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Monday, December 31, 2007

A New Year’s Thought

We are not our own: let not our reason nor our will, therefore, sway our plans and deeds. We are not our own: let us therefore not set it as our goal to seek what is expedient for us according to the flesh. We are not our own: in so far as we can, let us therefore forget ourselves and all that is ours. Conversely, we are God's: let us therefore live for him and die for him. We are God's: let his wisdom and will therefore rule all our actions. We are God's: let all the parts of our life accordingly strive toward him as our only lawful goal (Rom. 14:8; cf. 1 Cor. 6:19).... – John Calvin

Grace Always and Best Wishes for the New Year,

Greg Alford

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beliefs that Kill

Do one’s personal beliefs actually matter to the Society in which he lives? As the following quote shows, for a nation founded upon the core principle of Religious Freedom this is a key question for all of us.

Associated Press reports:

OMAHA, Neb. — The teen gunman who killed eight people and himself in a mall this month once told social workers he was satanic and acknowledged that he often acted before thinking of the consequences, according to newly released court records.

Robert Hawkins' file includes hundreds of pages of court transcripts, drug tests and letters from caseworkers, therapists and family members. They give the clearest picture yet of a young man who told a therapist in April 2005 that "he is not sure if there is a God or life after death and that when he dies, he'll probably go to hell."

More than two years later, on Dec. 5, the 19-year-old Hawkins walked into a department store in the Westroads Mall and shot 11 people, then committed suicide.

That one’s beliefs affects one’s behavior is a fact that even the most ardent atheist will readily admit, yet time and time again after one of these tragic events in which a young member of today American society goes on a killing spree at the local mall or school house the only possible solution the liberal politicians can come up with is another gun control law.

At the risk of sounding trite “Guns don’t kill people, Beliefs kill people”. In the case of the self proclaimed “Satanic” mass murderer Robert Hawkins (who according to his own words was “not sure if their was a God or life after death…”) his beliefs cost eight members of this society their lives.

And one need not be Satanic in order to have beliefs that lead them to kill or murder members of their own society. In today’s headlines is the assassination of Former Prime Minister of Pakistani Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated by a man who shot her in the neck and chest at the end of a campaign rally and then set off a bomb, blowing himself up and killing at least 20 others. Exactly what this man’s beliefs were are at the present unknown, but it is clear from his actions that mass murder was acceptable conduct according to his beliefs.

The connection between beliefs and conduct are all too obvious… just follow the trail of blood and dead bodies. And with the rabid secularist passion for the removal of all traces of Christian beliefs and morals from our public schools, and the open door policy of this nation to the importation of any belief, no matter how violent, does anyone actually think that things will improve?

Grace Always,

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Woe unto Those who say Good is Evil…

“Woe unto them that say concerning evil, it is good, and say concerning good, that it is evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

“Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight.” (Isaiah 5:21)

God and God alone is the only being qualified to determine what is good and what is evil; what is righteous and what in unrighteous. God does not merely know right from wrong and thereby he is qualified to judge what is right and what is wrong, No that’s not it at all… God does not simply know right from wrong, but He determines what is right and what is wrong. There is a big difference as… There is but one Law Giver… God and God Alone! A sinful act is wrong simply because God has said so and on the other hand a good thing is right and acceptable simply because God has said so.

This truth is foundational to the Christian Faith;
The Word of God is Our Only Rule of Faith! Those who forget this truth will slide into one or the other of the deep ditches that run along each side of the straight and narrow path.

On the left hand side of the straight and narrow path is the deep ditch of Religious Liberalism; and those who fall into this ditch are those who “say concerning evil, it is good… that put darkness for light… that put bitter for sweet”.

