Monday, June 8, 2015
So it's been awhile since I wrote anything. I need to work on that.
So today I read something that bothered me deeply. I've been aware of the western church's love of being persecuted for quite some time now. We're basically the best drama queens you will find. We love nothing more than when we suspect persecution so that we can cry out to the world about the "injustice" we're facing and use it to justify some strange, and usually politically motivated, "end of days" theory. Usually I can find a way to largely ignore this immature side of the church. But this particular article struck a nerve with me.
We've all been inundated in the last few years by reports of abuse in the church. Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill, Bill Gothard, Bob Jones University, The Duggar Family, The Village Church, Tony Jones, and on and on the list goes. But do you know where the outcry is usually coming from when real abuse cases, such as the ones I just listed, arise? Not the church.
We've largely chosen to either applaud the abuse, bury our heads in the sand, or to write it off as no big deal. It was because they were liberal/conservative (whichever camp we tend to disagree with), it happened to other people that we don't know, it's an isolated case. Or its nothing more than lies designed to persecute good and faithful believers.
At least that's what is more comfortable to believe.
The big outcry is coming from outside the church. People who are leaving because of things they've experienced, or have left already. And people who never claimed Christ to begin with.
There's something very very wrong with this picture.
We should be the first and the loudest in labeling the abuse for what it is and condemning it. But at some point we forgot to put the gospel into practical application in our lives. Or, perhaps more likely, the church doesn't understand the gospel as well as it claims to. Which makes applying it impossible.
We all say we're not perfect, but only perfect in Christ. Yet when our sin is pointed out, we forget this so we try to find ways to justify or explain it away. We cannot believe that someone, especially someone we deeply respect, who would claim Christ could possibly be in sin.
We say we're showing grace to known abusers by "forgiving them" and giving them a place in the church to, once again, abuse others. We do not understand what either forgiveness or grace truly are.
We cannot forgive someone who has not hurt us, only the ones directly wronged can do that. And putting a known abuser back into a position of authority without any proof or evidence of a changed and repentant life is not grace. At best it's naïveté. At worst it's partnering with the abuser - its enabling and condoning the abuse.
We marginalize the victims by writing off or silencing their stories. And we re-victimize them by pressuring them to forgive and forget the trauma they've been through. There is no love in this. There is only selfishness and self-righteousness.
The article that I mentioned, which I will now address directly, takes this self-righteousness a step further. Now we're not just silencing the hurting and enabling the abusers, we're now attempting to justify our sin by choosing to see the world's just anger in response to the abuse as persecution. Which, apparently, is now being called, "stage two of the church's exile".
Where I was for the first stage, I'm not entirely sure...
"For those of us in ministry who were culture watchers, Exile Stage One was a heady time. Only we never called it Exile Stage One. We simply called it “Exile”, and pored over biblical texts such as the exilic book of Daniel and its New Testament counterpart 1 Peter. After all no one ever called World War One “World War One” before World War Two came along, right? It was simply the Great War."
Firstly, he admits to spending significant amount of time reading exilic texts while "watching culture". So of course they saw an exile, even though there was none to see. If you want to see something badly enough, you will. Its what drives the Martyr Syndrome.
Secondly, notice how the author is setting us up. Church vs culture is being likened to a war. That, my friends, is a major red flag.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. - Ephesians 6:12
The great subtle deception of the conservative church is in thinking that we are warring with culture, people, and political movements that differ from our own values. This philosophy is in direct contradiction with Scripture. The battle is a spiritual one. And how does the Bible tell us to react to spiritual battles? Not by condemning people or allowing ourselves to see them as our enemies. Or even allow ourselves to fear anyone. The rest of that passage says nothing about being at war with culture or people. It talks about standing in faith and the gospel and in prayer.
" In the last five or six years the culture (read: elite framework that drives the culture) is increasingly interested in bringing the church back into the public square. Yes, you heard that right. But not in order to hear it, but rather, in order to flay it, expose its real and alleged abuses and to render it naked and shivering before a jeering crowd. It is Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego standing up before the statue of gold, whilst everyone else is grovelling and going, “Pssst, kneel down for goodness sake!” It is officials conspiring with the king to show that Daniel’s act of praying towards Jerusalem three times per day is not simply an archaic and foolish hope, but a very real threat to the order of the society and the new moral order that will hold it together."
The author has moved on now, attempting to strike fear into the hearts of his readers (1 John 4:18, anyone?) by painting a picture that we conservatives love to live in fear of: the abuse accusations leveled against various organizations and leaders are not evidence of a serious sin problem within Christendom. No, it's a sign of persecution.
I don't think I even need to explain what is so very wrong with that logic. At least, I hope I don't have to.
"If the primary characteristic of Exile Stage One was supposed to be humility, the primary characteristic of Second Stage Exiles will have to be courage. Courage does not mean bombastic pronouncements to the world, not at all. It has to be much deeper than that. It will mean, upon hearing the king’s command that no one can pray to any god save the king for thirty days, that we go into our rooms with the window open towards Jerusalem and defy that king even as our accusers hunt us down. It means looking the king in his enraged face and saying, even in our God does not rescue us from the flames, we will not serve your gods or bow down to your statue of gold."
He moves forward without first substantiating his claims that we're on the verge of true persecution or "exile". He jumps from the abuse allegations to somehow concluding that our right to pray is about to be robbed from us. But there's no logical connection between the two.
He then goes on to criticize Christians who do not see secular culture as inherently evil or something to be avoided.
