Tag Archives: bible

Baptist Dysfunction #1

I have so encouraged to see a resurgence among young independent fundamental baptists calling for a revolution back to truth. It is encouraging to hear the stories from so many who are prayerfully seeking balance in their faith, their families, and their ministries.  For too long, legalists have ruled, dictators have oppressed, and ignorance prevailed. [If you’re a rebel, don’t click here.]

church_clipart_whiteI sincerely apologize if that sounds condescending – I know it’s hard to interpret tone on a blog – but I can vouch for the guy at the keyboard… it’s not at all condescending. I am very much a student. I am in process. I’m still growing – hopefully – toward Christ. But I do find issue with some things that many of my IFB friends continue to practice and preach. I have been silent, had quiet conversations with gentlemen in dark corners (okay, that’s a bit overstated and dramatic); but seriously, I feel like it’s time for me to step up and speak up…

I was raised on the old B-A-P-T-I-S-T acrostic.  The one that supposedly made us ‘distinctive’ in our faith. But as I’m reading and learning, I’m discovering that most -if not all- of these are not exactly as they seem. So, today I’m kicking off a 4- or 5-part discourse on our dysfunction. I will seek to be open and not authoritative, subjective and not snobbish, truthful but not negative. These first two deal with the F and the I of IFB…

B- Biblical Authority

Can I still be included as a “fundamentalist” – even if I don’t ascribe to all the extra standards? I had a preacher tell me once that the issue of women wearing pants should be included with the fundamentals (as in: biblical inerrancy, deity of Christ, etc). True story! Why can’t we fellowship if we aren’t exactly the same? (If Amos 3:3 applies like you say it does, then our churches should be a lot smaller.)  Speaking of that, why do we intentionally exclude people from our church?  For example, a friend’s church has a statement like this on their wall: “If you like the KJV, you’ll love this church!” What about someone who doesn’t know about Bible versions, will they love it? What if someone just loves the Lord, will they love your church… or just like it?  Why do we do that?  It sure doesn’t seem like the Bible is the ‘sole authority’ any more. (Speaking of the KJV, I’ve got Bible version questions, do you?) Seems more like Bible+ or Bible*! It’s as if I’m in the twilight zone and I’m the only one who sees that we are doing what we accused everyone else of.

We are not the only bastions of the truth. There IS more than one right way. Yes, there is right and wrong, black and white, and absolute truth. There are right ways to do things, just like there are wrong ways, but God’s will is not a tight-rope to be walked. Why am I saying this?  Because I was told many times that there was only one right way, but many wrong ways.  That’s nothing short of a lie.  God didn’t just create butterflies, He created over 12,000 varieties.  He loves variety.  Why do we demand sameness in our pursuit of unity and agreement?  Why do we force Borg-like assimilation? ‘Comply or be destroyed.’  Why is there no room for discussion, disagreement, or debate?  (More to come on this in the next few weeks… the P & I)

A – Autonomy of the Local Church

Why was I told that Southern Baptists (and other baptists, for that matter) are not autonomous? Unless you think autonomous means isolated, there are many other kinds of churches besides IFB which are self-governing. Baptists are not the only sovereign group. There are independent Christian churches, non-denom, and even autonomous protestants (settle down, that’s not an endorsement). When I was starting a church outside of Louisville, I was told there were no “gospel-preaching churches” in the county.  That was a lie! There were several.  Just because they aren’t IFB doesn’t mean they don’t have the gospel. I can name you at least 3-4 pastors in that county preaching the gospel and teaching evangelism (and practicing it). I regret not working with these great men many years earlier.  The tragedy is that I bought the lie that I couldn’t be ‘equally yoked’ with these men.  Lies!

IFB preachers are lonely and their fellowship meetings are growing boring. (Sorry for being Debbie Downer here, but we continue to isolate in the name of Biblical separation.)  There are great men who passionately love the Lord who are quickly discounted because they carry an ESV, sing a song written after 1950, or wear shorts in church. The term “ecclesiastical separation” has been egregiously misused and, therefore, been the tool of many a leader to abuse a congregation into cultish tendencies. Calling a man a heretic because he believes in God’s sovereignty and election (which are both Biblical terms) is sin. He is a brother – treat Him like one (but not like you treated your brother growing up, that probably wouldn’t be good!). I’m a firm believer in defending the truth, but destroying kingdom relationships and firing your #oldpaths bullets at brothers MUST cease.

Last year, I attended a conference where a prominent IFB pastor from Southern California was preaching.  He was very organized, very classy… until he proceeded to turn his message into a bash ‘Saddleback Sam’ (his words) session.  Three different times, he kept going back to it. Why? Is he jealous? Did RW do something to hurt him or his children? This guy isn’t fringe, he’s a leader.  He’s respected; his church is booming.  So why? When I wrote to him, he didn’t respond back.  I just don’t get it.