Writing on the Religious Liberalism of the Sadducees J.C. Ryle says “The doctrine of the Sadducees may be summed up in three words: free-thinking, skepticism, and rationalism. So far as we can judge from the New Testament, they appear to have held the doctrine of degrees of inspiration… They believed that there was no resurrection, no angels, and no spirits, and tried to laugh men out of their belief in these things, by bringing forward difficult questions. And in this way they probably hoped, by rendering religion absurd, and its chief doctrines ridiculous, to make men altogether give up the faith they had received from the Scriptures. The practical effect of their teaching was to shake men's faith in any revelation, and to throw a cloud of doubt over men's minds, which was only one degree better than infidelity. And of all such kind of doctrine: free thinking, skepticism, rationalism, our Lord says, "Be careful and be on your guard."

On the right hand side of the straight and narrow path is the deep ditch of Religious Legalism; and those who fall into this ditch are those who “say concerning good, that it is evil… that put light for darkness… and sweet for bitter”.

Writing on the Religious Legalism of the Pharisees J.C. Ryle says “The doctrine of the Pharisees may be summed up in three words: they were formalists, tradition-worshippers, and self-righteous. They attached such weight to the traditions of men that they practically regarded them of more importance than the inspired writings of the Old Testament… they did not formally deny any part of the Old Testament Scripture. But they brought in, over and above it, so much of human invention, that they virtually put Scripture aside, and buried it under their own traditions. This is the sort of religion, of which our Lord says to the Apostles, "Be careful and be on your guard."

Both the “Religious Liberal” and the “Religious Legalist” are guilty of the same sin. Although they may detest one another, actually they are both in the same camp in that they are both guilty of being “wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sigh.” Both the Religious Liberal and the Religious Legalist are guilty of attempting to replace the Wisdom, Will, and Word of God, with the wisdom, will, and words of mere men… And let us not mince words here; the Bible pronounces a “Woe” (that is a curse) upon them both!

In light of the recent actions of the Florida Baptist Conventions total alcohol abstinence policy and the Missouri Baptist Conventions axing the ACTS 29 churches it would do all Southern Baptist well to remember that those who set themselves up as the Law Givers, be they the much hated Baptist Liberal of the pre-Conservative Resurgence, or the much loved Baptist Legalist of the post-Conservative Resurgence, they are both alike “Cursed by God”.

There is but one Law Giver… God and God Alone! This is the meaning behind the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura and the Southern Baptist principle of the Inerrancy of the Scriptures:

Sola Scriptura

We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. We deny that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian's conscience… (from the Cambridge Declaration)

I. The Scriptures

The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is God's revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. Therefore, all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy. It reveals the principles by which God judges us, and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. All Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation. (BFM2000)

Grace Always,

Monday, December 17, 2007

Poisoning the SBC Well

Tim Powell, over on Timmy Brister’s blog comments “Southern (Seminary) is churning out Calvinists left and right” he then adds “The church where I grew up… would NOT hire a Calvinist pastor, no matter what.” Tim then asks the question “do you think the churches that are out there will be able to take the pastors that their seminaries are putting out?”

Some are accusing our Seminaries of
“Indoctrinating” the next generation of Baptist Pastors with Calvinism… that our Seminaries are taking the non-Calvinist students that our Southern Baptist Churches are sending them and turning them into Calvinist. It may be true that some non-Calvinist students become Calvinist while at Seminary, but I imagine this has always been the case whenever young men are exposed to the serious study of the Scriptures. However, it is probably closer to the truth that a greater percent of Calvinist students from this generation are committing themselves to the ministry than in the previous generations, and therefore a greater percent of Calvinist are attending and graduating from our Seminaries than in the previous generations.

This fact should not, and would not, be an issue except for the fact that sadly many Anti-Calvinist in the SBC are guilty of “Poisoning the Well” that all Southern Baptist must drink from… by their false accusations and malice against Calvinist they have created a conundrum for themselves and all Southern Baptist in which the Churches of the previous generation of Southern Baptist will not have the current generation of Baptist Pastors, and the current generation of Baptist Pastors will not have the Baptist Churches of the previous generation.

