December 20, 2007

Great Now I have to become a Monk! (Another excuse NOT to preach the Gospel!)

Well its hard to believe but we seem to be headed back to the Dark Ages once again. The geniuses at Willow Creek (yes that same Mega-Church who just weeks ago announced they have wasted millions of dollars & time on a message that's not working) have decided that monasticism is what's missing from the church these days and this is what will set us back on the right path to God. Below is a video from a recent "Ancient Future Conference" held at Willow Creek Church, whereby this is another sign of the Emergent Church going more mainstream at your local corner Mega-Church.

For those who are unaware of what "Ancient Future" means, this is a term coined by the Emergent Church movement whereby they feel what's really lacking from the church today is ancient liturgy, rituals, traditions such as iconic prayer, infant baptism, that was done during the "ancient" years of the church. In the video Mark Van Steenwyk a speaker at the Willow Creek Conference describes their idea of monastic living. Mr. Steenwyk is the founding member of Missio Dei. Described as a neo-monastic community on the West Bank of Minneapolis. Missio Dei lives to embody Jesus' presence on the West Bank (a diverse neighborhood of East African immigrants, punks, artists, homeless people and students). NOTE: This is not to be confused with being a missionary - this is more on line with your communes of the 60-70's.

So what we all really need to do is withdraw ourselves and live in a commune or monastery AND that will cause revival in our land!?? How about this Willow Creek here is some advice - PREACH THE GOSPEL!! It's amazing, when we see the gospel truth really preached - we don't need gimmicks. Instead we see lives truly transformed from the pain and sickness of sin. Instead all I am seeing is churches like Willow Creek and Saddleback do everything BUT preach the gospel. Again, over and over we see they try and reinvent the wheel (or the gospel) every six months or so.

December 19, 2007

Enough's Enough! We Have Officially Taken This "Seeker Friendly" Thing Way Too Far!

Need I say more!

clipped from
Beginning Thursday, Destin United Methodist Church will offer "Hot Wings Bible Study" at the Hooter's Restaurant in Destin, an establishment known across the country for its scantily clad waitresses and hot wings.

"It's a study for people who haven't studied the Bible a whole lot. It will be beginner's style," said Sharron, the assistant pastor at the Methodist church one of bringing the gospel Destin's largest, to the marketplace.
blog it

December 17, 2007

Forgiveness Gone Bad

In light of the recent tragedies in Arvada & Colorado Springs Colorado churches there have begun the healing process and begin moving forward with their churches and their lives. However, in a recent article in the Christian Post I found a somewhat disturbing comment made by both leaders there:

Now most Christians would agree that we should forgive others as one of the fundamental points of Christianity. Some of the key verses that most people will quote is Matt 6:14-15

"For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions".
For years I have heard people say if someone wrongs you must forgive them, regardless if they seek forgiveness. But the more I read God's Word the more I see this is in fact not found in the scriptures. Clearly Matt Chapt 18 is a key parable on the concept of Christian or biblical forgiveness. First, let me say that we are to forgive others just as our Father forgives us. Most don't care to really think about what all this entails. The first order of business before God ever forgives us is what?? Repentance! Does God just freely forgive sinners, does God go around in His kingdom throwing pardons to the wind and say all has been forgiven? Clearly not. God in his wisdom knows that prior to forgiving someone the guilty party must first have a repentful & broken heart over their actions and seek forgiveness or provide restitution to the victim.

As we look at Matthew 18:21-35 we begin to see a clear idea of how forgiveness is to be extended and under what conditions. The first thing we see is we have a servant who owes a tremendous debt to the king. Note that the king has not made some broad proclamation of forgiveness, but rather is now seeking to reclaim that which is rightfully his from his debtors. Next we see the servant coming before the king and is pleading and broken over his debt and seeks mercy from the king. Friends, this is an example of repentance - a broken condition whereby we fall before the Lord and seek mercy and forgiveness of our moral debt we have incurred against our good king. The king being good and merciful forgives the servant of his debt. No where do we see in this parable that the king was going to forgive the servant prior to him coming before his court, instead the verses states,

"........the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slavesWhen he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25"But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made"

Clearly the king was going to rightly administer justice against this servant in order to settle the debt that had been incurred. In todays' church we have such a distortion of forgiveness. As in the case of the Arvada YWAM and New Life Church murders, this is by no means a situation that warrants a blanket of forgiveness to be extended to the murderer who took four innocent lives. First, we see this man was by no means repentant of his actions - as a matter of fact he was very rebellious and sinister. Secondly, would it be right for this murderer to stand before God on judgment day and God say "OK all is forgiven, you can enter in well done good and faithful servant? " Of course not! God's character would instantly be under suspicion for forgiving such a criminal into his kingdom. We see further in the parable that once the servant had been forgiven and he had failed to show mercy just as the king had shown him, his debt was placed back in full upon him and he was forced to repay all that he had owed the king.

