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Month: January 2012

The Fallout

A commenter named Dan McGhee at Denny Burk’s blog, coming from The Convergence, made a good insight, which I have noticed myself among pastors my age in their commentary on this whole ordeal (read below). I’m in the minority on the position I’ve taken with others my age in case you’re wondering, at least it seems to be the case. As Phil Johnson pointed out in a series of predictions he made, from a previous post, Elephant Room 2, with the invitation of T.D. Jakes was the first real test of the validity, strength and sustainability of the Young, Restless, Reformed movement in the face of doctrinal error. It appears to me it has failed primarily by succumbing to the lure of postmodernism in discourse. This is very unfortunate and I pray it can be changed. Unfortunately, if we learn anything from church history, it’s that seemingly innocuous decisions, even when done with well-meaning intentions (as I believe they were), have very serious consequences and implications [bold, italicized font mine]:

Denny, the damage that ER2 has done in the overall body of Christ is going to be felt in the years to come. Already I am hearing of conversations with younger, impressionable, college-aged men, who are headed for ministry and currently in Bible college studying for ministry, who are now wondering “What’s the big deal? TD Jakes affirmed the trinity.”

For the life of me I can’t understand how otherwise solid men can’t see how this is going to lead to Jakes’ prosperity-theology being main-streamed into the evangelical church in the years to come. Not to mention, the idea that oneness theology and trinitarian theology “aren’t really that far apart because it’s only a matter of semantics” is now firmly planted into the soil of evangelicalism. Make no mistake, this thinking will sprout, grow, and spread in the days to come.

All of this is the result of men being ENAMORED with mega-church pastor successes (numerically), which of course, is now being defined as “fruitfulness.” Obedience to 2 John 7-10 could have spared the church of Jesus Christ must damage that will no doubt result, and already is.

Mark Driscoll, The Elephant Room, and Why I Left Acts 29…

Some of the Best Posts on the Elephant Room Debacle So Far

What Was the Point of the Elephant Room Forum? – Phil Johnson and Todd Friel

Phil Johnson was right on in his predictions, that much is for sure. On the other side though, Phil also addresses hyper-seperationism and those taking upon themselves discernment ministry unwisely to a unproductive and in many cases destructive degree. In this, many have a proper critique of us who critique, and Phil actually expounds upon this matter better than some who criticize us for criticizing. Anyway, point duly noted.

Spurgeon on the Downgrade Controversy

“Every generation must fight their own [version of the] Downgrade [controversy]” – Dr. James White

Very relevant to where the evangelical church is these days, in every age really. Excerpt from Spurgeon and the Down-Grade Controversy by John MacArthur, excerpted from The Sword and the Trowel.

[At the end of the Puritan age] by some means or other, first the ministers, then the Churches, got on “the down grade,” and in some cases, the descent was rapid, and in all, very disastrous. In proportion as the ministers seceded from the old Puritan godliness of life, and the old Calvinistic form of doctrine, they commonly became less earnest and less simple in their preaching, more speculative and less spiritual in the matter of their discourses, and dwelt more on the moral teachings of the New Testament, than on the great central truths of revelation. Natural theology frequently took the place which the great truths of the gospel ought to have held, and the sermons became more and more Christless. Corresponding results in the character and life, first of the preachers and then of the people, were only too plainly apparent.

The Sword and the Trowel – C.H. Spurgeon

On Proper Discourse

I’m absolutely all for having “conversations” with those outside orthodoxy. But to have fellow “orthodoxians” castigate people who have serious theological questions downgrades the very discourse that would bring light and truth, the very truth that leads to Christ. The church should be an example of proper discourse (like the Bethke/DeYoung exchange) not the one’s emulating the world in shutting it down in the name of Rodney King’s mantra, “Can’t we all just get along?” There are serious issues at stake in these debates.

It is not enough that T.D. Jakes said, yes, I affirm, “One God – Three Persons.” He qualifies this affirmation and it is that qualification that speaks volumes, inviting more questions, questions that weren’t asked, questions that won’t be answered in all likelihood.

I’ve seen responses to those with questions stating that we shouldn’t attack the darkness but just bring light. My response? The Book of Jude. That whole letter is only about shining light on the darkness, attacking the darkness with the light. You do this through positive proclamation of truth (Ephesians 1-3), but also discourse that isn’t afraid of a debate (Paul taking Peter to task, Mars Hill debates, Jewish leaders).

Paul took the leaders to task everywhere he went, even going to Mars Hill to debate them, on their own turf. The Western world’s doctrine of positivism (that negation is evil) is making deeper inroads in evangelicalism and manifesting (no pun intended) itself in different ways. This has been there for a while, but the latest Elephant Room conversation has only brought it to the surface.

A Question for T.D. Jakes

After reading a portion of T.D. Jakes’ responses to questions regarding his views on the Trinity on the Elephant Room 2, I’m not so convinced we Trinitarians are on the same page with him as so many are readily assuming. He says he assents to, “One God, Three Persons,” as a good definition for his beliefs of the nature of the Godhead. This settles it for many since they take him at his word. However, something else should be pointed out. He then immediately qualifies this to say, “I am not crazy about the word person … My doctrinal statement is no different from yours except the word…Manifest instead of persons.”

Based upon this, I have a question for the Bishop. The Athanasian Creed: was this even necessary to hash out based upon your view that this is a non-issue or not worthy of dispute between “believers”? (If any of you are not familiar with this statement of faith or others, they are well worth your time, I would even say necessary for every believer to absorb since this is the foundation of what we believe).

