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Showing posts from 2011

The Fuhrer and the lambs

The cracks in the Evangelical Church are beginning to show. In the last year we have seen Evangelical's reject the doctrine of hell and claim the exact date of the second coming. These doctrinal deviations, however, are nothing compared to the widespread moral depravity that we see in the Church. Divorce rates and sex outside marriage are just as high in the Church as they are outside of the Church. Shame on us. We must realize, before it is too late, that changes need to be made in the Church.

Leadership in the Church is where the first changes need to start happening. Our current model, largely understood from a business perspective, is inadequate and does not match the pattern found in Scripture. To be fair, there is no clear model for church leadership in the Bible, but there are certain outcomes that we should expect if the model is working in practice; for example, why is it only the gift of "pastor" that gets a special designation? Are there not many members in th…

Postmodern Certainty

Postmodernism is summed up by the belief that there are no absolutes, what is true for one person may not be true for another person and vice versa. This attitude is understandable considering the amount of differing opinions in the world. For every expert there is a counter-expert or maybe even an anti-expert. The amount of information available at our finger tips is incredible but may not be reliable. Postmodernism undermines our trust in other people's beliefs, but increases the certainty in our own.

People in general believe that they are right because it is impossible for someone to hold a belief that they think is wrong. When human nature is combined with postmodernism we find people who believe they are right without any external reference. This is true of Christians and non-Christians alike.

Christianity is based on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets with Jesus Christ being the cornerstone (Eph. 2:20), which means that Christianity is built on the teachings of the…

Funerals

I was recently just at two funerals. One funeral was for a co-worker who committed suicide, the other funeral was for a 94 year old Grandmother who died from cancer. Having recently lost my Grandma, I have made it a habit to observe those who come and who do not come to a funeral. This is not so I hold it against them, but so that I can remember those who are faithful. However, it also tells me a lot about the people who did not come.

People usually go to funerals because they either know the person who died personally or because they know people who are very close to the person who died. It is a way to say that you loved the person who died and/or love the people who are close. Conversely, there are many more reasons why people do not go to funerals, such as, being out of town, not knowing, previous engagements, etc... The person who died will never know you did not go to their funeral, but those who are close are watching.

If you do not go to a funeral, except for some rare circumst…

Sensuality and Legalism

When living the Christian life we are faced with a narrow road and two ditches, sensuality and legalism. Sensuality is characterized by doing whatever we want to do. It is living for whatever makes us happy in the here and now. There is no forethought to what the long-term implications are, but only rationalization of our actions for maximizing pleasure immediately. Legalism puts rules and personal righteousness above concern for others. It promotes uncompromising confidence in ones own views and leaves no room for the possibility of being wrong.

The fate of those who crash their lives into these ditches are the same. The sensuous, "everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God (Eph. 5:5)." Likewise, the legalistic, "you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in (Matt 23:13)." Being a Christian…

Human Justice

Does God endorse the death penalty? This question elicits passionate responses from both sides of the debate. Reaching a consensus on this question is improbable but it is worthwhile to discuss since God is the judge of all the earth.

The first distinction to be made is that individual Christians should generally not take justice into their own hands, especially if it only affects them. Dietrich Bonhoeffer would argue that there are times when individuals need to take justice into their own hands for the sake of other people, however, that is a more complex discussion which is not the purpose of this article. Jesus tells us, "do not resists the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also (Matt. 5:39)." It is clear that when injustice is done to us we should not seek revenge or retaliate but love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt. 5:44). However, God does give authority to the government. Paul speaking about the …

Once saved always saved

If you go to the top of the CN tower there is a glass floor that you can walk on. Some people enjoy walking on it and looking down, and others are so terrified that they will not go near it. It is not that they don't believe it will hold them up, it is that they don't believe it will hold them up. They understand the materials are strong enough, but there is something deep inside of them that thinks, what if?

When it comes right down to it, they have to admit that they don't believe it is safe. Their actions show what they believe even though they can acknowledge that it is not reasonable. This is very similar to those who profess to believe in Jesus Christ, but do not act like it. James summed it up nicely when he said, "faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:17)." People who do not live out their faith, don't actually believe it. There are people who at one time professed Jesus Christ, but who now claim there is no God. These people ar…

Baptism Takes Two

Baptism is one of the most misunderstood doctrines of our generation. Recently at our church there was somebody who got baptized for the second time because he wanted to rededicate his life. Surprisingly nobody stopped him beforehand, and it did not seem like anybody saw a problem with it. I could only sit there and wonder if this person actually understood what he was doing. Typically in my church people get baptized as an adult by immersion, as an act of obedience and a public declaration of their faith. Is the point of baptism to perform an act of obedience? Is the point of baptism to publicly declare your faith? Only a careful look at the Scriptures can show us God's purpose for baptism.

"Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)." In this speech to the Jews, Peter makes the first call for baptism ever made in the Church. A careful reading of this …

Hell

"For the time when their foot shall slip." The most historically significant fire and brimstone sermon ever preached was derived from this verse found in Deuteronomy 32:35. Jonathan Edwards would most likely be seen as extremist in the Western culture of tolerance. However, if we jettison Hell we are denying Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us. A proper understanding of sin and its penalty is absolutely imperative for eternal life. A desire to be saved from the torments of Hell is not faith and will not save you, but it may be enough to make you think about what really matters.
We read in the Bible about a place called Ghenna, which means valley of Hinnom. Ghenna is translated Hell in most if not all English translations. In Matthew 10:28 it says, "do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." When most of us hear the word Hell we think of place of eternal torment, how is it that J…

The Emerging Church

The Emerging Church, as it has come to be known, has gotten itself into another controversy. Rob Bell, a leader of the Emerging Church, in his book Love Wins suggests that everyone will be saved, and no one will go to Hell. Albert Mohler, a leading voice for conservative Christians, responded to Rob's book, which caused Brian McLaren to responded to Albert Mohler, which then lead to Mohler responding to McLaren.
This clash of world views is a learning experience for all of us. Christianity in North America is moving toward the view of Rob Bell and Brian McLaren. It is very difficult for us to imagine our friends and/or family who are not saved spending eternity in Hell. We don't understand how they could deserve this when in general they are good people.
We don't like the idea of Hell's because we make ourselves the Judge. Knowing our own nature to rebel against God, we find it hard to condemn others. Although this is true of our friends, it is not true of our enemies. W…

Is Jesus the only way?

