David Westerfield

Gospel. Culture. Technology. Music.

Category: Christian Culture Page 2 of 11

Joel Osteen: Declaring Things That Should Never Be Declared

Heard this through Jared Wilson: @JoelOsteen: “When you dare to #dreambig, you take the limits off of God.” Wow … How does this compare to Romans 9:21-23: “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory—
(Romans 9:21-23 ESV)”

YOU take the limits off of God. I didn’t know He was bound. I thought He did His best in Scripture to demonstrate in no uncertain terms that He is never, ever bound by what the creature does. This is precisely what sovereignty means. Joel Osteen’s teaching is absolute poison.

Sentimental Christianity: “God won’t give you more than you can handle”

We always hear the nice, sentimental, comfy, American, coffee-mug-Christianity phrase, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” But isn’t “God giving you more than you can handle” the very definition of a trial, in order that you rest on His provision and not your own? And isn’t the trial designed for this? “…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5 … In the words of How Firm a Foundation, “Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.”

What’s Obvious to One Group May Not Be So Obvious to Another – Humbly Explain Yourself

“To some extent, cohesive social forces are at work in any culture or subculture with shared worldview and shared doctrines. In itself this counts neither for nor against the truth of the worldview or the doctrines. But it does mean that things that seem ‘obvious’ or ‘plain’ or ‘commonsensical’ to members of a social group need not be at all obvious to those outside.” – Vern Poythress, Understanding Dispensationalists.

As a side note, this book was explained to me by a DTS graduate as a book in which they learned more about dispensationalism than their whole student career in attendance at DTS, ironically enough.

Turns Out “A Statement of Traditional Southern Baptist Understanding of God’s Plan of Salvation” Isn’t so Traditional After All

A recent formal doctrinal statement on the nature of salvation (or in technical theological terms, soteriology, or the study of salvation) signed on to by none other than Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (as one example), amongst others, like Emir Caner, is making quite the stir, even amongst classical Arminians (click to read). The statement was meant to counter what they view as the “threat” of Calvinism spreading in the SBC. At best, it is theological and historical sloppiness. At worst, it is theological and historical revisionism and an open slide toward heresy as it relates to the nature of man’s will as a result of the transmission of the sin of Adam to mankind.

The authors and signers claim they are speaking for the traditional view of the SBC on the issue of salvation. However, as Tom Ascol from Founders Ministries points out, this is hardly the case. Hopefully this will bring to light some issues that have been brewing for quite some time. They have drawn a line in the sand and either need to repent or split in my opinion. Yes, it’s that serious. These issues go beyond Calvinism versus Arminianism into the issues of Original Sin and the nature of the will, pre/post-fall, no less. In addition, I’ve included Tom Ascol’s response. Read on:

First of all, here’s the original doctrinal statement in question

Part 1 – Tom Ascol (Beginning of Response)

Part 2 – Tom Ascol

Part 3 – Tom Ascol

Could W.A. Criswell have signed this statement? – Tom Ascol

Part 4 – Tom Ascol

Part 5 – Tom Ascol

Part 6 – Tom Ascol

Part 7 – Tom Ascol

Part 8 – Tom Ascol

Part 9 – Tom Ascol

Part 10 – Tom Ascol

Part 11 – Tom Ascol

Part 12 – Tom Ascol

Part 13 – Tom Ascol

Semi-Pelagian/Pelagian Point in Question: The Recent SBC Statement on Salvation: A Point of Concern – John Aloisi

The Traditional Southern Baptist View of Salvation? – James White (MP3)

And finally, for a historical, theological background on what the early church concluded pertaining to not only Pelagianism but Semi-Pelagianism, you just have to read the Canons of Orange from 529 AD.

Time for Another Joel Osteen Post

Osteen seems to be getting so much attention lately with his DC rally/revival, I see more and more friends posting quotes from him that are simply lies, so it’s time for another post detailing precisely where he goes wrong. And this is not unimportant.