This issue of manifestation versus person, terms hashed out to define precisely what we mean when talking about the very nature of God as revealed in Scripture is the exact thing being discussed by Jakes as non-essential (or at least not worthy of dispute). This was a major issue that was fought over between the unorthodox and the orthodox in the early church. The views of Athanasius, the Cappadocian fathers and others were not formed in a vacuum apart from hard work and persecution over a long period of time. Was all of that necessary if we can just flippantly say, “Well, we mean the same thing, just different words?” The reason it was even an issue that had to be contended for was precisely because heresy had arisen in contradistinction from Scripture. And those very heresies led people away from The Gospel, which brings us to Jesus for eternity. In other words, heresy murders for eternity. This is not unimportant.

Theology matters. The instincts of many to just set aside major differences with Jakes as big as the Trinity of all things (let alone the Health and Wealth heresy of TBN Jakes’ subscribes to that has been so utterly destructive to so many) is unwise. I desire for Jakes to embrace truth and of course I care about him and desire for him to turn from falsehood. This issue is as much about him as a person as the untruth he is teaching.

Joseph’s Trials and the Providence of God

Joseph attributes the ultimate cause of his trials and being sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers:

“And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:8). “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20).

God, in His righteousness, is sovereign not only over the ends, but also the means to accomplish those ends, even when they involve the sinful acts of others. Joseph knew this full well and God’s providential sovereignty in his trials is precisely the truth that gave him comfort in the midst of them, helping him to see past the trials to the ultimate Ordainer who does as He pleases in absolute rightness, without sin or imperfection. He does these things for His glory and our good. Sanctification and the Lord teaching us to rest in Him alone through trials can be a painful process. But the fruit is the holiness without which no one will see the Lord and the ultimate accomplishing of things we cannot foresee in our finiteness.

An even greater display of God’s providential sovereignty in the midst of trials is that of Christ. He was ordained before time to enter this world in humility.

“What If?” – Judge Napolitano

The Judge nails it here. The fundamental problem in our political process now is that the establishment, or what many are calling the national security state (i.e. the real governing power structure of the US), merely seeks to keep us all at bay through pigeon-holing us, via the electoral process, into one side or the other; and yet at the same time, none of the policies substantively change. On many core issues, Obama merely expanded what Bush had already done, which was anti-conservative in many if not most respects. Question is, do you, Republican voter, actually believe it will change if Romney or Gingrich or even Santorum are elected? I don’t anymore. Obama fooled his own base by making them think he was different from Bush on issues related to this national security state. Boy were they wrong. Power has shifted from consent of the governed to the governing authorities and they both use the art of persuasion, propaganda and public relations to make us feel as if there’s some sort of major difference when they merely formulate their own policy behind closed doors without even considering the people’s thought on various issues. For all the rhetoric of picking issues and staking out sides, not much changes from one President to the other. Only this time, Obama has radically expanded the policies. I believe Ron Paul represents the only choice who can shake up this establishment.

This Is All My Calvinsim

From a Reformation Theology post in 2007. It is a good reminder that we have more in common with Arminians than we’re willing to admit many times. We stake out our positions (even if we’re right) at the expense of common ground, that is, that we’re united in Christ alone, same Lord, same faith, same eternal commonality:

In a sermon on Romans 9:16, Charles Simeon [Puritan] declared, “Many there are who cannot see these truths [the doctrines of God’s sovereignty], who yet are in a state truly pleasing to God; yea many, at whose feet the best of us may be glad to be found in heaven. It is a great evil, when these doctrines are made a ground of separation one from another, and when the advocates of different systems anathematize each other. . . . In reference to truths which are involved in so much obscurity as those which relate to the sovereignty of God mutual kindness and concession are far better than vehement argumentation and uncharitable discussion” (Horae Homileticae, Vol. 15, p. 357).

Simeon lived out this counsel is seen in the way he conversed with the elderly John Wesley. He tells the story himself:

“Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put it into your heart?

Yes, I do indeed.

And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?

Yes, solely through Christ.

But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?

No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.

Allowing, then, that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?


What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s arms?

Yes, altogether.

And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

Yes, I have no hope but in Him.

Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree.” (Moule, 79f)

Satan’s Subversion Tactics Haven’t Changed

In reading Genesis 3-5 today, I was reminded that Satan’s tactics haven’t changed one bit in how he deceives and subverts the church today, moving us off the mark of Christ-centeredness and promise faithfulness, causing us to ask the question, “Has God really said?” or as my son’s Jesus Storybook Bible says, “Does God really love me?” As R.C. Sproul has said, faith isn’t believing “in” God (for Romans makes clear everyone does), faith is believing God, believing what He says about Himself, us and salvation. Even the demons believe and shutter though. The question is, do you believe unto eternal life what Christ alone has said and done on behalf of His own in His life, death and resurrection, that is, by God’s power, not your own? A faith of our own making will ultimately fail (this is the essence of religiousity), where we struggle to hold onto doctrines we don’t really believe at our core and are instead just putting up a front. A faith that God creates, sustains and carries through to the end is a faith that lasts unto eternity. This is a faith that Satan himself can do nothing to undo, for it is God’s work in us. This is saving faith. However, we must never by unaware of Satan’s tactics to keep us from Christ. And he does this primarily by sowing unbelief in God’s word and causing us to question the Lord.

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