Baptism

…baptism whatever else it is, is a sign of the New Covenant…
~R.C. Sproul

Thought for The Day

But just as I climb onto my hobby-horse of disgust and judgmentalism, the gospel of grace dismounts me, and I find the freedom to ask myself these questions: How am I just like James and John? When do my words, attitudes and choices contradict the very gospel that I love and defend? Whose incredulity meter am I forcing into overdrive? Those who live with me… those who work with me? Those who taste my impatience when I’m behind a steering wheel? Those who overhear my idle chatter and self-indulgent banter in any of a number of settings? Those most exposed to my unbelief, my fears, my rudeness, my driven-ness, my insincerity, my irritability?

From Scotty Smith Via Challies.com

Truegrit Prayer Posts

Prayer Posts -What I Understand About Prayer

I seem to have written much about this topic over the years. If you wish to grow your prayer life …I pray… that these essays will help you.

-The doctrine and the doing-


Like I said, I seem to have written quite a bit on prayer, here are some related things:
Opinionating that may or may not relate to prayer life:
Showmanship Religion
3 Kinds of Faith

More Thoughts About God

Continuing thoughts from the “About God” post.

You might want to read my thoughts on Deist ideas, “My Remarks To a Deist“. Many such posts I’ve written have been inspired by discussions which took place on internet forums in times past. Atheist Forums, Jewish Forums, Christian Forums, even forums for Ex-witches, Pagans, and other types of Online discussion platforms.

Those remarks to a self-professed Deist hold some of my thinking on why the Bible is a part of understanding and knowing God, but I think the biggest accusation that may be leveled against the thinking of both Agnostics and Deists is the quote from Elie Wiesel, and here it is again:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference…..And the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference -Elie Wiesel”

If God just sets things in motion… and then leaves everything to its own devices, that is not loving. No more than a parent who brings forth a child, and then just leaves it lying on its own on the ground… That indifference guarantees that life does not flourish.

If God doesn’t care whether you interact with Him or not, then that is not love, it is indifference of epic proportions. Like a parent who ignores a child and cares nothing of its worth or relationship, perhaps taking care of the basic necessities, but no more. That is stultifying, life suffocating, indifference.

So if we believe that God cares, loves, gives life, and fathers… then we ought to intuit that He wants to have relationship and nurture His creation, His children.

Some of what I’ve said in the remarks to a Deist:

This would be my answer to all who hold liberal reconstructionist ideas on the Word of God. Let’s call it what it is: calling God a liar …. and then look to what this means for them: that they know nothing of God and cannot. It doesn’t matter, to that person, whether there is a God or not.

If scriptures cannot be trusted to give instruction of who God is and what He is like…. then what? What else is capable of standing the test of of time and culture? One would be left groping as a blind man. And that is what happens to many their whole lives through.

If there weren’t light the darkness would not hold such horror. And it is a horror to not have the life that light gives… everything would wither and die.

There are just not many answers to the big questions of Truth, Existence, and Meaning. Apathy is not an answer. It is giving up. It is the worst form of death, a slow withering death.

But we are left with this: we cannot prove God to anyone. We cannot prove that answer, because we are not given that. What we are given is faith, and faith will prove -against all odds- the truth in reality. We cannot prove that God’s Word is true in the past… we may only prove that it is true in the present and that requires faith for seeing it to the outcome on the continuum. I believe this is one reason He is described as the Living God.

There are no other choices. God is True or He is not.

Perhaps that is why John 3:33 says:
“He who has received His testimony has set his seal to this, that God is true.”


Rules

But let’s talk a bit about what people do with this black and white, watershed forming, pinnacle of decision.
We don’t get to weasel out of deciding whether we judge God to be true or not, but then there are those who try to back-door God’s truth. And these are the people who make up rules… and those who love to have rulesheets to follow to excuse any real relationship to God… or for that matter to each other.

I would never say rules aren’t good, or that that they are bad. Like many things with man’s mark upon them, they are useful tools. That is, until they become weapons.

Rules have a God-given role. Real rules are what we call “law” and a succinct description given by St. Paul is as follows:

Galatians 3:24-26
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Rules have defined lines, which are for training purposes only. Eventually you want to grow up and have mastery enough to produce something of worth. A life worth living. You don’t love by the rules, Love is the rule, the only one that remains in force.

