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Category Archives: Worldview

Same-Sex Marriage in New Zealand

I’ve just realised the blog where these articles were posted in 2013 is no longer online. I wrote these articles at the time when New Zealand was debating and finally legalising same-sex marriage.

I was prompted to consider these articles again after watching a 16 minute human interest story broadcast last night (Sunday, 16 July 2017).

An enormously complex issue; socially, politically, culturally, theologically, relationally, etc. covered in the mainstream media in 16 minutes!

In the best of times it is sad and painful to see real-life, family struggles rehearsed on TV, let alone on today’s crazy world of “reality TV”.

New Zealand politicians (many) pride themselves on being progressive. The media (seemingly the world over) pride themselves on being culture changers/influencers.

For those who believe God’s good design for men/women and marriage is universal and timeless, we must be wise, loving and yet clear in this new world in which we now live and minister.

These were originally published a four seperate articles. I am not including them all here as one post.

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

It is the first week of July, 2013 in New Zealand. You go to the letterbox and there it is. You’ve been expecting it, but in some way hoped maybe… just maybe, they wouldn’t invite you. It would have made things a bit easier.

But, you are. You are invited to your sister’s wedding. The date is set for the 24th of August. She is planning to marry her long-time partner, who happens to be another woman. Yep, this will be one of the “same-sex” weddings performed in New Zealand within the first week they are legal.

You and your sister grew up in a “church going home.” Over the years your understanding of the Gospel and the Scriptures has grown stronger and clearer. At the same time, your sister, though still calling herself a Christian, has drifted away from a commitment to Christ-alone for salvation and trusting Him for joy and fulfilment within His holy will for her life.

To add to it, the phone rings the next week. It’s your sister… She explains that since Dad passed away last year, she can really only think of one person who she’d want to walk her down the aisle… you.

Now, she knows your view on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. You’ve shared with her over the years, with patience and compassion, how God’s Word is very clear on this, and an active, practicing homosexual relationship is sin and displeasing to God. You’ve shared with her over the past year or so that marriage is defined by God, not man, and therefore by definition must be between a man and a woman.

The truth is, in the past when seeking to explain these things to your sister you have become angry and even harsh in your tone towards her. This has grieved you and you have sought her forgiveness, yet still affirming your conviction on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

She knows this will be something you will take seriously and therefore doesn’t expect an answer straight way. You hang up the phone… What’s next?

The first passage that floods your mind is James 1:5, If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

So you pray, “Lord, you know I lack wisdom, please help me.”

You love your sister, you really do. How can you best love her at this time? Do you attend and walk her down the aisle? Do you attend, but don’t walk her down the aisle? Do you not attend at all?

Other passages come to mind:

Romans 1:32, Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Will your attendance be seen as giving approval for something God condemns, as you are called upon to be a witness to the union? If attended alone wouldn’t, would walking her down the aisle, having to say publically you willing give your sister to another woman in marriage?

Is this one of the areas where I am free to choose either option? Go or don’t go? Yet, what if my choice to go would cause another Christian to stumble? One who has been saved from a lifestyle of homosexuality and still struggles with same-sex attraction (Romans 14:20, 21; 1 Corinthians 8:13).

What about Luke 14:26 & 27  26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.

Is this a matter of competing allegiances between Christ and your family?

This, like many of the more complex issues in our lives, is better thought about before it happens rather than waiting until we’re in the middle of it.

Over the next few posts, I would like to consider how a Christian might think through this very real and difficult scenario Biblically.

 

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

(In this post I switch to first person pronouns throughout, not because this scenario actually relates to me or either of my sisters, but simply for ease of writing and a more personal form of communication.)

As I try to think through this very real scenario, I find myself very torn. This is only the beginning of the complications that will arise as our culture shifts further and further from a sense of Biblical norms.

It seems like we must, firstly, acknowledge that for those who are in this type of scenario, this is very difficult on a number of levels. Even after thinking things through carefully and prayerfully, regardless of the decision there will be an awkwardness and unsettledness.

It seems to me that Romans 1:32, “Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” is going to provide a grid for me to think through as I consider my role in a situation like this.

