unnamed2unnamed

With the recent passing of the Religious Liberties Bill here in Mississippi and all that has been written and talked about by the liberal main stream media since I figured I would chime in with my two cents.

First it needs to be stated I am very conservative, I belong to the Constitutional Party, (yes you can look it up) I am also a Reformed Baptist who believes in the infallibility of scripture. The end of the Bible in the book of Revelation Chapter (KJV) 22  18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. That means what God wrote I accept as truth and cannot and will not change.   

          That being said the liberal media paints a picture of hate and discrimination about believers like me surrounding issues like this. Nothing could be further from the truth. We, that is true born again believers are commanded, not asked, to love our neighbors; Matthew 22:36-40 ESV “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” and this of course includes those of the LGBT community.  No one let me repeat no one claiming to be a Christian can truly be a Christian and HATE someone from the LGBT community.

The word of God not the word of man says that the LGBT lifestyle is wrong. That those apart of the community are caught up in the bondage of sin and in need of being set free. As a Christian I (we) have two duties. First is to share the Good News Psalms 96:3 NKJV “Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.” that Christ is the way to true freedom.  Note as the Apostle Paul stated we are to always do this with gentleness 2 Timothy 2:25 ESV Correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, that God may be at work and not us.

Secondly we are called to never compromise the Word of God. Psalm 119: 1-4 (AMP) How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless], who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord. 2 Blessed and favored by God are those who keep His testimonies, and who [consistently] seek Him and long for Him with all their heart. 3 They do no unrighteousness; they walk in His ways. 4 You have ordained your precepts, that we should follow them with [careful] diligence. Yet this is exactly what we are being called to do. The liberal minority has deemed this truth, Freedom of Speech (which this falls under) is this; you are free to agree with their liberal viewpoint or our speech is free to be censored and or outlawed or we are free to be imprisoned. It begs the question; who is being discriminated against here?

My Pastor last night made an interesting observation. If this was about anything more than wanting full acceptance for the LGBT community, they would look at this as a great opportunity. Start a business that caters to just that clientele, if as they claim their number are so strong they should do great and leave those with strongly held religious convictions alone.

         By His Grace Alone

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Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 

- - - Acts 20:26-27 (ESV) All text ESV unless noted

 

            There is a plague that has invaded our country and it started in the “Christian” churches. It is a plague that has resulted in ignorance, distortion and deficiency. What is this plague I am speaking of? It is none other than the proper preaching of God’s word.

               

            This plague started with men and unfortunately in more recent time’s women preaching only portions of God’s word. These men (we will not mention the women again as the bible calls only men to preach) as well intended as they may have been; failed in their duty to do as Paul declared in our text today, ‘to declare to you the whole counsel of God.’

               

            So what is the whole counsel of God? It is the “good, the bad and the ugly” to quote a spaghetti western movie title. It is man’s sin and total in ability to do good apart from God. It is God’s hatred of sin and the sinner while at the same time being fully capable of expressing love to us while we were yet in our sinful state. It is the whole Word of God not just the parts we like or understand and certainly not our pet theological topics. It is one reason I am so guarded against those who insistent on topical preaching each week. That type of preaching usually leads to a lack of declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”

 

D. A. Carson[i] :  

 Explains what Paul meant this way: “When Paul attests that this is what he proclaimed to the believers in Ephesus, the Ephesian elders to whom he makes this bold asseveration know full well that he had managed this remarkable feat in only two and a half years. In other words, whatever else Paul did, he certainly did not manage to go through every verse of the Old Testament, line by line, with full-bore explanation. He simply did not have time.

 

What he must mean is that he taught the burden of the whole of God’s revelation, the balance of things, leaving nothing out that was of primary importance, never ducking the hard bits, helping believers to grasp the whole counsel of God that they themselves would become better equipped to read their Bibles intelligently, comprehensively.

 

It embraced God’s purposes in the history of redemption (truths to be believed and a God to be worshiped), an unpacking of human origin, fall, redemption, and destiny (a worldview that shapes all human understanding and a Savior without whom there is no hope), the conduct expected of God’s people (commandments to be obeyed and wisdom to be pursued, both in our individual existence and in the community of the people of God), and the pledges of transforming power both in this life and in the life to come (promises to be trusted and hope to be anticipated).”