But one of the helpful things about rules that are found in the Law of the Bible is that they use history and principle to define what love is and is not.

And that is no small undertaking.

======
This is how I find out whether my idea of love, or of God, is healthy or not. I have had lots of very unhealthy ideas in my life, some which I foisted on others as well as myself. My views of myself, of God, of others, of motivations, of values, all have required ongoing adjustments, and some of the corrections were so painful that if I had to do it over again I think I would have taken any effort possible to have avoided the mistakes in those areas of life. I don’t have Pollyanna ideas that this is “what makes me what I am today” – I could have done without those parts. People around me could have done without them. But we don’t change our past history, we only learn from it… and try to give a better form to the future one.

This will wind up this part of the conversation…but you are more than welcome to continue it in the comments.

Ask Mom: Spiritual and Theology Questions R Us

The first question,How can you trust the bible- wasn’t it just written by men? And what about the “missing parts”? had to be first because if the written scriptures passed to us are dubious we really don’t have anything but shifting sands on a flimsy pillar to stand on. Asking me these questions and getting my answers is merely a facetious way to start the conversation. Thinking about serious things and taking kids seriously is the goal.

They have questions and they think… and that deserves serious time to answer their questions.

2nd Question in the series

“How can you preserve your integrity as a Christian when in high school, feeling lots of peer pressure? You are already reading the bible and praying, but that doesn’t seem enough”

This is a real life question. It is usually answered by Christian adults with “Read your Bible and pray” more, and I think the person finds they are doing that but “how do you keep yourself from changing to what other people want to see?”.

It’s a fact that our society is increasingly secular in a way that is both more anti-Christian and conformist. People have always struggled with the need for acceptance, especially during their teens. When you add those two pressures together in our present culture how do you keep from going down the moral toilet?

Sometimes we make the mistake of answering old questions with old answers, when really we should take a fresh perspective. It isn’t that the Bible and Christianity are outmoded for today’s culture, but rather that we give outmoded, regurgitated answers… so let me look closer at the question.

In the Christian life there are three supports in a worldly, ungodly society. Why do I label culture that way? Simply because it has its own set of standards and values, thus has a worldly rather than heavenly basis; often those are in direct opposition to how God’s values and standards are represented in the Bible, thus ungodly, not God-like. The three supports are relationship with God through prayer; study of His values and system through Bible reading and study; and fellowship, or close relationship with like minded people. (Those who also love God and follow His ways, as revealed through study of the bible and through direct relationship with God, themselves.)

This is always underlined in discipleship of Christ, whether consciously and formally taught, or by example. Paul, in the Bible said it this way, “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.” -Philippians 3:17

Let’s say, that you, the Christian in high school, are trying to read your Bible regularly, on top of the homework and studies for school; you are also trying to regularly develop your prayer life, and ask God to help you become true to yourself and Him in your everyday life. You are getting the feeling you are losing ground, and sometimes it just feels like you are swimming upstream against very strong current every day. Why isn’t the effort to read the Bible and pray enough?

There might be several things going on. It might be that third leg of “fellowship”. It might be that you are facing the test and trials that are inherent in the Christian life, but you weren’t prepared for that, and it is taking you by surprise.

Do we really understand how much pressure a person in a high school environment is facing to behave in ways they don’t even have any desire for? It is intense. It comes from all sides, and very few things are in place to give them bulwarks in their faith. Their parents, maybe, their Church somewhat, but how much time, and how much quality are coming from these types of supports and alliance? Maybe not enough. We throw children into a long term, time consuming, peer pressure environment. The answer for young Christians is that they need that third leg of fellowship with other Christians to be strong and of high quality. There needs to be an emphasis on developing relationship with others who love God. As an adult Christian in a predominately Christian culture of home and church I can tell you that this is challenging to find and maintain. How much more for kids whose main church life is spent on empty entertainments? Who aren’t challenged or invited to question, think, and discuss important Christian doctrine and issues in a Spiritual context?

