Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween as Pagan as Christmans

For all my dear Christian brothers and sisters who adorn the hypocrisy of criticizing Halloween but celebrate "The Christ Mass" (Christmas) and "Ä’ostre" (Easter).

"If the Church is going to rise up against Halloween because of its pagan influence and roots, we ought to equally rise up against Christmas and say- well it is also equally pagan, and recognize it for what it is."
-Jim McClarty

Happy Reformation Day!

HT: Reformed Voices - Christmas Traditions

Creedless Christianity

It seems to be a growing fad amongst "evangelical Christians" mainly of the "Emergent form" to adopt a form of "Christianity" without any bounds, doctrines, or creeds. Often touted by these men and women is "Jesus is our creed" or "all we need is the bible." On the surface such statements seem admirable. However when asked about the specifics of their belief system such "boundless" theology is reckless. Now I'm not the type to try to put God in any "boxes" that He hasn't already placed Himself in. The fact of the matter is He has spoken and told us what He is like and what He is not like, thus He has placed Himself in a "box" so to speak.

Now I am sure you will argue, "Matt isn't the Bible good enough for you?" supposing that by believing a creeds or confessions, those creeds or confessions are somehow an authority over the bible. This is not the case. Rather a creed, confession and especially catechism are statements of belief based upon and subject to Scripture. They are snapshots of the beliefs of a group. This is biblical, since the New Testament speaks often of "The Faith," the objective element of what a person actually believes. It seems to many modern "churches" will speak of belief in Jesus, but when you try to define who Jesus is, they would suggest that such destroys "the Faith."

This might seem silly to say, but the Orthodoxy, the Ecumenical creeds are a summery of the beliefs that encapsulate "Mere Christianity." Strange as it is, the Arians, Unitarians, Socinians, Jehovah's Witness', Etc. all claim to be Bible believing groups. Further they all would defend the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible. If we cannot say that God is Trinity then we surly destroyed mere Christianity and created another form of religion, which is nothing new. This form of thinking ends in a rejection of the Church as a divine institution, and ultimately the rejection of the Bible, the very thing these churches are seeking to hold fast to, yet without bounds.

I does seem strange that even most "emergent" of "emergent" have what they call a statements of faith, however slim they may be. Unfortunately these statements of faith essentially defines themselves as boundless, such thinking is idolatry. God has set up boundaries for Himself. He set up boundaries for Himself, and when we seek to remove them we end up like Aaron in the wilderness of Sinai. (Exodus 32:1ff) This is silly to think that this form of the worship of God would be acceptable to Him.

I pray that we might repent of such idolatry and turn to Christ, as preached by the apostles, defined in scripture, attested to by the saints, and summerised in the Ecumenical Creeds.

Soli Deo Gloria!
Happy Reformation Day!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

How Wide the Divide? - Craig L. Blomberg & Stephen E. Robinson

Clearly there are differences between Mormon and Christian thought. The question is how far apart are the two? This book is an attempt to answer that question and is rather quick read. Unfortunately this book draws some conclusions that the reader could never draw. The book is divided into four main sections each comprised of two main sections as well as a conclusion. This is all explained in the introduction. The four main sections are essentially the Doctrine of Revelation, Theology Proper (Doctrine of God), Christology (Doctrine of Christ), and Soteriology (Doctrine of Salvation). The differences and similarities are summed up in a final conclusion that is in list format.

This list is to say the least shocking, and I believe it would be to both evangelicals as well as latter day saints. So for this review I will essentially start there and work our way back to the other chapters. The first conclusion that the book comes to is that both Christians and Latter Day Saints believe that "The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit are one Eternal God."1 In theory everything looks kosher and if we don't define the term "one Eternal God" then no one will have any complaints. To be fair they do scratch below the surface in the text of the book however it seems the differences do not play into the conclusions. By this definition one could say that Latter Day Saints agree with Oneness Pentecostals or Christians with Jehovah's Witness', clearly not the case. Even a Hindu could say they believe the same thing.

The Latter Day Saint belief about the oneness of God is limited to an oneness of mind and purpose. Dr. Robinson quickly will throw power and glory into this equation but due to his subordination view of Christ to the Father2 such a view cannot be truthful. The Evangelical view is that God is Ontologically one, that is His being is one. Thus, while the statement makes a big "bang" in the see were really not that different, if we define the terms we see we are really miles apart.

The second view that we supposedly have in common is that "Jesus Christ is Lord. He is both the Son of God and God the Son."3 Again if words have no meaning the of course this looks fine and dandy and both Evangelicals and Latter Day Saints would affirm this. However if we were to look at definitions of who Jesus is, we would see that the Latter Day Saint belief and the Evangelical belief are radically different. The Latter Day Saint belief is that God the Son is a literal Son, through sexual acts, of God the Father and Mary.4 Evangelicals on the other hand believe that Christ was formed in the womb of Mary by God through the power of the Holy Spirit, not through a physical act.

