Saturday, March 21, 2015
Blogging at The Brothers of John the Steadfast , a former "praise band" member has published a rather poignant essay on his career as a praise band founder and leader until his resignation from the group along with his abandonment of its philosophy in light of a more developed personal theology which had a terminal effect on his promotion and participation of such musical groups for formal ecclesiastical worship. If you have ten minutes today then take the time to go read, Why I Quit the Praise Band because this issue, if it hasn't already, will be coming to your church at some point.
Friday, January 30, 2015
Once Justified, Perfectly Justified – For those who claim a Believer can lose his Salvation or become Unjustified
I often wonder if those who assert a believer in Christ as Savior - someone who has been justified - take the time to examine exactly what they are claiming with regard to all we receive in our salvation, when they claim that salvation can be lost. Many of the dismissals in adjudicating that we can lose our salvation are absent of the due diligence inherently necessary for such arguments pertaining to how all which is consummated the moment we believe and are saved, is terminated when we, somehow, have our eternal life vanquished, only to be rehabilitated when one returns to salvation, possibly many times (some say this is accomplished through repentance and absolution and others through getting “saved again” or re-believing and so on, there is a myriad of theological formulas for the reconstitution of one’s salvation out there).
Salvation isn’t just…
Salvation isn’t just, “you’re going to heaven” and when you allegedly become unsaved you are now just “not going to heaven”. Rather, a litany of extensive and ultimately legal declaration(s) and works by God occur that, if we were to really be able to lose our salvation, would require the view that all these things, far more than just going to heaven, have been reversed, nullified or obliterated and must all be obtained and performed anew in order for one to be saved, again.
All that we receive at Salvation
Made popular by the late Lewis Sperry Chafer and modified by various Pastors and Bible teachers since, there is a list is things received at salvation which stand in confrontation to the man or woman who would argue that man’s salvation can be lost. Such arguments are made in the absence of the accompaniment of a reverse accounting which explain how all these blessings received at salvation have now, suddenly, dissipated, capitulated and/or been obliterated.
Yes, they say, we can lose our salvation because look here, there and yonder with a handful of proof-texts. But nay, it is when one asks them to explain how a Christian is de-justified, de-sanctified, de-positioned with Christ, de-adopted and de-credited with the righteousness of Christ and so on.
Missing, as well, in the assertion that one can lose salvation, is a thoroughly Biblical explanation as to how this so great a salvation and all of its properties are re-transacted when the person, who has allegedly lost their salvation, recovers that salvation again, and again, and again - determined of course, by how often they lose their salvation. AWOL are the explanations of how one is then re-justified and re-re-justification and re-re-re-justified along with all of the other reapportionments of salvation’s properties when one allegedly returns to salvation or is saved again.
I plan to deal with just a handful of the blessings received at salvation to make my point. And of course that point is that when a person claims we can lose our salvation, all of the magnificent properties of salvation have to be walked backwards, if such a putative claim is made, seeing that to lose salvation is to lose all of its possessions. Subsequently, this demands a thoroughly sufficient doctrinal/theological argument of the reversal of all of the corresponding blessings given by God and received at salvation (an assumption not permitted merely by logically assuming they must be undone). If you are interested, click here, and this link will take you to The Riches and Grace in Christ Jesus by Lewis Chafer and the list he compiled.
The Uphill Climb for those whose Justification is Tentative
As I said, here is but a sprinkling of the blessings received at salvation which, by default, must also be reversed when one is allegedly unsaved or loses their salvation and worse, supposedly reconstituted every time someone returns to salvation, over and over again - its absurdity plays itself out in a rather prima facie manner:
1. The Righteousness of Christ is imputed or credited to Us (Romans 4:3-5)
2. We are made Holy (Hebrews 10:10)
3. We are justified, legally declared acceptable by God by way of the righteousness of Christ credited to us (Romans 4:3-5)
4. We are regenerated (Titus 3:5)
5. We are sealed by God’s Spirit unto the day of our full redemption (Ephesians 4:30)
With just these five blessings of salvation, alone, one is faced with an impassable theological task when championing the view that they can be eradicated.