Maybe we have been ignoring the spiritual side of our children in our Churches, and maybe as parents our relationships with our children have been squeezed into small slots of time that are too regulated by our own pressure to cultivate that sort of communication. I’m not trying to condemn anyone, here, I just think we should take a second look about what we are asking of young Christian people, and what sort of support we are actually giving them. Their spiritual well-being is at stake.

So what is that answer to the question for you, that person in High School who is feeling the life smushed out of them? Maybe one thing is to be brave to raise the questions and start the conversations that are needed in your church and with your friends and family. This is part of being yourself. Another is to open yourself to your Christian parents and leaders that you trust, desire to keep the lines of communication open, don’t be quick to get offended. We all need to work at communicating and it doesn’t come easily sometimes. Remember the Bible verse,”Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”” -1 Corinthians 15:33 and work at having close friendships with others who are as interested in following Christ and learning discipleship as you are. Grow your prayer life. Keep studying the Bible, maybe in a group. It all works together.

And trust God that He really does want the best for you, and is with you in even the worst of times of pressure and failure. Have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit? Maybe you need more dynamic spiritual power that comes with receiving that gift. Ask God for it. He wants you have His Spirit leading you and within just as He was in Jesus. God wants you to become your full self, and to be true to that self, trust Him.

Luke 11:13
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Acts 2:38
Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

John 14:26
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Series:

  1. How can you trust the bible- wasn’t it just written by men? And what about the “missing parts”?

Et-Elle Topic

Wrote a post @ et-elle.com: How Sex Influences God’s Message.

No feedback yet. We think our views on sex and gender are in a separate category from our religious life, and how we express the gospel and ourselves often is full of mixed messages. I wonder how much of our own understanding of God and of how we should live our lives is influenced by our need to rationalize our thinking on the conflicting ideas vying for attention in our own minds?

I briefly touched on the label that some use: “Gay Christian”. Almost always, the gay identity trumps the Christian one. They don’t peacefully coexist within the person claiming them nor in our reception of the idea. But neither do some of our heterosexual actions or traditional role models. Case in point: the new “manly man” testosterone pumped Christianity. The theological doctrines work backwards to try and support the view promoted in recasting gender based role modeling and lifestyle. Which was the original contention of the post that inspired mine, by ‘The Heresy Hunter Hunters‘.

Gender: questions about theology, doctrine, practice

A Woman’s Place

I don’t know of a more hot-button topic for both the churched and unchurched than this one. For that reason, we should probably try to take a fresh new look at threading out the various views on just what a woman’s place in society consists of.

It seems as if there are more presumptions on what the Christian scriptures say than there are authoritative doctrines. And of the authoritative doctrines, few are widely agreed upon as to how they work in the modern world. I’d like to look at that. In fact, I’d like to look at that with one of the more curious variations of recent memory: that blogging is a questionably womanly pursuit.

But first, what are some of the controversies? Women themselves are not agreed on what woman’s freedom, rights and dignities are or ought to be. And this has lead to some confusion about what the reaction of re-instituting traditional roles should look like. An example: Feminists of today would eschew the mid-twentieth century persona of “June Cleaver”, TV mother. Neo-traditionalists seem to view those scenes with scentimental nostalgia. But what are we really looking at when we review mid-twentieth century female roles and lifestyle? Aren’t we seeing the Feminine Mystique generation? The women who oftentimes threw off the homemaker’s mantle and went into the workplace in hordes, who sometimes left home to ” find themselves”? Or had to make new lives for themselves as divorce rates skyrocketed? I know my mother had ‘Feminine Mystique’ on her bookshelf, had to become a breadwinner, and lived a very different life from the Donna Reed Show,et al. This is why I don’t think it is in looking backward that we may find the defining roles of women.

And where has the Church been in all this? Pretty much where the rest of the culture has been: experimenting and floundering around to define women and understand how society should work. The Church hasn’t had a voice of consensus. And I think it is out of laziness and self-protection that it hasn’t yet produced clarity for even women in the Church, let alone a view of women in the Culture.

