Archive for the ‘Apologetics/Defending the Faith’ Category

Bible, Gender and Sexuality: When Man is Redefined God Must Be Redefined

February 20th, 2013 3 comments

redef_logo2A Church that redefines the doctrine of man and the resulting consequences, a redefinition of human sexuality, must embrace a false god. There is no other choice.

The reason I have been and will continue to keep sharing articles like this, from any source I find them, is that I’m convinced that this is *the* doctrinal crisis of our time. Some may mistakenly think this is merely a difference over opinions about homosexuality or how to interpret the Bible. No, in fact, this is a deep crisis in the doctrine of God. As our language about God and His nature and the nature of His Creation of man and woman changes, so also the doctrine of God changes. This is a deeply thoughtful analysis of a book calling for this very thing. HT: Gospel Coalition.

James V. Brownson. Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013. 312 pp. $29.00.

I am acquainted with this book’s author, James Brownson, and I like him. He’s always been kind and gracious to me. Among other things, he’s a leading theological voice on issues of sexuality in the denomination in which I pastor (Reformed Church of America); to say I was interested in what he’d have to say about homosexuality is an understatement. I read Bible, Gender, Sexuality thoroughly and carefully. I was touched by Brownson’s personal family story and thankful for his thoughtful writing. But his book deeply saddened me, and I believe it should sadden all others who follow Jesus. At the end of the book, Brownson writes:

Can we imagine a world in which the divine pronouncement at the beginning of creation, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18), might find a range of deeply satisfying resolutions, from heterosexual marriage, to celibate communities, to gay and lesbian committed unions?. . . . For some Christians, this vision is imaginable as a form of “accommodation” in a broken world. . . . Other Christians may be more ready to acknowledge that, throughout the natural order, same-sex attraction is a naturally recurring “minority” experience. These Christians may celebrate the way in which, by the providence of God, such “queer” folk can naturally deconstruct the pervasive tendencies of majority voices to become oppressive and exclusionary. In this vision, the inclusion of committed gay and lesbian unions represents . . . [a] rather offbeat redemptive purpose in the new creation. (252, 253)

Brownson gets to this point via a complete reconstruction of the biblical narrative concerning sexuality. Unfortunately, however, he builds his biblical narrative on a shaky foundation. Below I have identified several problems with Brownson’s vision of sexuality. Though by no means exhaustive, I think they will grieve your heart like they did mine.

Fundamental Problems

One of my foundational concerns is Brownson’s complete disregard for the complementarian vision for sexuality. He writes, “Despite the fact that such gender complementarity, allegedly taught in the creation narratives, is the most commonly cited reason why commentators believe Scripture teaches that same-sex erotic relations are wrong, the text themselves do not support this claim” (35). Even Robert Gagnon’s “anatomical complementarity” is thrown out as not “directly addressing the interpretation of biblical texts” (21). To get to his vision of sexuality, Brownson must first dismantle a complementarian view. The problem, however, is that he ignores the logic of Genesis 1:26-28. Whatever else one can say about the text (not even considering how gender is an important component of how humans bear God’s image), it’s clear we are gendered beings—male and female. At the core of our gender is our God-ordained biological sexuality. Whatever else it means to be male and female in Genesis 1, then, it certainly means we’re sexually different and intended to come together in heterosexual relating. This is God’s intent for sexual beings; this is the logic of the text. His intent for sexuality—what is “normative,” to use Brownson’s language—is that a man and woman unite sexually in the bounds of marriage for life. And this coming together is one of the basic meanings of what it means to be male and female. A simple reading of the words of Jesus in Matthew 19 confirms this reality. We have gendered bodies, deliberately different from the opposite sex. All homosexual activity, therefore, is immoral—a distortion of the divine intent. Brownson gets this wrong and, in so doing, misses out on a fundamental component of God’s beautiful intent for men and women.

Another problem I have is Brownson’s conviction that sexual orientation, as discussed in popular culture today, is something unknown to the biblical writers. This allows him to reconsider the biblical commands in light of this purported “new information”:

It is clear that Paul is not operating with the modern sense of sexual orientation here. Rather, he speaks of those who “leave behind” what he regards as their own true nature, which should direct them to relationships with those of the opposite sex. It would probably be inscrutable to him to speak of people who were “naturally” attracted to others of the same sex. . . . If this analysis is correct, however, it also suggests that the whole modern concept of sexual orientation and the contemporary evidence of its deeply rooted persistence . . . represent an important range of empirical data about the natural world that was not considered by the ancient Jewish or Christian writers. (229, 230)

This is important. If modern notions of sexual orientation are true and foreign to the biblical writers, then perhaps some homosexual activity is morally conceivable. At least this is where Brownson wants to go. But I see at the argument’s core an assertion that Paul (and the biblical witness) gets the root of homosexuality wrong. For Brownson, when the apostle is writing about homosexuality, his writing cannot be applied to contemporary circumstances. There are three fundamental problems with this assertion:

(1) Robert Gagnon and others convincingly demonstrate that something close to the idea of sexual orientation was a category ancient writers and Paul were likely aware of. (See The Bible and Homosexual Practice, 393ff.)