 

            Before we go further it is critical, that if we are calling ourselves Christians we agree that there is only one AUTHORITY and one STANDARD for which we must adhere. That is the Word of God. Are you a child of God calling yourself a Christian today?

 

            How do we know we are a child of God?  We obey His laws first and foremost. 1 John 5:2–3 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

 

            But Jesus in His earthly ministry also made is perfectly clear we are to pay tribute to those God has appointed over us.  Matthew 22:20-22 And Jesus said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They said, “Caesar's.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” 22 When they heard it, they marveled. And they left him and went away.

 

            Of course some modernist have tried to twist scripture and say the above was for taxes only but Paul in his Epistle to Titus clears that up. Titus 3:1 (KJV) Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work

 

            We are however, as Christians, are to question tasking’s by those appointed over us to insure that they are in compliance with the Word of God. Acts 5:29 (KJV) Then Peter and the [other] apostles answered and said, we ought to obey God rather than men. The Word of God always trumps the law of man. If this is your AUTHOIRY and STANDRAD you can proudly wear the name badge Christian.

 

            So now let us look at a few examples that maybe we do not have the whole counsel of God on.  Let us start with the one that has been most recently been in the headlines as the U.S. Supreme Court made it’s in my opinion unconstitutional decision.

 

            Homosexuality and Same Sex Unions have become the rage. The liberal media has waged an all-out persecution crusade against anyone who exercises their constitutional right to freedom of religion by refusing to support these schemas.  We have been fed a steady stream of lies and innuendo in order to get the minority agenda passed. Sadly even the pulpits of evangelical churches have been wrongfully preaching half-truths and or just as bad messages of hate.

 

            Let us look at the Whole Counsel of God:

 

            a. It is a sin Lev 18:22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. There are no mincing words here. Others words for abomination include: outrage, disgrace, horror, hatred, atrocity. Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 defines it as: “Extreme hatred; detestation”

 

            b. Those engaged in it cannot go to heaven 1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality. God’s word is clear. Those who actively engage in this sin are condemning themselves to hell.

           

            c. The cause of Homosexuality, transgenderism etc. is the evil in our hearts our own sinfulness: Romans 1:24-27 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. The homosexual agenda would have you believe people are genetically wired to be that way. That is a bold face LIE. God’s word again is clear it is our selfish sin.  

 

            d. What should be the Christian's Response to the Homosexual?

 In his article Christianity and Homosexuality Matt slick explains[ii]

“Just because someone is a homosexual does not mean that we cannot love him (or her) or pray for him (or her).  Homosexuality is a sin, and like any other sin it needs to be dealt with in the only way possible.  It needs to be laid at the cross and repented of.

 

Christians should pray for the salvation of the homosexual the same way they would any other person in sin.  They should treat homosexuals with the same dignity as they would anyone else because, like it or not, they are made in the image of God.  However, this does not mean that Christians should approve of their sin.  Not at all; Christians should never compromise their witness for a politically correct opinion that is shaped by guilt and fear.

 

In fact, the following verses should be kept in mind when dealing with homosexuals. "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.   6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person," (Col. 4:5-6). "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith," (1 Tim. 1:5).

 

You do not win people to the Lord by condemning them and calling them names.  This is why God says to speak with wisdom, grace, and love.  Let the love of Christ flow through you so that the homosexuals can see true love and turn to Christ instead of away from Him.”

 

            So how do you love your homosexual neighbor without committing the other BIG controversy of our times Judging others. Have you noticed the one verse that both Christians and non-Christians (especially those in jail and prison) can quote is Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.

 

            The problem arises when we try and apply modern understandings to ancient Greek text. Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 (all verses KJV) gives me one of the best understandings of the word:

 

a. JUDGE, n. [L. judex, supposed to be compounded of jus, law or right, and dico, to pronounce.] This refers to the man, the one sitting on the bench or in the case of the scripture; God.