Recently:

Not so recently:

The Ratcheting Up of Anti-Christian, Vitriolic Rhetoric Toward Christians

“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13 ESV)

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. (Luke 6:22-23 ESV)

This is something I’ve been noticing as of late (at least from what I’ve personally been reading and seeing on a national and personal level, meaning it may not be what’s going on in the totality of things): that the sustained clamor of secular, anti-Christian, vitriolic chatter is kicking up a notch in terms of the audacity and indecency of it, publicly and in private conversations, among friends I have in the social networking world, even among supposed Christians oddly enough sometimes. The cynical bashing (not just criticizing) of Christians by (sometimes alleged) Christians for holding steady to the faith in practice seems striking to me and at odds with John’s doctrine of love for our brothers expounded upon in 1 John.

From the Nicki Minaj spectacle at the Grammy’s (and the subsequent lack of outrage), to personal conversations I’ve had, to the increasing level of hatred generally toward Christian notions and doctrines informing life at any level, whether in op-eds, interviews on the news, everywhere almost: Christianity is becoming a less tolerated belief system that informs public policy and of course morals.

I had an atheist friend who said recently in our chatting, quite chillingly (since he really meant it), that in the next several decades, Christianity will simply become “obsolete” and go the way of the Dodo bird. Now 1) some may just merely dismiss this as mere chatter and 2) I certainly know that Christ will build His church despite the odds and even through persecution.

But nevertheless, it’s statements like that which kind of put you back on your heals a bit, because it wasn’t just loose talk as a result of defending his atheism. This is something he really believes.  The implication coming from him is that Christianity is so backward and narrow that it can’t possibly survive in the wake of science and human progress. In the course of the conversation, how and why it came up is what gives it the context too.

All of this to say: we’re not moving toward a post-Christian era, we’re in it. He’s not alone in his thought on this. I have quite a few other friends, from high school and whatnot, who think exactly the same thing. And it’s quickly turning from just (truly) tolerating Christians to opposing them actively it seems.

I’ve been recently disturbed by some of this because the slide seems to be accelerating. I’m not surprised, but in my human frailty, it is slightly fearful. And for the record, no, I’m not referring in any sense to Elephant Room 2, though that was certainly instructive to be sure and possibly correlative. That’s another discussion though.

I guess all of this is not that much different (in principle, notice) than the hatred experienced by Zechariah from his own people (Israel), who was then murdered by the same in a climax of fury. The Old and New Testaments are always instructive for present times, especially when it comes to persecution at all the varying levels, shapes and forms it takes.

What I’m curious to see is how “missional-ism, and [what I’m calling] Seeker 2.0, that is the merging of the two methodologies of seeker-ism and missional-ism” (broadly speaking, not necessarily the better examples and parts producing lasting fruit) and all this talk of “relevance” and “attraction” pans out in the face of rising persecution and deals with subordination by a culture bent on removing us from the public square, at least at first.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how trendy we are toward culture, in staying “up with the times”: if you support certain hot button issues (and believe me, a time is coming when you won’t be able to hide it), or claim Christ alone for salvation, or attempt to evangelize in any sense, that’s all outsiders are going to see and hear. That’s not to say Christians should be culturally irrelevant. I’m just making that point that it doesn’t matter whether you’re into Radiohead, organic food or whatever when it comes to persecution of a belief system. Someone coming from an ingrained secular humanist mindset could care less about your subjective tastes. I’m just not sure many of us Christians (actual and especially nominal) are prepared for the secular onslaught.

Thoughts? Am I just paranoid? Or do others see a dark cloud approaching in terms of where society is moving? I’d be curious to hear what others think on this, agree, disagree, whatever.

