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Category Archives: Apologetics

2015/16 Summer Reading

As with previous Summers I have stayed away from social media (blogs, FB, Twitter, etc.) from Christmas through January. As in previous Summers I have thoroughly enjoyed the time and wonder why I would ever go back…

Technically January isn’t over yet and I am still staying away from social media with the exception of this blog post. 🙂

I have enjoyed a fruitful Summer of reading.

Like previous Summers I read a book requested of me by my wife. This year that book was, Amazing Grace : William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End SlaveryA superb read, encouraging, challenging, and convicting. I pray I will stand faithful in my generation against all odds trusting in Christ fully as Wilberforce.

In addition I read the following books. I will just list them here rather than make comments. They have all be helpful and are books I would recommend.

Baptist Foundations : Church Government for an Anti-Institutional Age

The Baptist Story : From English Sect to Global Movement

God’s Glory Alone – The Majestic Heart of Christian Faith and Life : What the Reformers Taught…and Why it Still Matters

Grace Works! : And Ways We Think It Doesn’t

The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther

The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield

The Mighty Weakness of John Knox

Onward : Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel

The Thunder : A Novel on John Knox

Fool’s Talk : Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion (I am nearly finished with this book. It is easily the most significant book I have read this Summer. Truly profound, excellently written, deeply thoughtful, immensely helpful. Ought to be required reading for anyone who thinks they are interested in apologetics.)

Oh, yeah I forgot… I was given a pre-publication e-copy of Christopher Ash’s new book, Zeal without Burnout: Seven keys to a lifelong ministry of sustainable sacrifice, which I also read with real benefit. (This book is based on a talk he gave at the 2014 Truth for Life Conference. You can listen here, or watch here.)

I managed to finish another book before my “Summer Reading” time concluded, Knowing Christ by Mark Jones. This book as been described something like, “the book J.I. Packer could have and perhaps should have written but wasn’t able to.” It is truly magnificent. Unlike any other book on the person of Christ I have ever read. Each chapter is very short. It would be an excellent book to read slowly, one chapter a day or something, over the course of a month or so.

On the last day of my “Summer Reading” I was able to finish a classic. One I’ve read before many years ago. John Marray’s Redemption Accomplished and Applied has been recently republished with a forward by Carl Trueman. This is a significant and important book for understanding the fullness of a believer’s redemption in Christ and the benefits in daily life.

 
 

2015 – Invercargill Bible School – The Certainty of Christ in an Age of Unbelief

I have the privilege to speak at this weekend Bible Conference next weekend. If you know anyone in or near Invercargill you might want to encourage them to attend.

2015 - Invercargill Bible School - The Certainty of Christ in an Age of Unbelief - back 2015 - Invercargill Bible School - The Certainty of Christ in an Age of Unbelief - front

 

Tackling the “isms”: Worldview Overview

I will be presenting a couple of seminars as part of two of the Shepherding a Child’s Heart Conferences in the coming weeks – 21/03 in Auckland, 28/03 in Christchurch.

One of the seminars I will present twice on each Saturday. Once for the parents and again for teens.

Here is an outline of this particular seminar…

Tackling the “isms”: Worldview Overview

  1. What is a Worldview?

Your worldview is your general theory of the universe. It’s comprised of your fundamental beliefs about yourself, the world, and God. Your worldview answers fundamental questions about yourself–

*What am I?
*How can I be truly happy?
*What’s morally right and wrong?

—and about the world:

*Why does anything exist?
*Why does anything happen at all?

*How do I know anything?

*How do I know what is real and true?

Everyone has a god that they worship. The only distinction between worldviews is whether the object of worship is God the Creator, or this world, the creation.

“A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or unconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.”

James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, 4th ed. (Downers Grove, IL: Inter Varsity Press, 2004), 17.

“A worldview is a way one views the whole world. A worldview is a way of viewing or interpreting all of reality. It is an interpretive framework through which or by which one makes sense out of the data of life and the world. A worldview is like a set of colored glasses. If one looks at the same object through green colored glasses he will see it as green, while another looking at the same object through red glasses will see it as red.”

Norman L. Geisler and William D. Watkins, Worlds Apart: A Handbook on Worldviews. 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989), 11.

“A worldview is not the same thing as a formal philosophy; otherwise, it would be only for professional philosophers. Even ordinary people have a set of convictions about how reality functions and how they should live. Because we are made in God’s image, we all seek to make sense of life. Some convictions are conscious, while others are unconscious, but together they form a more or less consistent picture of reality.”

Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2004), 23 

Everyone Has a Religious Worldview

In an important sense, all worldviews – even atheistic ones – are religious. Herman Bavinck says that, “The denial of the existence of God includes, in the same moment, the elevation of the creature into the place of God”[1]. In other words, everyone has a god that they worship. The only distinction between worldviews is whether the object of worship is God the Creator, or this world, the creation. If these claims seem exaggerated, consider a contemporary example.

In the opening chapter of his book The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins notes that “A quasi-mystical response to nature and the universe is common among scientists and rationalists” who do not believe in a supernatural being. Dawkins writes that his awe of the universe is so similar to religious awe that some people have called him “A Very Religious Non-Believer”. Dawkins virtually concedes then that he and many fellow atheists have subjective responses which very nearly approximate worship; the main difference lying only in the worship of the creation rather than God, the Creator.

Corrupt worldviews are based on false gods, and humans adopt false gods because of their sinful resistance to the true and living God. In Romans 1:18-32 Paul argues that all human beings know God but at the same time don’t know God because they suppress the truth that they know, and that they do this by worshipping the creation in place of the Creator. They exchange the truth about God for a lie. Because everyone knows the true God deep inside, they cannot help but be religious, even if they claim to be agnostics or atheists. But because humankind is corrupted, religion always defaults to take the form of worshipping the creation instead of the Creator. Fallen people are on the one hand idolatrous (Rom. 1:18-32), and at the same time altogether godless (Ps. 14/Rom. 3:9-18).

  1. What is a Christian (or Biblical) Worldview?

“A biblical worldview is a worldview that is shaped and tested, formed and reformed by the Bible. More specifically, a biblical worldview would be a fundamental perspective on life that is based upon the ‘pillar points’ (as I like to call them) of creation, the fall, and redemption. The story of creation is told in Genesis 1-2 and answers such important questions as where are we, who are we, and why are we here? Genesis 3 tells the story of the fall of humanity into sin and addresses the issue of what has gone wrong with the world and how we should account for the tragic human condition. The rest of the Bible from Genesis 3:15 all the way to Revelation 22 presents the narrative of redemption, which informs us about the divinely provided remedy to sin and the tragic human condition. God promises redemption in the Old Testament, and He fulfills His promises in Christ in the New Testament. This redemption that Christ has accomplished is both ‘already; present but is ‘not yet’ fully complete. When Christ returns, He will consummate His redemptive task and usher in the new heavens and earth.”

(David Naugle, author of Worldview: The History of a Concept (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002) in an interview with T.M. Moore, editor of Findings, in October 2003.)

Paul says that the idolatry of mankind has created futile thinking and darkened foolish hearts (Rom. 1:21). If this is true, then the gospel is the only hope for the restoration and renovation of all human thought. It is only possible to come to truly know God through Jesus Christ, which will result in a complete transformation of your mind and worldview.

The Bible makes the radical assertion that it is necessary to know and fear God before arriving at any true conclusions about yourself and the world. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov. 1:7); “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Prov. 9:10). God himself provides the answer to all key worldview questions—

*What am I? An image-bearer of God, Gen. 1:26-27.
*How can I be truly happy? By knowing God, John 17:3.
*What’s morally right and wrong? What God commands—loving him and loving your neighbour.
*Why does anything exist? God willed to create it out of nothing, Gen. 1:1.
*Why does anything happen at all? God has predestined it to happen and brings it to pass by his providential power.

“God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). In this light, we see everything else differently—we see everything else truly—for the first time.

  1. The Limbs of A Biblical Christian Worldview

Theology: Affirmation of the existence of an intelligent, powerful, loving, just, and awesome God. This same God took upon Himself human form in the person of Jesus Christ and died for our sins. Thus, in addition to being theistic, Christianity is Christus Nexus, Christ at the centre. “Christianity is Christ. The person and work of Christ are the rock upon which the Christian religion is built. If he is not who he said he was, and if he did not do what he said he had come to do, the foundation is undermined and the whole superstructure will collapse. Take Christ from Christianity and you disembowel it; there is practically nothing left. Christ is the center of Christianity; all else is circumference.” (John Stott, Basic Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967), 21. (Gen. 1:1; Colossians 2:9)