Further, the responsibility for this has lain with the Protestants. The ones who lay claim to Sola Scriptura, and studying to show oneself approved. But instead we are tangled up with reiterations of traditions and slipshod adoption of the culture’s lead on this. The Worldly culture. We are the ones who ought to be able to work at rightly applying how the Bible’s directives appear in our culture.
Continue reading Gender: questions about theology, doctrine, practice

Hesed: Connecting Mercy to Covenant

Resuming a look into the deeper meaning of God’s steadfast love, or “hesed”, now in terms of what it means to covenant and how seriously God takes this agreement. As Christians, we unthinkingly refer to covenant all the time, after all, we talk of “New Testament” and “Old Testament”, we speak of the “covenant in my blood” when joining in the act of taking communion in our churches. But what is Covenant? What sort of agreement is this, anyway? And why should it matter to us?

In modern day language covenant is a legal term. Take a look at the fine print in legal agreements and you are likely to find the term in there somewhere. It is the same in the Biblical context, but given the solemnity of this act, it is usually much more binding and far-reaching than in today’s “evolutionary” law. In certain cases it was the most sacred manner in which people could promise to align themselves together, or to their God. Or in this case, God to them. Marriage is a type of covenant, and the closest to picturing God’s covenant with man. The sharing of lives, and mingling of all future directions and considerations.

There were many types of covenanting, but the most serious was that of “blood covenant“. The sharing of one’s very lifeblood, life force. This sharing meant one could call upon the other even to the point of life, if necessary. And there were usually consequences in the event that one party failed to live up to his end of the agreement. So it was never entered into lightly, nor taken lightly. Yet, there were such special privileges in those covenants that the less powerful party, especially, was eager to enter into them.

Covenants could, by nature of there being two parties who both had responsibilities in that agreement, be broken.
Continue reading Hesed: Connecting Mercy to Covenant

Will Cessationism cease? That is the question…

I am taking the liberty to fisk a high profile posting on the cessationist argument… as it was lobbed to the post of Adrian Warnock. I just wanted to …. even though fisking may be frowned upon.
This is the post, mostly -skipping over the preamble, answered in a rebuttal manner as is common in forums. I use asterisks to point out important points to answer, the color for Adrian, the color for Pyro and my template color for my answer or comment.

Tongues” across the water: response to Adrian, part one
by Dan Phillips

… our friend Adrian Warnock “got all het up” over my post on the tongues of angels. My roughly 630 words provoked something like 2700 words of response from Adrian. I tremble at the thought of what these larger posts will bring down on my poor old head.

In doing me the honor of raking me over the coals in Christian love, Adrian, God love him (and I mean that), wanders pretty much all over creation. He brings in Spurgeon, Lloyd-Jones, MacArthur, Piper, African missionaries, the Toronto “Blessing,” a dozen texts or so,….

I propose three posts in response. In the second, I mean to give semi-rapid-fire responses to at least most of Adrian’s text-based questions. In the third, I hope to present some concluding areas of agreement and disagreement.

In this the first response, I’ll target what to me is not only the heart of Adrian’s post, but of much of the Charismatic bypath. It is found among his final words in the post. It’s long, but I want to quote it in toto:

Why do so many cessationists actually argue for the exact opposite of what Jesus Himself says in Luke 11 (see the whole context). Jesus ends the parable by saying, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” The cessationist has to deal with the fact that millions of people today have asked God for an experience of the Holy Spirit, and that in direct contrast to what Jesus Himself said, by definition, if cessationism is true, they have not received the Spirit, but rather something else. Where they have asked for the bread of tongues, they have been given the stone of foolish gibberish. Where they have asked for the fish of prophecy, they have been given the serpent of hallucinatory delusions worthy of a madman. This cannot be right, in my humble opinion, as it makes Jesus Himself into a trickster. At the very least, God should have given us clearer directions in the Bible to manage our expectations and help us ALL to realise that cessationism is the biblical teaching. This issue has clear implications for the doctrine of the clarity of Scripture. If Jesus Himself appears to tantalise these people with an offer to give the Spirit to those who ask and really means something very different to the gift of the Spirit we see in Acts, then surely He would have told us!

I see two critical problems in Adrian’s reasoning here.

*******First, brother Adrian reads a great deal into the text. Our Lord simply asks, if rendered over-literally, “If therefore you, though actually being wicked, know to give good gifts to your children, how much rather will the Father who is from Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13, emphases added). ****

Is he reading into it, or is he adding together from other scriptures to get a balanced view of the whole? The verses here are assurances that what God is spiritually giving to a sincere believing supplicant can be presumed good. It is directly related to receiving the Holy Spirit.. and inclusion of all the attending gifts and actions, that God chooses, could be implied .

