Where Do Such Ideas Come From?

Posted July 3, 2013 by Bob
Categories: Bible

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Recently there has been a lot of discussion among missions-minded people about something called the “Insider Movement.”  To quote from a great summary article available here,

Fundamentally, Insiders are those who profess faith in Christ but remain members of their original religious communities; Muslims remain Muslims, Hindus remain Hindus, and Buddhists remain Buddhists. In the Muslim world that means they must acknowledge one exclusive God, Allah, and that Mohammed is his final and greatest messenger. They remain members of the mosque, practice the five pillars of Islam, live openly in their cultures as Muslims, participate in Muslim sacrifices and feasts, and identify themselves as Muslims. In many cases, I’m familiar with baptized Christians who are persuaded to re-enter the mosque after renouncing their Christian identities. In the case of Muslim Insiders, most acknowledge four sacred books: the Law, Psalms, “Gospel” (as a book originally given to Jesus, but no longer in existence), and Koran. Of these texts, many assume that since the Koran is the latest, it is still the greatest, though others see both containing God’s Word. Insiders typically claim the Bible as inspiration for their view,  at least part of it.

As we discussed at our noon study today, this view hardly does justice to the Gospel.  The Gospel calls us to forsake our worldly ties and ways and follow Christ alone.  Certainly, we aren’t to leave our family or home, but we are to be identified with Christ and His people, the Church.  After all, the early church, at Pentecost, did this very thing and grew because of  obedience.  There were not to be secret Christians.

So, where do missionaries get this kind of thinking?  I think it begins at home–in the very churches were they grew up.  Yep, here in America we really do the same thing.  Want to become a Christian, but ignore what the Bible says about God specially creating man?  No problem.  The same goes for wanting to be active in homosexuality and still be called a Christian.  Have trouble with gender roles as God created them?  We just issue new translations that are gender neutral.  Want to be a part of God’s Covenant community without actually committing to join the community?  Okay, no membership, no responsibilities, no obligation.  Just come when you want.

The word we translate, “church,” in the Bible is, ecclesia.  While it means a congregation of believers, it literally means, called out.  ‘We have a real ecclesiology problem in the US.  We don’t look like the New Testament Church.  We don’t even look like a Country Club; even they have membership requirements and some rules and obligations.  We are afraid of running people off if we have standards.  Why does the Country Club flourish with standards?  Perhaps it has something worth belonging to.  When we water ourselves down so that everyone will be happy, we have nothing worth belonging to.

Part of our problem is that we see our salvation much more as a personal thing than a corporate one.  We forget that God sees us as a part of the body, not as a solo act.  (See Paul’s lecture to the Corinthians in his first letter, chapter 11.)

The other part of the problem is that we want to grow in numbers at whatever cost.  By the second  or third generation of doing things this way, it seems normal.  So, we presume, since everyone does it, it must be right.

So, when we throw stones at the missionaries who err so obviously, we need to remember the old truth, canonical or not, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!”


Singing with Rationality

Posted August 10, 2011 by Bob
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Today some of us discussed for a short time the pros and cons of what one of us called “Mantra Music”. He was describing the songs which go on for an extended time and repeat the same words over and over.

Something my son David wrote recently on his blog (aroundcambridge.org) jumped out at me and I wanted to put it before you. In his blog post, he lamented the fact that Christianity is often viewed by unbelievers as an irrational leap of faith. This leap has no rational basis, as the unbeliever sees it. People just “check their brain” and believe.

Is it possible that our aversion to “Mantra Music” is that it is often times “check your brain” music. It doesn’t say anything (at least after a while) and appears to have no rational basis for being sung. In Scripture, people often cry out, “The Lord Is Good!” For example, take the 5th verse of Psalm 100:

Psalm 100:5 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

Here is a truth that loses its rationality if we just sing it over and over without connecting it to the first four verses:

Psalm 100:1-4 NIV Psalm 100:1 A psalm. For giving thanks. Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

There are at least three other ways music (both old and new) can demonstrate an irrational tone. First, we can sing about things that can’t really be true. Songs about touching God, for example, are not true to reality. I know that we can sing metaphor, but some songs speak about wanting to reach out and touch God and say that we love him. We can’t. We appear to have “checked our brains.”

Another example is the song that talks about how we pledge our love or service beyond what we really, rationally can or do actually do. One song I know ends with the line, “I will always love you with everything I am.” No unbeliever believes that believers do that, and no believer should either. God always loves us, but we are often not loving to Him. Why sing that when we know it isn’t true?

Finally, there are words in songs that just don’t mean anything (at least to me). I like the song, “How Great is Our God,” until the end of the second verse:
And age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the End
Beginning and the End
The Godhead three in one
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb

The Beginning and the End clearly refers to his control over the ages. So, what repeats after the lines about the Trinity should refer to the Trinity. It could be, “The Mystery of God, The Mystery of God,” or, “The Trinity of Love, The Trinity of Love,” etc. But—it reads, “The Lion and the Lamb, The Lion and the Lamb.” I don’t know how that connects. It seems irrational and becomes, for me, “check your brain,’ irrational music. I could go on with other examples I don’t understand (“you took the fall, above all,” rhymes, but I’m not sure what it means.)