When Christ says that we should forgive someone, this is in reference to the other person coming before us and asking for our hand of forgiveness. If we as believers fail to forgive someone once they have come before us and asked us to forgive them, then this is when we are in jeopardy of sinning ourselves. Luke
17:2-4 is a good example of this whereby Jesus says:

"Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, 'I repent,' forgive him."

In the case of this murderer in Colorado, the church first can not speak on behalf of the victims and extend forgiveness on their behalf. Secondly, it would be unjust if we would extend forgiveness to this unrepentant murderer as clearly he was neither filled with regret or repentance for his actions. As Christians, let us be on guard how we portray biblical or Christ-like forgiveness. Clearly, before we were forgiven by God we must exhibit true and genuine sorrow for what we have done to the heart of God.

Absolute Contingency

For years arguments have been waged between Arminianist and Calvinists about coexistence of man's will and God's absolute foreknowledge. The Arminianist position has been that man's freewill and God's Foreknowledge (Sovereignty) can perfectly coexist without somehow impugning God's character nor showing God having causation on the part of mankind's will. The Calvinist contend that due to God's absolute and "perfect' foreknowledge, he had to foreknow from eternity past every person's destiny and therefore every person is either damned to hell or destined to enter into heaven. This is what is defined by Calvinist as Predestination or "Election". I think the Calvinist position is best described by prominent Calvinist author and writer Loraine Boettner in his work the "The Foreknowledge of God" whereby he states: "Since God's foreknowledge is complete, He knows the destiny of every person, not merely before the person has made his choice in this life, but from eternity. And since He knows their destiny before they are created, and then proceeds to create, it is plain that the saved and the lost alike fulfill His plan for them; for if He did not plan that any particular ones should be lost, He could at least refrain from creating them.......We conclude, then, that the Christian doctrine of the Foreknowledge of God proves also His Predestination". I personally think this is a very logical conclusion on the part of the Calvinist, however as logical as it may sound, it does brings to mind many character assinations against the personality and character of a benevolent God.

On the other hand Arminians, argue that they can have their cake and eat it too if you will. Most Arminianist would argue that there is a logical distinction between necessity and certainty. They would argue that God foreknows that choice X is going to freely be made means only that X is certain to occur; it does not mean that God's foreknowledge, or any other cause made X necessary. However, there are several logically inconsistencies we have with this argument. For one, and as any good Calvinist or Open Theist would point out this definition violates the Law of Non-Contradiction. In other words, this is like saying that something can be True and False at the same time. Contingency and foreknowledge are truly contradictory assertions because a contingent event, being unnecessitated, can not be known until it actually occurs. As an Open Theist, I would argue that when it comes to the issue of man truly making a contingent choice (freewill), this means that there is a real or actual contingency involved. How could something be contingent if the events involved were already known by God from all eternity past? However, as Boettner points out, if God's absolute foreknowledge is indeed true, then no real contingency can occur in the mind of God and mankind then is not truly free. In other words, future events (both good and evil) would have been preordained by God on the basis of His foreknowledge. As the Calvinist point out, what God foreknows must, in the very nature of the case, be as fixed and certain as what is foreordained, foreordination therefore renders the events certain, while foreknowledge presupposes that they are certain.

I must say this is the one time in my life I actually agree with a Calvinist! Essentially Calvinist are saying to have both contingency (freewill) and God having absolute foreknowledge is logically inconsistent and therefore impossible. Personally, this is why I am Open Theist. Open Theism is truly the only way one can logically and rationally explain the existence of man's freewill and God's omniscience. I too must agree with the Calvinist here that the Arminianist view is logically inconsistent and therefore can not be true. As Boettner states in "The Foreknowledge of God" regarding the Arminians position, he states: "When the Arminian is confronted with the argument from the foreknowledge of God, he has to admit the certainty or fixity of future events. Yet when dealing with the problem of free agency he wishes to maintain that the acts of free agents are uncertain and ultimately dependent on the choice of the person,---which is plainly an inconsistent position. A view which holds that the free acts of men are uncertain, sacrifices the sovereignty of God in order to preserve the freedom of men." For the Open Theist however, this is truly solved in the position that God can only know that which is knowable. In other words, God being fully benevolent and fully all-powerful is not afraid or intimidated in allowing man to have a free will, but maintains that the possibility of man choosing good over evil is indeed of the highest order in the universe (love must be freely chosen). On the other hand, we have Calvinism, although it might be logically consistent it horrifically impugns the character of God and takes away all human freedom. We can no longer define God as being truly benevolent, as we now are confronted with a God who has preordained all of the horrific sins and atrocities throughout all of mankind and yet gets none of the blame for doing so. He is now responsible for the intentional creation of Satan and his minions and all the havoc they bring to our planet. But the main reason I reject Calvinism is that its views are so inconsistent with the complete Biblical text. We have numerous verses whereby we see God questioning or not knowing the decisions to be made by man. We see a God who is grieved by the sinful actions of his creation - is this not a strange or alien like response from a God who supposedly should have known his creation would have acted in its preordained state? Verse after verse we see a God who has no problem allowing is creation to make contingent choices and yet his plan of salvation will ultimately come to fruition.