(2) Brownson’s argument is an assertion that psychological insights can change/modify the biblical vision of human sexuality and sin. But here’s the problem: the Bible and human insights aren’t equal sources. And the entire Bible, including Paul, paints a negative view of homosexuality. There isn’t one exception. What’s tragic is that Brownson is willing to change his vision of human sexuality because of a cultural shift.

(3) The jury is still out on what sexual orientation is and whether it’s immutable or changeable. Compelling research suggests orientation is something of an unfixed spectrum. (See Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation.) It is deeply troublesome to use research about sexual orientation as a path to change the biblical witness concerning sexuality.

What is sad about Bible, Gender, Sexuality is Brownson’s glaring lack of exploration of what Scripture teaches about what it means to be human. We’re image bearers, deeply sinful, fractured in our sexuality and in need of a savior. We don’t need more psychological insights that confuse the issue; we need atonement for our sins. Dietrich Bonheoffer is right: “In the presence of a psychiatrist I can only be a sick man; in the presence of a Christian brother I can dare to be a sinner.” Let’s call sin “sin,” for only then can we be bold enough to offer grace to sinners—whoever they may be.

Dismantling Boundaries

The third problem I have with Bible, Gender, Sexuality is Brownson’s definition of lust:

When Paul describes same-sex eroticism as “consumed with passion” (Romans 1:27) and as an expression of the “lust of their hearts” (Romans 1:24), he has in view an expression of intense or excessive desire, which he regards also as “unnatural” and thus misdirected. It is because lust is inherently and centrally excessive, driven by self-seeking will to power that it also manifests itself in misdirected desire, as unrestrained desire burns itself out in destructive patterns. . . . The focus is not on objective behavior but on passions that are running out of control and threaten to consume one’s better judgment. (168, 169)

This is, at least in part, the reason Paul is against homosexuality, according to Brownson. Thus Paul might think differently about “a gay couple who wish to enter a marriage or marriage-like relationship in order to discipline their desire by the restraints of mutual commitment” (168). But the problem with this line of reasoning is that Brownson forgets an important, inherent dimension of lust: breaking God’s boundaries. In his excellent book The Bible and Homosexual Practice, Gagnon writes:

Paul (like most in antiquity) probably viewed any infraction of God-ordained boundaries of any sort (including sexual) to be an overheating of desire simply because transgression of God’s will invariably entailed a victory of passions of the flesh over the rational mind or Spirit. If one craved anything that God had forbidden . . . and acted on that craving, then logically one was mastered by one’s passion. (388)

In other words, homosexuality is lustful not just because it has to do with excessive desire. It is lustful because by participating in homosexual behavior a person dismantles one of God’s most important sexual boundaries. Even in committed homosexual relationships, then, homosexual activity is lustful and consequently sinful. To say otherwise is unfaithful to the biblical witness. And this is what’s so sad about Brownson’s book: there often seems to be a lack of honest dealing with the biblical witness. This might be helpful in winning an argument, but it isn’t faithful to Scripture.

Destructive Love?

Further, Brownson contends that churches espousing a traditional evangelical view on homosexuality are harmful to those who consider themselves gay or lesbian:

Moreover, it is in the area of shame that the traditionalist approach to gay and lesbian persons become fraught with deep problems. The typical slogans clearly express the ambivalence: “Welcoming but not affirming”; “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” On the surface, the gay or lesbian person is welcomed into the traditionalist fellowship; but the desires and emotional orientation or disposition of the person’s sexuality are shunned. Ironically, in this context, the more deeply the gay or lesbian person is welcomed and loved by the fellowship, the more profound the problem of shame becomes. The internalized message becomes something like this: “these people love me so much, they must be right. . . . I must resist this part of myself all the more insistently.” Sometimes such a process is effective in helping a person who is confused about his or her sexual orientation to move towards embracing the wider norms of society in his or her sexuality. But research show that such change happens only in a small minority of relevant cases. And when this attempt to embrace the dominant society’s perspective on sexuality is unsuccessful, when desires for others of the same-sex persist, the result is a deeply internalized sense of shame, frustration, and self-loathing. (216)

Evangelical churches seeking to walk alongside men and women who identify as gay or lesbian and calling them to a biblical vision of life through Jesus are, Brownson avers, acting destructively. To be sure, some churches are hateful and bigoted, perhaps more than we like to admit. And I’m sure some churches care more for the sin than the sinner. But make no mistake: Scripture calls all who would follow Jesus to come and die to their sin, their lust, and their desire—no matter how innate it might feel.

