Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Thideology has moved...


...that's right, Thideology has moved to a new location. We'd like to tell you that the website is "new and improved" with "all new features" and a more "reader-friendly" format — or some similarly impressive endorsement, but we can't. It's just ... well ... different.

But, since Thideology has established a large readership, we wanted to be sure to let both of you know our new location so you wouldn't miss any of the profound musings you've come to appreciate. So, here is the new location...

www.thideology.com

If that doesn't work right away try...

www.thideology.wordpress.com

See you in the new neighborhood.

Friday, November 17, 2006

This is NOT your father's faith

A recent survey by the Barna Group (complete story found here) shows young adults are “abandoning the biblical faith of their elders” at an alarming rate. The survey points out young adults in their 20s and 30s were at least twice as likely as their elders to have engaged in immoral behavior.

Now I find this survey disturbing, of course, but I do not agree with the premise statement of the survey that young adults have “abandoned the biblical faith of their elders.” The real problem is that young adults have never even been introduced to the biblical faith of their elders. They have never been fed the meat of the Word. They are spiritual babes if they are saved at all. Easy believe-ism and “seeker sensitivity” have replaced sound doctrine. So, rather than learning the biblical faith, kids these days are learning this instead.

Anyone have anything for a headache?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Building something "godly"

Next Tuesday is election day in America and churches everywhere are publishing voter's guides and encouraging their members to "get out and vote" because, apparently, our primary purpose is to put a stop to everything from same-sex marriages to cussin'. After all, the mantra goes, this is a "Christian Nation" and we need to reclaim it for God. Well, consider this: A new Harris poll reveals that 42 percent of Americans are not "absolutely certain" there even is a God, you can read a complete story about it here.

Now, this is disturbing news, of course. But if our immediate response is to "elect godly leaders" then we are waaay off base. Elected officials -- even "godly" ones -- can't fix what ails America. The problem with America is sin. God alone has the ability to effectively deal with that.

Look in Scripture. Find the passages that instruct believers to "fix" mankind through the political process (I can save you some time -- it's not in there). Now find the passages where believers are instructed to make disciples, to teach of the things of God, to boldly proclaim His name and to get into the fields that are white unto harvest. You see my point?

We have become so consumed with manipulating the behavior of Americans through the force of elected officials that we have neglected introducing them to the One who has the power to change them completely. As believers we need to consume ourselves with His will and His glory. Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

Let's concern ourselves with the things of God and stop allowing the temporal things of man to distract us from our purpose. As believers we should be obsessed with building a "godly" church and leave the nation in God's hands. Remember, we serve the King of kings regardless of who occupies some office in Washington.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Reformation Day



Today is the anniversary of when, in 1517, Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. God used this act as a spark to create a reformation among believers whereby the supremacy of Scripture would once again be accepted as the sole authority for our faith. Here is the full text of the 95 Theses.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Celebrations in October

It's October and you know what that means...

Well, it means two things really: 1) Halloween is upon us and 2) so is the World Series. (Note: these are not listed in order of importance)

As always, Halloween merits some mention because churches struggle over how to address it. Many churches offer "harvest parties" as a wholesome alternative to Halloween. Others sponsor "judgment houses" -- the Christian version of a haunted house where visitors are confronted with the reality of an eternity in hell and then presented some form of evangelistic message. I still contend we really miss the boat at this time of year. It was on October 31 that Martin Luther nailed the 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, the spark that set ablaze the Protestant Reformation. This time of year provides an incredible opportunity for teaching about the history of the event and the biblical doctrines that were reclaimed. For a taste of what we are missing read "Celebrating Reformation."

Now, the World Series merits a special mention this year because the Detroit Tigers are back in it. Since I am the "World's Number One Detroit Tiger Fan" I would be remiss if I did not make mention of this fact. Oh, I'm sure there are those who would dispute my claim to number-one-fan status, but for 22 years (the number of years since the Tigers were last in the World Series) I have proudly stood up -- even in the midst of a 119-loss season -- and proclaimed my affection for the Tigers. So please forgive me if I make similar proclamations now, when it is considerably more pleasant to do so.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Uncompromising


Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the “Prince of Preachers,” was not very big on sacrificing truth for unity. In fact, when it came to God’s Word, he was quite uncompromising (a word which, today, has decidedly negative connotations but in Spurgeon’s day was quite complimentary). He did not shy away from preaching “hard” doctrines nor did he attempt to ease the cutting bite of the Word’s sharper edges. This week’s dose of Spurgeon over at Pyromaniacs demonstrates this well. Would that God would raise up more preachers like Spurgeon who are unafraid to preach the whole of God’s Word and unapologetic for the truths contained therein.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Seeking Treasure from Idols

When we think of idol worship we often conjure images of Old Testament-style idolatry. We may think of the Israelites and their golden calf or the despicable practice of the Ammonites in sacrificing their children to Moloch. Few of us ever consider the many forms idols may take, nor the various ways we sacrifice to them – even today.

