Called the "Best combination of a scholar and country preacher in the Southern Baptist Convention", Jerry Vines is honored. Amazing to know this book is being published with a collection of essays on expostional preaching.
Called the "Best combination of a scholar and country preacher in the Southern Baptist Convention", Jerry Vines is honored. Amazing to know this book is being published with a collection of essays on expostional preaching.
Called the "Best combination of a scholar and country preacher in the Southern Baptist Convention", Jerry Vines is honored. Amazing to know this book is being published of collection of essays on expostional preaching.
Ever encounter an article, blogpost, or news clip so thought-provoking you must share it? Every now and then, I do. In the course of twelve hours, I found two.
Tonite I couldn't sleep. So I went to my Facebook wall and saw where a friend of mine, Adam Harwood, had recommended a post by Alan Cross, pastor in Alabama, and host of Downshore Drift. Alan's post grabbed my attention Benghazi, the Media and the Death of the Republic/link . It was rather ironic, for a couple of reasons:
This a.m. I'd sent my weekly newspaper column to my editor and it was about the mainstream media's inept coverage of the attack on our American Consulate in Libya which killed our Ambassador and three other Americans. So Alan's post hit a chord of interest; great minds think alike, I guess. Alan's mind made my mind pale in comparison, though.
Also, earlier in the day, Alan and I had gotten into a bit of a conversation about preachers' responses to hurricanes and tornadoes after reading Joe McKeever's status discussion of his post: Another Storm of the Season/link.
So, given the fact that I believe the Lord has me cross paths with folks for a reason, I thought, in case you hadn't seen these two posts, you might want to read them. I count them both as extremely thought-provoking. Maybe you will, too. selahV
...SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF THE LIST BELOW:
As I encounter various blogs and bloggers, sometimes I am a bit surprised at things I hear or read. Sometimes I am not. Sometimes I am absolutely shocked, as in this lady's confession of aborting two babies (here/link). Not everything I read is controversial or even borderline driven by agendas or political statements. It's not all about Southern Baptists, though much of it is. Sometimes I am amused and sometimes I am bemused. Often, if I stop to consider the source, I expect little. However, sometimes people say things that totally contradict what they, themselves, seem to want to denounce. Fickled?
In Southern Baptist circles, we have such diversity of ideas, personalities, and theological positions that debates can get quite heated. In some situations I've sucked in enough air to fuel me for twenty-four hours when I read what folks say. Sometimes my thoughts or feelings make my fingers take a walk on the keyboard in response. In other situations, I scratch my head and say to myself, "Oh well." Lately I have read a lot of posts and discussions about building unity. It seems so odd to observe the direct opposite of unification in many of the comment streams. It's even greater irony to find myself seeking unity, yet, at times, being a part of disunity.
Here are a few problems I've observed which seem to alienate people and destroy unity:
1. Call them bigots, heretics, passive aggressive, or similar offensive perjoratives.
2. Say you are "appalled" at their doctrinal views.
3. Define everything they say as divisive.
4. Respond with a "zinger" or sarcastic remark. (You know when you do this.)
5. Ignore their point of view, and paint them with a negative perception of their view, so other readers or hearers see them through your eyes.
6. Lump every individual in a group which you do not like (their camp, their tribe, their minions).
7. Never ever pray for those with whom you differ.
8. Expect others to change but never look inward to see if you need to change.
9. Be defensive and read with an attitude of defensiveness.
10. Respond without thinking through your words.
11. Join others who gang up on an individual with agreement, or silence, when you see it being done.
12. Go to a website expecting the worst from the blog owner or post author. Begin reading with that expectation.
13. Refuse to listen. Tell anyone who differs with you to "re-read" your words, or tell them they have a reading comprehension problem to deflect any truth in their position or your own attitude.
14. Ridicule some tiny thing about your opponent's inability to spell or emphasize typos.
15. Demean the character of the bloghost or author of a post.
16. Question the intelligence of fellow commenters.
17. Do unto others as you don't want them to do to you or people you care about.
18. Mock others with demeaning satire or sarcastic parodies. Post chainsaw photos or goofy cartoons.
19. Make light of another's deepfelt beliefs by posting photos of chainsaws and cartoons that characterize or impugn their views.
20. Repeatedly and consistently and continually say it's the other person who started it.
21. Never ever admit you are wrong or part of the problem. Never apologize. Never acknowledge your attitude, but always point out the faults of the other person
22. Repeatedly refer to those with whom you differ as the "enemy".
23. Take the proverbial "high road" and simply denounce those who commit such acts of incivility...without ever looking in the mirror.