Conclusion

I’m NOT writing this to stir up stuff. In fact, for the last year, I’ve been almost totally out of the loop – and I LOVING it!  The P4G blog has sat quiet as I (and many other contributors) have been very busy for the kingdom, and that’s okay.  But two things have stirred this up in my heart: 1). Recent weddings/ funerals which have caused me to cross paths with several good brothers with genuine concerns;  2). Recent conversations with former church members with multiple questions about these very issues.

I am not a leader, so don’t follow me (Ha! Like I really needed to say that anyway!). I’ve found my tribe and it’s not in the IFB… although I’m still very much I, F, and B! So many men are considering deep questions. Questions that their peers don’t want to hear.  They are weighing the evidence. and nothing could be better for the movement. They shouldn’t have to choose between old paths and right paths!  Could a Truth-Revolution be on its way?

Feel free to leave a comment – a positive one. I’d love to hear how your pastor is different from the ones that I keep hearing about. Surprise me. Please be solution-oriented.  If indeed our movement is sinking, should a Christian jump ship or try to bail water? Is it too late or am I just not patient enough? What is the future of ‘fundamentalism?’  What do you think of this new fundamentalism?

Article by Patrick Nix

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Meet the Skeptic [Book Review]

Here’s a book we’ve been needing–”Meet The Skeptic” by Bill Foster. So many of us witness by routine with a rote presentation with no regard if the person we witness to can make any sense out of a word we say. Or perhaps we use theological words, though great to us, which can no longer be understood in our Biblically illiterate world. Mr. Foster talks us through this problem, reminds us that it is people we are after, and guides to better methods and word choices.

For example, “salvation” would in no way mean to a guy with no church background what it would to those of us who have grown up in church. To ask “if you died today, would you go to Heaven” wouldn’t mean much to a lady who doesn’t believe there is a Heaven. To only quote the Bible might have little impact if that person has been indoctrinated to believe the Bible is full of errors. I believe the Bible has the answer, but how can I turn the conversation in a direction that would make Biblical truth something that must reckon with?

That’s where this book comes in. Mr. Foster does a masterful job reorienting us. He introduces many insights that I honestly had never thought of before. What makes his presentation so powerful is his uncanny ability to let us know how others think, how they’ve come to think it, and how we might finally get through with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

He explains the 4 main types of skepticism you may meet: spiritual skepticism, moral skepticism, scientific skepticism, and biblical skepticism (not believing the Bible is trustworthy). He describes the root idea behind the skepticism and offers probing questions to get them thinking. There’s even a quick reference chart at the end of the book designed to help you grasp what is fully brought out in text.

It’s not a gimmick; this book talks sense. I’ll keep mine handy for reference. Mr. Foster clearly admits that not everyone will turn to Christ with his approach. But wouldn’t you feel better knowing they rejected what they understood instead of what you ineptly explained?

Article by Jimmy Reagan

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Symptoms of the Heart – Part 2

“Take two pills and call me in the morning.”

At times the heart may produce symptoms of a possible problem that requires immediate medical attention while at other times produce mild symptoms that cause no need for concern at all. For example, a person that is relaxing in a lazy chair may need to consult a medical professional should his heart begin to accelerate at great speed without cause. On the other hand, someone who has been running a marathon would not be as concerned with a higher heart-rate.

Unlike the physical heart, the spiritual heart has only two possible conditions; wicked or righteous. As mentioned last week, these conditions put forth symptoms that can be diagnosed to indicate the state of one’s heart. We have already discussed the heart that speaks with profanity and vulgarity but there are other symptoms that can reveal the condition of our hearts as well. Jesus said, “For out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and slander” (Matthew 15:19).

Every town has at least one gossiper, but you didn’t hear that from me! Morris Mandel said, “Gossip is the most deadly microbe. It has neither legs nor wings. It is composed entirely of tales, and most of them have stings.” Do you know anyone that circulates rumors, spreads secrets and speaks with hurtful words? No, I’m not talking about the new presidential administration; rather, I’m talking about those who have private information about people and spread that news with others who have no business knowing it. I’m talking about the intentional defaming of another person’s name or reputation without so much as considering the wound such actions will yield.

The Bible tells us, “A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are the snare of his soul” (Proverbs 18:7). We find today that the world has placed lesser value on sins such as these considering them “trivial” if nothing less. Because of this foolishness, the world has turned gossip into an accepted form of entertainment in which consumers actually pay to hear more of! Walk into any grocery or retail store and you will probably find newspapers and magazines devoted to nothing but the spreading of rumor, hearsay and scandalous affairs.