This book review at the Chalcedon Foundation’s website demonstrates how people frequently sacrifice their children to idols right here in 21st century America. Parents are sacrificing their children to the idol of worldly success, pushing them ever harder for higher grades, more involvement, more achievement so that they might end up at the right college which will, of course, enable them to get the right job and on and on. The book is not specifically about the children of Christian parents but a simple glance around will confirm that Christian parents have fallen prey to this very idol and willingly offer their children to it.

The results speak for themselves. Statistics show that 88 percent of students who were involved in church while in high school leave the church when they leave school. For them church was just another activity tacked onto an already lengthy list of other activities. Our churches have become horribly inept at teaching our children the deep and meaningful things of God. We do not emphasize that Christ is not merely another aspect of our life but that he is life itself and our whole existence is to glorify God. Even if we say these things our actions speak louder.

Investing the vast majority of our time in other areas betrays our true priorities. We sacrifice our time, our energy, and our children to idols and then wonder why God would allow them to wander away.

It should come as no surprise. Jesus was clear on the consequences of pursuing worldly treasure. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21

Friday, September 29, 2006

Thideological News of the Day

"SEEKER SENSITIVE" CONFLICT
Recent reports indicate Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee, one of the largest churches in the Southern Baptist Convention, is dividing over the implementation of “Seeker Sensitive” principles most notably made popular by Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Church. Complete articles on the situation may be found here and here.

It always troubles me to see brothers and sisters bickering but this one hits very close to home as I had the privilege of serving as an intern on Bellevue’s staff while attending seminary in Memphis. It is even more troubling to see a spat like this when Scripture speaks clearly on the matter. Romans 3: 10-13 says, “There is none righteous not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God…

There is no such thing as a “seeker.” And I pray that Bellevue will conform to the biblical view of sinful man, abandon any “seeker sensitive” nonsense, and set an example for many other churches who look up to her.

AN ENCOURAGING TREND
Many young Christians are beginning to rediscover the rock-solid foundation of the Reformed faith. This article in Christianity Today explains.

A WORD ABOUT POLITICS
With the mid-term elections fast approaching it is difficult not to hear the latest predictions of results and speculation on what it all means. I make no secret of my conservative leanings in this area (although my brand of conservatism is more akin to the libertarian style established by the likes of Thomas Jefferson than it is to the big-government style we see today). Here is an article that examines what happened to the conservatives who used to represent my beliefs. It’s a bit depressing, but…

If you are like me and long for a much smaller government then here is a candidate we can truly get behind.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A "human" God

The influence of humanism on the church runs deep. It manifests itself most notably in a rampant Arminianism – which holds that man’s “free will” is the one aspect of humanity God may not assail (but that’s a subject for another time). Even though humanism runs contrary to a biblical worldview we have allowed aspects of it to creep into our theology.

At first the contradictions may be so minute as to be almost unnoticeable. But, as the effects of humanism creep farther and farther into the teachings of the church it is inevitable that, at some point, a clear contradiction will present itself forcing us to make a decision. Are we going to turn from the false teachings we’ve allowed to go unchecked, repent, and re-embrace the Bible as the sole authority for our faith? Or, are we going to continue to rationalize some sort of synthesis between humanism and Scripture that results in a worldview that, once again, drifts farther away from the “faith once for all delivered to the saints?”

One such contradiction is the incarnation. There is a school of thought, which posits the notion that one of the reasons Jesus came to earth was so God could find out for Himself what it is like for us (this dovetails with open theism, another heresy gaining popularity today that I addressed here). This teaching asserts that God, never having been a man Himself, could not possibly know what life as a human is like. This is a clear projection of human limitations on God.

It is true that we, as humans, better understand things if we can experience them for ourselves. But our capacity for understanding is extremely limited. God’s is not. God spoke all of creation into existence. It is His providential hand that guides creation. He understands our circumstances, reactions, and emotions better than we ourselves. Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is our Lord and great of power: His understanding is infinite.” Acts 15:18 says, “Known unto God are all His works from the beginning.”