24. Read all scriptures of admonishment and reproof as pertaining to everyone else but you.
25. Question every single thing a person says, demand that others "prove it, prove it, prove it", but never find it necessary to prove your own words.
26. Assume you know the motive for and intent behind everything a person writes.
27. Fill in the blank: _________________.
Have I been guilty of sarcasm? yes. Have I been guilty of pride? yes. Have I been guilty of irritation? yes. Have I been saddened and discouraged and felt wounded and attacked? yes. Have I reciprocated in kind? yes.
Permit me, to say, today, that for those who have been offended by my words in the past, I apologize. I ask your forgiveness wherein you even perceived I was unseemly, unkind or prideful. I have sought the Lord before I wrote this and felt the conviction of the Spirit leading me to my own hour of repentance.
I don't know if you see the above list as I do, but I do believe we may be a problem and an impediment to unity and alienating others if we are guilty of even one on the list above. Praise the Lord that He is faithful and just to forgive us, to give us new mercies each day wherein we fail to be the "light" He has called us to be. If we know what to do and do not do it, it is sin. And if we have anything against another or believe another has anything against us, we need to go to that person and ask forgiveness before even beginning to offer anything to God. Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. selahV
As I pondered the excerpt of Charles Spurgeon's sermon below, I could not help but wonder if he would have been a blogger today. I wondered if his words would be as revered as they are in the bound copies inked out on paper. I wondered if he would ever have "imagined" the kind of debates we have on blogs. I wondered if he would have argued with we bloggers; would he have enjoined a tit-for-tat with the likes of Calvin and Arminius? Would he have told everyone to just stop talking to one another?
Would Calvin and Arminius? Would Augustine and Pelagius? Personally, I think these four would have been tearing up the internet. I really do. Don't know about Spurgeon, though.
May 11, 1879 Charles Spurgeon preached a Sunday sermon, "Forts Demolished and Prisoners Taken", based on 2 Corinthians 10:5. Excerpted is part of Spurgeon's sermon below:
"We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ," ESV
"Plain truth is in this wonderful century of small account; men crave to be mystified by their own cogitations. Many glory in being too intellectual to receive anything as absolute certainty: they are not at all inclined to submit to the authority of a positive revelation. God's word is not accepted by them as final, but they judge it and believe what they like of it.
This is madness. I speak to those who believe in the Scriptures, and I say if, indeed, there be a revelation, it becomes us to be silent before it, and accept it without dispute. The Lord knows what he is better than we can ever know, and if he has been pleased to speak in his Word plainly and solemnly, it is ours to believe what he says, because he says it.
It may be all very well to prove that such and such a revelation of God is consistent with reason, consistent with analogy, consistent with a thousand things; but the spirit which needs such argument is a spirit of rebellion against God. If there be a revelation, every part of it is of authority, and must be believed. Human thought is not the arbiter of truth, but the infallible Word is the end of all strife.
It is not ours to say what the truth must be, or what we think it should be, or what we would like it to be, but reverently to sit down with open ear and willing heart to receive what God has spoken.
If an astronomer were to forbear to examine the stars, and teach an astronomy invented in his own brain, he would be an idiot: and those who treat theology in like fashion are not much better.
"Surely," saith one, "we ought to modify our beliefs by public opinion, and the current of thought."
I say "no" a thousand times. The incorruptible word of God liveth and abideth forever, and is incapable of modification. To modify is to adulterate and nullify it, and render it of none effect, so that it becomes another gospel, and, indeed, no gospel.
The thought of tampering with revealed truth is vicious, and ought not to be tolerated by any Christian for a second. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a thing which is to be moulded according to the fashion of the period: it is "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and for ever."
Whether the Greek philosophy rules or is exploded, whether some more modern theory blazes up or smoulders down, is small concern of ours, for we are set to preach the one unvarying gospel of Jesus Christ, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven."