"Simply put, we assume that we can have more impact on culture than it can have on us. That is dangerously naive thinking. Jesus never said the culture will misunderstand you; he said the world will hate you. He did not say to his disciples, “Display reckless abandon and go out there and change culture”; he said “fear not, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)."
'fear not...' I wonder if he really thought about that text as he wrote this article. The entire piece is designed to teach us that a war is coming. A one-sided war, in which we have no hope of being the victors. Only a certain future of being hunted down and forced to worship false gods under threat of imminent and tortuous death.
Although, I do suspect that he and I would agree on this point: It's neither wise nor is it the Christian's duty to attempt to change culture. At least I don't recall that being mentioned in the Great Commission.
Next he addresses the shift of language in the church:
"A church that has gone all loose on language for the sake of reaching the culture—dropping the categories given to it by its time-tested theology—is suddenly finding its own terminologies and thought-forms used against it, and it is unsure how to respond. When it comes to sexual ethics now, it is not simply that traditional Christianity has “strange” or “weird” or even “interesting” perspectives, but rather “wrong”, “bad”, “unenlightened”, even “sinful” positions. Read the opinion pages."
But didn't explain Biblically why this is a bad thing. I assume its because he doesn't appreciate people outside the church calling us unenlightened or wrong. But sometimes Christians are unenlightened and just plain wrong. In fact we very often are. Just like nonChristians can be unenlightened and wrong. We're not special in this regard. We're not infallible. We will, or should, continue to learn and grow our entire lives. And sometimes this means we misinterpret something and follow bad theology. We just need to be humble enough to be open to the idea that we, too, can fall into error.
He does manage to present a specific example of language that bothers him:
"I observed even yesterday in a social media exchange that a hard secularist was more than happy to use the thought categories of “insider/outsider”, “sinner/saint”, “heresy/truth” “god/devil” in defending his position. Faced with no original language of his own to describe his anathema to the Christian position, he simply said “Don't mind me!”, leaned across and took ours! And here we were being so careful to be seen not to cut anyone with our language."
All this explains is that he dislikes nonChristians using our terminology. But I can't recall a specific passage in the Bible that commands me to protect language/terminology. In fact, I don't recall Christ being at all concerned about terminology. He seemed a little more concerned about reaching out to the people around him. And correcting those spiritual leaders who fell into sin and we were leading others into sin with them.
Now there are churches and teachers who do use watered down language to confuse the issues and soften hard topics in order to avoid offending nonChristians. Or simply because they do not believe those particular things that most "traditional" Christians do. This is likely what he's referring to, if I understand him correctly. This is something that can be addressed specifically on a case by case basis. But its not something I'd ever label as persecution or symptomatic of a coming exile.
I do, however, find it amusing that he takes great pains to confront the supposed failing in the church's use of language today and he will not call what he's referring to by its proper name that has been used by the church since the beginning: persecution. Instead he prefers the exile term. It's splitting hairs, really. Because in the end both seem to be describing the same thing.
Except that he seems to forget that the exile he keeps referring back to as the shadow of our own coming exile was actually Israel's punishment for forsaking and rebelling against God. So if we choose to put our reason aside for a moment and give this author the benefit of the doubt and say that we are, in fact, about to head into exile... then we only have ourselves to blame for the punishment. And we need to stop pointing the finger elsewhere and do some serious self-examination. In that situation we are not blessed for getting to be martyrs for God. We're cursed for sinning against God. And it will only be through serious soul-searching, sincere repentance, and the grace of God that we'd ever find our way out of it again.
If more people thought about it that way, I wonder if we'd all be so quick to try and see persecution in everything .
And this is extremely important, so I want to emphasize this last point: we, who belong to the western church, are not under persecution. Do we disagree with secular culture on certain things? Yes. Sometimes passionately so. But disagreement=/=persecution. And we really need to stop implying, or even outrightly stating that we are under persecution. Its an insult and a slap in the face to people around the world who are experiencing real persecution.
Link to the article: http://australia.thegospelcoalition.org/article/stage-two-exile-are-you-ready-for-it
Saturday, June 7, 2014
Its been awhile since my last post. I do have an idea for a more serious topic that I would love to discuss, but as I'm currently studying the issue to understand it better before I talk about it, I'll post about this. Because... I actually laughed a little when I read it. And then I stopped laughing when I realized he was serious and remembered that there are many people within the conservative Christian subculture that believe this very thing. Using the exact same reasoning. Thus I was inspired to respond to this, although it is a couple of years old and seems to have already made the rounds online. But whats one more voice, right?
So, without further hesitation, here is my response to Doug Wilson's "Competing like a Lady"
One time, many years ago, our family drove up to a summer basketball camp where Nate was participating. While there, we took a look around, and watched some of the action of a girls’ basketball camp, then still in progress. This was a Christian camp, and yet the girls were swaggering around on the court, slapping one another on the butt, and generally acting as unladylike as they could.
While having nothing against girls learning how to put a ball through a hoop, we have a great objection to girls learning anything from instruction that couldn’t care less about protecting and preserving their femininity.
Interesting that he jumps to immediately questioning the Christianity of this camp because
- Girls are slapping eachother's butts
- Girls are "swaggering around"
- Girls are not behaving in a feminine manner
And yet he assumes from the start that it is unfeminine without actually defining first what feminine behaviour is. But lets put that to the side for just a moment. Does he also question the Christianity of men who, in the course of playing sports, might slap eachother on the butt? Or "swagger around" (I'm trying to understand what he meant by that...)? I get the sense from reading this article that he wouldn't. It'd likely be shrugged off as, "boys being boys." But somehow when a woman does it, Christianity itself comes into question. Very interesting, Mr. Wilson.
