Just and the Justifier

A Christian Distinctive

Archive for the tag “Paul Washer”

Comments on ‘What Southern Baptists must do to slow their decline’

RE: What Southern Baptists must do to slow their decline | On Faith & Culture.

I have been reading various reports about ‘Hemorrhaging Faith’; here in Canada and in the United States. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada produced a report by that name last year. And the Southern Baptists have engaged in introspective navel gazing in response as statistics of declining membership etc catch up with the reality of their loss of spiritual vitality some time ago. Empirical statistics are always, at best, lagging indicators in a spiritual setting. Sometimes, they could be false indicators; as the leadership hierarchy roll out initiatives, which might inflate the numbers in a brief burst of ersatz spiritual fireworks.

I could give my own deep and comprehensive rendering of the problems. And I would probably be 90-95% correct. But my efforts would be of little use. This would be due partially to the fact that I would be perceived as an outsider in a variety of ways. Rebuke and reproach is only effective, at best, if the person addressed believes that one is, at heart, on their side; that the advice given is from someone who is genuinely interested in their welfare, apart from any personal benefit to the counselor. Loyal criticism from one’s own is always preferred. Outside criticism sends the guard goes up. The wagons are circled.

A particular problem with SBC members is that they demonstrate fierce denominational nationalism and pride; not the type of attitude that is prone to self-doubt and introspection. And I have been acquainted with this proud and unbecoming sectarianism, which is particularly unique to Southern Baptists and puzzling to outsiders; in Israel, America and back here. I see something of the same in Conventional Baptists in Canada. But that is another story.

Read more…

Dilution of the Gospel (Part 1)

I visit the local Tim Horton’s to do a little scribbling, usually on a daily basis. And of course, invariably one will pick up on other people’s conversations. And as a matter of course, the committed Christian, especially pastors, intend that their conversations be overheard as part of their proselytizing efforts. I feel no guilt in eavesdropping on that which is intentioned to be eavesdropped.

The general tenor of the discourse of these two young and still zealous pastors concerned the general state of the Church. And the one line of thought that I picked up essentially went like this. “It is not adultery [or other sins] that is primary problem within the Church; but the passivity and lukewarmness”.

The sentiment derives from the admonition to the Church in Laodicea.

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.1

In light of an incident the week before, a sermon on Salvation, it stirred my mind into a fury to remark:

The problem is not that ‘Christians’ nowadays are lukewarm and passive. They are lukewarm and passive because they are not Christians; not converted; not regenerated.

And they are not converted/regenerated because of silly preachers (of which I exclude these serious pastors), who dilute and thereby denigrate the true Gospel, which starts off with a solid understanding of Justification that grips, sears and scars the mind/heart; before moving onto sanctification. Otherwise, those sanctification messages, which seem to constitute 95% or more of sermons, merely become moralist adages to prod the stubborn mule of natural men’s hearts. Justification is the moral/legal license by which God can justly justify and grant His Spirit in the regeneration and repair of souls.

It is a general belief in Evangelical circles, amongst both Calvinist and Arminian circles, that a born-again person can never be lost. I am still at a loss as to how Arminian theology can credibly and coherently reach that conclusion. And even as a Calvinist, I must remember that this verity exists on the existential plane that God perceives these realities, lest one become prone to presumption. As Paul Washer declares in his final remarks in Ten Indictments against the Modern Church:

You see, my dear friend, I have great assurance when I study my own conversion, when I discuss it with other men, when I look over the twenty-five years of my pilgrimage with Christ, I have great assurance of having come to know him.

But even now, if I were to depart from the faith, and walk away, and keep going in that direction, into heresy, into worldliness, it could be the greatest of proofs that I never knew him. That the whole thing was a work of the flesh.

I know what I am saying is outstanding to you. You think, oh my, I have never heard such a thing, this is the old…read Pilgrim’s Progress.2

Thus, according to this justifiable understanding of Perseverance of the Saints, if those at the Church in Laodicea, who were passive and lukewarm, could be spit out of My mouth if they fail to repent of such tepidness, they will either repent or they were never truly converted/regenerated. If the congregation needs to be prodded like mules towards virtue and graciousness, it is good indication of the general unregenerate state of the church. Passivity and tepidness are mere symptoms.