After reading over this snippet from Spurgeon, I'm thinking he would have told we bloggers to sit back, take a deep breath, read the Word of God; listen to the voice of God, and pay closer attention to the Spirit of God. He'd tell us to stop speculating and start emulating. I don't believe he would have been a sideline wallflower, though. He would have been quite vocal. He would have been engaged with the conversation. He wouldn't have danced with the world, flirted with popularity, concerned himself with stats, cared who wrote what or if he offended someone with the truth of God. And, as long as the foremost topic was Jesus, Redeemer and Lord; he would not have minced words. I'd dare say that Spurgeon would be more concerned with whom he shared Jesus during his day than with whom he discussed and debated Calvinism on internet blogs. "Human thought is not the arbiter of truth, but the infallible Word is the end of all strife." selahV
"...a faith and culture writer who has published over 350 articles in outlets such as USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, CNN.com and Christianity Today. He is author of Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet, which Publisher's Weekly called "mandatory reading for churchgoers." As a respected Christian voice, he has been interviewed by ABC World News, CNN, Fox News, NPR, PBS, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Jonathan resides outside of Atlanta, GA where he actively serves and teaches at Cross Pointe Church." [emboldened mine]
When Azariah's claim proved credible and not so outlandish at all, Ed Stetzer posted a confessional interview with Jonathan on his blog wherein Jonathan admitted in part to the allegations by Azariah which Azariah has since countered as inaccurate, "There was no dinner"...the "magic" happened in the back seat of his car after a drunken night on the town "in Chicago"...I was not the only one". Meanwhile, Peter's blog was removed from the listings of the prominent aggregator owned by Tony Kummer a children's minister, and edited by Dave Miller, an Iowa pastor and recently elected 2nd VP of the SBC.
But let us just look at Peter Lumpkins--the recently dubbed "weird cousin from Georgia" by Tony Kummer. In comparison to Jonathan Merritt, Peter is a virtual nobody in the world. Peter, like Jonathan, writes his personal opinions and started a little blog called SBC Tomorrow back in 2006 because he was concerned about the direction of Southern Baptists--just like Jonathan. The majority of Peter's blog consists of historical facts and information he has found in his research of Baptist history. He reads about, and reports what he finds. A smaller but more controversial portion of his blog addresses topics and behavior and rhetoric which he views inconsistent and duplicitious, of which could effect the views of Southern Baptists. Peter was so concerned about the acceptance of alcohol use in Baptist circles that he wrote a series on alcohol. That led to the publishing his first book, Alcohol Today, Abstinence in An Age of Indulgence. He is a pastor of a little church in Georgia. He's the son of an alcoholic father, not the son of a former SBC President. Peter is not on the public stage of national recognition. Peter is an enigma at times. On one post he may disagree vehemently with a leader's position and words, while the next day highly support said leader against all foes on another issue. That's because Peter is not writing about the heart or intentions, but the actions, positions, and words of others. Peter was so certain of one leader's position in the SBC, and certain that the leader had been misquoted, that he went to a microphone (for the first time in his Baptist life), and asked for clarification and verification on the convention floor in Phoenix. For his desire for truth he was ridiculed, smacked down and insulted repeatedly by fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. That didn't bother Peter as much as the shock he got when the leader confirmed that he'd indeed been quoted correctly about homophobia among his peers in ministry.
Jonathan, on the other hand, writes about the hearts of man-- the motives and intentions of their minds. He has repeatedly called evangelicals and Southern Baptist brethren homophobic. I, personally, would not have written about Southworth's outing or Jonathan's trist into gay activity, nor would I address many other topics Peter has, but that is not the issue here. Peter wrote his article about Azariah Southworth's claim against Jonathan because he saw it as important and newsworthy to the general conversation of Christians and how it may effect Southern Baptists in particular. His source of information was a gay man's testimony of having a relationship with Jonathan; the source wrote he had evidence to support his claim if need be.
Peter's act is deemed sinful by some critics. It's okay to tell the world that sisters and brothers in Christ are homophobes, to "out" them as liars about homosexuals without naming a single pastor in the Southern Baptist Convention, or citing a single sermon said pastors have preached. But it is not okay for Peter to write about a gay man's credible allegation regarding the secret life of Jonathan who hides his homosexual sin in a closet of deceit and self-righteousness while writing critical anti-homophobic admonishments toward the SBC family of God. No.
Yet, now, here in the court of public opinion of holy bloggers, Peter is censored, chastized, trashed, insulted, and belittled for not only this infraction of reporting a truthful accusation, but every single solitary word he's ever written is deemed suspect. Every angry feeling anyone has for Peter is brought to the surface of blogland. Every bulging vein of contempt is opened for everyone to comment upon at will. Several comments with links to appalling trash (of not only Peter but insults of other notables in the Southern Baptist family), are allowed to stand by Dave Miller (editor of SBC Voices, and 2nd VP of the SBC). They still stand on line, for hundreds to follow to the disgusting anonymously written website and read the slurs upon Peter, Dr. Jerry Vines, Dr. Gerald Harris and others. This kind of post is perfectly acceptable?
Throughout the comment section of the post at SBC Voices written to publically shame Peter Lumpkins was the call: "He sinned." "He gossiped." But not one word was written about Jonathan Merritt's deceit among us, was it? Peter was given a "time-out" and sent to the corner and then after he'd spent sufficient time in the corner, he was then stood before the class and painted with a brush of "shame, shame, shame on you". He was pulled into the public square and placed in stocks to be further condemned and ridiculed. What about Jonathan? Well...Ed Stetzer gave him an interview and whitewashed his guile in front of his peers. Case closed.