Imputed or Credited with the Righteousness of Christ
Though we have been imputed or credited with the righteousness of Christ (Romans 4:3-5), this apparently can be lost through some kind of sin, even the sin of unbelief. Thus, Christ’s righteousness, a work he has done which is credited to us the moment we believe, is reversed or nullified according to opponents of permanent or perfect justification. Thus, we are now back to not possessing the righteousness of Christ. Think of what is being asserted here.
Placed upon us the moment we believe is the cover of divine righteousness. This is not merely a metaphorical exercise but a legal one. God, legally or forensically, declares us righteous. This covers our past, present and future, the entirety of our being and apart from another court proceeding in heaven, it stands, forever. It is not merely an immediate or contingent declaration by God but by its very nature, a permanent legal rendering.
Thus, if one argues that salvation is lost (and all of its properties, accordingly), getting past just this hurdle will prove to be hopeless. Where, crusaders, are your citations and arguments that the divine legal rendering has been overpowered by sin and reversed by the court of heaven, whether as a result of conduct or unbelief after one is rendered righteous by heaven? No such doctrine exists or is even remotely implied in the Bible.
In that righteous credit referred to above, we are also made holy. Hebrews 10:10 says of the believer, “having been sanctified”. The verb tense which the writer uses in reference to our having been sanctified is quite revealing, it is the perfect tense. That tense, in Koine Greek, indisputably refers to a completed or once-and-for-all action in the past with a permanent result in the future. This language is deliberate and for a reason.
Once we are sanctified, made holy, we cannot be made unholy though we may act as such. Christ’s righteousness is not something that can be erased because it is the thing which erases.
But to those who would counter this, please explain how you feel free to challenge the use of the perfect verb tense here and insist that though Hebrews 10:10 uses the perfect tense it is, in fact, an imperfect and tentative holiness which can be lost and further, one that will be performed again though God says it has been done, once-and-for-all in the past with permanent results in the future. Your argument is with God’s claim and remains so.
Further, to accept the proposition that salvation can be lost, we must also acquiesce to the notion that the divine legal verdict of our innocence is destroyed along with its objective, namely our justification which it, too, apparently has no real standing legal power. We must believe that the verdict by God that we are declared just and that God’s justice has been satisfied by way of the propitiation of Christ which we receive when we believe on him as Savior, is guaranteed – not by God - but by our sustained faith, conduct or both! We are now the adjudicator of our own justification, it seems.
Another passage in the epistle to the Hebrews which stands as a stalwart gatekeeper against such predications is Hebrews 10:14 – (ESV) “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” The word “perfected” is the Greek word τετελείωκεν (teteleiōken). And just like the earlier Hebrews passage, it is in the perfect tense; a once-and-for-all completed action in the past with no further action in view but with permanent results in the future which stands in defiance to those who would counsel otherwise.
Dear friend whose sad salvation is so fortuitous, based on what grammatical property do you now maintain that the Greek perfect is again, imperfect and clumsily used by God in his inspiration of the text? And to what text(s) do you point us to believe God mistakenly permitted and inspired the use of the perfect tense, here, in referencing our being made “perfect” which directs us else ways and overrides its clear and unimpeachable meaning?
We are regenerated – born again or spiritually resurrected by God’s Holy Spirit and made anew - when we receive our salvation. Titus 3:5 states (KJV):
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.
Is there really the suggestion that this new man, our regenerated being, who is made alive, not by any human power but the divine power of God through the Holy Spirit, suddenly dies again when we allegedly lose salvation but further, upon renewed belief, repentance or absolution or all of the above, he springs back to life with this process taking place every time someone returns to “the faith”?
The elephant in the room, of course, is why we are made alive by the Holy Spirit in the first place. We are washed or cleansed of our sin and reconciled to God. To assert we can lose salvation is to forward the dubious theological view that we can become in need of the washing of regeneration again, which, somehow can occur over and over again, each time we return to salvation from “falling away”.
Then what good is the cleansing in the first place if it is itinerant? To be in need of being washed from our sins a second time is to say we weren’t sufficiently washed the first time!