 

b. JUDGE, v.i. [L. judico.]  This verb for the most part, is what bible is referring to and primarily to sub definitions #1 and #4.

 

1. To compare facts or ideas, and perceive their agreement or disagreement, and thus to distinguish truth from falsehood.

            Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment John 7:24

 

2. To form an opinion; to bring to issue the reasoning or deliberations of the mind.

            If I did not know the originals, I should not be able to judge, by the copies, which was Virgil and which Ovid.

 

3. To hear and determine, as in causes on trial; to pass sentence. He was present on the bench, but could not judge in the case.

            The Lord judge between thee and me. Gen.16:5

 

4. To discern; to distinguish; to consider accurately for the purpose of forming an opinion or conclusion.

                        "The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment." Psa. 37:30

            Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment 1 Corinthians 1:10

 

            Read 1 Corinthians 6-1-5 we are called to judge others for someday we will judge the angels.  Unless you are willing to Judge others how else can you/we fulfill the mandate in Romans 16:17-18 Amplified Bible (AMP)17 I appeal to you, brethren, to be on your guard concerning those who create dissensions and difficulties and cause divisions, in opposition to the doctrine (the teaching) which you have been taught. [I warn you to turn aside from them, to] avoid them.18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites and base desires, and by ingratiating and flattering speech, they beguile the hearts of the unsuspecting and simpleminded [people]. You must be able to identify, then avoid and or weed out those who are set on causing trouble in the fellowship of God. It is your duty. You cannot do that if you are unwilling to judge others.

 

JUDGE, v.t. To hear and determine a case; to examine and decide. To preside over a legal case, this rules us out. Yet that is what many have a tendency to want to do.

 

JUDG'ER, n. One who judges or passes sentence. Again only God and those whom he appoints to the bench have this authority. The rest of us only have authority to Judge as it pertains to discernment. Yet this is the one that everyone jumps on fast. We will condemn someone sure enough quick and easy without the least bit of biblical backing; just give us half a chance. This is what Christ spoke of in Matthew 7:3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

 

            I recommend always judging using the following guidelines:

 

1) Judge using scripture alone. This is RIGHTEOUS JUDGEMENT!!!

2) If scripture is silent so should we be. Let the Elders of the church deal with the                                                                                                                              B I G issues.

3) Pray for discernment from God

4) Never be disrespectful or degrading

5) Always be truthful and merciful

6) Always judge yourself FIRST

 

            Back to our main text I hope you can see the importance of seeking out the “whole counsel of God.” By picking and choosing what we want to hear, preach, study or teach we are in danger of the very sinful acts that we may be trying to avoid.

 

John Piper [iii]    

has an excellent article on the subject: in it he says: I see three unmistakable implications from this verse:

 

“1. Knowing the Whole Counsel of God Knowing the whole counsel of God helps people get to heaven. Look carefully at this and you'll see why I say it like that. You cannot say from verse 27 that a person has to know the whole counsel of God in order to be saved. A person doesn't have to know it! What you can say is that if an elder doesn't teach the whole counsel of God, he may be an accomplice in someone's destruction. And if a person MAY fall short of heaven because of an elder's neglect in teaching the whole counsel of God, then knowing the whole counsel of God helps people get to heaven….

 

Why did God elect his bride the church before the foundation of the world? Why did he create the universe and mankind in his image? Why did he permit the fall into sin? Why did he choose the nation of Israel? Why did he give them the law? Why did he have animal sacrifices and a tabernacle? Why did Jesus come into the world? Why did he preach the kingdom of God? Why did he die and rise again. Why did the Holy Spirit come? How is God fulfilling his purpose and counsel today by calling and regenerating and justifying and sanctifying a church from every people and tribe and tongue and nation? How will he bring this age to a close? How should we then live? What is the unified, whole counsel of God that holds all this together and gives it meaning?

 

That is what we ought to be teaching our children—faithfully, systematically, and with so much life and power that the beauty of it shines for them.