Make no mistake. I felt bad for Jonathan. I still feel badly for him. He had the weight of sin upon him and any of us who know the heaviness of sin (which is a terrible choice we freely make against a holy God), knows the pain of brokenness we have when we carry our private shame. We all know that "but for the grace of God go we". We know that Jonathan is hurting, all the more, because of Azaraiah's "outing". Yet, Jonathan knew this day was approaching. He said he'd been thinking about telling everyone. Exactly what Jonathan was going to reveal to everyone, we don't know. And I don't care. It doesn't matter because he didn't mean for me to know what we know or how we know it, and when we knew it. But now that we do, he is sorry. For something-- what, we still do not know. Certainly not for deceiving the brethren; it wasn't mentioned. Now everyone tells Jonathan how courageous he is for sharing his forced confession and explaining away Azariah's claims.
Not so with the author and journalist who first reported it. No. Peter is dirt. Lower than dirt. He is the worm in a sewer. Funny how one man's choice is barely gray among peers while another man's choice is so clearly black among the same peers.
It is perfectly acceptable to not only block Peter's site, without even a courtesy email to let him know why, then plop a post on the screen with a silly-faced boy and a "yanh, yanh, yanh" attitude pictured as, what appears to me to be, another in-your-face slap across the Georgia bad boy's cheek. That's okay. Why? I am not sure. Perhaps because Peter is just a "sidenote in Baptist conversation". He's not a nationally known writer. He's not a prominent "respected Christian voice" in SBC heirarchy.
But hey, now, Peter has been "welcomed back" into the fold where he was once banned for daring to write a verifiable post. A post over which a group of people have appointed themselves jury and judge and pronounced him evil in the sight of God and man. I ask myself: Is their condemnation any more acceptable than Peter's alleged gossip and indiscretion? Is Peter's alleged sin any more sinful than deceiving the brethren? Is Peter's punishment any greater than the zero commentary or open comment section about another brother who has lived a lie and publically condemned and criticized his brethren regarding homosexuality? for addressing said sin in the pulpits of America? Is Southworth a greater sinner for admitting he is openly gay and wanting Jonathan to be honest? Does the righteousness of holy commenters (most of whom are pastors) exceed that of Peter who did not once condemn Jonathan in his original article?
Jonathan's accuser, Azariah Southworth was set to prove his account with evidence if people did not believe him. Texts? Photos? Who knows what? Had Peter not written about this, Jonathan might still be flying under the radar until Azariah unleashed "the rest of the story" with far greater embarassment. Or maybe today, Peter would not be facing the firing squad of public criticism if he had not chosen to highlight the hypocrisy of another SBC leader in connection with Jonathan's story and admonishment of another alleged fallen Christian...entire story/link.
To me, this whole debacle seems to be an odd set of double standards. It's so glaring I can barely see the connective sinews. Perhaps a commenter on Peter's blog best explains the oddity used in reporting opinions of unseemly and sinful behavior of the "weird cousin from Georgia":
"Merritt is SBC and trying to build a celeb [celebrity] profile. Schaap was the leader of an IFB [Independent Fundamental Baptist] cult started by Hyles. He is not ours [Southern Baptist] to deal with but we can sure beg people to get out of that cult. And the guy is a bonafide creep. The whole place up there is a huge cult.
The problem is, Schaap's heinous sin does not negate Jonathan Merritt living a lie while in ministry and promoting himself within the SBC with manifestos, public articles, etc. That is the truth the boys do not want to hear so they [Ed Stetzer and SBC Voices] change the subject to marginalize you [Peter] instead.
You are their whipping boy."
I am not privy to the behind the scenes machinations of SBC politics, nor the FBI investigation into Pastor Schaap. However, lately I have witnessed actions and words which repeatedly support the "marginalizing" of certain writers and Southern Baptist "voices" within our convention. I have witnessed the demonizing and maligning of certain people. I've seen the perjorative arrows directed at people who do not follow the leader like geese flying in a row. I've watched the way some people are targeted and picked off while others fly on unaware of the danger. With traveling geese, a leader flies on point, the leader drops back to rest and allows another to lead for a time. If only we were geese and could understand that the leadership is a chore for us all...not just one person. We all should be washing feet. No one is above reproach. Yet, we are left with the dirt of some feet having more weight than the dirt of others.