Philosophy: The single most important philosophical truth in the Bible is that Jesus Christ is the Logos of God. Christian philosophy, especially metaphysics, is grounded in John 1:1-4. Christ the Logos is the explanation for the universe and all things therein. (John 1:1-4, Col. 1:17, Rev. 19:13)

Sociology: Both the individual and the social order are important to God, mankind and society. Christ died and rose again for each person as an individual; God ordained social institutions to teach love, respect, discipline, work, and community. God ordained certain social institutions. Family, church, and state are three of the most important. (Gen. 4:1; Luke 1:30-31; Is. 9:6)

Law: Christian or Divine Law consists of both natural and Biblical law originating in the very character of a righteous and loving God. Divine law is eternal, and will be used one day to judge the world in a judgment based on natural and revealed law. God established human government and the rule of law primarily to keep in check man’s sinful nature (Romans 2:12ff; 13:1-4). Human rights involves the Biblical doctrine of man’s creation in the image of God. (Gen. 3:11; 49:10; Rev. 5:5)

Ethics: God’s moral nature is absolute, eternal and unchanging. God created the world with a specific moral order revealed to man via both general (natural law) and special revelation (Scripture and the person of Jesus Christ). Ethical standards transcend the relativistic whims of society. (Gen. 2:9; John 1:9; John 3:19,20) 

Biology: Christianity trusts the Genesis model of creation above and beyond the theories of modern science. However, Christianity is not anti-science, requiring only that science begin from a Christian theistic presupposition. Science and Christianity are compatible in that the universe when properly studied reflects that God created all things. (Gen. 1-3; John 1:4; John 11:25; Col. 1:16)

Psychology: Only Christianity, with its emphasis on the spiritual and its understanding of man’s fallen nature can truly address the innermost concerns of the individual. Humans may truly get in touch with themselves by realizing their own sinfulness and consequential status before God, as well as the grace of God which removes all sin and guilt. Self-esteem is realistic only as it follows a true statement of who we are with and without Christ. (Luke 1:46-47; I Thess. 5:23; Titus 2:13)

History: The Christian worldview, unlike many other religious (especially transcendental) worldviews, is firmly rooted in historical events such as the events of the nation of Israel and the life, death, and resurrection of the historical person Jesus Christ. The Bible is an historically accurate book, describing events that actually occurred and are continually being vindicated via archaeology and other historical proofs. (I Cor. 15; John 1:14; Gal 4:4)

  1. Biblical Christian Worldview Presuppositions

GOD (theology): Does God exist? What is his nature? Is he personal or impersonal? One or many? 

REALITY (metaphysics): What is the universe? Who or what created it? Is the universe an open or closed system (Closed: Matter is all there is and nothing from “outside” the universe intervenes, e.g. God. Open: “outside” forces such as God interfere with the natural order)? What is its purpose?

KNOWLEDGE (epistemology): How do we know something/anything? Can we trust our senses? How far will reason take us? Is there such a thing as revealed truth? Can we know something for certain? Is knowledge different from faith?

MAN (anthropology): What is man? Is man basically good or basically bad? Are we free, or the pawns of deterministic forces? Are we only bodies or bodies and spirits? What happens at death? Are there are rewards and/or punishments after death?

  • The “…isms” we face
  1. Islam
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Secular Humanism
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Marxism-Leninism
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Cosmic Humanism/New Age
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. Post-Modernism
    • See Worldview comparison chart on last page
  1. “Practical” Materialism
    • What I have/own defines who I am.
    • “Lust of the eyes”
  1. Consumerism
    • The freedom to chose what I want based on my personal desires and preferences from a variety of options is the greatest good.
    • “Lust of the flesh”
  1. Narcissism
    • Narcissismis the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes. The term originated from the Greek mythology, where the young Narcissus fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water.
    • “Pride of Life”

Bibliography

Bahnsen, Greg L., and Robert R. Booth. Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith. Atlanta, GA: American Vision, 1996.

Berkhof, Louis, Cornelius Van Til, and Dennis E. Johnson. Foundations of Christian Education: Addresses to Christian Teachers. Christian perspectives. Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co, 1989.

Bertrand, J. Mark. Rethinking Worldview: Learning to Think, Live, and Speak in This World. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2007.

Breese, Dave. Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave. Chicago: Moody Press, 1990.

Carson, D. A. Christ and Culture Revisited. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 2008.

Carson, D. A. The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Pub. House, 1996.