I know.

I’ve dealt personally with homosexual desire most of my life. When Jesus rescued me, he demanded all of me. And I’m thankful for churches that gave me a biblical vision for my life—including my sexuality. I’m more like Jesus today because of their call for me to die to the deepest desires of my broken humanity.

In Bible, Gender, Sexuality, however, Brownson elevates caricature over substance. He uses a low homosexual-to-healthy-heterosexual change rate to argue God doesn’t call gays and lesbians to repentance and purity. Really? Jesus is the one who said, “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matt. 7:14).

Gospel change is hard work that happens in those who actually decide to follow Jesus, which many don’t do precisely because of the high cost. This is true for all sinners, including those fighting homosexual sin. As a pastor, I know many people sitting in my pews are still battling besetting sins after decades of being in church. Should we accommodate for them as well?

Brownson’s words sound compassionate, but they aren’t compassionate enough, since they’re not the gospel. It’s time to reassert what’s always been true: the gospel of Jesus is the hope for sexual sinners. Whether gospel change happens through celibacy, marriage, transformation of innermost desires, or faithful purity in suffering, Jesus is the only way to live out our purposes as sexual beings. Instead of cowering behind statistics, we must declare the gospel and walk with others so they can experience its costly joy. It’s time to more fully live into our calling as the church of Jesus.

So I am sad today. Jim Brownson has given up on the biblical vision of sexuality, opting instead for one that’s palatable for himself and many others. Sadly, Bible, Gender, Sexuality is going to deceive many. I pray God will raise up others who will declare his intentions to his church and his love to a lost and dying world.

Ron Citlau is a campus pastor of Faith Church (RCA) in Dyer, Indiana.

“Christ Our Mother” – A Church That Embraces a False Understanding of Human Sexuality Inevitably Embraces a False View of God

February 15th, 2013 14 comments


When a church embraces a false view of human sexuality, this will and does, inevitably flow from, and leads back to, a false view of God. Witness the following “blessing” offered up by in a liberal protestant church body’s worship resources, and then ask yourself what the consequences are for the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

God our Father bless you and shield you.
Christ our Mother shelter you and carry you.
God the Holy Spirit guide your journey
+ both now and forever.

Yes, you read that right, “Christ, our Mother.” Folks, this is not simply a confusion of languages, this is an apostasy from orthodox, Christian Trinitarian theology and language.

As observed elsewhere about this blessing by Rev. Pastor Peter Speckhard, a LCMS pastor: “Aside from ludicrously and meaninglessly referring to Christ our Mother, a Trinitarian invocation or benediction does more than name the relationship between us and God, it speaks to the Triune nature of God. To refer to “God” as our Father and then go straight into calling Christ our Mother truly, thoroughly mangles the Trinitarian theology that is part and parcel of a Trinitarian benediction.” Precisely so!

The Problem with the “Hot New Thing” in the Church

February 14th, 2013 3 comments


Here is a fascinating interview with a person who has not one single possible bias or axe to grind or any emotional investment in any Lutheran squabbles about the liturgy. Check out what he has to say about the historic liturgy. It is always both amusing and quite pathetic to see that just when some Lutherans are breathlessly trying everything they can to out do each other coming up with new “best pratices” for conducting their ministry, the very thing we think of as irrelevant, out of touch, old, useless, only good enough for the old folks whom are shunted off to a “classical praise” service at some inconvenient hour on Sunday, the Evangelicals and others are slowly, but surely, discovering the riches of the Church’s great traditions and heritage: the ancient liturgical forms of worship being one of them! Oh, yea, and that whole “sin and grace” thing? The whole “I’m a poor miserable sinner” thing? Yup, that too. Lutheran congregations ditching their confession/absolution are doing so just while a lot of Evangelicals are viewing it now as a “best practice.” Go figure. HT: Stetzer

Daniel is the founder and lead pastor of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and founder of Sojourn Network. Mike is one of the founding pastors of Sojourn where he serves as the pastor of worship and arts. He is also founder of Sojourn Music and has helped us with elements of The Gospel Project.

I’ve seen Sojourn Church grow from a dream that Daniel and Mandy shared with Donna and me in our living room, to an amazing church and growing network. I am so thrilled with to see that vision come into reality– and very glad they have shared about it in Faithmapping.

“Faithmapping” is a very interesting word. What does it mean?

Faithmapping is our attempt to clarify the relationship between the gospel, the church, and the world. Each of these concepts is a big, broad idea, and in the Christian life, they can become quite confusing. So in Faithmapping, we are attempting to plot out each idea on the map, showing the various routes by which they connect and depend upon one another.

