Every Christian An Anthropologist

May 19, 2013
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Anthropology is the study of human beings and their similarities/differences to animals. I contest that every Christian is an anthropologist. We have to be. Genesis 1 warrants us to be nothing less. Verse 26 of that chapter says this, “then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.””

This is the blazingly clearest distinction any human being ever needs to understand the similarities and differences to animals. God created us both. We, like animals, have that creator-creature distinction. In addition to that, humans are created in the image of God; animals are not. Humans are given rulership over animals; not the other way around.

Why is this so important for Christians? It is important because if we forget how we were created, we are tempted at every turn to blur the creator-creature distinctions between us and humans/animals all day long. Knowing that every human is created in the image of God affects us how we view every single human being. Why? Because they were made the same way as you, which means if you think of yourself as special and unique, then you ought to think of every other human being as such. Humility seeps in and arrogance is forced out. Self-righteousness is done away with and sacrifice replaces it. This impacts every possible type of relationship we can have – man to man, woman to woman, and man to woman.

Popularity or prestige or power has no rank in this fight. When we all recognize that we came into this world the same way with different stories, nothing else matters. What you have or believe or do for a living can make you different from the next person, but nothing beyond that. This cuts into how men view women and vice versa. No longer objects of pleasure and comfort, but people who share the image of God along with you. That is so powerful. Gender battles are minimized somewhat due to this truth. Testing one’s manhood or womanhood gains  you nothing. Valuing the fact that each of us share the image of God is priceless.

This also spills over into how we view animals. It is undeniable that how we view things will determine how we treat them. If we view animals are Gods’ creations first, and things we are to care for and rule over second, then we can rightly treat them with the right motive in which God commanded us in Genesis.

Now I don’t write this with some blind eye to the presence of sin. However, I do write this with an understanding that the death and resurrection of Jesus destroyed the power of sin for the Christian. Therefore, all you Christians have the power over sin because you are in Christ Jesus, the one who destroyed the stronghold. The same stronghold that blurs the lines of gender battles. Let us embrace a Christian understanding of anthropology.


The Fast And Furious

May 18, 2013

In Southern Baptist life, there’s been major contention between the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’ going on for a few years. I’m not real sure either group knows what the argument is really about. Each side sees themselves as right and the other side as wrong. Many shots have been fired from the beginning of the sentence to the period. It’s hard to tell how many casualties there have been, but as I read and blogs, I see the mudslinging continuing and now everybody’s all dirty.

There’s a local pastor whom I love dearly who has entered the fray first with his book and now several recent posts about this contention. I’m used to him adding levity and ease to raucous, but not this time. And I’m sure there are others just dying to enter as well. I refrain from reading comments left on all of those posts simply because they both add fuel to a fire that no one owns up to starting, and I refer to the commenters as 2 fast and 2 furious. They don’t even use mud when they sling their vicious verbal attacks at the other side.

So where do I stand and where do I think we should go?

I am a Calvinist. Won’t shy away from admitting that and standing in the Reformed (Baptist) circle. However, I don’t think this debate is worth another article on either site, and should just be done away with to focus on other issues. And here’s why: both sides want to see people saved and the church built up. Both sides claim to want to bolster the kingdom of God. That’s enough for me. I could care less if a person in the other camp believes what I do about salvation. I care less if they believe what I do about ecclesiology, ordinances, eschatology, and family ministry. With that in mind, I think we as a convention (SBC) should go far far away from this frantic fray and start focusing on other issues that require we all check our systematic beliefs and seek to be  coherent, consistent, and equally hungry to see biblical commands obeyed within the life of the local church.

If I had my pick of the next topic of discussion, I’d choose the switch from systematic theology to biblical theology. Why? Because I for one am overly tired of our Baptist pastors and their people being so willing to overlook and ignore the Old Testament.

So there you have it, fast and furious.

Should We Teach Failure?

May 16, 2013
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“Failure is not an option.”

“Never teach your kids that failure is acceptable.”

“Be positive and never think failure.”

These are all things that are said to our society from ‘those’ who know what’s best. I think it’s time we rethink the educational push we get from ‘those’ people. Pun intended. But I’m of the mindset that it’s a great thing to teach failure within reason. This blanket statement approach taken towards the idea of failure is in fact a failure that we fail to label as such.