Clapp, Rodney. A Peculiar People: The Church As Culture in a Post-Christian Society. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

Clark, Kelly James, Richard Lints, and James K. A. Smith. 101 Key Terms in Philosophy and Their Importance for Theology. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox, 2004.

Colson, Charles W., and Ellen Santilli Vaughn. Against the Night: Living in the New Dark Ages. Ann Arbor, Mich: Vine Books, 1989.

Colson, Charles W., and Nancy Pearcey. How Now Shall We Live? Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999.

Cowan, Steven B., and William Lane Craig. Five Views on Apologetics. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Pub. House, 2000.

Craig, William Lane, and Paul M. Gould. The Two Tasks of the Christian Scholar: Redeeming the Soul, Redeeming the Mind. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2007.

Dembski, William A., and Jay Wesley Richards. Unapologetic Apologetics: Meeting the Challenges of Theological Studies. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2001.

Dockery, David S. Renewing Minds: Serving Church and Society Through Christian Higher Education. Nashville, Tenn: Broadman & Holman, 2007.

Feinberg, John S., Paul D. Feinberg. Ethics for a Brave New World, 3nd edition. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2010.

Geisler, Norman L., Francis Beckwith, William Lane Craig, and James Porter Moreland. To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview : Essays in Honor of Norman L. Geisler. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2004.

González, Justo L. Essential Theological Terms. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005.

Hoffecker, W. Andrew. Revolutions in Worldview: Understanding the Flow of Western Thought. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Pub, 2007.

Keller, Timothy J. Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters. New York: Dutton, 2009.

Keller, Timothy J. The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. New York: Dutton, 2008.

Kohoutek, Henry J. Invitation to Biblical Christianity for the Well-Educated. Raleigh, N.C.: Pentland Press, 2001.

Koop, C. Everett, and Francis A. Schaeffer. Whatever Happened to the Human Race? Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1983.

LaHaye, Tim F. The Battle for the Mind. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1980.

LaHaye, Tim F., and David A. Noebel. Mind Siege: The Battle for Truth in the New Millennium. Nashville, TN: Word Pub, 2000.

Lennox, John C. God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway? Oxford: Lion, 2010.

Lennox, John. God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? Oxford: Lion, 2009.

Lewis, C. S. God in the Dock ; Essays on Theology and Ethics. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans, 1995.

The Great Divorce. New York: Macmillan Co, 1946.

Mere Christianity; A Revised and Enlarged Edition, with a New Introduction of the Three Books, The Case for Christianity, Christian Behaviour, and Beyond Personality. New York: Macmillan, 1952.

Miracles; A Preliminary Study. New York: Macmillan Co, 1947.

The Screwtape Letters: With Screwtape Proposes a Toast. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001.

MacArthur, John, Nathan Busenitz, Scott Lang, and Phillip R. Johnson. Fool’s Gold?: Discerning Truth in an Age of Error. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2005.

MacArthur, John, Richard Mayhue, and John A. Hughes. Think Biblically!: Recovering a Christian Worldview. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2003.

Moreland, James Porter, and William Lane Craig. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2003.

Morris, Henry M. The Long War against God: The History and Impact of the Creation/Evolution Conflict. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Book House, 1989.

Mouw, Richard J. He Shines in All That’s Fair: Culture and Common Grace : the 2000 Stob Lectures. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co, 2001.

Noebel, David A. Understanding the Times: The Religious Worldviews of Our Day and the Search for Truth. Eugene, Or: Harvest House Publishers, 1994.

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The Battle for Truth. Eugene, Or: Harvest House Publishers, 2001.

Pearcey, Nancy. Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, & Meaning. Nashville, Tenn: B&H Publishing, 2010.

Pearcey, Nancy. Total Truth Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity. Crossway Books, 2008.

Poythress, Vern S. God Centered Biblical Interpretation. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Pub, 1999.

Poythress, Vern S. Philosophy, Science, and the Sovereignty of God. Nutley, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1976.

Poythress, Vern S. Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 2006.

Poythress, Vern S. Redeeming Sociology: A God-Centered Approach. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2011.

Poythress, Vern S. Science and Hermeneutics: Implications of Scientific Method for Biblical Interpretation. Grand Rapids, Mich: Academie Books, 1988.

Robertson, David. The Dawkins Letters. Christian Focus, 2010.

Ryken, Philip Graham. He Speaks to Me Everywhere: Meditations on Christianity and Culture. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R Pub, 2004.