Carl Trueman on the Nature of ‘Celebrity’ and the Church

Carl Trueman has posted some very insightful thoughts on the nature of ‘celebrity’ in culture generally and its impact on the church specifically. He had a good bit of push back while making many good points. I’ve included Thabiti Anyabwile’s push back. As I find them I am posting them here for future reference since this is a very fascinating subject. This has made me consider the many ways in which I fall victim to this thinking at present and affects my argumentation (i.e. appeal to authority, that is, whoever is a well-known voice rather than arguing it on its own terms). This is an important subject in relation to the church, because the craving for being known and accepted by the larger world is strong. The onslaught of ‘celebrity’ has engulfed evangelicalism to a great degree to where we rely now on lesser popes and personalities instead of the ordinary means of the local church for transformation: the word preached, prayer and the sacraments.

Precursor article:

Series of articles that got it rolling:
Seperate from the stream above but related:
A case-in-point and response to Mark Driscoll over his comments to a UK radio talk show host ( < don’t endorse the aforementioned site, BTW, just had a few good illustrations about how not to engage someone and the ensuing response in the interview and on the blog itself):
More case-in-points related to the Elephant Room 2 debacle:

T4G Conference Panel:

Missional-ism: What is the Mission of the Church?

(C) by http://www.martin-liebermann.de

(Resources at the bottom of the page pertaining to this topic)

Over the past several years, the missional movement has picked up steam and has become a common modus operandi for ministry in mainstream evangelicalism, even within aspects of my own church. The term ‘missional’ has taken on many different definitions depending on the point of view. Tim Keller uses it one way, Dan Kimball, Dallas Willard and others [Doug Pagitt, McLaren] use it quite another.

[CORRECTION and update: apparently I’m wrong about Kimball and Keller having different views on missional-ism. Oddly enough, after just writing this, Keller and Kimball are on the same page it seems after releasing a joint manifesto along with some others such as Ed Stetzer and J.D. Greear: http://www.missionalmanifesto.net/ … so I retract that one part and added a couple of other names to show the contrast in views. In the manifesto, they make this statement: “It is first necessary to be clear about what missional does not mean. Missional is not synonymous with movements attempting to culturally contextualize Christianity, implement church growth, or engage in social action. The word missional can encompass all of the above, but it is not limited to any one of these.” And I’m glad they have said this. There is still the concern though about “mission creep” in this movement, that it can inadvertently become those things. I digress.]

Regardless, at the heart of the drive behind missional ecclesiology is a legitimate concern that the Western world at large needs to be re-evangelized, that believers need to go out as missionaries, as it were, and that we need to be reaching out more to the lost in both word and deed. I certainly share those concerns.

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The Decline of Western Civilization and the Church (As We Know It)

Update: notice I say “the church, as we know it” meaning it will look differently than it does now)

I have written many posts on the impact of the economy in relation to the fall and decay of Western society. Yet, the economic unraveling due to just plain old rampant fraud and excessive debt (though of course all a quantum size larger than man has ever known) is a symptom of something that is brewing in our culture at a much deeper level.

We are secularizing at a rapidly expanding rate. This secularizing has produced a moral crisis now in this country that is affecting everything, including the economy. Our character as a people is corroding, our morality is rusting and in fact poisonous.

As a result a culture who doesn’t stand on the pillars of the dictates of Scripture, even the most fundamental issues of morality that are necessary for societies to stand, eventually falls from within and descends into 1) chaos, and out of the chaos emerges some form of authoritarianism.

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On Conversations About the Future of the Church

I keep seeing an ad on the right column of Facebook talking about the need “for a new conversation about the future of the church” … and my question is when did the existing “conversation” end, and better yet, why does it have to keep going on and on as if there is no definition laid out for us in Scripture?

In our gatherings on Sunday we need 1) Biblical worship that incorporates Scripture and solid doctrine, 2) Gospel-centered, exegetical preaching of the Word and sacrament (Michael Horton), which 3) the Holy Spirit uses to supernaturally transform His people more and more into the likeness of Christ, who 4) then take the Gospel out to the world through word and deed in their daily lives.

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