But the Bible speaks very directly to such things when it says, “Those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:32). Gossip is not trivial; it is a serious sin and one not to be tampered with. Jesus said, “The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.” (Matthew 15:18).

Gossip is a symptom of a tainted heart in critical need of renewal. Only God can provide this renewing of the heart by His redeeming gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. If you are guilty of the sin of gossip but desire to restore your heart to God you can do so by turning from your sin and placing your faith in Jesus Christ. To learn more contact michael@michaelwaits.com

Article by Michael Waits

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A Book Our Children Need Before They Leave Home

It’s not academic analysis but real life that confronts us in “How Do We Know The Bible Is True? Volume 1″(edited by Ken Ham and Brodie Hodge). Yes, it passes the academic test, but it wants us to be able to face an antagonistic world. It addresses the questions the world is asking Christians today. Not only do we have little effect on a world for which we have no answers, but these are the type of questions that pull our children away from Christianity.

Product DetailsThe chapters are 28 relevant questions answered by various authors. The first one had me hooked as it answered the question “How Do We Know The Bible Is True?”  How would you answer that question? We might answer “by faith”, but that means nothing to the non-Christian. Here and at other places in the book the laws of logic are brought to bear. What could be better in a world that says we believe the Bible against reason. Find out here that though faith will never be taken out  of the equation, our belief is not against reason!

In chapters on the reliability of the Old and New Testament we get answers (really good answers) to questions Christian young folks hear on college campuses or at the workplace. I heard these things attacked when I went to the University of Tennessee several years ago and I had to dig hard. I want my children to read this before they get in such a situation. I saw others then have their faith crumble as they had no answers to such things. But there are answers, and this book lays them out beautifully.

Some questions are not as critical as others–like the 3 days of Christ in the Tomb and so which day was Christ crucified on, or issues like polygamy. Others are great! People throw up Bible contradictions, or who wrote Genesis, or how to view evidence. In several places you will learn that carbon dating doesn’t prove a thing because of the assumptions made, that the assumption of uniformity is not legitimate on the part of evolutionists, or best of all, the strongest arguments that evolutionists make is only possible if God exists. You’ve got to read about that great fact.

I highly recommend this book. If Christian young people mastered the contents of this book, far fewer of them would drift away. May the Lord use this book to that end.

Article by Jimmy Reagan

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Enjoying Your Bible

“The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”  Psalm 19:8a, 10; John 15:11

Is your Bible a like a desert (dry, boring) or like a dessert (sweet, satisfying)?  The Bible compares itself to food – and, considering the average American’s fetish with junk food, I’m not so sure that’s a good comparison.  Most of the time, good food isn’t really good – if you know what I mean.  We have to choose between good and good-for-us.  But the Author would have you have your cake and eat it too (spiritually speaking).  He desires to fill you with joy through His Words.

People don’t enjoy their Bible because they don’t __________________ it!  What’s your guess?  Because they don’t read it, understand it, obey it?  Or is the answer deeper… because they don’t treasure it?  Truth is, there’s not an easy, cookie-cutter answer to this question.  It’s different for each person.  Keep reading to find out your answer.

God’s Words are LIFE

In every realm, God’s Words are life: the natural, the physical, & the spiritual. In every form that God’s Word has taken, it is life: the uttered word, the Word made flesh, the Word recorded in Scripture.  We were created by His Word (Hebrews 11:3).  We are redeemed by His Word (James 1:18).  We are sustained by His Word (Hebrews 1:3).  We live by His Word (Matthew 4:4).  In case you don’t get what I’m trying to say, God’s Word is the most powerful thing in the known universe.  It’s more potent than the U.S.S.R.’s Big Ivan Bomb–a multistage hydrogen bomb (which contains 5.4 yottawatts –approximately 1.4% of the power output of the sun — with a blast more than 10x’s greater than all of WW2′s munitions combined).  It’s more powerful than the Great Chilean earthquake of 1960 that registered a whopping 9.5 on the Richter scale.  In fact, these things don’t even compare to the power of the Word of God!

The Bible Fuels your Joy

True joy has faith at it’s core – and there’s no real faith without God’s Word (John 20:31 & Romans 15:13).  Joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and where the Bible goes, so goes the Spirit (Romans 8:5).  Hope and comfort come from the Scriptures (Romans 15:4).  Joy is found in a freedom that many on death row have experienced (John 8:32).  Peace and assurance of God’s great control fuels joy in the midst of difficulty (Ps. 119:50,52; 1 John 5:13).  Find joy in the Bible’s wisdom (Prov. 3:13) and in the victory it guarantees (1 John 2:14).