Number four was of particular interest to me because it dealt with the atonement. "Jesus Christ suffered, bled and died on the cross as a substitutionary atonement for the sins of the world."5 This one is simply interesting because with two radically different views of heaven I am not sure that a Latter Day Saint can agree to this. The concept of substitutionary atonement would mean that Christ is your substitute when it comes to your sins. However with the Latter Day Saint view of a three tiered view of Heaven6 true substitution is not possible, or is at least contingent upon something. If true substitution happened then even the sins of unbelief, disbelief, or more importantly in Latter Day Saint thought, not preserving to the end would be substituted from you to Jesus Christ. Thus all men would gain celestial Glory. Unfortunately this is not the case because the Latter Day Saint view of the atonement is very limited in it's power.

I could go on, and the book would have been good had the final two chapters not been written and the conclusions been left out for the reader to decide his or her own opinion of How close or "Wide the Divide." Over all I would not recommend this book to a new Christian or someone dealing with Mormonism for the First time, rather I would recommend Mormon America by Richard and Joan Ostling, The Gospel According to Joseph Smith by Ethan E. Harris, and Mormonism Explained by Andrew Jackson (Read it online) from the Christian Prospective and The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball, Mormon Doctrine by Bruce R. McConkie, or The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith by Joseph Fielding Smith from a Latter Day Saint prospective.

1) Craig L. Blomberg, and Stephen E. Robinson. How Wide the Divide?: A Mormon & an Evangelical in Conversation. [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1997], 195. - Return to text
2) Ibid., 130-1,8 - Return to text
3) Ibid., 195 - Return to text
4) Ibid., 139 - Return to text
5) Ibid., 195 - Return to text
6) Ibid., 149-51 - Return to text

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ryan Ferguson quotes Hebrews

Scripture can be wonderfully powerful when quoted. I pray that you will seek to work on your scripture memory and be convicted to do as Ryan has, loving the word and hiding it in our heart.

Grace and Peace.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Son of Man Came Drinking: Was Jesus a Social Drinker?

Our friends over at the Reformed Baptist Fellowship Blog have posted a two part series on Jesus Drinking. In light of recent comments I thought it might be pertinent to link to these articles. Part One is a basic exegesis of a few key passages about our Lord and Savior's drinking habits. This really helps us to understand the issues surrounding drinking. Part Two is more application and follows the same stance taken by the Christian Pint when it comes to drinking alcohol. Dr. Robert Gonzales makes some very wonderful points, and I hope you take the time to read his articles.

The Son of Man Came Drinking: Was Jesus a Social Drinker? Part I
The Son of Man Came Drinking: Was Jesus a Social Drinker? Part II

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Phil Wickham - Singalong

Phil Wickham, the guy touring with Fee has a new album out called Singalong that you can download for free at It's a live album here's a preview if you want watch.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

1 Corinthians 8:5-6

For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

This is a common passage used by anti-Trinitarian groups to prove that the Father and the Son are different beings. First we must understand that this passage is first about food offered to idols. (v1-4, 7-13) Second we must understand that no Christian actually believes that God the Father is the same person as God the Son. That is an ancient heresy called Sabellianism. With these two understandings up front, we can examine the Trinitarian argument Paul infers in the passage.

First we must see that Paul is in no way speaking of a plurality of Gods, he calls these idols, "so-called gods." That is things which by nature are not God. Then speaking to Christians he states that there is "one God, the Father." If the passage ended there then it would be an open and shut case, yet it does not. Paul goes on to say there is "one Lord, Jesus Christ." Anyone who has a small understanding of the Old Testament would then see this as a restatement of the "Shema," Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. This is the earliest creed in the Judaism.

Further more Paul parallels what the Father does with what the Son does. Note, "from whom are all things and for whom we exist," compared to "through whom are all things and through whom we exist." The first is speaking of the Father, "from whom are all things," this languages is echoed in the statement about the Son, "through whom are all things." So all things are from the Father through the Son, yet Paul goes even further stating that we exist for the Father, yet how do we exist for him, through the Son. Paul echoes this statement in Colossians 1:16-17 where he states that "all things were created through him" and "in him all things hold together." This is not something you could say of a mere man, or a mere prophet. These statements are something that could only be made of God.

Finally if we are to exclude Jesus from the title of God we must also exclude the Father from the title of Lord. By this logic the Shema makes absolutely no sense nor does half the Old Testament where God is referred to as LORD God. This leaves us with only one conclusion that can be drawn, Jesus is as John wrote, the Word become Flesh. God incarnate, God clothed in Humanity.

Soli Deo Gloria

The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. - The Apostle Paul