Here is Wikipedia’s definition of the term “Poisoning the well”.

Poisoning the well is a
logical fallacy where adverse information about someone is pre-emptively presented to an audience, with the intention of discrediting or ridiculing everything that person is about to say. Poisoning the well is a special case of argumentum ad hominem. The term was first used with this sense [1] by John Henry Newman in his Apologia Pro Vita Sua [2].

This "argument" has the following form:

1. Unfavorable information (be it true or false) about person A is presented.
2. Therefore any claims person A makes will be false.


Before you listen to my opponent, may I remind you that he has been in jail.
Don't listen to what he says, he's a lawyer.
This is an argument between science and religion.

In general usage, poisoning the well is the provision of any information that may produce a biased result. For example, if a woman tells her friend, "I think I might buy this beautiful dress", then asks how it looks, she has "poisoned the well", as her previous comment could affect her friend's response.

Similarly, in written work, an inappropriate heading to a section or chapter can create pre-bias.

As an example:

The so-called "
Theory" of Relativity
We now examine the theory of relativity...

which has already "poisoned the well" to a balanced argument.

If, as a result of the poisoning of the well by the Anti-Calvinist within the SBC, a substantial number of our Southern Baptist Churches will not take the Calvinist Pastors that are graduating form our Seminaries (Southern is not the only Seminary that Calvinist are graduating from) then where will they go? And with many churches already having such a hard time finding well qualified Pastors where will they turn to in their search to fill their empty pulpits?

I believe I can answer the first question by saying that the next generation of Calvinistic Pastors, for the most part, have no desire to go to a church that does not want them… Instead what I see in these Pastors is a singular commitment, which is unmatched in church history, to planting new Churches that are both “Calvinistic” and “Baptist”. Did the Anti-Calvinist really think that when these young reformed Pastors (who are Passionate about the Sovereignty of God, Committed to the Sufficiency of the Scriptures and Unafraid of the Consequences) were rejected by these churches, where the water has been poisoned against Calvinist, that they were just going to walk away from their calling and go sell used cars?

As to the question of where those churches who reject these Pastors because they are Calvinist will find men to fill their empty pulpits in the years to come? I really have no idea… :-)

Grace Always,

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Is Alcohol the Real Issue?

Timmy Brister reports in an article titled When I Am Ashamed to be a Southern Baptist

The Missouri’s state paper The Pathway, has reported that members of the Executive Board presented and passed a motion (28-10) during the miscellaneous business session that sets down a “no-partnership with Acts 29″ rule for MBC church plants. Here is the motion:

Effective Jan 1, The Acts 29 Network is an
organization which the MBC Exec Bd. Staff will not be working with, supporting, or endorsing in any manner at anytime.
It was amended with the following statement:

While recognizing the autonomous nature of all areas of MBC life beyond that of the Executive Board Staff, the MBC Executive Board directs the Church Planting Department and other ministry departments to not provide CP dollars toward those affiliated with the Acts 29 Network.

What this means is that dually affiliated churches (Acts 29 and SBC) will not be able to receive church planting funds from the
Missouri Baptist Convention.

Many on the Blogs are asking the question is this action by the Missouri Baptist Convention solely due to the fact that Acts 29 refuses to take a blanket anti-alcohol stand, preferring to let each local church determine for itself what it’s policy will be on alcohol? See Scott Thomas response to the Missouri Baptist Convention here:

I do not for one minuet believe that this issue is over alcohol. Alcohol may be the spark that started this firestorm in MO… but it is no more the main issue than “Inerrancy” was the real issue behind the Conservative Resurgence… and for the record I supported the Conservative Resurgence.