My Father’s World: Meditations on Christianity and Culture. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub, 2002.

What Is the Christian Worldview? Basics of the Reformed faith. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P&R Publishing, 2006.

Schaeffer, Francis A. 2 Contents, 2 Realities. Downers Grove, Ill: Intervarsity Press, 1975.

Art and the Bible. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books, 2006.

Back to Freedom and Dignity. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1972.

A Christian Manifesto. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1981.

A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982.

A Christian View of Spirituality. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982.

A Christian View of the Bible As Truth. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982.

A Christian View of the Church. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982.

A Christian View of the West. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982.

The Church at the End of the 20th Century. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1970.

The Church Before the Watching World; A Practical Ecclesiology. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1971.

The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1982.

The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian Worldview. Vol.1, , A Christian View of Philosophy and Culture. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 1994.

Death in the City. Chicago: Inter-varsity Press, 1969.

Escape from Reason. London: Inter-Varsity Fellowship, 1968.

, and James Montgomery Boice. The Foundation of Biblical Authority. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978.

The Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy: The Three Essential Books in One Volume. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1990.

Genesis in Space and Time; The Flow of Biblical History. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1972.

The God Who Is There; Speaking Historic Christianity into the Twentieth Century. Chicago: Inter-varsity Press, 1968.

The Great Evangelical Disaster. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1984.

He Is There and He Is Not Silent. Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, 1972.

How Should We Then Live?: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. Old Tappan, N.J.: F.H. Revell Co, 1976.

Introduction to Francis Schaeffer; Study Guide to a Trilogy: The God Who Is There, Escape from Reason, and He Is There and He Is Not Silent, Plus “How I Came to Write My Books “. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1974.

Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1975.

, and Lane T. Dennis. Letters of Francis A. Schaeffer: Spiritual Reality in the Personal Christian Life. Westchester, Ill: Crossway Books, 1985.

The Mark of the Christian. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1970.

The New Super-Spirituality. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter-Varsity Press, 1972.

No Final Conflict: The Bible Without Error in All That It Affirms. Downers Grove, Ill: Inter Varsity Press, 1975.

, Udo Middelmann, Lynn White, and Richard L. Means. Pollution and the Death of Man / Francis A. Schaeffer [and Udo Middelmann]. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Books, 1992.

The Practice of Truth: Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer Discusses One of the Central Problems of Evangelism in the 20th Century. Bangalore, India: Thomas Samuel, 1967.

True Spirituality. Wheaton, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, 1971.

, and C. Everett Koop. Whatever Happened to the Human Race? Old Tappan, N.J.: F.H. Revell Co, 1979.

, Vladimir Konstantinovich Bukovskiĭ, and James Hitchcock. Who Is for Peace? Nashville: Nelson, 1983.

Sherman, Richard B., and Francis A. Schaeffer. Reclaiming the World: Conversations with Francis A. Schaeffer. Los Gatos, Calif: Schaeffer, 1982.

Thomas, Derek. What Is Providence? Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub, 2008.

Walsh, Brian J., and J. Richard Middleton. The Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian World View. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1984.

Young, Frances M. Biblical Exegesis and the Formation of Christian Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Online Resources

Summit Ministries – http://www.summit.org (particularly http://www.summit.org/resources/worldview-chart/)

Stand to Reason – http://www.str.org

Monergism-Directory – http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Worldviews

Worldview Series on my blog: https://joefl.wordpress.com/preachingteaching-materials/young-adults-home-group-at-howick-baptist-church/

Ethics Series on my blog: https://joefl.wordpress.com/preachingteaching-materials/im-a-christian-i-live-in-the-real-world-thinking-through-ethics/

 

Do we have to choose between hate and the condoning of sinful lifestyles?

There has been a lot of discussion regarding the “Baptist” pastor from Auckland who supposedly sent an extremely evil email to a gay man.

Interestingly Ian Wishart has made the following observation on his FB page:

“Maybe it’s the investigative journalist in me, and the sceptic in someone else who shall remain nameless, but something seems fishy about this story of the pastor abusing the gay author.

Logan Robertson does not seem to have much of a digital footprint pre-dating this. In fact, his “church” is so obscure it runs from a house and its website was only established a matter of weeks ago. Frankly, I’m surprised Jim Marjoram was able to find so obscure a church to send an email to…because I couldn’t find it in the usual church email directories he would ordinarily have used..