Adrian immediately leaps hither:
“The cessationist has to deal with the fact that millions of people today have asked God for an experience of the Holy Spirit, and that in direct contrast to what Jesus Himself said, by definition, if cessationism is true, they have not received the Spirit, but rather something else.”

Then Adrian immediately goes to prophecy and tongues.
But what has Jesus said in this verse about tongues, or about prophecy? What did He say about any specific and particular manifestation or “experience”? Is there any chance that even one of Jesus hearers would have made the associations Adrian makes? Surely not.****

The manifestations are spoken of in a different place, and further underlined by the history that starts in the book of Acts. Our associations would be based upon the history that follows, in this case, with scriptural canon imprimatur.

Indeed, here as in other texts (as I’ll show, DV), Adrian’s proof proves too much.If Adrian is going to read this passage as an iron-clad guarantee… well, the mind fairly reels with the consequences.

**** This would have to mean that God, on Adrian’s stated understanding, will always and ever give whatever specific spiritual manifestation everyone and anyone asks, on any occasion. Nor can we condition it on God’s will, nor on our faith — again, on Adrian’s reading — for our Lord mentions neither. ****

I do not see that implied in Adrian’s statements, it seems to be your own extrapolation. It appears to be a cheap shot at association with some of the worst of excesses in modern Christendom for the sake of a knee jerk response on the part of the reader.

****Anything that happens after such a prayer can be charged to God. To fail to do so calls the perspicuity of Scripture (not our handling of it) into serious question.
If it’s an ironclad and unconditional guarantee as presented above, then one request by any believer should ever and always result in any spiritual gift he names. God has to do as I ask, for His glory’s sake.****

This is so much of a twist that I hardly know where to start. Just because I am assured of the faithfulness of God, and confident enough to bring my petitions does not translate into a jerk chain around the neck of the Heavenly Father- as if such a thing could be imagined in the context of Who God Is. But I perceive a little jerk chain of your own in citing things this way, and I have to ask myself…why is that? Conflated thinking. Assurance of something being good and coming from God is not the same as God being bound to the creatures command .

Is God really at my command, to that degree? This seems to me to be one of several junctures at which the first word in the phrase “reformed charismatic” is the weaker of the two.

You may have a point, but in the whole context of your argument I am not willing to give it to you right now. You will have to work for it and explain just what you mean. That the two are inimical?

Now, we know that this has never happened thus in church history. Anywhere. Ever. Has anyone ever even taught this? Surely Adrian will deny that this is what he believes. Yet this is where his line of thinking necessarily leads from his way of handling the text, if followed out relentlessly.

Support this please, if this is not based on the previous ( wrong) premise which misunderstands both the scripture and what Adrian was saying. For I believe it to unsupportable as stated.

*****Further, this way of dealing with the text plucks it right out of its place in the history of redemption. Did anything change in God’s dealings with men, after the resurrection and ascension of Christ, and Pentecost? Ezekiel thought something would change someday (Ezekiel 36:25-27). John the Baptist surely thought something would change (Mark 1:8). John certainly thought something would change (John 7:39). John certainly presented Jesus as thinking something would change (John 14:17). Peter thought something did change (Acts 11:15). Does Adrian? When was that change?
What was that change? Does the change at all inform how we handle texts placed before and after it? Does context have any meaning whatever?

Your line of thinking is not clear here. Can God change? No. “I change not”[ Psalm 55:19] Can He do something new? Yes, “I proclaim to you new things from this time, Even hidden things which you have not known.” [Isaiah 48:6] And besides this, it is not clear that you know, from your own interpretation, when specific changes take place. Now or in the time to come? Before or after Christ’s second coming? When, in your understanding and according to the scriptures do the cited changes take place? This is the gist of the contention, the timing of when certain spiritual things are fulfilled and put away and which remain now, and close at a future time and event.