If you ask me, which you aren't, but if you were, I think it best if we all took a bit of a rest, and perhaps more than a few should be sent to "time-out". But as far as Peter Lumpkins is concerned? well, he ain't my "weird cousin from Georgia", he's my brother. And as far as some Southern Baptists are concerned, Peter is hardly a "side-note to the Baptist conversation" as Tony Kummer concludes. One blogger, in support of Peter Lumpkins, wrote:
"Peter - Your writings represent the heart of a multitude of silent "SBC Voices" ... majority Southern Baptists who would stand with you on the essentials of your reporting, but yet not engaged in the critical issues at hand (a group which better wake up soon). The movers & shakers in the SBC reformed movement should consider a time out for their youngsters over at that "other" blog, lest they become too visible and lose their momentum by exposing arrogance and agenda.
There weren't any time outs when I acted up as a kid. My folks preferred knock outs and black outs! Keep flushing them out Peter. Truth can never be timed out." Posted by: Max | Aug 07, 2012 at 09:10 AM at SBC Tomorrow
Now, my friends and readers, I pray with all my heart, that we will examine ourselves in light of God's Word. I pray for Jonathan in his struggle and shame. I pray he is able to not only forgive himself, but find the path on which to walk that honors the Savior who died to cleanse him from all unrighteousness. I pray he lives in the power of the Holy Spirit and accepts the offerings of a Father whose mercies are new each day. I pray that grace be upon him and his family and abound. I pray that as we point fingers at others we learn quickly that three point back at ourselves. I do not think God made a mistake in how He constructed the hand of man. May the gay community find it in their hearts to forgive Jonathan, also. If you think our criticism is harsh, the community which Jonathan has supported is cannibalistic. May we not be the same. May we extend the hand of mercy and grace. May we seek forgiveness for any shred of ambiguity on our part as we encourage and reconcile with our brothers in Christ--no matter how "weird" they seem to us, or how wrong we think they are. selahV
I'm beginning to think there is no such thing as "free" speech. Every word we write or utter has a consequence of being censored or punished. When someone in America makes the statement that they disagree with pundits and movements, they are immediately challenged by a barrage of angry opposition, and, or, boycotted.
Personally, I've done my share of boycotting places and products for the things they sell or the contributions they make to specific causes which oppose my values, or my beliefs. There are many movies and television programs I refuse to watch because of actors who are outspoken against Christianity. There are many products I refuse to purchase because the companies support organizations which I find totally objectionable. There are places I do not shop because of corporate statements which support agendas contrary to what I believe are Biblical. For example, I do not buy Cover Girl products, shop at J C Penney (anymore), or frequent Home Depot. Does it matter to these companies?
There are thousands of blogs and websites I will not read or frequent because of their content or the positions held by specific authors. There are people I won't "friend" on Facebook, and people who want to follow me on Twitter who I would never follow or care to see what they have to say about any issue. Do they care?
In America, we are sometimes forced to listen to, or abide by another person's beliefs and opinions, like it or not (e.g. "I Have Two Mommies" and similar books in school libraries). Children are force-fed sexual information which only parents should be issuing. A "new" tolerance is rampant across America and we as Christians face a predetermined, yet uneven consequence for our stand against it. We are, also, sometimes prohibited from offering our opinions and expressing our beliefs.
Recently, Dan Cathy, owner of Chick-fil-A, discovered the persecution one receives when he takes a stand and expresses his belief in traditional marriage. But what about bloggers who write about these subjects? Are they to keep their opinions to themselves for fear of some consequence? Is this why our society has gone as crazy as it has? because people are afraid to stand up and say what they believe? Will they get a cross burned on their lawn? Graffiti painted on their walls? Have their name taken off one list and placed on another?
For instance, if I should write something here, on my own blog, that some others find objectionable, they may decide to argue their opposition with me. Unless a person's comment is filled with personal insults, innuendo or objectional words, I post the comment. The same person could actually go back to their own blog and write a counter-point post to speak to mine. Last time I checked, it is still a free country.
if my post which is linked to an aggregator (that provides the reading world with a link back to my site), and the owner of said aggregator decides they do not like what I write for whatever reason (maybe they are tired of seeing my avatar or don't like the titles I write, or the subjects I address), then the aggregator is totally and completely able to cut off my link and stop sending traffic to my site. I realize this. Therefore, for the most part, I do not express my complete, unedited, unfiltered, disdain or opposition on some topics and some volatile positions that others hold. In a sense, I suppose that is cowardly on my part. I am a victim of my own thinking.