Maybe I missed something…”

The Baptist Union clearly and rightly distanced themselves from this supposed “pastor”.

As a Christian I would want to clearly affirm that this man’s statements do not represent true Christianity or the Bible, regardless of what Denominational label he chooses for himself or whether he even pastors an actual church.

At the same time, I am just as concerned about the following sentence in the Herald article, “He [the author of the book] said several congregations in Auckland, including St Matthew in the City and Ponsonby Baptist, had supported his book and support group.”

Not only do this man’s [the supposed “pastor”] views not represent true and historical Christianity, neither do the views of St. Matthew in the City and Ponsonby Baptist.

In today’s cultural environment it may be more palatable to speak publicly against those who claim to be Christians and are inherently hateful, but it is equally necessary to speak out against those who name the name of Christ and openly encourage sin and do not call people to repent of their sin. By openly condoning an active, homosexual lifestyle even performing same-sex “marriages” both of the above mentioned churches have done just this. [I am not sure if St Matthew’s has performed a same-sex “marriage” yet, but Ponsonby Baptist has and there was (may still be) another scheduled there this month.]

The Scriptures clearly rebuke those who hate and command us not to speak evil. Yet they also clearly call us to speak the truth and to call sinners to repentance, never forgetting that we all are sinners in need of repentance.

As Christians, we don’t have to choose between hate and condoning of sinful lifestyles. We can strive to obey God’s Word by “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15).

The supposed “pastor” from West Auckland failed to do this, but so have churches like St Matthew in the City and Ponsonby Baptist.

I have written quite a bit on this subject over the past couple of years. You can read more on the following links:

Marriage manifesto

Marriage, definitions, and homophobia

Everything’s different. Nothing’s changed

To Attend or not to Attend? This is Soon to be the Question

To Attend or not to Attend? This is Soon to be the Question – Part #2

To Attend or not to Attend? This is Soon to be the Question – Part #3

 

Bill Cosby, Cliff Huxtable, My Childhood, & Reality

I grew up with Bill Cosby. Ok, not literally, but it was Bill Cosby I first knew (or so I thought) and not Cliff Huxtable.

My parents had the vinyls (yeah, you read that right) of Cosby’s first comedy recordings. I remember sitting in the lounge listing to these over and over again. They are still some of the funniest stuff I have ever heard!

Eventually I copied the vinyls onto cassette tape (yep, you read that right) so I could listen to them in my room and in may car. (Though my first car had an 8Track/cassette adaptor – yep you read that right.) A few years ago, I passed those cassettes on to my son who has listened to them over and over again!

I watched reruns of I Spy and The Electric Power Company and probably every episode of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. I knew him as Cosby, or even just the “Cos” long before he was Cliff Huxtable in The Cosby Show and A Different World.

I remember seeing this live and being so disturbed, because I thought Mr. & Mrs. Huxtable were married!

My sister gave me a copy of Cosbyology and I can remember reading it at night before bed crying with laughter then reading the portion to my wife and she replying, “Huh! I don’t see the humour!”

Are all the stories coming out about Cosby’s treatment of women true? I don’t know… There is certainly an increasing number of similar stories coming forward spanning decades. Whether true or not, I have been shocked, unsettled, and stirred.

Shocked

I listened to and watched so much of Cosby growing up, because he was wholesome, clean, and generally moral. Sure when I watch or hear some of the episodes today I think, “that’s not as wholesome as I remember” but still, at the time Cosby was a man who exemplified morality.

In a strange way I trusted him.

I have been shocked to think that the man I trusted and often considered a leading moral light in the entertainment industry may have been the exact opposite in reality.

Unsettled

I continue to be a bit unsettled. Do I listen to his stuff anymore? Do I let my son listen to the tapes I gave him? Do I laugh when I read a Cosby quote or think about a section from Cosbyology. If I find him funny, knowing that these things about him may be true, am I in some way advocating what he has done?

Stirred

I am stirred to consider reality afresh. Some from a younger generation may find it funny that I thought so much about Bill Cosby. But all they have to do is replace Cosby with whatever reality TV star or singer, or etc. who has their attention and they will be able to relate.

Some people say, “reality is always uglier than fantasy” but I don’t think so… The reality of our lives is always uglier than fantasy, that is true. But, my problem, and the problem of so many is that we think our lives are reality and when we see the ugliness of our lives we are stirred to despair. But we must look beyond ourselves, the Bill Cosby’s of this world, and in fact this world itself and see that reality is ultimately determined by and found in God alone!