Why is there so much confusion among churches today about what the gospel actually is?

There are many reasons for this. One is our addiction to sound bites. Another is the perpetual fads that surround the church – the newest book, conference, or blogger that is the Hot New Thing.

But ultimately, the gospel itself is a message – an announcement really – that is simultaneously simple and complex, easily summarized and worthy of lifelong reflection and meditation. In the face of complexity, we’re often tempted to be reductionistic. Faithmapping aims to resist that temptation, painting a broad, multi-dimensional picture of the gospel.

Why is grace such a stumbling block for Christians?

Because most of us would love to believe that we can be good enough, smart enough, and righteous enough to earn God’s favor. The gospel demands that we encounter and acknowledge our sinfulness, and only then can we understand grace in its fullness. That’s an unattractive message to many.

Some have narrowly defined the gospel as kingdom, cross, or grace–but rarely connect all three. What are the dangers of over-emphasizing one facet of the gospel against the others?

We miss out on the life-shaping impact of the scriptures. The Bible has no problem with revealing a gospel that is multi-dimensional (referencing it as the gospel of the Kingdom, the cross, and grace, as well as many other modifiers), and that depth enriches our understanding of Jesus’ work. If we emphasize the cross without grace, we can end up being nothing but miserable sinners. If we emphasize grace without the cross, we get a sentimentalism that doesn’t understand sin. On the other hand, when we understand the whole thing as complex, and interdependent, it’s a much richer picture. At times, we particularly need to hear on or the other aspects.

Only by holding them aspects in tension and dialogue with one another can we fully understand the message of the gospel.

Why can it be dangerous to measure one’s spiritual health by their quiet time or prayer performance?

Because our standing before God isn’t defined by our performance. It’s defined by Jesus’ finished work! Our prayer and Bible reading is an absurdly insufficient effort to please a God who can only be satisfied by perfect, unblemished sacrifice. By a miracle of grace, our messy, flawed, insufficient lives are wrapped up in Jesus and offered to God as a “living sacrifice,” which he joyfully receives on our behalf! It all has very little to do with our actions.

If we see that God’s acceptance of us is primary, and prior to any of our spiritual disciplines, then we can understand these disciplines as invitations to the good life – to life with God in a world he’s at work redeeming.

How does viewing your life (even in the mundane, ordinary, or secular areas of life) as worship revolutionize the way you work? Parent? Do ministry?

It’s crucial that we see these mundane and “secular” areas of life as worship. Worship isn’t just a gathering of people, or a set of actions; it’s a way of life. It’s a life lived for the glory of God, and it’s rooted first and foremost in trusting Jesus’ finished work on our behalf.

If we know that Jesus is our brother and God is our father, and that our lives are lived before his gaze, the ordinary moments of life are transformed. Every moment – at work, at home, or in a drive-thru – is a call to worship, an opportunity to live in a way that says, “yes” and “amen” to God’s work in the world.

How do you fight for unity in your church? Or deal with conflict in your church?

Rather than call people to a vision statement, or a particular leader, we call them again and again to the gospel. It really is the key to all of life and ministry: it’s the rallying cry for the church, the point at which unity is possible, where sinners gather before God. Practically speaking, if you call all of your ministries to be centered on the gospel, then it unifies their language and opens doors for a lot of commonality. In other words, you don’t learn one vision and set of language for mercy ministry, and another for music ministry; both are calling people to serve others for the sake of the gospel.

In dealing with conflict, Paul’s words to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry have become more and more important to me as a leader. Most of the time, when conflict emerges, one or both parties just needs to be heard. Great leaders listen, and work hard to acknowledge that the other person has been heard and understood. That’s where conflict resolution will always begin.

How do you cultivate an authenticity among staff and leaders at your church?

You have to fight for an atmosphere where sin is expected. You have to act as though it isn’t surprising when a staff full of sinners demonstrates sinfulness. If people feel safe confessing sin, weakness, sadness, and frustration, then you can have real authenticity.

That said, you have to fight for joy as well. Sometimes, the church can spiral down a well of sin-hunting misery, and you have to guard from that too; it’s as inauthentic as plastic-faced joy. So laugh with those who laugh and weep with those who weep; allow for highs and lows in the life of the church culture.

With “gospel-centered” as a current buzzword, how can we keep the familiarity of the gospel message from becoming something that no longer stirs and moves us?

This is a great question. I think there are some great answers from church history. The old Liturgy of the church was a dialogue between the congregation and the word of God, rehearsing the basics of the gospel story: God is holy, I’m a sinner, Jesus saves me from my sins and sends me into the world. In many ways, historic worship never got past that basic story.