It does amaze me that some people have written ad nauseum about personalities who allegedly lied about themselves and they beat said personalities into a pulp in the streams by professing Christians as a type of admonishment. Yet, when another person addresses a person's deceit amid the brethren, it becomes a taboo subject. It is a subject for which a writer is ripped off the streams of similar writers...without even a verbal warning. Without a how-de-do or a pink slip in the mail. It is okay for one person to ride the backs of notoriety and make a name for oneself by admonishing the group of which he or she is a part and all the while deceive the world of a personal bias to the subject matter. Because said person is a member of a club of elite leadership, by birth or by controversial writings, some are given a pass. Some are afforded an opportunity to explain away deceit and guile as if their behavior is an exception to the rules. Yet, let a person address the deceitful behavior with a question and his/her blog is wiped off the face of the earth so none can see what /she has to say on the matter ever again. The "voice" is arbitrarily silenced. President Obama tried to do this with Fox News.
It makes me wonder what free speech is all about. It makes me wonder who is allowed to be a critic and who is not. In Christian circles, it makes me wonder what admonishment, reproof, and exhortation means. It makes me question the agenda of some within the sphere of influence they wield. If some can be reproved, and others cannot, it seems to me that none should be reproved at all. If sin is sin, it is sin. If that sin affects the course of others, then is it not important that it be exposed and brought into the light? If not, then there is no measure by which one can cast judgment on another. NO Measure. No judge. All fruit is fruit--premature, blighted, rotted or ripe and ready. It is all the same. For no one is righteous. And everything is permissible. If one sinful behavior is acceptable, then all sinful behavior is acceptable. Everything must be tolerated and condoned and forgiven. One man can rape another. Shove it under the rug. One man can hide his identity. Shove it under the rug. One man can speak his mind while another cannot. One man can question another's sin, another can expose sin and it is acceptable. One man can wield the sword, another cannot. One man can ban a book, another can plant any book they want. One man can have a club in a University, another man cannot. One man can speak against God, while another cannot speak for God. One man can challenge another man's words, another cannot. How do we dare?
I truly believe there are limits to consider when one speaks. When one writes. When one addresses others. As Christians we have a personal responsibility to the body of Christ and the Savior we serve to be as responsible as we can be when we write or speak. If we challenge others, we need to judge our own motives that fuel our words. The content we produce must be delivered with measured responses. In the world of blogging, both are very often ignored or suppressed as self-control is lost in a sea of emotion and abandoned etiquette. This carries its own consequence. Credibility is in the eye of the beholder and perception is the reality by which we each judge a person's words and attitude. Duplicity is evident to some and sadly unrecognized by others.
But speech is never free. It pays its own way into the minds and hearts of others. And sometimes free speech is costly. It cost Jesus His life. And it continues to cost others their lives as they profess His name. Just ask "Pastor Youcef Nadakhani, who has spent 1022 days in prison for his faith under the threat of execution. He is only one of many Christians persecuted in Iran for their faith." (see story here/link). Is our country headed in the same direction?
I don't know about you, but each time I see a person's words censored, I do wonder how far we will someday go to stop their words. Or how far someone will go to stop mine. So...
No, there is no such thing as free speech in some venues, in some countries, in some arenas. Free speech is an illusion we each think we have until we see we do not have it at all. The only "free" speech is that which Believers have to approach the Throne of Grace. And even that speech was paid for by our Savior's blood. Given what He gave, how much do we exercise our freedom in comparison for those who need Him today? selahV
My stomach churned with disgust as I read my friend, Johnathan Pritchett's outrage and disgust (read here/link), regarding a Mississippi pastor, who refused to allow the marriage of a black couple in their church (/link). This is more than an outrage; it's incredulous in this day and age. This pastor and a minority of church members barred a couple from joining hearts and hands in marriage under God, simply because of the color of their skin? They deserve a blistering and immediate response from the SBC.
Often racism goes unseen, unreported; it flies under the radar of the public at large. Sometimes it is subtle--a handshake and smiling face, but rarely an invitation to home-cooked dinners. Secret ballot votes for deacons, or the seeking of white pastors in predominately white churches. In these cases, racism fails the kindred spirit examination, the bless-be-the-tie-that-binds trial. It fails miserably.
Friends, this Mississippi church's action will not go unnoticed. There is no way to fly beneath the radar. I am glad some (here, here, and here), in our convention are calling attention to it. Yet, I am deeply saddened that reality of this shameful attitude necessitates exposure. It should not be. Not among Christians.
I do believe God is cleaning house and opening wide the doors of the sin and unholy attitudes of our convention. We need to open our hearts, our minds and remove the blinders over our eyes. Racism is not going to go away with the election of the first black SBC President. This is clearly seen in the action taken by this church and it will be a monumental test upon us as a convention of churches which seek to uplift Christ and bring glory to God.