 

The first thing to say from verse 27, then, is that knowing the whole counsel of God helps people get to heaven. Otherwise Paul would not have said that he is innocent of their blood because he taught them this whole counsel.

 

2. Wanting to Learn the Whole Counsel of God The second thing to say from verse 27 is that people should want to learn the whole counsel of God. Biblical Christians hunger to know the whole counsel of God.

 

This text clearly teaches that elders are deficient and may be guilty of someone's destruction to the degree that they do not declare the whole counsel of God. It must follow that the people of the church are also guilty to the degree that they are not interested in the whole counsel of God. If not teaching it is a sin, then not wanting to be taught it is a sin.

 

So the text clearly implies that Christians should long for the whole counsel of God the way a baby longs for milk. Once you understand this verse, disinterest in the whole counsel of God implies disinterest in the means of salvation. Because the text says that Paul will be innocent if someone fails to be saved, because he gave the fullest means of salvation—the whole counsel of God.

 

3. Courageously Teaching the Whole Counsel of God Finally, the last thing to say about verse 27 is that elders should be courageous in teaching the whole counsel of God.

 

This idea of courage is implied in the phrase, "I did not shrink from declaring to you . . . " This means that there are parts of the whole, unified counsel of God that might make an elder want to shrink back from teaching them. They might be hard to understand. Or they might be uncomplimentary to human pride. Or they might demand radical obedience. And so the elders might be tempted to declare only part of God's counsel—the part that is easy and that they know people especially like. But that would be a shrinking back from declaring the whole counsel of God. It would be cowardice not courage.

 

And that brings us back to the point made at the beginning—obedient life—courageous life in this case—is just as important as accurate doctrine. For Paul the two were inseparable: I did not shrink back—that is, I am a certain kind of person. I declared the WHOLE counsel of God—that is, I taught a certain kind of doctrine. That's what we must aim at together: a courageously obedient kind of person, and a unified, whole counsel of God.”

 

            Piper is so right. It is what the pulpits across America today need, men of courage and conviction to ‘to declare to you the whole counsel of God.’ He is also quite correct in his assessment of what is needed in the pews across America. It is men and women not just “Wanting to Learn the Whole Counsel of God” I dare say DEMANDING to learn the whole counsel of God.

 

            My friends we hear so much about being “fed by the spirit” when folks go looking for a church. As if it is some emotional sensation they must experience each time they are at church building. That is hog wash. There may be a spirit moving upon these churches but it might be the Holy Spirit.

 

            The duty of the Church first and fore most is plainly stated in the Bible. It is to PREACH the Gospel. Romans 10:14 (AMP) But how are people to call upon Him Whom they have not believed [in Whom they have no faith, on Whom they have no reliance]? And how are they to believe in Him [adhere to, trust in, and rely upon Him] of Whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?

 

            As we have just learned those standing in the pulpit must be preaching the whole counsel of God if the plague that has resulted in ignorance, distortion and deficiency is to be reversed. Is your church “declaring to you the whole counsel of God?” If it is not you need to find another church.

 

In HIS Service

 

Mike  

_______________________

[i] —D. A. Carson, “Challenges for the Twenty-first-century Pulpit,” in Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R. Kent Hughes, ed. Leland Ryken and Todd Wilson [Crossway, 2007], pp. 177-178; bullets and italics added

[ii] Christianity and Homosexuality by Matt Slick http://www.carm.org/

[iii] John Piper The Guilt of Giving Part of God's Counsel, April 16, 1989 ©2015 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards (1722-1723) Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God's help, I do humbly entreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake.

1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.

Read the remaining 69 resolutions @ The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards.

On occasion while discussing biblical things I hear folks say things like I do not understand, how can they not understand. I try hard to remind them they are speaking of the unregenerate and until such time as God chooses to open their eyes  2 Corinthians 4:1-4:

 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

Then there are times like this when someone (thanks Stephen) I know, shares a story that leaves me dumbfounded. For this story deals not with an ordinary man but one who claims to proclaim the Glory of God. The problem is what book has he been reading? I quote:

God doesn't have a plan. Instead, God is like a jazz musician, as it were, improvising creation into being, making it up as God goes, open to imaginative possibility, playing artfully the music of creation anew. Yet it’s kept to a theme, a theme grounded in beauty and mystery, but a theme, a melodious score nonetheless present ever since the dawn of time, even before. It’s the one song of goodness and love and right order -- a theme whose imaginatively improvised notes are, as Flaubert put it, Just. Fitting. Right.