So it seems to me that our music should be rational. That doesn’t mean we can’t sing experiential music, but it should be rational.

The Fear Of The Lord

Posted March 5, 2010 by Bob
Categories: Uncategorized

In studying for Sunday I have discovered that the concept of fearing the Lord appears over and over.  In the Old Testament most references are to what comes to the believer who fears the Lord.  For example, “The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  (Psalm 111; all over Proverbs)  In the New Testament, the Fear of the Lord is described more often as something we should do, or as a state of being.

There seem to be two popular schools of thought about the Fear of the Lord for Christians.  One says that fear is just that-being afraid of God-but in a healthy way.  He is all powerful and we need to watch our step.  The other says that fear refers to reverence.  Not actually being afraid, but respecting Him greatly.  I think they both miss the mark.

Sunday we will look at the relationship of  God’s Power, God’s Grace and Fear of the Lord.  Come and learn and enjoy your Fear of the Lord.

Murders In Huntsville

Posted February 13, 2010 by Bob
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These past two weeks have seen school shooting in our town.  First, there was the shooting at Discovery Middle School.  Now, yesterday a UAH Professor was accused of killing three colleagues and wounding three others.
The community response to these terrible acts has been good, in the sense that most people are full of concern and compassion for the families.  There has also been talk about learning lessons from the shootings that will help prevent similar acts in the future.

What is surprising, considering the number of people who identify themselves as Christians, has been the surprise exhibited that such a thing could happen here.  Our theology informs us that people, since the fall, are inherently evil.  We do, according to Paul, the things we know we should not do. (Romans 7)  While Paul is speaking, I believe, particularly about non-christians, the same is true about us–we sin!

In fact, our faith is based upon an understanding that it was our sins which required Christ to die.  To put it truthfully, but perhaps too strongly, we are all forgiven murderers.

In Acts 2 and 3, that is the way that Peter preaches the Gospel–“Hey. you murderers, be forgiven and believe on Jesus!”

Now I understand that most of us will never actually commit a murder in this life, it is important for us to understand that sin in all its forms is related to murder.  We shouldn’t be shocked to see it happen.
So, when murder happens we do need to be filled with compassion for those who have lost family or friends.  We need to grieve with them.  We do need to think about what steps we can take  to restrain others from doing similar acts in the future.  We also, however, need to have compassion on those who are still alive and preach the Gospel to them.  Read Acts 2 and 3, and be prepared.  Tomorrow we will look at how Peter used his time to explain our need for the Savior to people exposed to murder.  Let’s learn from it.

How to make God disappear

Posted October 1, 2008 by Bob
Categories: Uncategorized

On Jibsheet, I have posted about the bail out and consequences.  My point in that post is that events in life are to remind us that we need God.  When bad things happen, they remind us that there are consequences to our actions.  This leads to repentance, and a desire to do things God’s way.  When there are no consequences, then we don’t get reminded about God, we don’t repent, and we don’t desire to do things God’s way.  In child rearing, there are not nearly as many parents today who are willing to have their kids suffer the consequences of their action.  Should it surprise us, then, that there are fewer and fewer people (of all ages) that don’t believe in God.  We are slowly removing Him from everyday life by removing consequences from every day life.  This is not good.

See This Jib Sheet Post on Scripture Twisting

Posted August 30, 2008 by Bob
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I have posted a comment on recent Scripture twisting in the current political race.  You can find it here.

Coming to a Church (and courtroom) Near You?

Posted August 7, 2008 by Bob
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There is an interesting case before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals right now.  You can read about Canyon Road Baptist Church here.  The bottom line is that a Pastor scheduled a movie one Sunday evening, dealing with the fight for one man/one woman marriage in the political area.   The movie came at the issue from a biblical perspective.  After the movie, petitions to support an effort to get the issue on the ballot were in the back of the church.  The church got dinged for not filing as a political committee under Montana law.

The church cited First Amendment religious grounds for not filing as a committee; every issue has religious overtones.  For a Christian, worldview means knowing how God thinks about everything.  The court lost in the Administrative Court, the Federal District Court, and is now before the appeals court.
One could argue that a more legally savvy Pastor could have gotten around the whole thing by moving the petitions outside–announcing that a separate organization was handling them.  But, shoud he have to?  How far a reach is it to imagine that even if there were no petitions, some group might bring an action against the Pastor and Church for political rhetoric on any issue such as marriage, divorce, abortion, or even theft!  Where does it stop?

Lest you think this is far-fetched imagining, Pastors have already been taken to criminal court for “hate speech” in Canada and Scandanavia.  So, when does a Sermon or teaching become a court case?  The answer for me is, I don’t know any longer.  The bigger question is, will this threat or perceived threat silence the church.  No!  That I do know.