But what did our Lord tell St. Peter in John 13:10? Jesus said to him:
The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.
Sealed until our Future Redemption
Finally, Paul writes and tells us we are “sealed unto the day of redemption” by God’s Spirit (Ephesians 4:20). The verb used there is an aorist verb which refers to an action in the past with the indicative. While not the same as the perfect tense, its use clearly directs us to understand this is not a process that is repeated, rather a past action with a resulting condition and the very reason for this is to secure our salvation as the sealed ones, not by our own conduct, faithfulness or whatever but by God’s declaration and legal seal.
And aside from this, the text is clear of the duration of this action, until the day of our redemption. This is a reference to the future, when our bodies are glorified and we enter into our fully glorified state. There is no counter or objection raised in Scripture where this is presented as contingent or subject to our conduct or sustained faith. But when one argues that we can lose our salvation, here again, stands an impregnable barricade which denies such a thing can occur - that is unless you feel free to dismiss the promise of these words which state emphatically and unconditionally that we are sealed by God the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption. But understand what you are doing if so choose.
It really is amazing how negligent those who assert salvation is something that can be lost, fail to provide the theological citation and explanation of how all these benefits are all subject to putrefaction; these benefits which are instantaneous when one receives salvation. I am not referencing what Paul wrote about concerning our works as God’s children which will be judged at the Bema Seat of Christ which indeed, may be lost - but our salvation and all of those things equally prescribed to all believers the moment one believers which are kept by the integrity of God.
God’s great recantation of all he blesses us with at salvation requires a theological, line item, justification which I believe is grossly and embarrassingly missing by those who claim salvation is held by something other than God and can be lost by the believer through some action on his or her part.
If you are going to assert this, explain then, how one goes to being declared just by God and given eternal life and then unjust and having it taken away then back again to justified and how many times it may be possible, not to mention all of the other promised permanent blessings of eternal life which, itself and by its very nature, cannot be eternal if it can be lost.
I think so much is rushed over and the implications, both practically and more greatly theologically, are simply not considered and certainly not explored when these kinds of postulates are entertained and affirmed. I have never read any treatise on the Scriptural citations and arguments regarding how the thirty-three (33) plus blessings given at salvation are lost and regained by the believer and done so several times if one is consistent with such a view. I have read general claims in abundance but believe the full apology for such a view does not exist because mid-way through its development I have no doubt it would be abandoned and likely has on many occasions.
Friday, January 2, 2015
Sunday, December 21, 2014
The Theological and Factual Wantonness of The Gospel Coalition and Thabiti Anyabwile on the Matter of Race, Ethnicity and Culture and How the Cravenness of the Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist Church is Failing to Address the Matter Forthrightly, Bravely, Factually and Biblically
It is not surprising to watch the paralysis in the Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist (PEF) church in America (and abroad for that matter) regarding the issues(s) of race, ethnicity and culture (REC). This ideological and social constituency, as a whole or its individual parts, has become a polarizing topic in society and as well, in the church. Unfortunately, the filter that the body of Christ is suppose to have which eliminates the damning philosophies of the world and instead corrects the errors of kosmos diabolicus and orients the believer to divine viewpoint when it does teach or comment on current (or even historical) events, is largely missing in the PEF body by and large. And this cannot be more aptly illustrated in the recent blog post by The Gospel Coalition’s Thabiti Anyabwile.
At his TGC blog, Pure Church, he recently posted an article entitled, “3 Reasons Why I Stand with the Protesters”. Now, it is not unforeseen to read this from Anyabwile. I have documented his grotesque descent into leftist/liberal Race Based Special Interest Theology, at least as I see it. But all of that aside and even if one knew nothing about Thabiti, his recent posting tells enough about both Thabiti and the PEF world to inform all of us of two main things. But before I go on allow me to link to the article, here, and quote the three salacious assertions Anyabwile makes.
I stand with the protesters because they better demonstrate what genuine faith looks like.Two Observations
I stand with the marchers because they are the ones protecting the foundations.
I stand with the marchers because they are the ones pursuing a just goal with a just means.