Would my actions in this scenario, in any way, be understood to be granting approval for a known, public sinful lifestyle?

If my sister had participated in the filming of a pornographic film, would I attend (whether I am male or female) a “premier” showing of the film to celebrate her success?

I would think not…

Let’s consider the “attend and walking her down the aisle” option…

It seems that in any wedding ceremony, even the most irreligious, the role of the one walking someone (historically called the “bride”) down the aisle has a generally understood purpose: the giving of the “bride” to the “partner” (in this case another female).

To walk my sister down the aisle and give her away in marriage to another woman seems to me to communicate several things. Firstly, I agree that what is happening here is a marriage. Secondly, I am willingly supporting an active homosexual lifestyle. Thirdly, I am publicly declaring that the union of this couple is a good thing and should not end until the death of one of the parties.

To actively participate in anything that communicates even one of the above points in regards to a same-sex marriage would be to go against the clear teaching of Scripture.

As a result, it would seem clear, that I cannot walk my sister down the aisle and “give her away.”

In my next post, I will consider whether or not to attend even if I cannot walk her down the aisle. (The more common and complicated scenario that people will be facing in the very near future.)

 

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

Since the first post in this series, I have received emails, FaceBook messages, Twitter Direct Messages, etc. all from people who are facing a scenario very similar to the one I’ve described, or they expect to before the year is over.

This is no hypothetical dream world. There are real people, real families, real relationships affected by what we are discussing.

So, my heart is heavy. I find myself weeping over the brokenness of our world, the damage due to sin, and rejection of Christ and His will. Firstly I weep for what I see of all of this in my own heart, then for what I see all around me. I long for Christ’s return. Even so, Lord Jesus come…

Yet, He has not returned, not yet. And in this window of time in which we live, we are called to live faithfully for Him, to Him, and by His strength.

It is after a long discourse, where Paul reminds us of our risen, returning Saviour that he encourages us with these words, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Having already established that I cannot walk my sister down the aisle and “give her away in marriage,” I still have the question; “can I attend?”

Ironically this question would be answered very simply by Christians a generation ago, though there would not have been a scenario for the question to arise.

Here’s what I mean.

Today a wedding is seen by most as a spectator sport. It is a place to see and be seen.

However, it wasn’t that long ago (even still in many Christian wedding ceremonies), when the attendees saw themselves as witnesses. Sure only two people actually sign the wedding license as legal witnesses, but all present are witnesses to the making of vows.

Even in a secular wedding ceremony it is common for the celebrant to say something like, “We are gathered here together to unite in marriage — and —.” You see the “we” in that statement? Although many who are in attendance may not consciously see themselves this way, they are a part of the ceremony. They are being asked, either implicatly or in some cases explicitly to witness this couple making their vows and to serve them in the future by holding them accountable to those vows.

Even if we were to acknowledge that this aspect of attending a wedding ceremony has so been lost to our culture, we can safely assume no one will see my attendance as a formal statement of approval to the wedding, marriage, or the vows, does this remove all concerns?

I don’t think it does…

It seems to me that if we were to look for a cultural synonym for how weddings are generally viewed today, we could use the word celebration. Surely, most everyone would agree that a wedding of any kind is understood as a time of celebration. You will even find on invitations, often, something like, “come celebrate with us…”

Celebrate… Hmmm… Can I celebrate with this couple? Can I celebrate the public display of an open homosexual lifestyle? Can I celebrate the denial of God’s design for marriage, sex, and personal intimacy?

I know I cannot partake in a role when I am seen as giving my approval for and even declaring right and good something that God calls sin. If my attendance were to be perceived as such, I could not attend.

Yet, even if I knew everyone present (or at least everyone I knew personally) would not take my presence as approval, can I join this celebration?

It seems to me like I have found myself right back at Romans 1:32 & Luke 14:25 & 27.

I love my sister, but I love Christ more. I long to maintain a relationship with my sister where I can continue to show her deeds of kindness and share the Gospel of Christ with her and her partner. Yet, I cannot celebrate, let alone, approve of something for which Christ says is sin.