NOTES

1.        Revelation 3:15-17

2.        Paul Washer, “Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church in America”, Revival Conference 2008, Transcript accessed at http://media.sermonaudio.com/mediapdf/102308839520.pdf on April 21, 2013, p 61.

The Coming Persecution in America: Paul Washer

That a great persecution of existing Christians in the West, including the U.S. will occur, I have not doubt. A fabulist, pre-Tribulation Rapture requires fantastic elasticity of Biblical interpretation to mould this fanciful speculation into doctrinal orthodoxy. It coagulates from pockets of Scriptural mist, more vaporous than those justifying the ever-virginal quality of Mary, the mother of Jesus’ brothers and sisters (Matthew 13:55). Even the Mormon doctrine of baptizing for the dead has clearer outlines of justification (1 Corinthians 15:29); even if there exists only one verse, which gives that birth.

It is not an issue of whether there will a resurrection of the dead and rising of those living, when Christ appears. It is a question of chronology and number of Second Comings. It is a question of fidelity to an interpretative key in Scriptures; that a doctrine can be garnered, only through a minimum of two or three clear Scriptural witnesses (2 Corinthians 13:1). I have read too much Christian history. I have observed too much irrationality, too many absurdities, travesties and atrocities, originating from the creative innovations of peasant seers and vainglorious theologians.

The fluff that is proffered to support this doctrinal contention defies integrity and rationality. Serious persecution of Christians is proliferating around the world. Tentative forays are occurring in Europe. Initial probes are occurring in Canada. It is astonishing Exceptionalist vanity that the American Church should avoid that which 95% of the world is experiencing.

Nevertheless, even if one holds the pre-Tribulation Rapture position, it might be prudent not to hold the position too tenaciously. If it comes to pass, well and good. But if it does not come to pass, one might not be prepared for that any “hell that’s going to break loose on us”. If the doctrine has vaporous foundations; the basis for any anathemas against those who doubt it floats in total ether. Requirement of that belief in order to be a Christian and even for church membership, adds “mental works” to faith in Christ.

Where I might detour from Paul Washer’s warning, involves perhaps speculative eschatology and sociological prophecy in the light of political theory, psychology, history and Scriptures. I don’t have, at all, a bad record in this sideline. I would not dare consider myself a prophet of Biblical proportions. But while some Southern Baptist radio station owner is astonished at recent turn of events about same-sex rights, one of my essays in Grade 13 journalism class (1977-8), saw the writing on the wall on the coattails of the Black civil rights movement. This is a good decade before the self-interested Andrew Sullivan was given credit for that prediction. Read more…

Jefferson Bethke, Religion and the Evangelical Inquisitors

A year ago, a young Turk, Spoken Word poet Jefferson Bethke, puts out a winner evangelistic YouTube video, which has garnered in excess of 24 million hits to date. And the response from an outfit called the Gospel Coalition, a self-appointed Evangelical ‘Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’? No less than three of its regular bloggers saw fit to take Bethke to task on points of minutiae. To his credit of his person and profit to his ministry, Bethke responded with humble supplication to assuage the ego of one of these Guardians of the Faith.

The fiery darts that originate from within Christendom were more frequent and with understandably more sting than those from outside. If one is largely naive of the state of Christendom, one is prone not to place another shield against that direction.

About the actual critique though, I’ll be honest, there were times after the poem came out that I just started to crumble. The pain of the critiques was too painful (which I talk about later)… But the tone, words, and down right vitriol from fellow brothers and sisters in the faith have crushed me. I’m a 22 year old dude who has only been out of college 6 months, and who has only been walking with Jesus for a few years. I am beyond thankful to the older godly men who chose to pick up the phone and find ways to contact me privately, before discussing me publicly. I personally had to stop reading and trying to follow the blogs because Jesus showed me pretty quickly it wasn’t healthy for my heart (whether praise or critique). The ones I did come across stung. Some hardly even dealt with my content, but wrote more about my character, my salvation (or lack thereof), my looks, my poetry, etc. Part of me was extremely hurt, while part of me started to really wonder how blog posts fit into the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:36.1

Read more…

Post Navigation