While I don’t think everyone needs to resurrect a historic liturgy in their congregation, I think they definitely need to consider ways in which their gatherings – whether they’re a house church or a church of 10,000 – rehearse the gospel story beyond just preaching. We absolutely need good, Christ-centered preaching too, don’t get me wrong! But the gospel is a story we live in as well.

The richness of the Bible and the depths of the gospel are such that I believe a determined pastor, looking The story itself is the story of our lives, and it’s the challenge of pastors to make sure that the story is connecting – that people are seeing themselves inside the story.

Your chapter on being a servant contains a striking sentence: “We might fly across the world to feed children in a ghetto, but ignore our neighbors who need help carrying in their groceries.” Why do you think it’s sometimes seems easier to serve in high-profile ways? How can we learn to love and serve those in our everyday lives, especially when there is no chance of being recognized for doing so?

This is a tremendous challenge for our culture. In our day, even carrying a neighbor’s groceries is something that can become high-profile; we can broadcast it on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Vine, and Google Plus in seconds. We have trained ourselves – and to a much larger degree, we’re training our children – to tell the world every time they do a good deed (or eat a good cheeseburger). Marketers have caught on to this. They know we want to do good and get credit. The whole phenomenon of Tom’s shoes (a company that gives away a pair of shoes for every pair sold) is simultaneously a good, generous thing, and a brilliant bit of marketing. People who wear Tom’s are not only making a fashion statement, they’re making a values statement, and that has made them a huge-selling phenomenon.

The cure for this is a spiritual discipline that church fathers before us called “secrecy,” which was a practice of doing good and keeping your mouth shut. Choose some opportunities to do good – to serve neighbors or family members – and not tell anyone about it. It’s small disciplines like this that help to shape our hearts, transforming us into the kind of people who are serving others in small ways, with no recognition, but with great joy.

The Three Types of Churches

February 8th, 2013 4 comments

Material that Confuses and Baffles Materialists

August 24th, 2012 Comments off

Dr. Gene Edward Veity, on his great blog, had a terrific post recently that I’m just passing along here.

Physics professor Stephen M. Barr explains how quantum physics makes the world view of materialism–the assumption of most of today’s atheists–scientifically impossible.

Materialism is an atheistic philosophy that says that all of reality is reducible to matter and its interactions. It has gained ground because many people think that it’s supported by science. They think that physics has shown the material world to be a closed system of cause and effect, sealed off from the influence of any non-physical realities — if any there be. Since our minds and thoughts obviously do affect the physical world, it would follow that they are themselves merely physical phenomena. No room for a spiritual soul or free will: for materialists we are just “machines made of meat.”

Quantum mechanics, however, throws a monkey wrench into this simple mechanical view of things.  No less a figure than Eugene Wigner, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, claimed that materialism — at least with regard to the human mind — is not “logically consistent with present quantum mechanics.” And on the basis of quantum mechanics, Sir Rudolf Peierls, another great 20th-century physicist, said, “the premise that you can describe in terms of physics the whole function of a human being … including [his] knowledge, and [his] consciousness, is untenable. There is still something missing.”

Barr goes on to explain in a technical but pretty lucid manner why this is the case, going into the mathematics of probability and why the observer has an intrinsic impact on the system being observed.   I can’t summarize it.  Read it yourself.  Here is his conclusion:

If the mathematics of quantum mechanics is right (as most fundamental physicists believe), and if materialism is right, one is forced to accept the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. And that is awfully heavy baggage for materialism to carry.

If, on the other hand, we accept the more traditional understanding of quantum mechanics that goes back to von Neumann, one is led by its logic (as Wigner and Peierls were) to the conclusion that not everything is just matter in motion, and that in particular there is something about the human mind that transcends matter and its laws. It then becomes possible to take seriously certain questions that materialism had ruled out of court: If the human mind transcends matter to some extent, could there not exist minds that transcend the physical universe altogether? And might there not even exist an ultimate Mind?

via Does Quantum Physics Make it Easier to Believe in God? | Big Questions Online.

HT:  Anna Williams

The Cult of Isis and Early Christianity

August 24th, 2012 Comments off

I follow a number of really über-geeky blogs, one of which is constantly posting links to interesting history research dissertations and essays. Here’s one that particularly caught my eye recently. I do not, of course, agree with the premise of the article, but it has lots of interesting tidbits to help you understand what the early Christians were up against. For instance, just think how appealing female clergy would have been in the context of goddess worship, but, nope the Christians didn’t do that.

Click here to read the full article.