First, Thabiti (and The Gospel Coalition seeing that they have given him this platform without censure) is willing to be either ignorant or dishonest regarding the facts of both recent events (Brown and Garner cases and the protesters' behavior) and overall crime statistics, morally irresponsible in characterizing legitimate authority as systemically villainous toward blacks in America as well as supporting what generally has been gross malevolence toward such authority by self-declared victims (and sympathizers) of this alleged systemic injustice and theologically promiscuous in attempting to justify his race based special interest theology and politics as moral and theological dogma.
Secondly, in light of what has been said by Thabiti Anyabwile (and beyond by those in the PEF body echoing such sentiments) we have an almost vacuous body of forthright, factual and Biblical response by the PEF community who know what Anyabwile asserts (again this includes those predicating similar views) is both wrong and further, scandalous. In other words there simply is little robust push-back to these outlandish philosophies and ideas coming from TGC and Anyabwile and company.
The Sounds of Silence Beckon Men of Conviction
Personally, I believe they (those trusted, recognized and/or commissioned as voices for the PEF church) lack the bravery to take on these race based campaigners of a moralized and dogmatized theological political correctness which they know to be untrue. I am convinced they lack the will because of the haunting fear they will be labeled that one word, the weapon of all social weapons, “racist”.
(Possibly worse, without the label "racist", they fear they will be talked about as simply incapable of understanding racial matters due to their whiteness and its inherent, "white or anglocentric bias" of which they are too stupid or arrogant to be aware. In other words, accept your white guilt and cognitive inadequacy which relegates you to not being permitted a view and voice on the matter unless you reflect it in an afrocentric construct and concede the points of afrocentrism otherwise you're all or part of the above and can only speak from your narrow, "white privilege" status- swallow that if you wish.)
However, this is a watershed moment in the PEF church and for its sound theology which includes its by-products of a vibrant orthodoxy on matters of ecclesiology and other divine institutions which involve society such as family, government and so on. At this moment they are giving way to race based special interest theologies and political correctness philosophies in what I believe has been Trojan Horse efforts on one end and a slow but deliberate endeavor on the other end, to massage the social gospel and humanistic ideology, which Tim Keller and TGC heavily sympathize with and promote, into the theological, ecclesiastical, and political consciousness of the PEF (Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist) body of Christ.
Those is the PEF body who know this race based political correctness ideology, which was largely extended into the PEF church through the civil rights movement where Martin Luther King Jr., co-opted the Old Testament Hebraic enslavement by Egypt and displacement in the wilderness and turned American civil rights arguments into Biblical rights through a corrupt hermeneutic, need to rise up and abate the theological and ecclesiastical undulation which threatens the spiritual construct and integrity of the church as well as that of an orthodox theology.
What Anyabwile has claimed in his trio of motivations is simply opprobrious. How can any notable Bible teacher of any integrity stay silent while this man and this organization (TGC) (who claim to be Bible teachers/theologians of orthodoxy and confessional orientation) promote, or in the least sympathize with, the heavily violent and property destructive activities of protesters? How can anyone permit such licentiousness in claiming the protesters, “demonstrate what genuine faith looks like” or that, “they are the ones protecting the foundations”? This is simply asinine.
The Inevitable End of Anti-Authoritarianism
I do not need to nor will I document how and why Anyabwile’s rationale fails because it is prima facie. But if need be I will rebut all three in another post, a task I suspect most have already done in their minds and one which likely can be assigned to a capable eighth grader. He is being given a platform by TGC for a most outrageously irresponsible posturing that will have its consequences in the PEF body (and outside as well).
And speaking of consequences, I am brought to a great realization, today, by the *news that two police officers in New York City were assassinated. That assassination is a product of the protesting community, the one that Anyabwile describes as those who are, “the ones pursuing a just goal with a just means”. The same ones that have repeatedly destroyed millions of dollars’ worth of property, have regularly assaulted non-blacks in the name of justified retribution for a systemic racism against all non-whites which Anyabwile has alluded to himself in his distorted and race based political correctness ideology he shamefully passes off as theology.