I’d love to get your take on this

Theology At The Graveyard

May 16, 2013
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As Memorial Day approaches and Mother’s Day having passed, many Christians will find themselves at a graveyard. And in most cases, they will visit loved ones gravesites that they lost yet love so much that they’ve set aside some time to visit them. And here’s where I want to ask you, Christian, about your theology.

Do you believe that the people who die are actually in the ground where you buried them? Now that is not some trite question I pose. I actually intend you to consider this question. The reason I ask this initially is because this isn’t some ‘Christian only’ response. It’s one that is shared with those who’d never call themselves Christians. But why do I even bring this up?

I bring this up because your theology either frees you here or it fails you. You may ask what could I possibly mean. What you believe about the recent dead determines if you’ll end up at the graveyard. See everybody believes their loved ones died and went to heaven, am I right? In fact I’d be willing to argue that we only think the worst-of-the-worst die and go to hell because they deserve it.

So we can all start with the notion that if we’re taking time out of our schedules to go to a graveyard, it’s because we consider this person to be a loved person. And because they have that rank in our hearts and minds, we also consider them to be in heaven. This is where the theological ball drops…..if they are in heaven, then why are you visiting the graveyard in the first place?

You say you go to pay your respects, and I sincerely believe you. But I must ask if you apply the same premise in other situations. For instance, do you take flowers to the location where you last saw a person  even though you believe that person to no longer be there? Of course you don’t. That sounds foolish, and indeed it is. The issue is that it’s now considered the ‘norm’ to go visit the dearly departed at the graveyards, and sad to say this is where most Christians check out mentally. They leave their theology at the home. I can almost imagine Christians leaving the site and cheering each other up with the thought that they’re ‘in a better place now’ which equals to them being in heaven.  It’s as if they screw back on their theological cap after completely contradicting their beliefs.

Let’s not fall into that trap again. Now is time we allow our beliefs to permeate throughout every thought and decision we have on a daily basis.

I’ll just briefly mention that we believe them to be in heaven, and yet we talk at a grave. They’re not there! Even as far as we want to believe. “But they can’t hear us in heaven” you may respond. Okay…so again you recognize them to be in heaven unable to hear you, yet and still you go to a place they aren’t and talk at a place they don’t reside. Hmm…am I the only one twirling my thumbs on this one?

No matter how we spin this thing, it always comes out crooked.

Message to Mothers on Mother’s Day

May 11, 2013
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As Mother’s Day looms around the corner, I began to ponder just what I would say if given the chance to preach at a church that Sunday. It’s something I find very simple and very necessary to be said. But first, let me tell you what I wouldn’t say or even hint at.

Since Mother’s Day falls on Sunday, and most families treat it like Easter Sunday, that means there will be a lot of filled churches that day. I honestly can’t say I’m happy about that, but that’s for another post. What I can say is that most families get dressed up to celebrate their mom and hear how wonderful mothers are to the world, and that’s exactly what they hear from the pulpit. I can honestly say I’m angered by that. The Lord’s Day isn’t about the mom or how wonderful she is or how she deserves to be cared and pampered with love on her day. It’s about…………..wait for it………….the Lord. I apologize for being so ornery about this but it pains me year after year to hear pastors deliver sermons about the awesomeness of women that would make even the most militant feminist nod her head in agreement. No! Preach about Jesus and the glorious plan of God to save people. Then include women.

Sorry, I got off topic a bit. Ok, I’m back.

Here’s a brief look at what I’d tell the congregation full of families: “It’s about time you brought your families to church!”

I’m not kidding here. Too many families leave kids here and there, in that room or at home. And for what? Like I stated earlier, Mother’s Day is very similar to Easter where families are all dressed up and somewhat prepared to be together in the service as a family to show that strong united front. I may as well take advantage to talk about the family.

But who’s family will I talk about? Surely you should know the answer by now. I’d tell them about God’s family and he’s building it even still. I’d tell how God made men and women in his image. Then I’d tell how God is making one people out of all nations to give to his son one day. That’s the church. And then I’d tell the role of women as the church in marriage and how important that role is solely because it points us to the gospel. It’s ALL about the gospel. That’s why I’d mention the family. Why I’d talk bout image bearers. Why I’d talk about salvation. Why I’d talk about a role in marriage. It’s the gospel.