Psalm 36:9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. (Psa 36:9 ESV)

You see we can only see anything at all for what it actually is when we first see God for Who He actually is and through Him we see ourselves and this world aright.

In the New Testament we read the following with regards to Jesus:

John 1:9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. (Joh 1:9 ESV)

John 3:19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (Joh 3:19 ESV)

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Joh 8:12 ESV)

John 12:46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. (Joh 12:46 ESV)

2 Corinthians 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2Co 4:4 ESV)

I am stirred, afresh, to place my hope in Christ alone, the Light of the world, Ultimate reality.

When I do, He shocks me anew by His sinless perfection and unfailing love.

When I do, He unsettles me anew, by His matchless grace which is more than sufficient for my sin.

When I do, He stirs me anew, to love Him more than anyone or anything in this world.

 
 

To not inherit the Kingdom of God is serious business

Another month has arrived along with another issue of the Baptist Magazine.

Here is my monthly column for May’s “Minority Report”. This will likely be my last column on the same-sex marriage issue.

(ESV) 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, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

(All of the following is hypothetical, yet not unreal.)

As I sit in my office and look across the desk I see a young couple (male & female) in their 20’s, they are not married yet they have been having sex with each other and, come to find out, others in the young adults group regularly and unapologetically.

As I have coffee with a husband of a lady in my congregation I learn that he is being investigated for fraud. He admits to me he has systemically stolen 2 million dollars from his employer over the last five years. He shows no signs of remorse or repentance, only a sorrow for being caught.

As I meet with another husband of a lady in my congregation the truth comes out that he is a drunk and when he is drunk (which is most evenings and weekends) he physically assaults his children and wife. He shows no signs of remorse.

As I meet with these people I will obviously discuss a number of items some which will involve the law, others relational damages, etc. Yet at the bottom line what must I say to them (granted this is an over simplification)?

Firstly, I must tell them that they are in serious trouble. Their sin is against those people they know but also, and most significantly, against God Whom they do not know. They will not inherit the kingdom of God. This is a serious matter. Yes, there are other serious matters as well, but the enteral destiny of their soul hangs in the balance. They must come to understand the holiness of God, the sinfulness of their sin and the necessity of repentance and faith in Jesus Christ for forgiveness.

Secondly, I must tell them of the hope found in the Lord Jesus Christ by the Spirit of God. I must pray for the Spirit to open their eyes so they can see that this same Jesus that made it possible for Paul to say of the people of Corinth, “And such were some of you”, is available to them as well. Forgiveness is possible. They can be set free from the power of sin (not necessarily from the consequences) and find rest in Christ and peace with God.

As I sit in my office there are two men in their 40’s sitting across the desk. They have not been thus far involved in homosexual sex, but they desire to get married so that they may be able to enjoy said activity as a married couple. Once they marry they will inevitably be men who “practice homosexuality.”

However, unlike the previous examples which are all listed with this activity in 1 Cor. 6:9-12, rather than pointing out their sin and pointing them to a holy God accessible only through repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ, I will help them plan a wedding.

By sanctioning “same-sex marriage” one is by definition declaring holy the practice of homosexual sex. By declaring such as holy one is saying those who God says will not inherit the kingdom of God will.

This is serious business. The very gospel is at stake.

 

Holding Firm to the Confession of Our Faith – New PM Series at Howick Baptist Church

This Sunday evening we will begin new series at Howick Baptist Church.

“Holding Firm to the Confession of Our Faith” Taking our cue from Jude 3, we plan to spend the first two terms (at least) looking at those doctrines which are essential to Biblical Christianity (Scripture, God, Trinity, Christ, Salvation, Hell, etc.) asking the questions: “What does the Bible say on this subject/doctrine?”; “How can we clearly summarise this truth?”; ”Why is it important for us to understand this and hold firmly to it?” Our goal is to cover one area of doctrine per night therefore, not exhausting the subject but providing a clear, succinct overview.

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Like the roots of a strong, healthy tree which grow deep and wide, it is the depth and breadth of our doctrinal confession that provides us as individual Christians and a church health, strength, and stability.

You will be able to find all the material (MP3 recordings, PDF Notes, links to articles, recommended books, etc.) associated with this series on this page. (More will be added each week as we progress.)

 

 
 
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