Learning How to Enjoy Your Bible More…

George Mueller is a great example of the ‘blessed man’ of Psalm 1:1-3.  He determined that his happiness would be in first seeking ‘soul nourishment’ by reading, pondering, and living-out the Word of God.

  • Increased Bible INTAKE … reading / listening to it.  How often does the Bible enter your heart (through your eyes and ears)?  It will not affect you by osmosis!  I’ve been encouraged the last two weeks to hear of three church members who have been making time to read their Bibles at work during down- and break-times.  Many others have already chosen to use their commute times to listen to the Bible (CD/iPod).
  • Increased Bible INTERACTION … meditating / talking about it.  Is the Bible becoming a part of your soul (thoughts and emotions)?  It takes time to digest its nutrients.  This simple step of reviewing what you’ve read a couple of times a day will allow the nuclear energy of the Bible to radiate into your soul and amplify the Bible’s meaning exponentially in your life!  But don’t just keep it in… talk about it with others.  Ask questions about it.  Tweet about it.  (This is why small group study is so important!)
  • Increased Bible INTEGRATION … obeying / applying it.  The Bible was never meant to be a textbook or fact-book to be learned.  It is God’s message of hope and salvation meant to be lived.  Real Christianity (religion) happens when His Words come out of you, when you ‘Just Do It.’ (see James 1:25-27).  God’s Word will change you from the inside out if you allow it.

Is your heart set to intake, interact, & integrate God’s Word into your life?

For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.  Ezra 7:10

Article by Patrick Nix

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Buddhism: Why God Still Matters

A reader has asked the question in response a recent article about Tiger Woods, “If Tiger Woods is a Buddhist, then why does he have to ask God to forgive him?” It’s a good question; a curious one too. After all there are large differences between the two religions. Buddhism sees God mostly as an illusion while Christianity teaches that God is the Creator of the universe and present in our everyday lives.

In his apology to the world, Woods said, “Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside [myself] causes an unhappy and pointless search for security. It teaches me to stop following every impulse and to learn restraint.”

Buddhism teaches the idea of redemption as achieving Nirvana — the highest state of being for an individual to reach — a realization that sets one free from greed, hate, and delusion. That is much different from the teachings of Christ whom taught that fullness in life is not something that can be acquired but that through him when our physical bodies die, our souls can be ascended into heaven.

Many are familiar with Fox News anchor Brit Hume whom, when asked how Tiger Woods can recover from what has recently taken place in his personal and public life, stated, “The extent to which he can recover seems to me depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.’”

However, Hume did not explain what he meant when he said Christianity offers forgiveness. Will converting to Christianity completely erase what Tiger has done and remove the burden of offense that he has brought upon himself? Will it repair the damage that has been done to his personal and private life, completely restoring his integrity to the watching world? I believe the answer is no.

Christianity does not offer a “get out of adultery free” card, nor any other crime committed against mankind; the consequences are still left to bear. Simply converting to the Christian religion alone will not change anything about Woods’ current status before God. Christianity is far more than religion, it is about the forgiveness of sin. So then why is it important that a Buddhist or any other person from a different religion humble themselves before the Christian God and seek forgiveness?

To answer this question it is important first that we take into account that the Bible is unlike any other religious material in that it is held to be the actual living word of God. In it, not only do we find complete and fulfilling instructions for living, but also the necessary requirements for attaining eternal life, not your best life now. Other religious materials that have been handed down throughout the course of history were written by men who claim authority for themselves; however, the Bible rests on the authority God, not men. In it God has revealed Himself to us that we may know him and have a relationship with him.

In the Bible we find that God, Creator of the universe and everything in existence, has very specific expectations for our lives and how we live them. And although God reveals his law to us through His word, He has also written his laws on our hearts that we may know sin apart from the law (Romans 2:12-15). Woods verified his understanding of this when he said, “I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply…I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me.”

Regardless of what religion one belongs to, the Bible says that all of mankind has sinned against God’s perfect law (Romans 3:23) and that we will all face God some day and be judged by Christ according to how we have lived our lives compared to his perfect standard (2 Corinthians 5:10). Anything contrary to God’s law is sin.

The Bible says there is a specific punishment for sin: “The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and so the only way one can be redeemed from the sin he or she has committed in this life is to turn to God for forgiveness that has been made available only through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ. For the Bible says the gift of God to us is eternal life through Christ (Romans 6:23).

Turning to Christ will forgive the offense of sin before God, not before man. By trusting in Christ for the only solution to the problem and consequence of sin, the Bible says whoever does so will be saved.

Article by Michael Waits

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