Wilson then goes on to dismiss archaic beliefs of the past in which women were treated like "porcelain dolls" who were kept under "a glass case", implying that they were wrong attitudes to hold. And allows for the idea that girls can and should be allowed to participate in sports. However, we're limited to only a few sports.
Sports that favor women would include things like figure skating or floor gymnastics. The men might be able to get more oommph into their triple axle, but it doesn’t matter. The women are still better. And besides male figure skaters have that nagging aura exuded by male ballet dancers. They might be as talented and as strong as all get out, but something is still, as the Spanish say, el wrongo.
Now we see his sexism cutting two ways. Women are limited to the sports that, according to Wilson, "favor" them. While men shouldn't be allowed to consider these "feminine sports" because they are "el wrongo". As a linguistic woman, I'm not exactly which part of the above paragraph should annoy me more. But anyway, so a man shouldn't be allowed to figure skate because its wrong. And women alone should dominate that sport. Oh wait! According to Wilson's own reasoning, we're not allowed to figure skate. Or do gymnastics.
Sports that favor the men lean to the overt tests of strength and speed. Some of them, like boxing or shot put, favor the men to the point of excluding any right-thinking women. In the middle, the sports should be allowed to develop in a way that fits the sexes — the difference between men’s lacrosse and women’s lacrosse comes to mind.
Have you ever attempted figure skating or gymnastics, Mr. Wilson? Or ever even watched these sports? Both require speed and strength to pull off successfully.
So I guess we're back to being those poor little porcelain dolls sitting under a glass case.
There's also another problem.
All the valuable things that boys learn — discipline, stamina, priorities — are things that girls learn from sports as well. It is important for them to learn, and they should have every opportunity. But this should be taken as a tool to help them grow into a confident and self-assured Christian lady. That means that lady-like characteristics should not be drilled out of them for the sake of a good win/loss record. Among those lady-like characteristics, incidentally, we have to remember to include modesty. The fact that we have forgotten ourselves, and the whole point of athletics for our daughters, can be seen in the assumption, even among Christians, that outlandish immodesty is okay, provided it is for the sake of beach volleyball, or less drag in the school swimming pool.
Which makes me ask, once again: have you ever even watched figure skating or gymnastics, Doug? As feminine as these sports may be (According to Wilson, at least - we still haven't defined what feminine means...), modest they are not. Form-fitting costumes and skirts that certainly would not pass the fingertip test. And yet, this man is encouraging young girls to perform in these sports? Quite interesting.
At least in sports like basketball, the length of a girl's shorts would be longer thus more modest than the required performance costumes that Wilson advocates. But then we still have to deal with that pesky masculine butt-slapping. Oh well. No sport is perfect, I guess.
It might be easy to dismiss all this as based on nothing other than our cultural prejudices. But I don’t believe that is what is occurring at all.
Actually, that is exactly what is happening. Wilson is projecting his own subcultural views on women in general and teaching these standards as if they were Biblical truth. There's just one problem here: when you teach something as if it were Biblical truth, you have to actually bring the Bible into the discussion at some point. Which he failed to do. This entire post is nothing more than Wilson's own sexist views against women and trying to confine them to a box which he himself created. Nothing he has said here can be supported Scripturally.
And this brings me to my favourite part. The part that literally made me burst out laughing the first time I read it. This is the one test he gives to prove that his point is, supposedly, not being derived from his own cultural viewpoint but rather from some objective source:
Run this thought experiment on yourself. Without mentioning any names, or pointing in any particular direction, say the phrase lesbian basketball coach to yourself. Does any particular profile come to mind? And do you want your daughter to look anything like that?
So many things to address in such a small paragraph. Where do I begin?
- Clearly Wilson has not met many lesbians. He is trying to imply that a lesbian basketball coach will, by default, look like a man. There are, certainly, those women out there. Heck, there are straight women out there fitting this description. But lesbian + Sports =/= Butch. That is a stereotype. Not an absolute truth.
- He is playing off fear to make his point. "Your daughter could grow up to look unfeminine! And possibly gay! DO NOT LET THAT HAPPEN!!!" Which completely contradicts Scripture (1 John 4:18).
- He relies on a stereotype and fear to make his point, not Scripture. Which is actually quite understandable because there is no passage in Scripture which will support what he is teaching. So all he has left to work with is emotional manipulation and the hope that his readers are not smart enough to recognize that for what it is.
So yeah. Rather than having taught some big important lesson on the importance of preserving feminity, as I am sure was Wilson's intention, he wound up teaching a greater lesson: Don't speak on a subject you know nothing about.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
I know I just enraged about 90% of the people who will read this post. But I really want to discuss this issue today: the gospel is being set aside by too many evangelicals and seen, in practice, as ineffective. Political activism is quickly replacing the gospel in the church on the two big hot-button issues today: gay marriage and abortion. Today I just want to address gay marriage. Maybe another day I will tackle abortion.
I have lost track of how many Christians I have had tell me that if I am truly Christian then I must defend Biblical marriage. I've received emails, seen facebook posts, etc... from sincere and well-meaning Christians panicking about the latest progression in the fight to legalize gay marriage around the world. There's something wrong with this picture.