If you dare the full story can be found here:  From the Pulpit: Does God have a plan?

My response is dynamically opposed to your conclusion. OF COURSE GOD HAS A PLAN! The basis of my faith is and must be that God is in full control. He is sovereign in all things in other words He is in charge. Rev. Flowers would have him wandering about without purpose or cause (a Jazz musician). Is that the God you want? One who is little more (if at all) greater than man? Man who loves darkness (John 3:19) because his deeds are evil? The bible declares God's plan for Himself and man.

During my 20 years of service in the Army one learns a critical lesson we called it the 5 P's, prior planning prevents poor performance, failure to apply this acronym never failed to cause many a chaotic moment. Yet Rev Flowers conclusions would have us believe that God has no plan, no concept of planning, is incapable of preventing (sovereign) events from taking place. In direct opposition to the bible, that says it is only through God's Grace and Mercy that He holds back the true chaos this world is capable of.

My friend responded to Rev Flowers in this manner {mine}:

Rev. Jim Flowers: "God doesn't have a plan."

God:
Ephesians 1:11. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined {pre-planned} according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,

Romans 8:28. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Acts 2:23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men

Acts 4:26-28. 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed'-- 27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Job 37:5-13 God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend. 6 For to the snow he says, 'Fall on the earth,' likewise to the downpour, his mighty downpour. 7 He seals up the hand of every man, that all men whom he made may know it. 8 Then the beasts go into their lairs, and remain in their dens. 9 From its chamber comes the whirlwind, and cold from the scattering winds. 10 By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. 11 He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning. 12 They turn around and around by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world. 13 Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen.

The entire Bible is a revelation of God's plan.

Rev. Jim Flowers: "salvation is about your neighbor"

God:
Luke 13:5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:36. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Rev. Flowers has created his own god. One that does not and cannot save.

No my friends I want no part of a god that is not in control. Whose improvising may or may not be successful. No the God I bow down before, the God I and all others (including Rev Flowers) will stand before in judgement, is a God worthy of Glory, Honor and Praise. For He had a plan a glorious plan to redeem an unworthy sinners such as I from before the beginning of time. In that we can loudly proclaim:

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ

AMEN!!! So often today it seems like the "church" wants to use gimmicks to lure folks in. What a shame when all that is needed is the Word.

icr-home2

Understanding the Word of God

   by        Henry Morris, Ph.D.      Aug. 23, 2013

"So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading." (Nehemiah 8:8)

Most people—even most Christians—devote very little time to the Scriptures, complaining that they are either too hard to understand or too uninteresting. Yet, when Ezra read "the book of the law of Moses" to the whole congregation of Israel, he read "from the morning until midday," even "one fourth part of the day," and "all the people stood up" as he read (Nehemiah 8:1, 3, 5; 9:3). Such a scenario is almost impossible to imagine today.

Ezra's congregation evidently understood what he was reading and found it of vital interest. "For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the law" (Nehemiah 8:9). For "another fourth part |of the day| they confessed, and worshipped the LORD their God" (Nehemiah 9:3).

Yet all they had were the books of the Pentateuch! How much more concerned we should be, and how much better we should understand, when we have the entire Bible.

Note that Ezra and his colleagues simply read the Scriptures and gave a straightforward exegesis. That was enough to enable the people to understand, and this brought repentance, confession, and worship. No emotional appeals, no gimmicks, no technology, just the Scriptures—taken naturally and literally.

The Scriptures are not hard to understand—just hard to believe, and even harder to obey. Like any book, the Bible is intended to be understood, and its author—the Holy Spirit—was able to say what He meant. The secret is in the attitude of heart with which one approaches it. "O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day. . . . Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way" (Psalm 119:97, 104). HMM

(© 1994-2013 Institute for Creation Research. All Rights Reserved. www.icr.org) must be included, with no exceptions.