So my message to all mothers is this – consider bringing your entire family with you to church every Sunday to sit and hear the preached Word so that your family can learn to value God and obey Jesus for all the lavish gifts given to them.

Come Just As You Are?

May 11, 2013
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This phrase has caused great comfort for many people over many years. It’s been used in many different contexts. Church members trying to persuade non-members to come to church. Pastors trying to persuade pew-warmers to come to the altar (to get saved?). Singers trying to comfort listeners that they’re never too bad to come to Jesus. There are many more contexts also. But are any of these contexts found in the text?

What you are matters, does it not? Who you are matters too. I mention this because you are made in the image of God yet who you are from birth is a marred image of God in need of salvation.

The funny thing about that phrase is it’s never explicitly or implicitly spoken of by God in the Old Testament or the New. This phrase emphasizes the man-centered focus that contradicts the godly man described in the Bible. Come just as you are leads far too many to believe that they are in a tolerable position before a holy God. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Jesus says all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and that all hate righteousness while loving their wicked deeds. Every person who is born is born just like that. That’s who they are. And since that’s who they are, why on earth would they want to come to Jesus?

The most gracious thing about this biblical truth is that God comes to us simply because we’d never come to him. He comes to us through his Spirit by way of the satisfactory atoning death and rising of his son, Jesus. The Spirit, in John 3, goes about giving life to those who are spiritually dead and unable to come.  That folks is grace! That’s what folks should come to.

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Culture War

May 11, 2013
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When this phrase is spouted by the media, a friend, or a pastor, just what are they getting at? I’d be willing to bet that they all mean something different in the particular details. However, the one thing they all have in mind is that our culture is colored by war between different groups, and relationships just aren’t what they’re supposed to be.

Well there’s a reason for that.

This war began in a place we’ve never been to nor could we ever visit. This war took place in a time we have a hard time pinpointing with our mathematical prowess. This war involved 3 people that others would argue have nothing to do with them, but in fact have EVERYTHING to do with them and us.

There he is, God, walking in the cool of the day in the garden of Eden. Looking for the one whom he’s spent time with as animals are named and commands are doled out and relationships are fostered with clarity. Calling out to Adam, God is faced with the first trial of his image-bearer sinning and having to withhold his character. 3 people are about to witness something spectacular, well from the reader’s point of view.

Satan involves himself in the glorious plan of God, and image-bearers find themselves at the brink of the war. God commands for holiness; Satan conceives for haughtiness. Some may call it a back-and-forth game, but it’s not a game when you’re the winner and the opponent knows he’s already lost. Yet the war rages on.

Adam and Eve sinned against God. Satan tempted them. God cursed all 3 of them. And ever since his cursing, the war has plagued every single aspect of the world. So if you want to know why the world is so messed up around us, look at Genesis 3 where 3 people got cursed and God showed himself holy and faithful to judge sin.

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Unnecessary Division

May 7, 2013
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There are two things within the streams of orthodoxy that I’m well aware of that suffer from what I’ve entitled this blog, unnecessary division. I call it unnecessary because, the way I see it, man has taken something given as a unit and sought to separate it into pieces until it’s divided into preferred categories for the sole purpose of labeling and thinking of them in preferred terms. Unnecessary I say.

These two things are the Law and Spiritual Gifts.

The tripartite division of the Law is usually defined as moral, civil, and ceremonial. The bi-fold division of the Spiritual Gifts is defined as normative and apostolic. Where these divisions came from in its true origin only the Lord knows. One thing is for certain, they did not come from the text.

What are we doing with the inspired Word? I ask because I don’t believe those who divide these two things up are being quite fair with the text. They are presented as a unit. Maybe due to one’s easy-to-learn paradigm or fears, these two valuable things for the Church have suffered a great deal of inaccurate dicing and slicing. It’s far better to let the text speak for itself, even if it scares some of us or seems like a lot to take in.

The Law as given by Moses is one lump sum and Jesus came to fulfill it all. The Spiritual Gifts are given as one lump sum to the body of Jesus by the one and same Spirit that resides within every believer, and unless I’ve missed something in the text, that modus operandi hasn’t ceased simply because so many of us within orthodoxy have become schoolgirl frightful of abuses and misuses.

It’s time to man up and let the Word stand!

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