Did Christ sit around with His disciples and discuss the evil agenda of those caught in sexual sin in their day? Did He stand in the temple and tell the people of Israel how to fight back against those who are dead in their sins and therefore comfortable and OK with the lifestyles that went along with that? Did He encourage His followers to defend holy and righteous living to the point of actively condemning those who were not saved and therefore had no reason to live the same Godly lifestyle? Not once.
What did He speak about? The gospel. The reason He came. Who He was, and what His role would be in the life of sinners. The truth. Not once do we see Him turn the situation into the sinners Vs. the righteous fight that we see in the church today. We've stopped following His example in order to take up unBiblical agendas
We Are No Different
Here's the plain and simple truth: Sinners sin. Thats all they know. Heck. Christians sin, we haven't been delivered from that old man yet and are still susceptible to falling into sinful ways. Its why we need to continually examine ourselves (1 Cor, 11:28-32, 2 Cor 13:5, Romans 12:3), and submit to the Holy Spirit that He may sanctify us according to God's will (Eph 4:13, Romans 8:29, 1 Cor 6:11).
The only thing that sets us apart is that we know, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, that we are sinners in need of a Saviour and that we find that salvation in Christ and Christ alone. Apart from that, we would be seen exactly the same as them in the eyes of God. Our specific sin issues might differ, but we would be no different from them. We need to understand that in order to be able to view the situation from a Godly point of view. We need to stop seeing homosexuality and gay marriage as an "us Vs. them" issue, but rather a gospel and salvation issue.
The Gospel Vs. Political Activism
I've had a few individuals tell me that it is imperative that we fight against gay marriage because that is how we are, and I am paraphrasing, playing moral police for our nations for God. If we allow gay marriage to be legalized, we're allowing people to indulge their sin. By fighting against it, we're supposedly telling those people that it is sin and that they will answer to God for it one day, thus fulfilling the Great Commission.
There's one problem with that. Political activism within the church only shows one side: the condemnation of sin. There is no Saviour. There is no hope. There's only damnation, and the damnation presented usually only has a present focus on the here and now; the message received is, quite often, "God hates you, and we don't like you for no rational reason other than our religion tells us too".
Only presenting one side, and a rather diluted version of it at that, is in fact presenting a false gospel. Thats unintentional on the part of many well-meaning Christians, but it is a false one nonetheless.
The reason this particular movement only ever shows one side of the gospel, is because that is the only practical way to fight gay marriage. There's no room in a political debate to say, "you're a sinner who is dead in your sins, but Christ died and rose again that you may be saved." There's no room for telling the full truth in love. There's discipleship in a political fight. The only way to properly fight a government decision is to condemn it. And leave the argument cemented in condemnation.
The problem with that is that Scripture says,
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. - John 3:17
We condemn, and we ignore Christ in the process. This is not the gospel. Sin itself will condemn and damn the individual, there's no denying that. But the gospel does not stop there, thank God. Political activism, however, does stop there. By necessity.
The gospel of damnation without a Saviour is just as damning as a gospel of salvation without mention of sin. We do absolutely no good for anyone when we show only a side of the gospel that seems most convenient for whatever our agenda at the moment happens to be: Stopping a political change we dislike or packing our churches with amazing numbers. We've done nothing to share the good news of the cross. All we've done is repackage the way it looks outwardly to the world and the church when people are hellbound. We've even managed to delude ourselves into thinking that the gospel is not needed in certain situations. Either someone is too nice or doing all the right things to be in need of the gospel, or someone is too far gone into their sin to need the gospel.
We, as the church, need to take care that we don't fall into that trap and mindset.
The Pride of Political Activism Vs. The Humility of the Gospel
Its interesting to take note of the very different focuses of the two viewpoints.
In political activism, the focus is on man. The sinfulness of those people. The sin of the government for indulging those people. How great we are to be fighting back against such obvious sin. How influential we must be in order to think that we can actually stop some couple we don't even know from participating in a lifestyle we disagree with. How arrogant we become to think that we can actually put a stop to someone else's sin.
The viewpoint from a foundation in the gospel, however, is completely reversed.
Our focus is on God. We recognize that sinful man will always give into sin. We recognize that the government is not a theocracy and so the god they will ultimately serve is the god of this world, not the One True Holy God. We accept that. We don't necessarily agree with the decisions they make, but we understand that God is in control. God ordained that government (Romans 13:1-7) for His purposes.
The decisions that governments worldwide make concerning this issue did not surprise Him. And He certainly doesn't need our help to Christianize the world. The gospel focus recognizes that there is no hope to be found in legislation. Our hope comes from Christ and Christ alone. The gospel focus recognizes that only the Holy Spirit can change hearts and lives. Protests and laws do nothing. The gospel is powerful enough to accomplish everything.
Where the Two Paths Lead
Both political activism and the gospel have spiritual endpoints within the church.
Political activism is essentially legalism and moralism. The hope of political activism is founded in making the world around us outwardly conform to righteousness. The end goal is to make it appear that we are all Godly people living holy lives that are devoid of sin (The proof-text of 2 Chron 7:14 is often thrown around for justification). Or at least the "pet sins" of the church today. If we can rid our nations of that, then God will be pleased. And we can begin to build God's kingdom on earth (make no mistake, this political activist movement is firmly rooted in the heretical movement of Dominionism).
Essentially only we can save ourselves. God is distant from the sanctification process. Its all on us. Suddenly we become a Christianized version of the nonreligious person who believes that if he does just enough good, he can earn his salvation and place in Heaven.
The gospel focus, however, centres our hope entirely on Christ. We know that only in Him are we saved. We know that there is no real change of heart apart from the Holy Spirit.