This action did neither. It spits in the face of our Savior as sure as they were standing at Calvary over 2,000 years ago. It erases any glory God could have received by hearts joining together to reject the racism living in the hearts of members. Sadly, it addresses a weakness of character in the leadership of this church.
May those who were unaware be the force of change. May they have the courage to do what is right and just in the eyes of God over this duplicity in spirit and mindset of their calling as ambassadors for Christ.
Make no mistake, my Southern Baptist brothers and sisters: God is cleaning house.
If we will not repent, then God will expose our hypocrisy in the courts of public opinion. Our sins will not go unnoticed. At the same time this church will face a reckoning, it behooves us to pray for God to use this incident to pierce the heart of that Mississippi church membership and convict them of their sin.
May their cancerous hate be cut out from their midst as they beg forgiveness of this couple. May God be glorified in this church's humble apologies in days to come and their resolve to change what needs to be changed in order to line up with the love of God and reconciling power of His Holy Spirit. May our outrage over this situation not equal the unrighteous attitude of this racist incident. May we admonish with the Spirit of God as our guide. May we act in accordance with His will and Word. selahV
I find it all very confusing.
Every time I post an article--be it pre-scheduled, published or draft, (as I've said before), my copy disappears. My Typepad service techs tell me it is not really happening... that my empty screen is a figment of my imagination so-to-speak... that the copy which I do not see is actually not invisible... it's visible on their end. Thus they've concluded it is not a worm or virus, but a glitch in my browser (which is Firefox Mozilla). Now, whether or not Typepad techs are correct or not, does not solve my problem. I no more have my copy before me to edit and restore than a person has the ability to write or rewrite their name in the Lamb's Book of Life.
This aggravating situation has created such havoc with writing, I've all but stopped completely. Right now, I have several things I'd like to post about which I've encountered on blogs and other places, but gee...it's such a hassle. That said, I am going to post a piece of info a friend of mine pulled off the internet regarding Presbyterians.
Why Presbyterian thoughts on a Baptist Blog?
Well, that denomination is most decidedly reformed and followers of Calvinism. And since there has been so much discussion regarding the Traditionalist Baptist view on an infant's relationship with God (inability and ability to enter heaven should they die), I thought this was an interesting piece of information on how a reformed Presbyterian church viewed the depravity (or lack of depravity) in infants.
From the website of Faith Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, WA; a member of the Presbyterian Church in America.
Subject: The Presbyterian Doctrines of Covenant Children
"According to Calvin the infants of believing parents belong to the church before they are engrafted into its visible membership by baptism. The child of a Christian parent is presumptively a Christian and an heir of eternal life.
The offspring of believers are born holy, because their children, while yet in the womb, before they breathe the vital air, have been adopted into the covenant of eternal life. Nor are they brought into the church by baptism on any other ground than because they belonged to the body of the Church before they were born. He who admits aliens to baptism profanes it.... For how can it be lawful to confer the badge of Christ on aliens from Christ. Baptism must, therefore, be preceded by the gift of adoption, which is not the cause of half salvation merely, but gives salvation entire; and this salvation is afterwards ratified by Baptism."
[Interim Adulterogermanum: cui adiecta est vera Christianae Pacificationis et Ecclesiae Reformandae Ratio. Per Joann. Calvinum. Corpus Reformatorum, vol. 35, 619, cited by Schenck, p. 13. Similarly Calvin says, '...the children of believers are baptized not in order that they who were previously strangers to the church may then for the first time become children of God, but rather that, because by the blessing of the promise they already belonged to the body of Christ, they are received into the church with this solemn sign.' Institutes, IV, xv, 22. ]" (emphasis added)
My friend asks a very pointed and purposeful question:
"Where is the doctrine of orginal sin and Adamic guilt in this statement above ... "The offspring of believers are born holy,"?"
Folks have been bantering back and forth about the state of infants in relation to Adam's imputed guilt upon each and every person born (or unborn for that matter). This statement above does seem to say that an adult parent's faith is vicariously transferred to the unborn infant. Perhaps I am reading this wrong. I do not know. However...
if this is, indeed, what Calvinists believe (which is hard to grasp), then how can anyone who is born into a Christian family ever be "totally depraved"? How can holy be made unholy? How can an adopted be un-adopted? Why is it required that someone born holy needs faith to "believe" in order to become what he already is? How does holy become filthy? Is "holy" just another of the growing list of words that need to be redefined for folks like me? Does anyone else find this information problematic of what Presbyterian Calvinists believe?