This is a common mistake in charismatic thought. The Bible is read as if the great moments of redemptive history — the descent of the Spirit, the closing of the Canon — have no real implications. It is as if the Bible should be read as a mural, a large photo, instead of as an unfolding story with movements, climaxes, and openings and closings of acts (Hebrews 1:1-2).********

I don’t see how this can stand. Just because they understand things a different way, does not implicate that they do not see sequentially, as well. The difference seems to be in the when and how that view of sequence is applied. If there is a case for cessationism then the sequence of the closure and the timing of it has to be proven from scripture… the whole point of Charismatics, and all those convinced of the continuation of God’s gifts to the Church is that the closure has not yet taken place.

What if we took Adrian at his word, though?
******* His way of dealing with the text means that Jesus has made an unconditional guarantee to give any manifestation of the Spirit to anyone who asks. Jesus is responsible for everything that happens after I ask. If it isn’t legit, then He (according to Adrian) is a trickster.

Well, then, let’s say I think the Bible could use another book or two. For instance, it could use one that settles this whole Charismatic issue forever.*****

It isn’t a matter of unconditional, and not a matter of anyone getting everything they ask… it has never been taken out of the context that Christians receive what God decides in His sovereignty to give them. But they are encouraged to ask and that with boldness and faith.

The second statement here is a straw man. A real one. You can say anything you want, and no doubt Christians would like the Bible to say more specifically what they want it to say. But the important things are in there for those who have the ears and the eyes to discern it. The Bible, as it stands, says plenty about the gifts, and particularly about speaking in tongues. The continualist says that is still applicable. Does God say some things, still, that aren’t written in the canon, but are no less His Words? The Bible makes a strong case for that. Is this what you are disputing? That man can no longer hear a personal Word form God? For himself, or his family or his nation… or the Church? It doesn’t have to be written on stone plates to be a true word from the Lord. The judgment of that is clearly given in the scriptures, and Israel struggled with the false and the true, so that isn’t something new under the sun either.

****So what if I ask the Lord to give me the gift of prophetic, inscripturating revelation? What if I ask Him to write those books through me? What if I ask Him to send the Spirit to make me the author of the sixty-seventh book of the Bible?*****

Is this what the authors of canon did? did they approach God or did God approach them with the writing of scripture? So it is a false question. Church Fathers passed judgment centuries after the time of the early Church on what was and was not canon scripture. The closure was not found within the books themselves. Can people limit themselves to the Book? yes. Can they limit themselves to KJV Only? yes. But that doesn’t erase validity of the Lord speaking in other ways. Guidelines for judging the prophetic are within the scriptures. No one has to take anything as scripture, if only they judge things by scripture that has gone before…. as the books of the canon were indeed judged inter-contextually.

****Isn’t Adrian bound by his own thinking either to accept my book, or conclude that the Lord is a trickster?****

no.

****And what if the book I write after praying for revelation says that Charismaticism is a delusion? What a bind that would put Adrian in!****

I don’t think so. You could, and people have. It still gets judged by what has gone before and the test of the basic accepted canon. Adrian has not placed himself outside those boundaries, neither should another.

Or what if I asked for a tongue and an interpretation, said “Wobbedy bop,” and interpreted it to mean “Tongues have ceased”? Wouldn’t that, on Adrian’s reasoning, be chargeable to Jesus’ account?

Only on your previous erroneous premises.

“Oh, no, that’s just stupid,” someone will reply. “You’d be tempting the Lord. He isn’t responsible for every lamebrained thing you do, just because you prayed before you did it!”

Which brings me to my second point.

The Lord is not responsible for every lamebrained thing we do, just because we prayed first.
wholehearted agreement. You see, Adrian’s handling of this text really leaves us with only one choice. I was going to write “two choices,” but on reflection, Adrian leaves us only one. Everything that happens after we pray has to be of God, or Jesus is a “trickster.”

Only in your own line of thinking… not predicated upon what is actually in the scriptures. The only thing the scriptures point out and which every Christian anchors within is the goodness and faithfulness of God. The God who is the same today, yesterday and forever. The manifestations are spoken of in a different place, and further underlined by the history that starts in the book of Acts. Our associations would be based upon the history that follows, in this case, with scriptural canon imprimatur.