We know that it is only God who draws men and women to Himself:
So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy. - Romans 9:16
We cannot force someone to look Christian in Gods eyes. If that person is dead in his or her sins, no matter if that individual abstains from certain sins, goes to church 3 times a week, helps the poor, and is all around a nice person: he or she will still be seen as a dead sinner in the eyes of God. And that person will still be going to hell.
We do no good to dress the dead up as if they were living.
Which brings me to the next point...
What is the Great Commission?
To listen to many evangelical leaders today, you would think that it is our duty as Christians to write to our MPs, congressmen, letters to the editor, blogs, books, movies, put on protests of all kinds in order to stop the natural progression of sin in a sin-filled world. However, Christ never once said that it was our job to put an end to sin.
What did He say?
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. - Mark 16:15-16
Preach the gospel and disciple. That's our job. Paul expands upon that, in one of my favourite passages:
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent?
As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
Who bring glad tidings of good things!” - Romans 10:14-15
We need to forget about the distractions that take our focus from the gospel. There are people out there who are dying and dead in their sins who *need* to hear the good news of the gospel in its entirety. They need to know that they've sinned against God. But they also need to know what Christ did so that they might be saved. We need to actually tell them what the gospel is.
Gay marriage is, essentially, a spiritual issue at its core. Not a legal one. And it needs to be treated as such by Christians.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
A friend recently directed my attention to an article addressing gender and gender appropriate clothing/styles. I'll include the link at the end of this entry so that you all can check it out for yourselves. But I was rather taken with it, personally. If it had been the first time I'd heard this, I would have laughed it off and ignored it. But I have heard these statements on several occasions, and feel like it would be worth at least a few moments discussing the claims. This entry will focus on one man's article, but its not merely limited to him. This is a view held by many inside and outside the Oneness Apostolic movement.
I'll start by prefacing Dr. G. Reckart's philosophy on genderism, as it shall be referred to here on out. Men wear pants and sport short hair, while women wear skirts and dresses and grow their hair out long. Any deviation from these two models of manhood and womanhood is considered backsliding into liberal heresy and transgenderism. Or, as Dr. Reckart states,
"It is the endtime apostasy, the great falling away! The doctrine of transgender clothing styles will sweep many through the gates of hell."
Putting aside the fact that this statement comes out of thin air, with no Scriptural backing... If this statement is true, it is certainly deserving of spending a few moments considering.
Lets look at the claims.
First off, it becomes painfully obvious reading through this article, with quotes like,
"Modern charismatic liberals have a transgender agenda to destroy the lines in Christian clothing between males and females. They have a plot to destroy gender specific clothing practices to make homosexual and lesbianism acceptable in their midst. This is due to the rampant and growing trend to accept Sodomism via the first step of cross-dressing or being a transvestite. Among these religious groups there is a growing number of ministers who accept transgender styles and challenge holiness and holiness standards accusing them of being Phariseeism."
that Reckart has been sadly misinformed as to what transgenderism actually is. He assumes that to take on unisex styles (such as pants) or hairstyles (such as certain hair lengths) means a move towards transgenderism.
For those who may be unaware, transgenderism is actually quite a complex issue in which an individual who was born one gender identifies as the other. This does not necessarily, as Reckart apparently believes, affect sexual orientation.
Right off the bat, he has discredited himself and his entire argument by refusing to educate himself on something he claims to be so passionate about.
And even more sadly, he states he wrote his article to challenge the mindset and arguments of his opponents, but his logic and eisegesis become so hard to follow that its quite questionable if he is actually responding to arguments he's received or if he's attempting to invent arguments to respond to in order to make it look as if he's a great apologist for this movement.
Nonetheless, he does attempt to provide a couple of arguments using logic and Scripture, so I'll address those.
"Deuteronomy 22:5 lets us know there are gender specific clothes for men and women."
The verse in question.
“A woman shall not wear a man's garment, nor shall a man put on a woman's cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God. - Deut 22:5
This is the major prooftext for this movement. According to those who hold to genderism, This proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that a man must wear pants, and a woman must wear skirts.
But is that what it is saying?
Notice the verse does not expand upon what is meant by gender-specific clothing. There is no mention of pants. There is no mention of skirts. All it says is, "men, don't wear women's clothing. Women, don't wear men's clothing."
So what determines what is men's and what is women's clothing? Seems quite evident to me that the culture determines that.
Take a trip over to Scotland and observe how it is the men who wear kilts (which are strikingly similar to a skirt), and yet women do not. Or hop over to Saudi Arabia, a culture which vigorously and passionately pursues gender roles to the extreme. See how many men you spot wearing robes, which are eerily similar to dresses. And yet the distinction between the genders remain in both cases. Christ would have worn a similar kind of robe in His day. So how can people like Reckart claim that it is only pants that is appropriate for men's clothing? They've incorporated their own subculture into their theology and put it on the same level as the gospel. Hence why it offends them so much that they would refer to men and women who do not conform to their view of what is appropriate style for each specific gender as, "transgender liberals", "spiritual murderer", "backsliders", "perverts", "tranvestites", etc... and why Reckart equates modern dress/hairstyles with damnation.
It would seem that there was a message God was trying to get across to His people. He didn't focus on the specifics of clothing style, because that was irrelevant. He made men to be men, and women to be women. And He expected each group to hold true to that. It was about affirming Godly masculinity and femininity. He wasn't teaching His people to worship clothing or styles.