The Cult of Isis and Early Christianity

By Hazel Butler

Hohonu: A Journal of Academic Writing, Vol.7 (2005)

Introduction: Before the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire, there was the Cult of Isis. This research paper is an exploration of the Cult of Isis and its possible effects on Early Christianity. Early Christianity is defined as about the first five hundred years of its existence. The cult of Isis certainly had an effect on the development of early Christianity, even if some of the specific beliefs within the religions were different. There are similarities in the worship and the belief behind the Cult of Isis during the Roman era with those that are reflected in Early Christian beliefs. However, it is the missing pieces in Isiac worship that Christianity seemed to satisfy that made it become so popular. The way that the Roman world came to embrace also had a staggering effect on the religion, and set it apart from Isis. Isis was first worshiped in Egypt as a queen alongside her brother and husband, Osiris, the King of Egypt. When Osiris was killed by his brother Set and chopped up into pieces, it was Isis who put him back together. When she did so, she became the only god in the Egyptian Pantheon who was capable of resurrection. Most importantly, after reviving Osiris temporarily, she conceived Horus, who avenged the murder of his father and become the first Pharaoh of Egypt. As Osiris’s wife, she became queen of the dead. As the mother of Horus, she was not symbol of motherhood, the patron of childbearing and the protector of children. She was also the model for all the future queens of Egypt, who referred to as “daughters of god,” “the great wifes of the king” and “the mothers of god”.


The Boys are Back in Town – Issues, Etc. Returns to KFUO AM Saint Louis

March 5th, 2012 1 comment

It was, to say the least, a horrendously bad decision when Issues, Etc. was removed from KFUO AM. Issues was, by far, the most popular show on KFUO and the only theological programming The LCMS was producing of this depth and substance.

After that most unhappy incident, Issues Etc. went on to establish itself as a strong, independent voice for confessing Lutheranism. I officially learned today that they are returning on March 12 to KFUO AM in syndication which will allow them to retain total control over their content, while giving the St. Louis and KFUO AM listening audience access to two hours of programming, Monday to Friday.

This is great news! Here is the press release.

“Issues, Etc.”, a radio talk show produced by Lutheran Public Radio and hosted by Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Pastor Todd Wilken, will begin broadcasting live Monday, March 12 from 3-5 p.m. CST weekdays on KFUO, 850 AM in St. Louis. “Issues, Etc.” has been broadcasting on KSIV, Bott Radio Network in St. Louis since June 30, 2008. KFUO is owned and operated by the LCMS. The popular radio show aired for more than 15 years on KFUO. However, the LCMS cancelled the program on March 18, 2008.

“By purchasing airtime on KFUO instead of KSIV, we will be able to offer ten hours of live programming each week to St. Louis area listeners instead of five hours of programming. KFUO also provides a stronger signal for our listeners in southern Illinois,” said Jeff Schwarz, general manager of LPR.

“We will not become employees of KFUO or the LCMS,” said Pastor Todd Wilken, host of Issues, Etc. “Lutheran Public Radio and KFUO are totally separate entities. When listeners donate to KFUO, they won’t be supporting LPR and vice versa. It is vitally important for us to have complete editorial control and financial independence from the LCMS.”

“We are extremely thankful to the Bott family and to the Bott Radio Network for providing us the opportunity to broadcast Issues, Etc. on KSIV,” Schwarz said. “Almost immediately after the cancellation, we were contacted by Rich Bott and presented with the opportunity to continue broadcasting on a terrestrial radio station in St. Louis.”

LPR will continue to produce “Issues, Etc.” from its studios in Collinsville, IL.

Ten Reasons To Believe in a Historical Adam (and Eve)

February 8th, 2012 2 comments

Borrowed from another blog site, I found this blog post helpful. Perhaps you will too. The persons who put this list together made a big mistake and a very, very large omission: The number one reason to believe that Adam and Eve were actual real human beings? Because Jesus Christ said they were. But, be that as it may, this list raises other very important reasons.

In recent years, several self-proclaimed evangelicals, or those associated with evangelical institutions, have called into question the historicity of Adam and Even. It is said that because of genomic research we can no longer believe in a first man called Adam from whom the entire human race has descended.

I’ll point to some books at the end which deal with the science end of the question, but the most important question is what does the Bible teach. Without detailing a complete answer to that question, let me suggest ten reasons why we should believe that Adam was a true historical person and the first human being.

1. The Bible does not put an artificial wedge between history and theology. Of course, Genesis is not a history textbook or a science textbook, but that if far from saying we ought to separate the theological wheat from the historical chaff. Such a division owes to the Enlightenment more than the Bible.

2. The biblical story of creation is meant to supplant other ancient creation stories more than imitate them. Moses wants to show God’s people “this is how things really happened.” The Pentateuch is full of warnings against compromise with the pagan culture. It would be surprising, then, for Genesis to start with one more mythical account of creation like the rest of the ANE.