This premise, a faulty one in my estimation, binds good folk like Adrian. It chains them to defend the indefensible, as surely as the Roman Catholic must defend every ruling and appalling error of his sect. Since manifestly nothing that the Charismatic movement has uniquely produced in the last 100 years has ever measured up to the Biblical phenomenon note: subjective judgment, we have to re-interpret the Bible to fit what is happening today. Because if it’s all a fraud and a distraction, then Jesus is a “trickster.” And since Jesus cannot be a trickster, we have to come up with some explanation that makes wanna-be manifestations legit. We have to define the Biblical phenomena down, to prop the modern phenomena up.

How about fitting it all to be within the parameters of the early Church, would that be acceptable?

*****This is a big reason why Charismaticism is where it is today, the “twenty million people can’t be wrong” argument.****

I can’t emphasize enough how much this is NOT the Charismatic argument. It isn’t about numbers, it is about the validity of that person’s testimony as a bona fide Christian, and the numbers represent many of those bona fide Christians. The question is why would you dismiss their testimony? Upon what scriptural basis?

Can’t they? Can ten out of twelve spies be wrong? Can the majority of the nation of Israel be wrong? Is truth settled by majority vote alone? Is that how we do exegesis — people prayed A, and Z happened, therefore the Bible must mean theta?

*****I’ve done lots of stupid things, after praying. Can I bill them all to God? Wouldn’t that be cool?****

Are you done with the argumentum ad ridiculum yet?

Well, no, if we force ourselves to think it through, it really wouldn’t be cool. Sure, there would be the short-term gain of me being able to shrug off responsibility for all the stupid, foolish, and sinful things I’ve done after praying.

Do the Charismatic churches teach this? Support your statement, because I don’t find that either in the writing or the practice. I find lots of teaching about accountability and personal responsibility, without limiting the manner in which God acts, based upon our scriptural understanding of that.

But the long-term loss would be inestimable. In short, I’d lose the Biblical portrayal of God. God would be the author of my stupid and sinful behavior. He’d become a fickle imp, and prayer would become a good-luck charm at best, or a get-out-of-responsibility-free card at worst.

Again, this conclusion is based upon your own earlier premises in the best circular manner

Of course, there is an alternative.
*****We can cleave to the Word above all and through all, and judge our experiences by it — not the reverse.***

We are back to our base of agreement. I’m with you on this.

Is it not a judge of the thoughts and emotions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12)? Is it not forever settled in the heavens, far above the shifting vagaries of our experience, and the passing trends and fads of our culture (Psalm 119:89)? Is it not the means of my fellowship with the Father and His Son (John 14:21-23; 1 John 1:1-3)? Is it not my cleaving to the Word that proves the reality, or unreality, of my claim to be a disciple (John 8:31-32)?

Yes, yes, and yes… but does this call speaking in tongues or the baptism of the Holy Spirit or the spiritual gifts ( charismata) into question? They are all in scripture. They are spoken of as for believers. Where is the dilemma for you?

So here’s what I am seeing. In direct contrast to all Scripture precedent and command,
excuse me, what is this? millions of people have indeed (as Adrian said) asked for revelatory gifts.

And not one of them has received anything like what is described in the Bible.

And you judge this, how? Criteria, because I smell a generalization fallacy which attempts to lump all charasmata in one basket of disrepute. And further.. I would ask what puts you in the position to see all these millions and be sufficient to assess this with reasonable accuracy .

****Is God to blame for that? Is God to blame, and the fact of the perspecuity of Scripture suspect, because of their persistence in something very different from what He Himself sets out in His Word?****

I lost how anyone is blaming God. I thought the Charismatics were thanking God; and I still don’t see the case made for how speaking in tongues or ministering prophetically is different from what is set out in the Word

I knew a pastor once, a man with very strong training in the Biblical languages and sciences. But he had a doctrine of the guidance of the Holy Spirit that led him to believe that he should pray for that guidance, and then whatever followed had to be of the Spirit. His sermons were bizarre, meandering, idiosyncratic affairs. A friend of his (!) likened the way he handled texts to a drunk staggering through a church. His people stopped bringing Bibles. They didn’t really need them.

Once, a fellow-believer and I approached him, and shared our concern. We spoke out of genuine love, respect, and care.

“Gentlemen,” he said, “before I preach, I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me. If I believed that He was not doing so, I would leave the ministry!”