"Did Saul wear a skirt like women have worn for centuries? No! What is it Saul wore as he slept? He wore a man's robe. He sure didn't wear a woman's robe. If he had on a woman's robe he was in violation of Deuteronomy 22:5. There is a difference between a man's robe and a woman's robe. The transgender charismatics may not have the intelligence to figure this out, but those of us who are the elect can do it easily. "
I have to applaud Reckart for admitting that Saul wore a robe, considering his mission to see men wearing only pants. And his claim that men did not wear skirts in Biblical times. I wonder if he has taken the time to consider the similarities in design between the robes Saul would have worn, and the dresses hanging in his wife's closet. But I digress.
"Pants or breeches were designed by God for men to wear (Exodus 28:42). Since they are and were distinctly for men, it is an abomination for any woman to put them on no matter what style they make them for acceptance and trend. "
40 “For Aaron's sons you shall make coats and sashes and caps. You shall make them for glory and beauty. 41 And you shall put them on Aaron your brother, and on his sons with him, and shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. 42 You shall make for them linen undergarments to cover their naked flesh. They shall reach from the hips to the thighs; 43 and they shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they go into the tent of meeting or when they come near the altar to minister in the Holy Place, lest they bear guilt and die. This shall be a statute forever for him and for his offspring after him. - Exodus 28
All this proves is that God required a certain piece of clothing for the priests, and this was specifically referring to what they should wear while ministering to the Lord. Notice how this was directed to the priesthood, and the priesthood alone? If Reckart wants to be logically consistent, he shouldn't be arguing that this style of dress was commanded for men and men alone - he should be arguing that pants are meant for only those men who are serving in ministry. But his tradition forces him to reach for straws, as he does here, to justify his position.
Reckart is losing sight of the spirit of the commands as well. The priests were required to be covered completely, "lest they bear guilt and die." This is clearly symbolic of the covering we, as part of the royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), find in Christ. We are covered in the blood of the Lamb before God, and therefore we bear no guilt before Him and do not have to fear death.
Having read through the article several times now, I am actually quite disappointed Reckart did not attempt to justify his claims more. It would have been much more interesting to do a thorough inspection on how the Bible identifies and treats gender, and what God's views are on the subject. Yet, for a topic he is so clearly passionate about, the points are weak.
I leave you all with one point of irony.
And I am especially attacked very brutally because I speak out against transgender women wearing pants and transgender men wearing skirts. They speak to me in great judgmental and angry words. They are not the least loving or kind. They mock, scoff, ridicule, and slander. It is their way of boasting they will do what they want and dare any man to condemn their transgender choices of clothing.
There is not one word of love typed in this article. Only condemnation, judgment, name-calling, and hatred. If by some chance Dr Reckart should read this, I only want to leave him with one small passage.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. - 1 John 4:7-8
For those interested in reading the article:
Did Men in the Bible Wear Skirts? - Dr. G Reckart
Monday, June 20, 2011
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. - vv. 1-2
Right there, we see major truth being taught. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was both with God and God Himself. So incomprehensible to our human minds, but truthful nonetheless.
Jesus is the Word. Jesus co-existed with God right from the beginning, and Jesus is God. That doctrine cannot be emphasized enough. There is a scary move within the church today to be united with all others who carry the title, "Christian". And for those that worship the God of the Bible, and know His salvation that is a good thing.
However... for all the churches out there who claim to be Christian yet effectively deny these first two verses of John by denying Christ's divinity and/or His eternal co-existence with God as part of the Trinity, we need to understand just how important this is. Its not a part of Scripture to be compromised on in the name of unity because this is describing the one and only Jesus Christ and God through whom we are saved. If a church or individual tries to deny these basic facts of Christianity then the sad truth is that they are preaching a different gospel. We can pray for them, we can show them the love of Christ in the way we treat them and act towards them, but the truth is that we cannot have real spiritual unity with them unless we deny the gospel ourselves or they renounce their false gospel to follow the Truth.
Sounds harsh? yep. But the gospel is an offense. It doesn't leave room for watering down in the name of false unity.
All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. - v. 3
Christ Himself is not only co-eternal with God as part of the Trinity, He created the universe. He is the sovereign Creator over all of Creation. He created you, and He created me. He wasn't some lowly created mortal who randomly showed up in the plan of some impersonal god, and was blessed greatly. He wasn't just some prophet. He wasn't just a very moral man who showed us how to live a good life. He is, and always has been, God; the sovereign Creator of Heaven and earth.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. - v. 4
And in coming to earth in the flesh, this God and Creator of all creation, brought with Him life. This doesn't mean that John is acknowledging the obvious - that Christ, as a man, was alive. And it doesn't mean that Christ was a mere man with God living inside him, as some may claim; remember - Christ was co-existing with God and as God right from the beginning. What this life is referring to is the eternal life He came to offer us all by being the sacrifice in our place on the Cross to satisfy the wrath of God which burns against us all for sinning against Him.
There needed to be an atonement to God for our sins so that we may be forgiven and be reconciled to Him and enjoy the fellowship with Him that we were originally supposed to have. Just as in the Old testament we see the offerings given on the Day of Atonement to satisfy the wrath of God, Christ came to be the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of all who would believe and accept that offering as sufficient atonement for our sins.