Scripture goes on and on and on. There is no mistaking this: God knows all things. To think that He must experience something first-hand in order to better understand it is contrary to Scripture. A god who must experience in order to understand has something to learn and, therefore, is not omniscient.

And yet there are those who continue to insist God is like us and needs to experience things first. Of course, this is not a new thing. People have always tried to make God more like themselves. Martin Luther, the German reformer, once rebuked his contemporary, Erasmus, for this very mistake. “Your thoughts of God,” he wrote in a letter, “are too human.”

The Scriptures even contain an instance where God scolds an apostate Israel for this very heresy, “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether as thyself.” (Psalm 50:21)

The sad thing is the modern church, when presented with each subsequent contradiction between humanism and biblical authority, seems to embrace humanism and thus accelerates a downward spiral away from orthodoxy. May God convict each of us to return to His Word and conform our thoughts accordingly and give us the boldness to reject any errors we’ve embraced that contradict it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Neither"

Sometimes reading Scripture can catch you off guard. You can be reading along, thinking you have a solid handle on the text when – BOOM – a single word will send you spinning. I was once sent spinning thusly.

I was reading Joshua chapter five. It seemed pretty straight forward, when a single word blew apart my erroneous understanding and set me to thinking. Perhaps you remember the story. Moses has died and Joshua is now the leader of the Israelites. God has promised them the land in Canaan and has led them to the city of Jericho. Let’s pick up the text here (verses 13 through 15)…

“Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, ‘Are you for us or for our enemies?’

‘Neither,’ he replied, ‘but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.’ Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, ‘What message does my Lord have for his servant?’

The commander of the Lord's army replied, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.”

Did you see the word over which I once tumbled?

I’ll give you a hint: It’s “neither.”

Neither.

When Joshua asks the commander of the Lord’s army “are you for us or for our enemies?” the commander replies “neither.”

Based on the rest of this story – you know, how the commander gives Joshua instructions on how to capture Jericho and how those instructions work in miraculous fashion – I had always felt safe in assuming this commander was from God.

In fact, if you examine this commander closely you find some very striking characteristics:

First, earthly armies have chains of command – from the commander-in-chief to the generals, senior officers, junior officers, non-commissioned officers all the way down to the privates. This is necessary because the commanders can’t be everywhere at once. Aha, but God can. God needs no such chain of command. He alone commands his army.

Second: Joshua falls down and worships this commander – and the commander accepts the worship. Angels don’t do that because there is only One worthy of worship and that is God, Himself.

Third: This commander tells Joshua to take off his sandals because the ground on which he is standing is holy. Now, what makes a patch of ground holy? Geography? No. It is the presence of God. Remember this happened before when Moses was addressed by God in the burning bush. God’s presence makes a place holy.

This commander is a Christophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ.

Okay. So, the messenger is beyond reproach. What He says can be safely taken as authoritative. But, what of the message? He said “neither.” This indicates that he is not for the Israelites. God is not for the Israelites? How can this be?

Aren’t these the very people with whom God established His covenants? Didn’t He dwell in their midst in the tabernacle? He delivered them from slavery in Egypt by parting the Red Sea. He fed them in the wilderness. He piled up the waters of the Jordan River so they could cross into the Promised Land. And, because we have the benefit of Scripture, we know He leads them to victory in Canaan, and ultimately blesses all nations through them by sending the Messiah as the perfect sacrifice for sin.

And yet Christ tells Joshua that He is not for the Israelites. I thought perhaps there was some textual anomaly, some matter of semantics that would clear this up. I found none.

The answer is found in adopting a foundational principle for studying Scripture and it is this…

It ain’t about us.

None of it. God’s Word, His divine plan – none of it is about us. Oh, His Word is for us and His plan certainly benefits us, but it is not about us. It’s about Him. All of it.

All of God’s creation exists to bring Him glory. This is a foundational principle of Christianity. We are created for His glory. We are saved for His glory. We preach and teach and live for His glory.

This is the lesson Joshua needed to learn. While the Israelites had benefited from God’s plan they were not the focus of it. God was the focus of it.

This is a lesson we sorely need to relearn in the 21st century church. So many of our beliefs are rooted in the notion that God’s plan is somehow about us. This is a horrible mistake. It takes the focus off of God and puts it on us. It makes us think there is something about us worthy of being saved. And nothing could be further from the truth.