This trump-card spiritual browbeating worked wonderfully for him at the time. Both of us were young Christians, and we were properly rebuked and appalled. We didn’t want him to leave the ministry! We retreated, horrified and abashed.

What you have described is something endemic throughout Western Christianity of all flavors . We all hate it. Many of us have our stories… it is abuse of authority, and not relegated to the Charismatics alone. I’m very sorry you suffered this damage.

Of course, the problem wasn’t the Holy Spirit. this is an excellent lesson to learn, and we all have to come to terms with it, worth extracting from this post to meditate upon. The problem was this man, and his faulty doctrine of the guidance of the Spirit. But like the reasoning ****Adrian sets out, he had prayed, and so he had to conclude that whatever followed was of the Spirit — or his whole structure would collapse.****

Only in your logical argument, not in the personal and subjective experience of a man with his God. This is always the problem with Christianity, it is “Come and see” and not reasoned argument into the faith of Christ. It is God revealing Himself personally to the man..

The Charismatic movement is, in large measure, the result of applying that same procedure on a massive scale.
Well, that is one general dismissal if I ever saw one. You have managed to collapse down the entire Charismatic movement, which is quite a feat. How about the Pentecostals, now? They’ve been around a bit longer.

Let me put it more personally and individually still. I can, you know; for I write as one who once thought he was speaking in tongues.

Shall I reinterpret the Bible, to legitimatize my experience?

Or shall I stick with the Bible, and let it judge my experience?

I opted for the second choice. That is why I am an ex-charismatic.
Ah, now we are down to it. It is personal with you… now why didn’t you say that at the beginning?
Continue reading Will Cessationism cease? That is the question…

Bringing It Home 3

Balancing the Scale

What the Bible portrays is often in opposition to our prevailing culture. Yet, because the culture, the worldly system, has so infiltrated our churches, a battle ensues any time there is a concerted move ( whether individual or group) to align with the Bible’s pattern.

A common tension is the one, often garbled, on money. The love of money being the root of all evil and the garbled version which leaves out the definitive “love”, or idolatrous place of money. Often the family size-birth control controversy has components of “money/can we afford it/fewer means better provision”. It makes sense that this is foremost in a materialistic society. People will rant til the cows come home on faith teachings and the prosperity messages, but see no problems making all sorts of moral decisions based on their perceived “lack”. How backwards is that? I have often thought of the Faith/Prosperity teachings in conjunction with some of this QF belief, both have those who take things out of their context and go to extremes not within the teachings themselves. It is often true that truth within teaching is taken out of the proper context. That does not deny the truth within it, but it gives cause for the whole precept to be dismissed.

The money factor is often rooted in very “gentile” or unbelieving mindsets. The basic teaching of Jesus on this is that we are not to worry about money or provision, that we are to cast our care for these things on God. That doesn’t displace our need for wisdom and restraint, but it places those matters bound by money fears on a different plane. The perception of what we can afford is so subjective that it can be stretched to mean almost anything without further clarifying in our thoughts and circumstances of realities. In fact, this whole distorted view is at the base of many such concepts as over-population. Which more likely is simply a greed and distribution problem rather than a number problem. We can apply the same thoughts to our ideas of family.

That does not create a moral mandate to distribute money in certain ways, it does keep one from using provision, or lack, as an easy excuse. Perhaps this is why I have often said the economics of a large family is different to the query, “How do you manage?”.

In the culture we have an equation of monetary wealth, or just its accoutrements, with our entire worth as a person. This was illustrated in the Mommy Wars quote,

“History suggests that financial success is the only way women will finally achieve not just legal equality with men but also power and respect. – Ann Marlowe”

And we all know how the world hinges upon power and respect.

Something within man rejects an equation of ones worth with things, so it isn’t only in Christian doctrine that there is a revolt against such views. But it is within Christianity that we have the theological support to sustain the revolt, and institute the restoration of balance. That is what I think is happening within some of these Christian, largely women-oriented, teachings. Women, not going backwards, but forward in a new way.

This is good for Christianity if they are going forward in a Christian inflected manner, which would eschew propaganda, manipulation, and pushiness. They are renewing and reforming the form and role of the family.

So what about this idea that “Parenting is the highest calling given to mankind”?
Continue reading Bringing It Home 3