3. The opening chapters of Genesis are stylized, but they show no signs of being poetry. Compare Genesis 1 with Psalm 104, for example, and you’ll see how different these texts are. It’s simply not accurate to call Genesis poetry. And even if it were, who says poetry has to be less historically accurate?

4. This is a seamless strand of history from Adam in Genesis 2 to Abraham in Genesis 12. You can’t set Genesis 1-11 aside as prehistory, not in the sense of being less than historically true as we normally understand those terms. Moses deliberately connects Abram with all the history that comes before him, all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden.

5. The genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 treat Adam as historical.

6. Paul believed in a historical Adam (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21-22, 45-49). Even some revisionists are honest enough to admit this; they simply maintain that Paul (and Luke) were wrong.

7. The weight of the history of interpretation points to the historicity of Adam. The literature of second temple Judaism affirmed an historical Adam. The history of the church’s interpretation also assumes it.

8. Without a common descent we lose any firm basis for believing that all people regardless of race or ethnicity have the same nature, the same inherent dignity, the same image of God, the same sin problem, and that despite our divisions we are all part of the same family coming from the same parents.

9. Without a historical Adam, Paul’s doctrine of original sin and guilt does not hold together.

10. Without a historical Adam, Paul’s doctrine of the second Adam does not hold together.

Christians may disagree on the age of the earth, but whether Adam ever existed is a gospel issue. Tim Keller is right:

[Paul] most definitely wanted to teach us that Adam and Eve were real historical figures. When you refuse to take a biblical author literally when he clearly wants you to do so, you have moved away from the traditional understanding of the biblical authority. . . .If Adam doesn’t exist, Paul’s whole argument—that both sin and grace work ‘covenantally’—falls apart. You can’t say that ‘Paul was a man of his time’ but we can accept his basic teaching about Adam. If you don’t believe what he believes about Adam, you are denying the core of Paul’s teaching. (Christianity Today June 2011)

If you want to read more about the historical Adam debate, check out Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? by C. John Collins.

For more on the relationship between faith and science, you may want to look at one of the following:

Tell Children About the Real Saint Nicholas

December 6th, 2011 3 comments

Why Unbelief is Foolish

December 3rd, 2011 Comments off

St. Hilary of Poitiers (c. AD 315-67):

“All unbelief is foolishness, for
it takes such wisdom as its own finite perception can attain,
and measuring infinity by that petty scale,
concludes that what it cannot understand must be impossible.
Unbelief is the result of incapacity engaged in argument.”

De Trinitate, III.24, cited in Douglas Kelly, Systematic Theology, vol. 1, p. 19.


HT: Justin Taylor

How to Articulate a Christian Worldview in Four Easy Steps

October 24th, 2011 12 comments


What do you think of this from Kevin Deyoung? I think it is pretty good and useful. How would you modify or change it?

One God. We worship one, personal, knowable, holy God. There are not two gods or ten gods or ten million gods, only one. He has always been and will always be. He is not a product of our mind or imagination. He really exists and we can know him because he has spoken to us in his word.

Two kinds of being. We are not gods. God is not found in the trees or the wind or in us. He created the universe and cares for all that he has made, but he is distinct from his creation. The story of the world is not about being released from the illusion of our existence or discovering the god within. The story is about God, the people he made, and how the creatures can learn to delight in, trust in, and obey their Creator.

Three persons. The one God exists eternally in three persons. The Father is God. The Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, is God. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and the Son, is also God. And yet these three—equal in glory, rank, and power—are three persons. The doctrine of the Trinity helps explain how there can be true unity and diversity in our world. It also shows that our God is a relational God.

For us. Something happened in history that changed the world. The Son of God came into the world as a man, perfectly obeyed his Father, fulfilled Israel’s purpose, succeeded where Adam failed, and began the process of reversing the curse. Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world. He rose again from the dead on the third day. By faith in him our sins can be forgiven and we can be assured of living forever with God and one day being raised from the dead like Christ.

Obviously, this doesn’t say everything that needs to be said about the Bible or Christianity. But I find it to be a helpful way to get a handle on some of the most important distinctives of a Christian worldview. Feel free to steal it and use it for yourself. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4.


Report on Restrictions on Religion Worldwide

August 22nd, 2011 1 comment

Disturbing new report from Pew Foundation on the restrictions being placed on religious observance worldwide.

From the report:

The report, Rising Restrictions on Religion, by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, finds that restrictions on religious beliefs and practices rose between mid-2006 and mid-2009 in 23 of the world’s 198 countries (12%), decreased in 12 countries (6%) and remained essentially unchanged in 163 countries (82%).