The SBC is just now beginning to reap the fruit of preaching “Inerrancy” to an entire generation; and Many in the “Old Guard” are slowly waking up to the fact that these young reformed pastors (which are the product of Inerrancy) are passionate about the Sovereignty of God, absolutely committed to the Sufficiency of the Scriptures, and Unafraid of the Consequences…

And if these young reformed Pastors are convinced that the Holy Scriptures do not condemn the moderate consumption of alcohol as a sin; then they are not going to be “Cowed” by the SBC Denominational Leadership into supporting a blanket anti-alcohol policy…

That my Friends is the main issue…

Grace Always

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Two Edged Sword of Biblical Inerrancy

Biblical Inerrancy is the doctrinal position that in its original form the Bible is totally without error and free from all contradiction; "referring to the complete accuracy of Scripture, including the historical and scientific parts". Wikipedia

Wayne Grudem defines biblical inerrancy in the following way:

"The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact."

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy produced at an international Summit Conference of evangelical leaders, held at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Chicago in the fall of 1978 and signed by nearly 300 noted evangelical scholars, including James Boice, Norman L. Geisler, John Gerstner, Carl F. H. Henry, Kenneth Kantzer, Harold Lindsell, John Warwick Montgomery, Roger Nicole, J. I. Packer, Robert Preus, Earl Radmacher, Francis Schaeffer, R. C. Sproul, and John Wenham says:

“The authority of Scripture is a key issue for the Christian church in this and every age. Those who profess faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are called to show the reality of their discipleship by humbly and faithfully obeying God's written Word. To stray from Scripture in faith or conduct is disloyalty to our Master. Recognition of the total truth and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is essential to a full grasp and adequate confession of its authority.”

Biblical Inerrantists are said to have “a high view of Scripture”. That is an eloquent way of saying that the Biblical Inerrantists are those Christians who humbly submit to the authority and sufficiency of God’s written Word to govern their opinions and practice of the Christian faith. Addressing the charge made by some that Biblical Inerrantists have too high a view of Scripture and are actually guilty of worshiping the Bible, Ray Van Neste writes:

“The first question that always comes to my mind (which I always pose to those who bring this charge to me in person), is 'Have you ever really encountered an actual pastoral problem where the people had too high a view of Scripture?' I certainly have not. Never in my pastoral experience have I been burdened with the need to go into the pulpit and admonish my people to calm down in their affection for the Bible, to pull back from so much study of it, or to stop talking about it so much, lest perhaps people think we worshipped it. Of course not! Rather the problem I have seen in the pastorate is precisely the opposite- people failing to take seriously the teaching of Scripture when it cuts across their plans or current cultural norms, failing to esteem the Scripture enough to read it daily, etc.”

Biblical Inerrancy is a two edged sword, as some of the current leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention are just now learning. For years now they have used the sword of Biblical Inerrancy to great effect in purging the SBC of the leaven of liberal opinions and doctrine, but now the sword of Biblical Inerrancy is swinging the other way and in its path are the Baptist Traditions and Personal Opinions of those very men who first thrust the sword of Biblical Inerrancy into the heart of their adversaries.

There is a new generation of Baptist Pastors out there who esteem the Word of God far above the opinions of the current Baptist Leadership and if you wish to persuade them of any truth you hade better bring your Bible, and you had better be prepared to defend your position from the Word of God alone. To many of the “Old Guard” in the Southern Baptist Convention these “Young Punks” are a serious threat to their view of the Southern Baptist Convention…

The “Old Guard” is just now waking up to the fact that these young pastors are passionate about the Sovereignty of God, absolutely committed to the Sufficiency of the Scriptures, and Unafraid of the Consequences.

I close with these additional words of Ray Van Neste:

“I love the Bible, delight in it, rejoice in it, cling to it, and esteem it. And all of this is entirely right as it is the words of God Himself given as a gift to his beloved people and as such is the only reliable witness to him we have and is the foundation for our contact with Him. Is it not right for the beloved to cherish a gift from the Lover? It is in this book that we see the image of Christ. To fail to esteem and cherish the Bible then would be a slap in God's face.”
Grace Always,