On the heals of our last post "The Chalice of Knowledge" this peaked my interest.

Reprinted from http://blogs.christianpost.com/confident-christian/the-tragedy-of-the-dumb-church-10567/

The Tragedy of the Dumb Church

by Robin Schumacher

I have a friend who’s an experienced pastor, teacher, and Christian apologist. He’s very well educated, articulate, teaches in a way that hits the mark, and has a passion particularly for grounding young people in the faith during their high school and early college years.

Currently, he’s employed with Youth for Christ and a while back he felt a burden to try and help churches in our area do what he does best, which is equip youth to defend the Christian faith in the world and know what/why they believe. Because he’s developed a number of curriculums to use for such situations, he sent a letter to all the churches in our metropolitan area (which is quite a lot) explaining what he does, and offered to come to their church free of charge and conduct Christian apologetic training for their youth.

How many churches took him up on his offer?

Zero. None. Zilch.

Now, any Christian leader who doesn’t have their head in the sand knows how depressing the statistics are for young people who walk away from the faith in the late high school/early college years.[1] At times, I’ve had atheists toss such data in my face in an attempt to argue that people ‘smarten up’ when they get older, but that isn’t it at all.

The fact is some in this particular demographic leave the Church because they get talked out of a faith that they were never sure of in the first place. The storyline is sadly familiar.

Maybe a young person was brought up in a church. Or, maybe they weren’t and began to investigate Christianity on their own. Either way, sooner or later they begin to ask hard questions, good questions, questions that deserve solid answers. But they don’t get them. So, because they rightly need what they believe in their heart to connect with their mind, they disconnect from Christianity.

Why does this keep happening?

In short, it happens because much of the Church today is dumb. Don’t misunderstand me, I mean no disrespect when I use the term ‘dumb’. What I mean is that the Church is dumb in that they aren’t well educated in what they believe, fail miserably in fulfilling 1 Peter 3:15 that says all Christians should be prepared to give a reason for why they believe, and are woefully unable to handle any challenge to Christianity that comes from unbelievers or the cults.

The Age of the Dumb Church

Dr. R. C. Sproul has said many times that he believes we are living in the most un-intellectual period in the history of Western civilization. Over 30 years ago, former Lebanese ambassador to the United States, Charles Malik, said the following in his speech at the dedication of the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Illinois: “I must be frank with you: the greatest danger confronting American evangelical Christianity is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind in its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough.”[2] 

Such statements made by Sproul, Malik, and others were not always heard in the Church. The fact is, the Church dominated intellectual thought and discourse for hundreds of years, producing such thinkers like Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Edwards, and others. Such men had their opponents (the Church always will), but their detractors never ridiculed their brainpower because the Churchman’s intellectual prowess left no room for it.

But shortly after the era of Edwards, something changed. Gospel preachers like Charles Finney arose and replaced the intelligent presentation of the Gospel, which was backed by meaty Biblical exposition and solid philosophical rationale, with emotional appeals, questionable theology, personal anecdotes with humor, a celebrity-style leader, and engineered publicity.

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, in many seeker friendly or liberal churches today, the characteristics of Finney and his followers are played out each Lord’s Day with the end result being a church body unable to intellectually defend the faith they espouse.

Characteristics of the Dumb Church

How can you tell if your church exhibits traits that characterize a dumb church? Although not exhaustive, I offer these criteria that I believe help contribute to a church becoming ‘dumb’:

Where the church leadership is concerned:

  • Preaching is always topical and never expository. Selective topical series allow tough and deep theological subjects, as well as ‘controversial’ passages of Scripture, to be avoided with ease.
  • Although the church leaders offer strong external facing statements as to how they are a “Bible believing church”, the Bible is actually used and referenced very little in the sermons. Few quotations from Scripture are heard in a message, with the vast majority of all sermons consisting of personal rhetoric, humor, videos, and personal stories.
  • When the Bible is quoted, most often paraphrase versions are used, or at best a dynamic equivalence is utilized vs. a literal-formal translation such as the ESV or NASB.
  • Biblical terms such as justification, reconciliation, sanctification, propitiation, etc., are avoided like the plague.
  • There is little to no instruction for new (or existing) believers on the core doctrines of the Christian faith, and no requirement for new believers to attend such instruction.
  • There is no continuous offering of apologetic training classes that are designed to train Christians in the evidences and defense of the faith, and little to no interest of the pastors in the subject area.
  • There is no easy way for the congregation to have tough questions answered by the lead pastors; such a thing is quietly ignored, discouraged or not practiced regularly.
  • Deep Bible study programs are either absent or deliberately pushed out in favor of more ‘relevant’ classes that deal with softer subject matters (e.g. money management).
  • Adult and children’s Bible studies before/after the main church service are either omitted or are second class citizens to “Community Groups” that seek to have members meet in each other’s homes during the week, where no oversight is given as to what is done or taught. These groups, where teaching is concerned, are run “hands off” by the church leadership.
  • There is a huge emphasis on relationship building and serving in areas of the church, but no similar importance placed on growing more Biblically and theologically literate.
  • The youth department has an unmistakable concentration on entertainment, games, social interaction, etc., vs. actual teaching of Christian doctrines.
  • The church either has no library or one that is not kept up to date.
  • There is either no staff member assigned specifically to church education, or it is assigned to an already overburdened associate pastor.
  • Doctrinal statements of the church are missing or are not prominently made available. If they exist, they do not address any controversial theological topics or make very vague statements concerning them.

Where the congregation is concerned:

  • The term “Christian apologetics” is completely unfamiliar to the vast majority of the members.
  • Most of the congregation has no knowledge of church history with the names of Polycarp, Martyr, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Wesley, Whitefield, Tyndale, and others being completely foreign to them.
  • Attendance of offered classes are very low compared to overall church attendance.

A Warning to the Dumb Church

God warns us in His Word about cultivating a dumb church. For example, chastising his readers, the writer of Hebrews offers this admonition against fostering a dumb church environment: "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).

When you have a dumb church, the writer of Hebrews says the outcome is a body of believers that is incapable of properly discerning good and evil. Slowly but surely, error and heresy creep in with no one being the wiser. The end result are churches championing teachings such as universalism, applauding homosexual marriage, and calling evil good and good evil.

My friend Greg continues to train young believers in apologetics, but he does so at the co-op school used by Christian homeschool families and at his home. To date, no church has yet taken him up on his generous offer to ground their youth in the Christian faith, which is very sad.

My hope and prayer is that such situations stop happening, that dumb churches become the exception rather than the rule, and that smart people who are asking good questions about the Christian faith get the answers they’re looking for from learned believers and pastors like the ones Jeremiah describes: “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jer. 3:15).

Describing today’s current climate and the type of Christianity that’s needed to meet the challenge, apologist and author Ravi Zacharias said: “World leaders don’t have answers anymore. And I think America’s youth will rise up to the occasion . . . but it will have to be a passionate and thoughtful Christianity and not a mindless, emotive one that has no staying power.”[3] 

Some say such a thing is not need, but I disagree. One of the most haunting questions I’ve ever seen was on the back of my first church history textbook I got in seminary, which asked: “How can you live out your faith if you don’t understand it?” Anyone have a good answer?


[1] http://www.google.com.mx/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CFgQFjAB&url=http://www.amazon.com/Already-Gone-your-kids-church/dp/0890515298&ei=rqPiT-39DMfi2gWzy_DDCw&usg=AFQjCNEvoASiwktBJUzfmMd7r9Ifb7m2uQ

[2] Charles Malik, “The Other Side of Evangelism,” Christianity Today, November 7, 1980, 40.

[3] Ravi Zacharias. Just Thinking podcast. Columbia University Q&A Part 3.

 

Excellent read. I love the part "We also need to realize the role that faith plays in our attaining real knowledge. People have incorrectly believed that faith is for superstitious people, and not for the person who seeks intelligence."