Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Um... It Doesn't Mean That...

I saw a tweet that hit one of my hot buttons this morning. It was a tweet that expresses a common Evangelical misunderstanding of a well-known verse of Scripture. It was this tweet:

The “so” in John 3:16 translates the Greek word οὕτως (houtōs), and it means “in this way,” not “so much.” Consider the excellent way that the Holman Christian Standard Bible translated John 3:16:

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

[The HCSB translators got πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων ("everyone who believes") right, too – but that is another discussion for another time.]

But modern emotionalistic Evangelicalism, as in the tweeted example here, likes to teach that “God loved the world so much that He just had to send Jesus to save sinners.” Let's think about that idea for a minute.

God doesn't need anything or anybody. God did not have to save sinners. God did not have to create us in the first place. The fact that God chose to create us, chose to allow sin into the world, and chose to save some of us from the just penalty of our sin, while reflecting God's goodness, mercy, and love, in no way implies that God needed to do anything. God is glorified in creation, He is glorified in His wrath upon unrepentant sinners, and He is glorified in His salvation of repentant sinners through the cross of Jesus Christ – but God is never needy.

God's love, like all of God's attributes, is infinite and perfect, so to try to tag God's love with qualifiers like “so much” is just silly, no matter how many o's you add to “so.”

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Squirrel's Theology in a Nutshell: Knowing God's Will

My Three Easy Steps for Finding & Staying In God's Will:

  1. Do what the Bible tells you to do
  2. Don't do what the Bible tells you not to do
  3. Do what you want to do

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Why I Am Still A Southern Baptist

  • We commented about the total lack of doctrinal standards applied to the question of what books are sold at LifeWay Christian Resources stores.
  • We remarked about the danger of false conversion brought on by a climate of “easy believism” and belief in “decisional regeneration.”
  • We discussed inflated membership numbers driven by pride and ego in leadership.
  • We talked about how national entities and state conventions ignore the wishes of local churches, and how political expediency instead of Biblical conviction so often drove the decisions made at all levels.

I was one of four Southern Baptists who spoke from the platform at the 2014 Reformation Montana conference, and, despite the fact that slamming the SBC was not the focus of the conference by a long shot, each of us had critical things to say regarding the current state of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Several times during the conference, I had people come up to me and ask variations on the same question. They would say something like, “You've got a lot of harsh things to say about the Southern Baptist.” Then they would ask, “Why are you still a Southern Baptist?”

Good question.

Here is my answer to that question:

On October 31 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door the Castle Church at Wittenberg, Germany, he had no intention of starting the Protestant Reformation. No, what he was doing was calling for reform. He had identified some… Issues… Inside the Catholic Church that he felt needed to be addressed. And, so, Martin Luther was calling for debate on these issues. You know, stuff like the selling of indulgences and the use of Church funds to build ever more elaborate palaces for the popes and the bishops to live in. He wasn't trying to split the church, he was trying to fix the church.

That, as history shows, didn't work very well. And 3 years later, the Roman Catholic Church threw Martin Luther out. Actually, the Roman Catholic Church wanted to kill Martin Luther, as they had Jan Hus 100 years before (Hus had pointed out many of the same problems that Luther later saw. In fact, Luther was influenced by the writings of Hus.) But Luther was smuggled away and hidden by some of his friends. And that, Martin Luther's excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church, is what really began the Protestant Reformation. Until that happened, Martin Luther was trying to work inside the church to correct the errors of the church, and bring the Roman Catholic Church back into line with what is taught Holy Bible. But the pope in the bishops rejected the calls to reform, and the Protestant Reformation, with its calls to Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone), Sola Fide (by faith alone), Solus Christus (through Christ alone), Sola Gratia (by grace alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (for the glory of God alone) began to revolutionize Christianity and restore the true Biblical faith.

The Protestant Reformation grew and spread, and Protestant theologians, examining the Scriptures, began to develop doctrines and theological understandings that were further at odds with what the Roman Catholic Church taught than even Luther's 95 Thesis had been. And, so, almost 30 years after the Reformation began, the Roman Catholic Church called a council in the city of Trent in northern Italy to respond to this growing challenge to church authority and church teachings. The Council of Trent met several times from 1545 until 1563, and, in the end, determined that all of the Protestants were damned for rejecting the authority of the Pope and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. If anyone believed what the Protestant Reformers taught, then, according to Rome, that person was anathema – damned. And, because Roman doctrine considers the Roman Catholic Church itself to be infallible, the pronouncements made by the Council of Trent are still the official position of the Roman Catholic Church today. Rome still says, "If anyone believes what the Reformers taught, let him be anathema." For Rome cannot say otherwise without saying that the Council of Trent was wrong, which would destroy their insistence on the church of Rome's infallibility.

So, why am I still a Southern Baptist? I was raised a Southern Baptist. My parents, my grandparents, all were Southern Baptists. I cannot easily turn my back on such heritage. The Southern Baptist Convention is flawed; it is ill. But I do not believe it is beyond recovery. I'm still a Southern Baptist because there are men, others like me, within the Southern Baptist Convention calling for and working towards reform. And I must stand with them, joining my voice to theirs in calling for reform. If it is possible to pull this convention back from the brink of utter ruin and rank heresy, then we must do all that we are able to see this thing done. The stakes are high, the task is difficult, and the road is long and hard, but we must try.

Why am I still a Southern Baptist? I am still a Southern Baptist because, until the SBC cast me out, and, holding its own "Council of Trent," pronounces me anathema, then a reform-minded southern Baptist I will remain.

“Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me.”

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