Is this what Baptist Calvinists believe?
The Traditional Baptist Statement addresses human depravity in a way that does not negate the consequences we endure due to a corrupted world. The nature of man gives him the appetite and desire for sin. Yet, sin is born only as a person gives into the desires of sin's temptation...which we are certain to do because according to scripture, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." We cannot fix that. Only God can give us a new heart and impress upon us the desire for Jesus, and empower us with the faith follow Him. When we act upon that desire, we exhibit the faith we've been given and are changed, reborn, and made into a new creature, holy and acceptable unto God through the shedding of blood at Calvary.
Any thoughts? selahV
Blogging can be a remarkable hobby. It can be tremendously challenging, informative and mind-changing. It can give clarity to a situation or issue, or pollute the comment streams with vitriolic diatribe. It can bring light to issues or cover topics with clouds of doubt. It can test your patience, increase your reading comprehension, decrease ignorance, and dispel rumors and stereotypes. It can calm your fears, lift your spirit and enrich your mind.
It creates for me a new stream of thinking. It has introduced me to Seminary presidents, professors, missionaries, ministers, DoM's, and layfolk within my denomination. It's connected me to authors, diverse writers, and faithful readers. It has linked me to people in China, India, Australia, Peru, Alaska, and more. I sit here absolutely amazed sometimes on the expanse of it all. The instant ability to contact someone and share a prayer request, ask a question, or receive information is mindboggling. However,
for the weak hearted and thin skinned, blogging can be lethal. It can be addictive. It can be heartbreaking, dream-stealing, spirit-crushing. It can make you so angry and irritable that your blood pressure rises, your sleep is disturbed and you find yourself wondering what the world is coming to. Having said this, I was reminded of the scripture passage below by a fellow blogger:
"If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?" Jeremiah 12:5
Some people are easily discouraged. I am one of those people. However, as quick as I am discouraged, when I confess it, the Lord strengthens me by His Spirit. He also uses the many wonderful bloggers I have encountered in the past six years. As I grow in grace and patience and self-control, I've noticed a deeper desire to listen, and try to grasp the views of others. Some people do not do this. They are so embittered that any grievance they've had in the past, colors their view of the present and future. It's hard to travel in thickets when you've never been strengthened in the easier walks in life. It's hard to trust someone's testimony when you've been burned by falsehoods and then, base every word of folks you encounter upon every negative experience you've had in your past.
Such is the way of many who try to read blogs, who never see beyond the tit-for-tat sparring in the comment streams. I've often walked away from blogs because of the senseless arguments and insults. I do not have enough time in life to keep reading them. However, I've learned to leap-frog over many conversations and comments to get to ones which have a reasoned and rational dialogue going on. On various occasions, I found myself wondering where I fit in the SBC blog world given all I was seeing. Yet, here I am. Still pecking. Still reading. Still praying that through it all, God will use this venue to grow His people, to bind them, to strengthen them and use them as ambassadors of Christ.
I don't know what it is, exactly, that seemingly takes some folks beyond their normal characteristics of communicating when on the internet. Some things they say to one another on here, cannot possibly be how they talk in a face-to-face, across-the-table, coffee-sharing chat. Perhaps it is the anonymity of the screen rather than a person. I know that, at times, I am reading words, rather than a voice, and it is the words I interact with. I sometimes forget there is a person beyond those black and white letters--a person with facial expressions, tone, and mannerisms. I'm not sure what it is for others.
Do you ever wonder how folks get along in everyday life, in difficult situations, with disagreeable people when you read some of the conversations on the internet? I do. I wonder if it is just me. I wonder how some folks interact with colleagues, committees, husbands, wives, children and fellow Believers in a Sunday-School class.
Sometimes I think we each forget that our Savior is among us. We forget our speech is being viewed from Heaven. We forget we are accountable for our words, accusations, and insults. I've heard from a few folks who are quite disturbed over the current conversations, the heat, the ire. They think there is no possible way to bridge the divide. In some cases, I agree. In others, I think there is hope. There is peace to be found and agreement to be made. Where we end up in the scheme of things is up to us. How willing are we to yield to the Spirit of God? How obedient to His Word will we be? How much can we love one another if we hate one another's words and distrust every sentence they write?
The blogging world is not for the weak of heart or the thin-skinned. If we find ourselves unable to deal with the wisecracks, the innuendo, and rebuke from across the waves of space upon a virtually neutral piece of metal, wires, and plastic, how can we possibly interact and communicate with the flesh and blood, emotions of tender hearts without severing arteries and piercing veins? How will we ever be able to weather the major storms we each face beyond our monitors? selahV