Yes, Thabiti, those protesters are the ones who in a great protest spent much of their time, without any push-back or reasonable disassociation, called for a “dead cop”. Well, Anyabwile, your protesters got what they wanted, and shame on you.
There is no other reasonable conclusion that I can make about Thabiti Anyabwile (and in greater respect, TGC) other than the view that he believes the lies of the world, that America is an evil nation and that we are systemically racist. He believes the worst of law enforcement when, in fact, the statistics show a very low and rare percentage of violent occurrences by those in blue toward those in black when contact is made between the two (violent occurrences do not, in themselves, construe something wrong, in many cases force of some sort is necessitated by LE). You and your cohorts have willingly swallowed a damnable narrative and are unwilling to deal with the facts. You by-pass or dismiss the statistics and the realities and instead have exaggerated them and now use their unwarranted amplification in exacerbating what problems may exist with these exceptional cases.
You have become, in my view and I doubt I speak alone, a race based leftist theologian and are poisoning the church with your ideas. Further, you have made good to be bad and right to be wrong in the minds of many of God’s children and are encouraging the reprehensible view that public enemy #1 is law enforcement; the men and women in blue who daily save lives, daily risk their lives, weekly are given a paycheck that can barely support a family (if that) and are tasked with the impossible by those who play armchair Monday morning quarterback, judging their every motive and imperfect performance as ostensibly systemically corrupt and notorious when it comes to dealing with blacks (as well as other nonwhites) when the statistics, the hard and unassailable statistics, show otherwise.
But more so, shame on those who have not stood up to correct and rebuke Anyabwile and TGC for their recklessness – factually, organizationally, philosophically and theologically. Your silence will have its costs and to those who have spoken the truth, may God add great blessing to the words of truth.
*Thabiti Anyabwile has posted something at his blog regarding the murder of the two police officers and has no choice, of course, but to condemn these actions but much like Al Sharpton, after offering his patronizing condemnation, refuses to understand that he is part of the disgraceful and factually impoverished narrative about law enforcement which led to the emboldening of the perpetrator who based his actions, in part, on precisely the view of systemic and de facto racism by the men and women in blue which is dismantled and rebutted by crime and law enforcement statistics as well as their interpretation and various institutional studies on the matter.
Monday, December 15, 2014
It is as if, for many theologians and students of the Bible, the spiritual construct of the body of Christ and all of its implications simply either do not exist or are not grasped (for understandable to reproachable reasons), thus, are by-passed in how the issue is approached in the body of Christ. Unfortunately, this includes some rather astute men.
And so, in following this discussion, I was brought to a blog by a Reformed Bible teacher and theologian, Doug Wilson. The reason I am highlighting this is because of a statement he made which I believe captures precisely the fundamental misstep of the Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist world on the matter of race and the presumed racial/ethnic/cultural harmony that somehow must follow when one becomes a Christian and then begins interacting with Christians of differing races, ethnicities and cultures.
I posted a comment at Wilson's blog (as a side note, he holds do a grave error called Federal Vision, but I am not stopping to discuss that at the moment). Whether he permits it or not is not germane. I am only glad that the statement he made exists and I can provide a response, here. Thus, you can read his post here. Following is my response to that.
I want to go straight to the terms of my peroration first, so that there is no mistaking the direction. Outside of Jesus Christ, racial harmony is a pipe dream. Apart from Christ, racial reconciliation is not going to happen, but rather the opposite. In Christ, racial harmony is a theological necessity, a doctrinal requirement, and an eschatological hope.My Response
You are close but still off. There is no racially (sic) harmony in Christ. You are missing the properties of the construct of being in Christ. It is a spiritual construct. Christians of all races/ethnicities/cultures do not have, as a biblically stated objective, such anthropological properties harmonized or reconciled. In fact, they are actually reduced to anecdotal properties and are not necessitated. Rather, the harmony is Christ and his doctrine. Those who share the DNA of Christ and his doctrine are harmonized outside of their race/ethnicity/culture constructs and into Christ. Racial/ethnic/cultural differences are not remedied, rather they are removed.