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. - v. 5
After the affirmation of Christ's divinity and eternal co-existence with the Father, and His purpose in coming in the flesh, we see that this light of hope found only in Christ could not be understood by those clouded by darkness. Those who are dying in their sins, with their hearts hardened against the truth, cannot understand the gospel. The Holy Spirit must give them understanding, and they must be willing to love the truth; unless both parties work together in this regard, the person blinded by sin will never see the light of salvation spoken of here. Its kind of a sobering fact - even those of us who are saved must never stop loving truth nor should we allow ourselves to harden our hearts against truth. It is truth that saved us, and truth that sustains us - why would we ever want to turn a blind eye because.... say... a pastor we love is preaching something unBiblical, or a song that moves us in worship is teaching false doctrine?
Like I said at the beginning of this post, I've read those verses a hundred times before. But never really took the time to soak in what was actually being said. Its just one of the beautiful things about Scripture - no matter how many times you read something, you can always learn from it.
Monday, January 31, 2011
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. - Matthew 28:18-20
These are the words that Matthew chose to end his gospel with and they pack quite a punch when we stop to really reflect on what is being said. Jesus here is commanding His disciples to go into all the world and bring people to Him. We, as followers of the living God, have been given the same mandate. But here in the western church our love for the lost souls around us seems to be all but stamped out. And it is my sincere opinion that our attitude towards the dying world is both incurring God's anger upon us and breaking His heart.
At a recent apologetics conference I attended one pastor stood up to give a talk on missions and one story in particular this man had to share made my blood boil and serves in part as the inspiration for this article. He spoke about a church where he was a guest speaker and the pastor of this particular church had an appalling attitude towards missions. One example was shared about how he would threaten his congregation into giving money to visiting missionaries by telling them that if they didn't he would pray for their children to be called into the missions field – as if being a missionary was a fate worse than death. Needless to say this is an attitude that directly contradicts the Bible and God's heart towards the dying world.
Let us first examine why missionaries are necessary both in our own backyards at our jobs, schools, and our own cities as well as abroad in all corners of the world.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. - Isaiah 59:2
God cannot look upon sin and if we have sinned, even once, we're guilty of breaking the whole law (James 2:10). We're separated from the living God and in desperate need of forgiveness and reconciliation. But there's a problem.
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God - Romans 3:21-23
We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. How can any of us approach the throne of the living God and beg for forgiveness when we have all sinned and God cannot have sin in His presence? Romans answers this question.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 6:23
In Christ we find our hope, our salvation, our eternal life. As in Egypt it was the blood of a lamb without blemish that allowed the wrath of God to pass over the houses which were covered, so too does the wrath of God pass over those of us who are covered in the Perfect Lamb's blood. Those of us who have repented and accepted the free gift of salvation made available through Christ's atoning death on the cross have absolutely nothing to fear (John 3). But what about those who have no such covering over their souls?
11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. - Revelation 21:11-15
Needless to say this is not a desirable fate for anyone to ever have to face. But now lets move on to why we, as Christians, should have a desire to reach out to those who are on their way to this horrific destination.
19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross - Colossians 1:19-20
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. - 2 Peter 3:9
This alone should be a wake-up call. It might be tempting to look at the state of this world and wonder why God allows the depravity to continue. Why haven't we moved on to the New Jerusalem yet? And there is one simple answer for that. God longs to see people saved. He's not ignoring the sad state of affairs here on earth. God isn't blind. The fact that He hasn't stepped in yet is a testament to His merciful character. The only reason His patience concerning the depravity among mankind has lasted as long as it has is because He wants to see all men saved.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. - 1 John 4:7-9
As God is love and He showed His love towards us while we were still sinners and separated from Him by sending His Son to die in our place to reconcile us to God, should we not also be love to the world that God loved (John 3:16)? Scripture makes it clear He is not willing to see anyone perish, so shouldn't that likewise be our heart's desire?
20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also. - 1 John 4:20-21
Logically, if we know our neighbour is headed towards an eternity in Hell and we do nothing to warn him and point him in the direction of salvation then we cannot claim to love him. How can we say we love God when we hold such a low opinion of sharing the gospel? The plain and simple truth is we cannot. As the apostle John says if we do not love, then God is not in us.
Paul served as a good example to us in the way he lived his life after coming to Christ. He lived, breathed, and died all for the sake of the gospel. Nothing was more important to him than ensuring he led as many people to Christ as he could (1 Corinthians 2:2, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23). He loved the dying world around him with a passion we need to see within the western church today.
14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” -Romans 10:14-15
© Shari Smith February 16, 2007
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
The above verse will be the theme for my article today. Teaching a younger or weaker brother or sister in the faith is certainly not a bad thing by any means, teaching an unbeliever to come to Christ is not a bad thing. What is troubling, however, is how many people pursue ministry in the hopes of teaching the church and yet have no understanding of the faith or the Bible they are teaching.
We live in a culture that embraces teachers, missionaries, and pastors as somehow holier than the laypeople that fill the pews. This means the children growing up in lukewarm environments that offer them no understanding of the faith or the Bible are being told to pursue careers in ministries in the church to teach the laypeople in the church. The end result is we now have a generation of believers in the western church with little to no grasp of Scripture or Christianity but one that believes it is the greatest authority on truth since the beginning of the church age.
I have run into many pastors, priests, etc... who hold themselves up to be authorities on the written word and yet when asked cannot explain to me the purpose of the law or whether or not the Old Testament is still valid for believers today. They cannot tell me how to properly read the Bible, metaphorically or literally, a product of divine inspiration or human intellect or a mixture of both. They cannot even tell me how it is we are saved; by faith alone, by works, by the cross, or by the eucharist. I've had pastors in authority over me who could not explain the basic concept of the Trinity and who could not identify what was a Christian teaching and what was not. How is this in any way acceptable?