Conclusion:

The next phone call will be mine to initiate and it is one I don’t look forward to. To tell my sister I cannot attend her wedding will not be received well. Not by her, our Mum, or extended family (remember this is written first person, but hypothetical for me). I am likely to be the recipient of direct anger and indirect avoidance.

Yet, I have often observed that long-term family division does not, generally, result from one single event where there has been offence.

If there has been general strife and tension within the family (even if under the surface) for years, then something like this may result in very long term or even permanent division.

If, we have been able to maintain loving family relationships through the years even when we’ve had significant differences, the division that comes as a result of this may be longer than previous periods of tension, but may not be long-term.

However, even if it is, if I have come to this conclusion because I believe it is what is honouring to the Lord and pleasing to my Saviour, I have to trust Him for the outcome.

In the strength that Christ provides through His Spirit I can follow Romans 12:17-21 and within a few weeks of the wedding invite my sister and her partner around for tea (dinner).
17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Note:

I have endeavoured to write a “kind of thinking out loud” type blog post on a very delicate issue. Not because I am actually “thinking out loud”, but to show the kind of process I might go through in considering such a scenario. In this type of detached format, it can all come across rather clinical and seemingly without feeling. I do understand, when one is facing this situation for real, there will be much emotion and wrestling. Firstly, I believe that is why it is imperative for Christians to think carefully about these things before they find themselves deep into it. Secondly, I believe a Christian can think carefully and prayerfully through all of this and come to a different conclusion than I have presented here. Though we may differ in our conclusion, I believe they will be better off having thought through it carefully.

 

Everything’s Different… Nothing’s Changed…

Did you notice this morning as you woke to a new day that everything was different here in New Zealand?

Last night the New Zealand parliament voted to pass into law the Marriage Amendment Bill, making New Zealand the 13th country in the world and the first in Asia-Pacific to legalise same-sex marriage.

We should expect to see the first same-sex/transgender weddings in New Zealand in August.

Everything’s different.

A term and a societal institution which has been understood and practiced a particular way in all of New Zealand’s history along with all of human history across all cultures has just been disregarded, redefined, and dismissed. The word marriage still has the same definition in my dictionary today as it did yesterday “the formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife” (Oxford English Dictionary), but according to our government and society at large this is no longer the definition.

Everything’s different.

Yet, nothing’s changed…

As a Christian, I recognise three significant items that are as true today as they were yesterday.

Firstly, God is sovereign and He does all things well. Most of the members of our parliament would not see themselves as serving the sovereign and good purposes of the Creator of the Universe, some may even be purposely attempting to work against Him, yet they are His servants. His will is being accomplished and He will use even human government with all of its inadequacies to glorify Himself.

God hasn’t changed.

Secondly, the definitions of terms can change over time, but when something has been instituted by God its meaning cannot be altered regardless of what politicians, cultures, or even dictionaries say. Marriage is still and will always be an institution designed by God for the lifelong, convental commitment between one man and one woman for His glory in order to picture the love Christ has for His church. You see, marriage has been marginalised and maligned in or society for decades. It has been seen as a disposable commodity or something that can simply be bypassed for cohabitation, etc. The passing of this bill is significant to be sure. Yet, it is not an isolated event. It is the next step in an erosion process that has been picking up speed for decades.

God’s hasn’t changed His design for marriage.

Thirdly, our opportunity as Christians, to speak boldly and clearly into our culture with the truth of God’s Word continues. We’ve always been called to be lights in a dark world. As moral darkness grows deeper around us, our light can show brighter and brighter.

Yet, here is the sticking point…

If we have not been upholding and celebrating God’s design and purpose for marriage before today; if we have not been boldly & clearly challenging our culture and those around us with the transforming power of the Gospel without concern for personal ridicule before today; if we haven’t been speaking out against sin publically and privately before today, we won’t suddenly start now.

Our commission hasn’t changed.

My Christian friend, my pastor/minister friend. If, over the past year or more you have been unclear on God’s design for marriage; if you have cowered from boldly proclaiming the Gospel of Christ and calling people to repentance, please repent. You are very close to looking no different than the culture around you. There’s no light left to shine.