Because several countries with increasing restrictions on religion are very populous, however, the increases affect a much larger share of people than of states. More than 2.2 billion people – nearly a third (32%) of the world’s total population of 6.9 billion – live in countries where either government restrictions on religion or social hostilities involving religion rose substantially over the three-year period studied

The full report is available here. Here is a graphic illustrating the problem:

The Wicked Game False Teachers Play

July 9th, 2011 2 comments

“It is a very common subterfuge of those who do not want to accept any single doctrine of the divine Word, that they first ascribe it to a person and then, under his name, reject it as a human doctrine. They act in no other way than as if they also certainly believed the Word of Scripture, but they are only loudly objecting against submitting to the authority of a person who is prone to error, and having to accept a human, uncertain interpretation. Through such a maneuver they hope to mislead others, who might notice that they do not unconditionally submit to the Word of God. So, for example, many now are saying nothing honorable since in their hearts they regard Christ as either a liar or a thoughtless babbler when he says: “This is my body, this is my blood.” But rather, in order to be allowed to not believe Christ, and to be able yet to retain their honor amongst Christians, they say: “Oh, we are not one of those Old Lutherans! We stick with the Bible! Those symbolical books were also written by men!” When they’ve said that, they think they must be excused by everyone for rejecting what Christ’s Words say. Will God also accept their excuse “Oh, I’m not an Old Lutheran”? ”

C.F.W. Walther
Der Lutheraner
Volume 2, Number 11
January 1846, pg. 42-43
Translated by Joel Baseley

A Serious Argument Against the Ordination of Women

June 10th, 2011 6 comments


I appreciated these words from an Anglican bishop in Rwanda, perhaps you will too.

A Serious Argument Against the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood and Episcopate

by The Rt. Rev. John Rodgers
June 6, 2011

A Case for the Male-Only Priesthood

God, being a God of order and being all-wise, good, and gracious, has ordered all things in creation for our good. This order in the creation he has retained and renewed in redemption. As part of this good order God has appointed the man to be the head of the family and to be the elder (presbyter) or priest in the wider family of the Church. God’s good order does not envision nor permit women to exercise the ministry of “headship” in the family, nor the ministry of oversight involved in the offices of the priesthood and episcopate as they are understood and practiced by Anglicans. This is in no way detrimental to women for God has an equally significant, different, and complementary ministry for women in the family and in the Church. This godly order is to be enjoyed and respected. When men and women are thus united in partnership we walk in the path of freedom and fulfillment. Other paths may seem attractive and promise much but in the end they prove deceptive and full of contention.

The reasons we hold these convictions are primarily drawn from Scripture. Attempts have been made to interpret the Scriptures to allow women to serve as co-heads of the family and as priests and bishops in the Church. Responsible exegesis simply will not support these interpretations nor does experience confirm them. Alongside Scripture there are other significant reasons found in the experience of God’s people in history and in God’s other book-the book of creation or nature-that corroborate the biblical reasons. We will mention only the most significant of them in this brief chapter.

The primary and chief factual point that we wish to make is this: nowhere in Scripture do we read of a woman being either a priest in the Old Testament or an elder in the New Testament. In the New Testament no woman was chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve apostles. Jesus could have chosen one of the women who accompanied him, prepared her along with the other apostles-in-training, and after the resurrection appointed her an apostle had he felt that to be appropriate. He did not do so. The same is true of the apostles. Not once did they appoint a woman to be a presbyter or bishop. It was the unvarying practice of God’s people from beginning of Israel to the close of Scripture to call men to these official, stated positions in the people of God. Israel did this in sustained and self-conscious contrast to the practice of the surrounding nations and religions.

Read more…

Most Important Archeological Find in Christian History Ever! Or Not.

March 31st, 2011 11 comments

You may have heard about the “discovery” of a document that is being hyped by the media and opportunistic “scholars” as being the “greatest find” ever in the history of archeology related to Christianity, with claims that this find is akin to the Dead Sea scrolls in its importance for Christianity. The best response at this point is simply to tell people that there is, at present, very little actual information about the discovery and the document itself is written in some sort of Hebrew based code-language. It is also very important for people to keep in mind that there were swirling about in the days after Christ’s life a number of heretical sects and groups that combined elements of Christianity and Judaism with various pagan philosophies and religious opinions. There is nothing surprising therefore to find that there may be a document produced by one of these sects. What it contains remains unknown. It may be a wonderful discovery providing yet more extra-Biblical evidence confirming the historicity of the canonical Scripture. Or it may not be. At this point, it is best to ignore the media hype and chatter and wait for some sober-minded evaluation and judgment. I remain disgusted by so-called “scholars” who literally bank on the general public’s ignorance about things that have been well know for many years. Here is but one example of the media-hype over this set of metal plates.