Now obviously none of us has our doctrine 100% figured out, and I'm not saying that's necessary, but if we presume to be a teacher to anyone in the faith, there are a few things we need present in our lives and ministries.
We Need to Know What We Believe and Why
But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Tim 3:13-17
If we are going to be effective at all in our ministries, we need a solid standing in the word of God. We need to have a firm grasp of the gospel and be able to identify gospels which breakaway from the one true gospel that leads to eternal life with Christ. As Paul told the Galatians:
But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. - Gal 1:8-9
Unless teachers know what they believe and why they will never be able to guide those under their spiritual watch to truth or be able to guard their students from the deceptions that are so rampant in the church today. We aren't all apologists or cult researchers and we don't need to be to identify a lie. If we have a firm grasp of the gospel and Biblical truth we will usually be able to spot the deception when it pops up. The allusion is often drawn from counterfeit money investigators who spend their time studying real money in order to be able to identify a fake bill when it shows up. The same is true for gospel truth, if we spend our time in the word digging for truth we'll be able to spot the lie when it shows up.
Now that's not to say it will be obvious every time. Satan is a master of deception and can appear as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14) which is why we need to examine all things against the word of God (1 Thess 5:21). We cannot be lazy in our pursuit or guarding of the truth especially if we're placing ourselves in any kind of position where we'll be teaching or in spiritual authority over other believers, truth is too important to be apathetic towards. The enemy is roaming to see which believer he may devour with his lies and we need to be vigilant and teach others how to be vigilant in their faith.
We need to Understand the Difference Between Exegesis and Eisegesis
Too many people, laypeople and those in ministry, rely entirely too much on one or two prooftexts to prove whatever doctrine we want to believe to be true. This is unacceptable. Every verse, passage, chapter, book stands in a context by which we are able to understand what is being told to us. When we remove that passage or verse from its context it becomes entirely too easy for us to twist it in whatever way we choose to prove whatever it is we want to believe.
I'll give you an example from a recent discussion I had.
This individual was trying to convey the importance he believes the Eucharist has in the life of a Christian. To support this doctrine he took us to John 6 and quoted:
I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” 52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” 53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live
forever.” 59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. 60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” 61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
He just produced an entire passage which he believed showed Christ telling His followers to literally eat His flesh and drink His blood. But this person removed the passage from its complete context by which we are to understand it, and completely changed the meaning we are to take from it:
What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”
The words were spiritual. He wasn't telling us to literally eat Him, he was showing us that in Him was life. As the manna that sustained the Israelites in the wilderness and(vv 48-51) He was the Bread of life offering eternal life to whoever believed on Him. This was consistent with Christ's regular style of preaching, which meant using figurative and symbolic language to illustrate a truth to the people.
Christ regularly chose to preach in a figurative style because He knew that by choosing symbols the Jews were already familiar with from their religious teachings and traditions as well as their daily lives they would understand His message better. To take one part of this message from its context in history, the teaching context, the context in which it is found in Scripture is to remove it from how it was originally meant to be read and understood.
If we truly wish to teach we need to know how to teach exegetically rather than eisegetically.
We Need to be Open to Rebuke and Correction
We are not infallible, no matter what church we may belong to or how much education or experience in ministry we may have behind us. There is only One who is infallible in matters of doctrine and not a single one of us can claim to be that One.
Now there is a pattern in Scripture for those who love truth; God will make sure we are corrected one way or another in our own doctrine:
1 Thus says the LORD: “ Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest?
2 For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the LORD. “ But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word.-Isa. 66:1-2
Often, He uses our own brothers and sisters to correct us just as He used Hilkiah and Shaphan to correct Josiah (2 Kings 22:3-13) and He used Paul to correct Peter (Galatians 2:11-21). If we presume to be beyond correction then we are fooling ourselves and have no place in ministry at all. We need to serve with a humble spirit (Romans 12:16, Col 3:12) not a prideful one.
If we choose, however, to put ourselves above the need for correction in our doctrine or other areas of how we may choose to live our lives we end up with the consequences mentioned in the rest of the passage from Isaiah:
3 “ He who kills a bull is as if he slays a man; He who sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog’s neck; He who offers a grain offering, as if he offers swine’s blood; He who burns incense, as if he blesses an idol. Just as they have chosen their own ways, And their soul delights in their abominations, 4 So will I choose their delusions, And bring their fears on them; Because, when I called, no one answered, When I spoke they did not hear; But they did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.” -Isa. 66:3-4
when we choose our own glory and pride to the exclusion of truth and serving the one true God, we are choosing delusion and we will fall into deception. There are no if's, ands, or buts about it. Pride and deception go hand in hand, pride and truth do not.
We need to be Able to Serve with the Fruit of the Spirit
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires - Gal 5:22-24
If we are missing this crucial part of Christianity from our lives, we have no business being in any form of ministry. Christ crucified needs to be evident in our daily lives, not just when we're behind a pulpit or on stage or in church teaching Sunday school. He didn't die just to give you an escape route out of Hell, He died to reconcile you to God and to make you a new creation. Now that that has been accomplished it is your mission to spread the word of reconciliation and
share Christ with those around you to lead them to the path of salvation but unless they see Christ evident in your life there can be no sharing of that message with those that need to hear it and your credibility as a Christian witness and a teacher has been shot. (2 Cor 5:18-19).
1 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Eph 5:1-2
© Shari Smith August 6, 2007
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.