Do not lose hope. Do not bow to the idols and pressures of this world. We serve a resurrected, returning Saviour and therefore can “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:58 ESV)

If you are reading this blog as a non-Christian, scanning websites on this historic “day after” please know our commitment to Jesus Christ compels us to speak clearly and boldly on those things He has ordained. He is our Lord and Saviour. He died for our sin so we could be forgiven. He rose again from the dead so we could have hope – a hope that is not rooted in this world. You can have this same forgiveness and this same hope by confessing your sins and trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

If you do this you will see that everything is truly different and everything does change!

 

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”

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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.

 
 

Shepherding the Heart tour of NZ – March 2015

Tedd Tripp will be visiting New Zealand in March of next year. You can follow up-to-date info on these conferences on their FaceBook page.

I will speaking to parents and teens at the Auckland and Christchurch conferences on “Developing a Christian Worldview”.

Tedd Tripp NZ Tour

 

Tedd Tripp Pastors & Wives Leadership Conference

 

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.

 

Baptist Autonomy Can’t Mean Each Church is Free to Do Anything

The following is my March article for my regular column, “Minority Report” in the Baptist Magazine.

This is a big topic and the space allowed for this article is small. Therefore, I am not pretending to say all that could be said here, but I do intend to stimulate thinking on this very important question.

A discussion that has arisen from our “debate” regarding same-sex marriage, homosexuality and Baptist Union churches/pastors participation in such is that of local church autonomy. Can one church or the majority of churches in a union of churches give direction to other churches on what they can or cannot do in areas of practice?

Here, I just want to ask a simple question, do we see any precedent in the New Testament for this practice?

In scanning through the New Testament one only makes it to Acts 15 before we find an example of a group/church giving direction to other Christians/churches. Here we have the Jerusalem council debating questions regarding the nature of the gospel and giving a letter of direction to other churches.

Secondly, I would simply point out that the majority of the letters in the New Testament (certainly Paul’s) are written to churches providing direction and correction – in some cases to churches the author has never even visited.

By way of a passing observation, one can’t help but notice how often the subject of sexual purity comes up in these letters (even the letter to the churches in Acts 15!).

Now, here is what I am not saying. I am not saying anyone today carries apostolic authority as did Paul or the leaders of the Jerusalem church in Acts 15. I am not saying any one church or even the Baptist Union leadership holds inspired authority like the council in Acts 15.

However, I am saying that those who claim that autonomy precludes the possibility of sister churches within a union of churches correcting each other over areas of doctrine and/or practice are without warrant. The New Testament itself along with all of church history argues otherwise.

We as member churches individually and as a union collectively have a responsibility, New Testament model, and historical precedent to stand up and seek to correct those churches that are in error.

If your general position on the issue of same-sex marriage is, “I wouldn’t perform one myself, but I don’t think we should tell others they cannot” you are, but your silence condoning this practice. By condoning this practice you are saying an open, active homosexual lifestyle is pleasing to God and something that the Baptist Union of Churches in New Zealand should welcome. You are also, by your silence, affirming the view that an active homosexual lifestyle is pure and therefore is not a sin and there is no need for repentance. You see this isn’t just about marriage; it is about the definition of sin & repentance which gets at the heart of the gospel itself. And if there was every anything churches ought to be vigilant at in providing clarity, direction and even correction over, it is the gospel.

This is not a time to stay silent. This is a time to speak. Speak compassionately, graciously, lovingly yes, but speak nonetheless. Even more so for those in positions of leadership. If leadership if anything, it is standing for truth and speaking compellingly for those who do not have a voice. As leaders, silence speaks volumes. Silence communicates to those we lead, that this issue isn’t important, that we have nothing to say or even more critically for Christian leadership, God has nothing to say on this topic!

In the December issue of this column you will find a succinct statement regarding the Scripture’s teaching on sexuality, homosexuality, and marriage. It is time for those in the leadership of Baptist churches and Carey Baptist College to speak out publically in defence of the clear Scriptural teaching on this vital issue. This is not the time for a “conversation” but a declaration. Simply declare the whole counsel of God on the subject of sexuality and marriage and call all those who reject the Scriptures on this to repent – for the purity of the church, the glory of God, and the beauty of Christ.

 
 
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