentation in corporate singing matter?

Church music style and instrumentation

Answer: Because it’s not about style and instrumentation. Interestingly, two different blogs commented on the centrality of the singing in corporate worship, and how important it is that the congregation singing is the main game.

Firstly, T. David Gordon at Second Nature (HT: Carl Trueman):

‘Congregational praise is a commanded duty that can be audibly discerned; we should hear congregational praise when it is sung, and nothing else (choir, organ, marching band, bagpipe) should be permitted to obscure the thing that is commanded.’

Secondly, Justin Taylor quotes Piper and Smith at Between Two Worlds. Here’s Piper:

Continue reading Why does style and instrumentation in corporate singing matter?

The Root of Sin

The Root of Sin

The great reformer, theologian, and pastor, John Calvin wrote a massive work called Institutes of the Christian Religion. I am working my way through it with a small, but growing, group of men at the moment. It is much easier to tackle a work of such magnitude when others are tackling with you. I may, from time to time (and indeed, already have), share some of Calvin’s extraordinary work with you on this blog.

Calvin writes of sin that it’s root can be found in “unfaithfulness” (2.2.4). This is interesting, as the common expression of the root of sin, the very cause and foundation of sin, is usually pride. He quotes Augustine as saying as much; “pride was the beginning of all evils.” He then moves on to stating that , since Eve was deceived to contravene God’s command, then “disobedience was the beginning of the fall.” And then he says the following; that “the first man revolted from God’s authority,” not only because of Satan’s deception, but also because he was “contemptuous of truth.” He rejected what God had clearly and authoritatively said. “And surely” writes Calvin, ” once we hold God’s Word in contempt, we shake off all reverence for him.” Continue reading The Root of Sin