Everybody must be tolerant! We cannot tolerate someone who is not! These statements may seem ridiculous but it is how our culture functions. Disregarding the fact that no society can continue to function in such a hypocritical way, I would only like to discuss one of the issues that this effects regarding Jesus being the only way to God.
It has been said that all religions lead to God, just like the spokes on a wheel which start far apart, and even opposite each other, connect in the middle. Others, thinking themselves very clever, have said that Jesus is the only way, but He can come to each person through different religions.
These thoughts have been gaining traction in North America even in Evangelical circles. The reason is that it is very difficult for "Christians" to condemn other "good" people we know, just because they don't accept Jesus Christ. Some will be glad to know that Hell is not the topic of this article, but I do want to talk about how this rela…

Division at the Cross

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre stands where Jesus is thought to have been crucified and buried. Currently, there are several Christian groups who have control of the Church. There have been many fights between these groups over this Church, sometimes even resulting in violence. It is thought provoking that on the very ground where the greatest act of injustice occurred and the epitome of loving your enemies was displayed, Christians fight each other while bearing His name.

As much as I would like to condemn these Christians for fighting over a piece of land, it is only a tangible display of what happens in the rest of Christianity. Instead of fighting over land, Christians fight over spiritual superiority all in the name of Jesus Christ. How many groups claim that they are the true Church and are the only ones who are doing things the right way?

If the World did not know what was in the Bible and only had Christians for their knowledge of God, they would think that the Bible teaches…

Abortion a sign for the Watchmen

What is it that causes a group of human being to wipe out another group of human beings? Although it is difficult to ascertain the exact reason, it almost always occurs that one group of human beings considers another group to be less than human. Two examples of this are the Holocaust, and the Rwandan Genocide. In both of these genocides the killers would refer to their victims as animals, such as, rats and cockroaches, which demonstrated their view of them.

Living in a developed country we look at these situations and think that they could never happen here, overlooking the fact that we have more blood on our hands than any other society before us. Some estimate that as many as 42 million babies are aborted each year in the world. The total of the Holocaust is only around 5-6 million and  the Rwandan Genocide is only about 800,000. These numbers pale in comparison to those of abortion. Why is it that we don't consider ourselves as barbaric people? Like those of other genocides we…

Refreshing Scientific view on Creation vs. Evolution

I just listened to a good interview with Jim Tour on Let My People Think at rzim.org. He is the T.T and W.F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Rice Univeristy. Truthfully, I don't know what all that means other than he is a smart man. He was ranked one of the Top 10 chemists in the world over the past decade, by a Thomson Reuters citations per publication index survey, 2009. The list could go on, but I am just trying to establish that he is not some crackpot Christian Scientist. He has a refreshing view on the Creation and Evolution debate which I think is worth reading. Here is an article he wrote on Creation and Evolution.

Creation vs Theistic Evolution

Theistic evolution is on the rise in Christian circles. Francis Collins, Director of the National Center for Human Genome Research, wrote a book called The Language of God. This book brought to light that Christian's are starting to adopt Evolution as the way God created life on this earth. The BioLogos Foundation, founded and built by Francis Collins, is now the voice of theistic evolution in Christian circles. Their stated purpose is to bring harmony between science and faith.

Faith is not separate from science, nor science from faith. Despite repeated assertion of the objectivity of science, we need to remember that science is still done by human beings. It is not infallible as is demonstrated by its constant revision of theories and discoveries. Although modern science has made many great advances, it also seems to be more arrogant and conceited than it has ever been before. Eminent scientists have claimed that philosophy is dead and imply that science is the only true way to …

Biblical Interpretation

One of the consequences of the Reformation is that everybody has becomes their own interpreter for the Bible. This has led to numerous cults and sects within the general umbrella of those claiming to be Christian. Effectively this has subverted the truth claims of the Church since we do not proclaim the truth with one voice. Division is the enemy of truth.

Since different doctrines lead to division, should we not jettison doctrine? No, this is not the solution, since without doctrine we would definitely enter the wild wild west of personal theology. Doctrine is obviously key to the understanding of God, without it we would be left to our own imagination. The key is to determine which doctrine is critical and which doctrine is inconsequential. As Christians we should not be divided over every difference between us.

Some might argue that every point of doctrine is critical and to not uphold even one them would be heresy. Although I would never argue that we should just ignore a certain …

Christian Morals vs. Professionalism

When we go to work we are expected to adhere to a certain code of conduct which we call professionalism. The rules of being professional vary from company to company, but in general they follow the same outline. It is expected that we are not  to insult our fellow co-workers, to be courteous toward them, and to work together even if we don't like each other. Obviously this list is not exhaustive but only represents some of the things that fall under "being professional."

This code of conduct is important for the proper functioning of a company because it has people set aside their differences for the  bottom line. If people are not professional it will cause tremendous damage not only to their own career but also to that of the whole business.

The differences between a church and a business are significant, however, they both depend on good relationships between people to function properly. It is sad to admit that if people behaved at work the way they behaved at church…