Our racial properties, ethnic properties and cultural properties do not suddenly all get on the same page, instead there is a new page that does not have any of this in view. Yes, we are all on the same page but it is not because our race/ethnicity/cultures have been harmonized but because in the body of Christ there is a new DNA and doctrine which is followed.
Now, outside of the body of Christ in other anthropological constructs (such as race/ethnicity/cultural/nationalism, etc...), sure, you can seek some harmonization, if possible, but the Bible does not require that. However, mainly because of their distinctiveness and particularly ones that are very foreign to one another, rarely are they able to be brought into harmony. But in Christ, in the spiritual construct of Christ, our harmony is because we identify as Christian, as those born from above and share the same doctrine, i.e., Christ's.
Being in Christ does not assume a de facto racial/ethnic/cultural harmonization or a de facto by-product. The harmony is because we are in a new and phenomenal paradigm that does not consider anthropological properties. Our harmony is spiritually based.Concluding Comments
Above I have two illustrations, one picturing human racial harmony and the other spiritual harmony of those from different races/ethnicities/cultures. Wilson's statement represents the critical but nuanced misunderstanding by much of the church.
We, Christians, are not harmonized racially, ethnically or culturally, when we are saved. We are harmonized because we fellowship on another plane, in another construct, or based on a different paradigm. I do not embrace you because of anything you possess anthropologically, rather, because of what you possess spiritually, both in the new man who has been resurrected and the doctrine to which he holds, that of Christ's.
Does it mean that I am free to be completely ignorant of your context in life? No, but nothing in Scripture requires me to reconcile or harmonize myself to it. Rather, that our harmony as brothers and sisters in the Lord are based in our identification as a new man or new creation which identifies his/her DNA as that of God's via the spiritual rebirth in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), our new Adam and fellowships based on his doctrine, i.e., the Word of God.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
An abundance of issues may be (and have been) extrapolated from the Ferguson calamity, never minding the few predominant ones immediately arising from this event. And one of the topics is, of course, race and more specifically black on blue or blue on black contact (blue is Law Enforcement if you are unsure) and the various points of either conflict or potential conflict (real or imagined).
Among Christians in the Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist world, the Ferguson matter has been written about and discussed like a slow train wreck. Thabiti Anyabwile, a member of The Gospel Coalition, has lost himself, as it appears to me, to racial narcissism in transcribing a number of recent posts which are absent of any consistent objectivity. Ultimately, as I read, he simply reduces the matter, in essence (along with the larger considerations of race, Christianity, theology and socialism), to emotionalism and racial sentimentality while formulating what arguments he does make with a very selective use of the information available. You can read about it here.
In another place you can scan a classic example of a man whose whiteness has him groping around in the dark (pun intended for those of you able to handle it, if not, pretend it doesn’t exist), flailing away at ghosts either he has invented or has received via a large body of racial political correctness always looming over such matters. It got so bad at one point he simply quit permitting comments because he attempted to set up codes for who should say what and how they must think about the issue and on and on, never minding the flood of objections to his clearly patronizing piece. He is able to be found here and is worth checking out if not just to learn how the disease of racial political correctness and false white guilt infects someone's thinking resulting in a catastrophic inability to discuss such topics objectively.
I could continue pointing to all the wrong steps but that is not necessary seeing they are quite apparent in the online world of Christendom. What is difficult to find however, is an honest and frank assessment of the relative Ferguson issues among Christians.
The Protestant/Evangelical/Fundamentalist world of Christianity, as I see it, is so afraid of being labeled something or so busy with self-aggrandizing patronization and so fixated on crusadershipism and racial campaigns of sensitivity that nothing real may be said, that is, nothing that can possess solutions. Because in order to offer solutions the problems must be identified and as long as we tippy-toe around the problems, restricting speech either by code or by assigning to various racial groups what they may and may not say and how they must say what they do say, we are left with nothing but gusts of wind in every direction.
Nevertheless, all is not lost. I cannot recommend in any greater way that you go to The Gospel Coalition and read what Pastor Voddie Baucham wrote. His article (click on the article title and it will take you to his essay), Thoughts on Ferguson, is a tremendously conscientious and practical approach to the issue(s) of race, justice and law enforcement which have emerged. You will not regret the visit.